What’s in a Name?

Recently someone from my past noticed I did not have my husband’s last name listed on my Facebook profile. He’s the first to say something but I’m sure many people have wondered.

It seems on Facebook, anytime you change something people immediately start wondering about your relationship (or mental health) status.  I think it’s a lot more interesting that people imagine the drama, than live in reality.

Here’s the reality…

Sometime after I left my job as a teacher (and during a hateful presidential campaign), I changed my name to Lisa Marie. I did this for multiple reasons, none of which had anything to do with my marriage.

I left my job and was preparing to use my voice in a way I never could when I was teaching. I was creating a blog to advocate for teachers and I planned to use my social media to promote it. I didn’t want my last name, one students and administrators knew me by, to impact my advocacy. I also wanted to preserve it in case I’d return to teaching one day.

As a woman who’s honored her husband by changing her name (twice), I’ve experienced the good and bad parts of a last name.

The good is that there is a legacy in a last name. It takes us back in time and tells a story of our ancestors. We gain knowledge of our culture and pass that on to the next generation. My children carry their father’s name and his culture as well as mine.

Now that I no longer share their father’s name, my children and I don’t share a last name. There is a tinge of anger each time I have to make that distinction.  Aside from my children, many of my accomplishments are in my ex husband’s name. For example, the college degree I worked for has his name on it. Some of my favorite students still refer to me by his last name.

A name that I no longer identify with still carries meaning in my life.  I want those accomplishments to represent me, but somehow they seem to represent him.

The major flaw in a woman changing her last name is her loss of identity.

After literally changing all my identifications multiple times, I’ve learned not to identify by my last name. Lisa Marie is my constant and the hero of my story.

I’m thankful that Brent was proud to give me his last name, but not too proud to understand that maintaining who I am is more important than putting his last name on Facebook.

How Sleep Apnea Can Impact Overall Health

Can sleep apnea actually cause hormonal chaos and even infertility?  It sure can.

My readers know that Brent and I have been on a medical journey over the last 2 years that has taken us away from our intended path of having a baby and led us to a whole new understanding of health.

Since Brent was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor, we have learned that hormones affect more than just reproductive health, they regulate your brain and mental health as well as your heart, blood, digestive, and other vital systems that keep our bodies going.

After medication and a year of environmental changes, Brent’s MRI showed the tumor did not grow and his prolactin levels are in the normal range now. Unfortunately, his testosterone is still low so his doctor is thinking that maybe the brain tumor isn’t the cause.

Brent’s endocrinologist is wondering if sleep apnea is the culprit. Here is what we know and what we are learning about how sleep apnea impacts your health.

Brent was diagnosed with sleep apnea 3 months ago after an at home sleep study revealed low oxygen levels while sleeping. This test just confirmed what I already knew and had been telling him for years (doesn’t wife always know best). Aside from daytime sleepiness and loud snoring, there are common symptoms of sleep apnea that many times only the partner will observe.

The most notable symptom is short periods of absent breathing.

I’ve been kept awake so many times by Brent’s snoring that I know his sleep patterns:

  • He starts with deep breaths and sucks air so hard his entire chest heaves in and out.
  • He struggles so much for air that he actually begins to sweat while sleeping.
  • About an hour into sleep he will sometimes stop breathing for 5-10 seconds at a time.
  • He wakes up often, sometimes without knowing he’s awake.

Sleep Apnea

This unconscious waking throughout the night has actually caused some problems in our relationship. Whether he’s waking up to cough (or spit whatever has been caught in his airway), use the bathroom, or grab a snack or drink from the kitchen, I try to become invisible.

Middle of the night Brent is like an angry, walking beast, unaware of his path or anyone in its way. For this reason, I remain quiet and try to avoid a confrontation at all cost.

The problem is since he’s so tired all the time, he always falls asleep first, sometimes as early as 8pm on the couch. It takes everything in me to wake up this angry beast and hope he peacefully walks into the bedroom and goes back into his slumber. When he doesn’t, a wide range of things can happen:

  • He questions everything I’ve been doing while he’s been asleep.
  • He gets mad if I pick a certain show because I didn’t consult him (in his sleep).
  • He blames me for why he fell asleep in the first place.
  • He’ll put me down for the fact that I don’t have to wake up early like him.
  • The worst is when he asks for sex after being asleep, snoring for hours. When I say no, he gets very angry and takes some pretty good shots at our relationship.

As hard as I try I sometimes find myself in a full argument with a nearly unconscious man who’s snoring has seemed to capture me as its prisoner as much as my poor husband.

I thought this was the worst of it, until Brent’s endocrinologist told us that sleep apnea could be causing major issues in every aspect of his health.

