On eating it all up…

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Thanksgiving is nearly upon us and now that Mothra has finally eased up on me, my pregnancy appetite is finally starting to kick into high gear. With my first pregnancy, I craved a lot of really healthy foods…I drank fruit and spinach smoothies like it was my job (technically, I guess it was) and stayed far far away from fried food and general junk. It was great!

This time around, I have to manage a toddler’s manic gastric desires and that rarely includes produce these days. On top of that, Mothra seems to have taken a real liking to Taco Bell and Totino’s party pizzas. I’ve probably eaten a thousand pizza rolls in the last week. I’m sure that can’t be good more me or for her, but after five months of not really wanting to eat anything, I’ll take what I can get.

So it makes me quite happy that my appetite is coming back just in time for Thanksgiving. Even better is that we’re spending the weekend with my grandmother and that woman can put out a spread. It’s insane. To the point my husband gets borderline angry about the amount of food he has to prepare to eat. (As if he minds. My eyes are rolling so hard, I can see yesterday.)

Every day at Grandma’s house is basically the same: breakfast (usually toast, eggs, bacon, breakfast rolls, juice, and coffee) then some kind of mid-morning snack then lunch (something like tomato soup, grilled cheese, and a veggie platter) then a mid-afternoon snack then cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (I’m very upset about missing out on cocktails this year because Grandma has primo liquor) then dinner (Thanksgiving involves turkey, stuffing, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, salad, some kind of warm casserole, cranberry sauce, rolls, and wine) then dessert and coffee (pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies for Thanksgiving) and finally post-dinner/pre-coma cocktails.

I’m not even kidding…every single day is like that when Grandma has a brood at her house! It’s remarkable. I think she starts planning for the next holiday the day after we all leave from the current holiday. I don’t know how she does it! All I know is that it’s fun and it’s delicious and I will never care so little about my caloric consumption as when I’m at her house.

It’s not really about the food, though. Not entirely. It’s that I love being with my family. There are aunts and uncles and cousins around the table. We laugh a lot, we watch football and silly YouTube videos, we discuss whether or not to succumb to Black Friday shopping at 9pm or Thanksgiving night or if it’s all just too much (I have forever fallen in the latter camp; everyone else in the former. That may very well change this year because kids are expensive and Godzilla’s birthday is less than two weeks before Christmas so doubling up is no small price tag).

This is the last holiday I’ll have with any of my family for at least the next three years. Moving overseas doesn’t lend itself well to traveling home for the holidays inexpensively. I’m okay with it. It just means that this year, my heart is going to be more invested in the holidays than ever before. I’m bringing my camera and using it ad nauseum and without apology. Maybe I should be doing that every year.

I don’t know what your family dynamics look like, but whomever you choose to spend your holidays with this year, take a moment to step back and just look at what’s happening. Enjoy the company of those you choose to share your table with. Take mental and physical photos. Eat too much. Play games. Remember what the holidays are supposed to be about and do your part to make it so.

 

On falling out of trees…

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I’ve been practicing yoga for a while now. Not a terribly long time, but for me (a person who chronically gives up on sports) it’s been something I’ve stuck with almost as long as I did cheerleading. It’s been about six years I think (I was a cheerleader for ten years).

Yoga has been something that really resonates with me on many levels. It’s deeply personal. It’s challenging. It’s athletic. It’s peaceful. It’s spiritual.

And because it’s all of that, it’s an incredibly balancing activity.

One of the things I’ve loved so much about yoga is that I’ve been able to find my favorite poses. I’ll do all of them (except Half Moon. That pose can suck it.) and I enjoy finding and practicing new ones, but the ones I always come back to and really love are leg balances, specifically Tree and Dancer. I feel fancy and free and capable when I do them. I love photos I have of me doing them .

I did yoga throughout my first pregnancy and I was able to successfully hold Tree up until the week before I gave birth. I was giant and clumsy and felt insane doing things as simple as Down Dog, but when I did Tree? I felt powerful again. It felt good to be able to hold such a challenging pose while in such a challenging physical state. It was awesome.

So imagine my surprise and my distress when, this past Sunday, I couldn’t hold that pose worth a damn. It was all I could do not to cry. I’d spent the entire week practicing acceptance of the political state of this country so I just didn’t have it in me to further extend that acceptance to my yoga practice or myself. I was spent. I dropped my foot from my inner thigh to my calf and finally down to my toes and my heart just broke.

