So What's a Single Mom Up To?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

I haven't given a glimpse much into my life lately - and that's really because this summer I was ultra busy with the girls and juggling a new semi-relationship. Then when that settled down, it was the fall and my new job picked up and then the holidays and YEESH! Here we are! I can't believe the new year is coming up. 2016 has been pretty brutal for us - so I'm ready to start fresh, aren't you?

So what have I been doing?

Mainly, working and caring for the girls. I've been spending some much-needed time with friends, focused on parenting when I have the twins, and have been getting very little "me" time. So honestly, I wouldn't have time for a relationship even if I was in one!

I've made some financial decisions to put me in a better situation to buy a home in the next 2 years in my dream area. I've also picked up a new hobby - thrifting! I know, crazy. But it's been really enjoyable for me, and I'm loving the hunt for quality stuff at a lowwwww price! :)

And that's it!

2017 is shaping up to be pretty interesting. I already have a few trips planned, and am trying to focus on some personal growth things because I want to be the best person I can be!

What are you working on for the new year?

Holidays Post-Divorce

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Hello faithful readers! Thanks for sticking around! :)

This is my second holiday season since my divorced was finalized last winter - and although I'm in a much better place emotionally and mentally, the holidays can still be a tough time of year. Between splitting time with my children on the actual holiday, to doing this single parent thing solo when I have my girls ... it's been pretty stressful.

Last year I was a wreck. I was pretty depressed, confused, heartbroken, all of the above! It was grim, folks. But eventually when spring came around, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel - that there was life after divorce and I was choosing to be sad and mopey. Alternatively, I had the power to work on changing that!

This entire year has been such a learning experience. I've realized that although I'm totally flawed and have a lot of stuff to work on personally, that I'm also much stronger than I could ever have imagined. When there were days I was unsure how I would make it through, I did! I battled situations that I never wanted to and made it to the other side.

This year the holiday is still split for my kids between my ex and I. We have our own celebrations and are moving into our own completely separate paths. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about the future, but part of me is excited too. I know there's some great stuff in store for me. My story isn't over yet.

The Clock Ticks

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sometimes I look around at my friends, accounts I follow on Instagram, or others in my daily life and a ping of jealousy hits me in the gut. These people have it figured out. They have this happiness thing/this love thing all dialed in. And I’m so, so, so behind. It’s all whipping me by at lightning speed and I can’t catch up – can’t get my life in order to be where it “should” be.  Why am I unloveable? Why am I not worthy of someone being madly in love with me?

But that’s where I got it all wrong. I’ve had all of this too. And it’s not that these people have and I have not – it’s that I’m on my life’s journey. They are on theirs. Right now I see it through the lens of a single, divorced mom, whereas three years ago I likely wouldn’t have noticed the “happy” couples nearly as much as a do now. I was newly married – I WAS a part of a happy couple.

A friend posted something online the other day that I thought really hit home. People at different points in their lives, hitting milestones (career, love, kids) at very different points from each other. We are all living at the pace of our clock – waiting for our time/living our time. Perhaps in 2013 was my time to get married and start a family. Would I be lying if I said the that I thought my marriage would last forever? Likely. I think (from the history of the relationship), I knew it would end at some point. That relationship was part of my journey and even though it was one of the most truly painful things I’ve ever experienced in my life – it needed to happen. That relationship needed to teach me things about myself, to show myself that I’m a strong person, to learn to stand up for myself, to open myself up to the right people.




And now the time of my life has me being a single mom. I’m not lonely at all. Yes, I miss having a relationship – someone to talk to, live life with, hold me when I’ve had a tough day. But I’m not in “need” of it. My life is so full right now. My girls keep me so stinking busy. My friends have been amazing and I have been making some ultra fun memories with them. After 8 years with someone, I’m learning who I am all over again. I’m resetting myself. And this single period really is a gift – to work on the goals that I want, to live the life I want, to learn how to trust and love all over again. It’s an opportunity to be selfish with my time. That’s where my clock is at now … and I know it’s always ticking and moving along at the pace it needs to.

A Year Later

Thursday, December 8, 2016

December 8th marks the one year "anniversary" of my divorce. A divorceversary, if you will. I'm filled with mixed emotions but mostly relief. Relief is a strange feeling - when you're under pressure or feeling pressure or just the general glum of being trapped ... relief feels open and free. It's wild and airy. Relief is the release from whatever was holding you down. And nowadays, I feel relief when reflecting back on this time last year.

I was a wreck all summer, fall and winter. Even a little into spring. I was manic, depressed, and felt all of the stages of grief one experiences again and again. I was lost and angry ... oooohhh so much anger. I was hurt - my heart brokened into a tiny million pieces over the love I "lost" and facing the fact that I wouldn't be seeing my children every single day for the rest of their lives. How could anyone love me again? I'm so unloveable. How could I rebuild my life? I'm so expired. Where is the light at the end of this tunnel? Because I can only see darkness.

And that's how it was for months on end. I drank a lot of wine after the kids went to bed - and made terrible food choices. I hid from people but at the same time was desperate for ANY human contact. But any time I found myself out with friends or family, I literally felt like I was bursting at the seams, holding my grief just beyond the surface and going to blow open at any moment. It was exhausting.

Sometimes I wish I could have hugged myself and told that sad woman, "Just you wait girl, there's a whole wide world of life still out there for you."

In the past year, I've experienced a lot of stuff I couldn't have imagined. I've paid off a lot of debt, I've reconnected with friends and family and feel like I'm making genuine connections with others, I've experienced a little bit of love, and I've done it all on my own. I've slowly inched back into myself ... but I'm still trying to figure out who I really am. And although I still have bad days and moments (don't we all?), I know that I'm in such a better place in all areas of my life. Some days I can't even imagine those dark, dark, days but I know they existed and I know I worked through them.

Relief comes in the form of happiness for me. In the fact that I know where my life is headed, that I've accepted the end of my marriage and have moved on from that relationship not just physically but emotionally. Relief is knowing how strong of a person I had to be through much of last year, and making it through all of that. That situation really put things in perspective for me now. I no longer chase people or love that's not meant for me (I struggle with this and it's SUPER hard but I'm learning to put my foot down and put myself first). I realize what's important and what's not - because I don't have time for irrelevant people or things or drama. And the biggest one of all is I'm learning to depend on myself more - to realize that I, and I only, hold the secret sauce. Another big one for me since I am working on that self-esteem girrrrrrl. But I am the one that's in charge of my life and I'm the one that decides if it's where I want it to be.

So whether you're going thru a divorce yourself, are on the other side, or just enjoy my ramblings (you sweet, sweet thing, you) ... just know that time works wonders. It doesn't always heal everything right away, but it works it's magic to heal things when they need to happen. Hang in there, and have a happy holiday season. xo

Deadwater

Monday, October 10, 2016

What I feel is hard to grasp.

I started with a life coach recently because my emotions are all of whack. And after being in a relationship for 8 years - I just really need help with the reset button on how I feel. In just one 60 minute session, I felt I found a person who go "me". Not the sarcastic, humorous mom that I am, but who I am on the inside ... what makes me tick. That's scary because that means that's a person that could "fix" me .. or rather, can really help me fix myself. Yeesh.

Am I broken? Maybe. But I also think it's about finding more of who I am and sometimes I'm afraid I have zero idea who that person even is. Who was I before love found me and hurt me? Who am I now? Who do I want to be?

