Saturday, June 9, 2018

When She Believes She's Enough

I got to meet the woman behind Chicken Soup for the Soul this past week and I am now reading her memoir Simply Happy. She's quite the impressive woman and is one of my newest writing role models. She joins several other women though. My first writing role model was probably Chaunie Brusie.

As I slowly made my entrance into the freelance writing world of sharing my writing on being a woman and motherhood though I started to encounter so many inspirational women writers. Then my writing was getting published alongside theirs on sites like Perfection Pending and That's Inappropriate. These are the powerhouse women in the field. Chaunie is the #1 writer on Disney's Babble, Amy Newmark is a Wall Street financial analyst turned editor in chief and publisher of the #1 book series, Chicken Soup for the Soul, which runs behind only Harry Potter in number of copies sold. The women I'm writing with on Perfection Pending and That's Inappropriate write for big sites like Scary Mommy, Babble,  Mom.Me, and Huffington Post Parents, and a list of other sites that my friends and myself read and have followed as social media took off about the same time we were bringing babies into this world.

These are women make their living and in some cases making six figures off their writing. They are writing and sharing about topics as women we were once told unspokenly not to talk about. They're writing about miscarriage, post partum depression and mental health, the changing gender roles and expectations in our marriages, the struggles of working mothers and the loneliness of stay at home moms, and the empowerment of the mompreneur movement.

Then I realized as I talked about marketing paper books to women of my age to the publisher of Chicken Soup for the Soul in person, as I traded emails with Chaunie Brusie about editing a book of mine and working on some of my articles to get on some of the bigger sites, and I see my article set to publish next to one of the women writers off Scary Mommy or Huffington Post that I look up to- I saw that I am a little fish, swimming a pool with all these giant fish right now! They're like the A squad and I'm the B squad but I made the damn team!

Sometimes I look at how I've been working at this for six years and God knows I've lost track of rejections by this point and start thinking I'm not good enough so why am I still hitting away at doing this. There's been plenty of doubt and "not good enough" thoughts in my head these past few years. But as Simply Happy points out sometimes we have to shut down our harshest critic- ourselves. My mom is a see the glass half empty kind of person. She always points out the worst case scenario before she'll even consider the best. She's a doubter and a nonbeliever on a lot of things.

However, from the time I was around middle school age when she saw how much I loved to write, she'd encourage me to purse things with my writing. But maybe I was too much like her in a way because I didn't believe there were many realistic options available to me as a writer so I chose the safe path of teaching. And this woman who always doubted before she believed, believed in me before I ever even thought to believe in any possibilities for myself as a writer. To this day she still encourages me to follow my writing. Yet, I am always the doubter to see where it will take me.

So much in life is about perspective and I think our first thought is to see what we haven't accomplished. I've been writing for six years and I'm not on the A team. And I am nowhere near making six figures with my writing! LOL. So that is where my thoughts first tend to go, but I'm learning I can instead though choose to see I'm swimming with the big fish and though I might be the B team I am a part of the team. A part of a team of a community of women writing truths. Truths people want to deny or pretend aren't there because what do women have left to fight for these days? We have equality in our laws, right? We got the right to vote generations ago? What do we need such a powerful voice of truths for these days? So much. So so so much.

My dad told my sister he didn't use to believe in things like post partum depression but after I  shared the raw ugly truth of my own experience he started to believe. My dad is of the old school in many ways. Though he was a fantastic dad to all girls and even a girl softball coach for well over a decade, it took him awhile to see past his own gender misconceptions. Growing up he'd always give me a hard time about being the stubborn one that always had to speak my mind. Though I say things I shouldn't at times I think he's come to respect that the other half of the time I'm doing the right thing by speaking my truths even when they are hard to share and for others to hear.

Women today inspire me. And I'm not just talking about the women above that are my writing role models. I'm now talking about the women I know personally in my life. They are taking on challenging new careers, they are starting businesses, they are proudly owning who they are on the outside no matter what size dress fits their form, they are doers and superstar multi taskers with their family and their passions and their jobs. They are blazing new amazing paths for the little women that will come behind them.

But I see so many of us doubt ourselves. We let that little voice of "not good enough" keep us from pursuing the things we want but don't think we deserve because that little voice tells us we're "not good enough". But, ladies, we have to start believing we deserve to swim with the big fish. Even if we fall short of our own expectations we will still be big fish in the eyes of so many others, especially the little eyes that watch our every little move. No one sees the ways we fall short as much as we see it ourselves. We have to shut down the voice of not good enough and that includes shutting down our own voice of negativity and walking away from those that make us feel "not good enough". So no matter what big pond it is that we don't think we're good enough to be a part of maybe, ladies, it's time we start believing we do and we can be the things we don't think we're good enough to be. We have to start believing we are enough, believing we can do whatever it is we imagine for ourselves, and seeing what we've done rather than what we haven't. Because we, ladies, are definitely enough!

