Body Like An iPhone

I have a love/hate version with technology, specifically with my iPhone. I love how it can connect me to all kinds of information anytime I want. But sometimes I hate the pressure of feeling like I always have to be connected at all times. My brain is starting to function very much like my current iPhone, which is actually no longer very current and definitely needs an upgrade. Honestly between all of the social media I feel like I can’t keep up with responding, both socially and professionally, in an intelligent and meaningful manner.

gallery-1498732641-iphone-storage-almost-full

Storage Almost Full

Much like my phone that is overstuffed with photos, my clothes are becoming overstuffed with, well, me. Too much pizza, too much wine (Damn you summer rose`), and too many cookies. Those are my favorite three things to eat and drink and I am pretty sure none of them are in the food triangle that gets pointed out to our kids at their well check. I know what I need to do. I need to take the time to purge the photos off of my phone (I have 12,092 and 83 videos as I type this right now) and onto Dropbox or iCloud or one of a million other options but, I’m lazy and haven’t taken the time to figure out how to do it without accidentally deleting or sharing everything. And I need to hire someone to follow me around and smack my hand whenever I reach for pizza, cookies or wine.

https_blogs-images.forbes.comanthonykarczfiles201709iphone-battery-life

 

Low Battery

There are two types of people in this world. There are those that just have a picture of their battery in the form of an icon in the corner of their screen, and then there are those who have the actual percentage rate of battery charge posted right next to the battery icon. Guess which one proves to be more stressful? Those of us who have the number posted can’t fathom how the rest of you can function. It is like the gas tank in your car just showing a level but no actual mileage or numbers. I so wish I could be laid back and not stress when I see that battery going low, but, if I am being totally honest, I start to freak when I see my levels go under 50%. I panic because I have no idea what the rate and speed of depletion is. We have all looked at phones and thought, “Hey I’ve got 57%, I’ll be fine.”, only to look down 30 minutes later and see that awful RED battery with a single digit percentage. Lately my brain feels the same way. My energy drains at an inconsistent rate. Somedays I get up and can get a million things done and feel great. Other days I feel spent after simply getting the kids off to school. The one thing I know for sure is after too many social events my battery plummets and I need to be home, alone, staring out at the trees in my backyard, usually eating cookies and drinking rose`. This has to happen immediately or I will shut down and cease to function at all. My introvert self needs to recharge BEFORE the battery turns red.

IMG_4EEAFA7A19FC-1

Too Many Apps and Too Many Open Apps

When we realize our phones are running low on battery and on storage we immediately check to make sure we close or delete any open apps that we aren’t using. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could do that in our brains? This is where yoga and meditation are really as important as everyone tells us. They allow us to close all the noise of all the thoughts that are going simultaneously inside our heads. “I need to make the kids dentist appointment…when was the last time I was at the dentist…do I need toothpaste…I know I need to pick up that prescription from the pharmacy…when I go to the pharmacy I should grab a birthday card for that party my son is going to…did I rsvp for that party…oh and what can I get for a gift…what am I going to do my kids’ birthdays this year…oops red light I thought that was yellow…SQURRIEL! ” When our brain has too many apps open we are not present and that is when we do things like leave our wallets on top of our cars or bang our toes into doorways. Not good stuff. And sometimes we just have too many apps, as in you don’t even know what they all do and if you need all of them anymore. People who are really helpful tend to say yes to everything and the next thing you know they find themselves involved in an overload of activities and obligations. Sometimes you just have to look at all of them all together and see which ones are sucking up the most data and draining the most battery. Often times we don’t use all those apps or things in our lives.

Unable-to-Install-iOS-11-1

Unable to Install Update

When our phones start to get old we start to notice that they are not charging as fast or effectively as before. Sometimes it’s the chargers themselves, the cords get too bent, the ports get dirty, and sometimes it’s just because the phone needs and update. Most of these nagging update messages pop up and we generally hit the Later option which tells us that it can do the update overnight as long as it is plugged in to charge.  Sounds simple but how many times have you fallen asleep without plugging in your phone? If the phone isn’t charged properly it can’t update. Well neither can I. If I don’t get my downtime or a good nights sleep I can’t seem to prioritize the things I know I need to do to upgrade my life. Exercise, eating right, making time for friends all feel like things that slip further out of my reach if I haven’t been able to properly recharge. And the more I put off the updates I so desperately need, the further and further I get from trying to effectively reach my goals personally and professionally. And how many of us put off the update for fear of it changing what is familiar to us? Sometimes we repeat a negative cycle simply because it takes less work than consciously changing a bad habit. We all fear change but usually it creates growth and something positive. This will require me to swap out my cookies and wine for carrots and seltzer, which I have been putting off even though I know I need to do to feel better. I think there is a bit of a rebel in all of us who hates being told by our phone what to do. I don’t want it to tell me I have to install an update. I want to decide and be in control if I want the update. This is so childish but I am very guilty of not always wanting to do something that is told to me rather than asked of me. Stupid and stubborn but I’m working on it. I think Apple needs to work with reverse psychology and tell me not to the update and then maybe I would…totally messed up.

overheated-iphone-warning

Phone Is Overheated

Well this one isn’t fun. Who has left the phone out in the sun on a hot day, or maybe even in your car? Of course this happens when you need it the most, not like a clown with a bloody knife is chasing me emergency, but more like I need to use the phone to get directions type of emergency. Well again if you are a female over the age of 40 you probably know what it feels like to feel overheated and it ain’t fun. Sweating into your sheets and adding to your mountain of laundry isn’t a great start to your day. Plus when you are overheated you don’t sleep well which means you can’t recharge your battery which creates to our overall slow overall performance. There is only one cure for this one and that is to give you and your phone a chance to cool down. I also recommend lowering your thermostat to 65 after your husband goes to bed and buying these moisture wicking pjs from Soma. 

