Wickedly Fit – A Halloween Challenge

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“Take care of your body.  It’s the only place you have to live.” Jim Rohn

On Halloween, I completed day 21 of a fitness challenge I joined called “Wickedly Fit.”  I’m all about the packaging, and the title of this fitness challenge group was just too cute to pass up!

My health and fitness goals have been stagnate for awhile now.  I hadn’t gained any weight, but I hadn’t lost any either.  I could see the old patterns of behavior, poor eating choices and a sedentary lifestyle sneaking back into my daily life.

It scared me.

But not enough to take action.  Yet.

I’d been creeping on this one girl’s Instagram account.   I didn’t know her.  I’m not even sure how I ended up following her to be honest.  I loved reading her posts and seeing her photos.  She’s adorable, motivational and inspirational.  I wanted to be a part of whatever she was doing.  It took me 4 months to get up the courage to message her.  Our stories are vastly different, but one thing I’ve learned is that unhealthy means different things to different people and it isn’t always just a reflection of the number on the scale.  In fact, I don’t even have a goal weight anymore and I’m seriously considering throwing out my scale altogether, especially after seeing the results of this latest fitness challenge.

I finally found the courage to message her.  She immediately responded.  Her excitement and enthusiasm were contagious.  Before I even knew what happened, I was signing up for her fitness challenge. For the first time in months, I was thrilled about the prospect of working out and overhauling our pantry and fridge.  I know.  It was crazy.  I didn’t even recognize myself.

I’m not one to get excited about healthy eating or exercise.  Ever.  The only thing working out has ever made me want to do is nap.  I get endorphins for chocolate or Chick Fil A but not from exercise.  It had been just over a year since my Gastric Sleeve surgery.  The surgery had taken me as far as it could, the rest was going to be up to me.

I knew this.

I just didn’t want to know I knew this.

My highest weight recorded was 297 pounds.  I’ve never told anyone that number.  It took me 6 months to lose 10 pounds and that’s when I decided to look into Gastric Sleeve surgery.  When I decided to go in for surgery, I was down to 287.5 pounds.  The date was July 21, 2015.  My surgery date was August 19, 2015.  By January 2016, I was down to 216 pounds.  I lost 71.5 pounds in 6 months.  Unfortunately, there were side effects.  My hair thinned out, at an alarming rate.  I lost muscle and I found myself feeling low on energy and motivation.  My periods, while much improved, were still bad and irregular.  I lost another 10 pounds over the next few months, but by May of 2016, I had stalled out.  I didn’t exercise over the summer and I was starting to panic that I was going to eventually put all the weight back on.  Gastric sleeve surgery gave me an internal control over portion size, but I was filling up on all the wrong things and wasn’t getting the vitamins and nutrients my body needed.  I felt run down and worn out.  Not to mention, disgusted with myself.  Did I really put myself through all this only to quit, to fail?

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Was I going to be THAT girl again?

I hope not.

No, I definitely did not want to fail (nor did I want to see my chins having chins)!

So I gathered my courage and messaged this girl to find out what this Wickedly Fit program was all about.

I received access to a Facebook accountability group (my favorite part).  This group of women kept me going day after day.  They were positive and encouraging.  They were open and honest about their struggles and challenges.  We celebrated non-scale victories, participated in daily challenge questions/activities and posted all sorts of wonderful food porn (the clean and healthy kind).  I wasn’t intimidated by this group at all.  Quite the opposite in fact. I found myself sharing and opening up about my own struggles and daily challenges and even victories.  I found myself bolstered and encouraged and being a part of this special group of ladies gave me the motivation I needed to complete this 21 day challenge.

I also received a 30 day supply of Shakeology and the 21 Day Fix workout program and eating plan, complete with portion control containers.  This whole program is facilitated by Beachbody.  I was familiar with their programs, and had used them to bounce back in shape after my youngest daughter was born.  I knew they worked.  I knew it wasn’t a quick fix.  I knew it would take hard work and dedication on my part.

I was ready.

Sort of.

I mean, I paid for it.  So I’d better be ready.  I was nervous though…

Failure.  My biggest fear.  Always hovering over me like the Grim Reaper.  Whispering negative words of discouragement in my ear, making me doubt myself.  This particular demon has always plagued me, but I was learning to fight back.  I was learning to stifle and smother those negative thoughts and feelings.  I have good days and bad days.  Days when I see all that I have accomplished and days when I only see the ways in which I have failed. Before my surgery, I would binge eat those feelings.  Now, I binge watch Netflix.  Not quite the trade I should be making.  I know.  But still…a slight improvement.

