Tag Archives: friends

Playground confessions

5 Sep

4036587818_808fece881_bBrandon Christopher Warren via Compfight cc

I don’t know what it is about me that makes me want to tell people my life story when I first meet them. Sometimes I wonder why I’m so open, why I wear my emotions on my sleeve, why I have such a strong sense of trust in people I may have just met.

Why do I think my life is so important that everyone I meet needs to know about it?

Take yesterday afternoon for example. Vivian woke up from her nap a complete disaster, so upset that I dared come in her room to get her before she had fully woken up. After fifteen minutes of a terrible-two’s-almost-three tantrum, I was finally able to calm her down and convince both kids to let me push them in the double stroller to the playground.

Let’s talk about who got the better deal here for a moment. They got to enjoy a tasty snack of a cherry-vanilla cereal bar and a generous handful of sweet red grapes, along with a beverage of chilled water fresh from the fridge in their water bottles filled to the brim by yours truly, while I had the luxury of pushing them for thirty minutes in 85-degree, muggy heat to the playground.

I was happy to do it though. I’ve made a commitment to myself to be more active in September (and beyond, but I’m taking it one month at a time). My new therapist says I need to schedule self-care into my day or else I will end up neglecting myself and I know this is true. I’ve felt it lately. I can definitely tell a difference in my mood, my parenting, and my overall enjoyment in life when I take time to do things for myself each day.

So pushing the kids to the playground and back home is my way of having some time for myself (great exercise and fresh air) while also allowing them to burn off some energy.

The bonus was meeting a really cool mom and her two kids who were the only other people there when we arrived.

I didn’t expect to strike up a conversation with her. When we got there she was talking on her phone. But as our kids began to interact she wrapped up her call and a few minutes later I found myself asking her the customary playground ice-breaker among moms:

“How old are your kids?”

Her son, a year older than mine, jumped right into my son’s imaginary fire-fighter rescue scene, while we pushed our daughters (also close in age) on the baby swings as we chatted. I asked her if her son had started Kindergarten this week and she admitted he was actually repeating it since he had some issues focusing last year. I told her how my husband and I had decided to hold Owen back a year since he was so close to the cut-off for enrollment. “He just needs another year to mature a little bit more,” I said and she nodded sympathetically.

Then she revealed that she and her husband suspect that their son may have ADHD and they had consulted a child psychiatrist this summer and he had recommended trying meds, but she wants to see how he does this year. Maybe it’s a maturity thing. But she also mentioned his lack of awareness of personal space which he demonstrated a few minutes earlier when he playfully tugged at Owen’s arm to get him to follow him over to the slides.

Owen didn’t seem bothered by it, although the mom said sometimes her son can be aggressive with other kids. It was at that moment I had to bite my tongue.

Just listen, I told myself. And so I did. And I’m glad I made that choice.

But at the same time I felt a connection to this wonderful stranger I had just met and I wanted to tell her that there is nothing wrong with mental illness, and if he does have ADHD it does not define him and there are treatments that can and will help. I wanted to tell her that it’s going to be okay and that she will get through this.

I can’t help it. The advocate in me always wants to speak up.

But I didn’t this time because I sensed from the way she was telling me all this about her son that she got it. She’s on my side. And in that moment it was such a joy to simply watch our kids play pretend together on the playground.

Her husband called and I noticed it was already five-thirty and I still had a half-hour walk home. We had been talking for forty-five minutes like good friends and I hated to have to say goodbye.

My kids reluctantly made their way down the slides one last time before walking over to hop into the stroller. As I walked over to buckle Vivi, my new friend’s son ran up beside me and took my hand. Looking up at me he asked in the sweetest voice, “But why does he have to go?”

It melted my heart.

His mom and I looked at each other and smiled. We both said how it was getting close to dinner time but maybe they’d see each other at the playground again sometime.

