Holidays Got You Down?

Ho, ho, oh no they didn’t!

Don’t let the holidays stress you out. For starters, it’s temporary. The holidays don’t last forever…you can do this! Second, if you keep in mind a few simple things, I promise you it will be easier than you ever thought possible. To help you improve your holiday cheer, check out my latest contribution to MomCave TV! You can also read the full text below. Cheers, bitches!

5 Things to Remember When Trying to Survive the Holidays

The holidays can be hard for so many of us. It’s as though all of the dysfunction ever known to man emerges on one day. The pressures can be overwhelming, too. I remember the first time I had to bring a dozen hard-boiled eggs to a holiday event at my in-law’s and I swear (at the time) it was the most stress-inducing event I had ever engaged in. (So many eggs were lost that day. ) But today is a different story! Over the years I have gained enough wisdom to help me remember a few key things for the holiday season; making it all a much more bearable experience. A good sense of humor and strong cocktails help, too.

Everyone is Self-Absorbed

In the summer 2016 I was very abruptly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Cancer is rarely funny except when I have it, as I strive to focus on the funny and absurd no matter what. The first time I saw my extended family after surgery and radiation treatment was at Thanksgiving and do you know that not one single person asked me how I was doing? I know what you’re thinking so I’ll clarify: The house was filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, and cousins’ children and not one single person asked me if I was going to live or die. Not one. The hard truth is, most people are far too absorbed in their own lives to really notice what’s happening to those around them.

Knowing this is very helpful for the holidays. Say, for example, if you are put in charge of the appetizers this year, fear not! The honest truth is, no one is going to notice if your crust is slightly under cooked. Relax and remember what happened to me on Thanksgiving. Don’t stress because no one is paying attention anyway!

Tip: Enjoy the fact that no one is really interested in your green bean casserole or what your kids are wearing. If you need a little help, pair it with a cranberry infused champagne sangria. Because nothing goes better with this realization than obnoxiously self-absorbed cranberries.

Lower Your Expectations

Expectations are always what get us in trouble during the holidays. In the south we hope for a white Christmas but ultimately end up with humidity and mosquitoes and we are generally let down. Remember when I expected people to notice my fresh surgery scars and ask me how I was feeling? Expectations are rarely met. The best way to handle the holidays is to lower your expectations. Don’t expect the proposal. Don’t expect the new car surprise. Don’t expect ongoing joy and laughter. Don’t expect your kids to be gleefully happy about their presents.

Before entering any holiday function, picture your ideal family experience. Now lower your expectations…a little lower…slightly less…down one more notch…there. You are set. With the bar set that low, you cannot be disappointed. In fact, anything good that happens above that bar is a true holiday miracle, and that, my friend is something to revel in.

Tip: Enjoy this new level of lowered holiday expectations with a glass of boxed wine. Because nothing says lowered expectations like wine in a cardboard box.

Smile and Nod

I’m not sure what it is about the holidays that make people engage in the worst kinds of small talk. I can only surmise that when people are crowded together in someone’s tiny kitchen they will do anything to avoid awkward silences. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather an awkward silence any day over having to listen to Uncle Joe go on about his experience at the deli counter. (No, I really can’t believe she gave you more ham then what you paid for.) Worse yet is the cousin who goes on and on about how fantastic life is in radio sales. Or the in-law who loves to brag about her perfect children and lists the things they would never, ever do.

Tip: Resist the urge to box that obnoxious braggart in the pie hole with a small shot of whisky. Hide it in a red solo cup and nurse it throughout the day.

Stop Apologizing

You are doing a damn good job. Even on our worst days, if we simply show up, that’s a success. Don’t let other peoples’ judgement get in the way of a happy holiday for you. Apologize for nothing. If Aunt Jackie thinks the kids are too loud, that’s her problem. Smile and be proud of your socially outgoing children. If your sister-in-law thinks your sweet potato soufflé is too dry, smile and remind her that’s how it’s served in France. (It’s totally okay to roll your eyes when she walks away.)

Tip: Resist the urge to apologize and instead smile and nod. If you need more than that,  sip on a Pinot Noir.

