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Do it. Do it.

We were standing at the bathroom sink, brushing our teeth. My 4 year old looked at the index card taped to the mirror and spelled out the largest word she saw: “B – O – L – D. What does that say, mommy?” So we phonetically sounded it out. And than I told her that “bold” is another way of saying “brave,” and read her the whole verse: “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold, with strength in my soul.” (Psalm 138:3) I looked at her and asked, “Are you bold or brave?” 
She answered: “Yes.” 
I saw an Oprah magazine last month (Sept. issue?) that had the headline “Your Comfort Zone.” The magazine as a whole did little to encourage you on how to find your own comfort zone. The main article was more about comfortable things (cashmere scarves, woolly slippers, etc.). However, in her small column “What Oprah Knows For Sure” Oprah talked about getting out of your comfort zone with Shonda Rhimes (creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, etc.) Shonda decided to embark on a year of saying yes to things normally out of her comfort zone, and:
“Result number one: Shonda’s first book, Year of Yes. Result number two (the way more important one!): pure transformation. Shonda neither looks nor is the same as she was a year ago. She’s lost 110 pounds. She’s so much more engaged. As her book chronicles, saying yes to heretofore anxiety-making experiences like speeches, parties and media appearances opened up the world to her. Blowing out your comfort zone can be life changing.”
I’m not sure where my comfort zone is. Does any one know where their comfort zone is? Or mine, for that matter? I definitely couldn’t Google map it. It would be all like… Destination Not Found. However, thanks to our recent trip to Hawaii, I can google map a few places (the North Shore!) where I definitely wasn’t in any sort of comfort zone… so I created one! 
“Great things never come from comfort zones.” 
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” 
“A ship is always safe at shore, but that’s not what it is built for.”
“No risks, no rewards.” – Eccelesiastes 11:1-6
“Do not resist chances. Take them like vitamins.”
I intentionally spent the week in Oahu doing things that reached deeply into my storehouses of boldness and bravery. Not just for the adrenaline rush, but to remember what courage feels like. Really, I spent the week stretching, working out, and strengthening my risk taking muscles. 
I got on airplanes, I learned to surf from famous, professional surfers, I got my first tattoo(s!), and I ate and tasted local, interesting food I’d never had before. I explored a foreign land on my own. I rode in a tiny helicopter with no doors. I listened to pro surfers (and successful web professionals) who told amazing stories and talked about about taking risks.

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and think of what could go right.”
“The trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk more.”
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” – E.H.
“If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it.”
“You are far too smart to be the only things standing in your way.”
“Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” – Tina Fey
“Every thing you want is on the other side of fear.” – Jack Canfield 
“The biggest mistake you could ever make is being too afraid to make one.”
“Thinking here goes nothing could be the start of everything.” – Drew Wagner
“If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try.” – Seth Godin
“Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.” 
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” 
“You have this one life. How do you wanna spend it? Apologizing? Regretting? Questioning? Hating yourself? Dieting? Running after people who don’t see you? Be brave. Believe in yourself. Do what feels good. Take risks. You have this one life. Make yourself proud.” – Beardsley Jones
It was incredible. My risk taking muscles feel strong and empowered. Maybe it was just a bit of my pre-kids personality peeking out, but I felt more like myself. I remembered what it felt like to take risks and see the rewards, whether good or bad. (Um, it was much easier when I was a teenager and seemingly invincible). 
“It’s better to cross the line and suffer the consequences than to just stare at that line for the rest of your life.”
“If you are not willing to look stupid, nothing great is ever going to happen to you.” – Dr. Gregory House
There was the bad, but then… there was the gooood. After surfing, I had bruises on my ribs that made breathing painful, cuts on my feet that made me hobble for three days, and board burns on my knees that required aloe. But I learned to surf (!) and fell deeper in love with the ocean. After every wave, whether I stood up on the board or not, I went back for more till my arms screamed to stop. I rode into the waves, through them, and over them. I got attacked by them, beat by them, and then intentionally fell into them and let them hug me. I definitely plan on going back again soon and doing it all over again. 
“Take into account that great love and great achievement involve great risks.” – Dalai Lama
“With courage you will dare to take the risks, have the strength to be compassionate, and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” – Mark Twain 
“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” – Ernest Hemingway
“I want to dare to exist and, more than that, to live audaciously, in all my imperfect, lumpy, scarred glory, because the alternative is letting shame win.” – Shauna Niequist
“What a terrible waste of life it is, to always take the easy path, to never know what it is to risk everything for what you love.” – Beau Taplin
As a now experienced risk taker, I highly recommend – no, I give you permission – to take some risks. It still counts if they are calculated. That’s totally fine. But take them. They make for better stories and better lives! The risks you take are the things you are going to look back on when you are older (and possibly unable to do so anymore). 
Of all these quotes I found on Pinterest, (sorry for the ones I couldn’t site or find the source), Eleanor Roosevelt’s is my favorite: 
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” 
Word, Eleanor. 
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Leave Me Alone, Pinterest

