I want...

I really really miss shopping. So much so that when I was doing some research for a client recently which involved some serious time checking out shopping blogs, I went a little wishlist crazy. Its lovely stuff though, right?

I've always wanted a little silver heart necklace.
Etsy seems to have quite a fantastic selection: 1 2 3 4 5 (my favorite!)

Rock City Outfitters is straight up rad.

I've been lusting over these mother's rings by local jewelry designer David Adams for a good while. Mamas, aren't these fantastic?

I love this girl so much.

I've always believed in the principle of karma. Good things happen when you do good things... good actions spawning good results... yadda yadda blah blah.

I am completely blessed. I am obviously doing something very right, because I have so many good friends.

I've admitted I'm scared of tall people. I met one of my best friends because of that silly, irrational fear.

Photo by Holly Metcalf

She's tall. She's real frickin tall. And she's a dead ringer for Maggie Gyllenhall or Katie Holmes depending on which one you like best. I, of course, am a total Maggie fan.

(seriously, its uncanny- right?)

Last Wednesday I sat with Jacey at her house and thought about life without children. A single lady, Jacey's life is pretty darn uncomplicated. She has a house that just feels warm with 2 happy dogs that greet you with kisses and never leave her side. We drank champagne on her couch to celebrate my 3rd wedding anniversary, and she didn't even get upset when my potty training toddler tinkled all over her floor. She laughs, she smiles, and she absolutely means it. This girl has genuine written all over her, and she's so creative and talented on top of it all, an illustrator who works hard to make such beautiful things.

She's amazing and she owns her own home and she does art for a living, she has no kids. I texted my boyfriend and said "I of course wouldn't trade Marti Pearl for the world, but I'm jealous of this... I look at Jacey and see such happiness and simplicity and I crave that so much. Her carpet doesn't have crackers ground into it, she owns her own home and drinks wine whenever she wants! She has glass trinkets on her coffee table!!" and I meant it. Every word of it. I admire her so much, and can't help but look around at her life and say "wow... that looks so very nice."

I had a hard morning. I emailed Jacey and her response was perfect.

Can't stop thinking about that email!

A friend sent this to me as support and I think you can draw on it too.

One of the hardest things to look at in this life is the lives we didn’t lead, the path not taken, potential left unfulfilled. In stories, those who look back — Lot’s wife, Orpheus and Eurydice — are lost. Looking to the side instead, to gauge how our companions are faring, is a way of glancing at a safer reflection of what we cannot directly bear, like Perseus seeing the Gorgon safely mirrored in his shield.

She sent me this amazing article to offer support in a completely unrelated situation without even knowing how very appropriate it was for our own friendship. Her support was incredibly appropriate, and well-timed.

Jacey, you are amazing. I love you to pieces.

Also, this quote killed me!!
I have never even idly thought for a single passing second that it might make my life nicer to have a small, rude, incontinent person follow me around screaming and making me buy them stuff for the rest of my life.

I'm afraid...

I have a number of unreasonable phobias. Spiders, confinement, heights... you know, normal stuff. I know a spider is a tiny creature that is much more terrified of me than I am of him, and that the scary flutter I get in my chest when I look down and see the ground uncomfortably far from me isn't really necessary, but the fear is there nonetheless.

I have even sillier phobias, like my very real fear that I'll someday find a snake in my toilet bowl...

...or my absolutely inexplicable fear of tall people... these are not normal things and I know this. Though from the looks of it, I'm not the only one who thinks about toilet snakes.

My biggest fear though, is the fear of being a bad parent.

I see them all the time... moms & dads yelling at their kids, belittling them, or simply neglecting them. I worry that I won't nurture little Marti Pearl's spirit in the way I've always intended and that terrifies me. I worry that she'll inherit my self-esteem issues or that she won't keep the amazing spark I see in her every day. I worry that I don't spend enough time playing and truly enjoying our time together, without my laptop or cell phone in hand. I worry that she doesn't think I'm fun.

I know full well that I can't protect her in every instance, and that I can't be there for her all the time... especially now that her dad and I aren't together anymore. I understand that at some point there will be another woman introduced into her life for real, and that she'll spend time with another "mom" ...a concept that I am ok with, but deep down opens up a thousand questions and insecurities, but this is our life. Her life, my life, and I am responsible for every moment of it in my decisions and actions.

Isn't that fricking scary?
I mean down right terrifying?

