9
Sep

Exhale

It has been a summer.
Like a for real summer.
I don't have off like the rest of my family but even I felt like we were living our best life.
There were sunrises and sunsets
warm weather
paddle boarding
camping
our Cape trip
track days
so many old friends
framily time
so many visits and my heart being full
framily that knows my whole story
framily that accepts and do not judge
framily that only loves and knows we are all doing our best
ice cream for dinner
the kids read their hearts out
they played and played and played
Cole became the best bike rider
Anna went to her first sleep away camp
both kids went to basketball camp with dad
Pearl had an amazing Cape week with her bestie followed by fun with camping
a week with their grandparents and so much adult time
just amazing wrapped into one incredible summer.

Except I could not exhale.
Me, I was the problem.
I was so anxious and so nerved and worried and scared and had this feeling of concern
and there were days where it would pass and then days upon days of it being right there.
But, it's my year of different and so I kept trying.
Trying to figure out why
trying to let whatever it was go
trying to find my breath
trying to let it out, exhale and let go of whatever was on my mind
trying to not let whatever this was ruin this time, destroy the good memories
trying to not let them in on what was happening
trying to get back to okay so I could find my way into joy.

But, as always, the harder I tried, the worse it got until it all piled on and found its own way out.
And then built back up and piled on and found its way out
and such was the cycle I was caught in.

It's going to be okay, just call it out.
Give it a name, recognize that it's there and then it will go away once you have given it fair attention.
But it didn't.
And it hasn't.
And here I am.
With little faces in school and me wondering where I went wrong.

So, I start again.
Because fall is crazy and summer is how I restore.
Because I am mad at myself for not restoring.
Because I stayed too long at a party and I am trying to get back home.
Because I started something so new and so scary that I feel like I might mess it up all of the time.
Because when I do mess it up, it does crazy things to my nerves (upholders struggle with doing it wrong).
Because I have too many balls and I am starting to feel alone.
Because I am celebrating my birthday for the first time ever and I want it to feel special.
Because the weight is hurting my shoulders and placing a foot on my chest.
Because I should be crying more than I am, releasing.
Because I don't want to let them down, I don't want to hurt their memories.
Because I want to make sure they know I am here, even when I am withdrawn.
Because I need to not be withdrawn, I don't want to fake it.
Because there is nothing to fake, things are all okay.

Summer of 2018 was not an okay summer, it was wonderful.
My little boy told me yesterday he was so sad our summer and our time together was over.
He was actually heartbroen that our break had come to an end.
That's how different our summers have been.
Because our summers were not always like this.
Years ago, our picture looked shattered and our pieces were all over the floor.
And at the end of that summer, I started to put parts back together and made some big changes.
Since then, things have been getting better, stronger.
They were concerning and I couldn't have them be concerning.
And the tide turned because we shifted and we made important decisions to change.
I found framily to hold on to.
I reconnected with the past.
I started to take ownership.
I found their little.
I found joy and so did they.

So, I am back to my journey of starting with okay.
Just be okay and then find a little joy.
And with a little joy find a little more joy and a little more.
Find your calm mamma, remember after you take that big breath in, let is out again.
Exhale.

23
Mar

Five Minute Friday - routine

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on routine.
Go.

It is kind of absurd how much I love a routine.
How much I crave knowing what my day looks like
what I do when.
And I can say it is because my days are so long
so hectic
so out of my control, in the hands of others.
I am tied to meetings and agendas and to-dos.
But if I am being honest, I love a routine because that is who I am.
I am tied to meetings and agenda and to-dos because that is the profession I chose and would do it all over again.
It is who I am and it is time for me to be okay with me.

So let me begin...
there is order in a routine
there is a knowing
there is a feeling of freedom from not having to think
it's a dance
it's pretty to me
it's me.

There is balance in a routine
it brings the crazy back down
it lines things up
it creates space
it allows me to exhale
it's calm
and it is calming
it is me.

And inside something so cold and so sterile
I created warmth and tradition after tradition after tradition.
I created space and time and focus on us.
I created beauty and affection
I created your love of knowing
and I made time, fleeting time, special.

Yes, I love my routine.
I love my schedule of schedules
I love the lists
the actions
I love how I took something so crazy about myself, so list oriented
and I made something gorgeous in us.

Stop.

23
Feb

Five Minute Friday - beauty

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on beauty.
Go.

