DON'T QUOTE THE RAVEN

a blog

9.21.2016

A Letter To My Son About Greatness


I showed my oldest son Gunner a youtube video titled "People Are Awesome: 2015 (Maniac Edition)." It's an amazing compilation of ordinary people doing incredible things: standing on the top of skyscrapers with no lifeline, unimaginable dirt bike stunts, sailing off a cliff without a parachute, standing at the opening of an active volcano, surfing some of the biggest waves ever recorded, somersaulting off the top of a building, freestyling and doing phenomenal things with only their body, going as high as they can and then going a little higher, pushing themselves to the very limit and then pushing even further.

Standing on the edge of the world.

And jumping.

My eight year old was astonished. The craziest thing he's ever done was sliding seamlessly head first into the gravel rocks underneath our tree swing, and I'm pretty sure that was an accident. He cried, he hurt, and then he had some pretty gnarly scars to show off to all his friends. 

But as he watched the youtube video, his eyes got wide and I could see the frenzy in his breathing. He watched as people did things that in his little innocent mind, was impossible. Things that looked fun and thrilling but also scared him half to death.

"How do they even do that?!" He asked me. "Those people don't even care if they die!"

And I stopped him right there, made him look me in the eyes and said, "Gunner, quite the opposite. Those people? Those people in that video who were conquering things most people only dream about? Those people are the ones who actually do care. They absolutely care if they die. But they care a million times more about living."

"I think I'd want to do those things when I grow up but I can't because I'm afraid of heights."

Stop. 

Stop right there my beautiful, precious, starry-eyed and creative son. Let me tell you something about fears. Fears are real, they are natural, they are warranted and they will do nothing but hold you back from doing something extraordinary. From experiencing the world and the universe. From moving away from where you are standing right now and propelling you into unheard of, uncharted, inconceivable, out-of-this world adventures. A lot of people live their lives with fear in control. And it's ok, it's accepted, and if you choose to live that way, you can still go on and live a decent even happy life. Maybe get a puppy, have a few kids, a job you kinda sorta like and live until you die.

But, and listen to this: if you do so, you forfeit the right to ever utter the words, "I think I'd want to do those things when I grow up BUT..." Because there is no "but." There is NOTHING acceptable that can ever follow that sentence when you interject the word "but."

Nothing.  

Any excuse you will throw in there is baseless and invalid. 

And it's so, so, SO untrue. It's a lie. It's a lie you will tell yourself to keep from achieving greatness. It's all a lie, Gunner. It's fiction, it's deception, it's an intentional untruth. It's a prevarication that has stopped and silenced so many of the world's greatest that we will never, ever get the pleasure to know about.

And when it comes to heights? Everyone in this world is on some level afraid of heights. It's a natural human emotion built into all of us to be afraid of standing at the top of the world and looking down below. The higher we go, the more scary it gets. I bet there is not one person who has ever stood at the door of a plane, about to jump, and who didn't get a little lump at the back of their throat. But I also bet that every single person who has ever made that jump pushed fear away and instead replaced "I can't" with "My GOD, this is amazing. I'm doing this."

And then they do it, Gunner. Being afraid of something is part of us all. But letting those fears stop us is absolutely and unequivocally not acceptable.

"Ok then, when I'm older I want to be one of those people who jump out of planes. I won't be scared, mom."

"You will be scared, Gunner. I never said you won't be scared. You will be petrified. You will freeze, you will want to change your mind a million times, you will throw up, you will feel like your heart is going to beat straight out of your chest and fall to the floor beneath you. 

And then you'll jump."

 "How do I do it then? How do I get there?"

Oh, I'm so glad you asked, darling.

There is no right or wrong way. There's just a way. And it's going to be your way, no one else's. You'll know it when you get there. You'll feel it. Your soul will rumble and you will feel courage with such fervor it will be like nothing you've ever experienced before. You want to dive off cliffs? You can. You want to jump out of planes? You can. You want to swim with sharks in the open ocean? You can. You want to create a pair of rocket boots that will help you sail away to the moon?

You can. 

But only if you treat fear like the four letter word that it is.

You can do absolutely anything in this whole entire world. You can make the rules, you can break the rules, you can soar to the edge of this whole entire world kid and you can break free from every chain that was ever placed upon you and you can be without limits and you can LIVE. 

But.
(and here's a situation where that word fully applies)

You have to put in your dues first.

You have to work hard, sometimes doing things you don't want to do. Actually scratch that. You have to work hard, always doing things you don't want to do. You have to tow the line. You have to go to school and keep your nose to the grindstone and your feet on the ground. You have to focus and stay centered. You have to live with disappointment and be able to withstand setbacks. You will have to experience blow after blow after blow and then when you think you can't possibly take it anymore, you will have to suffer one more terrifying blow. You will fail, that's a given, and you will want to throw in the towel. 

And you can, that's your choice. But a lot of discarded dreams are wrapped up in dirty laundry.

You want to rise. I know you do, I can see it in your eyes.

So go do it. Start right now.

You have be determined and dedicated and you have to obey the rules.

