Local Finds

Exploring In My Own Backyard

Growing up I used to see those “old people” who took walks at night and would think, “Oh that’s cute. Look they need to walk every night because they are old.” Now, in what seems to not be too many years later, I am that “old” person looking for new places to take a nightly walk. So yesterday even though it was a typical hot and humid July day, Sandy Hook seemed like the easy answer for a close-to-home place to walk and catch some of the ocean breeze.

Now openly, I love to explore new places. I like the anticipation for finding or experiencing something new. As beach badges and parking prices have risen across New Jersey, an annual National Park pass has become more and more appealing. Even though I go multiple times over the summer, I always feel like there is something new to explore and hidden gems to find.

I don’t always head down to the end of the island but this night I did. On the bay side there are all these quiet and hidden nooks and crannies for swimming, wadding, fishing or just escaping into nature.

Some quick facts about this Jersey National ParK:

  • The park is open 6 a.m. through 8 p.m. daily, except by permit.
  • There is a $20 charge per day for beach parking from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Parking at Fort Hancock is always free. Even better? You can snag an annual pass for $100. So fill the car with as many as you legally can!
  • The park actually intersects two states! Both New York and New Jersey intertwine and spreads over to Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
  • The park is home to the oldest surviving lighthouse in the country!
  • During the cold war the park the Nike Missiles guarded New York City!

There’s more than just the beach too! Check out what else you can do:

  • Sandy Hook Lighthouse: Tours offered between 1 pm through 4:30 pm. Tours are first-come first-serve.
  • Lighthouse Keepers Quarters and Visitor Center: Explore indoor exhibits about the importance of lighthouses.
  • Fort Hancock Post Museum: Explore indoor exhibits about this important army base and its role from the American Revolution to the Cold War.
  • History House: Explore a lieutenant’s quarters overlooking Sandy Hook Bay furnished to the World War II era.

So what’s in your own backyard that you have yet to explore? Where could you go that’s close to home and still a peaceful escape? A place you’ve been to before but never explored? A hidden treasure spot? I encourage you to find an hour to sneak away this week to explore and come back to share what you found!

*Before heading over to the park be sure to check out the website for any changes or updates in prices, time etc. You can get all the info HERE.

Children, LifewithEm

#LifewithEm

Me: Em come hang out with me.

Em: What do you mean? I’ve been home all day?

Me: But in your room, not with your mom!

Em: So what do you want to do?

Me: I don’t know, just hang out with me like we used to.

Em: Like we used to what? What did we do?

Me: I don’t know, like when we would hang out all the time. Like talk a walk with the dog.

Em: Mom we did that once.

Me: Twice.

Em: Ok twice. I don’t know what you mean I’m here all the time….I’m bored!!!!

I’m all to sadly aware the day has come when my daughter would rather hang out in her room on the phone with her friends than with her mom.

For all you mommas overwhelmed with littles…

tired..

covered in crap (throw up, spit up, mac and cheese, ketchup or whatever else)…

wishing for a break….

trying to hold it together…

giving YOURSELF timeouts in the bathroom…

waiting for the day they can wipe their own butt,

unbuckle their own car seat,

brush their own hair,

brush their own teeth,

fix their own meal,

tuck themselves in,

do their own homework (because let’s be real no one gets common core math),

and want to go somewhere just once without having to pay for a babysitter…..

I get it…

I felt that.

I miss that.

#growinguptofast

Cancer, Children, Making Cancer Fun, Uncategorized

An Emotional Day and a Great Big THANK YOU!

Today is an emotional and exciting day for me.  On January 2, 2017 I created a Go Fund Me page at the encouragement of some friends and after a lot of prayer.  See, I wanted to write this book. A book I felt God calling me to write, that I really didn’t want to write, but that I knew could help other families facing a childhood cancer diagnosis.

I was still broke and trying to get back on my feet after 6 years going through a domestic violence divorce, Emily’s cancer, and a move across the country to be closer to family. I was rebuilding my business, living paycheck to paycheck, and while I had enough money to cover my bills, I didn’t have the thousands of dollars it was going to take to publish a book.  See, I didn’t just want a book. I wanted one that was beautiful to look at and read, one that had pictures of our journey, and would inspire hope in the reader’s heart. I was going to need an editor, a graphic artist, buy an ISBN number and purchase initial copies to give out.  

We raised almost $4,000 and one of the first people who donated was my daughter’s surgeon. I cried.  People believed in my vision.

Many, many, many people encouraged me to start a nonprofit instead.  I knew that was not God’s plan for me.  See, there’s already a teeny tiny pot of money available for the childhood cancer world. I didn’t want to be sticking my hand in there too. I wanted to be giving to that pot instead. I knew companies like Amazon, Apple and Disney were able to make huge contributions to those very nonprofits because of their businesses. I wanted to be able to do that too. I started by doing lots of Buy one Donate one events and donating books to families and hospitals. I committed to donating a portion of the proceeds from MCF book sales to support nonprofits that make cancer fun for children and their families. 

Now Making Cancer Fun isn’t Amazon or Apple (yet!)  but today marks a significant day. Today marks the day I can give my first real donation. And I am so excited about the nonprofit chosen.

Out of Zion is a free creative arts program for children with medical and special needs. Kosj and Jaymi created this program in honor of their beautiful son Zion, who fought an aggressive brain tumor for one year before crossing over to be with his Creator. Zion loved music and creative arts, always singing along, dancing and exploring any instrument he could get his hands on. Out of Zion was born out of a calling on their family to extend the love, joy and faith that their son embodied. Kosj and Jaymi know first hand what it is like to have a child facing a difficult diagnosis and medical treatment. Their desire is to create a joyful and supportive environment for children and their families who are fighting similar battles while carrying on Zion’s legacy. Through Out of Zion,  Zion continues to inspire and bring hope to children, parents and entire families who need it the most.

