I was reminiscing just the other day

My kids got Taylor Swift concert tickets for Christmas. It was all they asked for what they really, really, really wanted and swore they didn’t need anything much else. And for reasons I can’t completely explain, there are also two tickets for The Dude and I.

Don’t hate me, but I’m kinda excited.

The past couple of times ‘ol Swifty has been in town, we weren’t able to get tickets. Heaven knows we tried. But there’s a fine balance of wanting to do something for your kids and being able to afford your mortgage payment because the only tickets left by the time you actually get through cost nine million dollars. Being a grown-up is so lame, you guys.

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With this particular album, we made sure we were on some sort of notification email list-thing that would give us behind the scenes info and the code for presale. (Super technical terms meaning that teenager of mine told us when all the things were happening.) Even knowing all this, getting enough tickets was quite the ordeal. Let’s just say that the two separate ticket buying experiences (there are friends going with us and you could only buy a certain amount of tickets per household) left us all with heart palpitations and PTSD. It also leaves The Dude and I sitting by ourselves (with thousands of other people) so the girls can all sit together and I find this perfectly hilarious.

Timing is a funny thing, though. We’ve been TSwizzle fans for years and years. Yes, I said we. Some of my favorite memories with my girls have been singing TS songs over and over on repeat because they’re the quintessential growing up songs and super fun to sing at the top of your lungs. Even for an alleged grown-up. And this huge concert event in August comes right at a time these girls, and their parents, might need it the most. Because just a couple short weeks later, a few of these girls will be heading off to college where the soundtrack to this next chapter in their life might sound a bit different.

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So maybe the title using Taylor Swift song lyrics on yesterday’s post makes the lump in my throat grow into a huge bolder every time I read it. Because obstacles and mountains and expectations and goals and dreams and surviving and hoping that everything will be okay and then getting to a point where we’re more than okay. But also because these girls are the epitome of all the Taylor Swift albums, as silly and cliche as it sounds. They’re young and hopeful and scared and excited. These girls, man. They’re crashing through walls, moving mountains, making magic, fighting dragons and having the time of their lives. And all of this just…fits somehow and the timing is perfect.

Ready to run

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We are back to half marathon training. More than anything, I’m super proud of our commitment. Getting up before the crack of dawn isn’t easy. But we are doing it.

Thankful for these crazy bitches for forcing me out the door.

That’s just the way it is

I’m watching weird shows on television because I forced myself to go to bed before midnight. I shut off the computer. I’m ignoring the fact that my oldest child is still up doing homework. (Well, I’m not super worried about it anyway.)

I’m so tired. Like, more than usual. And that’s saying something.

For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to a weekend of “not as much as usual” so that I can get more sleep and not wear actual clothes that aren’t pajamas.

Maybe yoga pants. Maybe.

But first I have to stop watching weird TV so that I can get some actual sleep and get a WHOLE BUNCH O SHIT done tomorrow so that the weekend can actually start.

Except, this show is kinda quirky. And it’s made me laugh twice. So now I must see it through. Since I’ll probably never watch it again.

Oh hell, it’s over and that show Parenthood is on. Sarah said I’m not allowed to watch that show so maybe I’ll actually go to bed now. Or just change the channel.

I shouldn’t be in charge of my own life.

On Anxiety and Masks and Hating When Other People Are Right

I’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety lately. Mostly mine. I mean, I can think about yours if you want me to but I’m more familiar with my own. I’ve just had more practice with mine. I’m so selfish like that.

I don’t talk about anxiety very often. I’m not very good at it and sometimes it’s just easier to keep quiet. There’s always the possibility that people will start acting weird about it once they know. Maybe they’ll be uncomfortable with the topic. (I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. That’s not right.)

When I take better care of myself, I handle life much better. I wish I could remember that all the time, but I don’t. I seem to forget every time that life gets complicated and I stop working out or eating right or drinking enough water. You know, that damn oxygen mask we keep talking about. I keep forgetting the part about putting mine on first.

What can I say? I’m a terrible flyer.

