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It’s a Hallmark Christmas

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. – Agnes M. Pahro

If you are like me, you cannot wait for the holidays. As soon as Fall is within reach you are putting out your pumpkins and decorating your home to welcome the change of season. Soon thereafter you are decorating for Halloween! I don’t know if you do like I do, but I tend to go out for every season. The last few years have been a downer because we’ve flooded twice in the past 3 years; so some holidays have failed in the decoration department. I know one thing for sure, the weekend after Thanksgiving and sometimes the very next day is dedicated to decorating for Christmas. While I love all the holiday’s, Christmas is my FAVORITE! I decorate my 8 foot tree that can barely fit my ceiling with the star on top, I place my Nutcrackers all over the house, and this year – I am ordering a couple of extra trees to place around the house and decorate because we are HOME! Oh yeah, I have already started Nutcracking hunting as well. I may have a little obsession with those little statues. Last year, we were in a shoe box apartment sharing walls with loud neighbors, and I believe Hagrid from Harry Potter lived upstairs. Prayerfully, nothing keeps me from enjoying my holiday or my Hallmark in the comfort of my own walls this year.

There is something else I look forward to during the holiday season, and that is the wonderful world of Hallmark and the beautiful Christmas movies they give us each year. I was a little scared this year that with the pandemic we would have to recycle previous years movies. Which would not be a problem at all because they always give us the best! However, Hallmark with their ever giving spirit has gifted us with a list of new movies that I believe will definitely put us in the holiday mood, get us out of our heads of the year that has been 2020, and help us to look forward to the New Year…which I personally think we should be able to get a preview of. I wonder if Hallmark could make that happen in their final Christmas movie this year? Dear Hallmark, can you make that happen?

Thanks to myEntertainment Weekly subscription, I was able to get a glimpse of the joy and wonder we would experience via Hallmark and their holiday lineup. We will see a lot of our favorite actors within the Hallmark family and some newcomers as well. What would a Hallmark movie be without Candace Cameron Bure, Barbara Nevin, Benjamin Ayers, Ashley Williams, Niall Matter, Catherine Bell, Holly Robinson Pete, and Allison Sweeney. That is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more regulars and newcomers that I am sure will wow us in there performances. You will be happy to know that Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas” and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries “Miracles of Christmas” campaigns will start a week before Halloween on October 23. We will get the adventures of going back in time, holiday romances, homecomings, a charming little inn, and so much more in the 40 films set to air through December. So without further delay, let me deck the halls with the list of movies and when you can expect to see them.

  1. Jingle Bell Bride (Starring Julie Gonzalo and Ronnie Rowe Jr.) Premiers: October 24 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “A wedding planner (Gonzalo) travels to Alaska in search of a rare flower for a celebrity client and is charmed by the small town at Christmas, as well as the local (Rowe) helping her.”
  2. Christmas Tree Lane (Starring Alicia Witt, Andrew Walker, Drake Hogestyn, Briana Price). Premiers: October 24 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “Music store owner (Witt) leads the community effort to save the Christmas Tree Lane shopping district from demolition. She finds herself falling for (Walker), a recent acquaintance; only to find he’s tied to the developer.”
  3. Chateau Christmas (Starring Merritt Patterson and Luke Macfarlane) Premieres: October 25 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Margot (Patterson), a world-renowned pianist, returns to Chateau Newhaus to spend the holiday with her family and finds her ex, (Macfarlane) and he helps her rediscover her musical passion.”
  4. Deliver by Christmas (Starring Alvina August and Eion Bailey) Premieres: October 25 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “Bakery owner Molly (August) meets Josh (Bailey), a widower who recently moved to town with his young son, but she is also charmed by a mysterious client with whom she’s never met and doesn’t realize they are one in the same.”
  5. Christmas with the Darlings (Starring Katrina Law and Carlo Marks) Premieres: October 31 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Just before the holidays Jessica Lew (Law) is ending her tenure as the assistant to her wealthy boss to use her recently earned law degree within his company, but offers to help his charming, younger brother (Marks) as he looks after his orphaned nieces and nephews over Christmas.”
  6. Cranberry Christmas (Starring Nikki DeLoach and Benjamin Ayers) Premieres: October 31 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “A separated couple feign marital bliss on national television to help their town’s Christmas festival – and their business. What happens when love is rekindled, but new opportunities are presented?”
  7. One Royal Holiday (Starring Laura Osnes, Aaron Tveit, Krystal Joy Brown, Victoria Clark, Tom McGowan) Premieres: November 1 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “When Anna (Osnes) offers a stranded mother (Clark) and son (Tveit) shelter in a blizzard, she learns that they are the Royal Family of Galwick. Anna shows the Prince how they do Christmas in her hometown, encouraging him to open his heart and be true to himself.”
  8. Holly & Ivy (Starring Janel Parrish, Jeremy Jordan & Marisol Nichols) Premieres: November 1 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “When Melody’s (Parrish) neighbor, Nina (Nichols), learns that her illness had returned, Melody promises to keep Nina’s kids, Holly and Ivy, together. To adopt the children, she must renovate her new fixer-upper, which she does with the help of contractor Adam (Jordan).”
  9. Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater (Starring Ashley Williams and Niall Matter) Premieres: November 7 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Single mom Maggie (Williams) is facing Christmas alone until Lucas (Matter) crashes into her life and becomes an unexpected houseguest. Together they overcome Christmas while finding comfort in their growing bond.”
  10. The Christmas Ring (Starring Nazneen Contractor and David Alpay) Premieres: November 7 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “A reporter (Contractor) searches for the love story behind an antique engagement ring. With the help of the ring’s owner’s grandson (Alpay), they learn the legacy his grandparents left behind.”
  11. On the 12th Date of Christmas (Starring Mallory Jansen and Tyler Hynes) Premieres: November 8 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Two seemingly incompatible game designers team up to create a romantic, city-wide scavenger hunt themed for The 12 Days of Christmas.
  12. The Christmas Bow (Starring Lucia Micarelli and Michael Rady) Premieres: November 8 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “When an accident puts her music dreams on hold, gifted violinist (Micraelli) reconnects with an old family friend (Rady), who helps her heal and find love during the holidays.”
  13. Christmas in Vienna (Starring Sarah Drew and Brennan Elliot) Premieres: November 14 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Jess (Drew), a concert violinist whose heart just isn’t in it anymore, goes to Vienna for a performance. While in Vienna, she finds her inspiration and love.”
  14. Meet Me at Christmas (current working title) (Starring Catherine Bell and Mark Deklin) Premieres: November 14 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “When Joan’s (Bell) son’s wedding planners unexpectedly quits, she must coordinate his Christmas Eve nuptials with the help of Beau (Deklin), the bride’s uncle. Working alongside each other, they discover their fates and pasts are intertwined.”
  15. A Timeless Christmas (Starring Ryan Paevey and Erin Cahill) Premieres: November 15 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Charles Whitley (Paevey) travels from 1903 to 2020 where he meets Megan Turner (Cahill), a tour guide at his historic mansion, and experiences a 21st century Christmas.”
  16. The Christmas Doctor (Starring Holly Robinson Peete and Adrian Holmes) Premieres: November 15 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “A week before Christmas, Dr. Alicia Wright (Peete) is offered an assignment away from home. A mysterious man (Holmes) from her past journeys to find her before Christmas and brings with him a revelation that change her life forever.”
  17. A Nashville Christmas Carol (Starring Jessy Schram, Wes Brown, Wynonna Judd, Sarah Evans, RaeLynn, Kix Brooks, Kimberly Williams – Paisley) Premieres: November 21 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Vivienne Wake (Schram), a workaholic television producer in charge of a country music Christmas special showcasing newcomer Alexis (RaeLynn), never lets personal feelings get in the way of business. On the verge of accepting a job in L.A., and with the return of Gavin Chase (Brown) – her childhood sweetheart and manager to the special’s headliner, Belinda (Evans) – she receives a visit from the ghost of her recently deceased mentor, Marilyn (Judd). Her mentor warns her current path leads to a dark future and has recruited both the Spirit of Christmas Past (Brooks) and the Spirit of Christmas Present (Williams-Paisley) to help get her back on track. The Spirits’ time-jumping adventures force Vivienne to take hold of her life.”
  18. A Little Christmas Charm (Current working title) (Starring Ashley Greene and Brendan Penny) Premieres: November 21 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: ” Holly (Greene), a jewelry designer, finds a lost charm bracelet and teams up with an investigative reporter Greg (Penny) in hopes of finding the owner and returning it by Christmas Eve.”
  19. Christmas House (Starring Robert Buckley, Jonathan Bennett, Ana Ayora, Treat Williams, Sharon Lawrence & Brad Harder) Premieres: November 22 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Working through some difficult decisions, Wade family matriarch (Lawrence) and patriarch (Williams), have summoned their two TV star Mike Wade and Brandon Wade (Buckley and Bennett) – home for the holidays. It is their hope that bringing the family together to recreate the Christmas house will help them find resolution and make a memorable holiday for the family and community. As Brandon and his husband Jake (Harder) make the trip home, they are anxiously awaiting a call about the adoption of their first child. Meanwhile, Mike reconnects with Andi (Ayora), his high school sweetheart.”
  20. The Angel Tree (Starring Jill Wagner and Lucas Bryant) Premieres: November 22 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “A writer (Wagner) seeks the identity of the person who helps grant wishes that are placed upon the angel tree, and in the process, reconnects with her childhood friend (Bryant).”
  21. New Movie to be announced…(Stars and Synopsis TBD) Premieres: November 23 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel
  22. A Christmas Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Starring Rochelle Aytes and Mark Taylor) Premieres: November 24 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Erin (Aytes) is planning the town’s Christmas celebration and must win over firefighter Kevin (Taylor) in order to obtain the beautiful spruce tree from his property for the celebration.
  23. A Bright and Merry Christmas (Starring Alison Sweeney and Marc Blucas) Premieres: November 25 @ 8 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Two competing TV hosts (Sweeney and Blucas) are sent to a festive small town over Christmas. While pretending to get along for the sake of appearances, they discover that there is more to each other than they thought.”
  24. Five Star Christmas (current working title) (Starring Bethany Joy Lenz and Victor Webster) Premieres: November 26 @ 8 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “After moving back to her hometown, Lisa (Lenz) plot with her siblings and grandparents to help her father’s new bed and breakfast get a five-star review from an incognito travel critic (Webster), but ends up falling for him, not knowing he is the real critic.
  25. Christmas by Starlight (current working title) (Starring Kimberley Sustad and Paul Campbell) Premieres: November 27 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Annie (Sustad), a lawyer, must help her loved ones this holiday season. Her family’s restaurant, the Starlight Café, is slated for demolition. The heir to the development firm responsible, William (Campbell), makes her an unlikely proposition: He’ll spare the café if Annie spends the week ‘appearing’ as the legal counsel his father is demanding he hire in the wake of some costly mistakes.”
  26. Christmas Waltz (Starring Lacy Chabert, Will Kemp and JT Church) Premieres: November 28 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “After Avery’s (Chabert)) storybook Christmas wedding is canceled unexpectedly, dance instructor Roman (Kemp) helps her rebuild her dreams.”
  27. USS Christmas (Starring Jen Lilley, Trevor Donovan and Barbara Niven) Premieres: November 28 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “Maddie (Lilley), a reporter for a Norfolk newspaper, embarks on a Tiger Cruise during Christmastime where she meets a handsome naval officer (Donovan) and stumbles upon a mystery in the ship’s archive room.”
  28. If I Only Had Christmas (Starring Candace Cameron Bure and Warren Christie) Premieres: November 29 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “At Christmas, a cheerful publicist (Bure) teams up with a cynical business owner
  29. Christmas in Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing (Starring Holly Robinson Peete, Colin Lawrence, Rukiya Bernard, Antonio Cayonne, and Barbara Niven Premieres: December 5 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “As Michelle’s (Peete) wedding approaches, Hannah (Bernard) steps up to help finish the launch of the new Evergreen museum while questioning her relationship and future with Elliot (Cayonne).”
  30. Time for Us to Come Home for Christmas (Starring Lacey Chabert and Stephen Huszar) Premieres: December 5 @ pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “Five guests are mysteriously invited to an inn to celebrate Christmas. With the help of the owner Ben (Huszar), Sarah (Chabert) discovers that an event from the past may connect them and change their lives forever.”
  31. Christmas She Wrote (Starring Danica McKellar and Dylan Neal) Premieres: December 6 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “When Kayleigh (McKellar), a romance writer, has her column canceled right before Christmas, she heads home to reconnect with her family. Kayleigh gets an unexpected visit from the man (Neal) who canceled her column. His visit is a fight to not only bring her bcak to the publisher, but also to win her heart.
  32. A Godwink Christmas: First Loves, Second Chances (Starring Brooke D’Orsay and Sam Page) Premieres: December 6 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “After 15 years, Pat (Page) moves home from Hawaii with his two sons and through a series of coincidences, or Godwinks, ends up stuck in traffic next to his high school sweetheart, Margie (D’Orsay), at Christmas.”
  33. Cross Country Christmas (Starring Rachel Leigh Cook and Greyston Holt) Premieres: December 12 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “Former classmates Lina (Cook) and Max (Holt) are traveling home for the holidays, until a storm hits and they have to work together to make it home in time, no matter the mode of transportation.
  34. A Glenbrooke Christmas (Starring Autumn Reeser and Antonio Cupo) Premieres: December 12 @ 9 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “As Christmas nears, heiress Jessica Morgan (Reeser) seizes what seems like her last chance to experience a relaxed Christmas and heads off to the small town of Glenbrooke, where she meets a handsome fireman (Cupo).”
  35. Christmas Carnival (Starring Tamera Mowry – Housley) Premieres: December 13 @ 8pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “Emily (Mowry-Housley) is a top newscaster who has achieved her career dreams but still has regrets about the guy (Xavier) who got away five years earlier. When the Christmas carnival comes to town, a ride around the carousel takes her magically back to the carnival 5 years before…giving her a second chance at love before she has to return to present-day Christmas.”
  36. Christmas Homecoming (current working title) (Starring Taylor Cole and Steve Lund) Premieres: December 13 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “When a mysterious key and a holiday riddle arrive on their doorsteps, Kate (Cole) and Kevin (Lund) embark on a Christmas romance adventure they will never forget.”
  37. A Christmas Carousel (Starring Rachel Boston and Neal Bledsoe) Premieres: December 19 @ 8 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “When Lila (Boston) is hired by the Royal Family of Marcadia to repair a carousel, she must work with the Prince (Bledsoe) to complete it by Christmas.”
  38. Swept Up by Christmas (current working title) (Starring TBD) Premieres: December 19 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “An antique seller and cleaner clash over how to downsize a magnificent estate right before Christmas. As the two uncover the house’s treasures, they find a way to reconnect the reclusive owner with his own Christmases past.”
  39. Love, Lights, Hanukkah! (Starring Mia Kirshner, Ben Savage and Marilu Henner Premieres: December 20 @ 8 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel Official Synopsis: “As Christina (Kirshner) prepares her restaurant for its busiest time of year, she gets back a DNA test revealing that she’s Jewish. The discovery leads her to a new family and an unlikely romance over eight nights.”
  40. Project Christmas Wish (current working title) (Starring TBD) Premieres: December 20 @ 9pm ET/PT on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Official Synopsis: “For years, Lucy has played Santa to her small town’s community by making their holiday wishes come true. But when Lucy grants a little girl’s wish for a Christmas like she used to have with her mom, she unexpectedly finds her own wishes coming true in life and love.

