Friday, August 8, 2014

So Mom, I have this question.

So my Mom is pretty; like really pretty. She is tall, she has great hair, and she has a great personality. She also has something, some sort of, I don't know, like pizazz or something that draws people to her. She is like the pot and the bees buzz to her. So suffice to say, I have seen my Mom receive many compliments. I have seen my Mom get hit on by nice look guys, and a lot of dirty old men. No joke.

For all her loveliness my Mom could not be more down to earth. In fact, if my Husband is going to make a fart joke he'll wait until he can tell my Mom. She'll laugh and I'll be like really? "Do I look like your Brother?" Side note, I despise bathroom humor. My Mom doesn't have a superficial bone in her body. She doesn't care about status or any of that crap. As we discussed recently, my Mom is the shit.

So you would think my Mom is all "everyone is beautiful." However, she is not that girl. I think it is because she doesn't even see it in herself. In fact, I don't think I have ever heard my Mom pay herself a compliment. I think she would say she is not unattractive, but if you called my Mom up today and asked her if she was pretty, I think she would say something like "I do ok."

Growing up I don't remember my Mom telling my Sister and I that we were pretty or to be proud of our bodies or anything that. She also didn't tell us anything mean like that we were unattractive. It just wasn't something that was discussed in our house. I think my Mom was just too busy like working, and trying to survive as a single Mom. My Mom did teach us that how you look makes a first impression and all that. I do know that to be true. Until you can show someone who you are by your actions and your words, all they have to go on is how you look. I mean this in a professional sense. It might be "wrong or unfair," but it is the world we live in. It is possible that my Mom did say things to us about how we looked and body image, but maybe I was too self conscious to internalize it.

The days of my childhood are much different from today. My Mom and I have a much different relationship now than we did when I was a teenager. If I send her a selfie of me and my daughter, she calls us pretty girls. If I send her an outfit from a dressing room, she'll tell me if something looks great on me. I'm not entirely sure how or why this all changed.

I know that I have been undergoing huge changes. I've always believed in being kind and treating others with love, but I've spent the last 8 months learning about why I should be more proactive and complimentary. I'd like to think that baby girl is learning this from me, because she tells people she thinks they look "so pretty" all the time; even Daddy. Perhaps, I am rubbing off on my Momma too.

I suppose if I had to say I wish my Mom would have told me XYZ about body image it would just be about her journey. I would love to know how my Mom grew up feeling, and how she feels about her looks/body today. I only recall hearing my Mom discuss her weight negatively, and she would ignore all the other pieces of herself. I would like to know how she has become so sure of herself.

I would like her to tell me how I can ensure that baby girl will grow up feeling secure in herself. I don't know how to teach her that. I only started feeling comfortable in my own skin when I met her Dad. I am one of the lucky girls. I have a great Husband. A Husband who makes me feel loved, and who has never ever once made me feel self conscious about my body; or the way I look. I learned to be ok with the way I looked because of how he sees me. I want more for C. I want her to find the place inside of her where she knows she is beautiful regardless of what happens in her world; but more importantly, I want her to feel strong, brave, smart, and confident. I'll do what I can to teach her these things, but something tells me I will have to feel all of those things first.

I am working on it. I am well on my way. Maybe Mom and I can learn to love ourselves together; maybe she already does. I think it is high time that I ask her. 

This post is brought to you because of the lovely Brittany, at,  and her August writing challenge. Welcome to day 8.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

I read, you read, we all read until 3 AM!!

Books. Ah my first love.

I have always been a big reader. I have been told since the age of three. I would read anything I could get my hands on; including the back of cleaning bottles and my Grandma's Danielle Steele when she put it down.