Sleep Apnea

Reproductive Health

At his recent appointment, Brent’s endocrinologist prescribed a CPAP machine to regulate his hormones. What? Could his lack of sleep be causing infertility?

We’ve all heard that our body needs sleep in order to “recharge” and this is so true when it coming to hormones. 70% of the human growth hormone is released during sleep which means most men can replenish all the testosterone they need on a nightly basis. Since Brent is not reaching deep, restorative sleep at night, his body is not producing the testosterone he needs to function during the day.

Aside from low sperm count Brent exhibits no symptoms of “Low T” but there are other hormones impacted when this imbalance occurs, including dopamine, serotonin, and other necessary regulators. When one is out of whack, others are too sending your body into survival mode. When our bodies don’t create it, we look for other means to get it.

For couples trying to get pregnant, low testosterone and low sperm count can be treated with hormone therapy, unless the patient suffers from sleep apnea. Those who suffer from sleep apnea are at risk for heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmia due to decreased oxygen levels, so most doctors will not prescribe hormone therapy until a sleep study is complete and the apnea is resolved.

Blood Flow

Sleep allows our body to repair damage at the cellular level.  Brent works his muscles every day at the gym and at work, but at night he’s not getting the sleep needed to recover.  Since there is a shortage of oxygen in his system at night, his body is creating more red blood cells than needed in order to make up for the shortage. This is why his blood results show elevated hematocrit levels.

Elevated hematocrit can indicate low oxygen levels in the blood. At night while Brent struggles to breath, his system is being deprived of oxygen. His body becomes so accustomed to these low levels that his blood levels remain elevated throughout the day.

Although symptoms of high hematocrit usually include fatigue, headaches, dizziness, and muscle pain, it could cause serious illness such as heart disease, kidney disease and stroke.

We now know that sleep apnea can cause chronic health conditions and may be causing more problems than a pillaging, angry beast in my bedroom at night. The CPAP machine may not be Brent’s ideal sleeping partner, but when I see him with that mask on, he looks like superhero to me.

Want to see Brent’s CPAP journey? Click here.

Fathers-day-loss

To My Husband Who Might Be Suffering on Father’s Day

I wonder if Father’s Day is hard for you.  You count your blessings and remain strong for me, but I wonder if you secretly mourn the babies we lost.  I do.

Society tells you to be strong.  They tell you to “man up” and not show your feelings, so you rarely do, but on days like this, I wonder if your insides burn with what never came to be.

Mine do…

I can’t help but imagine how you would look holding your own baby. His or her tiny body in your giant arms.  The look every dad has in his eyes when he stares at a reflection of himself in amazement.  I’m angry that you have been deprived of seeing the miracle of life, a part of you being brought into this world.

I wonder…

Would he have had your beautiful blue eyes, your tall, strong build, your massive calves?  Would he have your amazing athletic talent, and your annoying competitive nature?  Would she have your ability to turn sun kissed skin into a beautiful bronze tan?  Would she have had your smile that immediately makes everyone happy?


It seems the questions never end.  Even after nearly 3 years of marriage and no baby, people still ask the inevitable question, “when are you having a baby?”  Does your mind scream like mine does?  I want to tell them that we wanted a baby, what we went through to try, the losses we suffered and how hard it was to finally give in to God’s plan.

We now know that there are some things in life you just have to let go of, and have faith that this is part of the journey.

When we met, you weren’t sure if you wanted to date a girl with three kids,

                              5 years later, those blue eyes sparkle when you talk about “our” daughters.

dad-life

Your arms hold them tight when they need a hug or lock them down when they try to get away.   They may not have your bronze skin, but they smile just as big as you when you leap over waves together or build sandcastles in the sun.  They may not look like you, but they’re starting to act like you and will carry the lessons you are teaching them throughout life.

On our wedding day you said, “I believe God put me in your path for more than just one reason, I believe it was for 4 reasons.”  We didn’t know then, that we’d struggle so much trying to grow our family, but I always knew you were meant to be a dad.  

I hope today, and everyday, your heart doesn’t hurt for what never was, but rejoices in what is.

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Prevent Medicine Abuse

5 Ways to Prevent Medicine Abuse

Guest Post By Anita Brikman


Has your teen been hanging out with Dex? No, it’s not a new kid in school. Dex is short for dextromethorphan (DXM), the active ingredient found in most over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines, which some teens abuse to get high. DXM is safe and effective when taken according to labeling instructions, but teens who are misusing these medicines can sometimes take up to 25 times the recommended dose.

Why do teens abuse cough medicine?

