Reinforcements

Sometimes I let my emotions get the better of me. I can’t be alone in this one, right? I mean, do I just chalk it up to being female? Is that just a cop out? Do other people feel this way sometimes too? Or is this a sign of depression.

I’ve been depressed before. And I’ve felt the effects of prescription drugs acting like a snuggie around my heart. Protecting it from going too far…and yet preventing me from feeling much of anything at all.

No, I don’t think I’m depressed right now. But last night I had a moment. I just felt like crying. So many things bubbled to the surface. Things related to my girls, and being a mom, and being a birth mom, and how those things all intersect. Or not.

I’m not sure what triggered it, which is odd because over the years I’ve become pretty adept at identifying triggers. Movies, books, TV shows, songs, places, people. These triggers are like time machines that transport me not only mentally but emotionally to another state. But nothing like that happened yesterday. At least not that I can recall.

No, yesterday something was different.

I told my husband how I was feeling and he instantly diagnosed it as a sign of depression. And maybe it is. But as we talked and he asked questions and I cried a bit and he talked some more and I talked, something lifted.

I started to feel a bit better.

My husband is not any kind of a medical professional, but I often wonder if he’s missed his calling.

He’s the one who encouraged me so many years ago to just FEEL WHAT YOU’RE FEELING. But I was often too afraid. I’ve worked really hard on this and I’ve gotten better. But I often seep back into the comfort of just dealing with it on my own. Although it’s rarely of any comfort. I think it’s just been comfortable – and quite frankly, too easy to do.

Last night was one of those nights where I almost just shoved whatever it was I feeling deeper down inside. But with some poking and prodding from my “safe place to fall” husband, I feel like I’m OK again.

Thanks, 2013!

I came across this idea for a yearly recap while reading Kristen Howerton’s awesome blog, “Rage Against the Minivan.” And SHE got the idea from this equally awesome blog, “All & Sundry.”

So much stuff happened this year. In the world and within our family, I’m hoping a bunch of questions will help me organize my thoughts better than just a random data dump. Let’s hit it.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?

Shared my story of being a birthmother in a national documentary and with practically everyone I know on social media. It was overwhelming at first but once it was out there? Bam. All kinds of good stuff.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?


I had a few resolutions last year, although I failed to write any of them in a place where I might be held accountable for them. Deliberate attempt at self-sabotage? Perhaps. Here’s what I remember from last year. And what my results were:

  • Lose 25 pounds for my 25th high school reunion. Oy. Moving on.
  • Run 2nd half marathon and beat my previous time. YES! I’ll never come in first, but I sure as hell wasn’t last.
  • Go to BlogHer convention. Didn’t make it this year, but I’d love to shoot for this year 🙂
  • Grow my blog. YES! And still growing. Thanks for reading!
  • Grow my business. YES! Love working from home. Love writing. Love helping people grow their business. 
  • Get Bridget potty-trained for the Disney cruise in December. Nope. But this has been moved to a 1st quarter goal for 2014. TOP PRIORITY.
  • Read 25 books. YES! And more..(come join me on Goodreads!)
  • Get caught up on all my photos and scrapbooks. Um…I’m so far behind it’s pitiful.

For 2014, I have just five words that describe my intentions.
I hope to be more:

PATIENT – with my kids, with my husband, with myself. New mantra: Nobody and nothing is perfect. Let it go.

ENGAGING – specifically with my kids and my husband. Technology is lovely, but I fear it’s creeping too far into my brain that it leaves with me much less to give. I want to change that.

CONSISTENT – With my writing, my fitness goals, family meal planning, and in how I work with my husband to raise our girls.

BRAVE – In both my personal & professional life. I want to try new things, put myself out there. Second new mantra: No regrets.

KIND – I’m a fairly nice person, but I’d prefer to be kind. Nice is for sissies. Kind is being a good human being. Plus it’s a good example for my kiddos. Also, if I’m alone in my car and someone cuts me off, I’d prefer to kindly flip them off rather than nicely shout obscenities that only I can hear. Sweet of me, huh?

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?


My niece gave birth to a little girl. And some good friends of mine adopted their second son in as many years. They are gorgeous, they are biological brothers and they are all involved in an open adoption. Which makes my heart happy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

A great-uncle on my husband’s side, but thankfully, no one else.

5. What countries did you visit?

The Bahamas during our Disney Cruise. But that doesn’t really count because I didn’t get off the ship. Nassau is all kinds of icky.

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

A million dollars. OK fine. I have to go with more balance and organization. I am really happy to be working from home doing what I love. But it’s a challenge to prioritize my time and make sure I don’t shortchange my girls and my husband. That, and more wine.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

May 3 – My oldest daughter’s ninth birthday and the day I shared publicly that I am a birthmom.

May 16 – Our 14th wedding anniversary. Fourteen years! Seems like yesterday 🙂

The whole month of December – Disney cruise with my husband’s side of the family and a special family wedding in Salem, Massachusetts where I got to see my son and his family.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?


Launching and growing my own business as a freelance writer and social media manager.
Also, dropping a jean size. It wasn’t quite the 25 pounds mentioned earlier, but I’ll take it.

9. What was your biggest failure?

I’m trying to no longer dwell on the past or on failures, but if I had to point to something it’s losing my temper more often than I would have liked. Which is also why “being more patient” is one of my top goals for this year.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

No.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

The Disney Cruise (technically, the husband paid for it, but I don’t think he reads my blog…so…).

