Dad

My father lived and died an addict.

The last few years of his life he was alone without the family that he had worked to create. He had become so bad that I had shut him out of my wedding, banned him from any contact from my son and I had truly believed that if it came down to it I would rather him not be walking free in this world.

He walked by me once on the street about 6 months before he died…he didn’t even recognize me, his only daughter. I was pregnant with my second child, a daughter when he died. He never knew.

I naively believed that if I didn’t ever speak about my father to my now 6 year old son he would never think to question it. I was obviously wrong and my son has asked more and more about why I don’t have a Dad, what happened to him, what he was like. My son has forced me to remember.

There was this time for a while when I was younger, before I knew much about the world when I remember only good about my Dad. He was that guy who rode in on his Harley to school, cranking his pipes and waving at everyone. Who would spend hours in my classroom making all the kids feel like the most important kid in all the world. Reading story after story because everyone wanted him to and he had no where else in the world that he would rather be. And every time he would finish reading to my class he excused me from school and we would rip off on his Harley together as everyone watched. I don’t know how much of me being the girl everyone wanted to be friends with had to do with me or with him.

That is the Dad that I wish I had the chance to know, the Dad I wish I had every day of my life. That was the Dad I didn’t allow myself to remember through my hate of what he had become.

My Dad lost his lifelong battle with the demons that haunted him from a life long past. He left me with the lifelong battle of how to move on and how to understand that it’s okay to miss someone who messed up.

I hope you are somewhere ripping around on your Harley, I hope you found peace.

I am beginning to.

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Working It Wednesday

If you had asked me 4 years ago for some financial advice I would have openly laughed at you. My chosen career had nothing at all to do with financial education when I began it and in fact I would have been so under qualified to do anything even remotely close to teach others what to do with money that I might not be here today.

I was a young person who didn’t understand what to do with money, how to use credit, how to do well financially or how to save any money. I turned 18 and used a store credit card to buy an elliptical (I mean at least I was being fitness savvy right?!) but then 4 years later and I was still paying off the store credit card that I maxed out on one piece of equipment and hardly used.

Then I found myself unemployed with a Bachelor’s degree and a child with no way to pay off my ever increasing student loans. Without knowing what to do I just didn’t pay them, 7 loans defaulted…7!! Have you any idea what that does to one’s credit?! I didn’t really understand it myself until one day I found myself not even able to get cable because my credit score was too bad.

I also found myself in a house that I HATED because it was one of the only options to rent with the credit score that I had. I was miserable and believe it or not am so thankful for that misery because it fueled me to fix the damage I had done. To own up to the wrong decisions I had made and figure out how to pay off my almost 50 thousand dollars in debt.

Around the same time that I had decided to do better, Financial Education was plopped in my lap at work upon my return from having my second child. At first I thought oh dear no you don’t want me. But as time went on I realized no wait you do want me! You want me because I can relate to folks who need to pull themselves out of a rut. I can teach you how to budget on little income, I can explain how important it is to save in real life because I understand it. I can help you improve your credit because I did it from the ground up and was successful.

Last September I purchased my own home in a suburb of the city, one that I had always dreamed of living in. I was also completely debt free, 50 thousand dollars worth of debt had been successfully paid off. That same week I found myself in New York City at the Federal Reserve Bank talking to representatives from around the nation about how to mirror the success we had shown in financial education efforts in my work area.

And today, I am one step closer to becoming a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, something I NEVER thought I would or could become.

Today I urge you to work it! Work something for yourself, something you have wanted or something you have wished for…when you become something you never thought you could be you push yourself to be more than the person you were yesterday and at the end of the day that is something that I, and you can feel good about.

Artist Life

I went painting again this past weekend and if you have read some of my other posts you know that I have become OBSESSED with painting! This past weekend I did “Dawn over Fuji” Here is my in progress shot:

fuji

I was actually quite impressed with how much it resembled a real mountain! But while I was there my cousin got white paint all down the back of my favorite pair of jeans (no not mom jeans either LOL) and when I attempted to take it off it was a no go. My response was “Oh well, living that artist life.”

