Life is hard: AKA the reason I haven’t written much in a long while

standard February 19, 2019 Leave a response

The other day I came across a Facebook post meme that said “Life is hard? Compared to what?” and I’ve been mulling that over ever since.

Because life is hard. No one will contest that. Life is relentless. Which, I guess is a good thing? Maybe? In some ways?

But also, utterly exhausting. You get up and a million little details instantly demand your attention. Mental notes start crowding your brain before you even have a chance to open your eyes.

I should remember to wash the sheets today.

Where did those curtains I meant to put up end up getting put away.

The cat’s breath stinks. I should brush his teeth more often.

Did I remember to buy milk for the teen who literally won’t eat anything and gets the bulk of her nutrition from it? I should really figure out other acceptable foods.

Then you get up and your brain keeps trucking along, racking up a to do list that will never ever get done. And then the outside world starts to weigh in.

Toothpaste is almost empty.

Bathroom could really use a good scrub.

It’s raining. Again. Grraaaaaaa.

And then the family chimes in. Questions ranging from the asinine to the life changing. All being fired at you as you’re still trying to sort through the crap your brain is vomiting.

Exhausting and that’s before any of the really challenging stuff starts to take a toll.

In the last year we decided (on a whim) to sell our house where we had lived for 6 years and move to the beach. In four days we had packed up our lives and moved out of our home. We settled temporarily in my in-laws’ vacation home and waited more or less patiently for our home to sell so we could buy our next forever home and start the arduous task of getting settled. Just for funzies, we also decided to homeschool our children for at least a year so, theoretically, we could travel.

To say that this has all been a Big F*ing Deal for everyone in our family is putting it lightly. This move literally rocked our collective worlds. We took our kids out of the only community they’ve ever known and turned their lives completely upside down.

Do I regret it?

Not in the least. We love our new home (only took 3 months for our house to sell and another month until we could move into the house we finally found). We adore our new town. The kids have taken to homeschooling like ducks to water.

But I am Ex.Haus.Ted. Mentally and physically. And not just because of the move. Also, because while all of this has been happening, my mother has been steadily losing more and more of herself to dementia and more and more of her body to metastatic breast cancer. (Yes, for those following along at home, I went from dealing with my father being terminally ill to my mother being terminally ill and on the other side of the world.)

All that to say, there’s always a lot going on in my head.

And where does that leave me? Other than making mental lists about what to get at the store? It leaves me hungering for more. Something more than the endless mental litany. Something greater than the endless grief and stress.

I keep trying to launch new things, explore new avenues, but the mental drain makes it feel like I’m walking uphill through sludge.

Life, man. It’s just hard.

But life is also amazing and rewarding. And I’ve decided to challenge myself to embrace the journey instead of waiting for things to get easier. Because we all know now that they won’t. Another situation will come replace the current one as soon as it is resolved. Waiting hasn’t gotten me anywhere, so I might as well get a move on despite it all.

Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t blogged much here in the last year. It’s true, I’ve been busy writing here and here instead. But I’m coming back.

Full disclosure: things are going to be a little different around here. I think I’m mostly done writing posts about myself and my thoughts on life. Instead, I’m going to be posting recipes and Essential Oil DIY posts. If that’s not your thing, I totally get it. Feel free to unsubscribe. No feelings hurt. But if you like good food, stick around, it’s about to get tasty all up in here.

Funky Beach Home

The new home that took 4 months to find.

Not Bad Mom, just Trying My Best Mom

standard August 10, 2016 Leave a response

As it so often happens, I read, heard, or saw a number of things this week that have collided in my head in one big messy pile that took some time with a pen in hand to sort out.

The first was the movie Bad Moms, which I heartily recommend. I went in thinking that I’d get a few good laughs and a fun afternoon out with some girlfriends. I came out with my head spinning with a mix of killer one liners and soul stirring feelings.

You see, without giving away any huge plot twists, the whole movie is about that endless struggles that moms face, dealing with societal pressure to be the “perfect” mom all while desperately trying to hold on to who we really are.

Bad Moms

Come now, you know all about struggling to be the perfect mom. But how about we admit that, between the picture perfect parenting displayed on Pinterest and the endless Fakebooking that everyone is guilty of to some extent, the perfect parenting bar is set impossibly high.

The worst part is that we’re somehow tricked into feeling like we can’t ever stop trying to achieve perfection, that the day we rest on our laurels even for a minute everything will be stripped from us.

The race to perfection starts as soon as you first discover you’re expecting and the “shoulds” start pouring in. Except they’re not couched as “shoulds” they’re couched as “if you love your baby you wills.” Which is like a million times worse.

