Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

I am pretty sure that if one were to look at social media, you would assume humanity itself is the one with a life-threatening virus. Let’s define humanity a la Merriam Webster:

Compassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior or disposition—the quality or state of being humane; the quality or state of being human; the totality of human beings—the human race. 

My perception of things is nothing new, and honestly, I do spend some of my precious time viewing comments from those who angrily express their opposing views. It’s a comedy, shit-show as far as I’m concerned. This is just my humble opinion, but I am confident I’m not alone. With more people stuck in their house with the stay-home order, people seem to have more time to peruse the internet. The effects of feeling cooped up are rearing their ugly head on even the most innocent of posts.

I expect such things from Facebook and Twitter as I have seen this behavior for years. What has surprised me most is the people on the Nextdoor social media site. 

“Nextdoor is the neighborhood hub for trusted connections and the exchange of helpful information, goods, and services. We believe that by bringing neighbors together, we can cultivate a kinder world where everyone has a neighborhood they can rely on. Building connections in the real world is a universal human need. That truth, and the reality that neighborhoods are one of the most important and useful communities in our lives, have been a guiding principle for Nextdoor since the beginning.”

I have been a “member” of Nextdoor since 2017. It is broken down into neighborhoods, and expands out even further. However, I can post something solely for immediate neighbors in my condo community, about 250 of the 370 who have created an account. One of the key elements has normally been to be respectful and avoid those topics that create friction: politics, religion, and sexual content.  We have been a light-hearted, helpful group with the occasional frustrations posted—but, they are more often than not extremely respectful.

With what our world is facing today, more people have become hostile, accusatory, dictatorial, and for lack of a better word, bullies. There is name-calling of a degree that even I am amazed by—remind you that I have seen the “best” on Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. There is a boat-load of misinformation being posted, causing panic and anger. I’m even seeing comments that are clearly to incite even the most gentle of people. 

Whatever happened to scrolling on by? I’m just kidding, people can’t help themselves. I honestly don’t bother to comment when things get heated, now or before. In the end, what good would it do? I’m not going to change anyone’s mind, nor is there some prize at the end that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. Even the most innocent of comments will have people turn on you anyway. 

I just thought I wouldn’t see it on the Nextdoor site as we know these people—they are literally our next door neighbors! There’s no hiding behind a screen, keeping anonymity because you’re berating the person you used to smile and wave to as you left for work each morning. Bob across the street will avoid coming outside until you’ve driven off now because you called his wife an ignorant, bleeding-heart liberal and adding, “It makes your whole argument even dumber than you.”  Sorry, you’ll have to move now because all of your neighbors hate you…and oh, you’re an asshat.

The posts have gone from “Help me find my cat, Peepers” and “Can you recommend a good lawn company” to “There are terrorists in our neighborhood”—referring to a group of people playing soccer in a local park, ignoring the less-than-ten-in-a-group rule. Never you mind that even though the social-distance rule is being broken, they’re probably your neighbor’s kids. There are ways to protest the activity without being a jerk.

The scary part is that this really is just the beginning of the pandemic for the States and I’m thinking we’re going to see some intense Mad-Max insanity on our social media sites. It’s easy to get angry and lash out with our keyboard. It’s not easy to take those words back from cyber-space, or to look at old Mrs. Willoughby in the face who lives three houses down after you called her a communist.  If we all remember that we are in the same boat, then perhaps we’ll get through this unscathed. Keep your wits about you, neighbors. 

You Are How You Eat…Wait. What?

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to eat, much less what to eat. But, when you witness eating habits every day with those you live and work with, you might have questions. I mean this in the most humorous sense possible, but what’s with people (my fiancé) eating one item at a time on their plate? 

I’ll lay it out for you…

On a plate I place some chicken, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, and corn.  He rotates his plate and eats each item—in it’s entirety—before moving on to the next. Hamburger and fries? He eats ALL of the fries first, then the hamburger. Fried eggs, hash browns, bacon, and toast? This is where he might mix it up and lay the fried egg over the hash browns—eat all of it—then eat the bacon, and finally the toast. Who eats toast by itself? You’re supposed to dip it in the egg-juice! Right?

It truly doesn’t bother me, but I wonder if a person isn’t missing out on some delicious combo-flavors when eating items separately. I’m not talking about a picky eater or about not allowing food on the plate to touch one another. If I make enchiladas with rice and refried beans—all are eaten one at a time. Me? I am taking bites of enchilada, quickly followed by the duo of rice and beans…and guacamole…and a chip or two. Am I a beast? Maybe. 

