Letting It Be: The Lesson Yelling Taught Me

Life has a funny way of teaching us lessons.

Seriously. It does. And I’m finally (in my aging state of almost 36) learning to open up, listen, and learn from these teachings. Lord knows I could stand to learn a thing or two – probably more. It might even make life a little easier…

Last week, I kinda let lose on my mom. Yes, the loving woman who I would give my vital organs for. The woman who suffered through 36 hours of labor, raised me, clothed and fed me. The woman who, to this day, washes little kids clothes, and picks up after them (and their parents) every day. I just want her to relax – not clean up after the girls, or us, and just rest. I want her to not be exhausted and frustrated with the weird side effects like a newly discovered ache, or everlasting fatigue, from last year’s cancer fight. I just want her to be happy and rested. So I yelled.

Clearly, I’m heartless and evil.

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I was stressed. I’ve been running around like that poor chicken sans head, and I just needed someone to listen to me. Know what I wanted to cook for dinner. Not assume anything and just wait for me to catch my breath before having to answer to someone else’s needs. Just once. I want someone to know I’m worried about what pains and aches I have, but I’m too afraid to talk about it, or interrupt the lives around me with what’s probably nothing. Really. Nothing. Right?

So, instead of asking if she was ok, or thanking her for getting a head start on dinner since I was clearly tied up and not able to respond, I just became a super-wenchy daughter. (What busy working mom in her right mind YELLS at someone for making dinner?!?!?! This one, apparently.)

Had I stopped a second to talk with her, no – listen to her – I would have heard (or more likely observed) that she has her post-cancer treatment mammograms this week. I would have remembered this, and realized that she too is anxious. I would have remembered that she’s been through a lot, dammit, and yet she still puts up with my crank.

I didn’t really think about this…

…until I was on the receiving end of some pretty hurtful assumptions and accusations. And, surprisingly for my normally über-defensive self, my first instinct was to breathe, and remember that this person has a lot going on. And although I’d been hurt or put off by some of their actions, and trying to slowly back away and give space, that this wasn’t my turn to talk and share my side of the story unless it was wanted. Clearly, it wasn’t, but I answered a tough question honestly, tried to calmly offer the opportunity to talk, and let it go. I don’t let things go well. I’m more like a rabid dog, holding on to the death. But this isn’t about me, and as I realized I was giving this up to the universe as what was meant to be…it came to me…

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Mom knows my pain and my anxieties. She listens. She tries to help, and even when I freak, she remains calm, tells me not what I want to hear, but what I need to hear to grow stronger and learn from where I am. I learn from her – still – every day. I hope more and more of her character becomes part of me as I continue to grow and learn. I was trying to be with a friend like Mom is with me, trying to listen although I love (and need) to talk, and maybe that’s why I can let this be. Because I know, despite how frustrated I may be, Mom makes me feel loved, and I know as tough or contrary as I may be at that moment…I can be me.

I don’t like it. I don’t like that I can’t be everything to everyone when they need it. I don’t like thinking that someone assumes I don’t care, but they don’t care to want to need to listen to the real story – because they can’t where they’re at. I don’t have to like it. But its not always about me. I can learn to let it be.

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Buttercup, the PowerPuff Girl. This is the character I thought (andprobably still do think) resembles me. Saving the world, determined and impatient, one tough girl reaction at a time...

Letting it be takes away the stinging pain of letting it go… and I can be ok with that.

So, I learned this week that while yelling might make me feel better for a tiny split second… while it might make me think someone else has heard me more clearly because I was loud and angry… I learned to squelch the urge to yell and listen first. To someone else’s words, or their silence, or even my own inner voice. Figure out why I’m so upset, or why my kids were trying to get a reaction out of me…or the real reason my mom is on edge. I really don’t like yelling anyway.

This is going to take practice, people. I’m loud. I’m normally quick to react. But now I know that if I try… I can let it be…quietly.

I love you, Mom.

Have you mastered “letting it be?” Tell us how!

It All Depends on How You Define Cool…

I haven’t read it. I don’t really need to. And, thanks to facebook and twitter, I don’t have to actually read the article as many of my friends have commented on it already. So, bonus.

