Well, it has been a while since my last entry. As Stormy posted on Facebook, “We’re just taking a ‘spring break’ from our blog.” It could be also described as a dry spell, but I like how she put a marketing spin on it.
There is a lot on my to-do-list that has been on hold lately. I seem to have lost some drive. I could blame it on kids, work or activities, but since hectic is my normal life my best guess is it is due to a lack of inspiration or just a temporary shut down. I even turned down going out on a Friday night to instead hang out in a quiet, childless house in my pajamas doing absolutely nothing. This is very unusual for me. I usually thrive on action and hate to miss out on any fun.
This inaction has my to-do-list rapidly growing, including some things which are now even months behind. To break this pattern, I have decided to force some action and just start ticking things off. Thank goodness for another Stormy Facebook post, “Interesting experiment… Which door would you pick?” that finally helped me get started. First item to complete: My next blog.
I think Dove has done many great campaigns. But #choosebeautiful Dove campaign is my favorite. I played it a few times, fascinated at the visual stories. As a mom, I loved–and understood–the woman pulling her daughter through the beautiful door. I would do the same thing. It made me smile at the friends who direct each other to go through “beautiful.” Again, I could picture each of my girlfriends and how I know they are meant for that door. I would make them go through it even if they were hesitant. It also was fascinating to hear why women picked a door and their feelings after. Interestingly, as watched, I never pushed myself to decide which door I would/should go through.
When I sent the video in a group email to my mom and sisters, my mom immediately wrote back stating she would hope that she, and all of us, would choose the beautiful door. Faced with the direct comment, I honestly couldn’t answer that I would. (By the way, my dear sisters, I did notice you totally avoided choosing in your commentary.)
I wish I could say that I would walk proudly through the beautiful door alone. But the reality is that facing the doors alone, I know for certain I would enter the normal door. Admittedly feeling shitty about it afterward, but still believing I went through the one best meant for me. I can’t point to an exact reason why. Believe me, I would love to announce to the world, and myself, that the beautiful door was mine. I even tried thinking about all the beautiful things about me, and why I deserve to walk through that door. I know logically it is the “right” door to pick. I understand the power of walking through that door. But I just can’t claim that door as mine.
With that said, I know surrounded by my girlfriends I would walk through it, as I would with my mom and sisters beside me. Not just to push them through it. Not because of peer pressure. Simply, because that is how I feel when I am with them.
Certain people make you a better version of your self. Or maybe it’s a reflection of how they see you. Or just the light they add to you when near.
I would like to think that someday (or just some days), I would automatically choose the beautiful door on my own. Not just because I know it’s the right image to show my daughter. And certainly not because I think anything is wrong with normal. I embrace my imperfections, crazies, and stumbles as an interesting and important part of who I am. But I do believe it is important to feel truly beautiful at least sometimes while standing alone. This is a place where I could use some growth.
Which brings me to another item on my to-do list, my vision board (as mentioned, I am months behind on some things). Maybe this year I will fill it with things that help me achieve personal moments of beautiful both inside and out.
Cheers to Dove for making me think and inspiring me back into action. What door would you choose?
Now this could sound sexy and hot, but don’t forget I am a crazy over-scheduled working mom. My hotel fantasies consist of visions of a bed to myself, no one to tuck in, and room service dancing in my head. (This would cover #22-24 on the “28 Gifts Every Mom Wants for the Holidays” that Stormy posted to our Facebook page. Stormy, I am still counting on you to deliver gift #28 in person before Christmas.)
Neither of the possible fantasies mentioned above happened. The reality of my recent hotel night was a lovefest of a completely different kind. There was a hotel involved, but the room was shared with my two sisters and the lovefest was filled with giggles, confidences and tears—the kind that only siblings (or girlfriends) can cram together in a just few hours.
The initial plan was for us all to escape our hectic lives and take a moment to really enjoy the holiday season. We would leisurely shop, have a delicious dinner, and retire to our room to watch “Love Actually” over a bottle of wine.
Then we’d wake up rested for breakfast and spend a full day helping each other cross off our holiday shopping lists. One comment that was continually repeated by each of us was how excited we were to be in a relaxing atmosphere with a time out from normal chores, family and work. We would be able to actually catch up on some much-needed rest.
