A Single Step

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu

Well, yet again I have been completely distracted by my life.  Which is a good thing…I think.  I have quite a few irons in the fire and those red hot irons prohibit me from sitting in front of the computer for any length of time.  But, here I am…

Have you been to the Grand Canyon?  Imagine standing on the rim, surveying the vast, beautiful chasm before you.  How would you feel if you knew you had to cross it, but you had to do it blindfolded?  Some of you would feel exhilarated because challenges keep your heart beating.  Several of you would be petrified.  You love road maps.  You don’t like to launch into anything without seeing the finish line.  Many of you would simply take the first step, then figure out how to take the next, and so on.

I feel like I’m on the rim.  As I look ahead at the next 365 days, the amount of change that lies before my family and me is Grand Canyon big.  I alternate between wanting to take giant leaps and wanting to hide under my bed with a large order of french fries. Some days the excitement of what is to come thrills me beyond measure.  Others, I want to pull the emergency brake on the passage of time, and stop things right here.  But what fun is that?

Today is not the day to go into detail about what lies ahead.  It really doesn’t matter. Today is just a mark in time…one to which I will look back upon and use as a benchmark.  I think I will take that first step.  And tomorrow, another.

Psalm 37:3-9.  Proverbs 3:1-10

Peace.

Rant

Do my kids drink?  No.

Do they smoke?  No.

Do they swear like sailors?  No.

Are they rude to adults?  No.

Do they get bad grades?  No.

Do they know that we have trashcans and laundry hampers in our home?  NO!

It seems like it would be just as easy to throw gum wrappers, tags from clothing, shopping bags, notes, useless scraps of paper, labels, etc., into one of the 11 trashcans we have scattered in and around our house, as it is to artistically and carefully place trash just out of plain sight.  Seriously, it must take more work to stash it than it would to trash it.

bathroom-trash-cans

And New Zealand’s Southern Alps used to hold the record for fastest (non ice) rising mountain range, but I am in the process of documenting the newest contender for that title:  Mount Laundry a la Hamilton.

Again, our home is ripe with laundry hampers and laundry baskets…all ready and waiting to catch the dirties and magically return them fresh, fluffed, and folded.  Yes, I still do their laundry WHEN it’s where it’s supposed to be.  When it’s not, they have to do it themselves, which is WAY more work than the 20 seconds it takes to gather it and drop it in a hamper.

0672f39cf6eebb613174b0ed957df0b0

On the other hand, while the receptacles that are available and in place for proper usage go unused, they have become quite creative in creating vessels for trash and laundry that are less than desirable.  For instance, drawers, shoe boxes, envelopes,  old backpacks, jars, underneath each and every piece of furniture in their rooms, stuffed behind their beds, on their bathroom counters, etc.  It is maddening. (I would snap a few pics of underneath their beds and the trash hidden like Easter eggs, but I’d get in major trouble with my little angels.)

So, do I have it bad with my kids?  No.

Will I ever understand teen logic?  No.

Is “teen logic” the biggest oxymoron ever?  Yes.

Am I raising hoarders?  yes…

Livin’ La Vida Loca

IMG_4781

And I don’t mean in the cool, clubbing all night, lounging on the beach all day, way.  I mean in the “I’M LOSING MY MIND AND GOING CRAZY” kind of way.

Honestly, if you look at me, I look the same.  (Well, say for a few additional wrinkles and more frequent trips to my fav stylist to cover the gray.  Shout out to Jeff Brown at Kenneth Brown Salons for keeping me looking my age and not like my girls’ grandmother.  No offense to their two beautiful and wonderful grandmothers.  I digress…)

But what in the world is going on INSIDE my head?  I’ve seen “Inside Out” and instead of Joy, Sadness, Anger, and Fear, I think my headquarters is inhabited by Forgetful, Insane, Sentimental, and did I say Forgetful?

Por ejemplo:  I can remember how to say “for example” in Spanish after two years of barely paying attention in high school, but I was sitting in a dressing room at Nordy’s with my girls and asked them to please hand me the umbrella.  Which is all well and good, EXCEPT FOR THE FACT I WAS LOOKING AT, AND REACHING FOR, A HANGER.