My mat is one of few sacred spaces I enjoy in my life. I only invite onto my mat that which I choose and that usually means it must be beneficial to me, whether that be spiritually, mentally, or physically.

On Sunday, I invited all the wrong things. I invited judgment and negativity and defeat. None of those things serve a purpose in yoga, nor do they serve a purpose in my life.

So now what am I supposed to do? Well, I’m certainly not willing to accept defeat. Not even a little bit. I will accept that it wasn’t my best practice and that’s fine. But it’s time for me to dust myself off and get back to work. It’s time to inhale the positive and exhale the negative. I’m ready to clean off my mat, clear my mind, and get back to the business of life and love.

There is a time and place for sadness, but as with all things, it is only seasonal. And for me, I need sadness to be a rather short season. I can’t let it linger lest it think it can take up residence in my heart and my soul. Rather, I am choosing to accept that I was defeated, but that I can phoenix the hell out of myself and my Tree.

It’s time to rise up.

On learning to change…

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I’d probably never use the word “addict” to describe myself. Even at my worst (which was when I was in my early-20s), when I was engaging in seriously questionable behavior and activities, I never would have said I was an addict. I say this because while I have a very malleable personality, when I’m doing doing something, I’m just done. There’s no weaning process. I just quit doing the thing.

But I am definitely addicted to my phone. It’s literally the first thing I look at every morning. I’m not even that important a person! It’s not like I have some high-powered corporate job where universes may have imploded overnight so I must immediately jump to action. No. I’m a stay-at-home-mom and a writer. If something implodes in my world, I’ve either done it myself or I’ve been watching it coming for some time.

I find myself checking my phone for new texts or Facebook updates or emails without even thinking about it. I’ll be looking at my phone, set it down, and pick it up three second later thinking, “Um, didn’t I just do this?” It’s embarassing. I’ll admit it.

And because I’m so easily persuaded (please don’t even dare me to a drinking game. I will take you on and I will win, but it will be at great personal loss…to my digestive tract), I read things on the interwebs and get emotionally invested in them. Sometimes that’s fine; most times it’s not.

So when, after the most recent election, I opted to take a hiatus from Facebook, I felt remarkably good. I wasn’t getting worked up about seriously stupid things. I didn’t feel the need to rant. I wasn’t compelled to lay waste to certain (very ridiculous and obviously  hyperbolic, but somehow still believed by the masses) false claims. I disengaged and I suddenly felt happier.

It was kind of like how I’ve felt when I’ve spent a week eating nothing but Taco Bell and Totino’s party pizzas and then I eat a damn vegetable for the first time and all of a sudden, I don’t feel like I’m tetering on the edge of my own demise. I want to get out and do things. I want to be active. I want to have real conversations with people I really care about. I want to get out of bed and do something more than watch 30Rock for the fifty-seventh time this year.

But then I go back and I end up pulling that oh-so-obviously-an-addict stunt. “Just one little hit.” And oh god, it feels so good. That burn, the fire in my gut, the tension in my neck. I know that ultimately it’s not going to be good for me, but dammit, I’m going to say my piece!

And the cycle starts all over again.

After this election cycle, I’m really starting to re-think how I engage on social media, if at all. Even in just the last three days, I’m finding it so much more productive to have real, geniune conversations with people that, while we may disagree on certain issues, I care about. It’s about being willing to educate (rather than yell) and be educated (rather than roll my eyes and snark).

So I’m hopeful that I can stay away from my phone (and specifically from Facebook) for a little longer this time. I’m hopeful that I’ll spend all this free time researching and developing my own thoughts while engaging with others. And I’m really hopeful that I won’t feel the draw back to whatever it was that made my feel so good a week ago.

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On fighting the fight…

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I’m still at a loss today. I was hoping that a good sleep would help me wake up refreshed and ready to face a new day. Well, the sleep didn’t come. I woke up in the middle of the night and actually thought, “This has to be a joke.”

Sadly, it is not.

I’m still working through whatever it is my anger looks like. I don’t know what or who to be angry with (if anything or anyone at all). I just know I’m angry. I’m coming to realize part of that anger stems from the fact that my candidate has never lost before. This was my fifth election and until Tuesday night, I didn’t know the feeling of losing on such a large scale.

Traditionally speaking, I’m not a sore loser. Most of the time, I really don’t care if I win or lose, I’m just happy to be in the game. And maybe I’m being naive this time, but I don’t think I’m being a terrible loser about this. I’m legitimately dumbstruck. How did this happen? Could I have done more? What more was there to do? Someone please explain this to me!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had (maybe sometimes still have) some really ugly thoughts floating around in my head. I’m not going to voice them because it’s not beneficial to anyone, least of all myself. And if anyone says they haven’t had a single ugly thought this entire election, I’m gonna have to go ahead and call bullshit.

