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Author: Andi

Shrinking Woman

Shrinking Woman

I recently came across this poem that was viral a number of years ago. I thought it was so well done and so moving. Her verbal images truly capture the essence of struggles women face and how they try to fit in. I am guilty of apologizing in situations where “sorry” is unnecessary and shows your lack of confidence. This is something I am trying very hard to stop doing.

Here is a video of her presenting this poem.

Here is the poem in its entirety.

Across from me at the kitchen table, my mother smiles over red wine that she drinks out of a measuring glass.
She says she doesn’t deprive herself,
but I’ve learned to find nuance in every movement of her fork.
In every crinkle in her brow as she offers me the uneaten pieces on her plate.
I’ve realized she only eats dinner when I suggest it.
I wonder what she does when I’m not there to do so.
Maybe this is why my house feels bigger each time I return; it’s proportional.
As she shrinks the space around her seems increasingly vast.
She wanes while my father waxes. His stomach has grown round with wine, late nights, oysters, poetry. A new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but my dad reports that now she’s “crazy about fruit.”
It was the same with his parents;
as my grandmother became frail and angular her husband swelled to red round cheeks, round stomach
and I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking
making space for the entrance of men into their lives
not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave.
I have been taught accommodation.
My brother never thinks before he speaks.
I have been taught to filter.
“How can anyone have a relationship to food?” He asks, laughing, as I eat the black bean soup I chose for its lack of carbs.
I want to tell say: we come from difference, Jonas,
you have been taught to grow out
I have been taught to grow in
you learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence, you used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much
I learned to absorb
I took lessons from our mother in creating space around myself
I learned to read the knots in her forehead while the guys went out for oysters
and I never meant to replicate her, but
spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits
that’s why women in my family have been shrinking for decades.
We all learned it from each other, the way each generation taught the next how to knit
weaving silence in between the threads
which I can still feel as I walk through this ever-growing house,
skin itching,
picking up all the habits my mother has unwittingly dropped like bits of crumpled paper from her pocket on her countless trips from bedroom to kitchen to bedroom again,
Nights I hear her creep down to eat plain yogurt in the dark, a fugitive stealing calories to which she does not feel entitled.
Deciding how many bites is too many
How much space she deserves to occupy.
Watching the struggle I either mimic or hate her,
And I don’t want to do either anymore
but the burden of this house has followed me across the country
I asked five questions in genetics class today and all of them started with the word “sorry”.
I don’t know the requirements for the sociology major because I spent the entire meeting deciding whether or not I could have another piece of pizza
a circular obsession I never wanted but
inheritance is accidental
still staring at me with wine-stained lips from across the kitchen table.

Might Not Like Me

Might Not Like Me

I must say, I love all the strong women vibes I am getting in the world lately. Having two young girls has really made me a strong feminist to fight for their rights and their right to be whatever they want to be. We talk to the girls all the time about being confident, talking to us about anything on their mind, telling them they can marry whomever they choose, and the like.

But it’s still a hard time to grow up in. With a president who looks down on women as well as minorities, it’s hard to explain to our kids why some people support him. But my 6 year old told me that when she grows up she wants to “be a mom and the president.” I hope you are, sweetheart!

The strong vibes might be hard to see at times, but I find them everywhere. Maybe it’s in part that I surround myself with strong women and I am working on pursuing a career in a male-dominated field, but I love that there are songs my girls (and boy) can sing at the top of their lungs and be proud of what they are saying.

Thank you Brynn Elliott for this amazing song. The lyrics are below:

You broke up with me and for the life of me
I couldn’t figure out what I did wrong
I’m so sorry, I’m usually the first one
To admit that I did wrong

Get over yourself, it’s no big deal
If I run a little faster than you on the playground
Get over yourself, what’s your problem
What’s your problem?

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you
And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you
And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you
Well then you might not like me
You might not like me

We had chemistry and you’re one that got away
And I’ll never forget you
You were beautiful, you were perfect as you were
And I didn’t want to fix you

Get over yourself, it’s no big deal
If I swim a little faster than you in the neighbor’s pool
Get over yourself, what’s your problem
What’s your problem?

