Archive of ‘HolyCrap’ category

Hurricane Irma – Part 1

I think it was Labor Day when most of us became aware that a storm was organizing, but like most storms, no one panicked. If you don’t live in Florida it might seem a little insane not to panic about a hurricane. But the trouble with hurricanes is that we have days and days of warning for a storm that all the well-dressed meteorologists in the world can’t honestly track with any certainty. We’ve had SO many Hurricanes Who Cried Wolf that we’re cynical about Mother Nature.

We Floridians know how to follow the models. There’s the Hurricane Weather Research model, the Euro model, the UK model, The Global Forecast System, and about 12 more. Most Floridians have a favorite (mine’s the Euro) and we compare it to the other models all. day. long. We know when to listen to the newscasters and when not to. For example, when a journalist is standing in a light breeze announcing that he can BARELY stay standing as a plastic bag floats by, we know there’s not much to report yet. And we know if Storm Tracker Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel shows up in our town, it’s time to run for our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday – 7 full days before the hurricane hit.
“Are you going to evacuate?” people ask me.
“I have no idea.”
I really didn’t. Without any clear indication of how strong this storm would be, where it would be, and when it would be…we just didn’t know.

Tuesday –
“YOU NEED TO EVACUATE RIGHT NOW THERE’S A HURRICANE COMING,” shouted concerned people across the rest of the south.
We Floridians have been doing this for a really, really long time. In fact, almost every birthday party I ever had got evacuated because my birthday falls at the peak of hurricane season. We just aren’t used to the entire country having an opinion about when we stay or leave, and calling us idiots if we make a choice others don’t agree with. The last MAJOR set of hurricanes to hit Florida were in 2004 (the last El Nino). Social media was not in our hands 24-7 back then. We listened to the forecasters and the state officials and made the decisions that were best for us. All of a sudden, this year, the entire country became meteorological forecasters and told us to get out or we were fools. “IT’S JUST STUFF! GET OUT!” If one more person said that to me, I was going to change my profile picture to a naked photo of Bea Arthur and throw my phone into the Florida muck.

The trouble with evacuating was two-fold:
1. We’d potentially help clog the only 2 interstates out of Florida, which at the time the people south of us needed far more than we did. They were guaranteed a hit.
2. We’d potentially get stuck in the location we evacuated TO (maybe somewhere near Atlanta) after the storm because all of South Florida would be heading back around the same time. My husband has a local business. He couldn’t afford to be stuck in Atlanta for a week.
Bonus problem 3. We’d potentially evacuate and get stuck on an interstate with no gas and be left to weather the hurricane in a Cadillac SRX.

Of course, if we were under mandatory evacuation, we would be OUT of here. But without the city making that call, it was up to us to make the smartest decision for everyone involved.

We decided the best thing to do would be to stay and invite my mom to come be with us since she lives in South Florida.

Wednesday –
With no real idea as to whether or not the hurricane would make it to North Florida or not, Wednesday is better-safe-than-sorry day. Stock up on water, canned goods, gas, non-perishable foods, batteries, propane, and buckets. Also grab important documents, lift important things up off the ground (in case of flooding), buy extra dog food, and prescriptions. My husband was out of town for work so I was left to do most of this prep by myself. It’s a stressful thing, trying to ensure you’ve got everything you need in case you have to run, stay in one place for days, or die.

I decided to go shopping for hurricane supplies after I dropped my son off at school that morning. When I arrived at the grocery store, I started walking up and down the aisles. I passed the same people three or four times because they, too, were sort of walking around just looking at things.
Should I get diapers? I don’t need them, but what if someone does?
Can I buy eggs right now? How long to hard-boiled eggs last unrefrigerated.
Do I buy paper towels or toilet paper? Do I need both?
Ooo chocolate Teddy Grahams, it’s been so long…
It’s a bizarre feeling knowing you’re mulling over these questions when you could potentially lose everything within a few days or be called to a mandatory evacuation and leave it all behind. So you buy everything you could potentially need and then hope you don’t need any of it but also kinda hope you do so you didn’t just spend $50 on canned goods you’d never eat on a non-hurricane day.

Thursday –
My husband came home from his work trip and brought the generator his business bought earlier in the year for a big job. We were SO lucky to have a generator that would keep our refrigerator running so we wouldn’t have to replace every single condiment.
I filled every container we own with water and put half of them in the freezer and half of them in the fridge.
I washed everything we own. There’s nothing worse than being stuck without power AND no clean underwear.
I charged everything that’s chargeable in our home. Flashlights, backup batteries, portable DVD players, iPads…there’s no telling if we’d need any of it.
I watched a LOT of weather reports. It looked like my city (Jacksonville) would take a hard hit. The other issue is that this storm was the SIZE of the entire STATE. That’s never happened before. Not even CLOSE. So no matter what, we were going to experience some kind of weather, but the reports were suggesting anything from a tropical storm to a Category 2, which on the hurricane scale of 1-5 is a nasty, nasty storm. I’ve survived 2s before, but anything higher and I evacuate.
I also bought more food. I don’t know why.
My mom arrived from South Florida.

Friday –
We moved the vehicles into the warehouse.
I filled the bathtub so we could flush the toilets and wash the dishes with the big buckets my husband bought.
I bought more food. I don’t know why.
I brought in all of our potted plants and outdoor furniture.
I let the dogs run around the neighborhood knowing they’d be stuck inside for a while once the storm was upon on.
I checked the weather reports again. There was still a good chance the storm could pass directly over us and that it could gain strength. It had already begun to devastate the small Virgin Islands and islands near the Bahamas. And I mean it flattened them. Those people had nowhere to go.
After learning that we had until at least Sunday night before the weather made it to us, we decided the best thing to do would be to invite all of our friends over for a Hurricane Party.

