House Guests 

We’ve come off a week of having guests in our house. Not just any guests, 7 guests that included children and adults. 

It. Was. The. Best. 

When we built our house, we built it bigger than we needed so we could have all the people come and stay with us. Everyone jokes its for more kids. It’s not and never was. It’s for the people we love to come visit us. 

All week our house was filled with noise. Happy noises of people laughing, some mild arguments, kids laughing, an occasional tear when my toddler tries to do something the older kids do, all of it. The noise was welcome and it really, really felt like home. 

Then Sunday rolled around. We loaded the first person off to the airport. Then the next three. We cleaned up and there were no longer remnants of the week that had passed. Then we shuffled our last visitors off to the airport and when we got home, there was no noise. 

It was quiet. It was empty. It’s a silence I am very used to, but felt different yesterday when I came home to it. 

Normally I welcome that silence. I like being alone. This week was a glimpse back into my childhood and a much needed week of healing. It was a reminder that my cousin’s and I could still have what we had in the back bedroom of my grandma’s house even though she’s not here. Even though we’re adults. Even though we haven’t slept in that back bedroom in over 10 years. 

I can’t wait for the time my house is filled with noise again. I welcome the next visitors. I’m thankful for the time they spent here and I long for the next time they’ll come. Despite loving my life as it is here, I long for those days we got to be together all the time and I am so thankful we can periodically recreate them. 

We’re ushering in a new generation. I want that new generation to have these same memories I had in the back bedroom. It’s not the place that ultimately matters, though the place is so, so special. It’s the people. If Elle can have even an ounce of what I have in my relationships with my cousins, she a lucky, lucky girl. 

Goodbye, Chester

Chester Bennington lost his mental health battle to suicide yesterday. It’s sad. So many people are devastated, but I am sure none more than his poor wife and children.

There have been a number of posts to come out of this that are tasteful. Some give links to suicide prevention information, some provide a safe place for people who are struggling to come sit and have a conversation. Some are just downright distasteful though.

“I am fighting the urge to comment on Chester’s death and say I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end it doesn’t even matter.”

Oh hi, person who posted this. That’s distasteful, shocking and sad that you think this should be mocked.

I used to be one of those people who thought that suicide was the weak way out. That was, until I actually decided that instead of basing my opinions off the knowledge I thought I had, I would instead do some digging and some research to develop an opinion founded on something other than my teenage mind. How closed minded I was. It’s great to reflect back and see that growth in myself and if you’re one of those people who was like me, I challenge you to do your homework.

If you’ve never felt so helpless that you don’t want to live, you don’t understand. I don’t understand, either. I don’t know what it feels like to feel like the weight of the world is suffocating you because it’s sitting on your chest. Therefore, I am not allowed to dictate how these people are supposed to feel and I can call their choices anything I want, but that sure doesn’t make me right. Nothing was ever made worse from being compassionate towards someone, but I can think of quite a few things that are made worse by shaming them.

Do you really think that if given the choice, people would choose to feel like crap all the time? Do you think they would choose to end their lives? Do you really think that? I don’t.

Suicide and mental illness is very real. People hid it constantly for fear of admonishment and it’s sad. These things shouldn’t come as a surprise, but oftentimes we ignore the symptoms. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

There’s a common expression in social media chatter groups that “you don’t know what someone is going through outside this computer screen,” which essentially illustrates the point if you don’t have anything nice to say, you should probably shut your mouth. If it’s not productive, leave it alone. Don’t shame people for their thoughts or feelings. Don’t hurt them intentionally or unintentionally. Do no harm. Sometimes it’s not about doing no harm though, sometimes it’s about actually doing something. Showing people how to get help. Being there for them.

When I was younger, I had a best friend who was about 2 years older than I was. At the time I think I was maybe 9 or 10 and she was 11 or 12. Her mom was a lesbian and this was (and arguably still is) not something that was widely accepted or even something we were really aware of that happened in the Midwest. She was bullied so severely for her mother’s choices. I didn’t go to school with her and we only hung out on the weekends, but she was hurting. At that age, I didn’t know what to do with that, so I just played with her. I don’t even know that I was fully aware that her mom was a lesbian and nobody in my life had taught me that it was bad or frowned upon (and I am thankful, because seriously, quit with that). She hung herself in her closet one weekend and I never saw her again. SHE. HUNG. HERSELF. At that age. It was devastating, overwhelming and terrifying. I didn’t understand. I didn’t know then what I know now, that people hurt her so bad she didn’t want to wake up anymore, so she didn’t. I will never forget that.

