Category Archives: Sweetpea Manatee

The Cake is A Lie

the_cake_is_a_lie_515The cake is a lie. It isn’t even cake. It’s a vehicle to further solidify the truth I have created for myself right now, which is that I’m beyond saving. I’m too far gone. I’ve lost all of my motivation, slipped far from my health and fitness goals, and so now this is what I deserve. I deserve to eat a huge piece of cake, not because I’ll enjoy it but because the sugar will make me sluggish, and I’m not even that hungry, and it’s there so I might as well eat some, since that’s what I do.

And so I go to bed. Another day with too much sugar and not enough movement. Another night I’ve pushed myself to exhaustion before collapsing into bed to lie awake.

It’s become clear that my own well-being isn’t enough to motivate me out of this place. Not right now. And so instead, I’ll do it for her. Because I want to keep letting her spend one night a week in my bed, letting her believe it’s an indulgence for her when it’s just as much a treat for me. Because I want to feel alive and exhilarated and strong through every moment I get to spend with this fantastic kid. Because I want to have the energy to give her the attention she deserves in the precious few hours I get with her during the week. Because I want to keep up with her, challenge her, and teach her to own her own power.

20160523_174544For her, I’ll sleep more. I’ll hydrate more, move more, stretch more. I’ll do more yoga and meditation. I’ll stop mindlessly eating for punishment, for guilt, for boredom and sadness and stress and frustration and social ease. I’ll be mindful, purposeful, and honoring of this one body I have, that I get to share with the most amazing soul to ever walk this earth.

For her, I’ll recommit to my yoga practice, which does my heart and soul so much good.

For her, I’ll go back to Camp Gladiator in June, as planned. I’m scared to go back, terrified of the heat and the difficulty and returning after two months off. I’m worried I won’t be able to do it, that I’m so unfit that I won’t be able to finish the first workout, that the frustration will keep me from going back more than once, that I won’t go back at all. But I will. I promised her I’d go back, and so I’ll go. Because it makes me happier, healthier, better prepared to face the world with m very best.

It won’t be easy. I’m in such a rough spot that it’s going to take near-constant recommitting to my goals. I need to be prepared for gentleness, for patience, and for extra focus on being aware and in the moment as much as possible. But I have to remember I haven’t completely run out of sparks. I did do a half-marathon on an exercise bike to earn my first Hogwarts Running Club medal. (It’s awesome.)

It’s time. Summer is coming. My incredible kid is GRADUATING FROM FIRST GRADE. We’ve got a busy, fun summer ahead of us before starting a whole new school year. We’re looking at maybe moving, in the same area, but to somewhere a little closer to her school or a little closer to my office while still in the school district. My career is really shaping up beautifully, with a job I enjoy and work I am proud of. It’s time.

So help me out. Tell me how you climb out of a funk, what you do to get back on track, and how you handle setbacks in that process.

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And That’s How We Became Vegetarians

Her face was already crumpling as she came up the sidewalk to meet me. We barely made it into the empty cafeteria before she fell into my arms, a sobbing bundle of gangly arms and bruised legs, smelling of sweat and playground dirt.

I held her close with one hand, signing her out of the after-care program with the other. She sobbed it out for a minute before the words finally came, in heaving, hiccuping stutters. “They killed it.”

Oh baby. What happened?

“The boys. They killed a saddleback caterpillar.”

Honey, I’m so sorry.

“They had a ball. The kept throwing it at him and he died.”

Oh baby. I’m so sorry. That’s so unkind. But I think maybe the caterpillar didn’t suffer. He probably got squished fast, and didn’t feel anything at all.

“No, mommy.” Heave. Sob. Sniffle. “They hit him in the back first, and he curled up. And then…”

A shuddering lower lip. Eyes brimming over with barely controlled tears.

“They just kept throwing it.”

Oh, my love. I’m so sorry, baby.

“I told them to stop.”

I know you did, baby. That was a really good thing to do. Thank you for being so brave.

She cried a little more, the heaving slowing down and her breathing settling back to normal.

“Penny says that when she’s President, she’ll pass a law that no one can ever hurt animals.” She’s barely breaking a whisper against my shoulder now.

That would be nice, huh baby?

She nods, and then is quiet for a while.

