Dear kids, this is what mommy really wants for Mother’s Day

 

Dearest family,

Last week, over guacamole, chips and tacos, when I asked you, “Hey kids, do you know what next Sunday is?”

You stared at me with your beautiful blank little faces in between unapologetically large scoops of guac (husband, this includes you).

I politely and ever so gently reminded you, “It’s Mother’s Day.”

“Oh.” You replied. Still surprised.

Then I asked you, “What are you doing for me?”

And you gave me more blank looks.

It’s okay, your blood sugar was probably a little low, the guacamole was delicious, and maybe you didn’t hear me over the crunches of corn chips fresh out of the fryer, or the slurping of my margarita between sentences.

I really don’t expect much, and this, of course, is just me giving you a hard time. It’s the one day of the year I get a hall pass to act like a spoiled brat. You get the other 364.

Truthfully, I don’t want anything for Mother’s day. I have everything I need.

Now, this isn’t a trick. I have everything I need.

I love every shrinky dink necklace, picture frame and every little piece of art you created with love.

Especially the card you made for me last year.

 

MothersDayCard

“Mom, thank you for feeding me”

 

I love how you know just how to keep it real.

I mean, I have an Amazon wish list (who doesn’t?), you know, in case you want to get me something and need a little guidance. If you don’t, that’s cool too – I’ll buy it for myself. One of the greatest perks of being a working mom.

 

If you’re thinking about doing something nice, here are some easy ideas for you:

  1. Sleep in. You. Not me. I want you to sleep in. For some reason, your supersonic sixth sense detects when my eyelids flutter open and you pop out of bed like a strawberry pop tart. Yet, you can’t hear me when I ask you to feed the dog – so weird. I want you to sleep in so I can get up early and have some quiet time. Time to read, write, make tea, go for a walk.
  2. Wake up happy. When you do get up, you can come join me, I’ll give you all the squeezes.
  3. Ask Daddy. For breakfast, to help you find your ballet shoes or your hockey pucks, the ketchup. Daddy is good at looking for stuff too. Yes, I know, he’s not as good as me, but you need to keep training him. Asking him where to find mom doesn’t count.
  4. Send me away. I love you, and I’m happy about the quality time we get to spend together. See, I’m an introvert. What this means is I need a good amount of alone time to recharge. I’m a better mom when I have lots of quiet time. You could send me away for the day, the weekend, heck – the whole week! I don’t need to go far, I’m happy to go to Starbucks or a bookstore and wander around for a few hours.
  5. Go away. I say this in the nicest possible way. I’m not being mean, but if you prefer to go out instead of sending me out, that’s cool. I’ll stay home, have some wine and catch up on some sunshine and reading.
  6. Pick up your stuff. Every time I step on a toy I feel happy inside, even though I sometimes say some bad words – especially if it’s a Lego piece. I really do love stepping on your crap, I get to have these little people in my life who leave reminders of how full of life and play you are all over the house. If I step on said piece of crap too many times, or if it really hurts, it may have earned a spot in the garbage bin. Save my feet, save the stuffed seals, keep your stuff in your room.
  7. Treat every day like Christmas. You know how on Christmas morning you say, “I wish every day was like Christmas!” It can be – act like it’s Mother’s day every day, and your wish will be granted.

 

That’s all. This is a pretty reasonable list. I’ll be happy with just one of these free items.

Whatever you choose to do, or not do is perfect. Just like you.

 

Love,

Mom

 

PS – remember to put your gym clothes in your bag

PPS – thanks for leaving your giant turd in the toilet for me to find – I’m really happy to see how healthy you are

 

vegan, not vegan, vegan, maybe

 

 

Vegan. Not Vegan. Vegan again. Maybe.

Veganish?

I think.

 

You guys, I really, really want to keep food unfussy, but sometimes it sounds fussy.

No dairy

No meat

No seafood

No gluten

Seafood

Meat, no eggs

No meat

When I run through the list of things I don’t eat – it certainly sounds fussy.

But to keep it real, my attitude about it needs to stay cool.

I believe we should all eat whatever the hell we want. I don’t give a flying frisbee what you eat and I’ll never give you heck for it.

So why am I talking to you about this today? Because I’m a big believer in telling stories. And it might just be what someone needs to hear today.

 

Let’s get you up to speed

Back in 2010, we all nixed dairy. An Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist wanted to chop Jacob’s tonsils out and stick tubes in his ears. He wasn’t even two yet you guys. Mama bear had to find some answers. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far, or long. Stop number two after the ENT office was a naturopath in the same building where I was getting massages (side note, in Canada, most companies give you an annual massage allowance).

Me with my monthly sinus infections and farts every time I look at yogurt. Jacob with his vomity past, spitting up after every snack since birth, constant mouth breathing (though Ry attributes this to his Canadian-ness), and back-to-back-to-back sinus infections, bronchitis, and antibiotics.

Our naturopath said, “try avoiding dairy for a few weeks then reintroduce it and see how you do”. I had some ice cream after a few weeks and wanted to die. Jacob was doing so much better without it I didn’t bother reacquainting him with cow secretions (sounds gross, but really you guys – that’s what it is.) Read the full story here. 