There you have it. The list of the newest lineup of holiday movies coming to you from our favorites at Hallmark. So, set yourself a reminder, watch the schedule in case something changes, and get real comfortable to enjoy the holiday season. Some of the movies have yet to assign starring roles and I am sure may still be in production with our ongoing pandemic. Lets hope that each of these films are able to air, and we are able to see some of our favorites from years past. If you are feeling nostalgic and having withdrawals, get yourself the Hallmark or Friendly app. You can get all of the Hallmark channels and watch your favorite Christmas movies and your favorite shows on demand. Happy watching and happiest of holidays to come! 💋💋

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The Art of Intimacy & Keeping The Fire Burning

“Physical intimacy isn’t and can never be an effective substitute for emotional intimacy.” -John Green

I have been married for 14 1/2 years. I have been with the same man for the past 20 years. Intimacy is something we strive to keep going, but how do you do that after all the years and all the responsibilities? Someone is working, someone is busy, the kids need this, you want to get away but it is damn near impossible. There are a laundry list of things that can inhibit intimacy in a relationship. When I say intimacy, I don’t just mean – the act of sex, sex is merely a medium of intimacy. Sex is just sex if there is no love, no intimacy, no feeling of “oneness” when it actually happens. It is just a water hose bringing forth water to a garden – something needed at the moment.

Yes, we all know the the art of lovemaking can be completely sublime, but there is more to it than that. Sex is an intimate way of expressing oneself, but it is not intimacy…let’s talk. It can be the most intimate and glorious expression of love that you share with someone, but it has become a tool for some to demand proof of love, and for others to give in hopes that love will be returned. Yes, there will be those feelings of euphoria, delight, elation, joy, all the good feelings from the feel good hormones our bodies are producing, but if those feelings fade and love never comes into play…what then?

That last paragraph was an ode to the single people reading this, the engaged people, and those who may be in a purely “physical thing” type of situation. It is my belief that every time you are in a physical relationship with someone, you share a piece of yourself, your soul, something not everyone gets to get a glimpse of. You also take in something from the person with whom you are sharing that with. A transference of energy of sorts. You have to be very careful with whom you share and receive energy with because not all energy is good energy…you feel me?

Now, let me address my married readers. The one’s who have experienced the ebbs and flows of the “married with kids and responsibilities” stage. You know what I’m talking about – don’t play like you don’t. Especially if you have as much time in as I do. That honeymoon phase is over, but it shows up every once and a while and gets you all excited. Then, you’ve planned a “special night,” but one of the kids get sick. They decide to stay up late because they know “you have plans.” You are now forced to plan getaways – which I love to do, you have to work around schedules, responsibilities, and whatever else life throws at you.

How do you keep things EXCITING?? First of all, no one wants the monotonous routine right? We want to keep it fun and exciting like it was in the beginning! That is going to take effort from both partners to make that work. Can you still surprise your spouse? Can you walk up and whisper something that will make them blush? Will it make you blush just saying it? I’m telling you; you have to make the ordinary – extraordinary! Routine is fine, it gets the job done, but sometimes we all want more than routine. If you are not dating your spouse, it is time to start. Remember how things were exciting and unpredictable when you were dating? Holding hands and staring into each other’s eyes. You would sneak kisses and chase each other around like little kids. Get it back by going to where it started. You can do that literally and/or figuratively. Don’t allow your marriage to become a place where boredom resides, but where all the fun happens.

What else can you do to keep it spicy? Surprise your partner. Tell them that you have plans, don’t give any specifics, and make it the most unforgettable night they will ever experience. I’m thinking candles, roses, couples massages, champagne, and some delectable treats. Surprises are a perfect spice in the marriage pot, if done correctly. Leave notes and send text messages reminding them about the upcoming surprise without giving it away, but to keep building the anticipation. You can hint at all kind of things of what it possibly could be, but keep that anticipation high so when they do get their “surprise” things are hot and smoking!

Finally, always let your partner know what you like. Using your voice is critical in a relationship, and it is equally important when it comes to being physical with your partner. Let them know what turns you on, what feels incredible, what you like and don’t like. Being vocal lets your partner know that you are enjoying yourself, it increases their enjoyment, and takes your pleasure to an elevated position. Enjoy one another, learn each other’s body, and things can only get better from there. Communicating with your spouse, yes – even during the most intimate time is necessary because it reassures them that what is happening is very fulfilling. When something is not fulfilling to you, do you find yourself wanting to do it or doing it at all? Hmmm….??

While intimacy isn’t solely about sex, it is a component of it. Knowing your partner, having the ability to keep things fresh, and having the willingness to work to keep it fresh it very important. Compassion in guiding your partner to where you want to be in your intimacy, what you want to adjust, and how to gently guide them in the right direction – literally if you must. Do not get annoyed with your partner, communicate, communicate, COMMUNICATE! Actually talking with your partner is the most important component of intimacy that you will encounter. Conversations resolves things and moves them forward if they are done correctly. So again, be compassionate, accept constructive criticism if you are giving it, and most importantly, KEEP ENJOYING EACH OTHER!

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Stop Living in the Past, Happiness Awaits

“Live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find eternity in each moment.” -Henry David Thoreau

The past is a tricky place.  You can visit there, but it is not some place you want to live.  Holding onto the past, especially situations that were hurtful can cause feelings of remorse and resentment that may be difficult to navigate.  These scenes should only be played out in therapy for you to overcome.  Not on a daily basis for you to dwell.  I know several people who live in the past, and that hinders their present, and jeopardizes their future.  Our past good or bad should always encourage us to be better.  For some of us it does, while others take their past and use it as an excuse, as a crutch of sorts to excuse their actions.  “I only act that way because this happened when I was younger.”  She acts that way because that’s just the way she is.  Your past does not give you a pass to be a toxic individual.

I have experienced trauma, familial issues, relationship issues, and a host of other things that could make me a completely ruined individual, but I don’t live there anymore. I took the necessary time to work on those pieces of myself.  I encourage any and everyone, if you have issues in your past that are preventing you from living purposefully and intentionally in your present – work that out.  Therapy and mental health resources are available through just about all insurances.  If you are uninsured or underinsured, you can go to www.samhsa.gov or visit their national helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) for treatment and referral services.  

Yes, you have a right to your feelings, and you have to own those feelings, but don’t own them to the point that you are paralyzed within them.  It is important to process whatever you are feeling, and work to pull yourself out of that hole.  Those feelings can place you in a pit where you are unable to maintain meaningful relationships with friends, family, and most importantly intimate relationships.  I’ve witnessed some of the most dysfunctional relationships because the people involved were unable to overcome and workout their individual issues.  It is not a judgment, but an observation.  I wouldn’t judge someone in that position because I was once one of those people.  Ready to jump at a moment’s notice because I possessed an inability to accept constructive criticism for what it was.

I encourage you to set your intentions on happiness. For you to experience happiness you first have to understand what happiness is. What exactly is happiness? Well, I am sorry to say that there is not a straightforward answer to the question, “What is happiness?” Happiness is a series of complex levels that only the individual trying to achieve it can say, THIS IS MY HAPPINESS. What does your wheel of well-being say about you? Think about your life. Which of your day to day activities give you pleasure or joy? Which ones are engaging (put you into flow)? Which ones are centered on building supportive relationships (friends, family, colleagues, others)? Which activities are meaningful? Which ones give you a sense of accomplishment, and make you feel that you made a difference? These questions may help you find your meaning of happiness.

The ability to stop living in the past lies in your capability to find your happiness. Prioritize yourself on a daily basis to find the positive aspect of the day, finding humor, doing good – reaching out to help someone. These things can drastically change your outlook and demand more “now” living. Take time to look at the stars, dance in the rain, people – watch, watch the sunrise, dance like nobody’s watching, dress up for yourself and not because someone wants you to. Make life happy by being present in the present.

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How is Your Character?

“Who are you, when heavy weather is blowing? Where is your character, the one who keeps your going?” -Van Hunt

I walked into the week with the confidence of LeBron James as he steps onto the basketball court, but it’s Wednesday and I’m feeling a little deflated.  I say deflated because I have lost a little air, but I am by no means DEFEATED.  Our intentions can be pure and our plans well laid out, but boy do those speed bumps come out of nowhere!  I just wanted to say that if you started your week as I started mine, confident and ready to take on the world…don’t lose hope.

We all get the same 24 hours in a day and we have to make the best of that time no matter how challenging it may be.  I encouraged my followers on Instagram yesterday that we do not have bad days, but days where we experience character building exercises.  I say that because how we handle situations when we are stressed and in challenging situations is a direct reflection of our character.  The definition of character is the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.  What does your mental and moral qualities say about you when you face a challenging day?  Do you rise above the situation and show the best part of yourself, or do you become a complete ass?

Are you aware that your character is formed or most revealed during the difficult times. The difficult times are the best test of character. I learned that over the years. I could be an ass when faced with a difficult situation when I was younger, and I can be an ass now, but I know the importance of my character and how my response reflects on me. Thus, I go for the best version of me 97% of the time now. There are people that will test you, sometimes I think just to see how far they can push you. Aiming to see how you will react. If you have children, they are the agents of pushing your character to the limit, but these are the most important people with whom you want to show the best aspect of your character to. Don’t give in to their ‘little dictatorship,’ but let them know that their behavior or whatever they are doing wrong is unacceptable in the most “Mary Poppins” voice possible. Remember, you imprint on them at every age, and they feel your pain and displeasure which results in their further acting out. I can personally attest to it. One day I was upset with my son for something he’d done, but I didn’t say anything; I just furrowed my brow. He asked me, “Mommy are you mad?” I told him that I was displeased. He replied, “Well you don’t have to attack me!” I assure you, there was no attacking taking place, only a furrowed brow and the makings of some premature wrinkles. However, to hear him say that made me sad that he felt attacked because I showed displeasure with his actions. Children can really pile it on right?

How can we keep our character intact and not have our children accusing us of attacking them. Release those toxic emotions; don’t let them build up to begin with. We are prone to easily give into negative emotions like anger, frustration, and anxiety. These emotions become a part of our bodies, manifesting in pain, tension, and the inability to concentrate. They also manifest through us lashing out at our co-workers, our friends, our families, and anyone who dares to come within close proximity. Discover an outlet to rid your body of these toxins to be a better you and to keep from putting your character at risk.

Your character is a part of you always and forever. It will follow you wherever you go, it is a part of your reputation, a part of who you are. How you handle difficult days and difficult situations can define your character. Don’t let a difficult day be the determining factor of your character. We are better than that, and in this year – 2020, we MUST be better than that.

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This week will be Amazing!

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they have come along with patience and equanimity.” -Carl Jung

This week, I’m looking for the happiness in all things. Is that a bit much? At this point, I don’t believe that it is. This year, we have gone through hell and back, and we are still witnessing nationwide suffering with wildfires all up and down the west coast, whether you believe in it or not, Covid is still very real, and it seems like everyone is at odds with their neighbors about their views of what is happening in the world. I thought I’d had a tough week last week because homeschool and life didn’t go as planned everyday, but I realized I’ve had a tough year. We’ve all had a tough year.

Guess what? Adults are not the only ones having a tough time, but our children are navigating uncharted waters, unsure of what to feel. So, if they lash out, refuse to do work, and are not themselves – think about the times you as an adult have felt the very same way! To accommodate the high anxiety, I’ve started changing the way we start our mornings. I mean it’s homeschool right so we can do what we want. We turn on a little smooth jazz, spray some calming essential oils, and discuss things before we get to work. This is an attempt to make our days better, and I cross my fingers, say a prayer and hope for the best. Some days we fly through work like an old school Concorde, but other days, it’s pulling teeth; good days and bad days.

I had a discussion with my daughter and one of her friends this weekend, and they were saying how things have changed dramatically at their school amongst the students, and who they feel best represents them as their President. I don’t tell people who they should or shouldn’t vote for, but when the rhetoric follows, the sublimed racial messages, that is when I see the problem. I was told about some uncomfortable messages these small group of young adults were putting out into the atmosphere. I sat them down and explained racism is not an inherited trait. You are not born with a racist gene. That is something taught, indoctrinated, drilled into you by individuals closest to you: friends and family. I also explained to them, (my two) they have always been taught right from wrong and to not stoop to the level of someone who spews vileness. It is their job to rise above. They are to respect and care about others, but walk away when ignorance rears it’s ugly head

So I ask…What are you looking to accomplish this week? What kind of meaning do you want for your life this week? Are you willing to take the bad and make it good should it come? Can you say, I won’t complain in the midst of your storm. This week, we are going to go forth and be amazing, rising above all that is: 1- Not good for our mental health. 2- Does not serve the greater good. 3- Does not improve our overall well-being. 4- Does not make us happy and puts a smile on our face. 5- Is negative in ANY way. My motto this week is “inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit!” I have given you a very simple blueprint to make this week amazing. GO FORTH AND MAKE IT GREAT!

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Don’t Disregard Your Mental Health

“One of the bad things about depression is that it drains us emotionally and makes us unable to handle things that normally would not get us down.” -Billy Graham

Mental Health is and should be treated as a part of your overall health.  You can be physically perfect, sound body, heart healthy, every organ doing what it is supposed to do, all of your numbers exactly where they should be, but mentally you can be on life support.  Of all mental health issues you could experience, depression and anxiety are right at the top of the top 5.  As a Black woman I have heard far too often in my lifetime that people my color do not become depressed, we do not have issues with anxiety.  I am here to dispel that “rumor” and to further normalize the conversations of mental health, and talk about what we really feel.  I can remember an Aunt of mine as a child who had what they considered a “nervous breakdown.”  She was almost catatonic.  She would sit and stare into a void that none of us could see and some responses were merely grunts.  I never knew what the cause of her affliction was, but I can still vividly see her sitting there on our sofa, basically a shell of herself.  I was a child at the time, without any type of knowledge or understanding of how your brain can make your entire body turn against you.

