Thursday, December 29, 2016

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

I was once told in my young, teen-ish days that I looked like Princess Leia. I considered the compliment wildly inaccurate. But still, it was nice to hear. Carrie Fisher who was Princess Leia has passed away. But, I’d like to add my voice to the chorus--specifically what she did for girls (and writers) everywhere.

Before Princess Leia, most princess characters were fluffy, frivolous and in desperate need of rescuing. Leia Organa turned that trope on its head. Born into royalty, Leia became a general. And, over the 39 years of Star Wars, Fisher showed those in the industry that a tough little girl who can take care of herself (thank you very much) actually resonated with movie goers worldwide. She became a perennial hero. Also due to talented writers, gritty female protagonists who made the most of their horrible situations were often box office smashes.

I'm sure this archetype inspired the writing of Disney’s movies. Heroines like “Belle” of Beauty & the Beast chose a more noble path than most characters who came before her. Like Princess Leia they chose the better path, resisted when necessary. They put themselves on the line for those they loved. They fought with brains and guts and sometimes weapons. These female characters who took chances and endured the consequences without bawling for a knight in shining armor are the types of characters to whom every girl can relate. 

Besides being an actress and a writer, Carrie Fisher was called in to be a script doctor. These wizards of words were called upon by industry executives to take a screenplay and/or script and polish the piece until the director (and everyone else) is happy. She was rarely credited for any work she did in this regard.

Fisher, was also a mother, as was her character, Leia. Both the woman and the character played a rather hands-off role in the raising of their children--for a variety of reasons. There's no telling if this was a good decision. I won't make excuses for Carrie Fisher, but I know she battled addiction. 

Fisher’s tough princess gives a lot of us non-princesses a role we can aspire to. Not the cleanest, mother of the year, glamour queen, but a real, down-to-earth broad, who admitted her frailties and sins and challenged herself to get better, be better. It’s the least any hero can do.

Relax Mommies, you've got this.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Why my kid?

 They wouldn't let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games!

  Aw, who needs 'em anyway...

There will be a time as a mom when you'll see your child getting the short end of the stick.

There are many children who excel in academics, sports, the arts--you name it. But there are just as many who don't. Chances are, your child may be one of the ones not picked for basketball. Your child may be bullied for being bad at sports, mocked for having a lisp, called stupid for failing math; left out of the reindeer games.

It won't feel so good. You'll have to stand by and watch your child not do well in things. It may range from the silly--being laughed at for not coloring in the lines or the serious--being diagnosed with autism.

You may be tempted to protect your child, to remedy the situation. But as painful as these situations are, they are life lessons. It's your chance to teach your child, she may not succeed at everything she tries. But she is still valuable and lovable. Remind her every day how special and irreplaceable she is. It never gets old to be told you're one of a kind. She doesn't need perfect A's in English to be a great kid.

If she's mocked, tell her she doesn't need to retaliate, she can ignore the bullies and move on. Some of the most painful things she may hear can come from peers or teachers or siblings.

An insult may be only temporary but it can last a lifetime. We tend to hang on to hurts. Help her deal with them now before she grows up. Without balance and forgiveness, a hurt child can grow into bitter adult.

Relax mommies, you've got this.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Yay, Fall!

 I heart Halloween…part 2

And of course, it’s time for the great pumpkin! You’ll see the pumpkins being harvested. One of my favorite veggies (a squash by birth), it really is abused. Carved, baked, processed, pureed, tossed smashed, and then after the end of the year--ignored. During Halloween, the pumpkin is called Jack o’ Lantern. The alternate name change also changes its persona. Once a fat little squash it suddenly becomes mean and nefarious. Horrible faces gleam from its surface and inside its gleam seems unworldly. I prefer an intact squash whose color is warm and bright and reminiscent of an autumn sunset.

I love the softness of Halloween. The warm, worn memories. The feast and festivals were never meant to be scary or edgy. The living commemorated the dead, they had a comfort with death. They did not run in terror of the knife-wielding, zombies who sort of resembled their loved-ones. It was a time to remember those who went before you and to remember them fondly, not of hauntings and “boos” but, laughter and a few tears. Good times.

