Tantrums, Trials, and Trying To Live Without Bread

There are seven distinct, expanding tendrils of my life right now that are getting progressively more difficult to regulate:

Motherhood, work, marriage, politics, other responsibilities, money, and myself.

The balance, as everyone knows, is a myth. You are always failing at at least one of these, if not all.

Lately, I’ve been failing myself the most. I’m eating badly, not exercising, sick, and exhausted. I’m away from Cameron so much with work travel that I feel total mom guilt taking any time away from him outside of that. I gave up bread for a month (check-mark on my list!) and thought I might die.

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Other responsibilities are piling up as well. I’m hosting a wedding shower this coming weekend (and expecting a few quite judgy guests), a bachelorette party two weekends from then, going on a work trip in between, another work trip/combo family birthday weekend trip for a friend the following weekend, and then finally escaping with my family to North Carolina for a few days in November. The travel has been absolutely nuts lately and every time we all leave, we’ve got to worry about how our pets will be cared for, getting everyone paid, getting work under control, and making sure invoices go out on time.

I am also the sole accountant for Brandon and me, so every Friday is invoicing day. If we don’t send invoices, we don’t get paid. I have some continuing education classes I’m taking online, constant treading water, saving for home renovations, and so much more.

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And then there are the tantrums. Oh my God, the tantrums. The fury, anger, spitting, crying, emotional outbursts from someone who cannot seem to regulate himself. The entitlement I’ve witnessed recently is out of control. We are clearly doing something wrong.

Also, my toddler is throwing tantrums.

BOOM.

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No, but seriously, my kid has turned into a monster the last couple of weeks. His tantrums have become frequent and epic. Tonight, there were no less than six meltdowns, one because he pointed to something on the table, I did not know what he was pointing at, and it destroyed his entire world.

Most of the time, I’m pretty cool about tantrums, but it’s getting really waring lately, particularly being sick and exhausted from everything else. Cam is awesome but he definitely knows how to be a little butt.

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Just ready for things to slow down… why do I do this to myself?

Our Family Technology Plan

There is little that gives me more fear than the ways in which the world will change to make being a decent, contributing, empathetic person more difficult. As a parent, it’s weird how your perspective changes – not only are you concerned for the planet, yourself, your loved ones, and their kids – you have a direct stake in the ways the world is changing under our feet, and you fear for the future of your offspring.

I am privileged beyond belief not to have to worry about my son in many ways: he is a smart, upper-middle-class white boy living in America. My challenge will come in ensuring he knows, acknowledges, and appreciates this – and uses this to better the world around him.

But one thing we all have to work through with kids of this generation – at least those who live in first world countries – is the role technology will play in their lives. I am an older part of the last generation to remember a world before the Internet as a mainstream tool. Someone who still vaguely remembers using a house phone. Someone who remembers the birth of social media, and the trajectory it took in replacing chatrooms, forums, and instant messengers. A world in which a selfie was a unique concept (and I have an old DeviantArt page with plenty of them, circa 2002 – they are considered antiquities now).

My child will not have the grounding I did. He will not be raised in a world where there is a stark difference between then and now. He will see little reason to learn how to physically write – much less learn cursive (although, I have to say, I never saw the point of cursive, either). He may not ever see a reason to learn how to drive. Those are just the facts. But the implications are that he will be far more connected to the outside world than I ever could have been, and at a frighteningly young age. He will no doubt encounter porn well before puberty. He will be begging for a cell phone at 8, or younger. He will be expected to participate in social media at what I would consider an obscenely young age – and he will be exposed to whatever his network chooses to put out there. I will have limited control over that. (Obviously, monitoring is vital and parental restrictions are a given, but kids can get around ANYTHING and that’s just a fact we have to face.)

He will witness the heinous nature of how people treat each other behind the anonymity of the Internet. He will encounter trolls, predators, bullies, and all kinds of racism, misogyny, prejudice, hatred, violence, drugs, sex, and disgust well before I’m even likely to be aware he’s seen anything. And his small, developing brain will be working all of that into his perspective on the world. This will be the case for all our children.

