appearances

As much as I sometimes think that I’ve been raised into a beautifully open-minded and non-judgmental human being, the truth is not as inspiring. The truth is that I pick and choose whose appearances, circumstances and actions to judge. If you ask one of my closest friends whether or not I’m judgmental, I would guess (and hope!) the response would be something like, “Marissa? Hell no, that woman will help me justify any and all choices and then ask me if I’d like her help burying the body.” The point is, if I’ve known you at all and decided that your intentions are good and that you are merely a victim of unfortunate circumstances, I will stand by you and help you see that you are simply doing the best you can in this life. Admittedly I used to gossip about people, including friends, family members, coworkers and acquaintances…a lot. I’m not saying I never talk about people behind their backs anymore, but I do it a lot less now. When I know I’m sharing information that isn’t mine to share or when I find myself criticizing someone who isn’t there to defend themselves, I feel shameful. It’s like I can literally feel the bad karma I just earned about to strike me at any moment. But again, this yucky feeling I get only applies when I feel that I’m betraying someone I know. I still find myself secretly or not-so-secretly judging and criticizing strangers all the time. This is a very dangerous habit of mine and I’d very much like to rid myself of it. Here’s one example why:

Last week I was killing some time at Target before an appointment I had. While I was checking out, there were two male coworkers talking within earshot of me and the cashier. They were clearly discussing the presidential election and the older of the two made some critical remark about the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obama Care) and how he couldn’t wait until it would be abolished by Donald Trump. Standing there, silently judging, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. Colorado Springs has a reputation for its conservative populace, so criticisms and accusations toward our current Democratic President are rampant. The younger, millennial-looking guy with the tattoos he was talking to appeared to disagree. Again, no surprise. We’ve got our fair share of liberals here in Colorado as well, but, I thought, he’s probably from the West side (where we live – hippies, tattoos, piercings, art co-ops and street musicians galore). I looked toward the middle-aged, somewhat frumpy-looking checkout woman and she was shaking her head. Before the assumption that she too was an uneducated, irrational conservative could even fully formulate in my head, she looked at me and said, “I wish more people realized that these governmental policies are not made overnight. There are a lot of people who contribute to the decision-making that goes on in Washington. We have Congress and the Senate for a reason. It’s not just the President who makes the call.” I literally almost laughed out loud at what I saw was such a clear example of me being nothing more than an uneducated, irrational asshole. I told her that I couldn’t agree more, thanked her and left.

I walked to my car with a new perspective about a lot of things. I frequently allow myself to have very strong opinions about things I literally know nothing about. Because I don’t personally associate myself with organized religion, I tend to criticize people who do. I say, they are blind, they don’t see the impossibility of their beliefs, they don’t acknowledge things like science, they don’t have enough self-esteem to get through life on their own and without the guidance of an intangible, antiquated belief system. Because I have no personal experience with the military and because I’m fundamentally opposed to war and violence as a means to resolving conflict, I judge people who see its value. I allow myself to believe that people who join our military are either pre-disposed to violence, are looking for an affordable education or simply have no direction and are perhaps following in the footsteps of a family member. Because I’ve never so much as talked with a homeless person or even volunteered at a homeless shelter, I choose to judge and fear this part of our community. I assume that they are all alcoholics, junkies or just plain lazy. Because I myself obsess so much about the way I look and how much I weigh, I frequently criticize people, especially other women, who are overweight. Again, I assume they are lazy and don’t care about themselves or their health.

I’ll be honest, it’s really hard for me to read all of that back to myself and even consider posting it for everyone I know to read (and of course, judge me for). It makes me look and feel like a horrible person, but I know I’m not alone and that is why it’s worth the risk to share my short-comings with the world. I am going to practice what my one West-side, hippie tattoo preaches and “be the change.” I can reframe my thoughts about religion – I can celebrate the freedoms we have in this country to believe whatever we want to believe. I can thank organized religion for all of its charitable contributions to our society and for all of the faith and love it’s brought into the lives of so many people, including many of my loved ones. I can stop being a jackass about people who risk their lives to serve our country and actually talk to some of them, find out what their thoughts are about the world we live in today and what inspires them to be a part of our military communities. I can stop fearing people who have nothing compared to what I have and I can instead choose to respect them for putting themselves out there and continuing to ask for help, day after day, while getting very little in return. Even if a homeless “scammer” on the streets of Chicago makes a hundred bucks a day, their quality of life still pales in comparison to what I’ve been blessed with, so who am I to judge?  I can also choose to stop criticizing people who don’t look a certain way because, guess what? I don’t know their circumstances, their beliefs, or their experiences any more than they know mine. Sometimes I’m fat and sometimes I’m not, but maybe if I was a little more forgiving of myself where appearances are concerned, maybe I can be a lot more forgiving of others.

