Lucy in the Snow 2017

Snow Days and Chasing Slow

Lucy in the Snow 2017

The last few weeks have been short ones around here. We got back to a somewhat normal schedule after the holidays, just to be slammed with more days off of school for the kids than I can count.

Just kidding, I’ve counted. Twice.

Basically with the combination of national holidays and inservice/teacher learning days, we have four-day school weeks from now until mid-February. Which, let’s face it, isn’t ideal. Not only does this make my work schedule difficult, it is hard on the kids as well! It’s almost impossible for any of us to get into a groove when our schedule is all over the place.

When I’m faced with these types of working mom problems, I tend to get extremely over-stressed and anxious. I find myself making lists in my head of everything I won’t be able to do because I won’t have the time. I torture myself by looking at the social media feeds of my competitors and colleagues, seeing all their perfectly lit images and the work they have been doing, and instead of cheering them on, I feel resentful. I worry that I’m falling behind, yet again, and that I’ll never get ahead of the game. I decide that I’m destined to fail, resign myself to my bed with some fuzzy socks, ratty PJs and Netflix. Why bother even trying, right?

WRONG. Because I don’t have to live fast in order to find success, and the whole idea of hustle equating happiness just doesn’t resonate for me anymore. When my kids have a day off school, I enjoy being with them. I like stepping away from the computer and being present as we throw snowballs at each others heads or read books. I don’t feel lazy when I’m in my PJs with them until 11 a.m. I feel happy. Joyful, even!

Tate in the Snow 2017

So why I am I torturing myself? When they were babies and I worked out of the home full time, I felt guilty for missing all these moments. When I started my own business and they were in preschool, I felt guilty because I couldn’t work as much as I wanted to. Now I’m feeling guilty when they have days off elementary school. I keep waiting for the next phase of life, when things slow down, but I’m starting to think that’s NEVER gonna happen. There will always be something pulling me in one direction while another is pushing me the opposite way.

This year I am planning to focus more on being present, but also on listening to my inner self when it comes to my schedule and work. I am finding doubling down on hustle when it comes to work isn’t always resulting in success. Instead, when I focus on doing what feels right in all facets of my life (working, creating, mothering, reading, meditating, eating chocolate, whatever) the success seems to follow. Recently I was fortunate enough to be asked to read the new, beautiful book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, which really speaks to this topic. Erin chronicles her journey from a fast life, to a slow life and back again…and her conclusions aren’t what I expected. Instead of being a book about slowing down your life, this book was more about the question of why do we believe we have to have any particular sort of life for it to be a happy one? I related so much to her journey, and it made me think twice about my goals. Do I want a fast life? Do I want to be a minimalist? Do I want to disconnect from the internet and live in a yurt? Do I want to move to New York City and take my kids to school on the subway? Do I want neither? Both?

Chasing Slow

Do I have to decide?

Maybe we can just be balancing along the middle…sometimes wanting to throw out everything we own because the clutter is strangling us and other times buying a shirt on sale just because it looked cute online. Who knows? But for now, I can only be where I am. And I am a mom of two kids who are growing into grown-ups faster than I can fathom, so if they have a day off school, I’m probably needed on the front lines of the snowball fight. Afterward, when they are sipping on hot cocoa and fighting over marshmallows, I’ll likely sneak away for a little editing session or to answer a few emails. I’m not perfect, but luckily, no one is.

Lucy in the Snow 2017

If you’re looking for more info on this topic, the podcast “The Lively Show” is an amazing listen. I recommend starting with this episode!

Kansas City Moms Blog Secondary Infertility

KCMB : Our Journey Through Secondary Infertility

Kansas City Moms Blog Secondary Infertility

I’m over on the Kansas City Moms Blog today talking about my experience with secondary infertility. This is something I’ve written about before, but never in as much detail. I think it took a few years for the sting of it all to wear off and for me to get to a point where I could talk about it. There was so much depression and disappointment in those years, it took a while for me to feel normal again. As a women, I felt like my body was broken. And as I’d had one child already, I felt like my own infertility issues were not as important. I worried people would think I was selfish because I already had a child, while so many others who struggle with infertility don’t.