There is a lot in this world that can only be described as ugly.
Hurtful words, messages, language, actions.
There are so many examples of things we can point to and say they are just plain ugly.

There were so many times in my life that I felt ugly.
I felt like I was never good enough, strong enough, reaching a level of beauty.
And then I had you and it stopped.

Not only because it had to stop, but also because you made it stop.
You, sweet, amazing and gorgeous daughter of mine, you changed me.
You were and are my connection to beauty.

And it started as soon as I could tell that my words were being heard.
I stopped comparing my waist,
I stopped looking at my belly
I stopped wishing I could look different
and I started on health.

I started working out because it feels good for my body
I started saying thank you when you told me you liked what I was wearing
I started telling you that my scars were a part of our story and I love them because they brought me my family
I started looking at myself differently
I started looking at you, really looking at you
and how could I look at something that gorgeous that came from me and not think there is so much beauty in the world?
You were and are my connection to beauty.

Because you changed everything.
You brought me motherhood
and the day you looked at me and our connection clicked is the day that I realized what the word beauty and gorgeous means.
It has to do with connection
it has to do with love
it has to do with the kind of deep and connected love that wakes you up, lifts fogs.
You were and are my connection to beauty.

There is still so much of this world that is ugly
there is still so much that is wrong, there will always be.
Because everything in life has balance.
You can't really enjoy how gorgeous things are if you don't have the ugly to compare them to.
That is how this life goes.
But even in the ugliest of times, the human connection can be seen and it is so gorgeous.
I will forever remind you to look there, to be comforted by the fact that beauty will live on and on.
You were and are my connection to beauty.

Stop.

12
Jan

Five Minute Friday - simplify

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on simplify.
Go.

Oh how I need to.
This upholder needs to work so much smarter and less hard.
And so, with the start of the new year and how different things are going to be, I am starting all over again.
Because yesterday is over and it's time to write another story.

This year, I start with automation of my home.
Figuring out the little areas that I am spending a little time here and there that are taking up too much of my time.
I can automate the lights going on/off with special bulbs that detect dawn and dusk.
I can automate when things I get every month show up at my house.
I can automate my budget spreadsheet with formulas so things populate on their own.

I am simplifying the things I bring into my home, like cleaners.
I no longer want a cleaner for each surface of my home.
It seems strange to even think of that as an area that consumes time, but thinking through how much cleaner I have to dust vs how much toilet cleaner vs how much floor cleaner vs how much bathroom sink cleaner vs how much kitchen surface cleaner vs how much sink cleaner and then adding them to different lists and getting them at the store...stop!
I have simplified down to 3 and 2 of them are easy homemade.

I am simplifying my routines.
I am using my knowledge of me to not take on challenges.
I am saying no to things that take up my time and fortunate enough to say, is there a way I can pay someone else to just do that for me.
I am starting this year with a new different thing each month and not making all of the changes all at once and feeling overwhelmed.
Slow, I am going slow and smart.

I am going to be proud of the simple ways I inject love into my family.
Like all of our traditions that make my kids feel grounded, close, connected, loved and build a strong foundation.
I am going to find simple ways to connect with friends that don't live near me, so we all feel together.
I am going to take a step back from complicated relationships that make me feel weighted down.
I am going to remove so much of the noise that this loud loud world brings.

I am going to sit in the white clean simple empty space and all of its beauty.
This year is different.
And as this mamma gets closer and closer to 40, she is ready to own this life she built.

12
Nov

Parenting

I think by now you know I don't have most of the answers.
I, like every single person that is a parent, am trying my best.
The curve balls you bring, the constant questions are all almost impossible to answer.
Most frightening, a situation I never saw coming.
How am I going to react to that? I think most days.
What should I say?
For real though, how I respond to this matters because they are going to remember my response.
When they are grown, they are going to tell someone this story and I am either going to nail it or suck...for kids, there is no in between for parents.
Because it is not until you are one, that you realize, we are all just trying.

But, in the quiet light of day, I can think of all of the things I want to teach you.
All of the lessons I want you to walk away from us having.
So this right here is my little list for you...without any feedback or questions as to why or how...here is what I hope you hold on to as you do you.

You are not going to be liked by everyone. That is more than ok. You are not going to like everyone and that too, is more than ok. Part of this journey is finding out who gives you energy and who takes it. Most of your life will be figuring people out, their intentions, yours. Being kind to all does not mean all end up in your circle. Walking away from unhealthy anything, including people, is always the right thing to do.