So there it is, all of that ugliness spilled out in front of you to either judge for its outside appearance or to instead see through to the beauty that lies within – the possibility for personal growth and change. Join me in giving each other a break, won’t you?

 

i love you

Those three little words. Those three little words that are in fact, so big, that we yearn for them all of our lives. Or at least I do. The context may vary and we may take them for granted at times, but they never completely lose their luster. And here’s why: because hearing those words are a validation that we matter in this life to someone other than ourselves, and that is a powerful feeling to be gifted with.

I started thinking about this today because it occurred to me that I live in a near-make-believe land where the words “I love you” are nearly as abundant as the air I breathe. It started with my own childhood. My mom had a rule that you never said good night or good bye without an “I love you” no matter how upset you were with the other person because, she would argue, “I might get hit by a truck tomorrow.” So I said it then and I say it now. A lot. Even when I’m mad, sad, frustrated or all three. My husband and I say it so often to each other you might argue that it’s not as meaningful anymore. What I’ll tell you is that of course there are times when we say it out of habit, like when we’re hanging up the phone or going to bed at night or leaving for work. There are also times when one of us says it out of the blue when we are just sitting and talking (or not talking) with each other and certainly those times might seem more special. Then again, I am devastated when we are in a really huge fight and Sean hangs up without saying it. I literally feel sick to my stomach and will likely follow up with a text that says, “you might hate me right now, but I love you.” Because, you know what? He might just get hit by a truck. My best friend and I say it to each other every time we get off the phone. Why? Because we mean it!!! And why not say something that we feel?

Don’t even get me started on the love I spout for my wee ones:

“Kathryn, please go get dressed and brush your teeth. I love you.”

“Guys, I love you, please stop fighting in the backseat.”

“Thank you so much for helping me put the laundry away. I love you so much.”

“Kellan? (“What?”) I love you. (“I love you too, Mommy.”)

Kathryn being the love bug that she naturally is has taken to saying it almost as randomly as I do. There literally are no words to describe the fullness I feel when out of nowhere that girl tells me she loves me. No words. As far as I’m concerned, those two little people are going to hear me say I love them no less than ten times a day every day for the rest of their lives.

Here’s the point: Say the words. Say them with reckless abandon to the people you love – your friends, your parents, your siblings, your children, your spouses. Why wouldn’t you? I hear people who are clearly on the phone with their spouses and hang up without saying it and I feel so badly for them. Why aren’t they saying it??? Are they afraid to? Afraid of being too vulnerable? You’re sharing a life together – SAY I LOVE YOU!!! Say it all day, every day! Raise your children to say it all the time and feel comfortable and confident expressing their love so they can really, truly share themselves with the world. Teach them to say it even when they might not hear the words back. Lead by example. As the old saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

To my readers, I love you.

 

 

 

freedom

A good yoga teacher, in my opinion, will spend some time (gently) pushing her students’ thoughts as well as their bodies. Last week I was fortunate enough to stumble back into a studio I hadn’t practiced at in over a year. I noticed that my yoga practice, while consistent, was lacking creativity and progress, so I humbly walked my butt back into Playoga to spend some quality time with Becca. Why I haven’t been there in over a year is ever a mystery – the woman sings like an angel during savasana for crying out loud! Anyway, the point is, she got the group focused on what really motivates us each individually in life. Is it money? Is it creativity? Is it philanthropy? Is it family? Something else?

Before she even got the question out, I knew my answer. Freedom. And the crazy thing is I think if you asked me this question 5 years ago or even one year ago, I would have faltered. But now it’s just so crystal clear. So, so obvious.

