Holiday Stress: A December Tradition

A photo posted by Hmv (@hmvlife) on

Oh Christmas stress, oh Christmas stress! How stressy stressful can you be??

Happy Decembertime everyone! It's that time of year when everything is magical and Christmas carols play in your head all day long and no one freaks out and everythingisfine! Right?!

NOPE.

There are so many beautiful posts about the serenity of this season right now. But sorry, this is not this one. Here's a little walk into the mind of hmv right now. Warning: I'M FREAKING OUT.

5:00am Henry wakes up. I bring him to bed.

5:15 I'm going over my list of presents and trying to remember if we have anything for Jake's sister yet. Maybe Olivia can make something? Can her daycare lady teach her to crochet in 1 day?

5:40 Go to sleep, damnit!

6:30 Eff it, I'll get up!

6:47 Take "shower" (standing in shower thinking about everything I need to do today)

7:00 Get kids ready. Relent. Let kids dress themselves in plaids, stripes, and last night's pajama pants.

8:00 Yell at everything until it gets out the door and into the car.

8:05 Feel bad about yelling. Where is the yuletide spirit around here? Resolve to not yell any more ever again.

8:15 Roll into work. Open inbox. "You have...18,437 unread emails!"

8:30 Try to remember that thing Olivia suddenly got fixated on. Princess kittens? Hedgehog underwear? A real unicorn with a real gold horn named Carol. Hop onto Amazon and quickly purchase them all.

Eat breakfast.

Work.

Listen to my Holiday station on Pandora. See? I'm in the holiday spirit! I did it!

Recall that project that I'm running behind on. Open it up. Do a little . . DING! "You have....314 new emails."

12:00 Go to the gym? Scrap that.

12:04 Run to the mall. Shop my face off. WOO! DOING ALL THE THINGS!!!

 http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

1:00 Rush back to work.

Eat lunch.

Work.

Try to ignore the running mental to-do list scrolling through my head like an oppressive credit reel to a movie you've seen like a hundred times that won't end even after they've listed the 2nd Assistant Cinematographer, all the extras, their cousins, and every inanimate object in the entire film.

What was I saying? Oh yes...

5:00 Rush out of work. Rush to daycare. Retrieve children. Pause momentarily to adore the Christmas art that the children have created that day, specially, just for me. With red crayons, because that's your favorite color, Mommy! Oh, my. These kids really are so sweet, how luck are we? How great is this daycare to drum up all these holiday activities?  ...sigh...

Oops! Got to go! Who wants to help me pick out a present for Daddy?? Yay!

5:30 Stuck in traffic.

5:45 Still stuck.

Gahhhhh!!!!

5:51 Park. Get out of car. Get Hank out. Get Lil O out. Grab purse. Grab children. Get inside. Shop. Pull things out of the kids' hands and put them back on shelves.

5:56 "Mommy, why don't you ever buy ME anything?!" Waaaa! Tantrum!

6:01 Buy the child juice. Make the child drink the juice like Sally Field did to Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias. (Please tell me you get that reference and we are best friends for life)

6:10 Do everything in reverse. Get back home. Fall face first onto the couch.

6:12 Hide Daddy's gift. Remind the child that we are hiding Daddy's gift, a gift that she no longer gives two hoots about because it isn't for her!

6:15 Give heartwarming speech about Christmas, and how it's about giving AND receiving, and lots of kids don't even get to have gifts, and we should all be so thankful for our family and house and remember that we love each other, it doesn't matter if we get gifts or not, we always love each other.

At this point, although she is listening, she is also looking back with a very blank stare. She is, after all, only four years old. She doesn't grasp the nuances of a gift-giving holiday and the spirit of the season and baby Jesus and all that. Plus she has the blood sugar level of a Type 1 diabetic bride.

There will be more time to talk about these important things. We will have more Christmases. For now we can just focus on one thing: what's for dinner?

 

Goodbye November, Hello December 2015

Ahh another month, another chance to blog it all out. All the feels. November is a sweet month, but a bit dark this year. A bit gloomy at times. It never fails to end with Thanksgiving, though, and for that I am grateful.