12. Where did most of your money go?

Groceries, diapers (omg can’t wait for her to be potty trained), and books for my Kindle Fire

13. What did you get really excited about?

The Taylor Swift concert back in March. We surprised my 9 year old with tickets. I think I enjoyed it as much as she did.

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?

The “Let It Go” song from Disney’s Frozen movie. The movie was way better than I expected. It must be noted that I didn’t like “Brave” at all. Like not even a little bit. So my expectations were low. But this movie was really spectacular. And the soundtrack is delicious. This song, in particular, is like an anthem for me. Don’t mean to be all drama, but don’t we all kind of struggle with the perfect girl / perfect daughter / perfect mom / perfect wife thing? Or is it just me. Either way, I totally dig this song.

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl
You always had to be
Conceal, don’t feel
Don’t let them know
Well, now they know…
Let it go…let it go…can’t hold it back anymore.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:


– happier or sadder? Happier – definitely.
– thinner or fatter? Eeesh. ’bout the same.
– richer or poorer? About the same.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?


Written more.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?


I’m totally copying this answer from All & Sundry – my temper was rather short this year. But I’m working on it…

18. How did you spend Christmas?

I feel like we had a two-week long Christmas this year. How lucky were we? First a week-long Disney cruise where the ship and the characters were all decked in their holiday finest. Time with family and friends in Texas. Rushing to get our Christmas tree on the 23rd and then Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home with my husband and girls. Then a whirlwind trip to Massachusetts for a family wedding, a family Christmas party, and the chance to see my folks and my son. Best. Christmas. Ever.

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19. What was your favorite TV program?

Modern Family, The Amazing Race, Elementary, Who Do You Think You Are, and The Goldberg’s. 

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

Wild, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, The Husband’s Secret, and Carry On, Warrior.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?


I’ve been listening to classic and new Alanis Morrisette, Kenny Chesney, Goo Goo Dolls, and Justin Timberlake this year.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

Saving Mr. Banks and Argo. Note: I’m sure Argo came out last year or even the year before, but we’re Netflix people so I’m still playing catch-up.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 43 (holy shit) and my wonderful husband took me to see the fabulous Broadway show “Once.” It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. And just for fun, I got yelled at by the crabby ushers not once – but twice. (no pun intended). The first time was for snapping a photo of the theater guests miling around the on-stage bar. The show hadn’t yet started but I didn’t realize there were copyrights on stuff that happens prior to showtime. The second time was for putting my program on the ledge in front of me. Where it could very well have fallen to the lower level and KILLED SOMEONE. A note to the ushers in the center balcony: calm the frick down.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

The whole losing weight in time for the reunion thing. But honestly, there’s no one to blame but me.

Me, and wine. And chocolate. And bagels. And all carbs.

25. What kept you sane?

Reading and writing. To loosely quote one of my personal heroes, Glennon Doyle, “reading and writing is like inhaling and exhaling.”

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.


Letting go is not only important, it’s essential. Meditation is good for me, but not if I’m thinking about Andrew Shue. Kids don’t want much – just your undivided attention and your unending love forever and ever. Being a parent is tough and hard and totally worth it.

The Caterpillar Years – Take 2

A couple of years ago, I came across a fabulous blog post titled, “50 Rules for Dads With Daughters.”

Of course, I’m not a father, but I have one. And, I’m married to one. As I read through the 50 Rules, some of them reminded me of my dad and others reminded me of my husband. I wrote the post as my daughter was beginning first grade – but I thought of it again this year and thought I’d re-post it for Father’s Day.

Here’s my post from 9/6/11: “THE CATERPILLAR YEARS”

Happy Father’s Day to my dad and Happy Father’s Day to my husband!

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My husband and our girls

My parents

My parents

Two Degrees of Al Capone

The diamond we bought from one of Chicago's most famous and beloved jewelers!

The diamond we bought from one of Chicago’s most famous and beloved jewelers!

My husband bought my engagement ring while we were living in Chicago in the late 1990s. It was from an 80-year old jeweler who was, as it turns out, quite well known along jeweler’s row.

His name was Sherm Tucker.

GREAT NAME.

His office was in the famous Mallers Building in Chicago along Jeweler’s Row on Wabash. All I can remember is we had to go in this sketchy door, down a long hallway, and in an elevator that looked like it had been there since the time of Jesus. His “store” if you can call it that, was in the back room of the building. He carefully pulled out diamonds, one by one, draped in black velvet. He handled them with such care you would have thought they were newborn babies.

But this guy knew his stuff.

He talked to us as if we knew nothing. Which of course was completely accurate. He taught us more than just the four C’s when shopping for a diamond. He taught us to really pay attention and to know what we could afford. He was sweet and kind, but also very shrewd.

We chose a lovey marquis cut and although it’s been reset, it still makes me smile.

Sherm Tucker has become part of our wedding lore. His name pops up occasionally and can instantly make us smile.

When an acquaintance recently got engaged, my husband decided to Google Sherm Tucker just for the heck of it. Turns out, he lived a great long life and passed away last year at the age of 95. There’s a lovely write up of him in the Tribune.

Turns out also – that his family lore says famed gangster Al Capone bought a diamond belt buckle from Sherm Tucker.

Which of course means that I’m technically two degrees from Al Capone.

I’ll bet I’m closer than Kevin Bacon is.