pexels-photo-492485I’ve been thinking about jealousy lately. I’ve been thinking about how jealousy isn’t usually the real problem. The real problem is insecurity. Jealousy is just our response to the problem.

And I’ve been thinking about how it all starts with comparison. We compare. We feel we don’t measure up. So we get jealous.

It’s an age old problem that I believe we all face in some form or another, because we all have insecurities.

But what if we could change all that?

If jealousy is a response, then wouldn’t it follow that there are other, better responses out there when we feel tempted to play the comparison game?

I think, yes.

I’ve made a commitment to myself that has really transformed how I view others (and therefore, myself). It’s changing my response to those feelings that creep up when I begin to compare myself to someone else. And it all started…with someone’s abs.

Go ahead. Admit it. You’re curious. 😉 Continue reading

Our Family Camp Vacation Experience

We just returned from our family vacation to Michigan where we stayed at the camp my college roommate runs, Camp Friedenswald.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we decided to go to family camp. But we knew that the cabins had AC, that the kids would get to go to kids’ camp (leaving mommy and daddy free, freeeeee!), and that we would get to spend some time with my roomie and her family. Beyond that, I didn’t really know what the week would hold for us.

Turns out, a lot.

A lot of fun. A lot of relaxation. A lot of beautiful scenery. A lot of reconnecting – with each other, with my friend, and with all those little things that tend to get swept to the side during the hustle and bustle of the year.

There were so many great moments from our week. Here are a few things I especially want to remember: Continue reading

The Goodlist

Things I love and that are making my life full of extra goodness right now.

a clean cell phone case (I just gave mine a bath and it was life changing)

fig infused balsamic vinegar

olive oil drizzled allll over freshly picked basil, bright yellow tomatoes, and thick slices of mozzarella

tomatoes purchased from cute little road side stands, still warm from the sun

gummy smiles that reveal freshly cut baby teeth

a little boy who sing his ABC’s, “A B C D 18 8, I love you I love youuuuuu.” Continue reading

When Life Gets Messy

“Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived…Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation… Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist’s true friend. What people somehow forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

My physical life is not perfect right now, and I’m quick to write it off as “a phase” or “just the project.” As if this season will eventually pass and I’ll finally return to my settled and arranged and calm life. Because that is what’s real…right?

I think the deep unsettled feeling I have rolling around in the pit of my stomach, though, is that this is not a season. This is life. Life is messy. My home isn’t a wreck because of a renovation project. Instead, I’m starting to realize that my current physical space just so happens to accurately represent life as it really is. The veil has been lifted.

Life is never perfect, but sometimes I try to curate the appearance that it is so. Or maybe, more accurately, I try to order my actions and thinking to create a belief that perfection can be achieved. I wouldn’t call it perfection, though. We would never be that honest with ourselves. Instead, we call them “goals” and “priorities” and “this is just how I like things to be.” Continue reading

So We Are Remodeling Our Kitchen, Which Turned Into Remodeling Our First Floor….

Well, you know the old saying. If you give your husband a kitchen to remodel, he will end up gutting the entire first floor of your home. I’m living the grown up version of “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie.”

We bought our house five years ago before the housing market started to rebound, so we got it at a great price. We faced what many people eventually face, though, which is a family that has outgrown their space. The house itself is large enough but the kitchen was small and not very user friendly. Everything was built in place – including the appliances – and the refrigerator we are currently stuck with is a small, apartment sized model woefully too small for our crazy hungry family of five. We couldn’t make the kitchen into what we needed without a complete gut job, because if you changed one thing about the layout, you had to change everything. Everything about the space was custom built to accommodate things as they were precisely, down to the very inconvenient baseboard heat.

So we were faced with the decision to either move, or make the house work for us via a little remodeling. We chose the latter, because we knew that we couldn’t sell our house and make what we would need in order to actually achieve an upgrade – if that makes sense? Plus, we love our property and we really love the house itself. It may only be a two bedroom house now, but it has plenty of space to work with and holds endless possibilities.

So we gave Mike a sawzall and let him loose. This is my house right now. Processed with VSCO with a4 presetProcessed with VSCO with a4 presetFile_000File_000(1)

The thing about my husband is, though, that he never does a job half way. And in Mike’s mind, just doing the kitchen was doing an incomplete job. So instead of just gutting the kitchen, he took the opportunity to gut the majority of our first floor. So we moved everything we own down into our basement, where we will be living for the forseeable future.