A few years later I would be in conversation with my Grandmother; and I asked her why she waited so long to have my mom – who would be her only child. Still a child, I had no idea what kind of doors I was opening at the time, but I did have a better understanding. When she had my mom, she was 43 years old. She explained that she was pregnant before my mom, almost 13 years before she gave birth to her. At that time, she lost her uncle, the man that raised her when her mom could no longer take care of her because she herself experienced a crisis. This stress affected her to the point that she miscarried what would have been my uncle. The culmination of both losses were too great for her and she found herself in a deep depression. My Grandfather was helpless and unaware of what to do. Fresh home from WWII and still trying to find his way as a “colored” man in a white man’s world, he too was a little lost. My Grandmother was the daughter of a twin. Her cousin, the daughter of her mom’s twin, came and took care of her. She told me it took her almost that long to get herself together, to get her mind right, to know that she could take care of herself before she even thought of taking care of someone else. Just in the first 400 words of this post I have shown that 2 generations of Black women experienced mental health issues at a time when it was even more “hush, hush.”

That is the thing about depression, it doesn’t care who you are or what you look like. It doesn’t care how successful you are, how much money you make, or what kind of car you drive – depression does not care who it attacks. This week, there was a discussion with Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott speaking on his bout with depression. It made its rounds on a lot of the sports talk shows because Skip Bayless said he had no sympathy for Prescott because as quarterback of “America’s Team” he’s supposed to be a leader of men. This was in response to Prescott admitting that he had began experiencing depression and anxiety during quarantine, and those feelings intensified when his older brother died by suicide in mid-April. Well Skip Bayless, you have sunk to a low of lows. What’s sad is he knew where he was going before he even got there because he prefaced it by saying, “viewers could condemn him as cold-blooded and insensitive for what he was about to say.” Depression and anxiety doesn’t care WHO YOU ARE and what team you throw the ball for. I applaud Dak for having the balls, literally and figuratively for coming out and sharing his feelings. Once Skip said what he said, we had more men in powerful positions express their times of depression and feelings of hopelessness after losses and other traumatic events. I even saw someone say, he’s rich and famous; what does he have to be depressed about? Money and fame is not a depression deterrent, nor does it make you exempt. These people are still human, no matter what type of money they make. Shame on you Skip Bayless!

This reaction is one of the reasons a lot of people hide their depression. The world around you may not receive it in a kindly manner. I think I read somewhere that depression is when we live in the past and anxiety is what happens when we can’t control the future. Regardless of what causes each of these disorders, there is a common thread between the two – an attempt to control the uncontrollable. I had to realize that myself when I became depressed and anxious. For a while, and I mean a while; there was a time before I sought help for the feelings that I was feeling. I actually went into the doctor for a regular check up and bloodwork, and my doctor goes – you don’t look like yourself, what’s going on? I burst into tears immediately, because as hard as I thought I was hiding everything she saw it. I then started to think, who else had noticed, but didn’t say anything. Maybe my friends and family thought I was just being bitchy and withdrawn, but that is not what my doctor saw. Many people do not seek help or advice, some talk to their friends, I didn’t do either, but my healthcare provider literally saw me.

Depression and anxiety can be debilitating and paralyzing. You feel a sense of constant impending doom, while feeling like you are about to jump out of your skin. There were times when I would look in the mirror, but question who the person was inside of me. I was the strong one. The one people would come to. The one who could always give advice and help. So how was it, I found myself paralyzed in my own body. I was able to go on with life as normal, but let me tell you…I did not care about anything. I faked my way through life for well over a year. I went through countless medications and side effects that were extreme. I lost my ability to taste, I lost other senses, temporarily thank God, but just the trial and error of finding what can make you feel normal again is almost as exhausting as the illness itself. Like Dak, I experienced those feelings again at the mid-point of quarantine. I realized though where I was headed and realized again that I have too much to live for and refused to allow that darkness to engulf me again. I began to take proactive measures – after a month of sulking. Maybe I needed that month, but once it was over, it needed to be over! I had to get back to life in the most intentional way. The depression and anxiety didn’t just magically go away, I just learned over the years how to function effectively.

The stigma of mental health has to be erased. We need to normalize talking about our feelings, going to therapy, acknowledging our issues, and treating others with respect and kindness because we don’t know what they are going through. Mental health illnesses are a global issue, not just a me or a you issue. We’ve all been touched by it whether we realize it or not. Some situations are unique and require more attention and “finesse” than others. I implore you, don’t do like I did and wait for someone to “see” you and know that you are not fine. If you are feeling unlike yourself, talk to someone, get the help you need, IT IS NOT WRONG. An accurate diagnosis means an accurate course of treatment. You can overcome anxiety and depression, the question is: are you willing to seek the help you need? Don’t wait too long.

How has mental health issues affected you? Let’s begin a discussion. Leave a response in the comments.

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National Suicide Prevention Month

There’s always hope!!

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.  This week, September 6-12 is Suicide Prevention Week.  Suicide is a subject most people shy away from, it’s one of those subjects that is – taboo.  Well, we can’t shy away from it, and we have to talk about it because it happens and it happens often.  Suicide is in the top 10 causes of death in the United States, with about 50,000 people dying each year, and an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts.  With those numbers, we all know someone who has either attempted suicide, has been affected by suicide, or has even considered it.  

We need to get the word out about this preventable epidemic, because it is preventable.  Just as we call attention to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses, suicide and suicide attempts need our attention as well.  If we know and understand the risk factors, the available treatments, and what it takes to keep our friends and family safe – I have extreme hope that we can get these numbers lower.  Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people 10-34 and the 4th leading cause of death for people 35-54.  The overall suicide rate in the United States has increased by 31% since 2001.  Someone you know may be hinting to you they need help, they may be actively crying out for help, and they may just be trying to disappear, but as I said, we must know the risk factors and how we can help.

Some of the most common risk factors pertaining to a suicidal individual include:

  • Current or past depression. Depression can become overwhelming and too much to bear for some, and they feel suicide is the only cure. Other mental health issues further exacerbate those intense feelings; so a combination of mental health issues can lead to suicide.
  • Substance abuse is another factor. Extensive and long-term drug use can lead to changes in the chemical makeup of the brain which can make an individual suicidal. One may also feel they will never get over their addiction, thus the only option is to end it all.
  • Exposure to a traumatic event. Individuals with PTSD, survivors guilt, and maybe even a woman post-miscarriage are some examples of a ‘traumatic event.’ A traumatic event can be a wide variety of scenarios that overwhelmingly overcomes someone to the point of no return.
  • Social Isolation. What is that? Well, now we’ve been in quarantine for months, unable to gather with friends and family on a regular basis which has left a lot of individuals “socially isolated.” Teens find a problem with this too. They fall out with a friend or friends and becoming the outcast; this has lead to an increase in teen suicide.
  • Loss of a relationship.
  • Legal and financial issues.
  • Traumatic brain injury. For example, football players who’ve had several concussions over the years, diagnosed and undiagnosed that lead to CTE.
  • Easy access to firearms.
  • Unstable home life.
  • Life threatening illness.

Suicide has proven to be no respecter of age. Children younger than 13 years of age are turning to suicide because of an increase in bullying, abuse, and feeling unwanted and unseen. It is up to each of us to help, you never know what an adult or a child in your life is going through. So how can you help? Each of us can be more supportive and a little less judgmental. Inquire about things going on with the people in your life. If you are around them enough, you may notice the change in mood, even the subtle ones. Offer support, even if they tell you nothing’s wrong. You don’t want to be pushy, but you do want to assure them that you are there should they need you. If they do bring you in, stay involved. The situation is delicate, and for all intent and purposes, deadly. It is not the time to be a flake. Abandoning them now would only bring up more issues. Finally, know the signs; which I will lay out for you next, and if there is a need – by all means contact a mental health professional.

What are the “Red Flags” you should be looking for?  These signs can be very subtle, as to not draw attention to what they are planning, or as bold as a neon sign.  Some who plan suicide may do one or more of the following:

  • Seek out medication, controlled substances, or firearms.
  • They may seek out friends and family to say their final goodbyes.
  • Putting their affairs in order.
  • Showing and expressing feelings of hopelessness.
  • The may become easily agitated.
  • Showing signs of shame in everything.
  • Insomnia
  • Along with a host of many other signs that may be unique to that individual.

As I have said, most people don’t like to speak on the topic of suicide and it is a taboo type of subject.  If you ask, a lot of people will say that it is selfish, it is the ultimate betrayal, and it is unforgivable.  People think that way because they don’t understand the complete breakdown of the mental health issues behind the reason for an individual choosing to take their life.  Suicide and suicidal thoughts can a affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.  I encourage you, not just in September, but each month of the year to check in with your loved ones.  Ask the questions about how they are feeling, if there is something that is heavily weighing on them – especially if they are prone to depression and mental health issues.  Use this month to share the stories of loss, reach out to someone you know who suicide has affected, take time to heal if you have been affected, raise awareness.  Like mental health, we have to end the stigma attached to suicide and focus on preventing it from happening in the first place.

  • If you know someone who is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately and thoroughly explain the situation to ensure that it is handled properly. If possible, contact the individual’s doctor if they are under care to let them know their patient is in crisis.
  • If you are in crisis and need to speak with someone, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
  • If you don’t think you can talk, text NAMI to 741-741 to actively text with a trained crisis counselor.
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Positivity In A Pandemic

Are you trying to navigate this pandemic with grace and positivity or are you just trudging through at this point?  When are we going to return to some sort of normalcy? Ha, maybe not for a while.  The situation has spiraled completely out of control, and at this point we are waiting for the next shoe to drop; i.e, the second wave.  So much in the world is madness right now.  Fires are raging in California, the Joshua trees have been almost completely decimated.  Protests are still going on and police are still shooting and exerting excessive force on people of color.  “All Lives Matter” is clashing with “Black Lives Matter” creating perfect storms.  I’m thinking that I should save a little lamb’s blood when I buy my next pack of lamb chops…just in case.  Things are completely insane right now and the news basically requires a trip to your therapist after watching it.  So I ask, how can you find positivity in the midst of a pandemic?

First of all, you get up and be thankful.  Thankful that you are not counted in the 190,000+ casualties of the pandemic.  If you have been lucky enough to have not contracted the virus, be thankful that you are not amongst the recovered individuals still suffering from the lingering effects of the disease.  You don’t have the difficulty breathing, you are not losing your hair, you are not having the anxiety attacks that many say they are experiencing post-Covid-19.  Be thankful, if the virus has not touched your family in any way because there are almost 200,000 other families in our country that it has affected; not to mention the doctors, nurses, aides, and other front line workers.

The next way you find positivity in a pandemic is to appreciate what you have.  If you are still employed and have remained employed throughout this entire crisis, you can mark one off in the win column.  If you have a roof over your head and haven’t had to worry about food insecurity like so many have, mark off another win.  Though you may complain about the enormous amount of time you have spent with your family, think of the memories you have made that you don’t even realize you did.  Down the road, when your children are older, and you say, “You remember back in 2020 when we couldn’t go anywhere?”  You’ll think about something really cool you did.  A fantastic meal you shared.  An impromptu dance off you had.  A hard puzzle that took you forever to put together.  The fact that you couldn’t find toilet paper, Lysol, or Clorox wipes for months and when they did return it cost a lot.  So through the sadness, the wanting time to yourself, and wishing they would just go back to school; appreciate the time you did get with your children because you may never get time like that again.  Allow those happy moments to flood in.  Those happy moments get our happy hormones flowing and keep us calm and zen for the next round of not so good news.

This all may sound cliche, but in a hard time such as we are experiencing now, wallowing is not a good thing.  Wallowing leads to depression and feelings that take you to a lonely dark place.  Not one of us can afford to be in that place right now because the world itself is dark enough.  We have to be the light!  If you can’t be the light, go into the light – no, not that light, but the sunlight.  Sunlight is nature’s cure all in the right doses.  Sunlight increases vitamin D, which promotes reduced inflammation and modulates cell growth and stronger bones.  Sunlight, like holding on to those happy moments, also promotes the secretion of serotonin – the happy hormone.  That is why people get, “the winter blues” during winter months because there is less sunlight at that time.  An increase in sunlight during the day can also lead to a better night of sleep,  which leads to a better version of you.  Sun —> Serotonin —> Sleep —->Better Mood —->Better You.  

Our entire nation is In crisis, how we handle things ultimately is up to us. Are we going to go through it in a positive manner, leaving a positive mark, positive change – not only for yourself, but for your children and those you hold dear. I’m not telling you to be a constant ray of sunshine because we are going to have our moments of despair, simply because of everything that is going on around us. Find the good in this situation. Find your joy. Find your happy place. Find someone to lean on. Give someone, someone to lean on. Be thankful and appreciative because things could be so much worse than they are. Most of all, find your positivity, hold on to it, don’t let it go, and by all means, don’t let anyone allow you to feel bad about finding positivity in this pandemic.

“Be grateful for every second of every day you get to spend with the people you love. Our time together is short and so very precious.” -Brad Turnbull

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Regrets or Missed Opportunities: You Decide

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
-Unkown

Regret: (v) feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).

(N): a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.

Regret is one of those words that sticks around and hangs over you like a storm cloud that could burst at any moment.  Have you ever heard the words, “we regret to inform you…?”  Have you ever felt regret or regretted doing something or not doing something in your life?  Regret is such a word that when you hear it, you begin to cringe.  There aren’t any synonyms to the word that I can find to make me feel different about the word: sadness, sorrow, disappointment, to feel contrite…none of those words exude any type of confidence.  My last post was about living your life, but now I want you to go through life with no regrets from this point forward.  If you have an opportunity, take it!  If you find yourself not benefiting from the opportunity but you tried, know that you leapt and that you have no regrets.

Are you doing something that you don’t love, just for the sake of a paycheck?  I’m not recommending that you quit your job, but reevaluate some things in life.  There is so much more out there and I guarantee if you are in a position where you are overworked and underappreciated, there is something inside of you wanting to break free and show you your real worth.  What are your marketable skills?  How can you take those skills and make them make money for you?  Is what makes you marketable in a field that is in demand?  Can you thrive in this particular niche?  Is it over saturated, or is there room for more.  Believe me when I say there is always room for more because no one is going to do the job like you will.  STEP OUT ON FAITH.

Think about all of the small businesses that are now thriving, even in a pandemic because they have something everyone wants, and they can work from the comfort of their homes.  Imagine if you were the woman or man who decided to make the face mask, or made a homemade disinfectant product strong enough to kill viruses, or you created a hand sanitizer that was marketable…do you think any of those individuals would feel sorrow, sadness, or contrite at this moment?  Will we have regrets in life?  Absolutely.  I’m asking you that from the time you read this until the time you take your last breath, you live life with as few regrets as possible.  Don’t even think of them as regrets, think of them as missed opportunities.  You got that, regrets have now been changed to missed opportunities.

