2016: The Year of RELEASE

It’s been two years since I’ve committed to One Little Word because the only word in my vocabulary during that time was “survive”: survival of profound loss, survival of learning how to be a mom, and survival of all the “adulting” that went on in between. Although things finally feel like they’re settling into a new normal, I didn’t plan to choose One Little Word this year. But then, during a late-night cuddle session with The Toddler Who Refuses to Sleep Through The Night, I began mentally listing my goals for the year, and I realized they all had one thing in common: release.

release

Goal: Release myself and my home from all the material things that neither bring me joy nor are essential to keep.
Plan: Using The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy as guides, I will focus on at least one category per month to tidy up so that hopefully I have a simpler household come this time next year.

Goal: Release myself from the negative self-talk, unrealistic expectations, and unattainable perfectionism.
Plan: I have two strategies going into this one. The first one I saw on Facebook, and I really like it. It’s basically a form of aversion therapy. Whenever you say something mean about yourself, something you wouldn’t let anyone say about your best friend, you have to give up your phone for 30 minutes. The second I credit to a friend of mine: Turn the negatives into action statements. So instead of saying, “Ugh, why can’t I ever remember to call So-and-So on her birthday?! I’m the worst friend,” you’d re-frame it: “After I call So-and-So today, I’m going to put an alert on my calendar so that I’m notified of her birthday every year.”

Goal: Release myself from financial stress.
Plan: Asking for help is not one of my strengths. I always think, I can do this, no matter what this is. Confidence is one thing; stubbornness is another. No matter how many years I’ve spent attempting to budget and whatnot, it’s time to bring in the experts. In addition to making calls and attempting to lower rates on cell phone bills, etc., I’m going to work with a professional to get out of as much debt as possible this year (school loans, I’m looking at you), create a budget that’s realistic, improve my credit score, and make sure I’m putting enough in savings, retirement, and college funds. Normally I’d be stressed just thinking about this, but having a plan, not just a goal, is freeing in itself.

Goal: Release my dreams from living solely in my mind.
Plan: If you were with me during my heyday of blogging, you know that this is one I’ve been struggling with for years. While I’ve made a lot of progress on certain things, like getting an article published and becoming a contributing blogger, there’s a lot more I want to do that I’ve constantly put on the back burner for excuse after excuse.

anne lamott quote

I do a pretty good job of living without “what if”s. To borrow from one of my favorite poems, I don’t want a dream deferred to fester like a sore. The plan is a little fuzzy at best. I’m going to start with writing down the dreams and steps I need to take to attempt them. Then, I’ll start following the steps. Note, achieving the dream is not the goal; finally attempting it is.

What is your One Little Word this year?

Photo credit: “Monarch Release” by kcolwell via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

A Second Glantz at 2015

Okay, I guess it’s really a first glance since I didn’t publish a single post to this blog last year. Thanks to a mixture of Mommy brain and anemia-induced memory issues, I couldn’t give you a month-by-month recap if my life depended on it, so I’m turning to these great Personal Year in Review questions to help me reflect before moving onto my One Little Word tomorrow.

What did I do this year that I’m really proud of?

I’m so proud of the work I did as the Community Relations Director of a local non-profit. From being one of only 15 programs that received a grant out of 55 applicants, to helping a group of students combat marginalization on a university campus, to publishing a new community magazine, to taking on local government officials when they were doing wrong, to working with the FBI to keep our institution safe when potentially threatened, to assisting victims of the “1,000 year flood,” I truly feel as though I made a difference in my community this year. Even when I was teaching, I’m not sure I felt like I was contributing the way my current job has allowed me to – and as I write the words, I realize – this isn’t just a job; it’s a passion. How lucky I am to have finally found it.

This may sound silly, but I’m really proud of myself for achieving my reading goal of 30 books this year. Granted, some of the success is owed to my child for the nights he refused to sleep anywhere but in my arms, but I’m proud of myself for reading instead of playing Words with Friends, and I’m equally proud that I took time for myself before bed to read instead of watch TV. I’m most proud of myself for reading more adult titles than young adult ones this year (which I attribute, in large part, to my mother-in-law and her awesome book recommendations).