gsmarena_002

Insider Tip – Upgrade You and Your Phone

Sometimes you do all that you can do and then it is just time. You need to upgrade your phone. There is a famous quote about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. I am totally guilty of this. Sometimes we just need a new phone. While we can’t just run to the hospital and ask for a new brain, (which of course we would back up first to make sure we could upload all of our memories and feelings), we can make some changes to our outside. We are often told we need to feel good on the inside so that we can look good on the outside. While I do believe this I also believe that we need to both feel and look good. And sometimes these may happen out-of-order. Sometimes a person has done all they can do internally but things just aren’t changing for them in their mindset. That person may just need an extra push and that extra push may come from changing the outside and working in. Sounds confusing but hear me out. I know clients who have lost weight, been through a divorce, or just generally felt insecure or struggled with self-esteem. They are stuck with a voice inside their head that they are desperate not to hear. When someone compliments you how do you feel? It can be something as small and simple as “I love your earrings!” and the next thing you know that person is standing a little taller, holding their head a little higher. I can’t tell you how good it feels to get to know my clients, to understand them and to see their beauty, and then to able to put them into clothing that reflects what I am able to see on their inside. When we feel pulled together on the outside it helps us to feel pulled together on the inside. When we feel pulled together inside we can act pulled together, resulting in a positive shift. Let me be very clear in that this is not a makeover. That would be like trading in your phone and never copying over any of your previous contacts, apps and information. There is a reason when we get a new phone we first connect it to iTunes and reload our backup info. There is comfort in seeing all that information and apps come back up into this new phone. Now we are in the position to edit what we want to put on the phone, so instead of deleting apps and information we get to choose what we want to add in. This is exactly what happens when I first meet with a client and help them go through their closet. I hesitate to use the phrase “get rid of stuff” when I prefer to think of it as choosing what we want to put back in. What items work for their life RIGHT now, fit them RIGHT now, and make them feel good. When you fill your closet back up with the good stuff then you can put together new outfit combinations out of your favorite things, sometimes the clients hardly have to buy anything new. This is kind of like when you finally check with your phone provider and realize you are actually eligible for a free upgrade or that it will cost you very little. Sometimes a client may need just a few key pieces, like jeans in an updated rise and cut or shoes that in line with what’s currently in style, and then they can mix them back into their wardrobe and upgrade. Upgrading is a good thing. It means that it was already good but that it can get even better, just like us.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post,

Sincerely,

Suzie

 

Positive Affirmations from a Pessimist – yes, I’m serious.

Positive Affirmations from a Pessimist  – yes, I’m serious.

Full disclosure, I was going to call this blog post “Why I love my job”, but I feared most people would roll their eyes and hit delete. I know I would if someone else posted that title. So why am I still going to write about something that sounds like its dripping with sticky sweetness? Because I am a true blue pessimist, or, more politely, I’d call myself a realist. I look at the good, the bad, and the what could go wrong.

There is a beautiful quote that I love:

if-you-are-depressed-you-are-living-in-the-past-if-you-are-living-in-the-future-you-are-at-peace-you-are-living-in-the-present-life-quote

See I tend to live my life in the past, constantly beating myself up about mistakes I’ve made, things I’ve said wrong and what I could have done differently. I play it like a highlight reel in my brain, like reliving that awful final episode of Lost, where I’m left with more questions than answers. And, when not enjoying the sad-masochistic sport of beating myself up, my thoughts wander over to hang out in the worry department of my mind, also known as the future. No, I don’t mean the future as in global warming, although that is stressful and I’m convinced we will all end up like the Disney Wall-E movie, I mean my personal, and usually immediate, future. “What are we going to have for dinner? When am I going to find time for that car appointment? Am I ever going to get that stain out of the rug?” This is where a normal person’s brain would take chicken out of the freezer and decide to grill it for dinner, then call to make the car appointment while getting online and ordering miracle carpet cleaner from Amazon, all within 5 minutes. I KNOW this and I KNOW how to do these things but something in me just gets stuck, and, quite frankly, I don’t claim to be a normal person. So I’m currently trying to  focus really, really hard on the present, where if I stay really, really, focused, it’s peaceful happy, and generally a good place to be.

So how do we stay “present”? Stop that thief!

I know so many of us struggle to be “in the moment”, and why I can’t possibly get into all the reasons why, I can give you some small tricks and tips I’ve picked up that are helping me. True confession, my career stresses me out. I love my job but it’s that big word career that I struggle with. I’m supposed to be a badass hashtag girlboss entrepreneur. Sadly, I just had to use spellcheck to find out how to spell entrepreneur. I’m not competitive but I struggle with comparison. I don’t want to compete with others but I can’t help but compare.

Another great quote:

60681ed3926e7e176b96629476efb209

And by human nature when we compare, we contrast, it’s pretty much what we learned at an early age at school. Compare and contrast these two sentences/pictures/objects, see what makes them different. Different IS good, but, we are conditioned to think one version is better than the other. Again, I’m going to blame this on school, we look at choices or options and we determine which one is good, better and best. That’s just not real life. Stop that thought process that is robbing you of your own joyfulness. Focus on you and your accomplishments. Compare those to how far you’ve been and I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Talk to inner parent and inner child – just not out loud in front of people, preferably.

I’m throwing out yet another quote, this one from the movie that may have been overlooked by the Academy, but in my family it’s a masterpiece.

From Talladega Nights: The Ballard of Ricky Bobby

tenor.gif

Poor Ricky lives his entire life based on advice his own father rambled out one day. But eventually his father  even admits that it was stupid advice.