Reality (fact) check:

  • 6 years later, both Jacob and I haven’t had a sinus infection and haven’t needed antibiotics (though he does get the stink eye from time to time – kids are gross yo)
  • Talia, approaching 5, has never had a glass of milk, or yogurt, though she sometimes sneaks some goldfish under the bleachers like a rebel – has NEVER needed antibiotics
  • Jacob and I still breathe through our mouths when we’re thinking hard, writing (me), or playing video games (J)

Feeling a gazillion times better after keeping dairy off our plates, I removed meat. Same thing – I just felt better. Until I didn’t.

I was vegan until I wasn’t. I woke up one day and just wanted a steak. So I had one.

Now, I’m being forced to say I’m vegan again.

PETA is not sitting here with a gun to my head, but I’ve been forced to answer some hard questions that leave me with no choice.

The big one:

If I can’t kill it myself, what right do I have eating it?

See, my backyard is growing a farm. Ryan leaves the house for coffee, ends up at the local Tractor Supply Company (TSC) for PVC pipe, returns with 6 chicks. Returns 2 weeks later for chicken feed, returns with 2 ducklings. At least he returned with what he set out to get. The PVC he needed on trip one had to wait for another day.

kids-chicks

As Jacob read a bedtime story to the chicks, Ry explained this is where chicken wings come from.

 

Drop the mic.

 

What???? Even though we had told him where chicken nuggets come from a thousand times, once he had named the baby chickens, the thought of eating them was absurd.

He proclaimed, “I’m never eating anything with the word chicken in it ever again.”

Jacob_chicken

Until of course, his hockey team heads to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. Nugget what?

When Ry told the kids what was going to happen when they were done laying eggs – something about chopping their heads off, Jacob screamed, “NO!” while Talia (4) had a face of, tell me more about this beheading business daddy, and “when do I get to chop their heads off?” may or may not left her mouth.

T-chicken

Then, I had bison spaghetti for dinner, and steak in my salad for lunch the next day.

Jacob had a half rack of ribs.

 

Hypocrites.

All of us.
This is what Ry called us. I couldn’t argue – he was right.

 

The thought of killing a chicken, duck or even a larger animal like a cow or pig myself, at my hand – be it a flick of my wrist, makes me shudder. I couldn’t do it. I don’t need to try to know I couldn’t.

So should I pay someone else to do it for me?

I feel like I’d be taking the easy way out.

And totally detached. From my food, from life, from myself.

Detaching is easy. And hey – if you can kill your dinner yourself, cook it and eat it – I admire that. Honestly, if you can do it, that’s cool.

I can’t. So I don’t think I should eat it.

If I do, it makes me a big, fat, hypocrite.

Why am I telling you this today?

I don’t want to convince you to join the V team. Even when I “wasn’t vegan” – I was like 95% vegan.

Curiosity.

I’m curious about what the kids will decide when they see their first chicken being killed for meat. In the end, they’re going to eat whatever they want – and they should. In the meantime, though, if I’m cooking, which is 99.9999% of the time – they’re having vegetables.

I’m curious what they’ll lean towards eating when one parent will eat anything and the other is more selective. 

Unjudgy, unfussy. Keep it curious.

 

Ladies – what the world wants you to stop doing, right now

 

cropped-Jacq_rest.jpg

The other day I was part of a meeting with a handful of presenters. In the audience was mostly IT folks, 80% were men. For the record, no one was in a suit.

One lady, towards the back, sitting away from everyone else who was seated in rows of tables had, at least, one question for each speaker. Questions are almost always a good thing – it shows you’re engaged and listening – always appreciated by a presenter.

Every time she started her question, I cringed.

Not because she had a question, questions are cool – it was how she started off.

“Sorry, I have a question…”

“I have a question – sorry!”

“Sorry, but…”

The world wants you to stop apologizing and stop saying you’re sorry.

For the love of all things good and holy and wonderful – stop apologizing for nothing!

Listen, ladies, I’m Canadian and I don’t even say sorry that much.

Soar-eeeeeeeee (Canadian translation).

Yes, I’m talking to you ladies. Because in the course of my day, men almost never say they’re sorry. Can you remember the last time a man apologized? Especially for something like – HAVING A QUESTION. Though, some of these men maybe should – another topic for another day.

The incessant apologizing of course, doesn’t always apply to question-asking.

Here’s how these scenes play out:

  • Someone opens a door on the other side when you’re about to go through – sorry!
  • Someone is in your way – sorry!
  • Someone accidentally bumps you – sorry!
  • I don’t agree with you – sorry!
  • I have feedback – sorry!
  • I can’t do the thing / go to the event / help you – sorry!

 

Girls, stop apologizing.

 

First, are you really sorry? Should you be sorry that someone else opened the door at the same time as you? NO! It’s not your fault.

Did you do something wrong?

Did you do something to hurt me?

Unless you just cracked me on the skull – sorry!

If you did, by all means, say you’re sorry (soar-eeee).

Let’s go a little further and look at a definition.

Feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune.

In a poor or pitiful state or condition.

If you didn’t do anything wrong, and unless you truly pity the condition of someone, ‘sorry’ can easily be swapped with this:

 

Excuse me.

 

Simple, elegant and still perfectly unfussy and polite.