Aside from taking your marketable skill and using it to benefit you and not some company, you can also continue learning. Learning doesn’t necessarily mean paying for college and courses, but read. Take the time to read as much as you possibly can. You would be amazed how much you can learn from simply reading. I read everything from the daily news, to trashy romance novels, science fiction, self help, and I even read medical journals online. Information is POWERFUL, and you never know when that power is going to be needed. My motto is, “learn as much as you can about everything you can.” When my dad was in the hospital before he passed. The doctors were overwhelming us with different scenarios and diagnoses, not really going in-depth about a lot. I had one doctor tell me to just prepare myself, as if my dad was actually going to die. I went home and looked into medical journals and trusted sources…not Dr. Google and researched everything. The next day, I waited for all the doctors with the knowledge I obtained from “doing my due diligence” and their mouths hit the floor. I have met some great doctors and some doctors who are just “passing through” and when I tell you the doctor I saw the next day switched up my dad’s care completely; I was shocked, but I was glad I decided to READ. My dad improved because of my desire to learn more and lived another 5 years. No regrets.

If you are too afraid to leap, baby step your way to a life with less missed opportunities.  What’s the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Your life isn’t going to change over night, but you have to want to change, put in the work, show up, exercise the discipline, and keep moving forward.  Those baby steps will add up and before you know it, you have made major changes that you were not even prepared for.  Stop placing limitations on your life.  Your possibilities are endless and there are no limits to the things you can accomplish once you put your mind and heart into it.  

In the end, life will throw you curveballs, and the path that you thought was straight can end up being a very winding road. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is: don’t play victim, crying and screaming woe is me, make no excuses, and most importantly – don’t waste a minute. There is no time to spare in the 24 hours we get each day, so make them count and live life with less missed opportunities and REGRETLESS!!!

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Live Your Life

“The greatest lesson of life is that you are responsible for your life.” -Oprah Winfrey

Late night on August 30, 2020 I had an epiphany.  I needed to live my life to the fullest and to become the best version of me.  I started the next day with walking every morning.  That week, I improved my step count by over 40,000 steps!  I realized that I allowed quarantine and our new way of life to get to me and I needed to be more intentional in every aspect of my life.  I had begun to have more anxiety attacks, I was sinking back into my depressive moods, and engaging in the behaviors that lead me further and further down into a hole that I have found very difficult to come out of before.  I can put on a good face like everything is well and good, but who can’t?  I’ve gone through anxiety and depression enough to know how to hide the depression part.  

Tonight as I was drinking my tea, there was a message. If you drink tea and know about Yogi tea, there is always a message for the drinker. It said,”Love yourself so that you may know how to live with self-respect.” That can mean an awful lot of things to different people, but to me it meant that in order to absolutely love myself, I had to know how to respect myself. You don’t need anyone else to disrespect you, you have the capability to do that all on your own. How can you not respect yourself?

  • Thinking negative thoughts about yourself.
  • Allowing others to treat you any way that doesn’t uplift you.
  • Putting the needs of others ahead of your own.
  • Suppressing your feelings.
  • Hanging on to toxic individuals.
  • Not taking care of yourself.
  • Approval seeking from others.
  • Pretending in order to fit in.
  • Allowing people to use you for their needs. (And so much more.)

If you are doing any of these things, or anything similar to the above mentioned things, you are not loving yourself and treating yourself with respect. With 17 weeks left in this year, I decided I wanted to end it with more self respect, more love, more me, and being kind to myself. It isn’t about being selfish, but about feeling good mentally, physically, and emotionally. You can give all of yourself until there is no more to give, and once that happens – the takers move on to the next person they can feed on. Even your family has to have a shut off valve. They may be your all and you may be their all, but they cannot take it all. At the end of the day, there has to be something left for us to remind us that we are an individual. We are more than someone’s mom, wife, or dad, and husband. We take on our roles to the point that we lose our identity. However, being a mom and a wife is only a part of my identity; I was first a woman and I need to continue to be that outside of my other roles or the most prominent ones will take full control.

I’m not telling you to lose it and go crazy! That’s not what I’m doing. I’m being more organized, creating schedules, and making sure that I make time for me in that schedule. As simple as that sounds, week one was tiring. Today, I stayed in bed until almost 12 noon, my sinuses didn’t help, but my body needed that time…I needed that time. Even my children slept in. My son, who is 6, did not come into my room until after 11 am. Was he awake before? I don’t know, but he was quiet, he kept himself busy, and when he wanted me, he came and got in bed with me and laid there and just talked. I appreciated that. It was as if he knew, mommy needed some extra time because all was not well. At 3, we dropped Sissy to her friend’s 18th birthday party around the corner…she could have driven herself, but she is dragging her feet getting her license (that’s a whole different story for another time), and we came back home. Still, squinting out of one eye, he decided he wanted one on one time with me and we watched Aladdin and Jurassic Park. After everyone was fed, bathed, and put to bed; I walked. I finished my menu for the week, checked the pantry and freezer to see if I needed anything from the store, and made my list. Still carving out my time and taking care of the home base.

So you see, you can have the best of living your life, while being a mom and wife too – it’s about the intention you plan to give each area. I always intend and strive to be the best mom, wife, and woman I can be. I don’t always hit the mark, but when I shine, I shine bright like a diamond! I will keep being their very best mother, and I will keep being his very best wife, but for my sanity I will also START being the VERY best ME, because if I lose me…they lose me, and that would be the real loss of love.

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A Letter to Moms

I see you, I am you, YOU ARE LOVED!!💋

Tonight as I sit here, tired beyond words I just want to say to all moms out there…don’t give up, you’ve got this.  This week has been extra busy and tiring, and I thought that I was being more organized and setting myself up for success.  I also realized that no matter how many lists you make, how early you rise, how hard you work, setbacks will happen and you will just get tired.  Last night I was so tired that my entire body hurt, but no matter how tired I was, sleep was nowhere to be found.  Eventually around 11:30, I conked out.  

I’ve realized that as a mother and wife, one of the main reasons we cannot find sleep or it cannot find us is because we have an inability to turn our brains off.  Our mom brains usually have one function – ON.  We rarely have airplane mode, do not disturb, or a sleep mode.  We are overburdened with the thoughts of tomorrow, next week, next month, and even months down the road.  I know that in order for me to get a more restful night’s sleep, I have to start unpacking some of that worry and clutter that is filling my head from the day by at least 3 hours before bedtime to be able to sleep.  Easy to say, hard to do…trust me!  I can give to you, just as I give it to myself, but it is up to us to make it work.

Mama’s, I think of us like an ant hill.  We have the Queen and the workers, but guess what; we do it all.  Nothing gets done right if we don’t do it, so why not just get it done right?  Yes we can dictate a few minor things to the “workforce” but they can’t handle it all like we can.  I want you to know that if you are feeling overworked, underpaid, and maybe a little under appreciated…I’m with you.  We don’t always get the I love you’s, thank you’s, and we appreciate you that we deserve, but they do love, appreciate and thank us for all we do.  Sometimes we have to tell ourselves and keep on working.

So, if you find yourself a little tense – which is not a hard place to find yourself lately step away.  There has to be a place in your home unoccupied by another individual at some point, even if it’s outside.  Breathe in some calming relaxing breaths, grab a cup of tea (peppermint, chamomile, lavender, green, valerian, ashwagandha are all relaxing teas). Read a book or go for a walk.  I know that in the last 6 months we have all spent more time than we would normally spend with our families, without getting the normal amount of time we usually get to ourselves.  I just want you to know that you are not alone!  We are in this thing together and I am always here to listen.  By all means, do not allow the stress of the moment make you miss out on the beautiful things life has to offer. 

“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”

-Amit Ray

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Hurricane Laura: Unpredictable from the Start

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Here on the Gulf Coast of the United States, anytime the weatherman says that a storm is going to enter the Gulf – we start sitting Shiva. Literally we are brought low anytime we see tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane in SE Texas, especially in the
months of August and September. Laura was not initially forecastedto come this far into the Gulf of Mexico. First, it was supposed to impact Florida, then Alabama, then Louisiana, then Texas. In the end, she decided to split the difference and hit between Texas and Louisiana. There is a bridge you cross over Interstate 10 leaving Orange, Texas, and halfway across that bridge you realize at the bottom of the bridge you will no longer be in Texas. I have taken that route too many times to count. Drive 39 miles and you are in Lake Charles, bypassing smaller towns such as Starks, Vinton, Sulphur, and Westlake along the I-10 east corridor. I have also taken the back route through Port Arthur into Cameron, making trips to Holly Beach, and enjoying the day. However,
Laura came in as a Category 4 storm destroying as much as possible in her path. In Texas, the wind damage was noticeable, 300,000+ households were without electricity, evacuation orders are still in place as of right now in some cities. Many sick and at least 5 dead in the area from improperly using generators, and some areas are still
impassable. Electricity, internet, and phone service has been spotty, but it could have been much worse. As I said, Laura was unpredictable from the word GO. My hometown, 60 miles west of Lake Charles was on course to get a hurting from Laura – far worse than what we received. The storm was on the same path as Hurricane Rita that hit the area in 2005. Rita hit us a month after Katrina devastated the Mississippi
and New Orleans areas, we were using Ford Park Entertainment Complex as a shelter for evacuees when we were ordered to leave ourselves. Rita created one of the largest evacuations in US history because Houston, Texas was called to evacuate as well. We
spent 36 hours in traffic! With Laura following that same path, no one knew what to expect and with 2 storms in the last 3 years that caused so much flooding and dread, a lot of people were “storm weary” and decided to hunker down. I was one of those people who decided I would stay and “ride out the storm,” but when I got up on Wednesday morning and saw that the storm intensified and may do so even further…we waved goodbye to our home and prayed it would still be here when we returned.

Cameron, Louisiana
The norm around Orange, Texas.

We made it all the way to Austin in an exhausted, almost fugue state, checked into our hotel, showered, and tuned into our local news KFDM Channel 6 who always does live coverage during storms to keep those who evacuated and those at home informed throughout the storm. If Laura would have stayed on her NNW direction, it would have
been 2005 all over again, 15 years later, but at the last minute – Laura took a northerly turn. That northerly turn is what caused so much damage in Orange, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana and further. That is just on I-10, you have the damage to Cameron Parrish and the city of Cameron, as well as further inland into Louisiana. Lake Charles’
devastation is heartbreaking to see. I heard a news report about a tree falling on a house and killing a 14-year-old girl. Her sister frantically called her name and tried to find her and once she did, she realized why she could not answer. These cities are a part of me. I still have a lot of family that live in Orange and “across the bridge” as we say in Lake Charles and surrounding areas. My roots run deep through these communities, so to see them shattered is a hurtful thing.

BioLab Explosion

The day after the storm there was an explosion at a chemical lab that released a toxin into the air. So now you are forced to stay inside your home within a certain area of the plant, no electricity, if your
windows are open for some kind of airflow you are still getting the toxin…what do you do? The President visited the area today to survey the damage in Louisiana and in Texas and refused to say that these extreme storms were a result of climate change. His response was that the area has always been prone to strong storms. That very well may
be true, but they would lose intensity quickly. Laura made it to almost northern Louisiana still a hurricane. However, in my 37 yearsof living in the area, I never had to evacuate until 2005. I had twin classmates that were born in the middle of a hurricane when you weren’t “evacuating entire counties. His Mar-a-Lago estate is right near the coastal waters of Florida and I guarantee you, a hurricane could not care less that he is who he is. I think the President and I will have to agree to disagree, or we can just disagree on this one. I know that water temperatures are much warmer, earlier in the year, causing the June 1 start date for hurricane season to almost become moot and as a result, storms have begun to appear before then. These storms see no political affiliation and they do not discriminate. They do not care if you are black, white, purple, rich, poor, doctor, or work at McDonald’s, whatever you have belongs to it; if it is in its path. Unless we get a cool snap that dramatically affects the water temperature in the Gulf, we have 32 more days of watching, waiting, and praying that nothing comes this way again. We were blessed and slightly inconvenienced this time, but just as Laura was unpredictable, the season is just as shifty as she was.

My only inconvenience was the drive and cleaning my yard.

Thank you Beaumont Channel 6 KFDM for always staying when we need you!!kfdm.com

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Keeping It All Together

“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.” – Nina Simone

Someone asked me, how I keep it all together – I’m not sure that I do.  For the majority of my adult life I have been responsible for someone else.  I had my first child at age 20, in college, just after finishing my last final for the semester.  It would take me 10 years after that to get my degree because I jumped into working and being a mom full time.  Before I knew it, I was a full-time mom and working full-time, and before my daughter turned 1, her dad and I bought our first house.  I was still swinging working full-time and being mom full-time with the demands of a new home.  My husband has been a shift worker for almost 20 years and I was lucky to have a job where I could decide which shift I wanted to take at the time.  Back then, there wasn’t any job security when your child was sick and had to be hospitalized.  After we moved into our home, my daughter had to be hospitalized twice within 3 months for a week both times, one of those weeks required surgery.  While my job was good and easy-going…the company wasn’t.  I missed too much time with my daughter’s illness and they let me go.  I wasn’t upset about it because that meant I could spend more time with her after she had been hospitalized twice in such a short time.  I was unemployed for less than two months because a really good job came around that I couldn’t pass.  So, she would go back to hanging out with Granny and I would go back to work.  

Many years later, I would become “The Stay at Home Mom.”  I, in my ignorant wisdom thought that working full-time and maintaining home was hard, being home full-time is what is hard.  At work, you get a lunch break, regular breaks, the occasional coworker you don’t mind talking to and may even possibly become friends with.  At home, you are easily accessible.  Everyone has access to you and they expect you to be home because I mean, YOU DON’T HAVE A JOB!  First things first, my version of SAHM is not book clubs, lunches with the girls, and cocktails at 2.  This is not an episode of any of the Real Housewives and most days I’m too busy to even eat lunch AT HOME.  So, I was asked about my schedule and how I keep things together.  It’s a simple task that you can start on Sunday.  First and foremost, I try to meal plan for the week.  Take stock of what you have in the house before you start and go from there.  You may not have to go out to the grocery store if you have enough in the freezer to make things work for the week.  If you regularly cook and do theme nights like Taco Tuesday, Pizza night, or spaghetti/pasta night; it makes it that much easier.  Our family is all about Taco Tuesday, so we know that we may have beef tacos, chicken tacos, fish tacos…some type of tacos on Tuesday.  That’s one day down, only about 4 to go because at least two nights we eat leftovers.  I would also suggest you invest in a crockpot or pressure cooker because that is called – set it and forget it.  No standing over the stove and working, it does the work for you.  I’ve made everything in a crockpot…even GUMBO!  In the words of my daughter, “That crockpot gumbo is smack Mama!”  I guess that means good because she usually eats at least two bowls.  Below are the simple things I follow weekly to keep my house semi-in order.