It’s Ricky Bobby’s dad who gives out this poor advice and it’s years later that he explains how nonsensical that same advice sounds. We strive to teach our children to do their best, and, to not compare themselves to what other people are doing. Does winning feel good? Hell, yeah. No one loses a game and says they feel great. You don’t bomb a presentation at work and think, “Wow, that felt amazing!” But what if we started treating ourselves like children again? While I wish that meant more snacks and afternoon naps, what I really mean is a little dose of kindness. I’m really hard on myself and pretty accepting of others. When it comes to my own attitude I don’t tend to pull it all together, put my big girl panties on, and go into battle. I’m more of a grab my blankie and go back to bed kinda chick, who then lies there and beats myself up for being that kind of chick. Good times. What if, bear with me now, you could take the rational adult out of your body, and have it have a chat with the frustrated, upset, confused child that is still in there? Even if you are not a parent I know you know how to speak and give advice with compassion. What would you tell this child version of yourself? I’m pretty sure it’s not “you suck”. Just try this for five minutes and give yourself some words of kindness, encouragement and reassurance. Then go in your room, slam the door, and take a timeout if you still get mad at your own inner parent for trying to help yourself.

 

Mind over matter.

Kids’ activities and sports are brutal these days. I recently had the very honest conversation with my son that when he is deciding to participate in an activity I want him to ask himself two questions.

Are you going to have any fun? Are you going to learn anything?

Hopefully he’s learning something AND having fun at whatever he’s choosing to do as an optional activity. I say optional because school is not optional and while I know he is learning many things, most of the time he is telling me how it’s not very fun. There’s also activities that we find ourselves in and realize that we aren’t having fun and we aren’t learning anything. We can’t control other people so why would we depend on them to make us have fun and to make us learn something.  With the right mindset we can CHOOSE to have fun, and, we can CHOOSE to learn something, even in negative and/or boring situations. Mind over matter is HUGE. It’s so simple and yet so complicated because it involves actively listening to and consciously changing the dialogue in our minds. That dialogue can quickly grow into a chaotic chatter like listening to the ladies of The View talking over each other and arguing about who knows what. So turn the volume down and change the channel. Put on music you love. Take control by listening to your thoughts and sending the bad ones off to walk the plank.

 

Share your strengths…and your weaknesses.

 

A few years ago my friend and her family moved into a new neighborhood. The homes were pretty much picture perfect and the other moms looked the part as well. One of them came over to introduce themselves and drop off homemade muffins. Before you think this gets too Wisteria Lane-like, my friend shared with me the best part. Those muffins were had Halloween themed wrappers on the bottom, yet it was April. This is the moment my friend knew she’d become good friends with this neighbor because the kind gesture and cooking skills came with the big ‘ol reality check that says, yeah this is all the wrappers I had and I am good with that. Nobody likes perfection. It’s annoying and it’s not relatable. If she came over with homemade muffins, in a handmade basket with wrappers on the muffins that said welcome I think things would have turned out very differently. So why not share our gifts and strengths, put them out there and be proud of them. Just don’t forget to share the other real parts of your life, because that’s where we all can relate to each other. And when we relate to each other we understand each other. We forgive, we accept, we open up and we help each other. It’s a safe place, a happy place.

bf8dcb03b82babe871f5b66ba460fb5b

 

You’ve got to believe to receive.

This is the same thing I tell my kids every Christmas, mostly because I still love the fantasy and magic of the holiday, but boy have I been learning lately how very true it is. See I had this post finished yesterday morning and ready to post last night but yesterday afternoon I had a bit of a shakeup.  I went out yesterday evening to go to the wine store and the grocery store. On the way to those two stores I decided to stop at on outdoor flower market. It’s finally feeling warm and sunny and I wanted something pretty by our door. I left the flower place and pulled into the parking lot at the grocery store and was stopped by a man in his car who politely asked if I had a pink wallet. Shit. He said he saw what looked like a pink wallet blow off the top of my car just outside of the flower place and he followed me her to tell me. I thanked him profusely and jumped into my car to go back to where I was. I was walking up and down the road and encountered another man who was working nearby and said he saw a car stop and grab what looked like a wallet off the side of the road. Double Shit. All my credit cards, drivers license, and contact info were in that wallet. This was either a good thing because the person would have no problem contacting me, or, a really horrible thing, as in identity theft. The pessimist in me quickly canceled everything and reported everything and went home and cried. Like really hard cried. I was so mad at myself. My mind quickly started the blame game and snowballed all the things I felt like I had done wrong. I was not being present, I was not paying attention and I was sick of always feeling like I am messing up. And then I threw myself in front of that runaway train in my head. Stop. Enough.

39c7d6f4d729547384c4ff1f09abcea9

One of my best friends recently shared a really fabulous mantraof hers with me:

Show up and shut up.

It was time to do something and shut up all that crap in my brain. I posted on our local community Facebook page that if anyone saw the wallet, even if it was empty, that I’d love to have it back. I received so many relatable, funny, hopeful, kind and caring replies. A friend of mine wrote that one time her mom left their cat on top of their car. Yes, she was serious, and yes, the cat did indeed have nine lives because it survived until someone notified her mother to pull over. Many more women let me know all the places they have left and lost things so I didn’t feel like it was just me.   I went to bed feeling oddly at peace. There was nothing I could do but send out good vibes into the universe and hope for the best. I was going to will that wallet back to me, somehow, someway. I also saw it as a sign as heavy as a rock being dropped on my head. I didn’t need that wine from the store last night as I probably would have drank too much of it and woke up tired and bloated. I needed to get rid of some of those credit cards that I wasn’t using and didn’t want to use. I needed to slow down.

This morning I woke up and hit the restart button. I had some cash in my other bag and I set out to Dunkin Donuts for my liquid motivation. I said another quick prayer to the universe and set a positive mindset. My father-in-law always says “keep the faith” and since our daughter is named Faith I think of this so very often. Two minutes later my cell phone rang with an unknown number. A man asked for me by and said he found my wallet in the middle of the road this morning, right where I had lost it yesterday. He was in the parking lot across from the Dunkin Donuts that I was headed to right then. I drove over and thanked the man profusely and then I cried in my car. I was so happy. Everything was in my wallet, even my Dunkin Donuts gift card. Today will be a good day.

