Sunday, May 11, 2014

Moms are the best.

Shirley MacLaine and her daughter, 1959 - Photo by Allen Grant via the LIFE Picture Collections
I think we all had been there at one point in our lives where we were a little concerned that me might turn into our mothers.  I remember a moment in time where I was feeling there was no way around a future life of caring about drink coaster on wooden tables (my mom) and always forgetting to put the rolls on the table for holiday dinners (my grandma).  Now that I am older and arguably wiser, I realize that we should all be so lucky.  I mean honestly, now that I can afford to buy a table not made out of veneer fake wood, use a coaster.

Over the last several years, I have continued to grow in respect for moms everywhere as I have had the privilege watching my friends and sisters have children and raise fantastic kids, and as I have watched my lifetime moms become grandmas.  To all of my people, your kids are amazing.  They are funny, smart, and the weirdest little combinations of you and their dads.  You have done it with grace (but not too much so that it isn't real), humor (probably not without a few times yelling at Target), and you make parenting look good.

This year my respect for moms has grown even more as I have grown my own bun in the oven and experience the strange wonder that is being a mom.  So far, I am batting a thousand as I haven't screwed up any of my children yet as far as I can tell.  And while I haven't had to do much parenting for the 4-month old nugget in the belly, I have already found myself driving more cautiously though intersections and considering organic cucumbers.  Parenting win.

My mom in particular is something special, as all of our moms are to us.  As an adult I continue to grow in appreciation for all of the things that I really didn't realize as a child that I picked up from my mom.  I am also so thankful for the mom that she is today; she is non-judgmental, considerate of those around her, thoughtful at every holiday, willing to listen when I vent, gives advice only when it is needed or solicited, and even-keel, among all of the other thousands of reasons why she is the right mom for me.  Of course she is the right mom for me, she made me.

We are lucky too to sometimes have other moms in our lives that make an impact, like step moms, moms of our friends, and those co-workers or neighbors that take good care of us.  We will always have nice memories of the neighbor we stayed with for a few hours while our parents were away, or the lady at work that made sure to remind me to eat lunch when I was busy enough to forget.  Your awesomeness did not go unnoticed either.

So thank you, ladies, to all of the inspiring moms around me.  I have been watching carefully and making mental notes of how awesome you are at being moms so I can pay it forward.  The fact that your kids wear Spiderman costumes most days of the week and that you take the BEST Instagram photos of your kids makes my day and I can't wait to join the club.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Don't change who you are, but let's be real...this isn't a sprint, it's a marathon

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The concept of not being too weird to early is not foreign to me, I generally refer to this strategy as "time-releasing the crazy."  You don't want to go full Monty before people realize they can handle and enjoy your weirdness.  When I started dating my husband (and I knew that I would marry him very early on), I waited a whole month before I put a little statue of a sleeping gnome in the back of the fridge.  When he finally saw it, he stood there staring at it muttering, "What the...?" in front of an open refrigerator door.  That gnome has lived in our butter drawer ever since.  I knew the hubs appreciated me for being a little nuts when he made a straight-faced joke one day about how high the gnome's cholesterol must be (living by the butter and all).

When I started a new job last year, it took me almost two months to start hiding mini rubber chickens in peoples stuff.  And it took everyone else a few more weeks to figure out just what was going on.  Seeing as I have hidden over 500 chickens in the world, they have some catching up to do at work.

It's not that I advocate people being anything but themselves, because I don't.  But, as a curator of weird shit, I have learned that it is an art and a good strategy to not put all the weirdness out at once.  Hopefully by sharing a little at a time, I can help bring joy to my day and to others, and quietly convince people that it is okay to be funny, and carefree, and weird, and unique, and yourself.  I think that I learned it was okay to be a little weird by one person in my life, and I am glad I came to the realization that being myself would be enough.

If you are feeling unsure sometimes about being yourself and letting the weird out, just do a little bit at a time.  You can also surround yourself with at least one person who really is comfortable with being a little weird.  All the right people will appreciate you for you, not in spite of you.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Accountability: Try It, It's Fun

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I have days now and again, as we all do, where I feel a little spent after my day in public.  I won't even just say at work, because sometimes the adventure continues when you go to the grocery store or the pizza place.  I have finally concluded that the theme is often a lack of accountability.