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you
And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you
And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you
Well then you might not like me, you might not like me
And if you don’t like girls that are tougher than you
And if you don’t like girls more darin’ than you
And if you don’t like girls braver than you
Well then you might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me and that’s fine by me

Boy, lay down your pride
Wipe that tear from your eye
I’ll take you back, I’ll take you back
Boy, lay down your pride
Wipe that tear from your eye
I’ll take you back, I’ll take you back, boy

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you
And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you
And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you
Well then you might not like me, you might not like me
And if you don’t like girls that are tougher than you
And if you don’t like girls more darin’ than you
And if you don’t like girls braver than you
Well then you might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me
You might not like me and that’s fine by me

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge

On Goodreads.com, you can set a reading goal for yourself for the year. In 2018, my goal was 50 books. I finished 53 books in 2018. Here are the 53 books I finished this year.

Part of this accomplishment was due to reading (or listening to) a bunch of audiobooks. I have found that I love listening to books and I can get a book done much more quickly this way. I will listen to books when I’m driving, waiting in the car, cooking dinner, doing dishes, doing laundry, vacuuming, running…and I like to listen to them fast! 2X is my speed (unless the person reading the book has a strong accent that is hard to follow).

For my 2019 goal, I am sticking with 50 books. I have a bunch of books on my hold lists already and I can’t wait to dive in. My first couple books are going to be long ones, so it won’t look like much progress is being made at first.

What is your Goodreads reading goal for 2019 or what would it be if you were to make one? Are there any books you are anxiously waiting to read in 2019?

Friends

Friends

I had a close friend of mine ask me today if it was exhausting to have so many friends. After thinking about it for a second, I decided, yes, it can be. But I love that I have so many friends. And I love making new friends. I love learning about people and how we are similar and different. I love building friendships on new things and finding out more about them as we spend more time together. I love gatherings with them and one on one conversations. 

But yes, it can be exhausting. I am a planner and a definite extrovert. I love being around people and coordinating gatherings (albeit frustrating at times). But the thought of people gathering and hanging out together makes me so happy. I don’t care what we are doing, I just like being around people. 

Along with having lots of friends, I feel like I have a lot of different kinds of friends. Ones you have been friends with for a very long time, those that are new, those from certain groups where you hang out together, friends where your children are friends….and on and on. And each of these friendships bring something else to my life. I love all of those relationships for different reasons and for teaching me different things about myself and about others. Because friendship is a million little things. 

I do my best to get together with as many friends as possible as often as I can. It’s one of the reasons I love my book club so much. It’s a guaranteed time to see some of my close friends when life gets busy and that is the only time we can make work. And I don’t mind scheduling events for us (even if I get frustrated trying to make something work). I still love it and enjoy it when it happens. 

I think the most exhausting thing for me is when my friendship isn’t reciprocated. I am an all-in friend. You’ll know more about me in the first hour of meeting me than you will probably want to know. I am an open book and a big sharer. But I wonder if I scare people off at times from that. When in reality, people are just not as obnoxious as I am. I have been told I can be a lot to handle at times. And in my older age, I have realized that you are either going to love that about me or not. And I am finally ok with that. I am not offended when people can’t or don’t want to hang out like I used to be.

Having a lot of friends can be exhausting at times, but I wouldn’t change it. I have just learned to make it work for me and my friends and I must say, you are all worth it. 

humble & heart

humble & heart

My fabulous friend just launched her new jewelry website, humble & heart. Look at that picture!? How gorgeous! But she doesn’t JUST sell jewelry…..

What I love most about her business is that she donates $7 from each item purchased back to educators in her district! How amazing, right?! 

So what a wonderful cause and great way to give to something while enjoying something beautiful!

And Sara doesn’t just give to teachers. She is the most generous person, friend, and mother. She has done nothing but give with her whole heart since the day I met her when our oldest were in Kindergarten together.

She has an Instagram page and Facebook page, too. So go like the heck out of her stuff and buy away! These are going to be my go-to gifts for friends, family and teachers from now on! 