One of the things we spoke about is attachments > I get really emotionally attached and close with those I date. I care deeply and dive headfirst and trust instantaneously. But those attachments are usually one-sided because I never really people in to see those sides of me. I crave learning about a person's dark side, I want to know what they love and hate and what makes them tick. I eat up all of the information I can extract. I do not leave much room for questions about me and I skim the surface when answering. I dance right around the dark holes in my life, I creep past the pain. I rarely let anyone see it. I handle it all on my own and refuse to let anyone be there on me - I am independent.

I'm also a fixer. If my heart hurts or I feel like the love I have is being lost, I immediately want to remedy the situation. I need to figure out what I can do to fix it. <spoiler alert> Some things cannot be fixed! Emotions, situations, etc. They're all so fluid and the fact that I cannot spin them into my favor or keep the peace .. drives me insane. It also shows my need for control of a situation. I find comfort in predictability. When feelings and situations turn negative, I want to control and fix! And I can't. Then I'm anxious and panicked. It feels like I'm drowning.

Eventually, I tune it out. When I can't control and the anxiety is unbearable, I numb it. I block it. I don't handle it. So it's always there - just lightly under the surface. It'll turn up in situation after situation, and relationship after relationship until I handle it.

So I was told to sit in the pain when it comes. To figure out what emotion I'm feeling ... and resist the tendency to fix or rationalize. Sit in it and feel it. What emotion am I feeling? WHAT.

It's challenging because for so long I've let the feeling in for a fleeting moment and then neatly scooted it aside. Quickly, telling myself that I shouldn't feel this way, I don't need to feel this way. But I never recognize the feeling and let it in. So I'm working on that. I know my big feelings are always abandonment and unworthiness (of love, of other people, etc.). I equally hate how those emotions make me feel, but I need to let them in and to let them fill me up so I can eventually release.


Book Review: Southern Education of a Jersey Girl

Friday, October 7, 2016

Man oh man. I loveeeee me some Jaime Primak Sullivan. Like LOVE her. Jaime is a publicist and has worked with the entertainment industry's biggest and brightest stars. She also produced her own show on Bravo called Jersey Belle.  I came across Jaime's facebook page a year or so ago - she had a morning chat that she shared on her public FB page regarding some relationship issues and I felt that she crawled inside my mind and heart and just knew how I felt. When she spoke, I felt like she was looking directly at me and speaking as if I was the only person listening. So clearly, I'm a fan and have been in love with her talks that she posts every morning on Facebook called #cawfeetawk.

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Last month, Jaime had her first book released called Southern Education of a Jersey Girl where she shares just a recount of some of her life experiences that brought her to where she is today - in her marriage, as a parent, in her career, etc. It's such a quick read and is a fabulous insight into the real world of someone that had life struggles along the way. She has sectioned her book into basically mini-stories and the lessons learned are so relatable. At the end of each "chapter" or section, there's usually a little box with more tidbits or nuggets of advice for someone going through a similar situation. A lot of it is relationship heavy - and it's good stuff.

If you're looking for a quick, weekend read or are going through some relationship troubles and are just seeking someone to relate to - this is your girl. Great book, entertaining stories and relatable content.

Looking Inward

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

For the past month or so, I've kinda been keeping it low-key. You know Mercury was in retrograde and all - so that can mess up with life's major decisions and being sensitive around communications. Not that I'm at a crossroads or anything myself. But - it was a good time to sit back and evaluate what I truly want in my life, where I truly see my life moving to. A chance to clear out all that is not good for that plan, and make space for those people and things that can put me on the right path.

As of today, I feel happy and content. I have a better grasp on things in my life and have processed much of my emotions from my last romantic "thing". I'm okay. So it's a good time to look inward and make a list of what I want to work on; what I have time for, what I enjoy, etc. And I think I came up with a good list to get me started to being an even better version of myself. Ashley 3.0 (because maybe at 33 I'm reinventing some of myself?).

Exercise is huge for me. It helps relieve stress and also not be 500 lbs - because I can sometimes stress eat (and non-eat) and drink. I've found a path that's about 4 miles round-trip near my home that I run/walk whenever I can and just took the girls out with me the other day. One of the twins slept the entire walk!! But I also realize that midwest winters can be brutal - so I'm going to need an outlet to get my exercise in even on days when I have the girls. The biggest excuse I use lately is that I have them and I'm tired and I can't get outside or can work out in my living room after they go to bed. So I removed that excuse and signed up for a gym that has childcare available. I'm excited to now be able to go whenever I want!! And the girls will get a chance to play with other kids - they love kids!!

Emotional stability is a key area that I've struggled in. I know I have a lot of issues from my past and my childhood that come out every now and then. At times, I've deeply struggled with these things and have felt like I've lacked control of them. Mostly around my worth and value in relationships, etc. So I've signed up for some life coaching sessions and I'm SO excited to start. I had an intro chat with the woman I'll be working with and can't wait to unleash my issues and gain some helpful tools to help me deal with them (and accept/let go) even better!

I love to read. I have a degree in English-Writing, so it's no wonder that I like to read and write. (hello blog!) I've been making sure to get in some "me-reading" time as much as possible. With the weekly trips the girls and I take to the library, we take out books and movies for them - and usually 1-2 books for me. I've even reserved some books I've been dying to read and am able to quickly pick up and check out once they're ready from being on hold for me! It rejuvenates me and I've really missed it!

Now, there are still some areas that I need to work on and I'm calculating some plans to get those areas jump-started. Like healthy eating (I'm not great at healthy eating habits all of the time), and being even more strict financially (I follow the Dave Ramsey Total Money Makeover plan).  But I'm aware those areas need some work and will be focused on those very very soon!

Sometimes we have to force ourselves to be the change we so desperately need. If we're unhappy or stuck, we need to remember that we have the power to change our situation or make it better. We can work on our mind and being more positive, we can work towards our goals and make them more reachable. Investing in ourselves and looking inward to the potential that each and everyone of us possess, can pull us out of that crummy space that some of us can fall into.

Rejection is Protection

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Hi all - it's been awhile, I know. I haven't really been feeling like writing, and honestly haven't had anything "happy' to share. So I don't share at all because it's the internet and that's what we share online - the happy stuff. But I decided to type out some feelings that may or may not be so happy and leave it here.

If you've been reading for a little bit you know that I met someone this spring and it was my first romantic "something" in 8 years - let alone my first something since my divorce in December. I met someone who I totally hit it off with and who I had a fantastic connection with. So much so we talked about future stuff (all what-ifs), etc. Well just as quickly as it started, it ended. And it ended with her pulling away from dating but wanting to remain friends; and myself (and her too) know we couldn't just be friends because we had feelings for each other. I thought at first I could do a "limbo" friends with benefits gray area but soon realized I just can't. I'm not wired like that and I'm exhausted from hanging onto "potential" for an unspecified amount of time. I want to be wanted "now" - not put on a back burner until the time is better.

So I walked away.

And I've struggled so much with that decision. I've missed her and what we had. I've debated if I could do the limbo relationship just to have a piece of her. And even after stepping back and really taking stock of the "red flags" that popped up with her and what we had - in terms of what I want and need from a relationship - I was still so drawn to the person. It was still almost impossible to walk away and leave it be. And if you know me - I never let relationships just "be". I will fight for someone I love, I will go to great lengths to make something work. This is not a relationship that I did that with, though, and I forced myself to put social media on mute and to delete numbers and keep myself busy. I forced myself to stay quiet and not reach out. I forced myself to stay away.

Time ticked on by and of course it dulled my feelings. But I still have those little pangs of missing what was or maybe it was the potential of what was. When you're divorced and dating - emotions are so complex. Your heart has felt super deep love before - your being has physically began to create and mold a life with another person before. So those feelings of moving into something deeper is familiar. And then there are thoughts of transferring your thoughts, feelings, love, etc. just onto another/person relationship.