Accountability is a funny thing, because it is a life skill that only we can control for ourselves.  It is a self-leadership tool, and a skill set that not everyone has.  And that is okay, but I think it is in all of our best interest if we are aware of it, and strive to be just a little bit better at it.

As a close cousin to negativity, a lack of accountability is something I try and avoid in my day if possible.  Today I was less successful, since it was a pretty classic Monday riddled with phone calls and e-mails from people less concerned with "owning it" or finding solutions.

I often think back to the lady who yelled incessantly at the pizza counter clerk on Valentine's Day a few months ago about the fact that she had been waiting 15 minutes for the pizza for her family and now she was going to be late.  She did this in front of four other customers and her visibly uncomfortable teenage daughter.  She had one foot on the "blame others" rung, and the other on the just plain "unaware" part of the ladder.  I told the pizza clerk that they were doing a terrific job on one of their busiest nights, and that they shouldn't let one lady bring them down.  As for her daughter, I hope she stays uncomfortable with her mother's behavior and recognizes that she doesn't have to act that way.

It is not always easy to be accountable, but I find it to be a good way to feel like I am in control of the world around me.  If I only blame others, then I certainly don't feel very in control of my own destiny.  If I own my attitude and my actions, I feel much more in control of my day.

Tuesday always promises to be less Monday-ish, so my goal tomorrow is to shake it off, be one notch more accountable than today, and hopefully lend a hand to pull up the people still stuck at "excuses" or "wait and hope."  It's good to have goals.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Self, you should be paying attention to this wise advice.

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I originally saw this picture listing a "Note to Self" a while ago, but it has been weirdly more sound advice since I am growing a person inside me.  I mean, if there are all these rules like I shouldn't eat fish with mercury or pesticides, or I should get enough sleep, or I should wear a seat belt, then I suppose there is some truth that I should treat myself well regardless if there is a little person growing inside of me.  These things seem to be advice that everyone knows, but no one does for themselves.  Honestly, when did we get so bad at taking care of ourselves?

It seems like we only remember these simple ways to take care of ourselves after we learned the life lesson somehow, like relearning a healthy relationship with food after an eating disorder, making a baby, or surviving a close call with your health.  How sad that we can't make better decisions to take great care of ourselves, right?

(Sigh) I wish it were that easy.  Don't get me wrong, I just ate a lot of Pringles chips today, so I haven't mastered the art of self care.  At the very least I hope to make plenty of right decisions throughout the day like get plenty of sleep, or drink organic tea (rishi tested without chemicals).  Next stop, the gym.

Hopefully I can remember to take of myself once I am worried about taking care of some other little peanut.  I don't want to wait until another life event serves as a reminder to avoid eating hot dogs.  Even if we all do only one of these nice things for ourselves, that is a step in the right direction.  I have the naps down, but will focus on not saying mean things to myself as my pants stop fitting.  Which one are you going to work on?  Take care, my loves - I would like us to be friends a while longer.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sorry I have been gone, I have been busy growing a person.

Photo courtesy of Kate Kroes Photography
For those of you who read regularly, I apologize for my absence over the last few months.  I wish I could say that I was busy solving world hunger or something, but the true story is that I have been working on some new stuff.  And the secret is out... that new stuff is growing a baby.  I won't post all of the time about baby things, I promise, but I do feel I should (A) explain myself and (B) do the first trimester it's due justice.

My husband and I were lucky in that we didn't have to try or wait very long to change from a family of 2 to a family of 2.5 once we decided to do so.  I know that not everyone has an easy time, and I am forever grateful that we didn't have to walk that line.  All in all, I have been lucky along the way in that I could have been really sick or had other complications.

With that gratitude acknowledged, I have to pay my respects to all of my ladies who have come before me and endured the silent suffering that is the first trimester.  Since we weren't going to be telling anyone yet, there was the solid month and a half where I felt pretty terrible and had to not look like it.  The hubs was the best, and he was nothing but supportive about the fact that I made the couch work overtime instead of hanging out with him while staying awake.  But seriously, (and I cannot explain this to men or women who have not been pregnant) I did not know tired like this.  I once did a few "long blinks" at my desk at work, and decided it was time to go for a walk before I straight up fell asleep at my desk.