The “before” picture was taken on Day 1 of the challenge and the “after” picture taken on the last day of the challenge.  21 days total.  I lost 3 1/2 inches overall.  I can definitely see subtle changes and I hope you see them too.  Naturally, I lost the most inches in my chest. Just proving that my boobs are the first thing to go when I lose weight.  Actually, despite losing 3 1/2 inches, I gained 3 pounds.  I weighed before I measured and I was devastated.  I almost didn’t even take my measurements, but I’m so glad I did.  I’ve never been one to record my measurements, but this 21 day challenge made a believer out of me.  I could see noticeable differences in how my clothes fit and how I felt that just wasn’t reflected on the scale.

It was a dark moment, and one that in the past I would have responded to by raiding the pantry.  Instead, I chose to reach out to my challenge group through Facebook.  Post my results and reveal what I considered to be a failure, the gaining of 3 pounds.  I’ve since adjusted my perceptions and I’m super proud of the 3 1/2 inches I lost.  I can’t wait for my next challenge group to start!  Despite what my scale would have me believe, I am transforming my body, making positive changes, gaining strength and confidence.

I’ve got this!

Today.

Tomorrow might be a different story.  But I’ll deal with tomorrow…tomorrow.

The last year of my life was about losing the weight and finding myself.  This next year, I want to focus on living a healthy lifestyle, strengthening my body, mind and soul in new and different ways.  Yes, I still have weight I want to lose, but I want to focus less on the scale and more on building strength and flexibility, pushing my body in ways I never imagined I’d be able to do again.  I want to transform myself physically, mentally and spiritually.  I want to develop attainable goals and then smash through them.  I want to redefine what beauty and success mean to me, not measured by what others think or believe, but about what works for me.

One day at a time.

I want to share my journey and experiences with others.  I draw strength from putting myself out there, as terrifying as it can be.  I hope that maybe someone reading this will be inspired or encouraged, reach out either to me or someone else.  I hope that maybe they won’t feel alone or afraid.  Our goals might be different.  Our struggles, challenges and motivations might be different.  At the end of the day, we all want to be the best versions of ourselves.  We all have desires, wants and needs.  Things we want to accomplish.  Let’s do it together ❤

It’s A Bird, It’s A…It’s NOT Superman

Today’s post is this month’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by Spatulas on Parade (http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com/)

30 - Spatulas on Parade - July 2016 (bird skull)

  1. I feel like Wile E. Coyote finally had his day and my entire childhood has now been called into question! Unknown
  2. I’ve heard of Taco Tuesday, but never Road Kill Wednesday… It’s not even catchy.  #roadkillwednesday?  Maybe it’ll catch on.
  3. No matter where you stand, that eye follows you…and he looks pissed.  #creepyfriday  FullSizeRender
  4. I could make the whole “it’s Donald Trump’s brain or Hillary Clinton’s soul” joke, but I feel that’s been done.  To death.  Like this bird, or whatever it is.
  5. That eye though.  It almost looks…alive.  Maybe it’s a teaser for the new Walking Dead season, “it’s not just humans now”…  *shudder*

 

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile:

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com               

http://www.southernbellecharm.com               

http://mollyritterbeck.com/                               

Baking In A Tornado         

Spatulas On Parade            

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/    

Measurements of Merriment    

http://dinoheromommy.com/                            

 

My Happy Place

Use Your Words

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

My words are:

grilling ~ friends ~ side dishes ~ beverages ~ stories

They were submitted by: http://mollyritterbeck.com/


I don’t even want to turn on the television today.  I want to unplug from the internet.  I’m lucky because unlike so many others, I can simply turn off the images that accompany the horrors and atrocious acts of violence permeating our society and world today.  I wake up each morning grateful and thankful that my friends and loved ones are safe and sound.  Lately, I’ve felt weighed down by my heartbreak over recent events.  I’m overwhelmed and struggling to understand that elusive question that haunts us all, why?  I’m scared.  The reality that I could go from someone who watches horrific events unfold from the safety of her couch, her home to someone that someone else is watching from the safety of her couch, her home is terrifying.  I want to wrap my friends, family and loved ones in a bubble.  Shield them.  Protect them.  I want the force of my love to be enough to keep us all safe from those that would hurt us.

