Paddle Your Own Canoe

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“Are you seriously going to the store without a mask?” “I can’t believe she hasn’t left the house in 2 months!” At times, the opinions and feelings surrounding Covid-19 seem to be more damaging than the virus itself. Social media is the biggest platform where people seem to make others the target of their fear, and I can only take it in small doses – VERY small doses. And if I am being honest, it sometimes just pisses me off. Much like the media, it is filled with venom, hate, and people unleashing their emotions onto others, demoralizing their thoughts, and aiming right for the gut.

 

Do you want to know the only thing I know for sure right now? No one knows the answers to this crisis. No one! The projections, death rates, vaccines, and expected reopening dates are all speculation. The bottom line is we just need to do what is best for ourselves and our family right now. And guess what folks…it’s going to be completely different for all of us! Yep, you read that correctly. You are not going to agree with how some people are approaching it. Guess what? It is none of your business. Your only concern needs to be protecting yourself and those you love, not to convince a stranger that you’re “right,” and they’re “wrong.” We are in a fight to save our country, not to score points for our ego.

 

Instead of focusing on how we feel about someone’s actions, we should be counting our blessings that we get to individually choose how we respond to this crisis. That freedom is what is so beautiful about this country. Respect everyone’s freedom to choose, especially when it doesn’t mirror your own. We all decide where we get the information we believe. Some follow the advice of political leaders, some the media, and many do their own research to form their own decisions. Whether you wear a mask, practice social distancing, or wear gloves, the only thing I ask of you is to use your energy (whether it be anxiety, fear, excitement, or contentment) for something productive for YOU. If you need to ugly cry, binge on Netflix, go for a run, or eat a box of cookies, do what you have to do to make it through to the next day. Whatever you do, don’t pass your fears onto someone else. That fear isn’t theirs to carry, and I can assure you they are consumed with plenty of their own.

 

We are all in this shit-storm together. And yes, I realize we all have unique situations, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are all humans that have feelings and are impacted by this pandemic. If anything, this time should bring us together. We should be leaning on each other to connect and remind ourselves that although we are physically separated, we are emotionally similar. We are not The Divided States of America. We are all experiencing loss, fear, anxiety and uncertainty. How about we support each other by staying in our own lanes, minding our business when it comes to people’s choices, and doing the best we can. No more, no less. Sometimes the best way to unite together is by being okay with standing alone in our opinions. Our individual beliefs do not make us a great nation. Our freedom to believe does.

 

 

It Hurts So Good

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It was 1 a.m., and I heard Dane screaming my name.  I came flying down the stairs to find him on the floor with her in shock.  It was a night I will never forget as we stayed up trying to sort it all out in our heads.  What happened?  It was just an infection.  Then, we went into crazy parent protection mode:  How are we going to tell the kids?  How are they going to be able to endure this pain, if we can hardly bear it?  As many of you know, we unexpectedly lost our sweetest Ophelia last fall.  She had a horrible infection of her paw that quickly seeped into her bloodstream and caused her to pass away in the middle of the night. She was only four and was a major piece of our family.

As a typical mom, I couldn’t fathom having to give this excruciating news to my kids.  As parents, we’re taught to protect our loveys from feeling any sort of pain. But why?  This really had me conflicted, so with extreme hesitation, I decided it was an opportunity for all of us to sit in this pain as a family.  We needed to talk about it, feel it, and know that we could endure it by just getting inside of it.  We shared our favorite stories about her.  We cried together.  We laughed together.  We’re still healing together.

We parents focus solely on keeping our children joyful, smart, and entertained, but how much are we concentrating on our kids being able to exist in the difficult emotions?  Why aren’t we exposing them to the painful stuff and allowing them realize that their hearts have the capacity to make it through hard times that can teach them the most valuable lessons?  We, instead, want to bandage it up and pretend it doesn’t exist.  Tim Ferris says it best:  “Avoiding short term pain is to guarantee 10x’s the pain in the future.”  Meaning, if we don’t teach our children coping skills to deal with life’s dreadful moments, unfair events, and broken hearts, then we aren’t giving them the emotional tools they need to live life to it’s fullest.  If they’re incapable of sitting still in their pain, they will often turn to a gazillion unhealthy outlets to numb their feelings.  Or, even worse, they pass their pain along to those they love because they don’t know how to handle it themselves.