I’m talking about the piece posted on e-online about the Abercrombie CEO. Whatshisname. Not wasting the precious space in my grey matter to try and remember it.

I knew what this article reveals about the company 17 years or so ago. I was a college freshman or sophmore at GW. I had recently graduated from St. Mark’s, a New England Prep School, where A&F didn’t really fit the dress code. I never really looked good in their clothes anyway, but I LOVED the way their colognes smelled, and I really wanted to find a pair of their jeans that fit my “athletic” thighs.

The Mall at Pentagon City had an A&F store. I needed a part-time job, so I donned my SM crew jacket over my best A&F look-alike attire, figuring that it couldn’t hurt to channel my “Prep” while interviewing. Sadly, the jacket didn’t help. It was abundantly clear by their actions and words that they weren’t really looking for “someone like me.” Really, you give me the once over and actually say that? So – cool on paper, not in person. Eh.

I brushed it off knowing there were better things ahead, right? After all, this was DC. I really didn’t need to hang out in a mall, right? And I could sing and play sports, and I had great friends and a boyfriend (who wouldn’t get another bottle of Woods). So screw Abercrombie. I got a job working with the greatest group of people on campus at the Smith Center – working basketball games, gymnastics meets, the front desk, our prized Commencement – way cooler.

And the cool kids? I’m sorry, but the things I did at GW made me much cooler than folding over-priced t-shirts and jeans that featured your panties as a waistband for all-too-skinny kids could have made me.  Opening for Judy Collins, performing at the Kennedy Center Honors, and singing at Vice President Gore’s Christmas Parties with the Troubadours, starting the Club Field Hockey team, getting an internship at the US Department of State, driving in a Presidential motorcade, watching a Bill Clinton and Tony Blair press conference from the 5th row in the East Wing, making friendships that have lasted through career moves, mood swings, weddings and children – those, Mr. Whatsyourname, are things the cool kids with great attitudes are doing.

Since being turned down for employment in your store, I’ve done all that, plus gotten a Masters Degree. I’ve served in local office, managed regional communications teams for a national health organization, fundraised for all sorts of causes among other things, and am now leading a marketing team for an awesome educational software company.

I look and feel the best I have ever felt in my almost 36 years. I eat healthy, feed my kids well, pack their lunches, encourage them to be active, let them know that I run and train to stay fit, invite them with me even though its MY alone time, encourage them to be smart AND beautiful on the inside more than the outside, and work my tail off so they know that nothing comes without hard work and a little sweat. Because they will know that nobody can hold them back from achieving whatever they dream of, or make them “not cool”, or take away that youthful confidence – despite what words they may say. Its going to take work, but they’ll know it.

Here’s the important part!

I don’t need approval or a pat on the back for the things I’ve done, or for how cool I am. (Yes, I’m cool – at least in my daughters’ eyes, and that’s what matters) The only reason I’ll ramble on about this ridiculousness is because every mom, every former and present self-conscious awkward but really cool girl and boy, every HUMAN out there should know that every single one of us is cool. It all depends on how you define cool. And we, my friends, can help change the perception of cool. Of right. Of good.

These are the things the cool kids are doing, Mr. Whateveryournameis. Not perpetuating ridiculous, inaccurate stereotypes that you seem to be holding on to, well into 2013.

Oh, and I don’t fold shirts now, either.

me at airport

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Thirsty Thursday: Welcome to April!

It’s Thursday! Which means tomorrow is Friday – woo hoo! But more importantly, it means its time for another edition of Thirsty Thursday!

I’m going to be honest, though…it’s been such a crazy week, I think the only thing I’m thirsty for is to remember all the good things that have happened in the past few days…and some time with the girls! Busy weeks stink from the mom point of view 😦

First up, our Sales & Marketing team was together (minus 2 at a conference) and I love it when our Seattle and Houston peeps are around! We get a lot of awesome stuff done and they’re just plain fun to be around. And we got to celebrate a kickin’ Q1 by rock climbing at Vertical Dreams in Manchester last night. I accept the pain today because the glory of making it up a wall and pushing my limits/confronting my fear was SO worth it!