For starters, my drug of choice, my passion for life as I know it, could not exist without travel. But perhaps not in the way that some people enjoy travel. I do not particularly enjoy cultural immersion or tourist attractions. What I do enjoy is the high I get (quite literally) when I’m jet bound to some far-reaching corner of our planet. As a self-affirmed experienced solo traveler, there’s also the freedom in waking up in a foreign country without a single responsibility, a single worry, a single itinerary item to tend to. Travel is freedom, but of course tied to it are financial freedom and the freedom of United States citizenship. I may have to seek out Canadian citizenship if Trump gets elected, but my personal income and my luck for having been born here are not lost on me – the ability I have to slap down my U.S. passport and my United Mileage Plus Explorer card and go anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice is one of my greatest treasures.

Freedom in my career – I’ve been able to fight for and succeed in achieving an almost impossibly liberating work from home situation. I have built a network of long-standing customers who trust me and who have consulted with me for years; backing that up, I have an employer who believes in my ability to keep these same customers happy from just about anywhere; currently from Colorado, but hopefully one day from Costa Rica. And I do, because when I’m happy, my customers are happy. And for me, happiness means having the freedom to set my schedule in a way that I can balance hard work with a demanding family life and a host of self-care practices like yoga and happy hour. Whiskey business, if you will. (Stole that one from New Girl – another one of my many self-care practices). “Working from home” also means I have the freedom to liven up my workspace by settling in for the day at any number of hipster coffee shops. Or there’s my breathtaking home office which overlooks the mountains. Or there’s my other office in charming Old Colorado City which I’ve decorated into a lovely zen-like sanctuary. I’m still trying to figure out how to get a Koi pond in there. So many choices…ah, freedom!

You can find evidence of freedom’s lure in the most mundane aspects of my life as well. I may be a planner, but I loathe routine. And rules. I endeavored to get eyelash extensions a few months ago and ultimately came to the conclusion that, not only am I likely allergic to them, but that they require me to not do certain things like rub my eyes, put my face directly in the shower water or sleep on my side. So many restrictions, so little freedom. Doctor’s orders? I never follow them. Diets or food restrictions? Ha! Go ahead, just tell me no. Tell me I can’t do something or can’t have something – I will unleash the fires of hell in order to take back my power and my free will. The circumstances and relationships I find most challenging are the ones in which I feel somehow trapped. I would be lying if I said this doesn’t make motherhood a challenge for me, especially in these early years. There are just some rules and responsibilities that every self-respecting mother must accept – like picking the kids up from school, feeding them, bathing them, playing with them, talking with them, answering their questions, answering more questions, reading to them, putting them to bed. Above all, loving them. That one is easy. Trading in personal time and freedom for the rest, though? It’s hard. My remedy for this assault on my free will is likely the same one my mother had – teach them independence and nurture their creativity. Give them every opportunity to learn from their own power to choose, within reasonable safety guidelines of course.

The point is, I encourage all of you to spend a few minutes thinking about what really, truly, in the depths of your soul, motivates you in this life? If you aren’t sure, look to people and circumstances that bring you joy and you will probably find some good clues there. When you finally identify it, sit with it for awhile. Stew on it. Are there areas of your life that are not serving your feeling of purpose? Can you alter them or maybe even let them go completely? Sometimes finding contentment in greater self-awareness is a gift in and of itself.

Peace and love from a free bird in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

karen o’malley, saint

If you’re a married woman there is at least a 90% chance that your mother-in-law drives you nuts. There’s maybe a 50% chance that you can tolerate her but prefer not to, and an even lower chance that you actually like her. I don’t think the same is necessarily true for married men, though, and it likely comes down to the stereotypical drama that women create with one another – the competition, the cattiness, and the fact that while most daughters tend to stay close to their mothers into adulthood, sons who get married eventually have to give into the whims and fancies of their wives. As they should! Not surprisingly, this fact can create turmoil within the wife/mother-in-law (not to mention grandchild) dynamic.

But every so often an angel drops down from the heavens into the lap of that unsuspecting bride-to-be. Let’s call her Karen O’Malley, the example by which all mothers-in-law should measure themselves. Not only do I like this woman, but I would go to the ends of the earth to defend, support and protect her. Today is her birthday and on this special day I want as many members of my social media circle (and hers) to know what a gift she has been to my life. From the very early days of my relationship with her son, Karen has been a beacon of warmth, light and love. She welcomed me into her world without hesitation and without judgment, despite some of our differences. Even at wedding time, as we were making the unpopular choice to have an out of town event, she remained an expert of graciousness, respect and support.