Whether the grief they experience is getting left out at school or losing a loved one,  we have to teach them how to cope within the variety of emotions they will encounter.  You’ve heard it time and time again, “Kids these days!”  or “Damn Millennials!”  But, here’s my point, who is teaching them?  We, the adults, are the ones responsible for any behaviors of entitlement, selfishness, or self destructive behavior.  We blame the youth for being weak and helpless, but who’s the one handing out the “Participation” trophies, instead of letting our children lose?  What about teaching them how to stand up for themselves instead of getting involved in their arguments with friends?  We are putting these bubbles around them, and it’s doing them a huge disservice. It’s because we ourselves are ill-equipped to manage the suffering. We aren’t allowing them to FEEL if it’s anything other than happiness.  That is why, so often, when they get out of college, they can’t handle the harsh realities of the world.  They’ve only known “happy” times, rather than being taught that sometimes the best parts of our lives are as a result of the painful experiences we have to endure.  We surrender to our children when it becomes just an ounce uncomfortable for them or for us.  How many times have you given in when they threw a fit over something they wanted?  I’m guilty.  What about keeping them entertained at all hours of the day, instead of letting them experience boredom?  Yep, me too. We concentrate on their intellectual and physical well beings, but what about their emotional stability?

Our job is to empower them, when we do for them what they should be doing for themselves, we are creating entitlement and dependency rather than empowerment.  They need to KNOW they can get through incredibly hard things and using healthy habits to do so:  talking, praying, meditating, exercising, writing, going for a walk, deep breathing, reading, a favorite hobby, are a few ways to relinquish feelings of hurt and sadness.  We must show them how to identify and manage emotions and learn to tolerate life’s inevitable suffering. Pain and sadness aren’t “wrong” emotions to have, they teach us acceptance, perspective, and enhance our most joyful experiences. Life has unlimited opportunities in store, but they are always accompanied by the unknown and usually pain tags along.  It’s completely contradictory, but when we get in the pain, it becomes less, but, if we shy away from it, it will become immense. When we leave our comfort zone, stop resisting, and sit within the nastiness, we learn that we have the capability to persevere.  If it doesn’t challenge them, it won’t change them.

All My Best,

Erica

Ode To Next Year’s Teachers


Teachers, I’ve completely failed you this summer.  And, I mean, a BIG, FAT, RED “F.”  I had such high hopes for this time off with the kiddos while I was pinning all those crafty projects, but, per usual, after a few days, the wheels flew off. Now, don’t you worry too much because they did master a few skills they’ll need this upcoming year.

Their organizational skills are on time.  They know where everything goes and always put things back in their homes.  Fruit snack wrappers under the couch?  Sure!  Old juice boxes in the toy chests?  Why not.  Legos in the toilet?  Of course.  Dried up yogurt squeezers in the closet?  Yes!

They’ve also dominated their comprehension skills.  They will listen to every little word you say.  In fact, when you call their name, they will answer after only ONE time.  It’s really something else.  They’ve been incredibly busy catching creepy holigrams and watching other kids play toys on the YouTube.  We might have to get the jaws of life to get them off the couch on the first day.  

There is some good news.  We’ve mastered the concept of discipline as they’ve happily shared their toys with each other, thrown zero punches, and never had a shitty attitude or complained of being bored.  That’s right. 

Oh, and our hygiene?  Flawless.  I am pretty confident Edward Scissorhands was living with us at one point, and it basically took a chainsaw to clip those bad boys.  I never let the pool constitute bath time, and they brushed their teeth every day.  Every. Single. Day.  As if that’s not enough, at one point, I walked past the bathroom where I heard my middle child serenading the toilet:  “Drink my pee pee, yeah!”  Good times.

So, don’t be jealous if we’ve out-skilled you this summer.  You’ve always got next year to try out our regime.  And to you teachers, I know I’ve let you down, but my promise to you is this. They will use their brains before school starts.  Yes, I realize I have 4 days, but it’s sort of like that starvation diet you endure before a beach trip.  The last ditch effort to get right in the Ibsen Boot Camp.  

