21
Feb

Chapters

Maybe she looks at chapter one too harshly, maybe she looks at chapter three with rose-colored glasses. Maybe her memory plays tricks on her as she builds her chapters and remembers them the way she wants to. Maybe there is a different version of the story out there. Regardless, this is her story, the one she remembers, the one that shaped her, made her. This story is her why...why are you like this? It's because of this story.

Chapter 1: she is too young to be this old.

She spent this time really worried, scared, and surrounded by a lot of anger, yelling, and slamming. There was a lot of crying and although she was and still can be so immature with her feelings and reactions, she always knew she was too young to be so old.

She likes to really focus on all of the hard during this time. She lingers in it sometimes and is brought back to it too quickly. To this day, they still act similarly, and therefore, it's easy for her to remember the hard. So, she pushes herself to remember that there were also moments of gentle and sweet moments of family too.

Moments like walking with her mother and sister, because the family had only one car, so they walked everywhere. Her mother in the middle, each child by her side. She would hold their hands and to keep her little girls warm, she would place them in her pockets.

Moments like Christmas Eve when it was so loud and we were surrounded by so much family. Not hers of course, but his. Still, we had cousins and family, and midnight mass, and opening presents at 1am and too much food.

Moments like really late nights with her mother's side of the family. The men all playing cards. The cousins scheming for ways to have a sleepover. The woman drinking espresso and talking the whole night away. Falling asleep in the car bc it was always too late when we left.

But, there was a lot of hard too. And she knew, she had to find a way to move on. She was too young to be this old.

Chapter two: where she wanted to be.

Having spent high school really creating strong and loving friendships, the kind she knew saved her and would carry her, she left. Some call it running away, they are not wrong. Some call it moving away, they are not wrong. Some call it leaving, they are not wrong. Some call it selfish, they are not wrong. Some call it strong, they are not wrong. Some call it scary, they are not wrong. Some call it liberating, they are not wrong. Some call it necessary, they are not wrong. Most call it going to college, they, are not wrong.

College was as warm as a heavy blanket. Surrounded by trees and fall leaves and snow and wind and cold. College was an incredible four years. The start of framily. Forever relationships that would never leave her heart. College was everything she worked so so hard for. College was the end of the road. College was all her goals and her final destination. College was fun and loving. It was hard and a ton of work. It was late nights, early mornings, little sleep, lots of sleep. College was figuring a lot out for her. It was also knowing a lot about herself. College was everything she wanted, exactly where she wanted to be. But still, there was this little dark, heavy, and angry cloud that did not allow her to fully let go.

Chapter three: it's so easy.

From the moment she met him and saw that smile, it was just so easy. Being in his tight hug, seeing him across a room, hearing his laugh, it was all so easy. It was just the two of them and their little reason of a puppy, the one that made sure they were together. Even when things were harder or stressful, chapter three was just so incredibly easy.

She got sick in chapter three, really sick, forever sick. But since life was easier, she also knew what she needed to do to get better. And, there was nothing that was complicating that. She was terrified, she thought she needed to walk away from him, but he just pulled her in tighter.

He was family, she didn't realize how much she needed him until she found him. She needed his easy. She needed one thing to feel this easy. She didn't realize he was missing.

Taking walks together, staying up all night talking, going to grab a coffee, city living, holding hands, watching TV, it was all so easy. He blended right in to her family, the one she had now created for herself. He was the last and incredibly important piece to the puzzle. They were so different, but in a good way, they were each other's balance. They had so much in common, but in important ways. They had a really solid foundation. They liked to be together, they liked to be with other people, they really liked each other and it was all so easy.

Chapter four: the family grows.

With a move and marriage and the puppy, they added and added again. He always knew children needed to be a part of his story, she needed to be talked into it more. But, once they were here, she fell in love with being a mama and protecting their little. She looks at them, all of the time. While they are eating, or sleeping, or playing, she cannot take her eyes off of them. They look so much like him and it makes her fall for him even harder, they are the two of them combined becoming their own little person. They are so different, one a book nerd, the other a Lego master. One a sitter, the other anything but.

