Mother’s Day 2017 Thoughts

Mother’s Day. It’s a special day honoring the women whose love and influence has shaped us into who we are today. This is my mother, the strongest woman I know. She is a business owner (shameless plug here), lover of the outdoors, and has taught me the importance of loving animals. She has always been the perfect balance of friend and mother, and if I can someday be half the mother she is, I’ll consider myself a good parent. I’m so grateful to have had her support over the years, including my MSW graduation THREE years ago today.

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Bottom line: Treasure the time you have with your mother, because only when you move away will you realize how much having her close by was so wonderful.

Mother’s Day can also be a very rough time for those who have either lost their mothers or desire to be one and it hasn’t happened yet. It is easy to feel alone when you’re scrolling Facebook and see everyone’s Mother’s Day posts. You know what?

You’re not alone.

There is someone else out struggling just like you are.

More often than not, someone has endured a hardship and kept silent about it.

Lastly, stop scrolling.

On this particular Mother’s Day, I was fortunate to be surrounded by my husband; my church family; lunch with neighbors who took us under their wing and act as surrogate parents; and my fur babies, all five of them.

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This dog has the good life.

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So content in her special spot.

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So many personalities in these felines.

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Until the time comes for me to be a mother, I will savor every moment of my fur baby motherhood and always cherish those who have made a difference in my life: My own mother, my grandmothers I lost too soon, and my mother-in-law. Thank you for all that you are to me. I love you.

Words to the Young

For my 28th birthday in February, my husband bought us tickets to see Florida Georgia Line, a country duo I have been obsessing over since “Cruise” blew up the radio in 2012. I finally got to experience my birthday present last night, and I must say: I haven’t felt that old in a very long time. The younger crowd didn’t know the lyrics to the Backstreet Boys covers, I was yawning by 8:30 (side note: The concert started at 7:00), and I kept wishing ear plugs would be readily available because my ears would not stop ringing. I also found myself wanting to look at some of the girls in the crowd and say, “Please keep your shirt down and your pants up. No one needs to see that.” Ten years ago, I would have never thought to say that to anyone. After all, I was only 18 at the time, which was roughly the same age most of the concert-goers appeared to be. Anyway, all day I have been thinking about things I want my future daughters to know, not just about themselves, but other people as well. They’ll be 18 one day and then 28 another, and it’s extremely important they keep some basic things in mind whatever age you are.

  1. Seriously. Keep your shirt down and your pants around your waist. I don’t care how if you are an “A” cup or a “D” cup: Keep them covered. Someday, your husband will be asking to see more of them, so save the show for marriage. Oh, and the super low waist pants that were so popular 15 years ago? They aren’t anymore. The high waisted mom jeans are back.
  2. Comfort really is key. I cannot tell you how many times I would laugh at my mom for telling me to bring different shoes, pack a jacket, and wear a comfy pair of pants. Now, her words of wisdom are all coming back, and I was extremely grateful to be in jeans, a casual shirt, and sneakers last night. Do you really think the woman who came out of the bathroom continuously adjusting her romper was comfortable? How about the 5 inch stilettos a girl wore while walking like The Hunchback of Notre Dame because she couldn’t stand up straight? You’ll thank me when you aren’t stumbling around barefoot in the parking garage at 11:30 at night, which yes, we did witness as well.
  3. Cake face is not flattering. I enjoy makeup as much as anyone else who semi knows how to properly apply it, and I do love that my features can be enhanced with some CC cream, eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. However, piling on loads and loads of foundation to the point where there are cracks in it is not flattering, on anyone. It’s okay to learn how to apply it; I’m 28 and still don’t know my undertones or what shade I am. However, do yourself a favor and go light on the makeup. Your skin will thank you when you get older, and you can go through your night not worrying if everything looks right. Trust me, you’re beautiful the way you are.
  4. Stop growing up so fast. I was a teenager once, and kudos to you for being one in today’s day in age. There is pressure from every angle to dress a certain way, have the best smartphone, and fit in with the crowd. You know what? Those who don’t pressure you are the ones worthy of your time, not the ones who want you to be someone you’re not. You will end up falling in love with yourself and be who you truly are, and when you do, I can’t wait to see the person you become.
  5.  Bring ear plugs to live music events. I cannot begin to tell you how important your hearing is, and don’t risk losing it by not bringing something as basic as ear plugs to a concert. If you wear your hair down, no one will even see them in your ears!