Pinterest makes my eyes roll back into my head so far that I can see my kids misbehaving behind me. I hate to love it. Admittedly, it has caused pools of drool to dribble down my chin while my eyeballs hungrily eat the tantalizing food and dreamy leather bags. Other times it has caused me to get so lost, like 10 pins deep, that I come out of it feeling dizzy like those kids in Inception when they wake up. Curiosity never has to end… well… at least until you see the same dumb pins over and over, and you “wake up.” 
Initially, in its early days, Pinterest got me so inspired and excited with its DIY-ness. Want to learn how to sew? Want to build your kids a play house? Want to cook a 5 course meal? Want to put together an outfit in 2 minutes? Oh my God! You can do it all in one place! If someone else can do it, and make it look so easy and good, why can’t you? Everyone and their kid looks so happy. Even the food looks happy.
I got trapped in what I like to call, “Pin-ception.” Or Deception. Whatevs. 
Here’s what happened:
1. Pinterest lead me to believe that a kid’s birthday party was only worth having if you had an elaborate Disney themed table, covered completely with glass jars of all different kinds of vintage candy, a creative photo booth backdrop to take pictures with all your J. Crew-ly dressed children, at least two decorative tiers of show-stopping cupcakes, and one exquisite, professionally made birthday cake that Mariah Carey would showcase at her twins’ party. And I was like, um, that’s a lie.
2. Pinterest lead me to believe that the only way my house was worthy of photographing (or uh, living in), was only if there was absolutely nothing in it, except for maaaybe: a sleek couch with coordinating-but-mismatched patterned pillows and newly painted walls in Pantone’s Color of the Year. Oh, and an chic, modern, probably moroccan rug, and a lamp that not only gives off environmentally correct light but was once a bell jar or has been bent by Arnold Schwarchengger to arch over a lux, cashmere blanket on that stupid uncomfortable couch. If you don’t have fresh flowers placed perfectly on top of design-y books that you never read, a giant plant, or some sort of cut branches in an oddly shaped clay vase, forget it. Do not take a picture of your lived in living space. No one wants to see it. 
God forbid, a picture of your living room with your kids tower of diapers in the corner shows up in someone’s “Dream Home!” board. Really? I mean, no one wants a picture of my living room with the holes and scratches on the walls, gouges in my floors, wrinkled drapes, day-old dishes, or scattered remote controls? ‘Cause that’s how we live, bitches. That’s how we all live. 
(Sorry for the profanity… I got a bit emotional there.) 
3. Pinterest lead me to believe that in order to be in “style,” I have to wear chevron infinity scarves with a blazer and it’s sleeves rolled up like I’m in denial about how warm I actually am. If my outfit can’t lay flat on the floor, turned up at odd angles (seriously, no ones body can bend like that, not even Beckham’s or Gumby’s), with matching accessories that somehow fell perfectly next to them, then I shouldn’t leave the house.  All hell will break lose if my thighs actually touch and I don’t wear sky high heels with my baggy boyfriend jeans. If my hair isn’t coifed, with the perfect beach wave and doesn’t touch my butt, and my makeup isn’t sprayed on my face perfectly like a clown at a kids birthday party, then clearly, I am not doing something right. If my nails aren’t beautiful masterpieces that deserve to be displayed in museum exhibits, and my purses didn’t cost as much as a car, then I am definitely not a woman. What. Is. Going. On. 