Ladies – disagreeing, not having time, having an opinion, opening a door like a synchronistic swimmer, all very good reasons to NOT say you’re sorry.

How would you feel if this post was titled: ‘Sorry ladies, but you really should stop apologizing.’?

Why should you stop?

Starting a statement, any statement, with an apology instantly lowers your credibility and fogs up your message.

We can’t focus on what you’re saying because we’re too busy being on the receiving end of your misplaced sympathy. Why is she sorry? What did she do? Should I be angry?

Oh, she just reached for the salt the same time as me.

Sorry.

Not sorry.

Excuse me.

Your homework. How many times did someone apologize to you today? I’d love to hear your insights. You can email me here.

How to fix a no good, rotten, bad day when everything totally sucks

 

Your alarm goes off at 6 am, you peek at it and wonder how is it even time to get up already, didn’t I just go to sleep?

In the process of turning your alarm off you spill your water all over your night stand. Shit, shit, shit.

You clean it up, hop in the shower where the water takes forever to warm up. You drop the soap, then the razor. Because your hands are so slippery from the soap, you drop the razor exactly ninety times.

You grab the conditioner first instead of the shampoo…grrr. Rinse it out, grab the right bottle, shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse – and get on with your morning.

Off to the kitchen to make your healthy breakfast smoothie – you put in the spinach, the banana, the extra flax seed (cause it’s the kind of day that calls for extra flax), turn it on. CRAP! You left the lid off and there’s smoothie all over your kitchen.

The kids just woke up and have bigfooted their way into the living room, are fighting over what show to watch on television and whining over their breakfast options – cereal, waffles or a bagel.

“But I want scrambled eggs and bacon …WAHHHHH!”

In your head you’re thinking, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!

But you keep your cool.

The ability to keep your cool is an act of willpower akin to taking water from a well. The more water you use up throughout the day, means you’re going to be using dry shampoo tonight.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

So what do you do? You’ve been awake for 20 minutes and you’re thinking about how your day totally sucks already.

Thankfully you get out the door fairly easily, because you’ve read this and started putting some of these into practice already.

At work, you get some feedback on a report you spent the last two Saturday’s working on. No one likes it, they identified a bunch of gaps you didn’t address. It needs A LOT of work.

You check your personal email – it’s an email from the school with the subject, “Lice epidemic – school is closed at 9 am, come get your kids.”

Ugh, could this day get any worse? You wonder.

Yes, yes it can. You have no idea.

If you’re following along, and this sounds like a day you’ve had recently – what happens next? Do you discover you forgot to pack a lunch? Do you get a speeding ticket on your way home? Have to call three people to pick up your kids from school before you finally (and so gratefully) find someone? (True story).
I just want this day to be over already!

 Yes, you could go to bed right now, do not pass Go, and do not collect $200.

You also have all the control in the world to fix what you’re calling, a “bad day.”

 

You can’t control what happens to you in the course of your day, but what you can control is your reaction to what’s happening.

 

The best way to fix a crapola kind of day:

One step. Because minimalism.

When you’re in a good mood (or even in a bad one), make a list of all the things that make you happy. Don’t hold back. You can come up with at least 10. If you can come up with 100, even better. Think: chocolate, watching Dirty Dancing, lighting a candle, journaling, yoga, running, taking a nap, reading a book, hugs, kisses, etc.

When you find yourself in a no good day – bust out your feel good list and pick something. Chances are, just looking at the list is going to make you feel better.

 

 

 

6 ways to have waaaaay more fun while getting out the door in the morning

 

IMG_20130307_142918_833

Here’s a story from my book, Unfussy Mom

I asked my 3-year old to put her boots on at least half a dozen times. I was trying to get the kids dressed, fed, and out the door to school while simultaneously getting myself fed, dressed and off to work. The clock was ticking.

After waiting 20 minutes, and still no boots–I blew up.

I yelled, chucked her boots across the room, stormed out, and told her I’d be waiting in the car.

By the time I got to the car I felt like a huge jerk. I took a deep breath, stared up at the sky like I was asking for strength to just get through the rest of the morning.

When I came back inside after taking a chill-pill, my 6-year old son was helping her; calm, patient, and kind. All the things I wish I was. I felt like the worst human ever, then I stopped beating myself up–he must have learned that somewhere. Hopefully, it was from me.

I continued on to drop them off at school, and head to work. During my train ride, I wrote them both an apology letter.

Fast forward to dinner that night.

I wrote an apology letter to each kid just before dinner. Then I told my 6-year old how proud I was of him—he handled himself like a grown-up—a nice one.

 

“Where’d you learn that?” I asked.

“My teacher,” He replied.

“Oh, you mean I’m not calm and quiet?” I prodded.

“No mommy, you yell.”

“But not all the time right?” Really searching for some validation that I’m not a total failure.

“No.”

 

I wish I could tell you I didn’t have another episode like this, or that it was an isolated incident. I’d be lying through my wine-stained teeth.

I learned a hard lesson as I sat there squeezed into my pencil skirt.

Why am I rushing out the door and screaming at the kids just to go to a meeting? The world isn’t going to end if I’m a few minutes late – or even if I missed a meeting.

Priorities, that’s why. And mine were messed up.

