with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: Challenge

Bride at 35 Challenge New Year’s resolutions: What are yours?

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! I’ve been on vacation all week, which has given me some time to catch up on movies and TV I haven’t seen – “The Adjustment Bureau!” Who knew? – and think a lot about things I need to do better next year. Some of those things are obvious – this gut, and not sleeping in my makeup – and others are things I don’t always think about because I don’t have the time. But I’m on it now. Here are a few things I’m dedicated to being concerned with in 2012. Of course, resolutions get broken all the time. But I want to be a better wife, daughter, friend, employee and caretaker of my body.

So I promise, publicly, to be about these things. And I want accountability! How about you?

I resolve to:

– Not use my job as a professional eater and drinker as an excuse to be fat. I can eat healthily, and stick to my workouts, on those days I’m not work-sipping.

– To get regular facials. I have great genes, and everyone in my family looks like they’ve got ugly old photos hanging in their closets, because they’re 10 years older than their skin. But I can’t take that for granted. Can’t be the only Hagatha in my family!

– To stop over-scheduling. One of the reasons my life is so hectic is because I overbook myself, and because I forget that I did and then try to make everything. Pastor David Pinckney once told me that it’s Godly to say “no.” God doesn’t want you stressed and crazy, and certainly not in his name. Can’t argue with that.

– To shut up sometime. Ever have one of those conversations with your significant other where you can mentally see the giant Stop sign floating in your head, telling you to let whatever they just said go and walk away? Me too! But I can’t drive 55, and I can’t stop that tongue from flapping! And then it just gets stupid. I can’t control every misunderstanding. But I certainly can take a beat, and I can stop myself from proving I’m right all the time. Even if I am. Which I am. Ha ha.

– To call my grandmother every other day. This is a no-brainer.

– To not leave dishes in the sink.

– To put my shoes away so I’m not tripping over them, and to put my laundry away as soon as it’s folded.

– To finally schedule that dinner with my pastor, who is busier than me!

– To get serious about saving.

I’m sure I have more. But that’s what I feel is important right now. How about you?

Be a Better Whoever Challenge Follow-Up!

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

In September, we issued several sets of challenges to you, lovely readers, to do stuff that would brighten the lives of those around you, and make you a better person in the process. We weren’t trying to be pushy, but we have been on the receiving  and giving ends of some of these, and we know the joy they inspire and whatnot.

So, what we want to know of any of you took any of our challenges! If you did, we want to know how it went: Who did you do nice stuff for? What did you do? What did they day? How did you feel?

To jog your memory, here were the fun gauntlets that we threw down to you…..

Challenge #1:  Be a Better Friend- Go to a friend’s Facebook page and write something that you love about them on it

Challenge #2: Be a Better Co-Worker-  Surprise a colleague with a cup of coffee

Challenge #3: Be a Better Loved One- Just go up and hug somebody

Challenge #4: Be a Better Friend/Loved One- Tuck someone’s tag in. You see it. Tuck it.

Challenge #5: Be a Better Wife/Friend/Brother/Customer- Get off the phone, turn-off the tv, shut your computer and actually listen to the person who is standing in front of you

Challenge #6: Be a Better Spouse/Roommate/Friend to Yourself- Put your dirty dishes away

Challenge #7:  Be a Better Pet Parent/Friend- Hug your animal or someone else’s

Challenge #8: Be a Better Person- Say a prayer for someone

Challenge #9: Be a Better Friend- Unless you are in therapy or talking about it helps, don’t tell your friends about your beefs with other friends.

Challenge #10: Be a Better Spouse/Friend- Tell your peeps how you feel about them with a song

Challenge #11: Be a Better Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Spouse/Parent/Roommate: Buy someone a McDonald’s pie for dessert!!

Challenge #12: Be a Better Wife- Shut the heck up! Sometimes, silence is golden. Husbands can do this too :).

Challenge # 13: Be a Better Auntie- Take a kid somewhere!

So, yeah, tell us if you did any of these, and if you didn’t, it’s never too late.  Especially at this time of year, people could use a little love, no matter how small the gesture. Get your nice on.

The Ministry of Presence or Be There!!

by SweetMidlife

by Lynne Streeter Childress

We haven’t blogged in like 2 weeks, and we miss you guys. A lot has been going on, and the biggest thing is this: We lost our granddaddy, and with family in town, and travelling, and honestly, moments of sadness and not really wanting to write, the blog hasn’t happened.

Our really, really cute Granddaddy who we really miss. Sigh.