We cannot shut this down. We cannot raise our children in caves, allowing them out only to fetch water for the family and collect firewood for the hearth. There are times I briefly consider this idea, knowing that living as an Amish family may be the only way to protect my kid from becoming either an asshole or suicidal, or both. But needless to say, that’s pretty extreme. And frankly, not realistic. Even the Amish have Rumspringa.

I struggle often with how we will introduce technology into Cameron’s life. Especially since Brandon and I both work in tech–in advertising, no less–and know intimately how data is used to follow and target the unsuspecting. We can’t be hypocrites, attached to our cell phones and laptops and denying him the right to ever see a screen. But it is nonetheless our responsibility as parents to guide him in the direction we feel is appropriate for his age.

So with that said, I’ve put together a family manifesto for the use of technology in our lives. Maybe it’ll help you create your own for your family.

 

  • Technology should be an aid – not a crutch. Is the technology bettering your life or hindering it? Are we watching a movie together or are we each zoning out and staring into the abyss of our own devices?

 

  • Meal time is family time. No screens, ever, when we are eating together at the table. Including the parents.

 

  • No TV before age 2. We are not perfect about this, but I would venture to say the amount of collective television programming Cam has watched in his 18 months totals about 12 hours. And about half of that was dedicated, “special treat” family time – The Princess Diaries one night and Elf at Christmas. He watched Finding Nemo on a plane trip and has seen a few episodes of Mr. Rogers. He has no idea what the characters are on t-shirts and is usually perfectly happy to entertain himself with his toys and books. It’s also been really refreshing to know that the things he’s learning aren’t coming from a screen – they are coming from books, interactions with other kids, time at his nanny share, from us, or from the world around him. We never have to wonder if he’s been exposed to something weird, because we control what he takes in. It’s not so much a control thing, though, as it is a dependence thing. We didn’t want our kid to be dependent on a screen for entertainment or babysitting. So he adapted to entertain himself without one. Has it been a huge pain in the ass to never (well, almost never) have the TV on when he’s around? Sure. But has it made our family dynamic a million times better than it would have been? You bet. And it’s made Brandon and me more productive, more voracious readers, and more interested in music. Plus, Cam appreciates a good podcast nowadays.

 

  • No cell phone before 10. No smart phone before 12. I would like this to be 14 but realistically, I think I’m going to get beaten into submission. In my mind, there is no reason whatsoever that a pre-teen needs a smart phone. In an emergency, a cell phone is necessary because pay phones don’t exist anymore. But connecting to SnapChat? Bite me. There is zero reason for this. And Cam will be a master manipulator but despite what he’ll think at the time, I’m no dummy, either.

 

  • Mom and Dad’s phones are for pictures and videos of family. I don’t feel right keeping Cam away from phone screens like they’re some sort of prized possession he’s not allowed to touch. It’s only going to make him more curious. But he’s also not going to watch YouTube or play Candy Crush on our phones. When he plays with my phone, it’s while he’s sitting with me – not in the car, not unsupervised. We Skype with family or we look at pictures and videos I’ve taken of him – that’s pretty much it. Maybe we’ll look up a picture of a tiger or truck (“CRUCK!!!”) here and there. But for all he needs to know for now, that’s all I do with my phone. And that’s totally fine. There are real books and games that offer much more exciting entertainment than blinking lights.

 

  • Technology should be used to grow the imagination – not supplement it. A fire truck that goes “woo woo.” A learning table that reminds you of the colors you’re pressing. A little keyboard to play that sounds like a piano. Those things are helpful – they encourage retention and brain development. Watching a video of kids playing with a soccer ball, though, is not developing anything. It’s a boredom distraction. You know what’s also a boredom distraction that actually teaches something? Kicking a ball.

