How to Pivot Your Life Awesome

Pivots. I need one right now. Life is all about the pivot (please tell me you say that word in your brain to the voice of Ross Geller on Friends). How you handle a change in trajectory can determine positive from negative, good from bad, electric chair candidate from hero. But it can mean taking your life from blah to infinitely better.

I haven’t always handled the pivot well. Maybe I’ve watched too much Snapped? Too much 20/20? Nah. Whatever the reason, I resist change. But I’ve learned that sometimes change is the nudge I need to get to a better vantage point for life. A higher plateau from which to shoot my arrows at the people who nee observe life.

My parents’ divorce, the tragedy that almost cost my dad his life and forever changed the way he exists in this world, my own divorce, getting out of my hometown, rising above rumors and reputations, financial struggles, juggling a career, a new marriage, and a sick baby, unexpectedly renovating a house, blending a family… I’ve experienced all of those things. Struggles are everyone’s constant. They are always around the corner lurking like the uncle that none of the kids are allowed to be alone with (there’s one in every family, right?)

“Uncle Gene is the BEST! He gave me candy!”

(Slaps the candy away)“Nope, Uncle Gene is a weirdo. Stay away from Uncle Gene.”

But struggles aren’t life’s somehow personified way of kicking you down. They’re just life. Mostly for me, self-inflicted. I can admit that. But so what?

Pivot.

It’s scary. I know. The pivot is change. It’s unknown. Sometimes the struggle is more comfortable than the change. At least you know what to expect with the struggle. But I promise it’s worth it.

If you’re unhappy right now with life, look for the opportunities for change. If you can’t find the opportunities, find someone who has the outcome you’re looking for and do what they’ve done. Talk to people. Research. There’s always a way. Successful people aren’t special. They haven’t been chosen to be successful by life where life’s like, “Oh, yeah, don’t mess with Becky. She has good hair so leave her alone.” They’re successful because they’ve used an opportunity to better themselves. Successful people aren’t entitled and they know that. They get shat done for themselves in spite of the struggles. No excuses.

One thing I’ve noticed is that many of my life changes have happened because I felt like I had no choice. Looking back, I always had choices. But it seems like in those situations, when I throw my hands up and let Jesus take the wheel, a la Carrie Underwood, that’s when the pivots happen.

Don’t let Uncle Gene get the better of you. Kick him in the groin and run away. And if you pass your cousin about to eat his candy, smack it out of little Johnny’s hand on your way out the door. And know you’ll be ok.

When have you changed your own trajectory for the better?  Let me know in the comments.  You may just help someone make their own!

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The Joy of Getting Fired

The Joy of Getting Fired

Ever been fired? I have. It was an interesting experience. Can’t say it’s one I’d love to experience again. At the time I was APPALLED! How could I get FIRED? I’m awesome! For any of you who have been “let go” from a job,

{by the way, this is a fancy way for saying you got canned. If anyone from HR ever sits you down and says, “We’re going to have to let you go”, they aren’t freeing you from prison for good behavior. They’re firing you. Freeing you from corporate chains into the prison of poverty. It’s not a good thing… at the time, anyway}

for any of you who’ve been fired, you can attest to the feeling of deflation that accompanies it. Although, at the time I totally knew it was going to happen. That experience, in and of itself, was a bit off putting. However, in context, it was a part of a grander experience that I’ve held tightly to since and I think I always will. And it taught me several valuable lessons. Mostly that it’s never my fault. (Just kidding… sort of.)

I was 22 years old, JUST out of college. I somehow landed a job as a nanny for an Italian family in GENOVA, ITALY!!!!!! for the summer. I’d never been to Europe before. The only real ‘traveling’ I’d done prior to this trip was a 7-day cruise for my 21st birthday with my best friends that involved a 1-hour flight to Miami. This time I was alone. I was leaving my life behind in Atlanta and navigating the world all by myself for the first time ever. It was essentially like taking Mr. Bean and dropping him in the middle of, well, anywhere. Let’s take inventory of the places I’d been up and to this point of my life:

Mississippi
Georgia
Florida
South Carolina
Tennessee

Do you see a pattern? I think I went to Washington, DC once… I was not well travelled by any sense. And I was unleashed on the unsuspecting country of Italy like a hyper squirrel just trying to cross the street.

Before I left for Europe my mom spoke with the couple I was going to work for and live with. Both were judges, they had 5 kids total but I was only responsible for the care of 2 since the others were grown and out of the house. My mom had phone numbers, addresses, pretty much everything you could gather to ensure I wouldn’t get stolen, before the proliferation of the “internets” and during a time when phone booths were still dotting every street corner like hookers at a political convention. It was 2003… AKA The Dark Ages.

My job description was to teach English to an 8-year old and a 14-year old, take the 8-year old to school every day and pick him up, take him to play dates, and some “light housework”. I saw that last part as merely a suggestion. Mostly because I don’t “housework”.

