Saturday

On Turning 40..



40 is hot!  No, seriously, it's hot - that's too many candles and the cake is on fire!! Where's the extinguisher??


Well hello there.

Fancy seeing you here - it's been too long.  I know, I know.  Shame on me for not blogging in weeks.
It's been so long since I've blogged that I actually had to log in to this account.  Even my own damn blog froze me out.  It took me three times to remember my password, but I finally got it right.  I logged on to find over 40 comments awaiting moderation.  All of them spam.  I guess I didn't miss much.

I've been quiet.  I've been thinking.  I've been observing.  I've been reflecting.  I think I'm ready to give it a go again.

Some of you might remember my piece in the anthology I Just Want to Pee Alone entitled A Cougar is Born.  It was a silly look at turning 40 and the celebrating that goes with that - and with the celebrating, the obnoxious amount of effort put into looking presentable for a night on the town.  It was fun to write, it was graciously well received (for that I thank you) and it was painfully true from a primping/superficial aspect of turning 40.

My friends will tell you, however, there is a more serious side of me that can tell you something a little more moving about my turning 40, and so I thought I might explore that side of things today to share with you the really big things I learned in my 30s.

1. Forgiveness is the greatest, and sometimes hardest skill we can learn. 
Things that happened to me early on in my thirties forced me to make a decision.  I could either forgive what was done to me and move forward in my life, or I could hold on to anger and resentment and let it consume me, and lead me down a miserable path in life.  By some miracle, I had the insight to choose to forgive and make a conscious effort to just let it go.  The funny thing was, once I made that decision, it was simple.  It felt absolutely amazing and it opened my heart to a future full of love and light.  To this day, I consider the ability to forgive one of my greatest assets.  This leads me to my next lesson....


One of my favorite quotes ever.

2. Treat others the way you want to be treated. 
I live by this.  I'm not going to lie.  Some days it is hard.  It takes actual work.  For the most part, it proves to be true.  You want good friends?  Then be a good friend.  You want people to listen?  Then be a good listener.  You want people to be kind to you and to others around them?  Show kindness.  Be the change you want.  Stop complaining - start doing.  I live by this.  But ...and there is a but...not everyone you come into contact with in life plays by the rules.  I learned that some people, as kind as I may have been to them, didn't have the grace to accept it, or couldn't fight the urge to be an asshole in return.  My lesson?  Learn to let go of those who don't appreciate you for who you are.  There are going to be people in life that have a basic inability to be grateful or to appreciate friendship.  There are going to be people with a different definition of happiness than you have.  There will be people who don't know better, or who do, but choose not to.  This is not my burden to carry.  I can't accept or own responsibility for those people.  I can, however, choose to go in peace.  Valuable lesson.  Keep the people who want you in your life close.  Those who don't, let them go.  It's okay.

3.  People want to be heard, loved, seen, and appreciated.
This goes for our children, our parents, our grandparents, neighbors, coworkers, friends...etc.  Who doesn't want a little positive light in their day? Or a hand to reach out when they are in a tough spot?  A "like" of a photo they posted on FB...a "congrats" on an accomplishment they worked so hard for.  Taking 2 seconds to comment or like something to say hey, I see what you did there...and I'm proud of you...barely takes any effort.  Simple kindness to acknowledge someone's day is all too easy.  This crazy high tech world can't possibly make it any easier for us to do this daily.  I'm not saying you have to comment on every darn thing in your news feed but this type of technical human contact is more appreciated by people than you might think.  As far as my kids go, as many times as they say, mommy, come see ______!   I get up and go.  It could be an ant crawling on the ground, much to their wonder, or a plane in the sky, or a bright red bird flying in the yard.  By stopping to see what they want to show us validates and tells them they are just as important as anything else we might be doing.  99.9% of the time, we aren't performing CPR on someone, therefore, there's really no reason not to get up to see what they want to show us.  Their little world is so huge to them, and the wonder through the eyes of a child is so much bigger than we know.  It's such an easy thing to do for them - besides, don't underestimate how many times they can and will say mommy, mommmm, mommaa, mom, mommy, moooooooooom come herrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre!  Just go.

