A Mermaid Princess…

Little girls dream and act out their fantasies of being mermaids and princesses. I know many of my fond childhood memories involved splashing around in my neighbors pool with my friends Melanie and Monique. We’d act out movies we’d seen, dance horribly to music on the radio and pretend we were mermaids almost constantly.

This was raw mermaid imagination at play, well before Ariel or the mermaid trend of these days took center stage. When I look back, the only Mermaid pop-culture references I can think of were in the cartoon of Peter Pan and the Tom Hank’s movie Splash… The mermaids we became were nothing at all like those adaptations so I’m not sure what inspired us- other than the water.

I don’t recall ever pretending to be a princess, but my youngest daughter definitely did. Her imagination was princess rich, and I loved every second of it. Up until recently, society has loudly delivered the message that such aspirations belong in childhood daydreams and deserve no place in grown-up lives. This is a truly sad thing, don’t you think? I’ll admit, as a parent, I too fell into the whole dream crushing mentality of frankly selling “reality”, responsibility and that most dreams simply don’t pay the bills… And, I mean, it’s true- most dreams don’t pay the bills. That doesn’t mean we have to stop dreaming them though. (lesson learned unideally late.)

This week’s podcast guest, Jessica is all grown up. She’s a single mom. She is a first generation daughter, whose father came from the Dominican Republic. She has grown up learning to work hard and pursue relentlessly. She has responsibilities, hardships and the many  other things we all have. What sets Jessica apart is that she also has dreams, and she fully embraces them. Jessica dreams of owning her own Pastalito food truck. Jessica also dreams of being a mermaid princess. Full of so much energy, life, light and motivation Jessica is pursuing both dreams equally, in her own ways. Check out  episode {37} by following this link to our various listening platforms. As you hear her incredible story, I hope you can find a glimmer of courage to go after your own dreams too…

With a cherry on top…

Last week, in a post, I mentioned living at the fake ocean. A few people emailed, either chastising or seeking clarification. It’s funny because the people in our everyday lives know that I have called this sweet little cottage home my fake ocean beach house since we moved here last fall. Sure, the technical term for that would be LAKE HOUSE. I know, I know…

Back in the early days of marriage with Chw, we would play this fun little game where we’d go on and on about how we’d spend our lotto winnings. Of course, we didn’t really play the lottery because we were young and poor. Even so, we’d dream up all of the things we’d buy, the donations we’d make, the people we’d “take care of”, and the places we would go.

Being young and a little dumb, I said all of the right things that I imagined I was supposed to say like- A greenhouse, I’d build a greenhouse… (Why in the world would I want a greenhouse?) That novelty eventually wore off, as did a lot of the other sillier things I was so sure I’d want. (No, I don’t want a butler, unless it’s Carson, and he’s not real so no- no butler thank you!)

Eventually the conversations faded, but before they did, I grew into my heart. A beach house… I would buy a simple, cozy beach house. Also, I wanted a cherry tree, high to the sky and filled to the brim with cherries… Even though the lottery day dreaming had mostly gone to rest with our youth, these two things remained front and center as my biggest “someday” dreams.

When we learned of our move to the coast of Lake Erie, my husband joked that he’d finally fill-filled my dream of a beach house. Hardy-Har-Har, and actually the joke was on him because though we can see the great lake from our home, we aren’t actually ON the lake. If you’ve been to a great lake then you understand how it can be seen as a “fake ocean”. It looks close, but it’s just not the same. It was a fun little, ironic joke, for awhile.

An added bonus to our new little home was the giant cherry tree in our back yard, though to keep with the theme of “close but not quite the same” was that due to a neighbors garage blocking the sun, the giant tree only produces fruit about 2+ stories in the air. Instead of an abundance of the beautify cherries, we had rotten, partially squirrel eaten ones raining down when the winds kicked up. It is the perfect anecdote to the old warning of Be careful what you wish for, but mostly both things really make me smile. Are they what I always imagined? No. The humor of the realities though, feel perfectly in sync with this season in our lives. The tree is gorgeous, the lake is simply stunning (even in the dead of winter) and I am grateful.

Someday, a real beach house, preferably on the Pacific ocean. Someday, a huge, unobstructed cherry tree- but today, today this is home and I know I am exactly where I am meant to be.


Hello, Summer…

It has been ages since I’ve sat down and really focussed on an intentional post within this space, so I’m just going to pretend we’re in the middle of an exchange, okay?

