On Hope

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I can’t shake this feeling of hope. Its hovering around above me like a bright, iridescent cloud, raining joyful, shimmery confetti down into my heart today.

The curse of an empath is that I am often working against the energy of others. I have to mindfully work to protect my own energy on a daily basis. But the New Year is an empath’s dream. Its as if the entire world has joined together in conspiracy of hope, and the energy in the air feels like the warmest winter sunlight basking down on me everywhere I go.

The most innocent, child-like mark of human nature is hope. Its what keeps us dreaming and opens our hearts to the possibility of joy. Yet for some reason, we feel as if we need permission to feel it. Hope is there for us every day, tucked behind the cynicism and the skepticism, jumping up and down like a school child waiting to be called on by the teacher. DARING us to reach out and take it by the hand. Begging us to embrace it and let it in to warm up our cool hearts. But life stops us. Skepticism stops us. The desire to be liked and accepted and not open ourselves up to the heartbreak that comes from unanswered hope stops us. The fear of heartbreak stops us. (Because what is Love, but just the embodiment of hope?)

But when that clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, even the most hardened heart can’t deny those little pangs of hope in their heart. The vibrations that awake in their soul by simply allowing themselves to dream of the possibilities of the year ahead. The undeniable hope of the new year. A hope that brings us to our knees and allows us to open our hearts to the love and wonder of a year of unrealized potential and adventure.

In time, the hope will fade for most. The busy-ness of life will push that little spark in their soul down until they are given permission to hope again next New Year.

But today, I can hear my hopeful heart speaking loudly to me. “Hope. Hope. Hope.” on repeat in my head. It is telling me over and over again that this peace I feel today will be here for me all year if I choose to open myself up to it. It is reminding me to let my hope shine like a beacon, even as the magic of the New Year starts to fade, to guide myself back to the possibilities of hope and joy every day.

I didn’t pick a “word” to live by for 2020. But, as it turns out, the universe picked one for me, and I’m not one to deny the universe her desires.

So here’s to 2020. My year of Hope



On Eggnog & Exhaling

The holidays, amirite?!

For some, they’re magic. For others, they’re merciless.

But no matter what side of the spectrum you fall on, it is a season of relentless pressure. Pressure to create magic holiday memories. Pressure to please others. Pressure to build positive momentum leading into a new year. Pressure to be present and revel in every little moment.  Pressure to relax. (Honestly, what world do we live in?!) So. Much. Pressure.

December 26th rolls around and we are all a mixed bag of exhausted, burnt-out, over-served, and ready for a break from our “break.”

Enter: The magical week between Christmas & New Year. 

A deep exhale after a month of holding our collective breath.

A big, warm hug at the end of a long year.

One lawless week where we don’t know what day it is or what our responsibilities are. Where we magically let go of all expectations of ourselves and are finally free to be self-serving.

Some of us curl up on the couch and don’t get up for a week. Some of us get busy & purge the literal and figurative clutter from our lives. But, regardless of WHAT we are doing, we all seem to give ourselves permission to do it peacefully.

We step into this week-long twilight zone of self-care.

Whether that is the tough kind of self-care where we evaluate our lives and strategize for the impeding year, or the soft kind where kick back with a book & the last of our spiked eggnog in front of the drooping Christmas tree. But we all do it. And we do it with a common calm that doesn’t exist outside of this one, magical week.

I know we’ve all heard of the magic of the holidays, but I’m a big believer in the magic AFTER the holidays.

All is calm. All is bright.

All is done. All is zen.


P.S. For those of you who are with me, I feel like this week deserves its own name. What name should we give December 26-31? Let me know in the comments.

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On Crotchety Old Ladies

Old ladies seem to know what really matters in life. My soul age is 87, so I consider myself “getting there” when it comes to old lady wisdom.

But the thing I’m realizing on my way up is that the closer I get, the less I seem to give a shit about what anyone else thinks about it.

Yes, I know. The crotchety old lady cometh.

But here’s the thing: Its not that I don’t care about anyone else, its just that I FINALLY care about myself enough for that to matter more. 

I think that might be the secret to that leveled-up-old-lady-wisdom: realizing your own worth.