Cough medicine is affordable, easily available and teens often believe that DXM is safer to abuse than illegal drugs. Yet, abusing DXM can have extremely dangerous side effects, especially when abused along with other substances, such as alcohol.

The good news? There are five simple ways you can help prevent medicine abuse:

Medicine Abuse

1. Educate yourself

Before reading this article, did you know that one out of three teenagers knows someone who’s abused DXM to get high? Get the facts and learn about the side effects of abuse. You can also stay vigilant by learning about The Stop Medicine Abuse icon – a helpful visual reminder on the packaging of most OTC products that contain DXM.

2. Talk with your teen

It can be tough to have a serious conversation without being met by a series of eyerolls, but communication with your teen is crucial. Believe it or not, studies show teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are 50 percent less likely to abuse substances. Do you need some help getting the conversation started? Try using relevant pop culture events to break the ice or check out this handy infographic with conversation starters.

3. Safeguard your medicine cabinet

Only 44 percent of parents have taken action to safeguard their medicine cabinet. Properly safeguarding medicines doesn’t mean you have to place every single package of cough medicine in a locked safe, but train yourself to notice the types and quantities of medicine in your home.  This way, you’ll know if something goes missing. OTC cough medicine is becoming increasingly harder for teens to purchase given new laws that prohibit the sale of DXM to minors in some states, and reducing the access is a major deterrent.

4. Monitor your teen’s behavior

Skittling. Tussing. Dexing. These are all slang terms that indicate DXM abuse. Monitoring your teen’s behavior is just as important as monitoring your medicine cabinet. Watch for potential warning signs of medicine abuse. In addition to the use of slang words, behavioral changes including increased hostility, declining grades, different friends and loss of interest in hobbies, can be a sign of medicine abuse.

5. Help educate others

Share your knowledge of medicine abuse with parents, teachers, school nurses and other adults in your teen’s life. When your teen is outside your home, make sure those watching or spending time with your teen are also aware of medicine abuse. The more people that are aware of DXM abuse, the better.

You can get more information at StopMedicineAbuse.org or join the conversation by following Stop Medicine Abuse on Facebook and Twitter.


Anita Brikman joined the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) in 2016 and leads the association’s communications and public affairs functions. As a member of the senior management team, she is responsible for establishing and directing the organization’s communications strategies and goals. Anita is passionate about healthcare issues, with over two decades of experience as a news anchor and health reporter in major television markets making- medicine abuse awareness and prevention efforts important to her. She is also the mother of three teenagers.

 

The Problem With Healthy Eating

The problem with healthy eating, is my family.  My kids want to eat junk and turn their nose up at my healthy meals, and my husband is hungry ALL THE TIME.  I know it boils down to personal responsibility but the struggle is real!  It’s a constant battle for women, who are trying to feed their family and make them happy, while maintaining their own health goals.

As far as the gym, I have nobody to blame but myself.  After a 5 week gym hiatus I have about 10 pounds to lose in 6 weeks if I want to be bathing suit ready for our beach vacation.  With that as my motivation, I’m hoping to make that goal possible.

so, What’s My plan?

If you’ve read some of my past health and wellness posts, you know I hate the gym, but it has to become my friend again.  I’ll be back at the YMCA 4 days a week for my Body Pump, Body Combat and Tabata classes.  Each class is an hour and kicks my butt in all the right ways!

Due to the weight loss benefits, I’m going to incorporate apple cider vinegar in my homemade salad dressings and to start my morning.  Green tea will also replace any drinks other than water.  To see my recipes, check out my Pintrest board.

Meal Plan

The goal is to eat every 3 hours so I don’t get hungry and eat whatever I can easily grab.  I’m also taking fiber and a probiotic in the morning to help with digestion.

As soon as I wake up:  One cup warm water, mixed with apple cider vinegar, lemon and honey

Breakfast:  1 egg, spinach, tomato bake – or – green protein smoothie w/flax seed

Early Lunch:  Protein and veggie.  This week: Curry chicken with cauliflower rice & stir fry veggies

Late Lunch:  Green salad, no protein.  This week: Modified Cobb and Apple Walnut Salads

Dinner:  Protein and veggie.  Primarily turkey and chicken

Before Bed: Blended chocolate casein shake with scoop of coconut oil

You can find all of this on my 6 week challenge Pintrest board which I’ll be adding to each week. The recipes pinned will have modifications as seen below for the lettuce wraps.  We had them for dinner tonight and they were AMAZING!  Of course my husband, still made himself another dinner.  Why don’t I just make steak and potatoes every night?

I’ll be posting other modified recipes throughout the week.   For now, you’ve got to try these wraps!

