Monday, September 28, 2009

My Gemini Twin

I've been thinking about starting another blog.

When I think about it, it's kind of ridiculous how many stories I'm just dying to tell, but can't because they are too embarrassing or unladylike or politically incorrect. The thing is, I'm not that proper. I don't have it all together. I don't embody the perfect domestic housewife and mom.

Although I know I'm not perfect, I'm just not willing to risk my reputation by talking about things "you're just not supposed to talk about." I'll be honest, I do worry way too much about what others think of me; BIG flaw of mine that I'll own up to. I actually really hate that about myself. But the stories I want to tell, I definitely wouldn't tell my parents or even some of my close friends. The overall feeling or feedback I would undoubtably get, would be "whoa, TMI (too much information)!" There would be some chuckles, but ultimately, these are just things that people I'm close to probably wouldn't want to know those kind of intimate details. In fact, I'm sure of it!

I'm tickled by some of these experiences and my husband is too. I think that people reading these stories would laugh histerically. They might even be able to relate on some level. I'm sure I'll be telling stories that are way more common than I even realize. Again, these are the stories and experiences of everyday life, but no one EVER talks about them.

I'm approaching this from the point of view of my "Gemini Twin." Yes, I'm a gemini and everyone knows that geminis are characterized as having two personalities. This "other" blog will be my "other" personality sharing blunt, hilarious, detailed life experiences about getting married, getting pregnant, living pregnant for 10 months (yes, 10 months folks - 40 weeks), living pregnant with dogs, living with a newborn, intimacy, and so much more.

I was so angry when I was pregnant. My sister has three children. I thought she shared EVERYTHING there is to know about being pregnant. I thought I knew what I was up against. WRONG! Not to mention all of the things I went through for the first 6 weeks of Brady's life. I was pissed off to be quite frank! I'll put the REAL deal out there for all to read.

I'm laughing just thinking of the first blog entry. This will be an interesting journey!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fight with Gratitude

After only two hours of sleep last night, a three hour visit at the doctors office with Brady, plus two hours haggling with Walgreens for Brady's breathing treatment, I find myself exhausted, overwhelmed and desperate for a turn around.

Maybe it's my mindset that has me unraveling, but I feel like we can't really win. We only had a few weeks (2-3) where Brady slept for 4-6 hours in the night. Now were back to the newborn schedule - sleeping for 2-3 hours at night, then up and feeding around the clock. It's amazing how much it wears me down. I feel like I'm not really able to get anything done since he requires so much attention. I really should be in bed sleeping right now, but I needed to vent a little. Maybe I'll sleep a little better. I know complaining doesn't really help matters, but I rationalize to say that venting will allow me to unload and walk away from the negative thoughts.

I have to think positive. I have to clear my head a little and take notice of the blessings. I have to find a grateful mind and heart.

There really are so many things I'm thankful for when I think about it. I think about the things we all take for granted like a roof over my head, a loving and supportive husband, a baby that will recover and live a healthy life. Taking a look at the big picture really does put it all in perspective. I just need to program that stuff into my brain and keep it right there when I'm feeling hopeless, frustrated and exhausted. Many have it so much worse.

One thing I'm so grateful for in this moment is that I reached out to my lovely social network of friends and requested prayers for my little Brady. Within moments, I received an outpouring of love and prayers. It really does blow me away to have such instant encouragement and blessings sent my way. Ask and you shall receive!

I just took a nice deep breath. I think I'll say goodnight with a smile and remember that "this too shall pass." I really am so incredibly blessed. My grateful heart will beat this!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Oh, What a Week!

What a week it has been! Last Sunday, we had to rush my lil guy, Brady to the ER because he was having difficulty breathing. Turns out, he has croup. Yuck! They gave him steroids, watched him for a couple hours and sent us home. I can't tell you how awful it feels to see your three and a half month old so sick and pathetic. We were expecting him to improve in a couple days; 24-48 hours they told us. Well, one week down and he still has the croupy cough. On top of that, he's teething, so his little gums are sore. He's drooling EVERYWHERE and biting on everything. We're averaging about two to three hours of sleep a night. Definitely, not enough sleep for momma. I'm actually planning to call the doctor in the morning to see if there's anything else we can do to help him get back on the road to health. This just doesn't seem right.

In the midst of the around the clock sick infant care, I knew I needed to figure out a way to make it to the very first Chicago Underground Social Media Society Networking BASH (Whew, that's a mouth full!). I had been planning to attend for a few weeks. I knew it would be an opportunity to meet some really wonderful entrepreneurs and social media gurus. Thankfully, my hubby, Chris was happy to be on daddy duty for the evening. Thank God he's so supportive of the things he knows are important to me!

