What Really Matters

Emma GraceMy daughter just recently turned one so of course I wanted to have a big first birthday party for my little princess (that was the theme!). I drove my husband crazy with all the time (and money!) I spent on decorations, planning and cleaning to make ready for this momentous occasion. I know she will never actually remember it, but I was excited about hosting such a special event at our new home.

It was the first time practically everyone would see the house so with my Type A personality, I spent zero hours sleeping and every waking moment getting the place in tip top shape! Needless to say, there would realistically be no way mentally or financially that we would have the entire house furnished and decorated, I did my best. A part of me was worried about what people would think and that’s new for me because usually I don’t really care (ha!). I think because this home is so much a reflection of me and my taste since I did most of the decorating (okay, let’s be honest, I did it all and LOVED every second!), I wanted people to really love and appreciate it the same way that I do. I realize our style isn’t for everyone (think Farmhouse/Chip & Joanna Gaines style) but I love it, I really really do. And I spent a lot of time making it a place I could love. Online orders, in-store orders, “Renee, why is there another package at our door” my husband would shout and I’d pretend not to hear him, returns, returns and more returns! I also made a lot of things too, centerpieces, re-upholstered dining room chairs (thanks for the help, mom!) and my personal favorite, painting and distressing with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (check out my before and after bench here).

Yes, it was great…at first. My husband and I would argue about how I ‘get to do all the fun decorating stuff’ and he ‘just gets to do the shit I don’t want to do’. On some level, I saw where he was coming from. But as much as it was really fun, at times it was really daunting. I spent a lot of time trying to save money by making many of the items in our home. I had five weeks to get as much as I could done. Renovations with a child aren’t easy so that meant either going on my lunch break during work to shop and doing projects in the evening when she went to bed. But I’m happy to say it was worth it because we have enough of the house done to where I feel comfortable (minus our bedroom, we have no furniture so it’s kind of a mess).

But that’s not even the point. None of that stuff really matters. It’s all materialistic. What matters is family. We are blessed. We have a beautiful home and we are healthy. These are the moments that matter…

It’s easy to get caught up in the mundane tasks of everyday life. We are too busy and there’s never enough time. The other day I took my daughter to Partridge Creek to play in the water fountains. There was a moment when she walked towards me smiling and laughing. I scooped her up and hugged her tight. It was perfect. That’s what really matters…moments like those. Not house chores, not decorating, not party planning…

I’m happy to say her party was a success and I feel like all my planning paid off. But the best part of her birthday for me was the day my husband and I took her to the zoo as a family. That was our birthday with her. And those are the moments to me that matter the most. Find some time this weekend to enjoy what really matters 🙂

family

Dear Victoria’s Secret…

Dear Victoria’s Secret,index

Can I call you VS? I think the endless amounts of money I’ve spent in your stores and once-Angel-holding-card-member gives me that right. I hope this message finds you well. I know that you are super busy sending out magazines to every household in the world of your catalogs even when they aren’t subscribers (is anyone besides college fraternities?) with your gorgeous models so perfectly Photoshopped (check out this great site to see some really botched up Photoshopped images: The Illusionists). But I’m hoping you could indulge me a bit…supermodels-beforeafter

In my twenties, I lived for your stores (and your online shopping). I couldn’t wait for the swimsuit issues to come out. I bought at least five swimsuits every issue. I received a pair of flannel pajamas every year for Christmas (and matching slippers!). I had what felt like a never-ending supply of 5 for $20 panties. I even enjoyed your semi-annual sale commercials where the British lady would tell me how “bras and panties are up to half off”. I owned pretty much all of your PINK sweatpants and a large majority of your workout clothes too. Let’s face it, I was one of your VIP customers.