Stop Comparing

Comparison is the thief of joy. Repeat after me: Comparison is the thief of joy. Our joy is a precious resource and should not be given away because of someone else. My Christmas tree will never look amazing. I may never be able to make sugar cookies that don’t spread out into unrecognizable globs of dough. My hard boiled eggs may never be evenly peeled. As long as we are making memories as a family, memories that my children enjoy, how I stack up against other people no longer matters. AT ALL.  I refuse to give up my joy because someone else had the time and talent to create perfect little snowmen out of unmatched socks.

Tip: Stay joyful about what you create, because no matter what, it’s pretty damn amazing. If you need some help, nothing bring out pure joy like boozy eggnog.

Lastly, remember that the holidays aren’t forever. This too shall pass. Don’t end up looking and feeling like my son’s panicked turkey. Cheers! xoxoIMG_8896

MomCave TV!!

I am really excited to have been selected to be a contributor for MomCave! My first piece as a contributor can be found here. You can also read the full text below! If you don’t already, be sure to follow them on Facebook…Instagram…Twitter !!

###

I may be a relatively well-seasoned mother of two, but I am still a very flawed human. Motherhood can be overwhelming and sometimes that stress can bring out my absolute worst qualities. I try to embrace this, and admit the un-admittable, because, the truth is, we are all in this together. If I ever want to celebrate our best days, I have to laugh at the worst (and I cross my fingers that you are laughing, too).

Top 5 Times I Threw Shade at My Kids

5. Laundry Lessons

I’m a relatively simple women with a pretty uncomplicated desire for a few basic things in life. I don’t ask for much and make no apologies for reminding my children of this fact often. Despite my easy-going nature, I sometimes have to host hands-on demonstrations to show them the proper way to do things, such as opening a cereal box, replacing the toilet paper roll, or turning clothes right side out before they are thrown into the hamper. And yet, to my great dismay, it’s like they never even looked at the power point slides.

I quickly figured out that there’s only one way to get their attention. A few weeks ago I decided to stop undoing the dirty socks and wash those little balls of cotton as-is. I stifled my maniacal giggles and threw a shady glance their way when I heard the complaints of damp socks on a Monday morning.

4. Trick-or-Definitely-Not-Treating

One year in the not too distant past, my kids complained about the hot-dog mummies I made for dinner before trick-or-treating so I logically declared Halloween was cancelled.

3. Pandemonium

When my daughter was young I traveled for work and in an attempt to make sure she didn’t forget me, I called several times a day and had a video chat each night. She certainly didn’t forget me. In fact, I think she had a hard time forgetting the fact that I left her in the first place.

I had such unrealistically high expectations for the day I arrived home. My eyes filled with tears when I saw my husband and precious baby waiting for me at the airport. I was so excited to be home and reunite with my child that I didn’t immediately notice the icy reception.

I was a relatively new mother so I took it personally. Very personally. She didn’t want to sit by me and she definitely didn’t want to snuggle with me. She didn’t want me to bathe her and she was totally uninterested in the gifts I brought home for her. I may have been older but I wasn’t about to act that way. Two can play this game. She didn’t want me to bathe her so I left the bathroom. She didn’t want to sit with me so I got up to unpack my bags. She wasn’t interested in the stuffed panda bear and socks I excitedly brought home, well, the socks happen to fit me, too.

It’s hard to tell which one is the two-year-old, I know. If I recall, the panda bear was actually thrown at me. She threw the bear, so I threw shade. It was the only logical response. I wore the panda socks for the rest of the evening.

2. Let It Spread.

Please take note: Molluscum Contagiosum is a royal pain in the parenting ass. Parents, I beg you, if your child has this condition, do not let your child swim, bathe, share a donut, or even talk on the phone with anyone, not a single other human being until the condition is eradicated. It is so highly contagious and a generally messy ordeal.

Both of my kids had it and it’s the skin infection version of herding cats. You treat one area, then a new one pops up. You think you have it contained then the universe clearly tells you that you are managing a hopeless, helpless situation.

I had to treat one of the bumps and she didn’t want me to touch it. I was over her fear and worry about the damn thing and I just wanted to get the medicine and be done with it. It was late. I had reached my limit. We had done this a zillion times before. At her last tear-filled sob that she was afraid it might hurt (which it wouldn’t), I blurted out, “Well fine, then. Let them spread all over your little body.”