I can remember the address of my childhood best friend (12331 Charlwood Street, Cerritos, CA 90701) but I couldn’t remember to close the door of Matt’s car when we got out to hike at Morro Bay.  (Thank you, Good Samaritan, for chasing us down to tell us the door was open, instead of robbing us blind.  But there’s $100 in it next time if you can whisper it to me instead of announcing it to my entire family, thus causing them to collapse into fits of giggles and chatter about how old I am.)

I can still sing (albeit off key) the fight song from my high school but I can’t remember the three things I needed at Target.  So even though I walk out with a cart full of stuff, I walk out without what I walked in for.  But it’s OK because gas is cheap and I have so much extra time on my hands that driving back and forth 22 times is no big deal.

Also?  I have a decent vocabulary so why, OH WHY, can I never think of the word I need, when I need it?  It does me no good when it comes to me at 2:30 in the morning.  And as much as I want to call you back and tell you that I finally found it, I won’t.  Because it turns out that not everyone is an, an….someone who can’t sleep.

I had more to say but I don’t remember any of it.  I’d look in the notes on my phone, but I can’t find that either.

So Much Cooler Online

I have a love/hate relationship with social media.  As a blogger it’s a necessary, and sometimes enjoyable, evil.  As a mom…well, I’m undecided.  And let me tell you why…

But before I do, have you ever asked your child this question:

Why do you use social media?

The key is asking without a hint of what you might be thinking.   I have one daughter who was forced into all forms of social media because she has to participate in publicizing a group she’s in.  My other two eventually joined the fray and take great pleasure in embarrassing their sisters.  My husband?  It might as well be the river to hell.  He stays off of any form of social media unless he’s checking in on what our kids are doing.

As I watch all forms of social media hit my phone on a daily basis, I’m left to wonder about motivation.  It might be as simple as “it’s fun.”  It might be a quest to show others how popular you are or how perfect your life is.  It might be a form of networking.  I was curious so I did a little informal “man on the street” poll.

I applaud the 20ish people I spoke with, for their honesty and candor.  Here are some of the answers I got:

I want people to see that I have a life.

I love when I post a selfie and everyone comments on how pretty I am.

I get bored so I post a picture to get comments.

Sometimes I do it to make someone feel left out.

I wonder what people think of my life when they look at my Insta.

I have no idea…but everyone does it, so I do it to.

I hate it.

I’m nosy so I stalk everyone.

Then I asked how it made them feel when they see their friends together and they aren’t included.  The general consensus was it makes them feel bad.  But then the majority admitted they have posted pictures and snapchats with the sole purpose of showing someone else who they were with, and trying to make that other person feel left out.

I acknowledge this was a very unscientific, and very limited sample set, however, after chatting with my own kids I think it’s pretty accurate.

So what to do to keep your kids from finding their self esteem in comments like “you’re perf,” or “you are goals,” or basing their popularity on the number of likes and favorites they receive?  And what to do about developing sensitivity in regards to the public exclusion of other kids?

I don’t have answers.

But I will tell you that all of this prompted a great conversation with my three girls about their use of social media.  We are admittedly conservative so our rules probably won’t apply to a lot of families, but here’s what we discussed.

DO NOT ever post a picture of yourself posed seductively in anything.  Especially bikinis.  I asked them to try and stay away from swimsuit shots altogether, but I get that they spend a good portion of their time in the pool and ocean, so as long as it’s more on the fun side and not a shot begging for attention or comments, we’re good.

Please refrain from profanity and innuendoes or anything you wouldn’t want your youth pastor or grandmother seeing.

Please be sensitive.  Remember all those times you wondered why you didn’t get invited?  Don’t do that to someone else.

Your self-esteem should, in NO WAY, be based on your number of followers or the number of likes you get on a picture.

No one is perfect.  Even if 200 people comment that you are, you’re not!  In fact, all those selfies and butt shots are begging for attention, which should tell you immediately that there might be some insecurity or need for attention going on.  Don’t be that girl.

Snapchats don’t disappear.  They had to go through a server somewhere; therefore there is a digital record.  ‘Nuff said.  (I’m not a giant fan of snapchat but we decided to let the girls have accounts.  I also have an account and all passwords.)

No nudes ever!  (At this point they all looked appropriately appalled and swore to NEVER.  But it had to be said and it will be monitored.)

Ultimately I want my girls to be wise, caring, sensitive, and confident.  I don’t want their value to be tied up in anything social media related, so I will keep working to refine them and help them develop into who they really are in the 3D world.

