A Letter To My Daughter by Sara Lindberg

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I recently stumbled across the article The World Our Girls Live In posted on Role Reboot and immediately reached out to the writer, Sara Lindberg, this is good stuff. Sara gracefully connected the worry that sits within a mom as we watch our daughters play, bellies still baby-rotund, boogies be damned, knowing she soon will look down at her pre-teen thighs and think they’re fat.

Sara has already written a love letter to her daughter, which was most recently posted on Scary Mommy, and gave us permission to repost it. I have a feeling we’re going to see some great content from this new friend.

She gets girls. She gets moms. She’s a woman.

The trifecta.

What more could we ask for?

Please join me in welcoming Sara Lindberg.

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The house is quiet while I write this. It reminds me of eight years ago when I was trying desperately to control my breathing, working on everything I learned in class, staying calm and focused.

Things were so different then. I was different. Looking back now, I’m not so sure I really liked who I was or the journey I was on. I wasn’t ready. It was three weeks too soon. I should have known in that moment, that you would always do things on your terms. You live by your word. You are independent, brave and tough.

When you finally came, I discovered that you were also sweet, lovely and wonderful. You were everything I hoped you would be.

Over the years, you have taught me more about life than I could have ever imagined.

1. Your patience, compassion, empathy and kindness have taught me how to be a mom. You are teaching me how to be a better human being.

2. You stand by me even when I am making colossal mistakes. You always look at me with kindness and understanding. No matter how many mistakes I make, you always love me.

3. You have taught me about forgiveness and selflessness. You handle setbacks and disappointments with grace—a grace that was not passed down from me. This is something you have developed on your own, a true depiction of your character.

4. Your intelligence and beauty do not define you. Your heart does. You have an endless ability to give and an even greater gift of acceptance. I watch you do that. I watch you extend your hand when no one else will. I hear the kind words you speak that seem to always ease the pain of others.

5. Your quiet nature gives you a unique presence. People respect and listen to you when you have something to say. You have developed an ability to speak words that need to be heard.

6. You love your brother with a sense of devotion and passion that is rarely seen in siblings. I continue to learn so much about unconditional love from watching you with him. You have helped shape his beautiful character. Your actions are the reason he has so much tenderness and love in his heart.

7. I truly admire the love you have for your dad. It reminds me of how I was with my dad. It makes me so happy to watch your relationship with him grow stronger every day. I feel a sense of comfort knowing that the bond you are creating with your dad is unbreakable. He will always be the most important man in your life.

8. Thank you for loving me when I am not very lovable. In those moments when I am less than kind, you always tell me, “I love you, Mom, no matter what.”

9. You have taught me about humility. Your continued ability to put others first is demonstrated in every intentional step you take—every act of kindness you display.

I love you in so many ways. I can’t ever imagine my life without you. There is so much I want to tell you, but for today, I will just stick with “thank you.”

You have truly changed my life and continue to inspire me to be a better version of myself. I am forever grateful and so thankful that I have been given this amazing opportunity to be your mom.

Originally posted on Scary Mommy

Sara Lindberg is a 41-year old wife, mother and full-time secondary school counselor. Combining her 20 plus years experience in the fitness and counseling fields, she has found her passion for inspiring women to be the best version of themselves. She she is not running, working with teenagers or driving her own kids crazy, she manages a Facebook page called Fitmom. She has a B.S. in Exercise Science and a M.ED. in Counseling. Her inspiration for writing comes from her 6 year old son Cooper, and her 8 year old daughter, Hanna.

You can follow Sara on Facebook at Fitmom and on Twitter @fitmomway.

 

Balance Deconstructed

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When people talk to me about balance I want to throw things at them.

For real.

Certain words have become catch-alls, cliches, if you will, and full of well… nothing. If you google “quotes on balance” everyone from Buddha to the dude that just taught the yoga class with the crazy abs has a quote about how you must find this thing, it’s something you create, not a destination, blah, blah, blah. 

I’ve decided they have no idea what they are talking about and have simply surrendered to a cultural norm.

