How tot soccer can bring adults to tears.

soccerI’ve struggled a ton since I became a parent and my children actually started walking, talking, defying, running into roads, hitting each other, hitting other kids, generally, just being little humans.
My struggle has mostly come from this voice inside that constantly questions if I’m doing it right. Or messing them up. Am I creating the need for therapy because I lost my cool in the mall parking lot last week and needed to sit in the car by myself and lamaze breathe myself to a good place?

Last week we took Addie to soccer camp. She liked it about 30% of the time. It was a new experience for all of us. I know we all laugh and think that its funny when its someone else’s child sitting in the soccer goal, but when its ours, an internal war of voices comes floating to the surface. The voice mostly jabs at my parenting ability, how discouraged I was, worrying if other parents think I’m being mean to my kid by making her stay on the field, and spends too much time looking at the things that went poorly. The failures.

Then the grace comes in, with her, and with myself. I remember that don’t I remember what its like to be 4, but I do know what it feels like to do something that feels big and new and scary. That its hard to walk into a place where you don’t know everyone and learn something new. And yes, Addie didn’t behave well the entire time at camp, but I also don’t behave well the entire time as an adult. It happens too often that I think of things I said or did and realize that I probably should not have said or done them.

It matters that we stay, try, apologize when we have to, and are willing to put ourselves in new, scary, and big situations, or whats the point? I want to teach Addie that even though soccer camp didn’t go great the whole time, she went, she put herself out there, and she tried. Those things require courage, bravery, and grit. More than being good at soccer, those are the things I want to teach my daughter. And then I think of those voices that tell me I’m not doing everything well enough, and I think that yes, I mess up all the time. So many things I do I wish I had done better, or differently, from things I say (this one comes up too much….) to new skills I try. But I want to be better, and live outside my zone of comfort. I don’t want to just do things I’m good at. I want to do things I’m bad at so I can get better.

I want to run a half marathon.

I want to take adult swim lessons so I can learn how to actually breathe while I’m doing laps. Right now I drown a little.

I want to take a cooking class.

I want to go zip lining.

I want to write more, and get better at it.

I want to do things that scare me a little, like make new friendships, and skydiving. Seriously. I want to do this someday. Maybe.

I want to try something thats so hard that I fail, and have to try it again. And again. Because  I think failure, as challenging as it can be, whether its failing to be the parent we wanted to be, the friend I hope to be, or whether I fail at something new that I’m trying, is a good thing. Failing doesn’t diminish my value as a mom or person.  I think failing shows bravery and determination. I showed up. I tried. I had a good attitude (I hope). I want to try something new and risk that my life can be even better, even if its scary. Or hard.

So, I guess soccer camp was kind of good. We went out there, and we were (all) brave. And it gave us new things to shoot for next year. Like not crying after camp. If I can teach Addie to be brave, by practicing courage myself, and letting her see my failures, and wins, then I think that will be a huge success.

No Spend November (or, How to Stop Living High Off the Hog)

Just sing this to the tune of Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out for Summer,” and lets get this party started!

What is a No Spend Month:
Its horrifically self explanatory, but I’ll still go ahead and explain. In a nutshell, its a month (of your choosing, though I chose November because I like alliteration), where you drastically cut your spending by choosing to pay only for essentials and non-negotiables. Essentials include mortgage, rent, food, and non-negotiables might include paying to get your finger sewn back on after a tricky kitchen incident.
Why some people do No Spend Months:
1. Some people want to find out if they can get what they want for less. Deciding you will not spend above a certain amount forces you to get creative with what you can spend.
2. Curb mindless spending.
3. Get things done at home that previously, you haven’t had the chance to because you’re out there wildly throwing around the green (which isn’t us).

Why we’re doing No Spend November (in addition to the reasons given above)

1. To create more mindful discipline concerning our budget. We know where every dollar goes (for the most part) but its been a lot of swipe and spend lately, with little thought as to where its coming from or  if it could be better spent elsewhere.