Here’s what I’m willing to say right now, though.

Please don’t tell me to calm down. I’m, frankly, being really friggin’ calm right now. I’ll calm all the way down when the black, brown, LGBTQ, female (and countless other disecfranchsed) populations tell me it’s okay to calm down. Until then, just…don’t. I’m allowed to process all of this in my own way and in my own time. We all are.

Please don’t quote scripture at me or tell me God is in control. Don’t do that unless you’re also willing to put all of that in action. And I don’t mean just praying. Praying is great (if that’s what you do). Sending good vibes and good energy into the world is great (if that’s your thing). But it absolutely does not stop there. I’m struggling right now to figure out what it is I personally  need to be doing in the coming weeks and months. That’s going to look different for all of us, but we all need to be willing to take action.

Please don’t tell me how to process my feelings. It’s going to take time. Hopefully, in the not-so-distant future, we’ll reach a place of acceptance. A lot of us are in full-blown grief mode right now. I need those five steps. I don’t need trite platitudes or meaningless advice. I need space and time. Please grant me that. Ask how I’m doing or what I’m feeling, but don’t try to fix me. Not just yet.

Tuesday night was a devastating loss in more ways than I can possibly count right now. It’s going to take some time to move through and past it and to figure out what to do next. But you can bet I’ll be doing something.

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On losing my luster…

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“If you could say one thing to Hillary Clinton today, what would it be?”

What about all the things I’m going to have to say to my daughters?
– What a time to be alive!
– What a time to be a woman!
– What a time to raise daughters!

None of these things have the excitement and anticipation they had yesterday. My spirit feels utterly crushed. I’m a person that can almost always find the good in a person, in a situation, in a circumstance. I can’t find that today. The weather in my town matches my heart. It’s dreary and cold and sad. My normally optimistic outlook on life…it’s just…gone. I don’t know how I can be expected to be okay with anything right now. My country is the laughing stock of the world (and seriously…we had BREXIT to follow. I don’t think anyone thought we could be that crazy. Joke’s on you, World). I feel like a rotting unicorn. Yesterday, there was an air of hope in me. I was happy and confident and ready for an evening of champagne. Today? I feel crushed and burdened. I don’t know how to sparkle right now. My glitter is just crusty, crappy sand and mud.

But I guess the thing I most want to say to Hillary is THANK YOU.
For being brave.
For being smart.
For being kind.
For persevering.
For trying.
For offering hope.
For humbly accepting defeat.
For taking this seriously.
For giving me someone I can tell my daughters about for decades to come.
For being like me.
For being flawed and damaged.
For owning it.
For not letting that define you.
For not putting up with anyone’s bullshit.
For showing generations of girls they don’t have to either.
For proving yourself a worth contender.
For giving me a candidate I could get completely behind.
For showing me that I, too, could be a brave woman.
For being the kind of woman I can tell my daughters is worthy of emulating.

I knew I would cry today, no matter the outcome. I had hoped I would be crying and dancing with my daughter. But today, I cry and I hold her and I tell her that everything is going to be okay. I don’t know that I believe it, but I need her to. She’s too young to know what’s going on. I’m glad for that, in some ways. I don’t want her to feel the weight and enormity of what’s just happened. I need her to keep smiling and playing and running too fast. I need her to be happy for as long as she can. I need her.

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On reliving the past…

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If you could redo one moment in your life, what would it be and why? How would it change who you are now?”

I don’t particularly like looking back on life and wondering how mine could be different if I’d have made choice B over choice A. There are certain things I wish I’d have done differently…stayed on the cheer sqaud through my senior year, purchased the wedding gown I first fell in love with (both times), not cut all my hair off…things like that. They’re all fairly insignificant things, in the grand scheme of things.

But when I think about the big mistakes I’ve made? Nah. I made them. I own them. They’re part of my story. I can’t change them so I choose not to think about “what could have been.” I wouldn’t redo a single moment.

Especially not on a day like today.

It’s Election Day in America. And it’s a big damn deal this time around. Sure, one could argue that every election is a big deal. But this feels bigger than normal. This is the fifth presidental election I’ve had the priviledge of voting in. Every time I’ve voted, I’ve done so thoughtfully and after careful consideration. I do the best I can to educate myself on all the candidates (which swiftly turns into *both* the candidates), as many of the issues as possible, and try to geniunely engage with people on the whole political spectrum.