Now many of you might not know, but my background is in theatre. At three I wanted to be a ballerina. When I hit 5’8″ at thirteen I decided instead I wanted to be an actress. I went to college, majored in Drama and my first job out of college was with a touring children’s theater.  Out of Zion combines my two loves: making cancer fun for kids and the arts. I can think of no better way to honor God (who I believe was preparing me for making cancer fun from that very first improvisation class) then to support a beautiful, impactful organization, and a family that stands for everything I believe in.

So whether you have purchased my book, shared a post, left a review, or just prayed for me along the way, THANK YOU. Thank you for believing in me and my vision, Thank you for believing FUN is a viable and important coping skill. Thank you for being part of this journey.

This is just the beginning. I have a second exciting product coming out (hopefully this spring!) and it is my prayer each new product will bring more revenue to give back bigger and bigger each time, supporting lots of nonprofits along the way.

So while $300 may not seem like much, for me it’s huge. Like Confucius said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”  This is my small stone.

PS Here’s a peak at the work they do:

choice, coping, covid19, divorce, Quarantine, Uncategorized

Fear, Choice and Death

Ever have somebody want to kill you? I mean actually plan and plot and tell your daughter how they were going to do it?  Someone who made it their mission to destroy you. Now imagine walking around every day knowing that there was someone out there who’s sole desire was to kill you.  

I remember they day I made the choice.  I had spent months walking around in fear of my soon-to-be-ex husband. Constantly looking over my shoulder. Unable to sleep because of every creak and squeak in the dark.  And one day I decided to stop.  I decided I had already given eight years of my life to someone who didn’t deserve them.  I wasn’t going to give one more day.  I understood the reality. “Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship,” the Domestic Violence Intervention Program reports. I was taking a risk by leaving. I was taking a bigger risk by staying.  I was tired of being afraid. Tired of giving control to someone who had been controlling me for 8 years. I wanted my control back. And that day I took it.  If I was going to die, I was going to die without giving  him one more day, one more minute, or one more second of my life. I choose to let go of fear and trust my fate.

I never looked back.

Twelve years later I realize what a defining moment that was for me and how it would affect my life and my choices forever.

This morning I woke up to a headline that read, “US Reported More than 10,000 Covid-19 Deaths in Four Days.”  Crap, that’s a lot of people.  That sounds scary. So, I ran the numbers.

  • 14,400,000 have had a positive COVID-19 diagnosis
  • 279,000 have died
  • .019 % of people diagnosed have died
  • We have 331,000,000 million people in America
  • Only .043 % of the population has had COVID-19

Ok Tara, back into your rational brain.  Take a deep breath and repeat, “I will not be afraid.”

I know that’s easy to say when I’m not a nurse or doctor overworked, exhausted and surrounded by death. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not one of the 279,000 families that are celebrating Christmas this year without someone they love. I know that’s easy to say when I’m not over 65 and that stat doesn’t apply to me.

My mom and I argue on this. She’s afraid to leave the house. I get it, she’s 74.   So far she’s missed all 3 grandkids birthdays, Mother’s day, her birthday, my birthday, my brother’s birthday, our Annual 4th of July BBQ, a trip to Cali to see my brother, Halloween with her grandkids, her annual Vermont trip, and Thanksgiving. Well not completely missed, if you count the occasional outdoor social distancing visit where we have sat 20 feet part and passed cake through an elaborate system of who touched it last.

I’m hearing about nursing homes that are in full shut down mode. We have a close family friend in one. I asked my mom if I could send her an Advent gift. Her year has been even harder than my mom’s because she doesn’t get to do backyard 20 feet apart distancing dates.  I figured an Advent calendar that gave her a fun gift to open might give her something to look forward to each day. My mom said no packages are allowed in. Apparently, I have more access to a local inmate than my grandma-by-choice.

I try to think how I would feel if situations were reversed. If that was me. I wonder if I was at an age where I might already be celebrating my last holidays, what would I want to do?  It leads to me to the ultimate question: is life about living or about being alive?  I mean, what’s the point of being alive if I’m living in a paid Medicare version of jail?

I’m reminded that fear is unbiblical. (Isaiah  41:10, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, Philippians 4:6-7, just for starters)

Common sense is biblical.  God says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV 2 Timothy 1:7) and a personal favorite when I feel my thoughts running wild.

So where is the line?  I mean, even after I decided I wouldn’t let fear of my ex rule my life, I was still cautious. I kept my alarm system on.  Parked in my garage so no one knew I was home. Stayed off posting where I was on social media (something to this day I am still aware of, and will often post only after I leave a location) and that’s just for starters. I didn’t just say, “Well I’m not afraid and so I’ll walk down the train tracks with the train coming!” (Back to that whole “sound mind” thing.)

I still don’t want to eat inside a restaurant and my daughter thinks it’s crazy.

I admit, I still wash all my groceries which I also know the “experts” are saying we really don’t have to do anymore, but for some reason it makes me feel better thinking of all those people who touch my  food.

Neckgators make me nervous because they are COVID sieves and might be the equivalent of wearing nothing.  Like everything concerning COVID-19, the data on this changes weekly.

And I may or may not be the person who complained at Physical Therapy because no one was properly wearing a mask, including the receptionist who took her’s off completely to walk around prompting everyone else to think it was fine to do the same. And I may or may not now book my appointments at the end of the day so I am usually the only one there and the receptionist who was reprimanded after my complaining is gone for the day. (I have been warned by caring friends…if she ever offers me a coffee I should politely decline.)

