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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year, Happy Birthday, and Happy Blogiversary!


"Why are people setting off fireworks? It's not the 14th of July," Sebastian asked me last night.
I couldn't hide my chuckle at that. "The 14th? Try that one again buddy."
"The 4th, the 4th, I mean!"
"People like to celebrate on New Year's."
"Why?"
"It's just a way to measure another revolution around the sun, another year has passed. It reminds us to take time to appreciate the moment. And to evaluate everything we did the past year, and make goals for the coming year, " I replied...or something that probably didn't sound quite that organized, but was the gist of our discussion.

This, of course, got me thinking of taking my own moment of appreciation. Today always marks a unique point in time for me. I often wonder if having my birthday on New Year's Day is what makes it seem that way. I'm betting most people have a moment like this on their birthday's as well as New Year's, so I guess I'm just combining my New Year's and birthday moments. It usually results in lots of deep breathing and heavy sighs. Another year is over already. I'm another year older. 32 today. How weird that sounds. Am I the only who still feels like a teenager? Back when being over 30 was "really old"? Now I don't think of old as starting at a specific age, but more of a way some people feel about themselves. But it still seems like I'm young and have all the time in the world. Maybe that's because I'm trying to remain at peace with my age.

You know what I mean... "to age gracefully". I don't want to be that 30-something person who lies about her age and spends all my time and money on covering up the fact that I'm not 16 anymore. Of course it feels weird to see new wrinkles showing up on my face, old ones getting deeper, the white hairs spreading like wildfire on my head. But my thoughts on aging are less worries of the physical, and more of the philosophical. I feel the worry of, am I doing all I should be doing with my life? Am I making the best use of my time on this planet? Am I making the largest, most positive impact I could be making? Those are the questions that nag at me. Not if I should start using anti-aging cream. Fuck that pile of bullshit. Concentrate on your life, not your wrinkles.

So while I have been wrestling with all those thoughts as my birthday approached this year, another moment worthy of appreciation caught my attention. Today marks my 5th anniversary of this blog. Which started with a short, honest post about my purpose and intention, which you can read in less than a minute here.

Interestingly enough, my intentions have not changed much in the last 5 years. I have many writing goals, but probably not the typical blogging goals. I try not to care about the numbers (followers, page views, likes, etc.). I get it, if you're trying to use your blog as a source of income, then the numbers are important. But thankfully, I'm not. I'm just trying to make myself write, you know, somewhere people might read it. I don't really care how many people read it. Well that's probably inaccurate. Of course I want many people to read it, and if they enjoy it, stick around. But I don't want to attract people to my blog because of products, free giveaways, a fake service, or false promise of being able to help you drastically change your life. I want people to come here simply because they enjoy reading what I write. Period. So it is with that in mind, that I share with you my blogging goals for the year:

2017 Blogging Goals
  • Get published on more sites, big and small.
  • Connect with more of my readers.
  • Write posts about once a week.
  • Stay ad-free.
This is starting to sound like a resolution post. Oddly enough, I've never been a fan of New Year's resolutions. Maybe because most people don't stick with them. I set goals for myself whenever I think of it, definitely more than once a year. And I rarely share them with anyone, because I don't need anyone's judgements if I fail. I want goals to be a way to keep me motivated, but not stressed out and disappointed if I don't achieve them. Being an overachiever for most of my life meant I spent a lot of timing feeling bad about myself, especially if I failed to achieve a goal. But for many years now, one of my biggest goals has been to STOP feeling bad about myself. As is even obvious in my first post. But now, finally, I feel confident enough in myself to share just a few of my more personal goals with you, without worrying about your judgement or the fear of failure.

2017 Life Goals
  • Less depressed episodes (days where I hide from the world)
  • More patience (especially as a parent)
  • Mindfulness- conscious and intentional decisions in all areas of life
I also have many small goals like spend more time outdoors, keep working on pain-free running, more yoga, more traveling, etc. etc. But these bigger goals are the real challenge, what requires more of my concentration. The things I have a higher chance of failing at, but also the ones really worth achieving. Like all important things in life, they won't be easy.

So here's to 2017! Don't be afraid to set some challenging life goals for yourself this year. Have you already set some? Share them in the comments!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

NF1: 4 Years Later

This popped up on my Facebook memories on Dec 17th:
Sebastian
Wow I don't believe it's been over 4 years since we first heard Sebastian might have NF1 (neurofibromatosis type 1). My memory of the day we first heard that word is still very clear. Brian called me at work not long after Sebastian's check-up. I stepped outside to take the call. I answered, expecting to hear all was well. But instead, I heard concern and frustration in Brian's voice as he told me what the doctor said. My heart immediately sank, before I knew anything about it. Not because I was convinced there was anything wrong. But because I had so been hoping for a good check-up for him, finally. But it just wasn't to be.

