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Archive for May, 2011

Some advice I frequently dish out to others is, ‘You can’t help others until you help yourself.‘  I also enjoy saying, ‘Even great things are best in moderation.’

I realized recently (like uh, today) that I need to stop being such a hypocrite and start taking my own advice once in awhile. I preach to others when they’re having a bad day that happiness is a choice, and you cannot depend on any other person (partner, children, best friend, whoever) for your happiness or well being. It’s just not their job, it’s yours!

…I sure as hell ain’t practicing my preaching…

What stinks about this philosophy on happiness is that it forces you (and right now, me) to acknowledge that in fact you are the only one to blame, and not all of the things/people/situations you’ve been complaining about.

Things turn out best for those who make the best of how things turn out.

Here’s how things have turned out for me over the past year and a half-ish: being pregnant at a “young” age (21), I went from a plethora of friends & acquaintances to choose from to ZERO (besides my boyfriend who was very, very supportive). Turns out they were a bunch of shallow people who dropped me like a hot potato because they had better things to do than stay friends with some boring mom. Even my best and closest friends got “busy” and stopped answering their phones. Hurtful, but I was convinced I would acquire a new circle soon enough. I still hadn’t accomplished this (or even one new friend) at the time when we decided to move our new family and 4 month old baby girl out of the city of Chicago, and into a house in a near-ish-by suburb. I’m now a happy stay at home mom (besides designing & writing all of the marketing materials for our company), but I’ve been here for over 8 months now and STILL my closest friend (who I am eternally grateful for, by the way) lives 6 hours away in Missouri where I grew up.

My current socialization and interaction with the world in and outside the walls of my home consists of:

  • reading Twitter, Facebook and the news
  • talking to my far-away family members & ONE friend over the phone
  • one-sided conversations with my 13 month old daughter
  • talking to my boyfriend
  • and myself – sometimes – (I hear it’s healthy!).

As a result, my happiness meter has been dragging on the lower half, and making me sensitive, irritable and sometimes angry (for no apparent reason!)… and worst of all jealous of my partner who has a job, friends, and a life outside our home to keep busy with. He has the majority use of our shared car, and can just leave when he needs/wants to – no logistical issues or restraints.

Things have turned out this way for me for better or for worse, and starting today I need to begin making the best of it. Instead of being jealous, I need to choose to find my own happiness.

Here’s the thing: I really do love being at home with my family! Very, very much! My daughter’s antics can manage to make me smile even in the most dire situations, and a supportive hug from my love can melt away the most stressful days. They are both really, really awesome to have around.

The problem goes back to one of my favorite euphemisms, even good things are best in moderation. So, I need to:

  • find a way to give myself some breaks, or just get away every once in awhile.
  • Have some pieces of life that are all my own.
  • resolve to be pro-active about finding some friends and mom-support (they aren’t going to come knocking on my door).
  • start taking better care of myself (particularly my emotional needs) so I can take care of my family!

Although I’m not sure where to start on it all, I think a good place to begin is with some resolutions that are all about ME. I resolve to use my blog as my outlet and write at least once per week (although I’d like to really double that)! I get so distracted with what turns out to be nothing, and neglect the one thing that always centers and organizes my thoughts: WRITING! 

I don’t care if I only have 3 people who ever read my blog, this is for me and about me, and I think it’s good for me. So if you’re one of my tiny handful of readers, stay tuned because there’s lots more to come!

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I have long had a love/hate relationship with the state of Missouri.

I spent my entire life and childhood there until I jumped ship and moved to Chicago for college in ’07, and definitely did not look back. It was good riddance as far as I was concerned. It was just a bunch of boring towns with boring people leading boring lives. I needed some more excitement in my life that I didn’t believe Missouri could offer me.

My roots are in Missouri though, and it’s impossible to rip them out because they’ve grown too deep. I am back here right now helping a friend (who I’ve had since high school) take care of her 2 kids while she recovers from surgery. Being in my hometown always gets memories flowing and encourages reflection on my life as a whole story.

Over the years I’ve bought into a lot of the stereotypes surrounding my home state (the hicks, general boring-ness, conservatives living in a Midwest bubble, etc), but then again, I’m constantly proven wrong.

Adjectives that can describe other (more “romanticized”) states like ‘majestic’, ‘breath-taking’, and ‘awe-inspiring’ are not typical of Missouri… But while I was here this week I realized what I love about this place: it’s quiet, simplistic beauty. Some other more glamorized places you can just drive by in your car and see the greatness of the landscape, like the mountains of Colorado or the beaches in Florida; Missouri’s beauty on the other hand requires a closer look. Getting out of the car is definitely a necessity, and looking up close is the golden rule.

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(pictures I took from my last trip here ^ )

Missouri IS a majestic, breath-taking & sometimes awe-inspiring place… It is rich in history, culture, people, and simplistic beauty. It’s a place I feel good to have come from, and a place I’m proud to share with my daughter when I begin to teach her life-lessons (…like all that glitters is not gold).

I guess I’ve finally made peace with Missouri. My appreciation has been growing… I don’t ever picture myself living here again, but visiting will always feel like coming home for a much-needed reunion.

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Glamour magazine launched their Tell Somebody campaign today to raise awareness and help end relationship violence in America… which kills 4 women a day. It’s definitely no laughing matter.

