Self Centered…

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With the new year ringing in I sat down with my better half to review the goals we had made just a year before.  We had separated the goals into categories of couple, family, Erik and Brooke. Reading over the words that streamed across the lined paper torn from a notebook, we began our year in review.

Tackling the goals under the family category we were able to place a nice and neat check mark next to each goal oriented task. Moving on to the “couple list” we were about 50% successful when it came to achieving the goals we had placed on our list. As we moved on to the objectives listed under each of our names it wasn’t even close to 50%. Though 2015 was incredibly successful to the outside world, what we had hoped for when it came to our individual achievements, it all had fallen sort of short. The first half of 2015 was full of a focus on our health and relationships, self and family. I could go on and on about the things we accomplished and experienced in the first half of 2015 that were more centered on self and family. However as the seasons changed so did our focus and responsibilities.  Looking at the lists and talking about the 365 days we had just lived out, 2015 had started exactly where and how we wanted. However, midway through the year the goals we had intended somehow had been forgotten as we became responsible for other things, other people and other responsibilities not to mention taking on bigger adventures and milestones.

Browsing homes turned into buying a home. Preparing for school turned into all three kids attending school.  A conversation grew into a new position at a new company. A vision of starting a MOPS ministry turned into building and coordinating the living breathing group. Jokes about a puppy gave birth to a new furry and energetic family member. Thoughts of volunteering turned into dedicated time to others. Lazy Saturday mornings turned into scheduled mornings of hockey, dance and karate. Savings went into new patios, house furnishings, paint and other fixer upper needs and wants.

Before we knew it the holidays came and went, with 2015 coming to a close. The birth of 2016 rushed in, right in our faces screaming like a newborn infant.  Just like giving birth to a new baby, I was literally exhausted in the first weeks of the new year. Rather than crawl into bed to hide from the cold and the planning of a new year, I rummaged through notes, calendars, old blog posts and old goals. I came up with a top-secret plan for 2016 that my family, my husband and myself could all benefit from and all enjoy in the process. Last year was the year of simplicity while this year would be “Self Centered Bitch Year”.

My hope for 2016 is to end it with check marks next to every single individual and couple goal. I want us to focus on ourselves this year. I want us to be self-centered bitches, demanding that we need time to grow and rest, doing what we want to because our hearts tell us so. I don’t want to worry if we are doing enough for others or if we are making everyone else happy or living up to the standards that Facebook subconsciously nails into our heads each day.

Being with my family makes me so incredibly happy.  Spending alone time, whether at a fancy restaurant or on the couch watching “Making a Murder,” with my husband makes my soul feel complete. Writing, reading and wandering though my mind in solitude without another soul in the vicinity puts me in balance providing enough motivation to rule the world. Why deny myself and my family of these precious moments, this happiness and passion? I cannot think of a single reason why, but I can think of five reasons why I shouldn’t … Brooke, Erik, Braxton, Travis, Hailey.

 

 

 

 

Bi-Polar Express

Bi-Polar

Confession: While Travis had the stomach bug, Polar Express was played on repeat for 7 hours. I’ve never hated the sound of Tom Hanks voice so much as I did that day.

That day has turned into a metaphor for my holiday season … a Bi-Polar Express on constant repeat with singing, chocolate, sparkles and Santa in my face taunting me like a relentless car salesman.

Choo-choo.

There’s so much that I want to see and do but there’s so much that I “have to” see and do. So much planning and conspiring. It seems this Bi-Polar Express is a common theme for women during the holiday season. I see it in the eyes of my friends. I hear it in the voice of strangers. I read it in the pages of my favorite magazines. I watch it on the cheesy Hallmark movies.

Choo-choo, the Bi-Polar Holiday Express is in full throttle.

Christmas menus. Christmas gifts. Christmas wrapping. Christmas programs. Christmas traveling. Christmas cookies. Christmas charities. Christmas trees. Christmas cards. Christmas elves. Christmas EVERY. THING.

Choo-choo.