A few years into my relationship with Karen, we both found ourselves on the brink of losing our own mothers to the same type of cancer. While we’d been close to that point, I do believe that an unspoken shift took place in our relationship that would bind us together forever, come hell or high water. And I’m pretty sure both hell and high water did come a few years later when Sean and I uprooted our family to Colorado. Our marriage suffered a very dark phase during that time – a time in which any other mother-in-law might have abandoned me. But not Karen – she was no longer a mother-in-law, but the mother I no longer had. I was her fourth child and there was no way she was ever going to let me suffer alone. The sheer number of tears I have cried to this woman in our years together could flood the Chicago River.

Turns out, we are actually a lot alike. We both work hard at everything we do – careers, child-rearing, cleaning, you name it. My offer to have her live with us will always stand because having her visit is like cloning myself – neither of us can stand to sit still so we are always getting something accomplished wherever we are. When business is done, though, we can both chill out, be funny and have a great time. Again, when business is done, and not a second before.

Sean once told me that he realized he was in love with me when he met my family. And to his credit, between all my moms, dads, siblings and grandparents I have one of the most incredibly supportive, dynamic, and hilarious families you’ve ever met. But Karen brought a truly unique warmth and love to my life that I never knew before I met her. At my most vulnerable moments I long for her company. I can’t imagine not having spent the weeks after my babies were born with her. I can’t imagine not having someone in my life calling me “doll.” I can’t imagine not having her love in my life.

To one of the loveliest, most beautiful, most selfless people I know, happy birthday from your eternally grateful daughter, Marissa. XOXO.

they get me

 

Today I find myself completely awash with gratitude for many of the people in my life and I have no choice but to shout my adoration from the rooftops. The danger for me in not doing so is that I’ll fall into the trap of actively despising the rest of them. You know who you (they) are – the haters. The ones who read this and everyone else’s posts on social  media and lurk with judgment, jealousy and negativity. The ones who, instead of participating in a conversation on- or offline, wallow in the misery of their own self-hatred. So rather than tumble down that rabbit hole of despair, I choose love. And as Mother Teresa famously said, “It was never between you and them anyway.”

Thank you to my husband. Thank you for quietly and patiently allowing me to spread my wings and fly to every corner of the world (and the internet) on a whim. Thank you for actively supporting my need to express myself in different ways and for keeping your eye rolls and fears of backlash from your own network of friends and family to yourself. Thank you for letting nearly all of my daily neuroses roll off your back. Thank you for knowing and respecting how fragile I can be even when I am still trying to be a tough bitch. Thank you for doing your best to bring joy to my life every day. You get me.

Thank you to my family. Moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, and now children – you have all shaped me into the woman I am today. A woman who is comfortable in her own skin, unafraid to take risks and to be vulnerable. To be able to live life with little to no fear is such a gift. To truly believe, with all my heart, in the words “this too shall pass” is a blessing. This optimism comes only from being brought up in homes full of unconditional love and support. Your encouragement has never waned and for that I am eternally grateful. You get me.

Thank you to my vast, yet blissfully intimate, group of friends. You know exactly who you are. I love you like I’ve known you my whole life, even if I’ve only known you a short while, even if we only talk during a crisis or on Facebook. Thank you for trusting me with your secrets, your fears and your wildest dreams. Thank you for protecting mine like they are your own. Thank you for your wisdom, your music, your teachings, your food, your sanity, your insanity and your unconditional love. You get me.

Lastly, thank you to the haters. Thank you for giving me the perspective I need to cherish the lovers. Thank you for helping to blur the lines between family and friends. My friends are my family and my family are my friends. You are just the outliers that contribute to the diversity of my environment, providing the fodder that continues to strengthen the bonds I hold dear. You don’t get me, I don’t get you, but we can still celebrate our differences.

#notmeus

 

 

 

 

 

a love letter

This year I’m dedicating Valentine’s Day to a different type of lover, not a man of flesh and blood, but another who has taught me the art of self-love and acceptance. A lover who has healed my mind and body in ways I never expected. My one true soulmate.

Yoga.

This dedication has been in my heart for such a long time, and yet I (still) struggle to find the words to convey the impact that yoga, in all of its beautiful variations, its dynamic pathways to spiritual and physical freedom, has had on my one humble life. My journey thus far has been brief, having only committed myself to a near-daily practice for just over a year, but my passion grows stronger with every practice and I often wonder what life was like before I knew such joy.