Work hard like me and smart like dad. Not for any other reason other than to make yourself proud. I can't promise you it will lead to success or money or good anything. I can't so I won't. But, I promise you that the best feeling I ever have is feeling good about myself. Proud of my work, my accomplishments, what I overcame, who I am, and most importantly, I am proud of those I allow in to my circle (this is clearly important to me). I am proud of the fact that I became a mom, I am so amazed I get to mother you, you make me proud of me.

Chaos and mess lead to clutter in your mind. I know, I am type A. I know I have a way the house needs to look, I know it is my calm. But here's something dad won't share with you because it means he has to keep up with it without reminders...order makes us all calm. I swear it, I promise. A made bed makes us all feel better, a clean floor and clean counters give us space to breathe and allow us to think. Clutter and too much stuff takes away space, it adds clutter to your mind and makes it hard for all of us to think. It's easier to toss and walk away, it's easier to not put a thing away, it's easier to get up and go, but in the end, it is always harder. It is harder to clean up big messes than small. It is harder to think in that mess, it is harder to even know where to begin so start and end each day with a once over. Keep up with the little messes.

Play sports and learn to be a good teammate. It will teach you about showing up and having others count on you. It will teach you how to rely on others. It will teach you to move your body and feel good about that. It will teach you to feel a part of something bigger than you. And speaking of your body, be so good to you. Don't push it too hard too young, be gentle be kind, be loving. There will come a day you might want to change every single thing about yourself and know that none of that is true. Your body needs you and your spirit.

Everything will matter to you and being mature means only the important things matter. The quicker you learn that the little things like who invited who to a party, or who was wearing what, or who said what, the better for you and you alone. Do what is good for you and you alone when it comes to the little things. Get so comfortable in who you are and know that of course you will change and grow, but at your core, you stay the same. What should matter to you is taking care of yourself, being kind to others, falling in love with learning, none of that should ever change. Come to realize that you are loved and that real relationships does not mean a ton of relationships. Always find genuine in your life and normally that means intimate, which means small. Be comfortable with you and know that your foundation, your home base, we are right here. You are honestly never ever alone. We could not love you more or less.

Taking care of others is just what we do. Notice how I give those who don't have a home food whenever I pass them. Remember our random acts of kindness. Remember that we are a family that is dedicated to taking care. People matter guys, making people feel accepted matters.

I don't know what social media will be when you are older, I don't know if it was an explosion for me in my 20s and by the time you are a teenager it will be over but I really don't think so. Be better than that. Be better than being addicted to someone else's dinner and plans and fake life. Use it for connections but make sure it is not replacing actual people.

You are going to make a lot of mistakes. I did make a lot of mistakes and I continue to make a lot of mistakes. That's fine, that's life, that's human. Always take responsibility. Always say sorry, always learn from them and try as hard as you can to not repeat them. Do not shift blame to anyone, own it, stare it in the eye, use your courage to apologize and mean it.

Be brave sweet children. I swear to God, if I ever see you back away or back down from something because you are scared I will find you, I will grab you by the shoulders and I will shake you. Please remember that your mom was scared every damn day of her life. She could hardly breathe from the amount of panic. I always feel like I will fail, I will lose, I will not be enough. I am not kidding about this, every day, in all decisions. But, I try and if I ever see you not trying, I will find you. If I am no longer walking this earth, I will haunt you. Do you understand how important this is to me? I showed you every second of my life that even though I'm scared, I try and you will too.

One day, you are going to define your family. Be loyal to whomever that is, put them as your only priority. Don't take them for granted. Don't walk away from them, don't make anything else more important.

In case I don't make all of these things obvious in my day to day, I promise I will continue to try. Because that is the best we all can do, try.

10
Nov

Five Minute Friday - silence

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on silence.
Go.

It's my favorite sound, the quiet.
It's what most parents, most mothers seek.
It's the sound we long for.
The quiet, the still, the silence.

Because we all know that most of parenting is loud.
Noise is common, noise from them, noise from us, noise from toys, the noise we allow in, the noise we bring in.
But even while all together, we can find moments of special silence.