Facebook is of no help during this season of Bi-Polar Express. I feel as if I have a scarlet letter across the chest of my Facebook profile picture as my feed pukes pictures of families doing each and every Christmas event in the 20 mile radius of our home as I travel only 5 minutes within the vincinity of my home.

Choo-choo.

As an introvert I find my self sweating just thinking about attending all 157,345 family events that are offered during Christmas in Chicagoland. Give me some really good eggnog, a present at the top of my list, Holiday Inn on the television, “Drummer Boy” playing on the radio and my family around my table and I am set. But some how my vision of the perfect holiday is one that isn’t highlighted on the cover of Family Fun magazine. I’m pretty sure that a picture of me holding a cup of eggnog, eating a GLUTEN filled cookie, in my robe on the couch as I watch the Bishop’s Wife would not get a single Facebook LIKE compared to the pictures I see of families decked out in matching Christmas attire as they walk hand in hand down the Magnificent Mile after a day of attending all 157,345 Chicagoland Christmas events, without a single child having a public meltdown.

Choo-choo.

Even the Gremlin on the Shelf is taunting me, judging me. Asking with his brightly painted blue eyes if I was doing enough in the world of elves? Was just placing his little felt demon body on a shelf good enough? According to Pinterest and Facebook, it was not. Articles with titles such as  “Most Creative Elf Sightings”  and “Clever Elf ”  fill my inbox and news feed. It turns out the phrase Elf on the Shelf is to ONLY be used when describing where you bought him/her, not where you are actually to place the tiny judgmental figurine.

Choo-choo.

So what if, like the little boy on Polar Express, I pulled that massive STOP lever. Would I be greeted by Tom Hanks telling me that I did the right thing? That yes, it was okay to only attend the 3 events I liked of the 157,345 offered events? That posting pictures of my kids sweaty and in un-matching outfits on Santa’s lap on Facebook was okay and that drinking eggnog is not a thing of the past?  That making no-bake cookies was A-Okay? Would he tell me that all “the other stuff” was just that … stuff? All the sparkle and the To-Do lists were just a mad commercialism cover-up?  Would this Tom Hanks sounding man look a little like Jesus? Or maybe even resemble your children as they ask to just stay home to watch Home Alone for the 10th time. Whatever he may be in your world, I bet he’d simply  ask “What’s your reason for the season?” And you better have a damn good reason besides the Joneses.

Choo-choo.

 

 

 

A Back Burner Babe.

Back Burner

“Look at her, she is one smoking hot Back Burner Babe.”

I’m pretty sure no one has said, “Wow she looked really sexy with her unwashed hair, no makeup and a worn-out cotton from head to toe fashion statement.” If they did, they would be talking about me.

A Back Burner Babe.

My ability to put myself on the back burner with such ease has lead me to the brink of a burnout look. I would describe my look as Back Burner Babe or Triple B. The Triple B is one that finds other tasks to fill the time rather than taking a shower, blowing out her hair or applying makeup. The Back Burner Babe can be found wearing an assortment of attire that is usually made of cotton and holds a level higher when it comes to comfort.  As an example of a back burner babe my hair is often in a pony tail or tucked under hat to hide the fact that I didn’t wash it today or didn’t feel like putting the time into “doing it.”

A Back Burner Babe.

Somewhere in the last year I’ve managed to slowly allow myself to wander closely to the edge of looking like I was just mugged in some dark alley. It’s become even easier to sport the look since joining a gym, now my fitness classes run into school pick-ups and drop-offs which lead into lunch or dinner which lead into errands and evening routines of baths, homework and stories which leads me right into bed with the same ponytail and plain face (minus  the yoga pants) that I rolled out bed with.  I’m ashamed to admit it since I have spent numerous seasons of Biggest Loser passing judgment on those that recited the cause of their situation as “I lost myself” or “It was easy to put the needs of my family before mine, and I never had the time.” I never understood and assumed it was just an excuse. But at the present day, I DO understand and have become an example of this too real excuse. It’s not an excuse these women had become Back Burner Babes too.

