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Looking back: 50 thoughts for my 50th birthday

Rascal Flatt’s, the country music trio sings a song titled, Life is a Highway. I agree. It makes a wonderful metaphor for life. The old adage is to not look back because you’re not going that way. While the sentiment is an attempt to inspire us to keep moving forward, I tend to disagree. I believe looking back helps to see how far I’ve come. In celebration of my 50th birthday, I find it helpful to look back.

50 Thoughts for my 50th birthday:

  1. Be authentic and real. People can relate to you. Be your imperfect self, people want that.
  2. Be kind to others and while you’re at it be kind to yourself. That’s how we change the world.
  3. Therapy is a type of self-care and love, there’s no reason to be ashamed. Should be as natural as going to the regular doctor.
  4. Travel, far and wide and often It gets rid of ignorance.
  5. Do something that scares you. Sometimes you have to do something when you’re scared.
  6. Don’t fall for fads, trends, etc.-it makes you like everyone else and that defeats the purpose of life.
  7. Eat the cake, eat the bacon. I don’t trust anyone that doesn’t.
  8. Do something you love. It can be a hobby or a job but find something that brings you joy.
  9. Believe in a higher power.
  10. Friendship is like pie and there is only so much pie so choose your friends wisely. Thanks Emily!
  11. Live the obituary you want written about you someday.
  12. Collect friends of all shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, ethnicities….you get the drift.
  13. Don’t try to be strong all the time. It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to not be okay.
  14. Laugh and make others laugh.
  15. Visit the elderly, they have a lot to offer, and you can learn so much from them.
  16. Go outside. Be with nature and in nature.
  17. Take all the pictures. You’ll never regret having too many pictures.
  18. Be the first to smile at a stranger in the grocery store aisle.
  19. Compliment strangers. Compliment their colored hair, their tattoos, whatever makes them unique.
  20. Speak up against wrongdoing. Let others know what you’re for. Be pro love, and pro human.
  21. Make your bed every day or marry someone who does.
  22. Laugh at yourself before others have a chance to make fun of you.
  23. Be vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to make a fool of yourself.
  24. Savor the moments.
  25. Worry less about what others think. Don’t listen to the opinions of people you don’t respect or wouldn’t ask for their advice.
  26. Do not compare your life with others. God created this life with you in mind.
  27. Be grateful for the problems you don’t have.
  28. Hang out with people who are smarter and wiser than you. If you’re the smartest one in the room, you’re in the wrong room.
  29. Always bet on yourself. 
  30. Apologize especially to your kids. You’re human not perfect.
  31. Sometimes you’re wrong.
  32. Be like a tree, rooted but flexible.
  33. Leave people better than you found them.
  34. Be brave enough to suck at something until you get better.
  35. Be a Fountain, not a drain (Rex Hudler)
  36. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  37. Make everyone feel like they are the most important person. Thank you, Mary!
  38. Be who you needed when you were younger.
  39. Mentor others. Share what you have learned.
  40. Don’t dig up in doubt, what you planted in faith (Elisabeth Elliot)
  41. Don’t die before you’re dead. (Tennessee John Hurt)
  42. Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire. (Wendell Berry)
  43. Don’t finish a bad book.
  44. Sometimes it’s not about you. Remember this when someone is mad or acts out in anger toward you.
  45. Celebrate yourself. Be brave and go to a restaurant alone or a movie theater by yourself. 
  46. You will never miss what’s meant for you.
  47. If not you than who?
  48. Everyone should have a porch to watch sunrises and the sunsets and watch the world go by.
  49. Music is life. Listen when you’re happy, when you’re sad, alone, scared, joyful, jubilant……..
  50. Don’t be sad about birthdays. It’s a privilege not afforded to everyone. Besides, you’ve been through a lot, and it shows, and you should be proud of how far you’ve come and what you’ve endured.

I hope when you look back down the road of your life, you see how far you’ve come. There were hard times but you’re still here. And as you look ahead down the road do so with hope. I could write fifty other things, but I’ll save that for when I’m 100. Thank you for always reading and thank you for helping me celebrate my birthday!

 

snake, fear and doubt, parenting advice

Parenting advice from a Copperhead encounter

According to Nationalgeographic.com snakes are carnivorous reptiles that have a life span of 18 years, can grow to be 3 feet in length and weigh more than 100 grams. While their scientific name is Agkistrodon Controtix, Copperheads receive their name because of their hour-glass shaped, bronze head. Mostly found in the south and eastern parts of the US, they account for more bites than any other venomous snakes. They feed on rodents and small birds or animals. These snakes are a pit viper according to NatGeo and use heat to sense their prey. A copperhead is resourceful and adaptable. They can live in the woods as well as subdivisions, thus increasing their probability of coming in contact with humans. While not the most venomous snake they are still a hazard.  Read more at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/c/copperhead-snakes/

I hate Copperheads but one gave me great parenting advice for combating fear and doubt.