If you have any tips or ideas on how to instill sensitivity, and how to protect them when others aren’t….or any social media rules you have in your family, I’d love to hear them!

The Most Expensive Cheeseburger Ever

A few days ago a man got pulled over and ticketed, in Cobb County, Georgia, for eating a cheeseburger while driving.  It turns out that the law doesn’t explicitly state that you can’t eat and drive, however such negligent and reckless activity is covered under the broad umbrella of the “distracted driving” laws.

You might ask yourself, “How bad can it be?”  The answer:  BAD

You can get up to three points on your driver’s license, along with a fine ranging from several hundred to one thousand dollars.  (Honestly?  If I drive 100 mph I will only get 2 points. So if I see lights and I’m holding a burger I’m going to drive 100 mph until my burger is gone.  I can’t risk that extra point.)  No cheeseburger is worth that kind of money…except maybe the Kobe beef variety that comes with a magnum of Armand de Brignac Brut Rose…oh, and someone to drive me home, because if  I got my hands on that bottle of champagne, I probably wouldn’t share.

Burgers and Bubbles at db Bistro Moderne.

I wasn’t super worried about this “eating while driving” ticket thing (because we all know that as goes Cobb County, GA so NOT goes the world.)  However, this is also a potentially ticketable offense here in my fine state.  I get the no texting, hands-free law.  I also think applying make up while driving is a bad idea.  I’m not saying I’ve never thought of doing that on my running late days, but honestly, I can barely apply make up sitting in front of a make up mirror and the thought of what I’d do to my face, trying to apply while driving, just isn’t pretty.  So I pass.

However…eating is another story and I have some serious choices to make.  Two days a week I leave my house at about 2:15 and the only time I see my house before 8:45 p.m. is from the driveway when I pull in to drop off or pick up my next fare.  (PS I’m grossly underpaid.) You might be thinking my kids are over-scheduled, but in reality it all just falls on the same two days.  Sports, tutors, life groups (Bible study), etc.  If I didn’t eat in the car, I would starve be super hungry and more than likely, really grumpy.  Also?  My blood sugar could plummet and I would become an extreme road hazard as my vision, reflexes, and decision-making would be compromised.

On the flip side…if I didn’t eat in the car those two days I could lose some serious weight.  And summer is just around the corner.

Bon appétit!

 

 

 

 

F In Technology…Let Me Tweet That

So I was on Twitter earlier today, looking for several authors that I wanted to follow.  I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter, mainly because I don’t get it, but also because there’s so much going on that I’m sure I miss some really good stuff in light of the cornucopia of crap that people tweet.  The whole Twitter experience kind of feels like dumpster diving to me.  You have to wade through a bunch of stuff to find that one thing that might be worth reading.  And who has time for that?

And because I don’t have that kind of time, I am careful about which accounts I follow…

I limit myself to pastors, authors, speakers, good friends, my kids, and I do follow back the very few of my kids’ friends who follow me.  I also follow my university and a couple of news accounts.  So I am flummoxed when I scroll down and see suggestions on whom to follow.  Typically I ignore these, but I was bored today because I was waiting on Jacey to finish a test, so curiosity got the best of me.  I looked at a few names and clicked on a few accounts.  NONE OF THESE ACCOUNTS WERE OF 1% INTEREST TO ME.  The few that I clicked on were young enough to be my kids …and no offense, but with three teens of my own, I don’t have the time, interest, or inclination to read the twitter ramblings of someone else’s kid…unless I know and love you, then of course I hang on your every word 😉

I hit “follow” on some random girl,  she was quite darling, but nothing changed.  I could still see exactly what I could see before I followed her.  This got me thinking about my own kids’ Twitter accounts and their lack of privacy.  I know you can make your tweets private but it seems like no one does that.  I also flashed back to touring the Library of Congress last spring and the guide telling us that EVERY SINGLE TWEET EVER TWEETED is recorded in the Library of Congress.  So if you are an idiot, all someone needs is your name and a little time and they can find evidence of your idiocy.  Even if you no longer have a Twitter account. (Time out while I THANK GOD there wasn’t the opportunity to permanently record all the stupid things I did as a teen.)

