True Confessions: I want to be like my Mom.


I hear all the time how women don’t want to become like their mothers. I feel sorry for them.

Don’t get me wrong: my mama isn’t the cuddly, Hallmark type. She can cut you down into shreds with words if you get on her bad side, she can talk you into doing things you would never in a million years otherwise consider, and I would pit her against Mike Tyson any day: the power of her stare would make the guy quiver and shrink into the fetal position in a heartbeat.

  • She once tackled me, sat on my stomach and put gum in my hair when she caught me chewing it with my braces on.
  • She abandoned me post-surgery in the food court of a shopping mall¬†because I couldn’t keep up. (Notably, I had had my wisdom teeth removed and couldn’t eat either.)
  • She cancelled Christmas one year on us because we were such naughty kids.

In essence, my mommy is one tough b*tch. She is the badass of motherhood. And I want to (mostly) be just like her when I grow up.

My mama can out-cook, out-clean, and out-organize just about anyone that I know. She will give the clothes off her back to someone in a pinch. She has raised most of her grandchildren for free. She is an artist, a poet, and an accountant, and had she had the opportunity to go to college, she would have pulled straight “A’s” out of pure determination.

BKS would put any executive to shame with her ability to understand the bigger picture of a situation. She will go a week without sleep preparing for a party and making it perfect; she is relentless in her diligence to everything. She never forgets (although she may occasionally get confused) and she is always prepared.

She is the strongest woman I know, and can simultaneously be trusted with your deepest secret and depended on to help wherever she can. She is ridiculously self-less. She has bailed me out of my own messes so many times I cannot even count, and she loves the heck out of me even if I make absolutely no sense to her.

And believe me, I make little to no sense to her. It’s not that I’m so complex, it’s that she thinks I am completely ass-backwards in most respects. She’s probably right.

  • She told me not to move to the City – I did so anyway.
  • She told me I was a fool to go on vacation on my own to the Pacific Northwest, renting a car and staying in hostels up the Pacific Coast.
  • She yelled at me when I called her from the side of Multnomah Falls, telling me not to use the cell phone because I could be lynched or fall.
  • She has told me on numerous occasions that I have far too much fun and that I should work harder. She’s probably right.

Truthfully, my mother’s not entirely sure how I’ve survived this long. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve survived this long either – except by the Grace of God and the help of friends and family.

Anyway – even if I don’t make sense to her – my mom has pushed me to do something with my writing for about 25 years now. I think she knows that inside, that’s what I really want to do, if I can only figure out how to do it. I haven’t managed it yet, but I am trying: if I had half her moxie and drive, I am pretty sure I’d have managed a book or six by now.

I love her dearly, respect her more than anyone, and hope someday to do as I am told like a good girl and to make her proud.

So, Momma, it’s not a book, and I doubt you’ll ever read it – but this Blog’s for you.

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Take a Deep Breath…Now.


I find myself holding my breath way too frequently: when I am waiting for a decision at work to be made on a candidate I’ve presented, when my to-do list far exceeds my normal life expectancy, and when I’m particularly worried that someone will notice I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth*(ew) in my rush to get to work.

I get stressed. I get anxious. I worry, about the important stuff and the totally non-important stuff. And I just found out hey, scientifically? Holding your breath apparently just makes all of that bad stuff worse.

Apparently, all that yoga stuff and meditation nonsense has some real validity to it: beyond the allure of the “in” exercise and the promise of a smoothie afterwards, there is a lot that we can do in the way of lowering stress, reducing anxiety, and achieving mental clarity if we make a conscious effort to take long, slow deep breaths. Remember to breathe OUT all the way too, or you will defeat the purpose.

When the idiot you work with (I just assume every place has at least one) does something to frustrate you, run in the bathroom and sit for a few minutes and slow down your breathing. Make it deep and even.

When you have a report due, and Excel is kicking your proverbial ass, go outside for 5 minutes. Again, breath deeply. Even if it is ridiculously hot outside, changing your breath and your environment can really help you get a fresh perspective on your problem.

You may feel like you have no time at all to do even that much: but if you take a few moments to recharge your brain, and quiet your heart, the oxygen that you take through slow breathing has massive restorative and energizing properties. Taking a few minutes to make your mind function more effectively will ultimately save you a lot more in the long run.

And even if you’re not stressed right now? Do the breathing exercises anyway. Try to do it a few times a day – maybe treat it like endurance training. That way, you’ll totally have it down the next time the poop hits the fan and you could really use some perspective and a highly functional mind.

