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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An Open Letter to my Thighs

Dearest Thighs,

You have been with me now, literally, forever. You’ve witnessed and been one with me through thicker and thinner days. You’ve been there through the crashes and the cascades. You know what it feels like to reach for the clouds on the springtime swings of childhood. You know what it feels like to have the warmth of a July sun and soft powder sand cradle you at the same time. You know what it feels like to help carry the weight of bringing a baby into the world. You know all about being weightless for a moment in the depths of cool oceans and being so whole and heavy in the all encompassing place of motherhood.

So I feel saddened and shameful to admit that when I look at you, admiration is not an emotion that I adopt. You are what my eyes first see in a dressing room mirror. Fluorescent lights seem to showcase every line, every imperfection, every dimple of years that are mapped across your edges. When I see you now, it is hard to remember the girl that you used to pedal on a bicycle faster than fireworks on summer afternoons. When I see you now, it is hard to remember that I once saw you as beautiful. When I see you now, I long for an eraser instead of a highlighter. When I see you now, I see the things that are wrong instead of the things that are right.

Which is why I have decided to call a truce.

I am no longer going to complain about you. I am no longer wasting dear moments producing hostility toward you or me for the way that I carry you. I am no longer letting you dictate whether or not we will spend summer in a body length cover-up or in a show you off sweet bikini. I am flaunting you. Because you are powerful and strong, regardless of size. And life is glorious. And the more complaining we do about the way we are built, the more that glory seems to diminish.

Our time is too valuable to pick apart the width of our bodies instead of embracing the pieces that make up the width of our days. Whether it is thighs, or stomachs or breasts or arms or faded images of the way we used to see ourselves. The way I see it, we have two choices: to either let go of our complaints or to do something to make a change. We can go to the gym, or go to yoga or go to a plastic surgeon or buy the spanx. Or do none of that. There should be no shame either way. We have a choice in the way we see and treat ourselves and how we see and treat one another. So let’s keep on going and live a life that is lighter and freer because we won’t have our negativity weighing us down. We get this one shot at life and our bodies are there for the whole stunning ride.

So thighs, bring it on. You are with me in the drivers seat and the time to press the gas is now.

Let's do this…

The Other Place

This was a piece that I wrote for Scary Mommy that appeared on their online site on the 26th of April. Cheers...

I don’t really know how it happened but one day I woke up and my children weren’t babies. Or toddlers. They didn’t need me to pour their cereal or lift them out of their crib. They didn’t need me to dissolve pink syrup in the milk filled purple sippy cup. Sippy cups no longer live in our cabinets or more accurately, leaking on the stained fabric between faded car seats. The stroller in the trunk has long been replaced by lacrosse equipment. The sweet new baby smell has grown into the scent of sweat and the reminder to my nine year old that he needs to take a shower. Yes, right now. 

Last weekend, they were all in the house, all doing their own thing. And it was quiet. Four kids. All independent. And quiet. My mind was blown. I asked my husband, “Is this really happening?” His response, “They’re not yours anymore.” My response, a hesitant bordering on the edge of tears, “Yes they are.” Who asked him anyway. Shit. 

They still need me. But it has evolved into the other place. I’m no longer in the thick of the everyday. Just. Like. That.

Before any of them rode a school bus, I used to take them to a toddler morning at a local roller skating rink where you could bring bikes and scooters and baby doll strollers and whatever you schlepped inside would instantly be no longer wanted by your child as soon as they saw the new big wheel that another child was riding. The whole thing was a hot mess but we NEEDED to get out of the house to be able to survive winter. The center of the rink was the thick of it. This is where there were seats for the nursing mommas, this where the full body tantrums happened, this is where the tears were relentless and the falls of the beginning skaters happened again and again. This is the place where everyone’s hands were full. It was where mothers gave each other reassuring nods that they were not alone.  They too, understood that you had to get out of the house no matter how difficult it was to leave and how challenging it was to make it through the present moment. 