This is more of a curiosity for me, I guess. It’s just so hard to process and my stating they taste better together is met with, “Oh, okay,”—and then still eaten separate. Yes, it does allow for one to appreciate the taste and flavor of the individual items. But don’t you know the magic that happens when they are combined? 

Am I wrong?

I came across this article that breaks down the personalities based on how a person eats. Someone like me, for example, who is labeled a “mixer” by combining the food on their plate—is outgoing and friendly. It goes on to say this person’s overeagerness to multitask “can exhaust them and make them lose track of deadlines.” Yea, this is so me.

For the one food item at a time person, they are detail-oriented and like to think things through. “They see details everyone misses.” It also states “they should be patient with others who don’t follow the same strategy.” Well, that problem is solved as this describes my fiancé rather well. 


There are many other types, such as:


The slow-eater who enjoys every moment and in no hurry in life.

The fast-eater who is good at multitasking, but may miss out on some things in life.

The picky eater who stay in their comfort zone and doesn’t take risks.

The adventurer who takes risks and not afraid to fail.

The one who always wants a bite of your food can be a bit possessive and demanding.

Again, this isn’t something that bothers me so much as I wonder what’s going on in their head. Eating is something we all do and without giving thought to how. I never considered it an extension of our personality. In our house, we also have a slow eater, fast eater, and picky eater—all of which fits who they are, even if there is a bit of crossovers here and there.

What about you? Where do you fall in the eating category? 

It’s Not The Alcohol Talking

When I tell a story, it may seem like I’m supplying superfluous information—and, I have been known to go off on a tangent. But, when something triggers a tale, there has to be context for the listener/reader to understand where I’m coming from. So, buckle up…

There is a popular grocery store chain in my area and it recently went out of business. This is leaving the local residents feeling disheartened. One of the features of this store is that you can buy a glass of beer or wine to drink on while you shop. Some of the posts written by locals on social media lament they can’t shop and drink now—what are they to do? These comments bother me and I’ll explain why.

I used to have at least one drink every, single night. It was part of a daily routine in my previous marriage. My ex drank quite a bit each night, sometimes way too much. Once I was separated and on my own with three kids, drinking was limited as I had to keep my wits about me. Over the years drinking alcohol has become infrequent with a month or more going by without any beer, wine, or my favorite spirit, vodka.

Not having alcohol hasn’t become a conscious decision as I really don’t think about it overall. There are times I do want an ice-cold beer or even a mixed drink—and I have one. During the summer, having a beer or two sitting poolside isn’t uncommon—I enjoy it. Have I gotten drunk before? Absolutely, but it’s been a very long time. 

I’m not oblivious to the notion alcoholism is a disease as my paternal grandparents died because of it. And I know the comments on social media don’t imply they are all alcoholics. Honestly, this has nothing to do with them overall. What it has triggered in me is sadness about my youngest sister, who—at the age of 38—died of alcoholism.  Her death was a hard blow to my heart and psyche. Her constant state of drunkenness was more prevalent toward the end of her life, however with her being four states away, I wasn’t aware that her most of her days began and ended with alcohol. 

I do understand why my sister drank—she was in pain emotionally—predominantly due to her estranged husband who for lack of a better word, tormented her the last four years of her life.  Only one who has been with someone with narcissistic personality disorder would understand this level of harassment. Then, unfortunately, her choice of men she subsequently dated emotionally and physically abused her. The autopsy revealed several bruises on her body, but stated she died as a result of her alcoholism. 

Drinking was her way of dealing with the obstacles of her choices and what life was throwing at her. 

My talks with my youngest sister were seemingly productive in helping her work through her problems, but only temporarily. Behind the scenes, her drinking had steadily increased. Both my other sister and I tried to get her to come stay with us for a while, but she wanted to be near her children as she got to have supervised visits with them on the weekends. Those around her were not emotionally equipped to help her despite seeing her demise first hand. 

Not a single day since last May has she not entered my thoughts. I no longer find memes posted on social media about getting drunk or needing a drink humorous.  I am not judging these people so much as my views have changed on drinking—stained by my personal tragedy. Any time I do have an alcohol, it’s not without a small sense of guilt. I know that her death isn’t my fault and I should still be able to enjoy a beer while sunning by the pool; or a cocktail when meeting up with friends—it’s just different now. 