Life is precious and fleeting in the grand scheme of things. A friend recently reminded me how important self-care is at times such as these.  Today, I’m going to wrap myself in the comfort of good memories, of time spent with family, laughing and loving each other.  Warm summer days spent grilling on the barbecue, enjoying good food and fun conversation. Nights spent sitting around the dinner table, reminiscing and sharing stories or experimenting with tasty beverages while discovering new board games or enjoying an old family favorite movie.  Days spent curled up on the couch immersing myself in a good book, losing myself in a twisting plot or a fascinating character.  Hours spent Google imaging my favorite side dish, Adam Levine.  Remembering the time my son packed his suitcase to go visit his “other daddy” and thinking maybe I talk about Adam a little too much but also secretly wondering if that ploy would work and Adam would take us in?  Probably not.  My son looks too much like his actual father.  Go figure.  Perusing through old scrapbooks and pictures remembering the sweet smell of babies, feeling the imprint of wet, slobbery kisses, the preciousness of those tiny hands in mine.  Is there anything better than receiving a spontaneous hug or an “I love you mommy” from your little one?  Enjoying quiet evenings with my husband, watching our favorite shows or reading our favorite books.  I’m going to bask in the warm glow of pride thinking about my magnificent girls, how they’ve grown into exemplary young women and how lucky I am to be called their mom.  I’m going to catch Pokemon’s with my son today, living in the moment soaking up his sunlight, absorbing his innocent happiness.

Today I am going to surround myself with loving memories and good thoughts.  I’m going to make my heart burst instead of break.  I’m going to surround myself with things that make me happy, make me smile.  I’m going to love on my family, hold them close.  I’m going to make today a good day, take the time I need to heal my broken heart, soothe my damaged spirit so that tomorrow I can face whatever comes my way.  I invite all of you to do the same.  ❤

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

 

Baking In A Tornado

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

Spatulas On Parade

http://dinoheromommy.com/

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

Confessions of a Part-Time Working Mom

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

http://mollyritterbeck.com/

http://juiceboxconfession.com/

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

When I Grow Up

http://sparklyjenn.blogspot.com/

On The Border

Letting Go Is Hard To Do

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 15 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Tell us about something that you own that you are not using but cannot bear to part with.

It was submitted by: http://Bakinginatornado.com

I had this brilliant idea for today’s post.  I was going to post my first vlog, until I realized every angle was a choice between 2 chins or 3.  I tried using my selfie stick, but almost fell down the stairs, and I did read a statistic once about selfie stick related deaths.  Perhaps a vlog is not the best option for me personally.

My second plan was to take pics of three specific areas in my home that I need to clean out and/or organize but just can’t motivate myself to do so for varied reasons.  Mostly laziness.  My son’s closet for example.  His babyhood is in that closet.  Ok, so yeah you can barely get his closet door shut, but cleaning it out means throwing stuff away or giving it away, which means saying goodbye officially to his infancy.  I  mean I still tell people I’m trying to lose my baby weight.

“Oh, how old is your baby?”

“Umm 10…”

“10 days?”

“Not exactly…”

“10 weeks?”

“Well…”

“10 months?”

“Yeah, let’s go with that, shall we.”

What?  He’s just freakishly big for his age.  Don’t judge me.

Finding any humor in anything these days is extremely difficult.  Which brings me to what I decided to actually blog about today.

Sometimes the hardest baggage to offload or unpack is not tangible or physical, it’s emotional.

I would say this has been a horrific week, but it’s been months.  Months and months of just one hit after another.  The tragic loss of life.  Inexplicable.  Devastating.  Violence so senseless, most of us are left broken-hearted asking ourselves and each other why.  We search for answers, we pray for guidance, we weep for humanity, we rage against the insanity of it all.

“You must not lose faith in humanity.  Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” Mahatma Ghandi

I’ll be honest.  I don’t want to relinquish my white privilege.  I may feel I don’t actively use it, that I’ve never been put in a situation where being white was the difference between life or death.  But how would I know?  I’m white.  I’ve never not been white.

