quarantine craziness

Whooooaaaa, it’s been a while since I posted on my blog. I actually had intentions of writing more this year, but here we are in May and this is my first post of 2020. I figured I’d restart my blog by just giving you an update of what’s been happening in my world.  2020 started off just like every other year. Big goals. Big dreams. Big plans. And even though life has taken a lot of unexpected turns over the last few months there has definitely been some good that’s come from it. So I’ll share with you a little of the good, the bad and the ugly.  Starting with…

My lovely children: I love my kids. I really do. They are the best. But they’re also intense. For a 3-year old and a 5-year old they sure have a lot of opinions, tons of questions, and, at times, the appetite of teenagers. Alex is currently potty training. And Ethan is learning how to wipe his own butt. Things are already stressful and now that we can barely leave the house– well, let’s just say it’s been an interesting couple of months.

When the pandemic started back in March, Randy and I made a decision to play it by ear in terms of him coming to get the kids for the weekend. We just weren’t sure what the right move was given how quickly the situation was changing and escalating. But it’s been a long time since he’s seen the kids, I’m going to lose my shit and we still have no idea when things will go back to whatever our new normal will be.  So next weekend, the kids will be spending the weekend with their dad.  (YESSSSS!) 

The kids have kept me on my toes, that’s for sure. So far we’ve experienced: a baby powder debacle, a nail polish murder scene, and a muddy puddles incident. All were pretty epic. The baby powder debacle occured when I was scrolling through my phone on a Thursday afternoon.  I was sitting in the dining room, the kids were playing in Alex’s room.  All was good. I should’ve known better. It was too good to be true. All of a sudden Ethan walked towards me from the kitchen with a large bottle of baby powder and I noticed it was in his hair.  I started to ask what was going on as I got up and started walking through the kitchen and noticed baby powder ev-er-y-where!  All over the kitchen floor, through the hallway, in the bathroom, all three bedrooms covered.  And yes, I was a little mad, but honestly, I didn’t freak out (say whaaaaaat?!). Yeah, I know. I’m just as surprised as you are.

I’ve been waiting for the day when my kids became more than just siblings but actual friends. I have a big bro and little sis and remember growing up we had the same innocent fun with one another.  When we would get in trouble, we’d get sent to our rooms and we’d all peak our heads out our doors into the hallway. Just the mere sight of each other left us in stitches.  I want the same for E-Bear and Chickie. Plus the havoc they’re wreaking at 5 and 3 is probably nothing compared to what they’ll be capable of at 15 and 13… so i’m just going to enjoy cleaning up baby powder and nail polish for now, thank you very much!

Spring Cleaning on Steroids: I’ve noticed A LOT of people have been cleaning out their houses and garages. And I decided to do the same. I don’t think I’ll ever be done, but I made a dent for sure. I swept all the leaves out of the garage, gave away/thrown out some toys we no longer use, and continuously look through cabinets, drawers and closets to see what else can either be repurposed, given away or thrown out. It feels really good to get rid of things we no longer use and learn to appreciate the things we do use.

This might sound weird to some of you but for the first time since I’ve lived in my house (almost 9 years), I actually feel like I’m living in my house. You know, like using all the rooms, cleaning up the house on a regular basis, cooking frequently, trying to decorate the house a little. I’m so used to being on the go that I’ve never really taken the time to appreciate and live in my house. I’m trying to become a better homeowner and take care of things the way they deserve to be cared for. 

Old Habits Die Hard: Now the not-so-good stuff that’s happened in the last couple of months… I’ve worked really hard over the last decade to change my relationship with food. It’s been a process. I thought it was a battle I had overcome, only to find that when super stressful situations occur, I will regress back to my old ways real fast.  And it sucks. And it’s not the number on the scale that’s really bothering me (my scale actually broke so I don’t even know how much I weigh). Or the fact that my pants are a little tight.  It’s that I failed myself. I let stress become an excuse and allowed food to once again become the thing I turn to when I’m feeling out of control. And then I overeat and feel even more out of control.  And the cycle continues.

I have a love-hate relationship with food. It gives me anxiety. And it shouldn’t. I have a bad relationship with scales. And I shouldn’t. And I’m reeeeaallllly not loving the way my body looks when I put on actual pants that aren’t joggers or sweatpants lately. And I shouldn’t feel that way.

Yet I do.

If I’m wearing a size 6 jeans I’m on top of the world. If it’s a size 8, I feel terrible. If it sounds ridiculous to you, believe me, I know. I know. Yet I can’t help feeling this way right now.