4.  Unless the absolute impossible event of me winning Powerball happens, there is no way I can help everyone in need.
This is one of the hardest pills I've had to swallow.  Admitting, knowing, and accepting that there is no way I can possibly save the world.  It was on my to-do list in my twenties - I'll be honest, but in my thirties, I realized that I have an infinite amount of money and supplies for the need out there.  Every time I checked out at the store I'd hear would you like to donate a dollar to _______?  You can't always say yes.  You can't always donate to things.  You CAN, however, volunteer your time here and there - you CAN make a difference somehow.  Nothing is too little or too few or too anything - when you give of yourself and your time, you can make someone else feel a little more hopeful.  I was able to make a big difference by cutting coupons that said Buy One, Get One Free.  The 'one free' I would save and donate to my son's middle school.  Seems insignificant maybe, but when you deliver a dozen deodorants, that is twelve kids who now feel good about how they smell in school.  Silly...but true..and easy.  I know and understand that I can't do it all, but I can  do something.  I can lead by example.  I can show my kids to be grateful for what we have and be mindful of those who don't.  I can't save the world, but I can make my tiny speck of the world a little sunnier.

5.  Everything is temporary...or so it seems.
Maybe the 'everything is temporary' is just a line I remember from my favorite movie Moonstruck.  When Cosmo yells everything is temporary, that don't excuse nothin!   But it's something I think of when I'm down and out.  Sometimes, I'm just plain old overwhelmed with having three boys, the worry, the burden, the chores, the groceries, the everything that goes with it.  But then I think it's not always going to be this hard.  And you just do it.  You do what you need to do and you try really hard not to wish the days, weeks, months, and years away.  I always hated when my mom would say, believe me, the time goes so fast and all of a sudden they'll be gone and you'll wonder where the hell all of those years went.  But I get it, and I hear her in my head, and I try harder not to lose my cool, not to wish away this age, not to pray for vacation to come sooner, not to hope Friday gets here quicker.  It's hard...but I'm aware now.  I'm present.  Not always, but I'm getting there.  We really are only here for a short time.  Maybe turning 40 is a reminder that time flies and life is precious.  Maybe by thinking about this, I might need to go and buy those new shoes I was feeling guilty about last weekend.  Hmm..this could really be a motto that works in my favor.  Life is short...buy the shoes.  I like it.   Sorry, where was I?


6.  Health is everything.
Wow do we take this for granted too often.  I know too many people with chronic pain, cancer, injuries, illnesses, old age, Alzheimer's, and other awful afflictions.  And yet...sometimes it escapes me how fortunate I am to be healthy.  I think of my sister-n-law who died at 36 of breast cancer.  36.  Then I am reminded to schedule an exam, get on the treadmill, eat healthier, sleep longer, it's effort but it's worth it.  I ended up with that horrific flu in December and was knocked on my butt for a few days and was completely panic stricken thinking about the housework, the kids, the family, the work - but none of that mattered - it would all be okay until I recovered.  So much running around, stressing out, worrying - it takes a toll.  Health is more important than so much of the things we spend our time worrying about.  Never take for granted  being healthy.  You just never know.  This also applies to dessert.  Just eat the dessert.  You'll feel happier that you did.  Giggle.  Go for the dark chocolate - that's healthy, right?


7.  No matter what you think is funny, there is a handful of people that don't/won't.
This was a lesson I learned since I started blogging, and has become even more pronounced lately.  I started off as a 'humor' blogger.  I wrote about things I thought were funny.  I posted ecards and memes of things that made me laugh - always with good intentions.  Though I rarely had to deal with awful trolls, the occasional "this is not funny" comment would roll through and stab me right in the heart.  I realize there is always going to be someone without a sense of humor, but these days, it's gotten so bad that I found the time I spent reviewing the card for what could go wrong or who could take it the wrong way sucked up way too much of my free time and therefore was undoing my stress relief of a hobby I had.  (You'll notice I've slowed way down on my FB posts...not just because I'm busy in real life, but because I haven't had the oompf to deal with who might not think it's funny - that's just too much work).  For every blog that is written, there is a comment that has to contradict it on why it's inappropriate or not funny or they disagree..for every funny photo posted, someone has to say something. We've lost our ability to agree to disagree - we've lost our simple ability to SCROLL ON.  Just scroll past it.  Oh, a republican posted a statement about this or that - I don't agree, therefore I will shit on this post...oh, a democrat posted a pic of something - I don't agree therefore I will add my 2 cents in the most ignorant way possible...a breastfeeder did this, a bottle feeder did that..she gave her baby solids too soon - she breastfed too long -ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.  Learn to scroll on, shut FB down when it gets annoying, no one took your right to walk away from the Internet and go outside for a while away from you for goodness sake.  Can't we go back to the funny?  I will, eventually, I will.



