Merit Badges For Grown Ups or Me Too Badges.

Girl Scout Uniforms

Have you ever met someone and they later become a good friend and in the course of sharing your life stories you realize you have so many things in common?

Isn’t that the best feeling, when you realize you aren’t alone?

This is where Girl Scout Badges would be so handy. Can you picture it…without all the small chat, you could instantly see that you have several life experiences in common.

For example how long do you know someone before it comes up in conversation that you  have had a miscarriage? Or you were raised by a single parent because your parents were divorced and your dad was an abusive alcoholic?

Wouldn’t it save so much time if you could wear all these life experiences on our sleeve or the outside of our purse?

I mean really wouldn’t it be easier if we got a badge for surviving the crap that life drags us through? We should have amazing little decals that we can iron onto our sashes or motorcycle jackets take your pick.

For things like:

  • Divorce
  • Suicide
  • Infidelity
  • Abuse
  • Screwed up childhood
  • Cancer
  • Loss of a child
  • Death of a Spouse
  • Death of a Parent
  • Veteran/PTSD
  • Teen Pregnancy
  • Addictions
  • Loneliness
  • Infertility
  • Anxiety/Depression/Mental Illness
  • Elderly Parents/Dementia
  • Adoption
  • Etc

Really the list is infinite, but you get the idea. I am certain that one of these things may have touched you or your family’s life at some point.

Recently I was having lunch with 2 separate friends who revealed to me independent of each other how throughly awful their childhoods had been. I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear that these smart, wonderful, kind friends had both gone through such horrible childhoods and yet come out alive.

To know these people I would have never guessed it was like this, I tend to think my childhood was fairly weird and not normal.But you never know what someones else has lived through or what their family has dealt with.

So wouldn’t it be easier in this life to wear our brokenness like a Merit Badge? I mean can you imagine how much easier it would be to cope sometimes if you knew you were NOT alone.

You could be in an elevator and say “I have the same type of cancer, how did you beat yours?” because the person beside you wore the badge.

We could see right away why some people seem prickly when you first meet them, who wouldn’t be if they had a tough upbringing or a  hard life? But you could break through those walls with a common thread or a Merit Badge System!

Even the most perfect looking people who some may think have it all, they have brokenness too. Don’t be fooled by their facade, this is part of our humanity, to have these struggles.

All of us are broken in some way, I may not walk with a cane or limp but I assure you my brokenness is in there, it’s tucked away. I realize when I share my story or my life with a select few I may help them to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I hear you, I lived it too. My heart hurts for you that you to have to go through this.

As a mom I pray that my kids never make the mistakes I did. I just want them to be happy and healthy and grow up knowing that they are special and they are loved. Most importantly that when their father and I are gone that God is still with them and loves them even more. No matter WHAT!

Most importantly Christ knows you and he loves you no matter how damaged you may think you are. He sees our invisible merit badges and he loves us, despite our flaws.

So who’s with me? Sashes or biker jackets with our “Life’s Merit Badges Movement”? I think I vote for the Biker Jacket, at this point I’ve earned it.

Your Broken & Imperfect Friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

rockers-leather-jacket-covered-in-studs-patches-and-badges-ton-up-exf330

 

 

 

 

 

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When Did Kids Sports Get So Gnarly or When Did We Become a Jerry Springer Parody?

 

I’m sure you’ve seen the news recently with parents at Little League games, sunshine, concessions, Jr playing 2nd base. When all of the sudden a brawl erupts and the police are called!

I just cannot fathom this behavior, don’t get me wrong other parents say I’m the LOUDEST cheerleader on any team, but I’m cheering not screaming at my kid or the Referee.

My daughter is in 6th grade and we’ve been participating in sports activities with her since she was 5. She plays spring and fall soccer, swim team, basketball and maybe volleyball this year. Plus she loves to run in races thanks Girls On The Run ( a great organization to encourage girls to be fit, confident, athletic and kind to each other).

I tell you this because I want to give you an idea of length and scope of families we’ve met over the years.

When she was young it was little local neighborhood leagues, then the YMCA, our swimming  pool Swim Team and CYO.