Tomorrow, we start with Saturday…

I’m not unlimited.

I just made a huge realization.

HUGE.

Are you ready for this?

I am not unlimited.

Now I shall explain.

When I was 7, my dad died and I felt an immense amount of pressure to be brave (mainly due to all the adults telling me I needed to be brave). My mom and family never asked me to be anything but a 7-year-old but I still felt the need to be the best, or at least way better, to account for the fact that everyone now had to live without my dad.
I grew up with the understanding that I would get good grades, go to college, and have a career. Not unlike most people.
I was an actress and so everyone told me they’d “see me on Broadway.”
I didn’t make it to Broadway so I went back to school, grad school in fact, to get a degree in something I didn’t really care about so I could say I had a masters.
I got married and everyone asked when I’d have a child. I couldn’t get pregnant without the help of fertility treatments and that made me feel like a total loser…until I shared my story on my blog and became a hero again. Hero with a graduate degree.
My marriage didn’t survive, as so many don’t, and I no longer had either of my hands or feet on the ladder to greatness. Then I was in an accident that broke my leg and everyone told me what I hero I was for not giving up or giving in. BACK TO HERO!
(This was weird to me because what was there to give up on? I had a son and people who loved me who were constantly helping me and I had stuff I liked to do. Why would I give up?
Do people often break their legs and give up?
It’s way easier to come near death than to deal with most other life-issues because when you’re injured and incapacitated, everyone shows up to help you and proclaim your greatness.)
Finally, I started amping up my work life and became a Beachbody coach and surrounded myself with what was familiar: people telling me to continue being brave, being a hero with a masters degree, being great. I quickly became a reputable source of health and wellness information and reached the higher levels of Beachbody Coachdom and everyone cheered: “Look at her go! She can do anything!”

Until, one day, it hit me.
I opened up one of my familiar podcasts (you know the ones…full of people telling you that you can be bold, that you can be fearless, that you can have the life of your DREAMS!) and within the first 15 seconds…I stopped it.
Holy shit.
“You have the potential to be UNLIMITED!”
Holy shit.
I don’t want to be unlimited.

I’ll be 36 in a month and…wow.
I don’t want to be unlimited.
I don’t want to be brave or a hero with a masters degree or geared up for greatness.
I don’t want to be scalable or tax exempt or even altogether special.
I just figured out that I want to be…Erin.

I want to work and make money. I want to be a mom and a wife. I want to garden. I want to do things that are fun, like theatre. I want to share my feelings through my blog and social networks and help people to see and love each other a little bit better.
But Lord have mercy, I am tired of trying to figure out the next way that I’m going to be GREAT. No one has ever looked at me and said, “Hey. You’re good, just being you. And you don’t have to do any of this to be good.” Not that this is a very intuitive or natural thing to say, but maybe it should be?
Maybe we all need to look at ourselves every morning and say, “What you’ve done so far today in the past 30 minutes…that’s enough. That’s enough to make you great.” You won’t believe it at first, but you might eventually begin to internalize the fact that not being the best and the greatest and the most important or the most recognized…would be ok?

The process of transformation is not about becoming something that we weren’t. It’s about unveiling what we were the whole time.
– Author William Paul Young

I’m a helper. An employee. A friend. A laugher of laughs.
I’m not unlimited. I don’t need to be.
Just me is enough.

 

Why You’re Still Fat and I’m Still Broke

Did you ever watch the TV show The Biggest Loser? For those of you that live in yurts: these were people who were severely overweight (we’re talking major health afflictions related to their obesity) that got hooked up with personal trainers and nutritionists and doctors for a few months, and video cameras recorded it all. As expected, this reality show made losing weight a competition and the winners walked away 30, 40, even 50% lighter than they were when they started. HUGE health improvements. HUGE emotional breakthroughs. HUGE wardrobe overhaul (I’d imagine).

But what happened to a majority of those people once the show was over?

Of course. They gained (at least some of) the weight back.

There are a billion reasons “experts” could give for this phenomenon, but I’ll add mine to the mix because I am also an expert. Not at gaining and losing and gaining weight, but…well, let me explain.

Thoughts are just beliefs that you keep thinking. If you think your neighbor is a jerk for long enough, you’ll be right. If you think you’re fat for long enough, you’ll be right. If you think you’re broke for long enough…guess what?

I’ve been broke my entire life. I grew up wearing nice clothes and going to good schools. I got a car when I turned 17 and my mom sent me on a trip to Paris with the French club, too. I went to an amazing private college. I lived in Los Angeles, flew to New York on a whim a few times to see Broadway shows… I’ve bought two houses as an adult and am the proud owner of a (real) Louis Vuitton purse (thank you, Bear). My last luxury car was paid off before I bought my new luxury car. I never have enough money for anything and at least one night a week, sometimes two, we eat out.

See how broke I am?