I’m crying as I type this because as much as I hate feeling this way, I hate admitting it even more. I’m disappointed that I’ve let how my body looks affect the way I feel about myself. And I hate that I know I’m not the only person who feels this way. It has to stop. It has to. 

And in spite of how I’m feeling right now (like shit in case you didn’t get that), I always like to find the lesson(s) in whatever I’m going through. First, as I’m sitting here typing this, I notice some differences in how I feel about my body compared to 23 year old Lauren. Even though It’s not where I want it to be, it’s definitely better than it was. My awareness has grown. And I’m unwilling to accept these feelings of unworthiness because of a few extra lbs. Also, my negative self-talk about my body has subsided tenfold. No more “you’re fat” while looking in the mirror. 

Second, I recognize that I’m super hard on myself. And if I’m super hard on myself in this department, I’m also super hard on myself in other areas of my life. It’s just who I am. If my performance is not up to whatever ridiculous standards I set for myself, I tend to get down on myself. And I need to learn to give myself grace even when it feels uncomfortable. Because no one is perfect. 

And third, I see this as an opportunity to make sure I don’t EVER make my children feel insecure or inadequate when it comes to their bodies. I would be devastated if my daughter ever felt the way I’ve felt about my body and I’ll do whatever I can to make sure she doesn’t.

Before I wrap this up, I wanted to take a second to remind everyone to be kind to one another. I know it’s redundant, but we’re truly in this together. We’ve all had people we love affected by Covid-19; we all know frontline workers who are needing our support; we all have parents and/or grandparents we can’t hug. It sucks. But it won’t be forever. So while we’re muddling through the next few weeks or months, just remember to be kind. And even though we can’t see it, smile under your mask. Because there’s always something to smile about 🙂

My Passion Project

When I started blogging it was part of a secret mission.  I know that sounds super cool and top secret, but it’s not.  It’s been a personal mission to find my passion.  I know this may not make sense to everyone reading this but I don’t want to just have a job or have a career.  I want to build something of my own.  I want to be proud of what I do.  I want my children to be proud of what I do.  It’s not enough for me to say I make “x” amount of dollars a year. I want to leave an imprint on this earth.  I want to impact others.  My blogging has forced me to look at myself from a lot of different angles.  And in order for my blog to be authentic, I’ve had to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly!  This has all been part of the master plan (insert weird creepy laugh here).

Over the past several months I’ve been thinking about all the things I wanted to be when I grew up and all of the things I’ve actually done. The first thing I remember wanting to be was a teacher.  I was always playing school with my grandma when I was a kid– she was the student and I was the teacher, obvi.  Over the course of my childhood and through my teenage years, teaching was always on my list.

At some point, I wanted to be a magazine editor (not sure if I ever told anyone about this one).   When I was a kid I used to love reading magazines.  You know, like Bop!  And then I graduated to Fitness and Self and eventually Cosmopolitan (because what 18-year old prude wasn’t reading Cosmo?!)  I did this weird thing when I read magazines– I literally read them from cover to cover.  I used to read EVERYTHING in the magazine. Even the credits in the beginning. Even the name of the Mac lipstick I’d never ever wear. EV-ER-Y-THING.  But my favorite part of the magazine was in the beginning.  It was the note from the editor, alongside a very beautiful picture of what I dreamed every magazine editor looked like.  I used to think to myself, I want to be an editor of a magazineI want to be the one to approve the themes of each edition and “yay” or “nay” the ideas for stories for each section.  (I literally decided exactly what the editor did even though I had nothing to base it off of…but that sounds kinda accurate, right?).

But that dream faded pretty quickly.

Next up: sportscaster (I even went to college for this one!).  Although I still love to play sports and be active, my desire to follow sports has dwindled over the years.  But back when I was 17 or 18 years old, I was a big Mets and Knicks fan.  I would watch SportsCenter on ESPN with my brother every morning before school and I thought it would be so awesome to be the next Linda Cohn.  But that, too, fell by the wayside within my first semester of college.  Obviously that dream wasn’t the dream.

Eventually I fell into (and yes, I use those words purposely) working with my dad.  My dad worked for MetLife for 29 years.  I began working at his office at the end of my second year of college.  I was the Recruiting Coordinator.  I was 20 years old and had no idea what I was doing, but the girl I replaced must’ve really sucked because they didn’t even let her stay to train me.  I did get some training from my direct manager, but she dealt more with marketing so the actual nitty gritty of my job I kinda had to learn on my own by making phone calls and asking a million questions.