If you’re not familiar with CYO it stands for Catholic Youth Organization. They are all over the country in probably every Archdiocese. I believe the primary purpose is for Catholic schools and families of these parishes with children enrolled in public schools to have a league of their own to compete against.

More on this later……(dun dun dramatic pause)

So when we played for the YMCA we had a team mostly made up of kids from our school and a few brave *parent volunteers and other schools. Each school builds up their own team for whatever sport and the Y provides the referees (sometimes middle school kids or college students). You get cool little t-shirts and the kids get a trophy at the end of a season.

But mostly they get to make friendships, build skills, exercise and parents visit amongst themselves while we cheer our mini-me’s.

*Thank the Lord for parent volunteers, without whom many of the leagues would never exist and that would be a huge deficit.

One Saturday morning we all our watching our little 4th grader co-ed team play soccer when a dad erupts from the side lines beside me (from the other team) yelling at our coach over some suspected slight. My poor unsuspecting husband is sitting between us (minding his own business aka trying to tune me out)

I jumped up and told him to sit down and stop acting crazy, I guess I should mention he was HUGE over 6′ tall and burly, my husband is all of 5’3″ but built like the mini Hulk. He was shouting that his kid was out there and such and such is unfair. I said “Hey everyones kids is out there and here you are screaming at the coach in front of ALL our kids! So sit down and be quite. He sat down and my husband breathed a sigh of relief I’m sure.

Summation ” I guess we’re NOT playing for Jesus in this League” #disgusted #RabbleRouser #Naïve

FOR THE RECORD– I hate bullies! I was bullied as a kid and now as an adult I can not fight down the urge to defend other people, probably at my own peril sometimes. I’m not a vigilante but I have seen The Punisher several times. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

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Meanwhile all the parents (dads included thanked me quietly for shutting down the bully) I swear I don’t know what came over me, I just loathe bullies and I am a FIERCE mama bear when pushed.

During the course of my daughters sports I have seen some brutal nasty underhanded tripping, shoving, intentional elbowing to the sides, etc. During one such game one of our players (a tough no nonsense girl named Hannah) was knocked to the ground flat on her face and the ref didn’t call a time out. Hannah lay on the field and didn’t get up, while the the rest of the team kept running around and over her. So I shouted for the teams to “Take a knee!”

This means STOP play and wait till the injured player can be helped off the field and checked by the coach. All these little girls stopped dead and dropped to a knee. Hannah was taken off the field and the Ref yelled at them to only listen to his whistle to stop play (to borrow a line from Brittany Spears “Oops I did it again!”).

Consequently I had a long talk with my daughter about what I expected from her in her sporting career.

  1. Have fun it’s JUST a game.
  2. You’re playing for Jesus! For Pete’s sake these kids are all from other Catholic schools.What does it say when you beat the crap outta of the other kids just to win?
  3. Play fair NO MATTER what, I don’t care if you Win or Lose as long as you play with Good Sportsmanship.What’s the point of “Winning” if you can’t play with integrity.

Once my daughter was complaining about her coaches and her team, about how unfair everything seemed. I said “Look every single parent here is a volunteer, they are not making a  dime to coach you. Also you’re not getting paid to play either.They are taking time away from their families to teach you the love of this sport (fill in the blank).If you really love this sport it doesn’t matter if your team wins, but every minute you get on the field, court , etc is making YOU a better player, no matter the skills of the rest of your team”.

These are parents who are lawyers, surgeons, Stay at home mom’s with 3-5 kids, Airforce Colonels,Professionals, etc. who take time out of their busy schedules to coach my kids! I am humbled and blessed at their levels of commitment, because I’m not out there doing it.

Obviously I don’t take this entire kids sports to seriously thats because I am realistic about the fact that maybe only 1% of the population will actually become elite athletes or Olympians for that matter. That’s probably WON’T be one of my daughters, but as long as they have fun, get exercise and it builds their confidence thats a win in my book.

Also I don’t think I’m living out some FAILED sports dreams through my kids achievements. Although I do scream/cheer super loud at swim meets, when I see my girls  out swimming my best times in the backstroke.