“The irony of American History is the tendency of good white Americans to presume racial innocence.  Ignorance of how we are shaped racially is the first sign of privilege.  In other words, it is a privilege to ignore the consequences of race in America.” Tim Wise

I’ll be honest.  When I first heard about the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I immediately started forming my argument for why they were to blame for their own deaths, not the police.  Then I watched the videos.  I was ashamed.  I wept.  My heart is heavy.  Even now, it’s hard to let go of the idea that there must be some explanation that hasn’t come to light.  A vital piece of evidence or eye witness account that exonerates the police officers involved. I envelope myself in the peace, comfort and safety of my white privilege and most of the time I’m not even aware I’m doing it and that is a huge part of the problem.  Sticking my head in the sand and making excuses for abhorrent, irrational and inexcusable behavior is the root of blindness that accompanies white privilege.  I even hate the word white privilege.  I want to reject it and everything it means, because to me it somehow implies that I’m not a good person or that I’m somehow to blame. Responsibility and ownership are bitter pills to swallow in the matter of racial oppression.

“After all, acknowledging unfairness then calls decent people forth to correct those injustices.  And since most persons are at their core, decent folks, the need to ignore evidence of injustice is powerful.  To do otherwise would force whites to either push for change (which they would perceive as against their interests) or live consciously as hypocrites who speak of freedom and opportunity but perpetuate a system of inequality.” Tim Wise

As I prepare for bed last night, my phone flashes a new alert.  Snipers target police officers at a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally in my hometown of Dallas, 12 officers shot, 5 dead.

I tossed and turned all night.  All I could hear in my head was the little voice of the 4 year old girl, sitting in the back seat of a squad car with her handcuffed mother, a little girl who watched Philando Castile get shot by a police officer, from the back seat of the car seemingly pulled over for a routine traffic stop, telling her mommy “it’s ok mommy, I’m here with you.”

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” Nelson Mandela

It’s difficult to look at myself in the mirror, place my white privilege humbly before me, and acknowledge that I am part of the problem.  I can’t pretend that I know what it’s like to be black.  If my husband got pulled over for speeding or a headlight out or a broken taillight, it would never occur to me to be afraid.  To fear for his life.  My son and his friends play outside with their nerf and/or pretend guns and I never worry that a police officer will mistake those for real guns and shoot first, ask questions later.  I don’t know what it feels like to be considered a threat just because of the color of my skin.  I’m white wherever I go.  It’s the first statement I make when I enter a room.

Police officers are supposed to be the guardians of our personal freedoms and rights.  They are sworn to protect and serve us.  ALL of us.  I don’t have all the answers.  I don’t even know the questions most of the time.  What I know is that we are divided.  We are bruised and bleeding.  We feel powerless.  We are struggling to catch our collective breaths.  We lash out.  We blame.  We point fingers. We are afraid.  Fear is a tricky thing.  It’s elusive, living in shadows, waiting to prey on our insecurities.  Ruled by fear, we are destined to repeat our mistakes.  We fail to learn from our history.  We fix nothing.  We cannot heal.  Fear cloaks our prejudices.  Fear is the beacon of injustice.  We cannot allow ourselves to continue to be ruled by fear, by prejudice and yes….by white privilege.

“The history of humanity has, to a large extent, been one of groping blindly in the dark, fearing for the future and yet resisting the guiding hand of inspired men who would willingly lead mankind in the path of safety.” Ezra Taft Benson

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I want to be a light upon the world.  I want change to start with me.  I want to be a part of the solution, not the problem.  I don’t know how to do that, maybe writing this blog post is a start.  I might be the only person that actually reads it but if we change, even just one heart at a time, doesn’t that matter? Doesn’t that count?  Isn’t that a start?  It’s not that the conversation needs to change, the conversation hasn’t even happened yet.  We are too busy blaming each other.  We’ve retreated into our separate corners, eyeing each other warily, waiting…watching to see what happens next.  Comfortable in the knowledge that these things happen to OTHER people.  Not us.  A blind eye can be turned, our conscious clear, because after all, it’s not our problem.  What can we do?

“What whites have rarely had to think about — because being the dominant group, we are so used to having our will done, with a little effort at least — is that maybe the point is not victory, however much we all wish to see justice attained and injustice routed.  Maybe our redemption comes from the struggle itself.  Maybe it is in the effort, the striving for equality and freedom that we become human.” Tim Wise

I don’t want to give up my white privilege.  It keeps me safe, my children safe.  I can’t bear to part with it, I’m afraid.

I am afraid.  Paralyzed with fear.

I’m ashamed of that fear.  It can’t continue.  Change is necessary.  Change is imperative to our very survival.