Well, the first part of our outing went as planned, including heading up to the room at 9:30 p.m. We congratulated ourselves on being back in time to have our peaceful evening and not letting freedom con us into staying out and trying to enjoy the bar scene. It was while waiting for our room service that the evening plans took an unforeseen turn. Why not turn on a little music while we waited for our bottle of Pinot Grigio? A little Taylor Swift seemed harmless. But that was when the night took on a different course:
We danced and sang together. Current hits. ’80s rock. Country. (I did save them from hearing me belt out a heartfelt rendition of “Let It Go.”)
We decided to order a nightcap following our wine, which included a call to the bartender, instructing him on how to make our first drink. And, so we didn’t have to call again, to bring extra orders without ice. Can’t have the waiting drinks diluted!
We shared. Everything from giggling about bodily functions, memories that we each had different versions of, family dysfunction, to our secrets and fears.
We asked each other hard questions. Things we perceived or guessed by just knowing each other a little too well. Things no one else is brave enough to ask you.
An argument. What started as a heartfelt sharing, followed up by smart sisterly advice, turned into tears, hurt feelings and stubborn silence on both sides.
Ten minutes later a post-fight make up. Who besides a sister can you sit on and threaten disgusting things that will happen if they don’t give in and smile?
At some point a decision to sleep – last clock check was remembered at 2:30 a.m.
We woke up foggy headed but still laughing as we reminded each other of things we did and reminisced about our silly night. There was nothing any of us would change. We agreed even the fight added to the perfection of the night.
So that sums up my hotel lovefest. How an evening of being completely uncensored and totally yourself can be so freeing. How much you love those people, deep to the core of you, with whom you can share that kind of night.
I left the Westin packed with unforgettable memories and true love.
I returned from my Vegas girls trip almost a week ago, and I’m finally starting to feel like I am catching up on sleep and running on full capacity again. I have a bad tendency to maximize vacations. This means flying back home at midnight and still heading into work the next morning so as not to lose out on a minute of precious vacation time. (Pretty much how I live my life, rushing from one activity to the next.) Even with the vacation hangover, every exhausted moment I am paying for it is well worth it.
Stormy expected me to find blog inspiration in Vegas. At least she was hoping. I have been a little behind on my writing. My inspiration, and time, has run short—and it was even shorter with a vacation looming. For some reason, taking time off means working twice as hard before you leave and again once you get back. (In actuality, you don’t really get time off from work but just the same amount of work crowded into fewer days.)
So Stormy … I didn’t find any great Vegas inspiration (nor, admittedly, did I try) but I did full-heartedly enjoy it and lived in the moment for four straight days. Though, I have recovered enough to at least recap why I think Vegas is always a great vacation pick-me-up and well worth the week-long recovery (being 45 might play a part in my long recovery time, I used to bounce back quicker).
I know there are those who don’t love Vegas. For example, Stormy isn’t as sold on it as me. But I suggest you pack your bags, invite a couple of girlfriends and give it another try. If nothing else, you will be forced to live in the moment and be distracted from reality by the continual stimulation. Some of my favorite things about Sin City include:
The Sun – You don’t have to spend a full day traveling to find some much-needed sun. And once you are on your beach chair, being served your tropical drink of choice, Vegas feels as far away as a Caribbean resort. (And, if you prefer sand versus pool, you can always book Mandalay Bay.) Lounging at the Palazzo pool being served pitchers of cucumber vodka lemonades is where is where we spent our days. No matter how late we got to bed, every morning we dragged ourselves out to soak up every minute of the sun. Another surprise benefit of Vegas was that by the fourth day we were too tired from sleepless nights to walk around with our stomachs held in or analyze our body flaws highlighted in swim suits. We just lazed in the sun without a care.
Gambling – I am not a High Roller and usually allot “entertainment” money that I am willing to lose, factoring in drinks are free when you gamble. None of us had illusions of hitting it big or plans to spend too much time at the tables. But, we did all enjoy the craps table. With some lucky rolling from all of us, our “entertainment” money (including tips we earned from the actual High Rollers at the table who were benefiting from our luck) kept us rolling all night. In the casino is also where we discovered the strange passage of time in Vegas. One of us would look at our phone and realize hours had passed, that it was almost morning, and herd us all upstairs. Each day, exhausted, we would tell each other it wouldn’t happen again. Each night it did.
