Mama Tree – Guest Post by Amy Mayer – Risk and Reward

(If you are new – start here: Mama Tree Posts. This will explain what the Mama Tree is… )

The funny thing about RISK is that when you decide to actually go for it – it isn’t all flowers and cupcakes and smoothly paved streets. The journey to the reward is often marked with fear and pain – the kind that can stop you in your tracks and steal you of your joy, if you aren’t careful. 

Most of us understand that the only way to be truly rewarded, is to find and tackle these little BIG things called

RISKS.

The decision to let yourself fall in love.

The decision to have a baby.

The decision to be a stay at home mom.

The decision to be a go back to work mom.

The decision to let go and just be who you are.

Currently, for me, the decision to attend A REALLY BIG, SCARY BLOGGING CONFERENCE – Blogher’12. 

So, as risk has been dancing around in my head these past few weeks, I thought the July Mama Tree guest post should discuss just this topic:

Risk.

I scanned friends in my mind…thinking, who could talk about risk and share it in a way that would be beautiful and honest? And above all, would help us all dive into that cold pool of risk a little more freely?

And my answer came clearly one night as we shared dessert across a table of friends. This woman has changed SO much since I first met her seven years ago. The kind of internal transformations that scream to others on the outside…and her changes…all for the good. I really think she is like one of those women on the Dove commercials that gets a little more lovely with every year that blesses her. She flows around a room and is always smiling. She is a mommy and wife that loves her boys, her 2 sons and her hubby, with a fierce heart and shows the same family affection to all of her village. She is a yoga instructor that gifts others with her gentle nature and smiling heart. If you are new to yoga or have always wanted to try yoga and live in Indianapolis, I really think you should contact her…take a risk – it will end in a reward. (Contact information at bottom of page.)

Meet my friend Amy Mayer.

From Fear to Freedom Through Yoga

When my dear friend Kristin asked me to contribute to her blog, I was honored to be a part of something so special.  She asked me to share a little story about how taking a risk in my life has offered rewards.  I knew immediately what I wanted to write about and I am so happy to be sharing it here.  I hope this message encourages you to take a risk, to get out of your comfort zone, to shake off the dust and to let your passion light your path. 


As long as I can remember, fear has been my constant companion.  Growing up ricocheting between foster homes, making unhealthy choices for my body, and doing whatever it took to appear normal amidst the chaos was my gig. Lonely and afraid, with no sense of purpose or direction, my fears controlled my life. I lived in constant survival mode, on welfare, without parents, too many messy friendships to count, and an intense fear of the future.  I was emotionally empty and socially stunted, starving for love and encouragement. I was horrified at the idea of actually reaching out and asking for help.  Instead, I crucified my soul between self-loathing and people pleasing. 
Fear was the fuel that sent my world racing into a darkness so deep, I decided I had no better option than to buckle up and try to hold on for a miserable and meaningless ride. Unfortunately, fear was all I knew… and it was about to swallow me whole…that is, until yoga and I discovered each another.  
When I met yoga, I was barely existing in my personal hell hole, suffocating with fear and anxiety.  I dwelled in spaces so depressing, I thought I would never feel freedom.  However, I was a rockstar at masking my insecurities. In class, I could lift my leg the highest and hold my headstand the longest..  I always arrived with my best friend, fear, on my shoulder with intentions of being the strongest, most flexible student in the room. Until one day, yoga gave me a lot more than I was seeking.  I had been attending classes for a few years, and after showing up to show off for way too long, yoga broke my soul wide open.  During one particular class, something in my body felt numb and different.  Then, I took one of the biggest risks of my life. I gave myself permission to feel my feelings and to let go.  To really truly fully try to let go…to be vulnerable and completely open and honest and free. As I melted into the stillness of savasana, allowing my thoughts to come and go without judgement, I felt my fear begin to soften. This was the beginning of a powerful and healing transformation.   
I passionately continued to meet myself on the mat as my new spirit emerged.  My yoga performances became my yoga practices and I left my insecurities in a puddle of sweat on the floor. I wiggled and I wobbled my way through postures with a brand new sense of self, forgetting what I thought I knew, while teaching my brain and my body to let go, and to accept unconditionally, what is.  
Yoga allowed me the opportunity to view life through a completely different lens…all because I took a chance.  I took a risk and yoga answered, helping me peel away the layers of my complex past and discover the connection to my truth. In my opinion, yoga saved me.  My sweet yoga had been trying to work its magic in my life for quite some time. I am so thankful I finally let it…
Through letting go and taking a risk I discovered my passion and personal freedom.  I restored my truth, and I ignited my internal fire. I encourage you to explore too, and to take inventory of what might be holding you back from your greatest potential.. Take that risk!  Peel back the layers. Get a little, or a lot, uncomfortable,  and let your passion light your path. It is life-changing.   