*Insider Tip – Dress the part, play the part.11juhk

 

We’ve all heard the advice that sometimes you have to “Fake it till you make it”. Your clothes can help with that. Ever hear the term “Power Suit”? Or how about to “dress for the job you want, not the one you have”? There is truth to all of those pieces of advice, and yes, I don’t advise dressing like Batman at your current job unless you are Robin and work in the bat cave. What this really means is, sometimes you have to shop a bit outside of your comfort zone, stocking your closet with items that you know you can put on and FEEL differently when you are wearing them. I want to stress the emphasis on only going a bit outside of your comfort zone. Buying a cone-shaped bra will not make you feel as sexy as Madonna if your idea of wearing something revealing is open-toed shoes. Imagine your personal style to be a box. Now draw a circle around that box. When people recommend to go outside your box, a.k.a. your comfort zone, they don’t mean to go onto another planet.

th-2 Just outside that box, but still inside the circle is where you want to be. This way you stay true to who you are without compromising your character.

There is this really cool part of my job where I get to play fairy godmother to a Cinderella.  As we all know, in the fairytale, Cinderella didn’t go all Bravo Real Housewives and change who she is when she put on that dress. She was always the same girl who was mopping the floors and she was always beautiful. The Fairy godmother didn’t make her beautiful, she simply placed her into a dress that made her feel beautiful. If Cinderella put that dress on and looked down, and slumped over and never made eye contact then she probably wouldn’t have danced with the Prince. It’s not like the Prince thought, wow, is she wearing a dress from the new Chanel Spring collection? He simply noticed her, as she was radiating because she felt beautiful. When we feel beautiful outside we start to feel beautiful inside. A dress can’t transform an entire person, but sometimes it’s the kickstart we need to start to feel better. A new haircut, a little makeup, it all helps us see to see ourselves a little differently when we look in the mirror, and, ultimately, think a little differently as well. So what can a woman who feels and looks baeutiful do? Anything she wants.

 

Cinderella.gif

This is what I love about my job. I get to bring out the beauty that I see in my clients. But in order for me to see it I have to see them, as in really, truly see them for who they are, flaws, strengths and weaknesses. Making someone feel better about themselves? I’m not gonna lie – it’s what drives me, it’s what feeds my ego, it’s what motivates me to take this job and turn it into a career. I’m so damn lucky and so very grateful to have found something that I know I can do well. I don’t say that with conceit but with confidence. I build relationships with my clients and they mean everything to me. I mess up emails, I have missed deadlines and I’m disorganized as hell, but I will always work my hardest to make others see all the good that I can see in them. Finding clothes and a style that showcases the woman inside the dress, not just the dress. When I find that sweet spot of the outfit that truly fits the client, inside and out, that’s the joy. It’s the satisfaction of looking through all of the pieces in the puzzle box and doing the work to put the right two pieces together.

e5552f0f41e8cf7f7f7423e3d4d2721b

Just like a puzzle, there are more than just two pieces needed to put together the whole picture. I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for all of the other pieces in my life. From an efficient and talented tailor, to a well staffed salon with talented stylists, to a beautifully curated boutique staffed with helpful and kind sales associates, I need all of these people and places in my life to help me complete the picture with my clients. Much like Cinderella, it takes a village (birds, mice and a very large pumpkin) to carry out the whole scenario.

Stop comparing yourself to others, talk up your inner child, parctice mind over matter, share your strengths and weaknesses and believe to receive all the good you deserve. Find your people and hold on tight. Share your gifts and believe in the good. Ask questions and ask for help. Believe in your own beauty and share it, rock it and scream it. Go change the world.

 

de08f632155dc4d0451a6d506963aeac

 

Thanks for reading!

Suzie

 

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

My Dirty Little Christmas Secret.

It is exactly one week to Christmas and all I feel is annoyed. If Christmas carolers came to my door right now I would probably get arrested for aggravated assault. I’m sick of asking everyone “ARE YOU READY FOR CHRISTMAS ” and of everyone asking me the same. “AM I READY?” Ready for what? A nuclear bomb? A winter nor’easter? A college final? Nope, just the catastrophic event known as Christmas. Call me the Grinch, I’m okay with that, because for me, to quote the great B.B. King, “The thrill is gone.”

I’m not ready. I’m not even sure what exactly is inside all of those boxes that arrived from Amazon. When you drink and drive the internet who really knows what you’ll end up with. One minute I’m convincing myself the kids have enough so I’m done ordering and 5 minutes later I’m crying that they will soon be out of the house so of course I should spend hours hunting down a limited edition hockey jersey for my son and an overpriced Patagonia jacket for my daughter who only goes outside to get into the car.  I’ve got 4-5 years till they are college bound but sappy Christmas songs and movies hit  me where it hurts. I want to love Christmas again, I really do. But really it just feels like a setup for failure, with a deadline.

I want to buy thoughtful gifts for friends and family, not just a plastic and practical gift card. The problem is that we are so damn lucky that no one really needs anything. I want to use beautiful wrapping paper and tie on gorgeous ribbon. But I also want the time and more money to do these things and right now they are both on the endangered species list. Of course I know Christmas isn’t about money and gifts but I can’t seem to get myself to appreciate it when it feels so forced and so rushed. Sadly I gave up sending Christmas cards a few years ago because between the photo taking, card selection, address researching and envelope stuffing I found myself pissed off and exhausted. Nothing says happy holidays more than a card shoved into an envelope under duress.

Ironically 2 mothers that I know, acquaintances, expressed genuine surprise when I told them I was an incompetent idiot who is falling apart. “Really, I thought you would have it all together!” said one mom. Oh Hell no, and I have no idea what would make them think this.  Want me to keep it real? There is a molding, rotting pumpkin by my main entrance door. I pass it every day, multiple times a day. Yet as much as it drives me crazy I can’t seem to spend the 2 minutes needed to scoop it into a trash bag. This is not because I find decomposition fascinating. It’s because I know in its place I want a beautiful winter urn, filled with a stupid piece of a birch tree, evergreens, and probably some holly berry. I’ve saved about 223 photos of them on Pinterest. I’ve even bought the green foam stuff to stick in my urn that may or may not still have a dead mum inside of it.

