Category Archives: Learning

May 13th Lesson: Motivation from My Mom

Today is Mother’s Day. I went to visit my mom at her farm. Yep, my mom has a farm. She has lots of land with chickens, and tractors, and 4-wheelers. She has all the things I’ve never wanted in life, but it’s a nice quiet place out in the middle of nowhere to escape city living. It’s her little piece of heaven that she worked hard for and finally made a reality.

My mom has always been a working mom of 3 kids. She and my dad divorced after 14 years of marriage. I was 12, my brother was 10, and my sister was 5. My sister and I lived with my mom. My brother lived with my dad. We all lived less than 10 minutes apart and saw plenty of each other, so I don’t really see it as some sad story of a broken family. I’m not sure how my parents ever got married in the first place – they have nothing in common. Looking back, my parents whole marriage made no sense. I’ve told them this. They just shrug – they both got over it a long time ago.

During my teenage years between 13 and 16 years old, I watched my mom work long hard hours, and I helped clean the house and do laundry. I also spent entirely too much time watching my little sister (and helping her with her hair) and yelling at my brother to not do things that would burn the house down. I was the little home caretaker. I was home alone a lot. I could’ve seriously pulled some wild teenager shit, but I never did. Okay, maybe I did a little bit, but I didn’t have it in me to be too bad. It didn’t seem right.

My mom and I have gone through various mother-daughter phases. Of course she was my everything when I was a little kid. And she was a big role model for me when I was an early teen. She bought a little bungalow in the middle of her small old hometown so that we could be in a safe place with good schools. I watched her mow the grass and do yard work. She showed me how to balance a checkbook and told me the realities of what you can afford on a certain level of pay. She put up with me when I backed her car up into the neighbors car on the street (and she had to pay the insurance deductible). She didn’t kill me when my friends threw Zima bottles into our pool and ran away, leaving me to clean up the party mess (she made me go to church instead).

My mom tried her best to show me how to be smart and independent, but she also let me do fun girl things.

She let me talk too much on the phone and eat junk food. She didn’t censor what I watched on TV. She let me experiment with make-up (but wouldn’t let me leave the house wearing tons of eyeliner). She let me practice painting my own nails and plucking my eyebrows. When I was 11, she put braces on my teeth and throughout the process she would say “You’ll thank me someday,” (and I totally have many times). When I was 14, she let me get contacts so that I wouldn’t be so self-conscious about wearing my thick glasses. She let me hang out with who I wanted to be friends with and quietly watched as I made my own choices for who should stick around and who should go. Overall, she was about as non-helicopter mom as could be, but she wasn’t neglectful or uncaring. She just didn’t have time or energy to follow us around and monitor our every move.

My mom remarried when I was 16. That husband was a Loser (yes with a capital “L”). I moved out right after that husband moved in. She finally figured it out how much of a loser he was after it was too late. We watched my mom bounce back and get back to her old self after 7 long years with loser face. After that, she wasn’t going to settle for anything less than what she wanted and deserved.

She remarried again when I was 28 – the same year I got married. The next guy was a Winner and they were actually compatible. Too bad it took her so long to end up with her soul mate, but she finally did, and he digs the farm and chickens and living in the middle of nowhere too. I love that they are a match made in country heaven.

What I’ve learned from my mom through the years is to go after what you want and make sure you’re independent enough to do so. I haven’t agreed with every choice my mom has made, but therein lies the point – she has made her own choices. She has shaped her own way. She goes after what she wants and makes things happen. If something doesn’t go right, she learns and tries again. She got her farm. Thanks for the motivation mom. I will get my (non-farm) farm one day too.

Stifle Me Not

 

May 11th Lesson: I’ve Got This

Today I mowed the yard again. It was easier this time. The mower started right away and never stalled once. That was nice. It’s been a week since the last time I mowed, which was frustrating as all hell.

Are you all sick of me talking about yard work yet? It’s damn metaphor for my life right now. I can’t help it.

I was never one of those women that was all “I don’t mow the lawn” just because I couldn’t mow the lawn. It was because my husband always just did it. There was no big discussion where I announced that I wouldn’t or couldn’t do it, and he never said that I couldn’t or shouldn’t do it. He never cleaned the bathroom, and I never mowed the lawn. There were just some tasks that we each owned and didn’t share. I certainly wouldn’t have been sad if he cleaned a toilet as I’m sure he’d be quite happy if I mowed the lawn (correctly, his way).