I’ll bet you thought this post was going to be about carbs…

Here’s the thing: when I was 7 years old, my dad died. He was the bread winner. Like, all the bread. He won a SHIT LOAD of bread. After he went to heaven, my mom sat one night at her dressing table with a calculator and a check book register. I remember looking at her furrowed brow and stiff hand. I watched her push the buttons on the calculator and then write numbers down. I finally got close enough to her for her concentration to break and I asked her, “Do we have enough money?”
“Oh. Yes, honey. We’ll be fine.”
That was all it took. My dad, the protector, the leader, the winner of the bread was gone. And my mom was worried. I could tell. Just that one interaction (along with my interpretation of about 1,000 more interactions) became a belief: we don’t have enough money.
I don’t have enough money.
That belief has never left me. It is a thought I keep thinking. Despite never having starved or living in anything less than a beautiful home and never missing a vacation (we just took our kids on a cruise), I’m broke. Always have been. And always will be, unless the belief changes.

So every single one of those contestants on The Biggest Loser who gained the weight back didn’t do it for lack of willpower or because they’re lazy or because they weren’t educated: they did it because they never changed the BELIEF that they were fat. They just removed the fat. So eventually, the beliefs made things “right” again. They ended up putting on some or all of the weight they’d lost.

To truly change anything in life, you have to change the thing while slowly changing the beliefs. You can’t go from broke to rich in one thought – it’s too big of a jump. You can’t go from overweight to perfect healthy weight in one thought either. You won’t believe yourself. You won’t believe your own thoughts and so you’ll continue thinking the same thoughts you’ve always had, and the patterns will repeat. But if I can convince you to change your THOUGHTS, I can help you change a belief. Then.
Then you can change your body, your bank statement, and whatever else you can use to fill in the blank – “I have always been ______”.

My thoughts are different today than they were even a month ago. I truly believe I’m covered. I still wake up scared every now again because damnit if that isn’t the deep groove I thought myself into over a lifetime, but I’m able to gently lift myself out and start reminding myself of what’s true: “I have enough, there is enough, and my income continues to increase everyday.”
What new thought can you replace your fill-in-the-blank statement with? Need help coming up with a new thought? Just let me know in the comments or an email.

Erin.salem@gmail.com

Take this Car and Shove It

Steven’s been calling and texting me for days. He wants to know when I’m coming back to trade in my car and buy a new car from him. Trouble is, I don’t yet have a car to trade it. Remember? It’s broken…
I spent Monday and part of Tuesday scrambling to get my car fixed. My mechanic (Sam) sent it to the dealership because the part Sam needed to replace was warrantied and he didn’t want to charge me for it. While my car was at the dealership, the dealership manager was unceremoniously fired. This meant there was no one in charge at the dealership anymore. Hence, I became the manager for two days. And it took me one of those two days to get someone to answer the damn telephone.
When I got someone on the phone I immediately announced, “PLEASE DO NOT PUT ME ON HOLD AND PLEASE DO NOT HANG UP. I NEED TO KNOW WHERE MY CAR IS AND WHEN IT WILL BE FINISHED. PLEASE DO NOT HANG UP.”
The gentleman explained that my car needed a new fuel pump (covered under warranty) and a new fuel pump hose (not covered). “Why does it need a hose?” I asked.
“Because the last people to replace it broke it and it could cause a fire.”
“You were the last people to replace it.”
“Oh. Oh, well…no. No the other guy, uhh…Sam…probably removed it when he was trying to diagnose the problem last week. He used the wrong tool. So it’s broken. Fire hazard.”
“Then why wouldn’t Sam replace it? Why would I pay you to replace it?”
“I don’t even know if you can drive it back to Sam’s like this after I replace the fuel pump. Could catch on fire.”
“Yeah, no, I’ll take my chances. Replace the warrantied part and call me when it’s done.”
I called Sam. By this point it was late Monday afternoon and I had until Tuesday to buy my car, as Tuesday was the last day of the month and I was guarenteed the best deal.
“They said the fuel pump hose was busted?!” Sam asked me.
“Yeah. That you broke it.”
“Ok. I’ll go pick it up in the morning and take a look, but I’m guessing the dealership needed to make a little money off your warranty work.”
Sure enough, Sam picked up my car Tuesday morning and brought it into his shop Tuesday at lunch to ensure the hose was safe.
“Safe,” he called me and said.
“No fires?”
“No fires,” he assured me.
So I called the babysitter, picked up Abe, and came home in my fixed up car to make dinner and clean my kitchen because I would NOT let Abe’s babysitter see the way we actually live…
On our way to the dealership, Bear and I talked about our approach. We want a white car. But they only have a gray car. We’ll settle for a gray car but only under the terms we set. And we won’t be swayed into something else. We are firmly planted in our decision.
We walked into the dealership like we owned the place, expecting Steven to be THRILLED to see us. After all, I’d texted him a few hours before to let him know when we’d be in. He texted back he was “excited to have us back.” But when we saw Steven, he seemed surprised. And not excited. Nervous. Shorter than he was before.
“Oh, hey guys,” he said. His eyes were darting around.
“Hey man,” Bear said and shook his hand.
“Hey, um, Alan is going to take care of you today, ok?”

Okaaaaaay.

