Settle: Why "don't settle" is possibly the biggest lie you've ever been told.

Monday, March 2, 2015

"Just promise me you won't settle" I heard, rather felt, him say. The words registered in my head but it was his eyes filled with tears that marked my heart.

Don't. Settle.

I turned the words over and over again in my head for days and I just couldn't see any truth in them at all. Why would moving forward ever be settling? Why would choosing to be every amazing thing I could be but in a different place with different people be less than in any way?

I think as a culture we are too easily swept up in this idea that there is some combination of things outside of our control that must align perfectly on a Thursday at 10pm in the middle of a rain storm when our hair is just right to allow us to be fully ourselves, to unlock every great thing within us.

And that idea is why we run around creating our own chaos.

The secret of a happy life is not found in bouncing around from place to place, job to job, or person to person. The secret is found in committing to allow yourself to be every good and beautiful thing you are right where you are and being damn thankful for the people who allow you to do just that.

The truth is that happiness is often found when we do, in fact, choose to settle. When we look around at where we are, who is next to us, what we are doing and we say "this is my one beautiful life and I am going to live the hell out of it right here, right now."

How do I know this, you might ask? Because I am well versed in doing all the wrong things and blaming all the wrong people. Take my advice and skip over some of the unnecessary and profoundly devastating consequences.

Is the job you have right now perfect? No. I am sure it's not. Maybe you could pour yourself into it a little more or find a part of it that reignites your passion for your career? Focus in on where you see your job taking you and start taking steps to get there. If it's a promotion or even another job you truly want make a plan and take those steps. But part of getting to the next promotion at your job is rocking the place you are in right now. Part of being ready to interview and move on to a new company is leaving behind a job where you left an impression.

Are their other (better, higher paying, more flexible) jobs you could have? Absolutely. Buy right now you don't. You have this one. Rock it.

Are you thrilled with the space you are in right now? Maybe not. Maybe you'd like to move somewhere warmer (If we get one more winter ANYTHING I am moving anywhere warmer than here). Or perhaps you are just not completely relaxed in the place you call home.

Stop complaining and buy a beautiful scarf and a can of paint.

But seriously... make the best of where you are right now. Find one thing you could do that would bring you one step closer to loving this space you are in, and do that next little thing. Maybe it is a fresh coat of paint in the kitchen or buying some warm snugly scarves, gloves, and hats at Target to get you through the NEVER ENDING winter feeling good. Just take that next little step.

Would you rather be somewhere else sometimes? I'm sure. But you are here. Be fully present wherever "here" is for you.

Is that person sitting next to you the man or woman of your dreams? Doubtful. Why? Because we don't dream in real life! We dream in a world with no laundry or late nights at the office; a world where big fights, ugly words, and nasty morning breath do not exist. But in this real world with it's not-so-dream-worthy bits and pieces is where you find the real people. The people who know what you look like when you wake up in the morning without a stitch of makeup but still want to wake up next to you every damn day. The people who don't leave your side when it gets hard (Or when you're puking. Everywhere. Sorry.) and instead pull up a chair and settle in next to you. So why don't you wake up tomorrow (literally and figuratively) and really chose to love the hell out of the real people in your life at this moment. Choose to love them every day moving forward and I bet you'll find out you are, in fact, living the closest thing to a fairy tale you can get without needing a singing snowman sidekick. Love is a choice. Choose it.

Could you be surrounded by different people right now? Yep. But guess what? They. Aren't. Here. So let's focus on the family, friends, and significant others who are. Go all in and commit yourself to them. You won't regret it.


...Settle yourself on in.

Settle in to this beautiful mess of a life that you are blessed to be living. Because life changes. Circumstances change. You will be the one constant you take with you wherever you go and whomever you go with.

Sit back, take a look around.

This. Is. Your. Life.

Stop looking for something outside of yourself, stop thinking a change of scenery or company is going to change anything. Settle completely in to where you've chosen to be and who you've chosen to be there with. Embrace every bit of the moment you are in right now.

I still remember the exact moment I chose to stop reliving the past, questioning the present, and wishing for the future. I settled on in. And guess what? I found my happy. It was right here all along, just waiting for me to show up and embrace it.