I have a love/hate relationship with cliches and quotes. I’ve come to think of them as fillers. They are sugared words, glazed and mostly well intentioned. I do believe that life experiences create these phrases and ramblings and some are incredibly beautiful, insightful. I also think that the person delivering the quote has no idea of the history or intention of the person quoted nor the inner workings of the person they are hoping to help. Maybe it came from a man who survived a war, the death of children, syphilis and amputations and you are telling a clerk at Target. Maybe it was a Taoist who had never experienced love and a divorcee is your audience. Maybe it was a writer with a drinking problem and a thesaurus, the odds are high. I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t care for the copy/paste quality of them when they’re offered in a prescriptive fashion. I sometimes wonder if they’re not proffered as a very kind exit strategy from conversation, a way to acknowledge, but remove the need to dig in and truly relate.

When I was in my early twenties I remember ruminating on the word “balance,” wondering what my life would look like when I achieved it.

I still have no clue.

So, I’ve decided to take the power away from the word, dear God, please don’t offer me another quote. I’ve decided, instead, to deconstruct it and make it less zen idealism and more of a word with letters, realizing that no matter how you look inverted, you probably struggle with balance as well, so let’s just call a spade a spade. Instead of striving for this otherworldly word that is seriously just some vowels and such, I have divided my life into my roles as a mother, career gal, woman, friend and writer. I consciously strive to simply be present in each of them. I have days when I’m running between things and Liv wants a mama moment. Rather than snapping that we’re in a hurry or telling her that I have chores to do, I stop and remind myself, “THIS is my life. I am living it right now.”

It helps to reframe things.

My life is not whether or not I get laundry done. It is not whether or not she eats yogurt for breakfast tomorrow or I’ve checked a box from a To Do list that never really needs to get To Done. It is the extra smiles and moments we spend snuggling. It is the living that makes a life, the interactions, the blessed conversations she wants to have right before bed when she relaxes into her prayers and tells me who she is and who she’s becoming. It is not the fact that it is three minutes past when I told her to be quiet. It is when she asks God to make sure her heart stays kind and that our dogs will stop stealing her food. It is the sweet moments when we’re at Target and instead of telling her to behave and be quiet while she yammers on in the cart, I catch my nugget sweetly say I’m a great mom and I’m really pretty, can I buy you these cute pajamas, mom?

Sure, baby.

I have caught so much just by reminding myself that THIS is my life.

I have also realized that in order for me to be my most present, most engaged self, I must first take care of myself. This is something I require of myself. I fill up my bucket first and those close know that while I may work my tail off and love my daughter like my life depends on it, I also find a way to run to the gym, hit a yoga class and take small trips to fill up my soul. I am healthier and happier for others when I am taking care of the person that does the taking care.

I learned the hard way.

When I was going through my divorce and running in fifteen different directions I was anxious, sickly and a raging insomniac. I didn’t even like me. We have a tendency to think of ourselves as “selfless” if we put everyone else first.

Nope. Forget that right now, drop it, email me if you need a pep talk.

My loves, the best thing you can do for the people that depend on you is to take care of yourself first and foremost. They will benefit from your enhanced health, mood and overall demeanor.

I promise, Get on it.

Give yourself the space to forget things. To leave the dry cleaning at the cleaners. To be out of dryer sheets. Forgive yourself if your body says nap when your clock says gym. Turn your To Do list into Suggestions and Reminders. The only person in between you and YOUR life is you.

Forgive yourself. Love yourself. LIVE.

Balance be damned.

 

 

 

 

 

Be My Valentine: LORE Turns 1

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LORE was launched Valentine’s Day 2015, and I am astounded at how far we’ve come in one short year. Just like my own daughter, who changes every few months, LORE has grown into something I couldn’t imagine when I was scribbling down blog ideas. I realized this has become more than what I’d originally intended when I was recently introduced to another woman. Our mutual friend suddenly looked confused as if she was searching the air for something she couldn’t find, “She has a blog.. It’s not a blog. No, what is it… It feels like more than a blog. It’s a something…”

I smiled from the inside out, It’s definitely a something.