I wasn’t always an anxious person. I’ve always been a champion worrier pretty much all of my life. But my actual, “hey there’s an elephant sitting on my chest”, introduction to anxiety happened several years ago after a few ridiculously stressful months. As I’m wont to do, I put off going to the doctor until I really couldn’t ignore it anymore. My doctor immediately caught on. Me? Not so much. I’M NOT WORRIED ABOUT ANYTHING! I kept saying. THERE IS NO REASON FOR ME TO BE ANXIOUS, I maintained. He (politely) humored me and referred me to a specialist while saying, “Hey…I’m going to prescribe these (super low-dose) pills for anxiety because you really should think about all the ways you are obviously in denial about having anxiety.

I never did fill that prescription.

Because I’m an obnoxious know-it-all. Clearly.

See also: stubborn as shit.

Pills aren’t always the answer for me. Of all the rotten side effects that might happen – there is inevitably something that does happen to me. I’m just lucky like that. After those doctor appointments I felt that my entire self, the whole me, needed a tune-up and I took a more holistic approach to feeling better. Say what you will about acupuncture, but damn if I didn’t feel a lot better after several visits and really paying attention to a little more self-care. The oxygen mask was on, bitches.

Until it wasn’t. Until I, once again, put everyone else first and made sure I came dead last.

After some rough months (stressful deadlines and, you know, worrying about every last thing and school and college plans and, and…) I ignored all the signs that kept telling me I was headed back to not being well. My body hurt all the time. I was anxious A LOT. I felt like every task was a huge struggle. I could focus only on what was demanding my attention which meant I operating on a pretty stressful diet of hurry up and OMG YOU ARE ABOUT TO MISS THIS DEADLINE. (Or I would completely forget to do things. Important things. And then miss the deadlines.) It wasn’t a great place to be.

It’s still not fabulous. But it’s a lot better than it was. And a lot of improvements happened this week when I cut some yucky things out of my diet and started to get my run/walk on a little more. (Ok, a lot more than I was at ALL.) Gawd, I hate it when those nuts are right about things, but yeah. I feel a little better. I’m not going to pretend that I’m now living in this magical place of always feeling great and good, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. The fact that I can write about this and maybe even entertaining the idea that I’ll actually hit publish is a big deal. There is so much room for change and improvement, but I wish I could remember that taking care of myself is important. I hope I can keep this (not exactly) bullshit oxygen mask on my face. I really like the me that wears it.

Left Foot on Green

I’m stuck.

It’s my own fault. I don’t know what ‘unstuck’ looks like. I’ve been too busy with being so busy, I haven’t stopped for two seconds and figure things out. I haven’t really been listening. I haven’t really been paying attention.

I may, or may not, be ignoring all the signs.

I read this Facebook status today. I, in no way, am trying to make someone else’s sadness or tragedy about me. But there’s this part that I can’t get out of my brain. Like she wrote it for me even though I know for certain that she didn’t:

Fifteen years ago, my pastor Veronica said that when she had no clue what direction to take, she imagined standing in a spotlight, as if on stage, and waited, prayerfully, until one more spotlight began to appeared nearby. Then she would go stand in that circle of light.

 

I surrendered. I lay down my weapons and went over to the winning side. I am a recovering Higher Power.

 

I’ve been standing still for a really long time. (I mean, metaphorically speaking of course.) I’ve been resisting change. You know, standing in my own way like I do. Tying my own shoelaces together and attempting to run. Falling flat on my face because, well, you can’t get very far like that. If I could just get my feet untangled and start walking, maybe I’d figure out where the heck I’m supposed to go?

I’m feeling very Dorothy, yellow-brick-road, need a brain/heart/courage right now.

But that pastor and standing on the stage and the light. Knowing what your next step is. Or the next place. Maybe it’s just knowing the plan or having a plan. Maybe it’s not. What if it’s all about putting your feet *right there* and then (THEN!) you’ll know what comes next.

It’s like Twister for real life.

That’s pretty powerful stuff. Not just because it’s a lot like Twister.

I’m just saying, A LOT could be learned by putting left foot on green.

Or stepping into your light. THE light. And just knowing.

