On my heart songs…

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Truth. 

As someone whose emotions are heavily connected to music, I kind of hate being asked what my favorite song is. I always have several follow up questions: which genre? Male or female? Solo, duo, or group? What season? Which decade? Which genre from which decade? Seriously…there are way too many options. But alas…today’s topic is my five favorite songs. I reserve the right to change these at any time. In fact, they’ll probably change before I’m done writing this.

  1. Company by Amy Courts. Okay, this one probably won’t ever leave the Top Five for many reasons. The song is beautifully crafted. She has the dreamiest voice. I know when and why this was written. She’s my super BFF. I can provide more reasons if you need, but I think those should be enough to warrant a listen. And then you should buy any/all of her albums. Because they’re all that good.
  2. Hold Me Now by Jennifer Knapp. There simply has not been an artist whose music has reached me the way hers has. Jennifer will always be a master musician in my mind. Her lyrics consistenly speak truth into my life. I always find myself busting out her early stuff at just the right time. But this song? Oh, this song could be on repeat forever and ever and I’d never tire of it. The woman is a godsend.
  3. In The Mood by Glenn Miller. I can’t remember a time I didn’t love this song! If I’m feeling crummy, I listen to this to feel better. If I’m feeling especially giddy, this is what I play to keep the good times rolling. But beyond that, it’s THE song that my dad and I will always dance to no matter where we are or what we’re doing. We will drop everything and dance. Seriously, if this song came on in the middle of Home Depot, we’d start dancing (actually, that would be pretty awesome. Those floors would make for some killer spins). It’s “our song” for sure.

To be honest, I’ve been sitting here for some time now trying to think of two other songs to put on this list. I can’t come up with any more. So those are my three favorite songs. Well, except that I could write an entirely different post on Christmas songs alone. I’m going to leave that alone for now though. It would get complicated (again, with the genres and decades and what not).

On overcoming the impossible…

When it comes to my proudest moment over the last thrity-five years, well, it’s hard to choose. Not because there are an overwhelming number of moments to choose from, but because I’m not sure any of them are really all the big of a deal. I mean, personally, they are. But when I look at them in the face of other people’s accomplishments in the same areas, they seem to pale. And that really seems insane to think, let alone say. I mean, they’re MY accomplishments so in the context of my life, they are kind of a big deal.

Anyway, there are three moments in my (adult) life that I would consider my proudest, all of them for different reasons. So in chronological order, here are my moments.

December 2010 – I *finally* graduated from college. I started college, officially, in the fall of 1999 at a small Christian college in northern Minnesota. To say that was the worst year of my life would be an understatement. But I met my best friend there, which makes up for almost all the sh*t I endured that year. I was supposed to transfer to a state university the following year, but was so miserable that I ended up dropping out, moving home, and going back to working at McDonald’s (my high school job). I was a real winner.

I took a year off then enrolled at Red Rocks Community College and started taking basic required courses. I got tied up in some crazy antics and ended up dropping out (again) after a few semesters. I took a ton of time off from school and got a full-time job at a grown-up office in the technology center of my hometown. That’s where I met another of my best friends. She, in no uncertain terms, told me to “get off my ass and do something with my life!”

So in 2006-ish, I enrolled at Metro State University and finally started buckling down on my education. I worked HARD. I was working full-time and going to school slightly more than part-time. And then I realized I didn’t like how I was being taught my major (English Writing) at Metro, so I transferred myself to the University of Colorado – Denver. Things really started ramping up at that point. I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life, because I was hellbent on getting my degree by the time I was 30.

I was 30 years and 7 months old when I walked across that stage in red satin pumps and finally took my diploma.

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My dad and me, a few minutes before I got my diploma

September 2012 – I completed my first distance race. 2012 was a weird year for me. Mostly due to the fact that my divorce finalized early that year. It certainly wasn’t how I expected my life to go. But it’s what happened.

Sometime in the spring, I threw myself headlong into running. I’d attempted to run consistently in the past, but always just gave up. All previous attempts always included a race as a goal. So this time, I just decided to learn how to run. No end game. Just running. And run, I did. Then, for no reason whatsoever, I signed up for a half marathon. I’m not sure why, to be honest. I’d never run more than a 10k, so this was way out of my comfort zone.