Alan is also a car salesman. Alan is 18 feet tall and has been smoking since he was born. (Or he just shouted really loudly throughout the entirety of his 20s and 30s.) He started asking us questions; questions we’ve already answered a lot of times. Finally, I said, “Did you get a white car in?”
“No, I don’t think so,” Alan said.
“Then we want to see the gray one.”
Alan started telling me how these cars sell so fast and they’re the most popular trim package and this and that and I was like whatever Alan. I don’t even know you. I know Steven. And Steven wanted to make me a deal and you want to tell me how I’m trying to buy the most popular car hence I can’t be choosy or pay what I want to pay. You’re an asshole, Alan. I can tell.
Alan walked us all the way upstairs to the roof where we’d first been introduced to the car I intended to buy. And guess what?
It was gone. Sold.
“Well I told you this is the most popular trim package on these cars…”
See, Alan? You’re an asshole.
He walked us back downstairs where I explained to him that I never would have gotten a babysitter if I’d known the car we wanted wasn’t even here. First Alan said that Steven doesn’t really know the inventory that well because he “doesn’t go upstairs a lot” so that’s probably why he didn’t mention it when he told me he was “excited to have us back.” Then he said Steven needs to learn to “listen better.” Then he told us he had several of the exact car I want “in freight”, which means someday they’ll have more of them. What day? Oh. Some day. Maybe a few days or a week or late March.
We both nodded and left and got margaritas.

Steven called Bear today and told him that it wasn’t his fault because no one told him the gray one sold. He also said we never told him we wanted to buy the gray one. He also said it wasn’t his fault again.

So I have the same car. I have no idea when I’ll be replacing it. But I do know that I’m probably not going to invite Steven and Alan to my birthday party.

 

 

Speaking in Car

My car died last Tuesday. I also broke four nails and spent 3 days in bed crying, so it’s a toss up as to the actual WORST part of last week, but it was a bad one.
It’s been nearly a 6 days since my car has been passed from shop to shop getting “diagnosed” because it’s “foreign” and no one in this country “speaks its language.” I’m sorry but if a kid in my middle school figured out Mandarin Chinese and Latin, you’d think SOMEONE employable in the city of Jacksonville could figure out a dialect “Mini Cooper.”
The whole thing felt like a pull from God to get a new car. Mostly because the guy at the first foreign car fixit shop I brought it to looked straight at me and said, “Time to get a new car.”
I told my husband I wanted to go car shopping and he immediately replied, “YAAAAAAAS” and started doing a weird little joy-dance. He’s not a big dancer, but he loves buying things like cars.
I decided I want something bigger than a Mini Cooper. Bear helped me narrow the field and we decided to go check out a few cars on a Sunday with the kids in tow. This way we’d have a good excuse to leave when Abe started licking things that people at the dealership would be uncomfortable with him licking.

“Whoops! No more licking Audi R8s, sweetie! Time to go!”

The first dealership had 6 guys standing out front and one of them sauntered over to us with a styrofoam to-go cup in his hand, like, “Eh. I’m just finishing lunch but I’ll help ’em out.”

“Looking for something?”
Of course I wanted to respond, “Yeah, I dropped my pen earlier…”
But Bear responded, “Probably a used 4Runner. You have any in white?”
“Yes. Over to the other end.” This guy was about 6 foot 2, grey hair, with a Russian accent. It literally sounded like everything he was saying to us was a set-up for heist that we may or may not now be involved in.
The walk to the pre-owned side of the lot was longer than the green mile, and Hubs was NOT speaking. Abe was speaking. A lot. “Gonna buy that car, mom?”
“No.”
“That one?”
“No.”
That one?”
“No.”
Russian guy said nothing.
Finally, we got to the 4Runners.
“I guess we don’t have any in white,” Russian guy said as he peered out over the sea of cars.
Now, to me, it seems like if you work at a car dealership you should have SOME way of knowing what inventory is on the lot. Like a list. A list of cars. That tells you what you have and what you don’t have. So when you’re walking a family of four to what feels like their imminent death by Russian mafia, you can assure them you have the color 4Runner they want.
“Ok. Can we test drive a gray one instead?” Hubs asked.
They guy literally handed us the keys and a loose license plate and told us to “bring it back.” I guess he felt like he’d made it clear Black Widow was waiting in the lounge if we didn’t act right, so he wasn’t concerned about the safety of the 4Runner. We drove it, brought it back, and left before anyone could offer us a shot of vodka.

“Let’s check out the Jeep dealership,” Bear said. I didn’t want a Jeep, but I was willing to try anything. By this point, Abe was holding up really well and Cub was silent and miserable, which was better than Abe’s normal loud and miserable. We walked onto the property and soon discovered you had no choice but to walk through the showroom to get to any of the cars.

*Immediately assaulted by sales associates.*

“Hey I’m Steven.”
Steven is maaaaybe 5 feet tall. He has piercing blue eyes and looks like he wants to climb my entire family while rattling off every feature and spec of all the cars on the entire lot. He also appears to be 12 years old.
I. Hate. Steven.
“What are you looking for?” he asked Bear.
“A car for her,” Bear pointed to me.
“What are you looking for?” he asked me.
“I’m not too sure.”
“You’re not sure?! Well, what have you driven so far today?”
Bear could sense my dislike of the man walking half a step behind me. “We just want to check out a Grand Cherokee,” Bear said.
“Oh yeah! Sure! I’ve got a black one over here!” Steven practically skipped to the car.
“I’m looking for something in white,” I said.
“Oh really? White? Ok. Cool. Why white?”
“Because it’s the color I want.”
“Ok cool. What color car do you have now?” he asked and I squeezed my hands into fists.
“A black one.”
“OOh! Ha. Yeah,” he said as he simultaneously looked at my husband and WINKED at him, as if to say, “Oh women. They think cars are like nail polish, don’t they?”
It took EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING not to say mean things in front of my children on purpose to teach them how not to treat a women and then lead my family out the front door.
He proceeded to rattle off a TON of colors and features to me like “heated seats” and “push this little button to close the hatch.” Then he proceeded to say, out loud, “Oh, your husband will think this is cool. Come here, man, while I pop the hood…”

Look. I get it. I’m a girl. I want a car that works good and looks nice. I don’t care if it’s a 2.9 or has 50 horses inside or how many of the wheels drive at once in the mud. I want to go from where I am now to where I want to go next without having to worry about a tow truck driver named Possum telling me about how he tore both shoulders and both knees pushing a tractor out of a ditch while he drags my beloved car to get fixed and I wait on an Uber. But. If you would INCLUDE me in conversations about the purchase of my OWN vehicle, I’m far more likely to purchase it from you.