A part of me wishes I would have asked for her email address and maybe we could have set up another playdate. But for some reason I didn’t and now I’ll just hope we’ll run into that lovely family again in the future at one of our local playgrounds.

Because I’d love the chance to tell her my story. I’d love the chance to tell her why I’m passionate about mental health advocacy and most of all because I’d love to just watch our kids have fun pretending to be fire-fighters again.

Five Minute Friday {11}: Listen

14 Jun

When I listen to my heart, it tells me to keep being brave. To stay open and to keep giving and sharing my story, especially when I feel like giving up.

This week I’ve listened to the waves methodically sweeping in, crashing into the sand in gentle whispers while laying on the beach reading. I’ve listened to tropical birds coo and sing, their vibrant chirps awakening me from naps taken under the shade of palm trees.

But my favorite sound, by far, has been the joyful laughter of us, four friends reunited.

Our voices reminiscing over meals shared together. We listened to each other declare short term goals, we remembered all that we have experienced in our many years of friendship and marriage, and we discussed how hard it is to raise a family.

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I’m so grateful for this week.

It’s our last day here in paradise. By this evening we will have returned to the reality of normal life. And I’m quite sure that we’ve all been refreshed and energized by this vacation. I’m excited to arrive home and listen to the sounds of my family settling back into our routines, our summer together.

Time to return to living my story. One glorious day at a time.

Five Minute Friday

Brave: Five Minute Friday {5}

3 May

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BRAVE

The choice to end life. To stop living. To not go on any longer because fighting is too hard, it’s exhausting, and giving up would be so much easier.

 

The plan was made. Actions carried out.

 

The sand was slipping swiftly through the hourglass of life. Time was literally running out.

 

Then, suddenly, something awoke within her. She called out for help. And her cry for help was answered.

 

Natalie made the choice to be brave.

 

Now, she is telling her truth. I am watching her exude brave.

 

And I am so very proud of my friend.


Five Minute Friday

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Sunday, May 5th is her Live Day anniversary. I am running a 5k to recognize and celebrate her decision to choose life. In honor of Natalie’s battle to overcome suicide, I am walking The American Federation for Suicide Prevention’s Overnight Walk, June 1st-2nd.


Please visit Natalie’s blog, ItWillNeverHappen2Me.com, to read her story of what took place a year ago this weekend.

My husband, our chef

30 Apr

Saturday morning we were all anticipating my husband’s arrival home, as he had been away all week on a business trip in Austin, Texas. It had been a long, draining five days of doing ALL THE THINGS by myself and I was tired. The kids couldn’t wait to see their Daddy, especially our son who was anxiously wondering whether his father was going to be bringing him home the Lego City Police Station, a toy carrot he had dangled to ensure good behavior for Mommy. {It really came from his Grandma, but she wanted us to say it was from Daddy and we didn’t object.}

It worked like a charm. Or maybe that was because I continuously reminded him of the reward he would receive for said good behavior. Hey, I never said I was above bribes.

Swim class that morning was the last hurdle I had to jump over with the two kiddos before I could breathe easy knowing my better half would be home two hours later. And it wasn’t even that bad since baby girl wasn’t feeling well that meant I didn’t have to attend her class with her, giving us both the luxury to sit on the bench and relax, watching her brother splash and float during his lesson.

Home again, I made lunch and the kids ate and then it was time for naps and quiet time. I wanted myself to curl up and take a quick snooze before my husband got home, but instead I began the process of tidying up the house {aka dusting, vacuuming, and re-arranging our masses of clutter} since we were having friends over for dinner later that evening.