Barriers to Entry Program (B2E)

Barriers to Entry Program (B2E)

A few years ago I went to a Girls in Tech event and met a few people I have kept in contact with. One woman recommended this program to me a couple years ago. I was not in a position to tackle that yet, but recently, it’s sounded like a great solution. 

It is offered by York Solutions. They take people that are looking for a career change and want to get into the IT field and give them paid training with IT executives. Here’s a video about it. 

Doesn’t that sound like a wonderful way to re-enter the workforce and make a career change at the same time. 

They help you hone your skills, learn, realize your value and possibly land a job at the end of it! I’m fascinated. 

#IDGAF

#IDGAF

Chuck sent this link to me a while back. I have watched it a couple times and recommended it to many people. If you haven’t seen this and need to give fewer f*cks about meaningless crap in life, please watch this. Or if you want to know why I care less about x, y, or z….watch this.

The following image is a slide from her talk. 

And one of my favorite things she said was that you only have so many f*ucks to give. So you should use them on things that actually matter to you.

A while back, I also read “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck”. I didn’t love it at the time, but I am thinking about re-reading it with a different mindset.

Anyone interested in joining me in my new #IDGAF lifestyle? And try not to take anything personally. And I suppose if you do, IDGAF. 😉

Be Better.

Be Better.

Why am I so hard on myself?

Why do I think I can’t do anything?

Why do I have no ambitions or dreams? 

Why can’t I be a better roll model for my girls, my boy, my kids?

Why can’t I be more exciting to talk to? Or have something to talk about. 

How do I get better at this? How do I overcome these fears, struggles, feelings of inadequacy?

My husband encourages me and helps me and gives me ideas of things to do. And I fail at following through. Lack of motivation? Maybe. But I think it’s fear. But if what? Failing? How can you fail at something you’ve never really tried? 

This has been my problem for years. Years. I get into a vicious cycle in my head about not being smart enough/good enough, anything. Then I stop doing something because I think I can’t. Then I’m mad I didn’t follow through, then more time has passed and poof….I’m another damn year older. 38 in two weeks. Closer to 40 for another year and nothing to show for it. Then I’m depressed for my lack of accomplishments and get a little motivated, then the cycle starts over. Again and again and again. 

I need to go back to work. I need it to prove to myself that I can, but can’t figure out anything I think I could do. I had this problem years ago before becoming a legal assistant. And found out it wasn’t as scary as I thought. But I feel like getting into tech is different somehow. I get stuck feeling like it’s unattainable for me. I don’t know why. I want my girls (and boy) to know they can do anything. I don’t want my girls to think I’m not smart or not capable. But it’s not ok to let my insecurities come out or they’ll think it’s ok. But they have slipped out. And I feel awful for that. 

And on top of it, I feel like I’m too old.

I need help. 

And I don’t know how to do it. My husband is the most supportive person. He’s so encouraging and helpful and patient. Yet I fear showing him what I’ve done or talking about what I’ve learned. He wants me to be happy and fulfilled and will do whatever it takes to get me to where I need to be. I’m ashamed of myself and embarrassed for my lack of follow through. What the hell is wrong with me?! 

I need to get out of this year’s long cycle of doing nothing with myself. I want to be someone my husband and kids are proud of. I don’t think I’ve done anything to show them I am. 

You don’t think this is true? Come to dinner with me sometime. I have nothing exciting to talk about. I suck at reading the news so I have no interesting worldly things to talk about. I do look at social media way to damn much (but I run a couple Facebook groups so I can’t get rid of it completely and I do follow some tech people I like, some long distance friends I’d like to stay in touch with are there, too). I stay home with my kids and suck at cleaning my house. So I have nothing but stories about my kids and no cleaning tips for you. Just daily minutiae. Because I don’t you care how many errands I ran this week and how thrilling laundry was and the latest gym class I tried. It’s embarrassing, really. 

Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t have quit my job to stay home. But I have loved so much all the time I got to be with my kids and see them grow. I’m so lucky and thankful I was able to do that. 