I’ve stopped apologizing. And on paper, that sounds pretty rude, but hear me out on this:

I’m not sorry for your feelings in response to something I said. So instead, I’ll thank you for taking ownership of your own reactions.

I’m not sorry that it took me a while to get back to you because I was respecting my own time. So instead, I’ll thank you for your patience.

I’m not sorry for enforcing a shop policy that you don’t agree with. So instead, I’ll thank you for understanding.

I’m not sorry for sharing an opinion that you disagree with. So instead, I’ll thank you for respecting me enough to consider my perspective.

To be clear, if I am blatantly reckless in my words or behavior, I AM sorry for that. Words are powerful, especially in a position of influence, and I take full ownership of them for better or worse, but I am officially done catering to others’ feelings at the expense of my own.

So if you need me, I’ll be over here wrapped up in my favorite old lady blanket, reading my favorite old lady book. And not apologizing.




On Walls and Turning Feral

I think a lot about walls.

That’s a normal thing to think about, right?

Not figurative walls, but actual walls. Like “what if all of the walls in this building suddenly disappeared and we could all see what each other was doing in the other room?” Its a recurring thought that I have that is starting to make me feel a little claustrophobic.

And I’m beginning to think that I need fewer walls.

Not figurative walls, but actual walls.

I took a trip to Yosemite a few months ago. It was definitely the right season in my life to go, but maybe not the right season of the year. Its frigid here now and will be for seemingly the rest of eternity (or at least until Spring), and I feel very hemmed in by structure, both of my house and my responsibilities.


The trip added kindling to a spark in my insides. One that I stifled years ago to pursue a dream of big-city living, but have slowly felt warming me again as I’ve started introducing the boys to the wonder of our fierce and gentle friend, nature.

The fire it lit has left me feeling restless in the sense that I am too comfortable.

That makes sense, right?

It left me desperate to explore. To get dirty. To run barefoot where the tide kisses the earth and where the trees reach up to the heavens like an extension of my reach from the ground.  To stand silent in the grace of freshly fallen snow and dance in the water where the sun bounces off the facets of a fresh swell.

I fear (embrace) that I may be turning feral.

Like, I am starting to identify with the mangy cat that you keep trying to bring in your apartment to keep warm, but who keeps escaping out the window at night to hunt porch garbage from your neighbors.

I’m chuckling as I type this, realizing how unstable it sounds, while proudly thinking to myself: “I think I just found my new spirit animal.”

*shrugs shoulders*

We have walls that contain every THING we could ever need, but I have an undeniable knowledge that by getting outside of these walls, we will find everything we need.

So until the earth warms up and I get a chance to head back outside, I’ll be sitting in my too-comfortable home among my too-many things and too-convenient amenities of city life (for the record, I’m rolling my eyes at MYSELF as I type this) and daydreaming about lapping up milk from the garage down the street.


On Downward Dog and Dropping Shoes

They’re teaching my kids Yoga in preschool.

I thought this was completely asinine until I discovered the astonishing amount of mindfulness and mental toughness it takes to survive as a person in this world.

Life felt easy for a long time. Growing up, I remember telling people “Stress is like a bee! Just leave it alone and it will leave you alone!” I am surprised I didn’t get punched in the face more when I was younger.

I do have anxiety, however, so I “knew” that at some point, the other shoe would drop. I just didn’t know that the process of dropping would be so……..lengthy. At this point, I’ve said it so much that I need to get: “This is just how life is now.” printed on a graphic tee to wear with my favorite skirts. I find myself saying this daily in exasperated tones as I scramble to sweep up the figurative glitter bombs of issues that other people have blown up and scattered all over the floor of my brain, while still trying to put out the burning fuse of my own. (I got tired just writing that sentence.)

The kids were my shoe drop.

I would jump in front of a bus for mine without batting an eye, but I can’t deny that life was less messy before they were here. It doesn’t help that being a mother to two toddlers less than 2 years apart actually made jumping in front of a bus sound fun some days.