So here I was today, confidently strolling through the yard with my non-stalling lawnmower. I didn’t even mow over anything dumb, like a bunch of rocks. Before I knew it, I was done. I gave myself some positive self-talk before I started and that may have helped.

I know that the next time I mow, it may not go as smoothly. There may be some challenge. But for now, I’ve got this. I can do this. Today I learned that I’ve got this.

Stifle Me Not

May 10th Lesson: Timing is Everything

Today I was in a big funk. I didn’t do anything particularly productive.

Wait, I did fold three loads of laundry. And I did apply to two jobs.

I spent entirely too much time on the cover letter for one. It drained me. Cover letter writing shouldn’t drain me, but it does. When I’ve been a hiring manager in the past, I hate reading the cover letter and go straight to the resume. I was trying to make it not suck. Trying not to suck is tiring. Like “Hey, I don’t suck, here are my skills and experience, but I’m not boring, wait, I have a personality, but not too much that I seem desperate, and oh I like your company, and I’ll fit into your culture, and do you like me enough to call me yet?”

So after doing a whole lot of nothing this morning, 3 loads of laundry, and two job applications, I was just a little over being stuck in this no-job rut. I’ve been trying to make the most of my time “off” by spending quality time with my kids, doing some much-needed yard work, cleaning out weird shit in the house that is long overdue (like the freezer was disgusting, ew).

After I put my son down for his nap, I cried pity party tears of frustration and was overwhelmed by my own unknown future. I just like to just get things done. Too much thinking gets me to over thinking which gets me into trouble. I let myself have my pity party, and then went back to checking various social media sites entirely too much. And in the midst of my despair I saw a new email from a company that I had talked to at the end of April. It was just a phone screen interview with the recruiter, so I knew the next step was either a rejection or a phone call with the hiring manager.

Before opening the email, I braced myself because the first sentence started out with “Sorry…”, but it was the beginning of a quick apology for them taking so long to get back to me. It was a positive email from the recruiter asking about my availability next week for a second phone interview with the hiring manager.

My tears of self-pity instantly vanished and I had a little ray of hope again. I can do this, I just need to hold on a little bit longer. And this is one of the jobs I actually liked and hoped for a call back.

The funny thing about this position is that a similar situation happened in April. I had just gotten a rejection email from another company, I went into pity party mode, and the next thing I knew I was reading an email from this current company asking for a first phone interview.

Today I learned that sometimes timing is everything and you just have to wait. It may not work out, but then again it might. Let’s stay positive for this one. I want this one.

Stifle Me Not

May 9th Lesson: I Can Say No and It’s Okay

Today I was supposed to go to an event. I agreed to go because 1) A friend invited me, 2) I am genuinely interested in the event and 3) I thought it may be a good networking opportunity – since I’m unemployed and all.

As it got closer to the date of the event, I quite simply didn’t want to go. I couldn’t pinpoint why it was bugging me. Was it because I couldn’t afford it? No, that wasn’t it. Was it because I was afraid of the unknown and wasn’t sure who I would meet?  Sometimes I can be shy about meeting new people and being in crowds, but that wasn’t it either.

I finally realized that, although I convinced myself of all these great reasons for going, I didn’t want to go for me. I was going to go because I said I would and I didn’t want to disappoint my friend. Today I did have family obligations and a bunch of yard work to finish, but the biggest thing was that I just didn’t want to go because didn’t want to go. It didn’t feel right. And here I was overthinking my feelings as usual. Why do I do that??? It’s okay to not want to do something, right?

I was about to send an email to my friend to apologize for missing the event, and oddly enough, I had an email from her saying she wouldn’t be attending. I was so relieved, and it was in that moment that her email confirmed my feelings were spot on – I was going to do something that I didn’t want to do and all for someone else, not for myself. Yes, there are plenty of reasons  why it would have been good for me to go, but I needed to listen to my feelings today.

Today I learned that I can listen to my feelings. I can say no and it’s okay.

Stifle Me Not

May 7th Lesson: Cleaning Up the Pebbles of Abandoned Hope

For the last year (maybe more, seems like forever) there have been several bags of pea pebbles in the driveway next to the garage. Some of the bags were split open and the pebbles oozed onto part of the driveway. Dead leaves were collected on top of the bags. It was an ugly mixed up mound of pebbles and dirty leaves sitting there like an ugly eye sore.

