Is There an App for That?

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My toddler on her phone

As a parent in the thick of things with three young kids, I often find myself complaining about their irrational, naughty and even just plain dumb behavior…because well they’re young kids with undeveloped brains and that’s just what happens. And trust me when I say I fully believe in the theory of little kids = little problems vs. big kids = big problems.

However I also think it’s safe to say that the equation has been altered even from when I was a kid. Nowadays I think it’s more like big kids + social media = HUGE problems. And damn does that scare me. Because I remember being a big kid. (Hell, I still think I am one half of the time at age 41.) And yes, while we had the capability of making decisions – good and bad – that could potentially alter the course of our future, for the most part our parents’ main competitors for influencing us were our core group of friends. And in my opinion that alone was some fierce competition. Unfortunately, parents these days have to fight against not just their kids’ friends, but friends of friends. And acquaintances. And in essence, every single other person out there thanks to sites like Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat and all those others I haven’t even heard of because I’m older than 10.

Privacy no longer exists. Bringing a few cases of beer to the middle of a cornfield for an impromptu secret party can’t happen because someone chose to broadcast it to the universe one hour ago when that person then sent a Snapchat invite to their friend who then took a screen shot of it and posted it to their Facebook account, and so on and so on. As adults we get and understand the potential plethora of horrific consequences that can essentially ruin a person’s life simply because they made one wrong decision and then someone documented it and shared it with the world. The possibilities are endless. But kids are wired to only think in the right now. And on top of that, they also think they’re invincible. We’ve all been there. We’ve all thought that.

I recently read an article explaining the reasoning why social media is indeed so bad for middle schoolers (and really all young kids in my opinion). And when reading it, of course everything makes perfect sense. But what makes sense and what works in reality don’t always jive. I sent the article to a close friend who herself has middle schoolers. To summarize her response: it [the article] is absolutely true. And if a parent can hold out against giving their kids that smartphone or access to various social media accounts, good for them. But she’s witnessed numerous occasions where her kids are now being left out of activities and ultimately even friendships simply because she doesn’t have access to Snapchat. How can we be good parents and do – or not do – something we feel strongly about when we’re fighting against the world? How can we hold steady against giving in to social media when our kids are coming home after school every day crying because they’re being made fun of for “not being cool enough” or not getting invited to something when everyone else was. I have no problem being the mean parent. But I do have a problem when my kid is getting hurt. So how does one parent this generation? I suppose that’s the million dollar question.

Looking back, my dad always used to tell me that it was easy for him to catch me doing something stupid because he’d done everything before. He knew what to look for and he knew how kids thought. Unfortunately, my generation cannot say that. We don’t have the first-hand experience with social media or even just the technology alone. I have teacher friends who have shared stories with me on the technological ways in which kids cheat these days. Another friend shared with me the app that she found simply in order to decipher all the various codes kids have come up with to keep things from their parents. Yup, when they say “there’s an app for that” they weren’t kidding. I suppose my next question would be is there an app to teach me how to use and/or find all these other methods that kids use to communicate with each other?! Because who knew that face-to-face communication would become so obsolete.

Parenting is nothing more than trial and error. But for my generation, the stakes have been upped exponentially. And for now I may be coasting along in the little kid tantrum years, but eventually my time will come. My husband and I will have difficult decisions to make regarding the use of social media and the appropriate age for smartphones. And I can only hope that when it’s our turn, we make whatever decision is best for our kids and our family. And if nothing else, maybe by then there will be an app for that, one that simply tells us how to properly parent our children. Because why not, there’s an app for everything else.

Mistakes Aren’t Just for Idiots

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My pride. My joy. The reasons I stress.

Although the weather certainly hasn’t been given the memo, based on the calendar, warmer temperatures are certainly upon us sometime in the (hopefully) near future. And with the warmer weather comes a plethora of fun-filled outdoor activities and fun in the sun. BUT…how come there always seems to be a caveat associated with good things?

Warmer temperatures mean WAY warmer cars. We’ve all seen the horror stories in the news. We know about the accidents. We know what can and has happened. And we all think no way in hell could I ever be that irresponsible. And for the most part I think none of us really are. However I wanted to share my experience from the weekend which hopefully just gives everyone the gentle reminder – okay, I’m actually not going for gentle here; I’m going for IN YOUR FACE PSA – that shit happens, and as parents it’s simply imperative to always be on our A game.