It’s not just the stuff I can’t (or subconsciously won’t) get to. It’s also a blockage of my brain to be present, and not just in the zen yoga way of being present. I am talking about being so preoccupied and unaware that I spent 35 minutes the other morning frantically searching for my car keys which are clipped to my wallet. After ripping apart bins of dirty laundry, clean and folded but not put away laundry, and 6 different bags I gave up and decided to use my husband’s set of keys and to go to work without my wallet. When I got to my car, parked in our detached garage, my keys and my wallet were staring at me from the driver’s side roof. Really????

What makes me the most upset about all of this is that I know my life is blessed and really pretty easy. I love my job, it doesn’t determine anyone’s life or death, and thankfully due to my existing domestic limitations my family has very low expectations of me so they are very rarely disappointed. So what exactly is keeping my brain so distracted that I can’t throw out a pumpkin or put away my keys?

Sadly I know I am the problem. I am my own worst enemy. I don’t even really worry that much what other people think of me (as long as I am not letting anyone down or hurting anyone’s feelings) because I know, from the amount of women in my life that I encounter through work, sports and school, that every other woman is busy stuck inside her own head too. Even worse, and this is my shameful secret, if I can’t do something the way that I see it happening in my mind then I don’t even want to try. I’m mad at myself for being a stubborn brat who won’t put forth the effort if I can’t get the full result of what I pictured in my head. Why can’t I gain control and just paint a damn different picture?  I know this is wrong so of course I add this to the list of things I’d like to change about myself. Even if I was a prize fighter I wouldn’t dare take on my negative alter ego because she is a nasty person that plays dirty. I spend too much time beating myself up long after the referee would have called the fight. I wish I knew why. I also beat myself up for beating myself up. (Crazy, right?) There are voices in our heads (yes, really) that keep a constant running dialogue.

You shouldn’t have said that. You can’t decorate your house right. You need to eat better. You should lift weights for your arms. You need to spend more quality time with your kids. Why don’t you read more books? You need to focus on your career. You need to get more sleep. You need to stay up and get more done. You have wrinkles. You have to stop spending so much. You need to start saving more. You are so disorganized. You should cook your kids dinner, or maybe even breakfast. You need to go back to yoga. You need more date time with your husband. You need to answer your emails quicker. You need to answer your texts faster. You need to respond to Facebook and Instagram messages. You need to up your social media presence for your business. You need to get off of social media because it’s a time suck. You’re not pretty. You’re not smart. You are doing it wrong, all of it.

Let’s hit pause. Pretend you are on the phone with your best friend, or your sister, or another mom waiting for their kid to finish practice. If she said these things what would you say? Unless you are truly sick, I highly doubt that you will nod your head in agreement and say, yes, that’s right you need to get your shit together and you suck. I agree that you need to lose some weight and start a garden and cook your own vegetables. No. Normal humans, especially females, are built with compassion. Hidden underneath our rage at the grocery store when there are 2 lines open out of 12, is a soft, quiet calm that wants to help. You would tell this other woman that they are enough. That they are being too hard on themselves. That nothing is perfect. That she should let go of her Pottery Barn vision of Christmas, even as she grips to it ever so tightly because that is what she really wants her house to look like. You’d tell her to breathe deep and to take her time, take inventory of what went right and what is good. Can it be better? Sure. Can it be worse? Always. What if you are right where you need to be? The biggest challenge sometimes is teaching our brain to be quiet. Maybe the Nike slogan “Just do it” is right. Stop thinking so much and just get it done.

The other day I was in Marshalls. If I am being completely transparent than I will tell you  that I was searching in vain for a set of undergarments that might possibly fit and match. I had my husband’s holiday party in Philly the following night and we had reservations to stay overnight. I thought it would be nice to put forth the effort and not wear the Costco granny panties.  Could I have gone to Victoria’s Secret or Soma and made my life easier? Yup, but I thought I’d kill multiple birds on my gift list and find a Flyers pillow, a hostess gift, and pineapple string lights for my daughter’s room in one trip. This is when I should have ignored that positive, loving inner voice that goes “Really! Go into Marshalls and HomeGoods! They will have it all and you will find gifts for everyone!” But there I was searching awkwardly thought the underwear and bras. That’s when I heard the kid screaming. Not screaming for help but screaming and whining out of protest. The conversations went like this.

Get in the cart. (Mom)

I don’t want to get in the cart. (Kid)

Maybe he doesn’t want to get in the cart. (Grandmom)

I don’t care – get in the cart. (Mom)

If I get in the cart I’m going to scream the whole time. (Bratty Kid)

Oh let’s not put him in the cart. (Enabling Grandmom)

I don’t care if you scream at the top of your lungs. I’ll ignore it. I am putting you in the cart right now. (Exasperated Mom)

I care if you scream at the top of your lungs. I want to scream at the top of my lungs but I can’t because someone would put me in the loony bin. Which, come to think of it, might not be that bad of a gig.  (Me, in my head)

I care if you scream. I don’t wanna hear that crap. I had a long day. Take care of your kid and shut him up. (4’2″ lady dressed all in red, hanging up new underwear inventory in Marshalls.)

At this I start to laugh hysterically. The little lady in red didn’t realize I was on the other side of the racks. She looks like a teeny tiny Amish woman, gray hair up in tight bun. But her voice sounds like Tyler Perry’s Madea character. I was fascinated. She immediately apologizes and tells me that she didn’t know I was there and that she didn’t mean for anyone to hear that. I told her I was thinking the exact same thing. I don’t want to hear that kid scream either. She said she was getting off at 5 and couldn’t wait to get home. I mentioned that usual stupid conversation dud about “So are you ready for the holidays? This teeny tiny woman, with the scrappy voice, said the best words of wisdom I’ve heard in a long time.