And when I finally allowed myself to settle all the big and little things I had been breaking myself in to pieces to have effortlessly came right to me.


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Little Bites: Big Deal

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It's slow going, but we are making progress. 

Addie is still in feeding therapy once a week and the issues we address are varied. Some are results from each other, and all combining into this perfect storm that makes food anything but fun sometimes... 

Sensory: Addie doesn't like to touch wet or slimy foods. Can't say I blame her. We do sensory play with things like play dough, noodles, whipped cream, etc... and also use the Z-Vibe. 

Immature bite/chew: It seems the things most kids just naturally learn Addie has to be taught. I have Chewy Tubes (still on red) to help work with biting down using her back teeth and a Z-Vibe to help teach her what to do with her tongue.

Tone: Addie has low tone in her mouth which makes chewing and biting more dense foods hard for her. Chewy Tubes and the Z-Vibe all help with this - and so does practice!

Gag reflex: As babies move from liquid to more solid foods their gag reflex moves back on their tongue... Addie's has not. When a piece of food gets on the middle/back portion of her tongue she has a "fear" response and tries to get rid of it by gagging or pushing it out of her mouth. The only remedy for this is to keep on trying and working through it. 

Fear: Addie is afraid of a lot of food. It's overwhelming sometimes and not a pleasant experience for her to eat. I have her iPad that she watches her show on (current favorite is Signing Times) and I focus on getting calories and nutrition to her through liquids in her straw cup (Thank you Isagenix!) and let solid foods and puree's be fun for her.


Loving new foods: It started with anything crunchy, moved to anything on a grilled or toasted sandwich, and now we are up to things like a cheese quesadillas! Meat is still hard but she has tried a hot dog and chicken nuggets with success. She will now try anything with confidence which is huge for her. It's been fun to try new foods and see how she takes to them - I've found some surprising winners! 

Crunching: She is learning to crunch her bites in the back and to keep on crunching. She used to take one bite and then use her tongue to mash and dissolve the food. There is something magical about the sound of multiple bites of crackers on the ride home from school. 

Independence: Addie is a pretty independent little thing and she doesn't like being fed. She's started having her snacks on her own and does much better when food is on her terms. I have no clue where she gets her sass from.

These were from her birthday lunch where she dipped fries in ketchup and ate them like a pro and finished half of a grilled cheese sandwich while enjoying her Shirley Temple drink...

...Little Big Things.

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The Girl In The Mirror

Thursday, February 19, 2015

About a year ago I stood face to face with myself in the mirror and I didn't even know who I was looking at. All I knew is that I really didn't like her. 

Who was this girl in the mirror? This girl with the thin frame from months of wondering if she mattered, her tear soaked eyes that started to believe they'd never dry, her fake smile that belied the horrors in her heart...

...she was the most sad, confused, and broken person I had ever seen. 

To be honest I didn't know what to do about her - this stranger I had become when I thought I lost everything. Slowly, and I mean slowly... 

Painfully. Slowly. 

...I started to realize that the material things and even the people that were so easy to lose really weren't what I had lost at all. Things mean nothing and people who can walk away, even when they have every right to walk away can't be a reason you believe you are not worthy of love.

What I'd truly lost were not things or people, I had lost was the person I wanted to become. 

The problem...

...was me. 

And although that realization hurt like hell it was also one of the most empowering moments of my life. Because if the problem was me, the problem was mine to fix. 

Let me tell you friends, fixing the girl in the mirror was a lot harder than tossing out some old pictures, deleting a few messages, or blaming someone who was gone. Every time I looked at that girl in the mirror and tried to point my finger at someone or something else she was just pointing right back at me. As the months have gone by I've been on a journey to turn that girl in the mirror into someone I like to look at. 

I surround myself with people that I want to be like. 

I wanted my passion for my job back and my feisty spirit when it comes to raising my daughter. I craved a life that was transparent, genuine, and completely lacking in fake smiles. I wanted to be more independent, forgiving, loving. I needed better priorities. Strong single moms, loving and forgiving couples, genuine and tough loving friends, hard working and devoted people. I have so many amazing people in my life. 

You are the company you keep so keep amazing company. 

I am okay with admitting I want something that someone else has - and I'm going to work to get it. 

