Thursday, May 21, 2015

What I Read Wednesday: Fat Girl Walking

 This might be a meandering journey to a book review, but bear with me. 

Rachel is my brain twin. I have many great and wonderful friends, but when it comes to being twins in a way other than biologically, in some sort of Patty Duke identical cousins "think alike" sort of way, no one compares to Rachel and I. 

When I first came across the blog,, I first read each and every post I could, blowing off household responsibilities to read late into the night. Then I shared it with Rachel. She immediately confirmed what I already knew: Brittany was obviously our best friend, but she just didn't know it yet. 

For the past two years I've followed Brittany's blog, instagram, and facebook, devouring every post. I related to her in so many ways. I've referenced her in this blog (namely here: ) when she saw into my soul with her post on fear of flying. Her posts on accepting and loving yourself fed me at times when I needed it, which is all the time since most of us women beat ourselves up about our looks constantly. Her candor and honestly about the true lives of moms and wives and women were a revelation in the midst of articles, magazines and pinterest posts of perfectionism and the unrealistic aspirations we have of immaculate homes, trophy-wife bodies, and Food Network-worthy baked goods for classroom parties. 

Then, she wrote a book. "Fat Girl Walking." And I bought it the day after it was released and read it in entirety in one day. 

I laughed, I cried, and I nodded silently in agreement. 

I loved it. And in full-disclosure, I must tell you I was a skeptic. I know that bloggers write books now somewhat regularly after some blog success, and I secretly thought it might be a let-down. Yes, the blog was great, but could she write an enitre book of stories that were not already blogged? Could she add newness to the experiences she'd already shared and that I'd witnessed in real time as they happened on social media? 

The answer is YES. 

At first I thought that maybe I was biased since I know that Brittany is actually a brain-triplet with Rachel and I. But on further review, I don't think so. As I have looked over at the finished hardback on my desk over the day, I thought each time of a different friend I needed to recommend it to, as the chapter on this or that would be so useful to whichever friend I was thinking of. 

I don't want to give away too much, so I won't review the book in typical fashion. I won't say much about what specific stories are told or why they were so powerful. I want the experience to be genuine for each woman who reads it. But I will say, read the blog first. Look through some posts and get to know Brittany.  I think it will enhance your enjoyment of the book, because like me, you'll realize she's your best friend and you'll read the book as if it's a conversation over drinks where your close friend bares her soul and her childhood, and her struggles and her successes. And you'll feel empowered to be more and do more. 

A while back, I sent Brittany a facebook message sharing my love of the book I read that helped me with my fear of flying. And I expected to never get a response but hoped she  would glance at it, and pick up the book. I don't know if she did, but for ten minutes or so, she and I messaged back and forth over facebook and I had a real conversation with my new virtual BFF. :) 

I want to reiterate: I'm objective. I can realize when my fandom impairs my judgement. But in this case, despite my fandom, and in spite of my skepticism, the book did not dispappoint. Instead, it was more than I'd hoped for. Please buy it, read it, or borrow it from me, but make sure you return it because I'll read it again. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Lately I've notice a disturing trend... I'm becoming easily obsessed with small things. For example, I decided I needed a new rug for the hall bath. I develped very specific parameters: patterned, gray, but has to match the odd blue-gray of the walls, just the right size to not block the door but be bigger than the current rug, can't look cheap. I've looked at every store I've been to for weeks, gone to Home Goods twice, and searched Amazon for far too long. I've found nothing to match my standards. 

As the search continued, the stakes got higher. 

Now, I have to find the PERFECT rug. After all this time invested, if I purchase a sub-par rug, each time I use that bathroom I'll feel the effects of many wasted hours seeking perfection and will be grossly aware of the inadequacy of the rug. 

Then, I remembered that I needed a new carry-on bag for work. I travel frequently, and my current system is not ideal. Checking a bag for a couple days trip is costly and inconvenient. And I have to bring my laptop, which I usually carry in my bulky and inefficient laptop bag, leaving me to bring my second carry-on item as either my purse or one of our old, junky small pieces of luggage. So if I don't bring my purse, I end up carrying my wallet, phone, and sunglasses out to dinner awkwardly. Or, if I bring a purse and put my laptop in my luggage, I awkwardly carry my laptop and charger in my arms to the office. It's dumb. 

Which lead me to the approximately 12 hours spent researching carry on luggage on the internet, and visits to several stores. 

My back hurts from hunching over the computer, my nights were wasted reading reviews and doing endless google searches. And now, again, stakes are high. After so much time invested, it has to be perfect. 

I see this as another way I seek to find control in my life at a time things don't feel in control. 

When I finally reach perfection, should that exist, I'll write a review. Until then, I guess I'll search for meaning in random purchases and ignore the glaring realities of a crazy travel schedule, an upcoming graduation party (and high school graduation) of my oldest child, signaling my advancing age and the end of an era. 