We have become less blog and more a platform for women. I definitely don’t feel like a blogger. I sat back the other day and realized I’ve become a curator. I’m curating pure, unashamed, unfiltered beauty. I am so humbled and grateful that women entrust me with their words and their Love Letters and articles pop into my inbox as I reach out for content. Women tell me they look forward to our weekly offering of raw, unfiltered, woman to woman love.

I haven’t met a mean girl yet.

So, in the vein of Valentine’s Day, and a nod to our signature feature, LOVE LETTERS, I thought I’d write a love letter to those of you who have built LORE.

Dear readers, thank you for your continued emojis, exclamation marks, likes and comments. Your responses and support help me build out content that is meaningful and that I know will resonate each week. Please continue to like us, Tweet us, double tap us on Instagram and share our articles so that we can understand what it is you like to read and how best to keep you engaged. Tell us, too, if you have ideas or suggestions. Without you there is no LORE and I appreciate you from the bottom of my very humbled heart.

Thank you.

Dear contributors, thank you for trusting me with your words. Thank you for opening up, letting people in and sharing the unexpected journey you experience when you have to do a little soul searching, and only because you want your letters to be meaningful. You do the work to keep others from having to, and that in and of itself, is genuine and brilliant. It is such a treat to hear back from you as you receive personal messages from readers who have been touched by your vulnerability. I love your shocked faces, surprised emails and texts. You changed someone’s day. It feels good, doesn’t it?

There is always room for you here.

Because of the collective YOU we will be bringing on more contributing writers, more content, more letters and you will see the look of LORE change to become more easily accessible and with curated content. I’m also toying with the idea of sending out a weekly Love Note in which you will find a link to the article for the week as well as a word or phrase of intent to start your Monday in a lovely frame of mind. Give me your feedback. What would you want to see in a Love Note?

To be honest, I wanted to go fetal when I had to learn basic HTML code to build this thing over a year ago, and yet here I am having meetings with web developers and figuring out 7000 efficiency apps. I’m all in, but I am learning things that are stretching my brain, so you will see small fits and starts as LORE becomes a toddler. At this very moment I’m sitting in a ski lodge with my laptop and what should equate to TECH FOR DUMMIES while my kiddo attends ski school.

Side note: She hates it, so she can’t see me on the mountain or there would be much crying and an avalanche. So, I just link profiles, figure things out, cry a little on the inside and then sneak glimpses of her out the window. Her body language says temper tantrum later.

Pray for me.

As for you?

Big, mushy, loud and glittery thank you. May your Valentine’s Day be filled with love and if you don’t have someone to smooch, please consider me your honorary Valentine.

You ladies are definitely mine.

Xo,

Jeanette

Don’t Believe The Movies: This Is Love

I met Camille Di Maio many years ago in New York at a writer’s conference. Writers have a tendency to form a weird cultish support system, so we’ve met a few times since in Las Vegas or San Antonio, where Camille is raising some rockstar kids. I’m very proud of her, as her first novel, THE MEMORY OF US, is now available on Amazon.

I am only mildly envious since I can’t seem to leave the Real Time comfort of the web and finish the same book I talked to her about three years ago.

In looking over content for LORE, and recognizing that Valentine’s Day is upon us, I knew we should probably post something relationship-related. I reached out to my friend, knowing she and her husband are very much involved in the marital outreach ministry within their Catholic faith. They are also very much in love and I’ve seen it first-hand.

My request looked a little something like this:

“I am the last person who should write about relationships and you seem to have that whole thing locked down. Help.”

I had an article within 48 hours.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mrs. Camille Di Maio

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It’s 1:33 in the morning, and my dog wants to go outside.

This has become a regular habit. Maybe it’s his bladder or a maybe there’s a squirrel running along the fence that he needs to protect us from.

I don’t know.

My husband is breathing deeply and rhythmically alongside me. He’s not snoring – that’s my domain, apparently – but as much as I’d like to pretend to sleep and have the dog eventually nuzzle up to the other side of the bed, that wouldn’t be the nice thing to do. And so I get up. I know my husband would do the same.