I don’t know anything about Chester Bennington’s struggles. I do know they shouldn’t be mocked. I hope that his death with result in many conversations being had about something that affects so many people. I hope it saves a life. I hope that his family can heal from this and that his children remember him for his career and their time with him as a father and I really hope that if you’re reading this and are affected by something similar, you reach out to the people you trust and let them be there for you. You don’t have to be strong for yourself all the time.

Image result for quotes about suicide

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

http://www.sprc.org/

https://afsp.org/

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

 

Dramatics

I’m still a part of the LuLaRoe world and I think I probably will be for quite some time for a number of reasons. The great relationships, the amazing memes and my curiosity levels are all among things that I am able to satiate by continuing to be a part of this community. In truth, it’s hilarious. Many of the women are hysterical and real and I’ve enjoyed being a part of it so much.

It’s not all roses though, the drama level is real. For me, I find it entertaining to read on many occasions because generally speaking it’s pretty petty-level on the larger Facebook groups and sometimes I just feel inclined to follow things to the very end and see the outcome – like my own personal reality TV show.

Now, I’m not one to “white knight” anyone, so please don’t think I am (and frankly, if you do, you’re reading this wrong), but I feel so inclined as to comment on the notion that it feels like the popular opinion right now is to hate on the company and all that it stands for. If you’re in these groups and you raise a red flag about any commentary against the company, you’re a kool-aid drinker. If you ask questions, you’re automatically a supporter of the company and by extension, a hater of the consultants who’ve gone out of business.

I’m somewhere in the middle. I had a good experience on almost all accounts. I’m blessed to understand fairly well how large corporations work (both from experience and higher education) and I am fairly unfazed by most things.  You can’t convince me of anything without proof and I use the term proof very seriously. An account of something is just that: an account. It is one person’s side. It could be accurate, but it is also influenced by their emotions. Some people articulate their points differently, especially in writing, and then a point gets misconstrued. I’m not denying that these founders of this company have put their feet in their mouths bad and HARD. They need a world-class PR team with a shock collar to zap them every time they say something sketchy and they should be held accountable for it. When you assume a position of such responsibility, stands to reason you need to rise to the occasion. Similarly, when you publish things online, you need to be prepared for the support and the backlash.

There are some bloggers out there that have made it their platform to bring this company down. That’s cool, you do you. I question what is and isn’t true though. I believe that the bloggers are writing things as they’re being brought to their attention. It’s not what they print so much as HOW they print it though. Anyone with the internet can start a blog (hey look at me over here), but that doesn’t make it credible. That doesn’t mean sources have been vetted. When people sit back and won’t reveal their sources, but will print continued blog after blog about something without said sources, credibility becomes lost on me and I don’t tend to trust. One person’s account on an issue is not enough for me to consider that issue researched and it’s all about the way it’s construed. If you post a blog about a specific topic that feels different to me than framing it as “one person’s account.” By indicating it’s one person’s account, you’re acknowledging it for what it is and people can make informed decisions about what they see. It could be widely accepted and people may come forward and express the like, but it could also just be ONE EXPERIENCE. Framing a story off one person and then selling it to the masses as if it’s been thoroughly researched and vetted is irresponsible.

It’s a polarizing topic. This company did nothing wrong to me. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to say bad things never happened to anyone. I know they did. I’m sure they did. They’re not okay. Ever. On the flipside though, not everyone is going to have that experience, but if you become the dissonant opinion in many of these groups, you’re not taken seriously.  You’re brainwashed. You’re a “chosen one.” I can assure you, I wasn’t. I just happened to work my butt off and find success. I struggle because I work for a very large company and I’ve been privy to seeing how quickly one thing that was said incorrectly or miscommunicated becomes a hot topic that is later addressed and boiled back down to what it really was and not what it turned into. The game of telephone is a hard one to play.

LuLaRoe is almost completely online. There’s a mass social media following and it’s a blessing and a curse. It’s also very telling of our current times. People are more vocal about their distaste. All it takes is one bad experience to tarnish a reputation. The internet is kind of like a small town though, and these groups are exactly the same. You see the major players, get to know different people’s names and soon they’re everywhere. The community, for as large as it is, feels really small. Because it’s all online, it’s easy to feel like everyone is experiencing the same thing when really you’re getting a tiny sample size. Now, I’m not saying that because things are small sample sizes, it’s not worth addressing these people’s concerns. What I am saying though is that sometimes it’s hard to see outside your own proverbial neighborhood. That what happens in one group may not be a telling sign of the entire experience. That maybe, just maybe, you’re not getting the full story.

