So US News & World Report got it right! Something every Iowan already knew, but at least the rest of the world is going to hear about it – Iowa is the best state to live in! To which, the smart ass in me wants to reply “Well, tell me something I didn’t know!” but the polite Iowan in me says, “They noticed it! Wow!”
So here we are. Yes, my friends, Iowa is officially ranked as the best state. For all of you who still think we grow potatoes or live in teepees — well, bless your heart. You are welcome to your incorrect information, but we really do live well.
The report judges on 8 categories: health care, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime & corrections, fiscal stability, and quality of life. I like to think we have those things in aces because if we need something or want something, we make it happen. That’s an Iowan for you. Sure, you might hear the farmers complaining in Casey’s but that doesn’t mean they won’t go right out the door and find a solution to the problem. I always say I was taught to take care of myself and everyone else around me. Some farm. Some preach. Some teach. Some fix computer glitches, but we are all doing our part. Although we are most notably known for butter cows and caucuses, I’m gonna say we are a lot more than that!
Our state boasts of a 40 college-educated population. Yeah, let that sink in. That’s impressive, my friends. And that’s counting a whole lot of really well-educated people that didn’t go to college because it really wasn’t an option when they were growing up, plus, at the very least, 92% have a high school diploma. We aren’t all corn fields and hogs, even though I must say I enjoy both! Sign me up for sweet corn and bacon anytime! They say everything’s better with bacon and we’ve got that by the truckload!
Really, there’s no point to this post other than to say I am damn proud to be from Iowa, born and raised. I am proud to say I am an Iowan. I am proud to say “Go USA!” I am proud to be “Midwestern nice.” I am proud to be from a place where you can stand under a tree in the middle of a gravel road, you can attend 3 major universities (plus a lot of quality colleges), you can find a food pantry and a library in addition to a bar even in the smallest town, you can watch bikers from all over the country bike safely across our state any given July, you can get a jaunty wave from a neighbor, you can get the best steak off of a backyard grill, and you can still read the Wall Street Journal off the internet on your porch while watching the sun set.
I am blessed to live in a place where back yards still exist, as do manners, friendships, work ethic, skies you can see, and a desire for quality education. Welcome to Iowa! Love it or get out! J
What else do you love about Iowa? Do you live somewhere else that’s fabulous you want to tell us about? Do you have a memory you want to share? Well, go right ahead.
So you feel like everything in the news is depressing.
You feel like life is too busy and you are never home.
You believe in the good, but you’re tired of hearing about the bad.
You know you’re struggling on some front…or more.
If any, or all, of these sound like you, then there is no better time than now to dedicate yourself to The 6th Annual Blessed Turkey Project. I know. I get it. You don’t need one more thing to do, especially in November when the holidays are approaching, but I’m going to tell you it will be worth it.
If any of those things are plaguing you, then you need to allow yourself the pleasantry, the optimism, and the gratitude that comes with being a Blessed Turkey.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with my terminology, I define a Blessed Turkey as someone who is at least meeting all their basic needs with a place to live, a job or school, a family or friends or both, and enough food to eat, and although they know they should be grateful for all they have, they sometimes, get too caught up in the daily grind to appreciate it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have it all together or that they have it easy, it just means they haven’t got it all wrong either! And they know enough to know they have it better than some. I am sooo a blessed turkey.
We tend to compare ourselves. We seem to always be wanting more. We think about everything around us and we get overwhelmed. It’s easy to do. But there’s no greater time than now to simply vocalize the gifts in our lives. I firmly believe it makes us happier. It makes us stronger. It makes us better people. It makes the world a better place. It makes us look at things differently. And most of all, it makes us part of something bigger.
This will not cost you any money (unless you decide to be a good Samaritan and buy a cup of Joe for someone or a can for the Food Pantry but that’s your decision, not mine). This is not something you have to do every day (although you’ll feel better if you do). This does not involve a committee, or funeral sandwiches, or you even leaving your house or your chair. Lol. It is simply taking a minute to be thankful for something each day between November 1 and Thanksgiving. Join here simply by clicking on the link! It can be a post on Facebook saying what you’re grateful for. It can be an Instagram pic of your favorite blessing. It can be a tweet of I’m a #BlessedTurkey because… All it is is a moment each day on some form of social media sharing your gratitude with others because, people, it spreads!
I’m not inviting you to the party because I want something from you. I’m inviting you to the party to give you something: I want to give you a little piece of happiness every day between now and Thanksgiving. I want to do that for you because there are good people in this world doing good things and celebrating that makes us all happier…and better…and kinder…and loved.
If you have people that you want to give this same gift to, share this with them and let’s wear our Blessed Turkey crowns proudly! All aboard the Blessed Turkey bus, head here: The Blessed Turkey Project – Year Six.