Good-bye November:

  • On November 13th: we lost 130 people in the city of Paris. Terrorists attacked several locations and claimed to be with ISIS. It is still very fresh in our minds. We still do not know what this will mean in the long term. It feels a lot like post-9/11. When we didn't even know it would be called "9/11," and we didn't foresee the long war that would follow in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are we on the verge of another war? A world war even?
  • Violence: is a theme right now. I don't want it to be. I worry that it's getting to me. The news never seems to be good. On the 30th, yet another mass shooter attacked a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. All of this on the heels of the mass shooting at Umpqua Community College. My colleagues went to UCC afterward to help, and their stories were heartbreaking. Where will this end? Something needs to change.
  • I've been feeling: down. I said something about it a few weeks back and my people reached out big time (thank you, people). One thing about being pretty open and honest about your feelings and your struggles is that folks aren't shy about offering support.
  • Work: has been a little frustrating. But still very grateful for my job and my people there, too.
  • Thanksgiving: went pretty well. It was a long process traveling to see my family. It always is at this time of year. Impossibly difficult at times. But what are we going to do, not see family on Thanksgiving? No. Our family is just too much fun. (Side note: there is no remaining Fireball whiskey in the city of my hometown.)

Hello December:

  • This project at work: I'm going to figure it out. It's going to come together. The answer will reveal itself, and then...poof! All my problems solved forever.
  • Shopping anxiety: won't get the better of me. I can be obsessive about getting our holiday shopping done. And done well. And sometimes when you have two young kids and a husby and a jobby job, well, finding the perfect gift for everyone just can't be so important. It can't consume my life. ...but wait wasn't there a promo code I wanted to use today on Shutterfly??...And did I order a dress on Stitchfix?...And put Jake's clothes on our Amazon list? Bahhhh!
  • Christmas lights: are going up next weekend. Promise! I'd prefer to put them up early, like November 5th, but no one around here let's me do that. Also I kind of forget about the lights as soon as I get inside our warm house.
  • Christmas tree hunt: also this weekend! Trying to talk Jake into a Noble this year. My friend gets a Noble usually, whereas we (like fools) insist on getting a tree that smells good. The evidence is in: none of them smell like anything after you cut them!
  • All I want for Christmas: is four glorious days of peace and quiet. In the super quiet, super laid-back city of New Orleans! Woooo! Adult time! A-dult-time! A-dult-time! *fist pump* *confetti*
  • Last wish: to enjoy the season. Not overdo it. Not feel rushed. Just have a cup of coffee. Sit in pajamas. Enjoy the kids opening gifts and playing with cousins and remember that this time is so special and so fleeting.

Out with the Old, In with the New: October/November 2015

 Whoa perfect graphic! And I'm giving credit  with this hyperlink . Thanks!

Whoa perfect graphic! And I'm giving credit with this hyperlink. Thanks!

New idea for a regular blog series! I know I said that regular series kind of freak me out. But so do non-regular blog posts, as it turns out. It's just hard to write. But I also love writing! It's one of those "what's wrong with you, woman, why can't you just be happy?!" kind of things. NBD.

Every month I'm going to say good-bye to the old month and say hello to the new one. Easy, right?! Just a few thoughts on last month, random anecdotes, major milestones, funny quips. And a few thoughts on my plans/goals/dreams/dream visions for the next month. I'll probably change the format and themes a thousand times, but that's the point of this whole blog, right? (Well, that and being lighthearted. Let us not forget that.)

 

 

Hello November:``

Good-bye October:`

  • My fitness goals: have taken a backseat to this back injury that sprang up. So I'm taking it easy for now and trying to remember that that's okay. (Trying)
  • The weekends: will be fairly free. I'd like to inject a lot of fun into each one.
  • My to-do list: is fairly short, honestly, for once in my life. Hoping to keep it that way.
  • Thanksgiving: will be in Spokane. Tickets are booked! And come Nov. 25th, the travel anxiety will come to get me. But I'm prepared. (to hide under my desk)
  • Body image stuff: is on my mind. After the #hmvlifechallenge last summer I was losing weight and feeling great. Now I'm hovering in this 5 pound no-man's-land that I tend to reside in. Is that okay? Maybe. But I'm not ready to give up just yet.
  • Holiday season: is NOW, people. Yep, I even played some holiday music on November 1st just so everyone knows it. It's happening, folks! Get your stockings out and hang them up, and then just before Christmas take them down again to dust them off and put them back up just in time for Santa!