Adult Disneyland – Everyone is happy in Vegas. Sure, it seems a little corrupt and not the most wholesome of attractions. But how often do you gather with so many people who just let go and have fun? One night was dancing. One night was a show (if you’re not offended easily, “Absinthe” is incredible – I have never
laughed so hard and out loud along with an entire crowd). One night was spent being tourists as we visited the dancing fountains, erupting volcanoes, and Chandelier bar. There truly is something for everyone and always something going on. You are surrounded by the best in shopping and food. I think there is even golf, if you like that sort of thing. No matter what your activity of choice is, everyone around you is also in a good mood and enjoying themselves a bit too much also.
Looking at the list above doesn’t do my trip justice. It is tough to explain just why you should go to Vegas:
So, to my lovely traveling companions: my sisters and “adopted” sister (the adoption happened on the dance floor and involved a Wild Turkey shot), I look forward to our new yearly excursion. I know a trip with the right people is incredible anywhere. But being in just the right atmosphere, Vegas, was the topping on the cake. Plus in Vegas, there seems to be more hours in the day to enjoy!
But next time, I may be willing to give up the 4:00 am nights at the crap table in lieu of just a little more sleep. I came home and had a childlike meltdown my first evening back, when I couldn’t get my daughter to prance nicely off to bed upon my request. I was dying to go to sleep myself. And as I melted down, I caught the wide-eyed stares of my children, frozen so as not to fuel the rage any more. So though I may not have found a Vegas inspiration, I did find insight into the irrational mind of a tired tantruming child. Maybe I will be more understanding the next time I keep them up late for fun and am punished for it later.
Stormy, I think you should give Las Vegas another shot!
Our EasierSaidBlog is one year old! Last November, when we started discussing the idea for a joint blog, I don’t think either of us knew how it would go and whether we’d be able to keep it up, but in January we launched it and have been muddling through ever since.
At this reflective time of year, we thought it might be interesting to interview each other and share our perspective on the last year of writing together.
KitKat, what did you set out to do by starting a blog and do you feel like you’ve accomplished that?
I think there were a couple things wrapped into doing the blog for me. First, I had a constant “to-do” item on my list to start journaling. When you mentioned doing a blog together, it seemed like a good way to be held accountable to get that checked off. The other, bigger piece was it was always the talks with you and other friends that got me through times my mind was spinning. Whether it was talking over inane things, kid concerns, wishes and wants, or feeling overwhelmed, simply talking it through always ended up lifting my spirits and let me know I wasn’t alone. The blog seemed like another release to let out some of those thoughts and to share with others that none of us have it perfectly under control, are above making mistakes or have it all figured out.
As far as accomplishing what I set out to do, I did stick with it so my “to-do” was accomplished. As for the less tangible goal … when I wrote about Learning to live in the maybe, I had friends—some I haven’t had a chance to talk to for a long time—reach out and let me know they were there for me without judgment and no matter what happened. They didn’t need details, just wanted to support me. So I’m not sure the blog has helped anyone else feel “not alone,” but it has certainly reminded me! _____________________________________
Stormy, do you have favorite parts of, or experiences about, the blogging process?
Well, it sort of changes how I look at the world. I think you’ve mentioned this as well—how you look at odd situations or funny experiences and think of them as “blog material”… The interesting thing is, sometimes episodes that seem ripe for documenting just don’t translate into the written word very well. And other things that seem simple can take on new dimensions when you start writing about them.
The other thing that I find fun is looking at our blog stats—reach of readership, who follows, likes and comments. We’ve been read in 44 countries! Who is reading us from the Maldives? Introduce yourself and say “Hello”! And let’s not forget the copious offers to help us with SEO. (Hint to same: We’re both marketing directors, if we were concerned with site optimization we’d hire someone we know to do it, not an Internet spammer.) _____________________________________
KitKat, what has been the biggest challenge of doing a blog?