“Mama, we have to kill animals to eat them.”

Yes baby. But when we do, it’s much kinder. They don’t get squished. They aren’t in pain.

“I don’t think I want to eat them anymore.”

Okay baby. Let’s be vegetarians for a while.

Finally, her tears began to dry and her little spirit lifted a little. By the time we got in the car, she’d moved on to a much lighter discussion of how anyone could be so awful, and why the boys didn’t make any sense to her. And that she wasn’t sure she would permanently stop eating bacon. (#iknowright)

So for now, we’re trying it out. Meat-free until she decides otherwise. And I know I could “cheat” and eat meat at work, but then I’d have to tell her. I tell her everything, and I promised her I’d do this with her. I’ll be packing pbj or cheese tortillas for her lunch every day so that she has a meatless entree option, and we’ll be talking about how she’s feeling, what she’s thinking…

I’ve never seen her take anything so hard. My sweet, tender-hearted, fragile little bean.

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In Which I Explain Catcalling to my Kid

Last week the kid had a dentist appointment, which meant we were done with work and school a little earlier than usual. Left with a couple of extra hours in the day, we headed to the library to return some books and pick out a few more. At which point I found myself in the decidedly irritating position of having to explain catcalling to my six year old.

A group of 20-something guys, 2 or 3 of them, were hanging out in the library parking lot smoking. Whether it was that or something else that set me a little on edge, I don’t know. But the moment I got out of the car it started.

Hey, beautiful.

Smile for me, pretty.

Hey, miss thing.

Hello? Come on mama.

I ignored it, wrapped her in my arms, and carried her into the library. Which isn’t something I’d normally do, but I already didn’t feel safe I guess. We got all the way through the doors before she said anything. She’s a perceptive kid.

Why were they saying that stuff, Mommy? Why didn’t they stop when you didn’t answer them? Why do they think you need to smile?

And there it was. Me, standing in a public library children’s section, explaining catcalling to my daughter. Explaining that it’s not about attraction or kindness, but about power. Explaining that men who can’t or won’t pick up on the cues that you’re uncomfortable are, for better or worse, something we have to be afraid of. Explaining that it’s happened to me for most of my life.

Will boys say things to me too like that?

Yes, honey. Probably.

Should I ignore them?

Mommy? What if they get angry because I won’t answer them?

What if they do? I had to admit it was a possibility. I told her I’ve generally had decent luck with ignoring catcalls, that it’s more than once brought on an onslaught of insults but I’ve been lucky enough to never come to harm.

Find a safe place, I told her. Go into a business. Stay where people are. Get on the phone and call the cops. Call me. Make noise. Be seen.

Protect yourself. You aren’t a prize to be won, an object to be controlled. You don’t owe anyone anything. You don’t owe strangers a smile, and you don’t have to be “polite” or make other people happy, particularly when they’re busy making you uncomfortable.

It was a necessary conversation, I guess, but one I never thought I’d be having with my elementary schooler. I guess it’s good that I did. She hasn’t talked about it again since. She needs to sit with things for a while. I’ll be interested to see, in a few days or weeks, what bubbles up.

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Equinox

And just like that, it’s fall. I find myself restarting my fitness plan for the third time in as many weeks. I started to feel bad about that, until I took a hard look at the last three weeks. More workouts, less crappy food, more produce, less stomach issues. So even if I never “follow through”, even if I never finish this the way it was intended to be done, I’m still doing awesome things and maintaining a significantly better lifestyle, much closer to my ideal health and wellness goals.

And what’s better? I’ve got the kid working out with me. She’s six, and she’s happily sweating and stretching and lifting at my side. She likes it. She asks when we’ll do it again. It’s awesome. Although I do, now, feel pressure to make sure she’s not hearing body shame in these videos, which is surprisingly (maybe not?) pervasive. I don’t want her hearing that you need to sweat off the pounds or work off the donut. That’s crap. We move because we’re meant to. We sweat because it helps us live and work and study in better moods, with more energy to give to the tasks at hand. I’m hoping that’s the lesson she’s learning, at least mostly. I know I can’t control outside influences forever, but I can try.