But what is my purpose anymore? I get groceries, do preschool drop-off and my kids can play by themselves. Yet I can’t find the time to learn something? That might be because I don’t think I can learn. I don’t know if I know how. But I did take an online course once that was enlightening. 

I’ve taken Strengths Finder tests, let me tell you how anxious I was taking that test. I almost threw up worrying about what the results would be, if I was answering the questions right…pure panic. And I saw the results and still didn’t think I could do it. 

I need more. But I’m too scared I’ll be more terrible at something new. A lot of days, I don’t think I’m very good at this taking care of a house or kids thing. So then I’ll be bad at everything. 

Also, I need to care less about everything anyone thinks about me or what I do. I need a #IDGAF necklace or something to wear everyday. I try to please everyone and that’s just not necessary. In my head I’m a walking #IDGAF poster child. Until I need to talk to or interact with someone. Then it’s all Minnesota nicey-nice and I get blathering on about who knows what. Or confrontations. Oh just nope. I get shaky legs and sick to my stomach to call to order food. Or make doctor appointments or anything that squires me to talk to someone about something THAT IS THEIR JOB TO TALK ABOUT. 

See?! I warned you I have issues. The crap that goes on in my head on a daily basis is exhausting. And I can’t tell you why exactly. I’m always overanalyzing everything and overthinking every detail. 

Who am I trying to impress? I want to do more to be a better ME. And a better MOM. And a better WIFE. That’s 5 people I need to care about. 5. And that’s it. 

So, I’m sorry if you’re not in my top 5 people. I clearly need to spend some more time on me and figuring out my emotions and that mess in my head. The other 4 humans in my life need me to be better.

Books I Wanted to Love, But Didn’t

Books I Wanted to Love, But Didn’t

I’ve been trying to find more time to read over the last year or so. It helps me keep my sanity and I love getting lost in a book. I also really love recommending books to friends and fellow love-to-readers. These three just didn’t do anything special for me. You may love them, but they weren’t at the top of my list.

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The Woman in Cabin 10 was one of those books that I saw all over the place. People were talking about it and loved it. I was deep into my most recent painting spree and decided I’d give it a listen. Here’s what the book is about.

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists, spine-tingling turns, and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another taut and intense read in The Woman in Cabin 10—one that will leave even the most sure-footed reader restlessly uneasy long after the last page is turned.

Lo wasn’t an overly likeable character in my mind. I thought the writing was ok (and I might look into her other book(s) one day, but this book felt like it just dragged on and on. There were a lot of twists and turns and I honestly can’t pinpoint why I didn’t like this book. There just wasn’t anything overly compelling about it to me. Maybe the whole set at sea thing was unique or a big draw for people. I just didn’t feel like there was anything overly remarkable or worthy of recommending it to everyone I see like I have done with other books.

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Present Over Perfect is a book I have heard so many people posting about and have loved every page of it. This was not the case for me. I have a few ideas why, but here’s what the book is about.

A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything.

Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.

Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be. Present Over Perfect is a hand reaching out, pulling you free from the constant pressure to perform faster, push harder, and produce more, all while maintaining an exhausting image of perfection.

Shauna offers an honest account of what led her to begin this journey, and a compelling vision for an entirely new way to live: soaked in grace, rest, silence, simplicity, prayer, and connection with the people that matter most to us.

In these pages, you’ll be invited to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.

I read another book by Shauna called Bread & Wine. I remember that I liked the book, so I was hopeful I would like other books by her. She is a Christian/religious author and I was a bit hesitant going into this because I wanted to love it, but not being religious myself, I wasn’t sure if it would be too preachy for my liking.

It was just ok. I felt like I “got it” after the first couple chapters. Be present over trying to make your life perfect. Seems obvious to me. After I understood the premise and where she was coming from, I just didn’t connect with the religious aspects of the book. I have many friends who LOVE this book and we are reading/studying it in a mom’s group that I am in (which I am the only non-religious person in the group that attends; I go for the friends and socialization for myself and Alex).

