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.

 

What’s Your “Purpose” This Year?

img_5648As we’re now officially one week into the new year, I’ve been racking my brain trying to think about some great revelation that 2018 taught me because as with every year, it seems a lot happened. I buried my last grandparent. My dad beat cancer. My middle challenge started kindergarten. So I’ve been remembering and reliving a lot of intense memories. I half-ass attempted to think of some resolutions. But then the more I thought about it I thought why do that to myself? I’ll dream up these nice, pretty goals, and then I won’t follow through which will only piss me off. Then I’ll start feeling anxious for failing, which will make me even more moody, and Lord knows I don’t need another reason to be moody. So I thought forget it. I feel like I already spend so much time in the past do I really need to purposely focus on it any more? Because in reality even if 2018 did teach me some valuable lessons, which of course it did because it’s impossible not to have learned anything in any given year, I also know myself. And I’m a creature of habit. So it doesn’t necessarily matter what I learned. What matters is if I’m able to use that knowledge moving forward. And judging by my past experiences, I figure I have about a 50/50 chance, which could be seen as phenomenal odds or more like a “why even bother.” Because like with everything else in life, it’s all about how you look at things. (And I know how I tend to look at things!)

So in order to keep my eyes on the prize and focused ahead, I’ve decided to not give 2018 much more of my time. Because what’s done is done. Good or bad. Ugly or beautiful. And everything in between. That said, I’ve been seeing a lot of people on social media come up with a “word” to represent their new year. And being that I’m a “word girl” I decided that was a pretty good idea and I wanted to do the same thing. And at first I tried to think really hard about what I want my representative word to be. But then in the spirit of the new year, I said screw it, I’m going to actually NOT overthink something to death and go, instead, with the first thing that popped into my head – Purpose.

The more I think about this word, the more I like it. Because again, it can be looked at in so many different ways. For starters, I’m going to (attempt) to try this with my parenting. I feel like so often I don’t necessarily know why I do or don’t do something. I find myself saying “No” to my kids a lot. Now with a seven, five and three year old, that’s kinda, sorta normal. However at the same time I want my “no’s” to have a legit sense of purpose. Am I saying no just because I’m being lazy and I don’t want to have to clean up a bigger mess? Or am I saying no to wearing a certain piece of clothing because I’m embarrassed that my kids often look homeless (True.Story.) when we leave the house, when if I’m truly honest with myself, most of the time I look homeless when we leave the house. I hated when my dad used to tell me “Because I said so” or “Because I’m the dad” as a reason for wanting me to do or not do something. Yet I find myself doing the same thing. Why? Because it’s easy, and I don’t feel like trying to come up with a real explanation. And mainly because I know my kids won’t listen to me anyway. But still, I don’t really think that’s fair to my kids. So as we dive into the new year and my kids continue to bombard with me five thousand insane daily requests, here’s to hoping I actually pony up to the handful of them that are indeed “yes worthy.”

But besides just parenting, I feel like that word can (and should be) applied all throughout everything I do. Do I have a purpose of being mad at my husband or am I just being a moody bitch because my kids have driven me mad? Do I really need to buy this or that or am I trying too hard to keep up with the Jones’s? Do I really need to have another drink? YES. YES, I DO. Lord knows I’m not attempting to become a minimalist or anything because everyone that knows me, knows that I love “stuff.” But I do think I need to reign myself and my actions in a bit and just make sure that I have a legit purpose in doing and saying what I do. And maybe the purpose of doing or buying X, Y, or Z at the time is simply to bring in that ray of sunshine in my life. Then so be it. I should do it. I’m not saying my purpose will always be appropriate or even right. I’m just saying there should be one.

Without overthinking anything, I highly encourage everyone to come up with your own “word” for 2019. To me, it’s not stressful like resolutions are (because let’s face it, they’re only there to be broken), but it’s still offering some sort of direction that can help guide you into being the best you possible. A new year is always a fresh start. Use it. Cheers to new beginnings and Purpose.

Don’t Let the “Buts” Override the Joys

“Talking About Our Problems is Our Greatest Addiction. Break the Habit. Talk about Your Joys.”

A few weeks ago an old high school classmate of mine shared this on her Facebook page. It immediately struck a cord with me, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. Mainly because It’s.Just.So.True. Rarely do I call my dad up with something “good” or send one of my fellow mom pals a text with something great that my kids did. Most of the time it’s simply me bitching. Me bitching about my kids. Bitching about my husband. Bitching about the weather. Just me bitching about anything and everything. Yet over the past few weeks as I’ve been ruminating on this idea, every time I try to think about something I’m grateful for, there always seems to be a giant BUT at the end. I’m grateful for my health…BUT I hate the feeling of getting old. I’m grateful for my kids…BUT boy do they drive me crazy. I’m grateful for my hardworking husband…BUT why won’t he do X, Y or Z? And it just keeps going on and on. I know I’m a Negative Nelly. I’ve been that way for as long as I can remember. But geez, even for me sometimes I think enough is enough. So I decided to write a post (mainly to prove to myself that I CAN remain positive for once) about my JOYS. The things that make me happy. And there will be no BUTS. The buts are my addiction and it’s true, I do need to break the habit. So here’s my first attempt.