Although the first three years of parenting were incredible, the fog finally set in and settled all around them. It was no longer easy to find each other. It was so hard to see one another and the foundation didn't seem as strong. She was filled with so much worry during this time but he knew it was all just a blip and kept pulling her close. She made a lot of threats during these years, and he kept trying to remind her that the fog would lift. There were so many emotions but they rounded one important corner after another until it was clear again.

Their first puppy had her final days, and they said one very difficult goodbye. Without her, it felt really lifeless and dark. So, a new puppy brought life and love, and light back into their home. She was the lover of love that every single member of the family needed and clung to.

Chapter four was hard and wonderful. It was the definition of parenting.

Chapter five: the job that was always too much.

She spent 20 years being raised by an agency. She fell so hard for the mission and the hope they created. She loved the way they too protected childhood and understood how important that was to communities. It was never ever a job for her, it was always a way of life, something she needed to breathe. Until the day came when she truly loved it to death, not only was it no longer her breath, it was choking her and it all became too much. Only because she made it too much, because that is who she is and what she does, she is an all in girl and loves things too much.

For the longest time, she relished in the hours and hard hard work. For the longest time, she felt like she was home an in a groove. Until she realized that she was no longer riding a wave, she was getting soaked and the water was starting to take her under. She was drowning.

There was a constant headache brewing, a tightness around her chest, an anger that was rising. She was the only one that could stop it but she didn't know how. It was then that she realized her time there was up, they all needed something different. And it wasn't just her or her family that needed her to walk away, it was the agency. They too needed something different and she had to go now.

So she spent three years planning and building and figuring out...what next? This had been such a deep and rooted part of her for so so long, where to next? When the answer came she knew it would be a hard three years, but she also didn't see any other way to make it work. So, she got to work and poured hours on top of hours and worked harder and longer. And it broke her. It broke her brain, her heart, her spirit, her...it broke her.

It was always too much but only because she made it so.

Chapter six: all is calm, all is bright.

She struggled in the beginning. It took time for her to sleep well. It took time for her to stop crying, shaking. It took time before the nightmares stopped and it took time before she didn't feel like someone was standing on her chest. It took time to figure out her days. It took time for her mind to come back and her memory, it took time for her memory to improve.

But slowly, it started to happen. She found and caught her breath. She no longer felt like every decision was the wrong one. She started to really enjoy her days again. Slowly, she started finding herself.

Chapter seven: peace and joy.

She had forgotten pure joy. Not just a glimpse of funny here or there, but moments of actual pure joy. She found them in the smallest of places. Walks with her dog, watching TV at night, reading with her girl, all of the naps. She found joy.

And she loves her job and loves to work. She no longer sits down heavy, but really has the ability to find solutions and think through the best way to handle something new. She still panics here and there, has to be pulled back down, and talk through some trouble spots, but she once again loves her work.

She also realizes she, and only she, can keep finding the balance, or she can keep up her old ways and love it to death, again. She has a chance here to love what she does but not only do work. She has a chance to keep herself open to new possibilities, but only if she is open. She has the chance to problem-solve, but only if she is not overwhelmed. It's up to her what direction this all goes in.

She has found time with her kiddos, games and reading dates, and so many walks and walks. Walks with her new puppy. Walks with her kiddos. So many talks with the kiddos. Making sure she is the mama she needs them to be, a mama that is there for them. She loves being their mama and she needs them to see how much.

She found her laugh again, she can't give that up again. She found her way but it is up to her to make sure this is how she keeps going. She can't go back to her old ways, she needs this peace.

Chapter eight: the one that isn't written yet.

?

31
Jan

Work

Alright lovies, I know you know and can feel this but here is the absolute truth...
I love to work.
I always have.
Even when the jobs were just jobs and not careers.