Running became my therapy. I ran every single day, even on the weekends. I loved it! I listened to hymns while I ran, which ended up being a bit of a life saver for me. I was able to escape from whatever pain my heart was feeling and relax into a very safe space. I stopped crying so much. I stopped drinking so much. I stopped eating cupcakes so often. I started running for the pure joy of it.

I ran my first half marathon with one of my best friends. She helped me through the training and the race in more ways that I can describe. I hurt my knee pretty badly at mile six of the race. By mile eight I could barely run more than a couple yards without stopping to walk. She taught me how to move through pain, how to focus on what feels good and what feels strong, and then, a mile before the finish line, she told me I had to run the last mile, because “you are about to cross the finish line and become an elite runner. You cannot walk into that club! You have to run!” So I ran. And it hurt. But I’m an elite runner now. All because of a race I had no intetion of signing up for.

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We finished! 3:00:59 was my official time. 

December 2014 – I gave birth to our daughter. I’ve never written down my birth story before, so that’s what this is going to serve as. December 11, the sailor and I had tickets to see the Christmas tree lighting at the White House. If you know me, you know how exciting that sentence is for me. But alas…I was two weeks out from my due date, my feet had begun swelling, and my lower back would start hurting if I stood for longer than about five minutes…and we had standing-room-only tickets. We decided to stay home and watch Thursday night television. The Taste was on and, boy howdy, do I love a good food porn program! So we hunkered down for the evening.

At 8:50pm, I got up to pee and laid back down, covered in a warm blankie and my puppies. Not two seconds later, I had to pee again. The final weeks of pregnancy are just a constant trip between the bathroom and the bed/couch. This time, I was definitely not peeing. I yelled to the sailor, “Hey, can you call Stacy (our doula)? I’m pretty sure my water just broke!” “Um, what?!” “Yeah…f**king call her, please!”

There we were, in our powder room, me with my pants around my ankles, him on the phone with our doula while smelling my pants to ensure it was, in fact, water (the man is a saint). He helped me get dressed and into bed at the advice of Stacy. He was calm and chipper which, I learned later, was also at the advice of Stacy because my water broke before contractions started and Godzilla had stopped moving…I was in for a long, painful labor and she did not want me to know that (she’s a smartie, that one).

I got in bed, drinking orange juice and watching Netflix,  but was too antsy and bored, so I got up and started wrapping Christmas presents for family and thank you gifts for Stacy, our midwife, and our nurses. The sailor ran to Walmart to grab some fluffy towels and snacks. He wasn’t entirely thrilled when he came home to find me out of bed, waddling up and down the stairs, doing chores. So back to bed I went.

By 2:30am on December 12, Godzilla hadn’t moved but once, so we grabbed our coats, got in the car and headed to the hospital, stopping once for me to barf out the window. We got to the hospital around 3:00am and the sailor dropped me off at the ER and left to park the car (as an aside: can hospitals please get it together and offer some kind of fricking valet service so women in labor don’t have to be left to their own devices while their partners park the damn car?!). I was fully in labor by then and all the pain was in my thighs, an excruciating experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I was determined to walk myself up to L&D, but another contraction nearly took me to my knees and I was wheeled up to my room.

The sailor ran up a few minutes later and Stacy came screaming in about ten minutes after that. It was a whirlwind from there. The nurses had to ask me all my intake questions, draw blood, and set my hep-lock in between contractions. It was awful and hilarious. Stacy is a huge fan of staying in motion while laboring and as much as I wanted to walk around, the pain in my legs was too much and I had to sit or lay down. I threw up one more time (making me glad I didn’t actually follow through with my threats to eat nachos and pizza for dinner) and demanded that I get my labor gown on. I’d bought it special for this occasion with my best friend who’d given birth just five days earlier. The nurses thought I was nuts, but the sailor and Stacy looked at them and basically said, “If you want her to get this baby out, let her put the damn gown on.”

