Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dream Big

In reading my post from yesterday titled, ‘Kiss your comfort zone good-bye!’, you may have gathered that I’ve recently decided to step out of my comfort zone and dream big.

It has always been my dream to write a book. And to have it published. And to be on Oprah.

Being on Oprah is a ways off, but writing a book that will get published – that will happen sooner, rather than later. Still, I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let me regress…

My entire adult life I have been working towards one goal or another.

When I was a young, single mother, at the age of twenty, it was my goal to finish college. To achieve that goal I had to make a lot of sacrifices. I had to move in with my grandparents, who generously allowed me to live with them while I went to school. I had to spent my nights studying instead of holding my baby. (Really, I did plenty of that too, but you know what I mean.) Since I was a full-time student and a part-time waitress, I didn’t have a lot of money. I had to collect welfare. Talk about a humbling experience. It was amazing to me how the social workers would look down on me for being on welfare when all I was trying to do was make a life for myself and my son. The point is, it was difficult to achieve this goal, but I did.

In January 2004, at twenty-two years old, with a two-year-old son, I graduated from college.

Graduating from college was a stepping-stone in my life. It allowed me to get a good job with the local Public Children Services Agency. That job allowed me to move into a nice half-double with my son. It felt good to be on my own. However, I was not satisfied with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. So, over the course of the next two years, I continued to work hard. I wrote a lot of research papers, took care of a toddler (who turned into a preschooler), got a promotion, protected children at risk of abuse and neglect, and nurtured my little family of two.

In June 2007, at twenty-five years old, with a four-year-old son, I received my Masters Degree in Social Work.

About that time I started to toss around the idea of fulfilling my long-time dream of writing a book. My best friend, doing what best friends do, bought me a book about how to write a book and how to get your book published. But what would I write about? The book (about writing a book) said that publishers wanted to know why you are the best person to be writing a book about your subject area. To be a successful non-fiction author, you need an angle, and you need to be an expert. The only thing I was close to being an expert at was my job, and maybe being a mother. So, I put my dream of writing a book on hold. I got another promotion. I forced myself to start dating. Then, I met the love of my life on Yes, you read that correctly.

In January 2008, at twenty-six years old, with a five-year-old son, I met the love of my life on

Over the next few months I fell more and more in love with John and his son Khegan. After a short four months of dating, my now-husband proposed. I said yes! Then I turned my life upside down. We, my son and I, moved. I spent three months commuting over an hour a day – both ways. I got a new job. We bought a house. We planned a wedding. We created a family.

On August 22, 2009, at twenty-seven years old, with a seven-year-old son, I married the love of my life. I became a stepmother. We became a family.

The plan was to expand our family – immediately. To my frustration, this did not happen. Apparently, a woman who is very fertile at twenty is not always so fertile at twenty-seven. Or, twenty-eight. In my impatience, I got stuck. My life was at a stand-still. There was no “next big thing”. A baby; a baby was supposed to be our next big thing. We are still working on that.

In January 2010, at twenty-eight years old, with a seven-year-old son, and a seven-year-old stepson, and a thirty year old husband, I found out that we would need the assistance of fertility medications to achieve our next big thing.

My feet were planted firmly in my comfort zone. A comfortable job. A nice house. Two smart, beautiful children. A strong, handsome husband. To an outsider it looked like I had it all. But, I was not an outsider – I was standing with my feet planted firmly in my comfort zone. And, a voice inside my head was telling me to get out – to do more, to be more. So, with all the courage I could muster, I kissed my comfort zone good-bye!

On May 1, 2010, at twenty-eight years old, with two seven-year old sons, and a husband, and a graduate level education, I created this blog. My blog. The precursor to my book. My book that will get published. Then I will be on Oprah.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kiss Your Comfort Zone Goodbye!

Today, my sister forwarded me this quote.

"I used to have a Comfort Zone…where I knew I could not fail… The same four walls and busy work…were really more like jail… I longed so much, to do the things…I’d never done before… But, I stayed inside my Comfort Zone…and paced the same old floor...

I said it didn’t matter…that I wasn’t doing much… I said I didn’t care for things…like diamonds…cars…and such I claimed to be so busy...with the things inside my zone... But, deep inside…I longed for…some victory of my own.

I couldn’t let my life go by…just watching others wine! I held my breath…and stepped outside…to let the change begin… I took a step…and with strength, I’d never felt before… I kissed my Comfort Zone good-bye…and closed and locked the door.

If you are in a Comfort Zone…afraid to venture out…Remember that all winners, at one time were filled with doubt. A step or two, and words of praise, can make your dreams come true… So, greet your future with a smile…Success is there for you."

... Author Unknown

To me, this is a very powerful quote. So many women spend their lives living within their “comfort zone”. They are comfortable and complacent to spend day after day doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming the floors, working at their same old boring jobs, visiting the same old boring restaurants, getting their hair cut the same way, buying the same groceries, cooking the same meals, wearing the same styles, visiting with the same old friends, week after boring week.