Even when I felt like I was drowning and it was clear that I hated it. I loved it even then. 

  • I love to work.
  • I'm good at work.
  • I'm capable.
  • I have a groove.
  • I have a flow.
  • I see the big picture and I see the little details to get me there.
  • I see how the pieces can come together.
  • I feel good doing it, something comes alive in me.
  • I feel invigorated by the challenge. I love stepping up, honestly, I love stepping up.

I love it so much it's what I would do in my spare time. It's what I actually do in my spare time. If I have even a minute to spare, I'm right back working.

I love it so much it's unhealthy, I have to remind myself I'm more than work. I'm more than work and working. I need more.

I love it so much that you have to remind me that I'm more than work. You have to remind me that I need more than work. You have to tell me to come to eat, come watch a movie. Let's go take a walk, will you read with me? Do you have time for a reading date? Will you play now? I love it so much I need you to peel me away. And for that, I'm sorry but I'm also so thankful.

I know it's not fair that you need to do this for me, and for that, I'm so sorry. I know this should not be your job, and for that, I am so sorry. But I'm so thankful that you remind me how much more there is to this life of ours. I'm so thankful that you fill my life with other. I'm so thankful that you pull me away. And here is what I have learned.

Nothing is that important.
Most importantly, I am not that important.
Most things can definitely wait.  
My business will be fine, my clients are fine, my team, fine. 
It feels like life and death to me because I created that in my mind. 
It's not my only love.
It's not the only thing I'm good at. 

I do love work. But I started this business because I couldn't do what I was doing anymore. I loved work to actual death and I was the one that felt like she was dying.

I have no idea how you and those that love me stood by me. I have no idea how family and framily and friends and my squad did not walk away. I have no idea how or why you lovies were so patient with me. I have no idea how your little understood what I was working towards. And now that I'm here, thank you for reminding me that I can love it with all of my heart, but to leave so much more room for our life.

24
Jan

Peace

Hi 2021, bring peace.

It's a big ask. I asked 2020 to make things calm and bright. Although you can argue that we did not get either, I can also argue that I got a little bit of both.

So why peace?

Because it was a year of unrest. A year of chaos. A year that was needed, the chaos, unrest, unpeaceful year was needed. We had been living in privilege for too long and the entire world needed to hear the roar. A year that needed anger and uprising. It was a year that was needed.

And although we are not stopping, and the work, the hard work, will continue, we are also going to find a way to allow peace in. It is time for a little bit of peace.

I spent a lifetime proving and doing. I spent a lifetime making this really hard on myself. Some think it has been a way to continue to punish, they may be right. Some think it is how I have always been wired, they may be right. I think it was to prove that I could. When you are told all of your life that you can't, there are many ways to react to that, I picked fighting and fighting hard.

And then 2020 came. As I was wrapping up three of the most difficult years, 2020 came. As I was ready to put down my fighting gloves and stop proving, 2020 came. As I was ready to slow down, 2020 came. As I was ready to catch my breath, find myself again, 2020 came. As I was ready to find my mind, remember and see things more clearly, 2020 came. As I was ready, 2020 came.

I found balance in a year where everything stopped. I found a way to work, a way to stop when I needed to, a way to nap, a way to allow the calm. I fought through imposter syndrome, I fought through "why am I doing this and who do I think I am?" I fought through all the negativity I was throwing my way. I let go of a lot of my past. I stood up for myself in ways that made me uncomfortable and proud. Uncomfortable because when a mouse finally says enough, it feels like a storm destroying the earth. When all I really did was say, I deserve better and you can no longer make me feel this way.

I stopped crying. I used to cry a lot. In the shower, on my way to work, in my dreams. I stopped crying. I stopped worrying all of the time. I stopped dreaming about work. I stopped having nightmares. I stopped having moments of insane panic. I stopped feeling like someone was standing on my chest, taking away my breath. I stopped feeling bad all of the time. I stopped.