I am fairly certain that as time goes on, especially when my husband and I do have children, there will be other advice I want them to learn. My mother was a genius and taped motivational and inspirational quotes to my bedroom door as a teenager. Every time I opened it, I would be reminded of how loved I was and how I didn’t have to be anybody that I wasn’t. Does this mean I didn’t want to impress people? No, definitely not. I spent so much time worrying about what jeans to wear with what shirt that looking back, I realize that things would have been simpler if I had just had a smaller wardrobe.

In all seriousness, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today. Heck, I struggle enough as an adult who is closer to 30 than her mid-20’s. Social media is much stronger now than it was even 10 years ago when I was 18, and teenagers are hit with pressure to post the perfect Instagram photo or catch that perfect Snapchat. It is okay to not conform to what everyone else is doing and simply be yourself. After all, who can be better at being you but you?

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the concert was an incredible birthday present. It was announced that Florida Georgia Line will be touring with the Backstreet Boys later this year, so I just need to find another good excuse for my husband to buy me those tickets….

 

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In honor of being together for six years, here’s a throwback to us after dating for a grand total of 8 days. Talk about being young!!

Earth Day 2017-Five Ways to Go Green!

Earth Day is in two days, so let’s talk about some ways you can up your green game. Some are pretty straight forward, but still are some of the simplest (and best!) ways to save the environment and help your wallet.

  • Reusable Napkins. Ignore the pet hair on mine. We have two dogs and three cats, so pet hair is a permanent part of our home, no matter how often we vacuum! The conventional disposable napkin is chlorinated to make it white. Not only is the process extremely toxic to our environment, but do you really want chlorine around the food you eat? Reusable napkins can be neat patterns, are more durable than paper, and last way longer. Purchasing reusable napkins, no matter if you make them or buy a cheap set at Walmart, will save you money in the long run as well because you aren’t buying them so often. fullsizeoutput_3665
  • Reusable Bags. Save those free bags you get at conferences and use them for your grocery trips. Plastic bags are one of the top contributors to pollution in the world (approximately 1 trillion are used and discarded each year with only a small fraction of them being recycled). Did you know plastic is not biodegradable? There are no properties in it that benefit the earth, so any plastic that is used will just sit there. It is easy enough to leave extra reusable bags in your trunk as well for those spontaneous shopping trips we all know happen now and then. If you do get plastic bags, consider taking them to your local grocery store or Walmart for proper disposal. I know ours has a bin at the front of the store to put them. Mine pictured is an insulated Trader Joe’s bag, but I have at least 6-7 I use on a regular basis.

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  • Reusable Water Bottles. This one is a no-brainer. Although it may be convenient to buy a 24 pack of water and grab one as needed, the amount of plastic, both for the bottles and the packaging, is outrageous. Also, the plastic is #1, which should never be refilled due to chemicals leaching from the material. Invest in a stylish water bottle that will make you want to drink water each day. I have the one pictured that I got for $3 at TJ-Maxx and has reusable “ice cubes” in it; they’re BPA free, in case you’re curious. I have a stainless steel one that has served me well in the six years I have had it. Glass it fantastic, but do keep in mind it has a higher chance of breaking. Mine fell off a table and shattered 😦 Some excellent high-quality water bottle brands include Hydroflask, Contigo, Nalgene, Clean Kanteen, and S’Well. Other bottles have filters built-in (Brita makes a good one that can be bought at CVS) in case your tap water may not be the best for drinking. Add some fruit to your water for flavor as well!