I am somebody who has seen relationship violence very up close and personal. Fortunately, I have never been a victim. But my mother was, and I witnessed a cycle of violence that ebbed and flowed throughout their 21 year marriage. As a kid, I didn’t even know it was “wrong,” it was just a fact. Just like I brush my teeth – dad hits/pushes/punches/scratches mom when they fight.

I only have one clear memory of my father being affectionate to my mother, and it really stuck with me because what kid doesn’t want to see their parents happy together? I was about 8, and the night before he had pushed her into the wall and scrapped up her back. The next day he came home from work with a bouquet of flowers, and I watched from the living room as he gave them to her in the kitchen and apologized with what always looked like genuine regret. It was not the first (and wouldn’t be the last) time she forgave him.

On May 6th, 2002, the fight started suddenly, and ended violently. It happened in front of all of my brothers and I, and the more we screamed and protested the worse it got. She was on the floor while was punching, kicking, yelling and even spitting. My oldest brother stepped in between to finally end the scene.

Later that night, while I was hiding in my room, the doorbell rang and a police officer asked to come inside. My mom’s best friend who lived halfway across the country had taken the liberty of calling the police, since my mother would not.

My dad spent the next 24 hours in jail, and the next 10 months living in an apartment across town. In those 10 months he never spoke to me even once. I would see him in passing while we dropped off and picked up my brothers from play dates with him and at their sporting events, but he never talked to me. I’ve never to this day asked him why.

At the end of that 10 months, I came home from a friend’s house one evening to find my dad at home again, my parents drinking wine at on the couch with the candles lit. Things just went back to the way they had been before. Again.

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Relationship violence isn’t something you can simply tell somebody about and things will get better. It can be harder to kick and more damaging than a drug addiction. Stopping relationship violence isn’t only about saying something, but it’s so much more complicated. Who do you say something to? What do you say? Of course the problem lies with the abuser, but in most (not all) cases of domestic violence the victim is not a captive audience; they could leave but choose not to. Why? Of course there’s not only one answer. They feel like it’s what they deserve, or because they think it would be too difficult on the kids, they believe they are in love with their abuser, or they believe nobody else would have them.

I have witnessed relationship violence in several friendships, and even lost one very close friend because I expressed to her that I was worried for her, and pressured her to ditch him. They are still together.

So if telling the police fails, and telling the victim fails, then what do you do?

The hardest realization for me was that there wasn’t much I could do except continue loving them. I still love my friend that I lost, and I didn’t hold any grudges against my mom for going back to my dad. I supported her, and waited.

I left for college in 2007 and moved to Chicago, far far away from the troubles at my childhood home… but not so far away I couldn’t go back. I’d been living on my own there for about 4 months when my mom called me very, very late one evening. She said she was done, she was leaving and not coming back this time.

I didn’t tell her good job or how proud I was of her like I had in the past. I told her the truth: that’s bullshit. I said I’ve heard it before and I’ll believe it when I see it.

Three days later she called me as I was leaving my job and dropped a bomb on me: she was in the car with all of the kids and all of the furniture, driving 4 hours to a house near her sister that she was able to rent. I  had no idea if I should laugh or cry.

One year later the divorce papers were signed officially, and these days my mom is living in a house she owns, working full time, has friends who come over, and she’s even had a boyfriend! I’ve never seen her so happy, free and full of life.

The lesson I learned in my encounters with relationship violence is that it’s not about who you tell. In a “perfect” world we should be able to point out this enormous error in judgment to victims and they would simply free themselves.

Unfortunately, only the victim can end the violence. 

If you are fed up with a friend or loved one who is in an abusive relationship, don’t give up on them. Don’t belittle them, and don’t assume they are unintelligent or inferior, for they are not. Instead:

Support them, love them, and don’t be a fair weathered friend. 

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If you haven’t already, go read a little about me so you know where I’m coming from. Or just keep reading and figure it out as you go… think of it like a puzzle, where the finished image is… my face.

This is my first post on wordpress, but not my first blog post by FAR. Hell, I had an original Xanga! I’ve been blogging since I was 12, and I started keeping a written journal at age 9. Yeah, you read that right.. I even still have it! I was writing about playdates, climbing trees, hating chores and the neighborhood kids; while it was kind of uninteresting, I’m pretty proud I had few spelling errors, my handwriting was legible, and I was dedicated enough to keep it going for over 8 months.

Wow, I digress. So, as I was saying, this is my first post on here after switching to wordpress from blogspot. I’m contemplating if I should transfer the posts from my blogspot over here, or if that’s just blogger-cheating. Is it? I have no idea. The thing is, I have been religiously putting updates on my blogspot about my daughter’s unfolding health mystery for interested friends and family… I suppose I could continue doing that for them, but do my own thing on here (brainstorming out loud, sorry). I’ll just wing it.

Since I am on the subject (and I’m leaning towards not transferring my old posts and just starting fresh on here) I’ll just explain briefly about my daughter, because I’m positive I’m going to bring this up again.

Here we go: Rea turned 1 year this past weekend. She has not grown in weight, height or head circumference since she was 5 months old (and yes, her diet is wonderful).We’ve done a bunch of tests to see why her growth has stopped, but no answers as of yet. We are seeing a Geneticist next week, and have an appointment with an Endocrinologist in July if we don’t find an answer with the geneticist. The end.

Alright this is already longer than I planned, I’m gonna stop now :D

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