Leave Halloween alone. Keep your gore and screams. I’ll take the leaves and the warmth and the memories of my loved ones.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Yay, Fall!

 I heart Halloween…

But not for the reasons you think.

I’m not a big horror movie fan—so you won’t find me watching Friday the 13th or even Halloween on Halloween. I don’t do haunted hayrides or field of screams. I don’t like blood and gore. I worked in a trauma unit so I’m good (for rest of my life). I don’t even buy candy for trick or treaters'. We stopped getting little ones a long time ago. We do take our kids out to another neighborhood for a safe trick or treat experience. There are no sidewalks where we live. I’ve had maybe one or two Halloween parties and that’s fine with me.

I love Halloween. The real thing—the whole thing, the before and the after, and the true meaning of it, because it is the best part of fall. The term Halloween is a corruption of the words, “All Hallows' Eve.” It marks the night before All Saints Day, followed by All Souls Day. These feasts got a little bigger and turned into festivals. Many cultures developed all manner of traditions accompanying the festival. No need for a history lesson. There are other things I love about this time.

The temperature is decidedly cooler. The daylight is shortened naturally (and man-made daylight savings time). Leaves turn and the fall colors, which typically reach their peak in October, are glorious--bright yellows, deep reds, and rusty browns. The oranges, golds and purples add amazing depth and richness to the foliage. If you’ve never been outside during fall, you’re missing the best show ever. And it’s like a series, always something different.

Halloween indicates the end of the harvest and the beginning of the thanks for produce; plentiful and sustaining. Whether you can or freeze, there’s nothing better on your table than homemade sauces and soups (and healthier too). The apples are picked now in earnest, and can go until mid-November.

There’s the harvesting of the corn, soybean and hay before the crops go dormant. The grape harvest and subsequent wine-making is another favorite of mine. When Halloween arrives, it marks the time for frost wines. Grapes are picked on or near the first frost. The chilly crystals sitting on top of the grapes is supposed to add a delicate taste to the wine. Either way, the wine tastes good whether or not you can detect the difference. Some wines are bottle but others are uncorked.

(And there’s more next week…)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Enjoy the Season

Fall is Here!

Fall is a great time of year—but it can be so tough on a mom.

The summer is over and the kids are back in school. It might be quiet(er) in the house but you’ll still be busy. There’s a ton of school events; meeting the teachers, field trips, concerts, plays and fundraisers. If you’re a home-schooling mom, you’ve got lessons and projects and planning galore.

It also reminds me that my children are getting older, they are going into the next grade and doing “bigger” things with more responsibility and less hovering from me.

Yet, it’s time for the harvest, piles of leaves, canning, hay rides and pumpkins, and the best weather ever—sweater weather. There’s fun sports for the little gals and guys— soccer, cross country running, football and hockey. And then, we’re closing in on the end of another year.

What a rush to get it “over with” --  silly retail stores have Halloween and Christmas decorations side by side. Pick one and enjoy it.

 Halloween cupcakes-taking goodies to a whole new level.

I love Halloween—the quintessential fall festivity! I love everything about it. The costumes and parties and all the activities that bring you outside to enjoy weather that doesn’t involve sunburn. I don’t mind the drama of selecting the right costume. One that’s popular, but not so popular that everyone isn’t trick or treating in the same thing. One that fits and works an keeps them covered and lasts for just a few hours. Until they get home and go into candy comas.

 Fall is so beautiful but so brief. 

Don't you wish Fall were longer? I wish we could just savor the last few days of warm summer-like afternoons and frosty-breath evenings next to a bonfire. Instead, we’re rushed past Thanksgiving with light speed and then smashed into Christmas. Why not just enjoy each season?

I beg you mommies, let this be the year you send a pumpkin to someone. And jump in a pile of leaves. 

Relax Mommies you've got this!

Friday, September 23, 2016

A Loser's Lessons

What motivates you to try?

I was never a big fan of slow and steady. I can’t slow down -- I’m raising children! It’s a sprint ‘til college. You go, go, go every day. You take care of them, try to keep them safe, fed and educated. You try to capture the milestones, do your best to plan and arrange to make things special for them. First birthday parties, Christmases, monster cupcakes for the Halloween classroom festivities; everything has to be made with love. And still, we blink and there’s so much we miss.