It sounds odd to say I have a new found respect for drinking alcohol, but in reality that’s what it is. Additionally, we shouldn’t just recognize when someone needs help, but do the hard task of intervening. I immensely regret not getting on a plane and getting her the professional help she needed. Remember alcohol and substance abuse happens to the best of families and friends. Don’t let regrets be the driving force in changing your life. 

Substance Abuse National Helpline: 800-662-HELP

Mastering Those Tiny Behaviors

There are times that I feel the only consistency is the inconsistency of life. Not very profound, I know and I’m aware that my frame of mind is in need of work. I have many things to be grateful for and they don’t go unnoticed. But…

Getting out of the habit of negative thinking is necessary to propel ourselves forward and it’s not always easy to do. I started reading Atomic Habits by James Clear a few days ago. My fiancé Michael gave it to me when I shared that I clearly don’t know what my purpose is these days. I don’t know what direction I want to go. I don’t feel accomplished. Blah, blah, blah…

There are so many self-help books on the market and finding one that works ironically requires the reading of a self-help book. I’m two chapters into Atomic Habits and I’m already liking the writer’s concept of making the effort to get 1% better every day—“tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.” Doing just 1% every day doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s creating a system, not a goal. When we have a goal and we accomplish it, then what? That’s right, we’re done. However if we create a system, we are consistently getting better—even if results feel slow.  

The same can be said for being 1% worse every day, however that consistency is a habit that maintains itself. What I’ve learned (but, deep down probably already knew) is that the change has to be made within our identity. This is our self-image, judgements, and biases—what we believe.  We need to build identity-based habits on “who we wish to become.” 

He used the example of two people who want to stop smoking and they are offered a cigarette. One says, “No thanks, I’m trying to quit.” The other says, “No thanks, I don’t smoke.” 

See what he did there?

The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to be become a musician.

The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to be a runner.

He states it’s a two-step process to change your identity:

1) Decide the type of person you want to be. 2) Prove it to yourself with small wins.

We all do the same thing convincing ourselves who we are and the book lays it all out:

“I’m terrible with directions.”

“I’m not a morning person.”

“I’m always late.”

“I’m not good with technology.”

By repeating these negative things, it becomes who we are. Our inclination to change is non-existent if we believe we are incapable. Just remember it take just 1% improvement each time—baby steps, people.  We know that feeling, the warm-fuzzy sensation when we have a win. I’m thinking I’d like that feeling every single day, even for the little things. I am a winner (oh, yea).

So, I’m working on my identity and bringing you all along with me. Hopefully, you’ll join me as sometimes it does take a village to bring on change. We will all focus on not necessarily what we want to change, but who we want to become. Think about it this way, every 1% we give toward changing into who we want to be will accumulate. This will direct us toward changing our beliefs in who we are. 

I’m not simply writing this blog, people—I am a blogger. 

Taking Neighborhood Watch To New Levels

Every neighborhood has a Mrs. Kravitz. If you don’t know who that is, you should ask somebody—or just Google it. What will come up is a character from Bewitched, specifically the original series from the 60s to 70s. She’s your nosy neighbor who is constantly watching everyone and knows more than she should about people on your block. If you don’t know who it is, it may be you. I can accept a Mrs. Kravitz, but I don’t have a name for what we’ve encountered recently. 

What do you call someone who goes through the recycle bins to see if you’re recycling properly? Insane? We live in a condo community and each street has its own set of recycling trash bins. We try to be “green” and maintain a separate bag for this purpose. I understand the ins-and-outs of the process and know what I should throw in—mostly. I found out recently that coffee k-cups are not recyclable despite the indication on the bottom of the each cup. What made me look this up was the manipulative way our neighbor approached us.

The usual salutations were given and the topic of recycling was brought up randomly. “People just don’t know what can and can’t be thrown in the recycling bin…” 

She went on to say how jars and cans need to be rinsed out. That pizza boxes can’t be in the bin if any cheese is left on the box. The Kuerig coffee cups aren’t recyclable. All of these things were recently included in the paper bag we used to collect items and toss in the container—along with junk mail, magazines, etc. This neighbor described our trash and it was disconcerting. 

I knew all of these things (aside from the k-cups), but my teenagers apparently did not. What concerns me is that a neighbor went through the bin to seek out violators to approach. It sounds odd, but we feel, in a small way, violated. I can appreciate the concern, truly, but it felt like she went through my panty drawer. It makes me wonder if she goes through anything else we throw away.

Since the encounter, we’ve purchased a security stamp that blacks out our address on envelopes and packages—we even use it for junk mail. We already use our shredder for anything personal, but who knows…maybe she’s piecing that together in her house! 

