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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

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.

A Breakthrough

A Breakthrough

I have been in a life rut for quite some time. Moving back home was supposed to make everything better with this rut. Unfortunately, that hasn’t exactly been the case for me. I have been struggling with the prospect of going back to work for quite some time (for example, what I want to do, what I’m capable of doing, and not being scared to try). I touched on this a bit in a previous post I wrote. Well, today I had a breakthrough.

So, for me, staying home with the kids is the easy way out. I am scared to try new things or attempt to sell myself at something new. But it hit me today that staying home is probably one of THE hardest jobs there is. It’s mentally exhausting, grueling at times, dirty, you don’t get a vacation, no time off, no pay (except for all those sweet hugs and kisses) or 401k. You spend your day teaching and playing and being a short order cook. Along with keeping things together around the house (which I fully admit I am not very good at).

I have always doubted my abilities and really my brain. I seem to think that I am smarter than people at times, yet I have no real ambition or motivation for what I want to do with my life or any trust in myself to accomplish any ideas I may have. Every time I think something sounds fun, I immediately disqualify myself because of my lack of qualifications, knowledge, because I’m worried about failing or worried about learning something new to educate myself. I would love a job I don’t have to go back to school for. And I am certain there is a good fit for me out there.

I have started contacting some friends in various fields for input, suggestions and help with various aspects of this journey. As of right now, I am not exactly sure of my direction, I feel more like I can tackle something and do it well. Because a lot of the time, when I do something, I don’t suck at it as much as I thought I would.

That was a long-winded way to say that if I can do something that many people consider so challenging (and find it to be my “easy way out”), I can really do anything. And at the very least, I can make an effort to be good (or great) at it.

I know something similar (if not exactly) has been told to me by my wonderful husband who knows what I am capable of, but today, a light came on and it just clicked. So, I’m ready to tackle the world and find an area of work where I can flourish and come back to life.

If you have any tips or insight for jobs or contacts in the tech field, project manager jobs, website building (I like the idea of a web editor or managing a website), recruiting (I’d like tech recruiting of some kind), analyst positions or something else that might be a good fit, let me know. I am working on strategizing my next steps, but please reach out if you have suggestions for me.

andi

Rants About Life

Rants About Life

Lately I have felt off. Not just kind of off. Really off. I would describe it as a fleeting feeling. Some days it’s there in full force while other days it’s just in the background. I am starting to wonder if something more than just having three kids and general life stresses are the problem.

I worry. A lot. But only to myself. I am not worrying about things that make me helicopter parent my kids, but I have dreams about strange things and when my mind wanders it wanders to things like death and dying and what life would be like either without me or if I were to lose someone close to me. It is in a more general sense, though.

I feel like I just want to shut down and sleep in my room in the dark. Alone. The idea of chores and things are so unappealing. And yes, I know that chores aren’t appealing to most people, but I want to whine like a baby about needing to do the dishes or laundry. There are enough toddlers in this house. Mommy doesn’t need to act like one, too.

I am irritated by the smallest things. I just want to give my kids ipads and tell them to leave me alone. I have no motivation to teach my kids things (writing, reading), doing crafts seems stressful and taking them anywhere just feels like such a hassle.

I understand kids feed off me and my reactions to things. But I find it to be such a challenge to keep my cool. I just feel like I could explode inside if I have to answer the same question 100 more times. Or ask them to do something for the 100th time. It’s exhausting.

There are other random things on my mind, too. Maybe I’m not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom anymore. This freaks me out. I feel like if I don’t stay with Alex a while, I have let him down in some way. I was home with the girls and now, see ya, kid. I’m outta here. And then I worry that I failed at staying home. Some times I think I am really taking the easy way out and staying home and not getting a job. But am I even doing a good enough job with the kids to continue doing this? On the other hand, I love being home with them. I love seeing them everyday and seeing them grow and change. I would miss them like crazy if I didn’t get to deal with their non-sense all day.

Maybe what I need is a job where I can take the bus to and from work and just read a book. Then I freak out about how the kids would be if I’m not with them. Would they be ok in daycare (obviously I know the answer is yes). Or how the house stuff will get done if I’m not home all day. But let’s be real…it’s not getting done and I am home. So that wouldn’t be that big of a deal. And I would be so sad to miss seeing them all day. I love them and I love being home with them.

I always intended to go back to work at some point after staying home with the kids. I wish there was something I was extremely passionate about, though. I have things that might be ok, but then worry and fret about learning something new, being qualified/good enough and just generally scared about the whole process. I don’t feel that good about myself, so how can I go sell myself to someone when I don’t even think that highly of myself? And how will I ever learn something new when all I think about is how bad I’ll be at it or how I’m not smart enough for it.

Then there’s the regrets. I went to college and got a crappy degree. What a waste of thousands of dollars and brain cells. Then I went back to school for a more respectable degree and dropped out. I just didn’t want to be in school anymore. I also didn’t think I could do it (but it has been pointed out to me that that isn’t the case). Either way. If I had stuck with it years ago, I would have been done. I could have years of experience behind me by now and I wouldn’t be in this predicament. I’d have a great degree from a great school. But alas. That is not the case and here is sit with regrets. And the fear of failing and relearning and just fearing it all.

