The Anthem of Your Life… What Will Your Song Sound Like?


There are seasons in life that really make you second-guess yourself… your purpose…your contribution to being on this earth…being in this world. A conundrum of existence whereby there are those moments that define you as more than spectacular and those moments that reduce you to worthless if you allow.  And then there are those moments when you just need reassurance…a gentle reminder that you are doing okay somewhere in between the great and the worthless.  

I had one of those moments not too long ago. I went to hear a speaker who was quite the little powerhouse.  She kept using the word “anthem.”  She would ask, “ What is your life’s anthem?”  In other words, what do we want the song of our life to sound like? What kind of music do people hear when our anthem plays?  What do the lyrics say? 

My life’s anthem? Hmmm. That jolted me as I am in a season of reflection, having just turned the young age of 50. Whoa! Hard to type! But thinking about her question caused a pause in me. A very reflective pause.  What have I used these last 50 years to accomplish? Thoughts lately have been ones of waste… spitting in the wind…especially when I allow myself to compare my life to another. But have I wasted it? Have you?  What if this is just another issue of comparison overload? 

I have a tagline in my email signature that says, "I believe every person is spectacular!  But sometimes before others believe it about us, we have to first believe it about ourselves!"  This tag is not to imply that we should be proud or boastful in those great moments where we feel worthy to exist, but simply to believe that maybe our life’s anthem means more than what we even believe it to be... even in those moments of not-so greatness. Maybe we are singing the wrong song. Maybe we are trying too hard to sing someone else’s, thereby always feeling like we have fallen short. Maybe our song is about the wrong things instead of the things that should matter. Maybe we make our song too much about things that burn up and mean nothing at the end of a life lived well.  Maybe we have tried to write our song about the accomplishments of a successful business or a nice big house with a pool and a view of the bay, or that we travel and speak to hundreds of people who come to hear what we have to say, or maybe about finally being a published author. 

But what if we wrote our song about just one? If we lived our whole life and made a difference that we lived to just one person, wouldn’t that be a success? The one whose life is forever changed because you lived. The one you loved with a steadfast, unselfish heart that will never be forgotten by them? The one who maybe you brought into this world and loved and fed and poured your life into, or the one who you were there for to stop them from leaving this world because you valued them and showed them their own song.  The one who your child is a friend with who feels so comfy and safe at your house and you love on them like your own. The one! 

We ALL have “the one” or two or three that by just waking in the morning you are making a difference in their lives. Just by saying I love you and believe in you, you are writing your song…a song that the one life you made a difference in will be singing long after the house, and the pool and the successful business are gone. The one person is worth a lifetime of living. Worth it all! 

Recognizing this made me realize that I am okay with that. I am okay with my life’s anthem being about making a difference to the one… because that one will make a difference to another and that feels melodic to me. My song is still being written and the words are still being played out, but it’s going to be great…a top-of-the-charts kind of song!  What will YOUR anthem sound like? What will your song say? Find your melody in the one!

And Just Like That......


All across our beautiful coast, pencils are being sharpened, papers are coming home to be signed, buses are chugging and lunchables are flying off the shelf.  It’s that time again. Schools are open and moms rejoice! Or do we?

More than ever, I realize that Father Time waits for no one! Hence, the conundrum. You see, as parents, especially moms, we love the fact that summer is over and there is routine again. We love that there is a bit of free time to run errands or read a book, get to work on time, clean and organize, maybe have lunch with a friend or go to the gym… I’ll stop there. You get the point.  But as this “light of day” begins to shine on mothers everywhere, there are others who, despite liking structure again, are facing big changes and are having a slightly different reaction or two. Maybe sadness and a sense of loss as she sends her baby off to the first day of kindergarten. Or anxiousness and uneasiness with clenched fists watching her tiny 6th grader go in to face the big kids of middle school. And of course the ace of all… the no-longer-senior that she just left behind on a college campus with one eye on the road and the other in the rear view mirror hoping for that last glance or two…that’s when it gets real! 

But despite this plethora of emotions floating around, the one constant is the heart of a mom. It doesn’t change. It may get less anxious when it’s the 2nd or 3rd but still, it doesn’t change. She’s the one who waits on the edge of the pool with one toe in the water ready to jump in, even after you have learned to swim.  She’s the one who is so happy you are dating someone who seems like a “good kid” but is slightly jealous they are taking so much of your time.  By the way, she will also be the one to help pick up the pieces of your broken heart. She’s the same one who is so thrilled you passed your driver’s test but every single morning as you leave, she hugs you and says “be careful”…like she would ever say, “Why don’t you just drive reckless today! Go wild and have fun!” Somehow there is a simple peace that comforts her to just say it. She’s the one who even though you are 17 years old and a senior and can make your own breakfast, still gets up at 5:30 to do it for you, just for a few special moments together. She’s the same one who fusses when you wear her favorite shirt but ends up giving it to you anyway. She is still the one who blows up balloons at the crack of dawn to float along your ceiling so that when you wake up, your birthday is as colorful and beautiful as you! 