Ugh. And oh man, with the advertising now… If I’m not wearing frumpy Uggs with black tights and a North Face jacket with a plastic looking Michael Kors bag hanging from my shoulder, while Coach sunglasses precariously pretend to my be headband, I’m not worthy of anyone’s acceptance. I know I may be touching a nerve with some of you on that last one, but guys, let’s work on originality! Myself, included for sure. 
4. Don’t get me started on all the food pins that glisten with their own foody sweatiness and microscopic grains. OMG. Deliciousness. Stay away from Pinterest if you are hungry. 
5. Or how about the “1000 ways to keep a toddler busy.” I can’t. I refuse. You guys. You know we are on Pinterest to entertain ourselves. How about “1000 Ways To Entertain Yourself and Your Kids When You Are Sick Of Each Other” or “How Not To Feel Guilty When Your Kid Plays With An Ipad All Day.” 
6. All the DIY stuff? We’ve all seen the “Epic Pinterest Fails.” So good and entertaining…
Which lead me to this: I created a secret board called “I Tried It and It Sucked” with detailed descriptions of pins I’ve tried, what went wrong, and just how much it sucked. And after quite a few of those, I gave up on Pinterest. Or really, I got what we shall henceforth call… Pin-Burn. Some straight up Pinterest burn out for the average American Pinterest addict. We’ve all been there with internet stuff (oh Facebook…) at some point. And we’ve probably all just shut it down with a heavy sigh, and walked away for a while.
I love Pinterest for the creativity it ignites, and the for the empowering feeling that I too, can make and have whatever I dream up. However, there are times for me that it creates a world of jealousy like no place else, and I get sucked in so easily. It opens the doors to envy and greed. It allows me to virtually hoard and collect. Pinterest is a door that, man, it’s hard to close, because it’s all just so sparkly, and shiny, and glittery… and wait, was that a unicorn?
I want to boycott it, really I do. I’m often guilty of all that stuff I mentioned earlier. But I can’t, so for now I can appreciate and be aware of Pinterest for what it is: A form of entertainment. And also, as a really great way to send hints to my husband around anniversaries, holidays, birthdays.
Plus, I have Pinterest to thank for all the things I can now make with Rice Krispies. 
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The Day I Fell Off A Horse