Speaking of the kid, she’s two weeks into the new school year at a new school, and overall she seems to be doing really well, which makes me happy. We really struggled with the decision to take her out of private school, but the cost was breaking us and it meant never being able to do other things–everything from buying much needed new mattresses and school clothes to seeing movies or going on vacation–without guilt and/or further financial distress. So we moved her to a public school…and she’s doing just fine. She’s bored in class, but she was bored at the private school too, so atleast we aren’t paying for her to be bored. And she’s getting the chance to meet a much more diverse group of kids, which can only be good for her. And seriously, the joy this kid finds in buying hot lunch from the cafeteria every day is amazing.

The husband, as always, is traveling a lot for work. He hates being away, but it comes with the job, so we spend a lot of time on Skype and phone calls and email to stay connected, and then we celebrate his very existence every weekend and on the ocassional day that he’s home during the week. It happens now and again.

So we’re doing well, all told. I’m stupid excited for pumpkin season. The kid and I are both looking forward to a repeat of our ComicCon costumes for Halloween, and we’re in the process of researching all sorts of cool after school options for her now that we actually have a tiny bit of money to put toward enrichment programs, karate class, swim lessons, or whatever else strikes her fancy this year.

I’m really glad it’s fall. I’m yearning for the Mid-Atlantic fall weather, with cool breezes and crisp leaves and that smell in the air. Instead, I get more muggy Florida days for at least another month, but I can still enjoy the fall. I know it makes no sense, but it has always felt like a time of renewal for me, and this year it feels particularly apt that it’s happening…because it’s time. It’s time for a sloughing off of old habits and old thoughts, and turning toward some shiny new ones. It’s time to recommit myself to all the love I have around me, to giving and receiving it, to being grateful for it on a regular basis. When I focus on love–for myself, for others…it hardly matters which–everything else tends to fall more simply into place, and the world seems gentler around me. And that’s what I’m aiming for in the end. A life that feels at times thrilling, but more often than not just gentle. At ease with it’s own existence. Full of possibilities but striving for nothing more than simply being in the moment, the here and now.

Writing feels good, particularly now. I’m determined, among the swim lessons and school events and work crazies, to start making a little more time to write again. I have a partially finished, potentially wonderful story sitting on my computer breathlessly awaiting completion, and I have this blog, that has been the portal to so many meaningful connections in my life.

Thanks for being here.

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Six

Oh my little monkey. You’re six. How? It snuck up on me this year, and even though your birthday was 17 days ago I still find myself a little surprised by it.

You’re six, and less than two weeks away from graduating from kindergarten. You’re funny and silly and super smart.

You LOVE space, like more than I ever could have imagined. You love dinosaurs and the pool, wearing your blue sparkly dress, and having ‘cinnamon bun’ hair. You like when I let you wear a little eyeshadow, and you love playing LEGO Star Wars with your Dad.

You’re kind to other people, and so sweet with our old lady dog. You help around the house, almost always without complaining. You feed the dog for me every day, and even though you hate getting in the shower, you sing the whole time you’re in there.

You love to ask question, and you process the answers in your own time. You like to surprise me by talking through something days or even weeks after you first brought it up.

Right now, you’re keeping a science journal to keep track of your sea monkeys (alien eggs!) and the coral you want to grow next weekend. You’re a great plant mommy to the bean plant you brought home from school, and you’re excited to plant your new rosemary seeds.

At school dress-up day you chose an offbeat character (Dwight from Origami Yoda) and had an awesome time with your own little origami Yoda. You were so kind about it when you saw the one mommy made for you. It didn’t look quite right, but you said it was awesome, and it made me feel pretty awesome. Speaking of Origami Yoda, you love those books SO MUCH. We’re reading the whole series and having a great time.

My girl – you are patient and kind, loving and giving. You like to help others and you love to learn. You are confused by other people being unkind, and you’re super shy in front of strangers. I love every one of those things about you. I love the color of your hair and the particular shade of your eyes. I love the way your body moves and the faces you make when no one else is looking. I love the complexity of your emotions and how careful you are in doling out your affection–affection from you may be hard won for anyone other than me and your Dad, but it’s so worthwhile for the people you choose to bestow it on.

It’s just me and you a lot of the time, kid. I love that you aren’t afraid to talk through it when you miss your Dad a whole lot. I love that we can hang out and have Mommy/Daughter time together and I have genuine fun.

