Mommin’ Ain’t Easy

Well…if you are doing it right (trying your best), it is ANYTHING BUT easy…Mommin’ is also the most rewarding, yet physically and emotionally taxing role on the planet.  It makes no sense and it does not come with a manual to help us navigate through all of the crazy situations that arise.  It is an all day, every day, never ending job that I have no room to complain about because I SIGNED UP FOR IT.  So, I choose to fasten my seat belt and prepare for the bumpiest ride of my life…

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Just as I mentioned in my last post, I do not claim to be an expert in any of the areas I decide to write about. BUT, I do have experience raising two small humans and I would like to think that I’m a pretty solid mama bear.  With that said, if being a good mom is measured by how many bumps one has had to face, give me an award…I’ve earned it…we all have.

From the minute I decided to express my feelings about parenting in a post, I have to admit I have spent a major amount of time staring at my computer, struggling to find the right words…deleting, rewording, cutting and pasting…This is such a sensitive and emotional topic for me personally, which sends my thoughts into a tailspin that will not slow down long enough for me to organize them into a coherent post.  Just as I do with everything else in my life, I will try my best…here goes nothing.

***Disclaimer*** I realize that I use the word “struggle” a lot.  That got me thinking…I want to be very clear that I am using this as a relative term.  Everyone handles “struggles” differently.  I am very, very aware that what I view as “struggling” may be trivial compared to that of others…with that said though, they are very real to me…The last thing I would want is for someone to read this and feel worse because their “struggle” is much greater than what I describe and feel like I don’t understand or appreciate my situation (or theirs).  I have learned that you never know how you would handle any given situation until you are actually in it.

Everything Changes

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From that first day that Jason and I met on March 14, 2005 until our first daughter, Corinne, was born, we had been inseparable…I mean like disgustingly attached at the hip, complete with little pet names (we still have those), annoying everyone around us, the whole nine yards. Then, our 8 lb 1 oz Gogo girl showed up and nestled herself right smack dab in the middle of our love affair…RUDE…just kidding!  Just like that, our relationship changed.  This little helpless being needed both of us.  We didn’t have as much time for each other anymore.  Is that a bad thing? Absolutely NOT!  Is it difficult to adjust when a life changing event such as having a child happens?  YES!  We were no exception…While I was so very happy to bring my sweet girl home, the adjustment was anything but seamless.  Keeping in mind, our closest family member is 8 hours away, so we were (and still are) on our own until my mom came and helped out a few days later. I can remember the day after we got home, Jason came strolling down the stairs dressed in his gym clothes and told me he was going to the gym.  Umm, what do you think you are doing, bro? You are not seriously going to leave me here with a newborn and jet off like our world has not been rocked, are you?  Think again, dude…(I am pretty sure the name I chose to address him with was not a friendly pet name either).  Needless to say, he went to the gym (looking back, I’m proud of his decision)…

Yes, I was tired…but, so was Jason.  Yes, I was scared…so was he, but we were handling this situation in different ways.  Jason was not doing anything wrong by going to the gym.  He was actually doing the right thing by carrying on with life as usual.  I chose to let it stop me in my tracks…actually, it was not my choice at all.  It was postpartum depression…major postpartum depression.  I used to be super embarrassed to admit that I had it because no one ever told me how hard and stressful having a baby would be.  All I had to base my feelings on were social media posts of all of these happy moms, smiling, going out to dinner with their two-week old baby, while I’m sitting over here like, “I don’t even want visitors (I was that mom that put a note on the door daring you to even think about ringing my doorbell)…they will give my baby germs…maybe the hospital will let me have some of that extra potent hand sanitizer to take home…please don’t drop her…I will never be able to read a book again…what the hell have we done…can I get a redo?” This is one of the major reasons I chose to write a blog because I know there are people out there who go through the same stuff in silence…I hope to open the doors to conversation!

To be completely honest, I was not truly happy being a mom until Cori was 6 months old.  I am that mom that lost herself throughout the infancy stage.  I was scared 100% of the day and straight through the night.  Fear of failing as her mother consumed me and made me second guess my every move.  I could not take my eyes off of her.  In my mind, no one knew what she needed but me, and I wasn’t even completely sure what she needed…The sight of a baby monitor was enough to get my heart racing. Does that mean that I did not want to be a mom? That I didn’t love my girl something fierce?  Of course not.  So many moms right now are going through the same thing and are not educated on postpartum depression.  Either that, or they are too embarrassed to reach out for help.  Trust me when I say that you cannot beat it on your own.  Please reach out to someone.  Deep down somewhere inside me, I know that I am one of the strongest chicks on the planet, but I could not beat it without the help of doctors, friends, and most importantly, MY HUSBAND.  So, yes, everything changed when we had our first child.  There were plenty of times where I told Jason that “she needs me, you want me.”  Gosh, I was so wrong and I wish with all my heart I could take it back.  He needed me then more than ever, but I could barely help myself.  He was going through changes as well.

After navigating through the first 6 months of parenthood together, we were changed for the better because we had to struggle…we had to figure it out TOGETHER… We got through more than just having to decide where to go to dinner or what movie we should see. We got through one of life’s biggest changes and came out stronger than ever.  Our experience with our first daughter could have scared us enough to only have one child, but we chose to use what we learned to be proactive about my feelings and prepare for another emotional roller coaster when we had our little spitfire, Abbie Cate.  Thank God we took our chances, for now we have not one, but two beautiful girls.  Beauty in the struggle: I was actually able to enjoy the infant stage with AC because I learned from my mistakes.  I had a plan in place just in case I experienced postpartum depression a second time.

