26 September 2016

Currently in September...



CURRENTLY WATCHING

So much good TV! The premier of ‘This Is Us’ happened last week and in a nutshell, I was hooked. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this show can deliver on all the hype that’s been billed for it. Another show I’ve really loved is ‘Better Late Than Never.’ Picture this: George Forman, Terry Bradshaw, Henry Winker and William Shatner travel Asia together and basically are a hot freaking mess. You guys, when I say that this show made me cry because I was laughing so hard, I mean it. It’s absolute hilarity. The season finale was last week but I read somewhere online that they plan to air re-runs so if you’re able, watch them. You can thank me later.


CURRENTLY READING

Nada. No, that’s not the name of the book. That would be me not reading anything for about two months now. I really do love books and need to be better about scheduling some page time.


CURRENTLY TIRED OF

Whiny women in Facebook groups. #sorrynotsorry. Here’s some honest talk to digest with your coffee this Monday morning: No one forces you to sign up for a voluntary blog group. If you don’t like the results you’re getting, leave. It’s really that simple, but to constantly gripe, whine and make it miserable for everyone else to be in said group? Girl, ain’t nobody got time for that.


CURRENTLY EATING

Less meat. In an effort to switch up my meals and attempted lifestyle changes, I’ve taken to eating more fruits and veggies and less meat. I’ve always loved veggies and they are so versatile in cooking that it makes it easy for me to make the switch. Don’t get me wrong, though. I’ll still totally enjoy a tasty steak from time to time. That’s a love affair that will never die.


CURRENTLY PREPARING FOR

Our first Rosh Hashanah dinner in October! I’m super excited for this. Michael is Jewish and although he’s not a practicing Jew, it’s still important to us both that Maddy knows her roots. One of the doctors in my office is Jewish and in talking it over with her, she offered for us to join her family for Rosh Hashanah dinner in October. Aside from Maddy, I’m super excited to learn more about the Jewish faith. I hope that moving forward, we can incorporate more Jewish traditions in our own home.


CURRENTLY PLANNING

Lots and lots of great fall activities! Pumpkin farms, corn mazes, hayrides, pumpkin carvings, Halloween, all of it. BRING. IT. ON. This Halloween should be pretty interesting. Maddy decided a few months ago that she wants our family to dress up as the PJ Masks for Halloween; she will be Owlet, I’m Gecko and daddy is Cat Boy. It’s easy to find a kid’s Owlet costume but grown up Gecko and Cat Boy? Not so much. This should be pretty interesting!


CURRENT VACATION CRUSHES

I 100% blame House Hunters International for this but I would really L O V E to go to Italy. So much history, so much beauty, so much food, so much wine…


CURRENT FAVORITE QUOTE






CURRENT FAVORITE JAMS

Lately, I’ve really enjoyed delving back into my alternative music; My Morning Jacket, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, STP, Foo Fighters and Green Day have all been on repeat. It’s also interesting to see which bands Maddy likes as well. She definitely has a love of music like her father and I so I’m always excited to introduce her to new bands and watch her reaction. She loves to ask, “Mama, can we listen to that flow song?” meaning, Evenflow. What’s even more surreal is that I was in high school when that song came out and now I have a kid who likes it as well. Too crazy.


CURRENTLY LOVING

My Vols! This weekend, my boys pulled out the biggest and most amazing comeback win over our rival, Florida and it was nothing short of freaking fantastic. If you’re a Florida fan reading this well, um, #sorrynotsorry. This win was 11 painful years overdue and man did they deliver in the end. This team has so much heart, determination and character which truly exemplifies the Tennessee spirit. I love them. I simply L O V E my boys!


So tell me – what’s currently going on in your world this month? 

21 September 2016

6 Things I Dislike In My 40's (That I Never Thought I Would)

Today, a co-worker of mine is celebrating his 26th birthday.


Oh 26, I remember you; the single, child-free life, being able to party all night AND go to work the next day with no problems, minimal bills and responsibility, being able to eat what I wanted without the weight gain, and fewer dark circles and bags under my eyes.


