Friday, March 2, 2018

Life Lessons from a Jeep...


When I was 12 years-old I went on a Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah with a friend and her family. I'd always liked the look of Jeeps for as long as I could remember, but from that trip forward I LOVED them, and I WANTED one!

When the Wrangler Unlimited came out I was so excited because it was now more family friendly. When I was 37, I finally got one. And I'm telling you I totally LOVE it!

But my Jeep is stupid. S-T-U-P-I-D.

Seriously, my beautiful Jeep has given me more trouble than my first car--a 1976 Dodge Colt that only ran on 3 cylinders and had a max speed of 54 miles an hour.

Let's start the list of why it's stupid, then I'll try to explain why I still love it, and what loving it has taught me...

We bought the Jeep in 2014. An ’08 Unlimited Sahara with only 16,000 miles on it. The guy seriously kept it under a car-cover in his garage (to keep the cats off it), never drove it in the rain, and not once put it in four-wheel-drive. This thing was the epitome of babied—something that ended up being both good and bad…

·      Jeep reaches 30,000 miles: The torque converter starts leaking. A fix that, had we been the first owner, would have been covered by warrantee. So, we did the work. And it is  A LOT of work. You have to unbolt and remove the exhaust, and unbolt the motor so it can move forward, before you can even remove the transmission to do the repair. Let’s just say my Jeep was out-of-commission for a month while my husband worked on it between work shifts. Debated whether to sell. Even went to a dealer who offered us top-book. But …we keep it.
·      Jeep meets its first “deep” snow winter: The pretty chrome rims fill up with snow and it wobbles going down the road until the snow falls out. And—we keep it, but don’t park in deep snow (yeah, right)
·      Jeep meets gravel road (and not its first): Terrible screeching noise coming from a front wheel. Remedy, take off the wheel, find the culprit—a tiny little rock—and remove it. Not that big of a deal, so…we keep it.
·      Jeep takes my husband and children to Salt Lake City, Utah to pick me up from a speaking engagement. Steel rear bracket that holds the rear-end on the Jeep, tears, rear end is floating side-to-side. Scary scenario. Remedy, bungee-cord the rear-end back up and drive home 40 miles an hour to make repairs. Husband welds on a super-tough new bracket and—we keep it.
·      Jeep reaches 82,000 miles: The “death wobble” begins. If you hit a bump at 30 miles an hour the front-end wobbles crazily until you come to a complete stop. Super scary scenario. We have brackets installed to add more overall balancing and my husband puts dual stabilizer shocks on the front-end. We make a note-to-self that the tie-rod ends need to be replaced every 75,000 miles. (By now we’re also starting to understand why “Jeep” people rarely have a Jeep with all “Jeep” parts.) Yes, we keep it.
·      Jeep reaches 88,000 miles: Transmission just dies. Dead. Going down the freeway on Cruise Control and then nothing. Try multiple fixes, but it’s a no go. 3 months of trial and error later a new transmission with a much better warrantee installed. Again, we debate on selling, but by now we’ve pretty much replaced everything but the motor (please don’t jinx me) and have decided rather than to sell (don’t laugh), we will keep it until it’s paid off and then replace the motor and transmission (Chevy or Ford, not Jeep) and she and I will live happily ever after. (Okay, now you can laugh)

So why in the world have I kept my STUPID Jeep?

To begin to understand you need to know, self-worth and I have a rocky history. From the time I was an awkward, shy little girl I’ve struggled with everything from the face in the mirror to letting anything I like or don’t like being in the open for fear of ridicule. I never really fit-in, in my predominantly religious neighborhood even though I did go to church with most of them. My family didn’t fit the “ideal” in ways that couldn’t be hidden. I often felt the sting of rejection and received heartless comments from my peers and sometimes, even their parents.

Everyone has a time in their life that they want to answer the “who am I?” question. Most of us are continually finding those answers as we go throughout life. As a child, teen, and young adult, I thought that who I was should be what everyone expected me to be. I liked what my friends liked, I watched what they watched, I dressed the way they dressed. Too often the things that made me unique kept me from fitting in. I became very careful about expressing my opinions aloud.

I won’t say it was anything huge that suddenly made me realize it was okay, even great, to be different, to be me. It was simply a lot of little things that reinforced the truth that God made us to be individuals, not carbon-copies. And that although we might not see ourselves as perfect, we are perfect to Him. God doesn’t make mistakes.

My Jeep and I have a lot in common.