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As I stepped back from this most recent relationship, I realized that although my heart hurts, it really is a protection on my life, my future. Was this relationship REALLY for me? Was this relationship really what I needed or could build from in my life? Was I holding someone down who just really wants to be free? Was I settling for love? Was this the best option for a step-parent for my children? This relationship may be great for someone else, someone on a different path than I, someone with a different vision for their future. I truly think we all deserve love - and that love is out there for us. But this likely wasn't the love for me, no matter how great it felt, no matter how much I wanted it.

Dating post divorce is gathering the courage to step up and realize what you want and don't want in your life. It's being strong on your own and not settling for a relationship that might not be right for you. It's learning to not compromise on the things you can't compromise in your life (living situation, loyalty/honesty, children considerations, etc.). I think any time a relationship ends, it hurts. No matter what the situation was or if you broke up with them or vice versa. It always hurts and there's a void that's left behind. But rejection is a protection from a love, a situation that's not meant for you. It's telling you "No! This ain't it. Keep moving!" And you have to trust the universe has a bigger, better plan for you.

The Value of Being Happy

Friday, August 19, 2016

Branching off of my "who are you" post last week, I've been thinking a lot about my life and what the heck I'm doing with it. For so long I was anchored to another person. The life I built, the connections I made, the family I had were all connected to her. Looking back, I know that I lost a piece of myself in that relationship. And I don't blame my ex or anything - it just happened and I allowed it to happen. So much of myself was placed in the hands of someone else for so long - I determined my own worth by if my ex wanted me. I determined how funny I was if she laughed at a joke. I determined how worthy and desired I was by her actions. I gave away my power to someone else. And she, just being herself, unknowingly knocked me down time after time until I was a shell of who I used to be. All because I worried so much about what I perceived was occurring around me.

Now, approaching a year since I moved out, I'm starting to look back over this past year. I have an 18 month planner that I've been using and the planner arrived last July (when everything fell apart). Starting in August 2015, I can flip through and literally see how the past year of my life has happened. The activities I did to just hide from the fall out of my marriage, the friendships and events that I desperately tried to reconcile knowing I was now going to be alone, the first holidays spent single in God knows how many years, the activities I've arranged solo with me and the girls, the new people in and out of my life and the things we experienced together - all neatly in 1 little book. ALOT of life has been lived in the past year. I've made it to the side of divorce that I couldn't even imagine this time last year, when I sat for hours upon hours in a scalding hot shower trying to wash away my reality, to calm my anxiety. I couldn't imagine a smile lighting up my face again, I couldn't imagine making it through holidays and birthdays without my little family intact, I couldn't imagine sleeping at night without my children under the same roof and I couldn't imagine loving again - opening my heart back up to someone that wasn't my ex. But it all happened.


But now? I'm past my divorce and consider myself over my ex. I'm no longer worried about how she's living her life or spending her time, nor do I place my value solely as a reflection of her opinion of me. I'm able to do many many things solo with just the girls in tow and I enjoy my kid-free nights as a well-deserved break or "me time." But am I happy? Have I still been placing my worthiness and value into the hands of someone else? Someone who has her own demons to fight, and can't carry the weight of my worth? I think so. I think I put that burden back on someone else, instead of truly owning it. And so now when I'm sad or I struggle, I find myself blaming another person or a situation for causing me that grief. And yes - that's all painful but I'm not the one in charge of what fuels my happiness.  I'm not aligning myself with things that bring joy to my soul and leave me feeling fulfilled.

What that brings me to is - at times, I feel like this past year has been working on moving through the pain of my divorce and learning to navigate life single. It's been learning to be a mom to two growing girls. It's been learning to set goals for myself - and just myself and my children - for my future. It's been shedding my married identity and returning to my maiden name (a move that felt strangely odd). But it's also been about the motions. About survival.

Am I doing things that truly leave me fulfilled? Am I experiencing things that add strong value to my life? Am I working on things about myself (mentally, emotionally, physically) that will make me happier with where I'm at in my journey? I think the answer is "no." I haven't been doing those things. Now, don't get me wrong - there has been a lot of happiness in my life over the past year. There have been a lot of moments that have brought me joy and have really made my heart soar. There have been hard laughs, adorable moments, even passionate kisses. There has been good stuff! But as I reflect on the overall picture of what my life currently is - I'm not exactly sure I'm clear on if I'm truly happy.

I'm going to challenge myself to start to discover what that looks like for me, and really try to focus on things that truly make me happy. If something does not bring me happines - I need to learn to let go and realize that life is full of ups and downs.

Who Are You?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Recently I had a friend ask me, "Who are you without a partner/relationship?" That question kind of slapped me in the face. I've always prided myself on knowing exactly who I was, what I want, etc. But maybe that's not true. Maybe I have put my happiness in the hands of someone else for far too long, and I'm constantly looking for that replacement - that person to build me up and love me because I'm unable to do so myself.

My friend further clarified for me - "without saying you're a mom, or a sister or a friend - who are you?" Well ...

Honestly? I'm not really sure.

Maybe that's my problem. Maybe after being in a relationship with someone for 8+ years you lose yourself - or you aren't really able to know yourself because you've been a "we" for so long ... you lose track of the "me." Then life whips on by and experiences come and go, and you get married and have kids and your "you" changes but now is defined by additional people in your life - little people who count on you to survive. So it's still no longer about who you are or what you want or need. It's about other people still defining you.

Then your marriage crumbles and your happiness is washed out and you realize how much you depended on another person to provide that happiness in your life. Sure, the divorce stuff is painful. But things that made you happy were always tied to someone else - their connection with you, the activities you did with them, etc. You never had a desire to do anything without them or do things that you enjoyed - what fun would that be? That's terrifying, folks.

So maybe my life post-divorce needs to be about finding "Ashley." It's been just a tad over a year since everything happened in my marriage, but I'm not even a year out from my divorce or a year out from when I moved out. I'm still in that newbie divorcee stage. And I'm still depending on others (my friends, kids, lovers) to provide my happiness for me. The thing on depending on other people to provide that to you is when they can't or when they take themselves away - you're left with nothing. Or at least you feel you are. You're not able to find the joy you bring into your own life. And you let that relationship dictate your day, your mood, etc. What a crappy way to live.

So, I honestly want to start figuring myself out and what makes me happy. Figuring out who I am and what I stand for. I'm worried about this adventure but I think it's important to happen. And I know as I work through it, I'll be a happier mom, friend, sister, lover, etc.

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

Monday, August 8, 2016

I like to get lost in books, especially when I'm going through a tough time. It helps me mentally escape and rest my racing thoughts. I've been doing a ton of reading on Gemini traits (I'm a true Gemini) and one of the biggest things they have, in terms of personality, are racing thoughts and overthinking. Welcome to my life.

So a good book is a perfect way to shut all of that out and focus on something else.

Since the girls and I go to the library, a lot - I've been picking up my reads from there. It's free! And I can place the books I want on hold and pick them up quickly. It's perfect for a crazy busy mom. Girl on the Train finally came available, and I was totally excited to finally pick it up!



The book reminds me a lot of Gone Girl, if you've ever read that. Not in the plot but more in the "crazy messed up marriage" type of read. In Girl on the Train, we're introduced to the main character Rachel. She takes a train daily from her home to London on her way to work. While on the train, she notices a row of homes which backs to the train tracks and over the course of the year has noticed a particular couple on their terrace. She forms a storyline in her head of the happy looking couple - the way the husband caresses his wife's shoulders, the way the wife sips her coffee. Their love seems strong and their life seems perfect.

