Jun 282015
 

Well, crap. We’ve been at the beach this whole past week, and when my dear friend Femme Frugality asked me to help her celebrate her four year blogiversary, I was eager, but didn’t have a chance to read her post until right now. And now I’m tearing up.

As I told my sister this week (before I even read Femme’s words), Femme was my first friend in this blogging world. We dove into this online business right about the same time. I have met and hugged her in person, but moreover, the blessing of being able to cheer on and support each other as we have grown has been an incredible blessing. She has such a sweet heart and is wicked smart. If you don’t read her, do.

While I love her blog, above all, I love her. She gets me. Read on, and you’ll see why. And then help me celebrate her four years with this boss giveaway! xo, Femme!

Celebrate the heart of friendship--and the very real coolness of blogging with this sweet anniversary giveaway from this amazing woman!Hi, Mom of the Year readers! I’m Femme Frugality, a personal finance blogger and mother. I know what you’re probably thinking. Personal finance is boring. You’re right. It can be. But it can also be the means to achieving major life goals, the methods for tracking your progress, or figuring out how to afford the little luxuries that you want. (Or your kids are begging for.) In my book, that’s some pretty exciting stuff.

So that’s what I do. I started doing it four years ago yesterday. Very early on in that process, I met Meredith who was also staring out. And I fell in love. While I feel like I’ve got my money in order, I totally don’t feel like I have this whole parenting thing down. Simultaneously, I feel like every other mother around me does.

Or at least I did four years ago. The Mom of the Year was a breath of fresh air. I wasn’t alone in my struggles. I wasn’t alone in the sheer joy that comes with all the small wins. Meredith was with me. As time went on, I started realizing something. The moms who look like they have it all together? Most of them are faking it. The moms who say they have everything together? Most of them are lying. I don’t know that I ever would have gotten over my feelings of isolation in my struggles without Meredith’s honesty, and good humor to boot.

As if that weren’t enough, she’s also been an amazing friend. We’ve worked on navigating this whole blogging thing together over the past years. While we write about different topics, we’ve found that many strategies are similar, and the help she’s provided along the way has been such a propelling force in my growth. We exchanged guest posts at least once. She wrote about some awesome ways to save money as a mother. I wrote about the optionality of hair brushing, and other ways I was screwing up with my first-born.

The past couple of years, I’ve been sharing giveaways with my readers on my blogging birthday. I make some money from my blog, and without readers that doesn’t happen. So giving something back at least annually feels like the right thing to do.

This is one of the many times Meredith’s friendship comes in, and this time I’m not the only beneficiary. She’s always generous enough to take part in my giveaways. When she takes part, she extends the opportunity to enter to all of you, her readers.

This year that opportunity is to enter to win a $75 Target Gift Card. It’s open worldwide. My hope is that it helps someone struggling with their budget this month, or allows someone who’s been keeping their nose to the grindstone to finally go out and splurge. Really it’s the winner’s to use as they wish, and I’m wishing The Mom of the Year readers the best of luck as they enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 172015
 

Dying your hair blue? Take it from someone who NEVER does anything crazy or wild--it was so worth it! Completely the right decision and the reason might surprise you!We play it pretty tame around here. Our wildest nights consist of deciding to start an episode of the fantastically addictive Orange is the New Black after 8pm. I’m sadly not joking.

So when I trekked off to BlogU the weekend before last and came home with blue hair, it was of note. Not of note in that my husband was particularly concerned. He asked if this was my version of a midlife crisis, I said “probably”, and we left it at that. We do a pretty decent job of letting each other do our own thing.

No, it was of note in the sense that my hair, depending on the last time I’ve made a pass at one of my at-home highlighting kits, has always remained solidly hued in the blonde-to-light brown spectrum. Blue was definitely something new for me and my strands.

My children captured the seeming lack of logic behind my new color splash best, “But why, Mommy?” I, of course, tried to pacify their questions by lying and telling them I did it because I knew blue was one of their favorite colors. A useless explanation and they knew it: “But why, Mommy?”

Why did I dye my hair blue?

Why not?

I’m 35 and work from home. I’m my own boss in more ways than one. This helps lend sense to my reasoning, but still doesn’t explain, I know.

