Tag Archives: happiness

Pink Moscato

Pink Moscato

I’ve been wanting to write for a while, but I found myself getting caught up in that well-known downward spiral of perfectionism… I wanted to write but it had been long enough that I wanted what I wrote to be significant and amazing, so I stalled…and on and on the cycle went…only each time I wanted to write, the content had to be exponentially more amazing than the previous time.  So one day, at a relative low, I cracked open a bottle of pink moscato and just wrote. 

Let me recap: I had a baby – an actual, real life BABY!  He grew inside of me and after a painful and (I can proudly say) a drugless 5-hour labor, he somehow made it out into the world. I kept looking at him in awe thinking, “Whoa – he’s really a real REAL baby – like a BABY baby.” Even as I was being wheeled out of the hospital (turns out, you’re not allowed to walk out – hospital policy), I kept thinking, “So wait, they’re just going to let me leave with this baby? That’s IT? I can just HAVE him?” I guess when you wait until you’re 36 to have your first baby, the whole process seems much more unnatural and strange. As it was, I felt like I was downright stealing a baby.  Even after I felt every moment of searing pain to get him out of me, he still didn’t feel like mine.  He’s been with me for 12 weeks now and I often wake up to see him next to me in bed and think, “Who are you and how did you just suddenly get here in my life?” It’s not an angry thought – it’s purely a curious thought. How the heck did those 10 increasingly fatter months lead to this ever-growing little life? 

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As far as babies go, I think I got lucky. He’s what the nurses called an early smiler, and he smiles pretty much any time I or anyone smiles at him…which is pretty darn cool and awesome and funny and great.  To have this little face smiling at me – even if it’s 3am – is soul-filling.  I’m pretty sure someone could live longer if they were deprived of food but had baby smiles every day…pretty sure.  So Jack was born on his actual due date – which Google claims is only 4% of babies – making him the top 4% of punctual people on the planet. Other than that, I try very very hard not to be the mom who compares her baby to everyone else while insisting that he is smarter and more alert and more developed than average (which I’m convinced he is).  It must have been the negative stereotypes, but the Baby Einstein moms who play nonstop foreign language and Mozart to ensure their baby’s superiority completely turns me off and gives me the heebie jeebies. I sing and dance with Jack, but I’ve decided that he’ll let me know when he’s ready to learn things and I will TRY not compare him to anyone else.  That said, in these last 12 weeks, I have only come into contact with 3 other newborns. The first seemed super chubby and I was glad Jack wasn’t, the second had a humungous head and I was glad Jack didn’t, and the third was a super cute girl (his cousin) and even then I was glad I had a boy…so I’m 0 for 3 on comparing. Even the doctor’s office seems to encourage comparison – they printed stats about Jack saying that he is in the 90th percentile for length, the 20th percentile for his head (explaining why the big headed baby seemed so big-headed), and the 40th percentile for weight…so I can’t help but compare right away – average weight but super long body with a smaller-than-average head.

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What a crazy journey it’s been up to this point.  I sometimes think about writing a book about surviving the Army.  I can look at the last 10 years and see a clear love/hate relationship with the U.S. Army.  It tore my marriage apart; it supported me; it gave; it took; it took back; it gave again. In the end, it’s been like most circumstances in this world – it’s not so much about the institution itself so much as how I responded to it and what I chose to do with it.  When I felt and acted like a victim, I was most certainly its rag doll puppet.  When I rose up and took control and used it to my benefit, I found myself abundantly satisfied.

Though there were times I never ever thought I’d be a mom in this life, I look at my little man (who really is quite long), and find myself amazed at this crazy life.  All the turns and speed bumps and dead ends and detours I’ve taken, my path seems less-than-straight.  I’ve messed up, made mistakes, started over, apologized, forgiven (myself and others), started over again, and found myself lost on countless occasions.  And yet, I have a healthy, handsome, smiling baby boy. It’s quite a thing, this life. I’ve stopped trying to second guess it, and have started accepting with open hands the gifts I’m given.  I’ve been given friends from all over the world, a body which seems to heal from just about anything, a heart which has proven resilient beyond expectation, and a little life that has been trusted to me. Wow. Life is certainly unexpected and fickle and inexplicable…and wonderful. 

