health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Holidaze

Here we are, it’s the first day of December. December has officially arrived. The holiday season is in full swing. Hanukkah has begun, the menorah has been lit. Every radio station playing Christmas carols, some playing them 24/7. Twinkle lights twinkle at every turn. An Elf on every shelf… thank god I missed this “tradition”. Advent calendars starting their Christmas Eve countdown. Christmas trees popping up on every social media feed, along with the ever present and ever so popular question “So… got all your Christmas shopping done?” or my all time favorite “Don’t you just love Christmas?!?!”. What never ceases to amaze me is those who declare their love of Christmas and the holidays are the same people that have a panic attack wondering if their Mother in Law will complain about the Turkey or their Mother will once again voice her concern over their daughter wearing black eyeliner.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched and listened to many I hold dear. I’ve seen the fear in their eyes, the panic in their voice, all over the holidays, over getting all the gifts just right and the opinions and reactions of their families. When I’m asked about my plans, I usually just get a blank stare followed with “I wish I could do that.”. What are my plans you ask? A quiet night with my parents, my hubby and daughter on Christmas Eve. A quiet lunch with my Mother in Law on Christmas Day. Am I done my shopping? I don’t know. Yup, you read that correctly, I don’t know. I always buy my Mother in Law some of her favorite creams, candles etc…, they make her happy. I buy for my daughter, because I enjoy surprising her. That’s about it. My husband and I don’t exchange gifts, on Christmas. We surprise each other during the year, some years more than others. I’ll put together little things I’ve found throughout the year to brighten a friend’s day.

Before you stop reading, or shout out your screen “Easy for you! You don’t have a huge family!” or “Easy to say when you don’t have 6 kids!” or “Everyone in your family is healthy!”, you are all correct. It is easy for me, it wasn’t always. I used to knock myself out trying to create the picture perfect holiday season. Yes, the season, not just a day or two, the whole goddamn month. I Martha Stewarted and Norman Rockwelled the shit out of the holidays. I’m tired just thinking about it. I was trying so hard to achieve the holiday I thought I should be having, not the holiday I wanted to have. Being as stubborn as I once was, and still am, in 2009, the powers that be, the Universe, God, the Smurfs, your choice, decided it was time for me to slow down and ease up, so my body grew a fibroid, a big one,(no cancer) and the surgery date was slotted for December 4th. You can’t deck the halls when you have a 10 inch scar across your stomach. So there I was, forced to slow down and guess what? The ground didn’t open up and swallow me whole. Who knew a hysterectomy for Christmas would be one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

The point to my holiday/medical rambling you ask? Let’s go to Oxford Dictionary for a moment. Holiday noun; a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done. … see, the dictionary gets it, it’s time we do too.

We cannot control everything, trust me, I’ve tried. We can’t. We can’t control how Aunt Ida keeps giving you a hand knit sweater 3 sizes too big and demands you model it even though she’s reminded every year of your size and that you are allergic to wool. We can’t control how Mothers and Mother in Laws are “fine” with alternating Christmas dinners. We can’t control the opinion that our kids eat too much junk by the very people who fill a stocking full of chocolate and treats and give them to said children. Sorry Virginia, in the case of controlling your family, friends and all aspects of your holiday experience, there is no Santa Claus. We can, however, control ourselves, our reactions, our personal traditions. I don’t see all my family on Christmas Day anymore. I deliver cookies before Christmas and have a visit. We see my parents on Christmas Eve. Sometimes we share a meal, sometimes hor d’oeuvres. Sometimes we exchange gifts, sometimes we exchange memories and good conversation. We still have to travel on Christmas Day to see family, but now we decide the time. Too many snow squalled drive homes in the dark changed that. We now go for lunch. We see our family, we eat a meal together, watch my Mother in Law and daughter open gifts, have a nice visit and are home by 4 p.m.. Meeting halfway is better than not meeting at all.

Christmas presence, be it for the day or for an hour, is better than any Christmas presents you can buy.

health and wellness, lifestyle, That girl in the red coat, Women, writing

Tell it like it is

Yes, it’s been a while. 7 months have passed since I last sat down to write. My last post was in February, so it’s really been 9 months since my last post. I had written a few posts, but never posted them. Not out of worry or fear of judgement, I hung that hat up long ago. I didn’t post them because they weren’t genuine. I wasn’t speaking my truth. So, I took a break. Closed up my laptop and didn’t open it up again until an hour ago. After fighting with my internet connection telling me the password was incorrect and getting my millennial daughter to assure me I wasn’t a dinosaur, and that in fact my husband had changed the password, without writing it down, or giving a heads up, here I am, writing once again.

