Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Thursday, July 26, 2018

This quote has been resonating with me in a lot of aspects of my life as of late. I knew I was doing it, everyday almost, but then someone, a complete stranger, actually put it into clear-as-day words for me and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
As you may know, this year has been about working on myself. Like many mamas out there, I started to lose myself in the daily grind of motherhood. The early mornings, the meal prepping, the shuffling between activities, the refereeing of two active boys and navigating emotions on a 24-hour schedule. Everyday is a routine. And somewhere along the way, I couldn't see myself in any of it. I was here. I was happy. But there was just something missing.

From that point, I had to find something to fill that void in my life. I didn't know what it was going to be, but I just needed SOMETHING. I started to DO more. More meeting up with girlfriends, more nights out, out of the ordinary things like going horseback riding on a Tuesday night. Those times started to recharge me and made me feel good.

I put more time and effort into my small business. I take pride in connecting with my customers, making sure their needs are met and they are happy. I'm happy with how far I've come in about a year and a half. I feel uplifted by the community I'm in and the team I'm a part of, something I also felt was missing in my life. I'm inspired by all the cheerleaders who celebrate all my small wins- even if I've never met them personally.

I also started taking ballet in January and have been taking classes weekly, now twice a week (thanks to my husband who has so graciously taken over Tuesday and Thursday nights so I can do this). I needed a challenge for myself- both physically and mentally and I've been wanting to return to ballet for the longest time. This has been something that's been driving me to be better, work harder, and LEARN. I missed a week of ballet due to a beach vacation, and honestly I was sad. I was sad I wasn't in a studio and dancing and learning something new.

And here is my thief of joy- in all of these endeavors, these things that I actually was seeking and tried to make a part of my life, I compare. I compare myself to these other women who seemingly have it all. I compare myself to my teammates and their successes in business. I compare myself to women in my ballet class who are better than me.

And why? I wish I knew.

Several weeks ago the director of the dance studio I attend suggested I take a more advanced class. "Just come try it. It'll be a challenge, but it will be good for you." To be honest, I liked the class I was in and felt really comfortable where I was, but I was looking for the next step. Big fish small pond.

I was so nervous that night to take that class, seeing all those women in the hallway stretching and wearing cute variations of leotards and shorts and tights. I instantly hated what I wore (I mean really, who cares, right?) and even though everyone was nice and welcoming I was already thinking about my exit. Small fish big pond.

But alas, class went on and I held on for DEAR LIFE. I truly felt like a floundering fish across the floor, just trying to keep up with the girl in front of me. By the end of the class, my face was beet red and my body felt like it had been beaten up. I did it. I survived. I called my husband the second I got in the car.

"How was it?" he asked me. "HARD. IT WAS SO HARD. I really suck." And you know what? I did suck that night. But when he told me that this was supposed to be fun for me, not stressful or frustrating, and that ONE DAY I will get there, I really had to give myself a reality check.

Because he's right. This HAS been making me happy, so why would I let this totally ruin it for me?

I've taken that particular night (and really, a few more nights after that as I stuck it out with a few more of those classes) as a time to really check myself and stop comparing myself to other people, to other outcomes, and to what I THINK is supposed to be the way of doing things. I'm on my own path, and if I can just be focused on improving myself instead of PROVING myself, then maybe I can get out of my own head and truly find that joy- instead of letting all those thoughts steal it away from me.

I mean, who would have thought that ballet would have taught me this lesson? But it has. And it's a good reminder for me each and every week. It's reminded me to be present with my kids and love on them even though they don't voluntarily eat vegetables. It's reminded me to proud of how far I've come in my business as I continue to watch it grow and flourish. It's reminded me that I've done a pretty kickass job as a wife and mother.

If this is you too- if you're constantly comparing (I mean, who doesn't from time to time?) then try and remember this- don't let that steal your joy. Keep on keepin' on. Keep on working on yourself, FOR yourself. I'm no life coach, I'm still working out my own $*!*, but I can pretty much guarantee that you can never truly be happy if you're always looking left and right.

Keep. Moving. Forward.

Spring Break Meltdown

Monday, March 26, 2018

It's the first day of Spring Break here, and by 6pm this evening, I was done. 
So done.

I've said NO 187,239 times. 
I've buckled and unbuckled 28 times.
I've thrown away two pounds of wasted, uneaten food.
I've chased a fast little bugger down sidewalks, around playgrounds, and in the post office. 
I've been called "Bad Mommy" and "Not Cool".
Even worse- someone (who will remain nameless) told me to S-H-U-T  U-P.
I've had to prevent injuries like broken necks and limbs from my baby Steve-O who has taken a liking to jumping off the side of the couch and testing his limits on the open sections of playground equipment. 
I've caught noodles in my hair.
I've threatened to put all toys in a trash bag and give to other little boys down the street. (Because, WHY, why do they never actually play with their toys?)
And then, I put both my kids to bed when the sun was still shining.
After that, I devoured five chocolate hearts leftover from Valentine's Day that I found in the pantry, followed by a big ol' glass of wine. 
Because I was done.
I'm going to go to bed hoping that tomorrow will be less stressful, less chaotic, and more loving.  
But let's be realistic. 
It won't be less stressful. 
It won't be less chaotic. 
But please, please less whining, more snuggling, and more out-of-the-blue 'I love you's'.
Because for God's sake, it's only Monday.