Re-reading that post now brings up so many emotions. It's funny to realize how much I just HATED all his doctors, even though they all turned out to be good. Like his pediatrician at the time. I had never even met her at that point but I was pissed she didn't give Brian more information (which I still think she totally should've). In retrospect, I think she just didn't want to scare him if she was wrong. And also general practitioners seem to be well trained, or maybe almost forced, to recommend a specialist for anything that ails us past the basics. I didn't realize at the time how incredibly lucky we were to even have a pediatrician who knew what NF was and recognized the signs. If anything serious had been wrong with Sebastian, catching it early could've made all the difference in helping him.

When reading this, I also feel immense sadness and compassion for the 2012 version of our family, and how perfect our lives had been going until that moment. The year leading up to this news was one of the most stress-free years of my life. We were enjoying living in Oregon and having Sebastian stay home with Brian and being well and healthy more often. I was loving my job and being debt-free after our short-sale had finally went through. I was finally feeling healthy myself, and running, cycling, and doing yoga more than ever before. We had even started trying for baby #2. Life was good.

Obviously the diagnosis changed our lives forever. I used to feel guilty for my depression from this, but as I progressed through my grief, I realized there was nothing for me to be ashamed of. It's hard to go from feeling like life is perfect in one moment to total shit the next. And it's okay to hurt for your child. It's okay to be depressed when you're left helpless. It's okay that I was in denial about it for a long time. It was a rough couple of months after this post as we worked through the process of getting the diagnosis confirmed, seeing all the specialists, doing all the research and educating ourselves as much as possible. But in the end, it all turned out well. We learned this diagnosis was not a death sentence, not even a guaranteed rough life sentence. It's just a label (and we know how I feel about labels). His condition has not worsened. Physical therapy is helping him increase his strength and coordination. He is smarter than ever, reading a full grade ahead and asking me a new math problem daily. He is perfectly healthy, despite the NF1.

I am beyond grateful for how well he is doing. I continue to choose to believe only the best for Sebastian. I'm confident in the knowledge that positive thinking and not worrying every moment is by far the best thing I can do for my kids, no matter what happens in their lives. But a piece of me still wishes I could just go back and hug myself 4 years ago and say the words I needed to hear and believe...

🎶"don't you worry, about a thing, cause every little things gonna be alright."🎶

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Christmas Confessionals



Today seemed like a great day to join in on a confessional link-up with my dearest Danielle over at Sparkles & Lattes.

I confess that...

...I dislike most Christmas music. Some of it's okay, and I'll play it for my kids occassionally and sing along with them. But it gets overplayed to death every year and some of it is just so cheesy and terrible. Except Mariah Carey's Christmas album. I still listen that shit every year hahaha! (Yes I know it's cheesy and overplayed too!)

...I just love decorations, especially lights. I want to be one of those crazy people with a billion lights on my house. I just don't want to spend the money and time to do it.

...I hate shopping. No matter what it's for or what time of year, it's just not my favorite thing. Decisions have to made, money has to spent, and this time of year there's crowds and traffic and weather to drive in and I'd rather stay home curled up on the couch with a cup of tea. I've never been more thankful for online shopping than I am this year.

...Christmas is so much better with children. It's easy to get stressed and burnt out on this crazy, busy season but the kids make it worth it. They're so excited by the decorations and silly Christmas movies and baking and Santa and presents of course. Now if I could just get them to appreciate giving as much as receiving, we'll be all set!

...I love the movie Elf. And so does Sebastian. So we have seen it way too many times. But not as many as Home Alone 1 & 2. You've never heard a kid laugh as hard as Sebastian does while watching the bad guys get hurt.

...I really do enjoy giving gifts, even though I don't enjoy the shopping piece. My favorite gifts to give are homemade ones. I just wish I had time to make every present, but I would have to be making gifts year round for that to happen.

...Brian and I hardly surprise each other with gifts anymore. We're too practical to spend money on something we don't think the other person will like, so we always ruin the surprise and make sure we get the right things each year. He even bought his own presents this year, and already used it the cheater!

...I much prefer staying home to traveling during the holidays. It just saves so much time and money to travel in the summer when there are less holidays and no ice and snow.

