Today I woke up to the lovely ambiance of the crackle-popping of my knees.

I got out of bed.
Crackle pop, Crackle pop, Crackle pop.

I walked down the stairs.
Crackle pop, Crackle pop, Crackle pop.

I made breakfast.
Crackle pop, Crackle pop, Crackle pop.

Usually, the crackle pop is more annoying than painful. But today, there was pain there. I hate these stairs that I’ve always loved. Who the hell buys a 2-story house when they’re going to get old soon!? I began to think, “I’m getting super old. My body is falling apart.”

cameron-diaz-1-600x450So, the next natural step is to Google. I googled to see which celebrities are older than me and still actively reinventing themselves, still “cool,” not dead yet (eg Cameron Diaz). Turns out there are a lot of famous people who are older than me and don’t seem old at all!

Feeling like a spring chicken, I crackle-popped out the door. Then I ran straight smack into my new garage screen door. Now my face hurts and my knees hurt.

I’m not that old. I’m just clumsy, I justify. I popped a couple of my husband’s glucosamine just in case (well, after I Googled all the ingredients and read at least 3 articles of potential side effects.)

Turns out, in 6-8 weeks, my knees will be good as new! That is, if I don’t run into any more doors (unlikely).

Question: How many of you would say you are in control of your own life?
Question: Raise your hand if you agree with this statement. “When it comes to my life. It’s important to always be calm, cool and collected.”

The key word there is “always.” I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever be calm cool and collected.

BUT… As adults, I think we don’t allow ourselves to be goofy or silly because we think we always need to have it together. Many of us are so worried about what other people think or about what could happen if… We present ourselves as this perfectly put together package. We won’t take any risks because we might fail and then how would that look? When we were kids we wanted to grow up so badly… And look at us now. Just look at us!

Dad in control
When I think of control, I think of my dad. I imagine a time my family went to Wilson Lake. We went to Wilson Lake every summer. But this time was different. I was finally old enough to try waterskiing. We got out on my Aunt Barbie’s boat and she said it’s best that someone demonstrate how to water-ski before I jumped out there. So my dad, the athlete and the “everything expert,” jumped into the water.

My dad had never waterskied before.

He put the skis on, grabbed the ropes and gave Uncle Ken the thumbs up. Ken gunned it. Dad fell. Ken gunned it. Dad fell. Ken gunned. Dad fell.

A self-proclaimed bodybuilder, my dad was very strong in those days. He had quite a grip. So, that wasn’t the problem. Being the gritty man he is, he tried again. And again, and again.

Each time he went up, his shoulders were hunched and his whole body looked incredibly stiff. We watched from the boat as he leaned back and forth. Then Aunt Barbie said, “He looks like he’s trying to drive the boat.” We all laughed. It really did. He was trying to control the boat from the back.

In only a few minutes, my dad held up the sign for stop and fell back. He didn’t want to ski anymore, he said it was “dumb” and “not fun” and “exhausting.”

Well yeah! I don’t know how familiar you are with waterskiing but… that’s not how you do it. You’re supposed to lean back and let the boat pull you.

He could not relinquish control to the boat. This is classic my dad. He always has to be cool and in control. But, control is an illusion! He had no chance in hell of controlling the boat, so why try?

Me in control
I can articulate my dad’s thoughts so well because, gulp, I’m the same way. I’ve struggled with the illusion of control my whole life as well.

When I was 5 months pregnant, I lost a baby due to a very rare genetic abnormality. Something happened to me when I lost that baby. I was devastated. It hurt more than anything I’d ever experienced. I was confused and I questioned my own mortality. My anxiety skyrocketed. I worried. I worried about my kids. I worried about me. I worried about my husband. I became obsessed with all my worry. At times, my anxiety got so bad that I had actual physical symptoms. Feet, hands numbing. Headaches. Heart palpitations. Digestive issues. Then I really had something to worry about!

I burned my hand once and it got infected. I thought, “Welp. This is how I die” It was about that bad.

I justified that if I think of every possible scenario that could go wrong, nothing will go wrong. Because what are the odds that the very thing your researching, obsessed over, will be the thing that goes wrong? Maybe on some level I thought that’s what happened with my baby. I was caught off guard. I wanted to prevent that from happening again. I was trying to control and predict my future, my family’s futures, with worry.

It felt like no one understood why I was so anxious. Most would say that I worry too much and laugh it off. I just stopped talking about it and started internalizing my worries.