I have a very distinct memory of my Bio Dad finding me reading my Grandma B's Danielle Steele and him being all "seriously Mom?" and then him throwing it behind the TV cabinet. The funny this is that my Grandma was like what? she wanted to read. We didn't see my Bio Dad's parents all that often, because my Bio Dad wasn't always in the picture and when he wasn't, well they weren't either. They were an interesting couple, both much older than my friends Grandparents. They watched the news all the time, or golf, and that was pretty much it. I've been told that my Grandpa B taught me to read at the age of 3. I do remember sitting with him and reading Tommy's Tricycle. He had a very distinct smell, and when I even try to explain it I can't. He always wore these long sleeve soft flannel shirts, but anyway, I digress. So I remember reading him Tommy's Tricycle one day and he was like "Erica you aren't reading! You memorized this book." I believe this is one of my earliest memories.

As we grew older and our parents split up (I was 7 when that happened) my Sister and I would go to Grandpa and Grandma B's house to visit. On these visits Grandpa would take us to the Manchester Mall to go to the book store. I don't even remember what it was called. There was also a carousel in that mall, and he would let us ride it every time. Other than go to the grocery store once a week, this was like the only time my Grandparents ever left the house! I am telling you they were interesting people. Anyway, I would always get a new Babysitter's Club book. My gosh I love those books; especially the vacation specials. It always made being a babysitter sound so amazing; I soon discovered that much of babysitting sucked. Unfortunately, I had to sell all of them when we moved once. It was a bummer, I had like well over 100 and I re-read them all the time.

Fast forward a few years to my awakening with grown up books. When I was a tween (oh my gawd did I even say tween? forgive me) we spent most of our weekends at my Great Grandma's house. She had an unfortunate stroke before I was even born and was confined to a wheel chair. My Grandma and her siblings paid for a week nurse, but my Mom, Sister, and I were her weekend nurses. Their house seemed so big to me. It was one of those old houses that has like random rooms tacked on to the house here and there. I always felt like like I was going to discover a new room. Well suffice to say, caring for Great Grandma Ruth was not always fun. I was 10, and if my friend wasn't home over the fence my Sister and I were pretty bored. I read a lot, like I always did. My Sister was always trying to get me to go outside, like she always did.

One Saturday my Mom gave me a book to read called Loves Music Loves to Dance by Mary Higgins Clark. I don't even know how long it took me to read it, but I remember it looked giant. This book sent me on a completely different path of reading, and sent me elbows deep into the world of grown up mystery novels. Up until around the time I graduated from high school, I had read every novel that Mary Higgins Clark had published. I believe I have missed several since then, as life took me into a world of complicated relationship novels. I get so excited when I am able to pick up an old MHC novel. It feels like sitting down with an old friend. If I had to pick one, I would say that Loves Music Loves to Dance is still my favorite of her books. However the honorable mention would go to Weep No More My Lady, and Pretend You Don't See Her.

There have been many other authors who have put a book in my hands that has altered the very state of my being. There have been many books that made me happy, and gave me a few days of escape. These days I am finishing up the works of Kristin Hannah, and Diane Chamberlain (but so many of the old books are out of print!). I've already read everything Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner have published. I could write for days about the books I love, why I love them, and what they have done for me. I could say the same things about songs. The written word is such a powerful force, and one I am so in love with!

This post is brought to you through another August prompt challenge via the lovely Brittany Gibbons at 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Self Care, or what I like to call BWAHAHA these Days

Self care. Today's prompt from the lovely is self-freaking-care. Clearly, I am awesome at this. I am sort of wondering if somehow B knew that I had therapy today, and that I have been horrible with the self care lately.

It has been really hard, the last two months. I have a hard (ugh that word again) time not qualifying the hard. I mean yes, June and July were tough for me, but I feel like I need to say but not as hard as cancer or hey there was no tragedy here. So instead I will do my best to channel Ash Beckham and say it's been hard, for me.

In a nutshell, the very first week of June I get the dreaded mid-morning call from the daycare saying your daughter threw up. This sends me into a whirring panic, because I am an emetophobic. I leave work, get baby girl go home, take care of her and do some major praying no one else gets it. Fast forward 6 days, baby boy wakes up at 11 pm and starts vomiting. Fast forward 5 days and the Husband wakes up with the stomach flu. So over three weeks now I've been taking care of 3 sick people. Oh and this is also the week of my birthday, yay.