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EXHIBITIONDespite my lack of presence here, I wasn’t completely absent from the blogosphere. As a contributor to Columbia SC Moms Blog, I published several heartfelt posts, but the one I was most proud of this year is Five Unbelievable Superpowers All Moms Develop. Why? Because this was an idea that I had been sitting on for months. Tried as I might to finish it, it seemed an impossible task. It’s hard to write a funny piece when you’re not in good humor. But, for whatever reason – perhaps just to prove to myself that I could still write with a sense of humor – I was bound and determined to finish and publish the article. While the article wasn’t my most successful one in terms of how many times it was “liked” or shared, it’s the one that I consider to be the greatest success.

What are the top three lessons I learned?

I finally learned to listen to my body and do whatever it takes to make my doctor hear it, too. If something feels “off,” chances are there’s a legitimate reason behind it. You have to be your own advocate, and you can’t be afraid to share all the details, no matter how trivial they may seem.

Through a terrifying near-accident, which found me doing figure eights into oncoming traffic, all of which – thankfully – somehow managed to avoid hitting me, I learned just how important it is to be present. I wasn’t texting, talking on the phone, drinking coffee, or eating while driving. But I was thinking – fuming, really – about something that happened at work before getting in the car. Even now, I shudder to think how those absolutely pointless moments of fretting about something beyond my control could have resulted in my son losing his mother. Thus, I try really hard these days to clear my mind before getting behind the wheel.

While this is not a lesson that I have put into action as of yet, I’ve learned that I need to write everything down. This lesson is twofold. First is the practical application: I am one of those lucky people who used to be able to rely on an elephant-like memory for appointments, meetings, and the like. But because “Mommy brain” is not a myth and because my brain is so cluttered with work and all other aspects of “adulting,” I will forget to show up to a meeting if it’s not written down (confession: sometimes I forget even if it is written down). The other meaning of this lesson is a sentimental one. Surely, I thought, I will remember this [whatever adorable thing my child has done or said] when I have time to write about it. Nope. Not even a little bit. When my son one day asks, “Mom, what was my first word?” I may have to make it up. If I go back to social media and 23 Snaps, an application we use with our family, I can probably piece things together, but that will ultimately take more time that the minute it would have taken to record the moment when it happened.

What increased my happiness and joy this year?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need I really explain?

No matter how your 2015 was, I hope this year is an even happier one! I look forward to connecting with you more in 2016.

14 of 2014: the book edition

The silver lining to the cloud that is my child’s aversion to sleep is the amount of reading I’ve done this year. Hoping to read two books a month, I surpassed that goal, reading an average of three books a month for a total of 37 books at the time this was written (a 38th may appear depending upon the next few nights of sleep).

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My favorite 14 books read in 2014 are as follows (ordered by date read):

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Whereas I felt Suzanne Collins’ ending to The Hunger Games trilogy was a copout, I thought Roth ended the Divergent series bravely and perfectly.

2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I was surprised to find this touted tear-jerker rather uplifting.

3. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

A fun read, this had a Buffy, the Vampire Slayer type of campiness to it.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Romance is not my favorite genre; however, Stephanie Perkins does it right. She made me want to grab my passport and book the next flight to France.

5. City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

While not her best in the series, I enjoyed how Clare ended her epic tale.

6. Run to You by Clara Kensie

Told in six installments, this paranormal thriller was full of unexpected twists. It kept me on my toes, as well as the edge of my seat.

7. Lux: Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

A page-turning end to a creative sci-fi series, Lux, Armentrout makes me want to have a close encounter.

8. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

This was an eye-opening read about our justice system. Though the TV version has been greatly dramatized, I found the tamer real-life account to be more harrowing.

9. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Having a great fascination with Zelda Fitzgerald since high school, it was fun to read this (admittedly fictional) interpretation of her unusual life.

10. The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

Two of my favorite genres, dystopian YA & vampire YA, are a beautiful marriage in the hands of Kagawa.

11. The Future of Us by Jay Asher

A thought-provoking coming-of-age story about how the present affects the future & how our dreams for the future can affect the present and what it means to be happy. Having been a HS junior in 1996 like the female protagonist, I also loved the nostalgia of this great read.

12. Looking for Alaska by John Green

This book stayed with me. For weeks.

13. Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Forman does a brilliant job showing how just one day can affect a greater expanse of time in one’s life – in this case, one year.

14. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

This moving story, reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird and Shawshank Redemption, is so well told, I now want to read everything Gaines has written.

What are your favorite reads from 2014?

One year ago

1914957_10100217925901561_3921258_nOne year ago today was the last time I spoke with my dad. There had been a few more emails and messages, but talking about having to put my cat down was the last real conversation we’d have before his own death, only two weeks later.