Three years later my dad brought me over to his new company, National Life Group.  He needed an Office Manager and thought I’d be a great fit for the small agency.  He was right… I totally nailed it.  Haha, just kidding.  Okay, okay, I didn’t not nail it, but I had a ton to learn.  I was only 23 years old and even though both companies were life insurance companies there was a big difference between my roles at MetLife and National Life.  I was running the office at National Life.  Good thing I was getting my MBA, right?  (Ha, I laugh at that only because when it comes to running a business there is nothing better than on the job experience.  You can take all the classes in the world but it will never beat out work experience.)

There are parts of my job I love.  For instance, every day is different.  And, I get to work on all aspects of the business—accounting, financial reporting, marketing, training, recruiting and on-boarding, even a little IT stuff.  I’ve grown A LOT since day one.  I’m not sure I’d be where I am today if I hadn’t been given this opportunity at a very young age.  And I am grateful for the autonomy and flexibility I have.  Even though I don’t own the business, I run the business.  And I take that very seriously (like 98.5% of the time).

So why am I giving you my job history?  Relax, I’m getting there!

I have done quite a few things over the years—barista at Starbucks, Recruiting Coordinator and New Business Processor (at MetLife), Beachbody coach, pure barre instructor, Operations Manager (National Life) and blogging.  And I am truly grateful for everything I’ve done because a) I’ve had the balls to go outside my comfort zone and try new things and b) I’ve learned a lot about myself from each one!

I’ve learned where my strengths are.  I’ve learned where my weaknesses are (brings back memories of my business school days when we talked about SWOT analysis).  I drilled down and figured out what I liked about each of those jobs/opportunities and what I didn’t like.  Here’s a list of the things I love:

  • I love to talk (I know… SHOCKER)
  • I love to listen
  • I love to help people
  • I love to lead small groups and work one-on-one with people
  • I love running a business
  • I love writing and editing
  • I love fitness
  • I love to problem solve
  • I love goal setting
  • I love sharing my experiences
  • I love providing motivation and inspiration to others

It took me 14 years of being in the workforce (18 years old- 32 years old) to figure out what my actual dream job is but I finally figured it out!  I’m in the preliminary stages of my endeavor.  Meaning, I’m researching and doing a shit ton of homework.  But let’s just say it involves ALL of the things I love to do.  For now, I’m calling it my passion project.  But eventually, because I’m going to work real hard at it and be real good at it (don’t believe me, just watch), it’s going to be my baby.  The job that will allow me to create the lifestyle I want to live.  I’m not ready to officially announce anything because I know people will ask me a ton of questions that I just don’t have answers to yet.  So hold your horses! It’s coming!

And while I’m working on MY DREAM, I really encourage everyone reading this to step outside their comfort zone and try new things.  Even if those things aren’t the dream, it’ll at least take you one step closer to it.  And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and actually own your dream.  Because guess what?  You’d be surprised how many people are actually cheering you on versus tearing you down. I’ve never EVER gotten any negative feedback from any one of my blog posts.  In fact, people are encouraging and supportive and rooting for me!  So why wouldn’t people do the same for you!!?!?  They would!! Trust me!  🙂

Making Movement Part of Mom Life

Being a parent is literally the most difficult job I’ve ever had.  There’s always four little eyes watching my every move and four little ears listening to my every word.  It’s a big responsibility and no one truly understands it until they’re actually in it.  It becomes much more apparent when your kids start asking questions or repeating things you say.  You’re no longer free to stare at yourself in the mirror and make comments about your body while your daughter is slipping her feet into your shoes so she can play dress up.  You can no longer hide the candy or the “mommy juice” (aka diet soda in my house) because your son has become very curious and will ask “what’s that?” a million times before you throw a Twizzler at him to try.

Well, I guess you can do those things.  You can do anything you want.  But I think every parent wants to set a good example for their kids.  And don’t get me wrong, we all make mistakes and say unflattering things about ourselves, partake in eat-out-of-the-carton ice cream sessions, and scream or yell at our kids out of frustration.  And that’s all OK because no one is perfect.  We’re all just doing the best we can.

I’m going to take a step back here for a second.  You ever say something and before you actually finish the sentence all you can think is I sound like mother/father?  It happens to me ALL THE TIME!  Some classic lines in my house growing up were because I said so and life’s not fair.   Those are just things I remember my parent saying, but what about things my parents did or behavioral habits they had??

When I thought about this, the first thing that popped into my head was making my bed every dang morning.  As a child I watched my mom make her bed every day.  I was taught to make my bed.  And now, as an adult, I will not leave my house without making my bed.  It’s just part of my life.  It’s part of my routine.  It’s part of my lifestyle.  I watched this habit, I was taught this habit and this habit became a habit of mine (remember, habits are not always a bad thing!).