2. Learning well to delay gratification. If its cute, buy it. If we’re hungry, grab it. While we have a ‘budget’, we’ve exceeded it at times.

3. To get a chance to stop, reflect, and express some gratitude for everything we’ve been given. We have a lot of wants, but not needs. We’re really, really blessed. God’s taken care of us, and I think November is a great month to be content with what we have.

What it means for us:

1. No unnecessary spending. Whats unnecessary? Dining out, entertainment, lattes (no!!!), trips to, and subsequent purchases at Target.

What I hope we’ll gain from this month:

My hope is that this month will help us learn to better decipher between our needs and our wants. I would like to get a little more creative with our activities, and use more of what we have around the house before rushing off to buy something. I want to eat through the gross things at the back of our freezer. No wait, they’re not gross, just…not as exciting as other things. I want to be content with what we have, and start moving at a slower pace.

There are countless things to be gained from a no spend month, if for nothing else than to simply stop and evaluate the value of a dollar, and see if its going where it should be going. I plan to share our adventures, ideas, highlights, and trials with you throughout this month. Which is 30 days long. I just checked. 30 cheap, adventurous, simple, and non Target filled days.


Rainy Morning

I’m sitting on the couch this morning, drinking a PSL (double tall, extra-hot, 1/2 the pumpkin) from Tony and I’m reading other people’s blogs. In fact, I’ve found one I think I’m obsessed with (a little). Click here for the post with which I’m currently infatuated.

This particular blog post is all about putting together a cleaning schedule you’ll actually stick to. I’ve been holed up inside our house for a week straight, and so this is kind of a big deal for me. Addie has had the Green Snot Cold, and although she sounds so. darn. cute stuffed up, its hard to take a toddler places when they sneeze and shoot silly putty snot from their nose onto all of the public toys around them. I didn’t think other parents would love it. In fact, I was pretty sure I’d be lynched, so we’ve stayed put this week. Aside from going a little “the Shining” type crazy this week, its been pretty good.

I’ve been forced to focus on home stuff. Freezer cooking. Cleaning schedules. Pantry organization, which I may have gone a little overboard on. Something about fall makes me want to waste less, declutter, spend less, be more simple, simplistic, and meaningful with my time. If you try to do all of those things at once, its really hard. I think its because its not just changing actions, its changing mindsets and habits. Habits, by definition, are really ingrained, and so I get really motivated, and then find myself sitting down to watch an episode of Homeland (or 3) when Addie goes down for a nap.

All of this to say, I’ve been loving this blog. Its stylish, cute, and she longs to be organized, simplistic, routine, meaningful, and effortless just like me. I’m hoping that I’m just not that far into the blog yet and that she’s actually done it by now so I can be inspired.

Speaking of habits, I’m currently reading (as in I have bought it and have yet to open, but will soon) this book: Emotional Intelligence 2.0 . I think it could be really interesting, and it even comes with a quiz you get to take! I love quizzes, it feels like 17 Magazine all over again but with a purpose. Anyway, I’m hoping for some big revelations, or at least a few helpful tips and interesting tidbits to come from reading this. Expect posts to come!


My Pickle

The past few weeks I’ve been having an occupational crisis. The first hints occurred when I declared to Tony the other day that I was going to law school to “be like my dad.” As I rushed downstairs to let Tony know what I was going to do (I had already looked up admission dates at the U and was strategically planning out childcare in my head), he was playing video games and I got a whithered look accompanied with an “Uh-huh, cool.” If you didn’t know Tony this could come off insensitive, but if you know me, you also know I’m kind of prone towards giant declarations (I prefer to think of myself as adorably impulsive): “I’m going to paint the whole house this week!” “I’m running that 10k! (in one month).” “I need to go to Hawaii or I. Will.  Die.” <– that one came true, we just booked Kauai (!) and I think this was less of a spoiled need to simply tropical vacation, but more of a desperate compulsion to escape crappy life circumstances. The only solution I could think of was an umbrella drink, a book, and a beach.