Once I landed, I felt like I “fit in” for the first time in my life. I looked like I belonged. Everyone was laid back and relaxed but animated and nice. The family seemed great. The dad studied law in the US so he spoke English surprisingly well. No one else in the family spoke English but I spoke fluent Italian so it was ok.

He would get maps out and suggest places for me to go and landmarks to visit during the day. Everything was off to a great start.

Not too long after I arrived I realized that the “cute little boy” I was charged with caring for was rotten. He would fake being sick to get out of doing things, like going to play dates. I, not knowing any better, would let him stay home. When his mom got home he would tell her that I didn’t do anything with him. Hmmm…

The dad knew that I REALLY wanted to go to the opera. He landed tickets and asked his wife if she wanted to take me. When she said no, he took me. We had a great time. He explained the story of the opera and told me that even Italians don’t understand the lyrics. However, it was this moment that whatever relationship I had with the mom changed for the worse in a way that I didn’t expect. But it was ok. I was living on the Italian Riviera. No one could make that incredible experience a bad one.

I was supposed to have weekends to myself but that rarely happened. However, when it did I would get on a train and explore. I visited friends who were studying abroad. I met people hiking across Europe with just a backpack. I met Italian business people who had lived in Atlanta at one time. I met beachfront storeowners who danced with me when their favorite love song came on the radio. I met an Italian lifeguard who swept me off my feet.

So one morning when the mom told me she was no longer going to pay me because I hadn’t upheld my part of the contract that involved cleaning (they had a maid, by the way), it was ok. Looking back, I wasn’t very good at being a nanny. But that experience gave me more than that job. I came home after living abroad by myself for 3 months a changed person. I had confidence. I had grand memories that even the best writers wouldn’t be able to describe in a way that would do them justice.

So, yeah, getting fired sucked. But it was just a drop of a memory that was part of a larger experience that I would NEVER trade. Sometimes a bad moment isn’t a bad thing. Have you ever been fired? It’s ok. You can tell me.

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Absurd Things I Think About When Getting a Massage

Things I Think About When Getting a Massage

A few days ago, a co-worker won one of those “drop your business card in the fishbowl and you could win lunch for your whole office” things (I know, I thought the same thing! People DO actually win those, I guess!). She was so generous and made sure that all of us had to opportunity to enjoy the delicious pizza along with TWENTY-MINUTE CHAIR MASSAGES!!!! What?! Sign. Me. Up.

When it was my turn I walked into the same conference room that normally houses mundane and verbose meetings. However, for my twenty-minute chair massage it was a heavenly oasis in the middle of the desert where no relaxation is found. Quiet music, dimmed lights… if not for the meeting table, white board, and executive meeting chairs I would have never known it was the same room. I walked around all of those horrible reminders to find my massage chair, said hello to my new favorite best friend masseuse and sat down. For the next twenty minutes I had an internal dialogue with myself that I realize in hindsight may not be normal, but then again, I can’t be the only one. So if you find yourself with the following thoughts during your next massage, know you aren’t alone:

  1. “Oh, that’s nice… wait, did I just make a porn noise?”
  2. “OUCH! IT HURTS SO GOOD!!!! That’s what she said.”
  3. “OMG I think she’s crushing my larynx. Is that what that is? I don’t really know where my larynx is. I’m gonna die not knowing how. What do I tell Janis Joplin and Amy Winehouse when they ask me why I’m dead? Can’t. Breathe. Boutta pass out.”
  4. “She’s close to pushing my face through this face hole! Can that happen? I think we’re about to find out! What would she do?! OMG that would be hil-arious. Could I get workers’ comp? I wonder if I could get a free week off of work. Kind of like in college if you got hit by a bus you get an auto 4.0 GPA. Would I get a free one of these in the future for my trouble? I could deal with that. Would the fire department have to come? I bet that’s happened before.”
  5. “That music. I wonder if my kids would immediately go to sleep if I played it at home. I need to ask what music that is so I cannnnn zzzzzz”
  6. {Wakes up abruptly} “Did I just fart or was that the chair?? OMG please tell me it was the chair. Ugh, not the chair.”
  7. “HOW WAS THAT 20 MINUTES?! I WANT A RECOUNT!”
  8. Really, how am I supposed to be productive after that? I can’t work under these conditions.

Getting a massage is so relaxing for me. But obviously not so relaxing that my crazy mind shuts off for me. How bout you? Any absurdities run through your mind during a massage? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

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8 Things to Buy Your Snarky Wife for Valentine’s Day that won’t get you laughed at or punched

What to Buy Your Snarky Wife for Valentine’s Day

The target audience for this post is a bit different than usual, ok a LOT. As in opposite. So, ladies, read this through and if it applies to you, feel free to forward to your Valentine. I’ll drop the not-so-subtle hints for you.