Thai Lettuce Wraps

Thai Lettuce Wraps

 

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup minced green pepper
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • I TSP Onion Powder
  • 1/2 TSP Paprika
  • 1 Head Bib Lettuce

Sauce:

  • 2 TBSP Soy Aminos
  • 2 TBSP Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP All Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1 TBSP Honey
  • 1/2 TSP Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 TSP Powdered Ginger
  • Combine all ingredients to make sauce in bowl, set aside


Instructions:

  1. Put turkey in pan, sprinkle with onion powder and paprika.  Cook till pink is gone.
  2. Add peppers and water chestnuts.  Cook 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add sauce, lower heat and cook 5- 10 minutes

Fancy meals, no matter how large the portions, cannot make my family of 5 happy.  It boils down to whether cooking new, healthy recipes makes me happy, and I think it does, most nights.  The other nights, I think I’ll make them do the work and I’ll put my feet up!

healthy eating


What are your family meal plan struggles?

What You Need to Know About The Sat and ACT

For more than 50 years, colleges have been using SAT and ACT scores for student admissions, but some things have changed over time.  For example, the high scores for both the SAT and ACT have changed due to the writing portion of the test. Colleges found the scoring of the essays to be subjective, and stopped considering it.  Therefore, the new scores reflect a composite number without consideration of the essay.  The essay portion is still offered and some colleges encourage it.  

Students can take either the ACT or the SAT unless the college they are applying requires one over the other (very few prefer one over the other).  Colleges look at these scores regardless of whether the student was taught in public school, private school or home schooled.  Both tests are offered on the computer or paper and pencil and the parent/student pays a fee each time a test is taken.  Both tests are offered 6 times per year, outside of the regular school day.

Here is some information you may need to know regarding the SAT and ACT:

SAT

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat

  • Cost is between $45 and $57 depending on whether you take the writing portion
  • Testing time: About 3 hours for the entire test
  • There are 154 questions, not including the essay
  • Students are tested in Reading, Writing, Math, and Science and receive a composite score for each category.
  • The highest SAT score is a 1600
    • Florida State University requires a 560/640 on the Reading, Math and Writing portion
    • To find the requirements at your college of choice, click here.

ACT

http://www.act.org

  • Cost is $42.50 without the essay and $58.50 with the essay.
  • Testing time is just under 3 hours
  • The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions
  • Students are tested in Reading, Writing, Math, and Science and receive a composite score for each category.
  • The highest score on the ACT is a 36
    • Florida State requires an ACT composite score of a 25/29  
    • For more information on average ACT requirements for colleges click here.

If you want more information of which test to take, click here to see a comparison chart.

If you’re going to college, you should start preparing for these tests as soon as possible.  The PSAT can be taken as early as 8th grade.  Even though you may not have all the knowledge to take the test by then, you should begin to familiarize yourself with it.  
Best of luck!

Don’t Get it Twisted, Kids are Being Tested for Profit

First let me say, I realize that testing is a part of life.  Whether our students want to be lawyers, teachers, auto mechanics or beauticians, they have to pass tests to get degrees and certifications necessary for these jobs.  Who doesn’t remember sitting in a testing room for hours while you take an exam that determines whether you pass a course, earn your degree, or get that certification for the job of your dreams?  I get anxiety just thinking about it.

I am not anti testing, but testing in the state of Florida has gotten out of control.

State tests like the FSA and EOC are used by government officials to grant school funding and measure effectiveness.  Jeb Bush is the champion for Common Core, high stakes testing, and linking school funding to student performance.  It’s no wonder that he personally profits from the use of testing companies, like  Pearson, who give millions of dollars to his campaign.  Politicians have found a way to make public education profitable.

The FSA test cost our state $220 million of taxpayer dollars 

Tax dollars are even paying random people to score the test, rather than professionals (see Craigs List ad below).  Apparently a teacher’s degree and professional certification isn’t good enough to score student tests.   

Meanwhile in schools across the state, students are forced to sit in over crowded testing rooms for hours at a time, missing months of valuable instruction per year.

The disruption to student learning cannot be ignored

It’s not just the FSA that’s causing our students to suffer, over the course of one week my daughter sat in a testing room for 16 hours out of her 30 hour school week to take End of Course exams.  She sat next to a boy from Nigeria who speaks little English yet was required to take the test beside her.  His score also counts toward the school’s grade and toward his teacher’s performance pay.

End of Course Exams are now state mandated and are no longer created by teachers

Since 2014, final exams must now be created by people elected by the District, and made according to state standards.  EOC’s are required for every subject, even those without specific standards.  Teachers are not allowed to see the test and when asked for a review, District refers them to a list of 50 generic standards online.