Because everything we say and do is the length and shadow of our own souls, our influence is determined by the quality of our being.” -Dale E. Turner

My daughter is already such a person. She tells stories and delights in making me laugh, and she's WONDERFUL. Every moment, even the challenging ones, are beautiful because she's such a reflection of the good, innocent, real parts of me. I think that's what its all about...

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.” -Thomas Kempis

We have bad days, live stressful lives, overwhelm ourselves, deal with things we'd rather not... In many instances, so many of the things we dealt with when we were teenagers have just mutated into bigger, busier, more stressful things. Divorce is hard. Breakups suck. In fact, I'd say they suck just as much now as they did when we were in Jr. High School... but we cannot revert to childish behavior and act irresponsibly. We simply do not have the luxury because there is too much depending on our own happiness.

I found myself in pain recently, frustrated because I couldn't find any relief and dreading chasing the toddler through the house just to put her shoes on. I lost my patience, and for what? She didn't know what in the world I was thinking about... she just saw an opportunity to run through the house and entice me to do the same. Who can blame her? Its annoying for us, incredibly fun for them. I immediately felt bad, and apologized to her for losing my patience. I explained that my back hurt and I was frustrated when she ran from me, but that she didn't know, so I was sorry. She lit up, and said "that's ok mommy. I love you. I make you feel better?" which was, in fact, exactly what I needed.

“The strongest influences in my life and my work are always whomever I love. Whomever I love and am with most of the time, or whomever I remember most vividly. I think that's true of everyone, don't you?” -Tennessee Williams

We owe it to our children to be good. Good to ourselves, to our family, but especially our children.

We owe it to them to be adults, and to maintain regardless of hurt or change or difficult times. Its incredibly irresponsible to assume that bad behavior and unhealthy relationships will not be mimicked in our children... and if we are their greatest example then how can we carry on in such a way without being downright neglectful of their very souls?

I worry about being a bad parent not because I treat my child disrespectfully or do things that would be considered taboo, because I just don't. I'm afraid of not realizing I'm being a bad parent because I'm too focused on everything else in my life and the consequences are so awful. I never want her to look back and say "I wish we would've just played more, mom" or "I wish you would smile more" That would break my heart completely.

“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.” -Arthur Koestle

Recently, I lost a close friend over a very big argument. Due to my increased workload upon starting my new company I neglected our friendship and hurt her feelings. In an attempt to do the same, she said a lot of things that were very hurtful. Basically, she said that since I was working constantly and my daughter was spending a majority of her nights with her dad that I was a bad mom. I was crushed. In my entire life I had never been so hurt, and even though I knew it wasn't even remotely true, it made me very conscious of my actions. I was constantly second-guessing my decisions and word choices, wondering if she was right.

What I found was support, and acceptance, and resounding proof that she was so very wrong. My friends and family were shocked, but they were supposed to be on my side. My over-analyzing and soul searching led me back to Marti Pearl. She's such a happy, loving, well-adjusted child. She spends her time hugging and singing and blowing kisses, she would easily be the happy-go-lucky kid suckered into the back of a van and stolen forever (yet another HUUUGE fear) because she trusts everyone completely. The stinky guy at Wal-Mart scratching himself in the cracker aisle is just as much an opportunity to see and know another person as any other, there's not even a small sense of discrimination there. She's a trip. Seriously.

My boyfriend, knowing I was concerned about it said to me one night that the most attractive thing about me was my dedication to my daughter... and he's right. She's my everything, and I can't imagine my life any other way. I treat her like an adult, a partner in crime if you will... and she acts accordingly most of the time. Its hard remembering she's only 2 sometimes. He told me to stop worrying, that my daughter was a wonderful reflection of me and that I was doing just fine.

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. -Stacia Tauscher

Last week Bean girl walked in tapping away on a calculator. When I asked what she was doing she said "I'm textin, mama!" ...a clear sign that I needed to put down the phone.

Sometimes we need reminding... hell, sometimes we need a smack right upside our head so that we always remember who is watching us. Our tears and angry words are constantly being measured just like our smiles and belly laughs, every single moment. I'm not afraid of that by any means because I know we're coming out on top.

I know I'm not a bad parent... just like I know my toilet is snake-free at this very moment, but perhaps its those unfounded and ridiculous fears just add to us being unique interesting people and parents.

I'm still completely baffled by my fear of tall people and don't think that's adding to my value at all.

Love yourself, dammit.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. -Buddha

Oh kids, let me tell you about a woman I love so dearly.

