On failing and not caring…

I’m typing this on my iPhone app while watching college football with some of my extended family. It’s been a few days since I’ve written and while this #NaBloPoMo thing was intended to be a 30 day challenge, I knew I would t be writing during thanksgiving weekend. 

I regret nothing. 

This is the last time I’ll see my extended family for several years so I’m quite happy to forego my writing project (which will hopefully extend indefinitely) for a few days. 

Cheers to a happy thanksgiving! 

On needing a little more…

books.jpg

The last several months, I’ve been feeling a bit underwhelmed with my own intellectual pursuits. That happens when you spend most of your days watching Doc McStuffins (whom I could now probably write an entire dissertation on) and Sesame Street (which is amazeballs, but there are far too many third-person talkers in that ‘hood) and reading Little Blue Truck board books (that truck gets around!).

I’ve bee trying to finish this one series of YA books for well over two years. I’m halfway though the fifth book of the series and while it’s a remarkably well written and engaging series, I just can’t seem to get in the right frame of mind to power through it. But I’ll plug it here regardless, because it is one of the best series I’ve ever read. Definitely check out “The Parasol Protectorate”by  Gail Carriger. I would love to see this series turned into films. These characters come alive beautifully in writing…I would love to see if someone could pull off the snark and wit of Alexia or the style and silliness of her best friend. It’s really just a lovely series.

But I’ve been feeling the need to be more introspective than werewolves and vampires can take me at this point. I want to be challenged and uplifted and involved, whatever that means.

So I started reading “Happier At Home” by Gretchen Rubin. It’s a follow up to her wildly successful “The Happiness Project” which I read a couple years ago. I’m always interested in how other people find ways to actively pursue happiness. I’m a chronic Pollyanna-type. Maybe I’m a little addicted to being happy. Is that a thing? I just like reading different ideas for implementing happiness and joy in my own life.

But then the election happened and I didn’t feel like being so happy-clappy. I wanted something deeper, less flippant. Something that would really challenge my soul. So I asked one of my best friends for a suggestion (there are only a handful of people I ask for book suggestions. These few people are far more well-read than I will ever be and I deeply respect their friendship and their minds. Hopefully you know who you are. I tend to get music suggestions from you, too).

She emailed me a copy of “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Melton and I dug right in. Yeah yeah yeah, it’s a super hot book right now and it’s on Oprah’s reading list and blah blah blah insert whatever reason you might have for avoiding this book. I literally knew nothing about the book or the author until it was presented to me via email. I kind of wish I hadn’t looked the author up until I was done reading the book. I know too much now. But that doesn’t take away from the power of her words. It speaks a lot of painful and beautiful truth into my entire life, past and present. The way she writes is the stuff my writer-dreams are made of. It’s not a terribly happy book, but it’s inspiring. A beautiful disaster, if you will. She’s showing her cracks and filling them with gold. It’s a scary and wonderful thing to read such raw bravery.

But that was getting super intense so I got myself a copy of “Scrappy Little Nobody” by Anna Kendrick. It’s another in a long line of hilarious memoirs written by women I find hysterical (Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling are among them). She has moments of insight and brilliance, but mostly (as with many of her predecessors) it feels like she is me and we could be super best friends should we ever meet. It’s a good read when I just want to feel lighthearted and happy. Not a whole ton of introspection here, but it gets its job done and I can definitely appreciate that!

Once I finish at least one of these books, I’m going to start in on Megyn Kelly’s book, “Settle For More”. I have had a bonkers amount of respect for (and probably a big of a girl crush on) this woman for a long time. I think she’s a brilliant journalist and woman. She stole my heart during the most recent presidential debate season (as I suspect she did many people…probably as many as she pissed off) and I’m so curious to read more about how she became the woman she is today.

So yeah. Those are the books that are currently taking up space on my iPad. I wish I had more free time to devote to these lovely friends, but I’ll take whatever spare minutes I can for the time being.

On eating it all up…

Thanksgiving-Memes.jpg
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 knowing when to speak…

honesty

I don’t believe this. Not for one second. I used to think honesty was the best policy, but then I had some really painful, really honest things happen to me and I just can’t get on board with this anymore.

There are just some times when honesty isn’t going to do anyone any good. Sure, these instances are few and far between, but they exist. I assure you, they exist.

I can think of a million ways I’d like to be honest with people, to tell them what I really think, but I’m learning to take some steps back and consider: is what I’m about to say beneficial? Is it kind? Is it worthwhile? Is.It.True? If what I want to say doesn’t meet those requirements, it’s probably best to stop and think about it for a hot minute.

People don’t always need honesty. Sometimes, I think it’s better to be kind.

But even as I write this, I’m not sure I buy it.

Here’s what I think the problem is: Honesty gets confused with truth. And vice versa. The two are not the same. Speaking the truth comes with it the responsibility of speaking with love and kindness. Being honest? I don’t know…people can be really awful when they’re being honest. It’s a really easy way to cop out and say something horrible with the tag of, “I’m just being honest.” It doesn’t make it not hurtful.

Sure, hearing the truth can hurt, too. A lot. But if someone is really interested in telling the truth, it’s often coming from a place of understanding, of reasonability, of care.

So the next time you think you’re about to say something honest, stop and consider if it’s also true.

nablopomo_badge_2016

On all the things I’ve done…

brave-91Day 2 of my adventure in writing every day. Today’s prompt is about as exciting to me as yesterday’s (which is to say, not very). When was the last time you did something brave? What happened?”