“Standing still is never an option so long as inequities remain embedded in the very fabric of the culture.” Tim Wise

I desire a better life for my children.  I want to leave the world better than I found it.  Racial oppression permeates and invades the very fabric of our society on every level.  It is propagated by white privilege.  We are the problem.  We are also the solution.  We must be.  Failure should not be an option.

“People never hurt others in moments of personal strength and bravery, when they are feeling good about themselves, when they are strong and confident. If we spent all of our waking moments in that place, then fighting for social justice would be redundant; we would simply have social justice and be done with it, and we could all go swimming, or fishing, or bowling, or dancing, or whatever people do.  But it is because we spend so much of our time in that other place, that place of diminished capacity, of flagging energy, or wavering and somewhat flaccid commitment, the we have to be careful.”  Tim Wise

Change can only happen when we acknowledge the problems in the first place.  We need to shine a bright spotlight on the ugly nature of our white privilege, of racial oppression and hatred.  It’s ok to be afraid.  It’s not ok to bury our heads in the sand and hope it all goes away on it’s own and turn a blind eye so social injustice, violence and prejudice on every level.  Shame on us if we continue to do so.  Shame on us if we do nothing.  Shame on us if we dismiss this as someone else’s problem.  Shame on us.

I pray for guidance and strength.  I don’t have all the answers.  My blog today is probably incoherent and rambling, a testament to how lost I feel in the world we live in today.  I hope that acknowledging my white privilege is a good start.  Awareness the first step in changing attitudes, changing lives.

“Humanity either makes, or breeds, or tolerates all it’s afflictions.” William Arthur Ward

Let us be part of the solution, not the problem.  Will you join me?

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

http://www.BakingInATornado.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/

http://dinoheromommy.com/

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

http://thelieberfamily.com

http://batteredhope.blogspot.com

http://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

http://mollyritterbeck.com/

http://juiceboxconfession.com/

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

http://kimberlyyavorski.com/whenigrowup/

The What? Face

Today’s post is this month’s Funny Friday, a regular feature published on the last Friday of every month. Funny Friday is a collaborative project. Each month one of the participants submits a picture, then we all write 5 captions or thoughts inspired by that month’s picture. Links to the other bloggers’ posts are below, click on them and see what they’ve come up with. I hope we bring a smile to your face as you start your weekend.

Here’s today’s picture. It was submitted by Dinosaur Superhero Mommy (http://dinoheromommy.com/)

29 - Dinosaur Superhero Mommy - June 2016

Every mother of every child has been at some point on the receiving end of the “What?” face.  What did I do?  I’m innocent.  I had good intentions.  Is what I am doing wrong?  What? What? What?

  1. What?  Someone had to open these Monopoly game pieces!  We could be millionaires!
  2. What?  I’m just gonna decoupage the end table.  Don’t worry, I watched a YouTube video on it. It’s a surprise, don’t tell mommy.
  3. What?  I’m building a nest.  Like birds do in the wild.
  4. What?  These are coupons.  You won’t let me have scissors so I had to tear them out.  I’m helping you.
  5. What?  Day 1/hour 1 of summer vacation.  I’m bored.

Click on the links below and let some other bloggers make you smile:

http://dinoheromommy.com/                           

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com               

http://www.southernbellecharm.com 

Molly Ritterbeck                              

Baking In A Tornado        

Spatulas On Parade              

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com/    

Measurements of Merriment  

Have Courage, Be Kind

Use Your Words

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

Blue ~ Balloon ~ Bubbles ~ Park ~ Strawberry ~ Miracle

They were submitted by: http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.


I’m sitting here, eating a strawberry, trying to figure out what I want to write about and how to fit in these words.  I’ll be honest, my inspiration for what I wanted to write about hit me literally in the middle of the night, and the only word I couldn’t figure out how to incorporate was strawberry, so I decided to eat one and tell you about it.  I’d even go so far as to say that I bought them with the express purpose of having one to eat, but I’m not that organized.

I usually shy away from hot button topics, not because I’m short on opinions or afraid of confrontation, but because that’s just never what my blog has been about.  It’s always been a place to confront my own failings and shortcomings as a wife, mother and woman in a hopefully humorous style, shining a bright light on all my imperfections and inviting you to laugh along at me or with me.

I’ll be the first to admit that in general I probably suck at this parenting thing.  My mistakes more numerous than the stars in the sky or grains of sand on the beach.  Thankfully, my mistakes have never been broadcast on a global scale for everyone to see.  I’ve never been tried in the court of public opinion, found lacking, and verbally executed for my failings as a mother or as a wife.  I’ve been lucky.  I’ve dodged my fair share of bullets.