A few hours later and all was well in our world. I had raced to the store and back for fresh ingredients, while the kids got to fill their father in on all their adventures during the time he was away. Lots of hugs were exchanged and plenty of snuggles for baby girl who was feeling the unpleasant effects of the massive amount of pollen in the springtime air. Our little man talked his dad into building the two vehicles that came with his Lego police station, so as to appease him until the next day when they could spend a few hours putting the entire set together. Our daughter had fun dressing and re-dressing her Melissa & Doug ballerina magnet doll. {Another new toy from their Grandma. She loves to spoil her grandkids and we let her.}

Then my husband got to work in the kitchen, preparing the meal for the evening once our guests had arrived. It was so nice to see our friends who live close, but not close enough that impromptu visits are easy and frequent. Instead, we have to plan a few months ahead and then pray that kids stay healthy so that we can keep the date. It worked out this time since allergies were the culprit behind our little girl’s scratchy throat and sneezy, drippy nose. The kids easily connected around the water table and played together happily as we adults caught up over appetizers and drinks.

I love watching my man cooking dinner. He is very methodical in how he approaches the tasks of the recipe, which he usually follows to a perfect T each and every time. This time we were trying out a new dish, Lemon Garlic Scallops with Rustic Farro Risotto, from my friend’s food blog, with asparagus on the grill to accompany it. I try not to impede on the way he moves about the kitchen, but of course I find myself critiquing and offering suggestions on how he should be searing or grilling or stirring, when I really should just keep my mouth shut because his food always comes out delicious.

I know how lucky I am to have an amateur chef as a husband. I’ve finally come to realize this after almost ten years of marriage. He generally does all the cooking in our house, because every so often when I do try my hand at putting a meal together, nine times out of ten it turns out terrible. Sometimes worse than terrible. I get mad, curse myself for the wasted time and effort, and my pride suffers. Then I swear I’m never cooking another meal for him again because whenever I do, he turns his nose up at it. {This is because it is terrible, remember, so I really can’t blame him.} But over the years I have slowly accepted the fact that he’s simply better at cooking than I am and I should embrace it rather than try to compete with it.

So with that, I present to you: my husband the chef.

HusbandChef_BML

And now, please excuse me while I go pin some new recipes for him to try.

I love you, honey. Thank you for feeding our family with love.

“Cooking today is a young man’s game. I don’t give a bollocks what anyone says.” ~ Gordon Ramsay

10:35pm – Edited to add:

When Ben got home tonight, I asked him read my post, as I usually do on the days that I publish. Reading over his shoulder as he scrolled through the post, I noticed that I had forgotten something very important when writing this piece.

When I first became sick at the end of 2005, I struggled with eating a great deal in 2006. From the mix of medications I was on to the raging anxiety that had taken over my body, sitting down to enjoy a meal three times a day was a distant memory from my past. Some days I was nauseous from the moment I woke up until I crawled into bed at the end of the night. I lost about 12 pounds, which may not sound like all that much, but for someone who is only 5 feet, 2 inches tall, it’s a big deal. I remember looking back at pictures from that summer and my cheeks were sunk inward on my formerly chubby face, my arms seemed like pencils they were so thin. But my loving husband did not give up on me. He tried new recipes he thought I might like, went back to some of our old favorites from college when he used to cook to impress me while we were courting, and kept me smiling with his extravagant baking to appeal to my sweet tooth {and in the hope that I’d consume some calories, even if they were all sugar}.

Anyone who has ever been clinically depressed knows what I mean when I say it was impossible to eat at times. My appetite was squashed by my diagnosis and meds, and my formerly sunny, outgoing personality had also been beaten up pretty badly. If my husband wasn’t there by my side, encouraging me to keep trying, taking me on dates to our favorite Indian restaurant at least once a week, I may have lost more than the weight I did that year. I may have lost my power to fight the illness that had knocked me down.

I am forever grateful to my better half, for not only sticking with me, but for feeding me when I needed fed. He fed me with his love, his optimism, and his incredible culinary skills.

I love you with all my heart, honey.

xoxoxo

Friend: Five Minute Friday {4}

26 Apr

FriendQuote_BML

What I love about my life is that I have many different types of friends surrounding me with love. Whenever life throws me a curve ball, or things are perfectly boring, or I just need to try something outside of my comfort zone to mix things up a bit because I’ve been feeling a little dull, I just reach out to a friend to reconnect and nourish my soul.

