Category Archives: Lifestyle

The Darker The Better

The darker the better….

I am not talking about my level of suntanning. I am talking about my choice of darker chocolate.

I’m not sure if I should thank my dad’s consumption & sharing of his Baking Chocolate Bar with me when I was a little girl, but today, as I stand here as a grown woman… I could consume Baker’s Chocolate right here, right now.   I could also eat a handful of carob nips, without batting an eyelash.

Are you shaking your head? Are you hearing the words in your head repeat a loud “Ewwwww”, “Gross” & “YUK” with a shriveled-up nose? Oh girl! You are missing out! 😊

I never did fall in love with the creamy smoothness of milk chocolate. And white chocolate? That’s not even chocolate and should be called by another name! haha. Every time I would eat anything chocolate that wasn’t 80% or higher, ready to bite at the bit, I would spit it out. And fudge? Now the words in my head are “Ewwwww”, “Gross” & “YUK” with my shriveled-up nose.

And don’t get me going on the ingredients of the many multiple choices of dark chocolate! I was buying chocolate baking chips for my Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Walnut bites (I know, right!!!!!? 😊 ) Anyway, the package said ‘dark chocolate’ but with further investigation I read 65% dark chocolate. Now this girl knows….that is NOT dark! On went my search.

My most favorite bars ever are:

Hu 70% : 3 ingredients (organic cacao, unrefined organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter)

Madecasse 92%: 4 ingredients (organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic sunflower lecithin)

TAZA Wicked Dark 95% : 2 ingredients (organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar)

 

My mantra in the candy aisle: Go Dark or Go Home

xoxo

Your God girl,

Tracy

Out Of Control With Control

I find myself easily frustrated when my plans and instructions aren’t followed. I will get over it, if I can be provided with an in-depth and logical account for why things were done differently. It better be well thought out, more efficient, or cover some detail that I might have missed. I find that it is hard for me to take direction without explanation as well. I want to know why I am being asked to do something and how it fits into a bigger picture. I will most likely have suggestions or amendments as well. Rather than a character defect, I used to pass my behavior off on just being analytical. To be honest, I just get out of control with needing control.
There is so much weight placed on us on a regular basis. The demands of family, friends, bosses, and society are heavy and never ceasing. When one lets up, there will surely be another that remains to fill the emptiness. Managing it all without something falling through the crack is a tall order and being controlling seems to be the best fitting solution. That solution never really works though. I have found I always end up frustrated because someone didn’t go fast enough, they weren’t precise enough, or they needed constant intervention to get things right. Worn down from trying to control others, I found there is massive variability in my own work when I get too controlling. Things take longer because I am micromanaging others or I fear delegation, putting a massive amount work on my own plate. Further, I stunt the growth and creativity of others. Not allowing them the freedom to own a project or assist in their way can hinder them from learning the whys of life. It creates this feedback loop for the next time a tasks arises. Direction is needed constantly because the reigns are never handed over for people to learn and grow on their own. This is when the need for control is wildly out of control. There are other, more effective tools exist to manage our lives without having the overwhelming burden of every detail on our own shoulders.
Respect
The biggest tool to grab a hold of in our efforts to release control, is respect. People are people. They aren’t pawns or pieces to accomplish a task. Children are individuals rather than mini-mes waiting to take directions. When we begin to look at people clearly, we notice all the amazing talents they possess. Their potential to do and our desire to teach rather than direct, creates a healthier interaction. This also causes growth in us. I had a coworker, whose strengths did not include anything with technology, quickly rig a malfunctioning printer tray with a towel. I thought she was unqualified, but since she wasn’t trying to analyze the problem from the same technical perspective I was, she discovered a quick out of the box solution.
Routine 
Taking the first tool into account, building room into routines for variance eliminates the pressure to micromanage or do things ourselves. When we manage our routines well we can make room for grace. These allowances for reduce the stress of having people moving at their own pace. My son takes about 45 minutes to eat his breakfast. When I choose to calculate that into my morning routine it becomes a norm not an inconvenience. Instead of spoon feeding my 4 year old each bite, I am able to let go of controlling his pace and let him just. Even though it isn’t my pace, there really isn’t any harm in adjust the schedule to accommodate his needs. This also gives us permission to give ourselves grace. We have our own variances in our productivity. Extending the proper leniency increases the chances that we will meet or come in before deadlines rather than after.
Rest
A large consequence of controlling behaviors that get out of control is our in ability to rest. Downtime isn’t peaceful. We remain stressed about work, relationships, household management, and a constant barrage of other cares. Overtime our lack of rest decreases our efficiency. The result is we get less done in a given period and are more stressed as we see control slipping from our hands. I am the worse at leave my computer on for weeks and months at a time without restarting or shutting it down. Inevitably the computer RAM gets bogged down or those much delayed updates become a necessity rather than an option. Simply put, technology even needs to shut down so it can reboot and be at peak performance. Little times of rest help clear our hard drive giving us the ability to think more clearly and function more effectively.
Implementing these three “Rs” will help stop control from getting out of control in your life. We don’t have to constantly be doing and overseeing for us to be important or to boost our self worth. We can choose to loosen our tight grip of control and be a part of life. Enjoy life because the difficulties will surely come. We shouldn’t let ourselves be so worn out with the everyday ebb and flow that we are incapable of coping with anything else.
Shon W