I suppose I can look at this in a productive and positive way that will help me save the earth more efficiently.

But, it’s weird. Right? 

Confessions of a Culinary Autocrat

Hello. My name is Desiree and I’m a Culinary Autocrat.

Let’s first define autocrat as I know it’s one of those words people think they know, but may not be sure. The purpose of this exercise is to bring awareness, as well as help those who are in denial to recognize it within themselves. 

Autocrat:  a person ruling with unlimited authority; one who has undisputed influence or power.

It took a hot minute to determine the exact noun I wanted to use to describe my condition. I first selected bully, but that is defined as someone who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker or in some way vulnerable. I am not cruel, insulting, or remotely threatening to anyone—it’s not in my nature. Dictator didn’t work as I’m not an oppressor—unless you ask any one of my kids, but that’s for another time. These two words alone are quite negative in connotation and I don’t think my condition warrants that kind of cynicism. 

The word autocrat seemed to fit perfectly as I do have unlimited authority in my kitchen and hold all of the power and influence as to what goes on there. Think of a chef in a restaurant. This person is in charge and decides on what is to be prepared and how. I am no different in my kitchen, but the concept changes when people around you aren’t employees. With that, I am using this post as a sort of confessional as I recognize that my autocratical ways may not always be positive. 

Herein lies my problem…I like things prepared or cooked in a certain way—my way. My argument is that I have been cooking for about twenty-five years and I think that gives me some authority. Right? I know I have made it far from fun to cook with me sometimes—okay, most of the time—but, there are methods to my madness. There are certain ways things are to be chopped, or diced, and there are specific ways ingredients have to be measured and prepared (see Alton Brown). There’s a science to the art of cooking and it ALWAYS matters how things are done.

I am confident in my abilities and know my limitations. I know I should use my powers for good and teach my teenagers, but I lose patience. I can show them how to use a knife, measure ingredients, and put everything together. The problem is that the next time they help, anything I’ve taught has vanished from their memory. I show them again—and again—and again. To watch them haphazardly pour milk into a measuring cup used for dry ingredients EVERY SINGLE TIME, rather than use one for liquids, makes me crazy.  Now I am done and my tone will discourage them from any future culinary exercises. However, I do need to ensure my kids know how to cook for themselves as they have to be comfortable in the kitchen, knowing all the tools to use, spices to add, and various ingredients that work well together.  Or, they grow up thinking it’s easier to open a box and just add water…with the wrong measuring cup, no less.

Now, cooking with your significant other not only shares responsibilities, but it’s an engaging way to bring you closer together. There are random conversations, laughter, and even some sensual taste-testing.  Michael and I have had some fabulous cooking sessions and it can, quite honestly, be very romantic. However, the days of us preparing meals together have been put on the back shelf—like some ingredient that is used on rare occasions, such as truffle oil or saffron. He knows how to cook and has prepared some delicious meals.  I have learned with him that I have to let go and let him prepare things as he wants. However, I find myself making little comments—not to insult but to suggest. At least that’s how I see it.

Now, cooking with your significant other not only shares responsibilities, but it’s an engaging way to bring you closer together. There are random conversations, laughter, and even some sensual taste-testing.  Michael and I have had some fabulous cooking sessions and it can, quite honestly, be very romantic. However, the days of us preparing meals together have been put on the back shelf—like some ingredient that is used on rare occasions, such as truffle oil or saffron. He knows how to cook and has prepared some delicious meals.  I have learned with him that I have to let go and let him prepare things as he wants. However, I find myself making little comments—not to insult but to suggest. At least that’s how I see it.

Things all came to head when he wanted to help and asked how I wanted some potatoes cut. They were going to be roasted in the oven, so it was important that they were all relatively the same in bite-size pieces to cook evenly. What started as a friendly argument over diced versus chopped turned into eerie silence in the kitchen.  I’m honestly not sure it was me being offensive or him being defensive—but, it’s been a while just the same. 

So, I find myself alone in the kitchen these days and I know it’s my fault. I have to let go my need to be in culinary control and allow my family to learn—just as I did (and still do). With Michael, I have to let him cook as he pleases, without my commentary (unless he asks, of course). I will add that I don’t complain about having to do all the cooking—the culinary autocrat in me is good with this. But, the kitchen being the most commonly used room in the house is a meeting place for families. I am exceedingly happy on those rare occasions everyone is home and standing around the counter as I cook—laughing and sharing stories. I even love it when just one person hangs out with me—until they ask to help.