Prior to moving to Colorado from Chicago four years ago, I viewed yoga as glorified stretching that only hippies and celebrities did. Because, after all, I was in the middle of the urban rat race. When it came to physical endeavors, unless you were training for a marathon or logging mad hours at the gym, you were a pussy. And spirituality? Who had time for that nonsense? Ah, but God bless Colorado. I don’t know if it’s the blue skies, or the clean air, or the majesty of these mountains, but something about this place (and I’ve said it before) just makes you want to live a better life, be a better human being. Finding myself on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the spring of 2013, I turned to yoga (and Bali) as a way to find mental stability. I would go to classes every now and again, and though I enjoyed them immensely, I didn’t get the physical benefits I do now until I joined CorePower Yoga in November of 2014 and took my first hot yoga class. If you’ve ever taken a Bikram class, it’s like that. HOT. 105 degrees hot. Sweating from places you didn’t know you could sweat from hot. I almost didn’t survive my first class, but my teacher Robert guided me through. His voice was so calming as he explained that yoga is a uniquely personal experience that our bodies and minds experience differently every day (code: there is no shame in staying in a mostly horizontal position if it ever gets to be too much). I still have days when my body or my mind (or both) shows up for class all fucked up and I question how I’ve kept this practice up for as long as I have. And yet I’ve never, EVER regretted showing up at the end.

And here’s why:

Yoga makes me love my body. What?! Love your body? No woman in her late 30’s, post-CSection loves her body. Oh but I do, maybe not every minute of every day, because unfortunately I still have a late 30’s, post-CSection body. But for the duration of every yoga class I show up to, I love it. Even in yoga pants; especially in yoga pants. I love the bend of my back in camel pose, the muscles in my shoulders and arms in chatarunga and even the curve in my butt during a belly rest. And I feel like a goddamned ballerina in dancer pose. Sometimes I even put my hair in a bun on top of my head so I can really fulfill that childhood fantasy. Truth be told, I have always been vain and have always had reasonably frustrating body image issues. I don’t think I’ll ever not look at myself in every mirror, window or barely reflective surface I pass, and yes, I love it when my yoga classes have mirrors on every wall and I always choose a spot in a corner where I can see myself from as many angles as possible. But I almost never set foot on the scale anymore, and it’s not because I’m going through a binge eating phase and I’m scared to know the truth. A large part of me has actually stopped caring what it says. Yoga has given me a body confidence I’ve never had before, even when I was a borderline anorexic in 2001 or on my wedding day (after months of two-a-day workouts at the gym and a 2-week Master Cleanse). I’m never not going to be on the curvier side, and I really couldn’t be happier about that. Curves are feminine and hot! Watching my muscles change and my flexibility grow, seeing old injuries and pains disappear, has been life-changing. My self-consciousness will likely always rear it’s ugly head (I even had a tummy consult with a plastic surgeon as recently as December. He told me to start swimming laps. Ugh.), but for me yoga has been a giant step in a positive direction.

Inner peace. Need I go on? Actually, yes I do because it’s imperative that you know, if you don’t know already, that I am an emotional basket case 40-50% of the time. I may pull off a good, if not great facade, but not very deep down I am coming apart at the seams. I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve been described as strong, resilient or even graceful (ha!) and been like, “what? who? you got the wrong chick, dude.” And yet I can begin a class in a complete emotional blur and come out feeling refreshed and invigorated with the wind at my back. I think and see clearly again. There is something especially effective about a hot or Bikram-style class – the heat is so intense and your body is working so hard to keep its shit together that your mind has no choice but to succumb to the most basic of brain functions, like reminding your hand to pick up the towel and wipe the sweat that’s pouring off your face. When was the last time, even in sleep, that you can honestly say you didn’t think or feel for a full hour? Yoga is like a deep tissue massage for your brain.

Lastly, as with any great love affair, it feels fucking amazing. Yep, I’ve decided to stop not saying fuck on my blog (see: http://www.scarymommy.com/why-i-use-the-f-word/). Some poses feel better than others depending on the day but at least once a class I find myself in some contortion going “oooohhhhhhh yeah, that feels goooooooood.” In others I simply feel beautiful and open. In yet others my body is aligning exactly as it should and that feels good. No matter what I come out feeling wrung out and cleansed. And undeniably addicted.