That was not a way to live.

Having worries and negative thoughts is human. Like having hands. Hold your hands up like this. These are your negative thoughts. Bring those thoughts closer to your face. Closer. Closer. Now your negative thoughts are so close to you they are impairing your view of the world. This is how I was living… or not living.

I knew I had to let go. To relax. I was gripping those ropes so hard my hands were bleeding.

A solution

Then I was introduced to Brene Brown’s Power of Vulnerability. It came out at the perfect time for me. Brene says we should let go of certain things in order to cultivate a wholehearted life. Take a look at the list on the left, which of them describe you? Trace your finger to the right of that one to see what you could have if you let go of perfectionism, need for certainty, to always be in control.

With Brene’s help and meditation, I’ve worked through my anxiety (and it is work). One of my biggest struggles is to be who I am, where I am. I internalize and overanalyze too much.

Sometimes I try to emulate my sister. A woman who has more potential stressors in nearly every aspect of life than anyone I know. And yet, she has no problem letting go. I think the advice “laugh a little every day” started by someone who had met. When she’s having fun, everyone is having fun.

She doesn’t constantly worry about when her son will have his next seizure. She’s ALWAYS living in the moment. She doesn’t worry about being embarrassed, she gets right out on the dance floor and does the humpty dance at the company Christmas Party, with no shame. And people LOVE her for it.

By letting go of being cool and always in control, Dawn’s the coolest person in the room!

I think it is so important to let go of being in control and of what others think because it robs us of some pretty amazing and necessary experiences in life.

What’s more amazing than waterskiing??

Now take a look at you. Are you often in the moment, sitting back, letting boat pull you? Or are you gripping the ropes?


Sweaty palms, sweaty pits, sweaty-ness.
Shaky hands, shaky voice, shaky confidence.
Toastmasters is a weekly reminder that I need more Toastmasters. As much as I dread the roller coaster of anxiety that happens for one hour once a week, I know each ride takes me to higher highs and… Weightless free falls.

I’ve seen a change over time. The confidence, the eloquence, the dry shirts. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, it’s annoying.

It’s worth it.

I hate hate.

Posted: July 22, 2016 in Rants

I hate my phone.
I hate kale.
I hate Justin Bieber.

What’s with us and carelessly throwing around the word hate? I honestly don’t think I could muster up enough energy to hate an annoying pop star.

I probably notice it more because, in my house, hate is a bad word. I implemented this “mom law” years ago because, frankly, I didn’t want my kids saying “I hate you.” or “I hate her.” or “I hate them.” It was to protect others and to protect them from saying something regretful in a moment of anger.

So when I see the word hate in the context of some mundane thing (like kale), it’s funny. It’s absurd. And, honestly, it’s warranted. Kale is disgusting. Kale is hateworthy.

But kale is a gateway hate subject. Bear with me. When we use hate to describe how we feel about hairy, bitter spinach, it’s easy. It doesn’t hurt anyone. But then we continue to make the word hate part of our vocabulary.

We talk about our phones or our internet. We hate celebrities because they are annoying, or popular, or successful. Still, no one’s getting hurt, right?

But as we get used to saying “hate” all the time, it loses it’s power to us. We turn our hatred from objects and inconveniences and distant figures to real people. That’s when people start getting hurt.

I hate that woman because she thinks she’s so perfect.
I hate that guy because everyone loves him.
I hate you.

This is what goes through my head if I hear kids say, “I hate cleaning the house.” or “I hate that movie.” I worry, that eventually, that hate will hit a person, and it will hurt.

This past weekend I played in a doubles beach volleyball tournament. Amazing right? It’s what I’d always dreamed of! Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved beach volleyball. Unfortunately, I live in the Midwest where there aren’t too many beaches, or low wind days, or beach volleyball players.

I spent so many hours begging, pleading my friends to give the sand a try. “You’ll love it,” I swore. Some tried and continued to play but most quit and went back to the indoor hardcourts, where the game is easier, more predictable and familiar.

gif-keyboard-8870400616303424519Not me though, I still kept trying. Year after year, at the end of every summer, I was upset that I didn’t get to play enough in the sand. Sounds like a child, I know. But it wasn’t the sandcastles I was after, it was the thrill of the game, the squishiness of the sand and let’s face it, I got to hit the ball a lot more.

Then something amazing happened, in December of 2015, an indoor sand volleyball facility was built. Just 25 minutes away from my house!