Yes, son, you have to obey the rules before you can break the rules.

There is no shortcut, and if you spend your time trying to find one, that is precious time wasted from getting to where you want to be.

No one just wakes up one day and decides to conquer the world.

You have to want it, to feel it, to yearn for it, to live for it, to never, ever, EVER give up and to never stop working for it.

Then, and only then, my little lamb, can you grab your dreams and fly around the world on rocket boots.

But for now, go clean your room.



See also: On Being Happy (another letter to my boys)

9.20.2016

Cute Clothes Wanted

shirt from merav


Popping in real quick to say a) I had the biggest plans to blog every day once my kids went back to school — I thought to myself, 6+ hours of freedom Monday through Friday? Sweetness. But yet, turns out I still have to work and my home office is still an office and even though I can create ad pages while watching Fox News, the work still has to get done. I'm also writing more freelance articles for the local newspaper so napping all day while my kids learn hasn't quite happened yet. 

However...

I still have time to wear and photograph clothing from boutiques that I find amazing, such as the cute top I'm wearing here from a new online boutique, MERAV. My former babysitter (boohoo...she's "former" only because she moved away from me — for her professional baseball husband) started an online boutique called MERAV. She's based out of Scottsdale Arizona and if you order from her shop, it's always free U.S. shipping! 

I promise her clothes aren't run-of-the-mill: they're gorgeous with a bit of boho vibe. I know online boutiques can be one of many but this one stands out, and you'll see why. Visit her IG shop (username: shopmerav) and also visit her website HERE. The best part? The whole mission of MERAV is that 20% of all proceeds goes back to helping women in need.

OH. And I kid you not, swear on my life, her husband looks EXACTLY like The Bachelorette's JoJo's temporary boyfriend Jordan. See for yourself on her personal IG here. Told you. (jeals) 



Check it all out here.

And I promise to come back soon with lots of total unbiased non-conservative pro-Hillary content asap.

8.31.2016

An Anti-Blogger Anniversary Post


My husband and I celebrated our twelve year anniversary this past weekend. That's twelve years, to one person, no deaths. Pat on my back if I do say so myself. 

Look. I love my husband. He's great! He works hard for my money, lets me know when I'm gaining too much weight (accountability) and responds well to my threats. He only questions my spending habits once a month (when the credit card bill comes) and he loves our kids almost as much as he loves me. He's really fun to party with in Las Vegas and this one time, in the Dominican Republic, we almost died together as a result of a really poor choice. (You know the ones, the ones that seem like so much fun in the moment...until they're not.) We've had some really exciting times.

He's there for me, he provides for me, he protects me. Really, he's great. And twelve years is something to celebrate but let me tell you what. I am so sick and tired of seeing all those sappy anniversary posts proclaiming ridiculous nonsense.  They all sound the same, they are all contrite as hell and it's just one glaring shade of vanilla pudding.

They all go a little like this:

On this day, nine years ago, I married my very best friend. I can't believe how much we've grown together and you make my life better every second of every day. The day I married you was the best day ever and I look forward to many, many more years of happily married bliss.

Gag
me
with
a
spoon.

Or really, any other kitchen utensil you have sitting around because, no. Just...no.

Girl, you know he ain't your best friend. He may be your best husband (at least I hope he is) but best friend? Come on. Let's get real. A real best friend is someone you can go to when you want to complain and bitch about your husband. A real best friend will cry with you and actually listen to you and then after she's done wiping your tears, will help you think of a way to seamlessly dispose of said husband without any trace being led back to you. Husbands can't help you with that, but best friends can. 

I'm kinda sorta pretty much kidding, but my point still remains the same. 

I mean, I got my husband and I matching Toms and he wouldn't even wear them with me. A real best friend would wear those and matching beanies. 

And I don't remember my husband being there for me when I watched my littlest one go off into the big bad world they call school. His little legs walked onto the bus and his little hand waved at me goodbye...I felt like my world was ending. I cried big fat tears and needed someone, anyone to talk to. Who came through in my time of need? That's right, my best friend. Not my husband. Sure, I wouldn't have the amazing kids I do if it weren't for him, and sure, maybe the reason he couldn't be there to hold my hand was because he was working to provide a living for us, but once again, my point still remains the same. 

And best day ever? Ever? Come on. I admit, the day I got married was pretty groovy. We had fun with our friends and family and got a little too tipsy on tequila shots and yeah, I look back on it fondly. But best day ever? Shoot, I do that Monday through Sunday. Now if we're talkin' about a real best day ever, that would probably be the day I realized it was socially acceptable to only text everything. Or when you get a free Kylie lip kit in the mail. Or when Taylor Swift got taken down. 

I think if we're being honest here, we can all admit that your razzle-dazzle wedding doesn't even begin to compare to that time Taylor got owned. (And Tay girl, if you're reading this, do something about that hair, k? Every time I see a picture of you I get into a bad mood.)

Again, I think weddings are great (actually I lied) and anniversaries are cool too. But let's not get carried away. You don't have to copy and paste whatever Bethany wrote on her Facebook wall the day before and what Marcy will write on her Facebook wall tomorrow when it's her anniversary. Be original, a little more honest.