I administered an EOC English test which students reported 14 errors in either grammar, punctuation or spelling.  One question was worded so poorly, we couldn’t even figure out what they were asking.  Teachers are not allowed to help their students and must stress the importance of these tests, even though the tests are an embarrassment and do not support their instruction.

The FLDOE website shows an average of only 50% of students passing their EOC’s 

This is a problem and our teachers are not to blame.  Students are failing because they are not being assessed fairly.  They are being penalized as each EOC counts as 10% of their final grade.  Students who can’t pass the FSA receive a certification of completion rather than a diploma.  Teachers who spent the year watching and celebrating their student’s growth, are helpless at the end of the year.  All due to poorly constructed, high stakes tests.  

politicians are using tests as a weapon to destroy public schools

Since these ridiculous state tests are not required in private, charter or home based schools, frustrated parents are pulling their kids out of public school at alarming rates.  This is not due to failing public schools, this is due to greedy politicians who want to standardize our students and then penalize them when they don’t fit the mold.

If there were no profit in testing, teachers would still be able to assess their own kids.  They would be treated as the professionals they are with degrees and hours of professional trainings each year.   

Article by Jeffrey Solochek, “Pasco County Teachers Raise Concerns About Fairness of District Finals” Tampa Bay Times May 17, 2017

If there was an actual benefit to the FSA and State EOC’s, all schools would use it, including private, charter, and home schools.  If tests were more than just a tool to deny schools funding and teachers the pay they’ve earned, it would actually assess what the kids are learning, after they’ve learned it.  

I love public education and I will fight for it.  I think public school teachers are the strongest, most caring people on the planet.  In spite of all the political interference, they put our children first.  I believe administrators love their school and want the best for everyone, but they’re afraid.  Afraid that if they don’t follow these ridiculous requirements they will lose everything.

Our schools are being blackmailed and need your help.  Stand up for our kids.  Write your superintendent and your legislatures:

  • Tell them your kids deserve to be tested less and taught more.
  • Tell them to throw out this ridiculous EOC and allow teachers to take back their classrooms.  
  • Tell them their tests do not accurately measure your child’s growth and ability.   
  • Tell them you want tests created by the people who actually teach your kids.  
  • Tell them your child is smarter, and better than their test.

In the meantime, look into opting out of the FSA:  https://www.facebook.com/TheOptOutFloridaNetwork/

Make sure your children are taking the proper tests that count for their future.  The ACT and SAT are still required for college acceptance and students can begin testing in 8th grade.  Requirements for the SAT and ACT have changed in recent years.  If you’re interested in finding out more information regarding college acceptance requirements, click here.

If you were asked what you remember most from school, I’m guessing it wouldn’t be testing. Let’s make sure our kids get the experiences and the education they deserve.


For source information click the pictures and links above.

 

To The Man Who Served My Husband Sympathy For Having 3 Girls

To the man who served my husband sympathy,

You may not remember us, but we were the table of 5 that sat in your section on Tuesday night.  You greeted us with coasters, gave us your name and addressed my husband,

“3 girls?  I’m sorry, dude.

Yeah, you sorry alright.  

You’re a sorry excuse to try and bond with my daughter’s proud father by apologizing to him (in front of our girls) for their gender.  As if he is cursed, or less fortunate that God didn’t bless him with a boy.

My husband wanted to put your gangly neck in his 20” bicep while I force fed you the horse shit that just flew out of your mouth, but that would just be uncivilized.  Instead, my husband responded as he usually does when misguided people make comments like this about, and in front of, our daughters,

He simply said, “don’t be. I’m extremely blessed,” and then smiled across the table at our girls.

Once you left, our girls asked, “why did he apologize for us being girls?”  My response to them will come later, but as for you Mr. Waiter…

I don’t believe you’re a bad person.  I won’t even label you a sexist or a misogynist.  I think you are a representation of society’s view of women and your unconscious comment was something you’ve heard and maybe repeated numerous times before.

I mean, who doesn’t already know that girls are way too emotional, and 3 of them?  Forget about it!  My poor husband is going to be a prisoner in his own home with 3 bossy, PMSing girls who make it their mission to bring their cursed misery down upon their old dad.

Those bitches are going to drive him crazy with their non stop talking and drama.  Can a guy just come home to a warm, home cooked meal and a cold beer without their women getting their panties all in a bunch over nothing?

Oh, and just wait until they’re teenagers!  Those curves are just “asking for it” and boys will soon be breaking down dad’s door in hopes his precious little girls will be ready and willing.  You’ll be on 24 hour pussy patrol, and that no longer is a good thing, dude.