Maybe I’m wrong. I know they don’t publish nearly as many stories about the sunny times than they do the dark, cloudy tornadoes. That’s the news though. That’s the world we live in. These journalists that feel they’re exposing the truth, in some cases, are doing so very irresponsibly and they’re coloring the judgment of people in that community, making concerns very large and exacerbating things. They’re also putting themselves at risk in doing so (whether it be knowingly or unknowingly). Love it or hate it, at least do your due diligence in reporting on it.

Review: GeniusPlus Nootropics

I’m busy pretty much constantly and as a result, I drink an ungodly amount of caffeinated beverages to help me get through the day. Lately my pace has slowed down ever so slightly and I’ve tried to increase my water intake and cut back on the caffeine. I’ve heard people rave about GeniusPlus Nootropics and I figured I might give them a shot.

If you don’t know what a Nootropic is, you’re not alone. There’s not a ton of research on them and as such they’re kind of hard to define. They’re best described (to me) as pills that help you feel a specific way. They have them to make you feel happier, help you focus, help you relax, etc. It all sounds like a great idea, but I am very skeptical of things like this because of lack of research and only anecdotal evidence to “prove” they work.

I finally decided to give it a shot and I’m glad I did for quite a few different reasons. I’ve tried Serenity, Vitality and Intelligence and I’ll be reviewing those below for you.

All products are available at http://www.geniusplus.com

Vitality

This is the energy pill. You can take one and within about 20 minutes you’ll start to feel it working. It was recommended to me that I drink a glass of water with the pill, so I followed that protocol.

Initially, I didn’t think I really felt anything. What I expected was something similar to the effects of pre-workout. What I got was completely different. I typically start getting tired around 2pm, so I really need a pick-me-up. That’s precisely why I took Vitality at that point in the day. I needed to study and have energy to clean the house and this certainly delivered. I didn’t get jittery. I didn’t feel my heart racing. In fact, I felt completely normal save for the fact I felt awake and clear. I didn’t feel muddy in my thoughts and I was able to clean my house and keep moving for 2 solid hours without feeling like I’d really done anything. It was amazing. Then I added Intelligence.

To further my experiment in trying this, I gave two to a friend who is older than I am (still female). She took one instead of her pre-workout and she said she had the best workout she’s ever had. She took one again on Monday morning and felt great. Vitality seems to be a perfect blend of energy, but not so much that you can’t stay at your desk and work all day. It’s not going to have you running laps down the hall. You’re good, energized and focused.

Intelligence

I took an Intelligence pill a few hours after I took Vitality. For Intelligence, I was expecting something that would help me focus. It didn’t really help me focus per se. I was still pretty unfocused, but what it did prevent was brain fatigue. I studied and kept busy for hours and hours and I didn’t feel drained or at all like I was at brain overload in terms of information. I was able to go and go and go and keep on task (so there was a little bit of focus, but not insane). Time seemed to pass a lot faster and I felt that I was more productive than I would’ve been otherwise. I ended up taking them once a day for the next three days while I studied for my test (which I passed, thankfully). It didn’t matter what time I took it, the whole day I seemed to stay more clear-headed.

I noticed with both Intelligence and Vitality that I woke up the next day after just 5 hours of sleep and did not feel worn out or tired like I normally would.

Serenity

On Sunday night, I opted to try and relax and get some sleep.  I took the Serenity blend to see what it would do. I’d been leery because many people indicated it made them super sleepy. It did make me tired, but not in an overly tired and drained way. I felt calm, but not overwhelmingly so. It was a nice feeling, but was very muted. I did end up falling asleep quicker than I had the night before, but it’s hard to say if that was attributed to the pill or to the fact I only got 5 hours of sleep the night prior.

Serenity did not keep me asleep. I still woke up 2-3 times that night, but I had no issues getting back to sleep.

Overall thoughts

Serenity was a meh experience for me. I am going to try it out under normal sleeping conditions (meaning my husband and child are not out of town, I am home, can get 8 hours or more of sleep and slept well the night before) and update this review if I notice any changes.

Intelligence and Vitality are great! I definitely plan to take them when I have some late night studying or when I am going to be doing a lot of activities and I can’t muster the energy. I would recommend them to everyone. Best of all, there is NO crash!