 

 

 Q

  • Work-related travel: took over our lives last month. We don't travel for work very much. My hubs and I work at a university, and it just doesn't move locations or open new branches so much. It stays put. So two trips in 1 month?! Wowza.
  • My baby: turned 1. GULP.
  • My daughter the genius: has been mastering preschool all over the place. She's particularly keen on "Which one of these is not like the others?" worksheets. Sometimes we sit on the couch and ask her about what's different in the pictures, and in those moments, we feel like parenting MASTERS!
  • I spoke: to a large audience at work on October 29th about planning large events and camps with risk management in mind. It went over very well. But as with all speaking gigs, I get super excited to do it, then terrified, then exhausted with it, and finally it's time to put on the show.... then it's over! I'm relieved. And now I've been asked to speak at two more things next year (2016), so yay!
  • The extended family: visited us in droves. Starting on Oct. 2nd with my dad and step-mom. Then the in-laws for Henry's birthday night. Then my sisters and mom and step-dad for Halloween weekend. That's every person in the next branch of our family tree (parents and sibs). Wow!

 

Love y'all,

hmv

Happy First Birthday, Henry

My son is turning 1! It's been an amazing year. I can't believe it's been a year, and yet I also totally feel every minute of that year. I am exhausted. But I've grown as a mother and a person in this year. And I've shrunk as a person too. I've seen my daughter turn into a loving big sister. My husband surprised no one by taking on baby duties and toddler duties and basically keeping everything running around here. I've moved baby gear in and sent most all of it back out again, done with it forever (probably).

I'm not big on monthly updates or regular posts of any kind. It kind of fills me with anxiety to think about trying to post something on time and on point on a regular basis. Seems like something I'd immediately fail at. (Such a positive attitude I have). So instead, I am going to write up a random list of things from Henry's first year. A truly special year.

  • Henry's birth was a thrilling and healing experience. Jake and I were just reminiscing about how my water broke all over the place. We took all year to replace the towel rack that I accidentally tore off the wall when I was in labor. Now it's a series of hooks attached to a cute little shelf. Much more secure. We ended up painting the whole darn bathroom too (long story). All for you, Henry!
  • Henry swung in a lovely Graco baby duet swing that I negotiated off Craigslist for $40. Incredible! Whereas with Olivia we couldn't afford a swing and didn't realize how much it would make life easier. Eventually our friends just brought one over for us to borrow. (Thank you, friends!) Second time around we knew just what equipment we wanted, and we used it until it was outgrown and not a moment longer.
  • Henry somehow becomes happier and smiley-er every month. Each month I think, "Henry is # months old, he can't possibly get any cuter or be happier than he is right now. He is perfect. It can't get better." And the next month proves me wrong.
  • Henry walks now! He learned how in about a week. Beginning of October we saw him taking a few steps. In September he learned to stand up on his own (no support). It quickly escalated to a single step, then fall down. Then two steps, fall down. Then three steps ... until he was walking significant distances, hallways even! For a week all you could hear here was "Look look! Everyone come see Henry, he's walking!!"
  • Henry loves tomatoes, black olives, cheese, berries (obvi), and tomatoes. Milk too. Also tomatoes. I've said a lot about breastfeeding and bottle feeding and now he's moving steadily toward drinking regular milk out of cups. Cups! Like a big kid! Basically he's practically grown.
  • Henry sleeps through the night. As long as your night starts at about 8pm and ends at 5am. Around 5am he cries and we come get him and take him to our bed. Normally he has a bottle and cuddles and falls back to sleep. Sometimes not. And sometimes he cries at 3:00 or 4am, and I hold him for a while, then put him back in bed. This policy did not go over well at first, but now he knows the deal and goes with it. We encouraged this sleeping-through-the-night stuff at 4 months old, and I highly recommend it.
  • Henry loves his sister, and his sister loves him. They have a special bond, very apparent in the morning when they light up at the sight of each other. Clearly, there are many times that they don't play together, but when they do connect, it makes my mama heart melt.
  • Henry lights up for his grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncle Josh, godparents, and friends. We have a suspicion that he's going to be a pretty social little dude. And maybe musical too. Who knows!

Alright, that's it for my free write this birthday-eve. Happy birthday my little guy. I love you so.

~Mom

 

LightLife Guide: How to Manage Children's Birthday Parties

Everyone has been asking me how to politely manage the many issues surrounding children's birthday parties. Fear not! I'm here to offer my answers to your pressing questions with 100% accuracy as per Ms. Manners.