My midwife, who has since become one of my dear friends, kept doing horrible things to me like checking how dilated I was and telling me she could feel Godzilla’s head. Each time, despite causing me intense pain, she made me laugh. “Okay, this is gonna hurt…like, REALLY hurt. You can swear at me if you want.” I didn’t. Not yet anyway. She and Stacy just kept massaging my legs until finally, at 6:02am, Morgan said, “Ready to push?” I looked at Stacy and said, “I don’t know how!” Turns out, the human body is capable of doing some pretty weird stuff.

I remember getting scared at one point. I looked up at the sailor and at Stacy and just said, “I can’t.” They told me I could, because I was. A few pushes later, at 6:40am, Godzilla made her epic and very loud entrance into the world! The sailor caught her and got to cut her cord and bathe her for the first time. And then I swore at Morgan. I am in no way kidding when I say that getting stitched up after child birth is a pain unlike any other. I’d very much rather give birth again than have to do that. She laughed, said she was sorry, and just kept on stitching.

I never got to listen to the labor playlist I’d worked so hard on. I never got to use the whirlpool labor tub at the hospital. I didn’t get to watch football while I labored. I didn’t end up wanting a beer immediately after I gave birth. Everything was so different than I expected it to be, so different than it biologically should have been. Everything was so perfect.

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Godzilla lives! 

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So there you have it. The proudest moments of my adult life, to date.

On the real me….

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Toddlerhood and family visitors took a toll on my committment to writing daily. So I’m going to give it another go this week. I’m still following Real Girl Rant‘s 30 day challenge because I love her prompts. Today we have…

20 Facts About Me!

  1. My husband and I met when we were 17, but didn’t get married until we were 33. It was a long, hard road to get here, but we got here and while life isn’t always perfection, it’s perfect for us.
  2. I am an uncloseted Britney Spears fan. I love her. Not quite as much as the “Leave Britney alone!” guy, but enough to travel a great distance to see a show.
  3. I like to make celebrations out of anything. There’s very little in life that isn’t a good reason to drink champagne. I love throwing theme parties and hosting people in my home. That said…
  4. I definitely need significant down time after I’ve hosted an event. I’m an extroverted introvert, so my alone time is cruicial and I am very stingy with it.
  5. I have extreme wanderlust, but
  6. I hate being in the car for longer than 45 minutes and flying terrifies me. I’m a functional alcoholic when I’m on a plane.
  7. I want to learn all the languagues.
  8. But if I could actually learn everything about one single subject, it would be dance. And I want to learn all the things from Derek Hough and Peeta Murgatroyd.
  9. Every day is a constant struggle between wishing my kid would go to sleep and leave me along and wishing she’d hurry up and wake up because I miss her.
  10. A few times a week, I turn into the anti-hoarder and I want to get rid of everything in my house save a few pieces of necessary furniture and the photos.
  11. Clutter stresses me out in ways I can’t explain. So having a toddler is a real treat.
  12. I recently started learning how to use my big, fancy camera and now kind of love love love to take photos for and of people.
  13. Patio dining in the summer is basically what I spend all year waiting for. That, and Christmas.
  14. I went to five colleges/universites in two countries and two states and switched majors five times before finally settling on the degree I have (English writing and editing) which I should have just started with because I will never not love the English language. Always have; always will.
  15. Finding twenty (even remotely interesting) facts about myself is really hard.
  16. In grade 3, my teacher (who remains, to this day, the most evil teacher I ever had) sent me to the special ed teacher because I was quite terrible at math. Turns out, I sucked at math because I couldn’t see the stupid chalkboard. I’m still pretty terrible at math, but not because I can’t see. Just because it’s challenging.
  17. The SpEd teacher (Mrs. Pritchett) continued to work with me (and I loved her) and also got me into piano lessons. I took piano lessons every week from grade 3 until grade 12 with the same teacher (Mrs. Moore).
  18. Despite sucking at math, I love fiddling with our family budget. I have it worked out through 2022. It’s ridiculous. But makes me very happy.
  19. I crave playing the piano pretty much every day. We own two electric pianos and haven’t set either of them up. Lame.
  20. My favorite food of all time is pizza. OMG I love pizza!

