39 Before 40 – A list of things to do before I’m too old to care

  1. Buy something frivolous.
  2. Take a spontaneous day off.
  3. Enter a photography contest.
  4. Buy brand new towels.
  5. Finally, for real, start saving.
  6. Eat more tacos. [Make a new taco recipe every month]
  7. Try a new place to eat every month.
  8. Learn how to put on eye make up so I don’t look asleep in every photograph taken of me.
  9. Create a font out of my handwriting
  10. Buy new sheets
  11. Take a cooking class
  12. Do the Couch to 5K program again
  13. Run an actual 5K
  14. Stay at a fancy pants hotel for a night
  15. Master making french press coffee
  16. Finally pull the carpet tacks out of the basement
  17. Go see a live concert
  18. Hit the $1,000 mark fundraising mark for Foundation Fighting Blindness
  19. Make flossing a habit
  20. Read “The Lifechanging magic of tidying up” – and try to…uh…tidy up
  21. Buy a statement piece – whether it’s clothing or an accessory – something sassy and amazing
  22. Get to an amusement park
  23. Try a yoga class
  24. Try a ballet class
  25. Tackle a DIY decor project for the house
  26. Spend a day curled up on the couch reading
  27. Finally use my spa gift card
  28. Cook something really difficult (like…toast. Or something!)
  29. Use only actual dollar bills, y’all… for a week. And save the change.
  30. Christmas project with the girls. Shhh. I can’t tell you what it is. It will spoil the surprise.
  31. Go ice skating
  32. Cook using an ingredient I’ve never used before (vanilla beans, I’m lookin’ at you)
  33. Get a passport
  34. Go see two movies in one day
  35. Send more cards and/or handwritten letters
  36. Drive to a small town I’ve never been to, within 50-miles-ish-radius and walk around
  37. Make it through the winter without drastically cutting my hair (trims are allowed, but none of this, “Oh! It’s February! Let’s chop my hair!” nonsense)
  38. Create a new tradition
  39. Get up to Traverse City to attend another event at 2Lads Winery (they know how to throw a party!)

A Letter To My Pumpkin on Her 10th Birthday

Dear Pumpkin,

Ten years ago this morning I can tell you exactly what was on television: baseball and syndicated episodes of Mork & Mindy. I’m not sure how on earth there was baseball on television – we arrived at the hospital sometime around 4 a.m. and you were born before 6 a.m. – but there was baseball. Somehow. This morning, there will be no baseball or Mork & Mindy, but there will be birthday gifts early in the morning – surprises you don’t know are coming, and tonight we’ll order Chinese food and celebrate your birthday with dumplings.

Today you are ten. Double digits. Halfway to 20.

Where on earth does the time go?

You still love dogs – more than most things, actually – and along the way you have had things that have interested you, things that you clung to but nothing nothing nothing like your love of dogs. I know it, your friends know it, your family knows it – so much dog stuff – right down to the wrapping paper on the gifts from grandma.

Your dinosaur phase never lasted so long.

You are my tender heart, my sensitive soul. You wear your heart, your emotions, they are all on display for everyone to see. And I both love that about you, and worry about it at the same time. I know that there are times I don’t understand, or times when I am not as patient as I could be, but I try, always to be gentle with your sweet heart because I know how strongly you feel everything.

You recently started taking piano which I think is very special – last week you texted me and said, “I don’t think I want to do this anymore.” The next day, you texted me after your lesson and you said to me, “I changed my mind.” I’m excited to see where this takes you. It doesn’t have to be a thing you do, but I’m glad that you’re trying it because I think music is good for kids (hey, it’s good for grownups too). I love that you’re trying something new and that you’re giving it a shot even when it was frustrating – because there are moments where life is frustrating and you have to work your way through the challenges sometimes in order to build your strength and get better.

Look, I don’t care if that thing you love is piano or if it’s something entirely different (I love that you love dogs, that you write, that you’re so creative) – I just want you to find ways to build joy into your life, to find new things and try new things, and to take the opportunities that you encounter.

This year, you’ll be going into fifth grade – our last year before middle school. I cannot believe this is our last year of elementary school. We celebrated your birthday over the weekend and you had friends come over and spend the night and you girls stayed up giggling and running around until 11:30 and oh, how exhausted we were yesterday – but I am happy to see you and your friendships and the people you surround yourself with. We had pizza and brownie sundaes and when you played Truth or Dare with your friends, you prank called your sister’s phone as if you were placing an order at the Wendy’s drive through.