Namaste,
Amy

Amy Mayer
Yoga Rock, LLC

Here I Go Again – Road to Blogher’12 Continues

I can see it now. Three sleepy heads barrelling down the stairs in a variety of form – Gracie with her floppy curls, Harper with her crazy Einstein hair and Quinn pointing downstairs with a serious face about something to do with “da.”

Ok, this was last summer. But this is sort of how they look – 13 months later…when they wake up in the morning.

Grandma pours the milk and Daddy sings made up songs that make them laugh. And then…they get to the big table where Mom makes them waffles and drinks coffee while she kisses Daddy goodbye and says “Tell Daddy “Love You!” as he walks out the door. She isn’t here in her glasses or big black sweater that should belong to Goodwill. I imagine they put their palms up and shrug their shoulders, turning their head like they do, insinuating -  ”Where is she? Where is that Mommy lady?” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter the scene from Good Will Hunting where Ben Affleck approaches his buddy Matt Damon’s doorstep, like every groundhog day before, to pick him up and take him to work … only to find there is no Matt. Just a note. A note that says, “Sorry, I have to go see about a girl.

The family will find my note at the big breakfast table, tear and wine stained, reading: “Sorry, babies, I love you more than you know, I’ll be back soon…but I had to go see about a blog.” 

(Ok, I am dramatic. I know. At least I acknowledge it.)

I am going to this big city, this massive conference and this abyss of big fish to figure it all out. To learn, yes. To connect, yes. But to figure out where the GPS should be pointed…BIG yes.  Maybe this blog is just for fun and I’ve discovered a life long passion I can share with others. Maybe it’s just a way to heal and feel connected to the outside world. Or maybe it’s something bigger. Just maybe?

To prepare for the weekend at Blogher’12 (my FIRST blogging conference if you haven’t noticed), I have been trying to come up with my “elevator speech.” My personal 20 second commercial on who I am, why I am unique and what my blog has to offer.

Wow.

This has been no easy task. Let’s just say it’s been ugly. Have you ever written a commercial for your bad self ? (Yeah, not easy.)  So, I tried to think, what would I tell another mama at the park when they cock their head to one side, half pushing their 2 year old and ask,”You blog?! How cool! What do you blog about?” 

My blog is called justbreathemama. Mostly because I have lost so much control over the last four years that my only constant has been to just keep breathing. And…

I am a mother of triplets who spent a few years wanting a baby something awful. I started blogging and it helped.

Then I got pregnant with triplets and I kept blogging. And it made the days and nights possible.

Those triplets came home with me and sent me straight into a culture shock – a shock of everything new and all things crazy. I blogged more. It saved me.

And honestly, that is all I could come up with that felt genuine. Yes I could mention my Tuesday Taste posts where I talk about recipes or ideas on taking care of your soul. Or talk about my honest approach to laying it all out there as to illustrate the messy classroom of life I live in. And don’t forgot my knock your socks off guest posts that offer testimonies from mothers in the battlefield.

But actually, when I started to really think about it, this is what popped up in my head. Lyrics. Lyrics from WHITESNAKE. (yikes)

HERE I GO AGAIN ON MY OWN… GOING DOWN THE ONLY ROAD I’VE EVER KNOWN…

Tho’ I keep searching for an answer,
I never seem to find what I’m looking for
Oh Lord, I pray
You give me strength to carry on,
‘Cos I know what it means
To walk along the lonely street of dreams…

HERE I GO AGAIN…

Every time I hear this song, I think of my dear precious friend, Emily, and how she told me ,one day, that she was a really anxious child. At seven, she was full of fear, plagued by the simple idea of entering the hallways of elementary school. She said this song became her anthem. She would “kick” open the double doors, walk into that first grade hallway, JanSport backpack strapped on and sing this song to herself. She said this song made her believe she could get past her fears and make it through another day of 1st grade. (Oh Emily, this makes me smile.)

I thought, you know, when I write and learn from a hard day, a wonderful day or a day somewhere in the middle, those thoughts, when typed out and transformed from muck to clarity play like an anthem in my head. An anthem that says, it’s hard but you did it…it will be hard again, and you will do it again. I guess I host this blog so I can share my anthem. Because really, sometimes we all have a hard time walking into that hallway of starting another day. You know, the shock of motherhood is a lot like 1st grade – scary, alone, big and full of expectations of understanding a lot of things that you just don’t get. So, that’s it. That’s what my blog is. An anthem for mamas to say, Here WE go again. We are walking down the street of lonely dreams – but look – we are alone together.

Connected. Nourished. And accepting it all – the good, the bad and the sticky. 

That’s it. That’s what I came up with. Your much desired input is welcome. Thanks for being here. You have no idea how much it means to me. Please follow along next week as I share a piece of NEW YORK CITY with you!