 The day before Granddaddy died, the family got the call to come and say our goodbyes. When I got to the house, two of my aunt’s best friends, who I will call S and A, were there hanging with the family and just being a comfort. These ladies are really like extra sisters, and they both loved my grandfather, and were there to pay their own respects as well as to love on us.   But what I didn’t realize was that S’s husband had just had cancer surgery, and I had forgotten that A’s mom has Alzheimers and that A is one of her caretakers.  Both of these ladies have people in their lives who needed them right then, and they took the time to be with us anyway.  And in the weeks since, we’ve gotten cards, and beautiful messages, and my two of my bestest friends came to my Grandfather’s service (and one to the wake). Shoot, two ministers from my old church drove to the viewing, got stuck in traffic, and wound up just having to run in, hug us, and turn around to go home. 

All of this love made me really warm, and it also made me think.  All of these people practised what I have heard called The Ministry of Presence.  It’s letting the people you care about KNOW you care because they feel your presence in your calls, your visits, your texts, your FB messages.  You are THERE.  One of the biggest challenges I face as I get older is making time for all of the people in my life amidst all of the stuff I have to do. And the older I get and the more stuff there is, it gets harder, and you hope that the people you love don’t fall through the cracks.  I saw in living color how it feels to be ministered to like that, and my challenge to myself, and my challenge to you, is to be present in the lives of the people I (and you) dig. Call them, drop them a note, go see them.  Little gestures make HUGE impacts. Try it out.

Today’s challenge: Be a better auntie – Take a kid somewhere!

by SweetMidlife

Introduce someone's kid to this guy.

The ads for the new “Lion King” re-release remind me of taking my then-five-year-old goddaughter Maya to see the movie in IMAX. I adore the movie, and was thrilled to be introducing her to Simba and the crew on the huge screen.

That is, until the frightening scene where Scar and Simba are fighting on the cliff, and I turn to see those wide, beautiful eyes completely freaked out as Maya dived behind her hands – “Simba, no!” she shrieked, as my heart broke and I imagined that I’d messed this kid up forever.

Kids, it turns out, are resilient, and I asked my now 12-year-old goddaughter about whether that still freaked her out. She barely remembers going with me, and she certainly isn’t warped or scarred. All she knows is that Aunt Leslie spent time with her – and that she makes a point of hanging out and talking to her, because she’s important, to me, and in general.

Why not call your sister or brother or friend or neighbor and offer to take their kid, either with your kids if you got ’em, or just with you, to the movies? Or the zoo? Or the mall or to lunch? It’s not about spending money. It’s about spending time, to give your friend a break, maybe, and to let a kid know that they are part of a community. And that cartoon lion murders aren’t real.

Be a better wife: Shut the heck up!

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! My husband, who does stand-up in his free time, has a joke about how I refuse to lose fights because when he leaves the room to clear the air, I will follow him into the next room to tell him why he’s wrong.

And…yeah I do that.

And most of the times it’s because I suck.

I was raised believing that conflict is best solved by talking it out, while my husband avoids it because he was taught that talking about it can cause escalation. So when he, even when he’s justified, tries to let things go, I decide that it’s not over. In my head, I tell myself that it’s because  we need to resolve this thing before it festers, and sometimes I’m right.

But too often, it’s because I just WANT to be right. I need to be right. And sometimes, I make it worse because I just can’t shut up and walk away. It is sometimes something we can revisit. But I won’t let it go, making a short tiff into some long thing no one has time for.

So…ladies…practice this. When the fight seems to be over, and he’s walking away, and that final thought is just barrelling from your brain down to your tongue, ask yourself…Could this wait? Does this need to be said right now or at all? Are you just hammering home one more point that wasn’t working anyway?

Then don’t say it. Bite your tongue. Curl your lip. Step on your own foot. Just shut it, at least until cooler heads exist.

Because at the end of your life no one wants to think about the time they wasted yelling about stupid crap.

Be a better (person): Say a little prayer for them!

by SweetMidlife

The Queen commands you thusly.

…or, if it’s more your style, think a good thought or send good energy into the universe. But whatever you do today, please pause for a moment and concentrate on the good day you want for someone else, someone specific. Don’t just say “Lord/Universe/Sky, can we get some world peace up in here?”

Focus on one, or three, or 13 people and speak with your mind about something you want for them, for their day. And try to make it something not about you, like “Oh, Lord, please calm my boss’ mind so he’ll stop acting a fool and getting on my nerves.”

It will make you feel good, though.

Be a Better (pet mommy/friend): Hug your animal or someone else’s!

by SweetMidlife

He just needs a hug.

Our relationships with our furry babies sometimes seem one-sided. We clean up their…business. We feed them. We get them expensive vet treatments that sometimes seem made up. But we do it because we love them, even when they’re evil, like my cat, who will literally cut you if she thinks you’re hoarding food. She’s a rough one.