*as a disclaimer, I *do* keep a spare toothbrush at work for these emergencies. ūüôā

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50 Shades of Red


Not too long ago I was getting ready for a fab vacation with my girlfriends. I was rushing, as usual, trying to throw things together last minute, and
just picked a few of the Amazon top 100’s without giving it any thought. I didn’t even read the descriptions. I thought I was just signing up for some normal chick lit.

When I opened the box and my husband saw what I had bought he started laughing. Clueless, I stared at him blankly.

Apparently, I was completely cut off from world events. “Fifty Shades of Grey” was apparently a phenomenon of smut I had heard nothing about.

He immediately made me watch the SNL skit. I was simultaneously amused and horrified. My face turned bright red as I realized my mistake – and I didn’t even buy the far less obvious Kindle version?! My vacation book reads were basically porn and I had had no freaking clue.

What did I do with this? As soon as my girlfriend and I got on the plane we surreptitiously opened the thing and started looking for the dirty parts like a pair of 13 year olds. Of course we did! We’re 40 year old, stressed-out women. We deserve to be entertained!

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Personal Mythbusting: you can do more than you think right now!


I’m not just blowing smoke with this statement: I just completed a test of it myself.

It is amazing how much negative self-talk and talking down to myself happens in this head. The things I tell myself I can’t do, the things I tell myself that I am not. But about an hour ago, I got to thinking a little too much, and I got a little mad at myself for buying into such nonsense. I decided to challenge a few of my negative assertions:

  1. Test Assertion One: I need my husband to put in the new car seat. I don’t know where this one came from except somewhere along the way I started doubting my innate ability to build and follow directions. (Actually, in fact, it’s just the directions thing. I’ve always viewed them as a backup plan. My husband disapproves and scoffs.)

Result: Utter Bunk. Annoyed at tripping over it and full of fire, I just went outside and installed that darn car seat, tricky buckles and latches and all. AND I tested it out with my daughter and she fits in it. I am 99% sure I did it right; regardless, I no longer have to stare at the damn thing sitting in the box a moment longer.

In the current mood I am in, my husband may well come home to find that the new shower head installed and the bathtub caulked. Well, probably not. But I totally could.

  1. Test Assertion Two: Because I am so out of shape I can’t do anything. Now, I don’t mean this in absolute terms: I actually walked this morning like a good girl. But I did so hesitantly, gingerly. I’ve been putting off weights, the elliptical, etc. recently, coming up with all kinds of excuses. When I was walking the dog a little bit ago, I started getting pretty down on myself – I could actually feel my arse jiggling and the judging eyes of the local geriatric community.

Result: Bumpkus! In what can only be called as sheer stupidity, and an utter shock to the pug, when I turned around at the end of the block to go home, I started jogging. I decided I was going to go all the way home, too. Now, I happen to know it’s only .30 miles from the curb to my driveway, but I would be lying if I said I believed I would manage it. Thud. Thud. Thud. I pounded down the sidewalk, feeling every extra pound and breathing carefully and one hand on my chest to check for heart attack. But I made it, dammit. I marched VERY proudly up that driveway.

I’m not going to be an idiot about it, but if I can run even that far, I can certainly pick up my game quite a bit. It’s my mind, not my body, that’s talking trash.

These are just two little tiny things that I challenged myself to do today. What something are you holding back on today? If I can do it, I know YOU can! Go challenge something and tell me what you did!

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Keeping it Real


It is sooo easy to get caught up in wanting what you don’t have. The high-end baby couture, the money,the boats, ¬†the vacations, the careers. I find myself wishing I had a different shape, a more exciting job, and a¬†cabin with a giant hammock.

When it comes to “thou shalt not covet¬†thy neighbors’ goods” – I need to go to confession more.¬† At this rate, I’m likely to be struck by lightning.

Jealousy just doesn’t make you feel good inside: it cripples and blinds you to the awesome things you do have. It steals your contentment. It makes you anxious. It makes you bitchy and resentful. You are not fun to be around (I speak from personal experience and the testimony of friends who have called me on it when guilty of being “that girl”).

Comparing yourself to others creates an internal dialogue that somehow you are better or worse than someone else. Neither is healthy. Telling yourself you are better keeps you from working on your defects, and telling yourself you are worse becomes an excuse.