There is no “just kidding” coming. The real, raw truth is that parenting toddlers is just not something that I particularly enjoy and, until my eldest son recently started getting out of the tot phase, I rarely enjoyed my time with the kids. I spent lots of days over the past 4 years wondering if I was even cut out for this motherhood thing at all.

But that brings me back to my point. Life had always been easy, and then suddenly it was not. I suddenly had to invest my independent spirit in the well-being of two more humans and, by proxy, all of the other humans who cared about them. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of baggage that comes with that. How do you find the balance of working through your own personal challenges, while also investing energy into the well-being of all the other people who you care about?  I hadn’t been practicing my skills of wading through other peoples’ messes to that point, so here I was (still am!) most days either trying to forcefully maintain my own inner-peace despite the chaos, or otherwise flailing my arms trying to conjure up a magic bubble to come and carry me away entirely.


But to where? That’s where I get stuck. I lust for my pre-parenthood life until I realize how sad it is there. My people – my kids  (who I enjoy so much more now!), my hubby, my family and friends – aren’t there. My people are here in this messy, messy reality that I live in. This life where I actually care about people other than myself, which leaves me with that pesky, pesky problem of caring about their problems, too. (As if I don’t have enough of my own to worry about!)

So it turns out that I don’t want to run away, but how does one master the skill of emotional self-preservation, while also being a good mom, friend, sister, daughter, wife, and all of the other things that your people need you to be for them?

I don’t have the answers, but a few thoughts that I’ve had that have kept me from hopping in the time-machine bubble are these:

  1. It seems that when you let other people into your heart, you sacrifice the ease of living that comes when you only worry about yourself. That makes life feel hard sometimes. Not necessarily bad, but definitely hard. Part of that hardness is trying to not lose yourself in it.
  2. I don’t think there is some figurative “there” to get to where these problems don’t exist. We’re all wading through it. I DO think that this is just a time in life when it is critical to be able to find the joy in the small, mundane moments and embrace that sometimes the simple absence of “bad” is worthy of being labeled as “good.”
  3. I am starting to understand why they’re teaching my kids yoga in preschool.

Jump First and Build Your Net on the Way Down: The Story of the Dog Who Defined Me

I was 19 years old and 6 months into a new relationship. He was in a window of a puppy store marked “Sale!”. I “just wanted to look” but when I tapped on his window and this wonky-eyed, lopsided ear puppy lifted his face out of a giant bowl of food and licked the window with a fat, sloppy tongue, I was toast.


I’ve always been the person who favors the figurative underdog, and as soon as my eyes locked with Shamus’, I knew that there was no way I was going to live my life without him. My little puppy soulmate.

Tonight, a decade later, as I sit here adjusting to my first night without my constant companion of the past 10 years, I keep circling back to the fact that this weird little pup quite literally changed the course of my life.

Mike and I had no business getting a dog together after 6 months of a relationship, but we were irresponsible and wandered into that puppy store anyway. Then we were reckless and said “yes” to bringing him home that very day. I’d never had a dog. Mike and I barely knew each other. Yet here was Shamus- cosmically, forcefully- inserting himself into our lives and altering its course forever.

We dove head-first into dog parenting and loved this weird little dog fiercely. We learned so much about each other in the process. It almost broke us up a time or two in those early days, but here we are now 10 years later with another furry child and two human children added to the mix. Shamus showed us that we could figure it out together and that if we just jumped in with some faith and good intention, that things could work out. We’ve pretty much made all major life decisions together in this way ever since. Jump first and build your net on the way down. Shamus taught us how to do this and constantly showed us that, even if we made some mistakes as we built, we could still land safely. We loved it so much that we added Sasha to the mix 6 months later. Why not, right?!


I graduated college at 20. Fresh out of school with a degree that I had no desire to use, I found myself in a funk. I was living in my in-laws basement in the suburbs as we remodeled a building. A remodel that (shocker!) ran WAY over schedule and left us living in “pause” when we wanted so badly to be moving forward. I was very unhappy, unemployed, and friendless, with most of my friends either having moved back home after college or still living in the city where I SO wanted to be. I spent most days taking Shamus & Sasha to the dog park, because I felt so guilty that they had no windows to gaze out of in our basement dwelling. Watching them run free made me feel free. When we weren’t at the dog park, I was hiding in the basement watching tv on my computer and playing with my dogs- my only friends- while Mike was at work. Shamus could always find a sunny spot coming in from the tiny basement windows. It made him so happy to lie there and bask in the warmth. He didn’t care about being in the basement, as long as he could find the sun. Seeing his happy little face sleeping in the sunshine was a constant reminder to pull my head out of my rear and find the sunshine in my own life, even when things felt dark.