I have a handful of friends that express fear of having a baby because of postpartum depression, knowing that they are prone to some degree of anxiety or depression already and may even take medication to treat these conditions.  I encourage all of them to not let fear get in the way of one of life’s greatest gifts. I will say the same to you…If you have a doctor you trust, talk with them about medication during pregnancy.  Trust me, I did not eat lunch meat, soft cheese, hot dogs, or do anything else from the moment we decided to even TRY for a child, but I did take medication for anxiety for the first 7 months of pregnancy with both girls.  It is a risk-benefit situation and there are plenty of medications that are safe to take…if you are a nervous wreck throughout the pregnancy, that is surely not good for your baby, so I chose to trust…Do not let fear steal your joy…be proactive, get things in place, talk to others about your feelings.  Above all, it will be okay.

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Looking Back

So long, infant stage…I remember constantly thinking, “once they can sit up, it will be easier”, followed by “when they start walking, I will have more time to do stuff.” Wow, wrong again, Gogolinski.  Each stage of child rearing brings different joys, experiences, and CHALLENGES.  Let me give you just a peek into how we lived our lives with our first born.  Anyone who hung around with us knows good and well we were a well-oiled machine, scheduled to the max, and could not be convinced to raise our girl any other way.

Whoever said that you cannot put a newborn on a schedule has never met Jason and Nicole Gogo.  We were so militant with her schedule it was insane, but man, did it work!!!!  It worked because we were both on the same page as husband and wife.  We would not let her eat unless it was at least 3 1/2 hours after her last feeding, which meant keeping her content while we pulled our hair out listening to her howling.  When she would wake up at night, we did not take her out of her room.  There was no chance we would turn the light on…We sat by the night light so she wouldn’t think it was time to party at 3am.  No matter what we had planned, we were home by 7pm to get her in bed….as a NEWBORN…good grannies…no…we never heated up a bottle…we were firm in our belief that it needs to be room temperature so that we could prepare the night bottles ahead of time, keep them in the upstairs laundry room, dump the formula in, all while basically sleepwalking the entire time.  While this worked most of the time, there were those days/nights that I just couldn’t believe Cori would not fall in line with the idea that if we do A, she will do B…how inconsiderate of her…

My whole point of telling you this is to show you that this worked for us, but it’s not for everyone.  It is to show you that even though we looked like we had it together the whole time, it came at a cost…our method was way too rigid.  It is to make you laugh and realize that you aren’t so crazy after all.  So many well meaning people will give you advice (this is different from discussing what worked for them in conversation), only to leave you with feelings of inadequacy and confusion.  Just be gracious, smile and nod, go home and tell your husband how clueless those people are 🙂  Do what is best for YOUR family.  We do lots of things that others do not agree with in terms of parenting and that’s okay.  I just know that we do what works for the four of us…Above all, it goes by too fast.  I would give anything to turn back time and do it again…

Here We Are

Cori and Abbie Cate (AC) are now 8 and 6 years old.  We have been blessed with two well-rounded, smart, and generally happy girls.  It has taken hard work, consistency, and team work.  My hat goes of to those of you that have to do it on your own for whatever reason.  I could not do it.  The pressure of raising children in this world we live in is nothing short of terrifying.  Kids are exposed to so much more than we ever were (I just made myself sound very old).  I blame a large portion of this problem on the state of our economy.  If you think about it, it makes sense.  So many people are struggling financially…more dual income families, longer work hours, multiple jobs to make ends meet, less supervision…more tired parents unable to give their children the attention they deserve.  I get it that people are so overwhelmed just trying to keep afloat.  This is where the dreaded technology comes in…kids are literally left to their own “devices.”  I find it absolutely bizarre that I have to explain to my eight year old why she cannot have a phone.  What? Nonsense…I had my first dang pager in college and when I came home, my mom and dad made me put it on their nightstand (not a minute later than my midnight curfew).  I get that I am pictured next to the word “overprotective” in the dictionary…but it is a scary world people.  Technology rules that scary world.  We go out to dinner and look around at all of these children (and parents) on their devices and a feeling of frustration, sadness, and confusion comes over us. When we went out to dinner as kids, it was special…we talked to our parents about life…where did that go?  For now, we just have to continue telling our kids that just because those people are allowed to do certain things doesn’t mean they can.  Guess what I am also aware of? My kids are allowed to do things and say things that other’s feel are inappropriate…I am okay with that…I am not judging you and I am not concerned if you are judging me.  Again, it works for US…technology works for some families and that is totally cool, more power to you.  I am just expressing MY feelings about MY family.

Jason and I reflect on our parenting daily…it always comes back to the fact that parenting our children well is even harder because it is easy to fall into the trap of appeasing them to keep them quiet, content, and manageable.  Nothing good comes from that…it is a band-aid, a temporary fix.  I try to tell myself that it is not easy because we are doing it right by sticking to what we expect from our children.  It makes it that much harder when they are too young to fully understand your rationale for doing certain things and just think you are not as nice as other moms.  Do not get me wrong…there are some days that I say “yes” to something only to get a minute of peace and avoid a meltdown…I am guilty of going through Walmart promising candy at the checkout if they stop fighting with each other.  No one is perfect.  I do not claim to be…But I sure as heck try.