 

 

Broken Things and Updates

I broke my website recently. I’m not going to get into the idiotic (I am an idiot) details, but I accidentally executed a broken blog perfectly. It was the internet equivalent of a PERFECT triple back flip into a cactus garden. Actually, it was probably an accidental backflip off a trampoline into a cactus garden but now we’ve gone to a weird place and I need to stop with the analogies and bad imagery.

All that aside, I really didn’t notice that I broke my blog because I hadn’t really done much with it the past few weeks. So I’m an idiot who doesn’t even know she’s an idiot. Or something.

Wait. I think most idiots probably don’t know they’re idiots.

::sigh::

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed (and maybe ever-so-slightly broken) right now myself. I hate when summer is over. Even though summer is so damn hard. I always hate when the girls go back to school and I feel like I have nothing to show for it. (I know that I do. A little bit. But it feels like I don’t.) I miss those girls of mine. I have guilt and regret for all that we didn’t get to do.

This was the last summer before senior year and all things college.

***

I didn’t cry on the first day of school. Either day. I’m pretty sure you all were expecting that I would. There’s so much going on in the world lately, especially last week, I think I was a little numb. But I’ve got a 7th grader and a senior in high school and I couldn’t be more proud. Or more excited for the both of them.

I freaking love these girls
I freaking love these girls

Ramona started school a few weeks ago. She loves her teachers. (I love her teachers!) We’ve had a pretty good transition back into a homework routine. Not perfect, but really good. She LOVES her Language Arts teacher. His master’s thesis was on Mine Craft so I feel like he teaches on their level somehow. At any rate, my cute Ramona has never been this excited about reading and Language Arts anything. She (secretly) stayed up to late reading last night. I know! She also worked super hard and made it on the school volleyball team. I’m beaming. Annoyingly beaming!

Beezus started her senior year excited about getting all the teachers she really wanted. With a jam-packed, kinda hard, class schedule, I was so happy that getting the exact teachers she wanted could be such a fabulous bonus. She decided to take this year off water polo so she can focus on schoolwork and competitive softball, which is so good for her. She was one of the Senior Mentors for incoming freshman and she was pretty freaking adorable about it.

Even if I’m sad for summer to be over, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the year.

***

Did I tell you my sister and her family moved back to California? Nevada, Montana and Utah had possession of them for far too long. The moved back to where they belong a few months ago and it’s been pretty rad. For all of us. The five of us (and my parents) have never lived so close in proximity (as adults) before this past year. I always love getting together with my family, but holy crap it’s nice to have everyone around. We are so loud, we scare people away but we’re so freaking funny and awesome the people we scare away come back for more. But I have to tell you…having more moments with these weirdos makes life rad.

Yes, that's a banana in my shirt. Thanks, Jaye.
Yes, that’s a banana in my shirt. Thanks, Jaye.

***

I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. I still feel like there is too much on my plate, but at least I can carry it without falling in a black hold of yuck. Although, being on the other side of things, I can see how much I forgot about or had to put off while so very buried. (*cough* Broken blog *cough*) Wading through those (forgotten/ignored) tasks is pretty overwhelming, but I’m getting there. I mean, there are actually days when I can breathe normally. Progress! But yeah…if it takes me a long time to get back to you (or if I have forgotten to get back to you at all) I’m really and truly sorry. I’d offer to bake you something as a peace offering, but 1) I don’t have time for that and 2) At this point in time, I’m so distracted it would probably taste terrible. But I still love you. I promise. No really. I’m hugging you from here.

On Anger and Shame

I spent years trying to hide how young I was. Whenever I would attempt to make friends with other moms at the preschool, I would try like mad to avoid the conversations about high school and college days and the year everyone got married. I’m not dumb (and neither were they) they knew I was younger. I just didn’t want to get into how much younger.

There is so much shame in teenage pregnancy. I’m not saying that it’s something to aspire to, but it’s been close to 18 years and the shame I felt all those years ago burns almost as hot even today. I am not ashamed of the beautiful family that I am blessed with, but when I read this article that Kelly shared last week it brought up some very real anger and some pretty intense shame that I didn’t know still hung around. It’s been four days, and I’m still stewing about it.