If I see a coworker who is more organized and focused I recognize that as a chance to change something I am doing so I can say the same thing about myself. Recently I wanted to get back my passion for advocacy and channeled that into working with some great coworkers to put together a bus trip to Richmond on Brain Injury Awareness Day. 

When I look at a friend who is fighting like hell for her relationship I recognize that as something I want for my future - no fairy tales - just choosing love every day even when it means doing the hard work.

Work hard to capture the qualities you admire in other people. 

I seek out the truth about myself. 

It hurts like hell sometimes. I don't always want to hear it and I certainly don't always like what the truth means for me when it means I have to make changes... but I crave truth. I have one friend in particular who does not sugar coat a thing and I find myself going to her, knowing full well I wont like her response. But she puts me in my place and she sets me straight. She shines light into the dark parts of myself and then walks me through them with love and understanding. 

Let the hurt of the truth challenge and change you. 

I say goodbye. 

I had to learn the hard lesson that breaking myself apart to fill in the pieces of someone else's brokenness not only couldn't make them whole, it was slowly destroying me. I could patch up some hurts, hold together a few broken pieces... but I had to hide my missing pieces and shield them from the pain I was in. 

 No thanks.

I have wounds too. I need to be held together sometimes, I want someone to see my broken pieces and want to help me put them back together. I'll do the same for the people I love too but if we aren't in this together and if I can't count on you to care enough to hold me if I happen to be falling apart...

...I've learned to say goodbye. 

Do not rip yourself into pieces to make others whole. 

I'm all in. 

When I find people who are real, who accept me for who I am, who see my flaws and don't run away but run right towards me, who allow me to see their broken pieces too - there is nothing I wouldn't do for them. If it's making brownies and talking until 2am, dropping everything when I get that text, picking up lunch, thinking of the next little thing to make someone smile, doing the hard stuff, choosing love...

...if you are in, so am I. 

Pour yourself into people who fill you right back up.

I know my worth. 

I went through a period of time where I let others make me feel like I wasn't anything special. I let my past scars and the things about myself that were not all shiny, happy, and covered in puffy red hearts take over. I now know I am one beautiful mess. I have chapters of my story I'd rather keep unpublished and scars I'd rather hide but I am in no way less because of them.

I'm a survivor, I am strong and determined. I can be fierce and feisty and calm and loving. With love and support I am one amazing single mama raising a lovely little girl. I am committed to my passion of working with and advocating for individuals with disabilities. And I am surrounded by people who love the heck out of me just as I am. 

Do not accept less because you believe a little is better than nothing.

It's taken a while but I have to say...

... I'm liking the girl in the mirror a lot better these days. 

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Just A Day

Thursday, February 12, 2015

If you ever wonder why I sometimes disappear from the blog for a week or two...

6:30am: I wake up and run downstairs in my PJs. I mix Addie's breakfast first, an Isagenix chocolate shake with IsaFruits and Isagenix Greens. I then mix her lunch smoothie, a can of Pediasure, a jar of baby food (mixed fruit), and 200 calories of DuoCal powder. I then mix my breakfast, an Isagenix vanilla shake with Ionics Supreme, IsaFruits, and Isagenix Greens, and fresh berries.

6:45am: Addie wakes up or I wake her up. She sits on her potty for a minute, I get her in her diaper and dressed for the day, wash her glasses and get those on her, brush out her hair and get that done, then I put on her orthotics.

7:15am: I get Addie in her highchair with her breakfast shake and her great grandmother keeps an eye on breakfast while I go get myself dressed and ready for the day.

7:45am: Rush around and make sure Addie is all packed up (AT device, library books, lunch, lunch smoothie, mittens, hat, etc.) and get my stuff (purse, shake, lunch, etc.) in the car and her stuff in the car. Now we are on the road...

8:00am: Feeding therapy

8:30am: PROMPT speech therapy.

9:15am: Arrive at school, walk her back to her class (we are 15 minutes late), chat with her teacher about the upcoming IEP.

9:45am: Arrive at work (45 minutes late, luckily I worked late one night last week).

10:30am: Leave the office to drive an hour to a clients home, hear some hard things, do my best to help, drive back to the office with a tear or two in my eye.