Finding Your New Place

Finding your new place…sometimes you need a change… I had gone to the same church since my kids were in preschool. We had switched to this church because it offered many programs for little kids and they could do to preschool there also.

I had volunteered for Sunday school for all of my kids throughout their preschool and elementary years. I had joined and participated in a bible group for years. I had also volunteered at the preschool during their preschool years.

We had attended first communions and faith milestones together at that church. We sat through so many Christmas programs and music concerts it felt never ending.

And after my divorce, it felt so different to be there. I felt like I didn’t fit in anymore. I slowly started to volunteer less for preschool. I started to attend church less when I didn’t have my kids. It just didn’t feel like my place anymore.

I didn’t feel comfortable going to church there anymore. It was too close for comfort with my ex and his new wife attending the same church.   I really wanted to feel comfortable attending.

My life was not the same as the past and I kinda felt like I didn’t fit in there anymore. I know I wrote many times about changes in my life after divorce and learning new path. I wanted to really grow and follow in my faith. This was a time in my life that I really needed to be able to feel comfortable with it. In the past, I had just gone along with the faith that worked best for my family or children. I had picked my church for my kids. This time I wanted it to be more about me.

So I started looking for a new church… my friends had recommended a church, so at first I started listening to the messages online. I listened to them for about 6 months before I actually attended in person. I really could relate to the messages. It was so different that I could relate to the messages and felt like sometimes they were meant for me.   I knew that I didn’t want to just jump into a new church without it feeling really like home.

When I first attended in person, I was so nervous to attend alone. No matter what it is in my life, attending alone is always so scary for me. I went with friends at first to feel comfortable. But then one weekend I went alone. It was so great. I felt comfortable and at peace. I had found my new home.

After that, I now go alone on the weekends without my kids. Its my time. This is one of the things that I really look forward to doing alone. I have many things that I like doing with friends in my life, but attending church alone has been so comforting for me.

I know I write a lot about learning to do new things alone or making new changes. Finding new activities, interests, or hobbies that bring you joy or peace is so exciting. I push myself to do these things because it is so out of my comfort zone from my past…

 

-snarky

 

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/

My Divorce Is Final…Now What?

At the time my divorce was final, I was still living with my ex, which I do not recommend to anybody, but financially we just couldn’t support two households. Life went on this way for about 4 months post divorce. Finally I was able to buy a house of my own. We sat down with our 3 daughters and explained to them THIS IS IT! Mommy and daddy would not be living together any longer. They seemed to be okay with the news. 

I was about to turn 40. The first weekend I had to myself was like a scene from a movie. When my ex pulled out of the driveway with our girls for the first time it was his weekend, I screamed out loud with sheer joy. I had already made a playlist with my favorite break up songs, but not the depressing ones, the liberating ones like “I Will Survive” and “All the Single Ladies.” I danced around my kitchen and made myself a gourmet meal complete with a bottle of wine. 