With all of this though, I know that I won’t see my mom.  God forbid I am the one who unknowingly gives her COVID and she dies. My sister would never, and I mean never, forgive me.  Openly, I think my mom has a high likelihood of dying from COIVD. Not because of her age or because she has zero underlying health conditions and is probably healthier than I am, but simply because she believes it will kill her.  What we believe is powerful.  What we fear is more powerful. ( Job 3:25) And science proves to us fear destroys the immune system. So yeah, I’m not gonna be the one who kills off mom.

But it still hurts my heart.  Not just for my mom but for our country.

I think of the long-term financial devastation for small business owners. Restaurants that are closing, families that are behind on their mortgage, rent payments and utility payments.

I think of the child who just shot himself on a live zoom class during virtual school.  I guess school shootings still happen even if you’re remote.

I think of the vendors who rely on the holiday selling season for their craft shows which have been canceled. Those people who lost their income to Amazon and Cyber Monday.

I think of all the nonprofits who rely on 5K’s and in person Gala’s to raise money for very important causes in our country, ones that affect more than .019%.

I think it’ll be a few years before we see the mass financial devastation our choices have caused.

And I wonder if it’s worth it for .019%?

I know it’s worth it to the almost 300,000 families who lost family members. It matters to them.

But it also matters to the families of the 10,000 children that die every day from starvation. (Everyday. That’s 40,000 in four days.) Nobody has invested $9 billion dollars in the last eight months to change that. But, I guess that’s because the majority of those children we don’t know and they’re a different color.

I guess it matters of the families of the of the 261 alcoholics that die every day.  But on election night, “Where is the nearest liquor store” was the number one searched  Google term.

I bet it matters to the 97,966 business owners and all their employees who (as of Sept 2020) have permanently closed their businesses. An according to Kevin Kuhlman, VP of the National Federation of Independent Business,  “If economic trends continue at this rate, one in five business owner anticipates they won’t be able to make it until the end of the year.”  That’s a lot of employees out of work and a lot of money relocated to a handful of large corporations as consumers take their shopping elsewhere.

I think the biggest thing this virus should cause us to do is stop and think. Think about our choices, the way we go through life, the way we treat other people and just what we prioritize.

Just like my ex-husband, I don’t know if COVID will take my life, but I do know that it won’t take my peace. I do know I won’t let it control me with fear. Regardless if I live or die, I will not be afraid.

The choice is ours.  


Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Uncategorized

Your Energy is Giving ME Anxiety.

My anxiety is getting worse. I’m calling it anxiety but openly, I’m not 100% sure if that’s exactly what it is. It starts to feel like a combination of anger, impatience, wanting to throw something and wanting to cry all at the same time.  It’s bizarre.  And while the glass of wine helps (doctor’s orders remember?) this morning at 7am when I was dropping my daughter off at school, even I couldn’t justify day drinking with the, “Well it’s 5 o’clock somewhere” excuse.

So now I’m sitting on my couch with my heart pounding wanting to yell at someone and wondering if I should go back to bed, try some meditation, or  just run around the block. Since I don’t run, I’ve settled just on typing. I know journaling was one of the things that kept me sane in the hospital with Em.  A stream of consciousness running from my heart to my head out of my fingers onto a keyboard in many ways has been better than all the years of therapy I’ve been to. (Apologies to my former therapists). Maybe writing will unearth some deep revelation or “Ah ha!” moment which will cause this anxious feeling to disappear in a puff of smoke.

Instead, the bunny just starting to rattle his pen and now my heart is beating even faster. Great.

Last night I kept thinking maybe my body is telling me something and I’m just not listening? Maybe it’s having to talk louder and louder and now at it’s at a point of screaming and that’s what I’ve been feeling? I mean, I am a spiritual being before I am a physical one (one of my favorite quotes is: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”) Maybe this feeling of rage/impatience/exasperation that I’m calling “anxiety” is just my body’s attempt to communicate? 

What’s strange, is this seems to have come out of nowhere.  In which case I feel forced to ask myself….well what’s changed? 

I wonder. I stopped going to yoga because of my knee issues (started PT this week).  So maybe it’s the lack of exercise?

Fall is my least favorite time of year, knowing that winter is mocking me and hiding around the corner. So maybe that’s it? But truth be told, it’s been hot and sunny here in NJ and it’s November.  I mean this morning on our drive to school I wore a t-shirt during an hour that’s normally freezing out. I even ate outside both Saturday and Sunday last weekend because it was so gorgeous. I think back to growing up as a child in NJ and how by Halloween I was often torn between wearing a snowsuit and my costume because it was friggin’ freezing.  Even as a child, I hated the cold and would more often choose the snowsuit. My mom used to try layering me with multiple layers under my costume in an attempt to keep me warm, which didn’t really help, and only resulted with me moving in a slow motion fashion like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  So even though I’m not a scientist, I’m pretty sure they are right about this whole global warming thing. (And then I secretly feel guilty because my laying on my deck basking in the sun is really because my grandchildren’s future planet is slowly dying.)

I can’t really blame fall this year.

So what else has changed?