I recently learned the hard way I need to slow down and take one day at a time. In everything I do.

I wanted to lose weight, but was never consistent with any eating or exercise plan. At picnics and parties, there was no way to eat anything healthy except the crudité—usually served with luscious ranch dip. I accepted food I didn’t want to eat out of politeness. When I was feeling down, I indulged in self-pity eating and creamy lattes. I had a rotten relationship with food. Like most "clean plate" moms, I hated to see food wasted and became the leftover-eating queen of my house. Last year, after receiving ugly cholesterol numbers, I knew I needed to change.

As motivation, I entered a Biggest Loser Challenge at work. It was a 12-week challenge. I had done it before and lost a grand total of three pounds. This time, I promised myself, it would be different. So I asked advice from the previous BL winner. They told me: Treat the BL Challenge as a marathon. As a long and grueling race. One that you may not win, but one that you will finish. Most of all--stay the course; keep your emotions steady. Ew? Was the advice?!

The BL coordinator offered this: Eat healthy, exercise and have fun! She made it sound easy. For more motivation, we were divided into two teams—the winning team would get some cash. I rushed into the Challenge thinking all I needed was a little self-control. 

 Towards the end, just when I thought I was doing great, I stumbled.

In the final weeks, I behaved as though I had already crossed the finish line. I was sliding the medal around my neck, celebrating, happy dancing. And then sabotaged all my good weight loss efforts by rewarding myself with food treats, letting an exercise session or two slide away. The pounds crept back on. Any marathoner will tell you this moment of do or die is the dreaded “mile twenty” -- with less than several miles to go, within sight of the goal, you lose focus and muscles start to seize up. Many runners end up quitting.

So I slowed down. Literally.

I ate slower, I walked instead of ran. I sipped rather than gulped my coffee. And I thought of all kinds of ways to make this BL thing a permanent lifestyle change, not a once and done competition. I learned that without any sort of external stimulus, significant weight loss is hard to do. We need something external to reset our internal compass. Whether it be a gym membership, walking the new puppy every day, buying a new wardrobe, or getting a cholesterol panel—it has to be an intimate and important investment of your time, talent and $$ or you’re setting yourself up for failure.

I also noticed that while encouragement from the Team (people in the same boat) is great for weight loss, it can let you down. A weight loss buddy or fitness app will help keep you accountable. And you’ll get support. But here at work, where the atmosphere is already highly-competitive, when someone won a week or a month, there were very few good wishes or encouragement. Teams were starving themselves, “hangry” and aching to quit. We all hit our “mile twenty” mark at the same time. Team members stopped talking to each other. They deleted the weight loss support emails. A few team members went AWOL during lunch (the office is right next to: McD’s, BK, Dunkin, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Red Robins and Taco Bell) instead of working out together. Team players became team haters. There was a black cloud of bitchiness that hung over the office scale.

This negative behavior was a priceless life lesson for me. I cannot lose weight to make other people happy, gain their acceptance or good graces. They’ll dislike me skinny or fat. I have to do it for myself. I have to want to make the change in me. Or else, I’ll be eating a breakfast burrito, an enchilada and a double-cheese-bacon burger all before lunch. And be dead before dinner.

Above all, I reminded myself, we’re moms!  We can always slow down and hug our “motivators!” Words like, “I love you mommy,” get me through nearly every life “marathon” I will encounter.

I want to lose weight for them. Because I want to be able to have the energy and stamina to be with them—fast or slow--even beyond college.

Relax Mommies, You've got this!

Monday, August 29, 2016

School for kids, work for mom


Dear Mommies,

It's that time of year when the kids go back to school. It can be pretty stressful before the school year even starts. The kids need the nicest backpack, the cutest shoes, the sweetest iPad cover. And can we talk about the drama of buying jeans?

As moms, we are always going to make our kids look good. And do good. We want them to excel. We’re going to give them the encouragement, resources and opportunities to shine. We then blend into the background while our little ones take flight. Rarely do we mothers push themselves forward. Pushy show moms, aside--we don't take center stage.