On using the clutch….

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I’m trying to get better about writing consistently. I really am! Frankly, I’m not doing nearly as well with it as I could. I find myself exhausted pretty regularly (don’t we all) and I’d often rather watch an inappropriate television program in silence while my daughter naps. It’s the worst excuse in the world.

So here I go, starting another mission to write every day. I’m using a fellow blogger’s suggestions and hoping it keeps me on task.

Day 1 – My Blog’s Name.

When I first started blogging (probably ten years ago now), I knew that naming my blog was going to be one of the most important things I’d do with it. Naming it and focusing it. Those are the most important factors, if you ask me.

Naming it was easy (focusing, not so much, as you can probably tell). It’s a phrase my dad has been saying to my mom and me for as long as I can remember. She and I have a bizarre ability to transition between conversation topics without warning or explanation. You know how sometimes you’ll be in the middle of talking with someone and, in your head, you’ve said five things, but it’s the sixth thing that actually gets verbalized? And no one has a damn clue what you’re talking about now, but it makes perfect sense to you? Yeah, that’s what my mom and I do. But we can follow each other and know exactly how we go from Point A to Point Square.

Often, these conversations happen while my dad is around. And try as he might, he just cannot keep up. He’s the smartest human alive, I’m sure of it, but following our conversations is just not a skill in his wheelhouse (and when my sister is also involved in our conversations? Fuggedaboutit. He just leaves the room). So one day, a million years ago, he got frustrated enough and just yelled, “Will you two please just use the clutch?!”

So there you have it.

That’s how Use The Clutch was born.
And now it’s part of my “brand”, if you will.
It’s my blog, my editing service, and my wedding/event planning service.
It’s perfectly “me” which is maybe the best part of it all.

On airing it all out….

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The other day, I made a pretty bonkers statement and a friend said I should write a book based on it. Well, I have no intention of writing a book any time soon, but blogs I can do. So that’s what this is. Despite my best efforts to not write solely about parenting and children since having a baby, that’s what I’m doing. And I’m owning it for now, because…

“Today I Didn’t Put My Kid In The Dryer and other parenting wins”

Let’s be honest. Having a kid is a pain in the vagina ass. It is really hard on a person’s psyche. No one is immune to it. Not one parent has had a 100% easy time with their child(ren). Anyone who says otherwise is a liar who should be punched.

It all sounds so magical when you first start talking and thinking about this new person you’ll have around (all the friggin’ time). The midnight feedings will be peaceful and I’ll get caught up on Netflix or maybe even a book! The baby will take to pacifiers or bottles or whatever easily. She’ll have the cutest little cry and the sweetest giggle. Even diaper changes will be the greatest thing ever. And ohmigod the clothes!

It’s fun to imagine what things might be like. It’s good – healthy, even – to set it in your mind what you want you experience to be like. But let me tell you: the odds of it being this dreamy, angelic experience are so, so slim…you’d have a better chance of winning the lottery while being struck by lightning.

And that’s when shit falls apart for so many of us. At least, it did for me. But what made it exponentially worse was feeling like I was alone in the way I felt. I didn’t have some glorious, overwhelming sense of joy and love when she was born; I was terrified and couldn’t figure out why she was crying so much for so long. I felt sticky and sweaty all the time. I’m sure I smelled like a barn. It was exhausting to even think about going to the bathroom. And you know that feeling of wanting the one thing you just cannot have? Yeah…that was me with sleep. Adding insult to injury was the fact that I couldn’t successfully breastfeed for almost five months and didn’t lose an ounce of residual baby weight (I’m still carrying around about twenty pounds of baby making flubber).

But this isn’t about my post-partum depression or the struggles I had/have every single day.

This is about saying all of this out loud. This is about airing all that dirty, sticky, sweaty laundry.

Because being a parent is hard. It sucks for all parties involved. But it’s the “not feeling okay saying it out loud” part that sucks the worst. Holding all that frustration and pain and anger and fear inside, it’s not okay. Even more than that, it’s not okay that we’ve been tricked into thinking it’s not okay to talk about it, let alone feel it.