Cynical, snarky, jaded, sarcastic, whatever adjectives apply to your wife, for whatever the reason, she’s not into sappy, lovey-dovey bull shat. And that can make your job very difficult this Valentine’s Day. As a man, I’m fairly certain that you haven’t put much thought into this fabricated holiday of love. If history is any indication of your behavior in a week’s time, you’ll saunter into the closest convenience store and grab whatever they forcefully suggest you purchase your “One True Love” this Valentine’s Day. Because NOTHING says immortal love like a 4-inch plush animal unnaturally dyed red, a box of poor-quality chocolates wrapped and glued shut in cellophane, one rose with a poo-shaped chocolate where the petals should be, and a card with 2 beautiful people on the front, sitting by the ocean, with words you could never think of on your own, much less write down, on the inside.

I understand her because I AM her. Just because she’s jaded DOESN’T (I repeat, DOESN’T) mean she wants you to ignore this pretend holiday. She still wants to be shown you love her, just not in a conventional way and she definitely doesn’t want a bunch of shat she has no use for. That’ll piss her off. And that’s what you’re trying to AVOID. Roses and a sweet, sentimental card will NOT get her to take off her clothes and beg you to “love her long time”. It will get you an eye-roll, a punch in the arm for being “weird”, or even made fun of. (Again, we want to AVOID this.)

“SO WHAT DO I DO, E??”

  1. First up: the card. The card must meet her where she is. If you are the sappy type, get a sappy card but write in funny things to break up the weirdness. Make fun of your own sappy card in a way that tells her you love her AND her snarkiness. She’ll love your originality and authenticity.
  2. Make her a card. Come on, it’s not that hard. Go to Wal-Mart or Michael’s and get some construction paper. Or just raid your daughter’s stash. A piece of construction paper with a heart drawn on the front, folded in half, with a hand-written “I Love You and Your Snarky Ways” inside will go much further than something you would never say.
  3. One option for the main gift (yes, MAIN- as in “there should be MULTIPLE”… trust me. I have lady parts) is something to give her time alone, especially if she’s a mom. I highly recommend a gift card to a blow-out bar or a day spa if she enjoys getting pampered. If she’s not the pampered type, give her a gift card to her favorite store and keep the kids busy while she takes care of bid-naz.
  4. If you’re tight on money, don’t worry. In the words of Wanda from In Living Color, “I GOTCHU”. Look around the house for a basket. Go to Target or another store that has a beauty aisle and pick up the $1 face masks, some bubble bath, maybe a loofa. Purchase said items and place them in the basket with some other fun stuff. (Notice you just read “fun”, not shat). Take the kids for a WHOLE day. Plan a fun day away with them and let her be her at home. Bam. Insta-love.
  5. Plan a day away with her. Create sappy memories instead of crappy, sappy items that mean nothing to her. Where did you go on your first date? How about the first time you said, “I HEART YOU”? Anywhere she’s been dying to go? Here’s a hint: If she’s mentioned it out loud to you EVER, she’s been dying to go. Snarky, cynical women don’t reveal too much unless they’ve been thinking about it for a while. By the time it leaves our lips we’ve made up our minds that we wanna do it. (That’s what she said.)
  6. Unless it’s against her religion and she’s uber devout or she’s allergic (how tragic), alcohol will ALWAYS be a good option. But make it unique. Don’t go to Trader Joe’s and hand her the cheapo Chardonnay. Likely, it will end up broken. After she smashes it with your head. Let’s keep that from happening. Go online or to a wine store and ask. Always ask.
  7. Ghost Tour!!!!! If she likes that sort of thing, that is. But it’s such a different, fun thing to do. It’s quirky, dramatic, and she’ll snuggle in real close when that ghost comes running for you!
  8. Yes, I made fun of the BAD chocolate. However, Godiva = Heaven. If she likes chocolate, she’ll prolly have some mad love in her heart for a $50 box of crack. Trust me.
  9. Bonus: Ok, so I mentioned that she should receive multiple gifts. That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. If you have one large gift, have some fun “extras” ready. Her favorite wine chilled, her favorite candy on the counter when she gets home, something special that only you know to do.

I know this is a lot to take in (that’s what he said), but just try it out. Even if you just take half of my advice. Or 1/4th of my advice. But please, PLEASE no stupid, sappy cards, plush animals or grocery store chocolates. Happy VD! Ladies, did I miss anything??

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How to Workout with Kids

For those of you who have kids and want to start a fitness journey, or for those of you who just wonder how moms juggle family, work, obligations, AND stay in shape, me too. I’m curious, too. Since I became a mom almost 9 years ago, I think I’ve tried to get back in shape more times than my 5 year old has asked me for gum this afternoon (that’s, like, a LOT of times). You wanna know how many times I’ve been successful? Um… once. But it didn’t last long.

Over Christmas this year I decided I was going to do it again. But for real this time. Each year my office closes between Christmas and New Year so it was the perfect time. I’d be home. I’d cleanse my diet. I’d restart my body. Trick it to think it doesn’t want that massive piece of chocolate cake from the grocery store, like I trick my kids to think that Chick-Fil-A doesn’t sell ice cream on the week days. It’d be so super easy. I even have everything I need at home in the form of workout DVDs. Bam.