The basement already had a kitchen. The previous owners decided to forgo installing central air and instead, just live in the basement during the summer months. Our house is old and doesn’t haven insulation so it gets pretty hot so I understand their need to do something. I just wish that something would have been “add central air.” Oh well. Live and let live, right?

Anyways. The basement had a kitchen but it was gross to the max. Some old water damage had made the cabinets stinky and the lighting was dim and oh yes – Mike had been using it for the past year and a half as his work space for his business. So first things first, he gutted the basement kitchen so that he could install the upstairs cabinets downstairs, along with our old appliances (Minus the dishwasher. Gooooodbye my lover…Goooodbye my friend. You are beautiful. Beautifulllll.)

So now, all that is left is for Mike to finish demolition before he can start putting everything back together again. There isn’t much left – he just has to tear up all the kitchen flooring and then there is one small detail of blowing a hole into the living room wall where he is going to install a sliding door to lead out onto the patio. No biggie. I’m soooo chill about this all. Completely fine. This process does not bother me at all.

Mike has been great through all of this. He certainly knows his stuff and I have complete confidence in him. For years, Mike worked with a contractor who remodeled historic homes. There really isn’t much Mike can’t do, and he has put together a fabulous design for the new space. And through all this, he is continuing to run his woodworking business. Just today he shipped 14 orders – two of which went overseas! I’m so proud of him. He does a lot.

There are times that I look around and see and feel the stress of the project and ask myself “Why the heck are we doing this?” and “Is this all worth it???”. Like when I’m sitting in the basement, trying to blog, and pieces of the ceiling fall on my head, for instance. Or when I look around me and everything is boxed up/piled up/strewn about in our attempt to combine two floors into one, and I just have to not really see what is happening. The mess is for realz, people.  Continue reading

A Place Called Grace

I never wanted to return to this place. The place where I was born. The place where I experienced so many defining heartaches. And truth be told, a place that felt like the antithesis of all that I am and hope to be.

And yet, here I am.

My husband and I returned to the town where I grew up shortly after completing college. What was supposed to be a rest stop on a one-way journey far, far from here, ultimately became the endless layover. Plans didn’t work out, and so here we stayed.

For years, I’ve viewed this return as some sort of failure. I didn’t want to be here, and yet, here I was. Surly that indicated some sort of failing. Some lack of creativity or initiative. At the very least, it felt cowardly. How often do we do things that we don’t want to do, simply because they are known? Our brains can be so fickled. Our heart wants what it wants, but our brains want the familiar.

And so we return.

I crave change and constantly desire to rework ideas, seek new experiences, and grow-grow-grow. So I worried what it said about me if returned to a place notorious for same-same-same.

I’ve been at odds over our decision to return to this place ever since the moment we landed. What’s more, I’ve been at odds with this place. There are so many things about this area that I do not love. So many things that drive me crazy. So many things that seem to crush my spirit.

But recently, I’ve had a change of heart.  Continue reading

Why It’s Important To “Adventure” With My Kids

Being a stay at home mom is simultaneously hard and wonderful. This year, I’ve taken some time to learn a little bit about my personality in the hopes that I can acquire some tools for navigating how I’m hardwired. I’ve learned my Enneagram number (5), my Myers-Briggs personality (ENTP), and my happiness style (relator/experiencer). This information has been hugely helpful.

In particular, I’ve found it so practical to understand how I experience happiness. I best experience happiness by cultivating deep relationships and having meaningful/fun experiences. Anyone who knows me remotely well would tell you this. The thing that has been so revolutionary for me, though, is that this information has helped me pin point the particulars of why being a stay at home mom can be such a struggle for me.

As much as I know I’m cultivating relationships with my kids, they are still very little and at this point and it’s still much more of me pouring into them than it is a mutually satisfying relationship. And, because they are so little, my daily experiences aren’t so much fun or meaningful adventures as they are, WORK.

Now, hear me out. I’m not saying I don’t love what I do, I’m just starting to understand that while being a stay at home mom is incredibly meaningful for me, it’s not necessarily the best way for me to feel….happy.

There. I said it. Are you going to hate me for it? Or maybe…you can relate a little bit to that confession, too?

