Friday, April 3, 2020

What I Know Right Now.

I’ve always loved Oprah’s column in her magazine; “What I Know For Sure…”.

But, right now, I’m not sure I know anything for sure.

So, here are some things I know right now.


My kids eat a lot. I told Weston he was going to grow a foot while he was home and he was excited to get a third foot. He thinks he’ll run faster with an extra one. I didn’t correct him.

I believe in the separation of work and home. I got an email the other day, read it, got angry, and then Nora asked to take a nap. I was hot, sweating and barely able to focus on the story I was reading. It sucked. I pride myself on showing up for my work when I’m there and my home when I’m here. I'm trying to navigate these blurred lines. 

I like my husband. He’s a really good partner. And, he’s funny. And, handsome. I’m glad he’s the one I chose to do life with. I didn’t know life would include something called “social distancing” but it sure makes clear what a good decision I made almost exactly ten years ago.

My son is really good at puzzles, and my daughter can, in fact, play on her own! Because, the kids they are alright. These little people are learning tough lessons. And, maybe unlike their mama, they’re doing it with grace. I have a feeling their generation will be at least partially defined by this pandemic. They’ll know what lotion is best for cracked hands and will tell you something about resilience too.

We can do hard things, but maybe not easy things simultaneously. I spelled my name wrong the other day and sent more emails without attachments than I care to admit. Because, we can do hard things – like handle anxiety and uncertainty and decipher stimulus bills – but we can’t do easy things at the same time. Let’s cut each other some slack.

I like my Cabernet heavy on the oak. I said it.  

We need each other. The bright spots in each of these days are from friends who reach out. Some with words, others with scones, and still others with condos for your family to live in while you’re in between homes. Yes, we are apart right now, but we have this shared experience. There’s magic in that.

Hang in there, friends.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Polar Bears

Several weeks ago, my husband picked my daughter up from school and asked her how her day was. She replied, “Terrible!” Surprised, he dug a little to better understand what was so terrible. She told him she’d explain when we were all home together.

Without warning of that interaction, I got home and saw my daughter lying on the couch looking exhausted. I asked her; “Nora, are you ok?”

She sat up. Slowly. And announced that she could now explain why her day was terrible.

She then began to educate us on the danger the polar bears of the world are experiencing through climate change. She had tears in her eyes as she asked me what we could do.

We talked about the ways our family could make a difference and set out to do so. She reminded her brother constantly that leaving the lights on when we weren’t in a room would hurt the polar bears. I even caught her telling a character in a movie that their situation wasn’t “as bad as the polar bears'!”

This girl was feeling this pain deeply.

A few weeks later as the snow began to melt outside our Iowa windows Nora showed up in the bathroom announcing there was an emergency outside. We had litter in our yard. Stuck under the melting snow and what would this do to the polar bears?!?

I cannot make this stuff up.

***

A few days ago, I completely lost control of all my emotions. Alone in my car.

You see, this year, #internationalwomensday came and went. I was angry on that day, so I didn’t really acknowledge it.

But, a few days ago, I was listening to Glennon Doyle’s new book alone in my car and couldn’t believe my ears when a chapter in her book told an identical story about her daughter. In kindergarten. Learning about the polar bears.

It hit me. All at once. The devastation and lethargy I had been feeling over the last few weeks had run deep. I’m watching my daughter grow into herself and admittedly have had the urge to tame her into what we think a woman should be. I have been guilty of taming. Because I see all around us that untamed is not yet accepted by the masses.

Me. Someone who believes fiercely in women. Someone who has been angry for days as I watch our choices dwindle for the next leader of this nation to one of three men over the age of 75.

We must go against all our instincts to tame these girls who learn about the world and feel deeply the injustice. We must let them forge their own paths as untamed girls who turn into deeply feeling women who won’t abide by the old rules. If we can do this job, if we can raise enough girls into women who are unapologetically sensitive to the world’s issues, maybe just maybe, we can shock this system we’ve created.