We’re happy to stay in the shadows with our yoga pants and messy pony tails. We don't want our pictures in the school yearbook. We'd prefer to hide. But maybe this is the year, we should be recognized. Just a little bit, other than the obligatory thanks from teachers and staff. Maybe this year we should dress as nice as our kids for the first day of school.

A very wise man once questioned the purpose of high school graduation parties. He asked why, a child who just turned into an adult without trying, is rewarded with a party? This celebration comes after 4 years of the child doing something that’s just barely considered work. The party, this man argued, should be for the parents.

As mommies we have a tendency to underestimate the amount of work it takes to raise a good child. (It’s easy to raise the bad ones—you just ignore them).

Recently, a salary data service estimated that moms should be paid $65K a year (more, if you have more than two children) to compensate us for what we do. It’s not just bottle and diapers. It’s work. Waking them up. Putting them down for naps. Feeding them, teaching them to feed themselves. Dressing them and trying to teach them to dress themselves. Coaching them through the walking and talking phase. Taking care of boo-boo's. Getting them to doctor appointments, soccer practice, piano lessons, and parties.

You should be proud of the work you do. Because you do more in one day than many people do in a week. So when anyone who asks if you have a “real” job, always respond: Yes, I’m raising children.

Relax mommies, you’ve got this!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Headaches & Life Lessons

Is this you during your migraine?

Dear Mommies,

Ever had a headache that felt as if there was someone with a sledge hammer pounding on the inside of your skull? Or a migraine that felt like you were hit by a truck? Ever had severe headache pain?

Headaches—the serious kind--can drop us to our knees. Make us nasty, irritable, and just plain non-functional. We can become awful to everyone around us. Often we're rendered useless, crawling into bed and hoping the world will go away. 

Head pain is different than other kinds of pain. It's not like carpal tunnel or joint pain. Headaches are right where our brain is positioned and where most of our senses are located. Take those out and we’re pretty much debilitated. 

The way we handle head pain is also a predictor of how we treat life’s problems. Do we whimper and whine? Hide? Go right for the extra strength pain killer? Or just muscle through? No one way is the only way. In fact, depending on the “headache” we may do all three.

There are three things that we should do with each of life's problems:
1.    Vent. Talk through it. Make sure you don’t end up in a kvetching session or a blame game. Honestly communicate your issue to someone who isn’t involved. And seek advice.
2.    Don't become part of the problem, or make the problem worse. It seems counter intuitive to bang your head against the wall when you have the mother of all headaches, but that’s what we often do. Rushing into action can make a problem worse. Give it some time and thought before you rush in to fix it. There's nothing wrong with sleeping on it.
3.    Do. Sounds simple, but once a solution is in place, work through it. Even on your worse days you're still the mommy and there are kids and laundry and dinner. Sometimes just doing a simple task can take your mind off your headache. And help you realize, no matter how bad, no pain lasts forever.

Relax Mommies, you’ve got this!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Parenting: Never Risk-free

Each Day of Your Life is Precious

Lately, I've shut off the news—it’s usually depressing and frustrating. And if you’re chasing or carting your little ones from place to place, who has time to sit and watch violence, erratic world markets and bratty starlet meltdowns? And who wants to? When we travel, happy music fills our vehicle, not breaking news from CNN.

I broke my fast from news to follow a tragic story about a dad and his kids who drowned off the coast of Florida while sailing along the coast. Usually I blog about happy things and silver linings. But I am taking a few moments here to remind you that life is fragile.

This father had no idea that a routine jaunt from one Florida harbor to the next would be his last. The children didn’t know. No one knew. They expected smooth sailing.

I don’t think we truly realize how much power we have over our children. Their safety is often based on what we do (or don’t do) as parents. Even the tiniest decision can have a lasting effect on a child. I read a blog ( and when speaking of her dressed-down attire of old yoga pants and messy bun, one mom said: “I realized I have the power to embarrass my children.” The little things make a difference. I'm now more conscious of how I look when I’m in public with the kids.

I’m sure there were a million things that this father could have done to save his children. But like so many parents, myself included, he just assumed things would go without incident. I’m equally sure he will be posthumously criticized for his lack of parenting. In his defense: Parents are only human and can't foresee all dangers. Who knows when a truck will hit your minivan, a virus blaze through your family, a tornado tear up your neighborhood, floods, fires or any manner of disaster? Devastation doesn’t wait for parents to be fully prepared.