This can’t be healthy. There are a bunch of stresses in our lives right now. And I am sure these are big contributing factors in all of this. But I am worried there are underlying things that I don’t know how to get rid of. I had tried therapy once and hated it. That isn’t something I want to do again. But I don’t really want to pop happy pills everyday, either.

I feel like I’m not as happy as I should be. I mean, my husband has a great job he loves and is amazing at. I have a part time job and three beautiful, smart, healthy kids and the ability to stay home with them. And we have food on our table. Clothes on our backs. More toys than the kids know what to do with. Generally nice things. A beautiful house. Two cars. What the hell is there for me to complain about? I just feel so whiny.

I’ve been waking up early for about 5 weeks now. I get up before anyone else is awake and I shower, do some yoga, sit in the dark in the quiet of the morning. Sometimes I light a candle. It’s so peaceful. I had hopes this would set the tone for my day. And I would be peaceful and happy. Instead, I look at the clock and think I should have gotten up earlier because the time was too short. Wonder how it can be morning already and why my kids need to wake up so early. Why is it that I’m not over-the-moon excited that they are running to me with messy hair and open arms for morning snuggles? Then I run through the day thinking about when will it be their rest time? How long until it’s their bedtime? Then the days just go on repeat. That can’t be normal. Or healthy.

There’s my rant in a nutshell. A feelings-dump. I am not actually looking for answers. I just wanted to put it out there. It feels like I can maybe tackle or overcome some of these things if I actually say them. I can’t avoid them as much this way. These stressful days will pass. I know that. I just want to enjoy them and look back with happy memories and not wonder if I gave the kids enough love and laughs when they were little and needed it the most.

Blah. Or maybe I’m just getting my period.

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Today

Today

Today I had great intentions to make everything go smoothly. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.

For the first time in a few days, I woke up with a good attitude and I was ready to tackle the day. I had Maddie’s conferences today and had everyone ready on time and started heading out the door. When we got down the hall to the elevator, the day starts going down hill.

* The elevator was broken. Therefore requiring us to walk down three flights of stairs to the parking garage. Of course, Dannie needs her hand held while I am manhandling Alex in his car seat down the stairs. Got down the stairs. Things were good.

* Got the kids into the car and strapped 2/3 of them in. Then I realize Dannie has an “issue” in her pants that needs tending to. So we deal with said issue and move on.

* Dannie kicks and screams and flails like a crazy person because she doesn’t want to be in her car seat (or I put her in wrong, or she didn’t have all of her toys, or I gave her the toys in the wrong order….who knows). So I forcefully get her situated in the car and head out of the parking ramp to school, look at the clock and hope that I can get there on time.

* The road we turn onto from the apartment is a busy road (they are all a bit busy here), but I hit the right time and didn’t have to wait too long to get out. Phew! Go to the next road and they have it down to one lane (alternating traffic) which slows us down greatly. Clock is ticking….

* Arrive at school, and after screaming most of the way to school, Dannie will not get out of the car. Anger….riiiiiising!

* Get into the conference, exhausted, and the teacher tells me Maddie is doing great! And then we just chit chat because there’s not much else to say. Smile

* Head to our next destination (checking out a preschool closer to our new house) and Alex spends the drive there screaming because he’s hungry. So I get to the school and park in a spot so I can feed him in the car before we go inside. Get him out and ready to eat and…

*Maddie says, ”mom, I have gum in my hair”. Lovely. So I fix that (by ripping out some hair to get it out. And I also make a mental note that she isn’t getting anymore gum. Ever.

* Feed Alex, meeting at new school goes really well. Head to lunch to meet Chuck’s cousin and Chuck. Lunch actually went well. No complaints. (Thank goodness.)

* Get back home and to my utter dismay, the elevator still doesn’t work. So it’s time to huff it back up the stairs carrying Alex, holding on to Dannie and trying to get everyone down for rest time. Mom is exhausted and winded from walking up the stairs carrying 20 extra pounds.

* Nap time. Dannie loses her mind and doesn’t want to go to bed. I have no idea what went wrong. Maddie gets upset with me because I won’t let her play the iPad (because she already plays it too much) and cries “But I just love the iPad” and goes to her room to sob. Alex eats then will not go to sleep so I can work. This wouldn’t be a problem if he weren’t whining at me the whole time. (Not eating again right now, kid!) (And I do eventually get a little work done.)

* Time to head out to do a final walk-through of our new house. Elevator still doesn’t work. Down the stairs we go.

* We get there close to on time. When we get there Chuck takes me to a spot in the driveway and has me look at something. I see trees. I see houses, then I see it….MOUNTAINS! I can freaking see mountains from a certain spot in the driveway! This means a permanent chair will be set up in this location and I’ll spend my days looking at the huge, white-capped mountain. (I also may have done a happy dance!)

* Head home, while Alex cries the whole way. Get home and need to walk up those dang stairs again. I may cry.

* Put kids to bed and work a bit more, then eat a huge bowl of ice cream (mint chocolate chip) and start some tea. And I’m immediately thankful I made it through the day.

I can’t make this stuff up. Thankfully, tomorrow is a new day.

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