Time! Though once I do sit down and write it always calms me to be doing something reflective and just for me, finding the time to do something that isn’t a “have to” is tough. A kid who won’t go to sleep on time, an unplanned work project taken home, or an extra hockey game scheduled can all derail a planned time slot to sit down and write.
For this blog post, the biggest challenge is my kids are on Winter Break so I am writing this with a ton of chatter in the background and a house strewn with holiday gifts. It is hard to think, much less write, in such chaos. _____________________________________
Stormy, have there been any posts where you hesitated before pushing “publish” or decided not to make public?
Yes! Basically any of the posts about my mother. For a grown woman, I’m ridiculously self-conscious about my mother’s opinion of everything I do. I know she would be appalled at some of my posts, but the process of getting these frustrations down on paper is strangely cathartic for me.
There are other posts where I might hint at something from my real life, but keep the details veiled. Like Stormy’s identity, I don’t like to reveal everything about myself to the masses. I need to maintain the illusion that I (mostly) have my act together. (LOL) _____________________________________
KitKat, where do you find inspiration for your topics?
It seems my life is full of inspiration for topics, the good and the bad. Kids for sure. Girlfriends. Family. The biggest, though, seems to be wherever my mind is wandering at the moment I write. There have been lots of times, for example up at the cabin with a girlfriend, that I will jump up in the middle of a funny conversation and jot down an idea. Friends and family have grown accustomed to that. The funny thing is now I have this long list where, at the time each was jotted down, my brain was already creating the post around the idea. But when I actually have time to sit and write, the inspiration has passed and I end up writing about something that is currently on my mind—even when I struggle with knowing that my list has the potential for more interesting posts than where my brain landed on the day I write. _____________________________________
Stormy, have there been times when you have had writer’s block or struggled with a topic?
Oh yeah. I definitely need to be in the right mood to write a post. Some topics I mull over in my mind for months before they slowly, painfully make it onto the page. Others come spewing out in 20 minutes of frenetic writing. There’s no logic to it either. Sometimes, the more I have to say about a topic, the harder it is to get those thoughts on paper. _____________________________________
KitKat, we’ve known each other a long time and used to work together. Have you learned anything that surprised you about me?
Big Bird, belly buttons and wool were all oddities I knew you hated. I actually remember tormenting you on your 40th birthday at work when we all hung photos around your office of your least favorite things. I also knew you had my control freak nature and not a lot of tolerance for things you found stupid. So I had no illusions that you didn’t have some “idiosyncrasies.”
I have learned the boss and mentor who “had it all together” is a lot more like me. Actually, I learned just how much we are alike. I also learned that you are great at giving sound advice and not so good at taking it yourself, whether from me or from your own wisdom. I also was surprised about your “whimsical side.” Very out of character and an interesting dynamic. For some reason, I think you will keep surprising me. _____________________________________
Stormy, back at you—anything that surprised you about me?
The cushion confession absolutely slayed me. And the “wet bread” thing will forever color my menu choices when I invite you and the hubby to dinner. Other than that, no big surprises—by this point, I think we understand each other pretty well. Actually, I take that back. I’m surprised by the fact that you’ve been able to stick with this so long, given all the other demands on your time. _____________________________________
KitKat, which do you consider to be your favorite post?
That is a hard one! Do The Bloggers and About count as posts? I think those and the initial stories you and I posted were my favorites simply because it was the beginning to our blog. We admitted who we were and started down the blogging path.
I do still get a kick out of writing and reading our joint blogs like the True Confessions and Phobias. I would like to do more of those this year. _____________________________________
Stormy, do you have some posts or overall blogging plans already on the agenda to tackle in 2014?
We’ve talked about doing a “cabin post,” but I have trouble trimming that down to a manageable length. And I’ve thought I should do one on adoption—but that’s another topic that I could go on about for days. When I can come up with “that one key idea,” I’ll be ready to tackle those topics. Otherwise, I’m just curious to see what unfolds in 2014. I’m sure there will be no shortage of material. 🙂
Unlike Stormy, I do let the holidays get to me a bit. “A bit” may an understatement. As the holidays rolled in, I was reminded not to have another green bean episode this year. An episode that spiraled when, after careful planning to avoid the holiday grocery lines on Dec 23, I came home to my family eating the green beans needed for a dish I was bringing on Christmas Eve. Yes, it sounds crazy that I lost it over green beans. But really, when have they ever chosen to eat green beans?! Plus, it was perfectly timed for when I needed somewhere to let my tension explode. I had found my target. Hence, the green bean episode.