 

She makes me smile over coffee.

She lets me cry if I need a release.

She hugs me when we say goodbye.

 

I would be lost without my friends. They each hold a piece of my fragile heart in their hands and I hope they feel the same about me.

 

Because life is so much better with a friend to walk with.

Five Minute Friday

Ten Reasons I’m Thankful I Went to Wild Mountain

21 Mar

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Back on November 15th of last year, I took a deep breath as I clicked the “Complete Transaction” button to send in my initial deposit on the last day of early bird pricing for the first ever Wild Mountain Memoir Writer’s Retreat in Leavenworth, Washington. I told myself it would be okay as I exhaled slowly. I didn’t exactly know how I’d pay for the entire trip, but I did have a part-time job that provided a steady stream of additional income, so I figured we would make it work. Somehow. Besides, I had asked for my husband’s blessing before going ahead to book my ticket. He was 100% supportive, as always.

Little did I know just how much of an impact this writer’s retreat would have on my work, let alone on who I am as a person in general. It’s a little unreal how much a beautiful resort, jaw-dropping scenery, incredibly brilliant and inspiring published authors as instructors and presenters, fresh organic gourmet food, and vivacious, supportive, funny and highly social attendee writers can impact one’s sense of purpose in the world. But, man, I can honestly say that I came home a more empowered writer and person in general.

In January I booked my flight using frequent flier miles we had been saving up for a rainy day. (The retreat was in Seattle, I take that as a sign from up above for many reasons, rain being one.) I decided to take an early flight out on Thursday before the retreat, in order to give myself an entire day and a half to settle in and adjust somewhat to the 3-hour time change before the retreat officially started on Friday evening. That proved to be one of the best decisions I made in booking the trip. I had a great flight out to Seattle from DC, and enjoyed the next 24 hours relaxing, exploring the resort, and writing while listening to Ed Sheeran’s new album on repeat before the rest of the retreat-goers arrived on Friday night at 5:30pm.

 

Then it got wild.

 

Here are my Ten Reason’s I’m Thankful I Went to Wild Mountain:

10. A mountain resort set withing the picturesque and uber-relaxing Cascades Mountains. I seriously was in complete awe of the beauty that surrounded us the entire weekend. From the snow-capped mountains to the bubbling waterfall with it’s soothing melody. It was the perfect setting for writing, reading, and learning.

9. The food was simply incredible. Top-of-the-line gourmet, organic, fresh and delicious. I fed my body just as well as I fed my writer’s soul last weekend.

8. A break from the reality and stress of everyday life. I packed for an adventure, and it was one heck of a ride from start to finish. I’m still glowing from the whole of it all.

7. Community. From the moment I met my roommate, Natalie, to the last hug goodbye at the airport, for forty-eight hours I was wrapped in a sense of comfort knowing that I was surrounded by my people. My tribe, as I like to call them. Writers who write and who truthfully share their stories for the greater good of people who read them.

6. Hands-on instruction from rock-star authors who so generously and passionately offered up their best knowledge on the craft of memoir writing. Techniques, tips, and tidbits of advice were wrapped with gorgeous bows for us. I am so very grateful to Ariel Gore, Candace Walsh, Suzanne Finnamore, and Theo Pauline Nestor (and Scott, for encouraging her to just go for it and host the retreat) for making the magic happen. Sitting next to Cheryl Strayed after her keynote address (written specifically for us) was a dream come true. She took her time in signing my three books and gave me a hug at the end. She is so amazing. My favorite piece of wisdom from her talk was to write until you find the bigger picture. I learned that I need to find a universal thread for my memoir in order to make it a book which many people will want to read. I’m happy to report that I think I found that universal thread during Theo’s two classes and I can’t wait to start sewing my story together with it.