I created a Facebook group and endlessly promoted events. I’m helping grow the game in the Midwest because it wasn’t available for me in my teens and twenties. It’s an amazing opportunity for young volleyball players today.

We finally got a decent showing and regular crowd ready to play in the sand. One thing was a little off though. This regular crowd is at least 10 years younger than me. Any given day out on that indoor beach, I’m close to the oldest one in the group.

It’s an inner struggle each time I step onto the sandy court. Should I still be playing? Am I too old? How old is too old? I’m 34 and I can still play pretty well. Current AVP players are my age! Kerri Walsh is older than me! But these are just kids. I could be their mom (or a least their mom’s younger sister, the fun aunt?).

I remember playing with the old geezers (I’m sure they were like 30) and thinking that they were either too slow, too committed to old rulebooks or they wouldn’t let me play because I’m a woman.
too old
I think of those geezers when I step out onto the sand and look around. Innocent eyes, acne and french braids. I can’t help but feel like the old geezer.

But things have changed, or my perspective has. I’m not like those old geezers. Age is just a number. To me, it’s all in how you look at it… and how you behave. You’ll never catch me saying, “I’m too old for this or that.” At least not yet.

The moment we start playing, I’m the teacher. I’m the Todd Rogers. Yes. I am old among the crowd of budding volleyball players, but I’m still out there and I’m schooling them.

The time for my generation to rule the sand may have passed, but for now, I’m still Queen of the Beach.

The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Posted: December 23, 2015 in Uncategorized

Every year at Christmastime, I notice the Ugly Sweater tradition. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s cool (not literally). It’s fun to make everyone dress ugly ironically. Whoever has the ugliest sweater wins. And then the one who wins is Aunt Denise who actually didn’t know there would be a contest. If you think about it, it is a little mean.

That didn’t stop my family from hosting its first Ugly Christmas Sweater party several years ago. I went out to Goodwill because that’s where you could find all the really ugly Christmas sweaters. (Conveniently, Old Navy has a line of ugly sweaters now. If you go this route, you better hope Uncle Carl doesn’t pick the same Old Navy ugly sweater. You want to dress ironically ugly, not actually ugly.

Anyway, I found the ugliest, most ill-fitted bags of wool available at Goodwill that year. One for each member in my family. We wore our sweaters proudly and laughed at the horrible looking sweaters my relatives showed up in.

I’m not sure if it was my cousins spiked wassal or the ridiculously effective sweater I was wearing, but I started really sweating. It was soooo hot. Everyone was hot. We were miserable and uncomfortable and sweaty and we couldn’t wait for the contest to be over. We opened the doors and window to let IN the draft. These sweaters were super effective. After the contest, all the sweaters were peeled. The fun was over.

And my family never did Ugly Sweater Christmas again. Every time I hear of someone doing an Ugly Sweater Christmas party, I think, “How fun for them!” and immediately feel an empathic bead of sweat rolling down my forehead.


The cool kids don’t get it.

Posted: November 4, 2015 in Family

Last night Anya had her 6th grade music program. I think 6th grade is about the time I stopped doing music programs and started doing choir.

I joined choir because it was “cool” at the time. Yes, in 6th grade, choir is cool. But what wasn’t cool was that I had an alto singing voice. All the “cool” girls were sopranos. You know? That princess-y soprano sound you’d hear in all the 90s Disney movies. Still, I sang in my alto voice. I liked choir. It was nice to belong in a group.

For days, Anya has been swearing to me that she “hates” music and singing. She tells me after this, she’ll never be in choir or anything lame like that. It’s embarrassing and the songs aren’t cool and “We don’t have to go to the concert. It’s not mandatory.”

I know Anya doesn’t hate music and singing because I hear music and singing blaring from her room every day. Even Mozart. I hear her practicing her program’s songs.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

At the concert, I watched Anya walk onto the stage with about a thousand other “cool kids.” When the songs started, I could hear singing but few mouths were moving. Eyes were darting around the risers to see who was “uncool” enough to care.

Then, I noticed. A smile on Anya’s face. She was into it. She was belting out the songs and smiling, and maybe even dancing a little bit. She knew all the Hebrew words to the Haida Song.

Tell me she hates music and singing.

The group received a standing ovation. I was proud of my little 6th grader for letting her vulnerability show at the risk of appearing “uncool.” She was proud of her performance. She had a great time and it showed.