Sure, summer is technically 20+ days away, but we who live within the confines of an Americanized calendar operate under the summer system of Memorial Day to Labor Day, and truthfully I’m a fan of this practice. The bright blue sky outside hardly screams SPRING, and with my freshly summer pedicured toes red and ready for sandy beaches and flip flops- I am more than happy to stand up and say what we’re all thinking: Helloooo, Summer!

For the 4000 Jurassic years that I have existed within adulthood, (for the Ross Gellar’s out there pointing out the flaws in my wording, I’m pretty sure you caught my drift so, as far as I’m concerned, mission accomplished! XO) I  have had specific practices that summertime has held:

Fresh squeezed lemonaide, BBQs with friends/family, swimming, my grandma’s cobbler, warm jars of sun tea, red toenails, fireflies, long summer evenings the highest SPF of sunscreen allowed (I’m irish, after all), drive in movies and dreaming of real beach time- these made up the bulk of said summer lists…

As summer draws near, in between adulthood stresses of work and life, I have been plotting my summer reading plans. We have gotten our sunroom all ready and have been enjoying early morning cups of coffee, fresh fruit snacks and conversation in its breezes. The smell of fresh cut grass wafts through my window screens and there are cubes of cold watermelon in my fridge. Our summer plans are casual, yet carved out. (these may or may not read like this: grilled tacos, beach, grilled fajitas, beach, margaritas on the patio, hiking, beach, farmers market, beach, drive in movies, tacos, tacos, tacos…)

The really fun thing about our new home, and this being our first summer here, is that it is a SUMMER DESTINATION. Life amps up and, from what we can tell, the party gets started right about now, and wraps up around snowfall. Friends have told us all about all of the “musts”, and we are ready!

The not-so-fun, but still kinda-fun thing about our new home is that while we live at a truly beautiful beach, it isn’t the ocean. I know my heart will still long for a true sea coast, but also, I’m feeling really blessed to have this beach too.

in ALL of my adult summers, I have spent weekends at the Farmer’s Market and kept beautiful, fresh flowers in my home. Whatever we may, or may not have taken on that summer, these two things were SOLID. This is where the truly odd thing about our new home comes in-



Sure, re: the later, grocery stores have some. Honestly though, it’s the worst selection I’ve ever seen and they are 3-4 times the normal price. Re: the first absense- what the actual heck? Truthfully, I cannot wrap my brain around it. We are surrounded by farms. SURROUNDED. Word on the street (iow: the World Wide Web) is that there is a decent market about 90 minutes away. NINETY MINUTES. (While my heart wants to take a moment to whine about my grandma’s cobbler recipe, our summer-staple homemade ice creams, and my end of summer (most delicious ever) jam, the reality is our grocery stores do an amazing job of stocking local, organic produce. While it’s a bit spendier than the average Farmer’s Market, I am still really grateful for this so I simply can’t actually complain about it.) I just really love the experience of the market, with the community, farmers and artisans coming together… (plus then our local taco truck could set up somewhere other than a pub or brewery…)

For all the terribleness of these two things, I’ve still mustered up excitement at summer in our new city. There are a few road trips planned, lots of adventure and exploring, and both my patio & sunroom are prepared to be well lived/loved… Probably (tragically) my house is going to stay fairly flowerless, with my treasured Kate Spade vase feeling alone- but my toes plan on being sandy and my taco-loving-tummy happy, so it feels like a win for me.

What do you love about summer? Where are your favorite places to summer?

The darkness and the spice…

Some months really have the effect of reflecting back over their days and feeling like they themselves lasted a year. This month has been one of those...

Like many, I began the month with goals and plans. I set off January pretty proactively, despite still feeling under the weather. While there were things I put off until I felt better, for the most part I forged forward. One of the lessons that this month held for me what that I am not guaranteed to feel better, no matter how many “right things” I do to ensure it. (thanks, January! You’re a pal.) My list, written in terrible script on my kitchen chalkboard, looked like this…

  • get set up with a trainer and ready to get back into a fitness center routine.
  • reorganize my spice storage.
  • jump back in to The Collective podcast stuff, after a couple of months off.
  • make progress writing on my memoir.
  • learn to do something new.
  • make a pot of homemade soup and a loaf of scratch, crusty bread.
  • establish a weekly evening tradition.
  • continue adjusting to my husband’s non-traveling schedule.

Oh, friends…

Ohhhh, friends…

I could write it a third time, but I still feel like it wouldn’t be enough. There are so many quippy things that one can say about “best laid plans”.