5 days and counting… (but who’s counting?)

 

 

Tuesday Taste – Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

More soul nourishment…

It was the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I was an average basketball player at best. Always kind of annoyed at the getting called for running without dribbling thing and never really into the suicide sprints at the end of practice. Had I only known yoga existed at age 12.

The coach decided that, although our team was sort of a young-ish team, that it would be a good idea to try out for the junior high traveling team anyway. So we did and I think we all made it. I, at least, don’t have any scars from being cut. I do remember playing with girls that were taller, stronger, faster and all together more sweaty and serious about the game of basketball. These girls weren’t there for the ice cream after the game. And I will never forget our coach telling us, “Girls, this is why we play with older girls. They are better than us. They will make you better, because they are better.”

Thanks Coach Dunbar.

Needless to say, running with the big dogs did not result in a lifetime of hoop dreams for this girl, but it did however instill an idea in my head that can still come into play today. Sometimes you just need to admit that there are people surrounding you that may just be better than you.  Not to say they are “better than you – better than you,” but they may be at a contagiously calm season of life, in a more committed state of mind or simply be gifted at whatever it is you could benefit from on that particular day or time.

Sometimes we shut ourselves off while going inward for the answers. We are caught trying to figure it all out, using the wrong tools, like trying to hammer a nail with a screwdriver. And all we need to do is look around and ask for help. See if someone you know or love has a hammer you can borrow. Go to these people;  the experts, that love doing what they do or the people that simply love you and are excited to remind you that you are so much better than you know.

Last week, no matter who you are, was a heavy week for our nation. It was one of those “you will never forget where you were when you heard the news” type of moments. I was up at 5 am to drive to sunrise yoga. I was driving, half asleep and in the dark to the promise of shared breathe, mental relief and physical correction that is found in yoga. I pulled up, desperate for the heat of the room and the shuffling bodies, only to find the studio was closed. I looked up the schedule on my trusty sidekick the i-phone, only to find out that this location does, indeed, not offer 6 am classes. Annoyed and trying to hold back hot tears, I drove away. Not soon after, breaking news came across my dashboard: A tragic shooting rampage in a movie theater in Colorado had just happened a few hours prior. People had lost their lives. Many were injured. They didn’t know the details. But they knew it happened. And they said it was senseless.

And it was. And it is. And the thought of it all lingers in your mind. It steals from our joy and dampens our hope. It sits, layered with our personal fears and already skewed outlooks on life. It trickles down to the last emotion dripping out of our own personal and secret fears.

And for me, I found that after such a tragedy, you find yourself on a deeper level. And sometimes those deep layers can be a blessing that reminds us of what is important, of what is precious and what is only ours to keep for a little awhile. But sometimes, just sometimes – big events draw us closer to the fear, the dismay and the deep side of life that can exhuast you and leave you breathless – and not the Top Gun type of “take my breathe away.” Like the,  ”I just climbed 100 steps, with a backpack and 2 kids on my hips breathless.”

So, I did the only thing I knew to do. I got up Monday morning and decided to seek out people that I consider experts in fields that I was yearning for:

Quieting my mind and motivation to keep on keeping on.

1) One of my favorite physical fitness instructors. Julie Voris. If you live in Indianapolis and have never experienced one of her classes – go. Go soon. Any shape, size or mindset- she specializes in you. She is all things fitness, motivation, rock music and abs. Basically motivation in the human form.

2) My beloved counselor. The calm smile that asks me questions and then lets me swirl around the room like a bird that accidentally got indoors…until I land back on the windowsill…only to find the windows have been open to escape from my own chaos the whole time. A facilitator of making my crazy sane. (Have I mentioned how much I recommend finding a good counselor – even if you go just every so often. Even if you think you are “normal.” Well, if you think you are normal, you probably really could use one.)

I knew these people would help me get past the hump. The hump of my own thinking. To get past the gray and to find both the adrenaline and the calm that we all need. The balance we search for that we sometimes can’t find on our own.

And what did I learn? Well, I learned that when you need out of your head, turbo kickboxing will kick your butt and kick your mind. It will leave you focusing so much on keeping up with the next kick or hook punch, that you won’t have time to think about your fears…or that your son may be crying in child care.

And I learned that as much as you dig for the answers to life or the secret on how to be better or peaceful that sometimes you just have to stop. You just have to stop, and in my counselor’s words, say “right now, it’s just about coffee or popcorn.” I’m not saving the world, I’m not healing old wounds and I’m not trying to even be a better person … in this moment. Right now, I give myself permission to live in the moment…and to just have coffee or popcorn. Sometimes the secret to life is in the simple things and the simple thoughts. Coffee and popcorn. 

And to just breathe. Oh yes, that is the constant. To just breathe.