Then one day she notices something odd on that terrace - the wife is out there with another man - and the subsequently goes missing a few days later without a trace. When news hits of the woman's disappearance, Rachel decides to get involved and offer up the information she spotted from the train - of the strange man with the missing woman days prior. The problem? Rachel is a known alcoholic with a troubled past and a failed marriage that has caused some psychology issues for her. Long story short - she's not a reliable "witness".

This is a pretty good novel - full of suspense and drama. I think the author did a really great job on Rachel's character development ... but lacked in development of the other main characters. It had a good plotline and was easy to follow - when you got near the ending though, I felt like the reader was well aware of what was happening. It's a good weekend, leisure read though and definitely a great suspense novel! Plus - get the read in now as it's a movie hitting theaters soon!

The "L" Word

Monday, July 25, 2016

Recently I told someone I loved them. I've been met with silence. Not a "thanks but no thanks," "not a 'I Love You too!" ... not even a "I'm not sure what to say." There's just nothing. It's been tearing me a part - does anyone like to be ignored? And I could feel totally ashamed and embarassed of putting my feelings out there and essentially being rejected, but I don't. I'm actually proud of myself.

I recently listened to this video from one of my favorite Thought Catalog writers. She talked about a spectrum of love and that everyone you care about is on that spectrum somehow. I mean - I still love my ex, but it might not be the romantic love I once had for her. So I can totally relate.


I think it's true - I think when you care about someone, especially deeply that can be love. It might not be "over the moon in love love" but it's just you putting that little bit of love in your heart for someone that means something to you. I also think it's important to tell people how you feel. Sure it's absolutely scary to be vulnerable and put yourself out there. Rejection hurts like a b*tch. BUT for one moment you get to let it out - you get to feel (butterflies, anxiety, heart racing) you're ALIVE! And you put love out into the world, whether or not it was returned. 

It's important for us that have been through divorce to find love again - and to share that love with others. When it bubbles back up, it's like a gift and it should be cherished. So I may not be "in love" with the person I professed feelings for but I know I love her. I know I care about her deeply. And I told her. And whether she responds to that or not is her choice - but I'm okay either way. I'm okay because I felt it, it was real, I put it out there and proved to myself that my heart can find love again. And I'm blown away by that. 

Grateful

Thursday, July 21, 2016

This past week has been pretty tough on my heart, and it's been hard to see the positive in anything. The other night, I was finally feeling okay to run some errands, so I washed my car, turned the twins' car seats forward facing (all by myself!), ran to Target and did grocery shopping. The night was going well and I was feeling normal - almost happy. And then after I loaded my groceries in the car, returned my cart and hopped in to turn my car on - the lights in my dashboard lit up but nothing else happened. No engine turning over, no promise that we will be off and on our way. Nada.

WTF.

My first good day in a week - ruined. Not going to lie - there were some tears shed.

So, I called someone for advice on what to do. I worried about my milk spoiling and how much a battery was going to cost, as well as the hassle to call my insurance company to send roadside assistance. I fretted. I called roadside assistance and went through an annoying 15 minute call where I had to repeat nearly everything - it was now after 8 pm and I was still sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store ... waiting. Every few minutes trying to turn my car on to no avail.

After about an hour with no call from dispatch, and no sign of help - I called my insurance company back where they told me they had no record of my service request and that they could put a NEW one in for me but it would still take about an hour for someone to reach me. It was now almost 9 pm - the grocery store was closing, the parking lot was dark, my milk was likely spoiling. I broke down and cried on the phone to the guy. What was I going to do? What a terrible day.

Luckily, I was saved. My sweet, sweet co-worker volunteered to send her husband to me to jump my car. He made it there in 15 minutes - waaaaay sooner than roadside assistance would have made it. It was amazing.

Now, thinking about it - I could have thought my night ruined. I could have cried on the way home and whined about how crappy things have been and why am I just being dumped on time after time. BUT I started to see the good in what happened:

- I didn't have the twins with me (how awful would it have been to have the girls with me waiting)
- The weather was nice (I didn't have to hide from rain or heat)
- People kept me company (I had a few friends texting me so it passed time and I knew that people cared to keep tabs on me)
- My amazing co-worker's husband came out of his way and helped me! (How awesome is that?!)
- I had my Costco cold bag with me so my cold groceries were all saved!
- My phone battery did not die!

Basically, all that really happened was that I sat in a parking lot for 2 hours worrying about something that I really couldn't control. But once I started to troubleshoot, accept help and realize it wasn't the end of the world - I was able to not feel that it was just another life thing dumping on my head. And that feels amazing to finally have some kind of positive perspective on something. So maybe I'm getting better, maybe it was just a good day. I dunno. All I know is that it felt GOOD to not think the end of the world was happening. It feel GOOD to have faith in people and see the goodness in others. It felt good to be cared about and to feel safe. I'm just so so so grateful for everyone that night. It still warms my heart just thinking about it.

The Power of Vulnerability

Monday, July 18, 2016

Just something I've been listening to. A great message for anyone struggling with being vulnerable (I do!).


"This is what I have found: To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen ... to love with our whole hearts, even though there's no guarantee -- and that's really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that's excruciatingly difficult -- to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we're wondering, "Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?" just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, "I'm just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I'm alive." And the last, which I think is probably the most important, is to believe that we're enough. Because when we work from a place, I believe, that says, "I'm enough" ... then we stop screaming and start listening, we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.

On This Day ...

Friday, July 15, 2016

My oh my how life changes, you don't even realize that it zooms right by. I'm going through something right now. It hurts my heart and there are moments where I'm not sure I'm going to feel happy or "love" or whatever again. It sucks being stuck in this. Then I opened Facebook today and was reminded of how far I've come - the "On This Day" app will always get you with past reminders. And I remember them all.

On this exact day last year, I posted a meme about letting go of the life we have planned - because the future is waiting for us. This was on the heels of my marriage falling a part. A realization that it was over. This was 365 days ago - a lot has changed since then ... in more ways than I could ever have imagined. I'm amicable with my ex, I have a new job (!!), I've loved again, I've found a bit of happiness reconnecting and experiencing new things. In that dark spot in 2015, I NEVER could have imagined that happening at all - any of it.


Two years ago today, Derek Jeter was saying goodbye to baseball. He has been my favorite player since his rookie season and even to this day, my favorite number combination is 213 - 2 for DJ and 13 for me :)

Three years ago today, I was a newlywed and full of wedded bliss. I shared a Sara Bareilles video that reminded me of my love.


Five years ago today I completed a 73 minute walk/run as part of my C25K running program. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was on a year long "break-up" with my now ex-wife, right before we got back together the final time. I was focused on improving myself and was working out relentlessly. It helped relieve the stress and sadness that filled my body. And that 73 minute run/walk was my Everest (you ever try to stay on a treadmill for that long when you're not a runner? It's hell). But I did it and I didn't stop once. I walked away from that treadmill with drenched gray yoga pants (it looked like I peed myself) and felt amazing. I immediately stopped running the C25K program after that run though. It hurt like hell afterwards. :)

Eight years ago today, I posted on Facebook that I was worried. No explanation ... just a simple statement. Ashley is worried. (It was when your update was basically a statement from you). That was 2008, my friends. I have a vague feeling of what it was about but honestly, I have no idea. And in between that day that I was worried and likely upset to today - a ton of life has happened. A TON. 