When I was 26 and thought of my life moving forward, I swore up and down that I would be the coolest “old” person around. Scratch that – I would be the coolest older mom around. I vowed to always do my hair and makeup to the nines each day, party like a rock star and never, and I mean never, wear any type of pants with an elastic waistband or one’s made out of stretchy material.


Today at 40, it’s safe to say that I’ve managed to not keep a single one of those promises and honestly, I’ve probably acted far older at times. Even though I promised myself and swore I would never age, I find myself disliking certain things that I enjoyed even five to ten years ago.


When I was 26 and thought of my life moving forward, I swore up and down that I would be the coolest “old” person around. Scratch that – I would be the coolest older mom around. I vowed to always do my hair and makeup to the nines each day, party like a rock star and never, and I mean never, wear any type of pants with an elastic waistband or one’s made out of stretchy material. Today at 40, it’s safe to say that I’ve managed to not keep a single one of those promises and honestly, I’ve probably acted far older at times. Even though I promised myself and swore I would never age, I find myself disliking certain things that I enjoyed even five to ten years ago.



Loud Music. Back in the day, the only way I would listen to my music is if it was turned up and LOUD. So much so, that my parents would yell at me for making the floor underneath them shake. Fast-forward to 40 and I’m totally that old hag screaming, “Turn that music down!” to the kids in the neighborhood and to my own daughter.


Partying All Night Long. I went to college. Been there, done that, and got the t-shirt. Nowadays? No. I enjoy an occasional night out or a break from the ordinary but honestly, I would much rather be curled up in my pj’s watching re-runs of Friends or House Hunters. I have zero desire to be jammed into a bar like a sardine with 50 bazillion drunks while having to sell my plasma to afford drinks. The old Courtney would be flabbergasted. You know the only thing Courtney wants to do all night long now? SLEEP. That’s it.


Clothes Shopping. When I was younger, there was nothing I loved to do more than spending a Saturday at the mall. I would spend hours there, perusing every store and trying on a million and one different outfits. Old Courtney, however, would rather scoop her eyes out with a spoon than to go clothes shopping. When I think of all the money I blew on clothes back in the day, it literally makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little. I don’t care what you say, 24-year-old Courtney – you didn’t need that beret and those hammer pants.


Sleeping on the Floor or on Someone’s Sofa. When you’re in your teens, twenties and maybe even into your thirties, crashing on someone’s sofa is no big deal. You need somewhere to pass out and it’s just as good a place as any, no big deal. You get a great night’s sleep and wake up feeling as fresh as the morning dew. Old Courtney refuses to do this. Old Courtney has a home she pays far too much for in rent every month that has a bed with an amazing Tempurpedic mattress calling her name. I’m a grown ass woman.


Poor Fitting Bras. When I was younger, I was never very fussy about my bras and whether or not they fit properly. If Vicky Secrets was having a sale, I was there. The only problem? Back in the day, it was very hard to find a good fitting bra at VS. I’m a 40DDD (no, that’s not a typo) and at the time, I think the highest bra size available was around a 36 D, if that. I didn’t care. I was going to stuff my girls in those little cups come hell or high water because damnit – it’s Victoria’s Secrets and it’s on sale. Nowadays, I’m happy to spend half the money for my uber old lady bras at JC Penny’s and Belk’s that fit perfectly.


Girl Scout Cookies. Now, before you grab your pitchforks and ask what the hell is wrong with me, let me explain… Back in the day, I used to work for the Girl Scouts. One of the benefits of working for the organization is that there are always tons of boxes of cookies sitting around the office. You pretty much have free reign to gorge yourself silly, which I did. If I never had another Thin Mint or Samoa cookie in my life, I’d be perfectly fine. 

How about you? What are some things you’ve grown to dislike as you’ve gotten older? 