And then in the outer ring there would always be at least one momma on rollerskates. She had older outer ring children that knew how to ride on skates or on bikes without training wheels. They didn’t need her hands any longer to hold them up. She still was there, but now more as an anchor than an appendage. Her hands were free. She was smiling. She earned the other place.

I never thought I’d be her.

But I am.

When you are caught in the thick of the tears at the roller rink or the grocery store meltdowns or the endless sleepless nights, it seems almost impossible that any other place exists. I am here to promise you this: one day you will be in your home and you will only hear the sounds of the outdoors. You will be able to complete a thought. You will be able to drink coffee while it is still hot. And it will scare the hell out of you. I also promise you this: it will be remarkable. You will have earned the time. You will have earned the quiet. You may even miss the noise. And it’s okay if you don’t.

And you are still needed. Every single day.

You are still the chef, the chauffeur, the laundry chief, the therapist, the mediator and the all knowing master of whatever item your child loses or needs that day. You are still the queen bee.

For life.

And that outer ring has no end. It just keeps evolving to a different ring, a different place. Easier in so many ways, more challenging in others.

As much as it breaks us down, it builds us up. So whatever place you find yourself, please know that it is hard and it is beautiful and you will survive it. And somewhere there is a mother looking where you are and longs for just one day to have that place back. She misses with fervor the fullness that used to be in her hands. She misses the sound of it, the laughter in it, the smell of it, the wholeness and the hope of it all. And that is the heart wrenching bittersweetness of all that being a mother is. It is an unparalleled journey. 

Here’s to all the places of motherhood.
Here’s to us.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

What if...

What if you never learned to ride a bike because you were too afraid to fall...
What if you never saw the world because you were too afraid to fly...
What if you stayed with someone who leaked the life out of you because you were too afraid to be alone...
What if you never wrote the story that you were meant to write because you were too afraid of rejection...
What if you never splashed in crystal blue water because you were too afraid of the way your thighs looked in a bathing suit...
What if you dreamed crazy big dreams but were too afraid to go after them...
What if you never reached half of your potential because you were too afraid to grow...
What if you were consumed with so much fear that you forgot to be alive?

Life feels safer when you are sitting on your couch. Life feels scarier when you are dancing on a stage.
But the thing is... only one of those things makes for a great story.

I can hear your excuses: you don't have enough time/money/security, your cat is sick, you have too many children, you're married, you're single, you're tired, you're too old, you're too young...
Let me ask you this: do you have a pulse? Yes? Then don't let your life be swallowed by excuses and regret. They may give you something to complain about but they don't make the beautiful life that you deserve. Make a plan and do all that you can to inch yourself toward wakefulness.
Every. Single. Day.

Until you are six feet under you owe it to yourself to live your best life above ground.
Let's stop losing our lives to fear and letting the what ifs win.
The time to be alive is now. Right now.

Let's make it count.


from You are a Warrior by Katie Yackley Moore (the naked momma & her warrior kids)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Girlfriend Vows

My dearest friends, I promise you this:

I promise to know when an occasion calls for ice cream or wine and the wisdom to know when it needs both.

I promise to be honest. Never brutal. Never painful. But to tell it like I'd like to be told.

I promise to be me. Broken, open, raw, vulnerable me.

I promise to accept you. Broken, open, raw, vulnerable you.

I promise to not vacuum before you come over. Unless it is almost a health code violation and it is in absolute dire need of it. Only then.

I promise to always be kind to the person that you are in love with. Even, and especially when, I don't think he/she deserves you.

I promise to be in your corner for your battles.

I promise to let you know when I am struggling through a battle of my own.

I promise to celebrate your victories.

I promise to never order a salad when we go out to eat. Unless it is followed by nachos.

I promise to love your children.

I promise to support your choices, mighty and small, even if they don’t mirror mine.