And for that first day of school, I might or might not send them in an uber and celebrate with a mimosa.  We survived another summer folks.  We did it.  And, to all of you home-schooling moms out there, you’re an exceptional breed.  Truely amazing.

Happy school year!

Walk the Talk

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Last night, I tucked my littles in bed, kissed their round cheeks, and uttered to them our nightly mantra:  “Remember, you can be anything you want to be, as long as you are kind and try your best.”  I slowly crept down the stairs, fell to the couch and turned on the TV, only to find people yelling, shouting, and pointing fingers.  My first thought – We are FAR from our best…ALL of us.

I wholeheartedly believe we live among good people, where a few disturbed individuals can forever stain the rest of us.  But, why are we turning on one another when we should be holding hands?  When did we lose compassion for each other’s stories?  We have to co-exist in this craziness…remembering that all of us struggle.  Sure, there will be some who have been dealt an easier and some a shittier hand than us, but unfortunately, we don’t get to choose our hardships, but we do our actions.

I’m not claiming to know the answers, God, I wish I did, but I do know the promises I have made to myself and my family.  We won’t be bystanders of hate, but activators of love.  We will treat EVERYONE the way we want to be treated.  Call me crazy, naive, or a doormat, but my biggest hope for my children is they learn to walk the talk, to take the action and do something to lighten another’s load.  To know, that someone else has breathed easier because they have lived.  We won’t just talk about kindness, we will be it by holding doors open, smiling, giving genuine compliments and putting others before ourselves.

We’ve over-complicated humanity. We’re quick to judge, assume, and voice the way the world should be, but we have failed to be it.  Back to basics- that simple Golden Rule:  treat others the way you would want to be treated, understanding that we’re in this together.  And, no matter if we have different views, lifestyles, opinions or worries, we all have messy feelings, broken hearts, angry egos and wonder our true purpose for existence.  Hate is contagious, but so is love.  It’s completely our choice.

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Much Love,

Erica

 

We’re okay, right?

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It’s a miracle I’m still alive today.  Not because of any catastrophic event or because I was mistreated as a child, quite the opposite.  My parents were and are THE BEST!   I say this because life as a child was much different than today, simpler…much simpler.  

You might remember the good old days.  When your swim lessons consisted of your dad throwing you in the deep end, and you flailing around thinking you’d never trust him again. When Halloween costumes were created by your parents’ drawing some whiskers on your face, putting you in a leotard and topping you off with a headband with ears.  BAM: You’re a cat, and they called it a day. Boy, have times changed.  

Parents buy every little thing society tells them they need in order for their kid to survive. I always laugh when I shop for a baby gift and look at the registry these days.  There are wipe warmers, machines that move the baby as if they’re still in the womb, and even colored, wireless monitors so you can stalk every move your peanut makes. Oh, and the highchair and shopping cart covers, add those to the list.  Here’s my point, our asses got the cold wipes, the rocking chair, privacy, and germs, and we’re still alright, I guess.

Speaking of baby monitors, let me tell you a story (my mom might kill me for this). She once told me about a time she and my dad loaded my sis and I into the car and headed to Florida (probably rolling around in the backseat, because car seats weren’t invented).  Anyway, once we got there, they would open the hotel window and head to the pool while we were napping. Then, they would head back to the room when they heard us wake up.  Sweet Jesus, this is twisted on so many levels.  One, why did the hotel windows open?  Two, isn’t this grounds for child abandonment?  They’d have been hauled off to the clink in a heartbeat in today’s world. No shoes? No Monitor? No problem.

Today, our kids play games with each other through Ipads, while the best piece of technology we had was the Speak N Spell.  We were too busy playing kickball with our neighbors until the sunset. Our kids talk via text, while we talked on the phone.  Although, it was a damn miracle to get a ring tone if your friends didn’t have call waiting.  But, oh boy, if you had a “teen” line, forget about it. 