Imma just gonna do all that I know how to do.

Whoomp, there it is. YES! Why am I trying to change me?  I don’t know how to do a lot at one time. I never have. Multi-tasking turns my brain into the 4th version of Michael Keaton’s character in the movie Multiplicity, you know the idiot one that just keeps saying ” I like pizza” while he rubs pizza all over his face.

Point being that stuff starts to get messed up. And you know what? At the end of the day most of it is out of our control. That holiday party that I planned and packed so carefully for? Mother Nature and the salt trucks must have decided to take the afternoon off and go get drunk at an early happy hour last Friday. The two or so inches of snow we got was enough to cause dozens of accidents and turn even all wheel drive cars into sleds. Traffic was gridlocked and after over an hour we had to abort our mission for a fun night out in the city. I was angry, disappointed and annoyed. But you know what? Life is good. We were safe, our car had gas, and we were together. We still got out to a wonderful dinner close to our house. Our kids were still out for the night. We still got in our date. The snow, as treacherous as its rush hour blanketing became, was absolutely beautiful. It was that kind of snow that was fluffy and quiet, perfectly white and dropped on tree branches like a decoration. I couldn’t help but think of a snow globe.

In my 20s I worked at a mutual fund company. One of my coworkers, whom I still adore, collected snow globes that he displayed near his desk. Snow globes are pretty on their own but the real beauty shows after we shake them up. It’s almost instinct if you see one. You pick it up, shake it, and then you watch closely as the snow falls so perfectly, so beautifuly, so contained in a miniature winter wonderland. If we take a minute, to pause, to take notice, this is what happens in life. Stuff gets all shook up. It falls, sometimes it even falls apart. But if we look really carefully there is a kind of beauty to the fall. Each time it falls it leaves the landscape below different from what it was before, setting a unique setting of peacefulness to the next shakeup.

*Insider Tip – Do More With Less

Life is short. Love your clothes. It’s pretty simple really. Would you rather have 4 amazing, loyal, loving friends or 24 acquaintances? Do you want a closet full of clothes or a condensed wardrobe where you know you love everything and it loves you and your body right back? Get rid of the noise. Don’t be scared. With less you will wear more, I promise. You will wear more because you will have to. It will become clear and you will use what you  have. No more waiting for a special holiday party to wear that dress you bought. Dress it down with ankles boots or ballet flats and go shopping or even out for coffee.  There are no rules except one – wear what you love. When the snow globe gets all shook up you will be happy that you are happy in your clothes.

Happy Holidays – Be Kind, especially to yourself.

Much love and thank you so much for reading,

Suzie

Majoring in Mom

Majoring in Mom

 

 

Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you even know now as an adult? I’m still working on it but one of my best friends has always known what she wanted, it just wasn’t available as an actual paper degree.

I was lucky to find a very special group of girlfriends while I was at college. Somehow or another our motley crew of six all met and became fast friends and made wonderful memories as roommates. There were six of us in a house pursuing different goals and different dreams. Jenny Long was one of our roommates. I didn’t meet her until my junior year of college but I had definitely seen here around our campus. You really couldn’t miss her, she’s tall, blonde and beautiful, but what really stands out is how she is always smiling and friendly. Jenny’s that girl who is always laughing and having fun and everyone – girls and guys – want to be around her.  I’ll never forget a conversation I had with Jenny during our senior year. We were both complaining about school and our classes and Jenny very simply stated that she just wanted to be a mom as her job. She was currently majoring in Education with the job of elementary teacher on the horizon and I was a Finance major whose goal was a corner office, 6 dogs and definitely not children of any kind. Of course we both laughed at this because there was no major available for motherhood but looking back now I realize there really didn’t have to be. Life has a funny way of giving you all the training you need for exactly the job you are supposed to have.

When we graduated I did the usual business suit interview circuit and accepted a job in mutual funds. It paid well. I didn’t like it.  I was bored and drove in the right hand lane slowly to work. I met a guy who made my heart skip and I fell in deeply love. We got married at the end of September, just two weeks after two planes in New York changed life forever for our entire country. The economy changed and my company did layoffs. I was laid off. I was embarrassed, relieved and scared. I walked into a boutique for a job and fell in love with clothing and working without a desk. Then we were blessed with two lovely children and my heart swelled so big it sometimes feels like it is walking, running even, outside of my body. In a way it is as I watch our kids grow and get further away from the nest. My corner office is now an old stone house and our two kids and two dogs leave me in chaos and dog hair. Life is good and I’m grateful.

Jenny graduated with her degree in Education amid a market saturated with teachers. There was part-time sub work but not many full time positions close to home. Always wanting to be close to her family Jenny took a risk and went for a job at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital, a traumatic illness and injury rehab center. Her background in Education, along with her patience, sunny disposition and warm smile, made her a perfect fit for a cognitive therapist. Her job was to teach people of all ages and with traumatic brain injuries how to retrain their brain with regard to speech and other cognitive functions. While I would have probably run from the room given the physical description of the state of some of her patients, Jenny was a wonderful addition to their lives. Jenny had already met her eventual husband Scott the summer before our senior year of college and knew from day one she wanted to marry him. They married a few years after she graduated and Jenny Long became Jenny Raimondo. Not long after Jenny went after her dream job, to be a mom. When she had her first daughter, Sammi, Jenny 0stayed home full time. Shortly after they had Ella and then Maddi. In a perfect world Jenny would keep going and we would probably see her on the news of a mom of 18 kids and counting. Her girls’ lives are full and busy, dance and gymnastics being a huge part of life outside of school.  Jenny has her dream career and she is one of the best I know at what she does. There was no formal training for this job, no handbook, no mentor, no rules. Just a die hard desire to love your kids hard and to keep them safe.