  • I DID! (even feeling crappy!) And it was great, until said trainer had me do an exercise that I felt strongly I should not do. I pulled a muscle, caused major stress to my (bad, seemingly 80-year-old) hip. Good times…
  • I’m sure you’ve seen Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. While this was already a (desperately needed) goal, her show made me come face to face with the realization that how I had my tiny little cottage kitchen set up was NOT working. I was avoiding it because I felt helpless about how to fix it. Too much stuff/too little space, but try as we might, C and I could not get rid of anything else. We’d downsized so significantly and what remained was essential. It was a bleak 10 day attack. Stress and frustration became my new kitchen decor theme, (shout out to any of you 90’s young homemakers and the need to have a “theme”) and my husband began scripting funny comedy sessions about the ever evolving state of the kitchen. I insta-storied my low moments… It was truly, truly bad. But guess what? My spices are the best their going to get and the entire kitchen really is MUCH better.
  • done and done! We trouble shot some technical things, I connected with other podcasters. We started a Patreon and are REALLY excited about what’s down the road!
  • I did. Not as much as I’d hoped, but I am really proud of what I did put to paper.
  • Done. Winter and soup are really the perfect couple. Well, and fresh, crusty bread plays a part, so I guess perhaps the perfect thruple?
  • For the month of January we settled on Fridays and began the routine of unplugging, grabbing carry-out for dinner and renting a movie. We LOVED it… Will it continue? I think so, at least on the Fridays we can.
  • You would be surprised how actually difficult this is…

So, there you go… a little account of my significantly flawed person, in this odd little month.

My truly biggest January lesson/revelation was that while I felt significantly depressed pretty often, I wasn’t alone. I would utter those words to a friend, and hear an emphatic agreement that they too were feeling depressed. This happened several times, and I was surprised, comforted and a little less heavy with each occurrence. It is a little ironic that the very idea of being bravely transparent and then accepting that you aren’t alone is the premise behind my podcast and yet, here I am going WOW! This REALLY works!

This month I read several books, but the book that I really connected with the most was In Pieces, by Sally Field. Truly raw and transparent pages chronicling not only the highest and the darkest moments of her life, but also her own flawed perceptions and reactions. Never soapboxing, Sally simply shares her truths. It was a brave undertaking, and it resonates.

A few things that I unexpectedly fell a little in love with, this month, were the American version of The Masked Singer on Fox, (I am actually pretty good at guessing, and their masks did NOT give me the nightmares I feared, so this is a win!); the film Juliet, Naked, (which I really, really loved and did not expect to even like it!) and this recipe for sheet pan shrimp fajitas. (I thought it would be ok, but we both loved it so much! It was so easy and so delicious!)

The only thing that didn’t really work this month, (other than my continued pursuit of cold medicine, and my waste-of-time new (now ex) physician) was that, in an effort to connect with other women locally, I bought a ticket for a ridiculous book club. The price seemed so extreme ($29) but the original description had made it seem like it came with the book, tapas & beverages at the venue (wine and craft coffee beverages) and so I thought it was worth a try. I received the book in the mail, (not a super great book and seriously the length of a pamphlet) and a little note talking about the food and beverages costing extra. I emailed the organizer to clarify my confusion and it was true, the ticket price simply included the book and (her words) the privilege of coming. Hmmm.

Wasted my time reading the book, wasted my money and decided I simply didn’t want to go waste my time at the actual meeting so I skipped it. You win some, you lose some. This was a definite lose…

How did your January play out? Did it pair nicely with your own goals?

What were your bests? (and equally important, was there something you tried that simply did not work?)

Poptart theology…

There are no adequate words to express to you just how much I love PopTarts. Well, more accurately, how much I love frosted Strawberry PopTarts. I actually do not care for any other flavor of store bought “toaster pastry” at all, and really only like PopTart when it comes to strawberry. (I do also really enjoy Toaster Strudel cherry, but do not like cherry PopTart or Strawberry Toaster Strudel. I’m a complex girl.)

I went several years avoiding this silly (terrible for you) “breakfast” treat because of the very reason I just mentioned: the are TERRIBLE for you! (All hail the 80’s childhood, where a bowl of sugary cereal became a balanced breakfast once you added a PopTart or toast with jam and a cup of fake orange mystery named after both sunshine and happiness…) Then, a couple of years ago I was sent an article about the top tips for managing a life with Fibromyalgia and one of them was to keep a container by your bedside with easy to eat “comfort foods” for bad flare days, and the TOP suggestion was POPTARTS! This exclusively gave me permission to add them to my grocery cart on my next super market trip. They’ve been making a regular, though not constant, appearance ever since.