It's comforting to know that the pain I feel right now will numb some day. That what's happening today in my heart or my life will be a memory. Life is ever changing and always evolving and we have no clue where it will take us next. We have no idea what awaits us. So know that the heart ache is just for a moment/a short time in a lifelong of other moments strung together. <3 

Still Dealing With Emotions

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

One of the things that has been extremely apparent over the past year is my battle with my emotions, mainly my anxiety and just overall brokenness. I have realized that I hate it. I hate the up and down - I hate the negative feelings, but realize it's important to make my way through all of that stuff. But it is a part of life - you HAVE to feel and experience everything thrown at you because if you don't give yourself a chance to process, then you'll always be stuck in that murk. And it truly can be murk. No one wants to feel sad or angry for the rest of their lives. But you may have to for a little bit - and if you can settle down in it, accept it and work through it ... then you'll process it and be better in the end.


So that's where I'm at. I'm super confused by some feelings happening now and super familiar with some others. I'm trying to figure out what it all means. I'm trying to let it in and feel it ... and process through it. I've had some tears, some smiles, some disappointments, some high moments and some low. There's a ton of give and take and there's a ton of going easy on myself. I've lost love, and I'm back on the battlefield of navigating singlehood, motherhood, working motherhood, etc. I gained feelings for someone else and am trying to figure out feelings that are still left over from my marriage and those that are present/current state. I'm having my insecurities bubble up to the edge, and at times just feel emotionally naked. It's an uneasy feeling for me but I'm dealing with it. If I ever want to be in a relationship again, I'm going to have to be vulnerable ... and honestly, I know I'm going to have to find someone that has patience with what I've been through in my past.

I feel like I'm rambling.

But really I just wanted to tell you that if you're going through a terrible break-up or a divorce, that you'll have highs and lows. You'll battle through your emotions and your feelings because you're ever evolving as a person. And you know what? That's not a bad thing. You opened your heart to someone else. You said YES! to love. You took a risk. And that's amazing. That's something to be proud of. And, you'll find it again.


H&H are TWO!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Oh my! All of the feels! My little girls are two!! Honestly, they tell you that life goes by so fast when you have kids and it's so true. I remember the day they were born like it was yesterday - them learning to roll over or trying solid foods for the first time ... their first steps and first words. 

And now! Well now they talk up a storm and climb on EVERYTHING. They tackle playgrounds like professionals, easily make new friends. We've recently started going to my apartment complex pool and I've learned that I have two little fish on my hands. Toddlerhood is hard. I think every stage of childhood is probabaly hard - different, but hard. But I'm excited to be able to share experiences with the girls and "do" stuff with them. The excitement on their faces during out outings always warms my mommyheart right up! 

So to my two smart, sassy, beautiful little ladies - mommy loves you and wishes you a very Happy 2nd Birthday!!


Upside Down

Friday, July 8, 2016

This has been a really weird week and a half (maybe 2 weeks). I think if I was looking for an example of how life can ebb and flow and change at any minute - I'd think back to these past two weeks for sure. It's been filled with a lot of happy moments, a lot of uncertainty, a lot of heartache. That makes for a very overwhelmed heart. So, honestly I've been zoning out my feelings about nearly everything.

I have feelings for someone but do not want to think about those feelings. So I don't. I keep moving. I'm sad about what would have been my 3 year wedding anniversary, and the lump in my throat when I saw my ex the next day for our kid hand off, where I wished her a "what would have been 3rd wedding anniversary." I could have bawled my face off. But I didn't. I kept moving. I'm a future thinker and I love making plans. I could probably plan the crap out of the next 5 years of my life (and I have). But lately, I've been just leaving it all be. Life's so uncertain. So I don't think about it.

And if I've learned anything about myself, it's that the not feeling stuff leaves me feeling like a shell of myself. I don't feel real. Like I'm just moving through the motions and trying to "make it through." But what am I making it through to? Speed up. Slow down. That's my life lately. I crave consistency. I crave happy.


Today would have been my grandfather's birthday. He never had a chance to see me get married or to meet the twins because he passed away in 2011. Those are two days that I had him on my mind a lot. I miss his crackly laugh. The last thing he ever said to me? I was visiting him at the nursing home and was leaving. I told him I loved him and he responded with his usual, "I love you too, sweets." He wasn't doing very well at the end of his life - but it was a reminder what a joy he was. How loving and caring he was. I wish my kids had the opportunity to know him.

And on the horizon? The twins turn 2 on Sunday. Two years ago I was admitted to the hospital 6 weeks early because I was getting pre-ecclampsia. The doctors made the decision to deliver my babies early so that I could survive their birth. So I could live and be their mom. And I nearly died after my c-section as my bp sky-rocketed basically out of control. There I was in the ICU and my girls were in the NICU. Everyone battling to hang on. I think about those first few days of motherhood. The worry, the fear, the guilt. But I'm grateful that modern medicine allowed us all to be safe and healthy in the end.

So - tough week over here. I hope you're all doing well.

Processing

Friday, July 1, 2016

I've been in a weird little funk the past few days - filled with a tad bit of anxiety that I haven't been able to quite put my finger on. I literally needed to take some time to think about what the heck was going on with me and realized it's because the 4th of July week is coming up. The 4th of July has ALWAYS been one of my favorite holidays. I love the warm weather and fireworks and all of that good stuff. But - it also happens to be around what would have been my three year wedding anniversary on July 6th.

Although I consider myself to emotionally be moved on, it's hard to not think about that date 3 years ago. We had a great wedding - filled with love and friends and family. It was one of my most favorite days of my life. Last year erased that a bit as things completely fell a part in our marriage and our 2nd wedding anniversary celebration didn't even happen. It's just weird that now July 6th is just a normal day of the week.

Then there's July 8th. It would have been my grandpa's 87th birthday - he passed away 5 years ago. We were really close and my dad always requests that I put in a memorial on the paper on his birthday every year. A reminder that we love and miss him. So it always brings forward those childhood memories.

And then on the flip side of all that sadness the twins turn 2 on July 10th! It's bittersweet. My babies aren't babies any more! And this year I'm doing their birthday party all by myself (even though they didn't even get a party last year).

It's all a bit hard to process now.

Book Review: Big Magic

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A few weeks ago the girls and I were at the library and I saw one of my "must reads" in stock! I quickly snagged it, dragged the girls to check out and was happily on my way with Elizabeth Gilbert's "Big Magic" clutched in my hands. AH! I love Elizabeth Gilbert. Her voice, her experiences, her everything just speaks a huge big happy into my soul. "Eat, Pray, Love" was constantly on repeat while going through my divorce, and on craptastic days, I sometimes pull up some of her Ted Talks just to listen to her experiences and thoughts on really anything.

JWC_BigMagic2

This is a self-help book for creative people looking to find that "spark" that they be missing in their work. Whether you're a writer, painter, singer, etc. ... this book is aimed at helping you to think outside of the box, dig deep into your soul and pull out what gets your creative juices flowing. I consider myself a creative person - a lazy creative person - but creative none-the-less. I've recognized that I'll never write the next great American novel (I'm not broody enough), and I'm not a poet. I just know I love to write ... and sometimes I get to do just that. 

But what I gathered from this book isn't necessarily to try your hardest, be creative, get your stuff out there in the world in BIG BOLD LETTERS! Nope. I get that some days you need that creative spark - whether it's communicating with others, or shaking up your day in general. You don't need to live the status-quo and day to day boring every single day. You're meant to live this beautiful life - so do it ... and pull out the things inside you that drive you, inspire you, etc. Is it travel? Do you adore the ocean? Does your heart sing when it hears a certain artist sing? Are you a doodle pro? Whatever makes your heart happy. Follow that path and do it. 