The mom’s heart! And it occurred to me, having a senior this year as well as a tiny 6th grader, that there is a long, sad growing list of “no mores.” No more paper plate ornaments or painted CDs to add to the Christmas tree. No more Blue Corn Festivals or book fairs, no more musicals to watch, no more field days...  

Recently a friend of mine posted a first-day-of-school photo of her son who is now a senior. She had it side by side with a photo from his first day of kindergarten. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the oversized laminated car pinned to his shirt.  I remembered that of my own except we had the big bus. It made me sad also, because it made the “no more” list. I will no longer have another kindergartner to pin a bus on. My heart broke as I thought about the moms who know well how long that list will get, as she just became an empty nester or maybe just sent her firstborn off to college. Either way, it stings the heart.   She is not thinking about routine and structure right now but rather wishing she still had a little one to pick up at the bus stop or a teenager to argue with about what he believes are his personal rights now that he is a big senior.  She wishes her daughter were there to steal her favorite shirt. I heard one friend say about her oldest that she will miss hearing the sounds of his routine. From her bedroom below, she could hear his footsteps across the ceiling…the water running, the brushing of teeth, the toilet flushing…the sound that he is home.  The thought of her sadness and void that she feels is unmistakably a rite of passage for both, but regardless, even though he will be back, he is no longer simply upstairs nor will he be home for dinner on weeknights.  And then there are the moms who just sent off her last, the baby. Somehow, getting up at the crack of dawn to scramble an egg for your hubby doesn’t have the same sweet pleasure.  Quietness. Too quiet! Gone are the days of dirty clothes and shoes left on the floor and dishes in the sink…another “no more” addition. Oh, and the pantry stays full now.  She wishes it weren’t. The moms that still have a full house dream of those quiet moments… while others would give anything to have the noise back.  Yet another friend she said this: “It is painful but brings beautiful growth for them and for us. You will find yourself stepping into their empty room just to ‘feel’ them. But each stage brings its own joy.”

I write all of this to say, as much as we get frustrated with them, need time to ourselves, get tired of a dirty house with empty chip bags everywhere or even feel like we as moms have lost ourselves…it happens that fast! They are born and they are gone and on their own. For some reason, I can think back on holidays or events that were years ago and remember the smells, the conversations, what I wore, what they wore, what we ate…just like it was yesterday. But ask me what I had for breakfast this morning and I will struggle. I think it’s because we long to file away and desperately remember details that grip our heart because we know how fleeting these moments are and will soon be added to the ever-growing list of “no more.”  Our babies are here one day and they are gone the next. So…as much as I would love to say I have an answer or a point to all of this, I really don’t…other than be present, seize every moment, recognize in the rough patches that these ARE seasons that will be gone all too quickly and embrace each stage. I’ve already broken the news to my senior that I am riding shotgun with him this year and to hang on for the ride!  I only meant that I wanted to take in every minute of his last school year but I think he is worried that I might make him take me as his date to Homecoming. I’m going to let him sweat that one out for a bit. But I want to remember it all ...each of his eventful or even non-eventful moments as a senior because I know that even though it’s only the beginning of the school year, May will be here before you know it, a diploma will be handed to him, and off he’ll  go… just like that! 

Life Is Good...Even When it's Bad.

By Crystal Tingle

It seems like these days, I am in the grocery store at least once a day…and by the way, this has nothing to do with this article yet and it has EVERYTHING to do with it. It’s important for me to ramble a bit for background, so just hang with me on the rabbit trail.  I remember a time when I had a weekly grocery and meal plan and did once-a-week shopping. Once, I even did a monthly meal plan and bought items that I could in bulk and spent the entire day separating, storing, freezing, etc. Notice I said ONCE! That wore me slap out. And on top of that I still had to go back to the dreaded store to pick up perishables that I couldn’t buy for the month like vegetables and fruit. That never happened again. But even recently, I can’t even get a weekly plan wrapped around my brain. It seems that I am living day-by-day dousing the flames of the biggest fire of the hour which usually puts scrambling for dinner ideas for that night and school lunches for the next day in the afternoon flames.  I mean, as a mom, there is ALWAYS something when you have three kids, a husband, a dog, a household to run, work, laundry….LAUNDRY… Child #2 forgot something at home that he needs for school while Child #3 mentions last-minute school project needs…the list goes on and on. I need about four more daylight hours to get things done! It’s at times mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting!  Often, deep sighs resonate from my mouth that I’m often not even aware are happening until my husband asks, “What’s wrong?” 