...I haven't mailed out actual Christmas cards in years. I guess I feel like it's a waste of paper and postage, mostly cards just get thrown away. Just saving the planet, one card at a time. 😉

...the biggest thing left on my to-do list is to get pictures printed. I am procrastinating because it takes so long to sort through thousands of pictures and decide which ones to print! Plus I forgot to do it last year so it will be twice as bad as normal. Waaaa!

What about you? Have any Christmas confessions you need to get off your chest? Leave them in the comments below!

Friday, December 2, 2016

Define Your Own Unique and Genuine Success


It's official. I'm an adult now. I've been looking at college savings plans for my kids and this week I voluntarily went to a meeting about my 401k. It's time to make decisions about how to invest my money for RETIREMENT? Seriously, I'm not that old, but I have to worry about that now? UGH!

Fuck being an adult. I feel like I'm just now realizing that I'm all grown up. At this point in life, we're expected to already be well established in our chosen career, be making lots of money, buying a house, buying multiple new cars, investing wisely, getting married, having kids, taking expensive vacations, the American Dream baby! This is it, we're all there right?! Yeah me neither. You know why? Because the American Dream is bullshit. Because success isn't something defined by society or anyone but yourself. Success is what you decide it should be.

And success for me? You guessed it. It has NOTHING to do with money. Yes I have a good career. But I don't own a home. We only own 1 used car. At the moment, I have 0 dollars invested in anything. I don't own designer clothes or purses or anything like that. I shop at Goodwill. No joke. I don't give a single fuck about financial position or social status or any of that crap. Success in my mind is defined by how I feel about my life. What am I accomplishing? What progress have I made with my own issues? What am I giving back to the world? These define my success.

So do I feel successful? Eh, sometimes. Not like I've completed my life's goals or anything. I have lots of goals about lots of things and it will take my whole lifetime to complete them all, I'm sure. But I feel good about the progress I've made, the things I have accomplished, and where I'm at. Sometimes I don't, sometimes I'm downright depressed if I focus too much on what's ahead. But you know what helps me get over that? My children.

From the American Dream's standpoint, I'm nothing special. But when I look at my children, I think wow, I'm not a waste of space at all. Look at these kids! They are beautiful, intelligent, mostly polite, little human beings with good hearts! They talk to people. They care about people. They want to be friends with everyone. They aren't afraid to dance and sing. They aren't afraid to be goofy and laugh inappropriately loud at fart jokes. They give us hugs and kisses and say awww when they see a puppy or a baby. They say "I love you" to us everyday.

I'm not taking credit for all of their wonderful qualities. Who can say how much of these things are just their own personality and how much is what we taught them? No one knows. But I know that they came from me and Brian. I know that Brian is unique in his dad skills. And while he won't admit it, he works really hard and does an amazing job at raising these crazy little kids. I know that I try my hardest to do the best I can for them. And when they kiss me on the cheek and Sebastian asks me how my day was or Oscar gets excited to see me and yells "Mommy!" my heart sings. And I experience true happiness in those moments because I know that I am a successful human being. Even if I do nothing else worthwhile in my life, at least I helped create these amazing people.

That is not my intention of course, I intend to continue doing my best so that they continue learning all they can from me. But they are still my reminder to define my own success. To not get wrapped up in what the world is trying to tell me I need to do to be successful. Because that is what I want them to do for themselves. The best way to help our kids achieve their dreams would be to give them an example of how that's possible. What better example then their own parents?

Success should be a personal thing. It should be unique to your dreams and goals. It should be raw, real, genuine. It takes a lot of effort to come up with our own definition of success, create goals for ourselves, figure out our dreams, and plans for accomplishing them. Following along with society's definition is the easy way out. Anyone can put on a suit and go kiss some corporate ass if they want to achieve the stereotypical definition of success. But there's nothing genuine about that. And would you really be happy even if you had all that? Sounds like a life lived on the surface to me. I want to dive into the deep end of life and find all the hidden treasures. I'm not interested in staying in the shallow end.

So I'm going to keep defining my own success. Living life on my own terms. Setting goals that are MINE and no one else's. Figure out my dreams and how to achieve them. It won't be easy but at least it will be real.

What about you? How do you define success?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fuck Labels


These are all labels I have been called, by myself or others, in my lifetime. Do you ever think about the different words that have been used to label you in your life? There are so many. I'm sure if I thought about it longer I would remember many more, too. It's interesting to write them down and think about what each means. And how one person could be all these things. Well I'm not still called all these today, but I am definitely still many of them.