I had an unfriending this week. If you follow me on Facebook you heard the news. I removed someone who was constantly attacking my faith and labeling me as a “Conservative” and a “Republican” (which in today’s climate, is basically like using words that years ago might have left you with soap in your mouth for such profanity).  Ironically, I’ve always been a registered Independent. I also arbore labels because it assumes we know everything someone believes, thinks, or feels.  Liberal? Oh, you must be one step away from a Communist.  Conservative? You must be picketing Planned Parenthood and throwing Bibles at people’s faces.  So before going down a long political tirade ….. I’ll simply say it was hard for me to set that unfriending boundary. It was hard to say, “Wow, even though we disagree we can’t agree to disagree”. It was hard to say, “I’m sorry you can’t talk to me like that.” (Then wonder, was I really sorry or just pissed?) It was hard to see a 15-year friendship be gone with a click on my laptop.  But mostly it made me so sad to realize someone I had been friends with – good friends with – was constantly so triggered by me. I mean, once I posted a selfie in my living room and you could see a cross hanging on the wall behind me and he just had to make a disparaging comment about my faith.  Strangely I, the Christian, didn’t even notice the cross in the photo until he pointed it out. I found it odd that the cross is what stood out to him the most. As if his eyes were drawn to the sign of Jesus. Then that just started me wondering all about what his spirit was really trying to tell him…not me.  But that’s another post.

Yet, I don’t think the unfriending has caused my heart palpitations because these started before last week.  So I’m brought back to…. what else is different?

I’m working differently. I live on zoom now. I love it because it has proven to me I can have complete and totally freedom to travel, live and work wherever I want.  The flip side is, thanks to COVID and this bondage called Emily’s high school, I don’t actually get to travel, live and work wherever I want.  One of my BFF’s just got a swanky RV.  Correction, her husband got a swanky RV. She’s still not sold on it. I’m drooling over her new found freedom of the road. I mean, she now can literally pick up and go anywhere she wants simply with one foot to the gas!  But, like me, she is also bound to school and her husband’s M-F 9-5 job so yeah, it’s more like a mockery of freedom that she might use a few times a year. (Which I think she is 100% aware of but her husband is still in blissful denial). So, I think I might do an under/over on how much this RV is actually used and then maybe won’t be so jealous after all.

So what else is different? (See how I keep asking myself that?) Trying to dig deeper to the bottom of this. 

My daughter’s grades. Ugh, that is a tough one. She is struggling in high school.  I know this could be a late effect as a childhood cancer survivor, but it’s never been an issue until this year. And, like everything with childhood cancer survivors, you never know if “that’s the reason.”  I mean, it also could be that since she is a proficient lip reader maybe the zooms and masks aren’t working as well as she thinks they are.  (Afterall, you don’t know what you didn’t hear. It’s not like you can say, “Hey that thing I didn’t even know you said because I didn’t hear it, can you repeat that?”)  Or maybe it is virtually schooling, and only being in school 4 hours a day and only live in person 10 days a month, just really isn’t working. Maybe if COVID never hit she would be doing just fine.  Or maybe, it’s because she missed 10 days in the first semester for doctors’ appointments and surgery and it was just too much, to soon and it set her back. Or maybe, it’s because I pushed her into honors classes and a level 3 Spanish class because I thought she could handle it because that’s what I did (ok not the level 3 Spanish – I actually failed French my freshman year but shhh….don’t tell her that).  Maybe I am trying to make her into the student I was and not accepting the student she is. And maybe I need to let her find her own way. She is responsible and does want good grades and maybe “regular classes” and not honors classes are ok.  Maybe I’ve being sucked into the cultural lie that an honor student bumper sticker actually means anything more than a parent feeling like they got a gold start in parenting, when really that honor student still might drop out of college or move to Oregon where now after Jan 1st meth was just decriminalized.  Or maybe it really is a late effect of chemo. 

The truth is I don’t know, I’ll never know, and I need to find a better way to support her. Support her more like someone I was coaching instead of just getting frustrated she doesn’t openly and joyfully embrace all my scholarly knowledge on how to be an “A” student.  Or maybe, it’s just because she’s on Tic Tock too much (my personal nemesis) and is short circuiting her brain with scrolling (an actual real possibility and much more toxic than chemo). And maybe that’s all my fault because I don’t enforce those Unglue apps or put strict time limits on her phone or change the Wi-Fi every day and make her do chores to earn screen time like all the Karen’s in the world probably do.  So maybe my anxiety is because I feel deeply responsible that I am failing her as a parent and my free-wheeling, non-structured lifestyle has doomed her for a life of struggle and failure.  (Although I also believe if you asked my daughter if she had a “free-wheeling relaxed mom” she would probably laugh in your face.)

Maybe my anxiety is coming from the list of worries I have running through my head 24/27.  Like:

  • My daughter’s hospital just informed us on 10/30 that starting 11/1 our insurance is no longer accepted there. That means all 9 specialty doctors are dropped. Yup.  I have to deal with that. Started making calls yesterday. I keep asking the universe, “What’s the good that will come out of this?” I’ll let you know if I ever get an answer to that one.
  • I need to get us new cell phones. Yup, less then 6 months after I just paid off our current cell phones and am reveling in the $50 a month cheaper phone bill, her’s is glitching and mine is heating up like a Duraflame.  Funny how that works. It’s not the money even that is stressing me. It’s the having to call, go through a bunch of robot prompts, talk to a customer service person, find out what our options are for upgrades, compare plans and then maybe make 2-3 more similar calls to see if that’s the best deal that has me stressed. I would love to be a Kardashian and just be like. “Hey I’ll post a pic of me holding the new iPhone 12 on IG and I’d like new ones for my entire family for free. Great thanks!
  • The dog needs her checkup, Em needs two cavities filled (her first) and I need to book my 6 month ultra-sound (apparently my boobs like to be checked every 6 months because once a year isn’t enough for them). 
  • There is a giant bin in my office that needs to go to the consignment store.  And it’s going to be a pain in the ass to drag down the stairs and get in the car. And the consignment store lady isn’t all that nice to begin with. So maybe I should just drop it all off at the Salvation Army. But then, I feel like I’m throwing money away. And then I wonder if that bit of cash is worth my sanity.  It’s a toss up right now.
  • I have a list of things that need to get done between my two businesses which I honestly know one person will never be able to do on their own even if I did actually grow up convinced (and trying to convince everyone else) I was secretly Wonder Woman.
  • Oh and I need to cook dinner….again. Turns out as an adult you have to do that every night. Yeah, no one tells you that horror story growing up.