So the hubs was away this weekend, and since we finally had some nice weather, I used the opportunity to get some yard work done. Meanwhile, of course, I had the kids play outside. But before all this, for some strange reason I made a horrible judgement call and took my herd to Costco. (PSA #2: Never, ever take your kids to Costco by yourself on a weekend! You’re just asking to end up needing a stiff drink before noon.) Anyway we were in and out as quick as can be… and by quick I mean barely less than two hours. Insert through-the-roof stress levels here. We got home and I had all the kids help load in the 100 pounds of Goldfish we bought along with a few other things. Once we got everything put away, we went outside. Now normally I always park in our garage but since I knew the kids would be carrying stuff inside I parked outside thinking it would be easier for them. I checked to make sure the kids closed the hatch and the car was locked – which they both were.

Now growing up in small town I don’t think I ever locked a car – like truly not ever. My dad didn’t even think he owned a key to the house. So even in the burbs I don’t necessarily worry about theft at my house, but my husband did make a point last summer to stress the importance of locking the car, if for no other reason than so the kids couldn’t get in. Like on a hot summer day. And be trapped. And while I typically forget 99.9% of the things my husband says to me, I actually did remember that one. Hence me remembering to check to see if the car was locked.

But moving on with my story. Now my son had gone over to the neighbor’s house to play baseball, and I had seen the girls follow him. As I was moving around in the yard I noticed that my littlest wasn’t with the others, and of course no one seemed to know where she went. Frustrated – but not worried – I began looking for her. I didn’t see her anywhere in the yard, or the neighbor’s and she wasn’t responding to me when I called for her in the house. At this point I was starting to get on edge just a little. Mind you it had only been maybe five minutes since I’d last seen her. But after a few more laps both in and out of the house, my mind started racing and I began to think of ALL the nightmares that could potentially be waiting for me. Now after probably another two minutes, my middle daughter found her – IN THE CAR. Somehow the car, that I had even checked to make sure was locked, had the driver’s side door open even though all other doors were locked. I have no idea how that happened. But it doesn’t matter HOW it happened, it only matters that it DID happen.

Of course I pulled her out immediately, and she was happy as a clam rubbing chapstick all over her face. BUT she was soaked in sweat. She was in there less than 10 minutes and it was barely 70 degrees outside. Now granted she got in through the driver’s side door, which does not have the child safety lock on it so technically she wasn’t trapped. But she’s three and had crawled in to the backseat. The odds of her being able to figure out to climb back to the front and open the door are slim.

After quite a bit of swearing and yelling and crying – followed by drinking a giant beer – I did a whole lot of thanking my lucky stars yesterday. Because while I may be an idiot when it comes to a lot of things in life, the safety of my kids is certainly not one of them. HOWEVER…I also know how I get. I get focused. I lose track of time. I get on a role in getting things done. I ASSUME my kids are playing together, because the majority of the time they are. And while I do make a point to check on them fairly often, sometimes there may be like 20-minute gaps in between me actually seeing what they’re doing. It’s been proven kids need approximately 0.02 seconds to get into trouble. Or maybe that’s just a proven fact for my kids?!

Now for my own mental well being I refuse to dive into the what ifs. And by dive into I mean write the words here. Because don’t think I haven’t thought about them for two days straight. Instead, I’m using this as a teaching moment for myself and all of you, my loyal five followers. (Insert smiley face.) This is real life. I’m a real person. I’m not an idiot, but I’m human. We don’t always get second chances, so we must always use our first ones wisely.

(PSA #3: Don’t count on your five year old to monitor the three year old. It doesn’t always work out like you think it should.)

Four-Legged Family Members are Real

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The night we brought Desota home.

Well today my three-year-old daughter pretty much summed up life. She said, “When you turn into a grownup you have to do tricky stuff.” As kids you don’t even ever really think about just what all the “tricky stuff” ever entails either because a) you’re a clueless kid and b) if you have good parents they tend to shield you from the tough stuff.

Well this past weekend was one of those tricky adult situations for my husband and I. It started off great. We had a date night where we drank too much awesome beer and ate too much awesome food. But the best part was yet to come – we were going to be able to sleep in! However around 2 a.m. I got my first wake-up call when my dog barked as she needed help up. Ok, sure. I was sort of getting used to these barks as they were becoming more frequent. So I helped her up and didn’t think much of it. Then around 4 a.m. the same thing happened. Only this time she wanted outside and refused to come back in. She looked awful, and I began to fear the worst. I got my husband to help carry her back inside and we both sat with her, afraid to leave her side. Eventually we attempted to go back to bed even though I merely laid there willing my dog to peacefully drift away on her own. But around 7 a.m. we heard her bark again and we repeated the process. She went out in the snow, lied down and refused to get back up. At this point, the tears were flowing, and we pretty much knew what we had to do – you know that whole tricky adult thing where you’re forced to make awful decisions that you know are the right thing yet every bone in your body screams “No!” Yeah, that.