We LOVE labels in this country. We use them for everything, good and bad. To educate, diagnose, and inspire on one end and persuade, cheat, and manipulate on the other. But more often than not, people use them as insults. Society uses them to box people into groups and ideals. This is most obvious in high school I would say, with all the cliques. At that age it seems everyone uses labels to decide if you're cool or not, worthy of notice, or easy to ignore. They start to define your identity.

As many teenagers do, I spent a lot of time wrestling with my identity. I was called so many different things in those years, I couldn't be all of them. And how many of them were true? How many were just used because of people I hung out with? Because of things I was taught and repeated, without knowing if I believed it? By the time I was done with high school, I remember hating labels and the people who loved to use them to insult. I didn't like being told I was something, whether it was true or not was irrelevant. It was the idea that someone could describe me in one simple word.

I don't think I know anyone I could accurately and completely describe in one word. Except for the word "human". We are all humans. We all have basic human needs and rights that should be met, but being labeled is not one of them. I don't need society's opinion of where I sit in the great chart of cliques. As if life will always be a high school cafeteria, where no one ever changes. You think eventually everyone around you will grow up and it will quit mattering. And if you find good people to surround yourself with, it usually does. But then you'll be around someone who will say another one. I always cringe when I hear it happen. When will it end? Life should be about a lot more than that.

So grow up. Stop it with the negative labels. Whether you mean to or not, it is often insulting to slap a label on someone. It makes you sound like you think you're better than that person. Because why, they're different than you? You're not better than anyone. And no one is better than you. We are all equal. We're all human beings with differing opinions and beliefs that change as often as we do, which is daily! Today I sound like a pissed off crazy person, but last post I was an idealistic dreamer. That's just how it goes.

So society, fuck your labels. I don't need anyone to tell me who I am. I don't need you to try and define me. A label comes with a set of rules. I don't need someone else's rules. We all have our own rules (well most of us) that we live by. They are a personal thing and nobody fits 100% into just one label. Our true "label" is as unique as we are, every person's is different. No two people on the planet are exactly the same. And for that I am very thankful. Imagine how incredibly dull the world would be if we were all like that? I'll take this often chaotic but eclectic group of human beings over a world of easily labeled drones any day!

Keep finding the things that make you unique. Keep being different. Keep being "weird". Keep being you.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Protest Hate


On Friday night, Brian and I went on a date. We headed to a restaurant in downtown. When we got there, the waiter mentioned that it was dead that night because everyone was avoiding downtown. I had completely forgotten about the protests when I chose the restaurant. Nothing crazy had happened on the block we were on, so we enjoyed our meal and didn't think much of it. Except that I could see the traffic on the road from my seat, and continued to notice more and more police cars driving by. Clearly something was still going on.

After we finished, we started to walk back to our car and heard the protestors nearby. We hung around, curious to see if the protests were indeed "riots" as everyone had been calling them. We saw no criminal activity, just people marching, some with signs, some with various noise-makers, some chanting, some just walking. My first thought was, the media has blown this way out of proportion. Big surprise.

At about 9 o'clock, multiple SWAT cars rolled into the neighborhood. The police got on a megaphone and started telling everyone they needed to clear the street or force would be used. Of course they didn't listen. We started to wander away because tear gas doesn't sound like fun or something an asthmatic should inhale. But then the crowd got much louder. Suddenly several incredibly loud bangs were fired off. I thought for sure someone got shot, but the flashes of light accompanying each shot told us they were flash bombs. The police were firing them, and followed them up with tear gas. And not long after, shooting rubber bullets. People were running down the streets to get away, but many would just circle the block and take the abuse again.

It was interesting (and disturbing) to see that what appeared to be a peaceful protest didn't turn into a riot until the police came. It was also eye-opening to realize that the whole group was basically being punished because of vandalism that had happened on previous nights. Regardless, all I could feel was everyone's anger, rage, and hatred. It was overwhelming and scared me. I just wanted to leave. Below are a few clips I got on my phone.


What I witnessed was anger and violence meets more anger and violence. The result being, no one won. Isn't anyone else but me tired of this division in our country? Each side is hating the other side equally, each just as guilty, but all the while blaming the other guys for the problems of the world. But guess what? The worst problems in the world spawn from everyone's hatred, prejudice, anger, envy, and fear. As long as we all continue to have these negative and destructive feelings about each other, nothing will ever really get better. The answer to our problems isn't in politics, in democrat or republican, activist or police officer, socialism or fascism. The answer is in how we treat each other. The answer is in love.

In my mind, the number one thing we should all be protesting is hate. Tragic events that happen from hate are worth our protest. Things like war and famine, those are worth protesting. But our protest should not include more violence and hate. Otherwise we just perpetuate the cycle and the hatred never ends. If we could learn how to forgive and move on, and even how to love each other instead of hating each other... how do you think that would look? Can you imagine a world where people loved each other equal to the current amount of hate in this world?