A week before BlogU, I broke into one of my dye kits in the midst of a very full weekend. In my haste, well…let’s just say it didn’t go well. I posted a spoofy advance apology in our conference group for my wonky color job, and some how the conversation turned to how I should just dye my hair blue and forget about it. And I thought, “why not?”.

I mean if Kelly Ripa can rock her pink, and my beloved People Style Watch reports that vibrant locks are the way to go, why not bandwagon it up and hop in on the trend? Plus, in my book, blue is always prettier than brown.

So I had no reason not to dye my hair, but yet I had a very real reason to dye my hair.

You see, I’ve talked a lot about my mother dying 3 years ago. And while this will never become any less horrible, I do us all a disservice by not talking about the blessings that have come from her death. Screeeeech…hold the phone. What’s that, blessings from her death? Yes, blessings. Changes in family functioning, new friends, discovery of fellow kindred spirits, and most namely, abandonment of fear.

I have written about this before, but since my mom took her exit, the things of this world don’t matter as much. I have no control over what happens and I’m very aware of this. Clinging to a careful protection of what transpires seems pretty useless…and this is very freeing.

Four years ago? This would have been my hair! That which I cared for and styled and presented to the world at large. Now? It’s just hair.

It’s just hair. 

Still, this is only further explanation as to why dying my hair was of no consequence, not what the actual reason was that I did dye my hair.

There was only one reason. Jessica D’Pirate.

Dying your hair blue? Take it from someone who NEVER does anything crazy or wild--it was so worth it! Completely the right decision and the reason might surprise you!

Who is she? Until 10 days ago, I didn’t know aside from the fact that she has a cool blog (seriously, go check out Domestic Pirate, you’ll thank me later) and a fun online presence with a rockin’ Instagram account. Now I know she is a mom of four who loves her family so much. I know she has really boss friends who throw her awesome birthday parties and how incredibly gorgeous the bright shade of her purple hair is when you see it in-person. I know that she can cut a dance move like no one’s business and that she is so easy to laugh and is one of those precious people with whom you can be real.

She was the one who kindly offered to hook me up with the blue in that Facebook thread before the conference. And she’s the one who welcomed me into her dorm room at Blog U without knowing me at all and shared her color-changing magic.

I know that she is kind. That she is nice. That she has a sweet spirit and that I will miss her a ton if I don’t get to meet up with her again.

I know that she is a fellow soul on this earth and that if I had been precious about maintaining my ill-highlighted blondeness, I would have totally missed the chance to connect with her. What a loss. What a colossal, colossal loss.

The gift of sharing a moment with someone else? It’s a gift. Meeting someone as boss as Jessica and bonding over hair dye? Worth it–whatever the result looked like.

She was worth it. She was the reason dyeing my hair was a good idea. She was my why.

That I really, really love my blue streak? It’s only a bonus.

Go find your own blue, friends, it might be far, far more valuable than the color of your hair.

Jun 122015
 
Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

Binkies and Briefcases wears braces like boss!

Last weekend I had one of those Experiences-of-a-Lifetime-You-Will-Never-Forget. That’s perfect because I don’t want to forget it. Ever.

After a year’s worth of endless behind the scenes planning and four days worth of running like a mad woman lifting boxes heavier than my Jillian Michael DVD-trained muscles should ever be allowed, WE DID IT. We pulled off an amazing Blog U 2015 Conference.

It was boss.

Really, there is no other way to put it. It might be important to note that my hair is now dyed blue, but more on that later.

For now, let’s just focus on the fact that BlogU was incredible. Full of hard-hitting blog how-to that you need to know and tons of co-blogger bonding, it was, in short, EPIC.

I could go on and on about the pride that soared through my soul reflecting in the heart-bursting moments when the Term Paper of the Year awards were read (really, this ended me) or when the faculty showed off their savvy brilliance schooling us during sessions. It was beautiful, the kind of beautiful that words don’t accommodate.

But let me focus on the highlight of the weekend–the #MiddleSchoolAwkward Night sponsored by Nickelodeon. It was aces. A gorgeous mix of poignant ungainly pre-teen memories coupled with the extreme coolness of ginormous scrunchies. The chance to throw-back to these years was a gift. A really, really fun gift.

Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

The thing is, back when we were in Middle School, we were awesome. We were fearlessly committed to our hideous neon accents and off-center ponytails/t-shirts. It was a Lifestyle of Awkward and we were its spokeswomen. It was fabulous in its tragedy.