1. Let Them Eat Cake.

Let me start by creating a visual for you:

I’m wearing a set of flannel, black and white toile pajamas (with pink trim), collar up of course. My short hair is pushed back with one of my daughter’s pink, yellow, and green floral stretchy headbands so most of it is sticking straight up. I have a black spatula in my right hand. My left, if I remember correctly is waiving wildly in the air.

“Fine, then don’t eat. Go hungry! Better yet, go right into the kitchen and help yourself to whatever your little heart desires. Have cookies! Have Doritos for breakfast! Go right ahead; I truly don’t care anymore.”

My parenting error? I made pancakes from scratch. I found this delish recipe that consisted of whole wheat flour, oats, honey, and buttermilk. Yes, that’s right, I made my own fucking buttermilk. They were crusty golden brown and as delicious as expected.

I have never heard so much unfounded complaining in my life. I was informed that they looked too lumpy, they felt funny when picked up with the fork, and yes, there was a concern that they weren’t cooked long enough. I thought I would roll my eyeballs right out of my head. Cue the wildly waving spatula.

Yes indeed, the highlights of my finer moments of motherhood, right here in black and white for all of you to see. The hard truth is, my kids are actually pretty great. They are easy-going, happy children with whom I generally love being around. So, thinking about that, and reflecting on this list tells me one of two things: either I am a total asshole, or even when kids are really easy, motherhood is still pretty damn hard.

Peanuts.

I recently had an article published about my personal struggle between balancing the need to be assertive, with the unnecessary need to always be polite. I blame this on my southern roots. No matter the cause I want my children to have a different internal narrative – if it’s important to you, say what you need say. Period.

I thought about several interactions throughout my life and I easily saw a pattern. Clearly it resonated with other women, too because the article has reached thousands of readers, all with a resounding agreement that we often times put too much focus on being polite, instead of what we need to say. You can read the article here, published by Scary Mommy.

Hhhooowwweeevvveeerrrr, apparently when I’m traveling and tired my worry about politeness goes right out the plane window. Literally. On my completely full return flight home last week from Dallas, I was making my way to the very back of the plane, realizing quickly that there was no more overhead room for my carry-on bag. A flight attendant quickly intercepted me and started looking for space.

One thing about me: I’m a rule follower. People don’t typically make up rules for shits and giggles. There is usually a reason for rules and most likely a good one. Another thing about me: I listen. When people talk on a microphone or speaker-thing, something sort of important sounding, I listen. Most of the time they are not engaging in unimportant talky-talky. Especially when I’m about to board an aircraft, an object I still don’t fully comprehend how it remains in flight, I am going to listen.

The accommodating attendant popped open an overhead bin and found a soft, squishy, rather small backpack. I was one misplaced backpack away from getting my overhead bin space. I had her back; I knew exactly what she was thinking, “Who the ever loving hell put a backpack in the fucking overhead bin?!?” Instead she politely asked around for the owner of the backpack.

There he was. As soon as I laid eyes on grandpa I was ready to take care of business. Ain’t nobody screwing up our system! Not today, gramps, not today. As she was leaning in to talk with him, for some very impolitely assertive reason, I leaned over her shoulder and firmly informed him, “Bags like that are supposed to go under the seat in front of you, not the overhead bin!” I may have even pointed a finger for emphasis.

It was like an alien had taken over my body. I quickly pulled my lips inward as the attendant stared into the soul of my forefathers. She gently directed me to take a seat. Again, I knew exactly what she was thinking, “No peanuts for crazy in the back.”

xoxo

You can also read the complete article here:

As a southern woman, I have found that we are too often taught through our experiences that, above everything else, we should be polite. At some point throughout our life, in often compounding ways, we are shown that under most circumstances, we should always err on the side of politeness. No matter what we want to say, or what we are feeling, the appropriate response is to smile and nod.

Instead of telling the truth, we bless people’s hearts. Instead of saying what we want to say, we hug graciously. My experiences don’t necessarily need to be the same as my daughter’s, which is why I want to raise her to explicitly understand that being polite is not necessarily a requirement in this life.