I was able to no longer say "I'm not ok" I used to say that a lot. "I'm not ok", because I wasn't. I was not ok. And once I found my way to this place, it all came rushing back. My time with my kids started really feeling differently. I was no longer checking off boxes, I was really with them. Watching TV feels different. Isn't that insane? Watching TV feels more present and less brutal. How did watching TV ever feel brutal?

I found my laugh, I found joy. That's a big big one. Joy. There are so many moments through my day, day in and out, that joy now sneaks in. During a walk, I will get a shot of it. Driving in my car, I feel it. I am no longer rushed to one place or another, I no longer feel like I'm always late and running into trouble. I drive the speed limit. It's these incredibly small and stupid things that bring this rush of joy and this stupid smile to my face.

And so 2021, I need to remember that peace is necessary. Yes, there is a lot of work to do and a lot of wrong to right. There is a lot to do. I am running a business, there is a lot to do. I am a mom to two littles, there is a lot to do. But, I no longer want to move through life and just know I need to be somewhere based on a schedule. I want to see where I am. I want to feel my days. I want to feel when I need to stop and stop. No, I am not all woo-woo. No, I am not all-knowing, really couldn't be farther from either. No, I am not regretful. I know that if I had to do it all over again, I would. Just the way I did. Only because I know no other way and every step, decision, every moment of exhaustion allowed this to happen. I honestly do not think I would love, embrace, and really appreciate this time if it were not for the previous years. So, no, I do not regret any decision.

But I am happy, I am ok again.

Hi 2021, please bring peace.

22
Jan

Five Minute Friday - fix

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 fix.

"A nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished." Amanda Gorman

I hope we all listened to the woman that stole the show. To the woman that showed honor and grace and love and support. To the woman that showed leadership and heart and humility. To the woman that came to remind us, we don't need to fix the broken, we need to finish the job.

Each generation should get us one step closer, no, more than one step. This generation moved us leaps and bounds further because they forced us to come to terms with who we have been and who we are. But, we are not broken, we just are unfinished.

We took to the streets, we let our concerns and our voices heard. We voted. We voted hard. We stood up for what was just, we said enough. We are so ready to move forward. We are so ready to move forward as one. One Nation, one people, under God. We are so ready to finish the job.

We are ready to heal our planet, our souls, our bones. We are ready to heal our hearts, our hate. We are ready to heal. As one, we are ready to heal as one. I too thought we are so broken, there is no way to fix any of this. We are too divided, too angry, it is all too much.

Until a young, gorgeous, smart, incredible woman, took to the stage. She was so confident, so humble, so ready. And she reminded me, that we are not a broken nation, we are simply unfinished.

And our work begins as we try to finish our job for our littles, for our future, for theirs.

18
Jan

#46

Dear Joe, may I call you Joe? I understand that Joe is how you went through campaigning, but it feels so casual, considering. I want you to know there are so many reasons I voted for you, and when the time comes, I need my babies to know why too. I also wanted to ask some things of you, and wish you all the best for what is about to come your way.

First, let me start with the reasons.

  1. It's true, you NOT being #45 was a major reason. I promise it was not my only, but yeah, it played a very big role in the decision. I am not even going to try and pretend it did not play a role. I spent years saying, anyone but, but the truth is, you are not anyone.
  2. I can see, clearly, that you are going to take this role very seriously. You come to it humbly and with caution, but with a plan. Strong plans, plans I can get behind, plans that make me feel like we are moving the country in the right direction. You take the title seriously, the role, the honor of what has been bestowed upon you. You are serious about this. You are not doing it for any other reason other than to serve and you take that service seriously.
  3. Your VP choice. She is bright, she too has plans. They will not always align with yours and for that, you specifically picked her. Your foundation was here, you both felt sold in the foundation and I am excited to see what you are going to build together. Thank you for making women's rights matter. Thank you for showing the whole world how important this decision was. Thank you for making POC matter. Thank you for showing the whole world how important this decision was. Thank you for realizing that the only way to break cycles is to not repeat them.
  4. You are a leader. My definition of a leader, you are my definition of a leader. A true leader, in my humble and inexperienced opinion, is someone that puts "it" above them. You will be making extremely difficult decisions. Decisions that half of this country will be 100% against you. Decisions that even those that believe in you, those that voted for you, they too will not agree with each and every decision you make. But, even if I do not agree, I know that every decision will be made with America in your heart. I know that every decision will be made with where we want America to be 4 years from now and how do we want to get there? In that, I trust, so I trust you.

