Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Deed

Never underestimate the power of a good deed, especially during the holidays. You never know whose life you’ll change forever. My life was forever changed thanks to a good deed back in Christmastime of 1988.

never underestimate the power of a good deed

It was Christmas time and I was a 21-year-old expectant mother of my first child. It should have been an exciting time. I should have been full of wonderment and joy. I was full of fear, and I was alone. My then (sorry I ever met him except for the fact that he gave me my first two true loves) husband got locked up for a DUI, again. I had just started a new job. I really didn’t know anyone there and I surely didn’t share my insane personal life with them.

My mom had called, after hearing of the news. I was at work, at my new job. I did my best to be quiet. No, mom, I don’t need anything. I’ll be fine. He’ll be out in a few days. I’m fine. I’m totally fine. Yes, I know it’s Christmas, but I’ve got this! No one heard, it was cool; I was fine. But apparently, someone heard and someone heard me cry in the bathroom after that phone call. Someone knew that I didn’t even have a tree. Someone KNEW that my heart needed to enjoy my favorite time of the year, despite my circumstances. Someone, her name was Julie, changed my life that year, in 1988, and I’ve dedicated my life ever since to paying it forward.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Deed

I walked into my office that next morning, sat down at my desk, and there was an envelope just staring at me, with my name on it. I opened it. I read words that warmed me like maybe no other words ever have. I cried.

$50. A cool $50 and a simple note. Doesn’t seem like much, right? Change in your pocket. So wrong.

So, so wrong.

Those words…everyone deserves a Merry Christmas…forever changed my life. And it’s changed the lives of many others since.

You see, that Christmas, that year, I was ready to throw in the towel. I didn’t want to bring a child into a cruel world that didn’t understand how much I loved this season…how much I loved humanity. I thought bad things, alone and pregnant in my little apartment that week. I wasn’t sure if I could go on…or not. I wasn’t sure if that baby girl had a future with a mom like me. That note, that kind and thoughtful note, changed my entire life and the life of my unborn baby girl.

I went out that very night and bought a tree, a fake one that didn’t make me sneeze, and blue ribbon with pink bows because at the time, I didn’t know if she was a boy or a girl. I decorated my tree. I cried, I laughed, I rejoiced in life, and in the season. I was excited for the first time in a long time. Julie, little did she know, changed (possibly saved?) our lives.

still believe in the magic of christmas

With a kind note, $50, and love in her heart, she saved our lives and made me love Christmas again. Thank you, Julie, wherever you are. I still have your note. I still read your note. That note meant so much more than the money you tossed my way, so much more than that blue and pink Christmas tree that year, so much more than you’ll ever know.

NEVER underestimate the power of a good deed. Someone, somewhere, might still be fueling their Christmas spirit, their entire life in fact, off of that one good deed nearly 30 years later.

I often think of Julie. I often hope that her life turned out as good as mine. I’m pretty sure it did. Today, I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about how I’ll afford a tree; how I’ll provide for my children. I’m in a better place. I thank the Julies in my life for putting me here and I’m determined to constantly pay it forward because I learned in 1988 that a simple kind deed can change someone’s life.

My life is better now, Julie, thank you. I hope you’re living the good life too; you earned it many years ago, whether you know it or not!

PS – Julie, I never told a soul back then, but I’m telling everyone now because they really need to know. Everyone needs to know. Your “simple” gesture way back then is too powerful to conceal anymore!

A Family Beach Day, A Day in Photos

A family beach day is so cleansing to the soul. Sometimes, words aren’t necessary when the photos tell their own story. This is one of those occasions, and I’ll enjoy this photo journal for years to come! Random thoughts from a mom after a day at the beach.

family beach day

Sometimes, just letting them enjoy each other’s space is enough.

family beach day

And most of the time, just letting them be them…well, it’s enjoyable for both of you. I dig his style!

family beach dat

Bubbles! What’s a beach day without bubbles? What’s any good day without bubbles, actually?

beach family day

A day without bubbles is like a day without a beach ninja. I mean, it’s not even really a day, is it?

family beach day

The only sad part of the day is when you look through the lens and realize they might be growing up too fast. It all goes by too fast. Until…

family beach day

You realize that one of them is looking back at you, from inside of a sand hole, enjoying life like only a small child can, and you realize that there are still many years of joy, and frustration, to come. Be still my heart!

b burying kylee edit

And then there’s this. THIS is the beginning of a memory in the making, with a man that you adore making memories with.

beach family

It ended way worse than this, of course, but I was too busy unburying my baby (face and all) to get a photo. Sometimes, like this time, it’s not OK to just sit back and be the spectator…because…buried alive?!?!

beach family

And just when you realize you’re absent from your own online album, all of your family photos, you see that you were there all along. In their reflection. Capturing every moment. While they looked adoringly at you, and you realize you’re doing exactly what you were meant to do all along. Take care of them, love them, enjoy the moment, and capture the memories in their reflection while they reflect on the love that you give them.

In the end, that’s all that matters. The memories, their love, capturing their beauty. When you realize you’re doing what you love…while you’re watching the ones you love the most…enjoy themselves? That’s when you know you’ve made it. That’s when you know your life, your world is complete. That’s the moment you realize you’re living the life you intended, the life you’ve always wanted to live. That’s when you know love.