I was 18 years old when I got pregnant. As teenage pregnancy statistics go, I guess I was on the older side of things. I have always been grateful that I was, at least, out of high school but I hate admitting that I am a college dropout.

A lot of you know my story. I even stood on a stage last year and read a letter that I wrote to 19 year old me. I thought I exorcised some of those demons. Yet an article about teenage pregnancy shame has sent me into some pretty deep feels.

I’m still really fucking angry and I really hate that I am.

I have spent so much of my life worrying that I’m going to hurt someone’s feelings if I told the truth and said how I really feel. I have stopped myself from telling so many stories, because it might make someone feel bad. But at the end of the day, who made sure that my feelings weren’t hurt? Who made sure that I didn’t feel bad?

Not many.

I am still angry that the religious institution that I put so much faith in abandoned me and made me feel like such a fuck-up. I am angry that I lost so many friends because I all of a sudden became the example of what not to do. I am angry that people tried to get me to put my baby up for adoption. I am angry that all the anger and judgment and shame gets placed on the teenage mom. I am angry that I have no happy memories of my wedding day because almost every single person in attendance was against us getting married. I am angry that I still feel the need to joke that “we did things backwards” even today as I meet new people because there is still so much shame in being a teenage mom – even though I’m not a teenager anymore. I’m mad that I can’t read an article on teenage pregnancy without feeling like I want to throw up.

I’ve buried my anger deep inside of me for many, many years. I have this beautiful family. I know how lucky I am. But I’ve spent so many years believing that I’m not allowed to be angry because my life has been so blessed.

That’s bullshit.

Instead of dealing with my anger, I’ve let it fester into a horrible wound that has never healed. As cathartic as it was to tell my story, I censored all the anger because I had built too many walls and it would’ve been too much work to break them down. And, of course, I put everyone else’s feelings before my own.

But you know what? I can be angry and grateful at the same time. I can sit here and let some of those demons fly knowing full well that I would do it all over again because my family is worth it. They are amazing and wonderful but it’s okay if I tell you how hard I’ve worked or how much I have sacrificed to make that happen. There has not been one bit of this that has been easy.

But I’ve given way too much power to the shame of it all. I wasn’t promiscuous. I’m not tarnished goods. And if you would like to talk about the “problem child” I’ve brought into this world be prepared for me to tell you about her straight A’s and Stanford dreams and her kickass little sister that rocks our world. I’m not sorry for any of that.

I shouldn’t be.

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normal summerness

I’ve started three different blog posts this week. Three. I’ve finished none of them. Each time I get going, I start to feel annoyed by my own words. I mean, if I’m annoying MYSELF only a paragraph into a blog post, clearly I should just scrap it and move on with my life. For the sake of all of us.

The truth of the matter is that I wasn’t able to completely avoid the summertime blues this week. It happens every summer. The combination of a busy work life and not being home when my kids are off school is a tough pill to swallow. I knew it was coming! I know what my deadlines look like! I know that I hate not being home when my kids are home! It’s the same every year!

(See? I almost just clicked that “x” on the top right to close this without saving. ANNOYING. I’m annoying myself already.)

(Let’s switch gears.)

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I know the saying: If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you feel about it.

I know this. But sometimes it’s just really damn hard to change how you feel.

I was doing really great with my attitude. Saying yes to summer helped. Enjoying the backyard helped. Spending time with family and friends really helped. But getting a little stuck in my worry didn’t help. Getting angry at a team situation I had little to no control over didn’t help. Missing my kids while they’re off school didn’t help. Missing out on family events didn’t help. Being stressed about all the things didn’t help.

So.

I’m about to make the longest to-do list ever even though it’s going to overwhelm the hell out of me. (I need to get organized.)
I’m going to remember to take one thing at a time.
I’m going to schedule some time off.
I’m going to make sure to schedule time with my kids and time on my own. (Somehow.)
I’m going to remember make time for things I enjoy and love. (Like reading and blogging.)
I think I’ll watch a funny movie. Just to kick things off right.