I’m so lucky to have you, and I cannot wait to see what amazing things this new year brings.

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What Groot Taught Me About Christmas

GrootEvi asked for a giant stuffed Groot. I didn’t think much of it because I knew we’d be able to find one. So when we were a week out and I started looking…I was unpleasantly shocked to discover that big huggable Groot is not a thing.

So I decided to make one.

Me. Not a crafter. Not even a little crafty. But I was determined. I started three nights before Christmas, and I FINISHED HIM! He’s adorable but looks nothing like the “real” Groot. He has dried superglue on his head, a floppy neck, and big button eyes. His mouth was drawn with a Sharpie and his hands are shaped all weird. His stuffing is somehow seeping out of the fabric in tiny little bits. He’s far from perfect. I was worried she’d think he was weird or silly or stupid. I was worried she wouldn’t like him.

I worried for nothing. My sweet girl was so grateful. She still hasn’t put him down. She’s thanked me for him a million times and declared that he doesn’t look like the real Groot, he looks BETTER! She says he’s wonderful and unique (just like me, she says!) and it makes my heart lighter.

And then…it got so much better. She paused mid-stocking opening, leaving all those shiny gifts untouched, because she wanted to put together her Lego Chima Phoenix mini with me. She paused BEFORE opening a gift somewhere around the midway point to thank me for her presents – as in, sitting in front of an as-yet unopened gift, she was so suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude that she stopped, looked at me, leaned over for a hug. “Thank you, mommy,” she said. It was just so damned sweet.

In the days after Christmas, she’s taken Groot everywhere, continuing to extol his virtues to anyone who will listen. She loves him, and not because he’s exactly what she’d imagined getting. She loves him because I made him, and because she’s so full of love that she radiates it.

And that’s the lesson I  more than needed to learn this Christmas. I’m raising a little girl who is utterly infused with love, who’s got so much of it that it’s seeping out in every direction because it just can’t be contained. So I must be doing pretty alright as a mom, and more than that, it’s time for me to soak up some of that love. She’s a reflection of me in some ways, and so it’s got to be in me too. It’s time for me to bask in it, settle into it, direct it where it’s most needed…sometimes that’s inward, and sometimes it’s out.

This year is all about creating space for love.

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Another amusing Evi anecdote? My brother brought her a tee shirt from MIT, which she was so overwhelmed to receive that she wasn’t quite sure how to process it for a little bit. The day she finally wore it, I told her how cool I thought it was that she was wearing a shirt for a college she might go to. Without missing a beat, she said, “Might? I WILL go to MIT” and went back to tying her pink boat shoes.

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MPH@GW: Why #YogaMatters To Me

Sponsored by MPH@GW Public Health

GW’s Public Health blog reached out to ask how yoga has improved my health. Where to even begin? Regularly practicing yoga, which began in 10-15 minute intervals just a few times a week, has given me back so much. I started doing yoga seriously when I was medically directed to stop running thanks to compartment syndrome. At the same time, I stopped tracking calories and food because it was causing me mental stress and, frankly, making me neurotic about food, eating, and social activities. I took up yoga in the hopes of finding a new way to exercise.

What I found instead was so much more. I found peace. I found stillness in my always too busy head. I found a way to appreciate the incredible things my body could already do. I smiled at pictures of myself. I felt proud of my body again. despite all it might not do.

Yoga also had concrete physical benefits for me. With my very special auto-immune version of colitis, yoga gave me twisting and cleansing postures that helped ease the worst of the pains and even helped me cut off symptoms before they flared too badly. Yoga taught me that my issues with food, the size of my jeans, or what I thought I saw in the mirror didn’t matter, and then it went on to help me develop significant strength. Now I can hold a plank, do a pushup, and kickup into a forearm stand all because of yoga (and a little help from my ENELL bra…).

When I practice consistently, I’m calmer. Yoga breathing mediates stress from commuting, helps me get through hard days at work, and helps me recenter when it’s time to slough off the work day and spend time with my gorgeous family. Yoga has also given me an incredible special chance to bond with my daughter, who practices with me more often than not. She loves it when I let her call the poses, and she teaches me so much about patience and bravery and listening to my body when I’m practicing. When I practice beside her, I lose all sense of competition or reaching for that one white whale of a pose, because practicing with a five year old is all about laughter and joy, about silly poses and movement for it’s own sake, about mimicry and love.