A Back Burner Babe.

I’ve tried my best in recent weeks to eliminate the excuse and make an effort to blow out my hair and apply more than just mascara. But when I do it’s such a foreign thing to my children that they bombard the bathroom as if it were some sort of amusement park. Scrambling to grab brushes off the counter while sticking their germy little fingers into pots of eyeliner and spreading lipstick across their tiny lips. The deed of applying makeup that I once enjoyed has become a form of torture and stress. Going without the stuff becomes a source of peace that now has turned into a shame.

Back Burner Babe.

I question if I am the only one who is doing this. What is the secret of these other put together mothers? How do they do it and what do they do with their children? Am I just in this era of struggle with priorities and sacrifice, where my children have become more important to myself rather than my self? I envy my friends that are able to put together outfits that looks as if they stepped from the pages of j.crew or leaves their home with a mane full and soft as if they just left the salon.   Surrounded by these beauties is me … the Back Burner Babe. Woe is me.

As we enter into a time of conjuring up lists of resolutions for the new year, one is at the top of my list … figure out a way to jump from that pot of forgotten muck on the back burner into the frying pan on the front burner that is smokin’ hot.

Yours Truly,

The Back Burner Babe

All I want for Christmas are two electronic keys.

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A month ago I left my home and usual schedule for 24 hours with three dear mommy friends. We began our adventure over lunch in an adult restaurant. No kid’s menu in view. The lunch was the start to a day full of massages, pedicures, lounging, talking, adult drinks and finished with a night in crisp white sheets in a dark room of a fancy hotel where no children could be heard and no beds would be shared.

The below request from Santa was inspired by this 24 hour extravaganza. I highly recommend all parents to add two electronic keys to a fancy hotel room to their list this year. (My husband and I will be cashing ours in next weekend.)

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas are two electronic keys to a fancy hotel room.

A suite furnished with a nice comfy bed adorned with crisp white sheets that I do not have to clean or straighten. A spotless penthouse with no children or husbands to care or cook for. A giant television not playing football or cartoons but rather HGTV, Food Network or TLC. A short elevator ride to the hotel spa where I am the one pampered and cleaned, making changing Pampers diapers and cleaning butts a distant memory. A room that sparkles and gleams with a shiny telephone allowing the only finger I need to lift is one to press the number associated with room service or housekeeping. No dishes to be done and no vacuums to be pushed. No fights or screams over toys or bedtimes, only silence and the hum of a mini-fridge stocked with free snacks and drinks.

All I want for Christmas are those two electronic keys to my fancy hotel room.

Dear Santa, what I need. What I want.

A makeover is what I need. A makeover is what I want.

Pluck stray hairs and rid my skin of dull dry skin, polish and soften from the top of head to the tips of my toes.

A makeover is what I need. A makeover is what I want.

Color my hair with overpriced vibrant colors. Cut and trim my split-ends with fancy sharp scissors.

A makeover is what I need. A makeover is what I want.

Paint and highlight my face, fingers and toes with the perfect colors from pricey palettes of organic ingredients that would make all those with Kardashian DNA envious.

A makeover is what I need. A makeover is what I want.

Taking me out of my worn hoodies and skinny jeans. Stick me in lush, soft and silky underwear and clothing that you would find on Oprah’s Christmas Wish List.

A makeover is what I need. A makeover is what I want.

Teach me as you go and set me free with freebies and instructions on how to keep up your beautiful work.

A makeover is what I need. A makeover is what I want.

More of.

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Grateful for Braxton’s sensitive heart and creative mind. Thankful for Travis’s strong love for his mommy and long-winded storytelling.  Filled with gratitude for Hailey’s ability to forgive and forget while finding humor in the most dull moments.

I want to be more like my children.

Thankful for my husband’s sense of humor and ability to make me laugh.  I give thanks for his gestures of touch and his need to be touched. Grateful for a partner who balances and accepts my faults.