When I was 9 years old, I fell off a horse, and I’m not sure why. The much smaller and milder horse Cinnamon, that I usually rode once a week, was off on a walk with some other lucky, child-size jerk. Thus, I was left with the most ginormous horse in the stable. The Black Stallion. I think it was appropriately named Lightning or Storm, or something equally ominous, like… Doom.
At some point during my riding lesson that day, I found myself hanging off the giant stallion’s saddle sideways. I am not exactly sure what kept me on as we galloped around the sandy ring. Maybe my left foot was still stuck in the stirrups? Maybe I had a sweaty hand clinging to the saddle’s horn? Where were the reins? I don’t remember. What I do remember, is my little kid self freaking out because I was not in control anymore. Clearly, this monstrosity I was sitting on smelled my fear, and quite literally, ran with it. My instructor, Heather, with her long red ponytail, kept shouting “Get up! Sit UP! SIT UP!” Yeah. Easier said than done, Heather. Did she have a savage creature gleefully running wild between her legs while she clung for her life?
I finally fell into the soft sand, squeezing my eyes closed and praying I wouldn’t fall to my death. I was fine. (A silent “thank you” to Jesus, especially that I didn’t fall into horse pucky). I opened my eyes to the triumphant black Stallion a few feet away, huffing his glass bottle nostrils and stomping his hooves in the sand nearby. I didn’t move. Heather immediately ran over to check if I was okay, and marveled repeatedly at the fact that the horse hadn’t trampled me.
I was a bit shaken, and I wish at this point in the story I could say I got back on the non-proverbial horse, but I didn’t get back on the horse. That was the official end of my career as a professional equestrian. My visions of jumping hurdles and shaking my fancy trophies in the air, parading around on top of a beautiful white horse with a huge, heart-shaped bouquet of roses around its neck… vanished into the Emily-shaped divot in the sand. (Apparently being an equestrain and a jocky were one in the same in my 9 year old imagination). My dreams disappeared as I stood at the spigot, washing the stallion’s disgustingly green, frothy bit (the metal part of the bridle that goes into the horse’s mouth – attached to the reins – that basically allows you to steer) and decided riding horses was no longer for me. Looking back, I think I was really only in it for the boots. 
To this day, that dream has never returned. And I think that’s okay, because at least I tried! I’ve always taken this approach to life. I LOVE trying new things. I’m in addicted to the small thrill and grand adventure of trying everything and anything new. During my college years, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, so I continued to be open to anything and everything: working in retail stores and waitressing, nursing (both at a hospital and nursing home), sales (cell phones), working at a law firm, administrative assistant work, and working at a gym as a personal trainer. My current risks, the ones that have stuck and I’ll never quit or give up on: being a mom and wife. 
“There is such freedom in releasing the past so we can weigh ourselves with the joy and anticipation of what is to come… Adding a new chapter, a new volume, a new series is the greatest independence offered to us in life. Filling pages with characters, dreams, and plans adds a spark and mystery to each coming day. There is simply no telling which threads will end up binding the story of our lives, but without taking risks, making unexpected turns, and leaping at the opportunities open to us, the only thing sure to happen is to continue to relive the past. 
Don’t let yourself gather dust; purge those unwanted horror stories and make room for the next adventure, the next romance, the next great chapter of your life.” 
– Alisha Fridland. (I found this quote in the magazine Bella Grace in Barnes and Nobles. It’s $20, but it’s so worth it: it’s basically beautiful blog posts, essays, and photography matched together in print. So lovely!) 

I’m having a blast discovering other ways to take risks and try new things. Most recently, I’ve decided to spend this year traveling a ton, despite my recent anxiety and panic around flying, just to see if we like that sort of lifestyle (my stomach does not). I’m also experimenting more with my appearance and clothing, my relationship and beliefs around God and religion, reading new book genres, and food. I’m trying new things like Spinning (stationary bicycling) classes, being vulnerable, and starting this blog. I’m considering taking the plunge and going back to school for English/Literature/Writing and Choral Directing. And guys, next week, I get the chance to cross something off my bucket list: learning to surf in Hawaii!
I’m excited about the risks I’m going to take that I haven’t even considered yet. No need to get back on that horse. (That jerk.) I’m going to try a different one. Or something else. 🙂 

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Thank God For Books

I got lost a lot growing up. I remember getting lost with my younger brother, Greg, while shopping in department stores like Strawbridge & Clothier. We’d hide from each other in those rings of clothing, behind the sales counters, and in fitting rooms. But eventually, some responsible grown up who hates fun would give us the stink eye, and drag us to the closest salesperson to find our mom. Once, we were so bored, I made up a game where whoever licked (yes, licked, like a dog) the most sparkly, sequined clothing was the winner. And my, what pride from that win. I’m still teased by my family about this game.  
As I got older, I learned to handle boredom with books. I found I loved getting lost while reading. My imagination drank from the rusted tin cup with the orphaned kids in The Boxcar Children. I made things move with my mind like Matilda, and ate chocolate with Charlie in Roald Dahl’s books. I was unsubdued and spunky with Ramona. I solved neighborhood mysteries with Encyclopedia Brown and hung out with an emotional pig and intelligent spider in Charlotte’s Web. I’d steal my older sister Leah’s The Babysitter Club books. I wanted to be Claudia, and date Logan, and really, just be in the club! In the “Bible” of little girls books, I became a woman (in a garter belt?) and crushed on boys with Margaret. I shared an active imagination and literary ambitions with Anne of Green Gables