Day one was AWE-SUM. It was great. My kids are obviously now old enough for me to reason with.

“Kids, I’m going to be in the basement for 20 minutes to workout. Everyone has snacks and drinks, everyone is good, right?”
“Yes, Mommy! We’re good!”
“OK! I’m going to close the door so that the dogs don’t come down but if you need me, you can come get me, OK?”
“OH KAAAAY!”
“But if you come downstairs, please don’t let the dogs down.”

Y’all, hand to Heaven I got 20 minutes with my Piyo DVD. It was so refreshing and I felt so alive. I was all,

“I got this. This time tomorrow I’ll be down to my fighting weight. Just to make sure I’ll have a smoothie for my after-snack snack.”

The next day was fairly similar.   Got ma fit-nass on (please read that as “own” for dramatic effect). BAM! But… It didn’t last long. Pretty soon, I was getting maaaybe 10 minutes in before Pandora opened her shatty box of cray-zee, Roman opened the basement door to demand I help him put on my gold pants (because he thinks they make him look like Slash), and our 50-lb lab, Georgia, came FLYYYYYYY-ing down the stairs and tackled me while I was attempting to perfect my push-ups which meant I was at the perfect height on the floor for my Chihuahua, Lola, to lick me up the nose. Yes, UP the nose. Her tongue is so long and slender that it actually fits UP MY NOSE.

Then Roman wanted to play the drums for me while I worked out. But I couldn’t hear the lovely Chalene Johnson! I asked him to play quietly but then he started crying because Guns n Roses doesn’t play the drums quietly! So that finished that day. Subsequent attempts were even worse… so I finally gave up. And by “finally” I mean by the third day.

“Oh, I know!” I naively thought to myself, “I’ll sign up for the special I saw on Facebook for the Krav Maga combat fitness classes! Three classes for $20. Done. I’m so gonna rock this. If I pay for it I’ll totally do it cuz I don’t wanna waste money!”

I took the first class on the last Wednesday before going back to work. Class started at 6. I had to wait for my hubs to get home from work to relieve me from my parenting duties so I was runnin’ a little late! Sue me! Weeeell, they very well may. Someone from the studio called me to make sure I was coming. I got there at 6:05. Intense. “Something tells me we’re not in LA Fitness anymore.”

I was the only person in the class who had never done it before. Everyone in the class… EVERYONE had on shirts and pants with the studio logo on it. I busted up in there in a hot pink sports bra, yoga shirt, and bright running tights. Like, have you ever gone to a costume party only to realize you need to stop at the store on the way so you’re walking through Target dressed like a giant poo emoji? Yeah. That was me.

And I was totally lost. Like a female pro bowler trying to be a Lakers Cheerleader. Lost like that. I loved it but felt totally lost. It was a great workout. But I knew that once work started back I wouldn’t be able to make those classes without, at best, being 10 minutes late. The schedule just didn’t match mine.

I realized something over the break. I’ve been going about this “all-or-nothing” for so long… it’s not fair. Not fair to me. So I’m going to do my best. Some days my best might mean I eat 1300 healthy calories and a refuse that break-room cupcake. Some days I may kill those 1300 calories by breakfast. Oops. But it’s about being more aware of my choices and creating realistic expectations for myself.

Do I want my abs to come back to me? Yes. Do I want to take care of myself? Yes. But I also know that with the kids’ schedules, my schedule, and my husband’s schedule, sometimes it’s all I can do to get them in bed before I fall asleep in the hallway on the way back to my room. Step by step, choice by choice, I’ll get where I need to be.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

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Save Hours on Your Hair Routine

You are your own brand. WE are our own brand.  What that means is that every time someone sees us, every time we are heard, every time someone reads something we write the recipients are left with an impression of us. A story of who we are and what we stand for. No, my story is not “Dumb and Dumber”. But I do accept that some people may have the impression that I should be incarcerated for being incredibly awesome and, thus, a threat to society, so…

Think about the brands of your favorite companies. The reputable ones… not the sketchy ones that have the entrance ‘round back with billboards up and down the interstate on the way to the beach. That’s weird. What feelings do they conjure for you just by hearing the company name? That’s their brand. What is your brand? What do people see when they look at you? Is it what you want? Oh, God, is it what I want???

As women, life gets busy and we either forget that people are paying attention to us or just stopped caring. Even if we aren’t paying attention to ourselves, I promise others are. Someone always is. Especially kids. “Mom, you have a strange shaped nose. Did you know that?”  Ugh, yes, I know that.

For example, in my mind I’m an effing glamorous rock star, complete with leather, stilettos, and appropriately worn smoky eye. In actuality today I wore a black sweatshirt I’ve had for 10 years, bright orange and pink running tights, no makeup, and dirty hair. Yes, I went out like that. Have I gone a few days without bathing? Maybe. Is it gross? Yes. Do I care? Meh. I didn’t care until I saw someone I know and she hugged me because she’s super nice. And here I am looking like a biatch because I’m embarrassed to be me.