My friend Danelle makes my heart swell in a way I can't even begin to explain! She has such a bright, honest soul and I can't thank God enough for her presence in my life. I got to see her today for the first time in a while... she moved to California over a year ago, and though we keep in touch online and I promise often to go visit her, I haven't seen her since.

Seeing her today was so fulfilling because of her boundless love and affection. This girl hugs with her whole soul, something I can say of very few people I've ever met.

She stood today hugging me, caressing my hair and telling me how amazing and beautiful and talented I am, and it was all I could do to blink the tears away, knowing that in all of my self-doubt, all of my worry and stress... someone so real, so full of passion and reason, thinks so highly of me.

Self-esteem has never been my strong suit. In Jr High I saw myself as incredibly fat. I had been warned starting at a young age about eating disorders, but I was intrigued... later realizing that the control aspect was the most attractive, I struggled with bulimia for years... yo-yo-ing between slightly overweight and completely normal, always wanting to be thinner. By the time I was in college it was a full-blown problem. I'd eat very little throughout the day but polish off more Taco Bell than they should even be allowed to sell to one damn person... spending the rest of my evening attacking my esophagus and ego, feeling no better about myself when I went to bed... and seeing very little results on the scale.

Senior Year of High School. What a fatdumbass, right?

I used to joke that I wasn't committed enough to be anorexic. I really loved food, hell- I still do! I couldn't fathom skipping meals and obsessively counting calories. Bulimia was the ultimate control for me: I ate exactly what I damn well pleased, and I didn't gain any weight from it. Take that, Slim Fast!

Senior Year of High School again

What took me years to realize is that I was deeply depressed and so very uncertain of myself. I had no idea who I was, or who I wanted to be... just that I wanted to be thin, pretty, and different than I was. I wanted to win my ex-boyfriend's affection, my friend's approval, respect and admiration. My mom's self-esteem pep-talks did me no good, and I did a good job of hiding my problem (outside of a few friends who were keeping some pretty hefty secrets of their own). The depression took an enormous toll, and when I quit school I had to come to terms with it. I spent a summer living with my mom, not working, and painting. It was the most important thing I could've done for myself, and even though I wanted so much to be out on my own as an adult, I knew it was good for me to take time to just figure out how to be OK first.

I stopped throwing up, first off... and it was a good thing, too. Later that fall, I had severe issues with esophageal erosions, due to years of mistreating the poor thing. I didn't eat for days and boy was I pissed- all of those years of hurting myself in order to eat how I wanted and here I was "better" and couldn't eat!? It was torture. That's when I gained all the weight, but in doing so I didn't struggle more with my self-esteem issues, I found pride and joy in my body regardless... much more than I'd found when I was thinner. I started seeing myself as beautiful, my curves as sexy, and all of that together made me one hell of a force to be reckoned with.

Upon losing the weight, I'd like to just say... watch out. Sitting on the couch talking with the boyfriend the other night, I found myself amazed at the changes I'd made, not just since my days of daily cookie tossing... but even from a few months ago. I went into this relationship self-assured, certain that regardless of what happened I was worthy of love and admiration. For once I wasn't concerned with the ex-boyfriend, or that cute guy at the bar... I was focused on me in all of my frickin' glory. Its been fun, and its been genuine, and I honestly believe its why I'm so darn happy with this silly boy.

That being said, silly boy and I took our kids to the park today to visit with Danelle before she went back to California. He asked me last night who she was, and I told him very honestly...

She's the first mom who I ever trusted completely the first time I met her... she was so frazzled, and exhausted, and radiantly beautiful. Not because her hair was perfect, or her makeup took an hour, but because dammit, she was mama! she had smiles and belly-laughs as readily available as her furrowed brow and heartfelt 'i'm sorrys' and she threw those stern mama-eyes like i'd never seen! I knew that deep down, that's what every mom aspired to be... absolutely comfortable in every aspect of her (very difficult) job, even though she could've really used a nap... and a cocktail. Her shiny dark hair and beautiful body were secondary to the amazing kindness and honesty radiating from her at all times.

Sitting at her kitchen table drinking wine and sharing stories as our kids played around us is something I'll always remember. She taught me so much by just being... and I definitely needed a reminder today. I spend so much of my life so caught up in the daily stresses... worrying about money constantly, working too much, playing too little... letting other people control my happiness, my perception of myself... its all so ridiculous. Negative thoughts and actions breed negativity, and I can't let any of that be a priority in my life for even a moment. Don't be angry over things you can't change, don't look in the mirror with sadness, just live and love and cut out all the rest of that noise. Thank you, Danelle, for reminding me to enjoy life in its entirety... to love myself as much as you do. I'm going to work hard to keep this love and light flowing.