You’re screwed either way, Dad.  Bring them up to be ladies who don’t raise their voices, and they could be whores, easy, or loose.  Then again, raise them to be strong women who speak up for themselves, and rejected boys will just call them those names anyway.  

From a reputation standpoint, all a boy has to worry about is throwing a ball without getting called a pussy, or reading a book without getting called a little bitch, or… wait, those are just more labels used against boys that actually insult women.  

Maybe it wasn’t a playful joke and you were sincerely apologizing for the worry Dad will endure by having 3 girls.  Maybe you’re aware that 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age 18 or that young girls are 4 times more likely to be a victim of rape than adult women.  Maybe you were making a joke at the expense of the 20 million women who have been raped at some point in their lives.  I don’t think you’re a bad person, so I’m going to assume this was not your intent.

I believe you meant no harm, it was just a little statement.  I should probably quit being a snowflake and “man up,” but here’s the thing, I have daughters to raise.

sympathy-3-girls

After you left, I told my daughters that girls like them are changing the world.  That once upon a time, girls couldn’t vote but now we represent the majority of voters.  

I told them that once upon a time women couldn’t work, but now the amount of women becoming doctors, lawyers, and accountants has tripled since the 1970’s (maybe later I’ll show them pictures of those bra burning, man-hating feminists).  

I told them they can be heroes, serving as police officers or as one of the 1.6 million women in our US military.  

I told them women represent the largest population in America and that strong, smart girls like them can be intimidating to some boys.  

Then I gave them a wink, and hoped my words answered the question posed by our server, and filled their hearts with courage as they face all the obstacles ahead of them.

When you came back, they smiled like they knew something you didn’t, and they did.

be-the-change

My daughters didn’t deserve to feel bad about being born girls.  While they are not entitled to much, they are entitled to self worth.  You didn’t give them their first lesson in gender bias and it won’t be their last.  They will deal with discrimination from good intentioned, misguided people throughout their lives.  I just hope that this letter, and the faces of my 3 girls, will make you think a little more about who’s sitting at your table.

Sincerely,

Mom to the Smart, Powerful Bosses at Table 23

 

Empower

The Amazing Gift of Empowerment

Maybe I’m just speaking for myself here,  but in my experience, aside from a quiet, peaceful house, there are few things a mom really wants for her birthday:  

  • A tighter ass
  • Perkier boobs
  • Less jelly rolls
  • A whiter smile
  • Fewer wrinkles
  • A cure for chin hair

Okay, maybe just a few things.  My 37th birthday was yesterday and I gave myself a gift nobody else could give me.  I gave myself the gift of empowerment.  As I stood in front of the mirror looking at myself, fully exposed, I thought about all I had endured.  As a girl, as a single, independent, educated woman, as a mother of 3, as a wife; as a lover, as a survivor, as a fighter, I’m all here.

My presence was the best present I got and I didn’t even mean to give it.  My husband and kids woke me up to coffee and gifts.  Before my amazing hubby left, he gave me a $100 bill and told me to go pamper myself (he’s pretty awesome).  By the time noon rolled around, I was just finishing work on my blog and still in my PJ’s.  I decided to take a hot shower and go from there.  

That’s when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Usually I see fat, then I silently berate myself for not going to the gym enough or eating like crap lately.  Usually I see wrinkles and droopy body parts that time (and childbirth) has bestowed upon me.  Usually I see spots, and paleness, and unwanted body hair, and the list goes on, and on, and on.  

Usually I see flaws, but on my 37th birthday, I saw sexiness and felt empowered.  I saw a woman whose strength has carried herself, and her family through sadness, anger, and fear.  I saw lines around eyes that first looked upon the miracle of her daughters.  I saw wrinkles forming around lips that have been given so many reasons to smile and laugh.  I saw soft skin worshipped by a man who loves her.  I saw a beautiful, powerful 37 year young woman.

Did this just happen?  Is it a gift from the universe?  Are my hormones aligned perfectly right now to help me see this beautiful image of myself on the 37th anniversary of my birth?

Nah, although I’m a sucker for Shakespeare, I’m no fortune’s fool.  My life has been a culmination of triumph and failure.  I have overcome challenges and loss.  I’ve created the life I’m living and I’m making a conscious choice not to let insecurity overshadow happiness.

It helps to be surrounded by amazing people.  Parents who aren’t perfect, but have always reminded me of my amazing presence in the world.  My husband who makes me feel beautiful and encourages me in everything I do.  My kids who give me more love than I could ever imagine.  Finally, close friends and family who support me without judgement.  At 37, you pretty much get to choose your circle and I’ve selected carefully.