This holiday season started like all others. Around September, my mind starts thinking about the holidays. I start keeping my eye out for the perfect gifts. This year, the Centennial Lakes Art Fair that I attended with Stormy was the place I purchased my favorite gift during one of our needed friend-therapy sessions. (We both are great multi-taskers.) As the months go by and not all gifts are as perfectly stumbled upon, I start to feel the tension building.
Being self-aware and remembering my past holiday stress tantrums, I have tried to do a couple of things to avoid becoming a Christmas freak show.
My first step was to stop sending holiday cards. It was always pushed to the end of my list. I never had my contacts organized, so I always ended up addressing my cards late at night with a pile of envelope scraps (from past senders) with no joy involved. Plus, when I did do cards, I had the self-created pressure that as marketing professional I was expected to have a really cool card. Enough years later, I am completely comfortable with the fact that anything I do at work is not something I enjoy doing in my leisure time. Everyone else can enjoy those fun, creative projects.
With that said, I love getting holiday cards. So thank you to those who still send me one without getting one in return! Every year, I think that is going back on the list next year. Just in a more efficient way.
I have also added a shopping weekend with my girlfriend to alleviate some of the stress. The sell of this weekend to our husbands is we agree to do all of the shopping and organizing if we can get away for a kid-free, responsibility-free weekend. A shopping staycation.
Online shopping has greatly improved the quality of this weekend.
Usually I am calm and feeling organized up until this point, the week leading up to Christmas Day. I wrap presents each night as I count down. As long as nothing tumbles, I think I am stress-free. The problem is something always tumbles. Or possibly, I just don’t acknowledge the building stress ’til this final countdown. If I am being honest, the wrong look at a present I chose, a missing ingredient, or the tape running out as I wrap presents could each set me off.
This year though, Stormy’s blog came at just the right time. I read it as I was wrapping presents and looking ahead to some time off. The Holiday Break division of labor. Each of us taking a week off to cover for the kids at home. My shift was pre-holidays, including the extra Friday the school threw in in addition to the other two weeks off! I decided to heed Stormy’s advice and cancel the list of pre-Christmas plans I had made to make the most of my time off.
Instead, I spent four days in my pajamas. I wrapped presents watching The Vampire Diaries in the middle of the day while my kids played too many electronics. None of us had rules. It is the most relaxed I have been. My daughter brushed my hair while I had a glass of wine and played on the iPad, telling me she’d miss me when I had to work again. My 10-year old son let me tuck him in and show him how I used to stroke his face as a baby until he fell asleep. I actually enjoyed doing a lot of nothing and was rewarded for it. The only thing I did was load the dishwasher quickly before my husband got home each night to prove a long-term point.
Well, I made it through without an episode! I keep surprising myself by discovering all of the things a person can make it through, especially with the advice and support of friends.
So to all my wonderful girlfriends: Thank you. Thank you all for getting me through the year and filling it with not only support but fun and laughter. Those who reached out when I haven’t talked to them forever, but wanted me to know they were there; to my walking partner who has been a perfectly timed gift and will be my friend even when not in need; my amazing “mom” friends who make me feel sane and have become my own friends with or without kid connections; my amazing sisters; and my few soul mates–you know who you are.
I am lucky to have an incredible group of girlfriends. I think most women would say that. But, I know I’m a bit nuts and my girlfriends are there for me through thick and thin. Actually, they all have their own bit of crazy which makes them that much more amazing. I couldn’t imagine getting through the ups, downs or mundane times in life without them. And, because this is the one area of my life in which I’m completely satisfied, I never question if it could be better or try to look for ways to change it.
It isn’t that I don’t like meeting new people or see value in expanding my circle. I am just busy and there is never enough time to enjoy the friends I already have. (Granted, I can’t ever imagine saying there is enough time with them. Yet, my husband’s opinion may be that they get the vast majority of my time.) So, I do not seek to make new, close friendships. Though, I enjoy making new acquaintances. Like all things, though, sometimes you can’t control what happens.
