2015 in Review

I hesitated to write this year-in-review post because looking back at 2015, I kept saying to myself, “Not that much happened, really.” I think that’s the thing with mothering and adulting- the days are long, but time flies. And the older I get, the shorter the years feel. So it makes sense that the past year didn’t immediately stick out as remarkable. Sort of.

I spent the early part of this week going through old emails and Outlook calendar appointments. I also deleted a ton of old emails. That was liberating! Taking the time to look back is important. It’s a reminder of the growth that happened and milestones achieved. It’s also totally OK to look back with a sense of pride and feel good about your time.

Turns out my family and I did a lot in 2015. I had a big milestone birthday- 40! Funny that I glossed over that initially. I started a business and a book. These are not small things.

In my experience, women do this a lot. We downplay things for fear of sounding braggy. It’s also a parenting survival strategy; if you dwell too long on the “stuff,” you’ll spin your wheels and get overwhelmed. As 2016 revs up, I vow to not downplay things. I will speak with confidence. I will give myself credit. I have earned it (and so have you!).

Turns out, 2015 was remarkable. In big and small ways. Here are the highlights:

  • February- First annual winter family trip. In Christmas 2014, Santa brought fewer gifts and a little cash for us to go somewhere. We voted for Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City and had a blast! This tradition will definitely continue in 2016.
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Great Wolf Lodge, Feb 2015

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Legit small business owner in Michigan- Sheldrake Consulting!

  • March 15- L reached 5 years off-treatment and is now officially in remission.
  • April 13- L went to his first Long-Term Survivor Follow-Up clinic appointment. He also officially graduated to one appointment/year!
  • April 19- I am godmother to my nephew, Patrick and spent an early birthday with my entire family and best friend back in Jersey.
  • April 21- The BIG 4-0!
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Lulu Buttercup- My pink beach cruiser bike!

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Celebrating with my boys. Nothin’ better.

  • Late June- As a birthday present to myself, I rented Hilltop Cottage for (and from) myself and my girlfriends and I went away for a kid-free week in the sun. This was one of the best weeks of my life.
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PTW with the girls! Fun. Life-giving.

  • Professionally, my colleagues and I survived the summer while down two full-time staff people. We were supervisor-less from August until December. This honestly was one of the more challenging times of my professional life. I learned a big lesson, too. If more responsibilities are forced on you, ask for more money. I didn’t. I should have.
  • June/July- I created a blog series called #SAMid, designed to highlight the joys, struggles, and realities of being a mid-career professional in higher education. Colleagues contribute heartfelt and thought-provoking pieces. Search #SAMid on the blog to find the awesome-ness.
  • Labor Day weekend my mom, Grandmom Jersey, came out to PTW and we all swam in Lake Michigan! In September!
  • In September I was diagnosed with tennis and golfer’s elbow- despite not playing either of those- and began PT. Apparently you can get a “sports” injury from too much typing. Ah, 40.
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Physical Therapy ain’t no place for sissies!

  • September is childhood cancer awareness month. I was invited to speak to the Nursing Student Association about our journey. It was a packed house. What an honor!
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Thank you, MSU NSA for going #gold!

  • Fall- C’s soccer team, the Okemos Fireants, went undefeated!
  • Fall- I conquered my fear of home improvement and: 1) stained an old desk that is now in my writing corner and 2) painted our coastal living room.
  • November- I participated in #NaNoWriMo and began our family memoir, Dear Boys. I’m 30K words in! Stay tuned for official release in 2016.
  • December brought L’s tenth birthday and our annual trek to Jersey (Joisey!) to visit family and friends.

Whew! What a wonderful year. Looking back on it, we did do a lot. I highly recommend this year-in-review exercise.

Cheers to you. I hope 2015 was a good one for you and yours and that 2016 is even better.

I am lucky and grateful to be here and looking forward, with confidence, to 2016.

Resilience isn’t shiny

I have thought about this a LOT. But I bristle when people tell me that my children are resilient (our survivor and his younger brother). “He will be fine. He won’t remember anything. Kids are so resilient.”  Someone, usually someone who has not walked in these shoes (thank God), would say it to me while L was experiencing a painful procedure or especially rough round of chemo or C was acting out because he missed us and there was no routine. No one ever physically patted me on the arm while saying this, but they might as well have. “Kids are resilient” is like the trauma version of “Bless your heart!”