The following day I slept in, got up and pulled my hair into a ponytail. I looked at myself in the mirror and realized I could do whatever the hell I wanted for the next two days. I watched Chick Flicks, Netflix, period dramas, cooking shows, you name it. Most of my divorced girlfriends had immediately gotten involved in other relationships, most that had started before their divorces were final. Not me, I didn’t need a man! I’d read every self help book I could find. I was going to work on myself, love myself (insert eye roll). I knew I needed to be alone and figure out how I’d contributed to the demise of my 12 year marriage………….until the loneliness set in. 

Loneliness can make a woman do stupid things, as I was about to find out. 

Karen

‘Getting Away’ Could Be Just What You Need

‘Getting Away’ Could Be Just What You Need….

As soon as the school year finished, we decided to spend some time at our cabin.  Just me and the kids for a few days.  I can not tell you what a difference just getting away for a couple days made in all of us.  The kids had been distance learning for months and I had been working remotely also.  This was the first place we had been away from home in months. 

I wasn’t sure that I even remembered how to drive a car… but it came back to me.   About ½ way to the cabin, I noticed how all my kids were getting along.  There was no fighting and 2 kids were playing a game together. I almost had to pull over to see this for  myself.   We actually talked and laughed at each other.  There were even parts of the drive that they didn’t have their AirPods in… shocking for teenagers. 

It’s amazing how driving a couple hours away from everything, can make me feel so relaxed.  I did not feel any stress and I had no worries on what might happen next week or next month…I also noticed the change in the kids from the moment we got to the cabin,  they were excited and so happy to be someplace besides home.  They were not constantly nitpicking everything with each other.  I forgot how it felt… how being up there felt like our normal routine… 

Nothing has felt like a normal routine for us in months.  Everything seemed new and uncomfortable, from my career to helping with schoolwork to no sports or activities.  It was all a strange unsettling feeling… Over the last few months I have been more anxious and worry some.  Everyday has seemed to follow the same routine but so many unplanned things happened.  Now just getting out of the car and seeing the lake and fresh air made all the difference.  

We had waited for months to get to go to the cabin and it finally happened.  As excited as my kids were to be there, I realized that they just liked the slow pace of everything.  There was no more learning assignments and google meets for them now during summer.  They also needed this time to just decompress from the last few months.  

I pictured them up by 8 am and out on the dock fishing. but instead the girls were nestled in their beds until noon. I pictured them swimming by 10 and soaking of every moment they could and doing a million different activities.  In my head, it was a scramble of getting as many activities in as possible during the day.  Why?? I have no idea, but I thought we needed to do everything.  Maybe it was because we had been stuck at home for months.    Instead my kids wanted to do everything at a turtles pace.  It was definitely at a lot slower timeframe than I had in mind.   

It would make me annoyed because I thought they should be fishing, swimming, playing yard games, or going for a pontoon rides in a certain time frame.  Crazy mom…. Instead they wanted to sleep until noon then they will go fish for a little bit and then come back in and watch TV show.  

I did not think they were having fun or enjoying themselves. I kept asking them if they wanted to go home. 

All of my kids said, why do you keep asking us that? 

I said “ because I feel like you are not having fun or just laying around”

They all said “we are having a great time this is what we want to do we want to relax and hang out”.  

Silly mom I was.. I thought they were bored.  Instead they were taking time to just relax and do what they wanted.  They were taking naps, watching movies, making bonfires, having snacks together… they were still having a great time just doing it at a slower pace.   We all ended up sleeping in later and then staying up past midnight watching movies many nights. 

Adjusting to how my kids do things has been a hard reality for me.   Many times I have to just let them do things how they want to do them and not push.  And  It’s very hard for me to not step in.  But I have learned they can be much happier and enjoyable, if I let them do it at their pace.  

And after it all…I realized we were having just as much fun at the cabin taking it at a slower pace than if we were rushing to do all these activities… and I felt so much more relaxed.  Plus, I got some much needed sleep. 