Image provided by Bay Art


Friday, May 18, 2018

The Truth of Sharing my "Highlight Reel" on Social Media

I am one of those people that probably shares pictures and updates way too much on social media. For the longest time I’ve felt the need to apologize for “sharing” so much because who really wants to see all the details of my life. Whether people follow me because they want to see my oversharing or despite their annoyance of my oversharing, my posting habits really aren’t about them anyway. My social media posts aren’t about making anyone feel bad about their life or to compare theirs to mine. I don’t think my life is any better than anyone else’s. No two of our lives are the same. We all don’t even enjoy or want the same things in life.

There's a reason I book our calendar full most weekends and school breaks and then probably overshare it most times. Because if not I'm afraid I'll get too caught up in the other side of my life. The one where I'm  Cinderella cleaning up everyone else's shit non stop most days. Just like it looks in the storybook that side of my life isn't very fun.  When I'm not out of my house enjoying my life that is what I'm doing more times than not. Honestly I don't like being home. I'm not my nicest mom there.

Though my kids will clean up their messes half the time it requires the wicked bitch in me to come out.  My daughter even told a friend to do what I asked the first time otherwise I was going to turn from nice mommy to mean mommy.  To make sure I'm not only remembered as the wicked bitch in the story of my children's childhood,  I plan a lot of stuff for us to do out of the house and take too many pictures of those happy moments because on the flip side of that happily ever after fairy tale you sometimes see on social media is the other side of that story where I’m the wicked bitch of the west, snapping at everyone to clean up their shit because I’m tired of being Cinderella.

Though my life may look peachy perfect and I overshare the “highlight reel” of life, my life encounters its own shit storms just like everyone else’s. I’m not immune to life’s struggles anymore than the next imperfect perfect highlight reel in anyone's social media feed. Life is messy and though I have shared about miscarriages, post partum depression, marriage struggles, toddlers that don’t sleep, family health worries, money struggles more times than not my posts focus on the  “highlight reel” of our life. I'm not going to apologize anymore for happily sharing our best moments because I need to focus on those moments for me.  Otherwise I'm afraid I'll drown in Cinderella's never-ending pile of shit to clean.

Life is hard and messy at times. We turn on the news and we’re blasted with all the negative of the world. Some days our social media feeds are full of people attacking one another behind the safety of a computer screen. So why can’t we fill the world a little bit with our happiness. Sharing our happiness on social media isn’t really about anyone else but reminding ourselves to focus on the moments that make us happy. I post to save these memories for myself and my family. This life is speeding by me like a fast moving train and I don't want to remember all the train wrecks so here in social media land I can capture the memories and moments that made all those wrecks along the way totally worth it.  I post to remind myself that despite the messiness and the struggles this is a beautiful life.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Sixth Blogiversary: Taking My Knocks and Getting Back Up

May is the month of my blogiversary of starting this blog here which originally started as Time with A & N. But then as we were getting ready to add to the A & N family which ended up being an L I changed the name to Stepping into Motherhood, which I think is much more fitting anyway because my focus more times than not anymore is about motherhood.  Now this summer I'm looking into updating the site by hopefully moving posts over to the wordpress platform rather than blogger and actually having a website name that either includes my name or Stepping into Motherhood. This move will hopefully make the site look more professional and content easier to share.

Though this little blog of mine remains pretty miniscule small, I love the little motherhood community here that it's become. I only have about 200-300 readers on average which is also reflective of my facebook following which is my go to platform to use for social media as I am not very good with being active on twitter and I cannot remember my Instagram login.

Like with many things in life my failures and successes here are all about perspective. I could look at it as this is all I've accomplished in six years of hacking away at this writing thing and focus on all the rejections from editors I've received. Or I can focus on the fact that the blog has slowly but steadily grown over the years, as well as my publishing portfolio. Sometimes our successes are in the fact that we just keep showing up even when we've constantly been knocked down. If there's anything I'd like to think I'm good at it's taking my knocks and getting back up. This writing thing, though a true passion of mine since I was ten years old, is not without its tough moments of doubt. People can be critical; editors can be harsh, and it's quite easy to get down on myself and doubt what I can accomplish.

The first time I had an essay published in 2012 I was so excited to be "published" I happily handed my writing over to websites and magazines for free. However, six years into this and I've reached a point finally where if you're not paying me you're not publishing my work. Unless it's some huge giant well known platform of course because of course I'm not going to turn them down over something like money.