Yoga has brought me a clearer understanding of how I want to define beauty, of what strength means to me, and how those things play out in my own body, mind, and life. It’s helped me see the importance of pursuing health instead of a particular aesthetic. Yoga has helped me dig up my own sense of awesome, renewed my confidence, and given me the chance to show off just how much I can do when I put my mind to it. It’s taught me about perseverance in practice, about living outside of my comfort zone and how important the difference is between that and pain. Thanks to yoga, and to the many inspiring yogis I follow online and through Instagram, I’ve made a habit of daily practice that serves as my meditation when all else fails. Also, I can do this:

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Innocence and Joy

In front of the SpaceLab module...

We took Evi to the Hazy Center this weekend. It’s an extension of the national Air & Space Museum in DC.

She was immediately thrilled. She wore her space shirt, asked for a special hairdo, and was full of energy all the way to the museum. This kid loves some museum time, and the prospect of anything space related had her amped up.

When we got out of the car, she realized this, THIS! was the museum pictured in one of her books where a kid and his pet fly (no, really) go to learn about space. “Mom,” she says, nearly breathless. “This is where Fly Guy learns about Spaze!” He’s a fly, so he buzzes when he talks, so space=spaze. She hit the ground running and went nonstop for five hours. We only left because they closed the museum.

While she found the planes interesting and exciting, and she especially enjoyed walked on the different walkway levels to get different views, she was really just biding her time for the Space Hanger.

Awe as she discovers the sattelites.

There it was. SPACE! And spacesuits, and telescopes! Moon rovers, Mars landers, and THE SPACE SHUTTLE DISCOVERY! I thought she might explode. She ran or skipped everywhere, constantly exclaiming that THIS was the Best. Day. EVERRRR!!!! I’ve never seen her so thrilled. She wanted to look at everything. And then we found the SpaceLab module. She explored the inside of it thanks to a computer screen and a virtual tour. She spent a good ten minutes looking at the inside of a relatively small space.

She declared then and there, and not for the first time, that she would be an astronaut. She’d walk on the moon and be a scientist in her spare time. We caved and bought her an expensive spacesuit from the gift shop because her excitement was contagious, and because I had a similar jacket as a kid that I was OBSESSED with and couldn’t help it. Plus…

Shuttle Commander Evi

Right? It was just too cute. She then proceeded to give her father and I important jobs and astronaut nicknames as we were, of course, her trusted crew. I feel pretty honored to be included, since not only does she pilot the ship, she also built it. “Well, not this one,” she clarifies, “but I will build my own ship at MIT.” She asked once what the best college for math and science was, and now she’s hellbent on attending MIT.

So now I’m Chief Science Officer and Aaron is Chief Robotics Officer. She nicknamed us Sci and Robo, and proceeded to give us detailed instructions on operating the robot arm, conducting experiments on “what is air?” and generally being a good crew, which included holding both of her hands as we walked back to the car.

She may never take that suit off.

So guess what? This isn’t actually a post about Evi. Well, obviously it is, but in the car on the way home, watching her fight off sleep as her endless energy finally waned, I remembered something. Something big.

That blissful little girl, caught up on a wave of wonder and joy? That little mind, amazed at the world around her, ready to take it all in? That precious innocence, that love of learning, that awe at all that the world has to teach her? I used to be that little girl. Big moment? I still am.

I am still that little girl too. I still have endless capacity for wonder and joy, when I stop and listen. It’s like Karen’s mirror exercise. As I watched my incredible daughter just soaking up everything, doing yoga in the observation tower, skipping down the halls, and giggling at her pink cowboy boots with the spacesuit (we assured her that would be a-okay with most astronauts), I realized I don’t treat myself like that little girl anymore. At some point in this growing up process, I stopped paying attention to her. I stopped making room for that innocence, that wonder. I think I’d started to believe it was gone, that growing up meant I’d lost that innocence somewhere along the way, dropped it by the roadside of this journey to “adult.”

I don’t believe that anymore, and I have my daughter to thank for it. By watching her take in the world around her, I catch glimpses of the way the world seemed to me at the same age, and in doing that I begin to reconnect with the excited, awestruck, eager little girl I still am.