But now, I’m a mom. And that doesn’t mean that moms can’t shop at Victoria’s Secret, it means that as a mom of a one-year-old daughter, I never want her to. So please…PLEASE target the appropriate age demographic for your stores. As a thirty-something-year-old, do you think PINK targets me? Do you think PINK targets anyone besides teenage girls? Because that’s just what we need, more teens wearing slutty lingerie. Why not? Isn’t there a shortage of teen pregnancies these days? And yes, I understand the act of having sex isn’t consummated through lingerie but what else are your ads/stores/ridiculously young half naked models promoting? Because it’s not a slumber party! And don’t even get me started on your holidays commercials…

I value your need to conform. I really do. You need sales and young girls need…what would you call it? Confidence? Yes, young girls need confidence. They need to feel good about themselves so let’s push bras and underwear (I LOATHE THE WORD PANTIES!) on them. Better yet, let’s make a brand called PINK and make it all ‘cute’. Oh and let’s add some sports/university lingerie too because that’s important for college girls, having their university or some ‘cute’ saying about their university plastered across their ass. I’m embarrassed to admit I have a sleep shirt by PINK that says “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” As a wife, it could maybe pass as cute, maybe…if you’re newly married and under the age of twenty-seven. But as a high school or college student, it’s not cute. It’s degrading.

Women want more respect. They want to be treated as equals with men. But when is the last time you saw a man wearing underwear that said “come and get it” or “pay attention”? Why are women expected to be sexy all the time and why do we encourage it?! WHY? The selfies, the duck face photos, the bikini shots, the boob shots….what the shit?!

I mean seriously, what the shit?! The problem is we’ve all done it. We have. You took a selfie or a bikini photo at some point in your life. And if it was recently you probably posted to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat. However, if we cannot respect ourselves then how can we expect others to?

There must be a start and Victoria’s Secret you are it. Stop advertising to young girls! Just stop. Being sexy at sixteen isn’t cool, it’s called a bad reputation. No one under the age of eighteen should be in your store without a parent. PARENT!!! There should not be high school girls shopping with their boyfriends at your stores! Don’t you find a problem with that? Oh wait, you don’t. You just want sales and everyone to salivate over your televised fashion show which is pretty much the Miss America Pageant in lingerie…ok, now walk and wave…watch those wings, Angels!

Don’t get me wrong, your models are stunning. They really are. But that’s not my problem. It’s how you advertise them. It’s the marketing strategy you have targeting young girls. It’s calculating. It’s corrupt. It’s cruel. Because the thing is, we need young women to gain confidence without having to expose any of their body parts. We need young women to feel beautiful without changing who they are. And if we continue down this rabbit hole, it’s only going to get worse. What happens when eleven and twelve year old girls are shopping at your stores? Will you be comfortable selling them lingerie? What if it was your daughter? If you are Victoria’s Secret then where are the women in your company? Because there’s no way in HELL there are moms pushing for these kinds of ads, especially if they are moms of teenage daughters. And let’s not forget how Photoshopped your pictures are! WE ALL HAVE FLAWS! That’s what makes us human. These images are such a distorted version of reality! What are we really teaching here? That nothing is real? Sure seems like it…

The sad reality is you won’t change…but I will. I will stop going into your store. You’re not the only place that sells bras and underwear (for anyone interested Gap Body makes bras that are way more comfortable and last longer than VS). I will continue to throw away your catalogs and coupons. I won’t miss you. Not one bit. And as my daughter grows up, I will tell her everyday how beautiful she is. And when we walk by your stores I will tell her that nothing in there will make her beautiful and to always remember that. It must be easy for you to sleep at night. You can’t ‘control’ who makes purchases in your stores and it’s not your ‘fault’ if someone misinterprets the brand you’re representing. Frankly, I don’t know what you’re representing but it’s not self respect and it’s definitely not about giving young girls confidence.

Thanks for listening and do me a favor, save a few hundred trees and never send me another catalog again.

Sincerely,

A mom who loves her daughter more than you could ever understand.

Why I Needed to be Cheated On…

As my husband and I are about to celebrate six years of being together and four years of marriage in August, it got me to thinking about how we became this twosome. His persistence and my resistance;)…and that one dinner which forever changed me…but before our love story, there was my own heart break and why I needed to be cheated on…

First, let me start out by saying cheating is the worst…THE ABSOLUTE WORST. To me, it is the ultimate betrayal. It’s not only a betrayal of your monogamous relationship, but also of your trust. It’s a train wreck to your heart and the reason you wonder if you can ever be so vulnerable with someone again. Cheating can make any person come undone. It’s utterly damaging to every part of you…