Throughout the past six years I've managed to get over 50 essays published for around $1300. I've also almost sold 200 books. After Chicken Soup for Soul in which millions read their books I'm to be published later this month on my next biggest platform with That's Inappropriate who has almost 1.4 million readers. They just added a parents content platform to their website in hopes of being the next Scary Mommy and invited myself, along with over 200 other parent content writers, to submit monthly for their 30 or so publication spots per month. They've bought three of my essays/articles so far, and I of course plan to keep throwing my hat in the ring to get more of my work published with them.

There's pretty big competition out there so I've dealt with a lot of rejection. It's just part of the game. Most times I get that but it's definitely had its discouraging moments. Too many rejections and I often take a bit of a "break" for myself. I love to write and I don't want frustration with it to take away my love for it.  I totally get every single thing I write is not publication worthy, and also that everything I write is not everyone's cup of tea. I feel everything with strong emotion- whether it's my anger or my joy, my frustration or my happiness, and I know no matter what emotion I'm running with at the moment I'm possibly coming in too hot with it. But one of the frequent compliments I get is that I keep it real. Motherhood is this incredibly raw emotional journey where we're gushing in happiness at how incredibly sweet it is one moment to barely holding our shit together and going scary mommy crazy on someone in the next moment. It's all here in this space- the highs with the lows and the joys with the struggles.

I use this space as my sounding board where I'm sure I ramble on and say too much probably too often. But my rambling list of ideas and thoughts here is where everything first takes shape before some things are cleaned up and moved on to be published elsewhere. Some posts on here are just my therapy when I need to sort some shit out, and more times than not the women that read here are amazing at giving the feedback and insight I need to hear.

For those that have shown up at some point in these six years and decided to hang out despite my numerous typos and grammatical errors, crazy rants, self indulged pity parties, boastful moments of success and happiness,  thank you!  My writing life really does start here with you! Thanks for sticking around.

Want to help me as a writer?

Buy my book Moms, Monsters, Media, and Margaritas or download the ebook here.

Buy my interactive journal for mothers and daughters Letters to a Daughter

Follow, share, and invite friends to follow my Stepping into Motherhood facebook page

Share any posts from the blog here at any time that resonate with you.

Share any of my published articles and essays I share on my pages.

Want a copy of the two Chicken Soup for the Soul books I'm published in email me at glennbabies@gmail to get your copy for $8 plus shipping:
    Chicken Soup for the Soul Survival Guide for the Multitasking Mom
    Chicken Soup for the Soul Curvy and Confident

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Come Home

I've been away from home this coming summer for 13 years already! Though there are times I get incredibly homesick and there are certain things I really hate missing out on from not being closer to home, I also love the life I've carved out for myself . But there really is no other feeling quite like coming home.

I've traveled a lot of places, and the anticipation of an upcoming trip is really an addictive high that those with s traveler's soul understands.  Yet one of my most favorite places to always be headed is HOME. It's been a destination I've traveled more times than I can count these past thirteen years, yet the thrill of heading home never gets old. I anticipate it just as much now as I did when I first left years ago.

Though we only get to see and spend time with family a few weeks out of the year, we do our best to always make the most of that time. We love how, no matter which home of ours we're headed to, it's always like a week long party as everyone also tries to make the very most of that rare time we get together. Through all those snippets of time we've captured over the years we've created these lasting memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for our kids that despite the distance they get to grow up knowing as if the miles weren't so far away.

There are many things I hope our kids taking away from how we've chosen to raise them, but the choice to come home is one that I hope runs strong in the roots of who they are.  As much as I want to foster their independence and encourage them to chase their dreams, no matter how far that may take them from us, I hope if there's anything they've learned it's to always come home. I hope they find their wings and as much as we may not want to see them go, I hope that wherever their journeys may take them that one of their most favorite, frequent destinations to head is always home.

Home is where family is. It's where those that love you for you, despite whatever your failures and successes may be, are always waiting to welcome you with open arms.  Coming home is where you snag the precious gift of time. It's time to spend with those that won't always be there, time to see those that will grow up all too soon, time to  reflect on memories,  and a time to make new ones. Home is where a part of your heart will always live.

So, my children, we will give you your wings but remember your roots and no matter where the roads in life may take you I hope they always lead you back to coming home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Kids and Money

When it comes to kids and teaching them about money I tend to disagree with everyone from my husband to my sister on this. I want my kids to know financial responsibility. Of course I don’t want them to grow up to be entitled, spoiled little brats either but there seems to be a pretty fine line to walk when trying to navigate this lesson of parenthood. Some philosophies I carried over from my own upbringing and others are different than how I was raised, but as I use to tell my sister before she had kids to each their own.