All parents should love and respect their roles as mommies and daddies—you are so critical to a child's life. Your safety, health and happiness are directly related to theirs. By the same token, you want your child to take risks, leave the nest and not be afraid of their own shadow. To be cautious and be encouraging is delicate balance for parents. But you can do it.

Hug your babies every day. Kiss them and tell them they are so precious, whether it be calm seas or stormy weather.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Everyday Joys

Every little kiss...

Dear Mommies,

I’ve challenged my siblings to find a joy every day. And write it down. (I challenged myself, too) They gave up by day two. “Seriously, you want us to find joy? Have you seen the news?”

I did. And they’re right. It’s almost impossible to find joy when all you see is what’s wrong with the world. The news is 24/7 of death, disease, earthquakes, fires, scandals, and heartache.

I have a need to drown my sorrows. A very clever marketer once told me: "I sell products by doing three things: I tell you that you have a problem. I tell you only my product/service/plan can solve it. And I tell you that you need to get it, now. Through guilt, sorrow and/or fear I can manipulate you, the customer, with this sales strategy."

He’s right, because today I saw a commercial for Peanut M&M’s and I decided I needed them. My problem was disappointment, my solution -- chocolate.

Today was a day of disappointments. Every little thing I wanted (even sunshine) was taken away. The beautiful sunrise was overwhelmed in clouds and rain. At work, I was told I’m wasting my time on project xyz (which I loved). I was denied a generous discount on the running shoes of my dreams (which I loved) and I was uninvited to a particular event (which I would have loved).

Peanut M&M’s made me feel better instantly, but I was still without joy. Happiness seems even further away.

The challenge of finding joy is doubly tough on mommies. On top of all our disappointments, we tend to absorb the disappointments of our munchkins. When they are devastated, we are too. So how do you find joys when the world seems to be hell-bent on taking them from you?

Take a breath, take a step back & take it all in. And then give. Share your Peanut M&M’s. 

And the day got better. I got to see the kiddies after school, I got to talk about writing and what I love about it. I did give (and get) hugs and kisses.

If I keep looking long enough, I will find more joy tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that.

Relax Mommies, you've got this.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Toddlers as Teachers

Oh, those little stinkers!

We've always had those moments when we've been embarrassed (read: humiliated) by someone under the age of 5. And no one knows how to do it better than someone you love.

Those sweet little munchkins can really push our buttons. But these are teachable moments, for us and them.

Toddlers cannot be rushed. They often need to pick up every single pine cone, shell and/or bug on the ground, beach or floor. You should have been home 15 minutes ago, but you're still on your walk. Trying to hurry the process, you'll often receive very loud squawks of: "No! I don't want to go home!"

Toddlers are super sensitive to pain (when it suits them). Ever try to pluck a child out of harm's way or keep them on the right path and hear: "Ouch you're hurting me!"? You look around and of course everyone has heard it.

Toddlers love you in secret. Ever gotten rebuffed when attempting a public display of affection? "Ew, don't kiss me mommy your breath smells funny!" But when you're home, they won't let go of your leg, arm, or neck.

For these moments, a sigh, roll of the eyes and calm quiet re-direction can diffuse the rising frustration.
Yes, rushing a toddler is like trying to push a cloud--so enjoy the moments of pine cone collection, you will miss those days. The psuedo-pain vocalization is a well-timed trick to see how you respond. One therapist admitted that she's more worried about the kids who never say anything about their parents hurting them. They often hide their true bruises.

Lastly, treasure those secret embraces and moments of private affection. They're only for you and they are the little gifts that you will be blessed with for only a short while.

Relax, mommies, You've got this.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The Value of Presence

The BBC's Crimson Field

Dear Mommies,
After Downton Abbey, I didn’t think anything would replace my need for engrossing, well-written mini-series. 

Then I discovered The Crimson Field. Released in 2014, the drama centers around nurses, doctors and Royal Medical Army staff at a hospital camp (think MASH + post-Victorian England) during World War I in northern France. Just the first episode was gripping and horrifying, flecked with oddly humorous moments.