Steven proceeded to corner, shift, refocus, and reframe the conversation one million times until he had enough information from us to try and make us a sweet deal. “Look. I’m not supposed to talk numbers with you (he was whispering in the middle of a rooftop parking lot wherein we were the only 5 people anywhere to be seen, so I can only assume he was wearing a wire), but I’ve got to move 45 cars in the next 3 days. I can get you some really good deals. But I’ve got to have some numbers to work with for my manger. Let’s go inside and talk about how we can make this happen today.”
“Oh, this isn’t happening today,” Bear corrected him.
It seems that when you tell Steve something, like you want a white car or you aren’t buying a car today, Steve hears, “I’ll take any color car and I’ll buy it today.” In the amount of time it would take me to dissect and write out this man’s technique for somehow roping us back around to the same conclusion of, “We’re not buying a car today,” you could order a pizza, have it delivered, and eat half of it before I was finished.

After two hours of this, Steven said it again. He said it. Again. After hundreds of offers for another bottle of water, one more look at “that gray one”, even offering to paint the gray one white (yes he did!), he asked me, “So what’s it going to take to get you in this car today?”

I paused. I breathed. And I looked him dead in his bright, blue eyes.
“Steven. Look at me in my eyes…”
“Ok ok ok…” he started.
“No. No seriously, Steven. Look at my eyes.”
He did. And he was terrified. I think Bear was smirking like, “Oh this is gonna be fun.”
“I’m. not. buying. a car. today. Got it?”
“Got it,” he nodded, still locked on my eyes.
“Now, if you still have this car tomorrow, or the next day, and it’s for sale for the same price, and I have slept on it and decided I want to purchase it, I will come back here and I will buy this car from you. Only you. No one else. No other dealership. I will walk in, ask for Steven, and ask you to bring me the keys to my new car. But I will not, under any circumstance, buy this car today.”
Steven didn’t ask me to buy the car after that.

I want to buy the car. I really like it. The gray one. (I know, I know, cars are like nail polish to me.) But, for once in my life I want to make a decision on my own time, in my own way. I don’t want to look at the people around me and ask their opinion. I don’t want to die of decision-paralysis and never get the car I want. I just want to say what I want and then walk away if what I want isn’t being offered. That simple. Bear said to the guy at the dealership, “This car is for her. She chooses what she wants.” I feel like that’s why he was put into my life; to remind me it’s mine and I get to choose what I want.

Also did you know the “energy between eclipses” is a thing?! It’s when everything goes bat shit insane between any two types of eclipse experiences. (We had one on the 10th and one this past weekend.) I *just* found out about this phenomenon from a woman who eats kale and talks to crystals. I asked my acupunturist about it and she was like, “You didn’t know that’s a thing?!” So if anything you’ve said or done in the past 7 days has been dramatic, we can blame it on the “energy between eclipses” and then take our shoes off and dance with Mother Earth or whatever.

 

THE INSTANT POT

I was lucky enough to go to the Propel Women’s conference this past weekend, spending an entire day listening to some POWERHOUSE women talk about how to get shit done. And I need to share with you the most important details I learned from them…

…tomorrow.

Because today we need to talk about something even MORE important.

My new Instant Pot.

Look. I’ve got a beautiful crock pot. I’ve got a rice cooker. I’ve got a steamer. I’ve got the STUFF, ok? This isn’t that. This is a whole new level of life-changing.
The Instant Pot, in short, is a crock pot that cooks things in half, a third, even an eighth of the time it takes to cook conventionally.
I did not believe it either.
But not only does it cook so much faster, it cooks BETTER. It’s fail-proof. You cannot dry out chicken. You cannot mess up your beef stew. Your hard boiled eggs will be the stuff DREAMS are made of.

Am I overselling it?

I DON’T CARE. EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT THIS.

What is it? Is it magic?
Yes. Sort of.
The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker, only with less pressure than traditional pressure cookers. This means it doesn’t involve your stove and it’s far safer. There is a fair amount of automation (press the “poultry” button for chicken and then fold half a load of laundry because that’s about how much time you’ll have before it’s ready). There’s also some shortcuts and a learning curve, but it’s all Googleable (it’s a word).

15328187_10155503434199829_1914045671_nMy first meal was boneless, skinless chicken breast. And what do we know about boneless, skinless chicken breast? Say it with me.
“IT GETS DRY!”
I didn’t have any broth so I tossed in water and a ton of herbs with an onion. I set the pot for “poultry”. It took 5 minutes to heat up and 20 minutes to cook. No brining the chicken. No marinating. No covering or turning or basting. Just toss it all in the pot and wait.
Guess what?
It was freaking delicious. Moist. (Sorry, everyone who hates that word.) It was flavorful. It was all in one pot. With potatoes. Also perfect.