19 September 2016

Friendships: You Gotta Know When To Hold'em, Know When To Fold'em

Now that I’m 40, I’ve reached a point in my life where it’s really about quality over quantity and while yes, if you’re a true friend to someone, you make the effort to work things out, but at what cost? For me, when certain lines are crossed, there’s just no easy way to bounce back and truthfully, sometimes you shouldn’t. Sometimes certain people are a liability instead of an asset. If a person has the ability to drain you, turn on you in a heartbeat or put little to no effort into nurturing your relationship, it’s time to move on because honestly, ain’t nobody got time for that kind of drama. In return, there are people out there who are worth your time, your efforts, your personal stories, your trust and your love. I refuse to settle for anything less than what I know I deserve in a friendship, and you shouldn’t either. It’s worth the time to be selective.


I’m not a huge Kenny Rogers fan. I may proudly have southern roots but country music and I do not get along. Having said this, I believe Kenny got life right in so many ways with the song, ‘The Gambler.’ With most circumstances in life whether it be love, money or jobs, you got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, know when to run. Let’s take friendships for instance…


Friendships are hard. REALLY hard.  I think in some ways they are more complex and challenging than our personal relationships with significant others, especially if said friendships live far away. Throw kids, jobs and other responsibilities into the mix, and at times, maintaining friendships can be downright tiring. Having children, albeit an amazing journey, is also the massacre of one’s social life. It’s the nasty truth of parenting no one wants to admit but it’s true. Raising kids is a full-time job, often resulting in most everything else being put off to the side. I’ve often talked about being more than just a mom and I believe this declaration to be true but at the end of the day, when you’re exhausted, drained and running on fumes, it’s hard to be one more thing to one more person when you’ve given of yourself all day long. Sometimes it’s difficult to be more…especially a friend.


This is why I say friendships are hard. Just like any other relationship, they require constant attention and nurturing and just like any other type of relationship, friendships go through seasons of highs, lows, maintaining and well, sometimes they simply fall apart. Lifestyle changes, personality changes and a general forming of dislike for a friend (it happens), have a huge part to play in the longevity of a friendship. Sometimes friendships simply run their course with no rhyme or reason as to why the relationship comes to an end.


And this is the category I’ve fallen into lately.


Last week, I said adios to a friend I've had for 11 years. To be perfectly honest, this friendship had turned into more of an acquaintance over the years. I hadn't physically talked to her since 2011. She and I shared many lunches, dinners and girl’s night outs together. She helped Michael and I register when we found out Maddy was a girl. We shared secrets, opinions and gossip like most girlfriends do. When I went through my divorce in 2009, she was with me every step of the way to show support and love. Then in 2012, our family moved cross-country. Different time zones, different lives, and everything I mentioned above played a factor in the distance that grew between us. Sure, we kept in touch via Facebook and IG with the occasional post ‘like,’ comment or double tap on an IG picture but as far as genuine interaction on a regular basis? There was none. She has a daughter, a full-time job and a life just like I do. While I missed her friendship in my life, I chalked it up to distance and time taking its toll. It was no one’s fault. It’s simply what happens sometimes when two friends live so far apart – you grow apart. It’s the reality of the situation. So we carried on, business as usual, maintaining our casual social media friendship online…until this past Sunday.


I posted a comment about remembering September 11th to which she counter-argued in a rather attacking way and from there, our conversation went downhill. Over the process of two hours, the final remains of our friendship unraveled. During this time, I was called a liar, a hypocrite and self-centered. At that point, two things became very clear to me: One - she was no longer a friend of mine and two - for whatever reason that is still unknown to me because we haven’t talked (she dropped me as a “friend” from all our shared social media accounts), she has been holding a grudge towards me for quite some time and used my post as the perfect opportunity to lash out at me. At first, I was shocked. In no way would I have ever expected to be treated in such a manner by someone who considered me a friend and vice versa. As my shock wore off, I quickly became angry. Angry at the lack of respect. Angry that she decided to use a public forum to air grievances instead of talking to me privately. Angry that after all we’ve been through together, that’s the way it all went down. In an instant, whatever type of friendship we had left was gone.