Because, we need them!

"First, it’s the polar bears.

Then, it’s us."

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Front Row

This picture was snapped of a group at a recent event for my talented friend’s book launch. And, I keep coming back to it.

I’m 35. You guys know that. I wrote about it here.

At 35 I’m starting to understand exactly who I am. And, might I say this picture very well may define it.

***

Last week another dear friend was speaking at a women’s luncheon. This friend’s bravery is quite astounding. She shares her story to spread light and love. But her story is scary and vulnerable. As so many of ours are when we are telling the truth.

She asked if we’d sit up front. Us friends. Right where she could see our smiles and knowing nods.

So we did. Or, we tried our best. We sat right by the screen.

Turns out when the speaking began, the screen was in fact as far back in the room as one could get. We were disoriented by our excitement.

So, we scarfed our food down and rushed to the front. Causing a bit of a scene, maybe, but hell-bent on being in the front row for our girl.

***

I hope that’s who I am. The girl in the front row for the people I care about. Trying my best. Smiling. Giving them knowing nods. Causing a scene, disoriented by my excitement, and eating a cookie. 

Image may contain: 12 people, including Nate Klein, Amanda Wendling and Emily Flowergarden, people smiling, people standing
Photo by Ed Kempf
Cheers, my friends!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Thoughts on 35

I turned 35 recently.

If I’m honest, I’m not quite sure how I feel about that number. Maybe it’s because my birthday falls directly after the holidays, and this holiday season I made sure all recipes I made included cream cheese frosting. My pants are still reminding me of this delicious decision. Or maybe it’s because I’m perpetually 26 in my own head. And, 35 isn’t 26.

Anyway, as a practice to guide my thoughts and energy, I jotted down a few lessons I’m still learning.

***

Hannah Gadsby said in her Netflix special, Nannette; “our stories hold our cure.”

A few years ago, I shared my story of getting burnt out and walking away from a job I once loved. This story helped other brave women come forward and admit the same. Sharing our stories is not only a powerful way to connect, it’s a crucial human function.

***

If you’re wandering around a tailgate looking for a beer and a brat, and you find a handsome man who has both; marry him. Life is tough. And, the kind of guy who can offer up a beer and a brat feels like a safe place to land when it all gets to be too much.

***

I learned recently about a method psychiatrists use to reprogram trauma in the brain called EMDR. I’m no medical professional but my layman’s explanation is as follows; while you visit traumatic events in your head, the psychiatrist has you hold something that buzzes. The item buzzes first in your right hand then in your left and back and forth. This action allows the traumatic event to move from your right (emotional) brain to your left (logical) brain. It allows you to process the trauma and move forward.

Someone once told me running doesn’t cure everything, and this new-found information regarding EMDR makes me stubbornly reply with; “not so fast!” 

I truly believe, with all my heart, while you watch your right foot and then your left foot pound the pavement on a long run while thinking through your pain, your mind reprograms that pain.

So, in fact, running may cure everything.

***

Sometimes self-care looks like a glass of wine and relaxing your mind and body. But it also looks like combining all your to-do lists. It looks like mind-dumping that shit on however many pieces of paper required and taking a hard look at it. It looks like delegating, crossing off the easy stuff, and deleting the stuff that isn’t yours to get done. Self-care sometimes looks like doing the work you don’t want to do.

***

A good song can change a mood. And a day.

***

Keep those who feel like warmth close. Keep close those who have known you forever, and are brave enough to call you on your shit. But, find the people who love the you, you’ve grown into, and challenge you to be the person you’re continually becoming.

***

Fear is contagious. But, so is kindness. Choose to spread the latter. Especially when it’s hard.

***

And, finally, the Harvard Business Review did a study on Collective IQ many years ago. The summary, in short, is when measuring a group’s collective IQ not many things raised it. There was little correlation, in fact, between a group’s collective intelligence and the IQs of its individual members. But if a group includes more women, its collective intelligence rises.