-snarky 

https://www.snarkydivorcedgirl.com/

Friday Night At Walmart

Have you ever found yourself at Walmart on a Friday or Saturday night? Like, at 9 o’clock? I did. Once. It was then I realized just how much my life has changed since starting a family. Could this really be the highlight of my weekend? That I have some cash in my purse and I can go out on Friday night…to Walmart? To buy Butt Paste, paper towels and socks? Really?

Wow. I guess so.

It’s ok, though, because I quickly realized that I wasn’t alone. Besides the trouble-making tweens in the toy department riding the bikes up and down the aisles, and the extremely ego-pumped twenty somethings in the cosmetic aisle looking for the right shade of lip gloss before she heads out to the clubs…we have us. Us moms. With a fresh 20 dollar bill in our purse. Maybe more.

Here we are, adding up our purchases in our heads. Aimlessly browsing through the jammed packed shelves. With a carriage full of kids who won’t sit down.

Then there’s the clothing section. Do I go in? Nope. I browse from the aisle. I see “us’ poking through clothes looking for something that’ll make us feel pretty, AND that fits. Impossible, by the way. There are women who are trying stuff on from the misses department hoping it’ll fit, and they will look good. But deep down they know it won’t. We know those denim mini skirt days are gone….Looooooong gone. Not for some, but for most.

One thing is for sure…that blouse will look great with that knock-off coach bag I saw at the Flea Market last week end.

But I learned an important thing from that Friday night at Walmart.

All of us at Walmart, with carriages full of kids who won’t sit down, are where we belong…with the kids we love. Inevitably we put the blouse back and settle on a necessity instead. Baby wipes. Tooth paste, Under Roos.

And so what? As I stood in line and looked around at the Moms beside me, I realized what good mommies we were. And I Smiled at the tiny little thing with the fake tan in front of me with her lip gloss, and trouble makers as they high five each other out the door. Because I know it will be them soon enough, standing here with a carriage full of kids that won’t sit down.

~Lynn

Breaking Negative Generational Cycles

Breaking negative generational cycles…It will get better… right?
The other day during a normal, “how was your weekend?” conversation, my coworker asked me how my children were doing. Lucky for her, I had cried a lot over the weekend and honestly shit had been ROUGH. Perfect timing. With the stress of the weekend still weighing on me, I responded that my teenage daughter was having a really hard time, and in turn making things very difficult for the people close to her. “It’s probably a phase,” my coworker offered encouragingly. “It will get better… right?” Her genuine concern was evident. What else could she say?
“I hope so,” I replied. And I do hope so. More than that, I have faith that it will get better. But amidst that faith is a long list of what ifs that race through my mind every day. As much as I can hope for the best, I really don’t know how things will play out, and most days it feels like the odds are stacked against me.
You see, depression runs in the family. Anxiety runs in the family. Trauma, addiction, mental illness, and poverty all run in the family. On both sides. I haven’t seen up close and personal what it takes to create a stable, happy life and maintain it. Neither have my children. That is a truth that I can’t run from. A truth far too many people can relate to. And it’s scary.
I have poured my soul into fighting against these odds. I want nothing more than to help break the cycles that have kept my family from flourishing for generations, and I have spent countless hours obsessing about what I can do to create the life that my daughters and I deserve. I want things to get better, and truthfully I have made a lot of progress. Still, I have always fallen short.
I say that not out of self-pity, self-judgement, or pessimism. I say that because it’s the truth, and the truth can’t always be wrapped in a pretty bow. When it comes to my children, I have fallen short. They deserve more. I know that. They love me anyway, and so do I.
There was a point in time when I couldn’t forgive myself for falling short. I became angry at myself for having children “at the wrong time”, and I couldn’t come to terms with the idea that I didn’t fix every problem that came our way. I hated myself for it, but here’s what I have learned: no one person should ever be expected to rise to that challenge. No person should feel that they are single-handedly responsible for cleaning up the mess of entire generations, or picking up the pieces left by people who chose not to show up for the children they created.
Please don’t hold yourself to those impossible standards. If you are truly trying your best, that is all you can do. Be graceful with yourself.
Breaking generational curses is not for the faint of heart. It’s ugly and exhausting. It’s important to remember that the process is not supposed to be easy or pretty or comfortable. It’s even more important to remember that this is not a one person job. It takes effort. It takes teamwork. It takes faith. You will pour blood, sweat and tears into breaking from the ties that bind you. You will need endless amounts of courage to choose to love some friends and family members from a distance while they decide if they are going to heal and move forward or choose to stay stuck in the same patterns. It’s a long, complicated, exhausting and sometimes heartbreaking journey. But it will get better… right?
If we keep fighting, it will. It may not ever be perfect. Our children might have to bear the burdens of our mistakes, and their grandparents’ mistakes, and so on. But if we can lessen the burden and clear the path for them, even slightly, then the work we put in will be worth it.
There are moments when I can see it working. Sometimes I look at my teenage daughter and see my own broken teenage self staring back at me– but I can move forward with confidence knowing that her journey is different from mine. She wasn’t dealt a fair hand, but she has knowledge and support that I didn’t have. She has resources that I didn’t have, and a palpable courage that I couldn’t even fathom at her age. She has a grandmother who is the epitome of unbreakable, an aunt and uncle who left everything they knew to pave a path worth following, and many other family members who are determined to heal, move forward and set an example for the next generation. She also has a mother who will walk through fire to make sure she has a fighting chance.
If you are fighting for yourself and your family, keep fighting. Remember that you are not in this alone. Be patient with yourself. Ask for help. Take breaks when you need them. Forgive yourself. Have faith and remember; it will get better.
Alazia
Instagram @alazia.monique