Now, I’m learning to slow down. If the kids need an extra hug before they feel good enough to go off to school for the day, I’m going to give it to them. Then I’m going to go to work, and do it well.

 

 

The morning rush

How many days are you running around with your head cut off just trying to get out the door, wearing pants, making sure everyone else is wearing (clean-ish) pants, is fed and has all the signed school forms ready to go in their backpacks?

You work five days a week, sooo … five days a week, right?

You have to get out the door anyway, so you may as well make it easy on yourself, right?

Here are 6 ways to make getting out the door in the morning fun:

  1. Reset your expectations

 

If your goal is to just make every morning feel easy and fun, keep this goal in mind as you move through the morning.

 

  1. Get your butt out of bed earlier

 

Sorry, not sorry – you knew I was going to say this right? If part of the reason you can’t get out the door without screaming and yelling and running around like a sweaty psycho, maybe getting up earlier will help.

 

  1. Do it all at night

 

Doing as much as you can at night will make the morning so much easier. Make lunches, pack bags, but them by the door, or heck—put them in the car! Having cereal? Pour it the night before? Smoothie? Make it the night before. Shower at night, and lay everything out for the next morning, including have your kids pick their clothes out. Heck, if having the kids sleep in their next-day clothes—by all means, go for it! You can even go as far as putting the toothpaste on your brush at night.

 

  1. No electronics

This means TV, video games, or email. I’m totally guilty of asking my kids to dress 10 times while they’re staring at the television. Mornings started going much more smoothly when we instituted a no TV or games rule in the morning. Instead, they focus on eating breakfast and getting ready. If they have spare time, they start coloring or drawing.

 

The no email rule is for you. Stay present and you’ll be in tune with what’s happening and not start mentally doing all your work and running your to-do list in your head before you even leave the house.

 

  1. Dance it out

 

When I started playing music in the morning I noticed a shift in everyone’s moods. Try a happy playlist like this. Play it softly as background music to set the tone for the day.

You can also play this and guarantee an amazing start. Just try to be a fussy mess listening to this song.

 

  1. Mimosa anyone?

 

I’m not telling you to start day-drinking or show up to the office with a buzz. It’s more of a “mimosa-mindset.” By all means, have some champagne if you like, or, drink your OJ in a champagne flute, green juice in a wine glass. Put your toast on a nice plate, sit down, eat it, and (gasp) talk to your family.

 

 

Speak to Lisa

 

 

In the third grade, I had to give a speech in front of the entire school. The THIRD GRADE folks. I was 8.

It was a speech about Florida. You know, where all good Canadians go on vacation.

This is likely when my fear of public speaking kicked in.

I prepared for weeks. Wrote my speech out on cue cards, over and over again until the print was so tiny I could barely read it.

I was so nervous. When talking to Lisa, a fourth grader about this ahead of time, she said, “If you get nervous, just look at me.”

Not really sure what she meant, I got up there, in front of all 300 other kids (I didn’t say I went to a BIG school – it was everyone in Canada don’t you know).

My mouth was like cotton balls, I just wanted it to be over. Out of breath before I even started, I found Lisa in the gymnasium crowd. She told me to look at her if I was nervous right?

I found her.

She was bright eyed, sitting up straight, calm smile, head tilted to the side. She looked like she was interested in what I was saying. A friendly face.

Oh, okay. I get it now. I’ll give my speech to Lisa.

Since then, I’ve stumbled my way through many a presentation. None of these stumblings were so bad, however, that I can recall any of these details today.

If I can’t remember, I’m pretty sure my audience doesn’t remember either.

See, I was all worried about how my presentation would come off. The single biggest realization that has helped me to relax?

Everyone is so busy worrying about themselves, they’re not going to remember my screw-ups 10 years, or even 10 minutes from now. 

Also, I’m the one in the arena, not them.

Today, I give presentations all the time, and I still don’t like it.

But you know what? I do it anyway.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable takes constant and deliberate practice.

Hate speaking in front of groups? Here’s what I’ve learned in the 30 or so years since the third grade to un-suck speeches:

  1. Regardless of whether you’re giving a speech to 3 people or 3,000, craft it with one person in mind. You’re having a conversation with one person.
  2. Power-pose. Wonder woman poses totally happen in the bathroom. Thanks, Amy Cuddy. 
  3. Only speak about things you care about and know deeply. If I asked you to tell me about where you grew up, you’d tell me without missing a beat. But what if I asked you to give a speech on financial planning and you’re a yoga instructor? Kind of makes you want to vomit, right? Stick to what you know.
  4. Before taking the podium, hitting the stage, commanding the front of the room, say to yourself, “I’m here for my power, please.” I feel like an asshat saying this to myself, but trust me, it works. Thanks, Danielle LaPorte. 
  5. Don’t practice. Of course, this is what works for me. If I practice, I forget everything when it comes time to open my mouth. Instead, I make notes on important points to hit and trust that whatever comes out when I start to speak is what is meant to come out.
  6. Sit down. If it makes sense for the energy of your speech, sitting down will be perfectly appropriate for an intimate feel.
  7. Find your Lisa, and talk directly to her.