1. It says "No gifts." Do I bring a gift?

Maybe. Obviously the child's mother wrote this, not the child, and not generally the dad. Unless there are two dads, then it was a dad. Best thing to do is to ask the mom, "Why no gifts?" Do it just like that. The fewer words the better. Don't be judgy (Why on Earth would you deprive your kid of gifts?!), and don't be relieved (Thank goodness, no gifts! I didn't want to spend a dime on that kid of yours!). She will either tell you that she really doesn't want any more clutter and the kid is fine (that means don't bring a gift). Or she will tell you that she just put that so the grandparents don't go overboard. That's code for "bring a small gift, gifts are happening."

2. I was invited to a party where I don't know anyone, do I have to go?

Three possible answers here:

a) Your kid and their kid are besties: You should go.

b) Your kid doesn't really know anyone either: Don't go.

c) Your kid doesn't know anyone but you know the adults there in some professional way and it would be good to make an appearance: You should go for a short time.

3. If I'm only going to the party for a short time, how do I get out of there politely?

Don't tell the hosts you are leaving if they are busy. In fact, wait until they're occupied with something else. Then tell a mutual friend that you are leaving (so that no one thinks you got abducted). Why? Because the party parents don't need any wet blankets thrown on their fun. They (and most people present) are having fun. You are ending your fun. That's fine, but it's your thing, so let the fun train keep on rolling. Make sure you've done something memorable or thoughtful during your time there. Like winning the 3-legged race. Or eating your slice of cake without using your hands. Nom nom!

4. I can't go to the party but I feel really bad about it, should I RSVP as "maybe"? 

Here's the common convention on Facebook invites, Evite and the like: 

"Yes" is the new "maybe" 

"Maybe" is the new "no"  

"No" is the new "f*@# you" 

*I actually stole that from somewhere. It's hilarious, but sad, but probably true. 

Here is another plan of attack when you must regretfully decline:

a) Be the first to decline. Everyone forgives the first person to decline.  

b) If you can't be the first to decline, state your reason for missing it (assuming it's a good reason) and apologize a bunch. Not excuses (no one cares), just sad emoticons and sorrys. 

c) If there's now more than 5 people declining, don't pile on. Just don't RSVP. Don't "Maybe"!  

d) If you have to RSVP, send a separate message to the host with a funny self-deprecating explanation. This will add a touch of sincerity and (if done well), will generate a laugh, further endearing you to the host.   

e) If you forgot to do all of the above, your only option left is this one: The Last Minute Cancel. 

The Last Minute Cancel is controversial. It looks suspicious (how could they have forgotten about this visit from MeeMaw when I sent the Evite??). It looks a little insincere and cold. But! It happens sometimes. People get that. Be super DUPER sorry, only state a reason if it's real good, and make fun of your delinquent inability to keep a proper calendar. You silly goose.  

Another thing about "good reasons:" let me be clear, your child's nap is not a good reason. This has always somewhat irritated me. Not because I don't think kids should nap. Obviously, they should, they turn into total monsters without naps. Not the kind of monsters I'd want at a party. But that doesn't mean you go and TELL THE HOST that your kid's nap is more important than the day of their child's birth. All I'm saying is this: do what you need to do regarding naps, just don't tell the host all about your napping woes. They're celebrating the day their child entered the world and their lives were forever changed, glory halleluia! Don't be all "yeah, but Baby Joey needs his full 91 minutes of snoozy time!" It won't play well.

5. If I miss the party, do I still send a gift?

No. 

6. What do I wear to kids' birthdays?

Clothes, generally. No bikinis. No beer shirts. No visibile stains (this goes for your kids as well ... if you own such a thing).

That's about it. You're all ready for your next Bday invitation! Go forth and celebrate!

 

Dear Baby, The Breast Runneth Dry

Dear Baby Henry,

Big news. Our breastfeeding journey is coming to an end. You seem passively unaware of this impending reality. I, on the other hand, am a hot mess of emotion. Allow me to explain where I'm coming from.

It's been a long nine-to-ten months of pretty consistent breastfeeding, my little guy.

We started off well enough.

henry, about 12 hours old

You arrived into this world a sweet little ball of love. And occasional hunger. So I would feed you, and you loved it. We both loved it.

Then we went home, the milk came in, and things got harder.

A few lactation consultations later and a quick trip to the ER, and we were back on good footing.