 

 

Both of the above quotes really hit me.  There is so much truth in them no matter what parenting style you choose.  I can tell you that my mom and dad had to deal with their fair share of feeling unappreciated, misunderstood, and disrespected because my brother and I did not always like their rules, but they had the end goal in mind…to raise respectful, responsible, independent children.  They were so consistent and I doubt they ever did something just so we would hush up…they fought through it and stuck to their beliefs.  I cannot tell you how many times I screamed at my mother and father over what I thought was “unfair”.  There are so many things I wish I could take back.  I can tell you that the reward for them has been so much bigger than the struggle because we understand now that we are adults…my brother and I only hope to raise our children the way my parents raised us! That is the biggest compliment they can get as parents.  I am living proof that if you are currently struggling with a rebellious child, stubborn teenager, or the dreaded middle school tween angst, keep strong.  They will appreciate ALL of your efforts when they have children of their own and it is oh so worth it…short-term pain, long-term gain!

Ending on a funny note, this little meme made me laugh so hard.  It could not be more true.  Here’s to many minutes spent locked in the restroom just to get a speck of peace and quiet…

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Much love,

Gogo xo

 

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I love this quote so very much.  As my grandmother (Marmie) would say, “It speaks to me.”  You see, the reason my fitness journey began almost 3 years ago was because I hated my body…plain and simple.  I decided to work out for the wrong reason, but I was used to it…this feeling CONSUMED me for almost 15 years…No amount of compliments, cute clothing, or praying helped my awful self image.  #girlbye #wastedtime #neveragain

So, I set out on my journey January 4, 2015 and have yet to turn back…a journey can be defined as, “traveling from one place to another, usually taking a rather long time.”  It did not happen overnight.  I’m not even at my destination three years later.  As a matter of fact, I hope I never get there…I pray this is my way of life for as long as my mind and body allow.  I personally feel like a journey of this nature is never ending…

From the Ground Up

Before I tried it myself, I ragged on my best friends for running before work (well, running at all) and going to the gym.  I just couldn’t wrap my head around why it was so important to them. I wasn’t being a “hater.”  I just couldn’t have cared less about working out when I could be getting an extra hour of sleep resting on my laurels watching Bravo TV in my spare time.  At this time, I took more naps than your cat because I was perpetually EXHAUSTED and lethargic. No amount of sleep could shake the tired feeling that plagued me all day, every day.  It was just plain awful.  Fatigue added to my anxiety, stress, and jumbled thinking.  Looking back, the real problem was that I didn’t value myself enough to figure out how I could change my situation. Stupid.

THEN came the day my journey began…I loaded up my phone with Jason Derulo songs and told him that he was on this journey with me whether he liked it or not 😉 I ran every day for 27 days straight because I think I read somewhere it takes that many days to make a habit.  I knew I had to follow that rule or I would never succeed…I don’t like to say I am a “quitter” but if I’m not feeling it, I bounce…life is too short…Unfortunately for me, the majority of the first 27 days included some form of precipitation and frigid temperatures (we got out of school for an entire week because of an ice storm smack dab in the middle of those 27 days).  There I was, in totally inappropriate clothes for running, complete with my big North Face jacket, Danskin yoga pants dragging in the wetness, and my husband’s cotton long-sleeve shirts, which should give you an idea how much of a novice I was.  Sleet pelted me in the face (mixing well with my tears) one day, freezing rain POURED on me the next day, cars passing by surely thinking I had issues to be running in these conditions.  I prayed I didn’t slip and bust my tail on the ice covered sidewalks or trip over the uneven concrete in the pitch black of night…sounds silly, right? Well, I happen to have drive like you wouldn’t believe, a goal in mind, and something to prove to myself.  I didn’t give myself much of a choice.

I may have been driven, but I straight struggled.  Being a high school soccer and lacrosse player (ha! 15 years removed), I thought it wouldn’t be that hard to start running.  Man…I guess you could say that was one of the rare times I have ever been wrong in my whole entire life 🙂 Rude awakening for Gogo…In the beginning, I ran a 1/2 mile with my lungs flaming so bad I swear I saw pink, walked the next 1/2 mile for a total of two miles for 27 days straight.  I could not run a mile…I don’t even think I was actually running when I finally got up to a mile…it was more like shuffling…After 27 days, I started running every other day, running one mile instead of 1/2, walking for a minute, and then running the rest.  Gradually, I got up to running 2 miles without stopping every other day, adding a half mile each week to increase my distance.  I had a long way to go.  This is why I say that YOU CAN begin your wellness journey no matter where you are.  You just have to start small and be real about where you are starting from, reminding yourself that you are doing more than you did the day before.

Fast forward to today, after thousands of hours of sweat, pain, tears, gains, loses, 5k’s, half-marathons, a full marathon, and everything in between…as funny as it seems, my body is not at all the most important reason I work out anymore.  I cannot tell a lie…I do enjoy the physical results (I am human, after all)…

*****EDIT ALERT***** I wrote most of this post Thursday night.  I went to Boot Camp on Friday afternoon.  I stepped on the In Body machine (measures body fat, weight, muscle, water, etc) because it has been a few months.  I was not pleased with what it read.  If you remember back to my last post, I mentioned that my logical mind tells me I am perfectly fine, but the perfectionist in me only sees that I must not be working hard enough.  In all honesty, I am not fixated on my body day in and day out…Friday, however, I had a slip up and that was what I totally fixated on…it is important to tell you this because it will happen to you…you will have setbacks, but it does not define you.   Long story short, I didn’t cry after reading my results, which is a vast improvement, but I beat myself up internally for the rest of the night (you are entitled to that every so often).  Until……….I got this text from someone who has become a huge part of my life (I left out some parts)

“I want you to know…you are beautiful inside and out.  You’ve got to eat chips and dip sometimes because that is part of enjoying life….those are the moments you remember.  Cupcakes with your girls before bed. Love you and forget about that machine and enjoy your weekend.”