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  • Wool Dryer Balls. Typical dryer sheets consist of nothing but chemicals that wreak havoc on your body and are actually flammable. Plus, they are ridiculously expensive. Wool dryer balls work just as well as dryer sheets and are non-toxic. If you like the scent of dryer scents, I highly suggest purchasing a high quality essential oil of your choice (lavender is great) and putting a couple drops on the balls before throwing them in the dryer. I use three balls per load, but when I have more laundry at a time, I will certainly invest in some more. My mom bought these for me years ago, and they have held up to hundreds of washings. I experience minimal static afterwards and feel better knowing I’m not simply throwing away something else to add to the landfill. Not mine, but here is a set in case you’re interested. I wish I knew how much money I have saved by not buying dryer sheets since graduate school!

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  • Storage Ideas. This Star Wars container is PERFECT to store the dryer balls. For Christmas last year, a pair of pajama pants for my husband came in it, and I hated to throw it away. Lo’ and behold, a dryer ball holder came out of it! It adds character to our laundry room too. Reusing items you already own is an excellent way to go green. I feel like every single child learned “Reduce Reuse Recycle” in elementary school, and that phrase holds true well into adulthood. Reusing helps your environmental impact because you’re simply not purchasing as much, which is less that you’ll put in the landfill. Be creative with your ideas; it can be fun to use your imagination!

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These ideas barely scrape the surface of ways to reduce your environmental waste, but are extremely beneficial. What are some of your favorite ways to go green? I’d love to hear them!

Seventh Generation Follow-Up

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry on Seventh Generation’s Dishwashing Tablets I received from Generation Good in exchange for a review. Well, I have been testing them for a month or so and can say with 100% certainty they are just as a good as the dishwashing powder I had previously used. We have extremely hard water at our house, and it’s difficult to find products without chemicals that don’t leave streaks on our dishes. I will say it’s more cost effective to either A) make your own dishwashing detergent or B) purchase the powder version that gives you 70+ loads instead of only 20 for $6-$8 a bag, but if you prefer convenience, these are great. This link provides you with all the information you need to know. If you have tried any other cruelty free and chemical free household products, please let me know!

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Rest, Oh Sweet Rest.

What. A. Week. It was one of those weeks where Friday night couldn’t come soon enough. I bet my husband wishes he would have stayed at his rotation dorm all week instead of coming home!

To begin, we were hit with a massive windstorm that took down 1/4 of the humongus pine tree in our front yard. All the limbs are now out of our driveway, but one section of our yard needs a ton of work to clean up the mess. Thankfully, it fell sideways and not backwards…we wouldn’t have a place to live if it had. I went home to PA over the weekend, and although it certainly wasn’t a wasted trip, I was upset I took a day and a half off of work for something that didn’t even happen. Driving is exhausting. Then Monday night around 8pm, our dogs start going nuts, growling, hair on end, etc. A car broke down in front of our house and two young guys’ Subaru let them sit. Matt will back me up that these guys were not with it AT ALL. Can’t say what drug(s) they were on, but it was obvious it was something. They were covered in mud, as was the car. Turns out they were at the river and the car was stuck in a mud hole. I’m shocked they even got the car out of a mud hole as big  as they one they were in! We gave them until the morning to get their vehicle towed out of our yard. Sure enough: We were woken up the next morning at 5am to the sound of a car trying to start and the dogs barking like crazy. They left by 6:00 and we haven’t seen them since. We got the car towed the next day after much arguing with the Sheriff department and towing company about why they should receive a bill and not us. Do they know their car is in the impound lot? Have no clue, but am thankful it’s out of our yard. Now I just hope they don’t come back….. There was usual chaos at work too, but that’s bound to happen when you are working with people.