Here are a few things I’ve been taught over the years:

  • Don’t assume. The stories we tell ourselves about the would-be happiness of others based on the cool things they have and do are usually pure fiction. That chick carrying a Prada bag with the fab social calendar may not actually like any of the people she is with, but utterly terrified to be alone.
  • Skinny people (apparently) need love too. My size six friends want to be twos, and the size twos want to be zeros. They don’t eat much food, and are just as self-conscious – if not more stressed – about their own appearance as I am.¬†¬† There is fierce competition in the set.¬† They also break easily and fall through grates routinely. (Have I mentioned most of my dearest friends are skinny? And gorgeous?)¬† Give them many hugs…gentle ones.
  • The more you put your focus on giving to others and work to make others’ lives happier, the less you focus on yourself or what you don’t have. Try volunteering. Shock your mother by showing up and doing something for her. Go clean your sister’s house.
  • Focus on what you have. Lay on the floor in your house. Look at the ceiling and be grateful you have a roof. Imagine not having one. Put your hand on your belly. Is it full? Are you hungry? Even being able to ask that question is luxury. Are you wearing clothes? Do you have a car to take you to work? Do you get to have a job? If you have what you need, even if it isn’t what you want, you’re luckier than many, many people.
  • If there is something you want, work for it.¬† If you want the trip to Disney, start saving now.¬† Put in more time at work, or get creative and figure out a way to increase your income if you can.¬† You are the only one who can really¬†do anything to improve your situation, regardless of how you got there.¬† Take responsibility for making your life better.

Occasionally, when I remember to do these things, I find I feel an awful lot better about life and people in general. I’m still sarcastic, yes, ¬†but I enjoy life more.

The reality is unless we can learn to be happy In our own skins and content with what we have, chances are we won’t know what to do with more anyway.

That said, you people with the awesome boats and sweet swimming pools? I’m a great cook and would love to visit…

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Have I mentioned my beautiful, skinny friends occasionally take me to amazingly gorgeous islands with pools? I am blessed.

Friday gratitude list


Not only am I grateful this Friday that it IS, in fact, Friday, but also for the following:

  • The Chicago Blackhawks convention is only one weekend long. My husband will be in a good mood for weeks afterwards and be extra kind. It is worth the price.
  • It finally rained, and there is an outside chance that not every single flower in my yard will be a crisped husk.
  • The dog may have pooped in the house yes, and even pug poo is gross, but at least he chose a brown rug. Ahem.
  • Some really cool chicks commented on a few of my blog posts and passed them on, making me feel ridiculously warm and fuzzy inside.
  • I have been writing for a whole three weeks now, longer than I manage most diets.
  • My mother-in-law is MY mother-in-law and my kids are MY kids.
  • Today is yet one more chance to greet the dawn and kick some azz! (insert theme to ‘Rocky’ here)
  • What are YOU grateful for today??

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    I absolutely HAD to repost this: this is the type of thing that should go viral, not the latest escapades of the various Kardashians.
    I can truly appreciate this – with especial love for “The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat”. Never in my life have I looked at my weight with such a perspective – I am apparently a living, breathing dead-sexy testament to a Horn of Plenty. I’ve never gone hungry unless I’ve chosen to – and there are many who are not lucky enough to say the same.
    Thank you so very much for this post today. I needed it, and I love that I get the opportunity to pass it on.

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    “Keep Trying, Keep Trying, Don’t Give Up, Never Give Up…”


    Maybe like me, you’ve had that Yo Gabba Gabba song pounded repeatedly into your consciousness – or maybe you are far luckier and have been busier catching up on True Blood and Modern Family. As a working mom, I don’t get too much TV time, and sadly far too much of what I watch are the kiddie shows. But sometimes, even as adults we can learn a lesson or two from watching them.

    Life is Hard. You know that, I know that. Lately, I’ve had some things going on in my life that have been a bit overwhelming. I will save you the drama of the detail, but suffice it to say there have been days (and days and days) where I want to throw the towel in and hide under the bed. I make stupid mistakes at work, my body refuses to downsize, I never feel like I am giving enough time to my kids or myself. I try really, really hard in all those respects, but sometimes? It just doesn’t seem or feel like I am enough, or that I will ever be enough, or that I am even up to the challenge of another day.

    I keep falling down on my face. Hard. And sometimes? I don’t want to get back up. I want to lay there. It feels like too much. It hurts.

    I watch my daughter. She is whip-smart, and a stinker to boot. But she doesn’t like to not be good at things. She doesn’t want to ride her bike if she’s not good at it, if it’s not easy. I tell her all the time that we have to learn how to do things, and that sometimes those things are hard. It is a constant battle. But she gets up and she tries again.