Love that sweet girl…I went to sleep and woke up this morning ready to fight for it…to get back up…to be flexible and gentle with myself…and stop off at Splat, the best cupcake place known to man.  I pounded that cupcake, BTW.

*****Now, to continue on with what I had already put into words before this minor setback*****

My main reason for working out NOW is because it is my freedom, my peace, and my reward to myself and my family (and anyone else who prefers me to be calm and reasonable to deal with).  It has changed my life in so many ways.  I am making a promise to you that this WILL happen to YOU if you let it…I am talking to every one of you that is reading this…no matter where you are physically or mentally…I do not lie…I promise it is one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family…

Let me explain…

THEY ARE WATCHING ME  (and YOU)…

Do you have children? Girls especially?  I do, and trust me, they are watching your every move.  I am about to reveal something I am not proud of because this could make  all the difference to one of you reading this.  Dating back to the first time my mother (God love her for dealing with me) took me to the doctor for whatever reason in my teen years, I hated the scale.  There was this one appointment that I specifically remember…I was 15.  The doctor asked me to step on the scale.  I panicked…I immediately started thinking about what I could take off before getting on (I’m talking earrings, scarf, shoes, socks, you name it) so that I would weigh less.  After all that trouble, I stepped on backwards so that I did not have to see the number.  At 15 years old…awful…I was not raised this way…I did it to myself…from that day until about a year ago, I continued to do this every time I went to the doctor.  Well, here comes the part I am not proud of.  Last year, my 5 year old daughter had been sick, so I took her to urgent care.  When it was time for her to get on the scale, she kicked her flip flops off and turned around to get on the scale backwards.  As innocent as it was, I almost hurled.  It was my fault.  She had no clue why she was doing it, as she was only 5, but she learned it from watching me.  I realized then and there that my girls are watching my EVERY move, literally.  It is my responsibility to develop in them a positive body image (insert chest crushing type pressure because I am still working on teaching myself).  I knew that I could not continue this behavior because although they do not understand it now, they will once they get older if it continues to be something they see from their mother. NEVER AGAIN…thank you, Gogo Girls, for kicking some sense into me…

While I encourage you to exercise and eat well, there is a fine line to walk when you have children.  I have never once told my children that they are eating too much or said things like, “be careful eating that.”  They sure as heck have never heard me say a single thing about my weight…EVER EVER EVER!!!!!  I say things all the time, but never within earshot.  No matter what thoughts go through my mind.  I’m not super sharp, but at least I know better than to do that…They have no idea what the back of  food labels mean.  We approach it in terms of needing to eat healthy foods (they eat tons of junk too, not trying to say we don’t) so our bodies move easier, we have more energy, and our brains work well.  It seems to work well for us…worth a shot… I see so many young children already struggling with body image and I wonder how much of this is being created by very well meaning people. Bottom line, let your children be on of the driving forces for you to start your wellness journey for THE RIGHT REASONS, not just weight, but for your physical health and emotional well-being.  Teach them that you are only given one body and that you are simply treating it well…You are their idol…

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Other Major Benefits of Exercise

After all these years of doctors stressing exercise to me, I finally get it.  When they asked if I exercised, I told them that I was too tired, too stressed, too busy, you name it.  I was not interested. To be honest, I knew how much work and time it would take to see results and I am literally the most impatient woman walking on this planet.  Listing off all of the many benefits of exercise other than losing weight was not enough to get my tail moving. Knowing what I do now after 3 years of very consistent exercise (enter GRIT), I am so frustrated with myself.  I should have listened.  I would have been so much happier all these years.  Not only that, I sleep better, I have more energy and motivation, I can think clearly, I do not resent my husband for going to the gym 4 days a week, I am setting a positive example for my children, and I bet your cat naps more than me now 😉

Where Do I Start

So, how do you begin? Well, for starters:

  1. Park your car further away from the store.  “Bless your body” as Marmie would say. It’s a start.
  2. Walk your dog (you both benefit).  Use that time to think and appreciate your surroundings.
  3. Take the stairs, not the escalator or the elevator. Every little bit counts.
  4. Set benchmarks: I remember trying to get to certain points like the first batch of pine straw, then the second batch, then eventually all the way up the hill that was on my regular running route.  Just find your route, notice things around you that you can use as markers and set goals that way.  Jog til you get to whatever it is you have your eyes on, then stop…eventually you will be able to move your “marker” further away.
  5. Use your watch to do interval goals like walking for 1 minute, running for 1 minute.  Gradually increase the time spent running, keeping your walking at 1 minute.  DO NOT use your watch to set overall time goals.  It will steal the joy of running.
  6. Find something you love that you can get into with a friend.  Like, yoga, zumba, kick boxing, spin, running, boot camp, a walking group, pilates, whatever!  Moving your body is step one.
  7. The biggest thing I can suggest that has kept me moving forward is:  ONLY DO WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE DOING EVERY DAY!!!!!  Do not do these crazy fad diets.  They don’t work unless you plan on eating that way from that point on…hello, duh… not to mention, they are expensive and completely ineffective in the long run. People do these diets as a “jump start.” Ummm, no….it is a shock to your body and I guarantee you that this will not jump start you, it will set you back.  You have got to find a way of life that you can handle forever.  I have not changed the way I eat because I know myself.  I am going to enjoy family date night to Wild Wing.  I am going to eat those cupcakes with my family before bed.  I will not teach my children to count calories and eat like a stinkin rabbit…sorry, not sorry.
  8. Try to stay away from the whole, “its the weekend, I can eat how I want” mentality.  You can wreck all of your hard work thinking this way.  Again, eat how you can handle eating every day for an extended period of time.  Eat wings on a Tuesday…it will help you avoid eating the whole dang restaurant on Saturday and clearing out the pantry on “Sunday Funday.”
  9. Concentrate on shopping the perimeter of the grocery store.  Think about it…all of the meat, veggies, fruits and unprocessed stuff can be found there.  Don’t avoid the good stuff like oreos and salt and vinegar chips in the middle…just balance with the perimeter goods.
  10.  Drink tons of water.  I hated water in the beginning and I swear it made me nauseous.  I bled Diet Coke.  Now, I may have one a week, if that.  Your body and mind need water, so don’t deprive yourself of it.
  11. Forgive yourself when you experience a setback.  There will be tons of them.  Mentally prepare yourself from the start.  Just know that tomorrow is a new day.  Onward and upward, my friends.