The mess that you are both walking into is truly overwhelming. For me anyway. There are times I feel so small and so insignificant and most of what you are about to face is not my day in and day out. We are divided, we are broken. We are battling a pandemic. We are battling a civil rights movement. We have too many citizens that have lost...lives, jobs, loved ones, money, connection, trust, faith. There are enemies afar and those within and through it all, you want to be America's President. So, January 20th you will be sworn in. You will stand proud. You will take a deep breath in, I can see it now. You will most likely get emotional. You will have us pulling for you.

Continue to be you, the person we put our trust into. Be the man you stated you were, the leader you promised you would be. Your country needs you now more than ever.

10
Jan

January 6th

Day six of a year we all begged for, it all went dark. Day 6, hope was lost again and once again our world was turned upside down and I am reminded of how much of a mess this country is. Those that spew hate will not allow us to forget, so for that, I thank them. I worry that otherwise, we will all become too complacent and forget that we have too much work to do.

I have heard and read a lot of messages stating "this is not who we are", but the truth is lovies, this is exactly who we are. This is who we have always been, who we still are, and we have to stop acting like it isn't. But, that doesn't mean it's who we want to be, or who we should be, or roll over and just accept it. No, this is one of those times we fight. We fight hard for change and we land on the right side of history.

We are not allowed to sit by and say that this isn't my fight. It's happening "over there" and I'm not taking part in it so that alone is enough of a stand. It is no longer okay to say "that's not me", it's now that we say "this is how I am fixing it."

  1. Stop pretending and saying, this isn't us. It is.
  2. Understand that those who are black/brown/nonwhite are exhausted. They have been fighting since before they were born, and we haven't. We are just getting started and we have no right to be tired.
  3. Also understand that it is up to white people to clean up this mess. It is our mess. We brought this mess on ourselves and it is up to us to pick up a broom and get to cleaning.
  4. That does not mean that we don't listen, we have to not just listen to those that are not white, we have to believe them. We shouldn't have needed cameras and witnesses, we should have always just believed them.
  5. We did not hire a dictator 4 years ago, we hired a leader and then in November, we fired him. We cannot pretend that 81,000,000+ million citizens' voices do not count and do not matter. THAT is not who we are. If there is one thing we all can agree on, it's that we let our voice be heard by voting. It's the foundation of how we were built. So, in terms that you understand #45, you're fired. Period and end of story, get out of our house. The one built by slaves that we dragged here.
  6. I keep saying it, more as a mantra but also because it is true...there are more of us! There are more that want this to be different but we cannot sit back. Lovies, your mama is crazy about this and won't shut up or stop because that is not how you get to change. I'm not just preaching though, I'm getting us all involved because THAT is how you get to change. I won't back off from this, and I won't let you back off either.

January 6th was not a surprise. We were being told it was going to happen. #45 told us during the debates when he asked the Proud Boys to "stand back and STAND BY". He told us during his rallies. He told us in his tweets. He told us in his speeches. He told us over and over. So, here we are. It happened. He asked his supporters to commit an act of terrorism...domestic terrorism. And then they did. With such a brash, insane, and casual openness. So, where do we go from here?