So, while I want my brand to tell the world that I am edgy, feminine, and a badass protector of all things beautiful, today it says “I’m tired, overwhelmed, and ain’t got time for this shit. Feed me coffee and wine and if you judge me I’ll throat punch you.”

But there has to be a way for us to have both. There has to be a way for us to show the world (including our children) that we DO care about the way we present ourselves to the outside without spending an hour that we don’t have getting ready and all the while still feeling comfortable. Affordable, effortless, and practical beauty. Clothes and shoes that make me look like Mila Kunis but feel like Roseanne Bar. (You know what I mean, don’t you?!)

As the new year is getting underway, I am vowing to uncover tricks to still look fabulous even when I’m on the verge of narcolepsy and share them with you so that we can be fab together, even if your version of fab includes turtle neck dickies and doilies. To each her own. You’re pretty. And that’s all that matters, right? Twenty-minute beauty. I can do anything in twenty minutes (that’s what HE said!!!!)

For my first hack, I would like to share with you the joy of dry shampoo.  Lordy, gurl, it’s ah-mah-zing.  If you’ve lived as I lived washing my hair every morning and sometimes still have greasy hair by the end of the day, then let me give you a little hope: you don’t have to live that way.

Now I wash my hair at night and I blow it out.  A proper blow out.  I don’t just blow dry all “willy nilly” and call it a day.  For my hair type, I use a palmful of mousse and run it through my hair before I dry it.  To wash and properly dry my hair it takes about 30 minutes.  If I don’t have to go anywhere,  I don’t even have to dry it all the way.

Here’s where it gets awesome: the next day, if you notice your hair is greasy, use your dry shampoo.  Spray at the roots at the top of your hair and lift up your hair around your head.  Brush out or run your fingers through your hair and you’re good to go.  At this point I can go a good three or four days without washing my hair.  Ok, let’s be honest, I know I CAN go five.  Is it pretty?  No.  But that’s neither here nor there.

So there you have it.  My secret.  You can spread it if you want…  I don’t mind.

What beauty hacks do you have? Can we share?

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Life’s Bright Side

Sometimes life gets the better of us no matter how hard we try to have it all and keep it all together. I’ve learned to see the bright side of things over the years. That’s really the purpose of this blog: to share the bright side of the sometimes bad side of life. And my bright side is your bright side because we’re all pretty. Here’s a list of my life lessons so far:

  1. Sometimes my son wants to wear my leather pants out of the house because he thinks he’s a rock star. If I don’t let him wear MY pants to dinner out, he tells me I’m mean. And maybe I am. Maybe I’m a horrible parent for that. But at least I’m pretty.
  2. I once got lost in a circle. A circle. Yes, you read that correctly. Sometimes I can’t find my way but that’s ok. Because at least I’m pretty.
  3. I have a very foul mouth and no filter. I would say I try but I don’t. Life’s too short to be someone you’re not. And I’m unfiltered. And pretty. Unfiltered and pretty.
  4. My husband is twice my size. He has muscles for days. On a vacation a few months ago I out ate him in crab legs. And the only reason I stopped is because there was no more to eat. I was still hungry. I don’t know if he was amazed, scared, or disgusted. Maybe all three. Yes, I have weaknesses but at least I’m pretty. For now. Until these crab legs catch up with me and I turn into one.
  5. I oversell things I like. I also oversell myself. I’m hoping it works like The Secret, where I put things out into the universe and they happen? No? Whatever. At least I’m pretty. Well, attractive. Ok, I’m average-looking. Let’s just say I do the best with what I’ve got.
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How to Plan a Party

Y’all, I just threw a housewarming party for about 100 people at my house over the weekend. Gasp! Still seems surreal. I don’t think I’ve had a “party” at my house since my 3rd grade birthday when I had 13 girls over to spend the night and my little sister got locked in the closet. And someone gave me a live rabbit. Without asking my parents. And it wasn’t my house (it was my parents’, so…).  But this weekend was SO FUN! Was it crazy? Yes. Could I have been better prepared? Yes. So if you’re thinking of having a party of any size in the future, keep reading. I learned some things that, I’m hoping, will be helpful for you in being prepared and saving money, regardless of the size of party you’re having.

Now, I’m NOT a Type-A person. I’m more Type-Meh. Not because I don’t want things to be perfect. That’s actually WHY I can’t be Type-A about it. I’m a typical perfectionist. If everything can’t be perfect, I don’t wanna do it. If I can’t workout 7 days a week for an hour, I will throw my hands up in disgust and declare my life a failure. (Dramatic, I know. It’s who I am.) But I’m trying to be more methodical, deliberate, and organized in life so that the world sees I DO have work ethic, lol.

I know that not everything will be perfect for the party so I can’t expect anything to be. Remember how I’m an expert “winger”? It serves me well where it relates to stress. I tend to be pretty laid back in these situations given what’s about to happen and figure, “if something doesn’t get done, it’ll be ok.” No one will die, right? I mean, unless I have some kind of crazy poison out on the cabinet listed as punch, but I don’t make poison any more so…. But I do want my guests to have a fun experience from the moment they walk onto my property until they walk off. Or are carried off. I don’t judge.