People would ask me often if breastfeeding was going easier the second time around. I have to say, it's a mixed bag. Some things get better: I knew positions to try, the equipment I liked best, and when things didn't go well I knew who to call. Since having my first baby I've met and become close friends with an army of super smart breastfeeding mamas. They are my rock(s). And I've amassed a bag of handy breastfeeding tricks; those came back to me like riding a bicycle. A bicycle made of boobs... or something. The point is, breastfeeding was not necessarily easier by nature, I just had more resources and a lot more confidence.

On the other hand, some things don't change and were just not "easy" at all. Nipple pain. Engorgement. And this one night where I sat in bed trying over and over again to get Henry to latch and he just didn't. And even though I was confident and I knew these things can happen and it wasn't my fault, I couldn't help it. I broke down. "I just can't. I caaaaan't!!"

But somehow after the breakdown, I did. I kept breastfeeding. I mean, not right then obviously. We gave the baby a bottle or pacifier or something. But afterward I got help and carried on.

For months breastfeeding went well. It was everything it should be: convenient, cheap, a chance to sit down and watch TV or read books on my Kindle or read blogs on my phone. I loved breastfeeding during this time. I loved the chance to sit down with my little guy and stare at him, to let him fall asleep and just enjoy the smallness of this sweet baby.

Baby Henry had the fantastic habit of working his way up to hunger so that I typically could see it coming. He would start whimpering, sometimes in his sleep. Then I would try to finish up whatever I was doing. Then he'd ramp up a little, crying softly. I'd get my water, my remote control, and my phone, and I'd snap on my nursing pillow (the green one above). And finally if I was lucky, I'd grab Henry right before he really started crying hard for the milk. He would latch and off we'd go.

The bigger he got, the better we got at the nursing. He could latch from any angle. I could get started and then completely check out, launching into a TV show that I could even actually finish. Why? Either he would fall asleep on my lap, or if not, I could set him on the living room floor in front of me and he'd play for a while. By himself! Seriously, someone call Stanford, this kid is incredible.

Things changed, of course, as they always do. I went back to work at about 14 weeks and started pumping twice a day. Pumping is never "fun" but it provided lots of free milk and another little chance in my day to take a break. Yet, pumping takes work and practice and was painful at first. It's not as easy as just switching out the baby for the machine. Would that it were! Nothing expresses as efficiently as a baby, and the boobs cannot be fooled. I started to feel at odds with my pump. Would it be nice to my nipples today? Would it express at least 4 ounces on each side as I requested (at first, yes, but over time, not so much)? Would I get that let-down reflex or would I be searching my phone for video of Henry to remind my body what we were doing this for? Work with me, pump!

Then after work there was the get-home-get-naked shuffle. It goes like this:

  • Walk in the door
  • Put down bag
  • Set today's expressed milk in the fridge
  • Take off shoes, then shirt, then pants
  • Find nursing tank in pile of laundry
  • Change quickly into nursing-friendly clothing
  • Get Henry out of the car seat (now crying hysterically)
  • Find nursing pillow, snap on, sit down
  • Latch .... ahhh

After several months of this little dance, I started to see that it was making me very unhappy. When Henry turned 8 or 9 months his attention span shortened considerably. He would thrash around while nursing, detaching constantly to see what his sister was doing or who was talking on TV (he knows the HGTV hosts like family). I'd get so frustrated and just want it to be over. He also started occasionally taking a small bite, you know, just to see what would happen. After talking with several people about it I decided that nursing wasn't a positive experience for us any more. Instead of baby cuddles and staring into each others' eyes, he was fidgety and I felt like a cow. An exhausted cow who constantly has to take her shirt off. I felt unappreciated and overworked. And to what end? They say that breastmilk is best, but they also say you should breastfeed for as long as you and baby are enjoying it.

Car feeding ... so cozy!

Are we still enjoying it, Henry?

When I started the breastfeeding journey I promised I wouldn't put unrealistic expectations on myself. I wouldn't be sad if our journey ended before one year, which is how long I breastfed Olivia. I needed to let myself off the hook, because I can really be too hard on myself, as I'm sure you'll come to understand.

Still, it hasn't quite worked that way. As evidenced by these tears rolling down my cheeks as I try to write this, as I try to let go and lighten up. I started this as a letter to you, sweet boy, as a way to explain my thoughts and close this chapter. I suppose at some level I want to say that I'm sorry. So there it is: I'm sorry. I am sorry we may not make it to one year. I don't love you any differently than your sister. I love being your mama more than any heavenly thing on this earth. Breastfeeding has been a part of that relationship, but it does not define our relationship. I used my body and my heart to grow you. I birthed you into the world with an incredible strength. With a powerful and selfless kind of love. We are bonded, you and me. We have been bonded in ways that are so physical and tangible it feels heartbreaking to step away and inch apart.