8.  Raising good people takes work.
My husband and I have given our thirties to these kids - and we'll give our forties and fifties too..I don't think it ever stops.  But their foundation is so important.  These days we are up against so much - and our kids are too.  We have to instill in them so much confidence and knowledge and power to make tough decisions when they present themselves.  We have to talk about things that our parents never dreamed of talking to us about.  We have to explain worldly things that we don't even understand ourselves.  All of these things take involvement and time and energy and love, patience and effort.  My parents keep telling me they were lucky they didn't have to deal with the Internet and phones and texting and all of the things that go along with it.  Maybe that's true - but we can't just throw our hands up and say this is the world we live in.  We have to put the work in.  The one thing I keep telling our kids is how fortunate they are to have a roof over their heads, food on the table, clothes in their drawer, and doctors when they are sick.  We have to remind them that we are rich in love and family - and as long as we have love to give others, we can make a difference in the time we have here.  Parenting IS the hardest job in the world - the most fulfilling, yes..but so damn hard. 

9.  My parents just did the best that they could.
It seems like everyone likes to blame their parents for their shortcomings.  My mom didn't let me play _____ my dad was never around...my mom worked too much...my dad left when I was two...my mom remarried four times..my dad is in jail - THEREFORE I ____________________.
No.  No more blaming parents for everything that is wrong in our lives.  Quite simply, my parents did the best that they could with the tools and knowledge they had.  My parents raised us with one common denominator in all they did and that was fear.  They had fear of what could happen to us, fear of the unknown, fear of us going down the wrong path, fear of what others thought, fear of failure, fear of illness, fear of this, that and the other.  Choking at the dinner table, drowning at the beach, getting kidnapped - silly, crazy, irrational fear that  I never understood any of  when I was  growing up.  As a matter of fact, I am lucky my eyes never got stuck in the back of my head from constant eyerolling at their statements of 'what if _____happens to you?'   But I get it now.  I get it more than I wish I did.  Now our common denominator is fear - only ours is a little more pronounced.  Ours is more like fear of parades, fear of dropping them off at school, fear of war, fear of terrorists, fear of flying on planes with them, fear of them going on a field trip, fear -fear- fear of things that we could never even dream to be afraid of just a few years ago.   Which brings me to my final lesson...

10.  You cannot live life in fear.
I look back at my thirties and I look back on the births of my children, and all of their scrapbooks also include something tragic that happened on or around their birthdays.  School shootings, tragedies, worldly disasters.  As if postpartum wasn't difficult enough to muddle through, I had the news constantly telling me about the doom and gloom of the world I brought these babies into.  I learned early on in my thirties that I would NOT survive mentally if I let these fears paralyze me.  I made a decision that I would live each day, no matter how hard some days were, to find the good.  If I saw something on the news that jarred me, I turned it off and sought out something good.  The funny thing is - you can find some really great news if you look for it.  For every bad thing going on, there are thousands of good things.  I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of good news now.  I look, I find, I read, I laugh - and most of the time I pass it on so someone else can feel good.  We all know too many people who thrive on tragedy and bad news.  I want to be the opposite of that.  I want to find the good - it's there - just have to be open to it.  At the end of the day, I want to think about the good stuff.  This is the stuff that feeds the soul - there are enough of the souldrainers out there to last a lifetime - but I will politely decline partaking in all of that.  Lately, it's been a battle that I have had to fight, but I will push through to find the good stuff.

In closing, I thank you for reading this far.  I know it was long winded, long overdue, and heavy - but it's been weighing on me.  Too much pain surrounding too many people these days.  I'm just peacefully laying low until the funny comes back - and don't worry, it always does.  Just know I'm grateful for all of you, thankful for the ability to express myself to help me clear my head, and appreciate the time you spend with me trying to figure this stuff out.  Thank you for that.

Cheers, love and light - - and laughter of course,
~DG

Tuesday

Celebrating Together...



Did you ever think about the fact that you gave someone life?

Ever feel like a slacker? Lazy? Underachiever?
Don't.
You gave someone life.

THAT'S HUGE.

Obviously, it's so much more than just giving life - we all know that.  But let's just keep it simple for the sake of this post and observe, recognize and be awe-struck over what we've done.  In honor of Mother's Day - let's just look back on what we've accomplished and celebrate it as we should.  Let's put aside our differences for a minute - let's stop the war of the words and the worlds as far as being a mom goes.  I'm so tired from seeing women attack each other because others choose a different way.  You've heard the old saying, "there's more than one way to skin a cat," well there's more than one way to raise a child, to feed a child, to diaper a child, to educate a child - - can we just make a decision to be kind to each other and respect the different parenting ways?  Can we just stand together, as Mothers, and hold hands around the world and exhale for a minute?