Last week, you and your sister started writing a song about being sisters and I swear I felt my heart just explode into a bunch of tiny beautiful sparkly pieces because I know you argue sometimes but other times, it’s so very clear how much love you have for each other, how much love you have for your sister. It makes me insanely happy.

You won’t take the last piece of cake in case someone else wants it. You’re kind, generous and always thinking of others.

Your favorite color is turquoise.

You write imaginative stories and not just imaginative stories, but you create these well thought out concepts in your head about what you’re going to do and how and that’s pretty impressive.

You have a way of sensing when others are hurting and you are at the ready with a hug – it’s one of those things – I worry about your sensitivity sometimes, and yet one of the true benefits of it is that you can read the emotions of people around you and you respond with kindness and with love. You are tender hearted, but you show tenderness in return and that is a true blessing.

I love you so very much. You will probably always march to the beat of your own drummer – and while other people may not always truly appreciate the amazing and wonderful things that make you who you are, I will always love the wonder and the joy you bring into my days, just by being you. You being you is perfect.

Happy birthday, sweet Pumpkin. I love you so very much and I’m so lucky to be your mom.

Love,

mom.

 

Thursday Ten: What 38 Years Has Taught Me edition

Oprah is kind of known for many things, but in recent years, she’s done a lot of the whole “What I Know For Sure” bit – she even released a book about it, which is cool and all – you can do that when you’re Oprah. But the thing is, what I know for sure is that there’s very little that I truly know for sure.

Today, I turn 38 and I find that there are far more mysteries than certainties – and I’m trying to reconcile myself to that fact. Perhaps I am not meant to have all of the answers.

But here are some things I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Plans are just that. Plans. Sometimes plans change.

“Make a plan, god laughs.” I think that’s how the saying goes. Anyway, I’m a planner – I like to have a path – I like to know that I can put one foot in front of the other confidently in the direction of my goals and that I’m going to get there. Except…sometimes you don’t. Sometimes things change, plans change, and you have to adjust your sails and change along with it. I thought that I knew where I would be at this point in my life – 38 feels dangerously close to 40 and I still feel like I’m muddling through sometimes.

The thing is, as difficult as it may be to change your course, sometimes – plans change for a reason.

Not knowing the direction you’re heading towards is scary, but it’s a lot less scary than moving in the wrong direction.

2. Priorities – you really should have some.

I am a parent – first and foremost, probably – I am a mother and so there’s an ever present realization in my mind that there are two amazing children who come before me. It means that sometimes I am at the absolute bottom of my list – but having people counting on me means that I need to be dependable, reliable and someone they can trust to be there.

Because I am a parent, because I am an employee, coworker, teammate, because I am someone that people count on, there are times that life gets complicated because I’m juggling so as to make sure things are taken care of.

And not to be all judgey (but I totally get to be all judgey because it’s my birthday and it’s my blog) but sometimes I see people acting with no real sense of obligation to anything except their own self and it boggles my mind. Ditching plans with your children, calling in sick to work because you don’t feel like it, waiting for someone else to take care of you rather than trying to find your own solutions.

I think I was born an old soul. It’s not to say I always do the right thing – but generally I know what is most important and all else falls in line behind that.

3. There’s a huge difference between being alone and being lonely. And it is possible to feel lonely, even when you’re surrounded by people.

I wrote this on a scrap of paper for this post and then had a conversation with a friend who basically said to me these very words. It is possible to feel lonely when you are surrounded by people. What I’ll add to that is that loneliness is one of the worst possible feelings in the world.

I’m all about my alone time – I am every bit an introvert – and being around people nonstop eventually wears me out. That alone time to recharge, recoup – it is as essential to me as air some days.

But lonely is different. Lonely doesn’t feel like a choice. Lonely is feeling like someone chooses not to see you. Lonely is an ache that seems to build in the pit of your stomach and leaves you hunched against the wall wrapped in sadness.

I’ve been alone and I’ve been lonely and I’ll take being alone over being lonely – any day of the week.

195 | 365

4. Bacon and maple syrup. Grilled chocolate sandwiches. Dipping fries in milkshakes. Warm french bread. Deprivation = bad. Moderation = good.

When the South Beach diet was the rage, there was nothing that sounded quite as miserable to me as a life where carbs were a no-no. And now there’s paleo and whole 30 and voluntarily going gluten-free {Hey y’all with legit gluten sensitivities – chill out, I’m not talking about you}. I’ve had my days of counting fat grams and calories but ultimately, every time I hear the phrase, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” I just feel sad for those poor lost souls who have never had a decent piece of cheesecake.