Eventually, out of desperation, I took a position managing a restaurant in the city. I felt like I finally had landed an “adult” job and enjoyed my new, exciting, sophisticated, lifestyle. The shine quickly faded though when I realized that the trade-off was an opposite schedule of Mike and long hours away from my pups. I was pulled away from the only constants in my life and it wasn’t a lifestyle that I could sustain. I was not going to work in a restaurant my whole life, but what would I do instead? What did I love to do? How did I love to spend my time?

Shamus. Sasha. Dogs.

As a child, I would occasionally say that I wanted to be a Veterinarian when I grew up. Much in the same way that I said I wanted to be a famous singer or an interior decorator- a dream from something on tv that I wasn’t actually inclined to pursue. Yet here I was at 21 with a semi-glamorous career in the swanky Chicago restaurant industry, realizing that I would rather spend my days covered in slobber and dog fur. But a Vet? No- that didn’t seem right. I wasn’t inclined to go back to school. But what else could I do with dogs if Vet was off of the table?

I scoured job postings until I found a minimum-wage, hourly, entry-level position with promise of quick promotion into a leadership role for the right person. A position playing with dogs and cleaning up poop at a dog hotel. I “poop” you not. I went to that interview and worked my magic to convince them that I was the person for them, despite my complete lack of practical dog-knowledge outside of my own pet ownership. They saw something in me and were willing to let me prove myself, so I left my cool career with a comfortable salary and, with the support of Mike, took a minimum wage job working with dogs. That was the start of a storied 7.5 year career in the animal hospitality industry that I NEVER could have predicted. Jump first and build your net the way down.

In the way that it usually does, life worked out and our remodel was finally completed. We moved into our newly finished place after 18 months of being displaced and I will never forget the tears of joy I shed when Shamus & Sasha first perched themselves in their very own sun-soaked window to look out at their new neighborhood.


Life after that point was just one leap after another. We got engaged. We got married. We moved again, and chose a place with a big backyard for our dogs to explore. We hoped to fill that yard with kids one day to play with those dogs and our wishes came true when we had Michael and then Teddy shortly after. Shamus aged quickly after the boys were born. I saw it happening and it broke my heart, but I know he wouldn’t trade his grey furs for a second of the time we all had together. I felt like every gray fur he had was a lesson he shared with me about nurturing or caring for another creature, about myself as a mother. Lessons that I carried with me into motherhood at the expense of his perfect little puppy face.

We still commuted to work every day and spent the days together quietly in the office, just the three of us- Shamus, Sasha, and me. Eventually, I took the business knowledge I learned from that minimum-wage-dog-job-turned-almost-decade-long-career and opened my own business. For the last 6 months of Shamus’ life, we were able to spend all of our days together here at the cozy house with the cozy couches and blankets that we loved so much. Lots of comfy days and cuddling. I saw his health declining quickly and eventually realized that our days were numbered. Despite a number of attempts to save his failing body, his condition started to affect his brain and at that point there was no turning back. My little buddy’s body and mind were failing him and he needed me to take one last jump- trusting myself and trusting him that it was time to go. He fulfilled his purpose of giving me 10 years of unconditional love and important lessons and it was time for him to move on to the great beyond. I wasn’t ready, but I never would have been. He needed me to jump and figure out how to recover after he had been set free. It wasn’t about me this time, it was about him, and this was the best gift I could give Shamus to repay him for a lifetime spent giving to me.