 

  • Be the change you wish to see. This is a fundamental tenet we try to teach Cameron in multiple aspects of our lives. We encourage him to chat with our homeless neighbors, be kind to animals; we go to marches with him. We volunteer, we run phone banks for candidates we support. This must extend to our relationship with technology as well. This one is the hardest for me. I love TV. LOVE TV. It is my way of decompressing. But I can live without TV. And I can put my cell phone away. I make a huge effort to put my cell phone to the side when I’m with Cameron, or when we’re all out to eat. I don’t have the TV on around him, and I’m certainly not watching a screen he can’t see (although sometimes I do listen to podcasts :). In the car, we either listen to music together or we chat. Sometimes he has a book in the back. We don’t have tablets and he doesn’t have something for the car. Has it been a huge pain to give up TV during the daytime hours? Of course. But it’s forced me to find other things to do. And there was a period of about a month when we couldn’t find our living room remote, and we all hardly noticed. It’s amazing what a small change can do once you commit to it.

 

I’m not a saint. I still watch a lot of TV – but it’s after Cam goes to bed. I still play Candy Crush and check Facebook a million times a day. But when it’s family time, it’s family time. We bond, we shop together, go to sporting events, go to the aquarium or on a scavenger hunt. We are a trio that genuinely enjoys being around each other and I hope to stay that way. I’m hoping that starting early and introducing screens slowly, in a way that means they don’t feel tethered to Cameron but that he feels comfortable around them. We want to create a healthy relationship with technology. We will screw up a million times. But this is our family’s plan for how we hope to try.

Always Sacrificing Something

So I’ve accomplished another goal on the list: as of this month, I’ve exceeded last year’s income by at least 10% so far. It has been a whirlwind and I’m as shocked as I am grateful, but I am bone tired.

It’s hard to walk away from opportunities when you work for yourself. You never know when your next paycheck is coming. I keep getting asked for more, more, more of myself and there are limited amounts to give. I fee like a lazy mom, an absent wife, and a mediocre worker because I am burning the candle from both ends, working 60 hours a week. The travel is uncontrollable. I need a break.

I am going on vacation with my mom and sis in a week, so I’m hoping that’s a good detox. Right now, I’m just trying to figure out what to do. I don’t have the answers. And you expect it to get so much easier as you get older – it just gets harder. We may grow all the time, but I don’t think we ever fully grow up.

Social Media Detox

I expected that giving up Facebook for a month would be difficult. We hear so much about social media addiction and the constant need to be connected to our networks and phones. I have not been immune: mainly out of a sort of obsessive-compulsive habit, I was opening Facebook probably dozens of times a day. I don’t know what I thought I was missing, but just that quick flip calmed me – particularly in this age of near-constant changes in politics that feel life-changing at a moment’s notice.

I deactivated my Facebook and Instagram accounts the evening of 3/6 and removed the apps from my phone. I realized a few days in that I couldn’t fully deactivate Facebook without causing myself a bunch of grief with work and connected logins, so I allowed the platform to reopen my account (when I needed to check some numbers in an ad platform) but I never signed back in. I have to say – I haven’t missed it much at all.

The time I was spending flipping open that damn app icon is now devoted to reading, give or take, half an hour a day. I’m able to really focus and enjoy TV shows I’m watching rather than half-listening while scrolling through an endless feed of photos I’m not in and don’t honestly care about.

I miss the status updates from some of my groups – one woman in particular is going through a rough time in her family and I want to know how that’s unfolding and how she’s holding up. We’re only Facebook friends so when I cut out Facebook, I cut out her and everyone in that group.

I’m also slightly annoyed about random events – trying to figure out if it’s half priced wine night at some restaurant I like, or if trivia is still happening even though it’s snowing. Things like that. Facebook serves as the primary resource for that kind of information and I feel a little blind without it. But you know what? It hasn’t impacted my life all that much. And if it did, I would pick up a phone and actually (gasp!) call someone.