5. Meeting a blogger who I deeply admire and respect. The witty and beautiful Ann Imig won the Writer.ly 6-word memoir contest and received a scholarship to attend the conference. Ann is the brainchild behind Listen To Your Mother, “a national of live readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day,” which was born in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, and has grown to 24 cities this year. I was so honored to have met and gotten to know her over the weekend and am now privileged to call her a friend.

4. Feeling like I was back in college again. The resort had a cabin set-up, and each cabin had between one to four beds, so we were grouped based on the package we selected. I chose a room with one roommate and was so perfectly matched with Nat, who ended up becoming my best friend at the retreat solely based on the fact that she and I just “clicked“. On Saturday afternoon, she wrote in our free time, and ended up reading me what she wrote, to which I promptly replied, “Nat, that’s your first blog post right there.” We spent the rest of the break before dinner creating her very own blog, It Will Never Happen 2 Me, and then went to the bar for a celebratory drink. So fun to be a blog instructor for a few hours.

3. Cheaper than an MFA. I think I heard this phrase mentioned more than once during the retreat. I’m pretty happy about that right there, given my love of a good deal and my admitted regret to having wished I studied Creative Writing as an undergrad.

2. I left the retreat emotionally and physically exhausted, and yet, I was more energized and inspired than ever before. I couldn’t wait to get home to start writing again, to apply all of the incredible things I learned. I even wrote on the red-eye home because I was so uncomfortable in that damn window seat. Some of it is actually usable material, which is surprisingly fantastic.

1. New friends. I gained an unbelievable community of like-minded, highly intelligent, encouraging, fun-loving people. We’re blowing up Facebook these days, if you haven’t noticed. And I’m sure it’ll continue. We’re serious writers and we’re keeping in touch. I can’t wait until we all get published and get to have a Wild Mountain reunion to celebrate all of our accomplishments.

What a weekend. I changed. My book changed.

And this is only the beginning, folks.

Happy Birthday, G! {Wordless/Wordful Wednesday}

20 Mar

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Back when “Don’t Carpe Diem” went viral via Glennon Doyle Melton’s blog Momastery and the Huffington Post, I spent the next week staying up late every night, reading the archives of her blog and I’m so glad I did.

She is one hell of a writer who I had the pleasure of meeting randomly last year at our local swim school. After helping my son pull on his goggles and ushering him off to his swim coach, I went to sit down in the parent’s viewing room with my 2-yr old daughter and looked to my left as a pretty mom was about to sit down in the empty seat next to us.

In a surprised (and almost giddy) voice I said, “Are you Glennon?” knowing the answer before she even had a chance to reply.

“Why yes, yes I am!” she replied with a warm smile.

“I’ve read your blog!” I said cautiously, not sure whether or not I should admit to how much of a huge fan I was of her writing. “I love it.” Realizing later I could have said, “I’ve read your life,” that is how incredibly honest she is.

We talked for the next twenty-five minutes while our kids swam (hers crying through the lesson mostly.) And she hugged me when we said goodbye.

I called one of my best friends, Stephanie, on the way home because I couldn’t contain my shock and excitement.

 

Happy 37th Birthday, G. You are inspiring, uplifting, brave, brutally honest, and hands-down, one of my favorite writers. Carry On, Warrior!

 

+ The Paper MamaLive and Love Out Loud & Baby Baby Lemon

An experiment in hugs

17 Jan

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” ~ Virginia Satir

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I read an article on the interwebs awhile ago via a pin on Pinterest with that quote as the subtitle. Isn’t that pinteresting? I thought, as I clicked the link. It went on to discuss ten ways in which a parent could connect with their child from the moment they woke up, during the day, and right on up until bedtime. I really enjoyed the article, but of all of the suggestions, the one that hit me the hardest was the 12 hugs one.

