True Friends Can Stand A Messy House

This morning we had a beautiful spontaneous visit from a good friend as she was running errands with her daughters. After a quick text, and bringing the dog down the stairs I had no time to even think about cleaning up.

The cool thing was, I didn’t actually even THINK about cleaning up. Why would I? I knew that this friend would not care, nor judge me for the state of my house, or ME for that matter. The house this morning was actually not half bad. But there I was in the clothes I slept in, my face not washed for the past 2 days and my hair looking like limp spaghetti (and there may have even been spaghetti in it!)

We had a great quick catch up, the girls played together and they were on to the next thing. How freeing it is to have friends like that in your life. The ones you don’t have to put on make up for, or even a bra haha. The ones that not only do not judge you for your messy house but help nurture it by coming over and adding to the disarray with love and play.

These are the friends that my husband and I enjoy cultivating and look forward to enjoying more of this coming year.

Dear Pediatrician, Handle Me with Care

Dear Pediatrician,

I realize that we rely on you way too much for too many things. I am sorry, and guess what I am going to ask of you even more; Please handle me with care. I realize I am not your patient, my child is. I realize that every week you see a hundred or more parents who bring their kids in with the same symptoms, the same concerns and the same crisis. 

I ask still, please handle me with care when I bring my children to you. Please remember that they are not the only ones hurting or sick. I, the parent, am hurting inside and sick with worry. I realize your focus is on figuring out the equation of symptom + symptom = which drug you prescribe so that I will walk away happy. 

But here is the thing. You know what would really make me happy? Is to feel heard and not shamed. 95% of what I am looking for when I walk into your office is:

1) To know I am not crazy. To have someone to bounce worry and ideas with, without being judged.

2) To be given hope, optimism, confidence, we have a plan, I can do this.

3) To be reminded I am not failing in every way possible at this parent thing (because guess what, if I am in your office, that is EXACTLY what I am thinking).

What would make me happy is to have confidence in you.  To have confidence in you is to be heard, to be empathized with as a person. To have confidence in you is to know that when you don't have an answer, you tell me that. You refer me to someone else, you say, you think a dietician, a counselor, a chiropractor may have a different perspective than you have and open that door that empowers me to go look for a well rounded understanding of my child's issues. Do not shut those doors and call me crazy for looking outside of just your bubble of knowledge. 

What would make me happy is feel validated, whether you agree with me or not, you can acknowledge my feelings are my feelings and should not be dismissed. I already feel crazy for having the feelings I have, I already think I am losing my mind (doesn't every parent?). Please handle me with as much care as you would a postpartum hormonal, anxiety bundle of a mess of a person, because oh wait, that is me, exactly me regardless of how old my kids are. When it comes to my kids, that is me within a second of walking in your door. 

What would make me happy is when we do not agree on a plan of action with MY children, remember my fear or lack of agreement has nothing to do with thinking you are uneducated. It has to do with that I am the one living with these decisions. I am the one who gets to go home and sit up all night with a screaming child when your solution doesn't work, or when things get worse, or when everything in my gut is screaming NO this is not RIGHT, I am the one who lives with the guilt of having not done enough. The burden of the right choice does not lay the most on you, it lays on us. Please handle me with the care you would with a person making a decision about life support. Sometimes even though you know that this is not a life or death situation, as the parent, we feel like it is. 

You often get to see me on my worst days. Handle me with the care with which you handle my child. By the time you see me I am a walking time bomb of shame, guilt, and worry. Handle me with care as if I may explode any second because that is how I feel. Remind me I am doing a good job. Remind me that you are listening. Remind me that my feelings are valid. Remind me that I am doing the best I can and every parent has been through this. 95% of what I need from you are these things when I see you. You got one class, if that, on counseling or bed side manner, and yet this is the majority of how you build trust with your parents to comply with and be open minded to your solutions. So I thank you in advance, before you walk through the door, breathe and handle US with care. 



P.S. To those pediatricians who do an exceptional job of handling the entire family with care, thank you. Thank you for making the choice to prioritize patients over insurance dollars and rules for lengths of visits. Thank you for aligning your personal values with the decision of where you work and who you work for. Thank you for your craft of making us feel heard and validated. Thank you for remembering how you felt when you were a parent of kids that age and for being human alongside of us.

When the Fairytale Doesn't Always Include a Husband-Unexpected Joy in a Life You Never Hoped For

Story submitted by Sarah Evans 

This is my story, finding peace in a life I never dreamed of, when the opposite path then planned is the one I was catapulted to. How I came into unfathomable joy through mending a broken heart and dreams shattered.