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Desota was often used as a soft pillow for reading time.

Now even as I’m writing this I get that it sounds like I’m talking about a person. And for anyone who isn’t a dog/pet lover, they probably think I’m crazy. And maybe I am, but these dogs and these pets are more than just animals to most of us. They become a huge part of the family. Desota, in particular, was my husband’s and my first pet as adults. We got her shortly after we were married and she was our baby. We trained her (well, we tried, she kind of flunked out of puppy school.) We scolded her when she ate pair after pair of my flip flops and at least three remotes. We panicked and chased her down when she ran away. And we found out when she was sneaking things while we were away at work. We basically went though all the same things with her that we’ve gone through with our three kids – well except maybe not the flip flop part. But overall, Desota was the starting foundation for our family.

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Wet kisses were given out often.

I’ll never forget bringing home Jaycob for the first time. Desota was very curious and very anxious. She knew that something was different but wasn’t quite sure what. She paced the entire night of his first night home. But after that, she never left his side. With each kid we brought home, unfortunately she received less and less attention. But she adjusted and continued to love on all three of them. They climbed on her. They pulled her hair. They fell on her. But she never even flinched and was always rewarded with plenty of spilled food and snuggles. Even up until recently when she no longer was sleeping upstairs with us, any night there was a storm she would pace and whimper all night unless I left the kids’ doors open so she could go into their rooms and check on them. She was the most loving and kindhearted dog any family could ever hope for. She helped raise my kids, and like my aunt said, I suppose she did kinda sorta help raise me too.

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Desota never turned down a hug.

Maybe I’m slightly biased being raised as a veterinarian’s daughter, but in my opinion, dogs, and just animals in general, are such an important part of growing up. They provide unconditional companionship and love. They teach responsibility. They help clean up your floors. And eventually they help with processing the biggest lesson of them all – the circle of life. At 41, I’m still struggling with that lesson.

Sure they’re a pain in the ass at times. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of hair that floats through my house. I’ll be cleaning that up for years to come. They cost a lot of money. They require a lot of maintenance and care. And when they’re gone you’re left with a giant-sized hole in your heart. But you know what? It’s all worth it because I’m also left with 13 years of memories. And no amount of grief can erase all the good that we got from her. I can only hope that our next dog, whenever that may be, will be half as good as she was. (And yes, I’m already Googling puppies…do NOT tell my husband! It’s for therapeutic grieving purposes only. Wink. Wink.)

Rest in peace, Desota. January 10, 2006 – April 28, 2019.

Don’t Forget to Feel

Life is hard. Adulting is hard. Marriage is hard. Parenthood is hard. Working is hard. You get where I’m going with this. It all is, and we all have our ups and downs, good days and bad days. But that’s normal. And if anything, it’s kind of a necessity in life because it simply means we’re living. Yesterday was definitely one of those harder days for me. Which is kind of weird because it’s not like anything even bad happened. It was just one of those emotional-roller-coaster-kind-of days.

I ended up going to my grandma’s house and having, in essence, my final walk through and deciding if there was anything else there that I wanted. Now unlike my other grandma (and myself) this one was a complete minimalist. So it wasn’t even about the “stuff” at her house really, because she didn’t even have much of anything to go through. But the memories! Wow. I spent a few hours basically just strolling from room to room and back again. Can’t say I even did anything really. And yet by the time I got home later that day, I was completely spent. And I know that sounds kind of ridiculous but I was truly amazed at just the emotional toll that it had on me. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a fog not really doing much of anything, just kind of wandering around my house, picking at things here and there.  And then the kids came home from school. So by the time we got through snacks and our normal after-school chatter, I could feel myself being on the brink of falling off that emotional cliff. You know the one; we’ve all been there at some point. So like the good parent that I am, I herded my kids outside and got myself a beer.

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Sometimes a picture is worth 1,000 feelings.