Learning To Love My Time Alone

I am really learning to love my time alone…The last couple weeks, I have really started to enjoy hiking more by myself. Last summer, I would spend many nights hiking at the state park and I started to really enjoy it. Now that the weather is nice again, I have started my nightly hiking. This time, I have made a point to go by myself. I honestly am really starting to just enjoy this time.   In addition, I just bought my state park sticker for the year and I plan to try new day trips with just me…. No friends, just me.

This is a time that I can use to clear my head and my thoughts…and there is a lot going on in my head most days.   It is just peaceful and I am very content. I have many friends and can easily go hiking with another person, however I choose to do these things alone. I am not sure if its independence or I am just more content being alone.

It took me a few years after my divorce, to start doing activities alone. You basically have to start from scratch after being married for 13 years. I had to start watching TV alone, shopping alone, walking alone, eating alone… and it was hard to learn to do all of those things alone again. You have to really push yourself to do these things.

And many times you just don’t feel comfortable doing them. But then, I really started to enjoy that time alone…and then it turned into me looking forward to that time.   And now after 5 years, It is a new feeling of happiness and contentment. I could really go on and on about learning to do things alone and not feel lonely. It’s a hard thing to overcome.

There is a difference between finding things to do to fill your alone time and planning things you love to do alone. What I am saying is that… after my divorce, I would find things to do to fill my time alone. I think many of us go through that period. And now I actually plan things to do alone.

I actually plan activities to do alone. I plan nights to hike alone. I plan projects to do at home alone. I plan these activities for myself just as if I was doing them with a group of people. I actually plan them ahead of time rather than dreading doing them alone.

Church is probably one of the most rewarding things that I have learned to do alone. This year, I joined a new church and I started going by myself when I do not have my kids. This was a huge step for me. At first I thought, people are going to think I am a complete loner…and then I realized there are many people that go to church alone. I learned that this was one of the most rewarding times of my week. Honestly, I would now pick going to church alone anyday.

I have done many small home improvements at my house. Very small improvements, which mostly include painting the entire house. But I have learned that I love to find little projects and see them through by myself. I am just more gratified from starting and completing the project by myself.

I know some people find doing things alone, scary or uneasy… I get it. I still have many friends that can not walk into a restaurant alone. For some of us, like myself, it is easy to do activities, hobbies, projects, by ourselves. We are the people that would pick a 3 hour car ride by ourselves over a road trip with 5 friends.