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One of my greatest Joys over the past few weeks has simply been the generosity and kindness of my gal pals. Recently I had a minor procedure done and was laid up for a few days. Now everyone knows I hate asking for help of any kind. I don’t know why I do, I just don’t ever want to be a “burden” on someone else. Yet these ladies simply took charge. I had homemade dinners delivered, goodies for the kids, milkshakes for me. I had numerous additional offers and daily text messages checking up on me as well. Even the women I work out with got together and all signed a card for me. Now these woman will all tell you this was “no big deal” for them, but I beg to differ. Some of these woman work. They’re all raising families, being chauffeurs, cleaners, chefs. Yet they went out of their way to help me. And they did it on their own. That is some good people right there. No buts needed for this Joy.

Now it would be wrong of me to write about my Joys and not mention family. However seeing as I feel this is just a “given,” I’ll keep it short and sweet. My family has each other’s backs. We’ve been around the block a few times in the Village of Hell and we’re are all sorts of crazy, weird and impossible, but that’s what I’m most thankful for. Because given a choice between The Cleavers or The Conners, I’d take the Conners any day. They’re a lot more fun. So even when my phone calls and texts are about 95 percent me talking about my problems, I can always count on my dad to remind me that “this too shall pass” or my faithful cousin, who’s a few years ahead of the parenting/life game than me, to talk me off that ledge. They’re my forever Joys. The lemonade to my lemons. (Sorry, sometimes, I like a good ol’ cliche!)

About a year ago, in my forever hunt for cool vintage items, I met a local woman who has a sweet little antique business that she runs out of her home. Recently she asked if I’d help her with the online portion of her business. Um, hello?! I get to look at and fondle beautiful, one-of-a-kind treasures AND get paid for it?! YES! This woman is grateful for my help, and I’m beyond grateful for simply having the opportunity to “do what I love.” I don’t necessarily believe in all the “you meet everyone for a reason” garbage that people like to say, but I certainly could not be any happier for having met this woman…despite having spent way too much money on all the pretty things that she sells. At least now however, my guilt is justifiably a tad less.

Now obviously there’s a million and one other things that bring Joy in my life. It’s candy corn season. The trees look freaking amazing. My kids are doing well in school. And my husband recently discovered what is currently my new favorite beer. Overall life is good. But it’s just so damn easy to spend so much time focusing on the buts and the negative side of things. (Candy corn makes me fat. Falling leaves means snow is coming. My son writes like he’s in preschool. Beer makes me fat. – See how easy that is??) But here I am, attempting to work on Amy 2.0 and trying just a tad harder to consider that my glass might just be half full instead of half empty. And on those days that I simply can’t do it – a 6-pack and a bag of candy corn make a damn fine way to end the day.

Motherhood Ain’t for Sissies

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My Perfect Angels (said no mother ever)

Motherhood is f*cking hard. And lately it seems like every day I’m doing nothing but  failing. Over. And over. And over. I suppose maybe it’s the fact that it’s summer and my three kids are constantly in my face All The Time. Or maybe it’s the fact that not only are they in my face nonstop, but they are fighting nonstop. Over NOTHING. Over looking at each other. Or not looking at each other. Or breathing. Or maybe it’s the fact that no one seems to listen. Like ever. Until I’ve practically gone hoarse from yelling so loudly, but even then it’s questionable if they’ll actually listen or just merely acknowledge I’m speaking to them (or in this case yelling). Or maybe it’s the fact that I take the time to cook dinner every single night and no one eats anything. Yet I get asked for a snack at least every three minutes all day long. But when I offer a minimum of four healthy choices for a snack all hell ensues and tantrums are had by all simply because the only thing that can cure the apparent aching hunger pains of my kids is fruit snacks. Or maybe it’s the fact that anytime I even attempt to do something productive, three hurricanes follow right behind me and destroy everything. Maybe it’s the fact that my middle child is going through some serious shit and I don’t know if I’m capable of handling it, let alone handling it properly. Or the best one yet – maybe it’s the fact that I idiotically decided to try and go a week without having a drink. Pure madness, I know.