Yeah I know... I'm an idealistic dreamer. That's okay. I just hope someday we have enough dreamers in this world to make this a reality.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Believe in the Power of Your Choices


Politics is not something I have ever written about. It's a forbidden topic you know, like religion. But since I don't write to be popular, I'm going to embark on this forbidden topic. Yesterday's events have left me with so many emotions I feel I must get them out. Even if you are enjoying the results of the election, I implore you to stay and listen to my rant anyways, because it is for everybody.

Depending on how well and long you've known me, it may surprise you to learn that I have voted for people of almost every party. Republicans, Democrats, and many of the independent parties. I spent most of my adult life registered non-partisan, but this year I finally registered as a Democrat, just so I could vote for Bernie Sanders. I bet if he had won the primary I wouldn't be here writing this today! After he lost, I quit following any news about the election as I did not like the options I was left with. Yes of course I want a woman to be president, but Hillary wasn't it for me. No this year, I voted for Jill Stein.

Before you tell me I "wasted my vote", let me tell you why I voted for her. You see, I am sick to DEATH of this whole "choose the lesser of two evils" bullshit we have been taught to do when voting. I will not do it. If I don't like any of my options, I won't vote. Period. You tell me it's my civic duty to vote? It's also my civic duty to NOT vote if I can't sleep at night with my choice! And guess what ladies and gentlemen? I slept last night, even knowing that Trump was probably winning. Because I voted for someone that I agreed with on pretty much every issue. I voted for someone who was not already a corrupt and power-hungry politician. I voted for someone who appears to be a decent human being. And when I think about what I really want in a president, it's not being a member of a specific party. And it's definitely not who is less evil than the next candidate. It's if they are a decent human being! That shouldn't be such a tall order, but in our broken system, it sure is.

You see I like "3rd parties" as we like to call them (you know there's actually A LOT of different parties now, so technically it's more than 3, but whatever). They are full of REAL human beings. Ones that haven't been corrupted by power and money yet. Ones that are fighting hard, and without much support, for what they believe in. People that want to make an actual difference. That's what I want in a president. Someone who is truly looking to help, not some pompous, arrogant criminal. Not someone who's cheated in every aspect of life. Not someone who only cares about power. Not someone who's blatantly breaking the law, getting caught, but still somehow allowed to run for office?! Not someone who's trading favors with all of the largest corporations in the world. Not someone who's going to continue to wage war on anyone in the world who pisses them off a little. 

Yes I know you probably think I'm a silly, peace-loving, environmentalist, socialist hippy. That's okay. Those words don't offend me. I'd rather be foolishly optimistic about this country than to give up hope. Especially right now, when so many of us are feeling oh so very hopeless. Right now is the best time to fight. To use your anger, rage, annoyance, complete disappointment, and stand the fuck up for what you want. You realize that there are over 300 million people in this country? Not very many of them are politicians. They are totally outnumbered and yet we let them push us around. Stop feeling so hopeless and start realizing how much power we actually have to change things. We just have to work together instead of fighting over every damn thing. We all have the ability to love each other. It's time we start using it.

There are a lot of things we can do to help, things we might not even think about. Mindless, every day things. Things like what food we choose to eat. We can choose to eat good, healthy, local produce that's supporting local farms, or we can choose to eat junk food that's manufactured by large corporations, adding to the destruction of our environment and corruption of our government. We choose what kinds of products to buy. Nice, shiny, brand new crap that will end up in the dump? Or we could try reused or recycled first. We can floor it past that guy on the side of the street with a sign that we assume is a con-artist who needs to "get a fucking job already." Or we could have a damn heart and hand him whatever food or change we have on us. We can waste our money on materialistic shit we don't need, or we could help someone in need. We can drive our gas guzzling SUVs, by ourselves, on a long commute every day. Or we can move closer to work, ride our bikes or walk, take public transportation, buy a more economical car, or at the very least carpool.

We all have so many opportunities to make better choices. Choices that actually WILL create change. You think it doesn't matter if one person does things like that? You're absolutely right. But it would make a hell of a difference if the majority of us did these things. No change ever happened by sitting around and bitching. And definitely not by waiting for politicians to change it for us. No, if we want change, WE have to make it happen.

I don't care if you vote or who you voted for. I care that you realize that you can make a difference. What would happen if all of the people in our country that think they can't help, woke up tomorrow and realized that they could? Just imagine how things could change.