Baby Steps- Moving forward by the inch, Not the Mile

Baby Steps- Moving forward by the inch, Not the Mile

As it’s a new year, and we all have that “fresh start” kind of vibe (for at least a week or two) I thought it would be appropriate to ask you what one struggle are you going to conquer this year? I’m not asking for resolutions. I don’t even think making a year long goal is the best way to do things (Twelve weeks is actually a really good time frame. Check out this book for more info: 12 Week Year by Brian Moran or if you’re not a big reader, here’s a podcast about it.)

I’m focused on a few areas this year: Managing my money better, Managing my health better and Managing my mental health better. You know, just a few minor, inconsequential things ;) But seriously, since I’m a project kind of girl I keep thinking I’ll sit down one day, make a nice long list and a detailed plan, and fix Issue A with a focused effort. Problem is, if I do that, Issues B-Z are ignored for a week while I “project” my way through dealing with Issue A, and then when I come up for air, I’m overwhelmed and any progress I made on A is buried with me under my weighted blanket as I stress eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and take a nap—or three.

Goodbye Big Projects

So I’m done with the big projects. I’m going to focus on the small daily habits that will help me improve my finances, my physical well-being and my mental health. 

I’ve finally realized that although I love the payoff of conquering a huge challenge, the trade off of chaos that ensues while I’m otherwise occupied is not worth the accolades of the big reveal. Making small, consistent changes in my life that over time will produce big results is the unsexy, boring yet best way to make lasting change. After all, baby-steps are the building blocks for all of us to learn to walk, run, jump, dance...all of it. It all starts with baby steps. Have you ever met a toddler that goes from crawling straight to tap dancing? Me neither. 

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Call Me Crazy—Or Don't (Mental Health Series pt. 1)

Call Me Crazy—Or Don't (Mental Health Series pt. 1)

We’ve all got that “Crazy Aunt Betty” who talks to dust bunnies or that clowning uncle who always has a bit too much to drink at the family reunion. We’ve all seen people walking down the street alone, waving their arms, apparently in a heated discussion with no one in particular. (Of course, this was easier to spot before the advent of Bluetooth ear pieces!) We recognize that those people may be dealing with some mental health issues. 

But how about the quiet girl sitting in the corner of the coffee shop with her ear buds in, angled toward the wall. She has ADHD but you would never know that to look at her (Okay, she’s me.). Or the bespectacled professor at the front of the classroom with his perfectly tied bowtie; You’d never know he has a thirty-point checklist of things he has to do every time he leaves his house—and that’s better than he used to be with his OCD. Often mental health issues can be hidden to all but those who are very close to the person struggling. I know most people would never guess I’ve dealt with depression, ADD and even some anxiety. I mask it well, most of the time. But it’s still a very real issue I’ve had to deal with. 

You’ve probably heard the words, “That’s insane!” or “She’s got to be crazy.” Most of us say these things innocently—lightly. But the problem is that mental health isn’t something we can take lightly anymore. We see the effects of mental illness on the “breaking news” ticker daily. Whether it’s a disgruntled employee going off on a rampage, a bullied loner opening fire on his classmates, or a well-known celebrity ending her life, these things affect our world regularly and most of the time the roots of these stories are buried deep in the world of mental health. 

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On What Makes Us Tick

On What Makes Us Tick

I started this new blog a few months ago with the idea of it being a place to talk about the issues and ideas that seem to resonate with both me and a lot of the people I know. At first glance, these things may not seem to be related (which is a problem if you’re trying to figure narrow down what your blog is all about) but when I listed off the subjects that energize me I realized that they are all basically topics that flow into what makes us tick. I’m interested in talking about and understanding why we are who we are in relation to:

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Imperfect Progress

Imperfect Progress

But I was doing so well. Hmmff. (Insert pouting face here)

I was very proud of myself. I’d started up this new blog in February and I was determined to write every week. However, let's just say that consistency has never been my strong suit. It's never actually even been in my closet or card deck or wherever that expression comes from. So telling myself I would write weekly seemed a bit of a stretch. But I set my weekly writing time and I did it. For about two months I pushed “publish” once a week and if felt fabulous. (I know, two months doesn't seem like much to all my well organized and motivated reader friends. But for me...it was practically Mt. Everest. So go ahead, take a moment and silently applaud. Aw, shucks. You're making me blush.) Anywho...then life happened, as it does.

First, I went to a writer’s conference in April—which you would think wouldn’t be something to throw off my writing, but it did. Initially, just because I was gone for five days and then had to catch up on work and life stuff so my time was limited. But also because I was suddenly filled with so many ideas that I couldn’t seem to settle down and pick one to work on.