This years is no different in that regard.

How it is different is that, for the first time in my life, I’m also considering two other people when I make my choice: my daughters, one who is two years ol and one who has a few months yet to cook. My choices now affect not only me, but them. And that’s a big deal.

So tonight, as I eat my pizza rolls and drink from my HRC crystal tumblers and don my Nasty Woman tank top, I’ll watch election coverage with my husband and one daughter. And long after she’s been put to bed, we’ll have an announcement of who our next President will be. I’ll stay awake as long as possible, fueled by carbs and ginger ale and hope.

At some point, I’ll cry. Happy tears, I’m hopeful. But I’ll cry.

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On ruining a meal…

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When it comes to cooking, I don’t fail often. Part of that stems from the fact that I’m not terribly adventurous in the kitchen. I’m a far braver baker than cook. So when I fail at cooking, I fail hard. There are a few instances I can choose from…the time I set my oven on fire (with oil) and attempted to put it out (with water) or the time I so thoroughly burnt falafel that I still can’t bring myself to make it again (that was over two years ago) or the time I had a beautiful meal planned and realized (as I was beginning to make said meal) I was missing three of five ingredients.

When it comes to screwing up in the kitchen, I tend to do it with the most basic things.

This is the story of my most epic fail. And it just so happens to be a Thanksgiving fail.

Almost ten years ago, I was invited to spend Thanksgiving with a couple of friends up at their mountain home. They’re both pretty phenomenal cooks and always use the most primo ingredients so this was an easy invitation to say yes to. Best of all, they knew how important gravy was (is) to me when putting together a holiday meal. Gravy will make or break Thanksgiving. It goes on literally everything. If the gravy is garbage, the meal is basically ruined. My family tends to makes the objectively best gravy that has ever existed. And you’re not allowed to be in charge of gravy until after some pretty serious training. You have to be the taste-tester first (for many years) and then you graduate to giver-of-opinions (but you still don’t get to actually add the ingredients). I’m 36 years old and have been my immediate family’s GoO for over 15 years. We don’t take gravy lightly.

So being asked to be in charge of gravy for my friends Thanksgiving meal was a big deal to me.

I arrived at their house and after a glass of wine or two, I set to work. I asked for all the ingredients I’d need: drippings, flour, water, seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, and a few other things. They pulled everything out of their extensive pantry of high end items and I began my work.

But after a pretty significant amount of time (and more flour than I’m used to using), the gravy wasn’t thickening. I hadn’t yet tasted the gravy, because this isn’t something that happens until the thickening begins. There’s a process, dammit! So I looked over at my friend and said, “Um, what kind of flour do you weirdos use?!  Something just isn’t working.”

And that’s when my world fell apart and I literally started crying. Because he looked over and said, “Oh shit! I grabbed the powdered sugar!”

There’s not much left to say after that. Thanksgiving (for me) was all but ruined.

Thank God there was pie…and more wine.

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Sunday Brain Dump

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This month, I’m going to use Sundays as brain dumb days. I don’t even have the energy to come up with a marginally clever title.  If I find something of importance or value to say, I will. If I don’t, that’s fine, too. Sometimes it’s nice to just ramble.

I’m 22 weeks pregnant right now and all the pains I remember from my first pregnancy are making a violent return. Round ligament pain and early pelvic separation are no joke. I can’t even put on yoga pants without significant struggle.

I was reminded by a very good friend today to dream big. I’m going to record a Christmas album…and as it turns out, I have a lot of friends who I can turn to for advice and help in that arena.

One of my friends touched on it earlier this week, but I think part of the reason I’m okay with starting the Christmas season early is that the world (and particularly the States, recently) could use a little more joy and a lot less tragedy, lies, and disappointment.

I’m going to try to talk my husband into setting up one of our pianos (yes, we have more than one. It’s kind of insane). I want to start playing again. And what better time than now? Especially with Christmas looming and all my favorite music about to be on blast for the next several weeks.

Despite all that, Fall is officially here which means my baking season has begun. I loves me some dark liquors and I really enjoy baking with them. Fall flavors lend themselves well to dark liquors (especially bourbon, which I’m more than partial to). I have some staples that I make every year, but I try to come up with something next every year. I did a dark caramel drizzle on some gingerbread and bourbon cupcakes yesterday. That was a solid win. I get to make one of my favorite pies this weekend to share with some girl friends (except that my crusts are still the bane of my existence so I’m going to turn it into a crisp instead).