“Months went by with no positive results. At this point, my mental and emotional state began to crumble. I wasn’t sure what to do, or who to reach out to. Most infertility groups were geared toward women who had no children. My one healthy pregnancy locked me out. I felt guilt over my sadness, thinking I should just be quiet and be grateful for the child I DID have. I was deeply depressed and confused. I felt like it was a cruel joke, that I could get pregnant when I didn’t want to, but now that we were financially stable and trying for a child, I couldn’t make it happen. My husband was supportive, but he couldn’t understand exactly what I was going through, and in turn, I stopped confiding in him. I felt like a failure.”

You can read more (including our happy ending to our fertility journey) over at the Kansas City Moms Blog.

Joy to the World (or something)

Holiday-Cards

Anyone else feeling burnt out by the holidays? I’m sure it’s just me, wandering the house at 2 a.m. mumbling incoherently about broken packaging tape dispensers and running out of ribbon. Where is all the ribbon, y’all?! It didn’t just disappear. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, I bet the dog ate it all. He has an odd look about him.

Last year, I white-knuckled through the holidays with a forced grin on my face. It was a weird, strange, difficult year, and acting my normal holly, jolly self seemed wrong. Like that pair of jeans that was just a little too tight. I wanted to button them up, but that pinched look of pain on my face was obvious even with that silly smile I was wearing. This year is so different. Different and wonderful and joyous and lively and did I mention wonderful? I feel like myself again, only better or more childlike or something. I am that annoying mom who is super excited to make our Elf on the Shelf take a bath in marshmallows. I know, I know. I can’t stand myself either.

But along with this giddy glee of the holidays, my perfectionism is rearing it’s ugly head. I often refer to myself as a recovering perfectionist (amongst other things), and it’s times like this when I lose a little control. I am so in love with this season, I want to do every single thing I can to squeeze every last bit of fun out of it, even if all that squeezing isn’t actually that fun to begin with!

For example, I love putting up Christmas decorations. I just adore getting all those twinkle lights out and hanging them all over my house. If it were up to me, we’d have twinkle lights all year ’round. So I pulled out all the decorations, starting with the beast, our giant, pre-lit, fake Christmas tree. Now, I know, real trees are the better smelling option, but our dog eats ribbon and I’m sure he’d destroy a real tree. Plus, if you’d seen my houseplants, you wouldn’t want me to be in charge of an indoor tree. Our pre-lit tree is about six years old and not one light works. Not one. Last year I swore when I took down the tree in January I’d remove all those broken lights, but then January came and I was tired, so the lights stayed put.

A week ago I cursed my January 2014-self, and decided once and for all, I was removing those dang broken lights. I had an hour to kill while the kids were busy, so I set to it….and five hours later (!!!) with cuts all up and down my arms from fake tree branches, I was done. I probably was legally insane by this point, but I was on a roll, so I kept going. Why not, I couldn’t get crazier, right?

Ahem.

An hour later, as I cursed and yelled at a bulb-lit sign that said “joy,” which wouldn’t stay put on the mantle, Lucy mentioned, over the strumming of the Vince Gauraldi Trio, it was a little bit funny how I was screaming and cussing at a “joy” sign. Point taken, kiddo.

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Since that fateful day, I’ve been trying to keep it as simple as possible. And when I get too overwhelmed, I’ve been stopping. I stop, I sit, I watch Love Actually. Because, friends, it turns out, love actually is all around. As long as all the bulbs on my tree stay lit, that is.

Gratitude, Silliness, and the Lessening of Obscene Hand Gestures

A few months ago I joined a gratitude group. Yes, I know it’s all a little woo woo, but for this recovering cynic, staying positive can be pretty hard work. So when I heard some friends were starting a group all about thankfulness, I was totally in. I love journaling about the happy things in my life, but because I’m only accountable to myself, I tend to let the task slide in favor of seemingly more fun items (like rewatching the entire Fringe series from beginning to end because I’d forgotten how incredibly hot Pacey Witter Peter Bishop looks in a sharp peacoat). Soon I’m grumpy, surly and an all around Grinch, and before you can say “Are you PMSing or something, Megan?” I remember I haven’t been very grateful lately. Mystery solved. Someone call Angela Lansbury.