These are not items I plan to use daily. I will use them occasionally when I feel that I need that extra boost to just get through. Whether it’s a placebo effect or not, I got something out of it and I feel good about it.

Again, you can check them out at http://www.geniusplus.com.

*I am in no way affiliated or sponsored by GeniusPlus. This is an honest review because I just happened to buy them and found them intriguing.*

 

 

“This is what makes me beautiful”

How do you tell someone their self-worth shouldn’t be based on what someone else thinks? How do you get that through to them?

I was recently scrolling through Facebook and saw a friend post photos of herself on there. She has been publicly struggling with the fact that she’s lost some weight and doesn’t feel like herself. Her photos were beautiful and she looked great in my opinion, but she commented on them that her husband is what makes her beautiful.

To clarify, it does not say “My husband makes me feel beautiful,” but rather “he makes me beautiful.”

You might think I am grasping at straws here, except this isn’t the first post to indicate her self-worth is based solely on her husband’s opinion.

For that, I am sad.

I used to seek this same kind of validation from people. My dad was absent in my life as a child and I remember taking up musical instruments (he was a musician) because I thought if we had something in common it would make him come around and pay attention to me. When I was 9 or 10, I memorized a song word for word to prove that I could do it like my dad, who never used sheet music and always played by ear. It didn’t help. Eventually, I stopped caring and moved on with my life, but I know the feeling.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized (and honestly, it’s still a work in progress) that what someone else thinks of you does not dictate your value. If someone else doesn’t think you’re beautiful, it doesn’t make you ugly. If someone thinks you’re untalented, it doesn’t mean you don’t have skills.

I know how soul crushing it can be to care about someone and love them so much and have them turn on you, which is exactly why it’s critical that we build self-esteem not from what someone else says, but from within ourselves. So much of this is easier said than done. It’s concerning because in many ways, this can become an abuse tactic. If you let someone have the power to influence how you feel about yourself individually, they can control you. They can make you feel like nothing or like everything in the span of a few short sentences. It can cause you to do things to gain that affection back and cause them to do things to manipulate your affection toward themselves.

Obviously not every situation is like that. You can’t make a blanket statement across the board and say it applies to everyone. I feel beautiful when my husband tells me I’m beautiful. I also believe he finds me beautiful more often than he tells me that to my face (this could all be my own delusions, but I am happy living with them). I also know that there are days when I am really feeling myself or my outfit or my hair and I feel beautiful and nobody needs to tell me that to realize that’s the vibe I’m putting off to the universe.

I’m so happy her husband makes her feel beautiful. It makes me sad that it appears as though she only feels beautiful when he tells her that, but I know so many of us feel the same and maybe just don’t vocalize it. It’s easy to pick away at yourself and your reflection in the mirror. It is so much harder to find things you like about yourself and stop using qualifiers in front of them. You don’t need to qualify what you like about yourself. If you like it, it’s enough. You’re enough.

If our self-worth is based solely on the affections of others, if something waxes and wanes, we don’t know how to react. We combust, become even more self-deprecating and it’s not healthy. We’ve all got to do a better job of finding things we like about ourselves and playing up those talents.

At the end of the day, the best thing we can do is build each other up. How we make others feel about themselves is a direct reflection of who we are as a person. Empowered people, empower people. Go empower someone.

Happy Birthday, Grandma

Today is my grandma’s birthday. I knew it was coming and every year I get a weird feeling about it because I miss her so much.

I have honestly never missed someone like this. I have had really close relationships with all my grandparents, who practically raised me, so I consider them more parents than anything else, but my grandma Leslie was the person I was closest with and her passing was both shell-shocking and earth shattering to my life.

She died just over 2 years ago on January 17th. I was pregnant with Elle when she passed away, which made it SO MUCH HARDER. I didn’t even know she was a girl when my grandma died. I saw her about 2 weeks before she passed away and that was the only time she saw me pregnant.

My grandma was diagnosed with cancer on 10/17. When she told me, she said it would only be a season in her life. I agreed with her. She was so healthy, so vibrant. This cancer had a high success rate of remission so I wasn’t even that worried about her. It only became more evident she was not going to make it late in the game. We went from thinking she would survive to overnight realizes she was not going to make it.