Go find some friends when you need them. There are experts/angels/ helpers among us. You will be better from them. I promise.

 

The Blazer & the NEW GIRL at Blogher’12

My first job out of college was in the communications department at the Indianapolis NPR/PBS affiliate. I was fresh out of college and showed up ready to use my bachelor of arts degree in the worst way. I had my very 1st apartment. I had a blazer from Forever 21. I was ready to take on the world.

The first few days I felt energetic, nervous, and yet confident that I had found “my home.” I loved listening to Diane Rehm cackle in the background while I nervously sharpened my pencils and rearranged staples and paper clips, waiting for real solid tasks to do as a “communications assistant.”

And then I started to notice it. The lingo. The eyes rolling at so and so. The lunch breaks that were taken at 11:12 so he or she wouldn’t be able to come. Sending emails with E.O.M. and talk of B-roll and private meetings that I was never invited to.

And it hit me… I knew nothing. These people were like seasoned vets – equip with villages, lingo and ammunition. My college degree had failed me. I showed up in hot shoes, a green lined blazer (that I still own to this day, thank you very much) and a Starbucks extra hot chai latte in hand thinking and believing I knew all I needed to know. I really believed I had arrived.

And to quote Indigo Girls… “That was just the beginning… of the rest of my life.”

I look back on 22 year old, Mazda 626 driving, coffee fetching girl and want to say “aweeee.” I love her. I love her vulnerability. I love that she knew nothing. I love that she had fresh energy, a genuine smile and lack of bad habits which allowed her to pave a road that has led her to … here.

Blogher’12 is sort of like my first “big girl thing” with this whole blogging, writing, social media world. And although it is easy to get caught up on what I’m wearing, what session I am attending or what party I am invited to (a whopping zero) – I have to remember, that my innocence, energy, excitement and lack of bad habits will serve me. I may save someone next to me. They may save me. We may all save the whales…who knows?

But what I do know is that sometimes I am a HORRIBLE speller. I never look at my google analytics. I really like to write. I have no idea what my goals are. And I only half way get what SEO is. And I am attending my first “Tweet Party” tonight…and I don’t know how the hell you party on Twitter. (Seriously, clueless.)

But, in spite of all my newness, I know if I just keep showing up to this blog, it will start to make more sense. The road will be paved. Because eventually…if you keep showing up, you are no longer the new girl.

And sometimes when you are the old girl…you just miss being the new girl.

So, cheers to leaving on a jet plane in 2 weeks. I am the new girl. I hope they like my blazer.

 

Tuesday Taste – No Thank You Bite

My college boyfriend used to take me to his parent’s house for a big homemade knockdown dinner on Sunday afternoons. For a college student, that may or may not have included a few Sunday morning headaches from the night before, so this was always a treat. Homemade mac and cheese, freshly layered lasagna or a warm homemade cake freshly frosted. (This must be what you do when your kids are in college. Make cakes so they will bring their girlfriends over for Sunday dinner.) I remember one Sunday we showed up, starving and probably in dirty college t-shirts, ready to grub. I always looked forward to the menu and have such a large appetite that I never had trouble with taking down whatever was put in front of me. I mean, I’m not picky at all. Really, especially back then, I could make most anything work. Except, oh, you know bologna. But WHO eats bologna these days? Isn’t that extinct with SPAM?

Well, one hungry Sunday we arrived to find the menu presenting “bologna and eggs.” WHAT??? Is there another menu to order off? Me, being polite, 22 years old and too shy to say I can’t even stomach being in the same room as bologna, smiled and said, “Looks great, ” while wisking away boyfriend to tell him the truth. “I can’t  do it.  I won’t do it. Help.” And what follows is sad, but true. This may have been the beginning of the demise of our relationship.

He looked me in the eye, straight faced and said, “Well, you have to at least sit down and take a ‘no thank you bite’. After all the hard work my dad put into this bologna loaf, you have to at least try it. (Apparantly there is like nice and upper class type bologna that exists outside of the one with a first name of O.S.C.A.R.). And then, if after you try it and still don’t like it, you can eat around it. You may like it.”

Well, a) I can’t believe I’m found quoting my college boyfriend b) I didn’t like the bologna c) the whole “no thank you bite” sort of makes sense, now that I am wise and usually in clean t-shirts.

In the literal form, it is a great thing to teach our kids. For example, if they are given say, grilled chicken, rather than the chopped, processed and breaded form of the chicken nugget, I hope to instill a simple “try it, you may like it” mentality into their little brains. The “no thank you bite” may save them from a lifetime of boredom and ho-hum on their plate, at the table and in life.  I was always jealous of the east coast kids freshman year that “went out for sushi” and actually went for the sushi, not just the saki bombs. “No thank you” bites can culture a kid.