  • Meal Plan, grocery list, shopping or grocery order.
  • Create a basic cleaning schedule. (Make your bed daily…you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t make their beds. -Pick up clutter. -Clear and wipe kitchen counters, stove, wash dishes, sweep and empty garbage. — I usually do this before bed and it’s done for the next day. -Don’t leave clothes lying around. -Clear and wipe bathroom counters at night and in the mornings and make sure sinks are wiped out.  This makes your bathroom look clean all the time.  (This is what is done on a daily basis.). If you have pets, you may need to vacuum daily.
  • Twice weekly I mop.  I will for sure get my steps in twice a week because sweeping and mopping my entire house is work.  When I sweep and mop, I also sanitize all surfaces since Covid started.  I Lysol door handles to entrances, bedrooms, bathrooms, faucets and toilet handles.  I “glance” over it everyday, but twice a week, they get thoroughly sanitized.  No pets, you can vacuum 2-3 times a week, more depending on the traffic.
  • Once a week: Clean out the fridge, dust, (we use our fans a lot and they’re dark so they get cleaned once a week as well) Change and wash your linens. -Laundry, deep clean bathrooms(tubs, toilets, showers, mirrors, and fixtures.
  • Don’t worry, whatever you missed will get done.

I try to stick to my schedule as best as I can, especially now because I’m homeschooling my son. This takes a chunk out of my time so I have to be mindful of the time I have to get things done daily and use it as wisely as possible. You have to do what works for you. I can give you a starting point, but you may need to add or take away from it. Not everyone cooks as often as I do, so meal planning may not be necessary. As I said these are guidelines and what keeps me from completely losing my mind. For instance, I sweep everyday because of the type of floors I have. It is tile that looks like wood and it is dark so everything and anything shows on that floor. While I adore them, we have a love/hate relationship too. I have children that can help, but nothing is done right unless you do it yourself and I hate going behind someone to do something they supposedly did. The only person that cleans as good as I do is my husband, and he works hard enough already. How do I keep it all together? Walking that very thin last nerve I have been holding onto since 2013!! My suggestion to you is, don’t lose it trying to keep it all together.

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Hurricane Season is In Full Swing: Be Prepared

As a lifelong resident of Southeast Texas, right on the Gulf of Mexico – I know a lot about hurricanes. In my almost 40 years of living, it wasn’t until 2005 that I had to evacuate for a hurricane, Hurricane Rita. Rita came about a month after Katrina devastated New Orleans, as well as Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi. I was working in management in the hotel industry at the time and our hotel was at capacity with evacuees as our city is just about 30 miles after you cross the Texas/Louisiana border. We erred on the side of caution and emptied the hotel because we knew the hurricane was coming and our staff needed to leave and prepare their properties. Well, early the following morning a mandatory evacuation was ordered. I hurriedly took pictures of our property for insurance purposes. Packed as much as I could into my little Honda Accord, put my sick child with a 103 fever in her car seat, grabbed my mom and my Granny and hit the road. My husband followed behind in his truck, my dad, and his two babies on the back (his motorcycles) and we followed the evacuation route. Houston was being evacuated as well and we couldn’t go that way because well millions of people in cars, including residents of Louisiana as well were leaving a major metropolitan city. Bottom line, the state informed us we could NOT go through Houston. We hit the road at 9am and it was 4pm before we made it to our destination which would normally be a 3 ½ hour drive. It was a pure mess. We kept getting turned around and told we couldn’t go this way or that. When we needed gas, we stopped and were limited to 10 gallons per vehicle. Let’s not even start to talk about the price gouging that was going on at gas stations, hotels, and stores. One of the craziest experiences of my life. We were gone from our homes for about 3 weeks. You could not enter the city because of all the dangers present. Places that were there when you left were now gone. Power lines were down everywhere and the only sound you could hear was the hum of generators and chainsaws clearing paths. The devastation was far spread and almost the entire city was without power, water, and the basic essential services. Three years later came Hurricane Ike. We were a little better prepared for that. We left early, before they called for an evacuation and a lot of people didn’t leave because of the total crap show 3 years prior. My parents stayed and I was worried the entire time. We came back home immediately after the storm. First, we stopped at the grocery store on the way home for essentials to carry us until stores were back open in town, we gassed up our generator, and enjoyed the cool days thanks to a cool front that almost immediately followed the storm.

For almost an entire 10 years we didn’t have to leave or worry about a storm, until 2017. Harvey was a doozy! Harvey had its own personal party on the state of Texas’ back. Harvey made landfall in the south, did a loop de loop, went back into the water, made landfall again, loop de loop and changed course, over a 4 day period we amassed over 60 inches of rain in my area. It left almost no spot untouched by water from South Texas to Louisiana. The wettest tropical cyclone in US history, tied with Katrina as the costliest, displacing over 30,000 people, and prompting over 17,000 high water rescues. We were a virtual island. There was no way in or out of our city. Harvey was so extensive, the name has been retired and there will never be another Hurricane Harvey again. Our home was flooded and we were one of the ones that needed rescuing. Then again in September 2019, Imelda came out of nowhere and flooded us yet again. Cars were stuck on interstate 10 over night, deer and other wild animals were being forced to find higher ground, and we were once again an island. We only moved back into our home at the end of January of this year.

Hurricanes form in the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic Ocean, and Pacific Ocean from low pressure systems that travel into extremely warm water.  Warm air rises, causing an area of low pressure below.  Air from the surrounding areas with higher air pressure pushes into the low pressure area.  Then that “new” air becomes warm and moist and rises too.  As the warm air continues to rise, the surrounding air swirls in to take its place.  This system begins to rotate and grow by feeding off the ocean’s heat and evaporating water.  As the storm spins faster, the more defined the “eye” becomes – the storm’s core.  Planes fly into the eye of the storm to measure pressure and gauge the intensity of the system.  Like a tornado or earthquake, a Hurricane has a rating system from Category 1-5. 

  • 1: Minimal damage at landfall, wind speeds 74-95 mph.
  • 2: Moderate damage at landfall, wind speeds 96-110 mph.
  • 3: Extensive damage at landfall, wind speeds 111-129 mph.
  • 4: Extreme damage at landfall, wind speeds 130-156 mph.
  • 5: Catastrophic damage at landfall, wind speeds 157 or higher.

How can you be prepared for Hurricane Season?  Preparation during a pandemic is most important because preparing for a Hurricane is not normal and is a stressful situation.  During a pandemic, there are extra precautions each of our families must take.  Have your emergency kit stocked and ready when the season begins June 1st.  You’ll need a kit for emergency supplies and a backup supply of any medications, preferably one months worth.  When or if you have to evacuate, you never know how long you will be gone.  Your kits should fit your needs.  Hand sanitizer, masks, wipes, toilet paper, paper towels, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, basic sanitary and hygiene needs for everyone in your home.  The best thing to do is have this already done and not wait for the last minute.  I can assure you the basics will disappear quickly from store shelves once a storm is announced.  The following suggestions should help you decide how to assemble your kits.

  • Stay at home kit (2 weeks worth of emergency supplies) Include everything you need to stay home for two weeks. Food, water, cleaning and disinfectant supplies, soap, paper products and personal hygiene items.
  • Evacuation kit (3 days of supplies in a “go bag”): This kit should be lightweight, a smaller version that you can take with you if you must leave your home quickly. This should be a three day supply of food, water, hygiene items, cleaning and disinfectant supplies that you can use on the go (tissues, hand sanitizer (make sure it is at least 60 percent alcohol and disinfectant wipes). You will also need cloth face covers, masks, scarves, bandanas, anything to cover your nose and mouth. Each person in the home should have their own bag. We are still in a pandemic. Continue to social distance and adhere to the guidelines.
  • First Aid Kit: This should include what a first aid kit would normally have, as well as a one month supply of any prescription meds, fever meds, medical supplies and equipment that you or another family member may specifically need.

Remember, you may lose power in a hurricane, and if you have plans to stay home you have to stock up with that in mind. Non perishable food items are best or things that can be cooked on a gas top. I have cooked on a gas stove without power in a storm because that was my option and to keep food from spoiling. My advice is to plan accordingly, plan ahead, and this year…2020, plan with the pandemic in mind.

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The Heart of It All

This post is dedicated to a very dear friend of mine.  We have never met in person before but we have been friends for about six years now.  We met in a BabyCenter birth month group in 2013, only to have our sons be born on the same day and both be curly headed lefties.  Her son still has his beautiful curls, but mine decided he hated getting his hair combed.  We’ve bonded over many things over the years, but what I am about to educate you on concerning her son Brexton “Rex” will inform you about an unknowingly common condition, and make you love her as much as I do.       

When you find out that you are expecting, so many emotions flood your mind. You’re happy, scared, you immediately start planning, you think about eating better, exercising more – even if that’s already your routine, and you are more aware of everything concerning your health and wellness. You can’t wait to hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time, see their image on an ultrasound for the first time, you even anticipate holding them. However, my friend isn’t able to hold her child when she wants to, be with him constantly, and being that we are in the middle of a pandemic; restrictions are even tighter. Her son is in the PCICU, where he went as soon as she gave birth to him. You see little Brexton was born with a very complex list of CHDs or congenital heart defects/diseases. His parents were informed early on of his heart issues during a routine ultrasound and they were referred to a specialist, but the knowledge does not prepare you for when you have to meet the issue face to face. Knowing that immediately, or within days of giving birth that your newborn will have to undergo major heart surgery is a lot to take in. Then to be told that surgery may not be an option and he should be put on a transplant list is devastating. However, all is not lost – so keep reading about his condition(s) and what can be done.

What is CHD?  CHD is a problem with the heart that a baby has at birth.  The heart forms very early during gestation and is the first functional organ to develop.  Before you are even aware you are pregnant, your baby’s heart has already formed, is beating, and pumping blood.  CHD is the most common birth defect and affects 1/100 babies born in the US each year.  That statistic gave me great pause because I have two children with perfectly healthy hearts, but either of them could have been that 1/100 – as well as yours.  1 in 100 is not a big exponential number, it is not like the chances of you winning the lottery or being struck by lightning.  Out of that number, about 25% are born with a critical CHD.  Brexton falls into that critical 25%.  He was diagnosed with a complex CHD which include:

  • Double outlet right ventricle – In DORV, the pulmonary artery and the aorta — the heart’s two major arteries — both connect to the right ventricle.  In a normal heart, the pulmonary artery connects to the right ventricle and the aorta connects to the left.  This creates a problem because the right ventricle carries oxygen – poor blood, which then gets circulated through the body.
  • Double outlet left atrium – DOLA is a very rare condition.  In a child with a DOLA defect, their left atrium drains into both ventricles and the only outlet for the right atrium is the atrial septal defect.
  • Complete atrioventricular canal – CAVC is a severe congenital heart disease in which there is a large hole in the tissue or septum that separates the two sides of the heart…right and left.  The whole is where the upper chambers (atria) and the lower chambers (ventricles) meet.
  • Coarctation of the aorta – A narrowing of the large blood vessel (aorta) that leads from the heart.
  • Tricuspid valve regurgitation – a disorder where the valve does not close tight enough.  This causes blood to flow backwards into the upper right chamber when the lower right chamber contracts.

Of all the ways a heart defect can affect your baby, Brexton checks every box.  It affects his heart chambers, his septum, his valves, and the arteries and veins.  There are no definitive causes for CHD, only guesses.  Whatever the reasoning for Baby Brexton’s condition, he has two parents that love him  beyond this world and two brothers at home waiting to meet him.  Brexton will need his parent’s to not only love and care for him, but to be his advocate.  They will have to fight to make sure that the doctor’s are doing the best for him and they will need “Rex’s Hero’s” to be their advocates, cheering them on, assuring them they are being the best parents, they are loved and we care.  Support is a critical component at this time and going forth.  We need to stand behind them doing research to give them information, encouraging them with emotional support, and reassuring them every step of the way that you have what it takes to care for this beautiful boy you created, you carried, and brought into this world.

Brexton was able to have his surgery at exactly two weeks old. The doctors were able to repair his aorta and add a shunt. They also put in bands for his pulmonary arteries. They were unable to fix his leaky valve at this time, but he is being observed intently. He is stable and 3 days post op they were able to close his incision. He is technically on the transplant list, but through the good thoughts and prayers of all of you who share and read this, he will be perfectly fine. We are putting it out into the great beyond at this very moment. If you take the time to read this, leave a comment or just the hashtag #RexsHeros. We can’t take anything in life for granted, and this beautiful baby should be more than enough reason to realize that.

Brexton’s room being turned into a surgical suite to close his chest.

I have also attached a GoFundMe account to this post to help the family with expenses not covered by insurance. If you find it in your heart to make a donation, bless you.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/baby-brexton-congenital-heart-defect-and-surgeries?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

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Would You Like to Be Rex’s Hero?

This is baby Brexton, his family affectionately call him Rex. Rex’s mom is a dear friend of mine and my heart has been broken these last weeks knowing what she’s enduring. This beautiful little boy will be 3 weeks on Monday, but at just two weeks he had major heart surgery. Brexton was born with a Congenital Heart Defect or CHD. A friend of the family has set up a Go Fund Me to absorb costs that insurance will not. Mom and Dad are traveling between two states separately to be with Rex as well as to be with the other two boys of theirs. Insurance is not covering everything and this is difficult for the family. I will have Rex’s full story up soon as well as an in depth story about CHD. If you would like to become a hero for Rex, I am putting the link to the Go fund me in this post. Thank you if you make a donation, but prayers and well wishes are just as welcomed!

https://www.gofundme.com/f/baby-brexton-congenital-heart-defect-and-surgeries?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=sms&utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet

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There Will Be Hard Days…

“You have to remember that the hard days are what make you stronger. The bad days make you realize what a good day is. If you never had any bad days, you would never have that sense of accomplishment!” – Aly Raisman

Today was a hard day.  I’m sure that it was a hard day for many of you because there will be hard days.  Some days it is as if you wake up to a universal conspiratorial plot to decimate every part of your life.  Even with the universe conspiring against you, you have to make the decision whether you are going to show up or cover your head and stay in bed.  It started last night just as I was going to bed; I have to walk around the front of our bed to the opposite side to get into bed and just as I walked around there was this BIG spider staring me down.  If you know me, you know I HATE spiders.  They give me the ultimate “heebie jeebies” and just writing this I feel icky.  I was faced with the dilemma: do I kill the spider, or do I just walk out the room and sleep on the sofa because my husband was at work?  When I tell you, it sat there and watched me as I cringed and gave myself the biggest pep talk of my life to end it’s life…it STARED ME DOWN.  I mustered every ounce of bravery within, heart beating out of my chest like one of those cartoon characters as I wondered if it was going to pounce or send out a signal for reinforcements when I brought the slipper down on it.  I was so scared and was just close enough to assassinate this invader of my space, but I was far enough away to pull or strain some muscle in my side as I did the deed.  I cleaned the corpse and went to bed.

Wait, that’s not all. At 3 am it sounded as though someone was breaking into my house. As a certified gun owner, I picked up the hammer…an actual hammer that you nail things with to go investigate. The culprit, my 6 year old playing in his room! I told him sternly to go to bed, and back to bed I went. I put him to bed at 9pm and he was asleep before the spider incident. Dad later reported he was awake at 5 am when he came in from work, so that gives you an idea of how school transpired today. My flood insurance dropped me after (1) claim on my rental property, so while trying to teach a cranky 6 year old, I’m tag teaming with dad on phone calls trying to find a replacement before the expiration date. Emails were constant, I had deadlines for other things on my list and life was beating me down hard. Oh yeah, because of the whole arachnid incident and 3am fiasco my sleep was not very peaceful so today was a three cup of coffee type of day. I called myself punishing my son for his lack of productivity and sleep, but I thought about it and realized I was risking my sanity so I allowed him a limited amount of video game time, early bath, and when I put you to bed tonight it means GO TO SLEEP.