Once in awhile, I just run into someone, and it is an instantaneous “chick click.” These are women that I have an immediate draw toward (almost a magnetic pull). One of my friends calls it my “girl crush.” Usually, they are chance meetings in random places:
A yoga teacher I met at a Power Plate class (after a tequila happy hour, our bond was sealed)
A neighbor I never met ringing our doorbell on Halloween night (an offer of wine for her treat was all it took)
A woman I met in Korea while we were both adopting, and we met up for a few drinks in a hotel bar prior to meeting our children (and ending with her knocking on the Eastern Orphanage windows to get back in past curfew)
Please note: I realize all of these also have a drink or two involved, but isn’t that where most good stories start?
Each of these are women I instantly bonded with. The draw came before the drinks. My crazy could feel their crazy. And I mean no offense to them by crazy. As my yoga friend would say—embrace your crazy. These bonds for me come from the women who on the outside are so put together and shock you when they say they don’t have their shit together. I love them because they admit it. Nothing endears someone to me quite like admitting a bit of crazy. These are the girlfriends where it is no holds barred on being silly, sharing, laughing, and getting you through life.
The other night I met another one. (I need more time—or less work.) We had a dinner party. My “trick-or-treat” girlfriend brought another couple. Drinks around the table. Good food. More drinks. Tons of laughs. My neighbor had to leave early, since she was flying out for work the next day. Pretty soon husbands tire out and my “new” friend and I decide to keep going. This is when the bond is sealed. We stay up sharing, talking till … who knows, but way longer than we should. Mixed within our conversations were a lot of, “wow, I like you a lot!” and making of future plans.
Will we get to all these plans? Probably not. But even after only a few hours of sleep (with kids raring to go), I wake up with a big smile and I ride the high all day. It’s like a great first date that went too far. Except no regrets after!
Unlike a first date, I know I will see her again and she liked me too. Neither of us will worry if we don’t connect for awhile (wondering what it means or what we did wrong). And, when we get back together, there will be no problem picking right back up.
I love times when I forget I am anything but me (not a wife, employee, boss, mother, daughter). Just fully enjoying the moment and living completely in the present. That is where my girlfriends bring me. So to all my girlfriends, thank you—you have no idea all you get me through and the pure joy you add to my life. Yes—I would choose you over my wine! XOXO
For me, there is nothing in the world like being out dancing with girlfriends. I probably should be saying something like “having children,” “watching a beautiful sunset,” or “accomplishing a long-term goal.” But if I am being perfectly honest, my true happy place is out with girls dancing. It is the perfect pairing of two favorite things.
Dancing: My husband and kids know at any time Mom may throw on a playlist of a random genre and start a dance party around the house. It may be pop, glam rock, alternative, heavy metal, hip hop or even country (usually inspired by my last visit to the cabin and the local dance bar). Lately my morning routine has been blasting “Chicken Fried” and singing and dancing for the family. They find me a bit annoying but I’m hoping somewhere … deep down … they secretly find me fun and silly. How else do you break up a morning of crabby kids, a grumbling husband and facing another crazy day at the office? Especially since running away does not seem to be an option.
Girlfriends: I don’t think I have to do too much explaining on this. Most likely, just seeing the word made you smile. These are those to whom you can say whatever you want to and they just get it. Some are really close and know all your intimate secrets. Others are fabulous neighbors, coworkers, workout partners or a even random meet-up. They are the honest women who don’t try to tell you life is perfect, but are just there and get it with you. They make life perfect. Okay, I am gushing, but I do recognize when I am blessed.
So, combine these two fabulous things that make me feel completely free, totally myself, and always put a huge smile on my face – mix in with a couple drinks (the cherry on the top) – and I have a moment of selfish bliss. And that moment helps get me through a lot of other kinds of times.
I am hoping there are others out there who would consider volunteering or overcoming a challenge to be their happy place. They help add some balance to this world. (My runner-up happy place is on the couch – quiet with no one else around – with a glass of wine.) But, the important thing is knowing where it is and visiting it as often as you can.