Do not view this as my way of trying to convince you to practice yoga. Remember: this blog, more than anything, is meant to act as a witness to my life. A future gift to my children. Children, even adult children, are naturally drawn to the experiences of their parents. If my kids read this one day and, having also witnessed what will have been my decades long practice, and it inspires them to start one of their own, that too would be a gift. If it merely gets them to embrace the word fuck, that’s okay with me too.

 

 

 

 

habits

I am at a breaking point. I find myself at the end of a long (who knows how long this time) stretch of biting off more than I can chew and now I am simply spent. Emotionally and physically spent. I have this pattern of piling things on and piling things on, convinced that I can tackle an infinite number of projects and relationships simultaneously. I am the world’s greatest multi-tasker, after all. The cycle always starts innocently enough, but with each perfectly executed task my confidence grows and grows until I lose sight of myself and my most basic needs…sleep, exercise, food, emotional stability. Instead my need to be challenged and be creative becomes an addiction and before I know it, I’m at O’Hare airport’s security checkpoint being asked to place my purse inside of my suitcase so as not to exceed the 2-carry on limit. It is at this point that I don’t know whether I should punch her right in her asshole face or find the closest bathroom stall so I can have a much needed emotional meltdown. What goddamn difference does it make if I have an extra carry on when it’s going under my seat? Truly, I ask you, what difference does it make???

The good news is I had the smarts to open up my laptop and write this post instead of jabbing the woman. The good ole cry will still happen, though I’m saving it for my two hour drive home from DIA. Sometimes, under the right circumstances, I love to cry. In this case I actually look forward to it, puffy red face and all. I have about a million more feelings than any man (and a lot of women) I know, so for them I can compare it to what it’s like when you are either really sick or really hungover and the best thing you can do is sweat it out in a steam room. Crying is the cure for a feelings hangover. It gets rid of the nasty emotional toxins that are clouding up my otherwise powerful, rational brain. It’s not a sign of weakness, but just my mind’s natural way of cleaning house and making room for fresher, brighter and happier thoughts once more. This all being said, it’s a pretty shitty cycle to repeat over. and over. and over again. So how do I stop it from starting up again?

Right at the start of 2016 I read a blog by Mark Manson, who some of you may recognize as the author of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck,” (Google it, I’m too tired to figure out how the hell to insert a hyperlink right now) one of the most brilliant pieces of writing I’ve ever experienced. This time his topic was the inevitable futility of New Year’s goals and resolutions. He basically says they’re all shit and what we should really be focusing on if we want a path to betterment is creating better habits, not on setting ourselves up for utter failure and disappointment through a series of singularly defined accomplishments (or lack thereof). He then goes on to list off what he perceives as the top habits to cultivate for anyone looking to be better at life – not surprisingly they are things like exercising, meditating, reading, writing, cooking. He also believes in the power of the 30-day challenge. You’ll recall I am already a 30-day expert what with my Iphone detox last year. I also did 30 days of yoga last June, though I never did get around to writing about that experience. (Side note: I am incredibly overdue for a tribute to yoga and all that it has done for my quality of life. Stay tuned for that one soon.) Clearly, Mark Manson and I are geniuses of a like mind. So since I read his latest musings about habit development, I’ve been thinking about how I can apply his theory to my own life. What habits would I see the most benefit from and where do I begin? Reaching the tragic end of my self-inflicted cycle of doom today may very well present the very opportunity I have been looking for. The pattern I am trying to end is actually the result of compounded bad habits, though, and what I’ve read about trying to kick any bad habit is that it sometimes helps to replace bad habits with good habits (i.e. replacing happy hour bad decisions with CrossFit workouts). It’s not to say I don’t already have some good ones. Yoga is my mainstay and I am relatively conscious about what I put into my body, vacations and girls weekends notwithstanding. What I need to identify are some simple changes or habits that can help prevent these manic, emotional downward spirals from ever growing legs. I am increasingly anxious about work-related matters and to be perfectly honest, I need to be doing more with my career. But you can only have so much energy to spread across all areas of your life and despite having my best year ever in sales last year, I still put energy into things that are so much less important. Like cleaning. The older I get, the more and more OCD I become about cleaning. To the point where I own 3 Shark uprights, a Roomba and a Dyson handheld. My vacuum collection is nearly as impressive as my handbag collection at this point. It’s utter madness. My obsession with keeping every inch of our house (the one I share with 3 people and 2 dogs) is really unhealthy and it takes away from the time I spend with my family. It drives Sean absolutely nuts because watching me clean makes him feel unnecessarily guilty and it takes my attention away from him and the kids. So I’ve decided to try something really scary. I’m going to give myself one night a week to clean and that’s all. Beyond normal kitchen clean up, that’s all I get. No obsessing about the crumbs inside the heat vents or the grease that managed to get inside the panes of glass of the oven door (yes, I had Sean unhinge and take apart all twelve parts of our oven door the other week so I could get it off). One night, that’s it. Plus the twice monthly professional cleans. I would give up my handbags for those in a New York minute.