Try something like:

Dearest Rob, today we celebrate twelve long...long long long long years of marriage. We've been through a lot, you and I...me more so than you...but hey, I'm still here, ain't I! I can't say we make each other's lives better exactly, but we're really good drinking partners and that has to count for something, yes? The day I married you was the best day ever I got really drunk. I look forward to many more happy years of wedded bliss getting drunk with you this Friday. Love you! Mean it!

Butterflies and rainbows, people, butterflies and rainbows.

(ps, I'm working on getting the green hyperlinks and 
all the ads off my posts/photos. They are driving me nuts.)
8.08.2016

Back to School: Then and Now

back to school photo circa sometime around 1988

I  distinctly remember the feeling I got when it was back-to-school shopping time. I can remember getting super excited about going to the mall and picking out my new school clothes. My parents always made it a big deal: giving us a budget and letting us choose whatever it was we wanted (within limits...I once only wanted to get 50 t-shirts and one pair of shorts: so from then on, we had to pick out appropriate amounts of tops to bottoms) and I honestly can take myself back in time and put myself in that 10 year old body and feel all the feels from that day. (Heck, my 35 year old body still gets super excited to go clothes shopping!)

Taking back-to-school photos with my sisters and I was always a big deal also. My mom would line us up on the big day and take a picture...it's funny, because back then, I can remember the excitement of getting ready to start a new school year, make new friends, and putting on my first-day-of-school outfit was a big thing to me...but now, as a mom, I can understand how it was also a big deal for my own mom, and I relish in taking back-to-school photos of my own kids.

Sigh...the circle of life, I tell ya.

Below are just a few first-day-of-school photos of my sisters and I, and let's all just say it together now: the hair! The neon! The spandex! The bangs!!

Dear Lord the bangs...


Memories...

Moving on!

I get to now experience the same phenomenon of back-to-school shopping, only this time, it's a little different as I'm the one who has to pay for it all. Womp womp.

Yet, I get just as much joy out of taking my kids shopping and letting them go to town: they are a little older now (sob) and have a mini little style of their own, and except for everything being Pokemon and Minecraft, I basically let them choose their own clothing.

Gunner and I went to our mall the other day, Columbia Center, and it was pretty cool living my childhood over again through my own little 8 year old. We had a pretty good time and he picked out some stylish clothes.

found some pretty awesome duds at Old Navy

And shoes! Can't forget the shoes. Can never ever forget the shoes...


And now, I get to keep the tradition going and take back-to-school photos of my own kids.


Oh joy.

***********

What about you? Are you excited for back to school shopping? For your kids? Maybe yourself? Comment one thing you love (or hate - I don't discriminate) about back to school shopping and you will be entered to win a $100 gift card to Columbia Center Mall!
6.01.2016

The 4th of July is Kind of My Favorite


  
The Aquafresh brand has compensated me in connection with the statements made in this post.


We are a boating family.

Our boat is our second home in the summertime and basically Rob's first home as he tends to spend nights on the boat instead of coming home (side eye).

Anyway, one of my absolute favorite times to spend on the water and the beach is the 4th of July weekend. I grew up living by the river and the big 4th of July barge would park right in front of my grandparents dock, so fireworks on the water is essentially a huge part of my childhood.

Now that I have young kids of my own, I love sharing my memories and experiences with them. I love seeing them run on the beach and enjoy the fireworks and have fun with their friends and family. Making memories is so important to me as a mom, and I try my darnedest to mess them up as little as possible, ha ha.

We have a few holiday traditions as a family: invite as many good people as we can find, have cold beverages always on hand and assigning everyone one bomb side dish to enjoy beachside.

Because, food. This crowd loves our food. And of course on a holiday like the 4th, a lot of that food has sugar involved. How many red, white and blue combinations of fruit pizza can you make? You'd be surprised, but I can tell you from personal experience that it's more than ten.

After a long day out in the sun, having all the fun and eating all the food, I give my kids a bath, get them in the PJs and whip out the good ole' red, white and blue Aquafresh® Multi-Action Whitening toothpaste. I'm sure you all remember that as a kid? I know I do, and I know my kids think the colors are a pretty cool element.

Look. I'm crazy about my kids and their health. And I can probably count on one hand how many times my kids have gone to bed without brushing their teeth (seriously). So when I got re-introduced to Aquafresh® and then also learned how it provides Sugar Acid Protection (and what's a kid without sugar??), provided by active fluoride, to strengthen and shield teeth against sugar acid from everyday foods and drinks*, the key cause of cavities.

Not only that, but Aquafresh® also promotes healthy gums*, enamel strengthening and gives you fresh breath. The family that brushes together stays healthy together, am I right? (Ok that was kind of corny but still, true!)

Having fun responsibly, that's what I'm calling it. *wink

Have a fun summer guys!

You can check out the Aquafresh® Facebook page HERE
and their Twitter page HERE
*With twice daily brushing.

How do you celebrate the 4th of July? Tell me in the comments and you will be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card!

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
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