Now one of the few things that I did bring home from my grandma’s house was a giant painting that my mom had done. She was a great artist, but her prime was in the 70’s. So as a result, most of the paintings that I’ve seen or even have of hers are pretty bright, and boy, did she seem to love the color orange – so not my style. But this one in particular is mostly black, white, gray and some green – pretty neutral, which obviously is way more me. I remember it being hung up at my grandma’s house my entire life and I was always drawn to it for some reason. Maybe it’s just the simple color palette, maybe it’s just because she painted it, maybe it’s just because it’s of a castle and doesn’t every little girl dream of living in a castle? Who knows. Regardless it’s mine now, and thankfully, since it’s not orange, it’s going up in my house.

Anyway back to getting around to my long-winded point of this post. With my beer in hand yesterday, I sat my ass down on the couch and I stared at that painting and cried. If someone asked me what I was thinking or why I was even crying I would not be able to answer them. Because honestly, I don’t think I thought about anything. I suppose that’s as close to meditating and having a blank mind as I’ll ever get. And in between some kid coming in the house every other second needing this that or the other, I remained on that couch for a good 30 minutes drinking my beer and just being. Now during this break, I sent a brief text to my friend mentioning how exhausting the day had been and that I was just having a hard time. Her reply: “That’s normal.” And you know what? She’s right. People talk all the time about the importance of self care and all this crap and most of us just roll our eyes and think yeah right. I’ll get to that after I take care of my kids until 8 pm. After I’ve cleaned up the house. After I’ve done the upteen loads of laundry for the day. After I’ve cooked dinner. And on and on and on.

But her simple text just reminded me that self care isn’t always about getting a massage or escaping to the gym or having alone time. Sometimes it’s just about remembering to feel. I think as parents a lot of the time what we feel revolves around our kids, with maybe a few thoughts thrown in about our spouse from time to time. We’re happy because our kids did well at school. We’re frustrated because the kids fought all day. We’re mad because our spouse did or didn’t do X, Y or Z. But how often are we actually focusing on and channeling our own personal feelings about what’s going on with ourselves? Maybe that’s why I feel like I’m so strung up half the time these days because my own thoughts and feelings just get pushed to the back burner in order to make room for all the other crap that hangs around in my head. I rarely take the time to process my own feelings outside of what I feel for everyone else. Because who’s got time for that? And at the end of the day when you do finally get some peace and quiet, at least for me, all I want to do is veg out in front of the TV or read a book. Certainly not think about my own feelings!

So to my friend for responding to my heartfelt exhaustion with the most simple and obvious response that what I was was feeling was totally normal: Thank you for that impactful reminder. Because it IS normal to have your own feelings. And it IS okay to have your own feelings. Just don’t forget to make the time to feel them.

May Today Always Count

IMG_7123Today was just another ordinary day. My kids drove me crazy. I yelled a lot. There were timeouts and tears. Nothing too good and nothing too bad. Just a normal day. Which, in hindsight, as my dad always likes to remind me, is not necessarily a bad thing. But then I thought I’d take a few minutes to zone out and peruse the “Book.” And the first post that popped up was from the husband of a girl I went to journalism college with stating that his wife had passed away after battling breast cancer. Say what?! Now granted, I hadn’t spoken to her in years but this was a girl I had partied with. Studied with. Done projects with. And endured all the same classes, headaches and learning experiences that one encounters at college. And now she’s gone. But even more sadly is that she leaves behind a husband and her five-year-old son.

As I sit here trying to write my way through my feelings, because that’s just what I do, I find myself really struggling. Obviously I don’t have the right to truly grieve my old friend. We haven’t kept up in our friendship, and I had no idea what was going on in her life. But my heart can’t stop aching for her sweet little boy. Because I too was that motherless little child. I know what it’s like to grow up without a mother. Him and his father have a difficult road ahead of them. They will adapt and persevere because they have no choice, but it won’t be easy. However, that isn’t even what truly has me struggling about all of this. What I can’t seem to wrap my brain around is the fact that someone my age, someone I knew, died. And not from some random accident. But from cancer. My dad is supposed to be in the era of losing people he knows from terminal illnesses, not me. Hell in my mind I’m still in the time frame of people getting married and having kids. (Obviously I know I’m way past that but if we’re being completely honest I’ll just admit I still think I’m 17. At this point I think I’ll feel that way forever.)

Last year I had a dear friend battle breast cancer – and beat it, YAY. Now, did I worry about her? Yes. Did I ache for the pain and suffering she was going through? Yes. Did I think she was a bad ass warrior for not only beating it, but simultaneously continuing to work, be a mother, a wife and a partner in managing a household? Yes. BUT, did I for even one second consider the fact that she could possibly die? HELL NO. Because people my age don’t get terminal illnesses and die. They just don’t. So hearing about the loss of a classmate to cancer has certainly given me a hard slap in the face back into reality.