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A whole mess of us went to the edSocialMedia Summit at Walnut Hill School for the Arts on Tuesday…fantastic presenters, great topics, and fabulous people! Always good to see and learn from how others are doing what you’re doing in the social media and marketing sphere of the education world.

Sprinkle in Easter Sunday at my sister’s house, a site visit for our big User Conference, and a killer workout with my fab personal trainer (and, in full disclosure, friend) Sue, I’m beat.

Ahhhh, but I do remember what I’m thirsty for…

I get to see 2 of my best friends in a little over a week, and I can’t wait! But first, I need to finish my taxes!!!

So, lets recap my thirsts….
Week 1 – organization. Check.
Week 2 – return to nice friendly cheerful Maura. Check.
Week 3 – get our taxes done and play with the girls this weekend!!!!

Lets see how we’ll do!

Are your taxes done?

Thirsty Thursday: Full Moon Edition

This Thirsty Thursday thing is the greatest thing I’ve come up with in a while! It’s been a week since my last (and first) Thirsty post, and I have a clean garage bay (and a dry parking space!) thanks to Jason and Nonna, and my home office is user friendly once again!

Check it out!

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The shelves still need some help…

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…but I’m a work in progress.

So, why the full moon edition? I have been a crab. It’s got to be the lunar pull…seriously.
And it’s not just me! I think everyone is feeling a little bit o’ crazy this week.

But… it brings me to my thirst for the week…a good mood.

I am seriously thirsting for my cheery disposition to come and relieve the crabby, stressed out Mamma that I’ve become.

And I can guarantee I’m not the only one who is thirsting for that!

How has the full moon impacted your life this week?

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Thirsty Thursday

Thirsty Thursday used to be when we’d go to a bar in college and drink horrible mixed drinks and the cheapest beer we could get.

Today, I’m just happy I managed to have a cup of coffee, at least 3 of my big tumblers of water, and 2 juices lovingly made by Jason. I’ve got another greenie waiting in the fridge, and if I’m lucky…there is a glass of red wine in my very near future.

But I’m still thirsty. I don’t know exactly what for, besides that glass of red – obviously. But there’s a lot. I think we’re all thirsty for things…that’s what drives us, or at least me, to do, to try, to achieve.

And, just like that, just now…The Perfectionista’s Thirsty Thursday was born!

It’s not really about drinking – although I will share when I find something particularly tasty – but it’s about things we thirst for. And by we, I mean me. But maybe you’re thirsty for that same goal, or maybe you’ll share your goal with the rest of us.

That would be cool, just like hanging out at Tequila Grill with a bunch of people we didn’t really know, but were connected to by collegiate thirstiness.

So my first thirst, because for once I’d like to focus on one thing at a time, is to be more organized. To do start a big spring clean and feel some zen. I should start smaller…

But first things first…

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What are you thirsty for this week?

All You Need is Love

It’s true. I think.

It doesn’t matter who you love, or who loves you…or what for that matter. Sometimes, it’s the snuggle of a four-legged friend that fills the need. A friend or a kind stranger. Or an iguana. A fish will do. But love and be loved, and the world will go round. And the world will be a better place for it, trust me.

I came to the sad realization that I haven’t posted in months. I have sensed something missing, and this is it. I love this blog, but I needed to take a break to be a better daughter and mom and wife. That break turned into a complete break in routine, and now I need it back.

Mom is doing quite well. God love Dana Farber. Her treatment ended right after Thanksgiving and she has the cutest hair again! (And at 66, she doesn’t need to color it either…even after chemo!)

The girls are good and back to normal now that mom’s better, and normal means their old antics…but it keeps us laughing about life!

The dogs are still causing a ruckus, but Larry is finally coming out of puppyhood and is totally lovable!

And the love of my life. He is amazing. He embraces every ounce of crazy that is the family he married into and the family we’ve built. He loves me, flaws and all, and even when we’re at our worst, I feel his love. We’re going to be celebrating our 10th anniversary next week, a little delayed, and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

But when we get back, I’m getting back into my routine.