My husband originally bought the pebbles to create a bed of gravel under rocks around a fire pit that he built in the backyard. The fire pit was built and has been used, but the layer of pebbles that were supposed to go under the paving stones never made it there. He just gave up. I would nag for him to clean it up, he would respond with some good-at-the-minute response, and then he would ignore it.

I wasn’t the one that wanted the fire pit that bad, so why should I finish it? And I didn’t leave the pebbles out in the driveway, so why should I clean it up?

Weeds were starting to grow out of the pile of pebbles and leaves. The hope was gone that anyone else was going to do it. Clearly I am the only one.

Tonight I cleaned up the pebbles. It took me all of 10 minutes to do it. I was taking the trash out, looked at those pebbles and just thought “My driveway looks terrible, that needs to go.”

Today I learned that I’m not waiting around anymore. I’m taking responsibility for what needs to be taken care of, mine or not. I’m letting go of hope that someone else will take care of it for me.

Stifle Me Not

 

May 5th Lesson: Choosing the Positive Path

I woke up with a chip on my shoulder. I do this sometimes. I wake up with one idea in my head and I ruin the rest of my day. I’ve heard before that you need to just choose your attitude, not let it choose you. Easier said than done, right? I went to bed mad about a conversation with my husband, and I woke up still mad the next day. This is why I don’t ever stand my ground with him – because he has a perspective from the inside of an armpit and I’m left blinking furiously every time, seriously wondering if I’m crazy. I am not. I’m actually very reasonable and mild mannered. I cannot allow his words continue to make a negative impact on me.

And so I consciously chose not to not let that happen.

Yesterday I had two main goals: Mow the lawn and spend time with some friends.

The bigger goal: Don’t let him ruin my day.

Let’s start with the damn lawn. I’ve lived here for over 11 years. When my husband was here, he always mowed and weed whacked. I maintained the flower beds. I’ve mowed the yard twice in the whole 11 years, and according to my husband, I messed up something  both times. The first time I didn’t have the lawn bag on the mower correctly so there were grass clippings all of the yard. The second time, I mowed over an outdoor outlet in the  middle of backyard (what, it was covered by long grass so I didn’t see it). I never mowed the lawn because I didn’t have to and he already set the tone that I didn’t know how to properly do it, so that was that.

One of the biggest attractions about this house when we bought it is that it is in the middle of the city with a BIGGER yard. Now this wonderful big yard is long and full of dandelions. The lawn care episode of the day started like this: I got the lawn mower own, got it started (proud moment – this is a feat for my skinny arms), mowed one strip of grass, and it stopped working.

I took the mower in the backyard so that my neighbors couldn’t see me losing my shit. And yes, there was gas in it. It took numerous times to get it restarted and a few tears. Eventually I learned that this cranky old mower has some quirks of its own. You have to pay attention to its sounds and adjust to it. Eventually, I had the entire lawn mowed. I was tired, my arm hurt from pulling the start string, and I was dirty. I don’t like being dirty. Most importantly though – I was proud. I did it. My kids got to see me not give up and get it done.

Later on my husband came over to get the kids. I pre-scolded him about how he wasn’t going to sabotage my night out with my friends. He didn’t fight back much. He must’ve known I meant it because I didn’t get one sabotage text or call like I normally do. I went to my friend’s house where a few of us laughed loudly, drank margaritas, and ate entirely too many chips and dips. It was much-needed friend time.

I mowed the entire yard for the first time and I spent quality fun time with my friends. And I didn’t let him ruin it for me. I had a positive and fun day. I did it. I learned to choose what I want to happen.

Stifle Me Not

May 4th Lesson: The Sock Rule Wins

Each night that I put my kids to bed, they insist on wearing socks. Both my 2-year old and my 9-year old make it mandatory that socks are on their feet before their head hits the pillow. Their personalities are not the same, so I find it funny that they have this one thing in common.

One night my son was extra tired and forgot about the sock requirement before he crawled into bed. I said good-night and closed his door, and within a few minutes he was furiously shrieking about his lack of socks. My daughter will go without socks all day long, and as I’m nagging her into bed, she’s always sliding on a new pair of socks, matching or not.