Like when we snuggle on the coach for our weekly family movie night.
Like when we tuck you in at night and finally allow the day to stand still, to sit in our silent love.
Like when we have reading dates and everything comes to a slow stop and we regroup.
Like when we hug, when we steal moments of affection throughout the day, hold on to each other and allow whispers and silence to wash over us.

And I fully realize that one day, my house full of loud
full of shouts
full of laughter
full of temper tantrum tears
full of crazy
full of stomping feet
full of slamming doors
it will all fall silent.
I will read this journey back and I will think, why did I complain about a little bit of noise?
What's wrong with noise anyway?

But in the thick of it, it's hard to see past the fog.
Which is why the moments of quiet that we steal, they fill me to keep pushing through the noise of it all.

See guys, you fill our home, with love and noise and stuff and lessons and chaos and humor
but you cannot complete me and you cannot be all of us.
Because you don't belong here forever.
You belong out there, doing loud amazing you and your father and I, we belong right here
serving as your rock, your home base
sitting in the quiet of our love and remembering all of the noise we once had.

Stop.

14
Jul

Five Minute Friday - comfort

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on comfort.
Go.

I find comfort in the closeness.
In the love and projection of family.
I find it in the small and in the simple.
I find it in the whispers of love.
And I find it in you, the ones that gave me my second chance.
I find it in our traditions, big and small.
I find it when I can clearly see family time is important to you too.
And so, I created a life that celebrates our family and underlines the importance of us.
I created comfort.

I created second chances
I created little arms around my neck
I created little hands cradled in mine
I created time
I created comfort in us.

I created traditions
and I have so many of them.
Traditions are my parenting strength.
They are so important to me, but even better, they are so important to you.
You have no idea how much you fill my soul when you say "it's Friday...it's our family movie night!"
or as I am kissing you goodnight on a Saturday and you say, "tomorrow is pancake Sunday and we have a reading date!"
The smile and excitement that comes across your face.
The actual joy and comfort it brings you.
How much you look forward to all the small ways that we make you feel that this is important to us.
I created comfort in us.

And that's why I did this.
I wanted something that tied us together, even as you grow and want more and more independence.
I wanted something that made you feel that this time together is important to all of us, because we are important to all of us.
I wanted you to feel that this loved, in the smallest of ways, because you are loved from top to bottom.
I wanted something that reminded all of us how simple parenting is, how all they need is us, the rest is extra.
How little stress there is in this time, how loving it is to just be together.
How my worries melt.
How our childhood comes out.
How close we all get.
I wanted to define family for you,
in its purest form.
I created comfort in us.

I find comfort in the simple
in the love
in the gathering
in the close
in the second chances
in the quiet
in the cozy
I find comfort in us.

Stop.

23
Apr

Dear kids

I make a lot of mistakes from day to day.
Each time I am presented with a situation, I feel as though I have a major decision to make.
This little decision determines so much, too much.
It determines how you come to me in the future.
It determines if you come to me in the future.
It determines how safe and comforted you feel.
And this my loves, this is the hardest part of parenting.
This is the part that keeps me up.
The thought of losing our trust, our connection, our bond.
The thought of you feeling alone out there, not having a home base, not wanting to "get in trouble" so keeping it to yourself.

And so, I want you to know...

I will always believe in you.
Always believe in who you are.
Always believe in your goodness.
We all make mistakes, I will be disappointed, but I will never be disappointed in who you are, only what you did.
Because I will always and forever believe in you.
I will believe in your heart, your soul, the core of who you are.
Whenever you feel that you don't even believe in yourself, know that I believe in you the most.
I will always believe in you.

You do not need to have any part of your life figured out.
And you don't have to have it figured out for a really long time.
And even when you are all grown up and have it figured out, you still can change your mind.
Adults put a lot of emphasis on what you're going to be when you grow up.
What are you going to do?
What is it that you will major in?
What career will you follow?
But, you don't need to have a single part of it figured out always and forever.
That is what life is, figuring it out, owning that part and then keep developing.
Keep changing, keep growing.
Never feel like a failure because your life isn't figured out yet.
Direction and passion and what excites you, all of that will come.
And sometimes, it will go.
And then another thing will pop up and then you will follow that
and that too may go.
You will figure things out on your own terms.

