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Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Real Simple Life Lesson's Article (that did not win)

Real Simple Magazine has a "Life Lessons" writing contest every single year. I have sent in an article for the past three years. Depending on their theme this year, I am already thinking of what I could write for it this year.

I love to get the prompt and then write it out what comes to mind.

This was my entry this year. It is, by far, not my best work. I literally wrote and sent this in two days because I had - I know this will shock you - forgotten about it.

But, here it is, my entry to last year's Real Simple Life Lesson's contest....

Living Life Through the Fear

I never thought I’d ever break past a fear of the unknown and end up being on our local news…with my four boys…for an entire summer.

It began simply enough. I was just in the kitchen, as any other average day, watching the morning news as I always do when they mentioned that they were looking for a “Morning Mom”.

“I could do that,” I said aloud.

My husband laughed. “You’d have to talk to people.”

I have a fear of large groups of people. Of meeting people for the first time. A nice way to put it is that I am painfully shy. My husband, he is not. At all. We work well together that way.

“It’s not like I don’t know the Fox morning crew,” I explained, “I chat with them every morning. They just can’t hear me.”

“If you want to, I’ll help you,” he encouraged me.

The thing is, we didn’t know what the news station was looking for. All we knew is that they were looking for a mom to talk to and Skype with. I hadn’t Skyped, but I knew I could chat with them.

So this little country girl got a crash course in making a video and uploading it to YouTube (all new stuff to me). I didn’t have anyone to help me; it was just me trying to be “technically knowledgeable”.

Then we just waited.

Until one Friday afternoon when I was picking up our four boys from school and headed to our little nearby town to get a birthday cake for our biggest hockey fan who had turned eight that day and I noticed a missed call.

I didn’t think much of it as I clasped my four year olds hand in mine, kept the other three sons and friend from school in view as we headed in to the store. Until I heard the unfamiliar woman’s voice on my voice mail.

From the local Fox 17 News Studio.

Asking me to call back.

I was shaking as I attempted to write the phone number down. I was in a dream as I purchased the cake. I vaguely remember getting everyone back in the vehicle and buckled as I dialed my husband and screeched into the phone “Fox just called me back!”

I waited until I got home to make the call to the news station where they informed me that, yes; I had truly won the Morning Mom contest.

Over 500 people had watched the YouTube I made asking to be considered as the Fox Morning Mom as I stood in my little country kitchen making waffles for the boys at breakfast.

A week later a Mac Book Pro was set up on our computer desk, compliments of the news station. High speed Internet, unheard of in our farming community, found its way into our home. Skype was set up and initiated. I was handed a Flip video camera and asked to take footage of our daily family life.

And I said good morning with my four boys gathered all around me to all of West Michigan.

As a simple stay at home mom married to my husband who drives truck for a construction company while we farm our 15 acres and raise our four boys ages 11 to 4, suddenly thrown into a small limelight was new and scary.

And ever so fun.

At first, the Fox news station would set up a time for me to call in and we would just chat about the snakes the boys had caught or the thrill on the last day of school, or the fact that because I had chased the dog to the swamp to rescue the cat I had poison ivy on my flip flop wearing toes. I’d take videos of the boys getting covered in mud in the field or the bunch of us out picking asparagus and strawberries or of the boys just being boys playing hockey in the driveway or doing bike jumps and send them into the news room for them to edit and use and share with the area.

Fox sent us to brunch on Mother’s Day, to an Air Zoo, to see a Broadway production, to a concert with an orchestra…all things we had never experienced before. And all things that were even more fun than we imagined they could be.

We felt spoiled. As though we were living another’s life.

When they called to see if we would like a tour of the news studio, we were thrilled to finally meet all the people who had made our lives so fun and overwhelmed us with generosity over the summer. As we were walking out the door to make the 45-minute or so drive, they called to see if we could be on the news live while we were there.

And so the boys were put in front of the all green screen, caught chewing bubble gum, as they “helped” give the weather forecast.

I sat at the newscasters’ desk and did a mini interview, chatting with the anchors as I had every other morning in my kitchen.

Me, a shy little farm girl in the big city live on the morning news.

It. Was. So. Fun.

While our lives were exactly the same on the day to day, there were all these little snippets that made it even more fun. There was no money given to us, but the laptop was a very nice reminder of the generosity of the news station. What was surprising to my husband and I was how our every day lives were found to be interesting to so many. It was just us, but when sharing with others these strangers were finding us enjoyable and funny.

It was intriguing to see the boys out of their shells, holding snakes in front of the Skype camera and explaining what they like to do. If the boys had not had fun then it would not have worked to be a “morning mom”. But they ate it up and shone like the stars I always knew they were.

During the summer our family took a camping trip. We spent a full seven days in our campsites, and we had the grandest time camping. As I was raking the campsite clean before we left, it occurred to me how the next campers coming in would stay here and have no idea who we were or the laughs we had shared in this very exact spot.

That thought struck me to the core as I thought of my life. Here I am, happily married to my husband and wondering how the past eleven years had gone so quickly to find my oldest son as tall as I am and my youngest off to school for the first time.

This life, it’s just a moment. A blink. A week camping that no one will ever know occurred. A life that I suddenly didn’t want to leave totally unremarkable.

What else had I missed out on doing because I was too frightened to try? If I had not sent in the video for Morning Mom, my life would have gone on just as before and it would be good, but not as remarkable.

Why do we let fear and insecurity dictate so much of our lives? The dear pen pals we have met over the blogs and face book community that we won’t meet because there would be an airplane involved to get you to see each other face to face. The article you wouldn’t attempt to write because so many others had more important things to say better than you ever could. The friendships we missed out on because we didn’t feel brave enough to say hello. The giggles shared with our children because we were too busy with everything else but them. The spouse we neglect when we should be heads over heels in love with them.

Being a Morning Mom for a season in my life opened my eyes to realizing I was braver than I thought. And that motivates me to not let other blessings in life pass me unnoticed and unused.


And please check out my friend Rachel's entry...we were both rooting for eachother to win! Under the Dust Ruffle


Chelsea said...

This? This inspires me.
I'm so glad you posted it, even though it didn't win!

Rachel said...

Such a fun essay to read - I agree that it is inspiring, and you always make life sound so fun! (and thanks for linking to mine too!) :)

Becca @ Our Crazy Boys said...

I love your article. Everyone needs to face their fears, and I love how you did it. And the weather video with the bubbles? My favorite, still :)