15388839_10155503432969829_64847280_oNext I did chicken parmesan with broccoli and garlic. So good.

Tonight was pot roast. Forty-five minutes for pot roast that tasted slow-cooked. I didn’t take a picture because everyone ate it faster than I could snap it.

The most beautiful part is that you CAN start anything you’re cooking early in the day and it will keep it perfectly warm without continuing to cook it until you get home. How does it do that? I DON’T KNOW. I DO NOT KNOW.

15354217_10155503432944829_644750893_oEggs? Put them in with a cup of water for 12 minutes. Boom. Perfectly cooked with shells that fall off.
STAHP IT.
I won’t.

I don’t know where this pot was all your life, either. And I’m sorry it took so long for me to tell you about it.

No, I don’t work for Instant Pot. I just can’t deal with how amazing it is and I think everyone should own one. I’m going to be posting Instant Pot recipes as I find/create them, so follow along with your own IP if you have one.

I ordered my Instant Pot on Black Friday at the suggestion of a friend on Facebook. Regularly it’s $129.95. Now that I know what it can do, I would pay it in a HEARTBEAT.
There are also smaller versions that cost less. Mine is a 7-in-1 6 qt., which apparently means I can cook a whole chicken in 30 minutes and also make my own yogurt, so I’ll be trying that next… Different ones go on sale at different times. Right now the 6-in-1 6qt pot is a little less expensive for no real reason.

Tomorrow I’ll share something VERY inspiring and deep and memorable with you. But today. Today I just want you to know the Instant Pot is my Monday night savior.

 

Amazon 7 in 1 6qt pot (this one can make yogurt and the 6 in 1 can’t…)

Amazon 6 in 1 6qt pot:

Amazon 7 in 1 5qt pot (this one can make yogurt and the 6 in 1 can’t…)

Amazon 6 in 1 5qt pot:

We Are Still Here

A year ago today we closed on our home. It was unreal. We never thought it was even POSSIBLE. I remember walking through it at about 7:00 that night, all big and empty, looking at the floors like…woah. We have floors.

In the year leading up to that purchase, we paid off three major debts, one of which was a surprise debt neither of us knew existed. And when I say major, I’m talking nearly $20,000 between medical, credit card, and surprise debt. We thought we were at least a year away from being able to own a home. But one day, whilst on the toilet (sorry Bear), Bear told me he didn’t want to wait to buy a home, he didn’t want a starter home either, and he wanted us to start looking now. Bear tends to be a little more impulsive than me. (That’s a nice way to say it, isn’t it?) I humored his sentiments from the other side of the bathroom door and didn’t think twice. Within 4 months, though, we were moving in. (His impulses are usually right.)

Five days after we purchased our beautiful home and moved in, Bear was let go from his job as a construction project manager due to “overhead.” He was already in the interview process for another job, so that process just sped right up and he was due to begin in two weeks. That’s only two weeks between jobs!
A week after that, Bear was informed the new position was being vetoed by the executives and he no longer had that job.
Luckily, on his way out of that disappointing meeting, he met someone else who asked to interview him. A week later he was awarded another position.
I bought steaks. It was a great relief.
We started 2016 with Bear in a new job, our family in a new house, and me desperately wanting to have a job within a school or an office somewhere so that I could contribute more financially. I wanted to know that if Bear lost his job again in the future, I could take care of us.  My writing and virtual assistant jobs just wouldn’t cut it. I applied for no less than 15 jobs, all of which deemed me “overqualified” (never include your Masters Degree on an application for a desk job) or “lacking in experience” (never get a Masters Degree and then have a child two years later). I was shocked. But Bear was working full time and while he was incredibly busy/stressed/tired, we were doing just fine.
Until that one day in May when one of his co-workers decided Bear was no longer welcome back and the next day his boss fired him. A reason was never actually given.
It was riiiiiight about then I couldn’t repeat the “It’s all happening for a reason” mantra anymore.

Bear immediately created his own business, applied for a tax identification number, and began bidding jobs as though this is what he’d been doing all along.
Two weeks later, we got married.
The day we got married was the day he received his Articles of Incorporation. He was an official business. We were officially married.
It was official.
We were on our own.

It felt like floating in space, no tether.

The summer of 2016 was one of the worst of my life in terms of anxiety. I never knew from week to week if we would have enough money to pay for groceries, to pay for things the kids wanted to do, to pay for our phones! The mortgage terrified me. We OWNED this house now. It wasn’t like we could just move to a less expensive rental or ask our landlord for an extension each month. I was in a state of panic and fear and overwhelm 100% of everyday. I got depressed, I slept as much as possible, and when I was awake I struggled to function.

Bear landed his first contract in his new business in August, exactly 2 days after he came down with the flu. He was forced to work outside in the 100 degree heat for 4 days with a fever and brain fog. But he did it.
He was soon awarded another job. He hired a guy to help him with that job (our first employee!) who promptly worked for one day, texted Bear and said he couldn’t work anymore, and then left with $600 worth of brand new tools. Never to be seen again.
Bear finished that job himself.

“Are you sure owning your own business is the right plan?” I asked.
“Positive,” he said. Impulsively.

I found extra work a little at a time. By about September, I realized that I was (in fact) paying the bills. Nothing was late! After only going through about half of our savings, I was scraping enough together to keep us functioning while Bear continued building the business. I gained a little bit of pride.
Bear continued to make contacts and land contract after contract, making enough on one job to buy himself a work truck so he didn’t have to drive his own truck (which we were afraid he was about to run into the ground before he could pay it off). He gained some pride, too.

