5 Things to do to be Happier

Lately, I find myself unable to be too terribly happy about the things that bring me joy. Over the last year plus, we have had 3 miscarriages. Shortly after the last one, I had started having massive panic attacks again. On the flip side, I have an amazing 3 year old who makes us laugh all day, everyday. We have a home, we have a new car, we have each other, I have 3x the business I had last year with my photography. Things are good. Really good. Sadness, heart ache, and complete darkness just happen to be circling. Like buzzards. Waiting to suck me back into the black hole of an-Oreos-and-Grey's-Anatomy-marathon-of-despair. 

I wish that I could say that I made it through all of One Thousand Gifts, but I didn't. The writing killed me. I made it to the list. I started my own list. Then life happened. Hard. I lost my sense of gratitude. I was mad & frustrated, & I felt betrayed. Ironically, the betrayer wasn't God; it was me. I had/have forgotten how to enjoy life, enjoy the victories. The way that things appear now are "if this happens, then this can't happen." So, I spend my time worried about what isn't going to happen if xyz happens. Joy stealer. Happiness destroyer. My husband is usually the one to point this character flaw out. He's Mr. Optimistic. In the cup of life, it is always half-full. I'm not. I'm Mrs. Melancholy. Maybe that will change if some things change, OR maybe I could get off my white arse and find ways to enjoy my life in the here & now. My life does not look like I thought it would. In some ways, it has far-exceeded my expectations. In other ways, I feel like I got the short straw. That's my fault. I mean, the things that happened were out of my control, but how I responded wasn't.

After mulling over the wise words from my Old Owl (Josh) for the last week, I decided it was time to turn off Grey's, and try something else. Try having fun. So, maybe this is a reminder for you, but I'm preaching to the choir here. Most of these ideas come from the little girl sitting next to me, watching cartoons with her babies lined up in a perfect row.

1. Get off the computer & go play. Maybe you don't have kids. That doesn't matter. Get up off your rump, and go play. Play outside, throw a ball, play Monopoly with some friends. Go play. Do something that will get your endorfins pumping & get you giggling like a little school girl. Since installing wood floors in our house, Maddie & I love to put socks on, & go flying up & down the hallway. I'm usually the one to slam into the wall & hurt my hip, but we crack up the entire time we are flying across the house.

2. Treat yo'self. Not everyday, but maybe once a week. Treat yo'self with something indulgent. Maybe it's something big, but maybe it's just a $1.60 cake pop from Starbucks. It doesn't matter. Life is too short to be on a diet everyday of your life. Life is too short to be calorie-free, fat free, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, happiness free (unless you are on a special diet because of dietary restrictions). Not the happiness part, but the other stuff. 

3. Do something nice for someone else. For whatever reason, I can remember this when tragedy strikes or at Christmastime. It's easy for me to remember that people don't have enough when we are indulging in Christmas lattes (what is that?!) and buying gobs of presents for our family members. I'm easily reminded. But the people that don't have anything at Christmas, don't have anything on President's Day or Labor Day. Maybe you do something nice for a friend, but wouldn't it be awesome to do something for someone who really needed a little touch from someone who has an abundance? I want my girl to learn this now. That means I have to start NOW.

4. Take long, hot baths. Even my husband has joined this happiness train. The multimedia equipment that is required for his baths is slightly over the top, however, you can keep it simple. Get some bubble bath, a nice candle, a glass of wine juice & enjoy some quiet. Be sure & tell everyone that it's Mommy's quiet time. I'm sure they'll all respect your privacy & not bother you for a second. Pick a time when you are home alone or when everyone is in bed and/or pre-occupied. Soak your tootsies & enjoy the time alone.

5. Spend time with your loved ones. Stop taking breaks from them. We all need our Mommy breaks, but we also need QUALITY time together. Spend time talking after dinner; don't jump up immediately to get back to work or interneting. Do a movie night once a week. Pile into the big bed & snuggle up with a treat & watch a movie. In our house, it usually ends with the todd jumping around on the bed, asking to do something else, but hey! We tried! THEN, when the kiddos are down for the night, spend time with your spouse. Act like you like each other. Ask questions about their day, their job, their interests. A full tank begets a full tank.

Any more tips for being happier? Share them with me & the other readers!

Happy Sunday, peeps!

Your Q&A's

These are so fun! I love being asked questions that really make me think. Something besides "paper or plastic?" I'm working on some more interactive stuff for the blog to get YOU more involved. Even working on a new video series that will be up & running soon. I'm working on learning editing software...hello, totally out of my league...but I'm really excited for you to see the new stuff 'round these parts. 

So, here are some fun questions from yesterday's Q&A Wednesday:

If you weren't married & a Momma to a sweet girl.. what would your life be like... obviously this is a guess.. so dream big & tell me what you think it would be.