My hope is that freeing up not just the time, but the head space I have been giving to order and perfection in my home will allow me to put back some quality effort into my career and quality time toward my husband. A 30-day challenge is coming in February where the hubs is concerned, and maybe he’ll let me write about it. His mom reads this blog, though, so I’m guessing no. As a lot of us know, marriage is hard, even when you’ve been blessed with a really incredible partner who looks like Tom Cruise if Tom Cruise were cool enough to grow facial hair. Keeping things interesting doesn’t come naturally like it did when we were 27 and partying all the time (and yet somehow were never tired). It’s so cliche, but oh so true: a partnership is work and I need to do a better job of working the partnership if you get what I mean. We will be reaching our 7-year wedding anniversary next month and I want to honor that milestone appropriately…and maybe just a little bit inappropriately.

These are just, well, things I’ve been ruminating on and only time will tell how successful I am, but I recently heard a quote in one of my yoga classes that I can’t get out of my head. Saying it to myself brings me peace and encouragement in equal measure:

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”

-Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

moxie

My mom used to always say I had moxie. She was a wordsmith, that one. For those of you lacking similar confidence in the English language, moxie can mean any of the following: energy, pep, courage, determination, know-how. I like to think of it as energetic determination. In most cases this quality has served me well in life – I see something I want and I don’t just go after it, I take it. In fact if it’s something I can’t have right this second then I probably don’t want it in the first place. This makes me really good at my transactional sales job and at planning last-minute trips to Bali. It also means I’m pretty fearless in most situations (exceptions: life-threatening and/or financial investment situations) because, quite frankly, I just don’t give a f**k. I suppose there was a time in my youth when I actually cared what other people thought about me and my choices, but those days are long gone. Ever seen When Harry Met Sally? Like Sally, it may just take me an hour and a half to order a sandwich. Don’t care. Someone disagrees with my self-preservation approach to parenting? Don’t care. Despite having a closet full of appropriate outfits, I will think nothing of strolling through the lobby of a Ritz-Carlton in a tank top, yoga pants and snow boots. Don’t care. I was probably two-thirds of the way through my daily checklist (or on the way to the bar) and didn’t see the point in stopping to think about impressing anyone. Fabulous way to live, right?

Except when it’s not. Except when I find it nearly impossible to meet anyone whose energy for making things happen and getting shit done can match my own. When you’re the person who is always making the moves and executing the plan (you know, the one you put together in 5 minutes flat), you quickly realize that most people are all talk. Most people live in a self-created world of fantasy and disillusion because they are busy with thinking and not busy with acting. When you act and create your way through life, you leave little room for long-term disappointments because there’s no time for dwelling. There is nothing more frustrating to someone like me than listening to someone else’s “It would be nice…” and “What if…” stories when they’ve got no plans to actually do anything about those ideas. As people close to me know, I’m not the one you call and vent to if that’s all you need is to vent. I’m the one you call when you need to get shit done and maybe I can help you put together the plan to deal with said shit. Part of me misses being in my home sales office in Chicago, surrounded by other Type-A’s, but even there only a fraction of the people have energetic determination. Only a few live one day to the next on momentum. Not surprisingly, most of them are women, masters of multi-tasking that we are. But seriously…where are all the go-getters of the world? Where are all the non-talkers of the world, the do-ers, the non-f**k-giving, you-get-one-lifers??