This theory can also be applied to scenarios outside of bites of bologna or grilled chicken. In my opinion, it can be applied to daily life, especially when you find yourself “eating all the safe foods.” We do things, activities and motions that fit into our box. The box that promises comfort, delivers familiar outcomes and diminishes the threat of dealing with too big of a challenge, or God forbid, not doing something well or coping with a frustrating outcome.

The safe box is usually comfortable, typical, clean and well, sometimes inherently boring. No stretching, challenges or what we used to call at lululemon, “learnings.” (Which typically meant, hey you really sucked at that – what did you learn from sucking?)

It’s no secret I am a mother of triplets. It’s also no secret I chose to stay at home with them. My husband is a realtor that has a lot of weekend clients that love to HGTV it out on Sundays, also not a secret. So…if you do the math, in the summer, I have a lot of days – during the week and weekend – that I am alone with the kids. All three of them. All one of me. The four of us, sitting in a dirty kitchen, trying to make sense of mis-matched sippy cups, spontaneous crying and uncombed hair. We are bored. We all get bored. We are bored with our safe box sometimes.

So I venture out and get ready to try new things. Taking bites of uncharted territory, unsafe zones and taking part in events with uncertain outcomes. Sometimes it is scary and sometimes it is really rewarding. Some end as a “no thank you bite” while others end up being my favorite dish of the season. But we tried, and that’s how we know if it’s one worth biting into again, or one to say “no thank you” to (usually followed by, “what was I thinking?”)

Last Sunday I ventured out of the box. I loaded the kids up, dressed and semi – combed. I even put on a cute new tank top, earrings and cool-ish shoes to show off my hip blue toe pedicure. We went to Broad Ripple – a fun area that I always wish I lived closer to. It’s sort of like living in Chicago in Indianapolis, but not really at all. If you come here and look for a little Chicago in the heart of Broad Ripple, you will be vastly disappointed.

Anyway, it’s hot, but not a sauna so I unload the kids from the van and pile them into their double decker stroller…sure to fly under the radar, us four. We head into a little coffee shop that I know serves almond milk and feel pretty normal. I walk slowly and we stop to talk to a BIG dog. The kids are so happy and well behaved! They get a bagel, I get a coffee. We love this new outing option!

 

So, since all is going so well, I decide, hey!, let’s walk up to that open air produce market and get fresh peaches! It’s only 10 blocks from here…we can do it! It will be so cool. The kids won’t be able to avoid having fun because this place is so cool. I mean, the owner always has fresh cut fruit to try, big fans blowing the summer air around in your hair, the smell of BBQ smoking, loud Bob Marley playing …AND it’s in an old gas station with a big family farm style communal table. Is there even any room for more of a cool factor?

So off we go  - Monon Trail here we come! 

If we are speaking figuratively here, let me just say, the first 4 “bites” (blocks of shady green trees, cute panting dogs and happy bagel eating babies) were glorious. Wonderful. A new “meal” to add to the repertoire.

But then the heat spiked. My coffee splashed with every bump. Bagels thrown. The sun beat down. The kids became antsy.

But then…we arrived to the Holy Grail. And all was peaceful…

When we get to the cool reggae, old gas station produce place… mom realized she had forgotten her credit card. So with about $2 in change, the 4 of us picked up 2 peaches and got out of the stroller to shake some of the dust off.

Gracie hated the fuzz on the peach so she threw it on the ground. And she lost a shoe. Harper dumped a cup of water all over her body and started to smear her peach all over her white tank and brown hair. Quinn wandered off while at the reggae fruit stand, only to be found heading into the back kitchen, standing in a group of adults. I found him standing confidently in a ring of people, as if he had been invited into the conversation for his expert opinion from his view of the world at 32 inches. I started to sweat. The fight to get all 3 stretched out bodies back into their mini Cooper of a stroller was flashy entertainment for the young clean couple sipping cold root beer out of a bottle at the farm table. I’m sure she went home and took her birth control.

The walk back must have had a northwesterly wind working against our efforts, adding a good 8 minutes to the same distance that we started with. Did I mention it was HOT? And at one time, all three were crying, puffing their chest, face jammed into gremlin mode and throwing and smashing peach into every crevice of the stroller. And I, still in my trendy blue toes, walked with a fury. My new white tank, so sweaty and stretched out, it hung under my sports bra. As I walked in my hipster sandals, forming blisters on my feet, pushing three MAD toddlers down the Monon Trail, I felt so out of control that I decided to just keep pushing, forming a half deranged smile on my face…as to tell passer by’s – yes, I know they are all crying. Yes, I know I have boob sweat.

And what?