I spent a lot of time searching for my purpose; wondering, questioning, guilting myself along the way.  I’ve taken a lot of risks in my life in order to find true happiness.  While I will continue to make mistakes and fumble through life, I’ll remember my 37th birthday.  

I’ll remember to take a moment, and give myself the gift of appreciating who I am right now.  From where I’m standing, that naked chick is pretty freakin’ amazing!

3 things you can do to empower yourself today

 Embrace flaws

1.  Embrace your flaws

Our flaws are part of who we are; stop fighting them and start accepting them.  You may never have that squat booty but you’ve worked your booty off to get where you are today.  Eat right, cheat a little, exercise as much as you can tolerate and stop comparing yourself to others who have a different story than yours.

 

2.  Create an unbreakable circle

I already mentioned how important it is to choose a circle of people who encourage, support, love and appreciate you, but I think we all have people in our lives who make us feel bad about ourselves.  I have 2 at the present moment.  These are people who stalk you on social media and find fault with just about everything you do.  As if we don’t already know what our flaws are, these people find it necessary to point them out.  If you’re like me, you’ve tried to be who you think they want you to be, only to fail and feel even more inadequate.   The thing is, to people like this, you will never be skinny enough or pretty enough.  You will never have a better car or bigger house.  These people want you to feel small, because it makes them feel better about themselves.  

Toxic people usually come in and out of your life, and for good reason.  If it’s possible to prevent them for infecting your life for good, move on.  If not, take away their control by being yourself in their presence. Maybe your happiness will infect them (probably not, but it’s worth a shot).

Note:  If you find yourself comparing your armpit fat to the armpit fat of every new girl you meet, it’s not her, it’s you.  Once you can get over your own issues, you’ll develop better relationships, beginning with your relationship to yourself.

 

3.  Be present

Who you were, and who you are yet to be, can only be controlled by how you handle it right now.  If you decide to hold on the your failures and mistakes, or live in fear of what may be (or what may never be), it will distort the image looking back at you.  

Instead, accept who you are right now. Look at your flaws and remember everything that brought you to this moment.  Say them out loud if you’re finding that voice in your head hard to believe.  I promise you will stand taller when you realize how powerful those flaws are to who you are and why you are here.   

If these affirmations don’t work, seek support.  We all need someone in our life we can talk about our fears and inadequacies.  If you don’t have someone, reach out via support groups online.  If you need information on support groups out there, please let me know.

My 37th birthday was a reminder that while I am not perfect, I am healthy, and happy, and loved, and so proud to be expertly flawed.

Empowerment

 

husband sets standard

5 Ways My Husband Sets The Standard For How A Woman Should Be Treated

Sometimes I look at my husband and think, how did I get so lucky?  Other times I want to tear his lips off because his loud, wet, open mouthed chews classify him as a full neanderthal.  

Sometimes, at night I find myself counting his flaws like sheep while I lay awake listening to his deep, guttural snores.  He’s obsessed with the gym, extremely impulsive, loves food, craft beer, sex, cut-off shirts, the beach, and just about anything that takes him away from having to do yard work on the weekends.  

Neither of us are perfect (I’ll get to some of my flaws later), and our relationship began at a time when our flaws were probably most visible.  I had just ended a terrible marriage and he had just stopped dating his on again, off again high school sweetheart. Normally this would be a no fly zone, and we definitely didn’t entertain the idea of anything serious for a while.  

I’m not sure my husband knows how infectious his love is.  I’m certain there were girls before me that fell hard for him, and he didn’t really know why.  I know this because loving other people is just part of his nature, it’s not an act or something he forces himself to do in order to make others happy, he just does.  As time went on, I saw his unconscious love as a son, friend, brother, and eventually as a husband and step dad.

I want to clarify before I continue, that Brent’s love is not completely selfless.  He needs affection and love as much as he gives it… a lot!  I am not, and have never been, the most affectionate person in the world, so I have to make valiant efforts to reciprocate his affection on a regular basis.  Like all flaws, it’s a work in progress and I often find myself jealous of his effortless affection for others.

There is no perfect relationship, Brent and I have serious struggles when it comes to our flaws, but there is one thing we never struggle with, and that’s loving each other.  

Here are 5 ways my husband sets the standard for how a woman should be treated

 

  1. He never points out my flaws

standard for men

 

I think I might be a bad wife because I started this post by pointing out a few of his flaws, but we can’t talk about marriage like it’s always perfect.  He’s flawed, I’m flawed, you’re flawed, we’re all flawed, especially when it comes to relationships.  Blending two lives isn’t supposed to be easy.  