Again, I am not an expert.  I have a ways to go.  I just know what has helped me, a converted couch potato and junk food enthusiast.

Are you sitting there thinking that it is different for me because we are not super similar?  That it is easier for me? There is your first mistake.  My mind is so powerful, both good and bad.  My brain has the power to stop me in my tracks like you would not ever, ever believe.  I did it…I am doing it…I am living proof.  Your journey will not be the same as mine.  You may never find the love of running or boot camp….BUT, you have the power to find something that works for you.  Something that you can handle every day as long as your body allows.  You may have to start much smaller…so what?  We are different people with the same end goal, bottom line.  Just know that I will be your support.  I want for you what I have gained for myself.

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Much love,

Gogo xo

 

 

 

 

 

Enough Already

Wife…Mother…Sister…Daughter…Friend…Teacher…Runner…Bootcamper…Granddaughter…Daughter-in-law…Cousin…Aunt…Niece…Maid…Social Planner…Homework Helper… Chauffeur…Peace Maker…Tutor…Leader…Coach…Perfectionist…etc.

ME….(and probably YOU, too)

I’m tired just looking at this list….are you?

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Before I get started, let me be clear that I, in no way, shape, or form think that my life is busier than anyone else’s.  I understand that millions of people take on all of the roles I listed above and do just fine balancing it all.  It comes easy to some, but not to others.  I am okay admitting that I fall in the “others” group.  I find myself thinking that I surely must be doing something wrong here, people…daily….hourly…

“Why does my house look (and smell) like a college dorm half the time?  Why can’t we figure out how to take a date night like everyone else? Am I paying enough attention to my husband and putting him first?  Did I give each girl the same amount of attention today? I wonder if that mother raises her voice as much as I do? If only I was more disciplined, I would be a stronger, better runner.”

I’m sure I am not the only one who has thoughts like these that have taken up residency in my little brain. What am I doing wrong?  The answer is clear, but it is also ingrained in me and proves to be a difficult habit to break…I just plain expect too much out of myself (and everyone else that I love, if I am to be honest here).  I have been that way since I was a little girl.  I remember my parents telling me I have too high of expectations for myself and others, leading to the inevitable disappointment that follows.  A simple mistake in another person’s eyes makes me feel like a failure.  This is not the way I was raised, it is the way I was born.  It is in me…it is who I am…Okay, well…bring on the work in progress that is Gogo…

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Being Okay with Being “Enough”

We all go through seasons in life that make us feel inadequate. New moms, young marriages, booming careers, dual income families just trying to make it…I see you…I’m with you.  Through recent open and honest conversations with family, friends, and acquaintances,  it has come to my attention in recent months that I must seem to have it all together on the outside.  I’m not saying I am a walking train wreck by any means, but…The average person would say that I do, in fact, have it all together.  My logical brain tells me the same thing…For the perfectionist in me, I could always do better. This is a double-edged sword because being a perfectionist gives me the drive that I have in all areas of my life.  On the flip side, it leaves me feeling like I cannot keep up with the rest of the world.

When people come to me with problems that I can relate to, I disclose my struggles and am often met with the same comment…”I would have never guessed that about you, Gogo!”  This comment has been a big catalyst for change.  Now more than ever, I feel the need to express that I am not always on top of my game, but that I get back up and try again, becoming stronger in the end… My hope is that this makes others feel better.  Not in a misery loves company sort of way, but in an everyone struggles regardless of how they appear on the outside sort of way…It got me wondering just how many others like me feel the same way, but keep it inside…like I said in a previous post: “Be nice.  You have no idea what others are facing.”

On that note: It has always made me sad when people comment about how fake others are on social media just because they post pictures of their “happy” family, “cute” kids, “best husband”, etc, but that “I know them in real life.”  Yes, there will always be people that try to portray something they are not, but that isn’t what I am talking about…What if those people posting about their great day are trying to see the joy despite the struggles and are working on getting themselves out of current situations that are less than desired?  Do they really want to see other people’s dirty laundry so desperately that it bothers them to see a smiling picture of someone who they know “in real life?”   Just something to ponder…

Where Do You Place Your Energy?

Of the many roles that define me, wife, mother, friend (in that order) are the most important to me.  These are the areas that I focus on.  I’m sure that these are three of your top priorities as well.  Above all, God is first…my husband is second, and my children come third.  Without God, I would not have husband perfectly designed for me.  Without my husband, I would have no children.  Makes total sense…Just remember, if you spread yourself too thin and give too much energy to things that are not important, you will be left with the constant nagging feeling that you are doing NOTHING well.