For me - it's blogging. I like to write and I'm naturally an over-sharer. I realize I'm happiest when I'm getting my experiences and words out there into the world, even though it can be scary to let unknown people in sometimes. Like I said - I'm not a novelist, I'm way to busy to chase after a byline in a magazine, and I would never quit my job to take up writing full time. I'm not even sure I have enough to constantly communicate that's interesting (que "Big Magic"). But I express myself in little posts here and there and that makes me happy. Sometimes I hit an awesome idea, sometimes I say things that touches other people, and sometimes I just like to see my words out there in the world. 

How Do You Move On?

Monday, June 27, 2016

In my last post, I addressed how things (although painful in the moment) can lead to other things to put you on your "life path". But in the moment it is usually really hard to see past that, and when you're going through a tough break up or divorce it's sometimes easier to hang on to the pain and the hurt than to move through it. So, how after being with my ex after 8 years was I able to get to the point to where I'm at today? With a lot of work and a lot of "stock taking" with myself and my responsibilities.

Last year I was in a deep dark place ... even before things with my marriage were in the process of unraveling. If I had paid attention and looked closely, I could have seen that I was unhappy, and my relationship was failing. I think I knew - but I failed to acknowledge. Anyways - once things started falling a part, my life felt like it was completely out of control. Not only was I unhappy with my post-partum body, my life, myself, but now I had all of these super touch emotional things to go through associated with "losing" the love of my life. I had to grapple with infidelity, and the thought that I wouldn't see my children every day. It was horrible. But I survived.

Don't get me wrong, there were many frantic phone calls and texts made to friends, many tears pouring out of my face on a regular basis, tons of self-help books devoured (if only I could understand what was going on in my ex's mind - then I could save things) and many hours (yes, hours) spent sitting on the floor of my tub under a scalding hot shower (it's one of the rare things that calms me down from a panic/anxiety attack). But I dealt with it. I let it all in and at times I let it eat me right up. But I played with those emotions and let myself feel them. I didn't shoo them away or ignore them. I let them in. And it was brutal. 

On the backend I started making moves though. While I was a pile of depression, I still forced myself to try to live life (and I have kids so I kind of have to - I can't sit in the bathroom all day). My kids were my saving grace - they were the reason I NEEDED to get out of bed and make meals, that I NEEDED to get out of the house for the day, that I NEEDED to slap a smile on my face when all I wanted to do was crumble into a tiny ball. So we did stuff. We went to festivals, to the store, to parks, on playdates. I started bringing them to a weekend exercise class too! I went out and looked for apartments and the first one I visited, I signed a lease for THAT DAY. If I sat on that decision for any longer, it wouldn't have happened. And after my ex told me repeatedly that she wanted a divorce - I made the move to hire a lawyer and I started the process. I may not have wanted the divorce - but I made myself move through it.

When it was time to move out of the home I shared with my ex and officially divvy up our belongings, I made the conscious choice to not take many of our shared/wedding items. I didn't want constant reminders of my ex in my new home. I wanted a fresh start - a place that was all mine. On moving day, I asked my dad to just spend the day with me (I hired movers) to keep me company so I wasn't so sad. We had a good day and even went to dinner afterwards. I decorated MY new home the way I wanted and was so happy to finally be in a space where I wasn't reminded of my ex's existance in every room I was in. I put pictures up of me and my girls. I put together their bedroom furniture and hung stuff on my walls. I proved to myself that I could do it. I could survive.

The first holiday weekend without the girls. I felt alone and bitter. But I hung out with friends and went away to Michigan for the weekend. And when Thanksgiving and Christmas finally rolled around - I was in a bit better place knowing that time would have to be split with the girls. My ex and I had stopped all communication that wasn't related to the girls by then. No social media friendships, no random texting, no sharing of our lives. It helped me move past connecting my life to hers. And on the day she told me she was dating someone new (in January), I choked back the information and then fell to my knees in tears once I got home. After that big cry I felt a lightbulb come on. Something changed in me. My ex was officially no longer mine (I mean she wasn't before then but ...). I was free.

I wasn't exactly ready immediately, to start dating myself - but my heart was free. It changed the way I saw my ex, it changed the way I felt about her. And over time, I was able to open my heart to someone else. The idea of dating has become less terrifying. And now my ex and I have an amicable relationship and can talk about things going on in our perspective lives, outside of the girls, without drama. I NEVER thought I'd be in this spot emotionally in less than a year. 

So I guess my only advice on how to move through the pain is to let it in. Feel it and deal with it in whatever way that works best for you. But don't ignore it. Don't shoo it to the corner of your mind. Process that shit. Because the day that your lightbulb comes on and your heart is finally free - it'll be the best day you have in a long time. You'll feel GENUINE happiness (have you felt that in a while?), you'll be able to give your heart to someone else, and you'll be able to move forward in your life. And you owe yourself that. 

Ain't It Funny

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The way life ebbs and flows is so interesting to me. You can be on top of the world one moment with everything go so very right in your life, and one little thing changes and your world is flipped upside down. It's remarkable but that's just the way things are. Life isn't meant to be boring - the same exact thing day after day. If it were, we'd never grow as people. We'd never learn, we'd never expand our knowledge and our talents. We'd never truly live.

It can be hard to remember during difficult times - that you'll get through it. That there's a light at the end of the tunnel. That it's not permanent. Life is every-evolving. I have a hard time remembering that at times. When I get hurt, it hits me deeply. Sometimes I can't see outside of the pain - or the moment. My mind races, my heart breaks, my stomach lurches. I'm impacted not only emotionally but physically, during difficult times.

But like life does - you'll bounce back. You always do. And maybe it's for an hour, or a day ... or whatever ... but life won't be 100% grim 100% of the time. It's important to remember that. It's important to have faith that what's meant to be will find a way. Whatever you're supposed to be doing or whatever you're supposed to experience - you will. It could be pain one day and it could be euphoria the next. You'll get to where you need to be.

One of my favorite sayings of all time is "everything happens for a reason." It's over-used and corny, but I just love it. I truly believe in it with my entire heart and there are some major examples in my own life where things worked out for the best, but in that moment of pain or grief I couldn't see why or what the purpose was. My very first example of this was with my relationship with my college girlfriend. She was my first love and I took our mutual break up very hard. I stopped eating and lost a lot of weight. I was depressed and drank a lot. I begged to get back together. She moved on to someone else, but we still stayed in contact. I stayed behind in my college town, working, for a year after I graduated. She was finishing her senior year. We didn't stay in too much contact because of how much I was hurting - but she was always about 15 minutes away and my heart just ached. I couldn't understand why that relationship didn't work out. What was the point of all of that pain?

But after my lease was up for that year, I started thinking about what I needed to heal emotionally and what I wanted in my life. It was clear that my life was no longer on a path with hers. So I asked for a transfer back to the Chicago area with my job and packed up and moved 3+ hours away from her - back to my support system, with a fresh start on my mind. It was rough. I was in a new relationship by then (super long distance) but was still hung up on my ex. I moved into my first apartment on my own, and didn't have many friends - especially gay friends. I started eating again - and joined a gym and worked out ALOT (but ate well). I met some people that showed me around Boystown in downtown Chicago and my circle of friends grew from there. The rest is history.

I attribute that break-up to bringing me back to Chicago. If that relationship hadn't ended I would likely still be in central Illinois and I have no idea where my life, my career would have been. That relationship ending brought me back to my family (with whom I had limited contact with while away at college), grew my independence, brought forward my second gay relationship - and eventually led me to my now ex-wife (with whom I have my girls with). At the time, sitting in my grief, while that first relationship was ending I had no idea why. My heart just ached and ached and I felt so rejected and pained. I couldn't see that it was actually good for me - that it was part of the journey that I was meant to be on. And it's something I try to remember even today. It was something that (at the tailend) got me out of my post-divorce funk.