Finally, I wonder if maybe it’s something bigger than me. Maybe my body is just feeling all the anxious anger in the world right now.  Maybe it’s like a tuning fork (I mean after all, we are just lots of tiny spinning bundles of energy) and I’m being affected by the worldwide vibrations of election angst, anger and hate.  Energy which is so out of alignment of who I am and what I value, that my body is fighting against it and causing these feelings of panic and stress. I wonder what would be different if I just allowed that energy to move through me. Not stay with me, but just let it flow like a river passing through and continuing on it’s journey downstream. Maybe it’s the fighting, the resistance, that’s causing the anxiety.  It’s strange to think maybe I am feeling the whole world’s pain.

Ok I know I just lost a bunch of people right there. That’s a little far out even for me. But is it? I mean science tell us we truly are just energy. And if you believe you have a spirit too and all spirits come from one source (God)  then we all are connected. Quantum physics is teaching us more and more about this every day.  It fascinates me.  So maybe while I have been attempting to live in my own ignorant blissful pink bubble, I have failed to acknowledge I am affected by the world around me.  I know it’s becoming hard for me to watch the news. Any news. I start to feel like I’m being manipulated on what to think and how to feel. I also feel like I’m choosing sides just choosing which station to watch. No matter what the final election results show, one this is clear. We are deeply, deeply, divided. There was no red or blue sweep.  There will be tens of millions of disappointed and angry people regardless of the outcome. Almost a 50/50 split that is shocking I think to everyone on both sides. That’s a lot of energy. That’s a lot of vibrations. Maybe that’s why my body feels like it’s being hit with electric shock therapy.

So if that’s truly the deeper reason for my anxiety what is there to do? I guess the only thing I know to do. Connect with a higher vibration. Connect with God. Maybe not going to church every week (I stopped when COVID started) has been like a slow power drain. I was charged up enough to last the first few months but over time my battery life has gotten shorter and shorter until now when it’s completely drained.  My own energy source is so weak that everyone else’s energy is overtaking me.

It’s a strange image in my head.  I feel and see myself differently when I am filled with the Holy Spirit and fully connected to God. I picture myself as a bright glowing body of energy. Shinning so brightly that whatever other energy tries to get into my space is drowned out by the brightness of God through me.  Yet, without that energy source I picture myself hollow, open and vulnerable to everything and everyone else around me. Being tossed about like an empty glass bottle at sea. At the mercy of the wind and the waves around me.

So maybe I’ll try that. I’ll try praying and meditating every day and filling myself back up and seeing if that changes how I feel. I mean, I expect it will help (there’s lots of medical research to show a strong correlation between meditation and a reduction in anxiety) but I’m more curious in how much will it help. Enough to really experience a daily difference? Enough to not need to self-medicate with wine? Enough that Emily would see a difference? (Now that would be the true test!)

I’m not sure, but like any good Christian, I’m ready to do some good ol’ fashion scientific research.  I’ll report back and let you know!

*and see, journaling was better than day drinking…cheers!

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

coping, Quarantine, Uncategorized

I Might Not Be Motivated Anymore

I feel like when I was younger it was easier to be motivated. I secretly wonder if other “‘grown ups” feel this way or if it’s just me. Sometimes, I think maybe I just “used up” all my motivation in my twenties simply getting through the complete chaos of my life at that time. Like, maybe we are born with a certain amount of motivation and over time we deplete it like the gas gauge in our cars and after a while we just run on empty until we come to a puff-puff and stop.

It’s funny, because I have spent over two decades coaching hundreds of women and I hear it over and over again, ”I don’t feel motivated and I just don’t know why!”  So that makes me think maybe it’s not just me. Women who are stuck in a rut, wanting to change, but finding themselves procrastinating, and avoiding doing the actual work that is required for change.  Over the years I’ve watched big dreams and goals die simply because the dreamer was waiting to, “feel motivated.” 

Unfortunately, I get it. As I’m writing this I am remembering I promised one of my favorite nurses I would do a video for her (God I hope she’s not reading this) and literally every day I say, “Em we have to do that video!” It’s a month later and alas no video.

I also have a desk I want to repaint. It’s my grandfather’s, one of the bigger projects in my “redecorate my home saga” and I keep avoiding it. Because truth be told, having to pick out a “light shade of gray paint” starts to bring on an anxiety attack simply because we all know there is at least 50 shades of gray and probably more like 50,000 shades of gray according to Lowes.

I could go on and fill up this whole page with a list of things I’m “planning” on doing as soon as I start to get going to get motivated….

In my head, I know this stems from a basic misunderstanding of motivation.  In my work life, I have found motivation always follows action.  Sure, we might be briefly motivated by an inspiring speaker, a hyped up video or a mind shifting book, but those tend to be fleeting temporary moments of motivation. Only when we start in action and see results, does motivation last.  It’s like this crazy diet I’m doing. I’m not motivated to eat a salad for lunch or drive 20 minutes to my yoga class.  Sure, I want to lose weight and fit back into my jeans, but when that donut is calling my name and it’s raining outside motivation is hiding warmly tucked into my covers exactly where I want to be. It’s only when I put on those skinny jeans after weeks of calorie counting, it’s only after I can do a perfect one armed plank and I see tangible results from my actions that I get a deep lasting motivation… and think, “Hey this is worth it!” (Ok let’s be real. I’m still trying to master a 20 second plank with two arms much less one…but one can dream….)