I honestly can’t remember the *last* time I was brave. I haven’t done much in the way of exciting or noteworthy in the last several months. Ouch. That sort of sucks to write.

But I have a lot of experiences to glean from when it comes to being brave throughout my life. I’ve lived in another country (okay, it was Canada and it was for college, but it was still another country and I had to use different monies and learn new lingo, some of which I still use to this day). I moved out of the safety of my parent’s rent-free home when I was young (much younger than either of my siblings did). I  have quit toxic jobs without anything else lined up. I have gone back to university when I felt like I was too old and too broke and I successfully completed my courses in the time I allowed myself. I have ended a damaging marriage. I have bought and sold a dream home. I have run several half-marathons. I have moved to a new state and lived in a new place for the first time in 33 years. I have gotten re-married to the love of my life while people questioned my motivations and balked at my happiness (because it all happened so quickly). I have openly and unabashedly claimed to be a Christian, a liberal, a supporter of #blacklivesmatter, a friend to the LGBTQ community (*gasp* even so far as to say YES, they deserve the same rights I have) – all at fairly significant personal loss. I have given birth – vaginally and unmedicated. I have opened up about my struggles with post-partum depression. I have gotten pregnant again. I have said YES to moving to a very-much foreign country for the next three years in order to give my husband the career checks he needs and wants and to give our daughters the chance of a lifetime.

I’ve talked ad nauseum about all of these things. I could continue to talk about all of them (especially the marathons, divorce, marriage, and childbirth). But I’m not going to.

I think what’s making me feel the most brave right now is that I’m willing to demand of myself the time and space that I need. I need to take time to read and write. I need to turn off the television and immerse myself in life again. It feels oddly brave. My free time is very limited so what if I choose the wrong book to read and it ends up being a total waste of time? Will I still have gained something from that? I certainly won’t miss anything if I turn off Netflix. For a while, it felt like the bravest thing I could do was to let go and just be okay with messes and inactivity. I’m a champion at over-scheduling my life so when I gave that all up, it was hard and it felt really brave. And I got used to it. So now maybe it feels brave to start taking back all those things I pushed aside for the last 2+ years.

nablopomo_badge_2016

 

 

On not feeling the love…

Bang head

One of the most frustrating feelings for a writer is wanting to write, but not knowing what to write about. Even more frustrating is what I’ve been experiencing lately: not caring about what I write about.

All the things on which I’d normally have plenty to say – motherhood, politics, religion – it’s all just gotten too…much for me recently. There are too many opinions and FAR too much judgment. Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive to it these days. I’m just exhausted. I try to invest myself in the things I enjoy or the things I tend to be well-versed in, but I keep finding myself annoyed or iritated every time I do.

I want to engage. I really do. When I see things that are interesting or thought-provoking, I want to share the information. When I see things that are odd or ill-informed, I want to add my two cents. When I see things that are rage-inducing or just plain stupid, I want to call it out.

But I’m tired.

I’m tired of being shamed for the things I do, say, think, enjoy, or believe. I’m tired of the sideways glances when I’m asked my opinion or position. I’m tired of everyone finding something to be pissed off at or offended by.

Sometimes I want to be the person that just says whatever the hell she’s thinking with no regard for anyone else’s feelings. But when it comes to certain topics, that’s just not useful and only leads to more contention and people believing certain stereotypes about “people like me.” I get angry enough that I have to walk away from conversations because I know it’s the most healthy thing to do…for all parties involved.

I’m ready to all but call in quits on the social media front. I get too upset and annoyed far too often. I want to write a huge blog, laying out where I stand on this topic or that and just be done with it.

But, of course, that’s not realistic. Not for me. I could walk away for a while (I do it a couple times a year), but I always come back. It’s where I find new topics or interesting perspectives.

So here’s what I do know: I’m tired of being mom-shamed, politi-shamed, religi-shamed, whatever-shamed. I’m sick to death of having my thunder stolen or having my thoughts and talents ripped out from under me, only to be either lambasted or paraded around like their someone else’s. I’m really tired of feeling like I’m not allowed to be angry about any of that.

On taking small steps…

Quotefancy-24496-3840x2160

More often than I’d like, I’m either asked about or I think about my goals in life. Usually that leads me to answers regarding my professional or career goals. I’ve been gone from corporate America since August 2013 and some days, I miss it so badly. I miss wearing my nice clothes and fancy heels. I miss feeling super productive for nine hours a day. I really miss the continual conversation with grown ups. I miss contributing…to the world, to my home, to a company I believe in. I miss happy hours and team dinners. I miss setting, reaching, and surpassing goals.

So when I think about my goals at this juncture in my life, they’re far less lofty or even prosperous. They now include things like putting on pants or drinking an entire cup of coffee without having to reheat. Remembering to brush my teeth in the morning is a good one. Eating something other than toddler scraps for lunch would be a good goal.

All joking aside, there are a couple things I’d like to accomplish in my life while I’m doing the stay-at-home-mom gig.

  1. Start (and complete) at least one book a month.
  2. Continue writing one a regular basis.

That’s it. Those are my current goals. They’re nothing spectacular, but I assure you, they are challenging most days. I have to make sure to take small steps toward them each day. Read a chapter a day. Write a paragraph or two. Journal. Think. Engage. All things I haven’t done regularly in a very long time.

Both goals are just like training for my first distance race. The first steps are the hardest, but by the end of everything, I just want to sign up for more.