 

“Fuller House” is no longer a family show

Image Credit: Michael Yarish/Netflix

PUBLIC SAFETY ALERT: “FULLER HOUSE” IS NOT A FAMILY SHOW

Did you bust out your neon fanny packs and choker necklaces and binge watch Fuller House on Netflix this weekend?

I did.

Less the fanny pack and choker necklace of course, and add wine, plaid pajamas, and fleece blanket.

Before I tell you anything about the show, let’s first talk about Uncle Jesse – Mr. John Stamos. I need to tell you he has aged better than a bottle of 100-year-old port. I’m pretty sure he has more hair, and let’s just all sit here and pretend we don’t know that he’s now 52.

And just wait until you see the episode of Jesse & The Rippers crooning out, “Forever”—Goosebumps for all the wine-slugging, couch-surfing ladies!

The whole cast is back except Michelle – you know, the, “you got it dude” Olson twins, who are (according to a line in the first episode), “busy running their fashion empire.” They nod to this in the first episode for an awkward amount of time. Painful.

Uber-cheesy, and there’s always a lesson though the lessons in the 90s were much clearer.

I was having fun at first, but it quickly turns into a show I wouldn’t have been allowed to watch in the 90s. It’s definitely not as wholesome as I remember. In the first episode, there’s more skin than any shitty soap opera.

The first episode laid on the nostalgia thick, but it was quickly downhill from there when Danny, Joe, Jesse and Rebecca all leave for their new jobs and we’re left with DJ (widowed) and her 3 boys, Kimmie (kinda-sorta-divorced), and her daughter, and middle Tanner daughter Stephanie.

DJ is the type A, trying to do it all, frazzled working mom. She should read the chapter in my book about putting on her oxygen mask first and ask for help. Her husband died in the line of firefighting-duty, so she single-handedly runs a veterinary clinic and has three boys. Ummm, busy-much?

Thankfully Stephanie, her younger sister steps in and moves in with her. The 30-something who’s single, and has no money. Though she’s made it as a professional DJ and travels the world sipping champagne. Huh?

It was fun to have something to watch on TV on Friday night that wasn’t one of the kids’ painful favorite shows these days – Kickin’ it, Daniel Tiger, or Jessie. The kids had some rolling on the floor fits of laughter though at some of the one-liners from DJs boys.

All the catchphrases you didn’t know you missed all make their reappearance:

You got it, dude.

How rude!

Cut. It. Out. Complete with hand gestures.

Damn, I look good.

SPOILER: It’s not the same show from the 90s.

It’s NOT a family show.

The 2016 “fuller” version features:

  • Language like, “damn, hell, sexy, and knockers”—earmuffs kids!
  • Bottle service at dance clubs
  • Tequila shots for everyone!
  • Cleavage down to your belly button
  • A dance scene in the second episode that feels like I’m in a strip club—cover your eyes kids!

I’m not exactly sure who the intended audience for the show is now – is it the ladies who watched it who are now in their 30s? Is it our children? Because I don’t think my kids should be watching it.

Like the original series, there’s always an important lesson and everyone is happy at the end of every episode. Some important lessons we’re learning from the Tanner sisters in 2016:

  • Life is way more fun when you put the electronics down and have fun
  • Mommy needs a break too
  • Mommy likes margaritas
  • Donald Trump is a bad word
  • It really does take a village
  • You can’t do it all

 

The best part – memories of this … and then this – (and why does he have a mullet in 2013???)

 

 

Put your “power suit” away

 

When I see a man in a suit I don’t think he’s powerful. I think one of two things:

  1. He’s trying to impress someone and he doesn’t really want to wear this.
  2. He’s going to a funeral.

Obviously, I’ve never been that girl to swoon over a man in a 3-piece-suit. Except in the first few minutes after I met Ryan, and had this image of him walking around Manhattan in a well-fitting suit—turned out it was all a fantasy.

I no longer venture to call the traditional pressed pants, suit jacket and tie, a “power suit”.

I call it an ego suit.

Know what I think when I walk into a room of men in suits and there’s that one man at the table. No tie.

When I see him—he’s the one I want to sit next to.

I want to be his friend.

You know why? Because by sitting next to suits in something that instead, makes him feel good, he says, screw conformity.

He also says, screw ties, they’re uncomfortable. Just like I say screw you pencil skirt – you’re uncomfortable, you sausage-making piece of fabric!

Some of the other men poke fun at him, “Where’s your tie?” they prod. These men are uncomfortable and making a side nod to their own act of sheepish conformity.

“I hate ties, so I don’t wear them.” The tieless man everyone is curious about says.

Kinda like this guy.

 

Maybe we should all blame the Dos Equis guy for blazing a tie-free trail, bearded almost-full beer in hand.

dos

Or maybe we can blame this guy?

branson

Where’d the term, “power suit” come from anyway? The 80s?

How does dressing like everyone else make you powerful?

Even for women. When I walk into a meeting and the women are so cautiously dressed I used to be intimidated. Partly because they have a sense of style and I clearly don’t.

Power suits are cool if they make you feel, well – powerful. If you just LOVE wearing a suit and tie, or it’s part of your uniform that you’re expected to wear – awesome! No, really – if you love it, rock it.

But what if your power suit makes you uncomfortable? Like a pair of too tight Spanx crammed into an even tighter skirt. Hello – 10 pounds of sausage stuffed into a 5-pound bag.