I was recently asked how to “get motivated.” So here’s what I came up with based on what I see works in business.

  • Choose one small action that you can do in the next 24 hours that would take a tiny step in the direction you want to go.
  • Choose to do just one small action each day for five days without concern for the results or the feelings. Just the action.
  • Start with the end in mind. Think about where you ultimately want to end up. Break that down into small realistic steps and commit to 90 days of action only towards this goal.  You can change anything in 90 days if you stick with it.

So I guess it’s time to take my own advice and find one small project I want to complete and take one small action each day towards this. Which brings me back to procrastination…I mean I have a gazillion projects which one am I motivated to do first? So if I have to choose just one I’ll choose getting Making Cancer Fun ready for our next product launch because openly it feels 100% overwhelming.

So here’s to hoping if I commit to just the action, then maybe, just maybe, I might feel motivated after all….

* I’d love to hear your thoughts on this? Anything you are feeling unmotivated about too?*

PS if you want an updated on the Gigglers, they are back this weekend and this is the current conversation at my kitchen table while I’m writing.

Giggler 1: Do you know how much personal shoppers get paid? $70K! That’s like $18K more than teachers. We need to ditch the teacher idea and become shoppers!

Giggler 2 : I have a better idea let’s still be teachers and then be personal shoppers on the weekends!

Giggler 1: Or ice cream testers ,we can make $60K a year.

Giggler 2: That’s not a lot of money.

Giggler 1: Yes it is!

Giggler 2: No it’s not. Your house is probably like $300K (side note how does she know what houses costs?) It’s not a lot of money. But it depends where you live (and then goes on to explain housing costs and salaries nation wide….. ok confession giggler #2 is my giggler….)

Other ideas they are actively considering:

  • food stylists
  • ice cream testers
  • water slide testers
  • panda mommies
  • professional bridesmaid (apparently you get paid $1K a wedding)
  • Private Island Caretaker ($150K a year)

*UPDATE* They have decided on a professional bed warmer. ($200K a year) to take naps in other people’s beds.

And in other news I now may be changing careers…..

Photo by Zhang Kenny on Unsplash

Children, diet, Uncategorized

Giggles, Diets and My “New” Medication

There are teenagers running all over my house. They are loud. A teenage girl giggle is apparently one of the loudest sounds on the planet breaking all sound barriers. It’s also more contagious than COIVD19. Once one shriek is heard expect others to follow.

I was trying to sleep last night. I kept getting woken up. I believe at once point I literally shouted downstairs, “I can hear your entire conversation, be quiet!” 

Emily yelled back, “Wait, you can hear what we’re saying??

 “YES I CAN!” I may have screamed back.

Ok, so I couldn’t really hear exactly what they were saying but I figured if she thought I could she would quiet down simply out of, “I don’t want my mom to hear us” since it clearly wasn’t out of, “I don’t’ want to keep my mom awake.

I am happy she is happy and that my house is filled with teenage giggles. I’m glad she has great friends who have great parents who have great values. I’m glad she wants them all over here to hang out and take over my house. Too soon it will be quiet and those giggles will be filling dorm rooms instead of her bedroom.

I also have to admit I am super cranky.  Recently, a lot super cranky.  (Emily will attest to this.) In case you haven’t heard I am on a diet. You can call it whatever you want, “Getting healthy,” “Creating healthy habits,” “Getting fit” or whatever other sad-attempt-to-put-a- positive-spin-on-it you can think of, but just remember the word is actually just DIE with a “T” attached.  I have lost over 10 pounds and a total of 6 inches in 6 weeks.  Today, I put on a pair of jeans I haven’t worn in a year. (Ok it is 2020, has anyone really worn jeans this year?)

This also means I am not self-soothing myself with Entenmann’s donuts and Oreos. I have had to come face to face with the fact that chocolate really is my self-medication and makes me feel better when I eat it. In the past I have joked that Oreos are my crack, however this is no longer a joking matter. I actually had to make an appointment with my doctor because my anxiety is through the roof.

I calmly explained that while I have suffered from anxiety in the past, it has always been caused by a specific reason.  (I mean being stalked by your ex and keeping a stage 4 kid with cancer alive feels like it should come with a free anxiety pass.) But now I am safe and my daughter is happy (hence the giggles at 2am) so why am I finding myself snapping and panicky? It’s bizarre and I can’t figure it out in my head. Things that don’t make sense in my head then … cause me more anxiety.  (Like how that works?) I have been told I am an overthinker and only recently learned not every talks to themselves in their heads.  I can’t even imagine going through life as one of these bizarre non-self-talking mutant-humans. (You can learn more about this strange phenomena HERE.)

Then, of course,  I tell myself to, “Get it together!”  I lovingly question myself with, “What the heck is wrong with you!!!” And finally blame myself with, “If you had a better routine, worked out more, meditated, or were more organized” you wouldn’t have this “problem.” All of which just seems to increase my anxiety.

My doctor thinks it’s my diet.  Now, instead of stopping at Wawa on my way home to literally soothe myself with the delicious smoothness of a perfectly crack-high inducing donut, I am snapping and hyperventilating.

So, it seems my choice is fat and happy or skinny and cranky?  She suggests I drink a glass of wine at night.  Yup, that is my prescription. She’s been my doctor for years. She says anything she gives me will have way worse side effects than a glass of wine. And, since I don’t have an addictive personality (maybe I haven’t been 100% upfront about my donut issues) she feels it’s the “safest” way to go.  If I start drinking a bottle a night that’s a different story. (I think about sophomore year health class and learning how all smokers start smoking just “one” cigarette.,.. but decide not to bring that up.)  I was married to an alcoholic so I am definitely leery although somewhat excited (?) about my new “medication.”