We were a mess and we didn’t know it. God knows if our mothers actually knew it or they were just too traumatized by our appearance to give us a polite head’s up. Either way, we were rocking it. We were rocking it in the way that we so passionately believed in our NKOTB paraphanelia, we wouldn’t have believed any naysaying anyway.

Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

You see, we were cool back then.

There was an intrinsic beauty in the awkward. There was a full sold-out dedication to ugly neon hues and our staunch refusal to recognize their hideousness. We were a culture, an age, a generation committed to our flashy colors and acid-washed denim.

I don’t believe teens and preteens today experience the same level of anti-fantasticness we did in our early years. Today’s generation nails it–they actually look human when they leave the house. Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms explains this perfectly. We did not look enjoy this level of refinement. Back in the 80s and 90s, it was dicey. For two decades, middle schoolers existed solely on a continuum of awkward appearance.

Every generation has their tangible components, their jelly shoes and glitter-filled snap bracelets that are unique to their place in history. Ours were just far more ugly than those of today. In today’s world, the girls actually look pretty. In my day, we said, “screw pretty as long as our trainer bra straps hang out abundantly from our off-the shoulder tees”. Let’s be honest; no one ever looked good in neon. Ever. 

But do you know what I saw when I looked around at the Nickelodeon #MiddleSchoolAwkward dance at Blog U on Saturday night? I saw a sea of happiness, a sea of people who didn’t care.  As the beats of Mickey throbbed through the crowd, I saw a celebration of all that our younger years held, however ghastly they were. And this, this willingness to give it up and go with it regardless, is what side ponytails and t-shirt clips left behind.

And for one night, Nickelodeon allowed me and my fab middle-age homies to travel back to our age of neon innocence and live it up–live it up despite the modern siren call to abandon awkward. Live it up with all our clashing colors and too-large tops and too-tight bottoms. Live it up in the fabulousness of our Middle School selves–side ponies and t-shirt clips most definitely included.

Sometimes the very best gift we can give ourselves is LETTING GO. How one night out reminded me of so much of who I used to be--and why it was so incredibly freeing! You'll lkaugh over the memories of jelly shoes and neon t-shirts--along with a few other throw-back gems!

Being tulle twinsies with Christi Campbell? Rocked!

For one night, we were our stunning awkward selves, and this is why Blog U has captured my heart. It’s a chance to embrace yourself for whatever and whoever you are–poofy tulle skirts included. See you in 2016, friends?

****I wrote this post as part of Nickelodeon’s® sponsorship of The Blog University. The series “100 Things to Do Before High School” premiered on June 6 @ 8pm on Nickelodeon.”****

May 142015
 

Snag this deal to promo your website and get your business underway! If you're looking for a way to kick off your business or get things underway, this is a great deal!! Take advantage of it now!I love The Mom of the Year and its vitality of over 26,000 social media followers! Make it work for you too this summer by scooping up this 30% off advertising deal!

To score 30% off a month of ad space, enter code MOTY30 at check out and reap the savings while enjoying all the sweet benefits of advertising on The Mom of the Year.

My goal is always to work hard for small businesses and help them grow to the potential I know they have. Let me work to help you reach your goal.

Snag the saving to advertise your business and let’s promote your site. I want to work for you!

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Feb 202015
 

1000 voices are gathering together to promote goodness, kindness, compassion and support for others through this campaign. I'm honored to be part of it and read on to learn the single most pure way to support your friends in this life!I’m writing this post as part of the #1000Speak campaign, in which 1000 voices will be joining together today, February 20, 2015, to speak about compassion, kindness, and support for others in this world. Learn more about the campaign here and check in on some of the amazing words that are being shared to promote goodness.

I’m honored to have this chance to share my thoughts on how we can most purely offer loving compassion to those God has put in our lives!

************************************************************************

Sometimes (pretty often, to be honest), I look at my life and feel stymied by the weight of things. Of the busyness, the endless tasks, the remembering to send my son’s library book back on the proper day and review the new spelling words the optimal number of times each week.

It can be heavy. It can be groan-inducing. And while all the responsibilities come from a place of blessing, they don’t leave a whole lot leftover. Limited resources and the demands of young kids always get right of first refusal.

Being a true and real support to our friends is such a beautiful gift. Here's how do it with compassion and true grace. Friendship matters--do it the right way!