I’m a work in progress. 

The Making of a Soldier’s Mom

We all know that mothers have an important job and we put in a lot time, work, and dedication. There are all kinds of mothers and everyone has one—it’s the most common denominator we all share. Being a mother of three has been a rollercoaster of a ride so far—thrilling, scary, and fun. Like with all parents, I want the best for my kids and hope they go off on their own one day to live happy, healthy lives. That time came for me last week with child #2—the first to fly from the nest. And just like the first day of kindergarten where mom is tearfully dropping their kid off at school, I tearfully did the same when my son left for the Army basic training. 

He swore in on October 1st with a ship date of November 13th. The excitement was overwhelming at first and then it turned to anxiety—but in a good way, if there is such a thing. I really only know what I’ve seen in movies and hearsay from others about boot camp. I understand the process of “breaking” the enlisted recruit and then building them back up again. This is why the process is tough and training can be grueling, but necessary nonetheless. However, this was MY son venturing into that atmosphere. The thought of breaking his spirit was distressing. The thought of breaking his bad habits…well, that didn’t worry me so much.

He is the one who could literally sleep all day and would now have to get up at 5 am. The one who would sleep on a bare mattress rather than put on sheets would now have to make his bed every single day. The one found in the kitchen quietly making a quesadilla at midnight would now have to eat when scheduled. He is the very one who averaged a thirty-minute saunter to a high school that was only a ten-minute walk away—and he will now be running miles. In short, whatever discipline is called for in basic training, he was the polar opposite. 

The remarkable thing is that he knew he needed the discipline and challenge. That alone makes me a very proud mom. He recognized the qualities of becoming a solder and what it would do for him. This was about realizing that life needs direction, even if you aren’t sure which way you’re going—you need to keep moving. He talked the talk all day long about his future, but now he was actually doing something about it.

It’s been a week since I said good-bye, with only a brief phone call to say he arrived safely. My thoughts are filled with how he’s adjusting to his new life, even though I understand he really hasn’t begun training yet. It’s the getting up and moving about with the rest of us day-walkers that he has to get accustomed to. And, he knows he will have to bury his sarcasm (yes, that’s from me), his smirk (probably from me too), and joking his way out of confrontation (yea, there’s a pattern here). For the most part, I can empathize with what he’s going through. The drill instructors do too, but they couldn’t care less about what his feelings are about getting up early or training—and they certainly don’t tolerate sassiness or dickering on how the day is structured. They have a job to do and know what it takes to get it done. They have a solder to make.

I have some basic training of my own to do during this time as I know my job parenting is done. I’ll always be his mother, but I understand that this is a new chapter in HIS life— and I will let him be the adult that he is. There is no need to interject my opinions and advice about his choices without him asking. I will be encouraging and listen with interest to what he’s willing to share. I will learn more about the intricate nature of the Army and all its terminology. And, I will write letters even though they will probably outnumber his ten-to-one. 

In short, I will be here knowing he is doing what he needs to do with his life. He knows he has my support, love, and encouragement—and care packages…the boy man is going to need his chocolate. 

HOOAH!

The Ambivalent Night Owl

So, we passed through the tough part of creating good habits, measuring out our foods, and keeping track of our intake—we’re feeling pretty good. We have more energy and are thrilled to see the changes taking place in our body—both in weight and shape. Then something happened. We unexpectedly fell into one of those healthy sleep schedules—the kind experts call good sleep hygiene.

Obtaining healthy sleep is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life.

National Sleep Foundation

I say it was unexpected because we are hard-core night owls, going to sleep anywhere from 1:00 am to 2:00 am—getting anywhere from four to six hours of sleep. Now we are powering down by 10:30, or even earlier sometimes.  We now know what a sunrise looks like without the aid of an Instagram feed. When my eyes pop open around 6:00, I get up to enjoy some quiet time with my coffee, see our daughter before she slugs off to school, and then maybe do a little yoga. Michael gets up by 7:00 (or earlier) and laces up his shoes to go for a two-mile walk/run.

We have never been able to process the idea of morning people. We are refusing to call ourselves that as we are not yet qualified.  We don’t get up and start our day energetic and singing with the birds. We just get up. We don’t talk. We may even avoid eye-contact. As far as we are concerned, nothing has happened yet, so what is there to talk about? That, my friends, is a grizzled night owl out of its comfort zone. We don’t know how to behave in morning air—suspicious of the sights, sounds, and smells. 