I did not fully understand or appreciate all of the changes that come in the first trimester like feeling sick or tired, and I have total respect now for all of the ladies who have managed it, frequently without others knowing.  Or course, there are people around you all of the time that are pushers trying to get you to break the news on their terms.  Some stories from my friends and me include quotes like, "Why aren't you drinking, are you pregnant?" or "You HAVE to try this barbecue, it is the best around!" or "When are you guys going to start having kids?"  The answers are (1) Yes, but I refuse to tell you before my mom, (2) No I don't have to eat that barbecue because the smell of it makes me want to hurl, and (3) What if I had been trying for 3 years and you really hurt my feelings by asking A.K.A. none of your damn business.

Seeing as I felt nauseous most of the time for weeks, I resorted to lots of snacks.  Since people didn't know the secret, I have eaten many a granola bar in the bathroom because my incessant snacking was suspect.  Those of you who know me may be aware that I always have fantastic snacks with me anyways, so now by bag of snacks are really taken to the next level.  I am lucky that we solved that mouse problem a few months back, otherwise this would not be working out.

Now that I can stay awake longer than 14 hours in the day and feeling better, I am back in action.  I am so lucky to have lots of terrific friends who are moms before me to give me quality, real advice, pass on what they know, tell me not to register for that, and take great pictures of the journey (thanks, Kate Kroes!).  I am surrounded by love.

For the time being, here are the FAQs:
  1. Yes, I do look like I have been eating a lot of pizza.  No I don't need an intervention, but thank you for the concern.  There is a baby in there.  A baby that likes specifically Palermo's sausage pizza.
  2. We are not finding out if it a boy or girl.  Well, eventually we will in, say, October.  Adventure parenting.
  3. Yes, October 3rd to be exact.  Hopefully I don't have a real overachiever in there who comes out too early to ensure I go back to work just before Christmas instead of waiting until the end of the year.
  4. I have not read "What to Expect When You're Expecting."  I have heard the alternate title of that book is "101 Ways You Are Killing Your Baby by Eating and Breathing," so I think I am good without it.
  5. Cravings? Yes.  They are very specific and generally good for one meal only.  And extremely difficult to predict.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It really is okay.

I have always been someone with too many activities in my life.  In high school, I used to go to play practice, then swim practice, then go home and do homework in between a few hours of sleep on the living room couch.  I think I am still catching up on sleep from high school and college.  But, these were my choices, and I would make them again.

I have trained myself to have a lot of things going on at once, but I have really tried over the last year or two to simplify.  I am totally okay with the fact that I went to bed at 9:00 p.m. twice this week.  If I start to feel like I need to accomplish more in my life, I can simply sign up for a 10-k or get a hobby.

Sometimes, people might make a comment to me that I am old, boring, or married.  And I think in response, I can be happy with a calm life.  I can be happy because I have used my time wisely so far in life.  I partied at the right time, I competed in sports at the right time, and I had plenty of time to do all sorts of things before getting married a little later.  So, while I may be old, boring, and married, I can also be accomplished, complete, and comfortable in my own skin.  So I am okay with calm.

The point is, everyone can spend their time as they want.  I have some friends who had some tough lessons in their early or mid-twenties, and this made them the best versions of themselves that they are now.  I have some friends who played everything right early on, and now they are bored with what they didn't take time to do earlier  in life.  And I have friends that are still figuring out their potential.  It sure is fun to watch the people you appreciate find their awesomeness though.  In fact, I am perfectly happy to get great sleep at my ripe old age of 31, and lead a calm life while I support others.  And that's not boring at all.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Check out the 20 things we should say more often, with Kid President

Kid President is my favorite.  His real name is Robby Novak, he is 10 years old and he is one of my favorite You Tube sensations.  This is one of my favorite videos, and I could not have said it better myself.  Check it out.
Video posted by Soul Pancake