What if yoga pants make you feel powerful? What about plaid? Seriously, I want to know this because I really like plaid.

After my last corporate job, I threw out every single article of clothing that didn’t make me feel wonderful. Donated, gone.

If I wear something all day and I don’t feel great – a little off – a little constrictive – It’s out – off to the donation pile. I don’t have the patience to spend my energy looking after articles of clothing that don’t light me up.

So dudes – when you lose the tie – you’re like the woman in white at the big meeting, quiet and confidently sitting at the head of the table.

You’ll stand out. Only a little. But in the best way. In the kind of way that makes people raise an eyebrow, and watch.

But, that’s not why you’re doing it. You’re choosing to feel comfortable in your own power.

Silently, they’re checking you out. Because you had the cajones (ovaries) to take something that’s expected of you–and leave it at home, or in the car, or in your office – or on the rack at Nordstrom.

So, men, I invite you to define your own power suit. And leave the one the last few hundred years or so of history has so boringly dictated to you.

 

 

Think you can’t find love in a (dive) bar? – think again

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If you’ve been hanging out with me here for a while you know how hubby Ryan and I got engaged. It involved writing … of course.

Today, let’s go back to the beginning.

When I was trying very hard to be wild and crazy.

This is a long one friends. Grab a latte, or pour yourself a big glass of champagne and settle in.

I was 22, which is pretty much too old to go on family vacations. My parents asked me to go, along with my younger (not as cool as me), sister. And well, it was free. I said yes.

Usually at dinner my dad and I would split a bottle of wine, leaving my mom to drive us back to our beach hotel. Once back at the hotel, occasionally my mom and sister would come with us for a drink, especially if there was a live band playing.

You could count on them to duck out early though and leave my dad and I to close the place.

It was after midnight, and my dad and I were wrapping up with our Corona’s at Ricky T’s beach bar and thought we’d check out the bar next door; The VIP Lounge, a Mexican restaurant and dive-ish bar (though its much nicer today).

While we were at Ricky T’s I noticed a group of guys about my age walk into the VIP Lounge. This was a tourist spot so there were lots of people around.

I kinda, sorta noticed the guy with the tattoos. Soft gray t-shirt, jeans, flip-flops, dark rimmed glasses. Strong, handsome. He didn’t look like my usual “type”. I never paid any attention to dudes under 6-feet tall?

My dad suggested I go into the VIP and grab a seat while he signed the bill and went pee.

I walked into the VIP – smoky (this is when you could smoke in bars), brass, people doing shots, neon lights, and behind the bar was lined with photos of what looked to be the VIP’s favorite customers.

I sat next to the dude with the dark rimmed glasses and tattoos. I may have muttered, “Hi” – I really don’t remember. And exchanged names.

“I’m Ryan.”

He didn’t look like a Ryan. I hope I can remember this name.

We didn’t strike up a conversation right away, but he was smoking Marlboro menthols – my favorite at the time. What’s a girl to do? I poked poking fun at him for smoking menthols and asked him for one.

Tattoo-dude, told me he was from New York, and he worked at this place called Bloomberg. I didn’t admit it to him at the time but I didn’t know what Bloomberg was. I was a recent marketing grad and working for a major Canadian retailer.

My mind turned to fantasy, and I imagined him walking the streets of New York in a 3-piece suit, tie, his signature dark rimmed glasses and looking oh-so-suave.

Thinking about the dark rimmed glasses and crisp, dark suit covering the tattoos and smoking was pretty hot.

We chatted about work, what we love about it, he thought it was cool that I was Canadian. He thought Canadian was ethnic. Hilarious.

My dad joined us and sat to my right; Ryan to my left. My dad and I would exchange comments here and there but weren’t overly engaged in any kind of exhilarating conversation.

Now that we’re married, Ry later tells me that he thought I was a hooker (a HOOKER, you guys!), and my dad, was a customer. I wish I was kidding.

Now, remember I was on a family vacation. I was wearing a knee length jean skirt and white V-neck tank top. Hardly inappropriate. Because he noticed my dad and I at the other bar, saw me alone in the VIP, then this old man rejoined me at the VIP and we barely spoke, he thought this old man was an unwelcome guest.

He tells me after we’ve been dating that he was about to tell my dad to piss off and leave me alone when I stopped mid-conversation, realizing I hadn’t introduced them, and said, “Oh, Ryan, meet my dad – Tony.”

They shook hands and proceeded to converse more than tattooed glasses guy and I were. I was drunk a little tipsy at the time, and so was my dad. I definitely wasn’t looking at this situation as, “I’m trying to pick this guy up.”

The three of us enjoyed lively conversation until the bar closed.

I learned tattoo guy was entertaining some of his mothers’ friends’ kids, and kind of took them out as a favor. He was sober as he was their designated driver for the night. His mom lived in Florida and he was visiting her for Mother’s day. How sweet!

When we were ready to part ways I told him there was a good bar around the corner that has live music and I’d be there tomorrow night, I suggested he join us.

We stood up to leave. Holy shit, he’s shorter than me. I had flip flops on that had a smidge of a platform.

Well, I guess we’re done.

