Friday, July 16, 2010

Be the Tree That You Were Meant to Be

Children are so care-free and happy.  This blog has been inspired by a picture of my friend's baby that I was just looking at.  Her baby is overjoyed and smiling a big, joyful smile.  Eyes are squinted, all of her upper and lower teeth are showing a brilliant smile.  You can see in her that she doesn't know or care what anyone thinks of her.  She just is who she is an it is beautiful.  I placed the picture above of my sister and myself when we were young.  I was so into my ice cream that I didn't even know a picture was being taken! Oddly enough, we're sitting in front of a picture of a tree.

Teaching middle school, I see a lot of changes happen.  I honestly can say that middle school is one of the most heart-breaking times to experience.  I hated it when I went through it and it hurts me to see things happen to the students I work with.  They often come into the 6th grade just being themselves not even knowing how they appear to other people or how others are judging them.  Then, slowly, year by year, they learn that to make friends you have to look a certain way and act a certain way.  And, even then, you aren't guaranteed real friends.  You are just guaranteed people who will be around you mostly for their own personal gain.  They want to be friends with the person who is popular because that might make THEM popular.  I hate watching people lose themselves to other people because of how lonely it might be for them not to.  Those who are daring enough to be themselves are often outcasts.

We start out as a tree.  Children, to me, appear to be beautiful trees. 

The world is literally their world! And they have no worries about branching out as who they are.  They will play games and put on voices.  They will laugh heartily at things they think are funny.  And they just don't know better or what else the world is all about.  For them, everything is as they see it.  To an extent, that is a fantastic thing, because they are just being what God made them to be.

Then, as we get older, we become more in tune with the world around us.  

Sometimes, it is through observation.  Other times, it comes from somebody coming out and saying "that's weird" or "you can't be my friend if."  There are also things that we do because we learn more about being considerate and realizing that life isn't all about you and your world.  This is where the trouble begins.  We start allowing and having to prune ourselves because pruning is important; yet, it is how and where to do it that becomes fuzzy.  We don't know how to deal with things.  People tell you what to do and who to be.

So, you start adapting more.  You make yourself what you think you ought to be.  But more people keep telling you what to be.  And so you adjust more and more because nobody wants to be an outcast and nobody wants to be "weird"
There! You are now a trunk! Those branches weren't necessary anyway.  They were just getting in the way of you being accepted and liked by others.  Besides, beneath it all, everyone is just a trunk anyway.  So, now, you fit in perfectly! Nobody can say anything to you about you being strange because there is nothing left to criticize.  But is it pleasant being a trunk?  What about those beautiful branches and leaves that once flowed freely and happily with the breeze?

Well, there is no time to think about that because there are too many other things to worry about.  And you really don't want to be alone in the world.  At least you are surrounded by others now.  You know you have people you can depend on....or people who want to depend on you.  And the more you give in to what people want you to be and tell you to be, the more (without realizing it) you allow them to cut away YOU.  Until all that you are left as is a stump.

At least you are useful, right? Hmmm...but sad that you really miss the days of being able to be yourself.  You miss the person you once were.  What if you had never changed for anything?

There are some adults who stop caring and just do whatever they want to do or feel like.  Unfortunately, that's not a pretty picture either.
They become a wild, overgrown mess that is neither pretty to look at nor of any use to anyone.  To be useless to others and unproductive to anybody but yourself is only a deficit.

So, what are we to do? Have you felt, as I have felt, that you have allowed yourself to be cut away at too much?  I have seen it happen too much.  I cannot stand to see children lose themselves.  Just because you are an adult doesn't mean that the you that was so vibrantly there as a child has to be gone.  

I think, for me, I am finding that if I care about what the Lord wants and understand that there will be people who reject me for who I am, I am okay.  Because then I will prune as a necessity so that I am not self-absorbed and useless.  However, I have not allowed people to run me over to the point of feeling like and being nothing but a stump.  The great thing about humans, unlike trees, is that we have the ability to go back and bring the beautiful tree back that we may have once lost.

Psalm 1:2 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, 
       which yields its fruit in season
       and whose leaf does not wither.
       Whatever he does prospers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Product Review: Grapefruit FRESH!


Neutrogena has come out with a new line of cleansing products featuring the grapefruit.  I have tried a variety of facial and other cleansers only to find them pretty disappointing.  I was using a cleanser from Neutrogena before this that did almost nothing for my skin. I even tried Proactiv before only to break out in a horrible rash from it.