And all the while, they complain. The laundry is never caught up. I wish we could afford a housekeeper. My boss is so difficult. Walmart raised their grocery prices! There is never anything to do in this city. My clothes are so plain. I hate my hair. Can my hips get any bigger?!

Then, they make excuses. My husband never helps me. The children take up so much time. Moms don’t have time to exercise. We could never afford that dress. I can’t quit my job because my family needs the benefits. How could we possibly take a vacation without the children? These are hard economic times.

Next, they criticize – they criticize the women who are living outside of their comfort zones. Can you believe Jane would spend that much money on shoes? Gayle doesn’t even clean her own house…she pays someone else to do it. Susan is not a very involved parent – she never attends PTA meetings. What an extravagant hair cut that woman has! The Jones’ vacation cost a small fortune – so much for planning for their children’s college education.

And so, they waste their lives away, living inside their “comfort zone”.

Please understand that I am, by no means, saying that being a reliable, involved mother, or having a long-standing, steady job, is wasting your life away. That is not what I mean at all. I am talking about women who are settling. They are settling for a loveless marriage, settling for a boring job, settling for a modest, but steady income, settling.

At what point do we, as women, give up on our hopes and dreams to live a life of comfort and complacency? It happens to all of us at some point in our lives. We stop trying. We stop striving to do better, to be better.

I have always been a go-getter. If I set my mind to do something, I would achieve it. Life has dealt me many challenges, but I have somehow always managed to make it through and come out smelling like a rose. I have worked very hard, for a very long time, to elevate my life to the place where it is today. So why is it, that just when I feel like I’m “settling” comfortably into my life, do warning sirens seem to flash in my head saying, “There is more to life than this! You can do more, be more!”

Maybe it’s because I am a dreamer. Maybe it is because I am a perfectionist. Maybe it is because I have very high standards. Whatever the reason may be, I can’t allow myself to live comfortably and complacently inside my safety zone. I am meant to do more, be more, achieve more. By virtue of being a wife and mother, I do not have to automatically settle for what appears to be, to the average bystander, as being a “good life”. I want a great life. I will have an extraordinary life.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A New Breed Mom’s Guide to Life: Top 10 ways to reduce stress – for the woman trying to do it all!!

Feeling Like This? Top 10 Ways for Busy Moms to Reduce Stress!

#10 Eat Healthy and Exercise! When you take care of yourself and your body, you are not only setting a great example for your children, but you are also maintaining your physical health which is sure to reduce your stress level.

#9 Plan ahead! Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today. By completing chores such as packing school lunches, unloading the dishwasher, and setting out clothes the night before; you can save yourself time and stress during the morning rush. Another tip is to create a weekly meal plan and stick to it. This takes the guess work out of planning dinner and it can save time and money.

#8 Enlist Help! Having your children complete age appropriate chores will teach them responsibility while also taking some pressure off of you. Teaching your children to help in small ways can lead to big rewards!

#7 Seek out mom-to-mom support! Talking to other moms about common issues, that all moms face, will help you to feel connected and allow you to know that you are not alone! If you are too busy to schedule ‘play dates’, you can always find online resources to network with other moms. (You’re reading this blog, so you’re obviously off to a great start!) Another great online resource is

#6 Learn to say “no”! As woman we often have the need to please everyone – our kids, our spouses, our bosses, our friends, our neighbors, and almost anyone else we know. It is unrealistic and impossible for people to expect you to volunteer for every little PTA event at your child’s school while maintaining a household and a full time job. You will find that no one will condemn you for saying “no” – quite the contrary, they will respect you for respecting yourself!

#5 Be a good bookkeeper! For a busy mom it is imperative to keep a schedule or a planner. Whether you keep a calendar tucked away in your purse or have your whole life programmed into your phone, being a good bookkeeper will do wonders for your sanity.

#4 Routines, routines, routines! Children need routines. It helps them to feel safe and secure when they know what to expect. Set up routines around daily activities such as morning routines, dinner routines, homework routines, and bed-time routines – you will see your children thrive!

#3 Get enough sleep! Not getting enough sleep is related to higher stress levels and can leave you feeling irritable and burnt out. By sleeping 7-9 hours a night, you can wake feeling rested and ready to face the day.

#2 Solicit Spousal Support! Mothers sometimes overlook their most valuable resource in times of stress – their husband! Husbands are usually more than willing to pitch in and help out where help is needed. But your husband is not telepathic and will typically not know what you need unless you ask. If you’re a single mother, seek support from a sister, parent, or best friend.

#1 Make time for yourself! If you take nothing else from this article, just know that carving out small chunks of time to nurture yourself is so important! It gives you an opportunity to “re-charge” and relax. By setting aside time to read a book, go shopping, or get a pedicure, you will reduce your stress and help ensure that you are giving 100% to you family when you are with them. Your family will thank you for it!