Right now, I’m watching my littlest love at her gymnastics class. She can drive me batty, but she is a beautiful little snuggle bug and those dimples, OH those dimples. They are definitely her saving grace! But look at her! She, as unfocused as a 6 year old can be, is popping herself into a hand stand, graceful as a butterfly, and exactly unlike me. I love her to the moon and back. It’s the littlest things that remind us of the greatest.

I hope you feel love, and spread love.

Just love.

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Let’s Putt Out Cancer

Who couldn’t use a little more Putt Putt in their lives?

If I could have a little more putt putt and a lots less cancer in my life, I would be one very happy girl. And since I’m not one to sit around (although that would be nice every once and a while!) I’m going to make it happen.

Next week. Tuesday, July 31st. 7-9pm. Trombetta’s (655 Farm Road, Marlborough).

$25 gets you a round of mini golf, an ice cream sundae, and a stake in this fight against cancer. Everybody wants in when fighting the bad guys, right? So let’s stack the deck and pack the course on Tuesday night!

What? You can’t come on Tuesday? You or your business can be there because $100 gets you a Hole Sponsorship! A nice sign with your name on it, laminated, posted at the tee so everyone can note your support and generosity while they wait for the slow-pokes in front of them! Not to mention your name will be on the giveaways!

You can also donate an item for the drawing and be recognized that night as well!

All of the proceeds from Tuesday night support Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s research and patient care. I’m well on my way to meeting my aggressive goal for the Falmouth Road Race as part of the Dana-Farber team, and hopefully this event is proof that anything aggressive can be knocked out of the park! Don’t forget, you can always just give!

Space is filling up quickly, so if you’d like to reserve a spot for one or more, sponsor a hole, or donate an item, comment on this post and we’ll put you down! Post any questions here, too!

I want to thank Trombetta’s for hosting Putt Out Cancer, the Marlborough Patch (@MarlBPatch) for helping raise awareness, and The Vin Bin (@thevinbin) for being an early sponsor of this event!

Thank you to everyone for their support, and I hope to see you on the 31st!

An Untraditional Fourth

No cookout. No beach or lake. No kids or Jason, even. (That last one wasn’t fun.)

However, I had some freedom! I took the day (until 11pm, when I couldn’t stay away from my email any longer) to do stuff that I have needed/wanted to do for ages at the house!

I painted our master bath.  Lucky for me, its tiny, so I was done by early afternoon! (This is good. I’m an impatient painter…)

I was definitely done with blah.

And now…a beautiful blue! With cute little shelves!

 

I felt so accomplished, that after a quick lunch…we tackled the garage!

I know, that sounds exciting. Really. But when you consider that we moved in 4 years ago and can now use that bay for a car…its pretty darn exciting!!

Then, to wrap up my untraditional 4th, I had the most amazing dinner that Nonna cooked: goat chops, kale and chard with sausage, salad, broccoli, and jasmine rice. With some delightful red wine. Not a BBQ, but I couldn’t think of a better way to reward a hard day’s (not) work.

How did you celebrate our country’s birthday and your independence?

Running to Beat Cancer – Like a Perfectionista

I mean, how else would you do it?

Its been about 6 months, give or take, since I last posted. Shortly after I wrote about purple mac & cheese, our world was rocked by the news that my mom had breast cancer. For the girl who said she wasn’t going to wish time away in 2012, I find myself racing toward 2013.

Nonna is the strongest woman I know. She is our rock, always caring for everyone else, even when she’s the one who needs to chil-lax and be taken care of.

This is just a blip on the radar screen, a moment in time that we just need to wade through and get to the other side already. The other side is coming. Just. Need. Patience.

As expected, Mom is gliding through this with grace, good humor, and an amazing amount of calm for a control freak. She’s even got this fantabulous new hairstyle!

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But I couldn’t just sit around and wait.

I needed to do something.

Running, although finding the time is a bit harder now, helps me flush out the stress.

There had to be something more.

So I signed up to be part of the Dana-Farber Falmouth Road Race team. My goal is $4,250 and I’m a little more than 25% there!