I think I have just learned to be really content with my life and surroundings. I have no problem now choosing to do something alone over maybe with friends. It does take time…it took me a long time to get to this point, but I really enjoy it now.   I embrace this time alone.

-snarky

www.snarkydivorcedgal.com

What Is Your Comfort Food?

Comfort food can bring you right back to your childhood in one simple mouthful.  My son LOVES my Pastina and Mac & Cheese and any time he is feeling a bit ‘off’ he’ll ask me to make it, …even still at 23, it brings him comfort.  It just makes everything better.  Home made soup does that for me.  There’s nothing like it!!  Sure these foods taste good, but they represent a warming of the heart as well.  It reminds me that there is so much love in a small spoonful of deliciousness.

 It’s probably the same thing as a nice cup of hot tea before bedtime, or the red jelly beans that have a burst of cinnamon, or a small cup of Dairy Farm ice cream on a hot summer day.  

What foods bring you comfort?

What do you save for your “Eat Anything” day?  What do you buy when you have a few extra dollars to spend?  How do you treat yourself with food?

As much as it can be comfort food, it can take over if you let it.  One piece of pizza can easily become the whole pie, one spoonful of Mocha Almond can turn into a pint that never makes it’s way back to the chilly place it came from, and one chocolate chip cookie…well that can turn into a whole row of them.

Be watchful!  Be aware when you’re in need of comfort food. Make sure you’re not filling a void of some sort.  THAT is NOT the time to turn to the foods that you LOVE.  It could though, be the time you call your girlfriends, your mom, your sister.  A time to share your heart, your moments of silliness and accomplishments from the week.  

Reconnect to the people that bring you comfort just as much as those foods.  Let the food and the love nurture you. 

 

xoxo

Your God-girl

Tracy

Pandemic Cooking

Pandemic Cooking

A long long time ago, in another life I was in the restaurant business. I was the general manager for a 75 seat family restaurant in Maine. I was never  formally trained as a cook but learned by fire. If a cook didn’t show up to work, I was the one that took his place for the night. And the only thing my mother taught me about cooking was that the base seasonings of a spaghetti sauce were BOG – basil, oregano, garlic.

What I did learn in the restaurant was how to follow a recipe, and how to time food in the oven so everything came out hot at once.  Those two things alone have served me well in the past 30 years. 

During the shutdown, one of my forms of entertainment is to watch cooking shows and YouTube videos on cooking. I know I’m not alone in this guilty pleasures so, I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite resources.

I’m going to include links to all the YouTube channels, so if you want, you will be able to find the websites from there. 

The first is Yummly  a place to go for a more traditional recipe collection. Usually their videos are quick, annotated and very informative.

Yummly

https://www.youtube.com/user/Yummly1

Laura Vitalli  is a wonderful personality and very Italian. She also is very traditional,  but with a touch of flair and very talented.

Laura in the Kitchen

https://www.youtube.com/user/LauraVitalesKitchen

If you are vegetarian or vegan, this next site is for you. Sam, is a very creative chef and she recreates traditional recipes into delicious vegan meals.

Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ_ApOQf6aH3Te2oYvQLH5w

Now we come to my newest best friend, my Instant Pot. This is a modern day pressure cooker that will cook food faster than seems logical. It also allows me to dump ingredients all at once into a pot and walk away only to return in what seems like minutes to a fully cooked meal. Baked potatoes in 15 minutes, perfect cooked hard boiled eggs in 10 minutes that peel better than I have been able to cook in 30 years. Tonight I cooked frozen chicken along with rice in 25 minutes while I did other things. It was a simple dump and go. Here are two sites that will convince you to run out and buy your own Instant Pot tomorrow.

365 Days of. Pressure Cooking

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCg87IKiPr7gQ_fHqmaOuMGQ

Six Sisters Stuff

https://www.youtube.com/user/SixSistersStuff

I hope you find some new favorite recipes, or at least have a nice distraction from our current situation.

~Steve