To look back, do we preface it with all of the things  we had to do to get pregnant/have a baby?  Whether it was the first try, or the first round of in-vitro, or the first year of trying - or the first five years of waiting on an adoption list.  We all have our firsts that we struggled with.

The first time we experienced morning sickness.
The first time we had a hormone shot.
The first time an adoption fell through.

We all got queasy over something in the beginning.

Then we went on to struggle with our seconds.

The second time we had to go back for an ultrasound because the first one made the Dr. uneasy.
The second round of in-vitro.
The second miscarriage.
The second round of blood work.
The second batch of adoption legal fees.
We all had all sorts of seconds...and not just of dessert helpings.

And we made it to three.

The third trimester restricted to bed rest.
The third round of in-vitro that worked.
The third trip to another country.
The third meeting with a genetic counselor.
The third trip to the ER.
We had thirds we will never forget.

And through  miracles of all shape and form, all sizes big and small - we made it.

We held our baby.
We gave someone a life.
The greatest gift we could give.
But it doesn't end there.  It's the gift we give - that keeps on giving.  We keep giving.

Those helpless little ones.  Needing us for everything.  Food, comfort, diaper changes, warmth, love.
And we make it through those first few nights at home...and those first few weeks on no sleep...and those first few baths with our hearts in our throat.  And when we do fall asleep, we wake up suddenly to make sure they are breathing...and we pray they don't choke, and we pray we don't fall down the stairs with them in our arms, and we pray that their first doctor's appointments reassure us that they are healthy and we're doing it right.

We just do it.

And the time goes on.  And the years go by.  And the worries change, and they multiply, and they come and they go - but they are there.

We are all in this together.  No matter how you became a mother.  No matter who you mother.  Let's celebrate this together, regardless of what you believe, how you did it, what worked for you, what you stand for, what you stand up against - let's stand together.

We gave life.

THAT IS HUGE.

Celebrate it.

Cheers and Love,
Happy Mother's Day!
~DG

Thursday

No-Brainer Mother's Day Gift Guide...


Some of the best gifts can't be wrapped...like a good night of sleep!


 According to an article I read online the other day, Americans are prepared to spend on average $120 on gifts for Mom. This economy is tough so I thought I’d give you kids a few tips on what you can give your Mom that won’t cost you a thing, and will be appreciated more than you will ever know!