Am I alone in this kind of obsession?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Before and After: Front Door

It's spring and I'm in house project mode! 

Recently I decided to upgrade the curb appeal! Matt and I did some landscaping work, and with the bright, cheery flowers out front, our dark red door was looking drab. 

Our house has red brick and gray/beige siding, so I searched Pinterest for good front door colors but just didn't love anything. Then, while organizing the garage, I came across some extra paint from our blue bedroom walls. I decided to use it on the front door too. 

I started by taping the handle and lock with painters tape because I did not feell like taking the hardware off. #lazy

I put two coats of the blue on the door, and then pulled the old brass kickplate out of the garage. 

I used Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint to paint the kick plate, and then popped the screws into a box so I could paint the tops of them to match. 

Then, I screwed the kick plate back on, hung a yarn wreath I made last year, and voila: basically zero dollars and a little bit of work for a fresh front door! 

Here's the before and after, using low-quality iPhone pics and bad angles: 

So much cheerier! Have you done any home projects lately? 

What I Read Wednesday: Sparks and Speeches

I'm a frequent "reader" of audiobooks, but last month I mixed it up with a real paperback! 

I got "The Best of Me" by Nicholas Sparks for Christmas and finally read it, mostly while on a trip out of town. 

I have read several of his books already, and seen a few of the movies.  I know they always have a formula: romance plagued by hardship, death, tear-jerking scenes. I expected that with this book too, but it was just too predictable. Not long in, I had an idea of how it would go. I held out hope, though, expecting that this time, good ol' Nick would surprise me. Nope. 

If you love this kind of formulaic predictability, read away. If you have knowing 2/3 through EXACTLY how it's going to go- skip it. 

I've been listening to "Stand and Deliver," a Dale Carnegie (of "How to Win Friends and Influence People" fame).  I hoped to get some help on my anxiety about public speaking. Turns out, I need a book about anxiety, not public speaking. The tips haven't helped me with that. However, if you have a speech or talk to give soon, this is a good one to make sure you are engaging and interesting. But, I'm not sure that the tips in the book are anything you couldn't get from a good google search on public speaking. 

Currently I'm listening to "Call the Midwife," which has been made into a series on PBS. I haven't seen the show, but am enjoying the book so far. It's interesting to learn about how different delivering babies was back in the 1950's, and the specific stories and struggles of the poor in London. 

What are you reading? 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Bachelorette party violence

When I envisioned the bachelorette party in Chicago with 20 people, I expected some drama. Loads of women in heels (sore feet make you cranky) eating too little at dinner to stay svelte in their dresses (hunger makes you hangry) plus booze - in a busy city-- it seemed a given that something notable and possibly catastrophic would go down. 

Luckily, no party-ending drama ensued and a good time was had by all. But there was still violence. 

I intended to avoid the typical level of inebriation one would expect from a bridal party on bacheloette weekend, so I could anticipate and difuse the potential stressors of a night out with a gaggle of girls drinking too much champagne. However, in the famous words of my friend Nikki, I became "the drama we were trying to avoid." Here's what happened. 

After our early dinner, we headed out to the first club on the busy, bustling streets of Chicago. While walking ahead of some of the group, I hear Nikki call out to me to watch out. At that moment, I felt it. A substantial and invasive ass-grab. The kind of that feels intimate. At that moment, I turn to find a man in his mid-thirties by my guess, in a hoodie, passing me and our large group on the left by the street. And I knew it was him. 

Without a word, I sped up and started smacking him in the back with my clutch, filled with only my lip gloss, ID, and credit card. Not enough heft to do harm. Nikki comes running up and kicks him with her blinged-out high-heeled shoe. I yell that he can't do that to people and tossed in some expletives for good measure. He turns as he continues to flee, and shrugs his shoulders as if he has no idea why were are accosting him on the street. 

Our friends don't know what Nikki and I know, and just suddenly realize we are attacking a stranger. 

Ultimately he walked on and we explained to the group what took place. I still regret that I didn't do more, and left that man unpunished to gain unsolicited access to women's private areas. 

Feeling a bit objectified, we continued on our night out. We laughed and danced and made our bride dance on stage at a piano bar. Eventually, we end up at a club that had an elevated area for girls to dance. Two skinny friends, the bride and Nikki, who was also accosted by the hooded man, were dancing on the raised area, and asked me to join. Emphatically. Eventually, I relented, though lacking the level of inebriation generally required for such an activity. 

As soon as I was up there, a bouncer came over and asked me to get down. My friends insist the area was too full and that was the motivation. But as a girl who has put on a few, I internalized the requst as a personal affront. I'm not little like them and was undoubtedly visually less appealing to be at eye-level. They insist it was a capacity issue. I came down, dejected, and already a little bothered about the earlier events. At which time I got upset. And then, the words that will live in infamy from Nikki: "you are becoming the drama we were trying to avoid." I laughed and realized she was right.