But in my heart, I do think this path is the right one. When I hold you, I want to smile. That smile makes you smile, and your smile is like a thousand lightening bugs buzzing around and bouncing off the walls. Your laugh is infectious. Nothing can dampen the tremendous joy I feel when I hold you tight and remember that you are my sweet, sweet baby.

If you could talk, Henry, I think you would tell me that everything is fine. You'd tell me to let it go and put all this to rest. Some day in the distant future you will remind me that you have no memories of breastfeeding anyways, and since you turned out to be both a Rhodes scholar and Nobel laureate, it's now obvious that breastmilk does not in fact make any difference whatsoever. Who knew!

Until that time, baby boy, continue being absolutely amazing and loving.

My love for you will never end,

Mama

P.S. If you are interested in the details of weaning, feel free to send me a message, comment, tweet, what-have-you. Weaning before one year is different than weaning a toddler. With time and consistency and a few cabbage leaves (yep!), it can be done painlessly. (But not without a few tears, perhaps). :)

I'm Glad We Did This Thing: An #hmvlifechallenge Wrap Up!

I received the best message after my 30 Day Challenge wrapped up on July 15th. It came at a great time, because as I will explain, the end of this challenge, the #hmvlifechallenge! was bittersweet.

Yesterday, I spent the entire day at the lake with some dear friends who also have a boat. I got to wake-board for the first time in my life (I actually got up on the first try), and then we had tube wars. Tube wars are effectively inter-tubing behind the boat with two tubes. The point is to try to knock off the person on the other tube while the boat driver is trying to get you both to fall off. We played two on two. I won one and tied about four rounds by taking someone with me every time I was going down.

So, today I am so very sore and all I can think if is how much I want to tell Hannah that I got some incredible exercise yesterday. I also weighed myself yesterday and I only gained 2 pounds on vacation, so I ended the challenge at a net 8lb weight loss. Less than the 15-20 I had hoped for, but progress nonetheless.

Hannah, thank you so much for this challenge. Three years ago, I participated in an Under Armour challenge that was similar (I was in much better shape then, so my goal for that challenge was to do one-arm, one-leg pushups, which I did). The thing I loved about it was the sense of community among the participants at every level of fitness, and the love and support we all received (and gave). I am still friends with some of those women whom I met during the competition and I am ever grateful for their friendship and support.

The reason for the novel post is to say, Hannah, that the same sense of community and support that I loved so much about that event is the way I have felt about this challenge, even though I was on vacation for the last two weeks of it.

Thank you for encouraging me to think more about my own health in a time when it has been getting me down (I had just had that depressing Dr visit where my doctor told me that were I to gain 3 lbs, I would officially be classed as obese...that did nothing for my self esteem), and thank you for making it fun and exciting.

This is a great group of ladies and I can’t wait for the next round of challenges so that we can see/learn more about each other and continue to grow. Thank you for being my motivation during the last month, Hannah.

Xoxo
— EF, 30 Day challenger

Wow. Talk about motivation. Talk about some radical self-love and yeah, a lot of love coming at me too. I'm overwhelmed.

Sometimes with these group challenges when people start dropping down in participation it can feel like "no one cares" and why should I when no one else does? Well, of course, that's ridiculous. People still care. Our group had 13 members. Everyone posted stuff at first. Everyone set goals. By days 20-30, I only saw regular posts from about 5 people. But I'm almost certain that 12 of 13 were still checking in and occasionally "liking" or commenting. That's pretty cool. Would it have been better if more people kept actively engaging, sure. But realistic?

I think it was a lot of feeling like ugh I don’t want to put myself and my struggles out there when others aren’t. ... After while it felt like ok, others aren’t posting much so I can not feel bad.
— 30 Day Challenger

So why would my mind go straight to "no one cares"? Probably some subconscious trick to give me permission to quit. Also an excuse not to post anything, not to stick my neck out. I heard this from others too.

Someone smarter than me can think up a way to deal with this phenomenon. How can the group keep each other feeling motivated and supported? That's the heart of the 30 day challenge in my mind. Finding that sweet balance of positive encouragement and open vulnerability.