We fight for the country we actually want.

20
Dec

Time matters

If there is one thing we all learned this year, it is that time matters. Well, I don't know if we all learned it, but I certainly did. Coming off of three extremely tough years...years that hurt me physically, mentally, hurt relationships, hurt my mind, tore me apart some...years I spent more time crying than doing anything else at all...I did that all because I knew that time matters. Time with you, time with those I love, time to read, time to nap, time matters.

And then, coming to a full and complete stop...time matters.

When this first hit, and we all thought it would be over in a few weeks...maybe even a month or two...I really stopped. I snuggled into the quiet and the calm that I was privileged enough to have. I snuggled into naps, long runs, watching time go by. To some, time no longer mattered, to me, it mattered.

My lists became what did not matter. My have tos no longer important and everyone was just trying to figure this new life out, thinking it would all be temporary. Once things lingered, no one was doing anything well, we all knew it, we were all just hanging on. I still held up most of my routines, I still did "me", but I really relished the fact that time was what I was afforded and I took advantage of it all.

I took long walks with my daughter. I ran far but not for distance and time anymore, but for time alone and time with them. I walked my dog all of the time, I still do. It's our amazing time together, and if she doesn't get it now, she gets furious with me. After all, I took something from her, I took away her time and time matters.

I read, some. But I didn't make it a task or a goal, I just read when the time was right, when my daughter asked me for a reading date, when I decided the screens were too much and demanded a reading date. I found time to read again, and time matters.

I drank so much coffee I should probably start cutting back but just do not want to. I drank wine and I "gathered" with friends, squads that leaned on each other, even on videos and walks. I drank with my husband, we would have a "we made it through another day" toast. I relished all of the time I had found because time matters.

I worked hard on my business, it flourished. I finally had time to dedicate to it and it really showed. I was so fortunate to hold on to our business, our income. I sit back and think hard about where I was five years ago when I started to feel like it was time to move on. I sit back and think hard about where I was one year ago, how hard it all seemed but things slowly falling into place. And as I sit here today, I do not for one second take for granted the fact that it worked out. I found something that I am good at, enjoy, can make a living off of, and gives me back my time. I no longer work from 4am till 10 or 11pm. I no longer work in my sleep. I no longer work while I'm driving. I no longer dream and have nightmares about work. I no longer sit in the shower and think about it all and rush out because I have 5 minutes before it all starts. I have a life back. I have time in my life now. I have my own calendar. I have time and time matters.

So, just as I asked for calm in my life. The world stopped spinning. Just as I desperately needed time, the universe showed up and made time meaningless and the most meaningful things in life.

Time matters kiddos. How you spend it, what you do with it, who you spend it with. It matters on the days you sit around doing nothing. It matters on the days you are crushing goals. It matters when you are exhausted and finally rest your bones. It matters when you are cold and decide to put your body into warm water. It matters, time matters. And in a year when it was exhausting to be alive, time showed up and reminded us that we are at a fork in the road now. We can go back to speeding through life, we can go back to everything being too important all of the time. I know we will not continue to stand still, most cannot and will not even if they could. But, we can also decide that time matters and make choices that are simple and on purpose. We can stop having life happen to us and around us and we can once and for all decide that time is important.

14
Dec

It's not working

Listening to a podcast this week, the host asked her interviewee, how do you know when to keep going and be persistent, and when do you know it's time to walk away, take a break, or realize it's not working.

If you don't know this already, you will for sure find out...Mom has no idea how to do this. This specific question has kept me up too many nights. Last Friday, I joined my Five Minute Friday group to write on the word "beyond" and all I could write about was when things are beyond our control and how heavily I lean into above and beyond.

I realized in these past few weeks how I have always felt almost born wrong because I don't know when or how to stop. I only know how to add, never ever take away.