I knew Pinterest would be my friend. So I started researching party ideas waaaay ahead of time. I made a list of high-level TO-DO’s in the beginning that I kept with me at all times and added more detail as the planning progressed. Here’s my high-level list:

  1. Theme
  2. Guest List
  3. Food
  4. Drinks
  5. Entertainment
  6. Party Favors

I would take a picture of the ACTUAL list and show you but what ended up happening was that I would be at work and have an epiphany and make a note for my list on my work notes. So instead of having ONE MASTER LIST (cuz I supposedly kept it with me all the times, right? WRONG. I lose stuff sometimes.) I had one mommy list and a litter of baby lists. Don’t do that. Halfway through I realized that one thing I ALWAYS have is my phone. Insert list. By keeping my list on my phone it was all right at my fingertips. Let’s review:
Lesson 1: list your to-dos

Lesson 2: put the list in your phone. Unless you’re Amish. Or lose your phone a lot and don’t back it up. Or you’re in prison. But then you prolly won’t be throwing parties. Maybe, I don’t know. I haven’t seen the latest season of Orange is the New Black so I could be missing something. Anyway, back to party planning.

The theme was easy for me. First of all, I wanted the party to be welcoming and comfortable. Not pretentious or stuffy. Also, I LOVE to dress up in costumes. LOVE IT. It’s Christmas time ‘round these parts so I immediately decided on an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. Fun, festive, as unpretentious as you can get. If someone doesn’t wanna dress up or for some reason can’t, no biggie. Let’s do it.  As for decorations that match your theme, Lesson 3: go to Amazon.  Feel free to shop around, but ALWAYS CHECK AMAZON.COM.  Chances are, you’ll find what you’re looking for at amazing prices.

The guest list. For this party, the guest list was simple. I wanted to have all of our friends, family, and neighbors over as a way to say “Thank You” for their support and help with the move. I wanted everyone who has made a positive impression on our lives in our house so we could celebrate them.  That’s what this was about. I’m positive I didn’t include everyone. As hard as I tried not to leave anyone out, I’m sure I did. You know what that means!!!  ANOTHER PARTY!!!

My hubs and I got married in Vegas with just my bestie and her super-awesome hubs. We always expected to have a reception and celebrate with everyone when we got home and things “settled” down. Breakin’ News: “Settled” doesn’t exist. So, in a way, I saw this as our chance to celebrate everything that’s happened over the past 6 years. Our engagement, our wedding, our first house, our babies, our second house, our friends, our new rescue dog, my new shoes… wait. I’m off track again. Anyway, I figured maybe half of the people we invited would be able to make it. I was wrong. All but about 5 families were able to take time out of their schedules during the holidays to help us celebrate. That’s a reason to celebrate in and of itself.

Next up, FOOD. I severely under budgeted. In my Type-Meh mind I assumed that buying tons of food would some how equate to a cheaper per person rate. In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t. I also thought that having heavy hors d’oeuvres would be a good idea. They’re little, they’re filling, and they’re prolly much more economical. Not true on the economical part. So if you’re trying to decide how much to budget for catering a party, Lesson 4: plan on $15 USD per person as an average. Going with hors d’oeuvres can increase that to about $18 per person if you’re using good, quality caterers, which is definitely the way to go. Don’t skimp on the food.

In keeping with the laid back atmosphere I was aiming for, I went with BBQ. It was delicious. The kind of delicious that makes you wonder if there’s crack in it. If you happen to be located in the Atlanta, GA area, ‘Cue BBQ is AH-MAH-ZING. I called them up at the Milton location, got a quote, Julie was extremely helpful and patient, answering all of my questions and giving me time to shop around. She even suggested food amounts given the expected number of guests. In the end, there was plenty of food, some left over, and people are still stopping me to thank me for the delicious food and to tell me how much they love ‘Cue. All in, tip included (that’s what she said), it was just over $12 per person. Not bad at all.

For appetizers, I highly suggest Costco if you’re doing them yourself. If you don’t have a membership, find someone who does, someone who won’t steal your money, and get them to buy frozen appetizers from Costco. For $11 USD per box you can get 48 Mediterranean-style tapas and for the same price, 100 assorted appetizers like pigs in a blanket, chicken and mushroom turnovers, and potato puffs. Just pop them in the oven and voila. Well, it felt like “voila”. Easy and tasty, just like me.

Here’s the next lesson: Lesson 5: You’ll need to bake the appetizers about 45 minutes prior to the guests coming over if you are doing them yourself. Luckily, my mom and aunt showed up early because there is NO WAY I could have done this without them. They totally took care of that for me so I could finish getting ready. Next time, I’ll bake them about an hour ahead of time and prepare to either keep them warm in the oven or have a chafing dish ready to keep them warm. Trying to get ready and finish up the details was not something I could do on my own. And as wonderful as my husband was at getting things done, he was focused on the “man things” like the yard.  Another lesson I learned but won’t number: check the oven before you turn it on. My husband stuck the pizzas for the kids (boxes and all) in the oven to keep them warm and I almost burned down our home. Oops.