Cut to this weekends first basketball game of the season, 4th quarter, 5th grade girls basketball game, our gym. A visiting parent had apparently been screaming at the refs throughout the entire game until at this point he JUMPED up and was screaming at the top of his lungs at the 6’5″ “built like a LineBacker referee. Telling the ref to learn the rules. Where upon the ref said “You need to learn the rules this is the last 3 minutes, etc.” The dad backed down, but later proceeded to talk loudly throughput the following teams prayer leading up to the beginning of the next game. #Disrespectful

Apparently this has become such a problem that the Archdiocese has hired a part-time parent to eject these unruly parents from games!

Seriously! We’re talking about a kids sporting event not Soccer hooligans in Europe rampaging a stadium.

Scottish_Soccer_Hooligans

Courtesy Saturday Night Live 

Another parent told me about a group of parents that nearly attacked another coach at a YMCA game until she screamed at the approaching mob that she was a City Prosecutor and would see them ALL arrested before they day was over, narrowly avoiding a brawl.

During our next game on Sunday (way out in the boondocks), few parents showed up for either side. But we all (maybe 25 in total) sat on the same side of the gym. I felt bad for the other team because our girls just kept scoring (final score 26-6) so I cheered for the other team too. So did my fellow team parents. We all know those long depressing rides home after a complete shut out.

You see we’re parents and we want to encourage ALL of these girls to do their best and have fun. NOT just our team but all of them.

As Catholic Christians we want to set examples for our children that we are showing Gods love for our neighbors.

I have to imagine that some of these parents are frantic for little Debbie or Tommy to get a full ride scholarship to college, but that does not excuse their abhorrent behavior.

Our kids are mirrors of our behavior, every sweet or nasty thing my kids do is a reflection of how I treat them or how they see me treating other people in our lives. Period.

So what kind of example do you want to see your children modeling?

Gladiators

Your friend,

Pilar The Papist Squirrel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Build A Better Girl or How to LOVE Who You Are Right NOW!

strong-woman

A thought has been going around and around in my head ( you know those thoughts , that just won’t quit)?

My friends have a running joke about me that I have serious underwear issues, like I never have enough on hand! But I just got 20 new pairs and I texted my girlfriends and showed them my multipacks of JOY.

A conversation ensued about who wears which kind and how some of them NEVER and I mean NEVER let anyone (hopefully their husbands) see them naked or in their underwear EVER!

That just strikes me as so SAD! When did we all become so self conscious that we can’t even walk around the house (with the blinds closed, I’m not advocating being a WEIRDO)  in our underwear?

I understand that I may not look like a super model, but my husband thinks I’m all that and a bag of chips. Maybe because he’s older then me by 12 years, but he still chases me around.

So when my friends who are fabulous, beautiful, intelligent and hilarious, tell me that they don’t think they look beautiful it breaks my heart.

Tonight at my daughters  soccer practice. I kept hearing all the girls say “Oh I should have done better” or “I suck, I’m terrible at running” all this NEGATIVE self talk!

I do NOT want to be that mom that tells my girls “Oh sweetie you’re the very best at every single thing you do, there is NO room for improvement ever”!

I want my girls to know that part of becoming a better, person, student, athlete, artist or anything takes LOADS of work and perseverance. I want them to be confident young women who go out and make a difference in the world big or small I don’t care.

If they decide to have full time careers or be stay at home mommies, I just want them to know they are amazing and expect to make mistakes so they can be a better professionals, mamas or athletes.

I have a friend named Michelle and she has given her children self affirmations that they say together everyday.

Things like “I am important, I am brave, I am strong, I am intelligent”etc. You get the idea, this sets their internal voice to a positive message when she isn’t there to cheer them on.

But I see a huge difference between young boys and girls, sure they are all insecure and that’s normal. But boys aren’t talking to themselves in this negative way or men, they would walk around in their underwear ALL day if it was possible ( scratching their bellies and other unmentionables).

I have a few theories on this entire issue.