Which brings me to my point.

The death of the Cincinnati Zoo’s 17 year old rare silverback gorilla, Harambe, left me feeling blue.  I watched the videos with the same mix of horror and sadness as everyone else.  It was awful, a tragedy, as the loss of any life should be.  If you for some reason have no clue what I’m talking about, just google the name “Harambe” or “Cincinnati Zoo” to bring yourself up to speed and then tell me what rock you’ve been living under so I can join you, I’ll bring food.  And fun, frothy beverages. The story was appallingly horrific and my heart goes out to the mother, the child, every witness of the tragic event as well as the zoo officials.  But what I found equally horrific, was how quickly and easily everyone turned on the mother of the child that fell into that enclosure.  Or jumped.  Or climbed and fell.  Whatever group of adjectives you want to string together to describe what happened that day.  Comments on the event ranged from “that mom should be in jail” to “the child should be shot”. I took myself off social media and avoided the television for a few days because I couldn’t even fully process the things I was hearing and reading.  The angry vehemence and hatred of the masses, the opinions, the statements, the public outcry so vicious and quick, on both sides of the proverbial fence.  The whole incident left me feeling bruised and heartbroken.  I just wanted everyone to stop, take a moment.  Take a breath.  Think.

I was completely blown away by the hatred and condemnation pouring forth from the lips of both parents and non-parents alike.  I hate to stick a pin in the “that would NEVER happen to me because I’m the perfect parent/person” balloon, but what happened that day could have happened to ANY of us.  It was a freak accident that couldn’t have been predicted or anticipated.  It was a tragedy that couldn’t have been foretold.  When did it become so easy as parents, or even human beings to turn on one another?  Those fingers of judgment pointing, condemning, so quickly, so harshly.  When did mom or parental shaming become a sport or national pastime? Is it fear that makes us react so?  Because deep down, we know it could just as easily have been one of us?

I don’t know what kind of mother or person she is in her daily life, but my heart goes out to her.  We’d all like to wrap our kids in safety bubbles before we send them forth in this big and scary world, because we know that our eyes and hands can’t be everywhere, foreseeing every twist and turn in the crazy and sometimes terrifying journey of parenthood. We’ve all taken our eye off the ball, gotten distracted.  I left my infant daughter strapped in her carseat on top of the washing machine at home and didn’t realize it till I got to the grocery story and opened the back door of my car to get her out.  The feeling I got when I realized I had forgotten her, I can’t even describe the panic, the paralyzing fear I felt in that moment.  I couldn’t get home fast enough, my mind racing to all the horrific possibilities.  What if my house caught on fire?  What if by some freak accident, her car seat fell off the washing machine and crashed to the floor.  What would people have said about me if any of those scenarios had happened.  How could she forget her child?  She should be shot! Her kid should be taken away!  She should be in jail! Worse mother ever!  She was fine.  I was lucky.  It took days for the guilt and fear of those few moments to leave me.  Even now, 21 years later, I still feel sick to my stomach thinking of it.

Or the time, our entire family was at the beach.  It was crowded.  It had been a long day.  We gathered everyone up to head home, half of us heading to the car, the other half to the outdoor showers to rinse off the sand and sunscreen sticking to our bodies.  So none of us noticed immediately that we had left my youngest daughter behind, she couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 years old.  We dropped everything and ran back, screaming her name.  She was standing right there where we left her.  Crying.  There aren’t words I could put down right now to convey how I felt as a mother in those terrifying moments.  What if she had been snatched up?  Or wandered into the ocean by herself?  What would the headlines say about me?  She was fine.  It’s a story we still talk about today, some 14 years later.  A cautionary tale. Again, I was lucky.

