Category: Relationships

I Failed: Christmas Presence

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“Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.” ― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

On Christmas morning after we thoroughly inspected Santa’s cookie crumbs and opened the first stocking stuffers I made my way to the kitchen to produce pleasure in the form of traditional Christmas cuisine. I had prepped the Quiche and monkey bread the night before. Each recipe was carefully adhered to and I knew it was minutes before the bulk of my efforts were unveiled.

Cue chaos.

I opened the fridge to find egg dripping down the side of the door. Somehow my Quiche had tilted and spilled onto the monkey bread. I remember saying to myself, “I can handle this.” I scraped what I could off the monkey bread, preset the oven, and believed it to be salvageable. I got to work on remaking the Quiche and congratulated myself on saving breakfast. I retreated back to gift distribution with great confidence and self-worth.

Minutes later I smelled burning. The bottom of the monkey bread pan had residual egg on it, which was now burning in the oven. As I opened the oven door to grab the monkey bread my oven glove caught fire. Panicked, I dropped the monkey bread pan and sticky contents spilled everywhere. I mean it. No surface was safe.

As I set to work for a quick clean up to ensure I wouldn’t miss more magic, I noticed my Quiche wasn’t rising.

Cue meltdown.

I had tried so hard to create a perfect Christmas morning breakfast. I failed.

It became apparent to my parents and husband that I was in crisis. Ever so gently my mother pulled me aside. She took it upon herself to remind me that a perfect Christmas breakfast was far from what we were celebrating or what mattered. She urged me to sit down and watch my girls, which of course instantly brought me back into the realm of reality. This, their faces, their wonder, and their joy is what I’d remember. The messy magic and the miniature hugs were all that mattered.

The kitchen was sticky for a few days. My parents ended up walking to Dunkin Donuts to produce our morning Christmas feast. I sat, coffee in hand, next to my love watching our little loves revel in the spirit of the season.

I think my mother was wrong about one thing. I won’t forget about the Christmas morning I failed. It reminded me about the power of presence.

For 2019, here’s hoping we remember perfection is overrated and that presence is the perfect present.

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Get Excited

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“I like it when somebody gets excited about something.”  ― J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye 

I am an enthusiastic person. I get it from my mama.

My little ones demand incredible amounts of attention and I find they easily excite me about all things past, present, and future. There’s something about tiny humans and their capacity to dream big and love freely that enchants and engages me.

My daughters have reawakened the need for excitement in life. Small, big, and unexpected exciting endeavors add joy and meaning to my stories. But in the depths of discovery, I can fully admit that I’m at odds with excitability these days. It seems to me that many people lack a zest for their daily grind. The woes are rampant and the affirmations scarce.

I love watching excitement unfold. It’s a slice of heaven to see someone pinpoint their passion. Moreover, it’s euphoric to see the passion grow and touch and inspire others. There’s something about sharing excitement that adds and grows to an occasion or milestone.

So here are some things that excite me…

  • Old people. I legit love older generations. I’m on the hunt to talk to the greatest generation. Give me your old people.
  • Mommies. I’m in a stage of life where I’m surrounded by mommies within my circles. This mom life cultivates an energy and sisterhood that can’t be replicated or imitated.
  • This Is Us writers and actors. I am experimenting with a course on the subject.
  • College. Give me a crowded lecture hall and the chance to talk.
  • Fika. DUH. Guys, there’s so much exciting stuff to come.

What’s your spark for excitement lately?

The Fire of Friendships

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I’ve got this friend who is the Christina Yang to my Meredith Grey. Or maybe I’m her Christina. Honestly, I don’t care about the titles or the roles because it’s what the relationship stands for that is the fire behind all things. She’s my person.

I met her at 18. I was fresh out of Buffalo and alone. Right before homesickness got the best of me, she stepped in. She became my Garden State guru. She welcomed me into her home, got me to go beyond my comfort zone, and made me recognize that the best friendships give us something we’re missing and desperately desire. We call ourselves twins. But not because we’re alike. We are different. We’re Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Devito. 

I’m convinced she’s proof of divine intervention. She entered my life exactly where and when I needed her and I’ve kept her close since our earliest introduction. She’s about to go someplace else and it’s scary. For her, it represents a complete shift from everything she’s ever known. For me, it’s something similar. What it boils down to is this: I’ve never known New Jersey without her.

In a weird way, I’m convinced this needed to happen. Because the thing is that scary change is the fire of friendships. It’s what shows us what we add, what we lack, what we give, and how we grow.

And while this might feel a little Oprah and Gayle, it’s actually just us. To my first college friend, one of the best I’ve ever known, I say this: you are fire. Thank you, friend.

38

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I am a perpetual daydreamer. I’ve got grand plans and big intentions. But this emotional, over-the-top, head-in-the-clouds fantasizer gets stuck. I freeze up out of fear or distract myself with busyness that’s unimportant. It’s been my burden for the past several years. And while I’d love to blame someone or something, I’ve got nothing. It’s me.

Enter my husband.

My marriage is full of love, compassion, and friendship, but there’s also sarcasm, competitiveness, and candor. My accountability partner in crime keeps it real. In fact, it’s often too real for my liking.

I’ve been talking about being a full-fledged writer and entrepreneur since he met me. In fact, he tells friends that I’m the long-term success strategy. He’s full of brutal logic and endless love. It’s an interesting combination.  The other night he reminded me that there’s been little progress in my projects. We danced the talk-it-out tango, which means I possessed a defensive flare and he demonstrated strong-willed sentiment. In essence, it boils down to action and accountability.

He’s my truth-teller.

I don’t envy him. I’m initially unreceptive and offended. But with time I come around to see his side. I know I need to do more and perform better. I need something tangible to keep me sane and firmly focused.