Don’t believe the movies. This is what a beautiful love story looks like.

Rob and I have been married for nearly nineteen years, twice the national average. We have four children, twice the national average. We run a successful real estate team and I write novels on the side. I still find him hot, despite the thinning of his once lush, Italian head of hair. He regularly comes along and pinches my derriere, despite the pounds that have been added there since we first met.

How does our magic still work?

There’s plenty I can say about that as I reflect on two decades with the same person, but I narrowed it down to five themes. So, read on, if you are looking to help make love last. I guarantee some shock value, too.

Be a giver. Pat Benetar says that love is a battlefield, and I say that it is a sacrifice. One plus one equals two. Taker plus taker equals divorce court. Taker plus giver equals suffering, and probably divorce court. Giver plus giver – ah, that’s the thing to find. A relationship is not what you can gain from it, it’s about what you can give to it. It is serving the other person, wanting their happiness, assisting their growth. Being a servant is not a popular idea in our culture, but imagine this – if you seek another giver, then you have one who is also serving you and putting your best interests at heart and promoting your growth. What a lovely feeling! A priest once told me that his parents’ marriage succeeded because “they tried to outdo each other in kindness.” A long-lasting bloom will grow when two people approach a relationship with an attitude of service.

Give the benefit of the doubt. Have you ever been cut off in traffic and you want to shout obscenities at the moron who thinks that muscling in one car ahead will really get him somewhere that much faster? What if you had the power to know that that the driver was a father with a little girl in the backseat who was screaming in agony from an accident with scissors as he rushes her to the emergency room? When someone makes me angry – traffic, work, life – I make up a story to myself about why they just did what they did. That little fiction calms me down, and while the details might be off, it does point to what is probably true – most people are fundamentally good and not intentionally harming you. This works in love, too. It’s so easy to rush to assumptions and jump on character flaws when we’re upset about something, but if you can take a breath and remember what you love about him, and trust that his intentions are good, it will diffuse an argument before it starts. And, there’s a side benefit – when you practice this, and even talk about it – he will give you the benefit of the doubt, too. Because I’m sure you annoy him as well. Believing the best about one another instead of the worst is a recipe for long lasting love.

Differences are complementary. Working together is tough. My husband and I started our business ten years ago, and the first eighteen months were ugly. He didn’t get nearly as much done as I did and I felt burdened. He accused me of shooting down his ideas and he felt ignored. We know three sets of married real estate agents who divorced in the last few years. I’m not surprised.

Over time something finally emerged from our “He/she isn’t doing things my way” rut. We began to recognize that our differences complement one another. When I accepted that Rob is an “ideas guy” more than a “doer,” I saw that without his ambition, drive, and imagination, the creative things that we did to grow our business wouldn’t have happened. We would have relied on my conventional methods, and conventional doesn’t necessarily translate to success. On the other hand, he came to understand that while creating and dreaming and learning were important, if we didn’t actually implement them, we weren’t going to move forward.

We’ve now grown into one of the most successful real estate teams in our large city, and it is because of this very fact. Everything we do, we delegate to the one who has the best talent for it – and our time is spent on our business rather than on our fighting. We have taken this philosophy in to every aspect of our marriage, and it has served us well. Opposites attract, they say. Until they annoy us. Embrace the opposite instead, and see the amazing things that come from it.

Take continuing education. In nearly every profession, continuing education is mandatory so that you can keep you your skills and adjust to changing times. But, what about your relationship? We say “I do,” and then you’re on your own, supposedly until “death do us part.” You can spend those decades – if you make it that far – floundering and fighting and trying to figure it out. Or, you can nurture that relationship far before you get to crisis mode.

Male/female. Introvert/extrovert. Morning person/night owl.

By reading books and articles about these different natures, we learned how to communicate with one another more effectively. A football team doesn’t just practice plays and get out there on the field. They study past games of their upcoming opponents and learn how to operate among the other team’s particular characteristics. Now, that analogy shows how to conquer the other side, but the concept of understanding the other person can be used for the good. A recent discovery for us is the newly popular quizzes about love languages. We explored this in a marriage retreat we went on last year. My husband now recognizes that my main love language is service, and that cleaning the kitchen is more powerful than any trinket or flower he could buy for me. I know that cuddling with him in the morning gets his day started right because his love languages are attention and affection. Even when you’re a giver, you need to understand how the other person receives.