One of the most freeing things I’ve ever said out loud was, “Sometimes I think about putting her in the dryer.” The response was nothing short of shocking. My friend just looked at me and said, “Me, too. But we didn’t do it! So yay for us!” Suddenly, I felt a little more normal. I felt like I could unleash my caustic humor on my current situation and people would laugh (rather than call CPS) and say, “Holy crap, me too!” I started to realize that my situation isn’t all the unique, that other people go through this with far more frequency than I’d initially thought.

More importantly, other mothers actually want to say the same things I was am saying. Most of the time, we find the humor in it. But on the odd occasion, there’s a need to just come unhinged and cry and say we hate doing this right now, that we’re not cut out for it, that the guilt is too much, that I hate that I only wear leggings and tank tops anymore, but I can’t muster the energy to put on real pants, that our husbands are driving us batcrap crazy despite all their best efforts, that sometimes we wonder what the hell we were thinking having babies?!

That’s just real life, y’all. Find me one person who loves his/her job (and all the tasks and people it involves) every. single. day. and I’ll show you the person who *actually* needs some psychiatric help.

There are wins in parenting…big, huge ones (like those first steps) and small ones (like not having to change a outfit seventeen times in one day). But there are also the devastating losses (like when your kid tumbles down the stairs because you forgot to latch the gate and weren’t paying attention because he’s finally quiet) and those are the ones we need to be more willing to talk about with abandon. Those are the ones that damage us when we hold them in, thinking we’re the only person that’s ever happened to and that the sanctimommy in your life is going to judge you (even though you know it happened to her just the other day).

Those “bad mommy” moments? Those are the ones that can make or break you as a parent. Those are the moments in which you have to make some pretty hard choices. You have to choose to walk away from a crying, tired baby because you are also crying and tired. You have to choose to call the doctor because you didn’t read the manual and you’d can’t remember what they said is a “too high” temperature. You have to choose what’s best for you sometimes…because sometimes, that’s what’s best for all of you. You have to choose to give up breastfeeding because it’s too hard or painful or whatever reason. And you we have to put away the damned shame about doing any of those things. Walking away means not shaking the baby. Calling the doctor means being safe, not sorry. Getting a pedicure means going home refreshed, ready to face the next challenges. Buying formula means feeding the baby.

Shame is a bullshit emotion that doesn’t have any right to show itself in the space of motherhood. It doesn’t benefit anyone. It won’t make us better people or better mothers. All it does is whisper to us during our weakest moments and tell us all about the shortcomings we already knew we had. And who needs that kind of reminder? You know what we really need in those dark hours is a good laugh and a safe space.

Find your safe space, wherever or whatever or whomever that is, and rest there often. Voice your fears, concerns, failures (which are probably more like “failures”), frustrations, and angers. Say them out loud to someone who will listen without judgment. Don’t let those things fester and rot inside your soul. Get them out and get on with your day.

We are all scared and tired.

We are mothers.

We are badasses.

 

 

 

 

On fighting the fight….

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It appears we are on the cusp of a pretty big deal election here in the States. My Facebook feed is littered with news clips and sound bites and shares of this politician or that reality star or someone saying something crappy about someone else or someone politician A being supported by this group or that celebrity. To be honest, it all got to be a bit much for me a few weeks ago. I unsubscribed from every single politically-oriented feed I could (save The New Yorker and NPR). I had to. I was getting angry and outraged over things that mattered and things that didn’t. It was affecting me in way it never has before.

I love politics. I’ve always been pretty involved with election cycles. My first presidential election was in 2000. I voted for W. I regret nothing. In 2004, I again voted for W. I regret nothing. In 2008, I was torn between Obama and Hillary, voted Obama in the primary and then again in the general. I regret nothing. In 2012, I voted the crap out of Obama. I regret nothing.

Until 2008, I was a pretty solid Republican. I was raised in a conservative home with conservative values. I was also raised in a Christian home, but I refuse to equate conservative with Christian or vice versa. But as with many things, I grew and studied and researched and…changed my mind. Well, I changed my mind on some things. On others, I remain staunchly conservative.