In my 41 years, I’ve been broken down A LOT. I’ve needed multiple surgeries and stringent care and medications for many other ailments. But through it all God has never stopped loving me and giving me a hand back up—every single time. No matter how broken I am, the Master Healer never stops bringing me the nourishment I need (physical, spiritual and mental), until I can stand again. It has been and will be a constant thing. My physical and mental health will continually be an issue for the rest of my life. But this will never stop me from being able to be an instrument in His hands and being loved by Him. As long as I choose to keep at it.

Over the years, I’ve learned to admit to the things I love and enjoy. To be me. Despite my Jeep’s challenges, I feel like myself when I drive her. She really isn't stupid, she’s just had a rough life, but she keeps on going so long as I put the love and care into her that she needs. She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me.

So, yeah, I’ll keep it.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Only Girl...

I’m the youngest in my family, and the only girl. When I was little I loved pretending to be a hairstylist. I often got in trouble for cutting my dolls hair, my hair, and (unfortunately for them) my friends hair. I also learned the hard way that Barbie’s hair is made of plastic and shouldn’t be curled with a curling iron…
When I was in high school I went to beauty school, worked as a receptionist in a salon, and by my senior year I was working full time as a stylist. Loved it. Thought I would do it forever. I looked forward to having my own little girls with hair to play with.
Fast forward a few years and two little boys (and still the only girl) later, I was no longer working as a hairstylist, my own hair spent more time in a pony-tail than done, and I learned something. Little boys are AWESOME!!! Thank goodness I had two older brothers so I was used to mud-fights, buckets of energy, and teasing… lots and lots of teasing.
Fast forward a few more years and two teenage boys later (and still the only girl—unless you count a cat and 5 hens), I do the occasional hair cut for friends and family, my hair is fixed a tiny bit more often than it used to be (but still spends a lot of time in a pony-tail since my current occupation has me parked in front of a computer), and I know my teenage boys are AWESOME!!!
Seriously, I never knew how much I would love being a mom to two awesome boys until it happened. Being the only girl with two older brothers I always wished for a little sister and one day little girls of my own. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I would adore a sister (although friends tell me theirs drive them insane), and my own little girls, but I have no regrets. My brothers are some of my best friends and my boys fill me with so much joy!
The other night my 14-year-old asked me to teach him how to shave. (No, he doesn’t have a ton of facial hair, just enough wonky fuzzies to drive him crazy.)
Thank goodness for my years as a stylist😂.
It was so much fun! We bought shaving cream and plastered his face with it. I shaved one side of his face to show him how and then he shaved the other. It was actually hard not to cry as I sat there watching him glide the razor over his little baby face. I pictured his one-year-old self: chubby little cheeks, white blond hair, big blue eyes, always wearing only one sock… Priceless.
As my oldest gets ready for college (he’s had two acceptances, and two scholarship offers so far…) and my heart aches at the idea of him leaving, I can’t help but go over the years and feel so much gratitude for the fact that God obviously knows me so much better than I know myself.
I had two boys, lost a baby and the opportunity to have any more. But not even in the tiniest way do I feel cheated. The complete opposite in fact. I am so incredibly blessed to have my two little miracles.
My life is so full.
Hard. Scary. Frustrating. Yes. Yes. And Yes.
Full includes all those, and that’s okay. It’s those moments that make me really appreciate the Joy. Peace. Love. Compassion. And messy perfection.

Being the only girl isn’t so bad😊.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Winter Blues Anyone???

I’ve said it before. I struggle in the winter. Especially in January. Christmas is over, the cheery lights come down, the snow turns from white to murky mush, it gets sooooo cold, and I always set resolutions I can’t (or don’t) stick with—so in follows the guilt to top it off!

A friend of mine (who loves winter as much as I do) shared a post with me from musician Hilary Weeks. I LOVED IT! She not only describes my January feelings perfectly, she offers inspiration and daily activities to help stave off the winter blues.

It's a godsend, seriously. It has not been an easy winter so far at the Parkinson house—everyone caught the nasty cold going around, I broke out in hives from an allergic reaction to medication (that are taking forever to go away), and my Jeep suffered a major breakdown (transmission--ugh)… Amidst the boogers, hives, and being stuck in the house, I really, REALLY, need a reason to enjoy January. Thank heaven for inspired friends!!!  

So instead of trying to come up with a blog post when my brain is way too close to melt down, I’ve decided to instead focus on Hilary’s Joy in January plan and recoup. If any of you out there also struggle with winter blah’s and would like to try this with me, here’s the link to Hilary’s post and free download (if you want to print off the activities) and here’s the link to the $2.99 “clicker” Hilary sells (that you see me wearing in the picture), if you'd like one.

Here’s to a happy and joy filled 2018!!!!