And I have been thinking about that statement ever since. Now, am I an artist…absolutely not! I have always been better with words than pictures. But here I am, thirty something and not only trying something new but also doing pretty well with it. My artist life statement has had me wondering if the labels we place on our selves are premeditated.

Maybe 20 something me would have laughed at the thought of 30 something me being even remotely artistic but shame on her because here I am doing pretty well with pictures. How many times have I done this to myself, short changed an opportunity because a younger version of myself mocked the thought of it. How many times have you done this to yourself??

From now on I will be labeling less and experiencing more…will you do the same?

Happy Places

Let me begin by saying I am happy in this photo LOL, however, the beach weather was less than ideal and while atop the wall my feet were almost blue from the cold.

You know in the movie Moana when she starts signing about the water and how she can’t stop thinking about it no matter how hard she tries…It Calls Her. Well if you are anywhere near my home on a regular basis you would hear that it calls me also! We karaoke to Moana music almost daily but anyways…

This weekend I had the chance to take my little people to a light house for the first time and as my 1 year old daughter threw her hands in the air and screamed “Beach, WAWA, YAY!!!” I realized that happy places are not something that we choose, they are a place inside of us that calls to us from the very beginning of life.

The beach, the breaking of the waves and uncontrollable flow of the water, the spray from the rocks and the sea life have always made me feel more at peace and no matter how bad of a time I am having, I find it impossible to not be happy at the beach.

So when the voice inside calls you…where do you go??

Only Love can do That

I have written about a thousand words ten different ways and erased them every time.

Today I do not wish to get into a political argument or tussle about religion and beliefs.

Today I do not wish to complain or get angry.

Today I do not intend to use hateful words or spread propaganda.

Today  I intend to focus on positivity, love and kindness.

For the next 22 days I intend to perform 22 random acts of kindness, one a day. And I am writing today to ask you to join me, if a few of us are kind and a few more pick it up perhaps we can take over news feeds with POSITIVE messages. Love and kindness won’t over shadow the hate and sadness we are bombarded with everyday but perhaps it could begin to shift our inner perceptions.

22 Days of random acts of Kindness starts today with all the people I looked  in the eye and smiled at while on my lunch time walk. What will you do??

#22days #22actsofkindness

 

The Storm

Happy Late Mother’s Day BTW…I know it’s Tuesday but I mean better late than never right?! I tell myself that every day when I run into work 5-7 minutes late on the constant…

Any who, I am that mom that likes to go to activities on mothers day as a sort of celebration for the kiddos since they are the reason I get to wear the “MOM” name badge 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. However, we live in the Northeast, a beautiful place in which you can experience all 4 seasons in one day and we have been oh so fortunate (not at all fortunate) to be stuck in this rain cycle in which it rains every day for like the past 3 weeks.

Well Mother’s Day rolled around and there it was again rain. My hope for our Zoo trip quickly sizzled. So as my fam and I made some deliveries of flowers and hand made soaps I decided that the rain would not get us down…to the coast we went!  That picture up there was just one of many I captured that day. The storm had caused the water to be at an unusually high level, making the beach impassable. It was quite cold and the wind whipped as if it had a purpose. And all you could hear were screams…of my 2 delighted children.

Every time a wave slammed the wall and squirted salty water at us in the 40 degree temperatures they yelled and jumped and went on and on with fierce and fiery excitement. This storm MADE their day and as I sat there taking pictures and laughing with them, cheering as they threw rocks into the surf and tried to run down between waves to grab more I realized that had this storm not pulled us here, we would not be having “the most fun ever” according to the 6 year old.