Products evolve, things change, and for that I am grateful.  I just hope we don’t lose our connection to nature and more importantly, to each other.  My childhood memories consist of things like camping, catching crawdads, building rickety playhouses, and dancing – straightforward, yet exhilarating.  My point here is this, we are inundated with fancy gadgets that are meant to make our lives easier; yet sometimes, they just complicate our situation and cause more stress.  I hope when my kiddos look back on their memories, they feel the same abundance I do about mine. Technology can be great, but It’s important to keep simplicity alive.  In those things, I find ease, joy, and fulfillment.  I find myself.

Much Love, 

Erica

8 Lessons Learned from Spring Break

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8 Lessons Learned from Spring Break

Spring break is like a little test to see if you’re prepared for the upcoming summer.  I can tell you, I’ve got a lot of meditating to do. I want to be the fun and fearless mom that my kids want me to be, but I’m not sure my anxiety can take it.  I’m proud to report that I did “let go” this spring break, and I learned several life lessons along the way:

  1. Indoor water parks are NOT for germaphobes. Trust me on this one:  wear flip flops.

  2. Change your ITunes password before a long trip.  Your kids will absolutely dip you in the grease, and you’ll be begging Apple to forgive them before you know it.

  3. My middle loves to lure the characters in for a hug and then punch them in the face.
  4. $75 in an arcade gets you a bouncy ball.
  5. My kids can survive off of chicken tenders alone for 3 days straight.
  6. Plunging down a water slide with a tube of plastic to protect me is just not okay.
  7. Sleep is non-existent when you’re 4 deep in a room.
  8. I’d do every second of it again to see those grins and beautiful memories being made right before my eyes.

So, cheers to another happy Spring Break my friends!  No matter what adventures you embraced, you survived.

Much Love,

Erica

More than Mom

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MORE THAN MOM

I used to be fun.  No, seriously, I really was.  I was completely care-free of responsibilities, judgement, and time…none of it mattered. I moved at my own pace, did what made me happy, and the biggest decision I had to make was whether to go out that night, and you can probably guess the answer to that dilemma. I wish someone had told me to savor those days, because boy has it changed.  I’m incredibly grateful for the way my life has unfolded.  I’m simply stating, “pulling an all-nighter” has a whole new meaning.  These days, going to the grocery store, doing laundry, and getting 2 hours of sleep are decisions made for me. Three small people rely on me for essentially everything, and now, it seems like life is just a series of “have to’s,” with a side of exhaustion.  I understand this is what I signed up for, but I guess I didn’t realize I’d feel as if I’ve lost a piece of me in the process.  I get it, life changes as we grow, but this adult shit is for the birds.  Thank God, I have true friends I can bitch to about the gazillion meals I’ve cooked that no one ate, the shower I haven’t taken in days, and the fact that I will unleash if I hear “mom” once more.

Man oh man, I’m lucky to be doing life with these strong women, and several that aren’t pictured.  They are the ones that convince me my abnormal life IS normal.  We have shared laughs that left sore muscles for days, and cries that left empty hearts for weeks. But, most importantly, we have shared each other’s love, exposed our most vulnerable selves, and accepted each other “as is.”  I have several groups of friends, but one common bond is recurrent among all of them…acceptance.  Having a shitty day and taking it out on  them?  They’ll listen to your rant.  Had too many cocktails and decided to karaoke?  They’ll be your backup dancers. Enduring the excruciating pain of a broken heart?  They’ll cry with you, and patiently wait until you’re ready to move forward.

So, no matter what role you’ve taken on or struggles that are wearing you down, making you feel as if you are a shell of the human you used to be, hold tight to those spectacular ladies who can always unveil the true you.  The YOU that existed before kids, that stressful job, or the other stains of life.  The laughs with them will fuel you forward, and their love will help you live life with a bit more ease until your next shenanigan. Spending time with them is absolutely non-negotiable.  Even if I have to show up looking as if I just got discharged from the insane asylum, it’s happening.  My soul needs them.

You see, you need friends because, we humans desire to belong.  We want to be surrounded by people who think like us, feel like us, and tell their versions of our stories.  That is what true friends do.  When you feel that way around those you love, consider yourself among the chosen.  And, if you have more than one group of friends like this, you are as fortunate as they come.  Being a REAL friend will be one of the most important purposes of your being. Hold them close, revel in the memories, and just be you, because they know when you aren’t.  

Much Love,

Erica