I’ll let you in on a few secrets though… First, when PopTarts are in the house, they are my go-to “food”. I’ve never been a big breakfast maker, for just myself, though I have top notch intentions. So, when all of a sudden, late in the morning I realize that I am painfully hungry, what is easiest and handy? PopTart! Hours later I forget all intentionality when it comes to lunch and am once again feeling those terrible hunger pains- PopTart to the rescue. Evening snack? Yep, pretty sure you see where this is headed. Suddenly my box of 12 is gone, never a space-packet of their tasty evil making it to my bedside, which is best because I’d just eat them in bed while Chw was trying to sleep and this is a nightmare of different proportions…

The other day the husband accompanied me to the supermarket and it was by sheer accident that we ended up in the PopTart isle, noticing they were on sale. Here is the conversation that ensued…

M- the 12 count is $2.50. That’s pretty good, right?

C- yes, because the 8 count is $3 Who does the math here?

M- Aren’t you buying an 8 count of Raspberry ones for work?

C- yes. I’ve never had them and they sound like a nice snack. (in all fairness, half the box will be gone by APRIL. this is exactly how PopTarts should be eaten, if they must.)

M- well then I guess it doesn’t matter WHO does the math, because most of the flavors only come in 8 count so people will buy them anyway.

C- you can go through them pretty quick. (yeah. thanks.) I wonder, what about these? (he points to “healthier” options.

M- those are $4 for 8!

C- but they are healthier for you.

M- They are gross.

C- so you’d eat less of them.

M- I’ll just get the 12 count. Remember, they ARE the best Fibro food.

C- I think it’s more like they are the easiest Fibro Flare food, not the best. (here he notices something on the bottom shelf.) What about this 36 count for $6?

M- WHAT?!?!?! That’s a good deal! (no, misty. NO IT ISN’T. This is NOT REAL FOOD…)

C- it is less expense in the long run. Do you want to get them?

I really pondered this, you guys… and here is where the moral of this whole ridiculously humiliating (but pathetically honest) post culminates in something resembling a point:

M- no. No. I mean, I DO want to get them, but I can’t. I can’t because then I will just eat them, and I don’t need to eat 36 PopTarts.

C- I wish they had Raspberry in the 12 count. (notice here how he’s wishing for MORE of the “pastry” he has NEVER tasted, simply on the faith of my own devotion and the not repulsiveness of my PopTarts)

M- I mean, at least we are choosing healthier PopTarts, right? We could be buying the 12 or 36 count of Hot Fudge Sundae or Smores flavor.

C- That’s totally true.

Why?!?!? What is wrong with me? First of all, I completely befell to PopTart shaming, which should be beneath me. More importantly, I was absolutely willing to give myself the frank boundary of not having a ridiculous number of handheld garbage to consume, and pat myself on the back for such a decision. YET- yet I wasn’t willing to not buy them, or buy them for the very reason I allowed them into my diet again in the first place… AND FURTHERMORE why was I wanting to congratulate myself on the fact that at least I wasn’t consuming the crappier crap.

In high school, walking home one day I turned to my best friend (who incidentally was a guy) “I know I’m overweight, but am I as fat as that girl walking ahead of us?” Emphatically, lovingly and protectively he assured me that of course I was not. Of the thousands of lifetime conversations this person and I have had, this is one of the ones that sticks near top of my memory bank. The truth is that his words were meaningless. His guarantee was filtered through his care for me and my feelings, not fact. I asked him because I knew this truth, even if I didn’t want to admit it. (I was a terrible person for asking it in the first place. What did it matter?)

Maybe we are all guilty of allowing “a little to a moderate amount” of garbage in, but standing resolute that the line is drawn and no more, beyond that.

Maybe we allow someone to verbally abuse us, but determine we will not allow physical violence. At least my boyfriend doesn’t hit me like Sally’s does

At least I’m not covered in bruises like she is…

Sure, my husband goes out for drinks with female coworkers even though he knows it hurts me, but at least he comes home

Extreme comparisons aside- it is an unhealthy pattern that I see woven throughout SO MANY areas of my life. Just a little, but at least it’s not this kind/much/blah blah blah.

We have to stop.

Loving myself does not mean limiting my PopTarts to when they are on sale alone, it might just mean deciding my body is better than any PopTarts at all. Now Chw with his box of 8 that will last him 3-6 months- he’s ok with the occasional indulgence. He’s good on the PTs, he doesn’t seem to have a problem. Me? I’m pretty great with having anything else around, but put a box of those within my reach and my next meal will be a guarantee.

What is your “PopTart”? (we’ve all got something… something we expect ourselves to tolerate and settle for.)

{oh hey, by the way! Have you listened to the latest episode of the Collective Podcast? This week is a GREAT one! And If you wouldn’t mind, could you please subscribe and give us a rating? We will love you forever! xoxo}