At that time, I had a thing about shorter guys. My McDreamy was tall, dark and handsome. NOT short, thick and needs SPF 90.

I’d never been to NY, and he offered to show me around if I ever decided to visit. He gave me a business card, and I wrote my number drunkenly with lipstick on the back of it while my dad sat drunk on the curb outside the bar and waited for us to make our exchange.

 

The next day

I really did drink too much the night before, I was sick most of the morning. Oh to be 22!

Early in the afternoon though, I got a phone call from him. He said he was at the beach with his mom and he was looking at a hotel that was a few doors down from where we were staying.

“Oh cool” I said. Not clicking that he was there to SEE ME. DUH. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I was feeling super crappy and hungover so I didn’t even entertain the idea of going to the beach.

I thought he was calling to chat about meeting at the bar later to listen to the band. I told him roughly when I’d be there and I’d see him later. He said he’d try to make it. I was leaving to go home the next day.

My mom, dad, sister and me were at the bar listening to the live music. My mom wanted to see this tattooed glasses short dude. I kept watching the door for a sign of him, but didn’t see him. He was a no show.

Oh well – he was too short for me anyway.

Eventually we left, packed up, and headed home the next day not giving the whole event much thought.

 

Two weeks later

Sitting at work one day, feeling a little bored and listless – I felt the urge to send him an email. I jokingly gave him crap for not coming out to the bar to meet me that night.

He told me he fell asleep at his mom’s around 10 pm that night, having the intention to meet me, and woke up the next morning when it was too late. He also admitted the awkwardness of coming out alone to join me and my whole family at a bar. Doesn’t he know that Canadians are super friendly?

He also told me he was about to send me an email but got mine first. Was he lying? Maybe, I’ll never know. It doesn’t matter.

We quickly fell into a habit of having day long email communications, back and forth all day long while we sat at our respective offices in NY and Toronto.

I’d get home from work and head straight to MSN messenger and chat until bed time. We’d text during our respective train commutes into our respective cities. We spent the better portion of our day communicating electronically. I loved when I’d see a new email pop up from him. Sometimes we’d have multiple email threads going on – my favorite!

One night he asked, “Would a phone call be out of the question?”

ACK! This is real now, he actually wants to talk to me? On the phone! What are we going to talk about? Oh, this is going to be totally awkward.

He called me, our landline (remember those?) made that special ring when it was coming from a long distance number. Flutters.

We’re chatting. We’re flirting.

A few days later, after spending the night at a friend’s house.

Ry and I were chatting on MSN messenger while the rest of the girls were lounging and nursing hangovers from $1 drinks. I had forgotten what he looked like, I met him once, only for a few hours, in a dark bar, and did I mention I was tipsy?

He sent me this black and white photo. Wow.

Would you visit the Adirondacks with this guy?

I showed my girlfriends – what do you think? The general consensus was positive – he was a winner.

Then, he asks, “My family has a cabin in the Adirondacks – I think it’s halfway in between us, maybe we could meet there?”

I turned to the girls, “Guys! He wants to meet at his cabin in NY! Should I go?”

They freaked, “You’re nuts”, “You don’t know him”, “What if he’s a crazy psycho killer?”

Then someone said, “Do it.”

“I’m doing it.” I say as I quickly type back to him, “Sure!” It felt so very Meg Ryan you have mail-ish.

I couldn’t get the trip out of my mind for the rest of the day – or the next week.

Before the trip, I later told my dad, “Remember that guy we met in the bar in Florida? Well I’m going to his cabin in NY.”

I don’t recall my dad giving me any shit. If that was Talia I’d be like OH THE HELL YOU ARE MISS THANG!
The trip that changed everything

For the next few weeks he told me all the things we’d do there – totally clean people. We’d go to the beach, hiking, boating, eat ice cream by the lake, enjoy the cottage town, then get drunk on apple martinis by the campfire. Appletini’s were totally our signature drink back then – they went so well with the Marlboro menthols in those early days of our relationship.

I packed up my blue 2001 Honda prelude with some cottage gear, stopped at Old Navy for some flip flops that didn’t have a platform, left work early and hit the road towards the Buffalo border.

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“Where are you going?” The US border patrol guard asked me.

“Old Forge.” I respond.

“Where’s that?” He probes on.

“I have no idea.” My honest answer.

We texted along the way, coordinating our arrival times. This was before the days of google maps – so I had a printout of the MapQuest directions on the passenger seat.
The plan was to meet in an Old Navy parking lot off of the I-90 at exit 31, Utica, NY.

You might be wondering if I was freaking out.

In a word, yes!

The whole ride there. As I munched gummy bears and sipped diet coke, I totally freaked out.

This is nuts, what if he’s a psycho?

What if he’s ugly?

What if he thinks I’m ugly?

What if we have nothing to talk about?

What if he’s boring?

What if he’s going to bring me out to the woods to kill me?

 

Second First Impressions

As planned, we met in the Old Navy parking lot – he arrived first.

Shit – do I hug him? I mean we’ve flirted for like a month and spent 100 hours on MSN messenger typing out more smiley faces than a 12-year old girl.

We hugged, and after being the car for so long, we both had to use the bathroom so we ran into Old Navy.

Holy awkward batman.