So it seems I have nothing significant to say this evening. And that’s okay. But it means it’s time to end the rambling and turn my attention toward the Broncos v. Raiders game. #timetoride y’all!

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On living in glitter…

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When my husband and I started thinking about decor and a theme for our first daughter’s nursery/bedroom, we knew we wanted something smart and clever that wasn’t too girly. We came up with books and “girl power” quotes. I scoured the interwebs and Pinterest and queried friends for their favorites. There were a LOT to choose from. I had to narrow down something like 200 quotes to ten. Not an easy task.

Each quote means something special to me. So today I’ll choose just one to talk about.

“She is a dreamer, a doer, a thinker. She sees possibility everywhere.” 

This one means a lot to me. I think it’s because it’s the kind of person I always hope and try to be. I want to see the good in everything. I try to see every silver lining (sometimes it’s hard…those are the ones I call “aluminum linings”. They’re dull and not as fancy as silver, but they still sparkle if you look at them in the right light).

I’ve been accused of living in a Pollyanna world. That doesn’t bother me one little bit. I’ve found it’s a lot easier to look for the good in things, to see the bright side, to hope for the best, than it is to be crabby and whiny and upset. It makes more sense to me to dream, do, and think about how to make the world a better place than it does to bitch and moan and wallow.

I want my daughter’s to live in a near-constant state of wonder. I want their lives to be filled with some kind of magical combination of Disney and Christmas all mashed together. But I can’t do that for them. They’re going to have to figure out how that works for them, how they can find the magic in the everyday. All I can do is show them how I find it.

I find it in things like glitter and cupcakes and sunshine. And when it’s gloomy and grey, I find it in hot tea, a good movie, and a warm blanket. I find magic in singing along like I’m the lead singer in a band and we’re at a sold out concert. It’s in my Colorado green chili and my spaghetti sauce (both of which have brought me to tears because I’m so excited to make and share it). I find it in a turbulence-free flight.

It’s in whatever I choose to find it in. But those are my choices. My daughters are going to have to find their own magic. And I can’t wait to see where they find it.

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On things that define me…

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It’s far enough past Halloween that I don’t feel (too) guilty for writing about Christmas. Traditionally speaking, I don’t let myself listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving. Every holiday deserves it’s own space and, for some reason, waiting until after Thanksgiving makes Christmas seem even more special to me.

But this morning, I went ahead and listened to the Christmas playlist I’ve been working on for a few weeks. And I don’t feel one bit of bad about it.

If someone were to ask me what my favorite kind of music is, I’d have to say Christmas music. It’s a genre. I’m deciding that. Apparently, when I was quite small, it was the only type of music that would put me to sleep. It’s no wonder it feels so relaxing and homey to me. There are few Christmas songs I don’t know all the words to. I wish I had my piano set up right now. I miss playing the piano, but I really miss playing Christmas music.

I’ve been thinking a lot about things I want to accomplish in my personal life. I always said I wanted to write for Vanity Fair, but those odds are so very slim.  Singing is the only thing in my life other than writing that has so completely consumed me. But I don’t really play any instrument well and I’m a pretty terrbile songwriter, so I usually just end up singing karaoke whenever I get the chance. I’ve been able to sing BGVs on a number of albums thanks to a producer I know in Denver. And my best friend in the whole wide world is a real live rock star and let me sing a BGV or two at her first show in Nashville. But I’ve never even considered the idea of doing my own thing.

Until a couple weeks ago.

I was driving home form Richmond and turned on some Christmas music (hey, it was cold and foggy and looked like it could snow and I had a hot cup of coffee in the car. The elements were almost entirely there). I decided that I’d give myself the chance to record a Christmas album for my 40th birthday. It’s a few years off, which is good, because our family is about to move literally to the other side of the world for a few years and (shockingly) recording music costs money that I need to work for and save up. But I’m going to do it. I have a few things in mind, but I have no idea what it’s going to cost, how to go about asking people to help me, or even how to arrange a song (not to mention get the rights to). I literally have zero marketable skills when it comes to music. I can read music and find a harmony more quickly than most people I know and I can hold a hell of a tune. But I’m no musician.

Despite all of that, this is something I’m determined to do. I want something tangible that I can give to my daughters some day, something that is real and meaningful and completely me.

Because if there’s one thing they’re going to know about me, it’s that I’m basically a lunatic elf hopped up on peppermint when it comes to Christmas.

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