Creating and teaching healthy habits to my kids is very important to me.  My goal is for my kids to see me engaging in as many positive, balanced and healthy activities as possible.  Positive self-talk is one.  Eating a well-balanced diet that includes everything in moderation and never feeling guilty about indulging is another.  And of course, my most favorite thing in the world to talk about—movement.

The word movement is all encompassing to me. It means parking a little further away from the store because you have two good legs and you should use them.  It also means not sitting on the couch every day from the minute you get home to the minute you’re ready to transition to your bed.  It’s about having a dance party with your kids instead of watching TV.  Or running around outside while cleaning up the yard instead of playing on a tablet (two birds, one stone here people!).  And it also means getting your heart rate up and strengthening and lengthening your muscles with various forms of exercising.

I want my kids to witness and partake in all of the above. I want movement to be a big part of their lives.  I want it to be a non-negotiable.  I want it to become part of who they are are and what they do.  I want it to be part of their lifestyle.

And while I won’t know if what I’m about to share is actually working until later on down the road (I’ll keep you posted by writing a blog post about it in 20 years), it couldn’t hurt to try some of these ideas.

Make time instead of making excuses.  I could probably write a 30-page dissertation on how I hate when people say they don’t have time.  No, you have time, you’re just not making time.  Instead you’re making excuses.  If something is that important to you, you find a way to get it done.  I try not to use the phrase “I don’t have time.”  Instead I say: “it’s just not the highest priority right now.”  Because if it was higher on the list, it would be getting done. Yes, it’s that simple. No, for real, it’s that simple.

If you want to be healthier, more fit, more balanced, more in control, have more energy… then MAKE IT A PRIORITY!  You might have to adjust your sleep schedule slightly or limit your social media scrolling time.  Unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day so you just need to allocate your time better because no one has time.  No one ever complains they have too much time.  We all just say there’s not enough time in the day… or do we just need be honest with ourselves about how we’re utilizing our 24 hours?

Workout while the kids are sleeping: I commend any mother that works out with her kids playing in the next room. I think that’s amazing. I prefer peace, quiet and not having to worry about how many times I’m going to have to pause to break up a fight or “oooh” and “ahhh” over artwork.

When I workout at home, I set my alarm as early as 4:40 AM so I can get my workout in before the morning mayhem begins. I know it sounds super early and maybe too early to some, but your body gets used to waking up early. It’s worth it to get your 30-minute workout done in 30 minutes rather than 45 or 50 because of all the stop and go.  Plus, I’m a working mom so I don’t have much choice– there’s no opportunity for a nap time workout.  And by the time I get home, well I’m lucky if I can keep my eyes open past 8 PM.

Get your kids involved in exercising: However, there are times that I snooze my alarm on a Saturday morning. And I do that knowing that at least one of the kids will be waking up during my workout. It’s usually Ethan and he comes downstairs and sits and watches me.  But really he doesn’t STFU for 30 minutes!!

So while I regret hitting snooze because my workout won’t be as good as I want it to be, I figure it’s a good opportunity to teach Ethan about my love of movement. He imitates me using his Styrofoam weights, uses my step to attempt some cool moves, and works on his plank hug grip while I work on my plank. It’s cute and I love it.

Playground + Walk: I absolutely love being outdoors with my kids anytime it’s over 50 degrees. Every time we go to the “big park” in my neighborhood, I make it a point to remind them in the car: first we take a walk and then we play on the slides.

That’s right, the minute we get to the park I pop the kids in the double stroller and we walk around the park twice before playing.  I like this tactic for two reasons: 1) It’s an opportunity for movement FOR ME! And 2) it teaches my kids patience. They don’t always get to run to the swings the minute they see them.  And now it’s just part of the routine of going to the park.  It’s not like it happens every other time we go.  That means I don’t have to play “let’s make a deal” on the days I want to go for a walk. (I save that for when we leave: Ethan, Alex, do you want ice cream?!) #notajoke

And last, but definitely not least, schedule your workouts into your week on Sunday evenings.  Not like I think I’m going to barre Monday and Wednesday and I’ll run, like two days.  No, like, write it down in your planner and check it off as you complete the workout.

You might not have to write down your workout schedule forever, but I’ll be honest, over a decade into my wellness journey and I still find it useful to write it out.  In a way I kinda build the rest of my week around my workouts.  What I eat, when I socialize, when I have a drink (or two).  It helps keep you honest and who doesn’t like checking something off a list!?!?

None of these tactics are that sophisticated.  I prefer to keep things simple.  My kids are going to develop some of my habits (good and bad).  My goal is to give them as many good ones to latch onto as possible!