Before my kids had Twitter, they cruised around on my account, looking at pictures and reading their friends’ tweets.  I would, occasionally, find that I was following some random teen and could only assume it was courtesy of the fat fingers of my kids.  Maybe Twitter is living in the past and making recommendations from when the primary users of my account were under 17.  But now, as my writing increases, I’m actually using it myself.  So I’d appreciate a few more “mature” suggestions.

Or maybe the technology is so advanced it is picking up on how young at heart I am…

 

 

Words

We’ve all heard songs that make us go “hmmmm,” or “OH YA!” or “I get that.”  On that note, (pun intended) I love the band “Train.”  I’ve listened to their music for years and have been known to loudly sing along when I’m in my car.  I just heard an oldie of theirs that I love….”WORDS.”

You see…having two teenagers and one almost teenager, there are a lot of words spoken in our home.  Those words are mostly positive, with the occasional sibling slam thrown in to keep it real.  The words that continue to be a challenge are the words spoken to, or about, my girls.  It’s funny how people think the things they say won’t get back to the person about whom they are speaking.  Secrets are only secrets until they are shared with one person.  And the speed of light seems slow in comparison to how fast gossip travels.  These are lessons I’m trying to teach my girls on a daily basis.  Along with being thoughtful, considerate, gracious, and compassionate.  But let’s get back to words.

Everyone has a story.  Everyone experiences victory and loss.  Everyone is capable of being hurt and hurting others.  I’ve certainly sat with my girls when they’ve cried over things people have said about them, and if I’m being honest, I’m sure other kids have been hurt by things my girls have said.  It’s universal.

We can all acknowledge the power of words.  I’ve found that sticks and stones are much, much easier to heal from than the wounds inflicted by someone’s words.

I’ve said it a thousand times to my kids, but it’s so true that it bears saying one thousand and one times.  The biggest critics are the most sensitive to criticism.  The most hypocritical loudly proclaim their hate of hypocrites.  Those who don’t want to be judged are extremely judgmental.  The ones who require the most thought are often the least thoughtful.

I’m constantly coaching my kids to shake off the things they hear and be confident in who they are.  Their value is not based in any sort of popularity contest.

This song, by Train, carries a powerful message.  Speak in a way that edifies.  Be the person who lifts not buries.  Be gentle.  To my girls:  When you hear unsolicited opinions, judgments, and criticism…chin up and let ‘em burn!

 

 Words 

I’d give anything but I won’t give up on you

I’d say anything, but not goodbye

I will run with your changes and I’m always on your side

And there’s not a word I’ve ever heard that would make me change my mind

 

Words, they’ll try to shake you

Don’t let them break you

Or stop your world from turning

When words keep you from feeling good

Use them as firewood and let them burn

 

Like stones in your pocket people try to wear you down

Someone always wants to take the love you’ve found

So let’s runs with these changes and I want you by my side

And there’s not a word I’ve ever heard that would make me change my mind

 

Words they’ll try to shake you

Don’t let them break you

Or stop your world from turning

When words keep you from feeling good

Use them as firewood and let them burn

 

Let them burn

Let them burn

Underneath every word somebody’s heart has been broken

With or without words we try to forgive

 

Words they’ll try to shake us

Don’t let them break us

Or stop our world from turning

When words keep you from feeling good

Use them as firewood and let them burn

 

Words they’ll try to shake you

Don’t let them break you

Or stop your world, stop your world from turning round

When words keep you from feeling good

Use them as firewood and let them burn

 

Let them burn

Let them burn

~TRAIN

 

 

Let Go Or…

When I was a kid, we used to spend a week at the Colorado River camping, waterskiing, swimming, jumping off rocks, and anything else kids can think to do when their playgrounds are limited only by their imaginations.  But waterskiing was our favorite.  Lisa and I would slalom, at the same time, for miles.  No kidding, we would ski so long that they would have to lift us back into the boat.  We never wanted to stop.

bedrock_slalom_ski_babes_by_kiff57krocker-d58dh7e

One time we were chillin’ back there, talking about how we could do this forever, (and effectively ignoring the “drop” sign everyone in the boat was giving us,) when suddenly we felt the boat slow down and our lines go slack.  We were incensed that they were making us stop, so we came up with the brilliant idea to pull in the slack on the rope so we could keep skiing.  This worked for about 15 seconds, until the boat stopped and we completely lost momentum.