We continued to work our butts off the last three months, Bear keeping the business afloat and me keeping our house in our name.

In between all of that, the laundry room exploded, I found out I might have breast cancer (I didn’t), and…

You guys. 2016 was hard.
Really hard.

But here we are, one year later, and we made it. What have I learned…
I’ve learned, once again, that things do have a way of working out. It doesn’t mean that you can sit back and let your faith be enough. It doesn’t mean that it will be easy or obvious or fun. I just view the last two years as a sort of spiritual clean-up. We knew what we wanted (a stable life together in a home of our own) and it took about two years between us and God to tie up all the loose ends, prepare us for the next steps, and get clear on what the future looked like. The path is now clearer, and my new ability to see that everything is temporary leads me to believe that I can handle these kinds of things differently in the future.

This morning at about 6:30am, my husband rolled over and whispered in my ear, “Happy Housiversary”. I grunted at him (because I don’t like speaking before 7:30am). But today is more than just a celebration of buying our home. It’s a triumph. We are still here.

12309964_10154373759214829_5415705167843983856_o

A celebratory shot, one year ago today.

 

If you haven’t already joined me in a daily exercise of smiles, thoughts, and life, head over to my group Mind, Body, Peas. 🙂 We do life nice there.

 

 

Mind, Body, Peas

What-If Monsters are the worst.

They keep me from doing the things I want to do and deter me from taking big steps. I’ve wanted to start my own business. I’ve wanted to be a woman who makes a living with honesty and integrity. I’ve wanted financial stability. And I’ve wanted to enjoy a life of truth and joy and service and freedom.

^All of that and more for a long time. And no clue how to do it.^

I often take baby steps in the direction of the things that I want and then I back up because WHAT IF. What if it fails? What if I put my whole self in and the hokey pokey turns to hell? What if people think I’m an unqualified crazy idiot for thinking I could do THAT. I’ve heard other people share their fears, and then I’ve heard them share their victory stories. The people who never fought the What-If Monsters don’t yet have victory stories to share…

I want a victory story.

The other question then becomes: What if it’s awesome?
Could I turn my What-If Monster into a What-If Fairy?

What if I step out into the world and shine my light with reckless abandon and people like it? What if no one likes it and I still feel awesome? What if I find myself, my true passion, my inner fire from putting myself out there?

What if this is the greatest first-step I’ve ever taken?

I’m going to do it, starting today. I’m starting a place for EVERYONE to share life, the real true-blue life. We live in a situation-comedy (if we choose to see it that way) and yet we only see the highlight reels when we open our regular Facebook feeds and witness the “I’m-Fine” smiles in the grocery store. Let’s look for the good, but be honest about the bad. Let’s find ways to encourage each other, but be real with each other. And let’s even create a space where all you have to do is watch (and maybe thumbs up) if sharing is far too uncomfortable for you. No pretense. There are no rules because this isn’t “a thing” yet. I’m making a thing. A thing I’ve always wanted to make.

And I don’t know what the thing is.

But I’m so driven to create this thing that I’m physically unable to stop it from happening. I’m holding my breath. It will inevitably contain my greatest successes and my greatest failures. That makes me sweaty. I pushed “publish” and now you’re invited. What am I doing. (I have no idea.)

Fuck you, What-If Monsters. I don’t have to know what it is to know I’m excited to shine a light and invite the What-If Fairies to dinner.

Welcome to Mind, Body, Peas.
(Click here. Like the page. Invite your friends. It’s for everyone.)
mind-body-peas

 

The Real Real Real Real Real Truth

therealtruth-1I got a phone call the other night. I got a phone call I was not at all expecting. The election results were rolling in like tumbleweeds made out of steel wool and I left the TV off to pretend like I couldn’t see what was happening.

I got a phone call.

The phone call was from an ex, a man I saw briefly but fiercely in the midst of my divorce. In all my brokenness, all my confusion and pain, he was a flickering focus. Some days it seemed he’d drive miles for me. Other days I was hardly worth a text message. He came to take from my spirit what his spirit needed without much attempt at returning the favor; and I was perfectly ok with that. I never once disagreed with that logic, or really ever felt badly about it. Even today.
However.
Removing myself from his life as I began to step over the Divorce Mountain into the valley of New World below was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He’d become a safety rope for me while I climbed. I could always rely on him to not quite be there, making me stronger and stronger to climb alone.

But when I reached the top, I mourned. I felt such emptiness letting go of the rope I never even needed. That rope was my friend. My security blanket. I wanted to climb back down and get it.

My best friend gave me a chip, similar to one you’d get in an AA meeting. She told me that this was my Him Chip. She said that if I called him, texted him, or Facebooked him, I had to give her the chip back and start over.

I didn’t want to give her the chip back.

And I never did. Almost 3 years later I still had the chip up until a few weeks ago when I decided to pass it on to a girlfriend who, herself, needed a Him Chip.

The thoughts raced through my mind faster than I could click the answer button:
He wants me back and I’m happily married so HA!
He’s lonely and hopes we can be friends because he’s finally alienated everyone good in his life.
He needs money.
He is visiting Jacksonville and wants to know a good place to eat?!