And then weeks later, the podcast host was talking about how she too piles on and why she does so. As an upholder, I feel so comfortable and way better when I do more and more. Control of the things in my life, schedules, doing my routine, that is all freedom for me. So although I can pat myself on the back for a job well done, the truth is, I just feel better doing it all.

And there you have it. That explains all of me all of the time. That is why I am the way that I am.

Why do I keep going and going?

Why to I choose to kill myself over this too?

Why do I not know when it's time to stop?

Why can't I realize I need to stop or walk away?

Why don't I feel like I can or should stop?

Because, walking away from goals, dreams, relationships, love, all of it, feels out of control. Giving up, and I can't just give up.

But, just because this feels right and in control and weirdly comforting, it does actually at times cause honest harm. So, how does anyone know and really understand that their tactics are not working, and it's time to do the opposite?

Sweeties, I do not know. I do not know how to teach you this because I do not know any of these answers. It is one of my many faults and I cannot ever seem to figure it out. I'm an all-in girl and whenever things spin out of control or get out of hand or I'm in over my head...I don't just keep going, I add. I double down. Hard. I give more, I do more, I push harder, and I never ever know how to walk away. Even if it is not healthy.

I don't know for sure but I do not think that either of you are all in. I think you might go the other way and drop more balls than you pick up. I'm going to work hard at understanding this, allowing you to find your groove and also reminding you that it may not be the healthiest if you go too far in any one direction. Don't let everything drop, it'll be too hard to pick back up again.

How did the woman being interviewed answer the question about being persistent vs letting it go? She said she looks for the long game. The over all goal she will not give up on. A healthy relationship with her partner, even if it means a divorce. Writing that book, no matter how many years it takes. Getting her body healthy, maybe with many baby steps that will take a year or more to figure out. She looks at the long road ahead and figures out how to keep that goal there, be persistent about that, but set your expectations for a healthy way to get there.

In the meantime, I don't know if I will ever be able to do that. I struggle with the concept of accept yourself and challenge yourself. Is this all in girl someone I just accept or do I challenge her to knock it off? When things are so daunting, will I go into auto drive and not even realize it or will I ever be able to take a step back and realize I need to walk away from whatever "this" is?

There are so many times the all in girl serves me and the people I love very, very well. There are other times that it is so clear that too much is too much. If I were to ask myself, honestly, would I go back and do it all over again...just as I did the first time? Most of the time I answer a loud yes so for now, that is my answer. I just need to accept the truth of it all.

11
Dec

Five Minute Friday - beyond

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 beyond.

I am working on a longer post this week that talks about my ability to go "above and beyond", the pros and cons of that, the inability I have to not give it my all, the difficulty I have in stopping.

Then, last night, a few of us got into a conversation about what happens to us and how we emotionally and actually respond when things are beyond our control. Does the lack of control make us regroup? Does it make us reprioritize and seek a healthy mental state? Do we double down on lists and tasks? Do we let more and more things go? Do we take more and more on? The conversation kept me up most of the night thinking, wondering, amazed at how different we all are. Amazed at how little we try and understand each other, amazed at how much we do try and understand each other.

And this is where my next post comes in because weeks ago I started thinking about this and maybe because of that, or maybe because more and more people are talking about it, I find myself listening to a lot of different perspectives. What "works" for me, when I do know and come to terms with what is "not working". How to I manage and most importantly, how do I tackle life when everything is beyond my control.

This year started me working on my business full time. A reduction in my working hours, a peace and calm I was really needing. Like all of us, I went through the horror of this pandemic, the worry of family who I honestly thought I might lose, the concern of "what ifs" with the company and if I lost my income, the worry of not going out and the depression that came with not seeing those I love. This year, the world caught on actual fire. Everywhere we looked, there was social unrest, a reckoning we needed to do, still need to do, big changes we had to make. As as the world caught on fire, I watched people still be themselves in the sense that they worried about things that were "insane" to me. I watched as their priorities seemed so skewed and clearly not important.