So, needless to say, I'm a little reticent when it comes to facial cleansers.  My skin is so particular that it either breaks out more, does nothing, or becomes dry, flaky, and itchy. However, something about the grapefruit appealed to me, although I can't say exactly what it is.  

Last week, I got this horrible under-the-skin blemish that led me to decide I had to find a face wash that would work for me.  I went to the store and purchased the new Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit collection.  

As soon as I tried it, I was beyond impressed! First of all, I can feel it cleansing as I am washing my face.  Second, I love the grapefruit smell.  It is so enticing that I actually get excited about washing my face!  I've been using this cleanser for over a week now and have nothing but good things to say about it.

First, I use the exfoliating cleanser. 
This left my face feeling fresh! And it isn't harsh at all.  It gently exfoliates the outer layer of skin, which is great for my skin type.  Exfoliating scrubs are usually the reason my skin ends up dry and flaky because the beads are too rough.  These are soothing get effective.

Second, I dry my face with a wash cloth.  I wet it again and then I apply the regular face wash.
I LOVE this one because it is so smooth! And the grapefruit smell is so fresh.  After exfoliating, it leaves my skin feeling soft.  

After using both of these products together, I have noticed vast improvements in the condition of my skin.  The large under-the-skin blemish was gone within two days.  The rest of my face is shiny and clear! Go Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit!

The only product out of this line that I wasn't that impressed with was the Body Clear Body Wash.
The body wash actually ended up causing breakouts for me more than anything else. Two out of three isn't bad though.  

Still, I would recommend the face wash to case anyone is interested. :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

One Thing at a Time

When the movers brought our things to Georgia, it looked like the world's worst hurricane  came through this house.  I was completely and utterly overwhelmed by all of our things.  One of the movers joked with me as he was about to walk out the door, "You won't be straight for a week."  Little did I know he was actually being nice.  They brought the things in the middle of June and I am still going through and organizing.

I WISH I'd taken before pictures, so people could understand the monstrosity of a mess I was dealing with.  Still, I was not alone in dealing with this.  My husband jumped right in and we tackled the majority of it together. 

Plus, he's naturally a better organizer than I am.  I have to stare at something for about an hour to figure out what the best way to organize it would be.  He just starts going and BAM it's organized.  I'm jealous.  I told him I'd like to take an organizing class so I could be faster with it and he said, "Just join the army." Ha! 

Anyway, so we basically organized to the point of making the space we live in the most..well..livable.  He picked up some of the heavy boxes that I couldn't lift and took them out to storage or up to the spare bedroom so that we could sort through them later.  Our kitchen and living room were in order, and that was the most pressing at the time.

However, we were then left with the guest bedroom being full of boxes and random things.  Now, I am sure he would have gone through the bedroom with me.  Yet, being at home all day by myself, I decided it was time to get it CLEAN and ORGANIZED!  I was going crazy just looking at it.  Plus, I felt like it was a danger zone walking in there (I don't have a real picture so just imagine it's like the one below).  


I began by taking maybe an hour a day to go through a few things in there and throw away, put up, or organize them.  It felt good even though I'd only made small dent.  I knew that when I walked in there, the room was just a little bit cleaner than it was before.  Well, the other day I took Amber to Petsmart to get a bath and while I was waiting for her, I went next door to one of my favorite stores...TARGET!  I bought some lovely sets of sheets and a comforter to put on the spare bedroom bed and that was the magic wand that got me OVERHAULIN'!

I came home and faced the room like it was my arch rival.  Inside I felt I'll never get this done but outside I was determined.  I really didn't know what to do first.  So, decided that I would pretend the rest of the boxes weren't there and simply focus on one tub of items in front of me.  I had my large black trash bag to my left, a box for Goodwill donations to my right, and everything else would find a place in this house.  I was tossing things out, placing them in the donation bin, and organizing the rest.  Well, it seemed that one little box turned into another little box.  And I started to find that I had more room.  So, I set up a little office space for me in the room.  And I set up another table plus a futon.  And before I knew it I looked up and somehow the entire room had gotten organized! I didn't know who did all of that work but I had 2 full trash bags and 6 broken down empty boxes to throw out.  Plus, I had a large box of things to donate. 

I looked at the clock and it had taken me two hours.  But it felt like it was no time at all.  All I did was take it one thing at a time.  Right now, I only have to move two boxes of my school things from that room into storage and have my husband help me take an extra box spring that is in the room to Goodwill and the room will be totally done.  I'll take a picture when it is totally ready.