Remember when you were a little girl dreaming of a fairytale life.  A prince. A hot one too of course. To which together you create many heirs to the thrown. Right?! And if those plans were to happen it would make you so happy?

My fairytale totally happened. My dreams from a little seven-year-old came true. I always dreamed of marrying my best friend, someone romantic, having a family with four kids. Being a stay at home mom in a house I called home.

When I was 23 years old this fairytale dream started to be a reality. I married my best friend, romantic and a navy sailor (come on close enough to a prince). It was one of the happiest days of my life. It was the most beautiful wedding, everything I ever dreamed of. Gosh, it was perfect!

Being committed with that crazy amazing love. With out hesitation I'd do anything for him.  Move across country, uproot my life, anything because I loved him so deeply. "Home" for me was anywhere he was. We made a life together, encouraged each others dreams and had life dreams together.  We were silly and had fun together. He was the person I could be raw and completely my self around. He was so romantic, knew how to melt my core. He engaged in my interests and I in his, with his love for guitar and music.

He had my whole heart.  The same excited feeling I had when we were engaged and he drove 8 hours for a surprise visit, continued into marriage. As a military family, the giddiness I felt when I knew he was coming home was incredible. Even though I was independent, my heart was never whole when he was out at sea when duty called. We were seen as a power house couple, on military deployments we had flawless communication. It was my fairytale, he my prince.

People always thought we'd last forever, and I 110% knew we would. We had a solid friendship of a foundation, great support system, had some really tough stuff come our way and should of broken us but it didn't. Nothing would, nothing could break us. The love. Commitment.

Three years into the marriage, as planned we tried for a baby and got pregnant with our precious boy! We were going to be a family! Dreams to raise that boy to be the best Packer fan ever (for real though, Title town home grown girl right here). We had family vacations we dreamed of doing. Our parenting approaches, values and beliefs were in agreement.  My life was going according to "plan" and 'nearing perfection' was my thought. With being married to my best friend, and now starting our little family.

Reality was, behind closed doors stuff was really rough. I refused to see the negatives. I knew we'd make it through, work through it all. Faith being a big part in my life, I turned to God during this time. I started seeing a counselor for encouragement during this period of the marriage.

A Marriage was forever in my mind and there was never another option. I loved him fully with my whole heart! My best friend, confidant, my soulmate. Something like we had with an amazing foundation would be able to be the root that we'd bring ourselves back to after a really rough time even, right?

I had convinced myself of the perfect picture, all while being in denial because my fairytale having a family, having my best friend, who I loved forever was fading fast. Too fast. And I was terrified. Terrified to do life with out him. To raise a child as a single mom. Facing the fact he didn't love me anymore seemed too painful to ever over come. I convinced my self things were so much better then what they were. To cope. Attempting to focus on the positives and not loose hope. Not let my days be driven by the chaos of negativity unfolding.

I never thought I'd go through the life hurricane I was in. The physical pain felt when a spouse says they don't love you anymore. questioning my worth, importance, physical appearance. Never thought I'd be "that" girl in a marriage who allows the negativity to penetrate her core, emotionally second guessing her self, confidence being destroyed. But that was me. Oh God I was a mess, I had lost my spunk, the light in my eyes when I smiled. I had lost every part of who I had been.

I gripped so tight to not loosing that man. The farytale, my dreams. Our dreams, ripping apart and my grip loosening with each tear. I begged, pleaded, for the love to stay, my family to be together, forever! "Not me, it's not me that will have a story that ends this way.... I thought. I need him, my heart can't handle this."

It sucked. Okay, take the positive spin off, I'll be real... It nearly crushed me. Pain from words, feeling abandoned, was on levels I didn't know existed. The death of a dream is heavy. The changes to come almost paralyzing to think of. The stages of grief, is no joke. Court process brutal. Oh gosh, humiliating even though there was nothing humiliating that I did. My life wide open for all to see.

Fast forward... 2.5 my divorce was finalized Jan 2016. That man, who I called my best friend, isn't my husband, or best friend anymore. My home isn't wherever he is, he's not where I find my belonging anymore. The dreams of being by his side forever as a team, traveling places, the adventurous life plans we had, having more kids...have adjusted and changed. The family dynamic I envisioned and valued of both mom and dad raising children together as a family, playing together, laughingand crying together, is no more. The ability to identify as a wife, relate and partake in couple like outings, is gone.

I'm thriving! I was determined to grow from this, it wasn't going to break me. I was a fighter. I fought for the marriage, and I wasn't going to not fight for my self too. I was determined to come out of this pain with strength and not just survive through it but thrive! Not only for my son, but for my self most importantly.