 

In April of 2014 Scott and Jenny took a trip to Mexico to celebrate Easter with other members of Scott’s family. While I was with my family Jenny sent me a text wishing us a Happy Easter along with this photo. It was a happy photo of Jenny’s girls and their cousins, celebrating their holiday at a restaurant on the island.  Just seconds later their lives would be forever changed.

mex
Maddi, second from right.
Moments after this photo was taken Maddi, who was 5 at the time took a tragic misstep and fell off of the rooftop balcony. As fast as this occurred it felt like a slow motion moment for Jenny as she rushed to grab Maddi, who was only inches away, only to lock eyes with Maddi as she fell more than 20 feet to the ground below in what would appear at first to be a fatal accident. By the grace of God Maddi was still alive when they reached her at the ground below. Relief was followed by panic and urgency. They were on an island. It would take a full 2 hours to get to the nearest hospital in Cancun, using an ambulance, a ferry and yet another ambulance to get to the emergency room. These were 2 hours filled with shock and fear, as there was no immediate way to tell exactly what kind of external and internal injuries Maddi had sustained. Arriving at the hospital in Cancun brought little relief as there was a language barrier and countless tests and x-rays. It would take 2 days of hell but they were able to make arrangements  to obtain a medically staffed flight to transport Maddi back to the United States and specifically to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Maddi had broken bones, internal bleeding and skull fractures, but there was hope when they arrived at the Philadelphia airport and were met by an ambulance to transport Maddi to one the best pediatric care hospitals in our country. It would take multiple surgeries and countless tests with multiple doctors to be able to bring Maddi back home with her family to finish her recovery. But Maddi came home. Scott and Jenny had their daughter alive and Sammi and Ella had their sister. The words survival, strength and gratitude took on a new meaning for the entire Raimondo family.

The tricky thing is that recovery is not a destination. It is not a ribbon you run through at the end of a marathon. Recovery is a bit elusive because although bones can be mended and bruises can heal, it is very hard to look into the brain and to fix trauma. Post traumatic stress disorder often accompanies a traumatic brain injury so the emotional component has to be addressed along with the cognitive. It was tragic twist for Jenny’s time spent at Bryn Mawr Rehab to come full circle and hit so close to home. Jenny and her family would be forever changed, but will eternally carry with them a deep sense of grace and gratitude. It would be easy to devote all of her time to her own family but Jenny decided very quickly to turn her dedication to recovery to include much more than her own family.

When the brain experiences a traumatic injury all non-essential cognitive function needs to cease so that all of the energy of the brain can go into recovery mode. If you have ever had a child experience a concussion in the past several years then you probably know that the brain needs to be on a bed rest of sorts. No reading, no watching tv, no smart phones. This type of restrictive cognitive function is difficult even for adult, let alone a child.  Without typical brain distractions many children are left with a heightened sense of anxiety, fear and general restlessness. Families are affected, including siblings who don’t know how to interact with their child or sibling while they are in recovery.  There are long days with lots of tests and meetings with doctors and nursers. There are also what feels like countless hours of just  waiting and resting. Jenny noticed how helpful simple coloring books and basic crafts were in bringing her family together in an activity to help with Maddi’s recovery. They were small purchases with a large impact to put smiles back on faces. Jenny had an idea and the Maddi’s Bag non- profit organization was born.

From http://www.maddisbag.com:

It is the mission of Maddi’s Bag to help comfort children when the unexpected confronts them traumatically. Our board is dedicated to providing young trauma patients with a bountiful supply of injury & age appropriate activities and accessories that minimize stress, foster communication and help reconnect families during recovery from near fatal accidents. It’s our goal to celebrate the valuable impact and critical role doctors, nurses and therapists have on their patients and their families.

 

 

 

 

 

Maddi’s Bag works directly with The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to donate funds and filler items to Maddi’s Bag. Their largest fundraiser event is the Shop 4 CHOP day held inside of Scott and Jenny’s home. 

Shop 4 CHOP and Maddi’s Bag – November 2nd, 2017

This Thursday, November 2nd, please join us at the Raimondo family home for a truly unique shopping experience. A  $10 donation at the door gives you access to more than 20 vendors, including my friends from Scout and Molly’s in Glen Mills and Jen from Power Beads by Jen. The event is an excellent opportunity to do some early holiday shopping, with products for everyone on your list and nearly every age, all in the comfort of Scott and Jenny’s home. You don’t have to worry about knowing anyone, as everyone there is all there for the same reason. They want to help. The money raised at the Shop 4 CHOP event will go directly to the Maddi’s Bag fund at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. If you can’t attend but still would like to donate, please follow the links at the bottom of this post.

Maddi’s Bag believes charity is contagious and we invite you to join us in comforting children when the unexpected confronts them traumatically.

62 L’Enfant Court, Glen Mills, PA
9am – 2pm & 5pm – 10pm
$10 entry fee
Come shop the 20+ vendors participating.
There will be vendor raffles as well as amazing raffles from various local businesses & restaurants.
Sample delicious treats and drinks while enjoying great company and supporting MADDI’S BAG, a pediatric trauma comfort bag program.
Bring a friend, kids are welcome!
Together let’s celebrate survival, strength & gratitude!!

 


Additional details for this event can be found on the following links:

www.maddisbag.com

Facebook page for  theShop 4 Chop Event. 

Facebook page Maddi’s Bag.

 

 

Thanks for reading this very special post!

Suzie

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

August – It’s like a month of Sundays

August – It’s like a month of Sundays

 

 

You know that feeling you get on Friday, that feeling of this little boost of excitement, that the week is coming to an end and that a weekend is about to begin?  It’s followed by Saturday where you wake up and look forward to getting things done in your day and doing something fun at night. Then Sunday comes. And even though there are just as many hours in a Sunday as there are in a Saturday we just can’t seem to enjoy them as much. Why? Because we know each passing hour brings us closer to Monday, which in turn kicks off another week of work, stress and running ragged.