Today was definitely a day where I could have covered my head and stayed in bed, but what good would that do? All the stuff I got accomplished today would have been waiting for me tomorrow – only doubled. Breaks are deserved and they are allowed, but schedule them accordingly. So when you feel that hard day coming on, find the positive somewhere. Remind yourself that it is just temporary, tomorrow is a brand new day with new opportunities. Talk with a friend – my lack of sleep and eight legged freak may be nothing in comparison to someone in need of a listening ear. Turn up the music and go for a ride. I had to go to the pharmacy this evening and I drove through, turned up my music and took a 30 minute drive all by myself. Assume control, do you know what that means? You are in control even when you think you aren’t. Your life is ALWAYS under your control no matter what your circumstances of the day may be. The question you have to ask yourself is, are you going to control the day or let it control you? There will be hard days, but they will not last forever. That my friends is the comfort in hard days.

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Dear Mama’s, Let’s Stop the Mom Shaming!

Mother’s are the flowers in the garden of life. — Thomas Fuller

“Having kids – the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings – is the biggest job anyone can embark on.” – Maria Shriver

Being a mother is one of the most rewarding things a woman can ever experience.  It is also one of the hardest things we go through in life as well.  From the time we learn that we are carrying a life inside of us until the moment we see them face to face, there is a constant worry.  If that isn’t enough, we worry even more once they are here because we never know if we are doing the right thing, and may constantly question and second guess every decision we make for them.  When I was pregnant with my youngest, eleven years after the first I was nervous.  I was older, I’d experienced some health issues that I hadn’t with my first child and was not sure how it would affect my pregnancy.  I decided to join an expectant mom’s group for the month that my baby was due.  Let me tell you about this group – they are some amazing women from different backgrounds of different ages, and our kids – who were not even born yet is what brought us all together.  Six years later and we still communicate, send gifts, letters, texts, birthday cards, and support even when our own families don’t.  This is a true example of a support group.

Not everyone is lucky to find such an amazing and diverse group of women. We don’t “mom shame” either. Speaking with someone today made me realize how often people, women, mom shame without even realizing what they are doing. I’ve noticed in this “social media” age, mom shaming is much more prevalent than it once was. Or is it just more accessible? What is mom shaming? It is when a fellow mom criticizes, degrades, or gives their unsolicited advice to another mom for her choices in parenting because that’s not “how they would do it.” Sometimes it may be a friend who comes over to the house and decides that what you feed your child is unacceptable, how you handle your child is unacceptable, or you should just do it like they do it. It can even be someone who knows not one thing about you – a complete stranger. Our society has created ideas and certain norms for how parents should parent, but no one knows that except you. You know your child better than anyone else because they were once that little bean growing inside of you. The only person who knows what your heartbeat sounds like from the inside. In essence, an extension of you.

This is a plea to mom’s everywhere, let’s stop mom shaming. We have to band together and support the differences that make us unique and make our children unique. If we all raised our children the same, we would be raising an army of robots with no ability to independently think. What you think is problematic may be the perfect solution for me and vice versa. As I said earlier, we start this job already in a state of constant and instantaneous worry – why would you, as another mother, want to put someone through that headspace where they’re once again questioning their choices. My hope is that we could all band together and create a “Universal Mom’s Group.” Our slogan would be, “Birth may be pain, but we don’t mom – shame!” That is just me and my wishful thinking. I do believe that before we critique another mother’s parenting style and skills, we should take a moment and think; how would I feel if someone told me this?

Knowing that mom shaming is a problem should encourage all of us to not participate in it. Times are hard enough with all the decisions we’ve had to make over the last several months, the limited amount of time women get to themselves; especially as a mother, and the fear of the unknown. What is known is that words are powerful, and once you release them, they are out there and will not return void. Choose your criticism carefully, and know that what another mom is going through may not be what you are going through. Treat each other respectfully, ask how they are doing, be inquisitive without being nosy – show you care. If you are reading this and you are in my motherhood support group, thank you. Thank you for your support, your judgement free advice, and for being the great group of women you are. To all the good moms that I know who support other moms – and I know a lot who do, thank you too for showing women can support each other in one of the most stressful, worry-filled areas of our lives. Non critical moms are the real MVPs!!💋💋

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The Most Dangerous Gang

I am in a gang.  A notorious gang.  One that has crossed international borders and consists of millions of members.  We don’t traffic in any illegal substances, the only drugs we push are vitamins and the remedy for the common cold and flu on occasion.  As one of the leaders of said gang – I DON’T RUN ANYTHING…the lackeys do, also known as “the children!”  If you think about motherhood, it is simply a gang.  Orders are given, sometimes they are accepted and sometimes they are ignored, no one gets whacked, but the leader eventually wants a new identity and witness protection.  I realized the ruthlessness of my gang today after 5 months of quarantine with them and almost 17 years of running this show.  I stood in the shower, I couldn’t cry, couldn’t scream, all I could do was stand there and hold myself up against the tiles while letting the water beat the crap out of me.  I literally had to water board myself!  It is crazy that your children have driven you to the point of self torture!

Make no mistake; I love my children and I want to spend as much time with them as I can, but I really started losing it today and my daughter goes, “You need a spa day!” No honey, I need a weekend away, by myself, where I can lay in a bed and order room service and not answer to the word “MOMMY!”  Once upon a time, we’ll say January and February 2020 B.C (Before Covid) my children would get up in the mornings and get dressed and go to a place called school.  Those 8 hours were mine!  I could peacefully get things accomplished, I could carve out time for myself, my grocery bill was significantly cheaper, and I was supposed to be less stressed when we moved back home – not more.   After months of living in around 800 square feet while our home was ‘flood renovated” I was ready to pull out my hair and take a long walk off a short pier.  Quarantine with the “Dos Loco Martins” has me feeling a different kind of crazy.  Most days it’s welcome to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the dog is Nurse Ratchet and the inmates are running the asylum.

Have you ever seen the movie, Analyze This with Robert De Niro? I’m like his character in the movie in the gang I run. I am not ruthless like Paul Vitti, but you may find me having an anxiety attack, crying for no reason, and generally having a hard time. Unlike De Niro’s character, I am not afraid to talk to my doctor and I may need a slight increase on my anxiety medication dosage. My gang is probably similar to your gang if you are reading this. They wake up everyday with a point to prove: she thinks she is the leader of this merry band of misfits, but boy is she mistaken. Regardless of my anxiety and my desire to run, my band of misfits are also my reasons I keep going, I don’t give up, and why I don’t run! My tears and anxiety are temporary and so are my children’s childhoods.

On a serious note, I can talk about my anxiety and how and what makes me feel the way I do because I regularly pray, meditate, and speak with healthcare professionals. If you know of anyone in trouble or in need of professional help, please encourage them to get the help they need. 💋💋

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I Don’t Know If I’ll Be Alright…

Yesterday I spent most of the day doing a whole lot of nothing because last week was both draining physically and mentally; and to be honest – emotionally too.  If you’ve been reading my posts, you know that I also started the homeschool journey with my 6 year old son.  The same week, my husband went back to work after being off since February from having surgery and rehabbing.  We were all getting back into a schedule and acclimating to our old-new normal.  I got up to cook yesterday evening around 4, my daughter’s favorite; chicken spaghetti.  There is Fettuccini Alfredo and then there is chicken spaghetti.  She likes them both, but my chicken spaghetti is only second to my lasagna.

I was standing at the counter slicing hot chicken to add to my cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, rotel, and sliced mushroom mixture. (Can you picture it yet?). We were just conversing and she was saying how she loves my chicken spaghetti, something she does almost every time I cook it.  We started to talk about other things as well, school and where her friends were thinking of going to college, etc.  It hit me like a ton of bricks,  my daughter is graduating in less than a year from high school.  Yes, I know I discussed this before but I thought what if she decides to go away for school?  I’m that worrying mom.  I’m the mom that makes her daughter text pictures with her text to let me know she makes it to her destination.  I hate to be that way because I ran the streets like Usain Bolt when I was her age.  However, things were quite different when I was her age too.  I was either with my besties from church, my bestie from almost birth, or my brother.  Now, by the time I was her age I did have a boyfriend and she does too…I married my boyfriend from then.  I say this to say, if she changes her mind to not stay home for school, I may follow her to college.  I think I will be too worried about her safety and whether she made it to her destination and back.  I watch too many real crime shows where the college co-ed doesn’t make it home.

I want her to go out and experience life.  I do and I don’t want to keep her in a bubble.  I would like for her to see the world and experience life.  I don’t want her to follow my path.  There is nothing wrong with my path because it was mine to take.  I want her to have fun, finish school, establish herself and allow everything to fall into place once that is done.  If a detour comes, I’m going to be there every step of the way because that it was a good parent is supposed to do.  Support, love and care for their children under any and all circumstances.  I’ve seen people support their children when they’ve done wrong and wondered how can you still support him/her? This was before I had a child of my own, and now that I have my own children – I understand.  As a parent you love them unconditionally, but you can still stand against what they do and let them know they have to “stand accused.”  I pray daily that I am raising my children right and I will never be in that position.  I pray that when I fuss at my daughter about something she knows she should have done she will not resent me.  I pray that my children understand when I talk to them in my “mom voice” and take their things away when need be, I still love them unconditionally.  So no, I don’t know if I will be alright.  Who knew that 17 years would fly by so quickly?  I have regrets along those 17 years; I regret that I didn’t put her in dance as a young girl as much as I loved it.  I asked her, she said no and I left it at that.  We were talking the other day and she tells me, “I wish you would have put me in dance when I was younger.”  I regret not listening to myself and just doing it.  I hope she will not change her mind and stay home at our local university.  She can stay home, in her room, eat as much chicken spaghetti as she would like, with more freedom than she has now, and give her mom just a little more time.

To any parents reading this, time is the most precious thing we possess. One minute they’re in diapers and before you know it you are filling out college applications and crying yourself to sleep. Enjoy the time, all the time you can with your children and never take it for granted especially when they’re little because they really like you then. Once the hormones kick in, there are good and bad days and you never know what day is a good day. Will I be alright? Only time will tell…

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What Is It You Do?

#momlife

I love the show Everybody Loves Raymond. It makes me think that if I lived across the street from my in-laws, that’s how life would be. I’m certain that I would not be as patient with my mother in law as Debra is with Marie because my mother in law is Marie to the 25th power. My father in law is more laid back than Frank and my husband is now an only child. I said that to say, one of my favorite episodes is when the twins are in preschool and their teacher wants to hold them back from going to kindergarten. After a parent/teacher conference the Barone’s are in bed asleep later that night – well Debra is and Ray pinches her awake. He’s upset that she’s not concerned about the boys not moving forward to Kindergarten and they begin to have their normal back and forth. She gives him a little dig, “Maybe if you were home more often, Michael would know how to cut paper!” His response, “You’re home all day, what do you do?” He realized as soon as he said what he said he completely made a ‘grave mistake.’ He hurriedly said “I’M SORRY!” That’s right you’re sorry, she reiterated. NEVER, I repeat – NEVER ask a stay at home mom what she does all day! I thought that things were busy before starting homeschool, but the busyness has increased ten fold. I have a shift working husband, a young child and a high school senior. I cook almost daily or at least enough for two days at a time. When I’m exhausted I use the crockpot and when my husband says: “Let’s just order something or pick up something,” I could dance all the way to the restaurant. My home is almost 3000 square feet and you can imagine what it takes to keep it clean. The constant dusting and mopping because the floors are the wood looking tile that shows everything. I sweep twice a day and we are not going to discuss laundry. What do I do all day? Work and think about all the shit I have to do the next day and the day after that. Guess what I did today? I sat in the recliner, scrolled social media, read, listened to music, watched my children play fight, watched my husband sleep across the room from me in the other recliner until he said he was going to lay across the bed. Also known as…absolutely nothing. I’m not cooking because there are ample amounts of leftovers and a steak that has marinated for 5 days in the fridge that can be split between 3 people. Hit broil on the oven, place steak in cast iron skillet and cook until level of doneness is achieved. (These are the meals they get after or while I’m working my tail off.)

Spaghetti with Meat-sauce & Salad and Toast
Okra Stew

Being a mother is busy, it’s messy, it’s sadness, it’s happiness, it’s elation and all sorts of other emotions. Add in the fact that you are a woman and oftentimes a wife along with it and BOOM, it’s a series of emotions and explosions.  You never know if you are giving enough time to you or them and somewhere; someone or something suffers.  This year is going to be a series of explosions and emotions because my baby girl, my first born, the one that taught me to be a mother and gave me the “on the job training” is graduating!  Over the years she and I have been mother and daughter, besties, laughing buddies, make up sharers, teacher and student.  Now, I have to make sure she has the best opportunity that is out there for her post high school education.  We have to work on college essays, SAT – which she was supposed to take in March and well PANDEMIC, applications for colleges and scholarships as well as keeping her grades at an A average for her to graduate with honors.  The last part, I would be proud of her even if she didn’t.  She is supposed to have a 4.0 or higher to graduate with honors…she has a 3.91.  You know what Mama Bear did, she figured out exactly what grades she needed to make with her current GPA and presented it to her daughter.  I explicitly told her that there wasn’t any pressure, because it isn’t.  If she wants to be an honor graduate that is her decision.  She has to make the decision to work hard and not get “senioritis” and to continue to work as hard as she has the last three years.  We’ve paid for college already, (she goes to private school) she has to do her part in making sure she secures a scholarship, which I know she is more than capable of doing.  She’s a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, she is a member of several clubs at her school, and a talented artist.  She believes in social justice which is a big part of her school’s motto.  I think with the protest during the past months, we’ve had conversations with our children prematurely or because they started the conversations themselves.  Between the state of our country and the uncertainty with this pandemic I am grateful that she has chosen to go to college in our city which has one of the best Engineering programs in the country.  My hope is that come graduation, she can have a normal graduation that doesn’t require social distancing and limited amounts of people because we have a BIG extended family.

My daughter’s painting.

What is it I do? So much, that at the end of the day I am so tired and exhausted that I can’t shut my mind off which leads to inability to actually sleep! Some days I completely shutdown as soon as my head hits the pillow. However, there are at least 2/7 days where I’m up writing things down or reading just to shut everything else out. Hey, I’m a WOMAN and that is my super power which allows me to do what I do. My husband has never asked me that question since I have been a stay at home mom. I think he knows better, especially at this point in our lives when everything is in a state of constantly moving and when my feet hit the floor in the morning I morph into an octopus.

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Week One Is A Wrap!