NO.

Children are NOT resilient. Resilience is looking fear in the face and carrying on anyway. Children are not yet afraid. They do not know how to be resilient. What children are is fearless, in the truest sense of the word. They have no fear. Look into the eyes of a 4 yr old boy about to jump off the top step or soar through the air from the swings. He is fearless. He wants to fly! If he is afraid, it is because we have taught him to be careful, to fear the potential consequences.

Children have an inborn sense of JUSTICE, of fairness, of what is right and true. They know what is right and what is wrong and what is normal. And they will fight to do what is normal. They want to be.kids.

One of L’s nurses is in this #NursesWeek video from Mott. Listen carefully to Nurse Pam at the 7:15 mark:

Kids are kids first. And sick kids second. Or third or fourth. They’re really not interested in being sick. They’re really just here being kids. They want to go to the playroom.

Amen.

Thank you Nurse Pam, and many others at Mott, who really saw our son and our family. You modeled resilience for us. You see people at their most vulnerable and you still care. You held our hands, you let us cry with you. And then you came back the next day and did it again. You are resilient.

This quote was posted in Quiet Revolution, LLC’s Facebook page:

Everyday courage

Everyday courage

To which I responded: “Too often we make resilience shiny. It isn’t. Resilience is dirty. It’s hard work. It’s a choice we make, usually without fanfare or notice from others.” Susan Cain herself liked it. And then she favorited my tweet about it. (Yeah, I was geeking out about it!)

Making resilience shiny puts it on a pedestal and thus harder to achieve. If resilience is perfect and out there, then it is for other people. Don’t do that. Don’t put distance between yourself and resilience. That is a huge disservice to you and your story.

Resilience is: modeled, learned, chosen, and practiced. You don’t do it once and it sticks. It is a constant re-learning and re-choosing. Getting up once doesn’t make you resilient; and failing once or twice doesn’t make you not resilient. Resilience is a lifelong journey, an opportunity to choose growth over defeat, light over darkness, joy over suffering.

So no, my children are not resilient. They are fearless. I will learn that from them. They will learn resilience from me.

Comparison is the thief of joy

I’ve wasted the last 72 hours of myself being all riled up by an article I read on the lovely interwebs. Then of course, my feed blows up with similar junk (it’s scary to me how that happens…like because I work at a university, that university’s advertisements are all over my facebook. Weird). All of these messages are screaming at me that I am not enough. I am not hungry (well, I AM hungry, but not the RIGHT kind), I could save more money on car insurance, PASSION, vocation, career, life hacks to save you two seconds in the morning… Blah, blah, blah!

Then, I saw this image and reposted it on instagram (you know, that other social media thing that needs to be constantly fed to help me perpetuate my “brand”). It’s from @emilymcdowell. Check her out here. Good stuff.

Preach.

Preach.

I also shared said article with my spouse and some friends. The best advice I got FROM THEM was this: take what works for you, discard the rest.

Ahhh. Yes. I know this. In my core, when I am tuned in to MY internal voice, I know this. Advice is only good when someone follows it. So, why was I comparing myself to everyone on the internet, most of whom I don’t know, and then trying to force their advice onto my life? I’ve been comparing myself to:

  • single women
  • single women without children
  • divorced women
  • married women with no kids
  • married women with one kid (one is one, two is ten!)
  • empty-nesters
  • working moms with live-in nannies
  • working moms with stay-at-home partners
  • working moms with cleaning ladies
  • mompreneurs
  • solopreneurs
  • married-preneurs

There is NOTHING wrong with any of these people. But comparing myself, my life, my “career” to theirs makes me feel less than and robs me of my joy. I’m NOT them, so I need to stop idealizing and idolizing their lives. My journey is mine alone.

I took facebook off my phone a long time ago. Finally took twitter off last night, too. If instagram gets catty & pushy like twitter, then that sucker’s next!

I know who I am. I know who my tribe is. I need to fill my feed and my soul with news from THEM.