OH – I forgot to explain my “relative low” that got me to crack open the pink moscato. I’m chalking it up to the standard adjustment a new mom goes through…that of shedding her old life view and everything that goes along with it.  I stopped and looked at myself in a public mirror today, and saw nursing bra straps hanging out, frizzy hair sticking out from under my hat above each ear, 18 or so extra pounds, and an overall unkept appearance. It’s that frumpy, frazzled, and fatigued self – the triple F-word threat – that takes some getting used to and patience. I think my immediate future holds squats, lunges, situps, some naps, and most definitely more moscato!  

A New Year, A New Chance

A New Year, A New Chance

I committed the cardinal blog sin and didn’t update a cliff-hanger blog.  I suppose the excuse that “I’ve had a lot going on” is the token excuse that we all tend to insert when things in our lives don’t get updated or addressed or completed…but I’m going to go ahead and use it. “I’ve had a lot going on.” 

The update is that after some follow-up tests, the ever-growing baby inside my ever-growing belly is thus far healthy.  I broke down in tears (as I’ve done over just about everything in this heightened hormonal state) when I found out the baby wasn’t going to start out at a genetic disadvantage. It wasn’t that the baby would have been any less special and central in my life, but it was most definitely the fear that I simply couldn’t do it on my own.  

But the good news coupled with a new year brought a bit of a sense of hope to my quivering psyche. As I sat with countless hot chocolates in my comfy, baggy pjs over Christmas, I looked around with newfound gratitude at the gift my family is…surrounded with ecstatic kids ripping through gift after gift and loving hands placed on my popped belly. 

I think it’s a universal outlook any one of us can take in this new year. No matter how much shit we were hit with last year, the beauty of a NEW year is a sense of a fresh start. Just like today is a new chance to remedy yesterday’s miserable mistakes, this year is a whole new year. Here are some additional encouragments about this year you may not have been aware of. In the Chinese zodiac, this is the year of the Horse. The spirit of the horse is recognized in people’s unremitting efforts to improve themselves. It is designated with the characteristics of energetic, bright, warm-hearted, intelligent and able. …not a bad grouping for a year if you ask me. 

The truth is, none of us is starting out at a disadvantage in this new year. We are simply starting out.  Being pregnant (sans job) is just a part of life… as are any of our predicaments.  Whether it’s divorce, unemployment, surpise prenancy, health problems, money problems, deployed away from family, heartache, heartbreak, loneliness, lost soul, or devastating loss, the fact is that if you stop and look around, we all have one or more of those checkmarks to claim at any given point…Lord knows I’m no stranger to many of those things! It’s not at all belittling to say those things are just circumstances…the setting and props on the stage of which you are the star.  And this is a new act. You know that saying, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you choose to do with it.”  It’s not the setting of your stage that defines you, it’s YOU who defines you.  The actor, and not the props, is what matters the most. In other words, don’t submit to your props! You’re not the victim; you’re the star…now BE the star.

Give yourself the gift of a deep breath in, the faith in the knowledge that simply by being alive, you’ve been given the gift of another new year, and a whole new chance to discover and experience the gifts of life being presented to you. For me, I suspect my gift this year will come in a little blue bundle (it’s a boy, by the way). It’s taken a readjustment to see this as a “gift,” but I think life’s Author just might know me better than I do. For my sister exhausted with three kids, it may come in the moments of laughter she holds onto each day from funny or ridiculous things her kids do and say. For my other sister planning her May wedding, it will come in a new life joined with someone she loves very much. For my 90-year old grandpa, it comes in moments like L.A. Lakers victories, and phone calls and visits from grandchildren, as well as his ever-professed satisfaction with having lived a good and full life overflowing with love. For my friends in Afghanistan, it’s in Skype calls with family, care packages, and sitting around the hooka appreciating the friendships that have formed in a far-off land. These gifts are otherwise known as joy. Let yourself be open enough to be surprised by joy this year!