Well, I can honestly say that we completed week one of homeschooling with only a few tears and with very little frustration. I was scared going into this endeavor and I’m not going to lie, I’m still scared and a little apprehensive. I am not going to show my son that I am. I am going to approach each day with confidence just as I want him to, but I want you guys to know…I’m shaking in my boots here. Each day we went into our class, he approached it with a little more confidence than the day before. Day one was of course the worse because he wanted to see his old teacher who he never was able to say goodbye to, he wanted to be with his friends – who are now all scattered, and I don’t believe he wanted Mommy to be his teacher. Through it all, he continued to shine day after day. He proved that he retained some things, forgot some things and showed me he knew things beyond his age group. These first two weeks will be us getting acquainted with one another as teacher and student, learning where I need to put a greater effort in my teaching him, and my continued learning of the homeschooling process and how to approach it. Social media is an amazing avenue to meet a variety of people and I have met some amazing women who have chosen homeschool for their children. With the pandemic and having to make the decision whether or not to send your child to school in person has given these amazing women the opportunity to come together and educate the “newbies” or give refresher mini courses on the basics. When I say these women are amazing, it doesn’t do them any justice. They are all from different backgrounds, family dynamics, ex-teachers and just good old-fashioned humans helping other humans in the most difficult of times. I chose a motto for our class, actually two that we say everyday before we begin our work. (See picture below).

I interpret the first saying that no matter what, we are going to make sure everything we do is counted. The amount of work we do will be counted. The effort we put into the day, will be counted. We will be counted because every time we step into that room or any room in our home to have class we will work to make sure it counts. The second one means just what it says: You are amazing just the way you are! No one can make you feel any less, don’t allow anyone to make you feel any less, and if someone says any different tell them you are amazing just the way you are. After writing this, I’m not as apprehensive or scared as said I was initially because I am amazing just the way I am. I’m not going to allow self-doubt to seep in and ruin what can be the best year of my life, teaching my son. I missed a big gap of time with him right after he turned one because of a broken leg that required me to be immobilized and unable to do the things a mother does with her one year old. Maybe time is being kind and giving me those moments back. Maybe not those exact moments, but the ability to make something new with him, something that we can share for years to come.

If you are a teacher or homeschool parent and would love to share your knowledge, I am a well; waiting to be filled. Feel free to share whatever you think is helpful to this mom teaching on a Kindergarten – 1st grade level. 💋💋

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I’m A Homeschool Teacher??

Reading Rug & Informational Posters

One thing I have learned in life is that no matter how much we plan – things can change in an instant. You cannot live a life well-lived if you’re constantly making contingency plans to accommodate your original contingency plan and on and on.  Where and when would find the time to enjoy life?  With that being said; this past year has been TUMULTUOUS!  When school started in the fall of 2019, we had great expectations. We would have an exciting and successful school year filled with football games, Kindergarten programs, Homecoming and Jr/Sr. Prom.  A month into the year we were hit by a tropical storm that flooded our home and our rental property for the second time in 3 years.  Living on the Gulf Coast of Texas makes us quite familiar with hurricanes and their offspring tropical storms and depressions which have proven to be even more devastating.  We would spend the next four months in a cramped apartment while our house was being repaired,  but we planned to make life as close to normal as possible for both of our children.  School was not closed as long as the last flood and things on the education front got back to normal fairly quickly.  Homecoming, football, and school programs continued and we attended – in between meeting contractors, picking paint, fixtures, tile and everything that comes with a renovation.  This was done while mom slowly descended into insanity and dad worked 12 hour shifts, overtime and descended into insanity somewhat quicker than I did.  The new year rolled around and moving home was becoming a reality. I was THRILLED! Hagrid had moved in upstairs from us and he would start his days at around 3am, most days I felt like Chicken Little and I thought the sky was falling.  When I finally ran into our upstairs neighbor, he was more the size of Harry Potter than Hagrid, but the sound of his feet said differently.  

The third Friday in January was officially “move home’ day. We had the apartment through the end of the month so we moved the major things and took our time with the rest. We were just happy to be home. We did everything as quickly as possible because dad was having surgery the first week of February and would be out of commission for a while. We begin to hear rumors of this novel virus and friends, family and classmates I know overseas started making their way back home to the states at an alarming rate. When the kids leave school for Spring Break in March, both of their schools alert us that they may not restart after the break for a while. Learning turned into Zoom meetings and Google hangouts until the year ended. My descent into insanity continued and it met anxiety and depression along the way.

Fast forward to July – Texas is a HOTSPOT, uncertainty is commonplace and all anyone is saying is, “Send the kids back to school, no matter what!” Yes, I agree that children need to be in school or in some sort of classroom setting, but at what cost?  I knew that my youngest would not be able to attend anyone’s school because he has severe allergies which compromises his immune response and I wasn’t prepared to take that risk by any means.  The studies surrounding how his group is affected were not concrete enough for me to be “good” with him in a class of 20 or more other children who generally are “germ carriers” once school begins anyone – any parent knows this.  I consulted people whom I deemed, “homeschool MVPs” to find the best way to approach my new found situation and job title.  They all said the same thing: make it fun.  Approach it according to his learning style. Don’t throw everything at him at once because you don’t have to.  Our Sensei, who homeschooled all 5 of her children and one is in law school and one I know attended an Ivy League University said to me, “Don’t move on from one thing until you know he’s got it!” Have class at the beach, the backyard, the park – you have full control and your classroom can be anywhere you want it to be.  I’ve read homeschool blogs, books and visited any teaching website that I could.  I wanted to be prepared because I know that his success depends on me and how well I can get him to comprehend each subject.  I then turned my spare bedroom into our formal classroom setting for the days we need to get serious and the days we take our learning on the road – we may take you with us.  Our entire house, well the living room and playroom may be our art room and gym, but we are going to succeed no matter where we are in the house or out in the wild. 

If you follow me on Instagram; you saw some of the process of me converting my spare bedroom into our official classroom. That meant giving up my spare bedroom that we planned to turn into a closet/office so I could move my desk out of the playroom which was being converted into the family room. So, now when we don’t have class I can shut the door and get some work done. The background work and putting work together was an arduous task. It’s not like I had a particular curriculum in mind, but wanted to pull from many. I had to find everything I was comfortable with teaching and what I knew he would consume without fail. Did I want to make it easy for him? Absolutely not. Did I want something challenging yet entertaining? That was my goal. Curriculum isn’t created to be entertaining but to be informative, but when homeschooling your child you want to create that ‘enchantment” as Julie Bogart explains in her book: “The Brave Learner.” Our curriculum will be one full of surprises, mystery, risk and adventure! He may find that his mom may come dressed as one of the characters in the books we read (one he really likes) and teach every subject using that book.

Again I say, the choice to homeschool was mine to make and I am grateful that I was in a position that I was able to make it.  We have two mottos that I chose and we will say them daily.  He will know these statements as well as he knows math, reading, spelling and other subjects because  I chose them for their importance.  The first is a statement from Albert Einstein, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”  The other one is from an unknown source and it is simple and meaningful: You’re AMAZING just the way YOU ARE!”  So be brave, be counted and be AMAZING just the way you are.  If you find yourself like me, having to decide  whether you have the capacity to homeschool your child…you do.  Do your homework, research, talk to as many people as you can and believe in yourself above all else.  I also urge you to remember that even well made plans fall apart, but be patient because in homeschool, winging it is what makes it fun from what I hear.

If you have any homeschool experience you would like to share, please do so. It is more than welcome. Follow me on Instagram @wife_woman_mother_ for more behind the scenes prep.

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How To Keep Moving While Quarantined

For some of us it is week 2 or maybe 3 of quarantine …who knows at this point right?  What we do know is that we are all getting a little stir crazy and anxiety is setting in because infections are going up, deaths are going up and restrictions are becoming tighter.  If your child’s school hasn’t closed for the remainder of the year, you may have received notice today or some point this week extending the homeschooling protocol. My child’s teacher didn’t say anything about an extension, but she did set up a virtual classroom for my son’s kindergarten class after a week; last week they were officially on Spring Break.

So, how can you ease the quarantine blues?  So many businesses where you would normally go to relieve the stress and tension are closed such as gyms and spas – so my suggestion would be to bring it to where you are.  Of course it’s hard to do when everyone is in the house and you are never alone, but find the time…even if it requires an early night and an early rise to treat yourself to meditation and spa time or a good old sweat session before everyone wakes up. 

Although gyms are closed, there are several outlets offering free trial periods during this time of quarantine.  Not only is it good for the mind and spirit, but it is also good for the body and the immune system as well. Exercise improves your overall health and helps the body boost the immune system.  Physical activity can help to flush bacteria out of the lung and airways which may reduce your chance of getting a cold, flu or other illness.

What can you do to move your body? First off, go outside and soak up some good God – given vitamin D! Walking, bike riding or just getting some fresh air can change the way you feel.  Even introverts like myself feel the walls closing in from time to time and need to feel the sun on my skin and see the natural landscapes. I’m upset right now because my yard guy hasn’t come and my grass needs to be cut something awful.  The way my allergies are set up at the moment…I just can’t do it and I really want to sit in my backyard and read.

Next, if someone calls you, don’t sit for the call unless you have to work at the computer.  Get up and move for the duration of the phone call. I know a lot of people don’t actually talk on the phone anymore, but with the working from home and families having to be in contact from afar I think there is less texting and more talking.  So while you’re talking get up and move.

The kids are home, take time throughout the day and drop the electronics and JUST DANCE!  Don’t yell at the kids, yell at ALEXA and tell her to GET THE PARTY STARTED! Dance until everyone is sweating and out of breath.  Switch it up. If you don’t have and Echo, turn on YouTube and find one of the million dance exercise videos you can jam to. You can move, sweat and have lots of fun while doing so.

If that doesn’t get you moving, the following Apps are offering free workouts from the comfort of your home:

  • Daily Burn – 60 day free trial. Normal cost $20/month
  • Tone it Up – 7 day free trial.
  • Beachbody – 14 free trial.
  • 7 minute workout – in app purchases
  • FitOn
  • Peloton App – 90 day free trial.  Aside from running and cycling you can find strength and yoga workouts which would normally cost $13/month.
  • Adidas Training by Runtastic (non premium membership)
  • Yoga for beginners. (Completely free)
  • Yoga Down Dog. (Free while COVID-19 is keeping people home per website.)
  • Obe Fitness (they normally have at least a 7 day trial available and fun workouts.  They even shout you out when you join a class!)
  • YouTube – there is an exercise video for everyone on there…happy hunting!

These are just some of the offerings to get your blood pumping and get your body releasing endorphins to make you feel good, happy and forget the world outside your window at least for 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or however long you decide to move your body.  Double check all offerings for the fine print to make sure you’re not charged if you wish not to keep them. We are all in this together all over the world. I hope this can help ease some of the tension and anxiety we may be feeling at this time.  

If you know of any other sites, apps or ideas, please leave a comment!💋💋

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Self Care Sunday…It’s Okay To Cry!

Self care is a necessity after an entire week of life. It is the little things that you do for yourself that help you make it through the week with your sanity intact. Whether you took the time to listen to your favorite music while cooking, read a book, took a day trip or decided to just stay in bed…that is okay. Whatever your method for caring for yourself; it is perfectly fine as long as it works for you and doesn’t physically harm someone else. Bottled up frustration and emotions can lead to you lashing out at the people you love the most who may have nothing to do with the way you are feeling. There are times we bottle things up until we reach the “breaking point.” That’s not a good thing – in case you didn’t know. While browsing social media yesterday I came across a post that said “Places I’ve Cried.” Sometimes a good cleansing cry can get you past that anguish of whatever is weighing heavily on you. It can be like a good cleansing rain that washes away the pollen in the spring.

The post got me to thinking. Where have I cried? Does crying really make you feel better? Is it actually a form of self – care? To answer: Plenty of places, yes it does and yes it is. I am so guilty of holding things in when I should let them out and let them go, so yes I have cried I’ve cried on multiple occasions. I looked at the list the individual posted showing the places they had cried I decided to write my own list.

Where Have I Cried…

– In the shower.

– In the car.

– Doing the dishes.

– Watching a movie.

– Watching a commercial about childhood cancer.

– Sitting on my patio drinking wine.

– In the delivery room.

– Breastfeeding.

Bottom line, it is okay to cry. In fact, it has been proven to be healthy. It is detoxifying, it relieves pain, helps with your mood, helps you sleep better, fights bacteria, it is a stress reliever and improves vision. While crying may not be your form of self-care, and while therapeutic it is not my go to either. Find something that makes you happy, eases your anxiety and settles your fears; but know that there is nothing wrong with shedding a few tears.

“We need never be ashamed of our tears.” – Charles Dickens

How do you practice self – care?

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Coronavirus – COVID – 19

Let me begin by saying this…I AM NOT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL! I am a mother who wants to do the best thing for her family and I also do not want to panic. While there are some out there “doomsday prepping,” I am simply doing what I normally do with my family and children, just on a slightly amplified level. We are washing our hands on a more frequent basis, handles and switches are being sanitized with Lysol more than normal and I am making sure that the little one is keeping his hands out of his face and mouth! I constantly sanitize frequently touched items and surfaces, i.e: remotes, refrigerator handles, drawer handles…things we don’t think about sanitizing. I would even suggest sanitizing your car surfaces as well because a lot of people don’t think about infrequent we do so. We allow mechanics and repair people into our automobiles with their dirty, grimy hands and honestly tell me, do you sanitize your car when you get it back? l’d simply say, use discretion, avoid big crowds if for some reason you are immunocompromised and if you are sick – stay home. The CDC released a leaflet that is filled with pertinent information about how to keep you and your family safe. Stay safe, keep your family healthy and don’t panic but be prepared.

