Tag Archives: momboss

Lesson #12:

BC Era = “Before Children” Era

My husband and I do not go out on many dates. I don’t mean that to sound whiny and I do not feel like my relationship suffers because we don’t go to the movies or out to eat. I very much enjoy spending my time together as a family and would prefer pizza and pajamas over a fancy dinner and a dress any day of the week. The interesting thing is that I love our “deck nights” more than any date he’s ever taken me on. A few times a week I will put my daughter to bed as my husband starts a fire in our backyard, gets the lawn chairs out, prepares himself a cigar or a drink and we just sit out there and talk. Not the superficial “how was work” talks, but we have some enlightening conversations out there about our relationship, our family, our careers and society. It sets up a very comfortable environment to discuss issues we may be having, or struggles we are internalizing or exciting dreams of the future. I find that when I leave these conversations that my “cup runneth over” and I feel closer to him. Believe it or not, he loves them even more than I do.

We started dating when we were children and so our BC Era is a span of almost 9 years. The boy I first started dating with a varsity jacket, a thin chin strap, acne faced and awkward is not the confident protector of man I lie next to at night. I think the entire point of dating when you are married is to reconnect outside of wearing the “mom” and “dad” hats. The point is that when your kids are off and living their own life that you don’t look to the man next to you and have essentially no idea who they are anymore. I think as a society we put unnecessary pressures on what that dating looks like. The first point I want to make is that dating is exactly what you make it. I’ve seen plenty of couples out at a nice restaurant just sitting on their phones barely speaking or touching each other. Secondly, a date is more about reconnecting and learning about each other rather than a location. Lastly, a date is about dropping the titles we carry around in our everyday life (manager, wife, mother, sister, daughter) and just seeing the other person for who they are.

I fell in love with my husband on a cold day in April 2008 at the Paine Estate in Belmont, Massachusetts. As cliché as it sounds, I walked away from that date knowing that I wanted to marry him. I look back at photos of that night, and you can just see it in our eyes. My husband absolutely loves astronomy and had convinced his astronomy teacher to let him borrow his telescope. We went to the Paine Estate late at night and he set up the telescope under the moon. It was a beautiful and chilly night. I think he spent more time getting the telescope ready to look at the stars than we spent staring up at the sky. We forgot to bring a blanket and after standing around for a while, I was freezing and wanted to leave. He wanted to stay under the stars so I took off my jacket and put it under us on the ground and we snuggled next to each other and he put his jacket on top of us. We were nose to nose and just talked for hours. I can remember this night so vividly. Nothing fancy, two silly children who forgot a blanket and were probably past our curfew.

To my second point, dating is about reconnecting and learning about each other. Full disclosure, there are times where we are so excited to see each other and have time together after our daughter goes to bed, and we end up sitting on our phones. Yikes! I know! So when we have our “deck nights” we make sure to say that phones are away so that we can focus on each other. Of course we make the exception to check the baby monitor, but other than that we dedicate our complete focus on each other.

Lastly, we make it a point to not focus on talking about our daughter or work the entire time. While it is one thing to blow off steam or reflect on the cutest thing our daughter did that day, when we come to each other for our “deck nights” we come as individuals – not just mom and dad. My husband loves his cigars and a nice whiskey so we make sure that he is able to indulge for our “deck dates.” It’s important that we remember and know each other outside of those titles. Sometimes we have to hold each other accountable for this one.

So, if you have a young family (or a large family) and coordinating time to go out on a date sounds more like a chore than something you’re excited for. Consider doing something the two of you, like a long walk after dinner or a fire in your backyard. A date does not have to be dinner and a movie, or a dress and fancy dinner – a date is what you make it. It changes with the seasons of life and is meant to make you feel closer to your spouse.

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Lesson #11:

It only takes 10 seconds to change your life

When I was pregnant, I probably watched every YouTube video related to women’s birth story. I talked to as many women that would share their story. I was anxious, having never given birth before and terrified of the pain. I knew it was going to hurt, I think I was just looking for something comparable to wrap your mind around. I went into labor on a Friday afternoon and the rest is history. At first I thought the pain was bearable. It felt like my body was completely tensing, from the tops of my thighs to my breastbone almost like a gigantic cramp. As the pain became more intense the only comfort I found was in the bathtub and I slept there Friday night. I focused on groaning through the pain, determined to give birth without any pain medicine. Like I mentioned before, I have some sort of thing about suffering for the things you want. I was in labor over 24 hours and finally told my husband it was time to take me to the hospital.