Marriage

Having young children really does put a damper on your relationship at times.  I assume that I am not alone based on the conversations I have with my besties… There are ebbs and there are flows.  NORMAL!!!!  My husband of 10+ years understands this…is he always pleased with it? Not so much…What I can encourage you to do is try to carve out time.  That doesn’t mean having a weekly date night…if you can, great…but not necessary…It means that if you have to keep your eyes open with toothpicks after the kids go to bed only to watch Real Housewives or a stupid football game, DO IT…the kids will leave eventually and you don’t want to be stuck with a stranger beside you.  Try to remember why you married each other.  Love is going to be different as your relationship progresses.  I used to cry, like, hard, when Jason would leave for work each day.  I hated even being away from him for 8 hours.  Now, I kinda hope for a night out with his friends every once in a while so that I can get a few more hours to myself.  Do I love him less? Not even close…in actuality I love him more, just in a different way.  In a real way, a deeper way.  Your marriage is worth fighting for.  We used to joke about how in the world people say that marriage is “work.”  We never had to work on it for the first few years.  We didn’t have kids, two dogs, graduate school, health concerns, blah, blah, blah, at that time.  Now we do, and now we roll up our sleeves and get to “work.”

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Rare date night with my dude

Motherhood

What I can tell you about motherhood is this: If you are worrying about being a “good” mother, you already are.  YOU ARE ENOUGH!!! If it is hard, you are doing it right. It should be hard.  Nothing worth anything comes easy.  Still, do I worry that I am taking the easy way out when I put my 1st grader in her bed wearing the clothes she will wear to school the next day (her choice)? Yep…Do I worry that I send them to school with a bunch of packaged junk in their lunchboxes sometimes? Yes ma’am…Does it make me a bad mom? Nope…If you lay your head on your pillow at night and say to yourself, “That was rough, I messed up, but tomorrow is a new day”, you crushed it.  Reflecting on the day, going over the events (good and bad), means that you are 100% trying your best…you are enough and so am I…What has really helped me is the idea that my kids need to see my faults, they need to see me mess up, and then they need to hear me say, “I’m sorry.”  It teaches them that it is okay to be perfectly imperfect.  It teaches them the true definition of unconditional love and forgiveness.  With all that said, well meaning people may offer advice, criticism, whatever in terms of how you parent your children.  Take it in, throw it out, and move on…No one should ever tell you how to take care of your own child.  I have eaten so much crow in this area.  Offer unsolicited advice on parenting, and you will, too.  Take care of YOUR family because no one else pays your bills.  You can take that check to the bank and cash it…

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I knew they were doing this, and I let it continue. I got a few moments of peace out of the deal! Mom fail? Not even close!!!

Friendship

I have found that the larger your friendship circle, the more you feel like you are not “enough.”  Tons of people to please, expend your energy on, and include in every little plan is just not the way to go.  You end up feeling guilty for not being able to give everyone the attention you feel they deserve as your “friend.” Unlike a marriage, I am not willing to be in a friendship that takes “work.”  It sounds harsh, sure…but, I firmly believe that friendship should not be complicated like that.  You can’t walk around worrying about hurting someone’s feelings or making them upset if you do not text or call right back.  Seriously, exhausting…and a trap for always feeling not good enough. DONE…So, my friendship circle is super small these days.  I have my 3 best friends and they are more than I could ever ask for…I cannot tell you how many “friends” I have hid of Facebook lately…I’m still a people pleaser to some degree, so I  can’t muster up the courage to defriend people just yet 😉 Stupid…I’m working on it…

The way I see relationships is like a dart board.  Family in the bulls eye , best buds in the middle, and acquaintances on the outside.  You want to hit that bulls eye first and foremost, duh.  Then comes the middle ring, which is still so worth it…The outermost ring (and acquaintances) are still okay, just not where you want to aim. My energy is divided up like that.  The smaller my inner circle has become, the happier I have been.  The quality of my relationships with my family and best friends has increased because I have more energy to spend on them without all the noise.  Consider your inner circle now.  Is it super large?  Do you feel that you know these people on a deep level?  Try evaluating each of your relationships with people you have contact with on a daily basis. Where do they fall on the “energy bulls eye?” I really hope that it will help you channel your energy where it counts and get you feeling “good enough.”

 

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My best girls, Lauren (LCW)  and Becca (Bestie).

By no means am I an expert of any of these areas, but I have had lots of practice navigating through tricky situations related to them.  I pray that you are able to take even a tiny bit of what I have written about and use it along your journey toward the realization that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH…

NEXT POST: Jump start your fitness journey where you are

Much Love,

Gogo xo

 

True Grit and Character

Grit: Go Get You Some

When I hear the word GRITI picture sandpaper for some reason.   Isn’t that the word used to describe the toughness of a piece of sand paper? Better go look it up… regardless, the way I would describe having grit is sort of like sandpaper.  The higher the grit, the tougher the sandpaper.  It’s the same for people…the tougher you are, the more grit you have…the longer you last without falling apart….you don’t let the tough stuff wear you down…The good ol’ dictionary simply defines it as “courage and resolve; strength of character.”

Andrew Zolli has a really neat way of describing it as well…He believes that “grit” or “hardiness” (used interchangeably), has three parts: “(1) the belief one can find meaningful purpose in life, (2) the belief that one can influence one’s surroundings and the outcome of events, and (3) the belief that positive and negative experiences will lead to learning and growth.”