After the concert, Anya comes over to me, “I’m so glad that’s over. How embarrassing.”

The boys side of the gym. 

Posted: July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized

The mostly men side of the weight room is like a boys’ only club. It’s just understood that the men workout here and the women workout over there with all those tiny pink weights and a billion ellipticals. There are reasons for this segregation, men like to grunt and drop 400 lbs. of weight that shakes the entire floor and women prefer to not be gawked at while we’re lifting.

A few months ago, I decided to forget all that. I can hang. I reached back to my roots as a tomboy and decided I really wanted lift at the boys’ club. All the cool equipment is over there! I was done with Bosu balls and the inner thigh machine (you know the one).

Plus, I don’t care if the guys think I’m “not doing that right” or if they gawk or judge (I say to myself, very convincingly). I put my headphones on and queued my music to my Kick Ass Workout Mix.

Now, about 3-4 days a week, I’m 1 of 2-3 women in a gaggle of bulky men.

At first, I was timid to ask about using equipment and took up about 4 square feet of space. If a machine was taken, I would skip that set until the end of my workout. Now I stretch out my arms. I jump in on sets. I feel completely comfortable lifting way less than what most of the guys lift.

After a few months, I’ve realized it’s not so bad over there. There’s a bit of camaraderie among the men and I’m like their mascot now, the token female. I think they respect me for lifting with them. And I’ve gotten used to the earthquaking weight drops.

Journal prompt: “I feel most at peace when…”

The first thing that comes to my mind is “when I’m doing something creative.” I’m lying. Specifically, the first thing that came to my mind was drawing but I didn’t want to admit that because it sounds silly. Or at least, I think it does.

I should probably say something like “writing” or “exercise” or “playing with my kids.” When I asked Anya (11) when she feels most at peace, she said “When I’m sleeping, I’m the most at peace.” And that makes perfect sense to me.

When I’m writing, I feel like I’m in a sudden downpour and I’m running around frantically with my rain barrel trying to catch as much watery goodness as possible. In other words: No peace.

When I’m exercising, I have a goal. It’s solid determination. Does it make me happy? Yes. Does it make me feel more alive? Yes. Peaceful? No way. With all the adrenaline pumping through my veins, I can’t even imagine what peace is like.

When I’m playing with my kids, I should be at peace, right? Not always. I’m Momming. I’m making sure these kids grow up to become responsible adults. I’m the designated responsible adult. Plus, I’m too busy trying to conquer the task of not touching the floor of the playground fort while monkey-swinging it all the way to the other side. Playing with my kids is fun, not peaceful.

When I’m drawing in my private sketchbook that has a lock on it (the lock is invisible, as in it’s understood that this is not for random perusal), I feel the most at peace. I can oft be seen sighing peacefully while sketching flowers from our flower garden or drafting out compositions for some of my favorite quotes.

So without shame (ok, maybe a little shame), I say that drawing is a no pressure, creative outlet that brings me peace.



My journal prompt for today. “What is calling me right now?”

Right now. As in right this second. My lunch is calling me. I’m so hungry! Be right back.

Ok, I’ve got my Mason Jar Salad and I’ve set my timer for 10 minutes. I’m ready to write about what is calling me now.

In reference to my Mason Jar Salad, I’d say health. I’ve always been a sort of a nut job (I mean health nut, or do I?). But this year, I’ve been forced into really working on my physical and mental health.


Forced, you say? Yes. After having my gall bladder removed, I’ve discovered that the common knowledge that you can “live without a gall bladder” is flawed. Can you live? Yes. But is it fun? Depends how you look at it. Life as you know it is over.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining. Ok, I am. But… being forced to eat healthy ALL THE TIME, while a nuisance, is good for me. I’m getting really good at saying no to dessert and avoiding donut days. Some days I wish I could inhale a cheeseburger and wash it down with a thick chocolate shake, but then reality hits. I know what I feel like when I splurge and I don’t want that. It causes pain, anxiety, sadness (I wouldn’t say depression, but just the blues).

My lifestyle changes have been strict, to put it lightly. I exercise more. I eat more salads. I purposefully de-stress. It’s boring some days. It’s very very hard some days. But… It makes me feel great! Feeling healthy is worth all the sacrifice. Who knew that I’d have to have a vital organ removed to discover that?

I’m not sure I’m doing this journal prompt right, but if someone asked me what’s calling me at lunch time and I had 10 minute to give them answer, it’d have to be something to do with food.