This week it has been warmer than usual in the evening. The upstairs is stuffy because of the humidity. I’ve tried to talk them both out of wearing socks. Like, aren’t they extra hot? Isn’t it uncomfortable? Nope, they both stubbornly insist that socks are a nighttime necessity and there will be no bargaining about The Sock Rule.

Okay, fine. I decided that this one is not worth fighting. I have learned that if a little pair of socks brings my children comfort to sleep peacefully through the night, then so be it.  Me, on the other hand, my socks will be on the floor next to the bed, and I will be resting peacefully while they snooze.

Stifle Me Not

May 3rd Lesson: Run and Learn

When I was 24, my boyfriend broke up with me. We had been dating since we were 21. We were always together, never really fought, and had a lot of fun. One week I noticed he was being more quiet then normal, and before I knew it he was breaking up with me on my front porch. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do with myself. He was my world. I started to go running around the neighborhood whenever I could. Running  helped me blow off frustration. After about 4 months, we got back together. That boyfriend eventually became my husband.

When I was 32, my husband and I were on the rocks. We had been married about 4 years. We were fighting a lot. One evening we had a bigger fight than usual. The next day I come home to find some of his things gone. He left our house and moved in with a friend. He left me and my 3 year old daughter. My world was crushed. He was gone for almost 2 months. I was close to getting a lawyer and calling it quits. I made one last attempt and we agreed to work things out. It was a long haul. That spring I started to run and committed to doing a 10k race. I did it. I felt great. Running helped me to stay on track, and we worked on repairing our relationship. Or so I thought.

Fast forward to this year, one of the biggest transition years of my life. Since October 2017, I’ve been living in my house with my two kids. Their father comes and goes. He never stays very long. Today he was playing with the kids outside and I desperately needed to get away and blow off steam. I was so angry with him, but I wasn’t going to blow up at him in front of our kids. The didn’t deserve that. So I ran. I’m not currently fit enough to run nonstop, but I ran straight for a mile and a half and then I jogged and walked another mile and a half. By the time I got home, my legs were jelly and I no longer wanted to blow up at anyone.

I’m noticing my own trend here with this person in my life. He fails me (or rather I fail myself for keeping him around after all of the obvious clues) and then I get so frustrated that I run off my anger. When will I run and learn?

Today I ran and I learned. I ran and cried and walked and sighed and decided that this time things have to change. If they don’t change, I will just keep running to nowhere. If you don’t make a change, the same dilemma will return time and time again.

Stifle Me Not

May 2nd Lesson: Stay at Home Moms are Amazing

I am beat.

What I learned today, and what I’ve been learning the past couple of weeks being out of work, is that staying home with my kids kicks my butt. The monotony, the whining, the tantrums, the diapers, and the ongoing list of thankless “mom” duties. It all kicks my butt.

Today my son actually napped, and for that I am grateful. I had a few solid minutes of being able to think straight to construct a semi-coherent cover letter. I did not finish it though because my daughter came home and immediately shoved a piece of paper in my face with complete expectation that I should drop everything.

I am not used to this. I’m used to shifting mindsets from “work” mode to “mom” mode. I obviously am used to day-to-day child-raising duties, but not on this scale. Like 40+ hours a week less than what I’m currently doing.

Stay at home moms, you ALL rock! The good ones, the bad ones, the crazy ones (I now know why some of you are crazy), the helicopter moms, the I-don’t-give-a-f&$K moms … you ALL rock. Anyone that chooses, or even doesn’t choose, to be home with their kids the majority of the time is amazing.

Kids are hard work. And I only have 2 kids! They can be ungrateful and unkind and you just keep doing your best for them, because you are mom. I’ve been a mom for 9 years and I now feel a better understanding for all of those amazing women that are stay at home moms and don’t go to a “real” job each day. It doesn’t get more real than the work required to be home with your kids all day.

Stifle Me Not

“What Did I Learn Today?” Challenge

It’s a new month. Hello May 2018!

To keep myself positive and moving forward, I’m going to ask myself at the end of each day “What did I learn today?” Big or small, important or trivial, silly or not – each day brings a new experience and learning is key to growing and moving forward.

Later on I will post what I learned today and each day this month. Play along with me. What did you learn today? You just need to reflect on the day and be honest with yourself about what made an impact on you.