Ahhhh… lots of deep breathing. With a few minutes of peace on the ride back from my three favorite bipolar babies, I was able to contain myself from spontaneous combustion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And remember that coffee? Did you ever know my bladder is the size of a papaya seed? Well, let’s just say, once back at the van, we are less one sippy cup.

Do you like this look? Very Madonna “Like a Virgin” Era

I did the only thing any mother would do – pee in a sippy cup in the van, strip the kids out of their peach and water soaked clothing, change their diapers, load them up and get them to Wendy’s to get chicken nuggets and a paper sack to play with. They all smiled. I knew this meant they thought I was the coolest mom around.  And then, out loud and to no one I said, “Thank You God. Thank You that THAT is over,” and drove on. Eating one of the best peaches I have ever had…if you don’t mind gravel (remember we had 2 peaches to share…) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was, indeed, my friends, a bite that I know to say “no thank you” to next time.

But you know, some of our favorite activities this summer started out in the same way – a new bite. A new taste, a venture and a motion that offered an un-certain outcome. They all push us and teach us that new challenges sometimes will provide you with the most joy. And sometimes with rage and tears…and a good memory to laugh about later.

If we hadn’t have tried new bites this summer I would have never known how easy and delightful it is to take our kids to Conner Prairie to see the sheep, play in the water or have an ice-cream cone for the 1st time. 

 

 

 

 

 

Or, I wouldn’t have known how much they love to be free at the farmer’s market – to dance barefoot in the grass, clap for the musicians and eat homemade scones with their chubby hands. So mesmerized, they stay in one spot like there is in imaginary fence.

I tell these stories because by nature, I sort of have a lining of fear that I wish would just die. I know I stick to safe boxes. Although I take risks, I sometimes get so dramatic in trying to control this or that or make sure I know I will be comfortable here or there.

And I guess I have to sometimes go back to that lesson of the “no thank you” bite … if you never try, you never know. Something I want my kids to believe. So, this is why we do it. Step out of the safe box and take a bite … knowing that if you don’t like it, or it didn’t work out, well hey, you can always “eat around it.”

What have you done that is outside of your safe box this summer? Or what have you been wanting to do?

 

Maybe go do it, and be nourished.

 

Blogher’12 Planning – Part III

Reason #1 for attending Blogher’12 :

For Me.

Gosh, it feels selfish even saying that.

Pretty simply put, I feel guilty, sick to my stomach and nervous to leave my babies & husband after what feels like a very long and short 19 months. But then I remember the two years of being consumed by just wanting a baby, leading up to the pregnancy. And then I think about the 36 weeks of pregnancy and my daily devotion of getting them here healthy and kicking. And oh yea, the eight weeks of bed-rest. And the gray hairs. The sleepless nights. The yoga pants that I never seem to get out of. The teeth that sometimes get brushed. The ponytail that always gets picked. The boob sweat that happens with just a simple trip to Costco. The tears that stay inside because I’m too busy to cry them. The girls nights out that are half-ish relaxing because “I’m back on the clock in 8 hours and counting.” The distracted date nights with my husband. The yoga classes of planning a grocery list during shavasana.

And for all the days and nights I’ve spent loving those babies, I think I can go love on myself for a few days.

And I think it’s completely acceptable to wear new cute shoes, have a glass of wine and laugh with other girls I haven’t even met yet … while loving on myself.

So with that, me, myself and I – (and those, again, are the only three people I know going) are ready!

P.S. Ready is a lie. I’m not ready.

Blogher’12 Planning Part II – The Logistics

So, much less “romantic” than yesterday’s confessional, are my top, I guess you could say, “logistical” goals.

So, reason #2 I am attending Blogher’12:

To learn all I can about blogging and writing, while making awesome connections with other bloggers.  

Here are the TOP TEN things I hope to get out of Blogher’12 (in no way is this exhaustive.) The list that I plan to carry with me, just so I remember, as a newbie being pulled in a million directions, like a kid in a candy store, why I’m here.

10) To attend and learn more about my Big Hairy Audacious Goal of creating a book pitch out of my blog. This has been my goal from the start. Show up, listen and ask questions and learn from some great blog to book authors (Kathy Cano-Murillo and Stefanie Wilder-Taylor) at Pathfinder Day on Thursday before the conference starts. This, hopefully, sets my tone for the whole weekend.

9) And then remember #10 the whole weekend. Ask myself, “What is my niche identity?” and try to keep that in check.

8) Geek it out. Learn how in the world to navigate WordPress! I know so little. It’s amazing I even managed to publish this blog post.

7) Learn how to utilize Twitter, Facebook, Google + and probably other things I don’t even know about. In a nutshell – what are “best practices” for social media & personal branding while keeping in the loop, without sacrificing your soul over to the social media Gods that be.

7) Vlogging. Period. All ears, know pretty much nothing, scares me pretty much completely.

6) Learn how to drive comments and create an interactive community.