I know all of these things, and I’m glad my camera reminds me daily. I’ve made it. I’m happy to be in their reflections. I’m just happy. Not everyone achieves that level of success in life. I’m content that I’ve found my success from within my own little world.

Are you?

Dear Step Son, You’re Right, Today You’re an “Equal”

Being a “step” parent is rough. Today, after reading a dissertation of a text from my 18-year-old step son last night, I realized that I don’t treat him as an “equal” to my own kids. Today, everything will change, for him, and I hope he’s happy that he’ll actually finally have to follow rules for the first time in his life.

matt cozumel

Dear 18-year-old step son,

I’m sorry. I read your 500-word text to your dad last night (yes, he showed me, you knew he would) and I can’t say I disagree with you. You’re right. We do NOT treat you as an equal to our “real” kids. You live by different rules. You are treated differently. In fact, you are treated way differently. Thanks for pointing it out so that I don’t have to anymore. You did us all a favor and, thanks to you, your life will change today and you’ll finally be “equal”.

You see, my “real” kids have a lot of rules. They live on a budget (yes, a budget, we’re not made of money). That’s why we have stuff. We work hard, I budget our money, we get stuff. Like that cruise you just went on? Yea, that didn’t pay for itself. I did. With my budgeted savings. You’re welcome, even though you never said thank you.

But back to the inequality.

You aren’t treated as an equal. You’re treated way better than them in fact. You’re treated like a king, actually, and I’m sorry you felt the need to point that out because it’s about to change, for you, today. You’re welcome. I do listen to you even though you think I don’t.

You see, my “real” kids are expected to come home from school daily, right after school, and do their homework, eat dinner when it’s put on the table between 5:00 and 6:00 every night, then to sit as a family before bedtime. You don’t have to do that, right? Sorry, I should have required that of you instead of allowing you to skip school, not do your homework, let you go to the skate park, then come home at whatever time you’d like and eat dinner before (or after) I put it up. I should have put my foot down, as I would have with my “real” children before I allowed you to mess up the kitchen after I cleaned it up. I should have put my foot down when you took those 45 minute showers, twice a day, when I politely asked you not to. I should have, I could have, I will, starting today because I want you to be “equal”.

My “real” kids get exactly three drinks per day. One with breakfast, one with lunch, one with dinner. Sorry the open fountain will be closed for you starting today too, but it’s all in the name of equality. You’re welcome.

And speaking of breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that’s about to be equal too. I did the math, and I spend exactly $3.00 on both of the babies for breakfast and lunch daily, combined. That’s right, a total of $3.00, that’s $1.50 each. They eat breakfast at home (because I make them get up early enough to do that), a Pop Tart or a bowl of cereal. That’s 50 cents a piece. They bring their lunch. Literally, $1.00 each per day for lunch. You’re smart, do the math.

How much do you spend?

FORTY DOLLARS PER WEEK…on breakfast and lunch. Way more than your dad and I spend weekly, together. Sorry we’ve been so unfair to you.

A breakfast burrito costs $2.50. Your coffee costs $1.00. Your double lunch costs $4.oo. Your extra cookies cost $1.00. That’s $8.50 per day. That’s $42.50 per week. Then there’s dinner. That dinner I cook from scratch. All day, every day. I’m sorry we’ve been so unfair. I’m sorry “our” kids have it so much better than you.

I’m here to rectify that. Starting tomorrow, well really Monday morning, you have exactly $20 going into your school account per week. That’s way more than “my” kids get, more than double their combined daily allowance in fact. Consider yourself lucky and thank you for pointing out “your” inequalities. I feel like I’m winning. Anything you want beyond your double lunch, get a JOB.

You can eat breakfast at home like they do. Get up on time. It’s all about equality.

You don’t need coffee and cookies. If you do want them, get a JOB. We’re all equals here…now.

Oh, and the lying. That won’t fly anymore either. If “my” kids lie, they get punished. The end. You do not. You’ve skipped school a total of 23 periods this year (I have letters from the school…stop lying). Kylee wouldn’t be allowed out of her room if she’d done that. I’m sorry I was so unfair to you (her) by fussing at you about that and thinking that perhaps you should be grounded. Shame on me for being so unfair.

Speaking of that job, everyone on the island is hiring. Everyone. Always. Stop coming home (5 months after you were told to get a job – that you were required to have when you lived at “home”) saying no one is hiring. I could get a new job tomorrow morning. So can you. This time, all sarcasm aside, I’m sorry I’ve been so lenient and haven’t held you to the standards that I hold “my” children to. GET A JOB.

So, in summation, we’re finally all “equal”. You get $20 for food at school this week, and every week thereafter, which is more than double what “my” kids get, combined. Use is wisely. If you don’t like that, we have breakfast at home and lunches you can bring. You’re welcome. You need to get a job for the extras. Again, jobs are plentiful here on the island. Look, you’ll see. My “real” older children were held to this standard when they lived here and they got them within two days, not six months. You’re welcome for the extra time…months…you were afforded. I’m sorry we have rules (I’m not), I’m sorry that I will now hold you to their rules (I am not).

Thank you for pointing out the inequalities around here. Thank you for telling your dad. Thanks for the money and aggravation savings. Thank you for the dissertation via text. You saved me a lot of words. I appreciate you.

With love,

Your “all about equality” step mom,