So when the 2008 election cycle (literally) rolled through town, I went all out. I talked to whomever would listen. I watched all the debates. I spent a great deal of time in downtown Denver with friends, watching the show and even catching glimpses of political heavyweights. I went to my first ever presidential rally after Obama clinched the nomination. I was glued to The Daily Show’s coverage of the election. I went to an election night party. Basically, I threw all my cheerleading expertise and fervor into the 2008 election.

I’ve always kind of wanted to be involved in a campaign. Calling people, asking for donations, attending events and rallies…all of it just sounds exciting! I’ve had an itch for politics since I was in high school (which is strange because the high school I went to didn’t offer anything related to government, except for student council, of which I was a member for 6 years) so it’s not surprising that I’ve found something other than football to put my weight behind. The problem for me has always been time. Now moreso than ever. It sounds like an excuse (and maybe it is), but it’s my reality. I have the tiny human that take a significant portion of my time and energy…and I’m more than willing to give it to her. I’m also very, very torn between candidates this cycle. Or, at least, I was up until about a week ago. That makes it hard to throw myself at a specific campaign.

So I choose, instead, to involve myself in other ways. I religiously watch every debate and town hall on both sides (I’ve only missed two – one from each – and that’s because I’ve been disgustingly sick). I think it’s vital to listen to everyone’s stance on a variety of issues. Sure, I identify as Democratic these days, but there was a time when I didn’t (when – *GASP* – I actually thought Ann Coulter had something valuable to offer…we all make mistakes). My mind was changed. I’m not above thinking it can’t be changed again. Of the many things I hate about American politics, its fluidity and evolution is one thing I don’t hate.

Instead of investing in a single campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with several of my friends during each of this cycle’s debates and town halls. I think I’ve unofficially become the person that organizes these debate threads (and have already been tapped to host an election night party). It’s a fun group to be involved with…there are socialists, atheists, Christians, conservatives, liberals, middle-of-the-roaders, some that aren’t sure, some that don’t care, men, women. We challenge each other without insulting each other. We rein each other in when we get too combative or too sensitive. We make caustic jokes. We’re often “inappropriate.”

But maybe most importantly, we engage and inform. We offer different points of view. We listen. We respect.

And when I think about how I want to be involved in politics, this is it. I want my daughter to see (though she’s often in bed by the time all this goes down) that politics are/is important. I want her to know that it’s fine to rest on your laurels, but it’s also wise to listen (nay, HEAR) another perspective. I want her to know that she needs to hear opinions and facts that oppose her worldview…because she needs to either be able to defend her position or concede it.

I just want to be and raise a person that’s a contributing member of society.

 

On absolutely nothing…

So what do you do when you want to write, but have nothing to write about? You brain dump. There are a million things running through my head, but I can’t seem to focus on a single one for long enough to flesh out an actual “piece” about it.

  1. I want to be pregnant again. I want to have another (possibly our last) with this incredible community I’ve had the joy of participating in for the last two years. My mama-friends are here. My doula is here. My support structure is here.
  2. I keep thinking I might be pregnant, but any time someone asks me what my gut says, I say, “I don’t know…I go back and forth.”
  3. I want to focus my blog, but I don’t know how or on what. I don’t want to just write about motherhood or babies, but that’s what my life is about right now.
  4. I still really want to write for Vanity Fair.
  5. I don’t think I’ll ever actually be good enough to do that.
  6. I want to work on a new blog idea with a girl friend, but both of us have pretty intense (and exciting) jobs right now that don’t allow for a lot of free time.
  7. I want to take more time to read. I hate that I watch so much TV. But I’m also really tired most of the time so reading sounds more exhausting that relaxing. I miss reading. I miss my periodicals and books and general knowledge.
  8. I still have no idea whom to vote for in this next election or even in the primaries. I have good reasons to vote for either of the candidates I’m torn between, but my pros/cons list is coming up even for each of them.

So there’s my brain dump for the day.