I began this blog over 12 years ago, when I was in the Beauty industry, with the hopes of helping anyone who hated their hair, to love it. Soon the blog morphed into all things, from self care, to speaking your truth, to the magic of kindness. When I left the Beauty industry, I kept writing about hair and beauty products, but the thrill was gone. I noticed and was being told by many that my blogs about truth, kindness, real life and my Sunday Confessions were the most popular and the posts most were waiting for. So, I started to focus on those, which were well received by everyone, but me. I felt I was living a lie. Giving advice and perspective that I wasn’t taking. Between 2016 -2019, my personal life was a shit show. Plain and simple. I will not go into all the details, for not all the stories are mine to tell, and loved ones deserve their privacy until I am told otherwise. So there I was, trying to be all for everyone, trying to keep the momentum of my blog and consulting business going while working full time, all the while, not being genuine. Speaking my half truth if you will. I was exhausted. All these “mentors” I know personally or through a mutual acquaintance, showing their thriving lives and businesses, having their talks about manifesting the right way, getting their “side hustle” on, were making me feel like a failure. Yes, I know only I control how I feel or how I receive something, just get on this train with me for a moment. I was doing all the things. I was journaling, I was networking, I made a vision board, you name it, I did it. ….but it never felt quite right. I was worried I was depressed, or menopause was taking over my life. (I had a partial hysterectomy 12 years ago, so my early warning system is gone.). Then one day, I realized why it never felt quite right. I wasn’t telling it like it is. In fact, many were not.

What I’m about to say may, and probably will piss some people off. If you choose to be an influencer, a mentor or a life coach, could you please stop with the “dream it and be it” bullshit. Please, just stop. Listen, I’m all about positivity, ask anyone who knows me. I will find the diamond in a mountain of coal. I will give myself a headache trying to find something good in a bad situation okay? But this positivity with no process, is depressing and makes your clients feel like a failure. Also, unless you have had to build yourself or your business without any financial help from a spouse, maybe ease up on the “I did it! You can too!”. Seriously, so many women I know, who are single mothers by the way, give up because they are comparing themselves to someone who isn’t 100% real. Anyone can build a business or a brand when they have a spouse at home who can cover the mortgage, or pick up the kids from soccer practice. It’s easy to do anything if you have a soft place to fall and someone else to pay the bills. I personally know people who put out the perfect life on social media and they can’t pay their bills and don’t talk to their husband. It’s time to start telling it like it is.

If you are searching for truth, real truth, start reading and following Mel Robbins and Glennon Doyle. I adore Mel Robbins and Glennon Doyle, these fierce women tell it like it is. They do not sugar coat their lives, they talk about their achievements and their down falls. They own their confidence and their anxiety. They are real. Real is what this world needs. Real is what I need, and I believe what you need too. As all Mothers know, having a baby is wonderful and beautiful and cute but there is also a lot of shit that comes with it, literally and figuratively.

For those who are struggling, feeling like a bad mother, a bad friend, a failure at your side hustle, take a breath. Again. You are okay. You are doing the best you can today. Tomorrow will be better, if not tomorrow, the next day. Look within for your answers, they are there. You may not like them, but they are there and they have lessons for you to learn. Stop comparing yourself to others, most only show the highlight reel.

I’m just a girl, sitting in front of a computer screen, trying to tell it like it is.

Beauty, communication, health and wellness, lifestyle, parenting, Sunday Confessions, That girl in the red coat, Women

Sunday Confessions

I have a confession to make. A confession of non guilt. I no longer feel guilty about putting myself first. Yes, you read that correctly. I am a woman, a wife, a mother and a daughter who no longer feels guilty about putting myself first and making my mental, emotional and physical health a priority. Before those who know me well call me out about “health”, yes, I still smoke, I’m working on it. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Last night I had the gift of free time. No dinner to make – thank you left overs. An early out of my shift – thank you Covid. My daughter busy mastering her craft. My hubby driving out of town for his weekly check in on his Momma. As I sat down to Netflix and VegOut, I found myself thinking about caretakers. How as women, we are designated this position without any consultation. We are told that’s how we are wired, that it’s in our DNA. That it’s selfish to want, it’s selfish to fill our plate first. That a good wife puts her man first. That a good mother makes sure the needs of her children come before her own. I call bullshit.

I’m here to tell you, from personal and agonizing experience, putting others first and yourself last helps no one, least of all yourself. Sooner or later resentment sets in and BAM! Unnecessary arguments with your spouse, temper tantrum competitions with your children, tears and hurt feelings to all and from all who surround you. All you’ll be left with is puffy eyes, a headache, a sore stomach, feeling like you’re the worst person in the world and your loved ones walking on eggshells in fear of waking the beast and you all wondering “What the hell was that?”. You know what it was, because you know you didn’t make yourself a priority. Your loved ones have no clue, because they don’t know that to put them first you chose to put yourself last. Yep. I said it. You chose to put yourself last. Hey, I did it for 3 1/2 decades, no judgment. I’m here to tell you, don’t waste anymore time and emotional turmoil. I’m here to tell you it’s okay to put yourself first. The world will not open up and swallow you whole. Those who love you will not leave you. Mouths will still be fed and beds will be made.

Now before you declare to your family that they are “on your own bitches!” that is not the moral of this post. Take a breath. Again. Better? Okay. Those familiar with my blog know all to well how I adore lists. So being me, I’ve compiled some guilt free self care, put yourself first tips. PYFT’s if you will.