I was recently at a lunch event with friends and relatives when two women started a conversation with me and then, rather stunningly, said disparaging things about a close family member of mine. Instead of responding the way my inner voice wanted me to, engaging in a verbal street fight, I was polite.

Later that same year my family and I were having lunch at a local restaurant and were seated across from a chatty, elderly couple. I’m certainly accustomed to people interacting with us as a family when we are out with our children, as nothing gets grandpa up and chatting like cute kids. The problem wasn’t anything he said, it was merely his insertion into our family lunch. I was more uncomfortable with his level of comfort, his assumptions that he could barge right into our meal. I didn’t put an end to the conversation or ask for the privacy I wanted. Instead, I was polite.

Having sat there, silent, I hated the way I felt and wanted to share those feelings with my daughter. I wanted her to know that if she was ever in a situation like that, in which someone was making her uncomfortable, she didn’t have to put up with it. I pulled her aside, got eye-to-eye with her, and told her my lie. “I want you to know that it’s always okay for you to not interact in situations like that. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, it would be totally fine for you to say that you are not interested in engaging with him.”

She stared blankly at me, and asked, “Well, why didn’t you?”

Her question has stuck with me for months. Time after time, I have allowed things to be said or done and instead of standing up for myself, I’ve opted to be polite. I have sacrificed my own feelings for someone else’s comfort. The old man’s feelings shouldn’t have been put ahead of my desire for privacy. Those women didn’t deserve to be protected for being hurtful. My feelings within the space of these events matter, and I want my children to feel the same way.

I want my daughter to find the balance that I didn’t necessarily grow up having. I want her to understand the importance of being respectful and polite, but also understand the importance of being brave and saying what she needs to say — even if it’s scary. I don’t want her to sacrifice her own feelings for the comfort of those around her.

So, is it ever okay to ruin the lunch?

As a mother raising a daughter, I have found that in order to combat this pressure to be polite, it’s my responsibility to teach my daughter explicitly and directly that politeness is not a requirement in this life. My words sometimes will not be enough. I have to show her that I am strong enough to do the things I am telling her to do.

So, to all the women out there struggling with this idea that in order to have a happy life, we must be polite; to my dear daughter and all the girls who are growing up with her, I say an emphatic, Yes! It is completely and totally okay to ruin the lunch. Say what you have to say. Even if your voice shakes and it’s really scary, say the words and express your feelings. Take up space in this world without apology, and remember that being polite is not a requirement.

Lessons in Humility.

Audrey recently had a sleepover leaving us temporarily a family a three. I enjoy the few times when we have just one child with us, giving them extra special one-on-one time. We decided to drop Audrey off, then take William out to dinner and dessert. After saying our goodbyes to Audrey and visiting with the family, we decided on a French cafe that was nearby.

We got to our table which was tucked way in the back and right away ordered drinks. Both kids always order for themselves, something Brian and I have encouraged from when they were really little. William placed his order, “May I please have a Dr. Pepper?” At home we have milk, water, or juice but it’s really anything goes when we are out. We were so excited to be out, even had the server take our picture!

William’s food arrived, and Brian and I chatted away while he ate. We had the day’s news to catch up on and just tried to enjoy a few moments of adult talk while William was eating. Things took a weird turn when we looked at William and he was no longer eating. His eyes looked glassy and he was white as a ghost. He kept blinking. “William are you ok?” I implored and he shook his head yes. I could tell something was not right and I started to slightly panic. I was honestly worried he was about to throw up and this chic bistro was not the place for that to happen. We were so far in the back I had no idea how to make an exit. He kept blinking and I could tell he was scared. He was still drained of all color.

My first instinct was to check his drink. We always check the kids’ drinks but this time I didn’t. I can’t say for certain why, I just know this time I did not check his drink. It was basically empty so there was not much to check; whatever was left was watered down with melted ice. If there happened to be a mistake, and there was booze in his drink, certainly that would explain his quick demise.

“I feel dizzy.” His quiet voice whispered, “My heart is beating really fast.”

Brian scooped him up and walked him outside. I asked to see the manager and for our bill. My mind was racing: do I take him to an after hours clinic for a blood test? Do I run him by our friend’s house to examine him? Do I need to go to the ER? Should I be physically panicking now?