So you offer help in the corners–watching a friend’s kids when she has a doctor’s appointment, taking a meal to a neighbor, make sixteen notes to yourself to send a text to someone who needs some encouragement on an important day. It’s not ever pretty or smooth; the casserole you drop off will be slightly burned, your house will be a circus show with the extra kids vs. a calm, nurturing haven, and you will really, really wish you could be there to hug your friend in person instead of just sending a text.

But you will try because you care.

Yet more important than any of this tangible help, the one thing you can offer is a safe landing spot. You see, what we all really need in a friend is someone who gets it, who loves us as we are. Who takes our panicked random calls when we discover a weird rash on our ankle, who lets us cry when our son can’t learn to hold his pencil the right way in school, who will tell you that “no, you do not look like a ginormous cow”–for the sixth time in the same week (not that I speak from experience).

All we really want is a welcome place to fall, a haven in the midst of our floundering and full days.

Being a true and real support to our friends is such a beautiful gift. Here's how do it with compassion and true grace. Friendship matters--do it the right way!

For this reason, difficulties aren’t to be cursed. Nothing can better school us in genuine compassion than challenges, struggles, moments when we are pretty sure we are going to have to lock ourselves in a padded room vs. spending another minute with our very-three three year old…

It’s this living of such an imperfect life full of stuff that so perfectly equips us to be there for others. Our own tricky spots teach us firsthand how to best offer support and how to be real.  We can be a welcome hand for friends to grasp when things get tough because we get it, we’ve been there.

It may be ages before we can present gorgeous casseroles or have supportive phone conversations sans children screaming interruptions, but in the meantime, we can be a safe spot for others to land–one entirely filled with empathetic compassion.

And that is the true blessing.

 

First image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:11190135, copyright:Wavebreakmedia

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:2786756, copyright:Pakhnyushchyy

Nov 052014
 

I am always, always scared of taking big leaps, but I've learned this is the smartest thing we can do in this world. Be open to new things and go for it!It was typical Tuesday night. I was desperately trying to crank out some overdue blog work while hollering at my husband to just give up on the chicken nuggets and “get the kids in the bath already!”. Then my phone rang, and it was Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases, “Hey, do you want to go down to Texas and be on Glenn Beck with me?”

For those of you who don’t know Stephanie, here’s the short story: SHE IS ROCKING THE WORLD. Her recent post about the astounding inappropriateness of girls’ clothing on the mass market went beyond viral. While she’s busy managing the response to this, she’s also running full speed ahead with the Blog U 2015 conference (the second annual installment of the insanely successful conference she founded last summer), and oh, raising three young children.

So basically, when the scary-fantastic Stephanie asks, you say yes.

Glenn Beck wanted us to come on his show and discuss appropriate Halloween costumes from a mom’s POV. I could do this??

Forget the chicken nuggets; I called out to my husband, “Hey babe, how do you feel about me popping down to Texas?”

We live in Pennsylvania.

Fast forward three weeks and a lot of finagling, and I found myself on a plane. And then in a green room. Like, a legit green room–you’ll excuse me while I pee myself a bit here.

And while I was hanging out in the very green room, forcing myself not to on-air nervous puke, post-show pal-ing it up with Glenn Beck and his very sweet daughter (who thanked me for doing the show because it “meant a lot to her dad”) and then madly snatching souvenirs for my kiddos in the airport while we dashed to our plane, I had some important realizations.

I have people. Not as in a “my people will call your people” situation, but as in, I’m not alone in this world. When Steph first asked, I thought, “yeah, right–I could never actually pull this off”. And then my husband offered to take a day off work, my mother-in-law drove out to help with the kids for a night, and my friend jumped at my plea to pick my kids up from school. When I asked my dad for airport transport, he simply told me give him the times–of course he would do it. Another friend was willing to cover a few-hour gap in childcare if need be and yet another friend quickly started helping me research Glenn Beck and reviewing talking points.  Hundreds of people on Facebook took the time to weigh in and help me sort out attire dilemnas–the most import element of the entire trip, obviously. The support and encouragement of others as I prepped for and then went on this wild-to-me adventure blew me away. And that people actually took the time to tune into the show and then encourage me afterwards? My eyes welled with tears as I checked my phone that night.