The book will be done and distributed by 38. That’s the vision and reaction to the challenge. I turn 37 in January. It might look like I’ve given myself the gift of time, but the book will need to be finished by February in order to get pitched to the masses this spring.

Dearest, this one isn’t for you. It’s for me. But thanks for never giving up on me. This thing we have is fearless.

For Better or For Worse

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Yesterday was my seventh wedding anniversary. If time and interest allowed, I’d write a series of essays on how much my marriage means to me and the endless love I have for my husband. But I know like most matters of the heart, it’s personally appealing because of experience and investment. With this noted, I’ll spare you sonnets.

For our wedding day we hired a husband and wife photography team to capture the intimate moments of the ceremony and reception. Their work was artistic and flawless and their energy was contagious. I remember being awed by their talent and teamwork. The latter was incredibly impressive. Knowing that not all partners could work together so well, or at all, I was obsessed with observing their dynamics and felt compelled to soak up their presence.

I remember thinking it was an omen of sorts to have such a dynamic duo attached to our wedding. In fact, I remember thinking that their love story was a sign of ours.

A few days ago I decided to visit their website to see if I could stop by while visiting my parents. Much to my dismay it looked as if their business was no longer operational. After some intense social media stalking and keyword searches, I learned they were no longer married. Cue knife to the heart.

The news gutted me. This inspiring, sweet, and kind couple was no more.

And while I shed a few tears, I came to realize I knew nothing of their history or status, even when I was basking in bliss. Their marriage and/or the demise of it wasn’t something I was or would ever be acutely aware of, but it did offer me a greater sense of perception and change.

Our surface perceptions often demand deeper exploration or consideration.  And we need to resign that regardless of our perceptions, certain changes are inevitable or necessary. It’s never easy to see a marriage end, especially one we admired from afar. But if the news is going to stir up something in our souls, then let it be a reminder to invest in the person you decided was worthy of forever.

For the record, I’m over the moon in love with my husband. And because I social media stalked, let me state that from the surface, it looks like my photographers have moved on and reclaimed some happiness as well. But that’s only my perception and things can change. So for now I’m off to relish that I’m all in. And for better or worse I hope we all remember that things change quickly and sometimes dramatically. So carpe diem and love with everything you’ve got.

 

Lemonade Lust: This Is Us

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I have a full-blown obsession with This is Us. It’s an extreme, fanatical, ridiculously gratifying and soul-searching type of obsession.

I don’t pretend to believe my love for the show is unique. It’s popular and polarizing because it’s relevant and relatable for so many of us.  I was hooked minutes into the first episode and thousands of tears later, I’m still anticipating, dreaming, and evolving like the rest of the Pearson family.

This summer I made a commitment to go public with my love of all things This Is Us. In the past I’ve somewhat floated my fandom, but this is different because I’m confessing my life altering admiration and appetite for the show. Moreover, I’m cheering and chasing creator and writer extraordinaire, Dan Fogelman.

This Is Us is known to sprinkle gut-checking insight into the audience through individual and familial storylines. But it does something so much more for me. It forces me to be acutely aware of my own empathy, decisions, and insecurities. It raises the bar for my parenting, relationship reassurance, and admission to imperfection.  This fictional show embraces the messiness and magic of life, which is why it’s not only believable, but authentically awakening.

I am fixated on storylines that illustrate and illuminate the peaks and pits of ordinary lives. I am committed to ensuring my own words do the same.

It feels good to be a fan of this show. It excites and elevates me, and in today’s world, we need exactly this in excess. Sometimes it’s good to lust after something while living through something else. Stories from this show give me hope that there’s a space for my words somewhere, and so for this and countless other reasons, I’m grateful.

Until my next This Is Us rambling, go sip on summer. And maybe ask yourself, did you make some lemonade?

Mom Shame & Kindness Fame

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I sort of got mom shamed last week. It was awful. Before I divulge more let me emphasize that the purpose of this post isn’t to shame the shamer. In fact, I empathize with her.  The latter is important in order to understand a few details.

To begin, her child had a bad experience because of an accidental error on my end.  To clarify, it was absolutely accidental. Herein lies the problem. We don’t let people make mistakes anymore. And if and when they do, we call them out quickly and loudly. Case in point, our incident made it to Facebook. Guys, it was my worst nightmare.

I hate conflict and I loathe confrontation. This was gut wrenching. Furthermore, it invited more judgement into the jungle. And while we worked through it with some humor and humility, the whole thing kind of wrecked me.

Why?

Negative energy knows no limits. While the post was taken down someone took a screenshot of it. An acquaintance approached me and inquired after the events. And while I wanted this event to be over and to forget about it, the universe had other plans.

Mom shame is real. We’re supposed to be cheerleaders for one another and champions of role modeling for our children. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. We need to own our accidents and learn from them accordingly. We also need to exercise and employ empathy.

I immediately thought of the opposing opinion. It’s what I’ve been taught to do. Kudos to my mama for another valuable life skill. But I’m not perfect. I’ve gone to anger and hurt before understanding and compassion before. That’s why moms need to issue important reminders to one another. In this instance, kindness is a game changer.

In a world where reality t.v. rules and social media is the status quo, it’s challenging to decipher and delve deeper into relationships. Often, we only scratch the surface. We assume without acknowledgment or awareness. It’s entirely too dangerous to do so.

My fellow mamas, we’ve got to do better. We need more empathy, thoughtfulness, and valor. I’m digging deeper and vowing to do better. Will you? The only fame I aspire to achieve is rooted in kindness. Here’s to making kindness popular. And here’s to making mistakes, which often render us our greatest lessons.