I can’t quantify how many times I’ve taken my eyes off my kids, even for a second, at the park, the store, the mall, or even the zoo.  Anywhere. Everywhere. By some miracle, I’ve managed to raise 3 of my 4 kids to adulthood, relatively unscathed.  I’m loathe to even put that down in writing, I don’t want to invite trouble.  Make no mistake though, it’s not because I’m a better parent.  I’ve been lucky, blessed even.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel wretched about what happened to Harambe.  Could it have been prevented?  Maybe.  Possibly.  Honestly though, that’s true about anything.  It’s easy to Monday morning quarterback a situation, talk about how you would have done it differently, or better.  In some ways, I think it’s healthy and natural to have those kinds of conversations.  Learn from our mistakes, move forward.  When it comes to situations like this, we certainly don’t want history to repeat itself.  But when did it become ok to do so in a way so hateful, nasty and downright violent?  When did we all become so collectively “perfect” that we can eagerly and quickly tear down this mother, this family, this child or the zoo.  This parenting thing is hard.  Imagine if we spent more time building each other up and supporting each other rather than tearing each other down, ripping each other apart or pointing that finger of judgment and condemnation.  Take a moment and really think about the mistakes you’ve made that could have gone another way, and imagine those mistakes caught on film and broadcast for the whole world to see.  I don’t know about you, but that shuts my mouth in a hurry.

I hate what happened.  My heart hurts for everyone involved.  EVERYONE.

Woulda.

Coulda.

Shoulda.

These are easy words to shine in the face of someone else’s mistakes.  Be careful though, one day you might find that spotlight shining down on you.  How would you want to be treated? Remembered?  Should we be defined only by the mistakes we’ve made?  I sincerely hope not, or I’m doomed, and so I would venture to guess, are most of you.  If you’ve never screwed up or made a mistake, please contact me, tell me how you do it. I’d love to learn from you, save myself from the inevitable guilt and sorrow of my future failings and shortcomings.

Otherwise, in the words of Cinderella:

“Have courage and be kind.”

Always.  Especially to each other. Let us stand up for one another.  Be a friend, be a champion.  Love one another, that basic golden rule, so easy in theory, so difficult in practice, not in spite of our failures and mistakes, but because of them.

Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking in a Tornado

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

http://berghamchronicles.blogspot.com

http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com

Confessions of a part-time working mom

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com

Wedding Bells Are A Ringin’

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 12 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is: 

Tell us about your wedding . . . or the last wedding you attended.

It was submitted by: http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

My first thought when I read my “Secret Subject” was which one?  I’ve had 2 weddings.  Awkward.  I briefly entertained the idea of sharing the juicy details of my super secret wedding to Adam Levine, but the restraining order prenup forbids it.

I’m just happy Adam is back to looking like his sexy self.  Impending fatherhood does his body good.

Anyway, I digress.  Weddings.  I don’t remember the last one I attended, so I guess I’ll talk about mine, both of them.  They couldn’t have been more different, just like the men I chose as grooms.

Tom AND Jerry.

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Not made up names.  My ex and current husband carry the same names as the cartoon I grew up watching.  I snicker every time I inadvertently use both their names in the same sentence.

I was barely 21 when I married the first time, and we were engaged for a very long 18 months.  I was obsessed with weddings in general.  Even as a child, I was transfixed by the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.  I loved books, movies and tv shows about weddings.  I couldn’t get enough, my whole life I dreamed of what that day would be like. I watched Father of the Bride, the one with Steve Martin, probably a million and one times before my Christmas wedding in ’92.  They used to have these wedding shows on the TLC network (I have no idea if they still do), and I watched them religiously.  I loved hearing the engagement stories and watching as they planned their dream weddings.  I could have stayed in the engagement period forever.  I wanted a very traditional wedding.  I wanted to feel like a princess on my very special day.  My family didn’t belong to a particular church but my groom-to-be was Catholic.  Ironically, I wanted to get married in the church I belong to now, but none of us were members at the time, so we couldn’t.  The very same church where I would meet, hubby #2.  We ended up getting married in the Catholic church that my groom grew up attending.  Not my first, second or even third choice but I made the best of it. An omen?

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  I knew I wanted to get married during the festive season.  My bridesmaids dresses were dark green, poinsettia’s everywhere.  Since I didn’t grow up Catholic, didn’t know anyone who was Catholic, I was unaware that purple was the liturgical color of Advent.  Purple.  Very Violet.  Also means penance, humility and melancholy.  I should have done my research…this was clearly an omen.  Not a good one.

Most of the wedding was a complete blur.  I don’t remember the food, the music or the people.  I do have one distinct memory.  I remember after we were pronounced man and wife, I heard catcalls and whistling coming from the back of the church.  It made me smile.  My new sister-in-law, my favorite of his 5 siblings, and probably one of the very few on his side of the family truly happy at our blessed union.  She would go on to die tragically in a car accident less than a year later.  I think of her often, and her memory always brings a smile to my face.  She did more for me than she’ll ever know.  I think she would have been sad that we didn’t make it for the long haul.  She was definitely our biggest cheerleader, at least as far as I knew.  She always made me feel like a part of the family anyway.  She was a life-force, and I still miss her.  I wish my girls could have known her.