I was honestly blown away! The turn out was spectacular; probably 120-150 people in attendance and there was plenty of time to network before and after the speaker. Bill Crosby was the presenter of the evening. He is the creator of the Twitter Traffic Machine (now off the market). He spoke about the "Seven Steps to Viral Product Development." Of course I took notes and brainstormed some ways I could apply this information to some of the projects I'm working on. Good stuff!

The best part for me though was that I was able to connect with some great people that I know will impact my future both personally and professionally. I'm so excited to think of how much I'm going to learn from these individuals.

I find it no accident that I met Mina Shah with Robbins Research International, Inc. (Tony Robbins) first! She happened to be in town for a training engagement (I'm pretty sure) and decided to come to the event last minute when she heard about it. The interesting part about this is that I've been praying to find a way to attend the Tony Robbins - Unleash the Power Within weekend at the end of October in Chicago. Two hurdles to overcome: Brady care and the cost of the ticket. I'm still not positive it is going to work out, but I felt that maybe it was my sign to work a little harder to MAKE IT HAPPEN. I've had this feeling that attending will transform my life and catapult in the right direction to live my purpose. I'm now refocused on figuring out a game plan.

I rarely win anything, especially when it comes to a raffle, but I suppose fate would have me "win a free one hour chat" with Gabe Strom. Gabe is a social media trainer and life coach of sorts. He is passionate about helping people become aligned with their purpose. We both share this interest, but it's so much easier to help others than it is yourself. Well, that's the way I feel anyway. For some reason, I struggle with "defining" myself and paving a clear path. I'm excited to see where my chat with Gabe takes me. I'm looking forward to gaining a little outside perspective and maybe refine my focus.

I finally met Brad Will or @BradleyWill. We've been chatting on Twitter and Facebook. I have enjoyed his blog and video content. He has been successful in the real estate business and is now focused on living authentically and helping young entrepreneurs find success. Love it!

Ray Smith of Infinite Horizons Design; we've been chatting on Twitter and Skype for a couple weeks now or masterminding some would say. I'm so grateful to him for helping me on my journey to overcome my fear of VIDEO!

One more. I met Amber Gallagher, a 26 year old single mom sharing many of the same passions that I do. Amber would like to help other single moms become successful entrepreneurs and thrive in all aspects of life. We've been masterminding a lot this weekend! Looking forward to aligning with one another to make things happen for many fabulous moms throughout Chicagoland!

I could probably go on forever. There really were so many wonderful and talented people in attendance. I went home with about 20 business cards and had even more individual conversations that evening. I can only imagine how this group is going to expand and impact lives. Very exciting!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Make It Happen Inspiration

I'm reading the September issue of O Magazine. This issue talks a lot about strong, powerful women. When I read the message from Oprah in the beginning of the issue, I thought "BAM, that's it. She said it! That's exactly what's rolling through my head."

"What I find powerful is a person with grace, with courage, with the confidence to be her own self and make things happen." - Oprah Winfrey

This quote articulates what I believe and what I envision for my Naperville Moms Network.

I know I haven't talked about that here yet. I've been trying to organize my thoughts and ideas on that for months now. It's pretty ridiculous that I have NOTHING on paper for it yet. It might have been a mistake (we'll see), but I went ahead and created the site, I haven't done much with it yet because I get so overwhelmed with where to begin. My mind is overflowing with ideas and aspirations. So much so, that I even have trouble verbally explaining everything I have in mind for NMN to where people will ACTUALLY understand the whole concept. I've gotta pull it together!

I can remember trying to pick a major and decide what I wanted to be growing up in college. The thought of determining a career that I would actually enjoy while also having a family one day really weighed on me. Can women really have it all? Can you have an enjoyable, successful career AND be a great mom and wife? My mom was an excellent example in my life. She's a teacher! It was nice because she had the afternoons off to be with us, holidays, summers. Every time we had off, she was there for us, yet she had a stable paycheck and was able to impact thousands of young lives. As a matter of fact, for many years, I wanted to be her. I thought what she did and the way she did it was the most amazing thing! Funny thing is, I let her talk me out of  following her path when I was going into college. She told me that she felt I could do something just as important and get paid better. Florida teachers are paid pathetically! It's a shame. I wish I knew the ratio of teachers leaving the classroom after a year or two down there when they consider their job versus what they're paid. It's really disgusting and sad when I think about it. Funny, Chicago area teachers are paid well. Had I known my future husband would have us living up here, I may have actually gone through with it! Ha!