Then the day the Husband returns to work he is notified that they are cutting him down to part time, and cutting his accrual rates and everything because of the budget issues that they created. It is widely known that they have mismanaged some pretty serious fiscal situations. Oh, and he works for a Christian university. There were no "we are sorry's" no "we thought long and hard about who to cut." Nothing. Just hey guess what we decided to take half your income, oh and btw we want you to work 10-2 every day, rendering any reduction in daycare expenses completely impossible. My birthday trip to the coast for the next day gets cancelled, and we all sit at home and try to get better. The following week the Husband meets with HR, finds out he is getting laid off instead, with one month severance, and the kids start running fevers.

The kids have fevers for three days, don't eat, and sleep a lot. Then baby girl is fine and baby boy starts throwing up again. Baby boy then starts waking up almost every night to vomit once and go back to sleep. We see doctor, we get referred to specialist. He continues to vomit. Then July 3rd we are supposed to be leaving to go see my parents, at long last something fun! We get in the car and within 10 minutes my baby boy who has no motion sickness problems is throwing up, again. After one hysterical call to my Mother,  baby boy and I head off to the local children's hospital. Long story short, after many questions, and a CT scan, the docs discover a raging sinus infection up in baby boy's head. It was causing him some nasty nasal drip, which turned into reflux, and is causing the vomiting. Luckily, baby boy responded to all of the meds super quickly and stop vomiting that very day. Yay! Unfortunately, they found something else abnormal on his CT scan, which resulted in an MRI the following week and days of waiting and literally wringing my hands to get results. The end result, baby boy is fine. He has this thing, it is an incidental finding. He has a repeat MRI in a year, and he'll be fine. Whew. That week I could literally sit at my desk and feel my blood pressure rise. I imagine it looked like the outdoor thermometer my in-laws have by the pool. I was a zombie.

Meanwhile, Husband is waiting on news for a job he applied for the day before we found out the job at the university was getting cut. He was supposed to hear from a recruiter, and we waited, and waited. Then they called and say hey we are moving recruiters around so you just get an interview! Yay for us! He interviewed, then we waited, he got background checked, and we waited. Then we find out he GOT THE JOB. The job he really wanted, the job he applied for before he knew he was losing the old one. The high that gave us both, so awesome. 

Fast forward a week or two, and guess what? We find out we do in fact need to move. Preferably by the end of the month. I scramble for about 10 days, making calls, doing drive bys for new rentals. I go see like 10 houses before I find one that will work for us. Luckily, the Husband can help me pick a house because he isn't working yet. We have like 10 days to pack and move, oh wait silly, the first is during the week. Ok, we have one week; and this is the week Husband starts the new job; shit. Then we move. We get a giant ass truck, my parents and Father in Law, and we work our little hearts out in 106 degree heat until we are all getting sick and we call it a day.

That was less than two weeks ago. My kitchen is functional, and the kids rooms have been assembled. Other than that, I live in a house surrounded by boxes, black trash bags, and overwhelming clutter. To say I feel unsettled is the understatement of the year. The week days only provide enough hours in the day to get normal shit done. Plus, baby boy had several follow up appointments last week and I had to leave early 4 days in a row. Thank goodness my boss is understanding, but it is still super stressful to be taking so much time off. I look forward to the day when vacation time is used for vacation, and not "dealing with shit situations" and taking care of sick kids.

I tell you all of this only to explain why the idea of self care sends me into a fit of hysterical laughter that ends with my crying on the floor of my closet. I have spent the last 8 weeks against the wall, just fighting to get through each and every day. I think this Monday when my Sister asked during our morning IM conversation how I was, I responded with "you know I am ok today" (and meant it) for the first time in at least 8 weeks.