Life is continually moving. And if you're still living and breathing - you're still destined for something. Do not think whatever is currently happening to you or in your life is your end game. It's not. It's part of your experience, it's part of your learning, it's part of your evolution. And one day the big grand plan for you will be revealed. Just be patient and try to hang on through those tough times.

Checking In

Monday, June 20, 2016

the past two weeks have been a bit insane emotionally for me. i knew these times were on their way but yeah - i'm not sure what's really going on. anyways, i've decided to get back into reading and have been making my way through elizabeth gilbert's "big magic." i love her style of writing - it flows so well and is so thoughtfully written. she's also one of the few people that i could listen to speak all day long. if you haven't yet, you should check out her ted talks - one focuses on success/failure and one on your creative genius. "big magic" comes post "eat, pray, love" (incidently one of my favorite movies) and just dives into the creative process for whatever motivates you in life. 

i've been eating better and working out alot more. i've had some outside motivation to kick it into gear, but am really trying to hold myself accountable. plus it helps keep my mind off other stuff going on in my life. 

and overall i'm just really excited for summer - i'm ready to have fun especially since last summer sucked. :) a few more things on the horizon and a lot of new "plans" in the works. 

All of the Feelings

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

I've been battling with a bunch of feelings. This post-divorce life isn't for the faint of heart and getting your heart back up and ready to love again, is some tough business. I find myself constantly feeling the urge to "run" from anything/anyone that wants to get closer to me - but at the same time feel the pull towards something that I at times, can't deny. It's confusing business.

I'm sad sometimes. I think about my past and the 8 years spent with my ex. My marriage falling a part. My life now. I'm not sad over the loss of that relationship, but more sad that I lost my best friend. I can't lean on that person anymore. And that person shattered my trust in others. In myself and my intuition. I'm working on finding that again - but the trust thing is hard to get back. I'm sad that was taken from me.

I think a lot more than I used to when it comes to love/dating. It stinks because I do not want to think at all. I'm exhausted from over-thinking for almost a year. But each relationship will come with it's own challenges, and again you're left thinking about that person, situation, what you want, etc. I've been terrified to let go. The urge to run is always, always there. My mind sometimes is murky - my walls drop down, and then I think and they edge back up. I feel like I'm in the weird limbo. Half in, half out.

I'm not sure what that all means.

Perception Changes Everything

Friday, June 10, 2016

Over the last few months, things with my ex have been getting a lot better. Meaning I have been getting past my personal feelings of hurt and anger and have just been living life and trying to cooperatively co-parent with her. Oddly enough, it's changed our little dynamic for the better. Looking back on this time last year - I was in a dark, dark place both personally and in my marriage. I was still super down about my body and adjusting to the girls, and things with my marriage were just beginning to unravel. I worked hard to get through the pain and deal with everything post-divorce and looking at my life now I can barely believe this change has come in less than a year.

That being said, I have been able to take my old grief, work it out (mostly) and create a new life for myself. I've been able to focus on the things that I can change, and have been building connections with friends and family that I have let go by the wayside for years. I have invested back in myself. And I think when you do that, that leaves no room for the bitterness or anger that can haunt your heart after going through what I did. Something clicked and completely changed the way I feel.


Online a few weeks ago, one of the parents in a Facebook group I'm in asked a question about her ex taking her kids on a vacation - she was upset because she couldn't afford this lavish trip that her ex had planned and she wanted to address it with her ex because it hurt her. She thought it wasn't fair because she couldn't provide the same experience for her children. That's the first thing I noticed in her statement - she was taking a personal stance against that trip because she couldn't "compete" with the other parent.

I responded. I told her that you can get to a place where you're happy for the experiences that your children have with your ex, without taking them personally. I want my kids to be happy all of the time. I want them to enjoy their time with their other mom, and I want them to experience things that sometimes I can't provide. It's about them and not about comparison. Comparison is the thief of joy, right? So I asked her to just try to work on her perspective - to think about the fun her kids will have and how happy it will make them, and then to do things that are special with herself, regardless of how much money it costs - making a memory is free.

I want my kids to be happy and healthy. I want them to have two parents that love them to the moon and back and can stand to talk to each other and dare I say - share a joke or two? I want them to have parents that problem solve together, lean on each other (when it comes to kids issues) and to feel like they never have to choose between the the two parents because even if their moms are no longer together - they're still a parenting team. It's taken a while to put my personal feelings on the back burner and keep my children front of mind. It's taken me a long time to realize I can't control everything and I'm wasting pressure time and energy worrying about it.

I still have dark moments here and there. I still have flashes of pain and anger. I'm not sure if that will ever fully go away. But I feel confident that it's just that - a little flash on this journey called life and not something that derails me from having a future, or being the best parent I can for my children.

When Fear Consumes You

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

I've been choking back a strong urge to bolt from any romantic situation lately. I pinpoint it to my feelings growing stronger, and my walls going up to protect myself. I've felt anxiety and sadness over it all. Sometimes I am panicked and can't sleep. The feelings just are there, and I'm not really sure what to do with them.

I stumbled across a Huff Post article that really resonated with me. Specifically one quote captured from the article perfectly explains what I've been feeling in my chest:


I learned that when we see life through fear-tinted glasses, it’s like walking through a fun-house where everything becomes distorted. Except that it’s not fun at all; it’s torture. Fear wanted to convince me to run because in fear’s mind, love is dangerous. Love means loss. Love mean losing myself or losing the other person. Love means risking my heart and breaking down the layers of control. Real love means that I have to be accountable and vulnerable and, since I had never met someone with whom I felt safe enough to do this, almost every fiber in my body and soul wanted to run.

Shit. This is it ya'll. This is exactly what grips me into a panic some nights. Because of my past, I tie love/growing feelings to pain and not enjoyment. So as my feelings grow stronger, I have an urge to run from it to protect myself from being shattered again. WT absolute F.

And the messed up part? I need to let go and let myself fall - with the hope of being picked up but under the risk of being broken again. OR - I need to run to protect myself. I need to slam the walls back up, to hide myself, to never let anyone in. Because then you don't get hurt, right? So it's sink or swim. <cue tears>

Blog Share - You Are Enough

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Today I wanted to share something that really resonated with me - I'm on a mission to do the things in my life that make me the happiest. I hope you can find that happy, too.

http://bit.ly/1Zve8yr

Find Joy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Over the past few weeks, I've really been thinking about what "joy" looks like to me. What in my life inspires me and motivates me? Where do I find myself happiest? I'll stop you right here and preface with the fact that I'm not 100% sure I'll ever find out what completely looks like "joy" to myself.

(unless it equals living on a tropical island with endless adult beverages on a forever-cation)

I have found it more and more inside of myself rather than in other people or things. My heart is happiest when I'm confident, and I'm focused on goals. It leaps for joy when I do things that make me proud (handling crazy twins all day by myself? yes!), when I anticipate the goodness of what's to come, when positivity is present in my life. I also find joy in my children - watching them hold hands or care for each other, or when they learn something new or do something silly ... it brings joy to my heart.

I've been pretty focused on a new life motto for myself; "Nothing is worth it, if you're not happy."

I think life is too short to be anything but happy. And the end goal in this crazy adventure is to find what brings joy to your soul, what ignites love and passion, what sparks something inside of you and keeps you moving forward. Why wouldn't you want to be happy? And everyday should be an adventure in re-discovering all of the wonderful things on this planet that help us experience that happiness.