Still, cats and dogs and rabbits and other animals that respond to touch also need affection. Why not take time today to not just care for your furry baby, but love on them? And if you don’t have one, go hug a friend’s dog. People who love animals have longer lives (at least until the animals cut them like thugs). And they’re really soft.

Be a (Better Wife/Husband/Roomie/Friend to Yourself): Put the Plate in the Sink

by SweetMidlife

I (Lynne)  like to eat around my house.  I will bring a cup of iced tea to bed and I take a snack on a napkin with me as I’m going through bills in my home office. Shoot, my favorite place to eat is right here on our couch, grub on the coffee table, in front of the TV, where I sit as I write this.   Often, I leave the same plate sitting where it is for hours, and I walk past it as I go about my day, forgetting that it’s even there.  And guess what?  If you live with someone else, they see that empty plate.  They see it as they walk in the door, to the kitchen, and as you move it so they have room for their plate AND your new plate that actually currently has food on it.  And even if they don’t consciously notice it when it’s on the coffee table, they notice it more when it’s NOT there. Beause it’s in the sink.

Look, I am a recovering slob with organization issues, and I got used to leaving a cup here, a plate there, a fork somewhere else.  When I lived on my own, I got used to it. When I lived with my amazing former roommate (Hi Nancy!!), I tried, but sooner or later, the TV area in the basement became a lair of hot mess with wayward forks in the couch cushions. She was really gracious, but she deserved better. And guess what? So did I.  Because there is a peace you get when you walk into an unmessy space.  I’m not talking sterile, I am talking comfortably lived-in.  It makes you feel unstressed and ready to do whatever you need to do next. So put that dish in the sink (or just go ahead and wash it!!).  The people you live with will be happier because you respect them enough to not leave your crud all over the place.  And you’ll feel pretty darn good too.

Challenge #5! Be a Better (Wife/Friend/Brother/Customer): BE Where You Are

by SweetMidlife


Ahh, multitasking.  Whole industries, like drive-through windows, cupholders and Bluetooth devices, make it possible for us to do one thing while we are doing another at the same time.  And while it makes us efficient, lack of focus on ONE thing can get you tarter sauce on your coat from holding a dripping Filet-O-Fish in one hand while you swerve in traffic, holding, the steering wheel in the other.  Messy and dangerous.

This lack of focus has bled over into our personal lives, because you can talk to your Grandma on the phone while you are driving, or while you scan to see who liked your funny status on Facebook, or while you catch up on last night’s DVR’d rerun of Law and Order. And admit it, when you try to do both, you either miss the court verdict, or you have to ask Grandma to repeat where her friends took out for lunch.  When it would have been easier when your phone rang to either pause the TV or turn it off altogether.  Because while you can keep that show on your TIVO forever, that conversation with Grandma is fleeting. And precious. And much more entertaining if you are talking to our grandma because she is the funniest person who ever lived. And sometimes she’s actually TRYING to be funny.

So our challenge is this:  Practice being present with the people who are in front of you (or on the phone with you). Start this way. Try, for 10-minutes, to have a conversation where you are looking directly at the person and actually listening to what they say. Not at the TV. Or at your laptop. Or at your phone. Really be with the people you’re with. It makes them feel really, really valued, and it makes you calmer and happier and more involved.  And happy.  Because Facebook isn’t going anywhere.  Ooh, bonus points for hanging-up your phone when you get to the front of the checkout line and engaging the cashier.  Makes them feel good to be acknowleged not as an automated check-out thing, but as an actual person.

Total disclosure: neither of us (Leslie or Lynne) are particularly naturally good at this. And it has cost us small, precious moments with the people we love. So we will be taking this challenge, too.  Everyone valued. Everyone happier.

Today’s “Be A Better (Friend/Fellow Shopper) Challenge” #4: Tuck a tag!

by SweetMidlife

It’s simple: You see someone – maybe a co-worker, or your boss even, or maybe the lady ahead of you in the check-out line. And you see something that he or she can’t – that tag sticking up in the back of his/her shirt, or the southward zipper, or the piece of toilet paper trailing a shoe, or a giant piece of broccoli stuck in the teeth region.

Whatever it is, it wouldn’t still be there sticking to that poor person if they could see it. But you can. So do something about it. If you feel comfortable, you can whisper “Hey, your tag is sticking out” or even tuck it in if you can do that without looking like a stalker. Or point to their shoe. Or do that pointing-to-your-teeth thing people do. I’m an expert because all of those things have been done for me – a stranger decided not to let another stranger (me) walk around looking foolish. They didn’t have to. Neither do you.

So, help someone not look foolish. Make the planet prettier and less…foolier. Love, us.

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