The good news is, though, that now that I have this information, I can take simple and effective steps to making sure that my happiness tank gets filled even while fulfilling my full time gig as a stay at home mom! The answer for me is simple: adventures. Continue reading

Insecurities, Emotional Intelligence, Instagram and Me

The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t know, the world will tell you.
-Carl Jung

There have been some thoughts percolating in my brain for some time now, but a few recent events have cause the percolation to – how shall I say it – spill over? Today’s post is written from an honest and vulnerable place, with the hopes that it will encourage all of us – myself included – to be a little smarter and stronger as we consume social media. Heck, this isn’t limited to social media. You could apply this to life in general. Let’s just say this is post about how we tend to measure ourselves against other people, regardless of what form that measuring rod might be (social media, jean size, income, etc), and how we will always fall short in that sort of comparison.


No one is perfect, so stop thinking that they are.

No matter what it is you are picking out about someone else’s life and using to deem them so “special” or “perfect,” I promise you, perfect is not real. Stop it. Stop it right now.

Sure, other people can be skinner than us. Have more money than us. And be really good at the things they are pursuing. But I promise you that no human on this earth is exempt from experiencing heartache, pain, or struggle. If you look at someone’s Instagram photos of their fun night out with friends and start to bemoan how perfect their life is and how much your’s sucks because you ate alone last night then all I can say is – honey, tighten up.

We have to smarten up. Toughen up. And stop being so self indulgent. And that truly is what it comes down to. We pick out everyone else’s highlights and compare them to our struggles and feel sorry for ourself. And guess what? Everybody loses when we do that.

We all get caught up in this. Call it FOMO – the fear of missing out. Call it comparison. (Didn’t someone say that is the thief of all joy?) Call it whatever you like. At the end of the day, it’s just plain stupid and it’s not taking responsibility for our own emotional intelligence.

We have a responsibility, as humans, for our own well being. I’m a little tired of people posting well intentioned but unnecessary apologies for sharing the things they love with others. And I’m not just talking about social media, although that is of course one source. This happens in ordinary conversation, too.

We feel like we have to give all these caveats about how our life isn’t perfect when in reality, shouldn’t we all just KNOW that? I mean seriously, as human beings, how can we all be so stupid to actually think that someone else is better than us just because they shared a good moment with us?

Their promotion, weight loss, fun vacation does not diminish the good things in our life…unless we let it!

I’m reading a book, The Happiness Dare, that talks about happiness shaming and it is so powerful. In the book, the author talks about how it can be scary to be happy because people instantly get so defensive and resentful. Um. Yes!

We’ve all been there, on both sides of the equation. We have been the one sharing our happiness and having someone else bring their rain clouds to the party, and we have all certainly been the rain clouds.

I’ve been thinking about two important truths that I think will help us all mature in our emotional intelligence, become smarter consumers of social media, and perhaps most importantly – learn how to share in other’s happiness instead of shame them.  Continue reading

An Impromptu Trip To Cleveland – What We Did & Where We Ate

This past weekend is one that I’ll be lingering in the residual good feels for a long, long time to come. My husband and I had made plans to spend some time together, but then my brother and sister-in-law ended up having her baby. Yay! I’m an aunt!!!! Everyone is healthy and doing well, and I was so excited for her to get to spend this Mothers’ Day as a full fledged momma.Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Saturday morning, after going in to the hospital for all of us to meet the new baby and check on mommy and daddy, we all got back in the van and headed to my favorite Ohio city – Cleveland!

We didn’t have much of a plan outside of our destination. I just needed to get out and travel a bit and even though I wasn’t getting my alone time with my husband, I was getting the next best thing – a road trip with my family.

I love traveling with the kids, and one of my all time favorite things to do is to explore new cities. It’s funny how we think we have to travel far or to a new state to really go on an adventure. We’ve found that all you need is an openness to explore, try new things, and go with the flow, and you can turn any trip into a road trip full of fun!

I had a few ideas for what we could do in Cleveland, but nothing set in stone – that is part of the fun for me. Sometimes it’s nice to have everything planned out for the sake of little ones, but I want to teach my  kids to be flexible and learn how to find the fun along the way. So I planned ahead in terms of packing diapers and extra layers of clothing and cash for parking, and I thought of a few places we could check out. But I didn’t make dinner reservations and our schedule was really wide open. We were out to see what all we could see! Continue reading