The manager runs over and offers to call an ambulance if I need one. I know he was trying to be reassuring but it only made me feel more sure that my son was accidentally given alcohol. He then went on to explain that those who bus the tables and take drink orders do not have access to the bar at all; there is zero chance that he was accidentally given the wrong drink. I still wasn’t sure.

In the meantime, Brian had gotten some crackers and William ate a few bites of them. For the first time in, what seemed like an eternity, I was no longer sure my son was about to either vomit or die. He was improving.

The manager returned to my table with our food wrapped up to go. He leaned over and politely said, “Ma’am, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but, when was the last time he ate anything? You know, all that soda on an empty stomach can be problematic.”

You know, folks, there are times in our lives when we need to take life’s lessons of humility and learn from them. Listen to what the universe is telling you! When he first asked the question, my initial (internal) response was to roll my eyes right out of my head and get all parent-y and righteous, declaring how I am a 43-year-old mother of two with a PhD and need not get child rearing lessons from the concerned manager of this restaurant. I had already cocked my head, ready to momsplain to Mr. Manager the err of his ways, then…it hit me.

Good thing my internal response wasn’t my external response, because the ugly truth is, he was right. My kid hadn’t eaten since noon. It was an oddly busy day…Brian was in and out…I had a meeting…then we went to soccer…I was preoccupied and never offered anyone snacks…oddly, no one was asking for snacks! We were also eating later than normal because of the sleep over drop off. We normally eat around 5:00 and it was after 7pm! My kids rarely drink soda…my son hadn’t eaten in, oh, say close to 6 hours and filled his stomach with Dr. Pepper.

I GUESS HE DID FEEL DIZZY.

File this under ‘mamma needs to check herself.’ If there is one thing I want to teach my children, it is to be humble. I still have a lot to learn – we all do. We can all learn from each other. Mr. Manager was right and for that I am thankful. Can you imagine the humble pie I’d have to eat if my kid was diagnosed in the ER with nothing more than a sugar and caffine high? I’ll take my lessons in small bites and be sure to learn from them.

xoxo

Either – Or.

“What, exactly were you doing when you found them?”

Well, Edna, I understand we are about to get very comfortable with each other during this ultra sound, but I don’t think it’s necessary that I answer your probing questions. Besides, if I told you the truth, it may fog up your tiny, round, wire frame glasses leaving you a fumbling mess. We don’t really want that to happen, now do we?

******

I found two enlarged lymph nodes in my groin and all anyone wants to know is how the hell I found them. It’s been so incredibly funny to me the interest in how these lumps were identified. The truth is, for the first two weeks of doctor appointments, I honestly didn’t remember. It’s no secret that my brain no longer works like it used to so it’s no surprise that I had no earthly idea how, when, or why these things showed up. But they did.

So here we go again…I can feel the pressure begin to build, although I’m feeling positive about it all. Things are a bit different this time, though. It’s kind of like being pregnant for the second time, except without the happiness and excitement. I already know my surgeon so there’s no anxiety about meeting with him next week. I’ve been through the process of a biopsy, so I know what to expect. My prescription for Xanax has been pre-filled in the event that I need it. I know the process of insurance claims and already know exactly who I’ll need to call and yell at. I feel really on top of things this time which is giving me a sense of power and control. Albeit a totally false sense of power and control, but who’s counting. There is a reason people live a lifetime in denial – it’s a beautiful place.

The other day a friend asked me how I was feeling. One of those questions in which she really wanted the answer; not a fleeting pleasantry.  She really wanted to know and would have stood there for 12 days if I needed to talk that long. The truth is, I’m in a constant state of “either-or.” Sort of like a fun children’s book, just without the fun.

I’ve lost weight recently. Now, the months of August through November were incredibly stressful for me and when I’m stressed my metabolism goes into hyper drive. So, the cause for the weight loss? It’s either stress, or lymphoma.

I’ve noticed my eyelashes are unusually thin lately. The cause? Well, that’s easy. It could either be the natural molting process of my body, or lymphoma. My dog lost some hair recently, and I can only assume he has lymphoma, too. (Pray for us both.)