Drinks. Ah, drinks. I knew I wanted to serve a drink to the adults as they came in.  I found an apple cider mimosa drink that I thought was festive and fun.  Done.  All I needed were champagne flutes.  Amazon.com had a pack of 48.  Done.  Lesson 5: don’t skimp by purchasing cheep champagne flutes.  The bottoms kept falling off and they were really flimsy.  Get the good ones that arrive assembled in one piece.

I was totally lost about how much alcohol to get. So, I did what any self-respecting unprepared female does… I consulted Pinterest. And Pinterest lied. I thought it would be my friend and it let me down. The chart I found stated that for 30 people, you should have 16 bottles of wine, 3 cases of beer, and 5 bottles of liquor. Done. We were expecting about 55 adults and I’m in charge of the wine. I’m gonna knock this OUT. So I just doubled the suggested amount of wine. AAaaand I had about 20 bottles left over. Good news: just like a good casserole, it’ll stay. (Get the Zoolander reference? No? Dam. Oh, well.) I have enough for several more parties. Several. I also made 2 types of sangria (Pomegranate and Wicked Apple) and a pre-dinner drink, Apple Cider Mimosas. Overboard? Maybe. Necessary? Yes. Lesson 6: Include other cocktails in your drink count and for a party of 55 people, you’ll only need about half of what Pinterest says. Cuz Pinterest lies.

Lesson 7: Set up the non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of water. Cuz I forgot. What had happened wuz that I thought my hubs had grabbed them out of my car. He hadn’t. And I was too preoccupied to realize it until guests started asking for it. Oops. Also, make sure you CLEARLY label what is alcoholic and what isn’t.

Entertainment. One thing we did that I think was well received: we had sitters over to help watch the kids. There were only 2 of them for about 45 kids so I just asked them to try to make sure no one gets hurt or hurts the house. Honestly, we could have used a few more people to help them out because I know it wasn’t an easy job. But the parents didn’t have to worry about finding and paying for a sitter and they could enjoy themselves knowing that their kids were safe and right downstairs. If you’re inviting the kids, include some things that are age appropriate for them to do so that they aren’t released into the wild and left to their own devices. We had coloring books, crafts, and movies to keep them busy. And at some point Nerf guns. So we all felt safe.

As for the adults, football, music/movies, alcohol, and A PHOTOGRAPHER. Y’all, if you’re having a party of significance, I suggest getting a photographer to take good, professional pics. Laura Breese in Atlanta is awesome. She used to take care of my babies so I know she’s trustworthy and she happens to take a damn good picture. You don’t have to worry about carrying around your phone hoping to get pictures of everything. Believe me, she captured moments and images I would never have thought to get. She even offered to take family pics for our guests in front of our tree for anyone who wanted them for cards or whatever.

As guests left, I wanted them to have something useful that they could keep as a way to say “Thank you for coming” (that’s ALSO what she said). Since it was a housewarming party, I was looking for something that brought that to mind. I found an antique skeleton key bottle opener on Amazon. PERFECTION. A simple, small token with a practical use. I ordered a box of 50, a little apprehensive that we might not have enough. We were expecting about 55 adults and I wasn’t sure if each adult would take one or if they would take one per family. My biggest fear throughout this whole planning process was that we wouldn’t have enough of something. I wanted to do this right and not skimp on anything. Turns out, we had a good number left over. I wrote a little note to attach to each and boom. Done.

Overall, I measured success by the number of smiles I saw, laughs I heard, and hugs I received.  It was a great night.  One I hope I never forget.  And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.  If you’re reading this and you are one of the ones who came out, I hope you enjoyed it and I can’t wait to do it bigger and better next time. (That’s what she said).  If you’ve read this to get prepared for a party you’re planning, I hope this helps.  Let me know how it goes!

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How I Feel Pretty

I have a whole blog dedicated to being so “pretty” that bad things can’t affect me. In case you’ve read everything on my site and still wondered what tha hell is going on here, that’s the tongue-in-cheek intent behind the space I take up on the “internets”. But there are many, many days that leave me not feeling so pretty.

I’ve allowed years of my life to pass by me while I live in a fog on autopilot so that I don’t have to feel. Sometimes life’s shat gets stuck on my shoe and I can’t get it off. Now, maybe I’m off base here, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I’m not alone in this. So how do we get our mojo back once the fog lifts and we wake up?

As a girl I dreamed of growing up so that I could BECOME THE BEST EVERYTHING AND THE WORLD WOULD REALIZE MY GREATNESS. I was totally unprepared for the infinite number of reinventions that we have to go through as women. We’re constantly having to adapt and change and it seems like as soon as we get one situation under control and feel comfortable with ourselves relative to our surroundings, life snatches the rug from under our feet. We’re left crying on the bathroom floor one month away from being homeless and destitute and trying to figure out our next move without having to call our parents AGAIN to bail us out.