So I joined this gratitude group and basically we just send little messages to each other via Facebook where we tell the others something we’re grateful for that particular day. Everyone comments on each other’s sharing and it’s really quite lovely and uplifting. Sometimes I share simple things, like when Tate finally napped or when Lulu rode her two-wheeler for the first time. Other times I share deeply personal items, like when I looked around me and realized my life, which was in such chaos not so long ago, felt good and real for the first time in a long, long time.

I don’t know when gratitude changed my life, but I’m sure that it has. A few days ago, a car cut me off on the highway and instead of honking my horn and waving obscene hand gestures, I took a deep breath and told myself that person must be on the way to something really important. Maybe their wife was in labor or maybe their kid was throwing up at the nurse’s office in school? Who knows? I just sent a little prayer into Universe that they get wherever they are headed safely. I know, right? I can’t believe myself either. Who am I?!

I can tell you I am not a person for whom this comes easily, and I’m just as likely as you to scoff at the silliness of it. But I’m also a person whose blood pressure is lower and sleeps better at night. My brain is not wild with the craziness of the ungrateful (and therefore always needing MORE MORE MORE) person I was before. I am not looking to fill some hole in my life with more stuff or more people or more food or more throw pillows or more blog posts…I’m all filled up. Is this because of gratitude? Maybe. Can I prove it? Nope. But I’m gonna keep my glass half-full anyway, just in case.

@dallasclayton just gets it. #rainbows

Image by Dallas Clayton

Holding On

I feel like I’ve lost a major coping mechanism in my life. Somewhere I could always feel better, more joyful, even when I was struggling. A place where I could pour my heart out, even if it felt like an insane thing to do, and I’d feel less alone. There is a saying, “I write because I don’t know how I feel until I read what I say (Flannery O’Connor).” This, my friends, is the crux of it all. I have to write. I am not a debater, or someone who skillfully wins arguments with flair and a smirk on my face. Nope, I mumble and second guess and question myself. I say things like, “You might be right” or “I believe you believe that.” I am not argumentative. I am not eager. It’s just not me.

However, I do have opinions. I have thoughts and feelings and grand ideas and silly ideas. I like to cultivate my questions until I’ve been over them a hundred times in my own head. Then I let it all pour out on a computer screen or in a notebook until my heart and head feel purged.

For the longest time, this place, this weird, strange land of the Internet, was where my thoughts landed. When my brain raced with excitement, I would write here. I’d share my fear with you and I felt immediately better. This is my home.

But lately, there have been things I just can’t write about. It’s too raw, too real and too f’ing scary, honestly. A few weeks ago, at my daughter’s school carnival, some sweet tween girls came up to me and said, excitedly “You’re Crazybananas!” They remembered me from a writing workshop I had done a few months back. “My aunt reads your blog, she loves it!”

There is something supremely strange and wonderful about knowing some girl’s aunt is reading your deepest mental musings. But it’s also terrifying. Because I can’t just put it out there anymore. There has to be some censorship, not only to protect myself, but my family. And that’s hard. Really, really hard. All of a sudden, my sacred place isn’t the same anymore. I cannot share my struggles, and so, instead, there is silence.

For a while I tried just posting photo shoots or sweet images of my blessed life, but then my computer went kaboom (something about not backing it up and not enough memory…whoops), and now I’m just sitting here. No images. No wise words. Just a blank screen and a blinking cursor.

Blink. Blink. Blink.

Just know I miss you. I miss our talks, friends. I’m finding it hard to share about silly, trite things, when life is seemingly so complicated right now. But I still love my life. I love hats and Britney Spears and sales at H&M and Doctor Who and red lipstick. And maybe now that I’ve emptied this load in my brain, I can get back to some of the fun stuff. Because, you guys, life is actually really fun. Even when it seems like it isn’t. Actually, that’s probably when it’s the most amazing.

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