Then the most interesting thing happened…


I woke up the next morning not really giving a damn about what had happened the night before. I truly didn’t. This feeling was further solidified when I checked my IG account that morning and realized that home girl had decided to unfriend me and then decided to take the time to look me up to see what I was up to. I only know this because the stories function tells you who viewed them. At that point it all became incredibly laughable and sad to me. Really. Who does that?? It was then I realized that if this was the type of “friend” she had become, I was better off being down one more person in my life. And you know what?


I’m totally fine with that because here’s the honest, harsh truth about friendships…



  
As I’ve gotten older, my propensity to deal with trifling bullshit is at an all-time low. I simply don’t have the time, energy or need to deal with people who bring nothing but drama to the table. I get tired of constantly hearing, “Let’s get together soon!,” or "We really should plan that play date. I'd love to catch up!" and the never-ending, "Let me check my calendar and I'll get back to you." without ever seeing a date actually show it's face on the calendar. I grow weary of extending myself to others both in time and in feelings to only feel like I have to literally beg the other person to share something a little deeper than what I see on social media. Your witty comments, pics of the kids and occasional glee over Gilmore Girls is cool but I want authentic and real relationships. With all the buzz you hear about fostering and extending community these days, it would seem that other people are craving the same things.


Except, they’re not.


The truth is that most people want someone who will make them feel better. They want the friend who will tell them, “You look great! Why are you worried about your weight?” instead of the friend who will be honest and say, “Hey, I care about your health. What’s going on?” They want the friend who can gush about the latest gossip, trendiest clothes and the latest must have drink at Starbucks. They want someone to tell them they aren’t fat, that they’re a great mom and that everything they do is perfect. For many, many years, I’ve been surrounded by well-meaning people who really only desired a superficial friendship all the while, my heart wanted so much more; it craved the dirty and complicated parts of life. It wanted the raw, the mess, the good and the bad. It wants real. Between work, life, kid, and that silly little thing called sleep that we all need, who has the time to actually go through the long, awkward process of developing a new friendship? Especially one that is half-hearted to begin with or one that gives you nothing in return by way of support, understanding and true acceptance? No thanks. And let’s be even more honest – don’t most of us have more acquaintances than friends anyway? I know I do. The title “friend” gets thrown around far too easily these days.


Now that I’m 40, I’ve reached a point in my life where it’s really about quality over quantity and while yes, if you’re a true friend to someone, you make the effort to work things out, but at what cost? For me, when certain lines are crossed, there’s just no easy way to bounce back and truthfully, sometimes you shouldn’t. Sometimes certain people are a liability instead of an asset. If a person has the ability to drain you, turn on you in a heartbeat or put little to no effort into nurturing your relationship, it’s time to move on because honestly, ain’t nobody got time for that kind of drama. In return, there are people out there who are worth your time, your efforts, your personal stories, your trust and your love. I refuse to settle for anything less than what I know I deserve in a friendship, and you shouldn’t either. It’s worth the time to be selective.


You got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.


16 September 2016

Five Simple & Effective Tips For New Bloggers

Lately, I've been contacted by a few people to get my advice and input on how to start a successful blog. Thinking back on my own journey, it reminded me how good information is hard to find on this topic so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. While I know that the blogging world is "What works for one doesn't work for all," I think these tid-bits of advice are solid building blocks of a good foundation for any new blogger to consider.


I've been blogging for almost five years now and while it has been fun and a great outlet for my creativity and writing, blogging hasn't always come easy for me.


To be honest, when I first started blogging, it actually felt very overwhelming; what do I talk about? Does anyone really care about what I have to say? How do I keep it interesting? What in the heck am I doing??!! All of these questions and more have a way of making an OCD girl like myself go crazy!