Draw your own conclusions.

***

Scones also help. Especially the savory ones from Dash!

Cheers, my friends!

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Lane Assist

I bought a Subaru Outback just over a year ago. With it, came this amazing feature “lane assist.” If you’re not familiar, this feature maps your lanes and gives you a gentle nudge if your vehicle veers out of said lanes. I'm not a girl who gets too excited about cars. In fact, I was was once on SR22 insurance due to too many accidents. However, I find this feature to be quite literally a life saver.

It’s also a reminder each day of my role as a parent.


I remember telling a co-worker just after Nora was born that I always thought parenting was about making our kids into the best versions of themselves. But, once Nora was born, I knew she was already her best self. As a baby, I could see it in her eyes. I knew, through her eyes, my job was to map the lanes for her, and gently nudge her each time she was veering out of the them.

But, my job has gotten so much harder these last few months. My dear Nora is driving on roads that are unfamiliar to both of us. Kindergarten is in full swing. For us, this means her brain is going faster than a Subaru can drive. The lanes she has grown accustomed to staying in are expanding. She is seeking more control. She is falling apart and wanting to put the pieces back together herself. For God’s sake, her teeth are falling out of her mouth! Ha!



So, each morning I look into those sweet eyes and remember that my job is the gentle nudge. The lane assist. It’s not to drive the car for her (no matter how tempting). And while lane assist doesn’t prevent accidents, it helps keep us aware of the boundaries.

In short, kindergarten is hard.

And we can do hard things.

Cheers, my friends!

Saturday, September 14, 2019

To the Woman Who Bought My Jogging Stroller...

I cried thinking about selling you this stroller. Tears of joy and a bit of sadness.

My husband and I struggled with infertility for two years before finally finding out we were expecting our daughter. In those two years, I dreamed about being the kind of mama who ran with my kiddos. I’d get stronger on those runs. Mentally and physically. I’d teach my daughter to love her body and all that it can accomplish.

I ran once with my daughter when she was eight months old. Days later, I found out I was pregnant again.



My son, who was born seventeen months after my daughter, brought with him more sleepless nights than I can count. I found solace on runs with him. I would run so he’d sleep. I’d run so I could release the tension I felt far too often with a baby and a toddler.

Today, my two little miracles are far too large to run with (and they may be faster than me). So, I pass this stroller to you! I hope you enjoy being “the mama who runs” as much I do.

Your miles with this stroller may be slower than the ones you had before it but I promise you they pass quickly.

Happy running, mama!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

"Mom, I'm mad at you!"

“Mom, I’m mad at you!”

I didn’t know these words could bring me so much comfort.

You see, I’m raising a boy.

A boy who instinctively wants to tackle. Who is drawn to motors, wheels, and super heroes in a way that feels unfamiliar to me.

And, I feel a responsibility that is also unfamiliar.


I feel responsible for creating an environment that makes it safe for him to explore his natural interests. And instincts. Because while his interests include a whole bunch of things that are classically masculine by our society’s standard - that is not him in his entirety. His instincts, they include being sad when a friend is not nice. And angry with big expressions when things don’t go his way. And kind in subtle and gentle ways. 

It feels important to embrace all these facets of his little soul at the impressionable age of three.

Because, our boys. I don't think they're okay.

While the roles of women have evolved {with a long journey still ahead}, the roles our boys play in our society have been slower to evolve. I believe my son can be his full self if we create an environment that is welcoming. And, somehow, this feels at the root of where we are as a country.

So, I’m trying hard to do my part.

To tell my son to share his feelings.


All of them.

The big ones that want to erupt as punches.

And the little ones that stop a friend in the hall to tell her she looks beautiful.

Even the ones that come out in the succinct phrase of; “Mom, I’m mad at you!”

I simply thank him for telling me.

Reassuring him that we all get mad.

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