(At 12:15 Addie gets on her school bus from preschool to daycare)

1:30pm: Back in the office, eating a can of soup I had in my desk drawer. Paperwork, phone calls for the client I saw earlier, etc. Eat some celery with peanut butter from home.

3:15pm: Remember I need to schedule Addie's opthalmology appointment. Check my calendar for next week and try not to cry when I realize Addie now has in-home AT/Speech Therapy Monday night, Opthalmology appointment Tuesday morning, Speech and Feeding therapy Wednesday Morning, Neurology appointment on Thursday afternoon, and a party at school on Friday. I curse a little and make my way to the office kitchen to make my favorite drink in the whole wide world - Replenish and Ionics Supreme mixed together in water with lots of ice (it's from Isagenix and it's life changing, seriously)

4:30pm: Get a call from a client's mom that they may be homeless next week. Scramble to find some resources to pay an electric bill, hop in my car, drive two hours round trip to bring the mom a gift card for gas so she can get to work tomorrow.

6:30pm: RUN in to pick up Addie from daycare, get all her stuff. Pull out a bag of veggie straws that we both snack on as we drive home.

7:00pm: Home. Finally. Make Addie her dinner (grilled cheese to start and then some puree's with Duocal if she doesn't eat enough on her own.

7:30pm: Bath time. Can't skimp on this one, it's her favorite thing.

8:00pm: Books have been read, hair has been brushed and Addie is in bed. Run downstairs, make her lunch (toast some bread for her sandwich, pack her crackers, some cookies, mix up a puree...), get her AT device on the charger.

8:30pm: Decide on another Isagenix shake for dinner. This time chocolate with some peanut butter and a banana tossed in. I have no time to fix anything, so this is a life saver. Hop in the shower and usually keep my straw cup with my shake in it outside of the door and drink while I'm showering...

...keeping it real friends.

9:00pm: Finally settle in for some "me" time which is usually texting, blog stuff, social media, etc.

9:45pm: CRAP! I need to email Addie's school team about the upcoming IEP...

10:15pm: Send FOUR PAGE email to Addie's school team, hop in bed, turn out the lights...

10:16pm: OMG I have to make a Valentines Box...

I can't lie, some days are much easier. Some days I go out to lunch, leave work around 4pm, and have very easy days. Some nights my mom will watch Addie so I can go to the gym and I come home to a quiet house with my girl fed, bathed, and sleeping soundly. I have a lot of support and I am so thankful for that. I also have chunks of time to myself when Addie is with her dada. I've learned to really enjoy my time to myself and with the people I love. I'm a lucky girl. The weekday therapy, appointments, life stuff... it can me hard...

...but it is so worth it. 

I credit Isagenix with getting me through tough days like this one. It's incredible what fueling your body with good stuff will do for you. If you have any question - just ask! 

If you want to keep up with me on weeks that get a little busy be sure to follow MLB on Instagram or like MLB on Facebook

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Reflecting: Almost Three

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Almost three years ago a beautiful woman gave life to a three pound, feisty as heck, little girl....

...and that beautiful woman who chose life also chose adoption. 

What she didn't know at the time is that several states away I was already madly in love with that little girl and her birth family. My heart knew the moment it said "yes" to the social worker just a week before she would be born that I was about to become a mother. It didn't matter that we hadn't been selected yet, I knew. And on the day our Adelyn was born I knew. I knew three days before I received the call from the social worker that Addie was born. 

And when I got that call four days later...

..."You have a baby girl!"...

..."I know, I know. I'm a mama."...

..."Yes. You are a mother!".

And in that moment not only did I become a mama, fulfilling one of the most precious desires of my heart...

...I became an adoptive mother.  From the moment I was seven years old and lived out the beauty of adoption in my fathers adoption of my brother, Brad, I had always known I would choose that journey for myself one day. 

What a journey these past three years have been. So much has unfolded and in ways I could never have imagined, but in every new shift, we find the beauty and we move forward. 

And every bit of beauty was made possible because Addie's first mom, her Mama Phoebe, loved her first...

...loved her so much she was willing to allow me to share the honor of being her mother...




...just two mothers...

...and almost three years of loving the same little girl...

...three years. 

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