Number 1 with a bullet pornography. Men see these women as an ideal and women think I need to look like these women!These poor women who have been so surgically altered that they look like a Barbie come to life. Not mention all the psychological issues this industry is inflicting on their psyche let alone their health.

barbies

Magazines, tv, movie stars, social media mavens filmed or photoshopped after hours of hair and make up professionals have waved their magic wands.

Reality tv shows that tell us Plastic Surgery is the MAGICAL CURE ALL to every single problem you could ever have. Nope you’re still you under that tummy tuck and after that liposuction.

I’m not against plastic surgery, but you’ve seen these women, skin pulled SO tight that they no longer look like a real person. I read an article about a 39 year old mother in England who has already had her first FACE LIFT. She admits to multiple surgeries, ranging from breast implants, to rhinoplasty.

But 39 and having a facelift is just INSANE!

What real women or teenage girl can compare themselves to these UNATTAINABLE standards? These are impossible and harmful ideals.

Real women have flaws and we need to LOVE ourselves despite these flaws.

When I look back at how I looked in high school, I wish I knew then that was my absolute peak of physical fitness, or my 20’s & 30’s! Now as I stare down 50 I realize I may not be thin, but I am alive and God is using me to help others.

I had a miscarriage in my early 40’s that sent me into such a DEEP and PROFOUND depression, I never thought I would come back from it. I lost all interest in how I looked.

But when my kids were in preschool I always thought I want to look my best so my kids aren’t embarrassed or treated differently. GAG

Why did I ever think that was important?

Cut to me 4 years later, my priorities have certainly shifted and I still have tough days. BUT, but I have days when I pull it together and feel pretty, which in turn boosts my confidence and this affects how people interact with me. Or at least I think it plays a slight role.

I tell my friends “You’re fabulous RIGHT NOW!” Just think when you’re 80 and you look back at this age and say “Damn I was FABULOUS at 44, why didn’t I realize that then?”

If you can look at your life this way and say wow I got more interesting with age, or that scar there, I earned that scar in a hard fought battle (having kids, having some type of surgery like a friend of mine who had open heart surgery in her late 20’s).

Like those women who fight breast cancer and win! I love to see those photos of some lovely tattoo where their breast used to be. These women are WARRIORS and they can decorate their battle scared body any way they chose. They fought cancer and WON!

Women are warriors on and off the battle field, sometimes these battles are only in our minds with our selves.

So today tell that voice in your head that says:

“Wait till I reach this goal, lose that last 10 lbs., fit in these skinny jeans, get that promotion, etc”, blah blah, blah.

Tell that voice SHUT UP!

I AM fearfully and wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God, right here and right now!

Then remember you are special, unique and a treasure to your friends and family that love you.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

 

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What Happens When You’re Someone Else? Dabbling with DNA

SilouetteFor Christmas this year I asked my family for a DNA kit. Let me just state that my mother-in-law could NOT fathom why I would want to know my DNA background. According to her what’s the  point.

Pilar kindergarten 3

Me,1974?

Well, I guess if I had been adopted this would perhaps be a burning question at some point in my life.

Or if like me you were raised with no contact with your dad’s side of the family. So I was left with my mom’s vague recollections and family folklore. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we moved A LOT!

Add to this the fact that my grandma (The Head of Chaos (GET SMART) as I call her) is the matriarch of the family and is rather sketchy even when she had a good memory. Sketchy in a kind “Witness Relocation” kind of way!

We are a family that doesn’t seem to keep roots down for long. So for me who we are and where we’re from has been a nagging question most of my adult life.

It became more of a question when I had children and they started  writing ancestry type reports in school.

My husbands family has an Uncle George the family genealogist, they have photo’s going back nearly 120 years. Like my friend Barb that can name all the family members in her old family pictures, going back several generations. #Treasure

We have some photos of my grandma as a child, grandpa with my mom, aunts, a few of my own baby photos. I say a few since after the divorce my mother cut my dad out of most of the pictures, which makes it difficult to grasp at memories if he ever held me and loved me?