Having tonight to myself gave me some time to reflect on this past week and how I get so caught up in the business and stress of life that I don’t take time to do nothing and enjoy it. According to John Lennon, time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted. I better start taking his advice. My self-care is terrible, and as a Social Worker, that’s one thing that’s so important to teach our clients. I work out and eat healthy, but when it comes to actually relaxing, I need to follow the examples below:

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Ahh, the life of a hound dog. Check out Meadow Mutts and Mew Mews blog for more laughter on this rescued pup!

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Why use a dog bed when the pillows are available?

I have coloring books, board games, cards, my computer, and lots of bath bombs to help me relax, but what are some other ways you turn off your brain?

Generation Good

Last year, I discovered Generation Good from a pamphlet sent in the mail. I usually shred anything that resembles junk, but I saw that you can receive products in exchange for reviews and I immediately went to Google it. Sure enough. You can take surveys and leave reviews in exchange for Seventh Generation items, which is awesome because 1) who doesn’t love free stuff? and 2) that is a brand I trust and use anyway. Med school families could always free things 😉 The brand is cruelty free, which automatically makes them a winner in my book, and are free of any of the toxic chemicals found in traditional household cleaners. If you are not into or don’t have the time to make your own, their laundry detergent and dishwashing powder are awesome replacements for conventional brands at the drugstore.

In exchange for a review, I received 20 dishwashing tablets to try and put to the test. I swear by their dishwashing powder, so I have high hopes these will work just as well. I will test them out over the next few weeks and give feedback. If you are interested in becoming a member of Generation Good, try it out here.

*This item was sent to me for free in exchange for a review. I receive no compensation for this product and am not affiliated with the link posted above.

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Control: Who Has It?

It’s the middle of the week, and I am at home hacking my lungs out with a box of tissues on my right and a dog on my left. Oh, and obviously a computer at my front 😉 My arthritic foot has been acting up from the irregular weather patterns and nothing, not even the $40 cream prescribed by the doctor, is working to alleviate the pain. My husband is leaving in two weeks for a month long rotation in Virginia, so I’m trying to mentally prepare myself to hold down the fort alone until the beginning of April. Now that’s what is just going in my immediate household. At work, clients come to me looking for answers. “What can I do with my life?” “I need some direction.” “Can you pay for this or that or the other thing?” In the world around me, I’m nervous for our education system and what may become of it; I’m scared for our Earth if things don’t change; I’m worried about the lives affected as we go backwards towards segregation; and lastly, I fear for the well-being of animals since reporting of cruelty and neglect can no longer be seen on reputable sites like the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). All these things are in my mind at all times, and it wears me down. But guess what?

I CANNOT CONTROL IT.

I do not have all the answers to life’s questions. I do not know why I had to end up with arthritic foot at 26 (maybe God’s telling me to slow down….) or get sick in the middle of important stuff at work. By the time my (future) children will be going to school, our education system could be better than it ever has been; a (future) mother can dream, right? I can be a part of the movement toward change and show integration to those around me. I can continue to recycle and minimize my waste output as steps towards a cleaner Earth. I can also continue to advocate for animal rights and be a voice for those who don’t have one. Giving up control is hard. As a woman with a Type A personality who would much rather lead than follow, I’m all about control. However, I worry myself sick when I don’t have any, and I shouldn’t. Deep down, I know who truly is in control and thankfully, it’s not me.

WHO IS IN CONTROL?

So often, we forget to count our blessings when things are rough and we felt we have lost control of our lives. That is totally normal, and the One who is in control knows it. He knows our desire to be in charge. After all, we know what’s best for ourselves, right? Ehh, not always. More often then not, things happen to make us slow down so we realize how little we are compared to how big He is. That alone is a blessing when you truly think about it. Did we create our immune systems to fight off the infections we occasionally may get? Did we design our bodies to have arms to hold things and legs to get where we need to go? Did we give ourselves a voice to speak up and be heard? We have so much to be thankful for, and I’m going to try and remember that as I go through my day eating soup, drinking tea, snuggling my pups, and binge watching YouTube videos. I encourage you to do the same, no matter what is going on in your life right now 🙂

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From the book, “Contagious Joy” by the Women of Faith series