This is actually a tricky one. Growing up, I knew I always wanted to be a mama. It was just ingrained in me from an early age, so I think I may be depressed if I didn't have my girl! Photography was the other passion deep inside of me at a young age. I wanted to start this process at 17, but was told no. I think that I would have cycled my way to it at some point because it was always important to me. Or a stripper. Maybe I would have been a stripper. 

What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment? Something that you never thought you could do but did.

Greatest accomplishment is my girl. She is THE COOLEST kid I have ever met. Like, seriously. I talk to mamas all the time in the photography world, whether during a birth or a newborn session & we talk about the terrifying moment where they tell you to leave the comfort & security of the hospital & take your new one home. "Are you sure I'm allowed to? What if she needs a new diaper? I can't be expected to be changing diapers all day!? I have fire crotch!" The entire first year you are just praying that you can keep them alive! And then you do! It's pretty incredible to grow a human & then sustain it & turn it into a pretty cool kid.   

Second to her is my business. It's nowhere near where I want it to be, but I do this part-time because I'm her mama first. I think I will always want more - it's the nature of humanity - but I am pretty pumped with what I have accomplished in the first 3 years. 

What was your defining moment when you knew that you wanted to do photography? 

Defining moment. I don't know that I had a defining moment. Or maybe I did. I always wanted to make it happen, but it wasn't feasible until my husband quit his full-time job & I had a newborn. PERFECT TIMING! My hubby knew that this was deep inside of me & I wanted to make it happen, so he handed me the credit card & said, "do it. You'll regret it if you don't." And he was right. There are days I want to throw in the towel, there are days when I think I am going to be a famous photographer (again, emotional extremist). I love it, and I am so privileged to do it. To be the one capturing a baby's first breath or the first kiss at a wedding?! Hello, dream job. And I do BOTH with tears streaming down my face every.last.time. 

If you could hold on to just one memory from your life forever, what would it be? 

This is a tough one. I immediately think about Granny. I'm transported back to her dining room as she spritzes her Red Door on her wrists, and draws her "albrows on." Or I think of my uncle Ron who I knew for a couple of years before he was killed. But then I think, I always want to remember the moment I said yes at my wedding, the moment my girl was placed in my arms. I guess I want to hold on to all of them. 

Who has been the biggest influence in your life, and what did they teach you?

Biggest influence goes to my hubs. He is cool as a cucumber, unswayed by stupid people, and has patience out the wazoo. And while I am still far from how awesome he is, he has helped me learn to relax...kinda...and to appreciate the victories in life. Just the other day he was telling me to be happy for getting the things I wanted, not sad about the things that I still have yet to attain. Glass half full. I'm still learning, but he's taught me a lot. Hopefully, my daughter will be more like him. He's rad.

What motivates you in your success with photography, weight loss, and being a good mama? How do you juggle it all?

What motivated my photography, weight loss, and being the best mama I can be is this kid.

I started losing weight before I was pregnant with her so that I could have help pregnancies. I continued losing weight after I had her because I had struggled my whole life with being overweight and having an unhealthy relationship with food, and I never wanted her to watch me struggle & learn that poor behavior. I started photography because of her. I had this beautiful, smiley, dimply baby girl & was taking hundreds of pictures a day. She was the final push to make me pursue it. And I want to be a good mama because she deserves it. I fall short every single day, but I'm doing my best to be a killer mama. 

Do I juggle it? Clumsily, I would say. I try my hardest, but there are days when things get neglected. Like the dishes. It's hard to have it all. We can't have it all & be excellent at all of it. I wish I could be, but it's just not possible. I think we all look at other mamas & only see the perfectly-quaffed, out of sweat pants photos & forget that we are all just trying to do the best we can. We put the best version of ourselves out there, when in reality, we're all just do the best we can to hold it together, to juggle our balls, and to make it seem effortless. It's a whole lotta effort. Let's call a spade a spade here. 

Thanks so much for these fun questions! I had a good time answering these!

Happy Thursday!

Q&A Wednesday

I'm trying to find new & different things to do here, so I decided to try Q&A Wednesdays! Ask me questions IN THE COMMENTS section, and I will answer them tomorrow!! Ask me anything!

Happy Wednesday!

10 Reasons Why Being a Parent is the Worst

I posted this blog post earlier & had about 20 mamas who wrote on my Facebook, Instagram & email that they felt the same, laughed until they peed, and appreciated finding the light & humor in life. A couple of people did not feel this way. People, I write in jest. I write about the funny things in life. I write because life is too short to be so serious. Do I write in here that children are little monsters? Yes. Do I call my child that? OF COURSE NOT. I was told that I, essentially, speak death & condescension to my child. I'm sorry - I didn't realize that you lived in my house & listened to my conversations with my daughter. In our house, we speak life & truth, we talk about Jesus & heaven & how smart we all are, how beautiful we all are, how perfectly God made us. We build each other up. 