Additional Information can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/COVID19
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Women’s History Month Playlist Part 1

March is Women’s History Month and I had to take the time to make a playlist specifically for this month. Music is and has always been my sane place, my refuge, my place of solace. I can always find some genre to fit my mood…if I choose to wallow in it or if I want to uplift it. I may want a do right man, I may want to bust the windows out of his car or I may just want to express myself! Women have made their mark in music for decades and history has and will continue to be made by women in the music industry. Whether it was Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Dolly Pardon, Adele, Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Lizzo or Billie Eilish…women will continue to be a force in the music industry! I made an initial playlist of 40 of my favorite songs which span 2 hours and 46 minutes. The list is as follows:

1. Run the World – Beyoncé

2. I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Whitney Houston

3. Justify My Love – Madonna

4. Respect – Aretha Franklin

5. Truth Hurts – Lizzo

6. Bad Blood – Taylor Swift

7. Send My Love (To Your New Lover) – Adele

8. No More Drama – Mary J. Blige

9. Let Me Blow Your Mind – Eve feat. Gwen Stefani

10. The Glamorous Life – Shelia E.

11. I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross

12. Rhythm Nation – Janet Jackson

13. bad guy – Billie Eilish

14. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man – Aretha Franklin

15. Express Yourself – Madonna

16. Queen of the Night – Whitney Houston

17. Dangerous Woman – Ariana Grande

18. She Works Hard For the Money – Donna Summer

19. Lady Marmalade – Labelle

20. Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Lovato

21. Good Girl – Carrie Underwood

22. Sound Proof Room – Elle Varner

23. Cleva – Erykah Badu

24. You’re So Vain – Carly Simon

25. Blank Space – Taylor Swift

26. Jerome – Lizzo

27. Drew Barrymore – SZA

28. Superwoman – Vivian Green

29. Mascara – Jazmine Sullivan

30. Belong to You – Sabrina Claudio

31. I Like That – Janelle Monae

32. No Ordinary Love – Sade

33. Till It Happens To You – Corinne Bailey Rae

34. Don’t Touch My Hair – Solange

35. Two Black Cadillacs – Carrie Underwood

36. All I Ask – Adele

37. You Need To Calm Down – Taylor Swift

38. you should see me in a crown – Billie Eilish

39. Dear Future Husband – Meghan Trainor

40. It All Belongs To Me – Brandy and Monica

Disclaimer: This playlist has not been edited for content and does contain explicit and suggestive lyrics. These are just some of my favorite songs and I plan to make an additional list to celebrate more women in music during Women’s History Month. You can click the link below to reach my playlist or feel free to make your own empowering playlist to celebrate women in music history and those who are making history! 💋💋

https://music.amazon.com/user-playlists/47cc3d49d6ed4ecbb3c4909c74f5f838sune?ref=dm_sh_FPsS5G2BOORcTBqNO3DYHKEmw

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Youth Suicide – Know the Signs

Youth Suicide Prevention Week September 8-14

The month of September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, sitting at the #10 spot.  It is the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15-24. We have all been touched by suicide in some way or another. I personally know people who have attempted suicide and those who have been successful in doing so.  It is absolutely heartbreaking to know that more 15-24 year olds would rather take their own lives than to continue on living. Knowing the signs of an individual in crisis can make all the difference in the world. This week is Youth Suicide Prevention Week – September 8-14; and as a parent of two young children I have to be concerned.  I know that the week has passed, but as the parent of a high school student I wanted to see if her school would acknowledge the past week as being Youth Suicide Prevention Week as it would impact the demographics in their school…radio silence. I received no emails or communications from the school acknowledging that they were even aware of the fact.  My daughter tells me pretty much everything that goes on and she didn’t tell me anything as well. Any parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, friend of the family or loved one must be concerned because the statistics for youth suicide are ALARMING! Youth suicide is when a young person, generally categorized as someone below the age of 21, deliberately ends their own life.  The rate of youth suicide in the United States has risen to a 20 year high and it is the second leading cause of death among youth which I previously mentioned. The approximate number of high school students that report attempting suicide is 1 out of 15…let that sink in. So for every 15 students you ask, at least 1 will say that they have attempted suicide, and that is just based on those that reported.  My daughter attends a small private high school with around 390 students, statistically 26 students have attempted suicide. That may not seem like a lot, but if you’re a human being with feelings and emotions – 1 is a lot. What is happening in our communities, our homes, our schools and in our day to day interactions that is causing such troubling numbers? First of all, children and young adults are experiencing hormonal changes earlier and earlier which affects body image, brain chemistry and their overall way of how they see themselves.  When you add in all the additional stressors such as friendships, problems in school, familial changes like a divorce or a move; the scales can dramatically tip. We also find children and young adults have easier access to guns, prescription medications and other tools that would aid in ending their lives. I stopped watching the news for over a month because I heard a report that an 9 year old committed suicide. A 9 YEAR OLD! What could possibly be going on? She was being relentlessly bullied at school and nothing was being done about it. She felt her only resolve was to take her life!  Someone has to be the voice of these children and advocate for them and it is up to all of us to do our part.

Suicide is something that very rarely happens without warning.  The signs are there, you just have to know what to look for. In today’s reality it is rare that young children and young adults do not have a presence on social media.  When I first allowed my daughter to get a social media account, I had to follow her and I still follow her. I checked her electronics without warning so as to not allow any time for anything to be deleted.  Some may think that there is an “invasion of privacy” or a violation of privacy here; but my child, my house, my rules. If someone is harassing my child on social media I want to know. She knows that she can tell me anything, but even when you know that you can tell your parents anything you don’t always do it.  That is the case with the majority of all children and young adults. They find themselves in situations where they feel or may be told that situation is their fault. This may leave them feeling a myriad of emotions: hopeless, helpless, depressed and desperate. When these feelings arise you will begin to notice a change in a person’s behavior – especially if they are pretty predictable or follow a certain routine.  For instance, if an individual is usually active in social media and all of sudden there is radio silence; this can be a red flag. Yes, people take breaks from social media, but what child, teen or young adult do you know that doesn’t document most of their lives across Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat? My daughter tells me that Facebook is for old people so I guess I won’t include that platform…I don’t even have a Facebook account and I’m almost 40.  Suicide is most often linked to some form of mental illness like depression, but sudden and ongoing traumatic events can also trigger an individuals desire to end their life. It is important that we listen, be present and ask our friends and children how they are doing, let them know we are there for them and we are a listening ear when they need one. If everyone of us said one kind thing to someone everyday it could mean the difference in someone’s life who’s having a tough time and we may not know about it. So I encourage you to sincerely inquire:

  • How was your day?
  • Is there something special going on in your life?
  • Is everything going well at school? At home? At work?
  • Is there something you feel you need to talk about?

It may sound cliche, but there is nothing cliche about a person’s well-being or the possibility they may commit suicide.  My daughter talks about a teacher that asks them what some would call “probing questions.” So I asked her what she meant when she said that her teacher asks them all sorts of questions?  She said that she will ask someone who looks tired – “Is everything ok?” “Are you getting enough rest?” As well as general questions about school and home. Once she told me in depth about the questions the teacher was asking, I explained to her that the teacher is checking on you guys.  It is her job as your teacher, as an educator to make sure her students are well mentally and physically. I told her not to label her as “nosy” but someone who is concerned and wants to make sure that one of your classmates has not intention to harm themselves or others. I wanted to carefully write this piece because it is important and I have a child that falls within these demographics.  She also has a heavy workload at school and responsibilities outside of school and home with extracurricular activities that can cause her to feel overwhelmed. We had a conversation recently where she told me about how one of her senior classmates had a total meltdown because she felt overwhelmed by her course load and the fact that she had to meet deadlines for college applications and even missed some.  This young lady was in tears in class saying how much work she had to do, how much extra stuff outside of school, college entrance exams, and that she was never going to get into a good college and she was going to end up homeless and on the street. I told my daughter that she was exaggerating what her classmate said and she told me that those were her exact words. My advice to her was to talk to her in their next class.  Let her know that everything would be fine and if she needed additional help, the counselors are there for that and to be a listening ear if she needed one. They have a very inclusive school and communication is excellent. They can email and make appointments to see their teachers and their counselors without the need of parents. Their school is teaching them how to be independent and prepping them for what they will face in college.  We are cc’d on most communications as parents, but they work cohesively with the teachers and staff.  

What are some of the possible warning signs that a teen may be contemplating suicide?  Some you may notice and some you may not because you will not be around 24 hours a day.  However, if you notice some of the following behaviors; step in and try to help.

  • Changes in sleeping and eating habits.
  • Loss of interest in normal activities (going out with friends, abandoning social media, any normal daily activities.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Acting out and running away.
  • Alcohol and drug use.
  • Neglecting their appearance.
  • Unnecessary risk taking.
  • Unhealthy obsession with death or dying.
  • Physical complaints such as headaches, stomachaches and extreme fatigue.
  • Loss of interest in school and work.
  • Feeling bored.
  • Hard time focusing.
  • Feeling like they want to die.

Now one of these behaviors by themselves may not necessarily mean that a person is suicidal, but a combination of many will definitely throw up red flags.  As a parent, it is important to pay attention to your children, their behaviors and how their moods swing. Of course a teen will have your normal mood swings, but anything extreme should be looked at thoroughly.  Knowing the warning signs, openly communicating with your teen and their friends gives you the chance to help before things become a life or death situation. How can I prevent my teen from attempting suicide?

  • Keep medicines and guns away from children and teens.
  • Get them help for mental and substance abuse problems. There is no harm in helping your child.  Some parents are afraid of the stigma that follows inpatient and outpatient care for mental and substance abuse.  My advice to you is, get over it. It’s not about you but about your child!
  • Be a supportive parent.  Listen and try not to be judgemental and critical…stay connected.
  • Do your homework and get informed about teen suicide.  There are mental health facilities in just about every city nationwide that have support groups.  If not, browse the internet and even visit your local library for literature.
  • Know the signs of depression: sadness, loneliness, declining school performance, changes in sleep pattern, weight and appetite  changes, nervousness, agitation or being grouchy.

If you notice a change in your child’s behavior, do not wait to see if things will improve because things can change in an instant. A parent is the most important person in their child’s life and should be constant as well. Your presence may make the difference in whether they get help for whatever issues they may be experiencing. If your child expresses their desire to end their lives, take it seriously and get them help.

If you are someone you know is suicidal, call 911 if there is an immediate threat, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or the CrisisText Line (text. “HOME” to 741741).

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Back to School and How to Keep Your Child Safe

Here we are again, it’s that time of year – back to school. The time of year when you are dreading car lines, back to those extra early morning wake up calls, threatening your teens if you call their name one more time that there will be consequences. If you haven’t gotten back into the swing of things, you will shortly. My oldest has already gone back to school, but the youngest has one more week of freedom…so to speak. We take him to meet the teacher this week, which dad and I have already done at the parents’ meeting. This year was to be his first year of kindergarten, but we opted to do what is called bridge-k. It’s all that kindergarten entails without as much math. So, we will do a lot of work at home. I didn’t feel he was ready for kindergarten socially so I made the decision to do bridge-k because he is a younger 5 year old, and why should you push a child when you can obviously see that they are not ready? I think that is part of the problem with a lot of these children or young adults who you see acting out and taking part in these school shootings and making threats against other students and institutions. We push them ahead before they are ready, we do not integrate them socially, we do not encourage social relationships enough and they end up alone and vulnerable to someone bending their minds. It is my belief that is part of the reason we see so many school shootings and individuals vulnerable to persuasion.

My daughter has barely been in school a month and there has already been a threat at her school that they believed was credible enough to employ a police officer at the school. This is the third year she has gone to this high school and she has been in private school her entire academic career and never had to walk the halls with a police officer looking over her shoulder. They took away their cell phone privileges this year; where as before they could use their phones before school, during break, at lunch, in certain classes once their work was complete the teacher would allow them to use them to listen to music, etc. Now, once they walk onto campus they must put their phones away until they are leaving for the day or face getting their phones confiscated and having to pay a fine. We were told that this was to encourage more social interaction between the children, cut back on cyber-bullying and to prevent inappropriate pictures from going around – a problem we encountered at the school last year. In your opinion, do you think that this will stop any of this from happening? Maybe between the hours of 8:15 – 3:25, but after that; it’s open season wouldn’t you say? I’d say that the only thing they are preventing is potential cheating. We cannot stop what happens all the time and if they want to do it, they will. It is up to us as parents to constantly be present in our children’s lives, talking to them, explaining consequences, teaching them right from wrong to keep them from doing the wrong thing.

How can we keep our children safe in today’s volatile environment? First and foremost I would say is to be present. Be there for your child and know their friends. You can’t just allow your child to be friends with everyone. Meet the children, meet their parents, are their values similar to yours and do they believe that just because they are teenagers doesn’t give them “carte blanche” to run around doing what they want. We raised ours to say yes ma’am, no sir, please and thank you – you give respect to your elders…that means teachers, adults and anyone in authority. I’ve met so many rude children that go to school with my child, none of whom she’s friends with – or that come to my house. I always get respect from her friends. I digress because that is how I was raised – with respect and to respect. So back to how do we keep our children safe in times of bulletproof backpacks?

  1. Talk to your child about the possibility of something happening at school.  Do not instill fear in your child, but if they are my child’s age and even younger they understand the risk of an active shooter.  It’s not just teenagers that are bringing guns to school anymore. I told my daughter, I’ve been out of school for almost 20 years and during the time I was in school the only thing I can remember happening was the shooting at Columbine.
  2. Make sure that your child knows a safe place to hide.  Most schools have active shooter protocols in place, which usually include getting to a classroom and placing a special barrier behind the door to prevent the shooter from entering.  This will not stop a bullet from coming through a wall, but getting behind a locked door and placing a protective barrier between you and the shooter would be the next best thing. However, if they can exit the building safely and undetected – I would advise they do so. Drop everything and run to the nearest business or safe enough distance to call for help.
  3. Be an involved parent.  Don’t get involved when things go wrong, but be there when decisions are being made.  Make your voice heard because you may have input that someone hasn’t thought of yet.
  4. Voice your concerns.  If you see something, say something.  So often people think, “that doesn’t concern me,” and the very thing you could have spoken up about may have ended up concerning everyone.  
  5. Make sure you and your child know what the schools emergency procedures are.  You know that every year your child gets a handbook. If you read the handbook I want you to comment after reading this, if you just sign the paper stating I have read the student handbook for the 20xx-20xx school year and agree to the terms therein, I want you to comment and say, I just signed it.  I’ve done both! I mean, how much has changed right? Do you watch the news? How much has changed, yet is still the same? Although it’s the same, protocols have to change to adjust to how we handle things because it is obvious how we handle situations is not working because the same things continue to happen.

While you have done your job as a parent, teachers and administrators have to do their jobs as well. They are an extension of us as parents once we send our children off to them to learn. We have a certain expectation that they will do their very best to keep our children safe. They now have to seek the proper training in protecting our children from potential dangers. I know that isn’t why they became teachers, but that has become the reality of the job. Just like Wal-Mart cashiers didn’t expect to have to fight for their lives while doing their jobs, that has become the world we live in and it is such a sad thing to say. Teachers and administrators see our children sometimes more than their own parents do, so they may notice changes in behavior and recognize potential signs of trouble. Noticing the signs and knowing how to intervene appropriately and timely can be the difference between helping a child or experiencing a great tragedy. Teachers have days where they are scheduled for in-service or work days. I believe some of those days should be used to learn to identify behaviors of troubled children and teens, how to approach them, and if you are incapable of approaching them; notifying the proper person to help that child before the situation gets out of hand.

We are so focused on the education of the child, which we should be; but I think we should incorporate mental health days. These days should be filled with meditation, exercise, group counseling sessions, individual session – if needed because these children experience pressures of adults sometimes. I’ve seen my daughter’s course load and it is massive. The pressure of the workload, making and maintaining friendships, hormonal changes that they go through at these ages, bullying, peer pressure and feeling the need to fit in is the reality of getting back to school. When our children go back to school, so do we. We are there to help with homework, friendships, makeups, breakups, the potential hazards that come with going to school in the 21st century and being a “generation Z-er.”