For as long as I was in labor, my body wasn’t relaxing enough to dilate so the hospital had me walk around the halls for a while. While I would stop and start to groan in the hallways my husband would remind me that each contraction was my body hugging our daughter. The imagine of my body welcoming my daughter by hugging her was extremely comforting to me. He may not even remember saying it, but with each strong contraction, that’s just what I kept telling myself. “You won’t be able to hug her this tight for a long time. Let your body welcome her with love.” When it was finally time to push I was now terrified. As your adrenaline starts pumping, your mind starts envisioning every possible outcome of this experience. At the end of one of my first pushes I told the midwife I was scared, and that I wanted her to be honest with me if my pushes were helpful or not.

She told me that the most amazing blessing lied on the other side of 10 seconds of bravery.

By God, was she right and 12 minutes later, my daughter entered the world. I remember when the dump of serotonin happened I started shaking and felt completely beautiful. I told my husband and my nurse that I felt so powerful, how I imagine someone who just ran a marathon to feel.

Fast forward to about a month later, my husband and I had to have one of the toughest decisions of our relationship. I wanted to go back offshore and finish my contract up until I was tenured with the company I worked for. Me going back offshore would be at 6 weeks post partum, and meant that I would be without my husband or daughter for 3 weeks. That also meant that my daughter would have to be at my mother’s house for 3 weeks so that we both could work and that my husband would be without us as well. I pumped and prepared for this, but the morning it came to leave, my husband and I cried and cried.

I can’t tell you how painful that morning was. I remember going to the heliport and getting out of the car and just thinking, “10 seconds. Just focus on the 10 seconds of bravery.” I had kept a brave face the entire day, until I heard the helicopter wheels come up and we were over water that I could not stop crying. I knew my life would be forever changed. I wanted to quit a million times over, but because I pushed through the blessings my family has been able to enjoy have been well worth it. My daughter will grow up and never remember me shipping out. I know that this experience speaks more to my character and a true test of my marriage.

My point being, since that moment in the hospital I remember what the midwife told me and apply it to my life every day. You can do anything for 10 seconds, even when completely terrified, exhausted and when everything in your body says you can’t. You are so much more powerful than you even know. When I was little and got upset, my mother used to have my count to 10. My daughter is not even 2 and she can count to 10. Those 10 seconds in your life will define who you are and what blessings come into your life. So chose bravery, chose for 10 seconds to believe within yourself.

Lesson #8:

Happiness is not yellow, it’s blue

For more information: Reach out to Jackie Dawson at Totem Butterfly at http://www.totembutterfly.com

I feel that most people think about happiness as a feeling that is burst out of your chest, where your cheeks hurt from smiling so much and you feel so carefree. The feeling like you could walk on water and fly. It is effortless and easy. Even though the smiley faces we have become so familiar with are yellow, I have learned that happiness is actually blue. I want to challenge this way of thinking because I think it is creating an unrealistic expectation for happiness. I have been through a lot of pain in my life time, and I am sure I am not alone. Maybe you have gone through some pain yourself and feel like you are never going to get to that bright yellow smiley face again.

Last summer, I lied in the hammock as my husband, daughter and our dog played in the kiddie pool on a hot day. I looked at my family in front of me and felt so grateful. So grateful for the heat of the sun on my face, the laughter of my family in the background, the cool breeze rocking back and forth on the hammock brought and for the house that stood for all of the hours we sacrificed for this moment. I closed my eyes and just tried my best to take a mental picture and never wanting to forget this feeling. I was happy. Not in a burst out of my chest, felt like I could fly sort of way, but in an intense amount of peace that I felt in the moment. I realized that happiness is not yellow, it’s blue. It is the calming peace that consumes you. I think if we have a more realistic view of happiness, the pressure on chasing after the yellow smiley face is a lot more obtainable.

When we connect happiness with a feeling of gratitude it becomes a choice which can be scary for many people. Sometimes we associate happiness with something that happens TO us rather than something WE cultivate within ourselves. That means that if we are unhappy we have to confront an uncomfortable part of ourselves. If you turn on the television or listen to the radio, all too often we are consumed that happiness is a certain tax bracket or social status, when it is those people that are hurting the most. Last year I felt like I was on a bicycle headed down hill and I had lost control of the pedals. Do you remember the overwhelming panic that you feel and just have to hold on? It sounds cliché, but I really felt like I had no control on what was going on in my life and had a very “what else can happen” attitude.