I got my act together, but will insist to the end that me, in my borrowed dress without a size 2 figure,   was  not in line with the club's "brand." 

Thankfully my friends have a late-night appetite like me, and we ended up leaving to go to the hotel to eat pizza at 2 a.m. Take that, swanky Chicago club. 

Know what drama I really want to avoid? Finding food late at night. Thankfully, pizza delivery exists, and drama was (mostly) averted. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Good Childhood.

Emma, my 17 year old daughter, told me recently that she feels like she had a great childhood. 

She didn't even say it because she wanted something or because I had a bad day, she seemed sincere! 

She talked at length about how some of the stories she's heard about hard times we had are lost on her; she doesn't remember things that way. She doesn't remember the fights her dad and I had. The times we moved didn't leave lasting scars. The clothes from garage sales didn't make her an outcast. The times I had to write papers all night while she and her brother watched t.v. didn't make her feel unloved. 


I'm sure there are some negatives there somewhere.  But overall she felt loved and hapy. And isn't that all that counts? 

Maybe she'll tell a therapist one day about some time I didn't listen or said the wrong thing, or her dad did something wrong. But this day, but she had an open audience in me, willing to take on any wrong I'd committed, even with my objections that things didn't go smoothly... yet she insisted. She had a good childhood. 

Everyone's perception of a "good childhood" differs, I'm sure. But what matters is MY KID'S perception. 

Pinterest didn't exist. I didn't make crafts for her classroom. I didn't throw lavish parties. We didn't go on spring break and fall break vacations. She didn't get each toy she saw on t.v. and asked for. But she's happy with her childhood. 

The trials we face as kids and adults shape us. Things my mom went through, I also went through, in different ways, and I learned. I'm sure Emma has lessons learned that she doesn't even realize yet. Trials and troubles are good. But at the end of the day- if you see the good in things, you are much better off. 

That conversation was a cherry on top of a lovely experience raising this young lady. She's had experiences as a teen that left us both changed,but she has come out on top. She is smart, mature, caring, and kind. And if there would have ben a list of characteristics I'd hope for my girl when she was an infant, those would be the ones. 

Feeling blessed is not an adequate description of how I feel. This girl, this life, is more than I hoped for. Love. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What I read Wednesday: Soar

I feel sort of famous today! After our Disney trip, I sent an email reply to a newsletter I get weekly from the founder of SOAR. Capt. Tom Bunn has a comprehensive DVD course (which I haven't done), a website with lots of free resources, an app, and a book.You can find more info here. or buy the book here:Soar: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying

The app, book, and website have been incredibly helpful to me! Not only can I fly successfully without crying or having a panic attack, but I feel so much braver in other parts of my life too!

My email was published today in this week's SOAR newsletter! I have no idea how many people receive that email newsletter, let alone read it, but I am am excited to think that someone else might read my email and decide to read the book or take the course and feel better in some way. You can see the full newsletter here if you'd like:

Here's the email I sent. I actually wish I'd edited a little before hitting send but what I love is that it was straight up passion and excitement in my writing. :) 

"Truly Changed My Life"
I really appreciate these emails, the website, and the app. I rave about your book and tell anyone who will listen, because it truly changed my life!

I've always had a lot of anxiety about a lot of things. I'd never ride roller coasters, I panicked on trains, and flying was too much. Two years ago I got a promotion at work that requires travel 5 times a year. The first flight I took for work, I ended up drinking cocktails on the plane at 8 try and ease my nerves and crying in front of my coworkers due to my fear and anxiety. Pretty embarrassing. The next flight, I took anxiety medication I was prescribed, and it helped a little but I was still a nervous wreck for weeks leading up to the flight. Finally, knowing I needed a better solution, I started researching and found your website.

I've read the book and every article on the website. I have the app and use it every time I fly. I brought the book with me on each flight in my carry on until 2 flights ago when I realized I didn't need it anymore. Not only do I fly without anticipatory anxiety, but I actually look forward to flying now! I still get a little uneasy during take-off but the checklist in the book (which I now have memorized) eases that. If we hit turbulence, I just use the G Force meter and it reminds me that it's safe.
I just flew with my kids to Disney World a couple weeks ago. Two years ago, I would have been so overcome with anxiety that I would have made the family miserable. Instead, I got to look out the window with my son on his first flight. :)

I realized while at Disney that it's not just flying that your book made better for me. The skills I learned in the book, and the insight it gave me into my own mind, allowed me to do something I truly thought I'd never do - I rode every ride-even roller coasters- with barely any anxiety. Even Tower of Terror that has huge drops, and the Rock n Roller Coaster which goes upside down! I've been terrified of rides like those and truly would never have believed just a couple of years ago that at my age I'd finally overcome this life-long fear.

So many possibilities seem open to me now, that weren't before. Thank you for all you do. I really believe that your work has dramatically improved my enjoyment of life. 
I can't say enough good things about this book. If you are like me, buy it on amazon. And let me know what you think!