I have one single photo of my dads family with all my aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Anaya Family

The Anaya Family

My mother can’t seem to remember if my dad is the littlest boy in front or the baby on my grandma’s knee? Or which are my Aunts Marina and Aurora?

But I see a striking resemblance in my youngest daughter to my Aunts, who look like Spanish film stars. The ears are another family trait I inherited, like my brother, who also got the red head gene from my Grandpa Anaya and the Cason side of our family. Or the weird mole on the back of my neck like my brother and my dad, which means I can’t continue to claim my brother was a troll we found under a bridge!

Growing up I was a clone of my father, even mannerisms and personalty according to my mom. She used to say he never met a stranger, which is what my husband says about me.

But when you have unresolved issues with an absent parent and they die before you can grill them about their motives, it leaves a huge empty spot in your life. Not to mention the whole medical history side of family history.

This is not to say I don’t picture this side of the family when I pray during mass for the faithfully departed, but I can’t pray for them by name like I should be able too.

 When you don’t know who or where you come from, pictures and DNA help you like an ancient map.

Silouette

So I finally received the results of my DNA from Ancestory.com and I find out (drum roll) I’m 87% European.

Hun? I thought that would have been spilt a little differently, not what I was expecting at all, maybe 56% but 87%?

Let me be clear that 24% of the “Anaya” DNA comes from the Iberian Peninsula. Spain and Portugal, which I had heard we were Spanish, but most Mexicans claim this and it’s probably not correct. I also expected Ireland( more red hair genes), England, Scotland, France (hello France boarders Spain, who knew!)

But what made me laugh, is the 8% Native American!

Have you ever watched those ancestry shows on PBS? You know where the people are certain, beyond a reasonable doubt that they have a Native American great grandma, and the results are always NO. Zero, Zilch, Do not Pass Go or Collect $200.

But nearly every person of Jewish decent is related to Barbara Walters! (Now that’s just odd). I was holding out hope that I may be a little Jewish, which would have been so awesome to be one of God’s chosen people! No Luck.

People have asked me what if the test is wrong? My answer is this , they have suggested my brother as a nearly 99.9% match (with different last names) and the region of Mexico that they predict I share DNA (Colima & Western Michocián) are within a 100 mile radius (give or take) where I was born and my fathers family lived and probably still do.

So I’m fairly certain that even with my families sketchy lack of history that the test is reasonably accurate.

Which leads me to this question, if I’m not half Mexican like I always assumed then what am I?

I have a joke I tell  “Between myself (1/2) and my 2 (1/4 & 1/4) daughters we make one whole Mexican!” People either laugh or they look really confused. #ItsAJoke

Rats! This means I need a whole new schtick! I can’t call myself the Mexican Vampire that can’t go in the sun. Or claim that alarms sound in every house in Oakwood when I enter the city limits (another joke).

I feel like I may have opened up a Pandora’s box full of questions. But by nature of my birth and birth certificate I am a Mexican, if you count the country of my origin? Why is this so weird now?

Ultimately, I would say I identify as a Catholic foremost, a Mom, a wife and an American, in that order.

Looking at my DNA now I can see a heavy Catholic influence, which my mother discovered when she paid a genealogist to research our family history. My mother said we had been Catholic going back 500 years, then came to America and rebelled against the Church becoming Protestants. #Rebels

I have yet to see this report, my mom is not good with the follow through.

So what about you friends, have you dipped your toe in the DNA testing pool? Let me tell you from my experience, you may be SURPRISED with the outcome.

Your friend,

Pilar the Papist Squirrel

Formerly known as “The Mexican Vampire”

Cocktails With The Saints

Yesterday I was listening to the Jennifer Fulwiler Show on the Catholic Channel on Channel 129.

http://jenniferfulwiler.com/jennifer-fulwiler-show-sirius-xm/

There hasn’t been a day when I have caught Jen’s show that I didn’t feel smarter, more informed or just encouraged. She typically has the most interesting and fascinating guests on her radio show that she broadcasts from her home that she shares with her husband and their 6 children.

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I have a handful of friends that I know that when I spend time with them I feel smarter. All my friends are smart, but some are in fields that are beyond my realm of knowledge.