When I think back on life with Shamus, I realize that almost all of the decisions that Mike and I have made together over the span of our relationship have been made with the mindset that we learned by taking in a quirky little dog 6 months after we met. Shamus taught us to take risks and have faith in ourselves. To not be afraid of what we are capable of, especially if we do things together and with the right intentions. He taught us to take a risk on the goofy bargain dog with the wonky eyeball and to navigate the challenges of raising a puppy with a relative stranger. He taught us how to be patient and always find the sunny spot. He taught us unconditional love, blind faith, and unwavering loyalty.  Shamus changed my life, and though my heart aches tonight on my first night without him in 10 years, it is also full of love and appreciation for the love he gave and the life I have because of him.

I will love you forever, sweet boy. Thank you for teaching me to jump.



On Feeling Helpless


A subconscious racial bias, fueled by a lack of empathy and ignited by a 24 hour news cycle is the suicide bomb that has destroyed our society and our sanity. The crippling fear and helplessness I feel this morning as a mother raising children in this world is almost too much to handle, but you ask “Why are you worried? You aren’t black or a law enforcement family. You don’t fall into either of those demographics.” But I do. I am that mother whose child is comforting her as we watch the man in our life die in front of us. I am that wife whose husband won’t come home from his police shift tonight. The fact is, we are global citizens of this world. There is no we vs. they, us vs. them. We are all one human heart and we beat together and bleed together and die together. I am constantly dumbfounded as I see how the diversity that paints the landscape of this country, and that I value so much, is used as a catalyst for fear. A fear that is manipulated and molded into whatever we want it to be by a 24-hour news cycle and social media access which will spin stories into specific versions that they want each of us to see. Guerrilla-style fear mongering. Constant bombardment of fear and hatred, catered specifically to our own demographic. Fueling a hatred which is then used to justify senseless, irrational actions. I feel paralyzed in the face of a problem so big and so engrained into our culture, but inaction is not an option. There are big cultural shifts that need to take place. There need to be conversations- about stopping the denial that white supremacy is subconsciously in the minds of all people in this country, about equality, acceptance, peace- and several important platforms where these conversations need to happen- in the government, in schools, in churches. But these conversations have to start in our homes. If there is any hope for peace and change, it has to start with us. We have to do better. We have to be conscious of the sources of news that we are allowing to take up our precious mind-space. We have to be raw and vulnerable and honest with our families about what is really happening out there. We have to talk about hate and allow no place for it in our homes. We have to raise our children to be accountable for their actions. We have to love and expect love in return. We have to assume the best in people and not allow fear to define the way we interact with one another. We have to put in the effort and not go on living resolved to the fact that “things will never change”. They will. They have to. If any of us are going to make it in this world, they have to.

Trying A New Angle


Today at the pool, I went to take a picture after I heard the sweetest little “Watch, Mama!” from my toddler on the cusp of boyhood. It was bright and I couldn’t see my screen, so I just aimed in Michael’s direction and snapped a few pictures. When I looked at them later, I realized that I had somehow put the front-facing camera on by mistake and I was bummed that I didn’t capture that moment. I was about to delete this picture until I realized- I actually did capture that moment. I captured my face as I watched my beautiful growing boy and his awesome Dad having a blast and making a memory. My eyes look tired from so many long days and nights, but they look even more happy. My newest “hairstyle”, the product of being a full-time+ career woman and a mother of two boys less than two years apart, is a mess but it is telling of the fact that I have other ways I would rather spend my time.. The bags under my eyes and laugh lines on my forehead might be there a little bit earlier than I would like them to be, but I wouldn’t trade them for the world because they are indicative of the immense joy and heartache that comes with being a wife, mother, bosslady, and woman. I wouldn’t trade a single moment that caused those wrinkles or eye bags for the world. To me, this is the ultimate portrait of me as a mother: a little worn down, but so filled with joy with every passing moment. The days are long, but the years are short, and I will do my best to stay joyous through it all so that this is the smile that my boys see for every “Watch me, mama!” they throw my way.

If You See Something, Say Something

The scene: Your typical online mommy group. A well-meaning Mama posts that her friend/cousin/sister/stranger has posted a link/picture/status that they are letting their kid do [insert controversial yet potentially dangerous parenting topic here] and asks “Should I say something!?”

The moms respond with a resounding: “Nooooooooooooooooooooooo.” “She probably already knows the risks.” “Its not worth losing her friendship.”