  • before you get out of bed, make yourself think of one thing you are grateful for. Just one. Let yourself begin your day with a grateful heart.
  • once the coffee is brewed or the tea is steeped, pour yourself the first cup every so often.
  • eat the last donut
  • have your shower first
  • light a candle or turn on your Scentsy warmer as you’re packing lunches. Surround yourself with your favorite scent, even if just for 5 minutes
  • put on your favorite tunes, past and present while washing the ever present dishes. For full effect – put your ear buds in and shake your booty.
  • get outside. Even it’s for 5 minutes. Every morning I make myself go outside and just stand in my backyard. Sometimes I take pictures with my phone. Sometimes I just stand there. I feel better and it gives my neighbours a hobby.
  • watch your favorite shows or movies. I don’t care if you’ve already watched it twice in a month. If it makes you happy, watch it.
  • start reading. Asks your friends if they want to do a book swap. Educate yourself. Enlighten yourself. Escape your reality for a moment. Even a page a day makes a difference. It does.
  • start using your fancy creams and soaps.
  • treat yourself to professional shampoo, conditioner and treatment. Trust me on this one. A good hair day goes a long way. If your hubby can spend $30 on his “phone game” and your kids can make you remortgage your house for Minecraft, you can have great hair.
  • create a vision board. Physically or virtually – gotta love Pinterest. Make yourself something that when you look at it, you feel joy.
  • make a Jello. When you open the fridge, you’ll see something you did, something you accomplished. My gramma Leah knew what’s what. … or a cake, or cookies or whatever your favorite treat is.

It’s time to become your own caretaker. No guilt. No shame. Putting yourself first and practicing self care makes you a better caretaker of others.

Merriam-Webster defines caretaker as “one that gives physical or emotional care and support.”. I looked up many other definitions from various dictionaries and not one definition reads “one that gives physical or emotional care and support only to others and not themselves.”.

Beauty, health and wellness, parenting, That girl in the red coat, Women

Tips from a pre-Internet Mom

Today’s tale is for all the parents out there who are realizing day care providers are saints and teachers deserve a raise.

No matter where you are in the world today, you are most likely at home with your children. COVID-19 has created a new normal for us all. I am 47 and my daughter is 23, so I am not facing nearly the amount of stress that many of my friends and the women I know that have children aging from 1 week old to 18.    …that being said my husband and daughter have taken to creating a new language. No words, just sounds…so there’s that. As I was having my coffee this morning, waiting on the muffins to bake, my mind flooded with memories of when my daughter was little. I was a stay at home Mom until she went to school. There wasn’t much daycare around and the daycare that was available, well, lets just say, any money I earned would have gone to her care. To be completely honest, I really hadn’t thought it through. I was 25 when I had my daughter and life was going good. My husband was working his ass off to provide a good income. Then life threw us a curve ball. Lesson learned – things change in the blink of an eye, so you gotta have a plan B, you gotta. So my husband and I decided I would stay home. So there we were, one income, one vehicle and limited funds for extra’s. … oh, and no internet. So I had to get creative.

If you’re stuck in a rut with your kids and about to run down the street screaming “I don’t care if your bored!”, I feel you and I got your back. I’m going to give you some ideas of what to do. They may seem a little corny, remember, I am a pre-Internet Mom.

  • hide shiny objects around the house and have a treasure hunt
  • add food coloring to water and VOILA! Water color paint.
  • put down a blanket in the living room and have a picnic
  • build a fort. Drape old sheets over all the chairs and table in your dining room or kitchen. Use books to weigh down the corners. Put the chairs on their sides to make tunnels.
  • if you own Lego, have a Lego building competition. Put a timer on for 45 minutes. …this way you get 45 minutes to sit your ass down.
  • make muffins or cupcakes. Have your child count out loud the number of liners, teaspoons, cups of water, hell even how many times you have to stir the batter. They are learning and creating.
  • I once had my daughter see how many sticks she could find in the backyard.
  • pop some popcorn and have a movie date – at 10 in the morning. Trust me, it’ll blow their minds.
  • have a dance party
  • pull out the good dishes and have a fancy lunch
  • play dress up with your kids, let them choose your outfit.
  • have your kids do your hair. Scary, I know. They want to take care of you as much as you want to take care of them.
  • go for a walk. Ask them what they are thinking about. Trust me, they’ll tell you.
  • get them to help with chores. Age appropriate chores of course. I would always start with “Could you help me?” when my girl was young. Now it’s more like “Go do that.”.
  • fill the tub and have a pool day
  • play catch, with anything.
  • teach your child a card game
  • play a board game
  • do a puzzle together, or separate and see who finishes first
  • if you have a teen, may God be with you.

I don’t know if this will help, I hope it will. You gotta think outside of the box when you are entertaining/taking care of kids. When it comes down to it, they just want your time and your attention. Just like us, they want to be seen. They want to be heard. They want to know they matter. As my Gramma Leah used to say “It’s long days and short years with children.”. I know it’s frustrating and even tedious at times. I promise you, you will look back on this and be grateful for these times…well most of them.