 

Well, I got through a blog post. Perhaps I won’t annoy myself quite as much the next time around. Lofty goals!

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Thank you for the picture inspiration, Nora!!

The Day Off Dilema

I took the day off work to get things done around the house. When your weekends are spent elsewhere (softball tournaments, etc) and you work full time, tackling household projects is especially challenging. Even when we do have weekends off, we have to make a choice between doing something fun with the family or…chores. Our weekdays are usually so packed, a little downtime on the weekends is extremely necessary. So we tackle a little more than the bare minimum so we’re not living in squalor and filth.

I promise we’re not living in squalor and filth, but damn, I have a lot to do.

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But this morning is quiet. The Dude had an early morning so I’ve been up for hours surfing Facebook and watching the Today Show. I’ve been drinking (too much) coffee. (See above: up early.) I’m sitting on the couch just giving myself a chance to enjoy not rushing off to the next thing and letting my kids sleep in upstairs. It’s really, really nice.

But even just sitting here, I can’t just sit here. I was reading. Or Facebooking. Or (now) blogging.

And actively avoiding housework. Whatever.

In a few minutes, I’ll turn into the mean mom and wake up the kids. I’ll enforce the chore lists. I’ll hear “but I don’t want to” or “I did it last time” arguments about why they shouldn’t have to do a particular job. I’ll have to convince myself to do a particular job, let’s be honest. I’m also supposed to find time to do something with all of these apricots. (We’ll see if that actually happens.) (It probably won’t happen.) It will be such a busy day, it won’t feel like a day off at all.

It never does.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining. I’m obviously terrible at just sitting still. I mean, I could’ve gone back to bed a couple of hours ago and I didn’t. I could’ve sat quietly on the couch doing nothing and I didn’t. Here I am not doing “nothing” again. I’m obviously part of the problem. Or the root of the entire problem. Something.

Either way, I don’t have time to debate it. I have bedding to wash, floors to scrub, closets to clean out, grocery shopping to do, ceiling fans to dust and Gilda to blame for it. I’m swamped!

More in 2014

About 9 or 10 years ago, I started blogging as an attempt to keep myself sane. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one blog named after one of my favorite quote in Drop Dead Fred, but there you have it. Telling some of my life stories helped me to gain perspective and, more importantly, realize that I wasn’t alone. I also wasn’t as crazy as I thought I was. Or…maybe I was, but I certainly felt better after spilling my guts onto the interwebs. With everything I was going through, I used that blog as my punching bag and where all my snark or sarcasm lived and breathed. No one had to know. But the problem with blogging anonymously and then finding yourself not quite so anonymous, I started to feel pretty anxious about people I knew in real life reading my words.  So I scrapped that blog and started a new one. And then another one after that. I believe it was the blog after that where I started to blog a little more “out loud” and where I allowed myself to be a little more vulnerable, even though there were people I knew in real life reading my words. Getting more comfortable in my own skin, I finally felt ready and was able to buy by own little internet real estate and name it Life of Jill. It had been a long time coming.

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With a bit more experience at putting myself out there, especially being a part of Listen to Your Mother, I found myself entering into a world of blogging I hadn’t previously been. Through all the different platforms and spaces of blogging, I had never really attached myself to the blogging community or putting myself out there for different  opportunities. I had watched from afar (well, read about) the different blogging conferences and experiences over the years but that was something *other* people did. But last year, things changed a bit. I went to a couple conferences. I had some of the most amazing fun because of blogging opportunities. I’ve met some pretty fantastic people.

And I’m about to meet some more.

In a little over a month, Sarah and I will be flying to Atlanta for the Mom 2.0 Summit. Amazing at it sounds, I am the More in 2014 winner and still completely blown away that this is even happening. First of all, I get to hug on people I’ve never actually met in person. (And some that I have.) I’m sure there are more going that I haven’t even realized yet. There is so much to look forward to, and tons to be nervous about! Although, more than anything, I’m really excited and so very honored to have this opportunity.

So, thank you Mom 2.0 for all this awesome. I absolutely cannot wait.