I think most of my major life decisions are made on a whim. I decided I wanted to go to grad school in one evening, took the GRE’s two weeks later, applied to one university, and sixty thousand dollars later I have a fantastic degree that I feel, some days as I’m doing laundry or pushing the grocery cart down the aisle, like a moron for not using right now.

I’m currently going through a ‘whimmy’ phase. Tonight I looked through jobs and school programs, while all at the same time acknowledging how hard it would be to do those things with a baby, but still wanting them very much (Would you like to watch my child for free?) It’s hard finding your identity as a mom, especially if you’ve previously found it in school or working.

I think of things like, “If I have another baby, and then wait for them both to be in school, and then go back to work…will I still be….smart?” I’m not sure. Or, if I waited that long to go back to get my doctorate and counsel, would I be too old? I feel like I might be too old. It’d be nice if life were significantly longer, with more time, more childcare, more money, and less pressure.

(Interestingly enough, I’m not sure where this fits, but there is an occupational crisis scale and several studies looking at people who suffer from ‘occupational crisis’s, and most of them were women in the psychology profession…(twilight theme music…)

So, while some of my whims are truly that, just whims, some aren’t. It’s really hard to tell the difference. Do I really want to work or go back to school right now, or maybe I’m just looking for something to make me feel like I did when I was in grad school. If I’m really honest, I loved studying, I love solving problems and writing papers. I loved my internship, I loved running groups and counseling…it was just fun.

For now I’ll lay off cruising the internet looking at admission policies and scholarships and deadlines…I really think we are a grass is greener culture, but hopefully I’ll soon figure out exactly it is I’m looking for.

That last paragraph sounded a lot like what a drippy background narrator would say during the intro to a WB show, but you get my drift.


Thank you Sammy Davis, Jr.

I’ve had some extra free time this week due to a self imposed quarantine from what Tony and I have termed “the Plague” in our house. Because of it I’ve gotten to make some headway in a book that I’ve been reading, that I have wanted to write a post about but have been hesitant because I didn’t want to be thought of as reading self help books. But, bah, here it is. In actuality it is from the genre of “Project books, non-fiction, memoir”.  The author herself calls it a ‘stunt genre’ which simply means that she tries something for a year and then writes about it. Regardless, I like it. It’s called The Happiness Project.

Gretchen Rubin, the author, designed a project full of lists, resolutions, charts, and research about happiness that spanned the course of a year to see if she could raise her general level of happiness by doing certain things. I read a book review that said “the level of organization for her project is intense.” Thats putting it lightly, but I think thats why I l like this book. Whenever I’m going for some kind of self improvement, it usually takes the form of lists or charts or projects, so I could understand where she was coming from.

Heres an excerpt from what I read today.

In his book Happier, Tal Ben-Shahar describes the “arrival fallacy,” the belief that when you arrive at a certain destination, you’ll be happy…the arrival fallacy is a fallacy because, though you may anticipate great happiness in arrival, arriving rarely makes you as happy as you anticipate. First of all, by the time you’ve arrived at your destination, you’re expecting to reach it, so it has already been incorporated into your happiness. Also, arrival brings more work and responsibility. It’s rare to achieve something (other than winning an award) that brings unadulterated pleasure without added concerns. Having a baby. Getting a promotion. Buying a house. You look forward toreaching these destinations, but once you reach them they bring emotions other than sheer happiness. And of course, arriving at one goal usually reveals another, yet more challenging goal.

This definitely holds true for me. I spend a lot of time getting to a goal, and I’m happy when I’m going for it, like with my masters, because I felt like I was getting better, being better, and going for something outside of myself. Then when I got it, I felt like I looked around and thought, “Now what?” And I start on something else, that will, in time, make me happy. Rubin writes that when she finds herself focusing too much on the anticipated happiness that awaits her in future once she’s arrived at a goal, she has to remind herself to enjoy right now. She explains that she doesn’t need (or want) to count on the happiness that may or may not be there in the future, so she wants to be happy by making sure that what she’s doing right now is gratifying.