We knew we were beat so we let go and sunk into the water.  We heard the boat rev as it turned back to pick us up.  All of the sudden I went from talking to Lisa, to viewing the sky from flat on my back under the water.  And I vaguely remember being amazed at the amount of water simultaneously going up my nose and shooting over my nose.

My next thought was UH-OH.

That should have been the moment that my life flashed before my eyes because I was tangled in a ski rope behind a speeding boat, and I could not surface.  But my life didn’t flash before my eyes.  I could hardly keep my eyes open against the force of the water and I can’t remember much beyond Lisa’s fading screams and a really blue sky.  No one in the boat realized I was back there.

Fast forward 35ish years to sitting in a hair salon and reading this quote:  “Let Go or Be Dragged.”  Suddenly the whole Colorado River incident seemed like a metaphor for life.

Some people seem to let go of the rope far too soon.  The minute there is a bit of chop, or they get slightly challenged or bored, they drop.  These people have no ability to plow through the waves and often miss out on the ride of their life.  Others hang on, lean back and enjoy the ride, even through the white water.  They know when to speed up and when to slow down.  They know exactly when to let go of the rope in order to maximize this and future experiences.  Then there are the few who hang on like pit bulls, pulling in the slack, fighting a losing fight to keep moving forward.  They are completely unaware that the slack is pooling around their feet and tangling them in a mess of rope that will ultimately drag them under.   They don’t know until they are flat on their backs fighting for air.

As the boat turned back towards us the line popped free and I rose to the surface.  I turned around to see Lisa swimming as fast as her 11 year old, life vest bound arms would allow her.  She was yelling my name.

So if you are stupid enough to hang on way past the expiration date, make sure you surround yourself with friends who are sporting life vests and are well versed in CPR.

Let go or be dragged.  And when you do let go, make sure you are clear of any rope that might pull you back in. 

 

 

An Open Letter To Caltrans

Dear Caltrans,

I’m not usually one to complain, but I’m about to.  Two days a week I drive south on the 5 Freeway, on my way to San Juan Capistrano.  It’s slightly annoying that my route to the freeway, Oso Parkway, is completely torn up, with no visible date of completion.  The traffic is pretty bad.  So I,  along with every other driver headed south, use Crown Valley Parkway to get on the freeway instead.  It’s like a scene from Talladega by the time people hit the bottom of the entrance ramp doing Mach 7, only to have to contend with the loooooong line of people trying to exit onto Avery Parkway.  It’s a hairball of revving engines and jamming brakes.

Thanks goodness for deodorant because by the time I’m safely merged to the left, my heart rate is a solid 175.  I usually get it back to resting about the time I approach Ortega Highway, at which point my blood pressure spikes to the stroke zone.  This is where you come in.  (Well, you kind of come in with bad planning between Crown Valley and Avery, but Ortega is your opus.)

In 1906 the St. Francis Hotel suffered a little damage in an earthquake.  You may have heard of it.  However, the fire that raged from the Wharf to Nob Hill finished the job the earthquake had started and closed the hotel. In one year they rebuilt, remodeled and reopened.  ONE YEAR!  WAY BACK IN 1906 and 1907.  Yet here we are in 2015 and it’s taking you MUCH longer to complete a new off-ramp and overpass.  I am not asking you to build a luxury hotel with a soup spoon. However I am asking that you step up your effort.  I drive by at about 7:40 every morning with nary a worker to be seen.  Fast forward to my second pass of the day at 2:45, and again, it’s a ghost town.  I’m not seeing my tax dollars hard at work.  I’m estimating you must have your workers put in a solid 3-4 hours per day.

Do you see the problem?

In the meantime, traffic is horrendous on every surrounding off ramp, and the line-up to exit on Ortega Highway is a (major) accident waiting to happen.  Dare I suggest you all push yourselves and attempt a 6 hour day?  On behalf of carpool moms everywhere, I beg you to finish the job.

And while I have your attention, if you could please send a note to your friends at Fastrak  and tell them to fire the idiot who thought it would be a good idea to put in the huge strobe light that flashes every time I go through a toll gate.  I either have to drive through with my eyes closed and let the force guide me, or go eyes wide open and deal with flash blindness for a good 30 seconds.  Neither seem too safe.

Thank you.