Getting back to the point. I think it's difficult for women to decide what they "want to be when they grow up" when the consider the roles as "career woman" and "mom." How do you plan it out so that you can have it all? Maybe everyone doesn't hang on that question as much as I have, but for me, it has been a real struggle throughout my twenties.

There are those that don't really spend too much time on the question. They know that being Mom is number one. They work, then when it comes time to start their families, there goes the career. And that's okay, because all they've ever wanted is the husband, precious children and possibly the white picket fence. "I was born to be a mother" they say. "That's what I was put on this earth to do." That may very well be so and not to say that there's anything wrong with that mindset.... The one thing to keep in mind is that those precious children grow up and begin their own lives. What's left for that mother when their children leave the nest for college or marry off? Empty nest syndrome - I sure as heck didn't make it up! Women then struggle to determine their purpose, where they're needed and how they contribute. They're whole world has been wrapped up in their children and now what?

On the other end of the spectrum, we have those that are so eagerly career driven, that they have an entourage of people (nannies, grandparents, childcare centers, etc.) handling the daily care of their children. They might see the kids when they wake up or before bed, but don't always have the opportunity to share meals, make it to their sporting events or extra curricular activities. They aren't fully plugged into their children's lives. The years seem to pass by in a blink. All of the sudden, the children are off to college and there's no real relationship. The parental influence is not as significant as those that have had a hands on role in their child's upbringing.

Let me just say that in any scenario discussed, there's no judgment here. That's not the purpose. These are extreme stereotypes that exist in today's society. Obviously, not every mom falls into one box or the other. There's gray. I'm no psychologist, so I'm not trying to over analyze why people choose the path that they do, I'm just saying that I've seen or witnessed all of the extreme scenario's in the lives of people close to me. I've seen the damage it can have on women when they hit "mid life" and wish they would have done things a little differently.

We are all influenced in our beliefs about what we think our roles are and how we should fulfill them. I'm not trying to change that. I would like to bring an awareness to today's women, mothers in particular, about finding that balance, living at our individual optimum and truly having it all! I believe it. We really can have it all!

It's a matter of being mindful of our own needs. It's about recognizing our gifts, strengths, passions and purpose in our own lives. We only have one go at this (as far as I know)! We never know how much time we have. People have a tendency to put things off that they've always wanted to do, for a time that's better or when they have more money, whatever. We make excuses for why we don't have the things or elements in our lives that we truly desire. I'm not talking about material things either. That's just one piece. I'm talking about taking risks, putting ourselves out there when we're unsure, but have a longing for something. I'm talking about finding the time and making a few sacrifices for the hobbies and special interests in our lives. I'm talking about consciously making our individual health a priority. I'm talking about looking in the mirror and seeing what's really there. Not on the surface, but the whole person. Your spirit.

If we can be in touch with our true, authentic selves, I believe we can, as Oprah would say it, "live our best life." We can be better wives, moms, sisters, daughters, friends, teachers, mentors, and so on. The possibilities are endless! We can go and do things we would have never dreamed possible if we just allow ourselves the opportunity to dream a little bit and believe. Ultimately what I want, is that at the end of the day, not matter what age, we can sleep peacefully and comfortably in our own skin knowing that we're truly living. We're making it happen!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Put On Your Big Girl Pants!

I'm a little speechless right now...and embarrassed. Obviously, I haven't posted in a while (shame on me). I also just noticed that I actually have people reading and following my blog. I don't know what I thought was going to happen when I listed it on Twitter, but I really am kind of speechless and shocked if I'm perfectly honest.

So, I've talked about the whole fear thing before. I'm putting myself out there now in ways I never have before and I find myself frustrated with how much fear and intimidation get in my way. I find myself saying horrible things like "Come on ya big wuss, stop holding back. What are you so freakin' afraid of? Just DO IT!" And when I don't "Just DO IT"... When I freeze up, I get really ticked off with myself. I'm trying to remind myself not to be so harsh and approach my fears with affirmations or incantations instead. It's really a mindset change that I'm working on. What a battle though. Every day, facing new, uncharted territory. I just have to keep in mind what I'm working toward and take one hurdle at a time.

My new phrase is "Put on your big girl pants today and make it happen!" I have to laugh at myself when I say that and remember not to take any of it too seriously. I'm going to make mistakes. I'm going to get embarrassed. I'm going to feel stupid every now and then, but through it all, I will have successes that push me to the next level. I WILL see through to my dreams and live my purpose. I think I just have to remember at the start of the day to put on my big girl pants and know that I can do anything with the right mindset.