Love Grows Best in Little Houses

Thursday, February 8, 2018

We've been in our townhouse for almost 3 years. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled that we were moving from one townhouse to the next, but I was excited about owning our home for the first time.
I hate townhouse living. I hate being attached to someone. I hate the narrow backyard. I hate worrying about the dog barking at all hours of the day, or the kids kicking soccer balls against the wall. It's all just... too close for comfort
My husband will often joke, "Do you even like this house?" and the answer is yes, yes I do. I actually do. We've put a lot of work into this house and have changed so much in the past few years- but it's tight, and it's loud. Like SO loud. With 2 grown adults, 2 kids, 2 cats and a dog- I already feel like this house is bursting at the seams. 

The thought of my boys getting any bigger, any louder or more rambunctious sends me into instant panic attack mode. Sometimes, I feel like we've already outgrown this house, as crazy as it seems. Yes, I know this makes me sound like some awful ungrateful brat, but let me just tell ya'll it is some real tight-knit community living up in my house.

The acoustics are enough to make your ears bleed when the kids are running around like chickens with their heads cut-off and the dog is barking nonstop at every single thing passing on the road. There's a reason why I never really host playdates- my house would probably crumble to the ground with three more bodies barreling from room to room. This little house just can't take it. (Neither can my head).

But once in a blue moon I'll get this most perfect view. Central to everything. Hearing the laughter and squeals from my boys who are riding back and forth from one room to the next. I get a brief moment to enjoy it before someone falls and cries or jumps on the couch and spills my wine. It makes me love our little house because we're always together. Always close.

It made me think of that 90's country song "Little Houses". Yep. I totally went there.

"But you know, love grows best in little houses,
With fewer walls to separate,
Where you eat and sleep so close together.
You can't help but communicate,
Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we'd miss.
Love grows best, in houses just like this."

Now the level of "communication" that goes on in our tiny house is a whole lot of shouting (I don't remember Bill and Sue ever screaming over their kids and a dog that never shuts up) but regardless of the noise, it's cozy and quaint. And I do love it. And sometimes it's just nice to sit and appreciate what we've built together for our little family and really enjoy being together.

Our little, loud, crazy family in our little house. 

About Those Resolutions...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

So we're already two weeks into the new year, and like most people who actually make resolutions, I'm still trying to follow through with mine. Most of them on my list were the typical "lose weight" (almost there), "drink less"  (still working on that) and "spend less money" (impossible with Amazon Prime) that makes everyone's list every year. But the ones that are really the most important to me are my resolutions to be more present with my family and to focus on self-care. 
I get sucked into social media pretty easily--seriously, who doesn't? But because my R+F business is 99% online- posting, training, and communicating- I have to be focused on what I'm doing throughout the day so I'm not constantly on my phone. I've had to really be more conscious about setting time aside for "work"- like when the kids are napping or after bedtime. This is good for two reasons: My business is super flexible so I can still work when I need to and I don't always have my phone on me 24/7. It's a small change but will likely make a big difference. 
My resolution to focus on self-care isn't just one thing in particular. It's going to get a pedicure by myself, meeting friends for drinks or coffee, getting some time each day to just sit in silence. It's forcing myself to get out of my yoga pants and exercise clothes and actually WEAR the clothes in my closet. Seriously though, it's so difficult to find the motivation to look like an actual functioning member of society when you're at home with two young kids. I wore jeans 4 times last week. FOUR TIMES.

But aside from that, I've also vowed to push myself a little outside my comfort zone by meeting new people and trying new things. It's so hard to do both of these things as we get older. We don't have the time, it intimidates us, we can't find something (or people) that interest us, the list goes on and on. We just keep making excuses and months and years go by and nothing has happened.

Regrettably, this has been me for the longest time. So, I started the year off with something that has forced me to meet new people and try something different: I enrolled in a 10-week adult ballet class. Yep.  I'm 31 and back in a leotard. 

I've wanted to do this for a LONG time. I'm always researching dance studios and classes in my area but I'm usually super intimidated by what's offered. Other than my yearly appearance to dance with the VCU Gold Rush Dancers and Alumni (and the daily dance parties in my kitchen with my kids), I haven't actually d a n c e d in like, a really long time. I wasn't ready to throw myself in a class of "adults" (read: 18 year olds) and look like the old lady who's trying to make a comeback. Because let's be honest-It's been at least twenty years since I've done a single tendú.