I cannot imagine my life without warm cinnamon rolls, or garlic bread. Without margaritas in a salt-rimmed glass. Chips so fresh that they’re warm and a spicy salsa.

I don’t want to imagine my life without them – so I don’t. I just eat them. Maybe not as much as I want, or as often – but at least I don’t have to live without. (I haven’t yet worked out how to not feel guilty about it yet. Ask me again next year.)

5. Break a sweat daily.

Maybe this is why I can say with such certainty that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of the yummy stuff – because you should also be moving. Not only is it better for you health wise if you are active – but if you’re anything like me, you’re probably less of a jerk face when you’re exercising regularly.

6. You are not responsible for other people’s emotions.

When it comes to emotions, it may not always be easy to understand but essentially what you feel is what you feel. No, someone didn’t “hurt you” – your hurt stemmed from your reaction. Someone didn’t “make you sad” – you just WERE.

If you are one who avoids conflict then you’re familiar with the feeling of trying to not upset people – but this is the glorious thing: YOU CAN’T. If you could control the emotions of other people, MY GOD! Imagine the power you would have. But… you can’t. You can’t and I can’t and he can’t and she can’t. We just…can’t. Feelings are what they are and you can’t go through life trying to protect people from their negative feelings or expecting them to protect you from yours. Sometimes you will be sad. You’ll hurt. You’ll also be okay because everything will get better. Feel what you need to feel for as long as you need to feel it and then find a way to move onward. Sometimes other people will be sad or mad or whatever they happen to feel.

Feelings don’t always make sense, but it’s up to each of us to own our own feelings.

7. Sleep isn’t as easy as it should be.

All the science says that there are big time benefits to getting enough sleep and huge detriments to your health and well being when you don’t accumulate enough zzzzz’s and yet so many people I know (and myself!) struggle with insomnia, at least occasionally. You would think that for how lovely and enjoyable and good it feels, it would be far easier to do. It’s not.

When the girls were born, I thought I was done with insomnia – I was just so worn out at the end of the day that I slept HARD. These days? I fall asleep easily… I just often end up waking in the middle of the night and then an hour before my alarm in the morning. I’m tired. I shouldn’t be mad at sleep but I am more than a little bit mad at sleep.

 

8. Sometimes you just gotta go through the yucky stuff.

As much as you want to avoid anything negative, sometimes you can’t. And as much as you want out once you’re in, sometimes there’s no way out but to slog right through it. It’s this yucky stuff that builds our character and all that stuff. It’s the badge of honor, the sense of pride, the “lo hicimos! We did it!” Dora-The-Explorer moment. Sucks when you’re in the midst of it but life doesn’t let us move in reverse. Onward.

9. Money can’t buy you happiness but a lot relies on that stupid green stuff. There’s nothing wrong with you if you think about money. A lot.

Yes, money can’t buy happiness.

The best things in life are free.

Things are just things.

And all of those little platitudes would have me believe that any emphasis I put on money or my lack of it is superficial or wrong, or that my focus is in the wrong place and I’m not truly appreciating all of the blessings ahead of me to which I say: Uh. Whatever, bub. Like it or not, money is what keeps the roof over your head, the food on the table, the clothes on your back, the lights on above you. It is what fills your gas tank so you can drive to work so you can earn money for said roof and all that other jazz.

And really most of us are just getting by. Or so it seems.

I can’t begin to recount the number of conversations I’ve had with friends and family – and there’s probably not a single one of us who would turn away from a money tree in our front yard. But trust me, there’s also not a single one of us who doesn’t see how blessed we are in other ways. You can feel blessed AND stressed.

Trust me. I know.

10. I’m not done learning.

Think I’m done learning? Think again. I’m learning new things all the time – about myself, about my kids, about the people in my life, the world around me. I joke that I am older than dirt, but I’m still at the beginning. There’s so much more to learn, so much more to see, and so much yet still in front of me.

I’m a spring-mother-clucking-chicken. (I cringed as I typed that, I hope you know)

I’m not done yet.

Here’s to another year.

Here’s to love and learning and hope and slogging through the yucky stuff. Here’s to saving my pennies and bitching over the energy bill. Here’s to margaritas and cookies. To alone time without loneliness. To birthday cake and wrinkle cream.

Alright, 38. Let’s do this…