I know this life can all too often feel lonely, but sometimes it’s when you most need people that you realize you aren’t alone. Through this trip, I felt caught. I felt blessed. I felt grateful.

This life can be so mundane...fantasizing about how the other half lives can be so fun...really fun! Hop over for a minute with me!

Jumping is ALWAYS boss. I was the kid in college who had to take Ativan before any presentation so I didn’t faint away in panic of public speaking. Needless to say, this appearance on Glenn Beck was NOT “right up my alley”. It was very far removed from my alley, several lanes over, in fact. That and despite the nerves that left me literally shaking a few days prior and post-show, I will never, ever regret that I did it. Truth told? The green room, private hotel room and car service were pretty sweet perks that just make me feel boss. I’m okay with that.

I know how hard it is to manage this life. But listen, carving out a few minutes for friendship is one thing you will never, ever regret.  Do it now! Trust me ;)Real friendships are good. Steph and I have done a lot of huge life experiences together–cranked out a blog conference, thrown book signings, hosted a ladies’ night out, family-timed it up on the Fourth of July, and endlessly supported each other online. She wows me, of which I’ve made no secret.

The thing that you may not know is that she’s terrified of flying.  And I’m not uber-touchy-feely. I love greeting with hugs and kisses, but beyond this, not so much…Steph and I held hands on every take-off (and with lay-overs, there were several). As soon as the cameras cut on the show, she walked across the stage and I squeezed her hand for dear life. I needed support–emotionally and so I didn’t fall over in my heels. We prayed together before we went on set, and I endlessly told her how proud I was of her for accomplishing all that she has. We shared a messy steak sub in the airport and ignored the crumbs on each other’s faces. When I froze on camera, I will never, ever forget her mouthing “Isaac’s costume” from across the set to cue my talking points and help encourage me.

And none of it felt weird.  At 35, I’m not sure I was supposed to meet a genuine real-for-life friend that I can totally be myself around. But I did. And I don’t have the words to express the realness of this blessing.

I am also realizing the value of full-on supporting someone else in this world. I am so proud of what Steph is doing, and the opportunity to be there for her and help her promote her message? A gift in its truest form.

Regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen going forth with this whole blogging business, I will forever be grateful for the time I hung out in the green room with Steph–and for all the too-important lessons I learned while we were there.

To Texas, Glenn Beck, and crazy life experiences you were never supposed to have.

You can catch a longer clip of the 10/28/14 show and read about it here, but please pay the $1 and subscribe to 30 days of The Blaze TV so you can watch the whole show–I say way more semi-intelligent things in the second half so I don’t look quite as vapid. xo 😉

Nov 032014
 

Marriage is tough business and couples tend to...clash. For all the times things get a little dicey in your marriage, snatch up this book--with all it's laughs and encouragement to love your spouse, it's exactly what you need to add some perspective to your marriage!

My husband is a fabulous man. He’s full of ideas and plans.

Some of these plans are better than others.

Some of these plans include spending our date night at Home Depot shopping for refrigerators.

I’ve written before about how we don’t always see eye to eye on how we spend holidays.

About our varying definitions of relaxation (spoiler alert: his involves horseshoe pits and a lot of 2x4s).

And about how I love him despite his insistence on chewing milkshakes.

But when I recently found myself casing out freezer drawers with a dude named Chuck on a Friday night while my husband trolled the tool aisle, I realized we had reached a whole new level.

The kind of level that begs to be shared in the new book, Clash of the Couples, out today.

Crystal Ponti, Editor of the book, describes Clash of the Couples as “a new anthology featuring a collection of absurd lovers’ quarrels and relationship spats. Couples just starting their journeys and those who have been together ‘forever’ will relate to dozens of short stories running the “one said, the other said” gamut—from disagreements over furniture, to who gets the last beer, to where to store the placenta (yes, you read that right)”.

I’m honored to be included in this book, and it’s been a delight to work with Ponti, full of enthusiasm and dedication for this anthology. I love the book’s approach to recognizing the love and respect couples can have for each other while still taking time out to chuckle about the ridiculousness that ensues when sharing your life with someone.

When my husband decided to swing by the tool store for date night, let's just say it was one of the more interesting evenings of our marriage. Head over and read how we are totally rocking couple time!