Days after that, in an effort to focus, I joined an amazing online course called Author School, taught by my favorite literary agent, Rachelle Gardner (you may be wondering how one decides on a favorite agent but when said agent reps all your favorite authors and has an incredible, generous website chock-full of vital info for writers, it's a no-brainer). Author School is a weekly live video course plus tons of extras online and on our Facebook group. It’s truly invaluable information and you would think that would have been something that got me writing again. But just after I started the course, my grandma passed away and that took me away from home for five days but also, obviously, took up some of my emotional bandwidth. 

So then, after I got home, I was going to get back on track. No doubt. It was gonna happen.

Until it didn’t. Because a few days later,

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Is Silence a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

Is Silence a Good Thing or a Bad Thing?

What do you do each morning to start your day the right way? What’s your morning routine? I used to laugh at the idea of a morning routine. First, I didn't like mornings and second I didn't like anything routine. To me that was code for boring. So it was a tall order to sell me on the idea of creating a healthy morning routine for myself. 

My "morning routine" used to be rolling out of bed a couple minutes ahead of my kids, donning my grey bath robe (Bill calls me Gandalf when I wear it) and trying to tame my bedhead a bit before going downstairs so I didn't scare my children. But when I started my day that way, I felt like I was running behind all day long. So while my recent earlier mornings are a result of needing more time to plan my days and more time to just wake up in the morning, they are also about starting my day with gratitude and finding joy in simple pleasures, like a few minutes of silence. 

Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home dad,

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Night Owl or Early Bird?

Night Owl or Early Bird?

Are you a night owl or an early bird? Do you fall asleep by 9pm and wake up in the morning like a red-bull fueled, whirling dervish checking all the items off your To Do list by 8am? Or do you find you have to force yourself go to bed at night ("Okay, I know I've said goodnight five times but this time I'm really go—is that a two hour episode of the Voice?") and then you have to force yourself to get out of it in the morning with self-bribery involving hot caffeinated beverages? The latter has definitely been my pattern for as long as I can remember. 

I always thought it was just how I was wired. That I was a night owl and would never be able to get up early and function well throughout my day. But I think I've been wrong all this time. I don't think it's because my body is wired that way. I think it's much more to do with how I structure my day and my ADD brain and the way it functions (or doesn't function in this case...you can read my last post for more about that.) I think the number of hours of sleep a person needs is quite individual. But let's say it's 7 hours for me. I think as long as I'm getting the amount of time my body needs, I can do that from 10pm-5am just as effectively as 1am-8am. My body will adjust if I'm consistent and I can actually turn myself into a morning person. (Okay, still not the whirling dervish type...and I still need my caffeine, but I can get up earlier!)

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"Everyone has ADD."

"Everyone has ADD."

This is my normal. If you're horrified right now, you can just stop reading. It's okay, this is too long for you to read if you're not emotionally vested at this point. 😂

But if you're nodding your head in total understanding—while simultaneously thinking you have other things to do so you should probably stop reading...but you know you'll just end up scrolling instagram for the next ten minutes anyway—read on...

I never suspected I had ADD when I was young. I didn't fit the typical mold. I wasn't a hyper boy in the 80's who bounced off the walls if given a sip of kool-aid. I was actually a quiet dreamer in school. (While at home I was a non-stop talker...right mom?) I would look out the windows and let my brain take me where it willed. Or I would sit at the front of the classroom taking notes so I could pay attention to what the teacher was saying. And I did very well in school. I didn't get in trouble or have poor grades. 

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Airing My Clean Laundry (aka…Stop Comparing your Behind the Scenes with their Highlight Reel!)

(One of my favorite posts from my original blog. First posted 11/5/14)

So, I’ve been collecting pictures for months for this particular blog post. Some time around Christmas, a friend told me she wasn't going on Facebook anymore because seeing everyone else’s perfect kids and perfect husbands and Pinterest-worthy one-year-old birthday parties and Hawaiian vacations, etc., etc., was making her feel bad about her life.

I thought, but you know that’s just people’s highlight reel, right? It’s not their every day. It’s where they post the things they are happy about, excited for...you know...the highlights.

Then, I remembered when I posted some family pictures (I actually don’t post many pictures of my kids. Not because I’m against it or anything. No, I just forget to take them). So we hired an incredible photographer (shameless plug here for Sj Bridgeman) to take some family photos and I shared some of them on Facebook...mostly so extended family could have access to them. (Because you know, I'm probably never going to actually get around to having prints made. Yeah, it's been on my ToDo list for six months.) And also, cuz it’s probably the only time I’ve ever looked half decent in my photos.