If you love your baby you’ll take these horse pill vitamins. 

If you love your baby you’ll stop eating sushi, drinking coffee, taking hot showers, sleeping on your back or on your stomach.

If you love your baby you’ll spend a gajillion dollars on this crib, this stroller, this booster seat, this electrical outlet cover. 

If you love your baby you’ll quit your job/keep your job; switch to all organic; stop eating dairy; nurse until he’s 15; only dress her in sustainably grown organic cotton. 

The “suggestions” never end.

And of course we love our babies, so of course we want to do everything that is suggested. Because what do we know? We were just handed a squalling bundle and these “helpful suggestions” are the only damn manual that exists. (Don’t even get me started on the What to Expect series. Just don’t.)

The thing is, the suggestions don’t EVER end. Your kid just gets bigger and the stakes, so it seems, just get higher.

You go from buying bottles that perfectly simulate a mother’s breast to one day finding yourself pulling up at school, dropping your perfectly dressed kid off, hoping no one notices that their carefully homemade lunch isn’t 100% organic, or that you used the cheap detergent on their clothes.

Or, if you’re like me, you gave up the pretense way back when they were tiny and you realized that you simply couldn’t keep up and stay sane, so you just drop your Target clad kids off at school with their processed lunch and try not to judge yourself as harshly as you assume others are doing.

You’d think that the pressure lessens a bit when the school years start, that you have a little more time to to process everything and make your own decisions, but those are the years when you are simply expected to do more. Volunteer. Work. Exercise. Homework. After-school activities.

It. Never. Ends.

So, by now, for almost a decade, your entire life has been about doing everything “right” according to a code that has been created by a nebulous collective. You have spent countless days watching what everyone around you is doing to make sure you’re meeting this code’s standards.

So when you start freaking out about turning 40 and everyone around you says “The 40’s are amazing, that’s when you stop caring what others think!” your brain literally stutters to a stop.

A childhood of attempting to meet parental expectations. 

A teenagehood of attempting to meet peer expectations. 

A young adulthood of trying to meet first boss expectations. 

A young parenthood of trying to meet societal expectations.

And now we get to be ourselves?

How, pray tell, are we supposed to know who that is?

I’ve been grappling with that all summer long.

Then, yesterday, while I was walking the dog, I was listening to the Beautiful Writers Podcast and heard I either Glennon Doyle Melton or Martha Beck (can’t remember which, sorry) saying something along the lines of

“Women define themselves by the people they love — wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter — which is why we’re always terrified, because at any moment the very things that define us can be torn away from us, leaving us stripped of our identities.”

So, yeah, there’s that too.

So, in short, we define our identities by the people we love and determine our actions by what we assume people think we should be doing.

No wonder women are always stressed.

We need to stop. Like today. Not embrace the Bad Mom movement, just the Real Mom Doing Her Damn Best to Be Herself While Caring for Her Family movement. Because we’re more than bento box lunches shaped to look like Spongebob Squarepants or whatever else we’ve decided our kids can’t live without.

So here’s to remembering that we are people outside of the people we love, and that the people we love love us for who we are, not for what we do.  Because we’re freaking awesome just the way we are.

Cheers

I’m instituting the 40 After 40 list

standard June 3, 2016 5 responses

I am not the only one of my friends who happens to be turning 40 this summer. I am not the only one who appears to be struggling with this, and struggling to find the reason they’re struggling with it. Everyone is approaching the issue differently, but internally, I think we’re all freaking out a tad.

The funny thing is, I think the reason we’re not sure why we’re freaking out is because the panic around turning 40 seems to be fabricated by the culture around us. It’s all about the concept of being “over the hill” after 40, or the “40 before 40” list pressure, as if there’s no time to try something new or experience something different once you’re out of your 30’s.

I was driving the other day to meet a friend for lunch and ruminating on the fact that this year has been so busy that I never found time to create a “40 before 40” list. Had I made one, there’s no way I would have accomplished any of it in the scant amount of downtime my current schedule allows for.

And then I realized how incredibly stupid the concept is.

I mean, why?

WHY 40?

WHY a list of things that MUST be done, tried, accomplished before turning 40?

Is it that after it’ll be too late? New things must be experienced or at the very least attempted before?

What, somehow on July 23rd it’ll be too late for me to go on a hot air balloon ride? Sheer an alpaca? Attempt to cook something exotic I’ve never attempted before?

That seems… ridiculous. No?

But, apparently, that’s what main stream media would like us to believe.

And I’m calling B.S.