I want to be more like my husband.

Gratitude for my closest friends, the cheerleaders of my dreams and keepers of my secrets. Thankful for the creativity and ease of motherhood with which my buddies exude on a daily basis.

I want to be more like my friends.

Thankful for the individuality of each of my family members. Grateful for the unconditional love that only strengthens with time. Filled with only gratitude as I am reminded of who I am at heart with each time I speak with my relatives.

I am who I am because of my family.

Grateful for my obsession with all things healthy and all things natural. Giving thanks for my ability to read others quickly and carefully. Thankful for my willpower and knowledge that everyday is a new day.

I want to be more my “self”.

Grateful for what I have. Thankful for those in my life. Giving thanks that I am able to grow with each day. Gratitude for the lessons I am gifted with each passing breath and the loved ones I am learning them from.

More grateful. More gratitude. More thanks. Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Women: Frantic Hamsters

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Frantic hamsters.

As I talk to more women it seems that we all begin to follow this path of check marks and lists. A list for yourself, a list for your marriage, a list for your children, a list for your life. It doesn’t matter if a woman is a mother, married, employed, young or old even our hobbies have rules and expectations set by not only our culture but ourselves. Consistently striving to reach a level of perfection that once achieved will only morph into another level to reach. A snowball effect that ultimately means perfection will never be achieved, leaving us women to run like frantic caffeinated hamsters on hot pink wheels in a plastic cage of life that we’ll never escape.

Frantic hamsters.

To further push this idea of perfection into the spotlight, like a carrot held out of reach of a ravenous rabbit, is the guilt that forces it’s self onto women day and night. A crazed little monkey holding tightly to your neck riding your back until you feel as if you can no longer breathe.

Frantic hamsters.

When I was in college I never worried, I let everything just happen.  I never worried about money or clothing or my weight. I never worried about what my house looked like when we had a party or meal planned for a week in advance. I didn’t think about failing and only thought about succeeding. I never lost sleep over things that were out of my control, I just let life happen. I wore what I wanted to and said what came to my mind. I made friendships that meant something and made no effort to small talk with people I didn’t care for. I let life happen. Now all I do is plan. Filling days with check marks and lists. I don’t let anything just happen.

Frantic hamsters.

Never saying “self-look what you HAVE done today!” rather than “what more COULD have you done?” Then the creation of the To-Do List for the following day begins. Knowing but not embracing that there is only REAL time in this moment now, the past is no more and the future isn’t even here.  Instead of flourishing in  It doesn’t matter if a woman is a mother, married, this exact moment we start preparing for what is to come and step over what is exactly here now. Failing to let it all just happen now.

Frantic hamsters.

What if women (and men) were to just let life happen? Would it be so bad? Reflecting on those days of no worry with life just happening, I recall only happiness and a sense of comfortable content. I think that’s why I love having infants because during that first year of baby everything is so unpredictable that there isn’t a need for check marks and lists, there’s only living (or if you have twins,surviving). All you worry about is holding this little amazing bundle of love that you created and life just happens. That frantic hamster doesn’t exist, that pink wheel is donated to Goodwill and life is good.

Frantic hamsters.

I don’t want to be a frantic hamster anymore, but I also don’t want to have another baby in order to donate my hot pink wheel of anxiety. I do want to start letting life just happen. I want to embrace the only REAL time we have. I want  to flourish in this exact moment because we aren’t guaranteed the next. I’m challenging my control freak self to let life just happen. In turn I challenge all of you to do the same.

Frantic hamsters unite.

Put away the hot pink wheels in the form of To-Do Lists, Pinterest boards, recipes and pedometers. Stop planning the next moment and live in the present. It’s amazing the amount of stress and anxiety that melts away and doesn’t actually exist when the layers are peeled away. Take inspiration from the leaves of autumn. Let the expectations and rules go, turning from vibrant colors in our lives to dark brittle dust that’s whisked away by the brisk winds of a new season of life, a season of happening, not planning.