More Than Mediocre

“If you surround yourself with the good and righteous, they can only raise you up. If you surround yourself with the others, they will drag you down into the doldrums of mediocrity, and they will keep you there, but only as long as you permit it.”

Mark Glamack

I feel like sometimes teenagers think adults are deaf.  And blind.  And easily fooled.  But most of us aren’t.   (Sidebar:  I will NEVER say “not my kid” because that’s naïve.  I will continue to listen to feedback and work through issues with them.) I’ve heard kids talking about their drinking, smoking, and sexual exploits right next to me.  Kids I know.  Maybe they didn’t see me.  Maybe they don’t care.  Maybe some of each.  It would be so easy to focus on those kids and summarily label teenagers as “partiers” or “trouble makers.”  This blog is not about that.

This blog is going to express unabashed thankfulness for the kids in my girls’ lives.  My oldest played in the worship band at church last night, so Matt and I stayed in our church’s High School Ministry for the entire service.  The series is titled “What If…” and last night was about “What If I Didn’t Care What Others Thought of Me.”  The pastor talked about David taking a stand.  He talked about the courage it takes to do the right thing and how that often means you have to stand alone.  He talked about the rewards that ultimately come from being courageous and convicted.  Standing alone can be difficult for adults to do, let alone for teens that aren’t at the height of maturity and confidence.

As I listened, I was mentally reviewing the kids in the lives of my daughters and what makes them so different.  Kids who are ready and willing to do the right thing and make the right choices.  One of them stood up last night and talked about being a student leader at church and how his service positively affects his life and perspective.  One wasn’t there because she was in the mountains with part of the worship team, writing new music.  Several, who were sitting with Shea, play in various worship bands at church.  A group of Shea’s friends, who are cheerleaders at her school, were behind her…beautiful, strong, service-oriented girls.  This morning Shea and Tate are at church…Tate is working with special needs kids, with a couple of her friends, and Shea is alternating between playing in the band and working with 8th grade girls.  Shea’s boyfriend works with the elderly every Sunday morning before he goes to his own church and spends time with his own life group after service.  Several stretch their artistic wings in photography.  So many of the girls’ friends volunteer in countless positions at church, school, and in the community.  Their talents are limitless and their hearts are enormous.  Service seems to be the common denominator.  They take the focus off themselves and find joy in helping others.

I am very exposed to the teen band world.  Shea has played in bars and at festivals that aren’t exactly wholesome.  However, her band is comprised of five girls who are not only phenomenal musicians, but also scholars, athletes, and thespians.  They are talented and strong.  So many of the teen musicians I’ve been exposed to live WAY cleaner lives than other kids.  Many are part of the “Straight Edge” movement.

Over the summer we were at a 50th birthday party for a friend.  All of our kids wanted to be together that night, so about 15 of them (boys and girls) hung out at one house, while their younger siblings hung out at another house.  Not a single parent present and not a single parent worrying.  They are not drinkers.  They are not kids who take advantage of the trust we place in them.  Those of us at the party looked at each other and acknowledged this isn’t the norm.  And I bet every single one of us whispered a prayer of thankfulness for the presence of every one of those kids in the lives of our own.

I get a kick out of the “big shots” that strut around like they own the high school world, but can’t look a single adult in the eye, let alone carry on a conversation.   Why is that?  Last night so many of the kids Matt and I saw at church made it a point to come over, say hi, and give us hugs.  They don’t view adults as the enemy out to ruin their fun.  I love these kids.  Huge props to their parents for raising such amazing young adults.

There is no room for self-righteousness in parenting and I know we have a loooong way to go.  But for today I am thankful for my girls.  I am SO thankful for their friends.  I am thankful for their leaders at church who pour into their lives.  I am thankful for teachers who go above and beyond the norm, supporting my girls.  I am beyond impressed with the confidence and transparency with which my girls and their friends live their lives.  I am proud that they stand up in the face of pressure to party.  They do party!  They have so much fun on a daily basis.  They enjoy life.  But they do it the right way.  I pray you have the same peace in regards to your kids.  It’s never too late to have conversations.  They’re not too old to answer questions about where they are and with whom they spend time.  It’s OK to take an occasional look at their social media.  It’s not being nosy; it’s helping them not be stupid.

Teenagers…refuse to be mediocre!  You’re SO much better than that.