I can’t believe it, but we have yet another niece graduating (and a nephew graduating from college but he’s not the sentimental type)! And graduation always makes me reflective and feel the need to impart my wisdom. Okay, my wisdom hasn’t gotten me a national TV show or a Pulitzer, but it also hasn’t landed me in jail or on a hit list (at least, none I’m aware of)! So here are a few tidbits I hope our niece comes to learn and maybe you can share these with some kid in your family that listens better to somebody they don’t know! lol. Or maybe you just need your own little reminder:
First off, say farewell to your frenemies. Do it nicely. High school (and the business world and the PTA and the bar) is all about the people you like on any given day, hate on any given day, are jealous of on any given day, and can’t wait to get rid of on any given day. Today, you get to get rid of them. Do so gracefully. Wish them well. Cry over what was and what will be in all its scary glory, and then keep your mouth shut. You don’t have to burn a bridge, you can just choose not take that route anymore.
Old Money is still the best Money
Secondly, remember where you came from. Be loyal. Friends and family are just like clothing. The new is exciting and fun and always nice to have for special occasions, but the old stand-by pajama pants and prom t-shirt from 10 years ago will be comfy and reliable and what you need on a bad day. Same with the people you surround yourself with. It’s okay to have new people in your life, but don’t ditch the old. Dance with the one you came with. They brought you here.
Don’t be a Hater!
Third, the world may be screwed up, but you don’t have to be. I really like that Mother Theresa quote about how the world may hate or do wrong, do good anyway. There are plenty of screwed up people, situations, and moments in life. Rise above.
Better to change your mind than to not use it!
Fourth, it’s okay to change your mind. Not 500,047 times, but when you need to, go ahead. If the major isn’t right, switch it. If the friends aren’t the right circle, ditch ‘em. If the job is somewhere else, try it. We all have a plan. Sometimes, we stay on that path. Sometimes, we take the road less traveled and that makes all the difference… (Yes, Robert Frost, you were right.)
Humble and Kind, just like Tim McGraw says. Please!
Fifth, be humble. Never think you’re better than. There are those that have a lot to put on their résumé and there are those that could but don’t have to. There will always be people telling you how great they are and there will always be people that are just great. Be the great. Don’t think you’re owed anything. Hope floats when you realize your cup runneth over. (Yes, love that movie!)
It all comes out in the wash…
Here’s the bottom line: there will be crappy times when people die, your basement floods, your kid gets sick, and you want to crawl into bed and sleep it off. There will be times when you sit with a drink in your hand, look up at the blue sky, look around you at the group of people talking and laughing with you, and you’ll soak it in. Life isn’t easy, but it is doable.
Take God with you.
Build the right relationships.
Find your little piece of happiness and live in it.
Laugh when the wheels fall off. Then, put ‘em back on and bolt those sonofabitches down and take a roadtrip.
Happy Graduation, little girl! May life always treat you kind…
Any words of wisdom you’d like to share? Any of those ring true with you? Got a graduation you’d like me to speak at? lol. Tell me.
Mother’s Day is looming. I haven’t handled Mother’s Day yet for either mother, mine or the husband’s. I know what I want to do but making it happen is a whole ‘nother ball game. The funny part is that I forget that the day is for me, too, now. It’s weird. I guess I still think of my mom instead because she is most definitely a great mom.
I, however, am not a great mom. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for platitudes. I try. In fact, I try really hard, but my parenting fails are vast and many. So instead of telling you how glorious motherhood is and how wonderful the whole experience is, I will do my usual and keep it real.
Parenting fails – I don’t even know where to start on my list:
#ParentingFail #599 – Most nights, there’s more food on the floor at Chez Carley than in her mouth.
#ParentingFail #600 – Yes, she still sleeps with me.
#ParentingFail #695 – No, she is not potty-trained yet at 2 ½. No, I do not feel bad about that.
#ParentingFail #789 – I have already had to restrict her YouTube usage because she was going to inappropriate sites, like ones that had spiders on them and ones that involved laughing after farting. No, no nudity, but spiders are bad enough. Thank you.
#ParentingFail #1050 – My daughter may, or may not, have been known to eat a brownie for breakfast, but in her defense, she saw me doing it first.
#ParentingFail #2000 – My daycare provider is counting the days till she is rid of us, partly in hopes that my daughter doesn’t break a bone on her watch and partly because we don’t follow rules well.
#ParentingFail #2999 – Sometimes, I yell when I get mad or growl in attempt at not yelling. My daughter now grrrs… Clearly, I need to rethink my attack. However, I will consider it a parenting win that she hasn’t said any cuss words…yet.
And those are just the ones that come to my head today.
So here I am trying to remind you that parenting is hard. You shouldn’t feel bad if you think so, too. And, your mom, well, she deserves a new house, car, grand reception, and a mini-bar, but if you can’t make that happen, at least give her a call or a card. They gave us life and we gave them problems and insecurities and, with any luck, some happiness along the way.
That’s how it is for me…
Everyday, I worry about what I screw up. Everyday, I try to be better. Everyday, I know that my daughter doesn’t have it bad and that all I can do is love her the best I/we know how. Everyday, I hope that it will be enough. But everyday, in spite of the things I get frustrated with her for, I see that little face asleep on my arm and I hope I am doing her justice because for every naughty thing she does, she is still my precious little puddin’ pop, and I am blessed that she’s ours.