The other authors in this book are funny.  And since we could all use a laugh break, take a minute out now from your own crazy day to snatch up a copy–and maybe buy a few extra to stockpile as holiday gifts. Your funny bone will thank you, and a shot of giggles is good for any marriage.

I’m also giving away two copies of the book here! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental U.S., you are eligible to win! Just leave a comment below by 5am ET on 11/10/14 and tell me you’d like a copy and why you want it–or tell me a funny couple story you have, because we all like those 😉

In the meantime, thanks for supporting this new book, and all of my writing efforts. Having you follow along with me here, and on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Instagram means the world.  Thank you, friends!

 

Snag a copy of Clash of the Couples for only $0.99! What a deal! Treat for yourself or early holiday gift!

*****11/14/14 update: Congrats to winners Shannon C. and Ashley!*****

First image credit: ID:12295263, copyright:everett225

Second image credit: depositphotos.com, ID:54521437, copyright:SimpleFoto

Aug 012014
 

Don't let the weeds blow all overI know, I know.  It’s summer.  The days are jam-packed with fun, and will soon to be peppered with a little of the “Holy crap! School is starting!” frenzy. It’s a busy time, and I’m right there with you, trust me.  But listen, don’t let the weeds completely blow over your blog before fall hits.

Let me help you keep the momentum going and get your hard work promoted!  For the entire month of August, I am offering 50% off ALL ad spaces.  Yeah, that means that you can get some advertising for only $7.50. Use promo code AUGUST to get the half-off discount. 

Hop over to my ad page, check it out, sign up and put me to work.We’ll get the word out together and get rid of those nasty weeds!

Jul 282014
 

Afternoon at the library book signing @meredithspidelEarlier this month, I got to hang out at our local library as part of their “Meet the Author” series to share my work in I Just Want to Pee Alone, I Just Want to Be Alone, and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth.  I have mentioned before how much I love the library, so just being there was treat, but this afternoon in particular was a very special kind of cool.

Did I sell a ton of books?  Not even close.

Did I care? Not in the least.

This afternoon wasn’t about book sales, it was about having an experience.  One of those life experiences you’re not quite sure about, so you have to shove yourself pretty hard to do.  One of those life experiences God uses to surprise you.  One of those life experiences that was so worth it.

What made it so great were the people.  All the people my life got to trip over that afternoon.

The event started at 1pm and kicked off with a bang.  By 1:15, an elderly man had taken my business card, I gave directions to the bathroom, and I met two very nice teenage boys, to whom I had to gently explain that I wasn’t sure my mom humor anthologies would appeal to their demographic.  I could have been wrong about this–you never know.

Conveniently set up right beside the restroom for  easy bathroom direction-giving.

Conveniently set up right beside the restroom for
easy bathroom direction-giving.

A sweet grandma wanted to purchase a book for her daughter, but only had $4 in change with her.  So she left, saying she was off to get more cash and would be back.  I didn’t think I’d ever see her again.  She returned a half hour later, bought the book, and thanked me for writing about the stuff no one talked about during her generation. Lump in throat.

I was thrilled to run into an old neighbor of mine who I hadn’t seen in years.  We chatted up how much both our lives had changed, and it was so affirming to see that her can-do spirit that left me admiring her in the past still guides her today.

I met a kind local author, Dan DalMonte, who filled me in on some nearby writing groups.  And we made plans to (as soon as I can get my crap together), review each other’s books.

My husband took a break from work to come say “Go you!” as my personal cheerleader, and this made me blush.

Erika, you are Encourager of the Year!

Erika, you are Encourager of the Year!

A dear friend brought her boys, a hug, and all of the positive encouragement she has endlessly poured over my writing career.  This meant more than she knows; she means more than she knows.

I made a new friend in a fellow blogger, Carrie of Normal Level of Crazy.  She’s a true delight and I’m counting down the days until we get to meet up again at the dinner date we planned.

One older gentleman asked me if it was still possible for him to get a spot in one of the mom anthologies. Sure, a tad tricky to gracefully field this one, but I applaud his interest and pursuit.  And bonus for the chance to bone up on my skills at navigating “more unique” conversations.

I posted about my afternoon on Facebook and the outpouring of friends willing to share in my smile made me a bit teary.