When I was a flight attendant, the saying went that all of the best flight attendants are “fluid and flexible”. In that world you have to be. Schedules are constantly changing, you’re part of one team and perfectly in synch only to have someone on another crew call out so guess what- you’re now on that crew. And you’re responsible for the safety of hundreds of people, several times a day, that you’ve never met. I was totally unaware at the time how applicable this is in every day life.

College was the first time I’d really ever been away from home. I had a really hard time adjusting mentally. I was a total stranger to myself. I had no idea how great I was at being me so I tried to control EVERYTHING. I think my entire freshman year was spent in a fog grasping at straws that kept slipping through my fingers. I’d lost my granddad to cancer, my family was experiencing issues that I couldn’t fix, and I was torn between being able to make my own decisions and not wanting to let anyone down. But slowly I learned to navigate.

By the end of college I had it all figured out. I was confident. I felt comfortable in my own skin. I remember the cruise I went on with my roommates for spring break (which also happened to be my 21st birthday). It was seven days of fun with my best friends. And for seven whole days I felt pretty. Because I was happy. I look back at pictures and I’m so nostalgic for that experience. The ship was old, our rooms were small, but we didn’t care! We were having too much fun to worry about that. It was my first time on an airplane. My first time on a ship. My first time on a tropical island. I felt so free and happy.

It feels like every time I can say “I feel pretty” it follows that same pattern of feeling free and confident. And it usually follows a time I’ve conquered a “first”. My first tattoo, moving to Italy by myself, realizing I was making a life for my daughter and me, coaching little cheerleaders and hearing them laugh and have fun, all of these things that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do but I did! And it’s realizing those milestones that I never thought I could do that make me feel pretty. It’s bigger than superficial attractiveness. It’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that tells me I’m more capable than I ever thought possible.

If I’m being honest, I haven’t felt pretty for a while now. I’ve been in a fog. I feel out of control. It’s all my doing. I’ve lost my voice. I’ve lost command of my life. It happens. When you become a mom and a wife and an employee and a boss and a mortgage payer, and a loan payer, and the kids want to play sports and go on field trips, and have growth spurts so you have to buy new clothes again for the child that just outgrew everything last month, and everything else that goes with living, it’s easy to flip the switch to autopilot and let yourself glide through the motions of life with no purposeful intentions to guide your plane to the destination you want.

But then you wake up one day and you itch for something different {hopefully it’s not THAT itch}. You may not know what you need or how to get it. You just now that where you are isn’t where you want to be. It’s time to stretch. Get fluid and flexible again. It’s time to rebrand yourself and get out there.  And remember that it isn’t going to happen all at once.

So, I’m off to put my big girl panties on and make a plan. It just takes one step. No more excuses.

How many times have YOU had to rebrand yourself? Lost count? Me, too.

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Thanksgiving Spirit

It’s almost Thanksgiving, y’all. The spirit of giving thanks is all around. To perpetuate that spirit, I’m going to share with you an experience I just had with a lovely woman that, I feel, will leave you all questioning your own giving spirit, wondering what more you can do to be more like her. Sit back, enjoy, and allow this to enable a moment of self-reflection.

As I do everyday, this morning I ordered my Starbucks coffee and breakfast on my mobile app, parked my car inside the lines of the parking space I chose (I’m getting really good at that now; it only took me 2 years!!), and turned off my car to grab my stuff and go inside.

Before I could get out of my car, I heard a “thud” and my car moved! An earthquake! It must be! But, in Atlanta???? I look over to my passenger side to see a lady give me a nasty look as she’s getting in her car. That’s right, y’all. She purposefully hit my car with her car door. Now, I could have done nothing. But that’s just not who I am.

So, all 5 feet, 2 inches of me steps out of my car and walks around to see if my car has been damaged. As I do that, I look over at her and she rolls down her window. That’s right. I witnessed a Thanksgiving miracle. She was able to get into her car! How was that possible when I was parked so closely??? Y’all, she must be in God’s favor. In a minute, you’ll see that’s obvious.

With her window down she says, “You nee ta park in tha lines ness time!” To which I replied, “I did!” and motion to my tire, which is clearly on the correct side of the line.  As evidence, I submit the following two pictures.  The first shows that I AM parked inside the line (I’m the red car, BTW) and the second shows a bigger car that parked in the same space after her with both doors wide open.  Without (and this is the kicker) smacking my car {SHOCKED FACE!}.

parked-car-1

 

 

parked-car-2

 

As she backed away from me and my Chihuahua-esque furiousness she yells, “Happy Thanksgiving, BITCH!” Clearly a nod to my Lola. She’s so thoughtful! Although I’m not sure how she knew I had Lola… she must follow me on Instagram.

Luckily my car’s ok. No scratches. I wished her well as she drove off. Have any of you had holiday encounters that embody the spirit of giving quite like this one?

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