The book I connected with most was Harriet the Spy. Harriet is an 11 year old who loves writing and wants to become a writer. She has no problem eating the same food everyday – tomato sandwiches – because she loves them. She doesn’t care what people think of her outward appearance. Harriet is observant, perceptive, and brutally honest, which initially causes her to lose her friends, but in the end, all becomes well and she is made editor of the school newspaper. 
And then, Harry Potter came out in my early teens, and year after year I disapparated out of the muggle world and into the magical wizard world. 
Each time I had a baby (which is twice now), I felt the overwhelming feeling of being trapped. I felt I no longer possessed the ability to be the spontaneous me, who could jump when I wanted to jump. I could no longer walk outside my front door with out running through the long diaper bag list that was my mind. I had to think long and hard before RSVP’ing to events, and even when meeting a friend for lunch. While I expected all that would happen when I became a parent, nothing could’ve prepared me for it. Thankfully, I had something that helped me through it: books. 
While getting lost with my little brother in department stores isn’t much of an option anymore, getting lost in books is just as fantastic. I have a great and deep appreciation for my Kindle app. Seriously guys, the ability to buy books online when I can’t just run out the door and buy the sequel at midnight has opened my world. Books helped me through the 2am feedings, through the long, wide-eyed infant nights, and relentless illnesses. Even now, when I don’t know what to do all day with my toddlers, I read books to them. Books help distract me when I’m stuck in long lines, waiting in a doctor’s office, or when I’m anxious and just need to quiet my mind. They transport me to another world for a brief bit of time, and I love them for it. 
Let’s have a moment of silence for books. 
P.S. I love talking books. Feel free to ask me at anytime what I’m reading, or tell me about your favorite book(s) or what you’ve read recently, and please, recommend some to me. Or just follow me on Goodreads.

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I’m way stronger than her. Why should she get to eat pizza?

I promised friends that this wouldn’t be a mommy blog (seriously though, it might ’cause mommy blogs are hot right now and make BANK)… but this thought I had yesterday really made me scrunch into the “ehew, someone has a dirty diaper” face, Jimmy Fallon style. I thought this while at the zoo, watching my 2 year old spit out the piece of pizza I shoveled into her mouth. It was just the night before that I romantically sighed to my husband that all I wanted was… a hot, greasy, disgusting, super-cheesy pizza. I want the kind of pizza where you where you slyly unbutton the top of your pants just looking at it, and then you start to wonder if your jaw will cramp up due to all of its inedible mozzarella, or if your face is going to break out afterwards like an adolescent teenager.

I can’t remember the last time I had a pizza like that, because I’ve been suffering with something called Gastritis. And no, little brothers, it’s not some sort of fancy way of saying “fart-itis.” It’s simply inflammation of the stomach. It causes indigestion, and mostly, a whole lotta burnin’ pain and heartburn. Thus, I am relegated to mushy, already-been-chewed type of nursing home food. Definitely not pizza.

Why am I experiencing this, you ask? It’s hard to say. I don’t really know. And every time I ask my doctors that question, the first thing they ask me is: “are you stressed?” To which I reply: “No. With the exception of the demands from tiny little dictators who won’t let me sit for more than 2 minutes at a time.” But even that’s pretty manageable for me: I have a lot of help – thanks family! *waves*

My Gastrointestinal Internist (GI doctor) tells me to “relax” at every visit. I don’t know what his wife is like, but I feel like the word “relax” is in a rule book some where, under “Things to Never Ever, Under Any Circumstances, Say to a Woman.” I want to send him and his wife that book, after I jump up and throat chop him and his wire-y combover.

Gah. He didn’t deserve that… he means well. And his prodding, personally and endoscopically, helped me figure out that no, I’m not stressed, exactly… I’m anxious.