I see the good in you, the unique, the really really good.
I spend a lot of time focusing on what you need to improve.
I spend a lot of time trying to guide you
and redirect
and teach.
But the truth is, at your base, there is so much good.
Like how adventurous you are.
Like how you always try, always.
Like how much you love life, really love all the things about it.
Like how you play well together.
Like how you read to him.
Like how you comfort each other when you're upset or in trouble.
Like how you want him to be included.
Like how you are her shadow.
Like how hard you both work at school.
Like how respectful you both are of your teachers.
Like how you love love.
Like how well you both sleep.
Like how much you love your food.
Like how your face lights up when you see us.
Like how you always ask for dad to play with you.
Like how you find our traditions as important as I do.
Like how loving you both are.
Like how gentle you can be.
I see the good guys and I need to call you out on it more.

You can always trust me.
With your words
with your actions
with your mistakes
with your worries
with your thoughts
with your insecurities
with your choices.
I will protect all of it.
I will always be on your side, even if I am disappointed.
Even if I feel you know/knew better.
Even if I feel you had a choice and you knew the right one and you still choose the wrong one.
Because mistakes and bad choices, all of that is learning.
I am your trust, right here.
I will never turn my back on you,
I make you face your consequences and take responsibility,
but I will never turn my back on you.

Because this is home, and you can always come back to home base.
Even as adults, you can come back to comfort and warmth and us.
We all need that every once in a while, just a few minutes of safe to get back out there.
We are home.

10
Mar

Five Minute Friday - abandon

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on abandon.
Go.

There was a time in my life when I felt so desperately alone
I felt abandoned and left,
even though I was the one to leave.
And that brought out a loyal and cautious soul.

I don't ever give up.
I never abandon the ship, even when it's sinking.
Yes, it can be seen as loyal
as committed
as determined
as love.
But it can also be seen as just too much, I don't know how to walk away.
Not from friends turned family
not from jobs turned careers
not from love
not from hope
and at times, not from darkness.

And then there are times I give up so easily
when the pain comes rushing back and I remember how I just run when that happens.
I run away and I hide and I cut it off.
I am all in, one way or the other, all in.

And because they decided I needed balance, my little faces show me the way.
They show me that loyal and reckless abandonment can both be seen as gorgeous.

You sweet loving adorable Cole,
you are reckless
you lack inhibition or restraint
every action is do now, ask for forgiveness later.
And although there are times I wish you listened more
although there are times I wish for my own heart you would be a little more cautious
a little more reserved
this careful, deliberate, worried, and overly tightly wound mother adores your balance in my life.
She adores your reckless abandonment
of the rules
of the way one "should".

And you Anna,
my little me
my little one that always over thinks
my little face that also will not desert
my stubborn mind that always forges ahead
you too will be loyal.
You too will be determined.
You too will not give up, on anyone or anything.
You too will never abandon a friend in need
you too will protect
you too will give it your all
you too will never abandon your family
you too will never abandon your goals.

It's all a give and take,
know when to walk away
when the pain is too great
when the respect is no longer there
abandon the moments that hurt.
But also remember that family, however it is defined by you,
stays.
Family is not left
family is never ending,
family you can't walk away from
family you can't abandon.

Stop.

27
Jan

Five Minute Friday - control

Every Friday we unite for five minutes to write on one word. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on control.
Go.

This is my word.
This is my mission.
This is my calling, control.
The irony is that I left a home of control,
I left a home of feeling like I had no control,
and I took off.
What started as a stand that I was in charge and in control of me
quickly turned into an anthem of control of everything.
My life, theirs, the world, loss of control is so difficult for me.

And even though I met a person that allows me to feel as though I am in control, even though he is my partner in every way,
the more I want.
The more I fight for it.
The more I put on my fighting gloves and am in pain when I get knocked down from something out of my control.

This year, my new anthem is more.
And with that, I have to let go...more.
I have to let them go, more.
I have to let them decide, more.
I have to let them be, more.
I have to let them choose, more.
I have to let them figure out, more.
I have to let them conclude, more.

Because I am not in control of anything other than my reactions.
And I need to get a handle on those reactions, more.
I have to be their guide, their rock, more.
I have to be more of their joy.

Because the one thing I learned, the big lesson I took away,
was the more control you put on your kids, your life, your world, the more you are spun out of control.
The more the universe takes over.
The more your kids rebel and fight you, instead of turn toward you.
The more you lose, while trying to keep it all together.

And so, my little faces, it is time I give you the wheel and I turn some of the control over to you.
Because that clearly tells you that I don't just love you, but I trust you.
You've got this.

Stop.

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