But while most reviewers discussed the BBC’s celebration of the anniversary of WWI or the pitfalls of the script and story threads or the history (or lack of) or the acting (or lack of), all I could think of was nurses.

Years ago, I worked in a trauma unit at a hospital. This series brought me back to those days.  When I saw the best and worst of human behavior. I saw people in agony, dying, crushed—literally and figuratively.

It doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you have or the color of your skin— everyone feels pain. Everyone suffers. And no matter who you are or where you come from, you can help by just ... caring.

Some other things I recalled:

I learned the difference between a good  nurse and a nurse who simply worked for a pension. And a charge nurse has to be everything to everyone, all at once.

I learned the value of listening and offering sympathy. And just because you have a medical degree, doesn't mean you will listen or offer sympathy.

I learned how precious the first few breaths of life are and how precious the last few breaths are. We should not be born or die alone.

I learned the importance of a well-made bed. It was a safety--not aesthetic--issue in the hospital.

Most of all, I learned the value of presence. Being beside someone during a difficult time is something that can never be quantified. And that's what I remembered the nurses and the nursing aides did. There were times they did nothing more than stand beside a person's bed or touched their hands -- and that was enough.

You don't need to be super mom, just be there.
Relax mommies, you've got this.

Friday, February 19, 2016

No bad thing lasts forever

                                                            Feeling alone?

Dear Mommies,

Are you having a tough time? Feeling really alone? Are you experiencing a serious life crisis?

Maybe it’s a combination of many issues--money is super tight, the kids are really sick and you’re facing a health crisis. Overwhelmed, life may seem bleak for you now.

I promise you, no bad thing lasts forever.

Okay, so you might dismiss that out-of-hand. Sure cancer doesn’t last forever, you die. Divorce doesn’t get a do-over, you can’t un-split. Life with an autistic child is filled with many scary moments.

As women, we have a tendency to want to fix things--make things better. When they don’t get better, we beat ourselves up, think that we have failed.

Believe me when I tell you:
·         It’s not your fault that your best friend (or you) developed breast cancer.
·         If your spouse cheated on you, there was no gun to their head to make that choice.
·         You did not cause your child’s autism.
·         The pain will not last forever.

Part of our “job” as Mommies is to help our little guys and gals move forward, get better, grow up. But growing up doesn’t end when they graduate from high school. Adults have more growing up to do too. We need to let go—of pain, fear, anger and move forward. Life’s trials, as awful as they are, help us progress towards maturity and peace.

Do you want to be happy and enjoy your life? Then choose what you want to fight for. Your child is worth fighting for, your friend is worth fighting for. And you are definitely worth fighting for.

Relax Mommies, you’ve got this.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Self-care is not selfish

                                            Fresh air and sunshine makes a mommy happy

Dear Mommies,

A tweet inspired this post.

“Self-care is not selfish.”

It’s true, but the difficulty all mommies face, is actually doing true self-care. We take care of everyone, our own needs usually come last. We are the most run down, most stressed-out member of the family. Sure, you may have taken your little guy in for his third ear infection of the year, but I’m willing to bet you’re not feeling so good yourself.

Self-care doesn’t mean that you grab the girls and head for the spa for a relaxing weekend of pampers—although that sounds wonderful! It’s not buying a new pair of shoes, an expensive bottle of wine or going platinum blond. Those are treats—which you deserve—but not the regular care that you need and must have!

Self-care is going to bed early once a week to grab an extra hour of sleep. Self-care is a daily multi-vitamin for women. Self-care is a water bottle in the car at all times, a 10-minute power walk, decent lip balm or moisturizer and mindful breathing. Self-care is saying no to that volunteer request, because you’re already doing three things on the same day. And saying no to the donuts that are offered as breakfast—where are the strawberries?

In essence, self-care is the mind-body-soul balance that mommies need to take care of themselves to take care of others. Sounds simple, but it’s tough to do. Although I promise you, one little change (like an extra hour of sleep) will make a big difference.

Relax Mommies, you’ve got this.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Less is Best

Dear Mommies,

So how did the first month of this year treat you?