    And if I don’t get up again when I fall, how can I expect to teach her to wipe off her bloody knees and get back up on the damn bike? How can I sing Yo Gabba Gabba songs to her and expect her to buy into them if I refuse?

    Every day we have on this earth we have to make a decision, and sometimes even getting out of bed seems like a hard one. Standing up and looking at our awful messes is hard; facing our failures and trying again is painful. Convincing ourselves that we truly can be more, get better, and improve after so many years of trying is a challenge.
    But I owe it to my kid, and I owe it to myself to persevere: to push what I can really do and who I can become. I will keep trying. I won’t give up.

    Multiple social identity (dis)order


    I like to believe I am pretty honest and straightforward. I do not like the fake, and I am not a fan of the airbrushed. Half of my job depends on my ability to see through the facades people project to find and in some respects, judge, the character and potential beneath.

    And I am damn good at it.

    But here’s the thing: I am coming to believe in the necessity of multiple personalities and identities. Where blood types and hair color used to be enough to identify bodies, we now have to use DNA to really make sure. And these days, the same level of research seems critical to figuring out who the heck you’re dealing with on a daily basis.

    No longer are these¬†judgements based on resumes and simple conversation. You now have to cross-reference LinkedIn profiles versus Twitter feeds versus Facebook. And in some cases you’ll find all 3 vastly different, and that is not by accident.

    Even on a micro-level, we compartmentalize our identities more and more, and with social media that trend expands. I am attempting to write not one, but two blogs: one that speaks to me, myself and my experiences and the other to those as they relate to my kids. Why? Because even though I am the same person and tied to my world in both ways, there are some people who dig reading about kids and my stories there and others who just don’t.

    I would add a third blog to cover my career gal side if I had time. My work life is catalogued on LinkedIn, my personal on Facebook, and other parts of me scattered among blogs and hash tags. Fragments of who I am show up all over the internet.

    I don’t think I am less of a person, less deep, or less kind (usually). I am still me. But adaptation to the social landscape comes at a price: using
    so many different outlets for connection and business and self-expression shapes our identities as well. The very tools we use to craft our outward identities change us and the way we think in the process.

    I am Google-optimized. That can feel scary, and occasionally leaves me feeling fragmented. But I try to believe I am becoming more of a person, not less, and that we grow to fit not shrink the identities we develop – at least I pray that is the case.

    To keep myself sane, I make a conscious effort to step away from the machines, the laptops the iPhone and television and unplug. I play with my kids, pet the dog, and drink a glass of wine on the porch.

    Call a friend you usually text message and see them in person. Remind yourself (and them) ¬†how much more you are than your status update or latest tweet. That’s what I do anyway. And if maybe you are feeling a little fragmented and overwhelmed by all the social media in your life, you can try it too.

    The Schedule


    1:55 am. Respond to screaming baby and try to put him back to sleep. Change diaper. Put permanent dents in chest from leaning over side of crib rubbing infant’s back.

    2:18 am. Return to bed. Rescue pillow from pug, try to block out combined snores of husband and dog. Resent hot pillow.

    3:34 am. Wake to sound of child’s screams. Try to blot out sound ineffectively. Wake up husband and delegate bottle duty. Lay in bed pretending I am not monitoring activity. Fall back to sleep. Nightmare. Damn.

    4:50 am. Wake, remembering that I forgot to send a work email. Panic.

    5:50 am. Husband’s 20-year-old¬†alarm goes off – for me. Horrid sports radio.¬†::shudder:: Force self into shower, away from annoying sound.

    6:30 am. Trick daughter into clothes for preschool, search house for hair clip and left shoe. Try not to wake baby.

    6:34 am. Woke baby. Cuss under breath. Remind daughter she didn’t hear anything.

    7:45 am. Leave house with random food items for lunch.

    7:50am. Blow through Dunkin Donuts for the coffee I was giving up. Burn mouth, make note to order iced tomorrow.

    8:30am. Arrive at office. Pluck eyebrows in car mirror, apply makeup so as not to scare coworkers.

    8:34am. Work. Try not to mess up. Eat lunch at desk, try to remember what day it is. Make note to play Lotto.

    6:13pm. Leave office. Report location and status to spouse. Pick up dinner for family.

    6:53pm. Walk in house. Drop purse, pick up baby. Hug toddler. Share food. Cuddle and play with kiddos.

    7:45pm. Give baby bottle. Hope baby falls asleep before I do.

    9pm. Fall asleep in clothes on bed while husband continues to try and wrangle toddler.

    ::Repeat. Rinse. Pray. ::

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