Grieving the loss of Mimi, my four-legged best friend of 11 years, I texted my dad heartbroken. He told me that it would take time, but that I had to concentrate on my baby.

Not long after hearing my husband force out the words, “Your dad was in a car accident. I’m so sorry; he didn’t make it,” I looked back to this last conversation, knowing he’d give me the same advice about my loss of him. And I’ve followed it to the best of my ability, putting one foot in front of the other to take care of the grandson he never met.

But with the anniversary of his death quickly and unbelievably approaching, I’m left unable to fathom how I’ve lived almost an entire year without him. It seems like just yesterday that I spent the holidays on my father-in-law’s couch, my eyes glazed over watching Rehab Addict when I wasn’t burying myself under the covers or obsessively reading Divergent to keep the nightmares at bay. And yet the ache in my heart is so big, it feels like it’s been a lifetime since I’ve heard his hearty laugh or felt his warm embrace.

This magic moment

Able to sit on your own –baby playing the piano
were you able to do that yesterday?
– you play with your toys,
carefully scrutinizing each one,
as though you’re looking at it for the first time.

Your tiny hands
have learned to play your toy piano.
With each note,
you grin with pride and glee.
You look up at me,
as if to say, “Are you watching, Mama?”

I smile back with words of praise
and you squeal in delight
as you play your next song.

I stop what I’m doing
and watch you play.
I forget the laundry that needs folding,
the dishes that need washing,
the growing list of “to dos”
that suddenly seem less important.
All of it can wait.
But this?
This magic moment is to be treasured.

I sit on the floor next to you,
and together we make music.

Thanks for Taking a Second Glantz!

The one where I (happily) become a cliché

First, I became a mom. And now I’m officially a “mommy blogger.” Cliché as that may be, I’m thrilled to share the first article I’ve published as a new contributing writer to Columbia SC Moms Blog:

sleepless nights

When I was in college, all-nighters were easy. A diet cola, rock ‘n’ roll blaring through the headphones of my portable CD player, and a can of tuna fish with a jar of pickles (I had weird cravings even before I was pregnant), and I was good to go well into the early morn. Once I graduated college, very few situations in my adult life warranted the all-nighter. There was the occasional deadline, but staying up ’round the clock pretty much became a thing of the past.

Until now.

Were you up in the middle of the night with an infant? You’re not alone! Sleep regressions have kept many a mama awake in the wee hours. Today on the blog, I share some strategies to make those wake-ups more manageable. 
http://citymomsblog.com/columbiasc/surviving-endless-nights/

A Tiny Glantz

Throughout the life of this blog, I have taken second “glantzes” (sometimes obsessively) at many different people — from the serious, such as my love, to the silly, like celebrity crushes. In the months I’ve been away from the blogosphere, I’ve found someone new. Someone who deserves more than just a second “glantz.” Someone I can’t take my eyes off of for more than a minute.

He is my son.

Yes, you read that correctly. (Don’t ever accuse me of not being able to keep a secret!)

Six months (plus a few days) ago, I fell in love with our little Thumper, as we lovingly nicknamed him in the womb, thanks to incessant kicking, which has yet to cease, and I continue to fall more in love with him each day.

My sweet boy, at six months of age…

You like to read – and eat! – books.

baby reading

You sing to the radio and talk to yourself and your toys.

You are a giggle monster, infecting others with your laugh.

baby at six months

You are tough as nails (for those of you who know us personally, no pun intended).

You wear clothes twice as big as your age.

You reach for the food on Mommy’s plate.

You try to text on Mommy’s phone (sometimes in a different language) and type on the computer.

baby texting

You like to dance to hits of the 90s.

You love, love, LOVE your jump-aroo, and I love watching you in it.

baby jumping

You are so excited to go to daycare everyday. You know when we’re running late, and you express your displeasure at it. You have people to see and new toys to try!

You have a great sense of adventure, approaching new places and people with curiosity and enthusiasm.

baby shopping

You enjoy blowing raspberries and giving open-mouth kisses.

You splash in the bathtub, delighted to soak your daddy.

You squeal when you get really excited.

You are cutting two bottom teeth.

You are obsessed with your feet. Surprisingly, so am I.

You have cartoon-like facial expressions, especially your frowny face.

baby staring

Sometimes I look at you and your Zayde, my daddy, is staring back at me.

Make no mistake: My heart now beats outside my chest.