Me: “What do you mean?” 

Him: “You just sighed really hard.” 

Me: “I did?” 

But on this particular day dragging my fire hose, I entered the line to check out before running home and throwing a meal together and ran into a friend that I haven’t seen in a long while. We exchanged cordials: 

Her: “How are you?” 

Me: “I’m great but just been super busy.”

Her: “I know, right?  Same here.” 

That’s not verbatim, but it went similar. Then we spoke of our kids briefly as the sweet checkout lady scanned my friend’s groceries. We continued to chat in terms of the kids’ schedules and keeping up with them and how overwhelming it is at times, and then we said our goodbyes and good seeing you. At that point, the checkout lady engaged in conversation with me and spoke of (all with a positive and sympathetic tone) how she raised her children as a single mom and understands how stressful it can be, as well as overwhelming, when you find yourself needing to be in two places at the same time, like being at work and needing to bring the kids to school activities, with no help. When she finished and I paid, she said to me with genuine sincerity and empathy, “Have a good day and I really hope things get better for you soon.” And… it hit me! Did I make my life sound that bad? Do I really feel that way? Are things that overwhelming? It stopped me dead in my tracks and I looked back at her and all I could say was, “Thank you. Life is good!” 

I am not sure why those are the words I choose to reply with. Quiet honestly, a barrage of thoughts and emotions flooded my mind and heart all at once, and I truly felt that I spoke what I should be feeling, but I realized in that moment they were not the same. Why had I projected such discontent and frustration? I found myself at a loss for words. I am married with a husband who helps out and works hard to provide for us, three healthy and beautiful children who need a mom to do what moms are supposed to do, a roof over my head, clothes on my back, great friends and the luxury to be a stay-at-home mom.  What in the world do I have to complain about and why should I feel so overwhelmed? Are my feelings unjustified? Here is this sweet lady working as a cashier in a grocery store, a single mom who has had her share of heartache and trials with no one to share the burden with, and yet offers me words of condolence and encouragement. I had never felt more ashamed. I actually cried when I got in my car. Because you know what …Life IS good! I am not saying this based on material comparisons to her. I don’t know really anything beyond what she said in that five-minute conversation. I just know that she was the richer one! The precious jewels that she had amassed were from her attitude and gratitude and in her humility, the trinity for joy!   She probably could have shut me down quick and said, “Oh, suck it up sister and quit complaining!”  But she didn’t. Full of compassion, she expressed her heartfelt sentiments.  

So am I just a spoiled brat and never satisfied? My circumstances are real.  My challenges are tangible. I have a child or two with special needs, and that requires a bit more at times which is why I actually do not work. I have a couple of newer health issues that hold me back occasionally from being as productive as I would like, BUT…. when I count the things I have to be grateful for…it FAR outweighs the overwhelming components. This is where the trail ends…

You see, my epiphany in that moment before walking out the door was that truly Life is good! No matter what! Life, breath and the freedom we have to allow circumstances or trials to define us OR NOT is still a choice we own. And I was reminded while I was sitting in my car afterward of what my pastor recently said… that often our circumstances DO warrant or justify a bad day or season…but more times than not it’s our attitude about it that changes us…even when it can’t change our circumstances. We can be the victim or be the victor over our attitude despite our circumstances! 

This lady on this day at that moment was walking in victory despite anything that was happening or had happened to her or around her. She chose that day to be grateful and to fly higher than her circumstances. She was the victor and truly because of her attitude she impacted me! That’s where and when you see the fruit, joy and victory you can walk in despite the craziness…when you can say, “Don’t look at all of this surrounding us, just look at me. Hear what I am saying. It’s going to be okay…LIFE IS GOOD!”

The Gift of Life

By Crystal Tingle

Do you know what I see when I look around my home? I see an amazingly gifted songwriter who, as Barry Manilow put it best, writes the songs that make the whole world sing! I see a famous video game designer who has developed the next generation game play that no one ever thought possible, so futuristic! I also see a brilliant engineer who will design a smart home that self-protects against flooding and fires and theft, unable to be penetrated or destroyed by natural disaster or home invasion! I see possibilities! I see potential! But mostly, I see value! Not monetary value but rather value in simply who they are and were created to be! Their individuality. What they love to do! Their unique DNA. Their wonderful contribution to the world, their friends and family by just being them. Their priceless and irreplaceable value to me.  Yes, they are my three sons. And each of them is so very different from the other. Their unique expression of life and dreams is what I love …much like a fingerprint, they each have their own soul print, that one thing that no one else but them can mark this world with and every person they encounter! I don’t know if they will ever eventually be a famous musician, game designer or engineer but regardless, their immeasurable value to me is not what they do, it is distinctly who they are and what they bring to my life!