Mom blogs are just that - a place for moms to come when they are tired & weary. Being a mom is the hardest job in the world, but it's what I was meant to do. I always wanted babies. And I am terribly offended that someone would call me out in a passive aggressive, vaguebooking manner that I am clearly ruining my child and I hate being a mom. Thank you for remembering that for the last 2 years I have struggled, cried, broken down & poured my heart out to you as I suffered through FIVE, count it, FIVE miscarriages, taken fertility drugs & questioned the very existence of God as I laid on my floor & wept because I wanted just one more baby. You're right. I clearly am a horrible mother who hates her life. 

Not to mention that if you are a reader of my blog, I have mentioned my struggle with feeling inferior, stupid & like God has it out for me. I'm sure that post offended people, as well. Throwing Bible verses at me while judging me for being such a terrible mother just adds to that hurt. Thanks so much. Thank you for making me cry. Thank you for making me question myself & for hurting my feelings. This is EXACTLY why girls don't like other girls. Why girls struggle to be friends. And I pray EVERY SINGLE DAY that my daughter never ever has to deal with mean girls. May she be blessed enough to only have good, positive, uplifting friends who don't judge her or make her cry. Yep, did you read that? I pray for my daughter. Maybe I'm not such a horrible person after all. 

Bottom line, don't read my blog if SARCASM offends you. I write about the funny things in life. I write to make you laugh 'til you pee. I write so that mean girls don't make you feel like you are the only one in the world who struggles to hold it together. I write so that you don't have to feel like you have to pretend to be perfect like the mean girls made me believe I did. I write so we can be friends & have a laugh. If you can't laugh about life, I feel sorry for you. It's just not that deep. Find a serious, no-nonsense blog to read that won't offend you. This is not the blog for you.


Now, for all of you hyper-sensitive, holier-than-though, I-would-never-say-a-bad-thing-about-my-child readers out there...turn back now. I'm sure that the first sentence offended you, and got your $2.97 Walmart Granny panties in a twist. If that offended you, go read someone else's blog who is more holy than I am. This is not the blog for you.

For the rest of you normies, let's talk about the 10 Reasons Being a Parent is the ABSOLUTE Worst. we all set out on this journey to become parents to these angelic, polite, well-polished children who stepped out of the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. For every ONE stunning, catalog-ready photo I have my child, there are about 12 hideous, just-rolled-out-of-bed, cereal-stuck-to-her-face photos. Instagram is a lie, people. Get it through your head. We all thought that we'd be the one with the well-behaved, potty trained, eloquent, genius children. Wrong again. Universe: 1. Me: 0.

Without further ado...the list.

1. Poop. Also known as feces, dung, sh**, excrement, waste, manure. You're familiar with it. We spend most of our days wiping someone else's ass, waiting for our children to poop on the potty, cleaning poop out of brand new underwear or doing the happy dance when there is a small, brown mass at the bottom of the toilet. #glamour

2. Tantrums. I judged you all. I judged you & whispered under my breath, "My child will NEVER do that. Pull it together." Yes. I was that judgmental, non-mother. Until I met my daughter. The meltdowns only come out when we are surrounded by the general public. She has a specific tactic: to make me cry or look like I'm out of control in front of nice-looking, non-parent strangers. She's crafty. She acts cute & innocent until something she wants is on the line. She can go from peaceful to screaming bloody murder when a toy is at stake. Usually at the cash register. Now, when I see other moms with a toddler in the throes of a tantrum, I give them an understanding smile. I know how you feel. I'm sorry that your child has turned on you. I empathize. We are in this together.

3. Legos. Satan's war against peace & harmony in the home. It doesn't matter if you cleaned up all the toys, those little jerks will find your foot in the middle of the night, and ONLY AFTER you have put your child to bed, & have made every effort to hardly even breathe so they don't wake up.

4. Sex. It was crazy, loud, & wild. Then, it got you this 7 pound blob who wakes up if you sneeze. Outside. During a monsoon. You could do it anywhere before: the bed, the couch, the floor, the hallway, the closet. Wherever. Now, if your spouse makes any kind of noise, your eyes bug out of your head, as you both wait for the inevitable wail from down the hall. Now, this, is what I call sexy.

5. Vomit. It's supposed to be limited to these tiny spittles that the wee ones send out constantly. It's cute. It doesn't smell. Then they get a little older, and for some odd reason, the only places they are able to throw up is in their bed or on you. Then begins the gagging, and the husband running to the other side of the house "claiming" that he is "going to throw up." Yeah, well, me too, buddy.