The other thing I remember is the priest who married us.  He shattered all my stereotypes of what a priest would be like, act like.  I don’t know what I thought exactly, but the Father that greeted us for our pre-marriage counseling sessions, smoking a cigarette and telling inappropriate jokes and hilarious stories, was nothing I would ever have expected.  I instantly fell in love with him.  I heard from many people after the wedding, that he gave one of the best ceremony “sermons” they’d ever heard.  He took the time to get to know us, and his message and words definitely reflected that knowledge and insight.  I was very sad to learn that he passed away recently.

I remember my dress and permed hair.  Mostly, I remember how skinny I was and I remember thinking I wasn’t skinny at the time.  My future fat self should go back in time and slap that stupid skinny girl silly.

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See all that Christmas greenery clashing with the purple/violet…sigh.  Or are you distracted by that sexy perm and ginormous bow on my behind?

I don’t understand why my girls don’t want to wear this dress for their own weddings…it’s a mystery.  That shiny satin.  The puffy shoulders.  All that beading and lace.  Timeless is the word.  Am I right or am I right?  I know, right.

Anyway, things didn’t work out how I planned.  My life took a million different turns, each more unexpected than the next.  I wouldn’t change any of it, because it finally brought me my soulmate and partner for life (cause I’m not getting divorced again, so he’ll literally have to die to get out of it – a fact I remind him daily).

My second wedding was a much smaller affair, only family.  My parents had a beautiful backyard, a place where I loved spending time, so I knew immediately I wanted to get married there.  While it lacked the fanfare, pomp and circumstance of my first wedding, I remember almost every detail like it happened yesterday.  I couldn’t wait to make this particular man my husband.  There are certainly days when I need to call on the emotions of that day, remember all the reasons I fell in love with him and merged our two families.  I knew that my life would never be the same.

Our wedding day was sweet, romantic and full of promise.  We were surrounded by the people who loved us most, especially our three beautiful girls.  It was a warm, sunny, fragrant and beautiful day in May.  Even though I remember every detail and emotion I felt on that day, we frequently forget the actual day itself.  One year, I had to pull out our marriage certificate to confirm our anniversary.  We often go half the day thru before we realize, “oh hey, it’s our anniversary today!”  We also struggle to remember how many years it’s been.  I choose to see that as a good thing.

67 percent of 2nd marriages end in divorce.  Those aren’t good odds.  Blending two families is extremely hard work.  There are certainly moments when I wanted to throw in the towel.  No one dreams of their second wedding.  I married the first time intending it to be forever.  Forever didn’t work out so well, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  I’ve been judged rather harshly by some for being divorced but no one was harder on me than I was on myself.  I felt like a failure.  I felt quite strongly that I had let my girls down, let my family down, let myself down.  It’s not a subject I like to talk about or share.  It’s something I’ve carried with a certain degree of shame and embarrassment.

But on that day in May, all I felt was hope.  I felt loved, protected and cherished.  I knew the road would be bumpy, challenging and would at times feel insurmountable, but with that man at my side, I felt like we could conquer the world, overcome every obstacle life would throw at us.  I was excited.  Invigorated with purpose and direction.  He continues to challenge me, encourage me and inspire me.  I love him more each day, even the bad days when he drives me crazy and I want to punch him in the throat.  It would be a loving punch.  So much LOVE packed into that punch. So. Much. Love.

I wanted to punch him this morning, but lower than the throat this time.  Lucky for him, I was writing this blog and being forced to remember all the reasons I married him.  It probably saved his life. Seriously.

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My babies!  Where has the time gone.

I love this family so much (including you man-child).  In the time honored words of Tom Cruise…

They complete me.

This reminds me…we need an updated family photo.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts.  Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

http://www.southernbellecharm.com

http://notthatsarahmichelle.blogspot.com

http://spatulasonparade.blogspot.com

The Bergham Chronicles

http://www.thediaryofanalzheimerscaregiver.com/blog.html

Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

The Lieber Family

http://www.angrivatedmom.wordpress.com

Confessions of a Part Time Working Mom

http://climaxedtheblog.blogspot.com