I’m sorry- It’s not worth losing her friendship?!

Have we really created a society of people who are so easily offended that we would rather risk the well-being of a child than bruising an adult’s ego?

Sorry, not sorry, but non-action is not a valid option when it comes to my kids’ safety. Say something. Share something. Speak up. For God’s sake, offend me for the sake of my children.


Talk to me mother to mother. Global citizen to global citizen. Maybe I know the risks of what I’m doing and have made a conscious decision to proceed anyway. But what if I don’t? What if I’m just on auto-pilot? What if I’ve never been taught any better? There’s so much I still have to learn, so offer me a different perspective. Don’t belittle or berate me. Respectfully share with me.

The only thing we can do as mothers is make the best decision for our own families and be confident in that decision. If a fellow mama gives me advice and I dismiss her as a friend because of it, then shame on me. If I’m confident in my stance on something, it shouldn’t matter, and if I’m not, I’ll be grateful for the insight and education. I would rather roll my eyes for hearing something I’ve heard ten times before than look back with regret wishing that just one person would have been brave enough to teach me better.

I need the help of my village to raise these kids, but what if my village’s ego is too delicate to play their role?

On Empathy and Gorillas

I keep thinking about this situation with the gorilla and the kid. I can’t let this go. It is seriously sickening me. I can’t stomach the memes. And the people saying that they should have taken their chances and not shot the gorilla. (I’ve talked to more than one zookeeper I know who have said WITHOUT HESITATION that, however sad, the right judgement call was made) And the people saying they should have shot the mom instead of the gorilla. (Seriously. People are saying this.) Yes, maybe it could have been prevented BUT it wasn’t. It happened. And it sucks. I don’t know enough about the logistics of the gorilla fencing or whatever to make a judgement call as to whether the kid “should” have been able to get over it. Or if the parents “should” have been paying closer attention. But put yourself in those parents shoes, I know I have. Say T is nursing and starts to fuss and I tell M to “stay right here and hold onto the stroller.” He sees something exciting and wanders off before I notice and then I can’t find him because it’s crowded. I’m frantically searching for him in the crowded immediate area. Then somehow 5 minutes have passed and I look over and he’s in the hands of a gorilla. I can’t even imagine that feeling and I wouldn’t ever forgive myself thinking about what could have happened. I can’t then imagine masses of people I don’t know calling me a “bitch” or an “inadequate parent” or telling me that the zoo should have taken their chances and waited to see if a however-many-hundred pound primate crushed my child to death. Are zoos totally safe? Nope. Is anywhere?! But they are family friendly and should be safe enough that a 4 year old can’t get into the gorilla enclosure. I don’t think this is the zoos “fault” I also don’t think that this is the parents “fault”. It was a child who got into a very unfortunate situation resulting in the life of a beautiful animal being taken. Yes, I’m a die hard animal lover, but THE SAFETY OF A CHILD TAKES PRECEDENT OVER THE SAFETY OF AN ANIMAL EVERY DAY. 100%. Without question. Every. Freaking. Time. I’m totally appalled by the way human beings are being completely insensitive to the value of a human child’s life in this situation. The real danger in all of this is people thinking it would “never happen to them”. I think the reality is that everyone knows something like this could happen to them because kids are curious and fast and life is busy and distracting and parenting is FREAKING HARD. We can’t deal with the fact that situations like this sometimes happen and are out of our control, so instead of recognizing it as an accident, we start to say things like “the parent must be negligent” because it makes us feel better. It makes us feel more in-control and safe when being presented with a situation that is impossible and heartbreaking. It could have been me or you or my kid or yours, whether you want to admit it or not. So I’m not saying we don’t get mad about the Gorilla having to die, but I am saying that we do try to show a little empathy for the very real just-like-you-and-me human beings involved in this whole situation. And if your anger about the Gorilla so outweighs your empathy for fellow human kind, maybe at least just try to not perpetuate the pure, blind hatred being spewed at a family who will have to deal with the mental trauma and guilt from this whole ordeal for the rest of their lives. Also, don’t get me started about the fact that all of this insane bashing is being directed towards the mother when the father was supposedly there too…