Use Your Gift

Use Your Gift

I firmly believe there is something in each of us that wants to reach inward and take the best of what we can possibly be and extend it outward to make our world a little better. It’s in our nature to want to improve ouselves and our world. Every person possesses a talent – a gift unique to only them – the gift that is waiting to be offered to the world. So many of us ignore our gifts and drone on into the life that we’re told to live, and eventually we stop exploring and seeking to understand just what our gift is. How many talents go wasted and covered up in this life! I heard the saying that a graveyard is the richest place in the world because of all the unexplored talents and potential that dies with the body.

You were meant to find your gift, and to foster it toward maturity and growth so that the world can benefit from its special inherent value. Nothing comes of your ignorance or your unwillingness to share it. Those that either refuse to find or realize what their gift was, or those that have given up on finding it will not feel fulfilled or happy becuase they have settled far too soon in this life which was designed to be lived fully with zeal and fervor. It’s like seeing a beautiful sunset for only the shadows that it casts on the rocks at your feet instead of looking up and experiencing the grandeur of hues that fill the whole sky above you.

If you do not know what your gift is, don’t ever give up searching for it. If you do know, don’t deny it. Use it to step out of the shadows and brighten the world around you and those whose lives you touch. It was not given to you to be ignored and to wither from neglect…there is purpose in your talent and the world calmly waits to be bettered from it.

Moms Are People Too

Moms Are People Too


“My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.” ~Mark Twain

I just flew into Vegas to meet my mom and have some bonding time. She completely idolizes Celine Dion, so we’re going to see her tonight in concert. I’m hoping to have good, open and honest time with her this week, but I also need to head into this time with my mom with realistic expectations. She is all over the map when it comes to social plans and doing things – no possible plan can capture all the mass amounts of stuff you end up doing when she’s around. So my vision of some nice mother-daughter bonding probably isn’t the reality I’m going to go home with, but I’ve decided to be grateful for and appreciative of whatever gifts of bonding do arise.

My mom is extroverted and gets her energy from being around people – the more people the better for her. For me, it’s always been the opposite. I have to sneak away from a chaotic party to a quiet bathroom just to regain myself and take a breather. She’s loud, I’m not. She talks a ton, I don’t. I like coffee shop bonding, she feels like she should be multitasking and doing other things besides just talking while drinking coffee. But I love her and enjoy spending time with her, so long as I don’t go in with a certain picture of how I want our time together to be.

I have not been an easy daughter because I’ve always demanded perfection from her…and believe it or not, she has always come up short. The nerve! I suspect this is true of many people with their parents and loved ones. I certainly haven’t made it easy on her over the years, and I just hope that weeks like this one can help to repair some of that damage.

The thing is, she will surprise me with little intimate mother-daughter moments if I let go and don’t try to force them out of her. She will reveal her vulnerabilities and her soft side if I don’t put on aires and complain about how she’s never real with me. The harder I try to make her the mom I think I need, the more disappointed I become, and the bitchier I get.

My mom is who she is. It’s taken 35 years to come to that understanding. She has been a good mom and has taught me many valuable lessons that have helped make me who I am today. I accept her humanity – which is a very difficult things for girls to accept about their moms – and I know she can’t be a superhero to me. She’s just herself – her social, fun loving self. When I let go of my expectations, I allow myself to see the woman she actually is, and I can enjoy her company and bond even more.

Uh oh, she just called me and asked if I could pick up wine before I meet her at the hotel. Her timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Yes, Mom, I’ll get your wine. Here’s to all the daughters and moms out there – cut your mom some slack, go get her some wine, and see her for the gift that she is…not for all the things she isn’t.