Sure, I googled things like "blogging advice" and "blogging tips" to help me get started on my journey and while I found a couple of great resources, ninety percent of it was...well...crap. Mostly because the people giving the advice had never even owned/operated or done a blog themselves. #blindleadingtheblind


Lately, I've been contacted by a few people to get my advice and input on how to start a successful blog. Thinking back on my own journey, it reminded me how good information is hard to find on this topic so I thought I'd throw in my two cents. While I know that the blogging world is "What works for one doesn't work for all," I think these tid-bits of advice are solid building blocks of a good foundation for any new blogger to consider. 


ONE. Determine Your Niche. This may very well be the hardest part about developing your blog and honestly, it may be something that takes form over time as you find the issues and topics that interest you so don't worry - IT'S OKAY IF IT TAKES TIME TO FIGURE IT OUT. The important thing is to try. The only way you're ever going to find out what suits you is to get writing. Think about the things in your life that are important to you - the things you are passionate about. Do you have a child with special needs and want to inspire/encourage/uplift other special needs parents? Are you a crafting goddess wanting to share your talents with others? Are you a chef who wants to focus solely on a cooking blog? Whatever it may be, find out what your strengths/passions/interests are and decide from there how you want to share it with the masses. 


TWO. Content. Content is king, bottom line. You will read a lot about the importance of phenomenal blog design in correspondence to the success of a blog but let's get real - no one goes to a blog page to look at the graphics. They are going to your blog for the content, end of story. If people are visiting your blog, they want to know what it is that you have to say and how your content can either improve/inspire them or make them think. The point of a blog is the writing. Yes, you can spend hundreds or even thousands on a flashy and trendy blog page but in the end, if your content is weak, it doesn't matter how you dress it because your visitors won't care long enough to stay on your page or return for future visits. Both Blogger and WordPress have excellent generic blog templates to help get you started and really, until you find your sea legs, you don't need anything more. Remember - it's about the writing. 


So now that I've said this, I should tell you how to create amazing blog content, right? 


Wrong.


I'm not you. Only you can speak for you and only you know what makes you unique. That's why you want to start a blog, no? You have your own voice and that voice isn't mine and what I have to say isn't what you want to say. Anyone who says to you, "Here is the formula for great content" is either lying, or doesn't understand great content because they have never produced it themselves. The one thing I can tell you is this - I've often found that my best blog content happens when I'm coming from a place of complete and total honesty and writing from my heart. You have to go into blogging with the understanding and acceptance that what you have to say may very well not resonate with everyone and you will have people that will always disagree with your opinions but at the end of the day as long as you stay true to yourself and your content, that's all that matters.


Do you. Plain and simple. 


THREE. Reach Out & Connect. As you find other blogs that strike your fancy, don't be afraid to speak up on comments and get involved in conversations. I've met some pretty fantastic ladies simply by taking the initiative to become involved. And I'm not saying you have to spend hours upon hours doing this, but make the concerted effort to network and build honest, friendly relationships. You will meet some amazing women along the way and find friendships you never thought existed. And it will totally be worth it.


FOUR. Respond to Your Readers. It's just basic, common courtesy. If someone takes the time to actually read your content and then takes more time to comment, take a minute or two to thank them and respond in kind. This is how you build trust and relationships with your readers and it is *key* in keeping and growing your audience. Granted, life gets busy and sometimes it isn't always possible to reach out to every single reader, but try. Your readers will appreciate it and aren't they the reason you exist? 


FIVE. Proof Your Work. Nothing turns me off to a blog more than poor grammar, misspellings, and sloppy work. Sure, the occasional error is going to happen but unless your blog niche is being a hot mess, you will never gain any credibility or readers by being sloppy. Use the spell check option at the very least and do all your work with intent and pride. The image you're putting out into the world can be powerful - what does your work really say about you?


Good luck on your blogging journey! What things have you found to help you along the way as a new blogger?

14 September 2016

Last Night You Cried Yourself To Sleep...And I Didn't Care

As hard as it was at first to close your door and not go back to soothe you, I stood my ground. I did it because that’s real love. As your mother, I love you too much to tolerate anything less than what I know you have the ability to give.