I promise to laugh with you at all the appropriate times. And especially at the inappropriate ones. 

I promise that when life is slippery and fragile and hurts too much to keep going forward that you are not alone.

I will be there. I will listen.
I will hold your hand. 
I will dance with you.
I will cry with you.
I will toast with you.
And to you.

I will attempt to be all that you are to me.

I love you sister.
Always will.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Coffee Shop Thoughts...

Life is so very short.
Wear the red heels. Be present. Take a selfie in a faraway land and then put your phone away. Say thank you to your mother. Compliment a stranger. Put a pen or paintbrush to paper. Leave a mark. Tell a joke to a child. Let a child tell you a joke. Don't forget to laugh. Hold someone's hand. Learn to forgive. And let go. Listen to your gut. Love yourself first. Find a way to move your body every day. Read more books. Create something with your hands. Release yourself from guilt. Tell the people you adore why you adore them. Buy the coffee for the person behind you.
Tomorrows are not infinite.
Live out loud. Now.
Celebrate what sings to your soul. Now.
And smile.
Starting now.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Own It Sister

My four kids boarded the bus this morning. The first day of the last year at the same school. 5th, 3rd,  and 1st grade times 2. Just. Like. That. I was thinking that the stars would align again in high school; that they would share the same halls again, maybe pass one another in the cafeteria, to have one another's backs and limbs and be the protectors of each other, just in case. But Lucy that too smart girl straightened me out like she usually does and told me that when the twins start high school that she will be in college. COLLEGE. Sweet mother of all things holy. Back it up time. I can't handle the mere thought of saving for college, let alone that she will one too soon of a day be leaving for it.

Today as I watched that bus pull away lugging my favorite cargo, loud, booming and stunning, my thoughts turned to motherhood. The bittersweetness of it all. The being pulled in two directions like a marionette puppet of it all. The anchor of the roots, the releasing of the wings. The balancing act that somehow leaves you never feeling balanced. The dirty, clean, sick, healthy, arguing, giggling, late, sleepless, time too fast, time too slow, all encompassing gravity of it all.

Motherhood has the ability to heal us and make us bleed. Sometimes all at once. Your sensations are more awake while the mind is more asleep. You have a superhero sixth sense about you that allows you to feel all of the things. Every. Thing. You absorb it all: lightness and heaviness. Joy and heartache. Frustration, fierceness, closing and opening. It is all magnified.

And somehow we compare other mothers without thought. We judge like we have it all figured out. We judge like we are somehow perfect or our children are or that somehow that other mother is and who does she think she is. Like we've never had a rough day. Like we don't know what it feels like to be broken. Like we want to break someone else.

The new school year is an opportunity for a fresh start, not only for our children but for ourselves. How about we give each other a beautiful gift of judging one another less. We are all trying to keep our heads above the water and the last thing we need is more weight yanking us downward. The idea that someone else has it easier, faster, skinnier, richer and all things better than you is a destructive game that is based on perception. It is a game that no one wins. I'd rather see women owning their strengths and their weaknesses and raising a glass to one another in all that makes us different and the celebration of what unites us. We are all part of the same tribe and how glorious it would be to see every woman flaunt it.

If you are crafty, own it.
If you are working outside of the home, own it.
If you are working inside of the home, own it.
If you haven't figured out this whole being an adult thing, own it.
If you are insanely proud of your child, own it.
If you are just trying to survive the day, own it.
If you go to yoga or just prefer to wear the pants, own it.
If you order pizza for the 3rd time this week or you make your own organic baby food, own it.

Natural births, epidurals, c-sections, adoptions, surrogates, we have all earned our battle scars. It is not a competition. Be. Who. You. Are. And protect each others backs and limbs like you would want your children to protect one another. The world needs more of that. It is not a slight thing to see the power that is a woman supporting another woman. We can be inspired by one another without tearing another one down. Let's retract the claws and unleash the fist pumps. We all deserve the accolades.