This really got me wondering how much the storm inside of us pushes and pulls our every day. I have been quite stormy lately myself, often I sit up at night wishing that the waves disrupting my happiness would suppress themselves. I haven’t done that since Mother’s Day. The storm I watched my children enjoy, the one that cast a salty sheen in my hair, that provided puddles to jump in, that moved rocks into happier homes, that played a game with on lookers…that storm made me realize that days with unsettled conditions are days in which we change.

We need the storm inside. I won’t wish any longer for it to go away. I will embrace it and learn to dance in my inner rain, as I hope you all will as well.

Clean Freak!

Us mothers know that every day is in it’s own way Mother’s Day right, I mean let’s face it…had we not been mothers we would never allow ourselves to be thrown up on, kicked in the eye, told we are the worst and forever on. But also as mothers we know that the reality of cleaning our hair every day is in fact not a reality at all.

There are days that I wish I could spray Not Your Mothers Dry Shampoo Clean Freak all over my body and it would suffice for a shower, but I think people close to me would really frown upon that! LOL, but there are certainly days that I don’t have to wish about spraying this all up in my hair for a fresh clean look and can REALLY get away with this!

Dry shampoo has been relatively new to my life, however, now that I have it I could not imagine life without it! Hats are frowned upon at work and I can only wear the same headband so many times before people begin to wonder…

Not Your Mothers Dry Shampoo Clean Freak allows me to have an extra day (or 2) that I can have fierce looking hair without going through the process of washing, drying, styling and all that jazz.

Ladies….try this! If you haven’t, you have no idea what you are missing! Now…I wonder if there IS such a thing as dry body wash for “THOSE” days?? 😉

5 Momming Realities

Ladies, real talk…sometimes I lay awake at night and think, “was today real,” “did I imagine that,” and a million other “OMG this can’t be real life” thoughts. Before children, life was relatively simple and routine and now I feel like I am a part of a circus that is NOT under my control. Here are 5 things that I have come to terms with as Mom Truths.

  1. There is so much Pee! Never did I envision a Friday evening in which I would be scrubbing pee off the bathroom floor because “It’s hard to control sometimes.” Nope. I raised my son relatively alone for the years in which he learned to use the bathroom and not for nothing but I pee quite differently than he does. I don’t know how many other moms out there struggled with the “How to Hold Your Winkie” Lesson but I definitely did and now for years I have paid the price. And I won’t even mention the diapers from the daughter but again SO. MUCH. PEE.
  2. We speak strictly to Hear Our Own Beautiful Voices. I mean obviously right?! Because why else would you have to ask a person to change 8 times before they even look your way. And why would you bother telling your small child not to climb on the table when they are obviously planning to ignore the words you think you are saying and climb on the table anyways. Why would you ask 3 zillion times for shoes to be put on or jackets to be put on, laundry to be put away, TV to be turned off, to sit in one spot for all of dinner. It is OBVIOUSLY because we enjoy listening to ourselves, because NO ONE else does!
  3. Personal Time Comes at a Price. I wake up almost every morning absolutely exhausted because I have to stay up so late to do even 5 minutes of something I want to do, like write this blog! I also enjoy painting and going out to the local paint bar to get some instructional assistance because while I like it, I am not very good at it! But of course no one will go to bed without me. Of course. So at 10:30pm after a few hours of painting and the only outside of the house activity that I do alone, I come home to ZOMBIE children that just NEED their mother to be home before they can go to bed. Which then means they are EXHAUSTED the next day and whiny and I mean you know how it spirals. Is it worth it?? I have yet to answer that question!
  4. The Bathroom is not a Sacred Zone. I don’t think that 20 something me, without children ever really considered how awesome it was to just be in the bathroom, alone. They say you don’t know what you had until you have lost it and I can now say that is completely true! Gone are the days in which baths with lavender beads and salts happened. Gone are the days in which you could take your time, shave, put on make-up, scroll thru your phone. Gone are the days that you can pee without someone entering, someone knocking down the door, someone asking for advice or help. Because yes I can help you while I am peeing, I mean of course right! I can change the channel for you from the bathroom, MAGIC!
  5. Children break your Heart. We have all suffered from a broken heart once of twice in our lives. But hearts are different after you have children. They are walking around with pieces or wholes of your heart in the world, this world where terrible things happen every day. This world that tries to break them and break you. Every night you fight thru the bad and try so hard to be strong for your babies. But every once in a while they say something that breaks your heart…”Can’t we be together forever?” “I miss my Dad,” “I wish…”