Advice from an encounter with a Copperhead

It was the summer of 2017 and my son was weeks away from his high school graduation. While his younger brothers were still in school, T was sleeping until late and helping me prepare the house for guests and a graduation party. On this particular day, he and his best friend, Abby were making cookies in our kitchen while I was on the riding lawnmower cutting the grass. I was in my own world with my headphones on. At one pass I see him standing on our neighbors’ porch with what looks like a gun. Horror and curiosity struck me at the same time. We had a wonderful relationship with our neighbors. Early on they made it known that we were welcome in their home even if they weren’t home. We had the code to enter their house via the garage. Also, unknown to me, Mr. Don had shown T where he kept a pellet gun in the front hall closet.

Cooperhead snake alive
The Copperhead in question.
©missykuester.com

So, there he is standing on Don’s front porch in a t-shirt, shorts, no shoes, and a gun. Upon closer inspection and inquiring, he informed me he had shot a Copperhead that was going across the walk just as he was going to the front door to ask Miss Angela for vanilla for his cookies. Discovering they weren’t home, he decided he couldn’t just let the snake hang around. He was worried because he knew Miss Angela hated snakes, they had a cat and the neighbors had a little boy. So, he remembered the pellet gun and shot the snake. To ensure it was dead, he buried it. He still wasn’t satisfied that it was dead so he dug it up, cut it’s head off with a shovel, put it in a bucket. (He wanted to show Mr. Don what he had done and he was proud of his accomplishments.) He then took the snake way out in the woods and buried it 2 feet underground.

How that Copperhead was like fear and doubt

Where is the parenting advice in an encounter with a Copperhead? It’s more than just ‘Do not mess with a snake.’

Years after that encounter, T was living across the country at college. He called during a particularly challenging time. He wanted advice and encouragement. I came back to that Copperhead. He faced that dangerous snake with conviction and without hesitation. I encouraged him to meet this new challenge like he had that snake—head-on. He was brave then and he could be brave now. And I would use that anecdote again and again through his various challenges.

It holds true for many of us. Maybe what we face isn’t necessarily dangerous like that snake but it can be disturbing, uncomfortable, or a nuisance. If T had let that snake slither on, who knows where it could have gone. He would have always wondered and he would have always been paranoid that it was lurking around. Instead, he killed it and buried it. He often needs reminding to chop the head off of whatever he fears or when he begins to doubt himself.

Writer and Illustrator Kate Seredy said it best, “Kill the snake of doubt in our soul, crush the worms of fear in your heart, and mountains will move out of your way.” What theoretical snakes are causing you or your kid to fear or doubt? Maybe a snake isn’t the illustration you would use but just recalling something your son or daughter has overcome in the past may help them through what they are going through now. We all have to tailor our advice to the person. In this case, it just so happened that a Copperhead gave me the best parenting advice.

Dead snake
The dead snake, with its head chopped off.
©missykuester.com

 

Keeping with the theme of snakes; listen to one of my boys’ favorite song, Snake Farm. It’s just a fun song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qgy7PLAgF-Y

 

Missy in boat with Delilah

Have you heard about Missy Kuester?

Hi, I’m Missy Kuester. I never quite fit in. In high school I was never popular, however I was funny and outgoing. Fast forward to many years later, my husband and I were at our first Air Force duty station. Suddenly, I felt like I was back in high school, I didn’t quite fit in. I tried to be someone other who I already was and got caught up in comparing myself to others. I longed to belong to a group. Then a friend with 15 years more experience than me asked why I was hanging out with her and a bunch of old ladies. As I told her, I wanted to be more like them, confident and experienced. I wanted to absorb all the information I could. Above all, I wanted to fit in. She assured me that who people needed was exactly who I was. From that point on, I have tried to be authentic and true to myself, something that is not easy in the military world full of its rituals and customs.

More than just a military wife…

While 23 years as a military wife has given me a variety of experiences and lessons, I am so much more. I am a good friend who just wants everyone in a room to feel like they belong and that their uniqueness is what we need. I have moved a lot so I know what it’s like to be the new person and I have a knack for finding the new person in the room. In addition, I am a wife and mother who has messed up. My personal stories and experiences may make you feel better as a wife and mother. What I want you to know is that you are not alone. While I may have advice it’s not because I have always done things right but rather because sometimes, I wish I would have done it differently.

Why you should listen to me?

It took nearly all my life to realize that way back in high school, I was a social chameleon. I didn’t fit in because I didn’t belong to any one group. Today, it’s a trait that makes me able to relate to a variety of people. I want to break the stereotypes of being a military officer’s spouse, a Christian, or a stay-at-home mom who desperately wants to see her dog become famous. My collection of friends is diverse and I wouldn’t wish for it to be any other way. In a way, I believe people appreciate my authenticity and suddenly I find that I am not such an outcast.

This blog is just a place for me to share my stories, advice, and flubs. My goal is to be funny, authentic and non-judgmental. I want you to come to this blog and leave knowing that you are not alone and are appreciated for being you. You can expect my own personal stories as well as quotes, scriptures and stories I have found. So, come sit by me and let’s build a community that is safe and full of different people. I hope you will even share your thoughts, stories, quotes and blogs.