I’m anxious about my health. I’m anxious every time my stomach twinges that I’m going to get the stomach flu (I got it way more than the average bear last year). I’m anxious about my life and my kids life. I am anxious that I’m not enough as a person, wife, mother, daughter, woman, citizen, etc. I am anxious every time we fly, that we are going to crash and die some horribly painful death and leave our kids without parents.

I realize I’m stronger than those thoughts. They are just thoughts. They are nothing. Being anxious about them doesn’t help them. It certainly doesn’t make them any better. In fact, it makes them worse. Worry doesn’t add a day to your life… it doesn’t add A. Damn. Thing. It just keeps you from eating pizza.

I taped a verse to my car dash before heading to the zoo. It said:

 “I have made you, and I will carry you. I will sustain you, and I will rescue you.” (Isaiah 46:4)

And I thought, I literally do all of that for my kids. I made them, I carry them. I sustain them. If I dropped them off in the wilderness without me, they’d barely make it a day. (That said, if I was with them, we might make it like, maaaybe two days). And, I rescue them All. The. Time.

Last week, I rescued Charlotte (the pizza-spitting two year old mentioned above) from a head first dive into a wicker hamper. I rescued Sidda’s finger from being slammed between a cedar trunk and its lid. I rescued Charlotte from choking on a whole thing of String Cheese she somehow fit into her tiny baby mouth. I even rescue their dumb dolls from behind the bunkbeds. We’ve all seen that video going around Facebook about the Dads saving the day, right? You get the idea.

Kids don’t worry about what will happen when they dive into a hamper after God-knows-what. They just dive. They don’t worry about heavy objects falling on them or about losing things that are precious to them maybe forever. They just act. Things just happen. And then they deal… usually with crying and hysterics, but sometimes with asking for help. Sometimes with trying to figure it out themselves. Remembering this helps me feel better about my anxieties.

And, so I thought (as I watched Charlotte reach for Doritos instead) that if I do All. That. Stuff. for my kids…  I definitely deserve some pizza. 

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My Super Human Power

   If I were super human, my super powers would be to shake. And no, not a sexy, “shake it, girl!” kind of shake that brings all the boys to the yard. Oh no. My shaking would look like I just walked into the frozen tundra in a bikini. My shaking power would aggravate the tectonic plates, and cause earthquakes that would split the Earth. It would create chasms in the roadways to stop bad guys in their get away cars. I’d convulse so quickly that my energy particles would form storm clouds in the sky, and I’d send lightening bolts down that would literally shock the bejesus out of evil villains and kids who didn’t do their homework. And when I wasn’t saving the planet, I’d most assuredly use my powers for my own benefit. I would never have to wear a jacket, because all my shivering would keep me warm. I wouldn’t need a bath towel or blow dryer, I could just shimmy dry like a wet dog. I’d always be able to get the last bit of ketchup out of the bottle, rescue the stuck Poptart out of vending machines, and make a killer James-Bond-style martini. 
    Publicly sharing what I write makes me shake in my boots – specifically, my red Hunter rain boots that make me feel like Santa Claus in the spring. Unfortunately for me, every time in my life I’ve attempted any sort of vulnerability, I shake. I’ve painfully trembled every time I’ve sung on stage, spoke to a crowd, class or congregation, shared my feeeeeelings with someone, encountered confrontations, or been in an uncomfortable situation… I even shook uncontrollably while in labor with my first kid!
     Fun times. Now, if only I could actually use that shakin’ superpower to save the world, or develop some sweet new dance moves and win money and fame on So You Think You Can Dance, or maybe even convince Outkast to sing about me instead of Polaroids… I’d be set. 
Vulnerability requires being seen. To put oneself out there. To show up.

I’ve made a commitment to become vulnerable, excruciatingly vulnerable. And apparently, according to Brene Brown in her Ted Talks, that takes courage, compassion, and connection. Starting this, a public blog, is taking a warehouse of my courage stores. I hope I’ll be able to be compassionate to myself and others through it, and make meaningful connections. And not shake every time I hit the publish button.