To be honest, self care is something I always struggle with, even when life isn't so freaking stressful and full of hullabaloo. I grew up as the oldest child of a single mother. I was taking care of my Sister after school when I was 9 and she was 6. I heledp cooked dinner, or cooked dinner, at 10. My Mom taught me a lot of self-sufficiency so there is no dig there. It is just programmed in me to take care of others. I am always last. I feed everyone else, I make sure every one else's needs are met before mine. It is second nature to me. Most of the time, I don't even notice.

Lucky for me (or not luck I chose him) my Husband is supportive of self care, most of the time. I think in the day to day neither of us realizes when I put myself aside to make sure everyone else's needs are met. However, when I tell him dude I am going to lose it I need some alone time tonight, he will send me out for a pedicure. I have dinner once a month with a group of friends. He lovingly smacks my ass on the way out the door, and tells me not to rush home, because he's got the this. I get the "hey babe why don't you go take a bath" at least once a week. But the kids have been giving us such a hard time at bedtime the past few weeks, that by the time they are down I would drown if I got in the tub. Also, although I am totally looking forward to trying out the new tub, I feel terribly guilty about even considering using it. I mean holy California water shortage batman. I feel like I may as well be bathing in Cristal - hey wait a minute  that's an idea.

So, I do have therapy today, and when I sit there and cry (because I can already tell today will be a crying appointment) and I tell her how hard it has been and how overwhelmed I feel she will ask me what I have been doing for self care, I will tell her the truth. Nothing. I have done nothing to take care of myself in two months, which is resulting in exhaustion, fear, discontentment, anger, frustration, and LOTS of yelling. Momma has been yelling.

I will also tell her I have a plan. I am supposed to leave Sunday for a two day work trip. Initially once I realized it was quickly approaching, I was like ahhh two evenings to myself. Then I started thinking, hey I bet my Sister would love to go. We would have so much fun! I have agonized for about 6 days going back and forth in my head about whether or not to invite her to go with me. In light of this post, I think it is rather clear that I better take this time for myself. I will eat good food alone (whatever I want). I will watch copious amounts of Grey's Anatomy, and I will finish the book I started 3 months ago. I will just be, and hopefully I will return home less apt to bite someone's head off. Writing it out makes me feel bad too though, my Sister is having a lot of the same struggle. Maybe she needs to the time away too, see it never stops. Choose you Erica! I will also follow through with taking the kids to the in-laws Friday night and have an evening with the Husband free of fighting with baby girl over bedtime. Although to be honest, there is a good chance I'll break that one.

Self care is important. Self care is putting on your oxygen mask so you can help someone else with theirs. Self care is essential, and spawns other areas of difficulty when not properly utilized. Don't be like me. Don't "help" yourself into a corner that you can't get out of.

I've been a long time fan of Kate Voegle. However, I heard one song of hers last week and it was like it was brand new. If you know me online, or through CGG, you know how deeply music affects my soul. Well this song was sent to me like a life preserver. It highlighted all of the feelings of my heart I wasn't able to put into words yet. So I share the lyrics with you here below from

"Sweet Silver Lining"

[Verse 1]
Well I'm going home
Downhearted and hoping
I'm close to some new beginning
I know there's a reason for everything
That comes and goes

But so many people are looking to me
To be strong and to fight
But I'm just surviving
And I may be weak but I'm never defeated
And I'll keep believing
In clouds with that sweet silver lining

[Verse 2]
Most days I try
My best to put on a brave face
But inside
My bones are cold and my heart breaks
But all the while
Something's keeping me safe and alive

But so many people are looking to me
To be strong and to fight
But I'm just surviving
And I may be weak but I'm never defeated
And I'll keep believing
In clouds with that sweet silver lining

And I won't give up like this
I will be given strength
Now that I've found it
Nothing can take that away

[Chorus x2]

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The five women

Well….wow. So it has been over two years since I’ve last put words here on this blog. It is so incredibly hard to write what you think/feel and be vulnerable; especially for me. I decided to take up my sword again after beloved blogger, and now friend, Brittany Gibbons of, issued an August challenge: a month of body blogging. It seemed a good as time as any to put something out there in the world.