So what does that mean? I’m still not sure. It means I’m being mindful of joy. It means I’m making room for wonder. It means I’m seeking out ways to learn new things, many of them fueled by Evi’s questions about life, the Universe, and everything. It means I’m allowing myself to dream, to get excited about tiny things, to wear pigtails and like teenager television without apology, to wear sparkly shoes because they make me giggle just like those pink cowboy boots.

Wear a sticker as a nose ring!

Join me? Make some room for joy in your life. Jump on board for 100 Happy Days, one hundred tiny chances to acknowledge wonder. Or blog about something, something you told yourself was insignificant even though it made you smile. Give yourself five minutes of skipping down the hallway. Just once today, make a choice that fills you with that awestruck wonder. Discover something new. Do yoga in public. And when you do one of these things, or something else you create, come back and tell me about it. Evi would love to hear.

Observatory CamelHorse with Eagle ArmsBow Pose

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transitions

hi. i’m not dead, i swear. although i feel a little like i am right now.

tons of changes going on, so i’ll try to catch everyone up.

struggle: i started feeling sick last monday. by thursday my throat was so sore i couldn’t swallow. the clinic says it’s just allergies, but even after four days of constant decongestants and nasal spray i’m still coughing horribly (and now productively… yay?) so i’m trying to decide at what point i need to go back in. i’m not sleeping well because i cough when i lay down, and then i wake up coughing at least once during the night.

smile: the illness has me super stuffy too, and between that and the coughing my appetite is severely diminished… which is good because it’s making it much easier for me to pay attention to what food actually makes me feel like and why i eat some of the things i do, so that’s been interesting.

struggle: aaron’s new job (he started this week) means he’s traveling a lot. that means i’m essentially on my own with the parenting, house running, life managing business for a good portion of every week.

smile: the travel means it’s just me and evi, which means I’m getting tons of awesome time with my incredible little girl. it also means we moved.

oh hey, we moved.

struggle: the new place is up three flights of stairs with no elevator, which made moving awful. we’re nowhere near unpacked, and it’s up to me and the kidlette to get that done.

smile: the new place is walkable to everything. we walk to school. i walk to the subway. we walk to the grocery store, the park, the vet, the dog park. i’m getting tons of steps in every day, to the point that yesterday’s 14,000+ steps seemed like a let down somehow since i’ve been averaging over 15,000 lately.

so we’re doing a lot of adjusting. we’re learning to live life by a new routine, and it’s sure to come with plenty of challenges. then again, it also means being a lot closer to a lot of our family, and evi getting to spend a lot more time with her uncle and her grandmother. i can’t be upset about that. i’m managing well so far, making weekly plans that include meal planning and daily activities so that i have a game plan for each week. i don’t care if we don’t stick to it, but it’s nice to have a plan.

now if i can just stop coughing sometime soon, i might just get through the week.

i’ve also been listening to christie & mara’s podcasts lately, and keeping notes about the things i think and feel while i’m listening. it’s making a big difference for me and i’ve come away with some pretty interesting insights into my own head and how i view self-care. i’m trying to put more effort into my own routine… not just health wise, but also in terms of beauty and hygiene. i want to take more time to do my hair, put on lotion, whatever little things i usually let slide, because they help me feel more taken care of. i need that right now.

evi is doing great with the move. she loves her room, her school, and being able to walk everywhere. other than a few bumps as she adjusts to a new routine, she’s a much happier kid… which i didn’t think was possible. she’s getting more sleep, and so am i, and we’re almost never fighting in the mornings anymore, which was a regular occurrence for a while.

oh! we also have a trader joe’s, an aldi, and a whole foods, and we’ll be getting a wegmans sometime really soon. we had none of those things at the old house, so i’m pretty thrilled.