All I can say is that it didn’t resonate with me. I don’t feel like I’m the target market for this book. But I think the idea was a good one. Too many of us focus on being perfect in life or making sure everyone sees that you are perfect on the outside even if you are falling apart on the inside. Social media is a beast sometimes. But you may love it and if the description sounds good to you, read it!

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Next up is Love Warrior. I liked Glennon’s other book, Carry On, Warrior and I was so excited to read this. She’s so real in the way she writes that makes you just want to be open and honest with everyone you come into contact with. Here’s a bit about this book.

Just when Glennon Doyle Melton was beginning to feel she had it all figured out―three happy children, a doting spouse, and a writing career so successful that her first book catapulted to the top of the New York Times bestseller list―her husband revealed his infidelity and she was forced to realize that nothing was as it seemed. A recovering alcoholic and bulimic, Glennon found that rock bottom was a familiar place. In the midst of crisis, she knew to hold on to what she discovered in recovery: that her deepest pain has always held within it an invitation to a richer life.

Love Warrior is the story of one marriage, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible for any of us when we refuse to settle for good enough and begin to face pain and love head-on. This astonishing memoir reveals how our ideals of masculinity and femininity can make it impossible for a man and a woman to truly know one another—and it captures the beauty that unfolds when one couple commits to unlearning everything they’ve been taught so that they can finally, after thirteen years of marriage, commit to living true—true to themselves and to each other.

Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

I wanted to love this. And I don’t know why I didn’t. She was a strong female, she found herself during this book, but she just seemed kind of whiny about everything throughout the book. She struggled with being happy in her marriage and I just felt like she had given up at times and didn’t really fight for her kids and family. I think it had a good ending. It wasn’t fixed (which things aren’t always “fixed” by the end of a book, but there were things in place to help them through. Knowing now what I found out about her life shortly after I finished this book (she fell in love with soccer player Abby Wambach), many of the steps they took and issues she had in the book made more sense. I felt myself saying “duh” or “of course…this all makes sense now” after the news came out.

I am happy that she is happy and it seems that her family is happy as well. They have found a way to exist together. I would definitely read her next book if it was about how all of this transpired and how her family found a new normal. If you like Glennon, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

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Finally, we have The Grownup. I’ve enjoyed Gillian’s other books and when I saw this was free at the library kindle at the time, I read it. It is a short story and it was different than the other things she wrote. Here’s a bit about it.

A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

I believe the reason I didn’t love this is because I thought it ended much too soon. I wanted to know more about the characters and what happened after the ending. It was a bit abrupt (“I only have this many words and must finish this book NOW” feeling) and I felt like it ended strangely. Maybe it was supposed to be that way. I just wasn’t sure if it was actually the end. I felt like there had to be more to it. It was a bit creepy and weird, just her style. If you like Flynn’s books, you’ll probably enjoy this. It’s a really quick read.

So there you have it friends. A bunch of so-so books in my mind. I didn’t feel like I wanted to write individual posts for any of them. This seemed like a good compromise.

Happy reading.

andi

Guest Room

Guest Room

Chuck’s grandparents made a trip up from Omaha a couple months ago and decided to stay with us. We knew that we had to get an actual bed for them to sleep on because 90+ year old grandparents shouldn’t have to sleep on an air mattress. Smile

So Chuck headed to Ikea to pick up a bed, some tables, a couple lamps and some bedding and he and his dad (with a little help from Alex), got to work building.

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I’m really happy with how the roomed turned out. I’ll fully admit that it’s a huge mess right now with toys thrown all over the room and stuffed bears occupying the bed. But, it would only take a couple minutes to get it back in order.

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I just took this picture a couple minutes ago. I couldn’t have you believing I lived in some pristine castle all the time or something. The room IS part of the kids’ playroom and occupies many of their toys.

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So, if you were hankering to come stay at our zoo house, you now have a comfortable little place to sleep. There’s your own little bathroom down in the basement, too. AND, in even bigger news (if you know me), I have a coffee pot and coffee. So there’s a pretty good chance I’ll even let you make some (or make some for you if I’m feeling really nice). Winking smile

andi