Today is August 5th and as such I decided to go with the 5th challenge on the list. The challenge is to write about the five women who have changed my life. 

1.) It most likely comes as no shock to anyone that the number one person on this list would be my Mother. She did in fact, you know, give me life and stuff. She also truly shaped my world view. My Mom is a fighter above all else. She is like the cat who you throw up in the air that always lands on its feet. I mean my gosh, she has a baby girl at 16, then lost her beloved father, then baby girl at 19, then leaves her crappy Husband and raises girls by herself… in a nutshell. I won’t say there weren’t bumps along the way, big bumps actually; but I think Mothers and Daughters can butt heads in ways that no other relationship can. However, my Mom taught some very important things about the world. My Mom taught me the value of hard work. My Mom has worked her ass off from the ground up, quite literally. She is currently in a high level public relations position, and it is no surprise to me that she is excelling. There are two areas, of many, about which I’ll write about today where Mom has absolutely shaped/changed my life.
One, my Mom instilled in me the deep value of a person, of all people. My Mom is totally inclusive; unless you burn her, then you’re assed out. She is bright, gorgeous, and funny. People flock to stand in her shadow, and she invests in all of them. She has never been the type to shoo someone away from her lunch table. My Mom is just as likely to be talking to a major foundation CEO, as she is the janitor who takes care of the office. She taught me, and lived the principal, that everyone has something of value, that I am NO better than anyone else. I’ve have carried this with me in my pocket since I was a kid. I’d like to think that I am as good about it as her. I feel like the intrinsic value of a person is something that is often ignored. I don’t know where in life people get the idea that they are awesome and everyone else sucks, but they suck. I only hope I can reach my own daughter about this. She currently operates as if her little Brother is her own personal minion.
Two, back when I was in college my Mom told me about an exchange she had with a friend. My Mom and Step-Dad had recently bought a travel trailer because my Dad was traveling for work at the time, and sleeping like 3 hours away from home during the week. The idea was that he would live in the trailer. A few friends came over to see the trailer and visit with my parents. One of my Mom’s friends was super excited for my parents. She was like “this is awesome…you guys will have so much fun with this…etc” Whereas her other friend, walked in looked around and said, “must be nice, congrats.” My Mom told me after how different she felt with each visit. How even though the second friend was nice, and pleasant, but her “must be nice” made her feel like crap. How people say “must be nice” all the time and it is an acceptable offhand comment. She said that she was disappointed that the second friend couldn’t be happy for them (I mean my friggin goodness my Mom had only been with my Step-Dad for like a few years and had struggled for like ever) and made a comment that made my Mom feel guilty. She told me she would never use that phrase again, and be sure to share in others joy more often. This conversation between my Mom and I happened probably 10-12 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday. Who are we to trample on someone else’s joy? So what if I feel sad or jealous? Lock that shit up and be happy for those around you.
There are so many more things I have learned from my Mom, and all manner of things small and large that she has done that has shaped me, but it would take me a novel to tell you about this. Suffice it to say, my Mom is kind of totally friggin awesome. She is also like a really great cook, is a crazy crafter, and a super fun Grandma. In essence, my Mom’s the shit. 

2.)  The second woman that has changed my life is my Sister. I am always trying to be more like my Sister. My Sister is fun and goofy. She has always seemed to be so sure of herself. She is an inspiration to me every day to be myself, and never apologize for it. She is also my constant challenge. It is hard not to measure yourself against someone so awesome. My Sister is a full on pinterest project, totally themed birthday party, house is all decorated kind of girl. I am not. I pin my little heart out, and I can hardly manage to do anything other than try a new recipe here or there. I am the Mom who calls, or even texts , the family a week before my kids birthdays to throw together a BBQ. You know what my Sister would say to that, “oh my gosh Erica who cares this is just fun for me.” So that is what I tell myself when I feel like my Sister is going to win all of the good Mom awards. Sometimes that voice wins, but more often I feel less. However, I realize that is my problem. My Sister isn’t doing anything wrong, she is just being her badass self. The idea that someone can be awesome, and want me to be awesome, yet is not a mirror showing me how un-awesome I am…priceless. I love you Les!