Abstain from sex. Woah! I got your attention, right? You’re either going to stop reading right now or curiosity will get the better of you and you’ll wonder how on earth I can convince you that consensual abstinence is romantic. Oh, but it is! Read on.

I like cheeseburgers. I don’t crave them, though, and if I never had one again, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. And yet, there are several days a year when ALL I want is a juicy cheeseburger and I have to avoid driving past a Whataburger. Those days fall on Fridays during Lent, when Catholics traditionally abstain from meat. Telling me I can’t have it makes me want it so much more. The same is true for sex.

Now, in our case, we don’t use contraception for religious reasons. We use Natural Family Planning (which is NOT your grandmother’s rhythm method). It’s become popular not only in religious circles but in health and environmental circles as people are always seeking natural alternatives to a variety of things. Now, this part of the article is not about contraception – what you do with that is your own business. But, it is about what periodic abstinence has done for our love (and sex) life, and how embracing it could be a really hot addition for your own.

The divorce rate in America hovers around 50%, but for those who practice NFP, it plummets to 5%. All religious stuff aside, this statistic held my interest. Periodic abstinence between a couple fosters several things: communication, sacrifice, commitment, and creativity. If you’ve managed to be together for two decades, chances are that the heat has cooled off. And, we misguidedly mistake heat for love. So, we think we’re “not in love” anymore. Maybe we seek the heat somewhere else. Occasionally taking sex (or the boring routine of it) out of the picture creates a space for romance – dinners, walks, thoughtful gifts, etc. And, like that cheeseburger during Lent, when you’ve told yourself you can’t have it – you want it all the more! So, when that time of abstinence is over (and it doesn’t have to be long), you’ll find yourselves feeling like honeymooners again. On a regular basis. And, because you’ve given focus to romance during the abstinence, you enjoy the sex all the more because you feel so appreciated as a person. Not an object. Don’t take my word for it – try it! I’d be surprised if things in the bedroom weren’t hotter than ever.

There’s an additional concept for keeping love alive that applies to those who try to maintain their relationship among distractions – primarily children, but it could be anything. Maybe you can’t find a night off to go to dinner or a babysitter or the money. So, in our marriage, Rob and I started the idea of the mini-date. You see, it’s not the time you have or the location or the money, it’s the attitude. One mini-date: walking the garbage to the curb together. This takes all of three minutes, but if you call it a mini-date and you hold hands back up the driveway and maybe sneak in a smooch before heading back in to the house, you’ve just sparked romance! Another mini-date – standing outside and watching the sunset together. Or even folding the laundry together after the kids go to bed. The key word here is together. When you check off tasks and assign who does what, you’re just roommates. When you do the same thing, but do it together and call it a date, you’re lovers. Mini-dates are so easy to squeeze in, and you’ll be astonished how that switch in attitude about simple to-dos can ignite the romance meter in your house.

So, as Valentine’s Day approaches, and sales for card stores and florists and candy shops flourish, I hope you’ll reflect on some of these ideas to keep your love strong, not only on a Hallmark Holiday, but year-round, and for many years to come.

Camille Di Maio lives in San Antonio with her husband and four children. She’s traveled to four continents and most of the states, and is always planning her next trip. By day, she is an award-winning real estate agent, and by night, she is an author. She does pretty well with little sleep.

Camille loves belting out Broadway tunes at a moment’s notice, shopping at farmer’s markets, and will try anything that doesn’t involve heights or roller skates. Her debut novel, The Memory of Us, is available on Amazon.

Find Camille on Twitter @camilledimaio, Facebook and Instagram or at her website, www.CamilleDiMaio.com.