After I read this today I thought about how important it is to have something that makes me happy now. These past few weeks have been particularly content for me, even as I read this morning that Andrew Carnegie said, “Show me a contented man, and I’ll show you a failure.” I think what he is trying to imply here is that if you’re content, then perhaps you aren’t engaged in growth or ambition or competition, but I think there’s a season for everything. Right now mine is contentment.

So while thats true, I still need something that makes me feel revived. Addie was about two months old when my Mom came down and told me to get out of the house. It was the best hour and a half I can remember for quite some time. I drove down to Red Twig Coffee in Edmonds, got a double tall extra hot raspberry latte to go, and took a drive from Edmonds to Mukilteo, all along the water. About 30 minutes into my venture by myself with my coffee and my music, I felt my whole body relax. My mind hit that sweet spot where thoughts started to make sense, and I began to feel more inspired and rejuvenated. For some people, running does this, or shopping, or talking with a good friend. Right then I needed time by myself. So this morning I took Addie in her carseat, went through the Starbucks drive through and got an Americano, and took a drive while my daughter napped. Its interesting how you can feel your body relax limb by limb when you’re doing something right for yourself.

For me, blogging is like that too. For a long time, and sometimes still, I hesitate to blog because I worry, “Isn’t it narcissistic to spend all this time writing about myself and what I think? What if I come off vain or too self occupied?” And then I have to throw that out the window, because it helps me be me. I’d rather be that than be inauthentic because I’m worried of being criticized.

Because, as Sammy Davis, Jr. once sang,

Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong Whether I find a place in this world or never belong I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me, What else can I be but what I am.

To sum it up, I think everyone needs that thing that makes you feel like you, where you feel inspired and relaxed, rejuvenated and at peace, where you’re fresh and ready to take on the world. If you feel comfortable sharing what that is for you I would love to read it.

biting elephants

Before I got pregnant, I used to go to Bikram Yoga (where you do yoga in a hideously hot room). A nurse one time asked me what I did for exercise and I told her I was doing “Hot Yoga”, and she looked at me, deadpan, and asked, “Is that like, with a pole?” She was a little older, and it was pretty funny. Anyway, I remember really enjoying it right up until I had to run out and throw up in the middle of a session. All of your things were stored inside of the yoga room (keys, purse) and I needed to go back in to get them to go home, but the woman at the front desk wouldn’t let me, and she encouraged me to go back in because I guess it was very important to make it to savasana. I remember looking at her and pleading, “But I just threw up my lunch! I really don’t want to go do yoga right now.” I had to sit in the hallway for an hour until everyone was done with class to get my things and go home.

After that, I didn’t want to go back to yoga, but I went. I remember feeling anxious about it because I would think, “How am I going to make it through 90 minutes?” I would have done better if I had simply thought about making it through to the first break, then the second, and through the end of class. I don’t go anymore, because it was fun while it lasted, but I think that I learned something with the way that I approached the classes. I did better when I thought about it in small segments, rather than thinking about each class in its entirety.

I think goals are good, they help us be productive, they give us something to look forward to. When they become counterproductive is when we think about them on too large of a scale. I did this today when I realized I needed to clean the kitchen, bathroom, do laundry, workout, and after thinking about doing all of that, I sat down on the couch exhausted. I struggle with the same thing when I think about getting into shape after pregnancy. “I would like be able to run a marathon by the end of the month. And I’m not a runner.”

I love the silly riddle, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I have a tendency to get ahead of myself, instead of thinking in terms of small changes, little goals. So thats it. I’m changing my whole way of thinking right now. (Get it? :))

But really, I think it will be good for me to try to start thinking in terms of smaller goals, and getting Tony to buy me giant presents when I reach them.

Well, at least the goal thing I can do.

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