However you would like to define it, grit has everything to do with courage, tenacity, determination, and being too dang stubborn to give up….I just so happen to be one of the most stubborn chicks on the planet…tell me I can’t…I promise you, I will…

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So, what does grit have to do with me? With you? With CHARACTER? There is a super simple answer if you ask me….you see, it is easy to be awesome when things are going well.  When you are experiencing all things going your way, when everyone is happy and healthy, you probably find yourself being easy going, patient, and nicer to those around you.  Am I right?  In my opinion, that is NOT indicative of your true character.  Flip the script for a minute…let’s say your child or spouse has a chronic illness, things at work are less than perfect, you fall on hard times financially…how do you carry yourself then?  I am willing to bet you it is easier to for you to be short-tempered, impatient, and curt with others.  You may stop communicating with friends, push people away, and give up on things that once made you happy. Understandably so….BUT…………………do you really want that to be who you are?  Probably not.  I sure as heck don’t.  This is where grit comes in…It takes hard work.

You wake up in the morning, expecting a perfectly awesome Friday.  PUMP THOSE BREAKS…curve ball headed your way, FAST…you end the day feeling like God gave you WAY TOO MUCH credit for the amount of stuff you can handle…Out pops….REAL CHARACTER…Are you that person who wakes up the next morning and skips the early morning workout because you are ill as a hornet?? Blows off a previous engagement you agreed upon because you just don’t feel like talking??  Snaps at everyone in your path?? (This happens to ALL of us every once in a while….I am talking about patterns in your behavior every time something goes awry.)

ORRRRRRRR…..are you the person that compartmentalizes your current situation, puts on her big gurl panties, and plows through, all while giving whatever is going on a big punch in the face?  Are you the one that listens to the silent whispers that tell you that this is all one big learning experience…do you ask yourself, “Once I get through this stage, how is this situation going to make me stronger.”  Not a huge fan of Kelly Clarkson, but she has a point with the whole “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” idea.

Disclosure:  I used to be the first person I described…At any given moment, it was much easier to brush things under the rug to avoid the negative feelings that arise…however, trust me…every last bit that you just swept under that rug of yours comes back up…the rug moves and all the junk that is still there gets uncovered just waiting for you to deal with it…Get it done right the first time…eat the frog…it may be awful…so get it over with.

As of late, I am no longer the first person I described…I just don’t have a choice…Grit, don’t fail me now, sister!

grit quote

 

The best way I can organize my thoughts on grit and character is to separate by areas in my life (and yours) that you can increase your grit, thus improving your character.

Less Than Perfect Situations

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Face it, they happen…like, a lot…what will you do?  I will tell you what I will do…every time? Nope…most of the time? Yes, ma’am…

Without going into tons of detail, the Gogo crew has had a rough year.  If you see me on a regular basis, you know the deets…if not, basically, our little Cori Bug has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder caused by chronic and recurrent strep infections.  The disorder is relatively new (1997) in the research world and definitely new to us.  Lucky us (insert sarcasm here), we get to navigate the unknown.  TOGETHER!  It has been nothing short of AWFUL…like, I’m going to literally break if we have to do this much longer…it has forced every one of us to buck up, hunker down, and fight…true grit right there.  Above all, Corinne Ryann has gained herself the definition of a “gritty chick.”  She is eight, y’all…eight…she has had to process so much more than her sweet, innocent brain should be able to handle and none of it is in our control.  The beauty in it?  Coping skills…that girl will grow up and kick tail.  You go, sister!  Jason and I have had to wipe the sweat with that towel we want to throw…we have had to keep going…for both girls…for our marriage and our family…for LONG TERM SUCCESS!!!!!

What if we gave up?  How would the outcome be then?  I guarantee you we would all be in for a world of hurt…hurting worse than what it takes to fight.  I know we are not alone.  There are those of you suffering silently.  There are plenty who have children fighting for their lives.  Whatever situation you find yourself in, FIGHT….cry, hide, say bad words, bargain, whatever….Then, when you are finished your tantrum, let your true character shine.  You, too, are a fighter…

Exercise

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I started from square ZERO…not square one, ZERO!  I am going to save the details for another post on jump starting your fitness.  What I can tell you know is that the closest I came to working out was cracking jokes to my besties about how lame they were to run before school.  Bottom line, I am that “tired pigeon” from that quote about not being a morning or a night person…Grit, where are you when my alarm is sounding and I want to cry every.single.time it goes off?  Apparently, it’s there.  I wake up (with accountability partners) and go.  Every day? No.  So what?  I do it even when I don’t want to because of a long term goal.  Long term is hard….it isn’t instant.  Living in a world of instant gratification makes it that much harder.  I promise you, if I can do it, so can you.  I encourage you to find something you love, whether it be walking, running, bootcamp, yoga, zumba (I swear you could see me blush there just thinking about myself dancing in front of people…barf).  Just don’t give up on yourself.  You owe it to the one and only self you are given.  You have one shot…find that grit…

 

Parenting

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This whole parenting thing has me all types of strung out.  People, I pretend I am using the bathroom for like, 30 minutes at a time to get away.  I am not using the actual bathroom…True story.  Again, grit, character, and LONG TERM GOALS.  As much as I want to take up permanent residency in the bathroom some days, it is not an option dang it…you feel like a failure sometimes.  So do I.  I have to laugh sometimes when people ask me how I do it.  The answer is plain and simple: Because I have to.  These children rely on us.  We are their moral compass in a broken world.  We are the example they will use when choosing a mate.  We are responsible for setting them up for success.   Well, if that isn’t a bit intimidating to you, please introduce yourself to me.  I would love to hear how you are managing.  We are all struggling with this…every single one of us.  So, shut yourself in that commode if you must, come on out, and rock this…Pray, go to sleep, wake up, repeat.  Teach your children the true definition of grit.  They will thank you.  My mother reaped the benefits when I turned 23 and met my sweet Jason.  I thanked her and told her I finally understood how hard it was to raise me (I was a pistol, people…blazing pistol…imagine that).  My parents hunkered down, navigated difficult situations with me, and came out on top.  We will, too!  It took them 23 years, but it happened. LONG TERM yet again.