I am a huge hugger. I love them. It comes as no surprise to the people who know me best: I am a highly affectionate person. Hugs are perfection to me. I love to embrace a friend who I haven’t seen in a long time, my child when he or she is crying from a skinned knee, and my therapist after each monthly appointment. My family is especially big on bear hugs. I remember being hugged frequently growing up, and hugs became even more meaningful to me after I left home for college. My parents were on the verge of tears when they finished moving me into my dorm and we were hugging goodbye. Me, not so much. I could taste freedom, fun, and the excitement of being on my own for the first time in my life. But three months later when I drove home for fall break, I was the one on the teary side of the hug. Comes back around, I guess.

There is just something so wonderful about having someone wrap his or her arms around you. You immediately feel loved. It is the ultimate expression of caring for someone, in my opinion. It feels good.

Hugs are so simple. So why don’t we give them more often?

After reading the article, I made it a point to aim for twelve hugs for each of my kids the next day. I think I ended up with six or so (if even that many) hugs during the day. Wow. That was harder than I thought it was going to be. Maybe it is really important. Whenever something is hard (think eating right or exercising) then it is usually a pretty important habit for us to add to our daily routine. Plus, if hugs make us feel so much better, this is a no-brainer, right? I started thinking about my hug distribution approach.

So, four hugs a day for survival, huh? I know I give the kids each about that number a day, but shame on me, my marriage is barely surviving. I thought about our normal routine – a hug and quick kiss in the morning before he leaves for work, and another one when he comes home. Sometimes a squeeze while one of us cooks dinner, and occasionally a snuggle in bed before falling asleep. Most days we were barely getting by on our usual disbursement of hugs.

This family needs more HUGS, I thought. It was time to plan my strategy.

Mornings I can definitely get a bunch under my belt to start the day off on a good foot. I’ll give the hubby a snuggle hug in bed before we rise and shine to start our busy days. The kids will each get a good squeeze to wake them up with a smile. Once I have their breakfast ready at the table, I’ll hug them each before sitting them down to eat. In order to transition from breakfast to the next step in our morning routine, I’ll send my husband off to work with a hug and kiss and will hug each kiddo before taking them upstairs to get dressed and brush teeth. When I drop them off at Mom’s Morning Out or preschool, I’ll give each another embrace to send them off to play, and when I pick them up I’ll give them each a great big bear hug and kiss to tell them how much I missed them. At home before nap time, I’ll give each kid a cuddle hug to tuck them in, and when they wake up two hours later I’ll hug them again.

(In case you’re keeping track here, we’re up to two husband hugs and seven hugs for each kiddo.)

Whenever someone has a meltdown or in case of a sibling squabble, the fix is easily a hug. This is typically the case for us when we’re late and need to get a trip to the potty, shoes on and coats on, all within a five minute span which can be next to impossible sometimes so it usually calls for a hug to help calm the situation.

By dinnertime, we’re usually at eight to nine hugs. After dinner, we tickle-wrestle and hug before heading upstairs for bathtime and bedtime. There are hugs given as we pull the sopping wet children from the tub to wrap them in warm, fluffy towels. While reading stories in bed, we each hold a kid in our arms, wrapping them with love. And a final hug once the books are read and it is time to turn out the light. My husband and I hug again after the kids are asleep, while brushing our teeth before bed, and before closing our eyes for the night. It feels good to give and receive so many hugs in a day. Makes me feel more complete, happier, closer to my family.

This little hug experiment taught me a great deal about the amount of affection I currently share with my family and friends. Starting this year I am making it a habit to hug more, hug often, and hug with all my heart.

Why? Because I’m scared of the day when I won’t be able to hug them, when one of us is no longer here. I want to be sure to give and receive as many hugs as I can because hugs are quite possibly, one of God’s most amazing gifts that He gave us: the ability to put your arms around someone you care about to show them your love and affection, your support, your thankfulness for just being there.

Hug your spouse more, hug your kids more, hug your friends and family more. I’m pretty sure they’ll return the favor.

 

Have you had your twelve hugs today?

 

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