I know it’s been a while…did you miss me?? I’m not checking my moxie at the door as you can see.

addicted to no

Saying yes is hard. Really hard. It’s no wonder that “no” is one of the first words spouted by infants everywhere because it’s literally all they ever hear. Sure, many of the “no’s” we as parents are throwing around have more to do with fostering a safe, injury-free environment for our youngsters than with our general closed-mindedness, but the negativity flourishes even in our rare child-free hours as I will soon exhibit.

In my nearly two weeks of experimenting with saying yes I’ve done little more than create a heightened awareness of all my nay-saying. I can think of only one specific case where I turned a “no” into a “yes” and it was at the suggestion that we take our kids to a (gasp!) public restaurant for dinner. A sit-down restaurant, with real servers and lots of other grown-ups (read: not McDonald’s Play Place). Sean has a much greater tolerance for putting our children in front of the world at large than I do. I prefer to keep them confined to our home or at least to a park where there is certain to be one other child behaving more irrationally than mine. My first response was, of course, “no,” but with a smirk and an eyebrow raise from Sean I quickly recovered and flipped that “no” on its head and into a convincing “okay…um, sure…really?…alright, fine, let’s do it.” And that’s how I ended up at the Texas Roadhouse with my entire flock (Stop judging, Chicagoans, these are the dining options I’m faced with in Colorado Springs, okay? Also the ribs are amazing and you know it.). I’m happy to report that K & K put my negativity to shame! Granted they were stunned into submission at the fact that they were allowed and even encouraged to throw peanut shells on the floor, but nonetheless it was a family breakthrough in the dining out department. Dare I say, I actually enjoyed myself.

Where I find myself struggling the most is not in agreeing to things I would otherwise have disagreed with, but in my overall resistance to and judgment of people, places and experiences. I tend to create snap judgments and find myself unable to back up and reassess the situation more openly. This is especially true when it comes to people that I just don’t like. For example, I’m currently signed up for a 5-week yogi training that has about 15 students and 3 coaches in the group. Due to the negative judgments I’ve made about a particular individual in my class, I now find myself unable to learn from and collaborate with this person. In fact, the judgments keep piling up. The irony of this as it relates to “the path of a yogi” is not lost on me. A part of me knows that the answer to my dilemma lies in powering through the negativity and getting to know this person on a deeper level so that I can better relate to them or at least be able to approach the relationship from a more compassionate place. Uh huh. The bigger part of me still thinks this sounds like a pretty shitty idea. Do I have to like everyone? Does my personality have to “say yes” to every other personality out there? What if the person, in addition to sucking overall, has toxic breath? Do I get a pass then? Ugh…I knew this was going to be way harder than going phone-free.

I’m nowhere closer to letting go of my expectations of how things should go either. This became evident over Mother’s Day weekend. After having corrective eye surgery on Friday, I expected to be mostly blind and bedridden for the majority of the weekend, thus having no real plans in place. As it turned out, I was more than a little bit functional post-op and this completely threw me for a loop. Most of you are probably out there going, “but your surgery went better than expected, isn’t that a good thing?” Not when you have a crippling addiction to making and having plans. And when Plan B involving a babysitter on Saturday night fell apart due to the weather, you can imagine what that did to my mindset. I actually lost my mind altogether, and by Sunday was either crying or in a sleeping pill-induced coma. Happy Mother’s Day! By Monday I had realized what an insane person I was and would now like to publicly apologize to my husband and children. That being said, I’m not even sure how I begin to change the part of myself that doesn’t like to roll with the punches. How do I say yes to unexpected change? Or at the very least, not let it ruin my weekend? Some people, even some mothers I dare say, embrace changes to their best laid plans gracefully. If anyone out there has a 12-step program for my special type of addiction, or hell, even an article you think I should read, bring it on.

Here’s to the next two weeks of saying no…I mean, yes.🙂

day one with my phone

And already, by tonight, all of my Iphone anxiety is back in full force. I had big hopes for a gradual re-entry into it, but no. I consumed every opportunity I had to look at it with relish. Yes, even while driving. I arrived at my 4:30 yoga class sickened by my obsession, but very aware of it. So that’s the silver lining, I suppose. I’ve cultivated a hyper-sensitivity to my own addiction which, one would hope, can only help in my continued quest to kick it. Appropriately, my teacher played this song for our savasana today (that’s the part at the end of a yoga class where you just lie down and rest – truly, the best part). I can’t think of a better way to describe the dysfunctional relationship I have with this evil little device: