Author Archives: staff

The Beautiful Mess That You Are

The Beautiful Mess That You Are.

One of the most challenging things about healing and growing, is learning how to be vulnerable. Figuring out how to show people your scars, both metaphorically and literally… Where do you start? Who do you trust? How do you admit the things to another person you barely admit to yourself? Where do you even start to develop the ability to accept what has happened in your life and start owning it? God knows it’s not easy to let one person (let alone the world) see the things that broke you, the things that scarred your body and soul. It’s terrifying to allow anyone to see the trauma and devastation you have experienced, so is it even worth it?

When you uncover those scars, you are doing more than just pulling off a bandage. You are tearing down years and years of defense mechanisms and fake smiles. You are shredding the illusion of yourself you have created for the world to see, and letting out the real, albeit messier version of yourself. It might not be as shiny or beautiful on the surface, and in fact, it probably won’t be. What it will be instead, is real and true. It will require a level of raw honesty that will probably hurt like hell at first.

Yes, you will be afraid that whoever sees your scars will only see what’s been damaged. You’ll be afraid that instead of seeing the strength it took to sew all those tears up yourself, they will only see the jagged stitches. Afraid they will see the gaping hole, and not the tenacity it took to pull the knife out of your back all on your own. Afraid the only thing they notice will be the cracks, and not understand the time and patience it took to glue it all back together again.

Here’s the thing, when you stop hiding from your past, your fears, and emotions you free yourself of the hold they have on you. You give yourself the chance to discover who you really are. You can let go of the fake version of yourself that is pretending you are happy with the life you are living… or I suppose for some people, you are giving up the fake version of yourself that pretends they hate their life and everyone in it. Whatever. Either way you are letting go of the illusion. Figuring out how to be real and honest, ESPECIALLY with yourself, is the most important part of healing.

Yeah, there will be the haters and naysayers. Those people who don’t want you to change or grow, because it makes them feel bad about their own lives. The thing is, the people who only see the damage, or criticize you for being your most authentic self aren’t worth having in your life anyway. So, pull off those bandages and let the world see the beautiful mess that you are. You never know who will love you, scars and all.

Embrace your perfectly imperfect self,

-Charli

Take Your Second Chances

Four years ago to almost the day, my parents took my family and my sisters family to Florida for a vacation. We had been planning it for years.. At that time in my life, I had lived my entire life as a pleaser and couldn’t disappoint any of them. I hated having that feeling I was disappointing someone. However, I already knew when we got back to glorious Wisconsin, I would be telling my husband I wanted a divorce. No way to sugar coat that..It was not the trip of a lifetime.

And now four years later,I am divorced and happy. I mean I have my moments but overall it took the last 4 years to get to this point. The point of life where I’m happy about my choices and happy about the life I’m living. I had my 3 kids for spring break so off to Florida we were going… This was my second chance.

I was so excited for this trip but also so nervous… I had to do all the planning and be responsible for getting 3 kids to Florida.. And just hoping my son didn’t put a so-called weapon into his pocket and we will be hauled off.. It was a lot of responsibility for all of us. I had to rely also on my kids to be responsible and help out when I needed. Moments before we left, I thought am I crazy to do this.

But once the trip started, it was amazing. This trip probably meant more to me than they anyone will ever know… to my kids it was 8 days in the sun.. and to me it was my second chance. This was my second chance from 4 years ago. It just showed me how your life can change… How we make choices, how scared we are at that time, and how in time it does work out. I could have never imagined all of the changes as a person that you go through in 4 years with a divorce. I finally got to be the person I wanted to be…

4 years ago, I would have been the mom that had the lunches packed the night before, been yelling at my kids to be up by 7, to be at the beach by 8 am.. and I would not have relaxed for a minute on a vacation. I did not enjoy being that person. I would have made sure I was pleasing everyone, just not myself.

Today, I am so relaxed. I am not worried about pleasing everyone. I am not worried about trying to do a million things in one day. I am not worried about seeing every attraction in Florida in 8 days. I made choices that have made my happy.

I took this trip day by day. I let my kids sleep til 11 and I got to go for morning runs. I got to sit and drink coffee in the sun. I got to think about my life and my future. We swam, we laughed, we had ice cream everyday, we stayed up til midnight.. We got to drive to the beach at whatever time we got up…and some days we just hung out. I have never seen my kids so relaxed or just having fun. They were happy, really happy. I think we all worry about our kids everyday and then sometimes you look at them and know they are really happy. I got to sit and watch them and just relax.

So yes, we get re-dos in life and second chances. We get a second chance to do it again.. maybe different or better this time. Maybe things weren’t as clear the first time or maybe you didn’t have the confidence at that time….but in the end take your second chance.

-Snarky Divorced Gal

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Do as I say, not as I do…

As the Mom of a tween girl I spend a lot of time reinforcing.

Reinforcing about how she looks.

How she’s doing in school.

How her friends feel about her.

How her crush feels about her.

About who she is and who she wants to be.

If I could bubble wrap the kid I would. Except that will do her no favors.

I work really, really hard at helping her find all the positives in life. Focusing on the things that make her unique, not letting things get to her.

Yet… when it comes to myself.

Kinda dropping the ball.

Big time.

So much so, that today for example after having honestly one of the most relaxing weekends ever with said tween, I let an email wreck a good portion of my afternoon.

First, I know I shouldn’t check work emails.

Second, I shouldn’t check work emails.

Let’s just say between the content and who sent it. I stewed.

Then … I thought about some of the advice some of the ladies on this page have given. I thought about what I’d say to G.

I flagged said email and let it go. Or tried to. I thought about what about the email made me mad.

For a hot second I  felt sorry for the sender for spending a beautiful Spring day on work and rather than be angry realized I now have one less task facing me on what is always a busy Monday.

It wasn’t that hard. Taking a step back. Shifting my mindset. If there is one thing I tend to lose sleep over, it’s definitely work. If I can find ways to change how I react … Mondays at a minimum will be easier and who doesn’t want that?

I’m not saying I will be able to do this with everything but if it gets a few hours of a Spring Sunday back. I’m all for it.

Happy Spring, Mamas!

<3 Caprise

Tell A New Story

Organize into a new story.

I can hear you now as you start to purge, declutter and organize your home…

”Oh but my son wore that when….    Oh but my daughter made that for me….  Oh but my mother, but my father, but my best friend, my teacher, me……”  or is it  “I got that at the fair… I won that for…. I bought that when…I made that….”

There goes the story you keep telling yourself about every THING you just can’t seem to part with.  It’s time to change the story.  Give it new meaning, give it a new ending, give it a new feeling, give it a new energy.

“Oh that was my grandmothers she’d be so upset if I got rid of it and…” “Oh that’s from when I was in kindergarten…” “I won that in a contest in junior high for…”

GENTLE REMINDER : If you part with the “thing” you’ll still have the memory in your heart & your mind.

Today….release what you can, keep what you MUST.  Begin to work through the barriers that keep you from being successful, that keep you from living fully and being prospering or barriers that simply keep you stuck.  Organize the piles, files and to-do lists.  Create new systems to keep things together. Begin a new habit of putting things where they go so you can find them when you need them.  Purge, declutter, organize one drawer at a time, one closet at a time, one file at a time.  Just be sure to begin.  Begin somewhere today so tomorrow has less stress less chaos, less drama, less burdens.  And for goodness sake when you hear the voice in your head go on and on about the What’s and Why’s and Who’s.  STOP!

Let it go. Free yourself. Stand strong & breath. Tell yourself a new story.

Your God Girl,

Tracy

The Only One I Know

The Only One I Know.

In 2008, my spirit was broken when my marriage ended after almost 12 years.   Literally overnight I became the single mother of a 2.5 year old daughter, uncertain and scared about the future.  It took nearly six months to finalize our divorce and now I faced the reality of what to do with our four remaining frozen embryos. I was awarded custody of the embryos, and would soon realize the only option available to me was to place them with a family through adoption.

I did an online search and learned about Snowflakes® adoption. I met with a counselor through my church and prayed ALOT. Over the course of those months, and the year in-between my divorce and the finalization of the placement, I came to realize I needed to do what was best for the remaining embryos, and me.  I firmly believe those 4 frozen embryos were not a mistake; they were created so God could give them life.  Once I really grasped this, it became clear I could do this – place my embryos into an adopting family.

I have struggled with control over the years. Can anyone relate? The control freak in me continued to try and figure out God’s plan for these embryos. For their first frozen embryo transfer the adopting family transferred two of the four embryos. My feelings ran the gambit. What if they had a girl? I prayed they would have a boy because I wasn’t familiar with raising boys.  A boy would be different. Easier, for me.

The adopting family’s son, J, was born when my daughter, S, was 6.  She was too young to understand all of the particulars, but I definitely began the process of telling her the story. I did not want either of us feeling shame for this choice. I introduced her to the family and to J through photos as close family friends that are like family. She saw photos and received updates about his milestones and was good with that.

I struggled. He was nearly identical to my daughter’s baby pictures! I found comfort in my faith and had confidence I had made the right choice.

In 2013, their second son, M was born.  The doctors gave him only a 20% chance of being born!  But he was absolutely perfect and healthy in every way. S was now 8. One night as we snuggled up in bed she talked about ‘the boys’ as they would affectionately be known forevermore and God facilitated a loving honest dialogue between us about her brothers. Tears come to the surface as I think of that sweet painful conversation.

At Christmas we flew to meet the family in person. It was scary and magical, awkward and perfect all at the same time. J was 3 and M was an infant. We savored our time with them and marveled at their beautiful resemblance to my daughter. My mind turned to what I had learned from my faith: God works all things together for good.

I wanted to share my story because you don’t often hear about people who placed their embryos as a result of a divorce.  In fact, to this date I’m still the only person I know who made this choice as a single mother. All the stories I found were of full, happily married families taking this journey together. Of course, that only made me feel more isolated and alone. You see, when I made this decision I did not feel like my womb was closed. I wanted more children. While the choice to destroy the embryos was never a consideration for me, the thought of not being responsible for my biological children was foreign. Through the fear and uncertainty about the future I ultimately grew to know this was the right choice for all of us. My daughter has biological brothers who were adopted and we are loud and proud about it. While I have moments of sadness, those are overshadowed when I see the familiar eyes, smiling faces, and hear those beautiful voices say my name. It’s one of the sweetest sounds in the world.

~Snowflake Party of 4

Moms Mess Up Too

Moms mess up too!

I’m writing this blog moments after boiling my youngest son’s pet fish alive. Yes you read right. I, supermom extraordinaire, just accidentally filled my son’s fish tank with hot water and killed his pet fish. His first pet at that.

If this had happened on any other week and any other day I think I’d be taking it in stride. But today is Wednesday, two days after the Leprechaun incident AND an early release day. What is the Leprechaun incident you ask? Welp here goes:

St. Patrick’s day was last Sunday. Leading up to St. Patrick’s day my youngest son (age 6) was convinced that this year he was going to catch a Leprechaun. He asked for my help. And in accordance with my new goal of not being a killjoy I agreed. I spent most of the weekend sort of putting off making a trap until Sunday afternoon came and it could no longer be avoided. My son looked me straight in the eyes and said “Mom, you said you would help me set up a Leprechaun trap and you haven’t done it yet. Let’s GO!” God I love that kid. He, like me has a pretty short tolerance for bullshit and once our threshold has been reached, we cut right through the fat and get to the meat of our needs.

So I took him outside and tied a rope to a log that held up one of the many leftover Amazon boxes living in the garage. We put 4 pennies under the box as bait and proceeded to wait for our Leprechaun to arrive. My son sat by the window and watched the trap for over an hour before it was time for dinner and then bed. The last thing he said to me before rolling over and falling asleep was “Tomorrow, that leprechaun is going to take me to his pot of gold and we will all be rich mom.”

Two questions stayed with me through the night: How the hell did I get this far into the lie and how the hell was I going to get out of it.

Disclaimer: If you are reading this blog post and can’t understand the motivation of this lie follow through, my apologies you are on the wrong blog. On this blog we occasionally lie to our children and sleep just fine doing it.

The next morning around 6:30am, after I returned home from dropping my eldest off at school, I still hadn’t come up with a plan for our leprechaun. I sat in my car for a few minutes trying to come up with something believable. And then it hit me, a note. I took out the notepad I keep in my purse and dug out a pink highlighter and wrote a note on behalf of dear old Mr. Leprechaun.