I’ve shared this before but it is worth repeating because it is so important that we allow this to sink into our very core. A dear friend of mine who at the time was healing from being a two-time cancer survivor spoke these words to me in the midst of her affliction: “Honey, if you had never lived, would anyone be affected? Make a difference that you have lived.”  I will admit at first hearing that seemed like so much pressure. What a huge weight to know that I MUST impact people to the point that if I never was, their lives would be less because I was never in it. Holy moly! But as I have gotten older and think often on what she said, I understand it differently than I did almost 33 years ago. 

Why? Because I see differently now. I see now that it isn’t about performing or excelling. It isn’t about solving the world’s problems or finding the cure for a disease. It isn’t about going to the best college or having the highest paid job. Making a difference is about our soul print! Just as unique as our fingerprint is, our soul print is all the more valuable! You see, our fingerprint identifies who we are individually but our soul print…well, that magnifies all the lives that have been touched and are being touched BECAUSE of your fingerprint…because you ARE.  You are daily marking this earth with a part of you…your soul print is everywhere…left behind at every place you visit and person you encounter. YOU are making a difference in someone else’s life whether you see it or not.  

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." -- HENRY DAVID THOREAU

I believe Thoreau’s words are saying that the image we might describe based on what our eyes observe is not necessarily what is in front of us. It’s what lies within us. What we believe to be truth about ourselves and our value and significance to others will determine the soul print we leave. It will determine what we see and how we see it. What do you believe about yourself? What lens do you see things from? Does your lens hold tight an image of just how valuable you are? If so, you will handle with care because you believe and know that you are a precious gift!  And all that you are is wrapped up waiting for someone to open so you can leave your soul print on his or her life.  They are waiting with joyful expectancy! 

But what I also believe and see is this. I see how our world has changed because of technology. I see the pressure put on our teenagers these days to perform and one-up another. I see the private lessons and the travel teams stealing time from our Norman Rockwell sit-around-the- kitchen-table days of old. I see social media measuring our worth based on a thumbs-up.  I see the low value we unconsciously are tagged with when we compare ourselves to smoothing filters and edited images. I see this pressure trying to steal our worth and our significance and our soul print! I see it desensitizing our youth and adults as well in the art of communication and real life. I see the lie that we sometimes believe as truth!  

I read this the other day and I thought it was so good. It reminded me of the recent hurricane, Nate, that came in as a tropical storm.  Well, Nate didn’t scare me in the least, but I admit when I was awakened by Nate’s presence at about 5am and looked out to see the trees in my backyard a little more bent over than I anticipated, it rattled me for a moment. Oh, we were fine and fared well, but it has been a while since we have weathered a big storm in this area and I had forgotten what 50 mph gusts looked like, much less if it had been even a CAT 1 hurricane or worse. But as I watched the tops of the trees bend, I also watched the base at the roots. They stood strong. So when I read this, I was moved: 

“Consider a tree for a moment. As beautiful as trees are to look at, we don't see what goes on underground - as they grow roots. Trees must develop deep roots in order to grow strong and produce their beauty. But we don't see the roots. We just see and enjoy the beauty. In much the same way, what goes on inside of us is like the roots of a tree.” --Joyce Meyer

The value of that tree is in its roots! It’s what is on the inside regardless of what is happening on the outside. It doesn’t matter if it produces succulent fruit or a gumball. The value lies within and its ability to stand tall and recognize its significance and beauty. Nature depends on that tree.  Wildlife find safety and refuge and love in its boughs. And just like a tree, your roots, the valuable and unique things within you, leave a mark, an imprint that only you possess. Distinctly you! That is the fruit you bear. That is your soul print.  That is the amazing gift to the world of your life!  That is truth!

And in a world of thumbs-ups or smiling emojis or clicked hearts to “love,” you may not always see whom you make a difference to…. but they are there. Watching. Listening. Loving. Appreciating you! Embracing your soul print. It is just that simple. It is about being! Being you! All of you! Roots, fruit, gumballs … whatever! Just be you…the wonderful, unique, one-of-a-kind you! Billy Paul, who wrote many amazing songs, said this: “All my life, I wanted to sound like myself. I never wanted to sound like anybody else.” He didn’t say as much but he recognized his strong roots within, his unique soul print. And you have one too. You’re a precious gift and your value is priceless!  The point is …be you! Just be the remarkable unique beautiful one-of-a-kind you! Because we need the gift of your soul print in our lives!

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