After the initial shock (because let’s be honest, even if you slightly suspect it, you never hope it to be true), the questions start rolling in your mind. Why did this happen? Doesn’t he/she love me? And the end-all-be-all…What’s wrong with me? The last question is the saddest because if you’ve been there you’ve asked yourself this. What’s wrong with me that this happened? You start to doubt yourself. You begin to pick apart all the flaws you see and tell yourself those are the reasons. You feel alone, unworthy and unloved. You feel betrayed, deceived and insanely angry. You feel like someone stabbed you and knocked the wind out of you at the same time. You feel lost…

I was cheated on in a past relationship. It sucked. It was one of the worst times in my life. I was beyond devastated. I thought I would never recover let alone find someone I could love and trust again. I was in a bad place for a long time. We were together for three years and I thought he was the one. “Thought.”

But just like the saying, time heals all wounds, time really did. What I thought was love really wasn’t. We were completely wrong for each other. We didn’t have a single thing in common besides a mutual physical attraction towards one another. We were both in completely different places in our lives…professionally, financially and emotionally. We clearly wanted different things but I was too blinded by love to see that. That’s probably the hardest part about really loving someone…you don’t see things the way they really are but how you think they are or how you think you can change them to be. There’s a lot of denial when it comes to love. So…he broke my heart and we broke up. And looking back now, if that never happened I would have stayed in that relationship. I would waited for things to change…for him to change. I look back to the beginning and realize he never really wanted to be with me in the first place! All the games, the waiting, are we or aren’t we…I was so stupid!!!!

But you know? I learned a lot from that relationship. I learned a lot about myself. I learned what I really wanted in a partner and when the time was right, I found him. I was more confident and emotionally stronger than I had ever been. Don’t get me wrong, it took over a year to get myself to that point, but I got there.

In my failed relationship, I found my true self. I found the woman I wanted to be and the man I needed by my side. I didn’t settle. I looked beyond physical appearances to what ultimately matters. Can I spend the rest of my life with this person? When all is said and done, the looks have faded and years have gone by, can we do this? Can we make it? Yes, I’m incredibly attracted to my husband but it’s not the basis of our relationship. Marriage is more than physical, it’s a foundation of friendship. My husband became my best friend and he still is. I finally found someone I could be completely me around. Someone who loved me flaws and all. Someone who wasn’t afraid to show me how much he loved me. I found him. I found the one (some people don’t believe in “the one” but I wholeheartedly do!).

Anyone who has experienced being cheated on knows there is so much more than the act of cheating. And it happens on all levels…dating, engaged, married. It can get nasty and messy and when kids are involved it breaks my heart because sometimes they are thrown in the very middle of it (keep the bad mouthing and arguing to each other or friends if you need to vent, don’t bring your children into it!).

I honestly think cheating is the worst. But you know what? I needed to be cheated on. I needed to get out of a relationship I wouldn’t have left. I needed to be so hurt that I could hate him, move on and then forgive him. I forgave him so I could be free…and happy! He wasn’t going to ever apologize. I forgave him in my heart for me, not for him. I needed it. I needed to let go. And you know what? The minute I did it and truly meant it…I’m talking honestly wishing him well in life, I felt so much peace. I wasn’t bitter anymore. I could see him places and be happy for his new life and my own. I wasn’t secretly wishing he was miserable. And to this day, I still honestly wish him the best.

God had a plan for me and I just needed to trust Him. He blessed me with the most amazing man and I couldn’t be happier. Marriage isn’t easy but I’m with my one my soul loves and that to me was worth it. I would go through all the pain again if it meant I got to be with my husband in the end. So maybe you’re stuck in your relationship or you have been cheated on and can’t let go of the pain or maybe you’ve been the cheater….here is my advice to you…

Don’t settle…he/she is out there. Have faith and patience. Let go of the past and the pain, all it’s doing is causing you harm in the end and finally forgive and ask for forgiveness. Even if you don’t get the apology you want, forgive in your heart and mean it. And if you hurt someone, if you cheated, say you’re sorry. Own up to your mistake. Life is too short. Make your peace. And never stop believing in true love!

I love you MPD. Forever and always.

