CB Reads : Library Pressure and Meeting a Warrior

In the last few years, my reading schedule has been either feast or total famine. If you ask me, “Read any good books lately?” I will probably either rattle off five books I read in the last month or I’ll look at you with a blank stare for a few minutes while I try to remember the last time I picked up anything with actual pages with words on them. The biggest motivator for me lately has been an institution that certainly isn’t new…the public library! Instead of buying new books, I’ve gotten into the habit of requesting them from the library, and since many are in demand, it takes a while before I reach the front of the list. Then, once I have the book in hand, I only have a few short weeks to finish it before it’s due! Nothing like the pressure of paying a surly librarian a late fee to get me turning pages!

CB Reads

Here are a few books I’ve finished since January 1 (and yes, I totally have a late fee on my library card right now…one thing at a time, friends!):

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

Now I’ll admit, I was a kid when the movie version of this book came out, and I remember my mother loving it…which of course meant that I hated it! Kids are fun. Anyway, I saw this novel on a list of favorites by another blogger, and I figured I’d give it a shot. It was so much more than I expected, and though the subject matter was heavy, I couldn’t put it down. The language and scenery drew me in, and I was totally enthralled. I highly recommend this one, it’s a total classic.

Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton

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I’ve written about this book before, but just this past month I was lucky enough to hear the author speak and was also able to meet her in person. My goodness, what an experience! Glennon’s blog Momastery and this book carried me through my early days in recovery (this post in particular, which is also included in her book), and I can’t describe what an honor it was to meet her, thank her and hug her. This is a book for anyone struggling with hardship in their lives, especially if they want to laugh again.

Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson

Now, this book called my name from the YA shelf at the library, and while it’s not winning a Pulitzer anytime soon, it was still dishy fun! It’s a quick and easy read, despite it’s length, and I really enjoyed it. The story centers around a wealthy teenager who is also a amateur private detective, and a series of murders happening among her wealthy New York friends. There are several backstory mysteries as well, and the whole thing kept my attention, even if it was a bit predictable.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’ve had this book on hold for months, so I was super excited when it finally came through! This story of a woman who witnesses a crime from a train car is non-stop action. I found myself finishing this book during one of our snowed in days early in the year, tucked in front of a fire, swatting at the children to leave me alone so I could finish! It’s an intense thriller (which is usually not my favorite), but the human stories that are built in to the story line are as interesting as the main mystery.

What have you been reading lately? I’m in the middle of All the Light We Cannot See, and I’m having a bit of trouble getting into it, even though it’s good.

2016 Goals

Goals, Resolutions and the Recovering Perfectionist

It’s the beginning of January, so I’m gonna guess this isn’t the first post you’ve seen regarding “setting goals” or “resolutions” for the new year. Am I right? I thought so. Well, if you’re feeling over the whole thing, I hear you. I am not a natural goal-setter and honestly, the thought of making a list of things I want to do sort of makes me want to gag.

I wasn’t always this way. As a Type-A Supermom, I used to love writing down all of my resolutions and then checking them off, one by one. I got a strange satisfaction from looking at this yearly to-do list and feeling the superiority of completing it. On this very blog I hosted a bucket list of 100 things I wanted to do in my lifetime. But there was one problem. I wasn’t the best at failing. And when you’re trying new things, odds are high you’re going to fail once or twice (or a hundred times). For me, failure didn’t feel like an option, so often I’d push myself to complete tasks I’d lost passion for or didn’t make sense anymore, just to prove I could do them.

When my perfectionism came crashing down around me a few years ago, I swung in the other direction. I hated goals. The word “resolution” gave me chills. Any talk of pursuing anything new or scary was just not in the cards for me. This isn’t a healthy way to live either, because if you don’t strive for anything, how will you ever get anywhere?

So about two years ago I came to a balance that has worked well ever since. We decided to make goals and resolutions as a family, and work together to help each other and keep ourselves accountable. (You can read a post on our family goal setting night here) Shockingly, it worked! Does that mean I complete every resolution on my list? Nope, not even close, but that’s part of the process. Sometimes we think we want something (a thinner body, a new job, etc.) and find what we wanted isn’t exactly what we thought! Maybe we start out the year wanting to do more yoga, and realize we hate meditation and would rather run marathons instead. Does that mean we failed? Nope, if anything, we succeeded.

F.A.I.L. = First Attempt In Learning

I love this acronym. LOVE. Because that’s really what it’s all about, right? In the end, it’s not about checking items off a list, but using those items to learn about ourselves and the world around us. Having this mindset changed my whole perspective, and now I get a rush out of setting resolutions again. Not because I want to show how amazing I am, but because I start to imagine all I’m going to learn along the way, and that my friends, is pretty freaking exciting.

My personal goals this year are pretty tame. I want to do a project with my husband. I want to continue simplifying my life and my home (i.e. KonMari everything and get rid of all the “stuff”). I want to get back into the habit of daily journaling, something that fell by the wayside during my busy work season followed by the holidays.

My business goals are a little more lofty.

2016 Goals

Is it because I think I can really accomplish all of this in a year? Heck, I have no idea. And honestly, it really doesn’t matter. Because it’s not about getting it all done. It’s about the different paths and routes I will end up taking on the journey. And you know what, if I end up failing at all of them, it’s okay. There’s always next year.

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The Sunday Mornings Project

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Everyone knows I’m a huge fan of a good photo project. Sometimes when I’m feeling uninspired and find my creative self very far away, I turn to photo projects as a way to steer myself home. I’ve done a couple of collaborative ones in the past (like NYC + KC), but I felt like it was time I create something on my own. Something that is wholly made of that interesting stuff between my ears.