Like my friend Amy she is a prosector for the City of Dayton, if I had to face her in court as a criminal I would be scared. But since she’s my friend, I feel smarter every time I hang out with her. Phew

Or my friend Terri the science brain, do you see where I’m going with this. I just have amazing friends who are gifted in other areas outside of my realm of ability. But they never make me feel less, in fact they generally make me feel smarter by osmosis!

Is that even a thing? I think so, so it is!

So back to the show, Jennifer had this guest on named Brice Sokolowski who was on promoting his new book “Alms”.

Brice runs a company that helps Catholic organizations fundraise. 99% of his advice is free, because he feels it is his calling. Cool, hun?

http://catholicfundraiser.net

One of the last questions Jennifer asked Brice was “If you went to heaven and met the Saints and they asked your name, what century you were from and what heresy you fought? What would you say?”

So Brice who is from the great state of Texas, and now resides in the south of France with his family , said

“If I got into heaven God willing. I picture it like a cocktail soirée with fabulous cheese and wine. But I would have to say (since they were short on time, they skipped the century and name part) the heresy I fought was relativism and defense of the family”

WOW!

That is such an amazing question, what would your answer be? That just had my mind racing.

In my earlier life I was an agnostic. I did NOT believe in Jesus, but I did believe that there was a God or Higher Power. Which also led me to believe I was Prochoice. I thought abortion should be a last resort, but a “choice” none the less.

Cut to me 15 years later, before I was pregnant I really started to question, at what point was abortion just morally wrong? Was it after the 1st trimester? Certainly after the 2nd that was just reprehensible to me and late term abortion was just not even an option open for any type of discussion.

Once I started thinking this way, I just kept going further and further back in the development of a human baby. Until ultimately I concluded that life is life when there is a heartbeat, DUH!

Oh man I was on a slippery slope then. Cut to me pregnant and attending mass. Just listening and not understanding anything about the Faith, but listening and trying to keep up with all the kneeling, standing, and responses that everyone seemed to know by heart.

Somewhere along the way God lite a tiny ember in my heart that would become a raging BONFIRE for Jesus and all things relating to the Catholic faith. #crazy

Soon I had 2 kids that were in school and I discovered I was pregnant after 40 and I was beyond overjoyed! I suffered a miscarriage at 13 weeks and delivered our daughter Mia.

She was perfectly formed with fingers and toes and a tiny dimple in her chin like her sister. 13 weeks this was a shock to me I had no idea, this is how babies developed so quickly.

Our family was grief stricken and devastated. It changed me forever and I never thought I would be happy again, but from her brief life our little Saint changed our lives.

Prior to losing our baby we had been Prolife, for the most part. But seeing her little body, changed all that. It proved beyond any shadow that this was a human being NOT some “clump of cells” as some would try to make you believe.

ultrasound-baby

I share my story often and each time it’s easier, because miscarriage is not something people want to discuss. It’s a sad personal tragedy, but if I share my story I may help another family in their grief.

Over the weekend I ran into a couple that spoke at our parish about the loss of what would have been their 6th child Isabella, 2 weeks before her due date. The cord wrapped around her neck and she died in utero.

This family shared that they saw this baby’s life touch so many people even though she never lived outside her mom’s body. Their truthful and heart wrenching story helped me heal. The saw so many graces come from this brief little life and God’s plan continues to unfold for them.

So if I make into heaven by Gods grace and a Saint were to ask me what heresy I fought against. I will be able to answer with a resounding certainty I fought for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death.

I may not have gone with the flow of what society claims to be a “choice” or what feminist rally against government for “controlling” their bodies.

But as a woman and a mother I will stand up and share my story and the truth as I know it. I will be the voice for the voiceless in what should be the safest place on earth, the womb.

I pray I share my story with love and compassion, so that it might change even one heart.

Every time I attend mass I pray fervently for an end to abortion.

So what would you say when asked by the Saints at the great cocktail party in the sky? What heresy did you fight?

God Bless you,

Your friend

Pilar The Papist Squirrel.