Love yourself, love your life, and dammit... do it now.

"Walk In Love" - A photo of my new friend Jen, who will be introducing me into the world of "polistic" living- which is described on her Facebook as "Holistic Health with a Spin" She is a "Holistic Health Coach with An Emphasis on Pole Fitness & Juicing" I'm so thrilled to have an opportunity to try out something fun and new in a time when I'm really completely focused on me, my life, and what's really important... I'm excited to see what all this is about!!

Here's to being happy, healthy, and loving life... <3

My Thoughts on Health Care Reform

I've been hesitant to talk about my stance on health care reform. While its something I feel so very passionate about, its a can of worms I haven't wanted to open. Everyone's got an opinion on it, and I certainly don't have the time to take on changing anyone's mind here.

What I will say is that I have a story, and its been ongoing for many years. Growing up with a single parent, I was covered by my state's Medicaid program which took very good care of me. I could see a doctor, get a prescription, or even visit the hospital for very little cost. This program is available for my daughter, and I am happy to take full advantage of it for as long as my income level will allow. As a single parent, I am so grateful that this program exists.

Its not that I can't afford health insurance, its that I place more importance on other things in my life. I know that's why so many people jump to say "well that's your fault then" but really... I'd rather be able to have the money in my checking account to buy my daughter new shoes or to grab a box of tampons. I'm not so poor that I can't afford to have insurance, I just can't afford anything else on top of it because its simply not in the budget. I, like many Americans (not just single moms) am tightly budgeted in order to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. And by comfortable I don't mean $20 shampoo and organic milk, I mean "the electric will stay on this month and we're going to downgrade the cable for a little while but we're making it, kiddo!" If you choose to say that I'm irresponsible for this, I invite you to trade places for a bit. Come over here and check out this balancing act... if you're not convinced, you can kindly screw yourself... its hard work.

Its so frustrating for me to hear friends of mine talk about health care reform because 9 times out of 10 the people who are the biggest objectors are those that have never prayed for Tuesday to come so they could wait in line at the free clinic to get antibiotics they desperately needed LAST Tuesday. Its a bullshit system, but I'll never be one to knock it because its the only option for so many people.

My income level meets the requirements to receive state food/housing assistance but I choose not to take it simply because I don't feel like I need it. If I can afford to have cable, I can afford to pay for my own groceries. We simply can't afford to look at healthcare the same way. It should be every person's right to be properly treated and receive the same good quality care regardless of income level. Spend some time in the local health unit waiting room and tell me that its not necessary to have adequate coverage for all people. Talk to me about how you propose we get people who can't otherwise afford the level of care they deserve treatment to help them live better and longer... no one has a magic fix here, but public health care is and has been working in other countries, why are we so afraid it won't work here?

It all comes down to money, and that's such a damn shame. Its been said time and time again that we'll build a terrible system in which doctors have no motivation to treat patients well, and that's simply not true. We're spending so much time fighting over who's right and wrong, would we still be fighting about this if no one was making money off of either solution? Do we really place such a high value on money that we're comfortable admitting we care more about the financial implications of this change than we do fair and even care for all people? Why are we only focusing on money and not considering the most important aspect of the whole fight: how do we make sure that every American can receive quality care?

Long story very short, I suffer from chronic back pain and at the age of 25, find myself incapable of standing or sitting for long periods of time at least once or twice a month. Instead of undergoing the disc repair programs outlined by numerous chiropractors, or surgery recommended by my doctor, I depend on muscle relaxers, pain medications, and Cortizone shots to make it through the rough patches. Its absolutely no way to live, but I'm lucky in that my pain level is manageable most of the time. I cannot be treated for this problem since I don't have insurance which means I have to be very creative in how I go about pain management. Its not ideal, but I can't afford for this to become a pre-existing condition before I get decent insurance.

The frustration of having to deal with constant pain and no permanent or affordable solution only makes it harder to get well. I'm not saying that I know for certain that the current administration's proposed changes would make it better, but hell, something's gotta give here. I'm frustrated and discouraged by the state of things, and I truly believe that all Americans deserve affordable, quality health care without the worry of pre-existing conditions and high deductibles. I'm watching anxiously to see how everything unfolds, because I need to have hope that at some point I can walk into a doctor's office and receive a real solution.

We need this change, and we've got to make it happen.