Dear Maddy,

Let’s talk about what happened last night. Last night was rough, there’s no other way to say it. Lately, life with you, albeit amazing most of the time, has been trying. Kindergarten has brought so many wonderful things into our lives that I wouldn’t trade for the world but with it, have also come a few challenges in behavior that I would be happy to trade in a heartbeat.


Lately, the name of your game is ‘let’s test the boundaries!” This has been one of your favorite games for a while now and will continue to be moving forward – I realize and accept this – however, last night was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. You were mouthy. You talked back. You weren’t listening or doing anything your father and I asked you to do. You were being a smart ass.


You were being five and in being five, I’ve come to the conclusion that basically, you’re the equivalent of a walking, talking middle finger.


All evening you pushed, and pushed, and pushed… until I finally reached my limit. I lost my temper and became the hard ass. You lost bedtime privileges and when it was all said and done, you were laid to bed in a puddle of tears. As I closed the door to your bedroom, you looked up at me with those big, beautiful brown eyes and gave me a look as if to say, “Why are you doing this to me, mommy?”


In that instance, I felt an enormous amount of guilt and sadness over the way I reacted. For a moment, I started to second guess myself and my choices but then I remembered why I shouldn’t…


… Because first and foremost, I’m your mother and not your friend.


… Because it’s my job to raise you, not coddle you.


… Because it’s important that you understand right from wrong, respect and decency.


… Because you must understand that you are a part of this world, not that the world revolves around you.


… Because it’s my job as your parent to make sure you grow up to be a kind and thoughtful human-being and not an entitled, bratty little shit.


As hard as it was at first to close your door and not go back to soothe you, I stood my ground. I did it because that’s real love. As your mother, I love you too much to tolerate anything less than what I know you have the ability to give.




Maddy, I look at this picture of you and see so many of the amazing qualities I love about you: your confidence, your strong-willed tendencies, and your independence. All of these traits are going to be an asset to you as you grow up in this challenging world. I always want you to keep these qualities. These same qualities that drive me crazy at times are the same ones that will help you succeed when challenges come your way. Having said this, it’s learning how to harness and control them so they work to your benefit and not your detriment that’s key and this, my dear, is the delicate balance a parent always walks: giving you the opportunity to foster and enhance your fire while keeping it in check without crushing your soul in the process.


As I write this, it’s a new day. You woke up this morning with the biggest smile on your face and the very first words out of your mouth were, “Mommy, I’m sorry.” We sat for a while in your bed and hugged and all of the feelings from the night before washed away. Nights like last night won’t be the last time we hit some hard roadblocks, kiddo. Some days will be good and some days will be shit but even on the shitty days, I will love you and I always want you to remember this one thing…


I love you too much to tolerate anything less than what I know you have the ability to give.



Love always,
Mommy 

13 September 2016

Our Fall Bucket List

Adios summer and HELLO FALL!




You guys know I’m no fan of summer so it should come as no surprise that I’m already celebrating fall. Why, just this weekend the cinnamon pine cones made their annual debut. #noshameinmyfallgame. Since we are almost in the middle of September, it’s time to start planning all the fun that we will be having this fall season. Are you guys as excited about this as I am? I love everything about fall: cozy scarves. Fire pits. Thanksgiving. All things pumpkin. Corn mazes, pumpkin carving and homemade soups and baking. The smells, the weather and the leaves.


I love it all.





So you get the point. I L O V E fall. Having said all of this, here’s our 2016 fall bucket list o’ fun. Starting this weekend until Thanksgiving, we are going to celebrate all things fall. Operation L O V E fall is in full effect.


I love everything about fall: cozy scarves. Fire pits. Thanksgiving. All things pumpkin. Corn mazes, pumpkin carving and homemade soups and baking. The smells, the weather and the leaves. #fall #fallbucketlist #bucketlist

 What about you? What items do you have on your list to make it the best fall ever?