Newborns to 3 months: You babies are tough little ones aren’t you? Mommy just got done with 40 weeks of physical discomfort from nausea to heartburn, swelling to frequent flatulence. Top that off with hours of labor and delivery - related misery, and I’d say you’ve got some work to do this Mother’s Day, baby cakes! Here’s a thought. If you’re a healthy little one, why not throw back a few extra ounces on Saturday night and then sleep for 9 hours straight. Mommy might panic a little and come in and check your breathing and gently nudge you to make sure you are ok, but just do me a favor and pretend you’re sleeping and even give her a gentle cooing noise and go back to sleep. Your gift of a few extra hours of slumber will ensure she will have the best Mother’s Day she can.
3 months to 1 year: Hey little munchkins! I know you get cranky from all of that growing you’re doing, but I’ve got an idea for a gift for your Mommies that have worked so hard to get you to this stage! How about you actually swallow the teething tabs she gives you and let the pain ease up enough to not be cranky for the 24 hours on Mother’s Day? Maybe not fight her when she gives you a frozen teether, not drop it on the floor every 2 minutes, or throw it across the room. Just pretend that what she’s doing is actually working and give her a little break from this frustrating transition. If you really can’t give up the teething for one night, here’s another idea. When mommy gets you dressed up in your fancy Sunday clothes before her nice Mother’s Day Brunch, don’t have a blow out right as your family is walking out the door and ruin your outfit. Try to have the blowout before she gets you dressed. This is one of the kindest, most considerate Mother’s Day gifts you could give her.
Toddlers 1-3 years: Ohhh look at you guys getting SOO big! Big enough to pull off a great gift for Mom this year that’s for sure! Ready for some suggestions? Here goes! When Mommy plays airplane with your creamed carrots and spinach, just go ahead and OPEN UP WIDE instead of spewing them in her hair, face, and clothes like you usually do! Try to avoid finger painting your hair, face and highchair if at all possible. I know, I know, it’s all fun and games on any other day - but this day is different. Just try to get it all in your mouth and swallow. That’s a good toddler! Terrible two year olds - pssst. Yeah YOU. Lay off the word “NO” today. You use it wayyy too much and it gets really old after a while. What you can do for your Mommy today is just say “YES“! Try it! It’s so fun! YES YES YES! And to you three year olds, here’s your job for today; when Mommy gets a phone call, don’t see that as a cue to start fighting with siblings, asking her questions, and insisting that you have to tell her something important. Just let her have a peaceful 10 minute conversation on the phone that doesn’t involve putting the person she’s speaking to on hold to bribe you with something to keep you quiet. While you’re at it, try to curb your need for juice and goldfish every 10 minutes so she doesn’t have to wait on you 20 times on Mother’s Day. An even better idea - try asking Daddy for once! If he doesn’t know where the Goldfish are, show him. Good job - you kids are great gift givers, you know that!?
Gradeschool 5-11 years: Gradeschoolers. Gradeschoolers. Gradeschoolers. Lend me your wax-filled, selective-hearing ears. Do I have your attention? Good. This is important. Mom has been taking care of you all year long. She gets 24 hours out of the 8,000+ hours in a year that she gives you so let’s make this count. Here’s what you can give her today. When you get up, be sure to make your bed. Brush your teeth without her telling you to. Get a bath or shower without being prodded, get dressed without drama, brush your own hair and be self-sufficient for the entire day. For the love of Pete, do not even think about telling Mom at 5:00 pm on Mother’s Day that you have a Science Project or report due on Monday. Get your homework done before Sunday without being asked, and if you get dressed up to go to breakfast, lunch or dinner in honor of mom, pu-leaaase don’t say you’re bored. Do these things, and you will have repaid your Mom back for a year of being the Best Mother Ever.
Tweens - 11-12 years: Today I want you to focus on the bathroom. Boys, pee IN the toilet. Any splashes? Wipe them up. Check the floor. Splashes down there? Clean it up. Girls - did you use the last of the toilet paper? Change the roll. Did you use the last roll? Go get another package from storage. Did you get soap all over the sink, water too? Get a paper towel and clean it up. Pay attention to details today kids. Clean up after yourselves and watch just how impressed your Mom will be with her ‘gift.’ Ease up on the eye rolls today, too. A few hugs and kisses would be spectacular. You aren’t too old to stop the affection, are you?
Teens 13+: Well hello loves. I’m sure you’re angry or frustrated about something this weekend. I get it. I’ve been there! Can you maybe put your anger on the backburner this weekend though? At least for Sunday. While you’re putting things away, can you go ahead and put your cell phone, ipod, ipad, Xbox, Wii controllers, etc. down too. Oh, one more thing - just for the day, log off of Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and Youtube and just give your mom your undivided attention for about an hour or two. Talk to her, tell her something funny, be kind, be appreciative. I’m sure you’ve got a little fun money in your piggy bank to buy a simple, thoughtful, heartfelt card as well. She will treasure that card as long as she lives - and who knows, she may remember it next time you ask to sleep over a friend’s house or go to a party. Oh, one more thing - if you have any bad news pending such as detentions, bad report cards, and anything like that, just do yourself and her a favor and wait until Monday to deliver the news. You’re a good sport for letting her enjoy this one big day.
Dads: Dads listen up. I’m not going to sugar-coat anything for you. If you even THINK about NOT getting her something, and using the excuse “you’re not my mother,” you haven’t learned anything in your adult life. Don’t do that. That’s a dirt bag move. We all know we aren’t your mother, nor do we want to be (although it’s ok for us to do your laundry, clean up your urine on and around the toilet, throw your dirty socks in the hamper that you managed to leave just outside of the hamper, and many other motherly duties). We are your children’s mother. We went through a lot to bring them into this world, and we go through a lot to keep them healthy and happy in this world - the least you can do is help them with getting a small gift, or if they are too little, pick up something nice on their behalf. Lingerie is another creeper move. That is not a gift on their behalf - that is YOU hoping to get lucky on Mother’s Day. Stop that. Today is NOT about you. How about a spa gift card? A mall gift card tucked inside a sweet card is always nice, too. Please - no pink -wrapped grocery store/ gas station roses or carnations. That says ‘desperate-last minute - no thought-put-in’ douche bag move. You have over 365 days to know that Mother’s Day is coming so don’t pull the “I didn’t have time to pick anything up” line either. Dads, you can do this - I know you can. Make sure she doesn’t have to cook, she doesn’t have to yell, and she doesn’t have any unnecessary drama for the day. You’ve got this.

Never. Ever. Say this.

Being a Mother truly is the greatest gift in the world. Being pampered once a year is a close second- so do your part in getting it right. Cheers, and a very Happy Mother’s Day, too. ~DG