And then you sit there broken hearted, hoarse from speaking with no one hearing you, wishing you could have washed your hair, wondering how much pee is on the floor and thinking about life, and how life just would not be the same had you not chosen to be a Mother.

Another Year Deeper

Facebook has this way of making us thankful and remorseful at the same time. I am not sure that we should constantly be reminded of what we were doing on this day every year from when we joined Facebook until now.

This weekend I dove another year deeper into the 30 something world and I was reminded that on that day 7 years ago I was in a club dress with higher heels than I could manage now, bleach blonde hair and it was like WAY PAST MY 30 something bed time.

I was reminded that I use to celebrate with elaborate parties, sparkly dress wear, shots at the bar and blow up aliens…yes seriously ask around. And as I looked at all of those reminders I couldn’t help but wonder who that person was and how much of her was left.

As I popped bottles this year, water bottles that is, with my children and family while we sat with butterflies and ate reasonable meals I couldn’t help but ponder that what they say about wine must apply to people as well…from what I can tell we all get just a little better with age.

“The Worst Mom Ever”

I don’t like to toot my own horn or anything but in the “mom” category I like to think I rate sort of high. I mean I do all the good mom things…I lay with my 6 year old for 2 more minutes and then 1 more minute and 3 snacks a story and you know the countless manipulative ways in which to stay awake longer.

I sit silently until my terror of an almost 2 year old daughter finally falls to the floor and begins to snore (yes she falls asleep on the floor and yes I have seriously thought about buying her a dog bed because it HAS to be more comfortable than the floor right?!) as I contemplate all the other things I could be doing with the sometimes 2 hours that it takes for her to actually fall asleep…you know like the dishes, laundry, cleaning the floor, picking out clothes for the next day, watering the plants, I mean I could go on forever.

I take days off to go do kid things like spend a day at Davis Farmland (totally worth the trip by the way if you have children) while my son steps in cow poop with his brand new shoes. Like really cow poop, how do you not see cow poop?! And while my daughter walks into the river in her only pair of clothes and legit just sits down. JUST. SITS. DOWN.

I make sure that my kids have what they need, that I bring enough food for them every day, that they don’t miss me too much and that I am always nice and kind and loving.

Yet, here I am “The Worst Mom Ever.” Why you ask…well let’s see.

The first 4 times that I asked my son to get ready for bed he didn’t seem to care to listen to me so the 5th time (really the 5th time) I said it sternly and he began to cry and proclaimed I was the worst mom ever.

My daughter who understands words and knows 100% what the word “NO” means tears apart cabinets and then cries when you take her arm away from the 100 bags she just ripped out of the box and threw all over the floor. She even will go and find another adult and point back at me saying “BAD”…her version of telling me I am the worst mom ever.

An hour after bedtime, and my son calls from his room and asks for a snack. I answer with of course you can have a banana or grapes or something healthy. Because I know he wants a devil dog or ice cream or something that I am probably eating in the living room at that exact moment but is just not acceptable for him and he breaks down. Tears, screams the horror of the world ending as he proclaims that I am in fact the worst mom ever.

So on this journey called life, I have decided that if I was ever going to be the worst anything I will proudly be “The Worst Mom Ever.”

To all of you moms out there being “The Worst,” CHEERS!!! Keep on fighting the good fight…when they graduate high school or college and thank you for all that you have done, being the worst will be worth it right?!