How to Really Get Skinny…

“The key to losing weight is really diet and exercise” says everyone EVERYWHERE! Blah, blah, blah. It’s the same song and dance. You read it in books, hear it on talk shows…everything in moderation, eliminate junk food or what they don’t say but usually ends up happening, trying the latest ‘fad’ diet. I’m here to tell you it’s all bullshit. It always has been and always will be. Anyone who tells you the key to their weight loss was ‘diet and exercise’ is full of shit. Sure, to some extent I bet it was. For instance, the show ‘Extreme Weight Loss Challenge’. They diet and exercise…but do you know how much? I read they work out from 6-8 hours a day. A DAY! Who has time for that?! And they have no junk food, none!

First, I should start off by saying “Damn it Jim, I’m not a doctor!” (that’s for my dad and any of you Star Trek fans out there). But really, I’m not a doctor and/or any medical professional and have no medical degree or background that would make me an expert to speak on this topic. I, however, have lots of medical people in my family ranging from nurses to doctors, but none of whom I consulted with before this post, lol. I also have dealt with a lot of food issues my entire life and have probably tried every fad diet out there (yes, I did the Beyonce ‘Master Cleanse’ diet…I made it four days, HAHAHAHAHA!).

So back to the topic at hand, the secrets to getting skinny. Are you ready? I mean, this is really mind blowing!

Wait for it…..

DON’T EAT! Don’t eat and have lots of stress. I hope you’re laughing but seriously, I’m not kidding. Have you ever seen the show ‘Survivor’? Do you wonder why they’re all skinny? BECAUSE THEY DON’T EAT! Have you ever had one of those stressful busy days where you haven’t even thought about food because it’s been so hectic? Have those every day!

Or, do like I did…move into a new house with a baby and have five weeks to prepare your new house (which is substantially larger than our previous one) for your daughter’s first birthday party that you invited over 100 people to (and 85 RSVP’ed yes!). Yes, the stress of moving, trying to furnish a new home and being a mom caused me to lose weight. Oh, and I didn’t eat. And when I say I didn’t eat, I didn’t. Maybe one meal a day. And it wasn’t on purpose…it just happened. I was too stressed.

Am I happy about this? You know it! I fit into all my pre-pregnancy clothes. But is it healthy? Not at all. The sad reality is, why can’t women just be happy with the bodies we have been given? Why can’t we confidently accept all of God’s gifts without all the complaints (‘my hips are too wide’, ‘my nose is too big’, etc.)? Trust me, I complain. I have complained about my body for as long as I can remember (hence, trying every ‘fad’ diet). But it’s wrong…it’s so so wrong. There is more to life than your body image. There is more to YOUR LIFE!

I want my daughter to grow up in a world where she doesn’t feel like she has to conform to what society deems as ‘beautiful’. I want her to feel beautiful in her own skin. I don’t want her seeing celebrities or reading magazines and believing that’s what she needs to look like. In case anyone has been living under a rock for eternity, those images are Photoshopped! And false advertising! Do you really think those girl’s eyelashes look like that from mascara? Ironically, she’s wearing ‘false eyelashes’. Do you really believe celebrities don’t have bruised knees, scars and cellulite on them? Because they do! They just airbrush them out.

We have become a vain, vain society. We are obsessed with looking better, no matter what the cost. Everyday there is a new product that reverses wrinkles, shrinks your fat, makes you skinnier, gives you more muscles and even surgeries to reduce, enhance or remove anything you want! And why wouldn’t you want to? It’s shoved in your face every chance it can be. And the worst part is we start to believe it. We start to think we need all these products and procedures. Heck, I just said the other day I need Botox! 

So, what can we do? For starters, love and accept yourself the way you are. Get in shape for YOU and no one else. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than beautiful because that’s just what you are. Second, don’t compare. I have a lot of skinny friends with amazing bodies. I let it bother me way too much in the past. Why can’t I look like that? I would think. But then I got over it and myself. How could I be anything less than thankful for what Gos has given me? So I have bigger thighs…that’s just me. I can either dwell on it or accept it. Third, be happy! If a diet is making you miserable then maybe it’s not the one for you! Life is too short to waste it sacrificing your own happiness! And finally, be grateful. You are blessed in your own ways. Find comfort in your own skin. Be confident!!! And most of all, love yourself…because in the grand scheme of things, if you can’t do that first, you can’t love someone else. 

Ps. Before any of you ‘health’ people get all worked up, my post was meant to make light of losing weight. I realize to many degrees diet and exercise can allow for weight loss…so chill:)