Through the loss of love, and dreams, I have found love and a joy. Love for myself, who I am, my abilities, weaknesses and strengths. A love that is not effected by another humans feelings. I found my place in a family, the family of my close friendships. The beautiful dynamic of friendships as they carried me through tough moments. I've found myself worth again. My true identity, not tainted or dependent on the acceptance of others. A new found confidence. That I am more capable then I thought on many levels. Confidence to be brave, and stand up for my self. Liberating. My passion for things I used to enjoy such as Broadway's, have been reignited. Then the joy and peace, oh my gosh, can't explain it. It's overwhelming, this joy that can't be contained. When I smile, my eyes sparkle again as the smile stems from my soul, not from an attempt try and mask pain.

At furthest from my dreams and desires I'm my happiest I've ever been in life! THAT feels good! I'm not a married, stay at home mom with 3 kids, and a house. I'm single as all get out, with an only child, renting a beautiful apartment. I desire love and companionship but I'm thriving without.  My dreams have changed, yet grown out of a desire to share love with everyone. I'm traveling, creating memories, living fully, engaging in parenthood through the special bond my son and I have. This time just him and I; I view as a gift. I treasure it! He's my travel buddy now and it's a blast.  I love life now in ways I couldn't before heart break and loss. I live daily with out being consumed by uncertainties. Being free to embrace every aspect of the journey with out a need to know what's next. Because today is enough!

The possibilities are endless of where life might take me, and I'm so excited! But I've realized where ever I go in life there's a Plan. My own plans might fail, what I thought would be the best outcome might not be that. I've been reminded that, the ultimate purpose filled plan that I can't always see, never fails me!

If life is not where you wanted it to be, just know you're not alone. Whatever life has brought you, I encourage you with this: you are important and valued. Circumstances can fail us. But this is not the end, there is always sun on the other side of the storm. When that sun comes out, bask in it. It's a beautiful, warm, happy place to choose to be. If that sunny place is different then what you originally thought it would look like, that's okay.  Bask in the goodness and breath freely letting go of the old and embrace the new.

Always thrive, not just in the moment that the sun comes out after the storm. But thrive in the storm, as the sun is slowly rising again. Even in the dark times there is still ray's of light trying to reach you, for you to bask in. You just need to reach for it!

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Being Still IS Worthwhile WORK

I have fully embraced this concept of just sitting or laying in silence.

Really, it has changed me, and my ability to help others.

Call it whatever you like, meditation, quiet time, or staring into space. I wholeheartedly believe being STILL and QUIET is THE most productive thing one can do. Feel overwhelmed? Think there are too many things on your to do list? Tired? Confused? ... the remedy is this.

We all have multiple facets to our lives, we all have a billion things to keep track of and to push forward with our goals, but knowing WHAT and WHEN to pour energy into WHICH is MAJORLY important.

I found my mind wandering and that feeling of "eh I'll put that off till tomorrow" settling in. 10 minutes of laying still and being quiet and the right question entered my mind for the day, "where does your energy need to go next?" and so did the answers, now I have clarity.

A dear friend of mine introduced me at a speaking engagement the other week as "she can somehow complete 48 hours of stuff in just 24 hours every day". Friends, I am telling you, this is how. By being still, by intentionally taking time every day to be quiet, to figure out where to direct my ship and who to ask to jump on it.

If the FEELING and the PEACE OF MIND wasn't enough, this video popped up on my newsfeed days after I wrote this on my facebook page. I had no idea that Oprah had shared this sentiment with people as well. So if you don't take it from me, that is ok, take it from her.

When Your Job is Being Happy

We started #redefiningFUNproject because of the societal overwhelm that tells us that unless it is “productive” it is not worth it. Especially at times of transition, change and therefore stress, FUN, or what makes us HAPPY, is vitally important AND the most challenging.

We are learning how to walk again, in our new normal. There is no headspace for anything else, yet we need a break from the overhaul of learning, growing, being stretched. We need fun.

For those of us who are struggling to just survive, waking up and facing a day that has glimmers of FUN and happiness IS ENOUGH. Is it hard to let go of, this idea that you need to do more, be more, and want more? Absolutely. I tell my husband it is like there is the most powerful magnet in the world that compels me to think that THIS is NOT ENOUGH. That treating being happy today as a job is not good enough.

But why isn’t it? If you are struggling, just surviving, and suffering, then can’t being happy be your assigned job today, and the next day and the next, until you have learned how to walk your new normal walk without working so hard at it?

Nothing lasts forever, and neither does the need to WORK at being HAPPY. But if you are feeling like you need to WORK at it, then give yourself permission for today and all of the days you need to, to do this. Join us by looking for, recognizing and sharing your new definition of FUN.