I’ve been pretty vocal about being in long term recovery, and what that means for me. But sometimes I think it’s difficult to explain how it affects my daily life. People understand I don’t drink alcohol anymore, but I think they just assume that only affects my nights. They think of the glasses of wine I won’t be sharing at happy hour or the social events I miss all together. Rarely do they ask about my mornings. Which is strange to me, because it is the days that are the most changed. Specifically, Sundays.

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Sunday mornings used to be a tortuous period in my week. Those were the mornings I’d wake up with a pounding headache, my heart racing, my stomach turning…my mouth would be dry and my teeth would feel slimy. But worst of all, I’d have a sinking feeling, deep down in my gut. For many, MANY years I’d wake up every Sunday full of so much shame and remorse. I’d push through the pain and get on with my day and my life, but it was never easy and always painful. Sunday was the day I felt the worst, and it was also usually the day I’d say to myself, “I can’t do this again. I’m done.”

But then it would be Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday and I’d find myself right back in it. I felt like Sisyphus pushing his boulder up the mountain, just to have it roll back down…over and over and over. It was a battle in a seemingly endless war with myself. I feared it would never end. I assumed Sunday mornings would just always be the worst. That was my reality. That was my penance.

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Today, Sunday mornings are glorious. They are amazing in their simplicity and joy. They are easy, which may not seem like something to celebrate, but for someone who usually waged war on Sundays, easy is pretty wonderful. There was so much I missed out on before…not because things weren’t happening and not because I wasn’t there, but because no matter how “there” I was…I was never really, truly anywhere. I was always in my head, fighting the battle with myself, and never really in the present moment at all.

When I decided I wanted to start another photo project, Sunday morning jumped out at me. I knew I wanted to do a project about recovery for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how to make it work. My answer was Sunday mornings.

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Every Sunday morning I am trying to capture something simple. Something understated. Something that most people would see and say, “Huh, looks like a nice little Sunday.” But for those of us in recovery, and those of us still fighting the war in our own minds, seeing these images can give immense hope.

There are good Sundays out there. Sundays full of love and light. They are simple, but they are glorious. So for one year, I am going to do my best to capture my Sunday mornings. I want to look back and remember how I felt, just in case the dark thoughts come back. I need the light to fight them off. And if you’re struggling, I hope you can see these images every week, and remember there is a reason to keep fighting. The struggle is worth it. You are worth it.

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Follow the Sunday Mornings Project over on Instagram by following me @crazy_bananas or via the hashtag #cbsundaymornings

Back to School

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The day is FINALLY here! Today Tate went back to preschool (it’s only a two-hour first day back, but I’ll take it!) and Lucy has been in school for about two weeks now. While I’m thrilled to get back to our normal daily routine, there are definitely some challenges getting back into the grind. I recently wrote a post on this very topic for Addiction.com. While you might think, “I’m not in recovery, this doesn’t apply to me,” I believe many of the ideas I stress in my recovery are applicable for any mom, anywhere. We aren’t that different, you know?

Back to School

I would get caught up in the “Parenting Olympics,” trying to be everywhere and everything to everyone. It was an impossible task, but one that even “normie” parents (those who aren’t in recovery) get caught up in. Our schools are super-competitive, and it’s easy to believe that if your kid isn’t enrolled in every activity or sport, they will fall behind. For me, 90% of what I did and felt was driven by insecurity. I wanted to be the best mom in the world and I assumed that if my kid wasn’t the star of everything, I was a failure. It was a hopeless cycle, for myself and my family.

These days, I work very hard to make sure I don’t get caught up in competitive parenting. I’m quite lucky, because once I got into recovery and opened my eyes, I realized my school community is extremely supportive and not nearly as competitive as I had thought. Turns out, a lot of my insecurities were inside my own head and had nothing to do with my child or any of her buddies. Once I realized that I am a good mother regardless of whether my kid is the star of the soccer team or on the honor roll, my entire perspective changed. Back to school season became less about “me me me” and more about my child.

You can read more, including some tips on how I’m managing to keep things simple this school year, over at Addiction.com.

Thank You!

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Sooo…hi everyone! I just wanted to write a quick note to say THANK YOU to everyone who read my latest blog post and responded with such positivity. I was honestly super terrified to publish that piece, because I was very unsure of what the reaction would entail. I was totally unprepared for the stream of love, kindness and support that was sent my way, from people I know and people I’ve never even met. Not only did my recovery community rally around me, but others did as well. The post was shared over 150 times on Facebook by Friday (which is when I decided I needed to step away from the Internet or I might have an anxiety attack) and I received hundreds of messages of support on Facebook alone, not to mention my friends on Instagram and Twitter. I also received a dozen emails from strangers who either wanted to show support or were looking for how they could find help for themselves or a family member.

I tell you all this not to boast, but to show how freaking HUGE this issue is. No matter who you are, or where you are from, you are affected. Everyone knows someone who has been negatively impacted by addiction. But there is so much hope. Did you know there are over 23 million people in the United States in long term recovery from addition issues? That’s an incredible number! Part of of my reason for going public was so I could more openly support groups such as Many Faces 1 Voice and I Am Not Anonymous, who are spearheading a new recovery movement. There is a documentary on Netflix right now called “The Anonymous People” and if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend watching.

Recovery works. I am so proud to be who I am and where I am in this journey. And so, so grateful.

From the bottom of my heart…thank you.

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