I really do feel positive about it all and honestly, as my doctor and I collaboratively agreed, if I were a single woman living alone with my ill dog, I probably wouldn’t give any of this a second thought. But I’m not that woman and that’s not my life. I have two amazing and beautiful little humans who look to me every single day to be their mother. They are relying on me to be there for them and I will do everything within my power to do just that. I have a funny and kind husband who I absolutely love spending my life with and I’d like to spend a lot more of my life with him. In other words, I’m not fucking around. Yes, the thought of going through this again scares the life out of me, but honestly, doing nothing scares me even more. Yes, the process alone is enough to make you crazy, and I know I may just be slightly nuts for the next few weeks. But for me, for them, for us, it’s worth it.

xoxo

 

 

 

Dear Period, Sayonara Sister.

I am beyond excited to report that an article I wrote was published by Blunt Moms ! You can read the published piece here and the full body is below. Enjoy!

###

I recently read an article in which a mother threw a celebration honoring her daughter’s first period. I truly get it. It’s a transition for young women that should be celebrated and as her mother, it’s my job to show my daughter the beauty that does exist within her menstrual cycle. While there were many, many years that my period served me well, played a vital role in my health, and supported two healthy pregnancies, after 30 years together, I’m making the decision to end it.

Now, before a group of anthropologists get their Patagonias in a bunch, hear me out. At 41 years-old I was very randomly diagnosed with thyroid cancer. It was during an annual exam with a new gynecologist – I had been on a six-month long quest to find a new doctor to provide more personalized, hands-on care – and I had finally found her. Thankfully. Up until this point, not a single OBGyn had ever touched me above the shoulders, but she did and found a large mass hiding in my neck.

Since then, things have begun to unravel and become completely out of sync. I’m bleeding more often than not, and based on uterine biopsy results, my estrogen will not calm the fuck down. There could be several reasons to possibly explain these changes. Most obvious, I no longer own the gland that controls my heart rate, metabolism, body temperature, and a host of other systems. Instead, I take a synthetic version of thyroid hormone. Sure, so far, so-so good but I’d be lying if I wasn’t waiting for the rest of my organs to figure it all out and stage a full-scale rebellion. I’m sure the invasive radiation treatment, had its affects, too. I’m also sure the fact that I am knocking on the door of 43 years-old may have something to do with it. No matter the reason, 30 years is plenty long enough and I am counting down the days to formally bid Flo a final farewell.

Our periods do serve us very well and I recognize the vital role it plays in our reproductive health. However, as I sit here today, that part of my life is very much over. I’m long past the days of planning for pregnancies. Now, since things are so out of sorts, and despite my best efforts, I think it’s time to end the misery. I have zero time for this shit in my life. I’m living in a constant state of premenstrual misery. With an average of two periods a month, every week is pretty much occupied with something period related. I find zero delight when my favorite jeans feel they belong to my 9 year-old-daughter. I always focus on the positive, though, and tell myself I’m getting a warm denim and spandex hug.

Just consider the logistics that are necessary for managing a period. I can only surmise that pads are designed by men. I either use a thin liner and end up bleeding all over my panties because it’s too short, or I unwrap something large enough to be used as a parasail. I find myself either patching together liners, single file across the crotch of my underwear or walking around like a diaper-clad toddler. I’ve given my period 30 solid years of existence, which in my mind, is a long and prosperous life. Therefore, bye, Felicia.

I may be almost 43 with two kids, a busy life and a host of craziness happening within my body, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t want to have sex with my husband. There is truly nothing more romantic than having my hubby nuzzle up to me and whisper a playful suggestion to meet him in the bedroom only for me to snuggle back and respond, “You mean so I can change my tampon?” I laugh and he – well, he doesn’t laugh. There is nothing really funny about my period cock blocking him for almost the entire month.

After much thought and discussion, it’s clearly time for me to permanently say sayonara to my cycle. While I am counting the days and so very much looking forward to a period free life, I do think about how I will adjust to the changes. What will I do with all of my free time? I’m a pretty resourceful gal and am certain I will figure out a way to spend my time and the money I won’t be spending on individually wrapped flotation devices. Maybe I will have more sex and buy more shoes? Maybe. If so, I cannot think of a better way to spend my time and money.