The Beauty-Brain Loop

The Beauty-Brain Loop

“You are one thing only. You are a Divine Being. An all-powerful Creator. You are a Deity in jeans and a t-shirt, and within you dwells the infinite wisdom of the ages and the sacred creative force of All that is, will be and ever was.” ~Anthon St. Maarten

I found an interesting article titled the Beauty-Brain Loop by Dr Debra and Dr Eva. The idea is that four main areas – Inner Beauty, Health, Outer Beauty and Environment are all related and affected by each other. “Everything you do shapes how you feel and how attractive you are. So, how you feel is how you look. Also, how you think is how you feel.”

  • Inner Beauty has to do with mental and emotional well-being, self-esteem, self-awareness and self-confidence
  • Health is part of the loop to do with taking care of your body and physical health through nutrition, exercise, sleep and leading a healthy lifestyle
  • Outer Beauty has to do with maintaining your external looks – skin, nails, hair and make-up
  • Environment has to do with the feedback you get from your surroundings: home, work, relationships and friendships

    So, how exactly does this concept work? “It’s about keeping all areas of the loop flowing,” says Dr Debra. “For example, when someone pays you a compliment and says you look really beautiful today, you actually start to feel more beautiful.” In essence, the more beautiful we feel, the more we want to maintain that feel-good state. So, we start to look after ourselves more – whether by exercising, eating better or maintaining physical looks and care.

    Then it goes to reason that the better we feel and look, the more positive the response we’ll get from our environment. Friends tell us how great we look, people are more attracted to us and we feel confident.

    The downside, of course, is that when one factor is not working, there evolves a negative cycle. Think about it – we rarely feel pretty when we’re sick or suffering from cramps or some other physical struggle. When we feel ugly or fat, it’s rarely the motivation we need to get out and go for a run or a swim and eat healthy foods…we seek comfort foods and chick flicks.

    The good news is that it only takes a boost in one of the categories to help start the upward positive cycle…and there are gobs of ideas to help jumpstart this beauty cycle…namely everything I’ve been writing about for months! Here are a few: practice a random act of kindness, go for a walk, create something, fill your moment with beauty in the form of art or nature, try a new healthy recipe, sign up for a race, learn something new, do something that will make you laugh, get a good night’s sleep, wear an outfit you feel sexy in, get a pedicure, buy some flowers. This list could be endless, but these are to get your mind out of the traditional mindset that you can only feel pretty if you look in the mirror and see what you judge as pretty. NOT SO! Yours are the harshest and most judgemental eyes ever to set sight on yourself. Did you realize studies show that on average others see you as 20% more attractive than you see yourself? They’re not seeing that stray eyebrow hair you see when you look in the mirror – instead they’re seeing your movements, your laughter, your body language – all the things you miss.

    The truth is, you’re more beautiful than you’ll probably ever give yourself credit for…and if you can’t see that, then you can at least FEEL it. Treat yourself like the temple and goddess (or god) that you are, and love the body you’ve been loaned for this short life. Breathe and live fully the way we were designed to live. Please pretty please stop shrinking inside your own body! …and I’ll try and do the same!

  • Take Care of Yourself

    Take Care of Yourself

    “The world believes exactly what you tell it—through the words you use to describe yourself, the actions you take to care for yourself, and the choices you make to express yourself. Tell the world you are one-of-a-kind creation who came here to experience wonder and spread joy. Expect to be accommodated.” ~Victoria Moran, Lit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty

    It’s not the biggest leap of logic to understand the importance of self-care in life. Life tears us apart both from the outside and the inside, and the most fundamental way of making sure we’re able to stand up eight times after falling down seven (Chinese proverb) is to take care of ourselves physically and emotionally. If life’s current special of the day continues to be a bowl of lemons, the least we can do is arm ourselves with basic health and nurturing.

    I found a simple breakdown of what taking care of ourselves should look like.