I’m no stranger to death. As a result, I live my life with one eye open at all times because I’m just waiting for another freak accident to claim the next victim. I waste so many brain cells trying to come up with every possible (and a lot of impossible) situation(s) that could potentially harm one of my family members. It’s just my demented way of trying to “prepare” myself mentally. Because that’s what I know. I rarely think about normal harmful situations. And I certainly never, ever think about anything happening to me. That’s just one more worry that I don’t think my brain can take on.

Because as I sit here worrying about that poor boy, or worrying about just the possibility of losing someone in my own family, I’m reminded about a quote that I saw recently. It read: “One day you’ll look back and realize that you worried too much about things that don’t really matter.” Obviously I’m not saying things like death or illness or other similar scary things don’t matter. Because of course they do. But do the mere ideas or just the possibility of them matter? They shouldn’t. Because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that life is ultimately going to be whatever it’s going to be. And worrying about all the things that might happen won’t change a damn thing. Does that mean that I won’t worry? (Can you hear me laughing hysterically at this question?!) Of course not; worrying is my jam. But at some point I have to take solace in the fact that my family itself and also our support system is strong. Just as I’m sure this grieving father and son will be what they need to be and have what they need to have to in order to get through this horrible tragedy.

Life is full of curve balls. At any given unexpected time. And yes, some may get more than others. And even though I’m an expert on knowing how short life can be, it doesn’t necessarily make me always appreciate it as much as I should. But today as I’m reminded once again on life’s fragility, I’m going to yell at my kids with a bit more love. And even if they grow up with memories of having a crazy lunatic for a mother, and I look back at all the tattling and sibling fighting, the fact that we’re lucky enough to have any of these memories will make me forever grateful. Today we have everything. Tomorrow we may not. May we always make today count.

Rest in Peace, old friend. May your memory live on forever.

 

Ode to my Galentines

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A handful of my local gal pals

This past weekend I was fortunate enough to go on a mini getaway to Milwaukee with a handful of some of my favorite local gal pals. Since then, I’ve really been reflecting back, not necessarily about this trip specifically, but just how lucky I am to have so many amazing friends in my life. Some I might not necessarily see often. Some I don’t even talk to that often, while some I talk to everyday. On the flip side, some I’ve known my entire life. Others I’ve known since college. And some of my more local friends, I’ve only known for a few years. But regardless, each and every one of these women mean something to me and have impacted my life one way or another. And for that I’m blessed.

We had a lot of fun last weekend. We wore matching jammies, attempted way too many (unsuccessful) group selfies and had umpteen dance-offs. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time, and it just felt good and so refreshing. These breaks away from family, responsibility and just everyday life are essential for the soul. One of the nights at dinner, one of the girls (shocker, she is a teacher) had this great idea for everyone to go around the table and say two good things about each other. Of course at first I laughed and thought this was such a teacher move. But damn, the things that were said not only about me, but about each of us, just rocked my world. It was incredibly eye-opening, empowering and just amazing to hear how we viewed each other. Because of course you never see yourself the way others do. You might feel inferior or not as talented or not as pretty, or not as much a million other things. Or maybe that’s just me and my ridiculous insecurities. But still. The things that were said around this table brought almost all of us to tears. And I promise it was not just from drinking the $100 bottle(s) of wine that we managed to score.

But true friendship isn’t always just about having fun. It’s also about having each other’s backs. A few weeks ago another friend (from another friendship group) suddenly lost her father. It was shocking and horrible. But what did this group of friends do? We dropped all our weekend plans and rallied. We changed schedules. And at the drop of a hat, we organized a five-hour road trip through the bitter cold so we could be with our friend for her father’s funeral. There was no questioning, only doing. And seeing the look of heartfelt gratitude on this friend’s face when we walked in was the epitome of what friendship means.

A good friend is someone you can always rely on – through both the good times and the bad. (I guess it’s kinda like a marriage?!) But also someone that you can count on to be honest with you. Someone who won’t be offended if you call you them out on some bullshit. Because in return, you expect nothing less. A good friend is someone who lets you go on irrational rants venting about this, that or the other. And does so without judging. A good friend is someone you feel comfortable going braless around. Someone who thinks you’re beautiful without makeup or fancy clothes because they’ve seen inside your soul. But most importantly, a good friend is someone who values you for you. There’s no pretending to be someone else or feeling the need to “fit in” around them. There’s only you. To me, that’s huge. The various woman I surround myself with are about as different from one another as you can get. But we all have the same heart. And that’s what matters.