As for me, you can find me sometimes in heels, more often in yoga pants, working in and out of the home trying to make careers out of passions, all the while glowing in the shadows of this radiant crew that is growing up faster than my soul can catch up. I want to raise them in a world that builds instead of breaks.

Here's to owning it.



Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to Survive Back to School Shopping

I am a girl that loves summer. I love a break from the constant crazy of the school year. But I have four kids and somewhere around the 4th of July it strikes me that it would be amazing to complete a thought in the next few months. By the time the first week of August rolls in I get excited, borderline orgasmic, in seeing those glossy ads with shiny new Ninja Turtle notebooks on their covers. But what is the best way to shop for 26 glue sticks (true story) and about 800 other items while still keeping your kids happy and you sane? Of course you could go alone or do it online and if you can pull it off I commend you. Godspeed. But my “angels” love to pick out all of things for back to school. All. Of. The. Things. I can’t really blame them. I used to love picking out things too as a kid but somehow I remember picking out a single Rainbow Brite pencil and one pink Trapper Keeper. 

The times have changed and the lists have grown to beyond a Santa level long. Last year I left Office Depot in tears. Actual stream down the face over the cost of dry erase marker tears. Here is what I learned:

1.    Go to Target. For three reasons: 1. They have everything you need. 2. They have everything you never realized how much you need. 3. Starbucks. 4. Palazzo pants. Okay that was four reasons. Math is hard. This is exactly why these kids need to go back to school.

2.    Go early. Have you ever been to the back to school section of any store that prides itself in having a back to school section in the prime heat of an August day? It is one of the scariest sites you will ever see. It literally could be a bad scene from The Walking Dead. Zombies are clenching their school’s token list, dressed in head to toe yoga wear wishing they were at yoga or anywhere else in the entire world mumbling about how many sharpened #2 pencils they need for their zombie children who are shouting that they need poly coated, one with prongs, four without, notebooks, the most expensive pencil pouch and they have to go to the bathroom. Simultaneously. Go early. Get yourself some caffeine and smile, one of the only people there mumbling will be you. 

3.    Get yourself something happy. First. I made the mistake this August of looking in the grown up palazzo pant section last. Like a fool. We’d already been at Target for 4 hours; khaki clad employees were getting off their shifts that we rode the escalator in with. There wasn’t one drop of patience left between the five of us for this grown up on trend pants smorgasbord. We had to abort. Never again will this rookie error occur. Live, learn, shop palazzo numero uno.

4.    Give each older child their own list and basket. It’s about time they started pulling their own weight. Cut up that giant list from hell into smaller lists of hell and let them have at it. It will be a scavenger hunt and the real winner will be you. It looks like someone will have 8 less composition books to seek out to and have more time to find the perfect 4” blunt end scissors for your first grader. Boom. Game changer.

5.    Don’t obsess over seeing the exact item cheaper somewhere else. This  is a surefire way to want to take one of those freshly sharpened #2 pencils straight into your eyeball. That 5 cent glue stick at your local office store seems like the greatest bargain of all time until you get in there and realize they charge triple for all of the other shit you “need” and you’ve spent hours analyzing the cost of glue sticks instead of enjoying these last moments of summer. All equals out in the back to school retail wars. Go to a place that can reward you with a latte beforehand and have time for a cocktail poolside afterward.

Here’s to a beautiful school year ahead and savoring the last taste of summer while it still within our grasp. And to the tireless teachers, I raise my glass to you. Thank you for always being more than we could hope for. I look at every item on that back to school list as one less thing that you have to purchase for your classroom. It is the very least we can do to begin to give back to you. Thank you is an understatement. In the future please feel free to include your favorite store to shop at (or your favorite cocktail) on those back to school lists so we can remember you throughout the year.

Here’s to the survival…


And this was the result. Momma's going to need something stronger than caffeine.