The talking usually starts about an hour into the morning and it’s starting to feel more natural as the days go by and we repeat the process—proving it’s not a fluke. We do a lot things before breakfast such as he’ll meditate, do some reading, and write in his journal. I’ll pop open my Design Home app and create a beautifully decorated room (it’s for creativity purposes), work on a story or blog post I’m writing, and compile a menu for the day. The best part is sitting down for breakfast together before he starts his work day (which is here at home, fortunately). All sorts of things get discussed and oddly enough with good humor, even if it deals with the kids. 

We find that our day feels so much longer and the only downside is waiting for the rest of the world to catch up.

Retain Your Individuality and Be Yourself

I’m not sure if it’s an age thing or just mind over matter, however I am finding that I am not nearly as judgmental as I used to be—about almost everything. I came across a quote from Gwyneth Paltrow: “The older I get, the more open-minded I get [and] the less judgmental I get.” In my 20s and 30s, I would readily look at someone and sum up who I thought they were and the personality that went with their behavior. More often than not, it wasn’t flattering.

Women have a talent for noticing other females as they walk by. We can tell you what someone is wearing from head-to-toe, with just a glance. It’s not always used for judgment purposes, it’s just something we do instinctively, I think. What I’ve noticed about myself lately is I don’t harbor any cynical thoughts about what a woman chooses to do with her personal style. I have a greater appreciation for how women present themselves and it’s overall admiration. Is that maturity on my part? I’m not sure, but let’s call it that.

I started to think about the reversal of that and the feeling of being judged by others. While we were out this past weekend, I wondered if women looked at me and judged who I am by how I looked. Did they assume that I didn’t have any issues with my weight and have always been a size six—that it came easy for me? That I must not have any children who seem to be blamed for mothers not taking care of ourselves.  That I don’t care about how my hair looks because…well, let’s just say humidity isn’t my friend. Of course, I assume too much and perhaps not a single person even noticed me. However, being a female, I know how women think—not all women by any means, just in general. 

I’m not quite on board with the “I don’t care what people think” school of thought just yet, but I’m working on it. I wonder if someone is judging me for my nose piercing or if they think my breasts must be fake or that my shirt is inappropriately low-cut or my leather pants are a bit much to have dinner at the local taco joint. It’s is a full-blown job being comfortable in my own skin and having these thoughts don’t help. And why should I care what others think?

I shouldn’t.

It’s discouraging and brings down my confidence. We women have enough to deal with and need to feel a sense of camaraderie with those who would understand—judgey-judy doesn’t wear well on anyone. I want to project what I feel on the inside by how I look on the outside. Some days I feel sexy, on some I feel energetic, and on some I feel impossibly introverted. So I will wear the sexy low-cut top, or cut-off shorts with a cute t-shirt—and on the introverted days, I may just stay home in yoga pants and a tank top (but they’ll coordinate!).

My best friend—someone I’ve known since childhood—is enviously comfortable with who she is. It’s the most beautiful thing about her. If she wants to dance in the middle of the grocery store parking lot to a song blaring from a car driving by, she’s gonna dance. If she wants to wear a short, black dress cut down to her navel with high heels to the aforementioned taco joint, she’s gonna rock that look. You will notice immediately that she loves who she is as a woman.

And, she has never been the judgmental type, with always a positive thing to say about everyone—no matter what. The topless, drunk girl at the festival doing cartwheels? “Well, okay then…you go girl!” I love this about her and being in her presence encourages me to be the same. In fact, it makes me feel good about myself. The difference between us is that she may do a cartwheel too, whereas I wouldn’t want the attention it would provide—oh, the judgment. (Just kidding, I wouldn’t do the cartwheel as I did it once a few years ago and thought I was going to die. My insides felt like I stirred everything up with an old, wooden spoon.)

The goal is to not apologize for who I am and not care what others may think of me. The only person I need to answer to is myself. I know this. And because I know this, it is something I will work to correct it as the feeling of being limited for fear of judgment is exhausting. I want to be as comfortable in public as I am at home with my family. 

I do encourage my 15-year-old daughter to be confident with who she is and express her personality however she wants—with age appropriate limits, of course. She’s better than me about not worrying what people will think. I do step in when she is about to leave the house in a shirt that looks like she practiced origami with it before putting it on. However, I let her wear it if that’s what she wants. Maybe it’s a style or maybe it’s laziness, but either way, it’s her choice. Rock that wrinkled shirt!

“Always be yourself. Retain individuality; listen to the truest part of yourself.”

~Marilyn Monroe