I have decided it’s more fun getting fat. I like margarita’s, donuts and anything covered in cheese. It’s less fun getting fit. I don’t enjoy working out, drinking water like it’s …well water, and measuring my cheese so I can log it in an app.  “Why God? Why did you make it that way?????”  I am angry and resentful of this “the way the world works” knowledge.

It’s Saturday night and I’m typing this in my office (yes it’s 24 hours later and there’s still squeals of giggles coming from the other room … only now with “new” gigglers added” ). I just picked up pizza, salad and poppers for the gigglers. I was upfront with them. I’ll feed you dinner I just won’t cook it….what do you want? (Don’t worry, I have long ago given up on that pre-child fantasy about being the Pinterest mom who has an adorable Halloween themed Saturday night dinner planned for the giggler and her friends…that mom probably drinks way more than a glass….or at least that’s what my jealous judgment thinking rationalizes.)

I cut a tiny slice in half and savored every bite.  Pre-DIEt I would have had 2 slices. My sad half slice will have to do if I want to keep wearing these jeans.

Then, that horrible voice which must truly be from Satan himself starts up:

Do you really want to wear these jeans Tara? I mean COVID cases are going up and there’s a more than 50% chance you’ll be in full lock down again soon and wearing yoga pants and no one will see you anyway because zoom is from the waste up afterall…

Then I remember these last six weeks and how gooooood it felt today to put on these jeans… and I sulk away with my pathetic half slice and a mason JUG full of water.

I already drank my glass of wine too so no luck there.

I hear it has been said, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”…apparently that person never had an Entenmann’s donut. 

Here’s to being the skinniest anxiety ridden person you know. Cheers.  

PS Literally as I am trying to post this the gigglers have just intruded and taken over my office and are planning a fashion show in the pile of dresses I have set out for donation/consignment. I am equally grateful they want to hang out with me and confused on how such small humans can make so much noise.

Home Redecorating, Quarantine, Uncategorized

Stairs and Self Esteem

In my quest to “decorate” my home I started with the stairs. They seemed less intimidating. I mean, everything else involved multiple steps (kitchen counters need kitchen floors, dining room chairs need to match living room and involved way to many options that gave me a headache). Stairs? I can handle stairs.  They were also horribly disgusting and scuffed. So my choice was to paint them and just watch them get scuffed again…which ok, how do stairs actually get scuffed to begin with? It’s not like I’m kicking them as I walk up them. I don’t have a toddler coloring on them.  It’s like socks missing in the dryer…how does this actually happen???

Anyway, I saw some place (a place I wish I could now give credit) an easy stair fix that involved ZERO paint. Stair wallpaper!  Or at least that’s what it looks like to me.

I read a bunch of reviews. Funny how those work.  The same item has a five star review and a one star review. Again, like the socks and the scuffs, how is that possible?  Since Amazon and I have become BFF’s this COVID19 year, I searched for a few different patterns and found one that seemed to have more fives than ones so ….winner winner chicken dinner! (You can view the winner HERE.)

Seemed easy enough. Count the stairs. Six rolls per package and twelve stairs. PERFECTION.

Whole project took about an hour (maybe more, but that’s because I got bored half way through and finished them later). I’m learning this about myself. I like the idea of re-doing things but then the actual re-doing becomes tedious and boring after about 15 minutes. I expected it to be the opposite. That I would experience a meditative – disconnect from technology hour of joy. I pictured a very zen like stair- papering experience. Not…even…close. The only zen thoughts I had were, “How fast can I get this done, just get through this because I’ll be happy when it’s finished.”

Anyway, I cleaned all the stairs with straight rubbing alcohol and used scissors (which actually worked better than a straight edge) to cut and stick. (Yup, they are basically giant stickers!)

Super easy, and as I was laying on the last one…Taa Daaaaa….crap!  Apparently twelve stairs actually translates into thirteen steppy-ledgy-things (have no idea what they’re called). I was ONE SHORT!  So my cheap-o project now meant I needed to buy a whole other set for one stupid stair thingy.  Ugh!  (Ok so it’s like $19 bucks but still …)

I also saw on the reviews that when people bought packages in separate orders (yes it appears many people make exactly the same mistake) the second order colors don’t always match the first (I blame China).

I briefly contemplated just painting the bottom step white.  I also briefly berated myself that I didn’t place them out first because then I could have just painted the most inconspicuous step white.  And finally, I acknowledged that every time I saw this white painted step it would slowly destroy myself esteem because it would be a constant reminder that nothing in my life is perfect, finished, or looks the way I want.

Off to Amazon’s BUY NOW button I went.

And guess what? The colors matched PERFECTY! And even better? I posted the remaining five strips on Facebook marketplace for $12 and they sold in a hot second. So that second stair really only cost seven bucks and made someone else happy at the same time.

And now, every time I see them I think how they are perfect, finished and look exactly the way I want.

The Scuffy Before
Boredom Sets In
The Finished Project
Uncategorized

I Guess It’s Time To Decorate

I’ve been living in my home for almost nine years and have refused to decorate it. This was not a conscious decision, but a deep subconscious rebellion born out of ressentiment about my living situation.