I came across the opportunity just about a week ago when a former co-worker of mine had posted about a local studio offering the class.  I saved the info, thought about it for a couple of days, and sent it to Greg. It's a time commitment- every Saturday for an hour for 10 weeks, so I texted him and said, "Can I do this?" Thankfully he didn't laugh, but told me I absolutely should, and I registered right away.

 I was super nervous going to my class on Saturday. I knew it was a beginner class so I didn't think it'd be too scary, but just going there by myself and not having a friend with me as a crutch was kind of a big obstacle for me. But once the class started, we started going over positions and warming up at the barre, it all came back to me. Maybe it's like riding a bike?  My twenty-year muscle memory was working in my favor and things started to flow. Not gracefully, by any means. But it was flowing...

And because I'm such an emotional mess, when the music came on and the director came over to correct my alignment when I was in élevé, my eyes started to well up. I kept thinking, "OMG don't cry, don't cry, don't cry!" I literally had to talk myself out of becoming a blubbering mess. I had a lot of emotions rush over me all at once- the memories of those early Saturday mornings decades ago during rehearsals, the excitement of my first pointe shoes, the sounds of the teacher and the music. Those were the best memories.  

And then I just instantly had this huge feeling of accomplishment. 

I'm doing this. I'm ACTUALLY doing this. 

So there you have it. There's a lot on my plate for this year. I've set big goals for myself and there are a lot of things I want to change, but I think I've set myself up to be successful. I want to be a better mom and wife, I want to be healthier, and I want to continue to grow and learn. In order to do that, I need to push myself just beyond what I'm comfortable doing. Maybe this is my pre-mid-life crisis- who knows. What I do know is 2018 will be a great reset button for me to work on myself so that the other areas in my life will be better too. 

What are your resolutions? What things have you wanted to do that you keep putting off? Stick to them. Make yourself feel proud and accomplished. 



Save Me From My Four-Year-Old

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

You guys. 
Let's talk about four-year-olds.
I don't know what the F happened in the past year, but I seriously feel like some hot-headed, bossy, smart-mouthed teenager has taken over my sweet little boy.
Honestly, each and every morning I'm scared. I'm so freaking scared of what will transpire over the next 12+ hours because it is seriously like walking on eggshells around this kid. I never know if he's going to come down the stairs jolly as the freaking morning sun with a "Hi Mommy! I slept so good didn't I?" or if he'll slide his body down one stair at a time huffing and puffing and complaining about how loud it is and that he needs a God-damn pancake.
What the hell happened? 
I can honestly say that I was looking forward to year number four. More independence, new experiences, new milestones, some bonding with this little human....
Then BAM. The four-year-old 'tude straight up knocked me off my feet.
You'd think that I would revert back to some kind of survival methods I had learned while I was teaching threes and fours. I try, I seriously do, but then I realized a very important thing which is why I still had a little thing called sanity back then..
Oh. My. God.
Please, tell me why everything these days is about as enjoyable as poking my eyeballs out? Either I'm not doing things correctly, I "never let him do anything", or I make his life absolutely difficult.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've had his little finger shaking at me in my direction with some kind of absurd command coming out of his mouth. The first time it happened, I lost it. Yep, I completely lost my shit. The 800th time it happened, I looked to the left, I looked to the right, and behind me and asked him, "I'm sorry, are you talking to me?" and just shrugged and walked away.
He hated that. I was smiling inside.
I don't know how to navigate year number four at all. Please show me a no-nonsense blog or book about parents who are scared shitless of their four-year-old kid so I can make sense of this very difficult phase of our lives. 
I write this as I hear the sounds of a little boy in dinosaur pajamas snoring on the couch. I love him. I do. But I can't let my guard down. I never know what will happen next...
Ahh, tomorrow is a new day.
Pray for me. 

RVA Reset

Thursday, November 9, 2017

I've had a lot of change and adjustment since the beginning of the summer, but one thing that's remained the same is the absolute need for my own time to escape and reset. My kids aren't any different than anyone else's- they're active and require a lot of my attention. No surprise there. But I always feel when a major burnout is upon me, and each time I'm able to get away (whether it be 3 hours or 3 days) I always feel better after.
This past weekend, I made a quick 24-hour trip to Richmond, VA to surprise my best friend who helps organize a fun foodie experience all over town called Fire, Flour and Fork. I feel terrible that she's been involved with it for four years and I've never actually gone. When I found out that she and her boyfriend would be there all weekend, I felt it was the perfect opportunity to surprise her and finally experience it. 
I had a hotel booked for the night, Lucca was having a special "boys weekend" with my husband, Leo was with my mom, so I was all set. Other than not feeling 100% (thanks to snotty kids and cold season) I was ready to hop in my car and headed south for some much needed time away.
Every time I drive into RVA, I get this total nostalgic feeling. Richmond is where I spent four years at VCU, scheduled my life around dance rehearsals and basketball games, met my greatest friends and my husband. Some of the best memories though are always in the Fall. Boots and scarves and coffee and running to 8am classes (okay, that's not the best memory but it always makes me think of it). House party-hopping in the Fan. Walking up and down Cary Street. I miss it. I miss it all.