What Motivates You?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

It's funny when life is good and things are looking up, you're suddenly filled with enthusiasm and motivation. Granted, I still sit around and do absolutely nothing a lot of the time. But my thoughts do not turn grim with hopelessness or restlessness - at least they haven't for quite some time. I've been thinking a lot about what motivates that change? When does that light bulb moment occur? I've been feeling a strong tide in my life the last few months - like a small spurt of electricity skimming the edge of everything ... something (good) was on it's way. But what brought it forward? What after all of those months cloaked in grief, sadness and dispair, did I lift my head and finally *saw* the sun again? Honestly, I couldn't tell you. But I have a smidge of an idea.


Part of it has been time - and getting through the worst of my fears months ago. The day my ex stood in front of me and told me she was in a new relationship felt like my soul had been released and my heart was finally free with the last heartbreaking blow. I cried a big sobbing mess of a cry. And then gathered myself up and moved forward. I think that was a big "click" moment in my brain. 

From there, I kept living life. I did things I liked and realized when there were things I was doing that I didn't like (copious amounts of wine, anyone?). I got active again and started to regularly go to the gym and picked running back up (although I'm on a 2 week hiatus from my Nashville trip and need to get back into that) which fueled me feeling better about myself overall. I laughed again. I enjoyed my friends and I laughed and laughed. I no longer felt the absence of someone no longer sitting next to me as I experienced my life. It gave me strength. 

And then a funny little thing happened, I met someone. Someone that I truly like and that gives me hope that love is out there again. I could have never even imagined that this time last year. But when you feel something *real* again - it'll change you. And work started getting better too. Opportunity and hope that things won't always be the same - that there is potential and growth and people care about me as an employee. That provides hope too. 

And I think all of that stuff swirling in a little tornado, if you will, over the past few months have made for a perfect little storm of happiness, enthusiasm and motivation. It's opened my eyes again, it's made my heart feel good things again, and it's brought just a breath of fresh air - of what a potential future on any aspect of my life could be. That's something that I didn't have 12 months ago as I felt my world falling a part.

But as time always will - it's all slowly putting itself back together. 

It's Been Awhile

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hi loves - it's been awhile since I've posted and I wanted to check in and ensure everyone that all is well! I have a lot going on in my life lately and it's all been really, really good stuff.

I recently vacationed in Nashville where one of my best friends was on the receiving end of an amazing proposal, and have been plucking away with work and the girls as the weather starts to warm. For the first time, in a very long time, life is really, really good.

I'm thinking of taking a little bit of a hiatus, to enjoy this wonderful little life I got going on. I still want to write and share via this blog - I just am not sure when that's going to happen. Stay tuned, I'll be back :)

The Couch

Monday, April 18, 2016

The other day I was watching the girls as they wound down for the day - in case you're wondering what that looks like ... just imagine two toddlers in just a diaper basically running around like two tiny tornadoes for about 45 minutes. Which ... yes, please continue to get all of your energy out little ones  so that you sleep well. The girls love to jump on my couch. They climb up, toss off all of the pillows and any blankets and just have at it, usually falling into a pile of a each other amidst a ton of giggles. As I sat across from them I felt a lump crop up in the back of my throat. That couch has been through a lot. It's a roadmap for at least the last 5 years of my life.



I remember being with my ex at the furniture store. We lived in a small two bedroom apartment, at the time. We picked out a gorgeous L shaped couch that you basically melted into when you sat down. Upon delivery, though - we unfortunately realized it was WAY too big for the space. It took up the entire living room and covered part of the door to the apartment so that you couldn't even open it. At the time it was hilarious and we sent the couch back with the delivery driver and headed out to the furniture store again that night. We wandered the store for a while and finally settled on this basic 3 seater couch. It felt okay when you sat down (not the buttery feeling we wanted), it was a bland color, but it was new and we needed a couch. It was delivered a few days later and fit the space perfectly.

Remember Me?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Oh hey there - remember me? I remember you!

April has always been on my calendar as a super crazy month full of activities and new things. I feel like I've shed some of my divorce murk and am getting into a new "season" of me. <finally>

So far I've seen Ani DiFranco live after 12 long years with one of my favorite people on this planet! It was amazing and every bit of breath-taking happiness than I last remembered.

This month isn't even half over - so pardon me if there's a tiny bit of silence in the next few weeks. My life is a bit busy, my heart is a bit full.

DIY Toddler Sensory Activities

Monday, April 4, 2016

Since the girls are getting a bit older and are ready to learn - I wanted to start putting together some DIY learning activities to get their brains working ... and keep them entertained. I'm not a super crafter, to be totally honest, so I wanted to do things that I could actually accomplish and that (under supervision) they wouldn't choke on or eat in general. Good luck with that, right?

I've tackled 3 projects! Two I actually took a picture of :P



DIY Sensory Bucket
A super simple activity is to take an old coffee canister and fully wash it out and let dry. Cut a circular hole in the top of the plastic lid (make sure there are no sharp edges for little fingers to get caught on). I cut the top to be able to accommodate small wooden learning blocks we have been playing with.

Grab your favorite washi tape (I had some laying around) and wrap all the way around until the canister is covered and looking adorable! Snap the lid back on and voila! We use this to learn about volume (how many can we fit in there) and fine motor skills of putting the block in the hole. My Harper loves it - she's a natural stacker, organizer - so this is a perfect activity for her!


DIY Fun Tubes
Another easy craft you can make is grab your extra toilet paper cardboard rolls, or even the paper towel cardboard rolls you have leftover and extra washi tape. Wrap the rolls in fun washi tape, just to give them more personality. You can then tape the rolls in whatever pattern you'd like on a wall or door and have your toddler drop puff balls (from your local Dollar Tree) into the tubes. 



They like sorting them and putting them in the tubes - and you can work on colors, "Can you put a blue ball into the tube?" or just construct a fun tube pattern that the puffs can drop into! We set this up anywhere and the girls love it. 



When I snag a picture of our third project, I'll be back to share that "craft" with you! It's one of our faves which is why I couldn't take a picture - we had too much fun doing it!

What are some of your favorite DIY toddler activities? We'd love some new ones to try!

A Few of My Favorite Things

Friday, April 1, 2016

Happy Friday!!

Sharing some of my favorite things lately - let me know if you've tried any!

Trader Joe's Organic Riced Cauliflower: It's been out of stock at my local TJ but recently made an appearance and I jumped all over it! Sub it for rice in your meals - add any flavors you want, GREAT for mom and kids (they don't even know it's a vegetable!).


DIY Sensory Toys/Activities for Toddlers: I've been looking into some new activities for the twins to since they're getting a bit older and ready to learn! I've found a ton of sensory activities to get their brains working and have crafted some of my own (to be shared soon!). Do a quick search on Pinterest for some ideas that you can make with household items that'll keep your child entertained for hours minutes!



Thrifting: With two growing toddlers that are whipping right past their 18 month clothes and right into 24 month/2T ... and as a single mom, I have to fork over money for a new spring/summer wardrobe. That's not cheap. I've been looking up local thrift/resale events in my area that allow local moms to consign clothes, shoes and toys at a cheap price! Pre-loved but with lots of life left! I've scored some great name brand clothes, cute shoes, and even a slide! 


Aldi: I'm obsessed and have been grocery shopping there for months. I can snag 2 weeks worth of grocery items and couldn't spend $100 if I tried ... and I've tried. They're produce is okay - if you can get there on a truck day, it's better. But you can't beat their prices on everyday snacks (cookies, crackers, etc.), cereal, milk, eggs, bread, cheese, etc. It's an awesome money saver for those single mom dollars that could be spread thin. Just remember to bring your own bags and a quarter for the shopping cart! AND the carts are 2 seaters so you can put two kids in it!! AMAZING!

What are some of your favorite things lately?


 
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