Insecurity Is A Waste of Time

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A few times over the last few years I’ve been asked for a favorite quote or expression that is important to me. Once was for a female small business owner who was building her own blow dry bar. She wanted a wall of famous women’s quotes to act as a backdrop for women who’d just had their hair done. A few months later I stood before it while celebrating the opening of Blowout Dollhouse with a proud new business owner.

Last week I was asked again for quotes for an event where I’ll be speaking this week. I took a few days, mulling over all the gifs and pretty sayings that decorate my phone and my office. I again found myself drawn to the same one and I always smile to myself when I share it.

The back story is a good one, if I do say so myself.

It was roughly four years ago. I’d flown in from one city to realize that while changing out dry cleaning to fly to another, divorce was on the horizon. I wiped tears as I headed to West Palm Beach. I sank into the Florida humidity upon arriving, feeling as if my home state was going to help soften the blow. I had to get it together and fast. I was going to spend a weekend with the most successful women in financial services. They wore Laboutins and sparkling things, all brains and verve. I was intimidated in my state.

I prepped for my mission: looking like them. I would seem poised and polished while my insides were caving in upon themselves. Yes, definitely. They wouldn’t notice that I didn’t belong.

Then a funny thing happened.

They were honest about all the things on my mind. There were maybe twenty men to the thousand women and my God, how women speak differently when we are around our sisters. Yes, there were talks about economies and global trends, but there were also talks about how you have to take time for yourself, how it is hard to juggle career, marriage and children, solidarity sister.

One woman shared that while she had gotten kids to school, ran meetings, thawed dinner, made soccer and took a red eye out of New York, all she wanted to do was fill her brain with mindless drivel. She tucked herself into an InStyle magazine. Her seat mate, however, had her laptop out and was making notes while flipping through graphs and reports. After realizing they were heading to the very same conference, she told the very focused woman, “Wow, I feel incredibly lazy.” The woman laughed and I will never forget what she said, “No, you don’t understand. I’m the keynote speaker tomorrow. I just had a baby and she’s sick. My husband has been sending me updates every few minutes. This is the only time I’ve had to prepare.”

She was the Chief Economist for a large firm.

They then talked babies and balance.

She nailed her keynote.

Every woman at the conference was her most beautiful, natural, smart and nurturing self. These women were so enlightened and encouraged by the way a male-dominated industry feels when the men aren’t in the room. When women come together to inspire one another, to make you feel less alone, less anomaly, its a beautiful thing.

We talked about the guilt, my God, the guilt. We talked about marriage and personal relationships, messy and glorious, I try so hard to be present. We talked about the children we were raising, I try so hard to be present. We talked about who we become when the men are in the room, the layers we put on, the children we forget for a lunch meeting, because you can’t be a mom. We talked about the health concerns we don’t share with our male colleagues and clients, because then you are a woman. We talked about how you are scared to take maternity leave, because then they look at you with the wondering, soft eyes.

The weekend ended with a final keynote by Diane von Furstenberg. She had a Power Point presentation with pictures of herself as a child, as a Princess, as a mom and finally, the pinnacle photo of the wrap dress that turned her into a design house. She talked about her regrets as a mother, her role as a grandmother, her career frustrations and failures.

When asked what she lived by, what drove her to continue, she said as self-confidently as you can imagine a former princess to espouse, “Insecurity is a waste of time.”

Isn’t it just?

Can you imagine if every woman in that room confidently owned each relationship she had and all the hats she wears, no insecurities? I think through conversations I’ve had, meetings I’ve walked into, moments I’ve silenced myself and worried that I was too… something. Too soft, too hard, too feminine, too masculine, too talkative, too expressive, too… all the things that make me who I am.

There sometimes comes a time in your life and in your career that you find your value. And, most will tell you even when you find it, life has a funny way of saying, “Are you sure?” and offering you missteps and ego to dig through so that you finally find your footing and say, “Yes, I’m sure. This is who I am and what I do well. And you know what? Here are the things I don’t do well. I’m going to own them too.”

Ms. DVF herself, in her very poignant, clipped comments, asked us to learn who we were, all our iterations, and own them. Own who you are today, find your why, your reason, your gifts.

Then stand up and introduce yourself.

No apologies allowed.