Change is good

Change is good

It’s time for a change—to my blog, that is.

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
Photo credit: freeimages.com

I miss writing on a more regular basis and particularly miss writing for me. I’ve been in a bit of a funk and realized that changing up my blog was something that could help. But what should I write about? Does anyone care what I have to say? Do I need a theme?

I first began blogging in 2011 when I was returning to college full-time. Sharing my fears, successes, struggles and head scratching moments became an outlet for me in the midst of exams, papers, juggling the kids’ activities and juggling housework. Then I joined the world of working moms and not only did I feel like I didn’t “have time” to blog, I felt like I didn’t have anything new to add. I was just another mom trying to figure it all out. Most nights, the last thing I wanted to do was get on a computer after being at one all day.

Over the last year, though, I have felt a pull to figure out how to fit in writing more for me. I’ve also felt like my outlook on life is changing as I get older and I’ve realized that being in my forties isn’t this depressing time filled with failing vision and sprouting chin hairs. Well, my vision has changed and I do check my chin regularly just in case, but my forties have been pretty damn fabulous so far. I’m making changes to make my forties good, though. I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t care what people think and don’t care if I’m just another blogger out there. I have thoughts to share and I hope people read them. I hope people want to read about how I’m making these changes and why I feel so good these days.

I plan to post more and figure out a fresh new design for this site. I’ll be focusing on the fabulous, so I will kind of have a theme. There’s too much negativity out there and I’d rather focus on the positive. A Facebook page for the blog might eventually be coming and I’ll be using #focusingonthefabulous on Instagram and Twitter—join me in sharing the fab and share with your friends!

What I’ve Learned During My Blogging Hiatus

Wow! It’s been a while since I’ve published a blog post. I miss writing for me and really hope I can get back to blogging, but let’s back up a bit and you’ll see why I haven’t written.

2016 has been a busy  year.

I changed jobs last December, my husband’s role at his company changed in January and he started to travel much more, one of our dogs hurt his knee and later had surgery, our other dog wasn’t doing well in the spring and we had to put him down in July (one of the hardest things I’ve ever done), we’ve been doing home improvements to the house…..and I’ve barely felt that I’ve been able to take a deep breath all year.

Most of the time, this doesn’t feel interesting enough to write about. It’s life, right? It’s what families with two working parents and two middle school and high schoolers deal with on a regular basis. (Side note: how the heck is it that I have a child who’s in high school?) It’s carpooling and figuring out how get the kids where they need to be, fitting in all the errands and grocery trips and being thankful that there’s this wonderful thing called Amazon Prime to make at least some things easier.

In the midst of all of this craziness, I’ve had a hard time feeling like I’ve got it all together. I live by my calendar and have felt like I’ve been going a million miles an hour all year. It’s not a way I want to live. I like having downtime and over the last few weeks I’ve started to find ways to try to get some into every day.

Enter yoga and meditation. 

I’ve been meditating with one of Andrew Johnson’s apps on my phone for more than a year. It helps me fall asleep. I was trying to go to yoga last spring at a local studio, but it got really hard to get there regularly. Between my kids’ schedules, the fact that the classes are across town and the fact that I don’t want to get home from yoga at almost 9 p.m., I stopped going. But I loved it and knew I wanted to find a way to incorporate a regular practice into my life. I discovered the Down Dog Yoga app after a Google search and I can do a 15-minute restorative practice before bed. It’s helped. I got an email about a sale so I could unlock all the member-only features, and the pricing was so good that I purchased the membership. I think I’ll like having it and will really be able to do more with it.

mindfulness-isnt-difficult-we-just-need-to-remember-to-do-it-sharon-salzbergI’ve also tried to practice mindfulness in hopes to be more focused and calmer. The Calm app has been on my phone for a while, but I’d only used it once. They offered a free trial of one of their most popular features last week and I had ten minutes at the end of a particularly busy day to try it and figured I had nothing to lose. I felt wonderful after I did it, so I’ve been trying to use the app after dinner if I can fit it in.

What I’ve learned through all of this is that I need strategies for me to ground me a bit and help me slow down. My favorite past time of going to get my nails done isn’t cutting it anymore, especially when I’m cramming an appointment into my lunch break. I need regular exercise, I need to breathe. I need to try to slow down when I can and mindfulness, whether through meditation or yoga, seems to help. And writing for me, something I haven’t taken the time to do in a long time, also feels good, so if you’ve made it this far in my attempted return to blogging, I thank you.

 

Happy New (School) Year!

back-to-school-1190569-1279x1037
Photo courtesy of freeimages.com

The start of September is almost like New Year’s Day for me. Just as I wonder on January 1 how the previous year went by so quickly, I often wonder in early September how the summer flew by. Wasn’t it just early June and my boys couldn’t wait to get out of school?

The back-to-school season brings a sense of hope for the upcoming school year. Each school year produces new challenges and I often hope that our family gets through it with minimal stress and meltdowns. As the boys get older, the homework increases, the after-school activities add up and the bedtimes get later. Meanwhile, I’m getting older and love going to bed earlier and earlier.

This year presents a new challenge for us. My oldest son will be in eighth grade and remaining at our public middle school, a decision that makes the most sense for us due to his special education needs. However, my youngest son, who will be going into the sixth grade, will be moving to a parochial middle school/high school in a neighboring city. A new school, new people to get to know, new policies and protocols, a different academic calendar….and new expenses. We are excited about this new adventure for him and this seems to be the best school after researching our options, but it’s not without its challenges for two working parents. There are no bussing options and we are still researching carpool options. It’s a lot to figure out and fortunately we have some flexibility for the first few weeks. By November we’ll be in a groove and then something will change—an activity will be added to the mix or our carpool will change. We know we’ll figure it all out, as we always do, but September is always a new beginning for many families. I look forward to it with excitement, hope and a little bit of parental trepidation. It isn’t just the kids who get nervous about back to school!