My son’s room is right above where the trap was set so I had to be down right stealth in my execution of this plan. Crouched down, tip toed and absolutely silent, I moved across the from yard to the trap (I’m pretty sure at least one of my neighbors has surveillance footage of me creeping around my front yard for one reason or another. Reindeer tracks, Easter eggs and now a leprechaun). I removed the pennies, pulled the log, lowered the box and slipped the note in place. BOOM! Mom-excellence.

An hour later my son was pacing at the front door as my daughter (age 11) and I were grabbing bags and sweaters trying to get out of the house and off to school. As soon as I opened to door my son sprang out like he had just heard a gun shot and was racing for gold. Ha! Racing for gold, like a pot of gold. Get it?

Anyhow, he found the note. As he got into the car and buckled his seatbelt he started to read it aloud:

Andrew*

Nice trap. I was able to escape.

Better luck next year.

-Lep

Oh My Gosh!!!! My son screamed. He was so excited. He couldn’t believe that his trap had worked and that the leprechaun had actually been to our house. As we pulled into his school he said that he would be showing the note to all his friends. He just knew they would be as excited as him. DOUBLE BOOM! I felt super proud that my quick thinking put a smile on my baby’s face and my partner (Andrew’s father) gave me mom kudos for saving the day which is always nice. I should tell you though that my daughter who is highly intelligent and intuitive told me all of this was a bad idea right from the get go. Special note: Middle children have amazing insight. Listen to them.

Later that day I received a message from Andrew’s teacher that basically said that Andrew had shown the note to his friends and classmates and basically they didn’t believe the authenticity of the note and pretty frankly told him that leprechauns don’t exist. He was devastated and subsequently had a pretty rough day afterwards. Tears and all.

Shhhhhiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttt!

When I picked Andrew up from the school bus stop he had dried tears and snot traces all over his face. He looked defeated and heavy. I just wrapped my arms around him and took a moment to just hug him. I wanted to say “I’m sorry I set you up for disappointment” but I didn’t. Instead we took to the Peace Chair in my home office and sat eye to eye sipping juice and eating Hawaiian sweet bread dinner rolls and talked through the day. I explained that there are two types of truths: Kid truth and Adult truth. In kid truth, Santa, the Easter bunny, the tooth-fairy and leprechauns are alive and well. In adult truth, those characters aren’t real and we as parents work very hard to keep kid truth alive. I told him that some parents choose to share adult truth with their kids early and that is why his class mates and friends didn’t believe he had a real leprechaun note.

I must have been getting help from beyond (thanks Daddy) because that explanation flowed out of me and landed perfectly in the mind of my 6 year old. Later that night at dinner, Andrew told his father, big brother and sister (who already knew) about what had happened that day at school. For just a moment in his story he became really sad. I fought back tears. The guilt was killing me and it must have been hard to watch because at some point I raised my head from my plate and noticed both my kids and their father with the same pained look on their faces. I think we all felt burdened by my well intentioned lie.

I spoke to my mother after putting the kids to bed and as always she reassured me that I had done the right thing, better yet the mom thing and that I needed to let the guilt go. Thank God for mothers, right.

So we survived Tuesday and Wednesday started great but here we are now. Mid morning Wednesday and I am preparing another lie. I’ve just killed my son’s fish and because of back to back meetings I don’t have time to run out and get him another fish. My partner has agreed to go to Pets-mart and get a replacement. This whole thing is like a replay of that episode of Martin when Gina killed his momma’s bird Ruby. I now feel that anxiety on a very real level. My partner and I have agreed that if he can’t find a red betta then he will get something in a close shade and we will tell Andrew that the fish changed colors due to spring weather.

At this point I believe you are asking yourself: WHY NOT JUST TELL HIM THE FISH DIED? And that is a good question. But the history of Andrew and death is a long and sensitive story for me and I am not totally ready to blog about it yet. I promise though, when I do, I will remind you of this post so that you make the connection.

Anyhow the point is: I am not winning at momming this week. Meaty is still sitting in the sink. I couldn’t think standing above his tank of scalding hot water. But I feel better now. I feel like I have a plan. And now I need to go flush a fish.