The first few years of our relationship people would ask what my quirks were and he’d say, “nothing, she’s perfect.”  I’d laugh inside my head and think, just wait, buddy.  I’m not always affectionate like him, I worry a lot (which could possibly come across as nagging), and I get annoyed at things like chewing and wearing cut off shirts outside of the gym, but he never points out my flaws.  Instead, after 5 years, he still treats me like I’m flawless.

  • (Me) “My ass is getting big”                           (Him) “No it’s not, it’s perfect.”
  • (Me) “Is my make up in the car?”                (Him) “You don’t need makeup.”
  • (Me) “I feel like the worst mother ever!”  (Him) “You’re the best mom in the world.”

No matter what I say, he comes back with a comment that makes me feel like I’m beautiful.  Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror after a really icky day and think why?  Then, he comes up behind me, puts me in his strong embrace and I suddenly feel like the sexist woman on the planet.

 

2.  He TELLS me he loves me

Some people think that their partner must know how much they love him/her because they married them after all.  This belief is not enough to sustain a healthy marriage.  We change, and our relationships change so much, that we need reminders of love often.  Here are some things Brent does to remind me he loves me everyday:

  • He sends me a text every morning to say I love you and good morning.  Sometimes he adds a little something extra in there 😉
  • He says I love you every time we hang up the phone.
  • He wakes up from a dead sleep and says, “I love you,” and then gets mad when I don’t say it back (okay, maybe that’s a little annoying).
  • He hugs me tight and says things like, “have I told you how much I love you today?”
  • He sings, terribly off key, love songs to me.

 

3.  He SHOWS me that he loves me

I thought constant affection wasn’t important, until I got it.  I’m not talking about the smothering kind.  Usually husbands and wives can’t smother each other because you barely have time to touch each other.  I’m talking about the kind of affection that reminds us why we’re married in the first place.  If there’s no affection, it’s just a roommate sitting next to you on the couch.

When it’s easier to tell someone you love them than show them, try Brent’s approach:

  • He hugs me everyday, as soon as he gets home.
  • He kisses me at least twice a day (more often if I let him, lol).
  • He always wants to sit next to me to hold my hand.
  • He brushes my hair and gives me massages because he knows how much I love it!
  • He chooses me – Affection isn’t always about touching, it can also be showing love in your choices.  Coming home on time (or even early), skipping an invite to spend time together, or choosing not to drink at a party and be the DD are all choices that SHOW your partner you love them.  When you’re married you always have to think about how your partner would feel about your actions.

The best part about all this, is this is who Brent is.  I don’t guilt him into doing these things, he just does.  When you’re shown this kind of love on a regular basis, it makes for a very “healthy” marriage!

4.  He’s a great dad

Brent didn’t just marry me, he became a father to my 3 girls.  It took me a while to introduce them (a year maybe), but when I did they bonded immediately.  I knew this would happen given Brent’s nature and I took so much time because I wanted to wait until we were in a serious, committed relationship.  

Of course, it wasn’t until they met that things truly got serious.  He was a natural dad, playing with them all the time, listening and taking part in all their daily routines.  He rearranged his work schedule to get them ready and take them to school in the mornings.  He was a natural at taking care of them, and making them feel loved.

He’s not their biological father but he sets the standard for what a dad should be.  Here are some things he does that makes me feel loved through his love and care of them:

  • He’s present; he’s not on his phone or working when he’s with us.  
  • He’s home on time to have dinner as a family every night.
  • He asks the kids about their day and listens.  He responds without criticism.
  • He helps with a little homework, especially math.
  • He knows what the kids like (food, movies, etc.) and surprises them often.
  • He has no problem getting the kids ready for school or to go out.
  • He helps with housework (most notably the dishes) so we can cuddle on the couch asap.

 

5.  He’s my biggest fan

Without his encouragement and support, I would be in a miserable job, but instead, when I reached the end of my rope, he gave me the freedom to let go.  

  • He trusted me enough to know the weight of my decision and didn’t parent me with all the possible negative outcomes.
  • He had faith in my new venture and encouraged me to go for it it in spite of our finances.  
  • He believed in me and bought me flowers when I launched.  
  • He never once said, you could fail.  
  • He never once made me feel guilty for my choice.
  • He doesn’t come home and ask what I did all day.  

Like love, trust and faith are also strong points for my husband. I know that as freely as he gives these things to me, I must treat them with extreme care.  If ever, any of those things were violated, he would be broken.  

There may have been some luck that brought Brent into my life, but keeping our marriage healthy has nothing to do with luck; it’s work, it’s compromise, it’s looking past the flaws and appreciating all the qualities that make your partner, and therefore your partnership, unique and amazing.  

I get to spend my forever with this man <3  


What makes your relationship unique?  How does your partner let you know how much he/she loves you?  Share your comments below.