Setting that aside, however, lots of cool stuff was happening in this group. Here are some of my favorite comments and tidbits in no particular order:

  • SS, attempting new workouts: "I dug out my ballet shoes and am going to attempt a class for the first time in 3 years! Wish me luck!"
  • EF, making badass choices: "Thanks...Not nearly as fit as I want to be, but I remember how self conscious I was wearing two piece bathing suits before I had kids and realized that no matter what shape I am in ten years from now, I will probably wish I had the body I do now...so I am belligerently wearing two piece bathing suits this summer in honor of future me. lol"
  • hmv: "It's been good having this challenge in the summer months because I tend to overdo it in the summer. It's just so fun and vacation-y and friends are around. But I'm trying to learn that that doesn't have to mean tons of food and booze. You know?"
  • SMS: "My alarm clock woke up early this morning ... so today's breakfast is after a beautiful morning run. Never thought I'd say that and mean it!"
  • SS, again: "I'm planning on going to ballet again tomorrow night"
  • CJ, after my self-esteem breakdown: "When I see you, I see a strong, confident, amazing lady. Isn't it difficult when we struggle to see that in ourselves? You're doing great."
  • DH, on self-love: "I'm doing well at some goals and sucky at others, but I'm choosing to be self-compassionate instead of judgmental. Some days I rock and some I'm just tired, like today. But all days I'm worthy of love and belonging just like everyone else."

Will I do another 30 Day Challenge? I think so. Selfishly, of course, I got a lot out of it. I lost 4 lbs, I got tips on workouts and recipes and getting better sleep, and I learned a few things about myself. At the beginning I worried that starting this group would force me take the lead and that kind of puts me in a vulnerable place (which did basically happen). But my fellow challengers responded with so much love. Just massive truckloads of love. It was the best possible outcome of being the de facto leader.

Top row: 4th of July run with Carolyn. ED inspiring her family. CJ pouting about her poor performance.
Bottom row: After pic of hmv. Lunch ideas shared by SMS. The 30 Day Challenge pics of the day.

Thank you, everyone, for participating or following along. It's been fun!

Want to join me in a future #hmvlifechallenge? Leave a comment below or click "Contact hmv" on the banner above!

Previous #hmvlife challenge posts: click here!

Dealing with Massive Blows to your Self Esteem: A 30 Day #hmvlifechallenge Update

It's that critical time in the 30 day challenge. Around Day 20, when participation drops off, and feelings of "WTF am I doing?" set in. Am I accomplishing my goals? Does anyone notice or care? Is this even worth it? It's not a great time to be hit with a big blow to your self esteem. But nonetheless, I was hit.

In keeping with themes, here were some of our recent themes. They eerily lined up with this self esteem thing:

  • Day 17: Selfie
  • Day 18: Inspiration
  • Day 22: Confidence 

Ugh. So I've been the recipient of some harsh criticism. The details are not terribly important, it was a confrontation at work, some misunderstandings and I don't know...personality conflicts I suppose.

What to do now? I'm supposed to be living and blogging about getting fit and feeling great. I do feel pretty great most of the time. I did. Now I'm all butt hurt and weepy and I want to go hide in a bag.

The thing about this challenge is that it's got to give me some transferable skills. By which I mean, strength. And confidence. It's not enough to get strong and feel encouraged when things are going well and all my friends have rallied around me. What about when these 30 days are over? What about when no one is rallying and I'm on my own and something happens that just sucks?

At that critical moment I need some of this strength I've been working on. Not just muscle strength, but you know, strength. I feel confident doing hard workouts. My body is getting stronger, my resilience and endurance have improved. All of this transfers to the person I am inside. I mean, it has to! Otherwise what are we even really doing? Losing weight is great (incredibly grateful for that, trust me) but after the pounds are gone I will still be here and I'll still be me.

And there will be more sucky moments. I can't just crumble. I can't necessarily gather my friends and people who tend to agree with me and say, Look! Someone was mean to me! Make it better!! (I mean, I "can" do that technically, but you know... it might get old after the 27,000th time.)

The point is to build up some armor. So I'm trying to do that. I'm creating my own little well of confidence that I can dip into when I need it. It's easier said than done. Despite all the positivity around me, I hear this voice saying "hey you're not that great, maybe you had this personality conflict because your personality sucks and no one likes you! HA!"

Not helpful, little voice.

The 30 day challenge is nearing the end. I'm starting to think about where we go from here. It's been a fun journey, and my team of amazing friends are truly the very, very best. And so am I. Here's a selfie to prove it.