Your take away from this:  It doesn’t happen overnight.  Grit takes a minute.  Think long term.  My brother, one of the most rad people ever, said to me once while I was going through college boy stuff, “Would your rather be hurting now for a while, or would you rather suffer for the rest of your life this way and stay in your current situation?”  He was 18 at the time. He is now 33.  Wise, wise fella!  So, do the work now…I’m with you 🙂

Much love

Gogo xo

 

 

 

 

From Idea to Reality

It’s About Time!

Starting a blog has been something I have ALWAYS wanted to do.  In true Gogo fashion, I have avoided it until now because it is something that makes me uncomfortable.  I shy away from anything and everything in my life where I feel that I may not excel.  I have always avoided things that I thought people would pass judgement about…I am just plain afraid…of everything…dang it…

December 2016…Enter the new me.  As our family navigates through a rather trying year, I have done some major soul searching and have learned to find the beauty in EVERYTHING, even the midst of the storm we are experiencing.  Realizing that I had to make some changes to the way I had been spending my life worrying about every stinking thing has slapped me in my face, and in hindsight, it has been beautiful.  While I still have more than my fair share of anxiety, I am not one to sit and accept a difficult situation.  I do everything in my power to make changes…the changes I have made are monumental…it has come about through writing…and just like that, a blog is born 🙂

This Song Is one of my favorites!!!  So thankful for His Blessings (Even the Raindrops & Tears)

I needed a way to organize my thoughts that race through my brain, especially when I am on a run (even when Jason Derulo, my boyfriend, is singing to me through my ear buds…Dude! I promise, he is singing to me).  I had to figure out a way process my thoughts and make sense of it all.  Without fail, I have some pretty big revelations on EVERY.SINGLE.RUN.  Running the mean streets of Dacula is when I make my “game plans” that are totally going to solve the world’s problems…never gonna happen, I get it… I’m sure as heck going to try…At the very least, I can make a game plan to improve myself.

 

“You can change the place you live, your clothes, your interests, your friends, your religion… However, if you forgot to change your mind, attitude, beliefs about the world, how you treat people and how you plan to be different this time around, why did you even bother?” 
― Shannon L. Alder

If you know anything about me, you know that I am an open book…WIDE open book.  There are plenty of people who are the same way, but we all have our reasons.  While I have always found it cathartic to talk through the good, bad, and the ugly in my life, my main reason for sharing so much of my thoughts is my desire to let others know that they are not alone.  I want to encourage others to free themselves from all of the things that weigh them down.  I am positive that if we all tried being honest, laid our flaws out there (I’m not talking about every last detail, just generally speaking), and stopped being afraid of what others think, we would all be happier.  Be nice…you have no idea what others are battling…things are rarely as they seem.

Like many others, I have spent WAY TOO MUCH time worrying about what others think…until now…Why?  I wasn’t entirely sure until I read (and reread) a book called “When People are BIG, and God is Small,” by Edward T. Welch.  This particular book explains idolatry and what it steals from all of us.  It took me months to get through because I was serious about doing the major work it would take for me to get rid of my “fear of man.”  LIFE CHANGING, PEOPLE!  Read it…like, now…..Through reading this book, taking notes, and rereading the parts I highlighted every so often, I realized that this author could have based this book on me.  Have you ever looked at a checklist in a magazine or doctors office and thought, “Dang, I could check off every last one of these” and then proceeded to diagnose yourself with something? Well, reading this book was like that for me.  I feared man, had idols, and lost focus on the one true judge…  Almost every last bit applied to me.  Now, even if you are not a religious or spiritual person, this book will still be helpful.  It does not shove religion down your throat.  It puts things into perspective.  Several friends have used my copy (all my thoughts laid out on the pages…remember? Open book?) and feel the same way.  Just something to think about!

So, there you have it…the basis for this blog in a nutshell…to lay it all out there in hopes of helping others feel supported and encouraged, all while forcing me to stop being afraid.

For each post, I want to try to stay focused on a topic that is important to me and that I feel could be beneficial to others.  Here are a few topics that I have swirling in my brain:

  • Your inner friendship circle: Quality vs. Quantity
  • Parenting: If you are doing it right, it STINKS 🙂
  • Carving out time for yourself:  It’s anything but selfish
  • Simplifying EVERYTHING
  • Highl
  • Being okay with being “Enough”
  • Jump start your fitness journey: I promise, you can
  • Idolatry: I’m too busy watering my own grass to notice if yours is greener 🙂
  • Finding Beauty in the Darkness: It’s there, I promise
  • Grit and Character
  • Practicing Grace in all areas of life
  • How to get a rockin’ wardrobe on a budget: Goodwill How to (I’m OBSESSED with Goodwill and most everything I wear comes from there!)

Much Love,

Gogo   xo