 

Inching toward the finish line…..

Today is my last day of classes for the fall 2013 semester. Where has the time gone?? I begin my final semester next month.

Did I really just type that? 

I remember my first day of school in fall 2011. I went to a writing class that is required for communications majors, after attending a challenging history class that same morning. I was already a bit overwhelmed when I entered that writing class, but I left that writing class feeling inspired after only one session and I was grateful for the opportunity to return to school.

Yesterday was my last day of Advanced Public Relations class with this same professor. Although my journey through this chapter of my college career isn’t complete, it is near its end. I felt as though I’ve truly come full circle today.

Having this professor has changed the course of my return to college. (I’ve previously written about her here.) She encouraged me to join PRSSA during that first semester. She’s believed in me when I haven’t believed in myself. She helped me to become a better writer. She encouraged me to blog. She has helped me to become a better me. She ended up being the only professor who was on campus when I found out I’d won a prestigious scholarship, so she was the first one who heard the news. She’s just…..great.

When people believe in you and challenge you to be a better version of yourself, it can change your life. This journey has changed my life and this particular professor has changed this journey. I was teary-eyed leaving her class yesterday, knowing I will never have her as a professor again. I’ve been fortunate enough to have her for three courses. I knew that this professor/student relationship would come to an end, but I look forward to the relationship I can have with her as my mentor and as my friend. I am at the point where I look forward to the future, while being grateful for the past, regardless of whether the past was good or bad.

(Photo courtesy of brite-ideas.squidoo.com)
(Photo courtesy of brite-ideas.squidoo.com)

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving….

  • I am thankful for my family
    (Photo credit: exploredc.org)
    (Photo credit: exploredc.org)
  • I am thankful for my friends
  • I am thankful for my loud but oh-so-lovable dogs
  • I am thankful for my home and my great neighborhood
  • I am thankful for the opportunity to be in school
  • I am thankful for the opportunities that have come my way as a result of my education
  • I am thankful for the fabulous professors who have guided me through this journey
  • I am thankful for the coffee that has gotten me through some long days of homework
  • I am thankful for the Public Relations Student Society of America.  Joining this organization during my first semester of school changed the course of my time in college.
  • I am thankful for the support I have received from family, friends, acquaintances, schoolmates and faculty since I have gone back to school.  It truly has helped me through this wild ride!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Giving back……

(Photo credit: technorati.com)
(Photo credit: technorati.com)

I want to volunteer.  I want to do something that matters for others. I want to give back.

I do work with the PTO at the elementary school and have been involved for six years, since my oldest was in kindergarten. In fact, I was recently a volunteer at the school’s biggest fundraiser this past Friday night. It was exhausting and exhilarating, as it is every year.  I wish I could have done more to help with this event leading up to it, but with school and the craziness that surrounds it, it’s hard.  Putting together that particular fundraiser takes a lot of work.

But I’ve recently been inspired and would like to find a way to do something else, something  that doesn’t necessarily involve my own children but involves the community.  In an ideal world, I’d love to help out at an animal shelter and play with and walk pups who are looking for a home, but the local shelter here requires a consistent commitment for at least four to six months, so I don’t know if I’d be able to do that.

Even though 2014 will likely bring many new challenges for our family with graduation and job-hunting on the horizon, I’d like to find something that I can do to help others.  I plan to do some research over winter break to see if I can make this happen.  More to come…..

Another step forward

Inspiring words on a card that was at my dinner place at conference
Inspiring words on a card that was at my dinner place at conference

When I first went back to school two years ago, if someone had told me that I’d leave my family for six days to go to a public relations conference for students, I wouldn’t have believed that person.  I am a homebody and I had only traveled by airplane twice before.  I like spending time with my family.  Why would I ever spend money to go to an optional conference when my family doesn’t take elaborate vacations because of the money pit of a house we are always doing work to?

Me with the infamous Rocky Balboa statue.  Yo Adrian!
Me with the infamous Rocky Balboa statue. Yo Adrian!

But you know what? I did just that a few weeks ago–and we all survived.  The house wasn’t a disaster when I returned, laundry got done, the Halloween candy was purchased (I returned two days prior) and my oldest son had his school picture taken.  I have no idea if my husband sent my son to school in a wrinkled shirt–in fact, I don’t even remember what shirt my husband said they picked out–but that’s ok.  I’ll get the picture back in a few weeks and even if it’s not what I would have wanted, I’ll get to look back on it as the year we all did something that was out of our comfort zones. And I won’t do a re-take.

Me in front of the LOVE statue in Philadelphia
Me in front of the LOVE statue in Philadelphia

I survived the flight to Philadelphia. Actually, let’s back up.  I survived the TSA line, something that is very different from the last time I flew.  I think I was most nervous about the darn liquid rule.  I really didn’t want my makeup or skincare to get confiscated–that would have been an expensive loss! I survived the long days of professional workshops and later nights than I am used to. I survived rooming with people I don’t know that well.

The infamous steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that Rocky climbed in the movie!
The infamous steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art that Rocky climbed in the movie!

And my family managed without me. Another step in me becoming a new person–one who is independent, one who sets a good example for her kids and one who is still learning to spread her wings!

I climbed the steps!
I climbed the steps!