The day before she died I got to talk to her on the phone. She couldn’t say anything back to me. I told her that I wanted to come down from NE and she told me not to come, not to worry. She died later that night and I was woken up at 6am by my sister telling me she was gone. We had planned to drive down to Wichita that day. I missed her by just a few hours.

I still hurt so much from this loss. When something good happened to me in the past, I would immediately call all sets of my grandparents or text them and let them know what was going on in my life. To this day, there are moments regularly where I just want to text her and tell her about something that happened, and I am reminded that I can’t. It’s been 2 years. I figured I would be further along in the grief process than I am right now. I can’t even type this out without crying.

This hits me a lot with Elle. I send my family videos pretty regularly to keep up with her and I have never been able to send one to my grandma. When everything went down with Elle’s birth, I didn’t want anyone there more than my grandma Leslie and she wasn’t. When I was in the hospital, hardly able to communicate and heavily medicated, I remember distinctly feeling a hand on my hand. I was hallucinating and I could feel my grandma there with me. I swear it felt so real. So, so profoundly real. It brought me so much comfort, real or not.

Sometimes this feels all consuming. I’ll be driving in the car and it’ll just hit me. I cried on my way to work every day for over two months solidly after she died. Even today, I have tried so hard to busy myself so I don’t have to think about it and when I go home to Wichita, I wish I could drive back to her house and see her, but she’s not there anymore.

It hurts. This is the type of pain that never goes away and because it has never lessened, I don’t think it’s ever going to. I truly feel robbed by her passing, I think because it was such a surprise to me. When something comes up and people give you good odds, like 95% odds, you just assume everything will be okay. You don’t think you’ll find yourself in that 5%, because it’s just such a small percentage. Someone has to though. Someone is that 5%. My grandma is that 5%.

Grief is such a strange animal. I am not an outwardly expressive person when it comes to my feelings or emotions, but I distinctly remember walking into the funeral home the day of her funeral and trying to walk down the hallway and I just couldn’t. I had to turn into another room and I bawled inconsolably into Ryan’s shoulder. That feeling has never gone away.

I know I am lucky to have had her in my life. Everyone that knew her was, and I mean that very genuinely and not as a generic statement that many people say. She really did try to leave this world better than it was when she entered it. I think of her always. I cannot seem to get over the sadness I feel about her never meeting Elle. The robbed feeling I get when I think of how I desperately wish I had any pictures of her with Elle at all because maybe it would make everything easier. That I wish I even got to tell her Elle was a girl and that she was getting Leslie as her middle name in honor of my grandma. I never got those things. I missed them by almost 4 months exactly and that is too close to feel like I wasn’t robbed.

Sometimes I have to drown myself in this self-pity and sorrow for a minute just to feel it so I can get up and continue on with my day to day life. I’m not one to wallow, but it’s necessary with this on occasion. My heart hurts and you can’t heal it. All you can do is talk about it and keep moving forward.

Breastfeeding…while having sex? 

A story has taken the Internet by storm. If you’re a mom, don’t live under a rock, follow any mom Pages, open Facebook ever – you’ve probably heard this story. If you haven’t, you can read it here

I typically operate under the “not my circus, not my monkeys” way of life, but when you put something online, you’re asking for reactions. 

I’m curious why this mom felt inclined to share this with the world at all. I’m all for openness. Hell, I’m putting myself out there by writing on this blog, but still. Eventually this baby will be an adult. Eventually this baby will have Internet access. Eventually this baby will find these articles and what about this child’s peers? We all feel embarrassed when our parents tell a story about us that we wish would’ve been buried far away, but what if that story was readily available to anyone? 

Now, on the one hand, maybe this child will grow up with an understanding of the situation and will be proud of this happening because he subscribes to a similar thought. On the other hand, maybe he/she won’t and this is immortalized forever. 

Breastfeeding is already (still) controversial. I don’t know why. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. In a growing movement to try and normalize breastfeeding to highlight it and try to help people better understand that it is not a sexual act, this has set the movement back tremendously. She’s given rise to something that produces clickbait articles and now people who might never read anything else about breastfeeding will read this and pass a judgment. It’s sad, really. 

This is not for me. I can’t think of a world where I’d ever do what she’s doing and I sure as hell wouldn’t publish it if I did. Some things are better kept to yourself (or really, just not done at all). People comment on age and indicate age is what makes it okay, but I disagree. Just because a child isn’t aware of what’s going on, doesn’t necessarily make it okay. Just because a child may not be bothered doesn’t make it okay. Some things just aren’t okay and in my opinion, this is one of them.