We were IN THE FLESH. No more MSN Messenger, texting, emails. Person-to-person. I can’t hide now.

We still had another hour to go to get to the cabin. He had directions, I was to follow him.

I drove behind him, continuing my freak out and running all kinds of scenarios through my head.

 

So Canadian of me

We arrived at the cabin, it was cute – very rustic, not the kind of cabin I was used to – but I didn’t quite know what to expect anyway.

He had to hook something up outside to get water or gas or something, I have no fucking clue. I just stood there watching. I might have held the flashlight for him.

Then I saw it.

He bent over and a hand gun peeked out from the waistband of his jeans.

The first thought popping into my head – RUN! Get in the car, don’t say a word, and drive like hell.

See, Canadians don’t have guns. Canadian border patrol agents only started carrying them in 2007. I was 22, naïve, and totally ignorant about gun culture.

Finally, I mustered, “What is that?” Obviously knowing what it was, but I wanted to make sure he knew I saw it.

Ryan says, “A pistol – I’m in the woods.” As if it’s a totally normal explanation.

“Oh, ok.” I answer sarcastically. “Can you leave that thing in the car until we leave?” I ask.

“What good will it do in the car?” He argues.

“Just do it.”

He obliges, we go out to dinner, and drink way too many appletinis that night.

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The next morning, I emerge from the room to see something I only thought I existed in my dreams. I dream about this stuff you guys.

There’s a deer with its front hooves in the cabin. In one hand, Ryan is feeding him our gummy bears and appletinis. In the other, a pistol to the deer’s head.

Yep.

“What are you doing?!” I yell.

“In case he bucks.” He calmly responds.

This ladies, is marriage material.

I knew there was something about this guy, something different. And not just the tattoos or the glasses, or the way he commands a pistol at a wild animal’s head (sarcasm.)

That first weekend was amazing. I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to leave.

As the weekend drew to a close, we headed south towards Utica and took our turns to go our separate ways.

Ryan – eastbound, towards Albany.

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Me – westbound, towards Buffalo.

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By the time I returned home we had plans for our next meeting, and the meeting after that, and another one a few weeks out – just in case.

Until that one trip to Toronto that involved three very special love notes and changed everything.

Happy Valentine’s day friends.

Happy 12th anniversary Ryan.

I love you.

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Why we’re all desperately waiting for you to stop complaining about work

 

Well, mostly because it’s annoying.

If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you get three complaints, then I unfollow you. I don’t need that kind of negativity in my life.

I’m not keeping an excel spreadsheet logged with your name and complaints, but if I see you complaining, and can’t remember the last nice thing you said – au revior!

Puppies, unicorns and rainbows – always welcome. So are memes that tell me how drinking wine every day is good for me and chocolate makes me smarter and more good looking.

 

Here’s the scripts running through my head while you’re whining about work:

  1. Just yesterday you said you loved your job – which is it?
  2. Are you being forced to work there? I didn’t think so. Do something else, or stop complaining.
  3. Is it really that bad? Find something you’re grateful for first. It might stop your complaining in its tracks.
  4. All the time you’re spending complaining could be spent doing something productive. Or the exact thing you’re complaining about – hop to it!
  5. I’m trying to stay positive, and your negative thoughts are ruining my juju.
  6. I just want you to be happy – really, I do. Can I help?
  7. Because you’re not good at it anyway, go do something you’re good at.
  8. Because we know that there’s power in acceptance. Can you find just a smidge of love in what you’re doing right now? It’ll make every day better – promise. Cross my heart.
  9. They’re paying you right? That money is supporting you, your dreams, even if you’re using that money to build another dream. Either way – you’re supported.
  10. Gratitude creates more reasons to be grateful and what we focus on expands.
  11. How do you want to feel at work? Create the experience you want to experience.
  12. Want some help with your resume? Just ask.
  13. Womp, womp, womp, womp … what was that? You lost me at, “UGH!”

 

Hate your job?

Do you really?

I mean, really hate it.

Can you find just three good things about your job?

Maybe it’s as simple as:

  • I get paid
  • I talk to grown ups
  • We have Starbucks in the building

 

Focus on what’s working. Gratitude begets gratitude, and joy expands. If you can find a few things to be happy about, focus on those. Then multiply them.

Maybe you hate what you’re doing – but you met some really cool people and learned some great skills that will make your resume sparkle.

Or maybe you love that you get to leave work at work, and never take it home with you, or it allows you the freedom to buy a latte every day, buy a new car every three years, flexible working hours, and cake on your birthday.

Finding a few good things will make you feel happier, which will make you less of a jerk to be around. Less of a jerk = more friends = people are happier to be around you = better work day = job doesn’t suck so bad.

If you simply cannot find a few redeeming qualities about your job, I’m guessing, they’re not forcing you to work there.

Yes, of course you can say, “But I need a job I can’t find another one.”

Is that true? Have you actually tried to find another job? How hard did you really look?

Even if you’ve been looking for three months or three years – you just haven’t found the right one yet. Hang on. Your dream job is there. Or you already have it – and you just haven’t realized it yet.

You have choices:

  1. Accept it
  2. Make it better
  3. Quit, and / or find another job
  4. Do nothing – many people forget; this is a choice.

 

What will you do today, instead of complaining about work?