      3.) A third woman I will mention is a dear friend. Her name is Ruth. Ruth taught me a lot about friendship, kindness, gratitude, and faith. Ruth and I connected on levels I wouldn’t have expected between a 17 and 60+ year old. She taught me that friendship knows no age, no background, and no bounds. I think Ruth is the first empath I’ve ever met, even though I had no idea what that was at the time. Ruth had a very tough upbringing. She grew up feeling less than everyone around her, even though she was drop dead gorgeous and has the kindest heart I’ve ever witnessed in a person. She is the one who will comment to a gal in Victoria Secret that the panty color she chose was so pretty, and she wished she had a pair like that at her age. Then before you know it, 45 minutes has passed and this poor girl is pouring her heart out to Ruth about her life story and how she had been struggling. How she just got a new job so she was buying herself something pretty. No joke this actually happened; more than once, in my presence. Ruth taught me to open my heart to strangers, to press when you ask someone how they are doing and they say “ok.” She taught me about generosity of spirit. She taught me about being an empath long before I knew I was one. She taught me about paying it forward, and sticking your neck out for people. I think most of all though, she taught me about faith. There was a particular rough time in my life and Ruth was there. There were days I honestly didn’t know how I would make it through. Ruth would take my hand, tell me she’d been there, and then we would kneel and pray together. She told me that sometimes life is hard and you pray to get through each and every minute if you have to. There was many a day I would pray just for an hour, a minute, of time hoping that things wouldn’t hurt so bad. Her love and acceptance helped carry me through those tough few years. In exchange, I open her world up to Taco Bell. It just doesn’t seem like a fair trade. J In all seriousness, I was there when her beloved Son left for college. Her Son, whom she was super close to, and fought for half her life practically to have. I moved into their renovated barn apartment for three of the years I was in college. I held her hand when she missed her Son, I made her laugh when we would go shopping, I helped iron her Husband’s copious amount of long sleeved work shirts. Spoiler alert, I totally rock at ironing because of her. Ruth taught me in the few years we were crutches for each other, that there are no limits to friendship, and I love her. A few years ago she moved away to be closer to her Son, because He never moved home after college. He met a great girl, got married, had two baby girls of his own. So his parents sold their ranch and moved to be closer to them. I miss them all the time. I think of them often, and when I do, the warmth of Ruth’s spirit envelopes me, and I feel lucky to have spent so much time with her.

*Sidenote, Ruth’s Husband is all sorts of amazing as well, but this post is about women.*

4.) The 4th woman who has changed my life is my therapist. I firmly believe that all people can benefit from some therapy at some point in their life. There is nothing bad about knowing the how’s and why’s of your reaction to things. I mean it is a lot of hard work, but totally worthwhile. She has given me perspective and tools that I will carry in my heart forever.

5.)  The last woman I will mention is the fabulous Mrs. Brittany Gibbons aka As you can tell, I know many totally awesome women, so picking the top 5 that changed my life is difficult! However, it is easy to name B. I’ve been a long time reader of hers for years. Several months ago now she started an online community where I have been a really active member. Through this forum she has greatly enriched my life. She has brought me wonderful new friends, and a place where I feel at home being myself no apologies. She challenges us to be happy with ourselves on a daily basis. The group has also filled me with a lot of purpose. I am good at my job, but it isn’t what I am supposed to be doing. The forum gives me an opportunity to do what I do best, and that is be there to support others. I didn’t even know that is what was missing until the group existed. The group has highlighted my purpose for me, and through it I have connected with people who provided me with the tools to learn a lot more about how I operate. I will be forever grateful to these women who have shared the deepest recesses of their soul with me, and who have lighted a fire in my heart with purpose. I look forward to the next chapter of my life where I pursue graduate work to further this purpose.

So we’ll see how tomorrow’s challenge goes. Who knows, maybe it will be another two years before I write again!