Money and Chores

I’ve heard the arguments for how kids should get paid for doing chores and I’ve heard the arguments for why they shouldn’t.  Some may see my view as harsh but there is no set guaranteed payment for chores in my household. My kids are expected to put their laundry away, empty the dishwasher, sometimes help clear the table after dinner, clean up their rooms and any messes they make, and take care of their cat including the litter box. Sometimes they also help do the cleaning and yard work. Here’s my argument for having them help out without compensation. I don’t get paid to clean up the house and put my stuff away. Self-responsibility doesn’t come with a reward; you just do it because that’s what you do as a responsible human being. I am also not the maid. We all live here; therefore, we will all take part in doing stuff around the house. Now every now and then if there’s a bunch of extra stuff to be cleaned up around the house or for doing their chores without whining or forgetting and I have a couple extra bucks I’ll give them money.  If I want them to consider how and when to spend their own money they do have to earn some money somehow. Besides the random payment for doing a nice job or extra when it comes to chores around the house, they also earn money for "babysitting" their brother (watching or entertaining him while I'm doing something else around the house). They can also earn money from good grades.

When to spend their own money verse mine

We take our kids to do a lot of things. We went and did a lot of things before we had kids. We weren’t about to change this because we had kids or exclude them; however, I often worry how traveling and going to do so much stuff on the weekends could lead my children to believing money grows on trees. Our kids are also in a lot of activities that run into a lot of money. Affording three kids activities, clothes, and tickets for this and that all run up into quite a bit of money; however, my husband and I work hard for our money so I'm not going to avoid doing things as a family because my kids might get too "spoiled" from it.  So there are times like recently when they wanted to buy books at their school book fair even though I take them to the library at least once a month,that I said they’d have to use their own money. After forking money over for birthday parties and Easter, buying spring sports gear, and purchasing tickets to upcoming weekend activities , the parent bank was dry.  They gladly obliged and they each sat down and went through how much money they had to spend and their wish list of items to make decisions on what they were actually going to get. If we go to a movie or something like Disney on Ice  or have an upcoming trip planned they are often encouraged to save their money for the things they may want there as we paid for the tickets  and expenses to do the activity but are not about to spend $60 on three flashing Disney princesses or whatever flashly thing they think they may need. Though they are kids and often want toys, they know we are not going to buy them toys. Though they do sometimes spend their birthday or Christmas money on toys from the store, they also know now to consider saving it for events like an upcoming show or the beach like last year  when they bought crabs from the beach with their saved money. We will take care of their needs but when it comes to their wants they have to consider their own money and how much they really want to part with it for something they want now verse something they may want later. 

Working as teenagers and managing their own money

As my kids enter their teen years and those wants become bigger and more expensive, they will be expected to work. However, their studies and activities are first so the expectation will be when it fits in their schedule after school and sports so like during an off season, just weekends, or maybe a particular night or two of the week. Though we do plan to provide them with a car once they have their license more for our convenience than theirs it will only be for their remaining high school days. Once they graduate and are ready to head off to college, is when we will start to expect them to look into getting their first car in which they’ll cover the payments though we’ll probably cosign with them. But from the beginning they’ll be expected to pay their own gas, spend their own money when going out with their friends, pay for their own cell bill, and possibly even their share of the auto insurance again depending on the balance between activities and work but if they are not in season with a sport they will not be sitting on their teenage butt. They will be working.

Paying for College

Though it may seem like my money managing expectations for a six and nine year old are a little harsh,  I have agreed to support my husband’s idea of trying to help pay for some of their college. Even at six and nine I know these are good girls. They work hard, they take their studies seriously, they do a ton to help out around the house ,and though they will have a vested interest in their college career because some of it will be paid for by them through either scholarships they earn, work study income they make, or school loans they have to take out to pay back themselves later, we do not want our kids starting their adult lives out in ridiculous debt or being stuck paying school loans until they die of old age as will probably be the case for my husband and me. I'm not going to forfeit my current financial situations or my own future retirement for their college savings though, but because I like to think I myself was raised to be smart with money I will make sure we save what we can to give them a little help.
Teaching them to save I'm finding though is a hard concept. I think my younger one gets the idea better than my older. My older wants to spend every last dollar she has, but I've also seen them work together to "loan" each other money or put their money together to get something they agreed they both wanted.  They are learning. I know at times they think I'm just an awful, evil Disney mother or something because I expect them to do chores every day when they walk in the house and I don't believe they should be instantly rewarded with money for helping out in a house we all share. They also understand we spend a lot of money to take them to go do a lot of stuff and that all those activities they enjoy are not free and they have both expressed gratitude at various times for these luxuries. When my oldest for her ninth birthday told me not to worry about the present part of her birthday because throwing her the party with her friends and going to do family stuff her birthday weekend was enough I knew- evil harsh mother or not- they're learning.