I wasn’t sure if this counted as a chip-infraction to my best friend, but I answered the phone. I answered the phone out of curiosity for what he or his unwitting back pocket could possibly have to say to me. I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t scared. I was present.

After a few short pleasantries, my Truth Monster came out and blankly asked what in the world he wanted. His answer was something like this:
“I spent a lot of my life engaging in self-serving activities. I used and abused a lot of people in many different ways to get what I thought would make me feel good with no regard for how it made them feel. I focused solely on what I could get out of people, and I think that you may be a person in my past who fell into that category. I wanted to see if this might have been your experience with me and, if it was, I want to apologize.”

Deep breath.

Have you ever felt the simultaneous rise of the consciousness in all people all at once, starting in your lower intestine and moving up through your chest and out of your body like rays of sunshine?
I have.
In that moment, I felt the rays of sunshine truth.

Having a quite human brain, I of course turned my thinking towards a less romantic motivation. I tried to understand why he was saying this, what he wanted. I dug and dug but couldn’t find any secret agenda other than the truest and sincerest of hearts. He spoke, he listened, he apologized. And just like that, the circle was complete.

It is intensely rare to have a moment of completion this complete. I’d stopped chasing completion years ago, and even forgave it for being open-ended. I allowed it to stay that way, all frayed and dirty at the ends, with my blessing. What I remembered during this conversation is that telling the truth, the real real real real real truth, can have dire consequences.
It can also spin a life on a dime. It can close the circle. It can heal where you didn’t even know you needed healing.
“The truth will set you free,” is the greatest cliche on the planet, sitting atop a giant pile of other discarded, over-used cliches that everyone is sick to death of hearing. We tossed it because in hearing the promise of freedom, many of us started spouting our truths. With a goal of freedom, we over-share, we share with an agenda, we share to make ourselves feel better. But sharing the real real real real real real truth isn’t something you can do in a Facebook rant or a single apology sticky note. The truth will only set you free if in so telling the truth you’re authentically ready to clean up your life and take responsibility for its direction. And that’s scary. So many of us (including myself) have tried to outsmart the truth by telling just enough of it to earn the accolades and the Truth Trophy, but not enough to actually achieve the freedom it promises.

Our conversation ended with a nebulous agreement to remain friends, and even an invitation extended towards my husband and me for dinner. When I hung up my phone I literally clung to the pillow and blanket respectively on each side of me and breathed, as if a mighty wind was blowing away beliefs I’d always held. If this broken man can change, literally anyone can change. No one is stuck being the same forever. But if you’re going to make the change, you have take responsibility, move forward, and tell the real real real real real truth. And sometimes fill up a great, big old bucket of full humility…and apologize.

No matter what is happening in your life, in our country, in your relationships, do not underestimate the human capacity for change.
It can happen.
Do your work.
Tell the truth.

Actual Vulnerability


I finished Glennon Doyle Melton’s book Love Warrior. I heard women saying this book was “life-changing”, “eye-opening”, “soul-splitting.”
It takes a lot to change my life, open my eyes, and/or split my soul.

Damnit. This book really did it.

Glennon (we’re on a first name basis) blew me away with her RAW honesty, but even more, her VOICE. She writes in a voice that I hear in my head. It’s my voice. It’s probably your voice, too. I feel like I’ve said so much of her writing so many times. Holy wow. She’s everyone’s sister. And she’s encouraging all of us to show up and just be real.

She does this thing with vulnerability, though, that made me see that word in a whole new way. I used to work for people who touted vulnerability like a badge of honor. It was this new and sexy idea: without splitting open your inner most stories and exposing them to the world, you’re not being vulnerable; you’re not doing the work that creates real change. I could never figure out why I went along with it but didn’t believe it. On the surface, it makes total sense. If you sit down and share a vulnerable moment with a friend/family member/partner, you almost immediately feel closer and more connected. Right?

I heard an interview with author Don Miller once, and he said, “Vulnerability opens pathways, but only when it’s sincere. People can smell fake vulnerability a mile away.”

That’s why I never bought it. Because that vulnerability was manufactured, pulled thin from the giant cotton ball and wrapped around a shiny, plastic spool. Neat, deliverable package. But the intention was questionable. It was a costume. It was a highlight reel. It was presented as vulnerability, but really it was a completely safe share.

I’ve known so, so many people who’ve started oversharing, like that’s going to make us close. I’ve met people who use vulnerability as a weapon: they appear authentic but you’re left feeling icky and manipulated. Neither of these is actual vulnerability, because the real thing is more than just uncomfortable.
It’s terrifying.
It’s going after something you want knowing you could lose more than just the opportunity.
It’s putting it all in the pot without a promise you’ll get anything out.
It’s trusting another soul with your fear.
It’s an honest reveal, a true and unmotivated step towards REAL.
It’s with the intention of service and growth.

Glennon didn’t write a soul-bearing book to sell copies. She didn’t do it to make the New York Times best seller list. She shared her story in hopes that it would serve, help, and reveal truth in others. That is the very reason she sold a bunch of copies and made the NYT best seller list.

Her story illuminated massive truths within me that I hadn’t known were there (and some I’d conveniently forgotten). Truths like:
There is no finish line.
There is no perfect.
There is no cure for pain outside of walking through it.
There is no simple fix (except for macaroni. Macaroni fixes a lot…)

 

And the biggest reminder: No is OK.

That’s how I know her intention: she changed my life with her vulnerability. I both love her and hate her for it, ‘cuz now I can’t unknow what she taught me. Another layer of the onion…

 

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