So, what if I used the same grace on them that I am using towards others. What if I realize that they are leaning into what makes them comfortable because things are beyond their control and "control" is too important to them? What if I offered myself that same grace and said that I'm not "too much" all of the time. I just am and when things are beyond my control, I go above and beyond to make it feel right in my head.

Stop.

29
Nov

Trim the tree

When mom was young, trimming our tree was never a good day. It was never ever pleasant, or warm, or caring. I have so many memories from those years and I will spare you the details, mainly because I can't bear to recount them. But, I will at least tell you things like it was only me, zia, and nonna. Nonno was always working and I cannot recall even one time that he was there with us. We didn't start early to decorate. Nonna was not into it, she didn't love her home dressed up like that. But, she had kids and she did love the religious part of Christmas so of course she went with it.

It was always always bad. Always.

So, I wanted to make sure ours was different. And I took all of that bad and I bundled it up into a ball. I filled it with pressure and expectations that cannot be met, and I just handed the enormous ball over to our family. And you all, tossed the ball back to me because it's my stupid ball after all. I hold it tight and I keep inflating it as we go.

So decorating our home for the holidays is never bad. Ever. I have actually tried and managed to make it sweet and many a year, you will catch me smiling and laughing at a movie we have on. We stay in jammies, we trim and watch, dad sometimes makes hot chocolate. There are very tender moments. Eventually, dad gets frustrated with how much time it's taking. And then I panic that for a second anyone is not blissful and the pressure mounts as I inflate the ball.

You guys watch a ton of movies, you're in and out of helping. Someone ends up crying, there's a small fight somewhere, and I am turning the ball around in my hand, and the pressure mounts, as I inflate the ball.

Something breaks, I try really hard to make it not a big deal, but someone is upset. Patience starts to become this thin delicate fragile line, and the ball gets bigger as the pressure mounts, as I inflate it a little more. Eventually, the ball I'm trying hard to hold pops and so do my emotions. I either go silent, cry, or throw the pieces of the ball in someone's direction. And all the memories come flooding back, I am now covered in fragments, and it's all my fault.

So, for this one year, I just didn't. I didn't put expectations on any of it. I just let it unfold, I let it all be. You are getting older and older. One of you is sitting in the in-between and the other is full of little, and our time together is starting to slip away from me. So, I changed the day.

With one-hundred percent honesty, all of the pressure and expectations come from me. That's the only reason the ball gets too big. I am the only person that can change the day, the memories. It is only up to me and no one else is to blame. So, this year, no expectations. Just get the house done. If there's a fight, that's life. If something breaks, I'll let anyone be upset about that and tell them that I honestly don't care, because I never did. If tempers get out of control, I'll walk away and realize we are all human. I won't make it about me or my past or what was. I'm way too old for that and we are not that, so I will stop pretending like I need to prove we are not.

And of course, it worked. The day was so pleasant I didn't even have to pretend that it was "going fine". The ball, I did not inflate it and it never ever blew up in my face, it didn't even show up. You guys did your ornaments, anywhere you wanted. You really did do one amazing job. Dad put up the trees, did some trimming, made sure the lights worked, moved things up and down the stairs for us, praised me for how nice the house looks, set up our outside stuff. And when all was said and done, Anna, you hugged me hard, told me that the trees are so pretty, took a late-night walk with me, and really fell in love with the feel of our home. I was slow. I walked slow. I placed things with purpose. I didn't argue any part of it.

When it's your home, your traditions, your decorating, your tree trimming...it will all be as is. Cole, you will most likely go cut down a tree and decorate your house with "real" trees. Anna, you will most likely stick to the fake (it's just easier you'll say). You may use some of our traditions, you may throw them out the window. You may or may not remember that for the first few years, mom was tightly wound and on edge and really had dad all wound up too. You may or may not remember when I stopped. I just let it all happen and I didn't put any pressure, no expectations. I didn't inflate the ball.

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