I’m not really sure that Mother’s Day covers the years of hard work, but it’s a good place to start.
So, thank you, to all of you who try hard, who put food on the table, and give your kids a moral compass. It isn’t easy. I have 2 and a half years under my belt and I think I could use 50 to be good at it. In the meantime, give yourself an umbrella drink and a night out with a babysitter if that’s what life requires right now. You’ve earned it.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Got any #ParentingFails? Got any #ParentingWins to brag about? Got something else to share or say? Let’s here it.
So we are officially two weeks into living in our hometown again after 25 years in the ‘burbs. It’s kinda weird, but I’ve already realized a few of the reasons we are back on home turf, more than just raising our little girl in a small town and being close to the fam.
First off, I went to the locker in Hancock on Saturday, got me some dried beef and Colby cheese, drove back, went to Dollar General or “DG” as the locals call it lol, got my hooks to hold my hairdryer and was back home in a shorter amount of time than it would have taken me to even drive to Target, let alone shop and drive home! Oh, the efficiency! Yay!
Secondly, I’m outside Sunday trying to lasso my child back into the house when my former, I know better than to call her old, English teacher shows up at our door to welcome us home. Can I just mention how sweet that is? Now, I’m sure she has a few ulterior motives, but I’m game.
Third, a couple of nights ago, I had an actual conversation with my neighbors IN THEIR HOUSE! I have not hung out with neighbors just to shoot the sh** since I was in college. I feel like I should show up at their house with Domino’s pizza and Bahama Mama (if I could even find it) to celebrate!
Fourth, I went to pull out of my very soggy driveway yesterday morning and see a guy using a flashlight to look around on the ground in the cul de sac. No need to panic! As I suspected, he was simply gathering nightcrawlers! I love living in a place where people put a priority on fishing! Yes, ma’am.
Finally, I won some silent auction items at a Relay for Life event a couple of months ago in which I got babysitters for 3-hour blocks. I texted the first one this week to see if she might be available this weekend and she was! And she even sounded excited to babysit for us! Dude, if you have ever had a 2-year-old you know how damn happy that can make a person!
PS – we will be attending the Betterment Committee’s Murder Mystery Theater Saturday night if you’re interested, go here to buy tickets!
Seriously though, I will be honest and tell you that after it has rained every day for the entire time we have lived there and commuting, I was starting to have reservations… Starting to doubt my decision to load up and haul my hubby and baby out of the city. I may, or may not have, had a few meltdowns along the way, but I know in my heart, I was meant to be back home. Bon Jovi and I, we know these things. So here’s to my discovering even more great reasons to be home and here’s to all of you who continue to put up with me no matter where I live. Love you guys.
What great things have you realized once you moved? Or is there something you really love about small towns or the ‘burbs that you want to share? Are you mid-life-changes and got advice for me? Bring it on!
So have you seen those My InTent bracelets you can get? I was watching them talk about them on the Today Show and about how the guy started it as a fun project he did for his friends and for birthdays and then, because Jay-Z and Kanye happened to wear one, it has turned into a crazy big business. If you haven’t seen them, he uses this string and ties it to what looks like a washer and there’s a word etched into the washer and you tie it around your wrist. The word is supposed to be something that means something to you and that keeps you focused on what you want in life.
Personally, I think I probably need more than just a bracelet! But I do understand that a visual reminder you see constantly should actually help. It’s like the Fit Bit telling you that you haven’t done crap today or looking at the pile on your desk as the cue that you are behind and swamped, except this is positive.
So what would your word be? Do you even have any ideas?
I was thinking about it for me. At first, I thought FOCUS, but that kinda defeats the purpose of finding a word to focus on. Lol. So then I thought of TELOS. Telos is your ultimate object or aim or purpose in the world. If I knew what my telos was, I’d already be focused on it! Lol. I still think it would be a good option, but my husband and I were having a conversation about how we are moving back to Oakland, and he said the perfect word. He said I was the WILDCARD. And I loved it!
That, my friends, is what I always hope to be: the wildcard! In any given situation, I could be the difference maker. I could be the one that sways the decision. I could be the one they don’t see coming. I could be the unexpected. I could be the unpredictable one. I could be the one that pushes it to greatness. Now what that greatness is? Please don’t ask! Because I don’t know right now, unless of course you are referring to how I add just the right amount of frosting to a brownie! Lol.
But I do know I like the sound of being a wildcard. I like the idea of showing you left and going right. I like the idea of being the ace in the hole you have tucked away up your sleeve when you’re out of cards. I like being the surprise at the bottom of the crackerjack box.
So think about it. What is your word? Or what is the fun word you really want to be about? Share this post and ask your friends on Facebook what it should be! God knows we could all use some fun posts on fb right about now (instead of those awful political ones)! Or you can just tell me in the comment section. Maybe you already have a brilliant idea on your own!
So tell me what you’ve got to say! I’m excited to hear it!