So on this Valentine’s Day, after you’ve done all the spouse smooching and unwillingly given your kids a sugar high from all their special treats, I encourage everyone to give a little shout out to all their own Galentines. Because without them, life just might be a lot less fun.

The (Im)Perfect Skin I’m In

With the exception of college, where for some reason I had no problem hitting the bars in scantily clad tank tops, a mini skirt (or the staple black pants) and the iconic black sandals, for the most part I’ve always been pretty self conscious about my body. While I’ve certainly never been obese or even “big,” in my mind I’ve never been a “skinny” girl either. That said, seeing as I’m pretty much an “athleisure” and/or jeans and a t-shirt kinda gal I don’t really have much reason to ever give my body (good or bad) too much thought.

Recently, however, I was invited to a friend’s birthday party, and it just happens to be at a drag show in the city. Fun, right?! It’s actually where I had my bachelorette party so I’m rather looking forward to it. But as friends started conversing about “outfits” and included words like “short” and “sequins” I started to get a bit anxious. A) because obviously my wardrobe has nothing like that at all and B) because what kind of short, sequined number is going to work on my flat-chested, post-three babies, big-hipped body?! I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot on something that I’ll probably never wear again so a friend suggested I hit up Forever 21. Holy.Hell. I vaguely have memories shopping there when I was indeed 21, but when you’re 40 and you walk in, you see things in a completely different light. (As in my daughters are NEVER wearing these clothes!) Anyway, I did my best to try and find a few things (in the largest size possible) that had even the slightest possibility of working. If nothing else, this mini shopping adventure certainly provided some great entertainment for me – and for my friends as I was texting them hilarious pictures of me in ridiculous outfits. Because nothing looks hotter than trying on tiny outfits immediately after leaving the gym and you’re still dripping in sweat and sporting a 10-year-old sports bra. Magazine cover material right there.

Anyway after about 10 minutes of laughing at myself in the mirror, I figured if I didn’t just get something I’d be left to sit and stress about trying to find time and other possible options again. So I settled on a “lovely” $12 black dress with the idea that I would simply need to invest in some Spanx.

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This ancient Teddy Bear has no eyes, matted fur and its ear has been sewn back on. And yet to me, it’s beautiful – well, ok maybe “cute” is a more accurate, but you get my point.

Now as all this was going on, ironically I randomly came across a woman photographer who was advertising her boudoir special. And in this advertisement, she featured some women that she had previously photographed – a few of which were much larger than what society typically deems beautiful. At first after seeing these, I shamefully thought “oh my goodness who would want their picture taken like that?” Horrible thoughts, I know. I’m not proud. But I began looking through this photographer’s Facebook page and read her thoughts and ideas about her models and just her basic overall philosophy. And it dawned on me just how right this photographer was and how outrageously wrong I was. Because this photographer was out to prove that there absolutely is beauty in everyone – all shapes and sizes. You don’t need to be a size 2 with a 24-inch waist to be beautiful. And she’s right. These bigger women are obviously comfortable in their own skin. But not just comfortable, they are proud of who they are. You can see it in these pictures. And they should be. To them, the stereotypical definition of beauty doesn’t matter. They know they are beautiful, and that’s what matters.

After seeing these pictures, I almost became jealous. Because I’ve never felt that way. I’ve never been brave enough to “own” my body and not care how others looked at me. But these woman inspired me. I, too, want to be proud of how I look. (Ok, proud is probably a lofty goal, but I at least want to feel comfortable.) I can honestly say I don’t know if I ever will truly feel that way but I can at least have some goals and an overall purpose to work towards. For me, it’s not necessarily even about the number on the scale but more about making healthy(ier) decisions and being fit. I’m especially loving my gym‘s six-week challenge this year. I’m putting way more effort into it than I did last year and I can already feel a difference. Two months ago I was barely able to do two unassisted pull-ups; I’m currently up to four and a half. And don’t laugh at that “half” those things are hard as hell so I’m counting every additional inch. I’m also up to 36 chest-to-floor pushups. I feel like these small goals are what I need to inch closer to feeling good about how I look.

I know that I will never be a size 2. But I can, and will be, strong. I can, and will, set a good example for my daughters. Because part of being beautiful is simply loving yourself for who and what you are. For me, it’s not an easy task. But I’m hoping it’s just another one of those “fake it ’til you make it” kinda deals. Because it’s 2019, people; confidence is the new black. So wrap yourself up in it however best you can and [learn to] love the skin you’re in.