So when I was back this weekend visiting my friend, it was interesting on so many levels. It's a strange feeling when the place around you has changed very little and you've changed a hell of a lot. We ate a four-course meal at Comfort on Saturday with a guest chef flown in from South Carolina. I have always LOVED Comfort, but I can assure you that I could barely afford to eat there as a college student. Being able to enjoy and experience that as an actual adult was amazing.

The downside to being an actual adult was that I just couldn't hang with the rest of 'em at an after-party at a sweet new spot called Brenner Pass. Restaurant people are always down for a party and can rally well into the night- I on the other hand, cannot. One glass of wine and I was back in my quiet hotel room with a king sized bed to myself. I tried. I really tried. But when I realized I was yawning way more than I was actually talking, it was time to go.

The next morning we met at Heritage for brunch. Ah, brunching. One of my most favorite activities, yet I only feel that the brunch experience is fully satisfied 1.) If it's in Richmond and 2.) If there is alcohol involved. There's just something about seeing people crowd outside a restaurant on a Sunday morning. You've got the well-dressed church people, the family people, and the hungover bunch who are all looking for the same thing- good food and good atmosphere. I seriously miss those days of deciding on a brunch spot, so I like to take advantage of it when I'm in town.

I wish I could have stayed a few hours longer in Richmond, but I had kids to pick up and life to get back to. Before I got back in my car, I took a walk by myself for a few blocks around the Fan. I just had to take the time to really breathe in that Fall smell, the wet leaves on the ground, stop by all the places I'd lived (or my brother, or my husband) just to take a quick trip down memory lane. This was my time to reset. This weekend was a time to hit the pause button on the craziness that is being a stay at home mom to two young boys, and to just be happy and in the moment (by myself).

I'll be honest- I have no idea what this post is about. I had to write about the great time I had in my favorite city with my favorite person, but also just how important it is for me to have those times where I can get away. I get so sucked into mom-mode- playdates, preschool, bedtimes, middle of the night encounters with monsters (or beavers... more on that later), that I really just need some time to remember all the things I actually love doing when I don't have a kid (or two) hanging on me.

I drove back home that day excited to be with my family again but also felt a sense of sadness as I left the city. There's so many memories for me there- a lot of which helped make me, "me", if that even makes sense. I texted my bestie on my way out thanking her for a great time and also to let her know that I was sad to leave... she wrote back, "It is sad bc Richmond is cool AF and a symbol of our free years!"

So true. Richmond, you are cool AF and you make me feel semi-cool AF and you refresh my soul. I'll keep visiting you when I need an escape.

Motherhood is Madness

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Motherhood is madness. It just is.

I've absolutely come to accept the fact that life is loud and messy and nothing makes sense. There's never ever an easy way to do things. There's never a point A to point B. Instead, there's a million stops along the way and once you'e made it to point B you've already forgotten why you were trying to get there in the first place.

This has been difficult for me because I'm a scheduler, a list-maker, a go-by-the-rules kinda person. I try to remain in control of many things in my life, but when you have kids, that pretty much flies out of the window. I was definitely one of those "I'll never allow my kid to ________" people pre-kids, and now I just laugh at the fact that I really thought that'd be true. Kids are kids, they don't care and will do what they want. Learn this early on and it'll be smooth sailing for you. Read as many books and blogs as you want- but the key piece of information here is:


And you know why? Because they live in the moment. They live for what's happening right that second, right in front of them. And sometimes, we need to do that too. (Unless of course it involves something dangerous. Come on, I haven't completely lost it).

I have to say, that although I still micromanage some things in our day-to-day, I'm a much happier person when I just let shit go. Who do I think is watching? There's nobody keeping score in parenting. It's survival, people. If it means less crying, whining and tantrums, I'm all over it these days. Sure, I still keep my little humans in-line and under control, but through the madness you discover ways in which you can still be the boss lady while also just letting things slide.

So yes, if kid #2 continues to throw food on the floor from the high chair but would rather eat it OFF the floor like a dog, go for it. He's gotta eat right? If I have to bribe #1 with whatever sweets we have in our house just to eat 5 green beans? Great. If they want to dance on the kitchen chairs just to give me ten extra minutes of cooking time for dinner, perfect. There's no rulebook here. And such is the beauty of motherhood.. (and parenting in general).

There's a method to this madness- and the key is to get over yourself and let shit go.
Also, a nap and some wine here and there helps...