Whatever the case may be, so often lately I’ve found myself losing my absolute shit. To the point where I swear I’m having an out-of-body experience because all the while I’m freaking out at my kids, inside I’m telling myself, you’re crazy. They’re just little kids. Be the adult. Shut the hell up. But yet that voice of reason is just never quite strong enough in the moment to help me pull myself together. Instead that little voice just simmers politely until about 10:00 p.m. when I’m trying to go to sleep. That’s when it comes blazing back to life. And what was once the voice of reason now turns into the loquacious mastermind of guilt. It likes to remind me over and over how I SHOULD have handled the situation. How I SHOULD have remained calm. How I SHOULD have controlled the 18 things that just flew out of my mouth in the heat of the moment that are undoubtedly going to put my kids on the couch of some high-paying therapist sometime during their adult life.

As a parent or even just as an adult I’d say it’s safe to say that at least more often than not, we learn from our mistakes. Isn’t that part of the definition of even being an adult? Having the capability to stop, reflect and learn. Yet why does it seem like I can never figure out how to properly keep my cool in a tense or frustrating situation?! Why is it that these little people somehow have the ability to put this spell over me that sends me straight to Crazy Town? Because certainly that isn’t something that any adult has the capability of doing to me (well, okay my husband does, but I think that’s just par for the course). I seriously feel like my hard drive is frying some days as I’m constantly being hounded with a barrage of “MOM!” everywhere I go with three people yelling out three different demands simultaneously. There are times that I just can’t focus on a single thing or even hear myself think, which admittedly I’ve even shouted out loud before.

I often wonder if these are just “normal” mom feelings or if I’m some sort of uncontrollable freak that needs therapy herself. (Dad, if you’re reading this OF COURSE I need therapy for a laundry list of reasons but that’s not my current point.) On a handful of occasions I’ve witnessed what ideal parenting is like when a child is in the midst of a shit storm and I simply sit back and stare in awe. Because as much as I WANT to be that parent, more often than not, I’m the farthest thing from it. So am I in the minority or are those patient, docile parents? Who knows! The only thing I do know for certainty – and back to my original point – is that motherhood is damn hard.

But after all of this hemming and hawing, at the end of the day, of course I love my children with all my heart and want nothing more than to help them be happy, healthy, good humans. So thankfully, tomorrow is another day – another day to love and forgive my children – as well as myself. Because the two go hand in hand and are equally important. Obviously none of us are perfect, but I like to think that we’re perfect for each other.

Today is Not That Day

In a conversation I had with my father a few years ago, he asked if he’d told me about his new favorite line. He hadn’t so I asked him to share. One of his good friends had recently completed a triathlon, and along the way she saw an elderly woman holding up a sign that read:

“Someday you will not be able to do this, but today is not that day.”

“Imagine,” my dad had said, “some little old lady who used to do those marathons herself, but obviously can’t anymore, standing there with that sign. That’s awesome.” It’s a total cliche, but of course, I too, thought it was pretty awesome. But it wasn’t until I had actually really thought about those words for a few days that I understood the greatness and how they’re applied to my own life.

That said, however, my first thought when trying to apply that to my life today was, “gee, some day my kids will be able to wipe their own ass but today is most certainly not that day.” Which then of course segued into me thinking, “but hey, some day I might not even be able to wipe my own ass but thankfully, today is not that day.” But somewhere inside me I heard the wise words of my husband reminding me that life simply does not revolve around poop (even though at this stage in my life I swear it does) so I once again thought how that phrase could apply to me today. I realized the list is long, but it’s all about perspective. Everyday that list will change, but it’s solely up to me if I want to focus on the “shit” (pun intended) side of things, or if I want to instead, focus on the positive and remind myself that they’re still just little kids who need me. Because deep down I know that someday I’m going to miss being needed even if it is just for a good ass wiping. At least that’s what people seem to tell me.

Everyone walks down their own unique path in life, and those paths help define who you are. For me, if there’s one thing that my own life has taught me it’s that while today may “not be that day,” tomorrow very well could be. So while most days I feel like I’ve done nothing but cut up food into minuscule pieces, changed diapers, counted to three at least 1,047 times, ran the kids here, there and everywhere, on top of putting away the same toys over and over and over, I have to remind myself that this is my current world of greatness and I need to appreciate it for what it’s worth. The minutes may not always be that great and maybe not even some of they days; but the weeks, months and years most certainly are.

I wrote this a few years ago but recently updated it since I felt the story was still relevant and an important lesson that I often lose sight of on a daily basis. Because it’s easy to forget what actually matters and lose focus on the big picture when you’re in the thick of everyday life filled with screaming kids, to-do lists pages long and just constant pandemonium. But at the end of the day, when the kids are in bed and I’ve finally sat down for the first time, it’s imperative for my sanity that I force myself to take a deep breath and remember that today may “not be that day,” but I should always be grateful for whatever that day brought me because tomorrow, that day will be gone.