Thanks for reading

-LT

Pass The Tissues, Please!

Pass the tissues, please!

Growing up I was quick to cry. As an adult frustration and anger can mean waterworks.

I’m not sure who invented waterproof mascara but they’re my hero.

It’s embarrassing how much and what makes me cry. Commercials. Certain stories on the news. Movies. TV.

Pass the tissues.

Honestly,I usually just have tissues stashed in a pocket. But I’m here to say… there is something to be said for a good cry.Sometimes you need it. I know it sounds odd I’m encouraging this. Hear me out. There is something about giving into that emotion, getting it out and moving on.It can be a reset button. We all need a rest sometimes.

There is no shame in that. Owning your feelings is hard. Admitting you hurt or are sad can feel almost impossible. So to suggest a good cry, seems outlandish.

I also tend to shut down when I’m hurting. I have a hard time letting people know I’m hurt. Silliness I know…

Quote for you:

Just because you have days where you feel really overwhelmed. Doesn’t mean you’re a bad Mom. It’s ok to cry & it’s ok to need a break. You’re doing an amazing job.

You really are.

First we grew a person. Some of you a couple.

Some of you work, go to school, are full time Moms.

Your lives are hectic! It’s not a cakewalk.

There are bumps and mountains.

It is ok to have to take a moment a hit that reset button.

I got some tissues in my pocket for you Mommas.

<3

Caprise

I Wondered..Why Me?

I Wondered..Why Me?

I found myself yelling up at God.  Pointing up to the ceiling …. “YOU!  You did this!” “How could You?!” and in the next breath, with tears running down my face, “Why God, Why?”   There’s my boyfriend who had just taken his life and here I stood.

Devastated.

Confused.

Angry.

My heart ached.

My tears fell.

My soul hurt.

And nothing made sense.

I knew, like I KNEW, that God had put us together. There is no way I would have met this man otherwise.  My prayers were answered when he came into my life.  It was a miracle.  That’s all I can say.  A miracle.  So WHY?  WHY oh WHY would God have this happen?  I had no answers.

What seemed like hours …were only minutes.   I stood there yelling to the heavens.  Pointing up, still.  I continued to question God, to yell at God.  The God of the Universe.  The God of ALL.  The God who knew far more about me and my life than I could possibly ever know or thought that I already did know.  And I was yelling at Him?  “Why ME?  You knew I was coming!”  I shouted.  “You knew I would find him!  You picked me to find him.”  “WHY!?”

I was furious.  Furious that my boyfriend died.  Furious that here I was all alone.  Furious that God picked me to find him.  If God knows all… well then He knew I was going to be there that day, right?  Then He picked me, right?   Tears.   Anguish.  Upset.

And just as fast as a flash of lightning hits a flagpole. I was struck by the Holy Spirit.  My crying changed from tears of maddening rage to honorable blessing.  God picked ME.  ME!  He picked ME!  A powerful chill ran through my bones.  I was God’s miracle in David’s life….his channel of love.  I was picked because I was the one who would take care of it all.   I was God’s Warrior.

I had a sense of gratitude.  Don’t you see…. Why Not Me?  Out of the people who could have loved this man, out of the people who could have honored this man, out of the people who could have made a difference in this man’s life and who would turn this tragedy into something good.  God picked ME.  Why Me?  Oh darling…. Why Not Me?

Your God Girl,

Tracy

Divorce For Grown-Ups

Divorce for Grown-Ups: 5 Tips on Achieving Your Best New Normal

None of us is immune to divorce and I’m here to prove it.  Though I was trained and practiced as a marriage and family therapist, I have had my fair share of moments where it didn’t matter.  It didn’t save me from the ick.  And I’m grateful, because those experiences have taught me the most.

My ex-husband and I met in a doctoral program in Social Work. We waited to marry (we were 30).  We planned long enough to have a child that I was labeled a geriatric mother (I was 35).   And yet today, I am still the divorced mother of a twelve year old child.  What-are-ya-gonna-do?