Its not easy to get out and run all the time, but you can help me. Lord knows, I need help.

I made this Perfectionista Training Bracelet that I’m wearing until August 12th (race day!).

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Every time I look at it, I am reminded to get out and run.  More importantly, why I was crazy enough to do this in the first place. Don’t you want to be reminded why I’m so crazy?!?

Everyone who donates $50 or more here before August 1st will get one! You can be my training buddy without all the running – just wear it and I will feel your encouragement and support! How awesome is that?!?!

Have you ever had a reason greater than yourself to run? Have any words of wisdom for the Perfectionista?

Thank you!

Newsflash: The Perfectionista isn’t perfect. But she’s not going to quit trying to be her own kind of perfect…especially not now.  Hopefully I’ll post more often, cook more and share the recipes, and keep you completely up to speed with our adventures. But in the absence of an extra 7 hours a day, we’ll get what we get and we won’t get upset!

Purple Mac & Cheese? Aww yeah…

Yes, purple.  Well, kind of fuscia purple-ish…but close enough!

Let me start from the beginning – well, at least from yesterday morning.  Patti and I took an early morning drive to Cape Ann via Starbucks for our Misto and Latte. There are some things we can’t live without…

She invited me to run the Twin Lights Half Marathon with her from Gloucester to Rockport and back again this coming May, so we had to check out the course before training begins. Woo Hoo!  Now, first, that’s an honor because its scary to run with other people.  At least for me it is, and she asked me to do it with her. And second, I’m so excited because its going to be a blast!!! We get to do things we’ve both been trying to make a priority (running/a half marathon and spending time with our girlfriends) but have found it really hard to do.

On the way home, we stopped at the Wayland Winter Farmer’s Market at Russell’s and visited one of my favorites – Winter Moon Farm.  The farmer, Michael Doctor, is delightful, and his carrots are seriously the best I have ever tasted. AND – they come in different colors! Did you know there are yellow and purple carrots?!?!?

After some delish spontaneous shopping, we headed to Target and then home. All before 11:30!

So we headed to the girls’ basketball game, then a birthday party for one of Maddy’s friends, and finally home to make dinner. You know, a typical Saturday!

The girls wanted homemade Mac & Cheese. I wanted vegetables. And both girls wanted to try the purple carrots… how was this going to work? I’m a big fan of compromise, so we had both, and darn it – it was awesome. I mean, really, actually awesome!

In honor of the Epiphany, I present to you the Three Kings’ Royal Mac & Cheese ~

 

The following recipe is for a double batch!

Ingredients:

  • 2 packages whole wheat elbow pasta
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 2 leeks, rinsed well and sliced thin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 purple carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 1/2 C skim Milk, divided
  • 6 T Whole Grain Pastry Flour
  • 2 C low-fat (no salt added) cottage cheese
  • 3-4 C shredded cheese (I used Gruyere, Swiss and Fontina)
  • 1 package frozen peas
  • 2-3 T panko bread crumbs
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spray a large glass baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Heat olive oil in a saute pan, and add garlic, leeks and carrots.  Cook on med-high heat for 5-6 minutes until leeks are softened.
  3. Puree sauteed mixture in a blender or food processor until combined, and purple! Set aside.
  4. Prepare pasta as directed on package.
  5. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  6. In a medium saucepan, heat 3C of skim milk until steaming. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and remaining 1/2C milk until smooth.
  7. Pour flour mixture into heated milk, stirring/whisking constantly for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Add pureed carrots and leeks. Remove from heat.
  8. Add cheeses to milk and puree mixture, combine until smooth and a slightly lighter purple. Add salt and pepper to taste (not much!)
  9. Combine with pasta and add to prepared baking dish.  Top with panko crumbs, and bake at 450 for 25-30 minutes. (I like a bit longer so there are lots of crispy noodles!)
  10. Enjoy!!

This makes a TON, even for 6 of us, so it will make its first encore appearance in Maddy’s lunch tomorrow, at her request. Woot woot – that means it was good!!!

What is the strangest looking, yet totally delicious meal you’ve made recently?