 

June is the Friday of the calendar year. Kids still have a bit of school left but the nights get longer as the light lasts a bit longer. Windows come open and flowers go out. Just as Fridays have their happy hour, the month of June is usually peppered with graduation parties, end of year parties and the chance to eat outside. We can feel the anticipation of Summer as the temperatures rise. July totally feels like a Saturday because it kicks off with America’s birthday party on the 4th. There are fireworks, picnics, swimming and long days with sunsets holding off until 8:30 or 9 at night. The calendar tells us that Summer Solstice, the official changing of the guard of the seasons if you will is June 21st, also scheduled to be the longest day of sunshine in terms of sunrise to sunset. This should be the real kickoff to summer, right?

Wrong. Why? Because the longest day of the year with regard to daylight follows the laws of physics. What comes up must come down, so after the longest day of the year every sunset after that comes just a bit earlier. It’s slow for sure but it signals the downturn toward Fall, and of course eventually Winter. If you are kid Winter is only fun if there is Snow and Santa. If you are an adult Winter means cold and holiday stress. Sure September is still warm and has beautiful weather, really October can be very gorgeous with the changing leaves and slightly cooler temps. But we are too busy to enjoy it. When September comes around we know it’s just like a Monday. The boss is back and we have to get shit done. Rise and shine and repeat. I feel bad for August the same way I feel bad for Sundays. It’s not their fault that they are right before something we don’t look forward to. No one wants to be the last good thing before something we consider to be a bad thing.

But what if we flip the switch? I’ve been working really hard on being present. Feel free to roll your eyes because I know we get this zen stuff shoved down our throats all the time. Of course we are present, we don’t have the choice to leave our bodies. But it’s the perspective that makes the difference. Lately I keep reading this quote and using it as a mantra of sorts.

I’ve been very open about the fact that I take medication for depression and for anxiety so this quote screams out to me. While the medication absolutely helps me stay more calm and clear, this particular quote helps me actually steer my thoughts in the proper direction. I am one of those people who spends a ton of time rehashing in my mind what I said or did wrong or how I could have or should have done things differently. Said, did, could have or should have are obviously all in the past tense. And yet I am always drifting off worrying about what I need to do, should be doing and could be doing differently. Absolute future tense words with the need to, should be and could be. If I really get back into the drivers seat of my brain and kick out the anxious or depressed bad driver then I realize I am usually very happy in my present moment. Right now I am typing on my computer. I am drinking coffee and the house is quiet as the kids are still asleep and even our crazy dogs are napping. It’s bliss. There are thoughts knocking at the door; “I have to drop off the kids physical forms.  I need to move the laundry. I forgot to sign our son up for Prep class at church. ” Each thought than snowballs into it’s own runaway train. For instance, when I think about signing our son up for Prep class I realize the choices are Monday afternoon or Sunday mornings. But he also plays ice hockey so then my mind then goes into what will his practice times be, how many Sundays we may be away for games and tournaments, did I order the right size jersey, does his current equipment fit, how much will new equipment cost and then onto…that’s going to be expensive, well he has a birthday coming up…but is it fair to give him sports equipment for a gift….is that a need versus a want…what will we do for his birthday…when will fit in his birthday……

And maybe it’s just me whose brain takes off like a runaway train whose first stop is Anxioustown followed very closely by Depression City. There could be many of you reading this who think they should fedex me a straight jacket right away. But the point is that whether it’s normal or not I have to find a way to deal. Living in the present helps to put my mind at peace. It’s my mental way to put one foot in front of the other. So come at me August, I’m ready. I’m not going to let the influx of school emails, school supplies at every single store and the looming reality that my kids will need to wake up at 6 instead of 9:30 ruin my August. I’m going to fight against the thoughts from the past of all the things we wanted to do and people we wanted to see but didn’t take up my mental time. It is not going to be easy but I’m going to try my very best, taking one day at a time. Who wants to join me in turning August into the Sunday Funday of the calendar?

Below is a clip from one of my favorite movies because it is so good and so true…

*Insider Tip – Be PRESENT with your wardrobe.

When I work with a new client I spend a lot of time getting to know them, and I ask them to spend some time making sure they know themselves. Where are they at in their life RIGHT NOW? I don’t mean physical location but what are their current circumstances. Are they trying to have another baby? Are they going through menopause? Are they starting a new job? Are they retiring from a job? Are they going through a divorce? Are they going out on dates? Are they moving? Are they downsizing?

All of these questions are relevant because you need to get dressed for the life you have RIGHT NOW.I want them to make good choices when they are buying their clothes. So that means saying no to a purchase if you can’t think of a place or reason to wear it right now. In general, I have found that most people will wear a new item purchased (clothing, accessory, shoes) within one week of buying it. If they don’t it will sit. 

6b77524e2dd0bbd8e0656d407c19e8b9

Now of course there are exceptions. Maybe you are pregnant and you are buying ahead for a baby bump and picked up a pair of larger size pants on sale. You may fall in love with a dress with no real need but the price is right and the fit is perfect so you put it away knowing it will be there when the situation arises. And if you read my last post  then maybe you snatched up some fall and winter pieces from the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale. And of course this rule does not apply to people who truly shop 2-3 times a year and invest in a wardrobe for that particular season.  But in general, people who shop weekly or monthly, will find a way to wear something they just bought and are excited about. This is so true for the impulse shopper, those of you who didn’t plan on going to look for anything but you find yourself killing time by stopping in a store or just because you feel the need for something as a pick-me-up. This is when we feel a need to justify time spent wandering around a store so we buy the best of the choices in that particular store at that particular time. Often this results in bringing home that random item that you either put on the very next day because you are sick of your wardrobe, or it sits in your closet because you don’t really know if it even goes with anything else.

So keep my buy it now, wear it in about a week rule in the back of your mind. The beauty of this is that most stores, even some smaller boutiques, have a refund and/or store credit policy of about one week/7 days from your purchase date.

Thanks for reading!

Suzie