When I posted this pic…

me & jo.jpg

… a sweet young friend commented that she hopes she and her baby girl have a relationship like me and my daughter. I remember looking at that comment and actually laughing out loud. Not because it’s not a sweet sentiment. It is. And not because I don’t want her and her little one to have a great relationship. I do. But because the assumption appeared to be, because we look happy in the photo, that we have a great relationship.

Um...I can say now, that we really do, but that's very recent. After nineteen years, we are finally starting to get each other. But at the time, we were really struggling to like each other. And being her mom has always been hard … because she’s amazingly smart and strong-willed.

These days, I couldn’t be more proud of the young lady she’s become. As a matter of fact, yesterday was probably one of my favorite days ever, with her. I think she's pretty brilliant. But she will tell you, there were times we didn’t know if she would make it out of childhood alive! (Settle down...it’s hyperbole. I wouldn’t actually have killed her. On purpose.)

Anywho … it struck me then, as it did again when my friend went on her Facebook fast, that so many people are comparing other people’s Highlight-Reel with their own Behind-the-Scenes. 

Friends, that doesn’t work. Stop doing it. 

It’s unhealthy for you and for those around you. You’ve probably heard it said, “Comparison is the death of contentment.” That’s true. And that’s when you’re comparing apples to apples. But this comparing your life to what you see online? That’s not even apples to oranges. It’s like apples to monkeys. 

Most people don’t post the bad stuff on Facebook. Cuz that would just be weird:

“Here’s the picture of Tommy writhing on the floor after his brother kicked him in the balls.”

“Oh, and here’s a great one of my teenager giving me the finger.”

“And this one...can’t forget this one. Little Suzy had just puked and decided to rest her head on the toilet. So sweet.”

“And this is a selfie of me, giving my husband the silent treatment cuz I’m pissed at him.”

People! All this stuff is happening to other people, too. It’s just not socially acceptable to share it. So settle down. Relax. You’re not the only one who's a hot mess.

As a matter of fact, as I said, I’ve been trying to remember to take pics for months for this blog post. I was looking for behind-the-scenes kinds of moments. I got several.

And then I forgot about it. Cuz I do that. A lot.

But this morning, I saw a blog post about this exact thing!! I mean...exactly what I wanted to talk about. She even used the word "highlight reel" (this is the second time this week that I've been pretty sure someone has been spying on my brain.)

At first, I thought … Dang! Now I can’t write my post!

But then I remembered I’m not comparing myself to anyone else so I can write about it, too. I stopped reading immediately, and got down to business, writing what I've been wanting to write. 

I wanted to let you know, if you ever feel like you can't get your shit together, feel free to send me an email. I can list so many things that I fail at. I'll be happy to give you a list so you can feel better. Actually, I wrote a post listing all my faults. I can try to dig that up for you. ;)

And to make you feel even better, here’s a fun story. Just this weekend, I broke Nine’s little heart when I got him to the baseball field at 7:30 pm for his 8 pm game … that actually started at … 6pm.

Crap.

“But I was supposed to be the starting pitcher and I was going to get to play first base and shortstop!” (I heard that sentence over and over and over for the next two days.)

I felt HORRIBLE. Seriously, wanted to throw up cuz I felt so bad. But, it happens. I had to let it go. (I even sang the song to myself. Really. "Let it go...let it go...")

So, now, for your viewing pleasure...I have some Behind-the-Scenes family pics for ya. Enjoy! (and I really did take a pic of my youngest, sitting on the bathroom floor, just after he threw up. But, I can't find it. So you (and he) have been spared :))

 

The contents of my linen closet. Pretty much how they looked when they were still in the closet. (At least it's clean.) I still can't fold a fitted sheet!

dirty laundry.jpg

 

Fighting. Even if this started out as fun, you know there was screaming within seconds...

fighting.jpg

 

This was a fun day. When Twelve broke his arm the day before basketball season started. It was awesome:

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This one has a story. This is a picture of my very favorite tea cup. My friend, Marissa, knew I loved this little tea cup so one day, she stopped by and gave me a matching one. I was thrilled. So, I took it to the sink to wash it, and proceeded to drop it. CRASH! I don't think my friend was even out of the driveway yet. FAIL!

broken cup.jpg

 

What my dining room table looks like, much of the time:

dining table.jpg

 

I was the one who applied the sunscreen. (or didn't):

sunscreen.jpg

 

What happens any time I don't use a timer. Take that, Pinterest:

pinterest fail.jpg

 

And last, but certainly not least, this picture was taken ...

christmas in feb.jpg

IN FEBRUARY!!! Bam!

 

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