First of all, how many people, before 40, have the kind of disposable income it takes to accomplish the sorts of “dreams” people put on their 40 before 40 lists?

Second, I’m sorry, but most people are a tad busy in their 30’s what with kids and careers and all that jazz. Some days it’s a miracle when your socks match, let alone when you attempt to think of something new to try.

So I’m instituting a new type of list. A sort of celebration of 40 and beyond. Of all the living there’s yet to do.

I’m calling it the 40 After 40 list.

Original, right?

It’s going to be full of awesome, BIG things. Things that remind me how amazing it is that I GET to turn 40. That I am alive and kicking. That I have already accomplished great things and GET to enjoy a lifetime of accomplishing MORE.

Now that’s a list I can get behind. What are you putting on yours?

40 After 40 List Image

 

I thought I would be young forever

standard April 18, 2016 1 response

I’ve had a nice big patch of white hair over my right temple since our tumultuous 2011 experiences, but until recently, only a few others would appear here and there, easily ripped out and dismissed as mere annoyances. These days however, new white hairs appear with devastating frequency. And they’re no longer happy to let themselves be contained in an area that can somewhat easily be masked. Oh no. They’re popping up everywhere.

And then there’s this weird thing happening on my chest. As in, when I wake up I have these disgustingly deep wrinkles all down my cleavage. They fade as the day progresses, but man is that a hard thing to see first thing in the morning. It’s like I’m getting old or something.

Or rather, it’s like my body is trying to tell me something.

It’s like it’s trying to hint at the fact that I’m turning 40 in just three months.

4. 0. In. 3. Months.

And how is that even possible?

I thought I was going to be young forever.

Or, rather, I thought I was still young.

Because young is a mindset, right? I’m sure I saw a poster on Pinterest that said something to that effect. And if it’s on Pinterest, it must be true. Right? RIGHT?

And I really thought I was still hip, and cool, and with it. I mean, I have a stripe of bluish green mermaid hair for crying out loud, if that doesn’t scream hip, I don’t know what does.

And then we went to Las Vegas, and spotted a young woman dressed in a show-girl outfit, posing in the street with people delighted to spend a couple dollars to have their picture taken with her. All she was wearing in lieu of a bra were two pretty little flower shaped pasties.

When M pointed her out to me, I gasped.

“Oh, that poor girl’s mother…” I whimpered.

M gave me a look, which made me whimper even louder.

Because cool, young, hip people don’t look at scantily clad girls and wonder if their mom knows what they do for a living.  Ergo, I am clearly not cool, young, or hip.

The next day, while lounging by the pool in my no nonsense tummy control bathing suit from Lands End, I actually googled “how old is middle aged?”

Good news, apparently, it’s not an age, it’s a state of mind.

Bad news, I might be heading that way on a runaway train fueled by un-hip Mom thoughts and tummy control bathing suits.

Of course, ever since then, I’ve been dreaming up tattoos that would prove to the world once and for all that I was still very much hip and cool.

At least, I did that until this morning, when I was in the shower having the kinds of deep thoughts you can only have when not being interrupted by kids, dogs, social media messages, or anything else that constantly interrupt my thoughts during the day.

As I lathered up my hair and wondered if there was some magic shampoo that could make my white hair a little less brittle, I asked myself why I was so terrified at the thought of getting older.

I thought about all of the things I have accomplished in the last ahem – 40 – ahem years.

I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have filled those years well. I have tried and tested lots. I have learned even more. I have been daring and bold. I have lived life fully. And I’m not even close to done living life fully.

I may no longer have a chest that won’t quit, or the kinds of looks that help me get ahead in life. But I have smarts I’ve honed carefully for many years. Hard won experience I can put to good use. And it’s so much more satisfying to know I’m landing jobs because I’m good at what I do, rather than because I look cute in a suit.

Yes, I’m still freaking out about the big birthday. Yes, I’m still googling tattoos. But I think I’m starting to get a grip on the whole thing.  40 is a major benchmark, but it would be more worrisome if I had nothing to show for all those spent years.

I get to spend the next 40 putting into effect what I spent the first 40 learning and practicing. So, maybe it’s time to accept that wisdom and experience have youth beat in all the ways that matter. But, if I’m brutally honest, and why wouldn’t I be at this point, now that you know all about the weird cleavage wrinkles…, I might have to sit with that thought for a while. It might take a long while to start feeling like a truth rather than something I’m trying to trick myself into believing.

 

And then, of course, there’s this…. The brutal reminder that I’m damn lucky to be struggling with these feelings at all.

"Growing old is a privilege denied to many" tattoo