5) Traffic – how to gain more audience specific traffic, how to engage and keep followers and how to analyze and act on google analytics information

4) Photography. Slowly creeping in as a love and hope to learn more about integrating into my blog. Specifically, a good “starter” camera, basic editing skills and best practices for uploading and sharing on blog.

3) Blog networking and best practices for organizing interaction with other bloggers

2) Personal Organization/ Daily,Weekly,Monthly Calendar and goal setting for blog — setting The Plan (also known as an action plan, post conference)

1) The #1 reason I am going is to CONNECT. To see and talk and probably hug other woman (and I don’t forget, some men) that are in this boat – whether they started rowing years ago or days ago. Part of my blog mission statement is to connect…and in true form, I can’t wait to see what those connections bring to the table … I’m sure things I could never dream up or put on at top 10 list. This, to me, is the truest art of learning…connecting to others.

See you tomorrow for my final reason… Hint, it may have to do with some good old fashioned “me time.”

 

 

Blogher’12 Planning! Part I – The Romance & The Doom

The few days after you book a big trip, say to Europe, are the best. They are full of romance and lust, modeled after that Conde Nast magazine stash you’ve been hiding. The basil laced strands of velvety pasta, the rolling hills and the deep goblets of deep red wine. It’s all so exotic. And free. No planning or logistics to dim that twinkle in your eye.

Then suddenly the romance wears off during the climb to departure day. Suddenly, you are plagued by the background noise of tripadvisor.com. You piddle and obsess over the accommodations you have picked. You google and search blogs to find out the best way to blend into the culture by dressing European chic, without appearing to be American flashy. The panic of not picking the best, I mean BEST pizza place in Rome sets in during the wee hours of the morning. The Merrells for comfort or the Tory Burch for style? Oh dear God, can we even afford this?

If you have ever planned a big trip that gave you butterflies upon booking, but then slipped into an overwhelming sense of fear while planning and perfecting, then you can understand how I am feeling about booking and planning my first big girl blogging conference.

Blogher’12 in New York City, August 2-4. 

Oh, the thoughts that have been going through my head. If the logistics of blogging and writing bore you, just go ahead and skip these posts on my journey leading up to NYC, three weeks from TODAY! These posts are meant to chronicle my road to Blogher ’12 for those that are interested and for me to learn from my own journey. AND, to tell someone other than my confused husband that, similar to how I cry really hard when I’m happy AND sad sometimes, that I could pee my pants because I’m so excited AND so scared … for Blogher’12.

So, yeah. Overwhelmed is an understatement when you are a flat out newbie, trying to show up and be all that you can be at a pretty big girl panty conference.

 

And for me, with my monkey brain and tendency to obsess over things like matching bows to plates at my kid’s birthday parties, it is best I set up boundaries. I have to work to stay in touch with the things that matter, AKA, my priorities. Take some of the pressure off and …. oh ya, just breathe mama. That’s why I named this blog thing that name. That sounds like a great start to my “elevator speech“.

Ahhh. That feels better. Over the next THREE days –  I will be laying out my TOP THREE personal goals & reasons for WHY I am attending Blogher’12 (as a newbie, remember.) And then a weekly update leading up to my departure, three weeks from today – Wednesday August 1st!

Again, just skip over if it bores you. Or maybe, it will spark an interest for you to do something crazy like I am?

REASON #3

To push myself. Enjoy myself. Accept myself. And to show up with a smile, open mind and heart. (Beyond all my impending doom)

Some of my impending doom, leading up to Blogher’12 has stemmed from the following:

-Signing up for and INVESTING in a conference that will host amazing women (and some men!) bloggers from all over the world. Meaning I can’t just show up in my yoga pants and take a breather. My own blog, my own money, my own time = scary. Investing in yourself and “working” for yourself…isn’t that like working for a crazy person?

- Figuring out where to be, who to see, what to do. What is a geekbar? Just where are all these sponsor booths? Martha Stewart and Katie Couric as keynote speakers – yes please?! Color coded calendars for a conference  - hmmm…. my eyes are crossed.

- Finding myself “overwhelmed” by finding the right outfit, shoes and party agenda. (Really, is this a problem? I’m shaking my own head, at my own self.)

- Spending enough time researching brands and big name sponsors and celeb bloggers that plan to attend. And then “tweeting” with them. (Do celeb bloggers travel w/ the paparazzi?)

- Keeping up with the hash-tag tweet-athons. Wow.

-Saying out loud and to everyone and no one, I’m doing this. Gasp, commitment! Nothing like those “disposable” sales jobs in the past. Blogging, working hard for (no) money and living on a dream and, oh by the way, leaving my kids for 5 days and investing over $2000 isn’t something I am taking lightly. What am I? A mompreneur? A writer? A confused mother of three that secretly wanted a vacation but may quit her blog after she gets home anyways? Am I a crazy person ? Hmmm…most closely defined as that last one.