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What I Want Her To Know

31 things to teach your daughter I want MY kid to know:

1. How to give a firm handshake.
2. To never wear clothes with something written across the butt that make you feel uncomfortable or fake.
3. A man will never treat a woman better than he treats his mom. Pay attention to how the guys treat their moms, and run from the ones who aren’t respectful. Choose a partner who makes you feel respected and safe, and who inspires you to be your best self.
4. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Cultivate confidence and self-love, which in turn will radiate love of others.
5. People will judge you by what you say. “I was like, um, totally!” does not qualify as a sentence. Express yourself with confidence and joy.
6. People will judge you by what you wear. Show respect for yourself (and see #2). Screw what people think, because they will find a reason to judge you if they’re so inclined. Be proud of who you are.
7. How to change a tire.
8. How to throw a football. lose yourself in physical movement in a way that brings you peace.
9. Don’t be afraid to use your voice – sometimes it’s the most powerful thing you have, and power is not determined so much by volume, as it is by passionate and consistent communication with respect.
10. Basic self defense – be able to get out of a situation, and run fast. And use that powerful voice.
11. Teach them how to apologize well, ask for help when needed, and that anger is more harmful to the person who harbors it than to who it’s directed at. How to apologize with grace when you’re genuinely at fault, how to stick to your guns without being mean, and how confidence means knowing when to ask for help.
12. What’s in the magazine is photoshopped. Confidence is more attractive than size 2 jeans. Women come in all shapes and sizes. Learn to love your body for the amazing things it does for you every day, and make your food/movement decisions out of love and respect for that amazing, powerful body of yours.
13. Laughter can diffuse many a challenging situation. Especially when you can laugh at yourself.
14. Block out the voices. Not every opinion is worth listening to – listen to the ones that matter, and learn whose opinion you’ll allow to shape your thoughts.
15. Advertising is full of hidden agendas. Don’t fall for it. “Maybe she’s born with it… maybe it’s Maybelline” – really? Maybelline didn’t make her anything she wasn’t born with.
16. How to hit a baseball, throw a punch, and use a compass… or spike a volleyball, roundhouse kick, and use a protractor. Just keep your interests as varied as your beautiful spirit. (Hey, you started out with robots, dinosaurs, and planets and just yesterday declared yourself a doctor scientist astronaut.
17. How to write a proper thank you letter, and how to type…even if you type with four fingers like your Mom.
18. How to manage money.
19. Appreciate the little things (and little refers to more than diamonds and pearls). Appreciate the small gestures in life that make you feel most at peace and in balance.
20. Read often and much. Read works of classic and contemporary literature, fiction and nonfiction. Don’t be ashamed of what you love to read, no matter what anyone else says about it’s quality.
21. Walk in someone else’s shoes. Volunteer for a cause that you feel passionate about.
22. Listen well, both for what’s being said, and for what’s being omitted. Learn to think critically and reason for yourself.
23. Dream big, and set realistic incredible, boundless goals. You can accomplish more than you think you can.
24. Girls can do most things as well as boys can, in general. But know your personal limits, what your own strengths and weaknesses are. Once you know them you can use them to your advantage. Know your strengths and play to them. Acknowledge your weaknesses and work with them. Cultivate radical self-love.
25. Most things worth having or worth doing require sacrifice. Know what you’re willing to sacrifice, and for what.
26. No regrets. Learn from the past, but don’t dwell on what could have been.
27. Just because it’s never been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Push the limits.
28. Basic sewing skills. Find joy in crafting, even if you suck at it…. paint or draw or sew or knit, take photographs or make collages… whatever lets you create.
29. How to handle herself online – using good be aware of online privacy, remembering that anything shared can go viral (including pictures in poor taste), and knowing that people online aren’t always who they say they are.
30. Trust your instincts. If it feels wrong, it probably is. Listen to that voice, and don’t silence it.
31. The world isn’t all there is. Rely on God more than you rely on anything else, including yourself. your inner strength and the strength of the people who love you. When all else fails, call your mom and dad. They will hold you up to the last of their strength which, when it comes to you, is boundless. And remember that you’re stronger than you think. 

And a few more, just from me:

  1. If you want to dye your hair a ridiculous color, ask for my help. It’s just hair and it will grow back, but it will turn out infinitely better with someone who can see the back of your head.
  2. Don’t get caught up in what someone else thinks is right for you. You know yourself best (except for maybe me) and what feels right in your heart is probably the best bet.
  3. Don’t lose sight of your heart. It will break, and it will heal, and it will be stronger for it.
  4. If you hate me and your dad, call your Banana.
  5. Move a little every day, in a way that makes your body and your soul feel vibrant and strong. There is no right way.
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