    Self Care IS:

  • Eating right, getting proper nutrition, and drinking enough water. Just a 2% dip in body dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and depression, as well as a 20% loss in energy!
  • Enjoying some form of physical activity every day. A morning (or evening) walk is all it takes.
  • Monitoring one’s emotional bank account, ensuring that one is making ample emotional deposits to cover the daily withdrawals of life, so that one does not become emotionally “overdrawn.”
  • Knowing one’s limits; it is important to know how much one is able to effectively do in a day or a week without becoming over exhausted, over emotional, or overwhelmed.
  • Being self aware of internal pain and using it as an impetus for growth. Rather than attempting to ignore it or anesthetizing it with food, TV, more work etc., addressing the pain is very self-nurturing. Relevant self-help books, support groups, and therapy are all excellent ways to accomplish this.
  • Not allowing oneself to become cut off from others, but being in consistent healthy relationships with like-minded women (extroverts need more of this than introverts do). ((I’d counter-argue that introverts like me tend to isolate even more so and need community and connections as much as extroverts.))
  • Spending enough alone time to recuperate and recollect one’s thoughts (introverts need more of this than extroverts do).
  • My own addition: TAKE YOUR VITAMINS! If nothing else, you know that your body is getting basic and good nutrition it desperately needs in trying times.

    Self Care is NOT:

  • The same as comfort, which may include comfort foods, TV, pedicures, or shopping sprees. Although these are all great, an excess of these can actually elevate one’s stress level.

    Some final thoughts of Self Care:

  • While the comforts mentioned above are good in moderation, remember not to substitute comfort for self care; doing so will damage us physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  • Use moderation with comforts, including TV (your brain is less active when you are watching TV than when you are asleep—mental activity actually helps us reprocess stress, thus helping us recuperate).
  • Do something creative everyday (even if for only 20 minutes). You will be surprised how much this one thing will refresh you.

    I found this at: Self Care for Women: Taking Care of Yourself 101 | Suite101.com

  • Other self-care tips
  • Pursuing Happiness

    Pursuing Happiness

    Some pursue happiness – others create it. ~Unknown

    It is not easy to find happiness in ourselves, and it is not possible to find it elsewhere. ~Agnes Repplier

    We often forget that we don’t have the right to happiness, but we have the right to pursue it…the more difficult of the two paths…yet undoubtedly the most rewarding. When we learn what makes us happy, we can create our own happiness instead of relying on external circumstances out of our control.

    To most, the immediate items that come to mind in connection to happiness are money, fame, luxury and things along those lines. But a study published by the American Psychological Association about what brings happiness to people placed those items at the bottom. At the top of the list were autonomy – feeling that your activities are self-choses and self-endorsed, competence – feeling that you are effective in your activities, relatedness – feeling a sense of closeness with others, and self-esteem.

    Things that make me happy:

  • Being on the water in any kind of boat (except ones with holes in them)
  • Bright colors in colorful designs
  • Creating art
  • Making decisions with clarity (there’s that autonomy)
  • Looking at art
  • Eating chocolate and drinking red wine (even the cheap stuff) together
  • Taking a bath while listeing to Pink Martini on Pandora
  • Warm fuzzy slippers with cozy pjs on blizzard-snowy days
  • Drinking “momtinis” with my sister during her kids’ naptime
  • Splintting a pitcher of margaritas with good girlfriends over new stories and gossip
  • Amazing ocean views from the decks of houses you housesit (like right now!)
  • Recognizing a quote from a funny movie that someone else quotes
  • Quoting funny movie quotes
  • Wind through trees on sunny days
  • Picnics of any kind
  • Dancing of any kind…except the dirty kind and sans poles
  • Stepping into a new country for the first time
  • Crooner music with a glass of wine while making dinner
  • Laying out under stars
  • Giving to others in need
  • Old people – even grumpy old people
  • Driving things while going fast – boats, mopeds, cars etc.
  • Catching waves
  • Crossing finish lines
  • Being goofy with girlfriends
  • Watching old couples hold hands or dance together
  • The different hues of greens mixed together in nature

    So if I were to analyze myself, I seem to need to surround myself with alcohol and old people. Or maybe just put on some fun music, dance a little, and enjoy a nice glass of wine with good company.

    Click THIS LINK to read daily reminders of things to be happy about.

    It takes great wit and interest and energy to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a great activity. One must be open and alive. It is the greatest feat man has to accomplish. ~Robert Herrick