It started because of the home I had in Colorado that I loved. I bought it in 2004, all on my own, at 27 years old.  I loved my neighbors, had visions of filling that home with a family, and goals of remodeling it just the way I wanted.  Then life laughed at my dream and ten years later I found myself a single mom, living in an apartment, raising my daughter and trying to understand how this was my, “new normal” long before that became a 2020 catch phrase.  The irony of it all, was that before my daughter was born, my then husband wanted to wait before buying a house. He was content to have a baby in our apartment. I mean we did have the room. Three large bedrooms, a great community with multiple pools, a clubhouse etc. But I was adamant I would never, and I mean never, raise my child in an apartment! Kids need a backyard. A place to lay in the grass and connect with nature. A real home! Now I live on a third story apartment and my deck overlooks a cement parking lot. So much for nature.

Truth be told, it’s not a bad apartment. It’s two floors, three bedrooms, and two bathrooms. I have a nice size home office, my daughter has her own room, and it even has a large attic stuffed with all the things that in my mind should be in a “real” house.

I moved here quickly at the advice of my attorney and daughter’s therapist. I had no desire to ever leave Colorado. I literally sat on the shower floor and cried my eyes out the night before I left. I pathetically crawled out of the shower sopping wet, crawled across the floor into bed and sobbed, and I mean sobbed, myself to sleep. Yet, I had prayed about it. I knew deep in my Spirit God was calling me back to New Jersey. And once he spoke boldly into my heart, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that’s what I needed to do. Unfortunately, that deep knowing didn’t change the anger and sadness that filled me.  So rather than end up in the belly of whale like Jonah, I listened to God the first time, and moved. Resentfully, angerly, sadly, heartbrokenly and all the other -lys.

So it turns out, in some unconscious childlike-rebellion, I never decorated my home.  Initially, my plan was to move into an apartment for a year, establish my residency and finally finish the ongoing court battle with my ex-husband. I was still living in the midst of my nightmare, but at least would be surrounded by family and have the much-needed support for my daughter.

A year turned into five, and then three more, and now I’m looking at four more.  My current plan is to stay here until my daughter graduates High School. So yes, I will have raised my daughter in an apartment and she barely remembers her home in Colorado.  Even typing this makes my heart heavy and sad. It’s so not the life that I pictured for her. It’s not the dream I worked eight years prior to her birth building a business for. It was never my plan and I’m sad to think maybe it was God’s plan because I don’t like His plan.

This year as she entered High School she wanted to redecorate her room.  I’ve refused to even paint the walls because every time I think of painting I then think, “Why bother? I’m not staying here anyway!”  My furniture is a mismatch of pieces I took from Colorado, pieces people gave me when I first moved and was broker than broke, and random stuff I find for a deal. Unwilling to pay full price or invest in anything because you know, “I’m not staying here anyway.” 

After multiple pleas to paint her room, a heart filled with guilt that she’s in an apartment, and a half a year stuck in quarantine in the home I’ve refused to decorate, I have finally given in.

I figure just in case we end up quarantined again I might as well like where I have to hibernate.

So I’ll be sharing my journey of cheap-o renovation (because remember, “I’m (still) not staying here”) and decoration (which should be interesting because I care barely go to a TJ Maxx without an anxiety attack of overwhelm).

And since the first question when decorating seems to be, “What’s your style?” and my answer is, “I have no style.” I have no idea if this will be better or worse by the time I’m done.

Oh, and since I’m paying for everything in cash it will be a little a time and I’ll post and share as I go.  Maybe it will inspire you to upgrade your space, maybe it will make you feel better knowing that someone has 100% less style than you, or maybe you’ll celebrate my small victories with me (like the newly replaced mirror in my bathroom that should not be a big deal but somehow signifies the dawning of a new age of acceptance to me).

Don’t worry, along the way I’ll still be playing Jimmy Buffett, keeping my house at 90 degrees and dreaming of the day I decorate my palm tree for Christmas because remember, “I’m not staying here anyway.

Woman photo created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Cancer, coping, podcast, Quarantine

Going Big After Starting Over ~ New Podcast Post!

This was one of my most favorite podcasts I’ve been interviewed on! We went where the conversation led us and it really gave me some “ah ha” moments!

You might enjoy this episode if you:

Have overcome hardship in your life but still find joy

Are currently going through a hardship and need a silver lining

Believe that everything happens for a reason and you love seeing things come together for a greater purpose


If you are struggling this season or finding yourself stuck in life I hope this will bless you!!


You can catch it on the podcast link below or or watch it here on you tube:

Real Talk with Krysta – Episode 2: Your Weight Doesn't Determine Your Worth Women Going Big

Happy Thanksgiving! Today's episode is brought to you by diet culture telling you to not eat those mashed potatoes tonight. I'm here to tell you to eat the damn mashed potatoes! But for real, your weight doesn't determine your worth. Don't give numbers so much power. 
  1. Real Talk with Krysta – Episode 2: Your Weight Doesn't Determine Your Worth
  2. Real Talk with Krysta – Episode 1: Let's get Real
  3. Women Digging Deep: Rising Above Against All Odds
  4. Women Going Big in Business: Taking Care of Yourself First
  5. Women Digging Deep: Finding Your Personal Power

Alittle bit about Krysta!

Krysta Paffrath is the owner and founder of Women Going Big, a podcast dedicated to sharing the stories of ordinary women doing extraordinary things from around the world. She is also the owner of her own social media agency, and co-owner of a full service marketing firm. In her journey through small business and entrepreneurship, she discovered the need for women’s voices to be heard in a true and authentic way. Thus, Women Going Big was born. She is on her second season of the podcast and is looking to expand the platform to create a community of strong women who are “going big” in some aspect of their life. I encourage you to connect with her on Facebook, @Krysta Paffrath (personal or page) or find her podcast on Instagram @WomenGoingBig