Alas, there are no guarantees in life. And although divorce is difficult and challenges will always remain, I personally discovered you can make your journey to the new normal easier on you and your kids, with no Ph.D. required:

 

  • Respect Survival Mode. A friend introduced the idea of “Survival Mode” to me during my separation when I was (yet, again) revisiting the facts, feelings and current state of our marital dissolution…I was deep in my feelings and in my head. She stopped me and said, “You know, you don’t have to do this to yourself.  You’re in Survival Mode.  Let’s save the therapeutic analysis for when you are not trying to just put one foot in front of the other and be a good mom.”  Wait? What? I don’t have to do this to myself?

When someone is trying to survive in the desert, they don’t spend a lot of energy and brainpower on how they ended up there and how unfair it is.  Instead, they focus on getting out – on surviving.  It was a very freeing for an over-analytical person like me to give myself the gift of giving myself a freaking break—and just get through now, this moment, today. There will be time for the post-mortem—later.  And I did it, when I had the bandwidth to do it.

 

  • Take off your spouse hat. Stop viewing the world (including your ex’s actions) through the perspective of being that person’s spouse. You’re not anymore, so stop. When your ex does anything – the more view that action as their spouse, the more likely it will do a number on you.

The only hat you are allowed to wear is your parent hat. Period.  You will be amazed by how much you can take off your plate once you make this one adjustment to your perspective.  It is not your job to make your ex a better person, or at least not a jerk, in your eyes.  You’re done.  Not your problem.  Off the hook.  You only ask: How does this directly impact my kid and their relationship? And don’t try to warp the issue into being about your kid, when it’s really just about the spouse hat you’re still sporting. Hat off.  And see how much better you breathe.

And bonus: the moment you stop acting like something bothers you is the moment it may stop happening, so stop taking the bait. A little secret I discovered…

 

  • Don’t wait for the karma train. You feel wronged.  Treated badly. Undeservedly so. Yep. That sucks.  Not fair.  Stop screaming at the sky and demanding the karma train to hurry up and get’em.  Because each day that you focus on thinking your ex is “getting away with it” or has “won” is another day you have wasted not getting your best life.  Focus on you, your life. Things have a way of working out, but you are not in charge of the timeline.  So deal.  Go back to figuring out your new normal and living well.

 

  • Social media lives forever. Don’t Vaguebook about your ex. Don’t outright hash it out publicly on social media.  Your kids and lawyer will thank you.  Stop.  It’s a bad look and your friends are cringing for you.

 

  • You are a teaching tool. Remember, your kids are watching and learning important life lessons from you at this moment about how to be resilient, face disappointment (and reality), and conquer challenge—all needed life skills. It’s ok to show vulnerability though—they should also know perfection isn’t a realistic goal. Just be human with superhuman tendencies.

~Dr.L~

 

Dr. L is divorced mom with a global consultancy based out of North Carolina. 

Conquering Pride

Conquering Pride…

Hey everyone! I think I can say that it has been a long month, and that things have been crazy would be an understatement.  I think we all had our own personal battles throughout this last mercury retrograde, things slowed way down, energies were depleted and things were turned on their heads.

When Retrograde hit us this hard its to make us slow down, but not to smell the flowers. We need to inventory on ourselves and what we are putting our energies into. I realized  that my pride was holding me back from letting go of a business venture that was no longer serving me.

I was apart of an MLM and this MLM has amazing products, that i just adore, and helped me regain my self confidence to really start pursuing my dreams ( and I do have multiple that I am actively pursuing). The capital gain potential for me isn’t there with this company, I poured my time, effort, and money into building this mlm as my business, and even though I was losing money I was refusing to give it up because I didn’t want to feel like a failure. So I had to face my pride and take off the rose colored glasses and face things for what they were. That business helped me grow but it’s no longer a fruitful path nor is it serving me anymore, infact its starting to hold me back.

Pride is one of the hardest things to over come sometimes, especially gracefully. I hope everyone was able to take this slow down as a time to take a hard look at their lives and do some trimming (Spring cleaning) of the things that are no longer serving them. When we ignore these things it hinders growth.

I am challenging myself to keep growing everyday, I refuse to be stagnant. I strive to be the best version of me and i wish all the same joy upon all of you.

Always be unapologetically true to yourself,

Ali