Were you able to make it through the winter weather (or for some parts of the country, weird winter weather)?

And how are your closets? 

Ahead of the spring cleaning and yard sale season, here are 10 steps that can help you thin out your closet and the kids' closets. Less clutter, can mean a happier home. Hint: Do this during nap time, toddlers watching adult closet clean may not end well (see: Find Me a Woman (Assent, 2014), pp156-57).

1.    Take everything out of your closet (you might find that missing Christmas present). Everything out. Dump on the bed or floor.

2.    Limit yourself to four piles: Donate, Keep, Clean & Store, Toss (in the trash).

3.    Keeping clothing for sentimental reasons equals cluttered closet. Be brutal—unless it’s something you’ll wear in the next 3 months, donate it.

4.    Speaking of 3 months—if you aren’t going to wear the item for next season—store it or donate it. Sweaters should be stored with cedar balls or sachets to keep bugs away.

5.    Yeah, keep your “fat” jeans, but not the skinny jeans. A woman’s weight fluctuates. Having a pair of “I’ll-wear-them-after-the-diet” skinny jeans may make you bitter and frustrated when they don’t fit. Let them go!

6.    Don’t be squeamish about tossing clothes in the trash. Goodwill, Thred up and other used clothing vendors, will toss immediately (or not even accept) any item not in good condition.

7.   Keep the basics. Think CJSSD — coat, jeans, skirt, shirt, dress.

8.    Shoes, belts and purses? Put them in a separate spot. Don’t deal with them until after you’ve made your decisions about what to keep and toss. If anything is missing, broken or frayed—toss it. Unless you have a reliable shoe repair store AND are worth it.

9.    Once you put your clothes in your piles—stick with it. If you change your mind once or twice, that’s okay. If you’re continuously moving items from pile to pile to pile, you need to be tougher.

10.  Do it by yourself. It’s okay to have a clothes shopping buddy, but not a closet buddy. It’s your body, your closet and your time. Things slow down if there’s more than one opinion that’s being aired about an ugly sweater.

The point about combing through your wardrobe in such a drastic fashion, is twofold. First you de-clutter, second, you refresh your closet.

Relax, Mommies, you’ve got this.

Monday, January 25, 2016

First, dream your dreams . . .

 Dream a little dream.

Dear Mommies,

So much to look forward to this year. I’m sure you're looking forward to your children’s milestones, birthdays, first words, first steps, school step up days and lots of other “Firsts.”

But what about you? I’m not talking about resolutions, which are in Mary Poppins words, “pie crust promises: easily made, easily broken.” The problem with resolutions is that they tend to focus on the negative—things we want to fix in our lives (e.g., lose weight). Or they are too ambiguous (e.g., I will be kinder to my mother-in-law).

I’m talking about your dreams.

Will this be the year you take up a cooking class, learn to speak French, travel to Seattle, knit an infinity scarf, decorate your bedroom--bottom to top, buy a big ticket item (not replacing something that’s broken), or start your own blog?

Dreams are different from resolutions or goals because dreams are held in our heart. They touch on our deepest desires. Fulfilling your dreams—big and small—requires planning and work. And sometimes saving your pennies.

Making your dreams is as hard as being a mommy. Here’s why:
1.    Nothing in a mommy’s life remains still for very long. Time is an friend and a foe. You want your babies to stay little and sweet. But gosh, won’t it be great when they’re out of diapers? Enjoy the journey to your dream. You can start a dream journal.
2.    In the process of making your dreams come true, you see them in the light of day. The flaws, the faults, the warts. You do your best to correct them. But sometimes the dream turns downright ugly. Give it a time out and then come back to it. You’ll both benefit from a breather. And you can always modify a dream.
3.    There are doubts and side effects. Once you begin to fulfil a dream, it’s hard to tell where it will lead and what the impact will be on your life. This is a little scary. But your litmus test question should be: Will my dream make me a better person? If yes, go for it. Even if it’s something as intangible as just being a happier person because you travelled to your dream destination.

No matter what, dreams are worth having and following. You should also teach your children to have some dreams. A child who dreams is on the path to a brilliant imagination.

Relax, Mommies, you’ve got this.