I talked to more writers, past, current and aspiring.  We all encouraged each other.  It felt like a tribe.  For that afternoon, we were a tribe.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to the library, to put myself out there.  It felt scary, and it was.  But if I hadn’t gone, I would have lost all the love, encouragement, laughs and connections that filled those 1-4pm hours.  In comparison, simply staying home that afternoon would have been a very empty choice.

I guess it goes to show you get more out of life if you leap.  And next time God wants to hand me a blessing, I’m just going to take it.

 

Image credit: Depositphotos.com, ID:14323843, copyright:reicaden

Jun 182014
 

Oftentimes there is a lot of emphatic raging related to the blog around these parts:

“What the heck is this blogging good for?”

“I need clean underwear!”

“What the heck is “The Twitter” anyway?”

It might be helpful to note that 98% of the time I am the one raging.  I am the one confused, confused as to why I am doing this, confused as to how to best do it, and confused as to whether if it is even worth doing it to begin with.

Time presses on, and usually I’m only increasingly confused as it does, but a few things have become a little clearer.  It’s astounding how truths can come to light while shaving or changing sheets–it’s nature’s way of rewarding us for tending to the picky stuff.

Recently, I’ve been generally rolling around in my post-BlogU high (what an incredible experience!) and enjoying a few very cool blog-related realizations:

1) I am capable as a human being.  This transcends into directing people where to carry heavy boxes at a conference (albeit not always directing them to the right place.  Apologies once again to several BlogU staff for the senseless hauling of door prizes across campus and back) to being able to create and write this blog in the first place.  The thing is, it never hurts to believe in yourself.  And make it happen, despite the poopy diapers and sippy cup-related needs.

2) Despite my horrid control-freak planner self, income happens, regardless of the panic I pour into fussing about it.  Blogging is such a weird business.  By nature, I would love to know exactly how much I am making each month and carefully budget my pennies out.  It doesn’t work this way.  Some months, the ad revenue and sponsored posts are friendly; other months, not so much.  There is very little to nothing I can do to control this.  I try to look at it as a bonus for being able to fund our grocery budget when it pays out and then engage in a lot of soothing self-talk during slow months.

3) I am tired.  I love my blog.  I love the people I’ve met through it even more.  My children are still real and will age at the normal human rate.  Some day, this blog will end.  My children will not.  They are my sole legacy on this earth and I will never, ever regret pouring more into them than anything else on this earth.  Also, I like to sleep.

Because Retro Prom is a thing

Because Retro Prom is a thing

4) It is okay to insist on Urban Decay eyeliner.  I am blessed to be besties with the very cool Stephanie Giese of Binkies and Briefcases, the founder and CEO of BlogU.  We work together, we support each other, and then I make her wait for me while I put on my make-up.  When she loaded my van with a suitcase 1/3 the size of my own monstrous beast of a packing vessel, I could have felt scared.  Very scared. Instead, I realized that she one of those lovely minimalist people.  I, on the other hand, don’t travel without several cases of make-up.  But here’s the surprise: people will often accept you for who you are.  Excess eyeliner or not.

5.) I am not totally dumb about technology.  I am mostly dumb.  I will still endlessly struggle over html.  I will probably call my husband in tears most times I try to figure something new out.  But…I kind of get it.  For me, “kind of” is huge.  Turns out, I can be smarter than I think.  So go ahead and push yourself–the flipside of pushing is that you might end up feeling incredibly boss.

6.) Working is a beast; I kind of love it.  The sticky wicket about my job situation is that I have one, but don’t have childcare, at least not regularly.  By the time I figure I can remedy this situation, my children will be in school all day anyway.  In the meantime, Mommy panics a lot, uses a lot of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and a lot of lollipop bribes.  Am I the best mom?  Not even close.  Am I the perfectly on the ball?  Never.  Do I love my kids and try the best I can to manage each and every single day?  Always.

7.) Love those around you. The Keynote address was titled, “Collegues, not Competition”, and this couldn’t have been said better.  Life is far too short for smallness in any form.  Support and care for those who God puts in your life to the best of your ability. Jen of People I Want to Punch in the Throat has discussed how “a rising tide lifts all the boats”.  Such a smart, such a perfect approach.

I have no idea what tomorrow holds for me to learn.  But for now?  These are the truths that are supporting me.  That, plus all of you.  Thanks for hanging with me through all of this, my friends.

Because sometimes growth takes the form of cupcakes...

Because sometimes growth takes the form of cupcakes…

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