- I know ZERO people going. ZERO, as in no one. Actually, come to think of it, I’ve only talked to my roommate once, I BARELY know the woman I am sharing a room with. This is so sorority rush all over again.

- And finally, does this mean, after 19 months of raising triplets…I’m going back to work? Going to NYC for a conference may just not be “writing during nap-time” anymore…

What am I doing?

Well, I guess I am going. Impending doom and all. I am going because by going I am

“taking the first single step of a thousand mile journey.” (Lau-tzu)

And for today, that is enough. 22 days and counting. Blogher’12/NYC or Bust.

See you tomorrow for yet another reason this conference must be a good idea. 

 

Tuesday Taste – A Mom Calls in Sick

…My mouth is wet, my throat is dry.
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox.

And there’s one more – that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue,
It might be the instamatic flu.

I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke.
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in…

(Shel Silverstein – “I Cannot Go to School Today!)

Hi. Yes, it’s Wednesday and I am trying to post a Tuesday Taste post. But you see, after a fun filled weekend away, I came home to settle into not only unpacked bags and children that knew I was away, but to a funny little thing in the middle of the summer: flu-ville.

So, since I can’t call in sick to my three toddlers, I thought for sure you would understand. I think God was trying to tell me that “my little engine that could” needed an oil change.

So, in place of recipes or spiritual challenges – here is a taste of Chicago – from our view!

Have you done anything really fun with your sig other, sans kids, this summer?

Be nourished (and avoid the flu.)

Chicago!

Favorite eats:

Bandera on Michigan Avenue (cornbread to die for and rotisserie chicken like velvet)

Feast in Bucktown for brunch (Um, crab-cake eggs Benedict with spicy cornbread and salty thick potatoes)

HB -Home Bistro for dinner (GREAT environment to catch up with friends – exposed brick and cozy while the owners buzzed around with pride, waiting on every smiling face in the house. Heavenly dates stuffed with almonds and wrapped in brown sugar glazed bacon for appetizer is worth the trip. BYOB = bonus!)

Favorite other: 

One on one time with Hubby

Shopping on Michigan Avenue – love feeling small & people watching there every time!

Check for my summer bucket list (Miss you already Mackenzie!): Seeing an old friend and (trying) to act young 

 

Running on Ice AND …

a pretty cute red, white & blue photo dump.

(Before we get started, you should know, my background music is really great and worth sharing. Joe Purdy. He sure does make pur-dy music. Thanks Spotify friends!)

As vivid as the red, white and blue attire yesterday is a memory of my best friend, Lindsay, in 1st grade, running as fast as she could across frozen puddles in the playground. I was all of, I don’t know, seven or eight, and I watched her run like a fearless gazelle, with a sure foot across what blatantly spelled out danger to this anxious and careful bystander. Clearly, this image and awe-struck reaction has stuck with me, some twenty-five years later.

So, it’s no surprise, as an adult I don’t often categorize myself as “carefree” or cool as a cucumber when it comes to worrying about outcomes, consequences and the future. If I was too afraid to run over the ice when I was in 1st grade, you better believe, that although most of my friends categorize me as a risk-taker and a “live in the moment-er” – when I appear that way, the whole time I am afraid I may fall on the ice.

So back in December of 2010, God gave me one gift, and then another gift and finally a third gift. I think these gifts were given to me for MANY reasons, but one of the main reasons is to make me slooooow down, soak in the present and to not be afraid to run on the ice. Granted, there are many days where all my brain is good for is spiraling out of control with thoughts including (and not limited to) this: how will I teach them all to be confident and proud of who they are, how will they all go to college, will they go to college, how will I teach them to say their A,B,C’s, how can we all 5 stay healthy, how can we afford health insurance, should I go back to work, what if I snapped -here in Target – in public, where did my babies go, why do they whine – so much, why didn’t I breast feed longer, should I have another baby, should I quit my blog so there is a clean pair of underwear in the house, am I crazy – am I going crazy or have I always been this way….? (It’s OK to laugh at the last one, I do.)

But there are days when I watch them and I get it. I get why we do this life. Why we are given this life. And especially why we don’t always have to be afraid of falling…or afraid of the next, the past or the whatever.

God wants us to be. You know, that awesome verse – “Be still and know that I am God.” Even better, broken down, Be still. Or just BE.

Yesterday was one of those days for me, for us. We did a good job of just being. And I have them to thank. Enjoy the photo dump – it’s a piece of us … right here, right now.

Hope you had a happy “just be” day yesterday. What a day to celebrate and say a prayer of gratitude for all that serve our country – past and present. Thank you for allowing us to be.

 

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