In October I decided to participate in my friend Jackie Dawson’, Totem Butterfly 10 days of gratitude. In this, she had us fill out what would seem to be a daily journal of questions about ourselves, our fears, and finally listing things we were grateful for that day. I did a lot of self growth in that month. At first my gratitude’s would be very broad like “I’m grateful for my husband, my daughter, my dog, my job and my car.” Honestly, at first it felt forced to look around and find anything in my life I was grateful for. After doing this daily for a month, I found myself writing things like “I am grateful for my dining room table that has hosted many holidays, coloring projects, financial planning and arguments that lead to forgiveness.” The gratitude journals were not something we had to share with Jackie, if we didn’t want to but just getting in the habit of seeing the world through a different lens, lead to so much happiness.

When you think of your “happy place” where do you think of? Most people I have asked this say something to the effect of near the water or someplace outdoors. I think if you would have asked me 5 years ago I would have said the same thing. I love being on the water and always have. I have such an appreciation for the power of the waves, and the beauty of a calm day. Leave where your “happy place” is below! If you’re interested in transforming your soul and taking the first step to happiness through gratitude, check out Totem Butterfly. This isn’t a sponsorship, I just really loved how this transformed the way I saw my life.

Lesson #7:

Cinderella was right

I am shamelessly addicted to watching criminal suspense documentaries/series on streaming services. In one of our recent conversations, my best friend and I were talking about why we love it so much and I came to the realization that I am always actively searching for what predators know about me, that I don’t even know. In a strange way, I think if I learn something then I will be less likely to become prey. Let me explain, if you’ve ever seen “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” there is a line in the movie that has stuck with me for years. Martin says to Mikael, “it’s hard to believe that the fear of offending can be stronger than the fear of pain. You know what? It is. And they always come willingly.” I have only seen the movie once (it was hard for me to watch – beware!), but I remember those words because I started to frantically search through painful memories for all the times that my fear of pain had been overridden and came to the harsh realization that this was true. How could predators know more about me, than I noticed about myself?

Women were gifted with intuition and it is something that I very strictly try to follow in my life. When I say intuition, I am referring to my ability as a woman, to be able to assess a situation without knowing all of the answers and details. Before logic is ever entered into my brain, I already have an unexplainable reasoning for why I feel a certain way. I try to foster that within my daughter in the small ways that I can. Oftentimes our fear of pain stems from not trusting the person we are around. Last year she did not feel comfortable sitting on Santa’s lap and I did not force her to take the traditional crying baby photo. We walked up as close as she felt comfortable to Santa and she watching him as he spoke with other children. She was doing her own assessment of the situation; I never want her to override her fear of pain for fear of offending someone. You will never find me forcing her to hug or touch a family member (I always offer a high five alternative) because I want her to be able to trust her gut of who she can feel comfortable around.

Then there are other people who are just simply amazing like my sister, Samantha. Samantha has this amazing gift where she can feel people’s energy (stay with me, I promise it’s not all hippy dippy). You could have a beaming smile, come skipping into the house and she is able to pick up on your energy and will know if you’re scared, overwhelmed, frustrated all without saying a word. I hope it’s a trait she trusts as she grows older.

I bring this up, because I have found that time sin my life that I have gotten into the most trouble is because I went against my fear of pain. I didn’t want to offend the guy at the club that was getting overly touchy with me even though I was afraid he was going to hurt me if I asked him to stop. When the stranger came up at the gas station to talk to me and ask for money, I gave them money so they wouldn’t be offended if I just walked away. Because of this, I have a very strict 2:00am rule. If you know me in real life you know how strict I am with this rule. My close friends will joke that I turn into a pumpkin, like Cinderella, at 2:00am and vanish.

A couple years ago I went to Nashville to work on a certification for a week. That Friday night, everyone decided they would go out to Broadway Street to celebrate. Drinks were flowing, great country music was playing and like Cinderella, I looked down at my watch and saw it was 1:50am. I just left the bar, and did not tell any of the strangers in my class where I was going and then I was leaving. I know how irresponsible that sounds, I just felt safer leaving then going back into the bar and potentially stalling my steadfast “nothing good happens after 2:00am” rule.

I say this because I care about you, and through personal experience I can tell you that setting boundaries for yourself is healthy. Especially for my women reading this, think about the times in your life where you have put yourself in a compromising situation – do you find any truth in our human reaction not wanting to offend someone overrides our animal instinct fear of pain?