6. Tiger stripes. If you are one of the lucky ones with the perfect balance of elasticity in your skin, then screw you. This blog isn't for you either. We all got them. Well, most of us did. We did everything we could to do every kind of sit-up, crunch, and plank to make them go away, but it's too late. The little children clearly tried to claw their way out of your belly while you lovingly fed, nurtured, and house these little boogers for 9 months. #ungrateful

7. Boobs. They used to point north. They don't anymore.
8. Coolness. You used to be cool. You used to roll into your friend's driveway, windows down in your cute, little 2-door coupe, bumping your favorite jam. Now, your minivan is littered with Cheerios, mystery stains on the seats, a funky old shoe smell, and you are singing the Wheels on the Bus at the top of your lungs just to keep the litter from screaming.

9. Sleep. Now, I have to say...I had a 4-day old who slept 8 hours a night. Now, she sleeps 11 hours. I am in the minority. I have heard horror stories from many of you whose children are still not sleeping through the night at 18 months old or are waking at 5am every morning. I'm.So.Sorry. Please, let me buy you a Starbucks.

10. Stupidity. Maybe you weren't always the sharpest bulb in the drawer. That's ok. I'm not either. For some odd reason, you create these little spawns, they mar your body, make you yell, make you cry, make you eat a tub of ice cream when you realize that you are, indeed, ruining them just like your parents ruined you, but you swore you'd never let that happen, and then you want more. The only reason I can come up with for this insanity is that children suck the brain out of your head through your lady garden when they emerge, and make you terribly stupid.

If you have any reason why being a part is the worst, drop me a line in the comments section.

Happy Thursday! A.

I Don't Know Much, But I Know I Love You

My husband has an affinity for singing in a falsetto voice. It may be one of the most annoying + hilarious things he does. He does a lot of funny things. Like dancing around the room naked, provocatively to seduce me. He also does a lot of annoying things. Like putting his clothes ON TOP of the hamper. 'The hell is that?! He says it's so that I can make the decision about whether or not to wash it. If it's on top of the hamper, it was questionable to you. If it's questionable to you, I am going to think it needs to be burned.

When I got married married 6+ years ago, I thought marriage would be different. I thought we'd have sex 15 times a week, I thought we'd spend every night snuggled on the couch together watching TV, I thought the house would be clean all the time & I thought our child would never be the child who throws herself down on the floor in a fit of rage when she isn't allowed to get the damn toy at the register that they place at eye level so that your monster child will have a massive Britney Spears breakdown, and so, to save face from other judging mothers, you give in, & buy said toy to keep your child from screaming so loud & hard that they throw up in WalMart. 

Check out my Instagram to follow Maddie's #reasonsmytoddleriscrying series. New material everyday.

I digress.

Picking a spouse is a funny thing. When you fall in love, you have to GETMARRIEDRIGHTNOW. You want to start your life together, buy a house, make babies, buy the minivan to tote around your litter. The first year of marriage is easy. Blissful, even. He worked, I scrap booked. He was happy I had a hobby. We decided to get a credit card to help build our credit. In the spirit of helping us build our credit, I proceeded to spend $350 on scrap booking materials at Hobby Lobby. And he was pissed. Ummm, excuuuuuse me. I was trying to help our credit. #ungrateful

When you get married, you envision the more glamorous moments far more than realizing that, at some point, you will  be on the crapper, and your spouse will walk in. You don't think about watching them pick their nose at all hours of the day (sorry, honey). You don't think about cleaning lettuce out of the bathtub after your husband has stopped at Subway before his bath. You don't think about having a screaming toddler who is yelling, "STOP, MOTHER!" & looking at each other in disbelief that this is the precious little gift from God that you prayed for, waited for, & thought was the most heavenly thing ever created when she was a tiny, quiet, newborn bundle is now cursing you in her own toddler language because you had the audacity to tell her that she needs to go pee.

Time has a way of warping things. You change, you grow, you decide what actually are the important things in life. My house is messy. Yes. I clean, but it's less often now. I love sweat pants. And let's be honest, not wearing a bra is one of life's greatest joys. I think my precious husband thought I would get up each morning, put makeup on & dress cute. Bahahahaha! No, dear. No. Bless your heart, but no. We have been through really great times, and really awful times. You lose people you love, you lose babies, you lose your mind. Marriage is exhausting, but it's one of the coolest things I have ever done. It's way less glamorous & far more smelly I could have ventured to guess, but it's pretty damn cool. Who else is going to know that random things about you that no one else in the world would give a rip about? Like how my favorite word is brunch, or how he likes to eat Subway in the bath. Glamorous? No. Weird? Yes.

For all the weird crap that happens in marriage, the quiet moments far outshine the moments that make you want to smother them with a pillow, call your best friends, & ask them to help you hide a body. It's a weird thing, marriage. It's wonderful to get to have someone to love & laugh with, but it's a whole different ball game when you see how weird they are. But I love my weirdo. And for some random reason, he thinks I'm pretty cool too. He thinks I'm "pretty funny." One day he'll think I'm hilarious. One day.

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