I will certainly look forward to the day when my daughter starts her own period, and will celebrate her life’s milestone with all the pride and fanfare it deserves. I will be there along the way, helping her navigate her own path. I will answer questions and give her advice. I will listen. Of course, I’ll wait until she’s much older and able to fully appreciate my decision to end my crazy period in exchange for an improved quality of life. (An improved quality of life with more sex and shoes. )

Gotta Get a Goal.

The start of 2017 was epic. I was so ready to leave the past of 2016 and focus fully on the potential and promise of a new year, I set my sights on the year and made it my bitch. Within the first few weeks, I landed my first ever big publication on Scary Mommy which was quickly followed up by two more on that site. I was picked up by Red Tricycle and then Post40Bloggers. Sammiches & Psych Meds soon followed. Other bloggers scheduled and shared my articles and posts. I was networking within the writer/publisher sphere of the interwebs. I was on a writer’s high for three solid months. Then, life got busy and I got comfortable.

You know how it goes, work commitments ramp up, the calendar gets cramped, we were juggling two soccer teams, one baseball team, scouts, and all things related to the end of the school year. I hadn’t written anything new except to lament my current inability to eat bread. I hadn’t had anything new published in several weeks and I was unsettled by how comfortable I was about it. So is this it? Are you done?

Hell no.

I said to myself, somewhat out loud, that I wanted to write something totally new – we’re talking just an idea and a blank Word document – and get it published. Brand new, baby. In the past, I have submitted work that I had already written and published here on my blog. Writing something new is important for two reasons – one, you can get paid for new, unpublished content, and two, it’s risky. Although I’m working on monetizing my writing, right now that’s not the top priority, but the risk is. Posting things here gives time for exposure and feedback. I can get an idea of what people think about my writing on a small-scale. It’s safe. Going straight to the general public, well, the thought truly takes my breath away, and yet I could not stop thinking about it.

Like, literally, I did not stop thinking about it and it was a total and complete pain in the ass. Like a small rock in my shoe, it was there, day in and day out, reminding me that I set this damn goal and now I have to work to achieve it. As long as there was a rock in my shoe, I could not get comfortable. This was problematic because I was suddenly faced with the worst case of writer’s block.

I thought of everything.

Maybe I need to write about the impossible set of expectations society sets for women. I was waiting in the doctor’s office recently and saw a blurb about quick and easy ways to make my Easter better. “For an extra special touch, fashion little containers out of bendable balsa wood, then personalize the outside with ribbon, homemade tags, and faux flowers!”  This is neither helpful, nor reasonable as I see zero place in my life for bendable balsa wood. Things like this do not help women in any way. It only has the potential to make us crazy.

Then I thought, maybe I need to write about how sometimes when we are miserable, it’s our own damn fault. Yes, you heard me, the truth is we are responsible for our own happiness. While I know this is true, the only things I could come up with were to get rid of all the bendable balsa wood in your life, have more sex, and go out with your friends more. It sputtered along then died a slow, painful death.

I could not rid my shoe of the rock.

Then one day, while pulling a blob of wet clothes out of the washer, it hit me. Yes! Yes! Of course! That’s it!

I did what I always do – started my writing process of organizing my thoughts in my head, mentally editing and arranging. Side notes, anecdotes, reflections, all maintained by the threads of my neurons. I hold it all in until I have the time to sit at my computer and dump it all out like a hamster emptying her food pouches.

I’m happy to report that my new, never-published-anywhere-before article has been accepted and will be published on national platform this Sunday. (By the way, family and friends, please don’t collectively lose your shit. I’m fully aware of my son’s birthday.) If I had not set that goal, if I had not made myself uncomfortable, I would not have reached this milestone.

While the rock in my shoe was a total pain in the ass, living in a state of discomfort had its benefits. I was certainly more aware, as I was always thinking and processing things in ways I normally wouldn’t. I thought about things more critically and dug deeper into my own personal reflections. It also kept the fire lit. It was oddly energizing. Living in a state of discomfort actually kept me going. Knowing that the only thing to rid me of this rock would be to finish the article and submit it is what kept me moving forward. I wasn’t comfortable, but I was moving.

I know that if I get too comfortable, I get stagnant. Believe me, I love nothing more than predictability and being comfortable. Just look in my underwear drawer. But there is nothing better than achieving your goals.

So remember, having a rock in your shoe may actually prove to be a good thing. A very good thing.