We went to a caboose cabin in Asheville, NC and hit Greenville, SC for business on the way up. I took pictures but forgot about looking to see if people had Liked them, because I didn’t post them. I enjoyed my time with my kid and husband. We saw goats and bison and chickens, we ate at my favorite childhood restaurant (J Arthur’s in Maggie Valley), and we cooked hot dogs and s’mores around the campfire. We went to a Brazilian steakhouse, hit the breweries, and had fun at Cameron’s 1-year photo shoot with our friend Cami.

And we didn’t need to announce all of that in real time to my social network because frankly – nobody else cares that much!

I’m about halfway through this social media detox and I may just continue for a while. I thought this would be an insanely hard transition but it’s actually just been a breath of fresh air. If Trump does something so insane our lives are in danger, we’re probably all screwed anyway. And if he doesn’t, I’ll just hope I hear through a longer grapevine about his impending impeachment.

So I hope all of you guys are doing well. I hope you’re still loving being vegan, getting lots of baby giggles, enjoying the single life, bitching about the latest political outrage (I stand in solidarity with you and have not stopped my offline activism!), crafting, cooking, singing, photographing, running, and traveling. I still love you. But I don’t miss your online profile. And I’m willing to bet you don’t miss mine.

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Books I’m reading with all my extra time!

*Janesville – REALLY well-written. Empathy-inspiring. Although not as much as…

*How To Kill a City – holy CRAP have we been awful to People of Color in this country. A study of Gentrification 101 in some of America’s key cities. (Detroit will BLOW YOUR MIND.)

*What Happened by Hillary Clinton – it took a long time to dry my liberal snowflake tears and open this book again. But I’m in the home stretch. It’s okay. It’s infuriating. It’s a little pandering. But it has one of the best quotes I’ve seen that sums up all of the books above:

“There’s been so much said and written about the economic hardships and declining life expectancy of the working class whites who embraced Donald Trump. But why should they be more angry and resentful than the millions of blacks and Latinos who are poorer, die younger, and have to contend every day with entrenched discrimination?

…After studying the French Revolution, (de Tocqueville) wrote that revolts tend to start not in the places where conditions are worst, but in places where the expectations are most unmet. So if you’ve been raised to believe your life will unfold a certain way – say, with a steady union job that doesn’t require a college degree but does provide a middle-class income, with traditional gender roles intact and everyone speaking English – and then things don’t work out the way you expected, that’s when you get angry. It’s about loss. It’s about the sense that the future is going to be harder than the past.”

*And I mean, of course I read Fire and Fury… which was fascinating, but really, it’s more like a 20/20 exposé than a real book.

15k, Over and Out

I knocked out the 15k on Saturday. About mile 2, I had the sinking feeling I’d made a terrible mistake. Another girl jogged up next to me and asked, “What’s your strategy?” I looked at her like she had two heads. My first thought was, “My strategy is not to die.” I more kindly answered, “Walk when I’m tired. Run downhill.” Apparently, that was her strategy, too. Call be a dum-dum but I didn’t know people went into these things with strategies.

It was hilly. Very hilly. Which was nice on the down-slope but murder going up. And as much as I love running to podcasts because they’re long-form entertainment, I realized I can run more predictably to music. I also hurt a lot more than last time… chafing, soreness, the works. But it was overall a good pain – it reminded me I worked hard, that as I approach 31 and am post pregnancy, I’m still doing good things for my body, and that I knocked the first big task off my latest bucket list.

And get this… after the last 15k I ran a few years ago, I said, “That’s it.” I had no plan to do another one, much less anything more strenuous. But after this one… I think I can train for a half marathon. I really think I can. And I just might.

So EAT THAT!

Also… I’m giving up social media for the next 30 days.

So maybe that will leave me more time for training.

WHAT AM I DOING TO MYSELF?

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The Fruitless Search for Low-Hanging Fruit

In my Before 30 list, I began knocking out initiatives by starting with the low-hanging fruit: the “easy” things that seemed like bite-sized accomplishments. “Read some books that mean something.” “Send a letter each month to a friend.” Etc.

Looking through my Before 40 list, I realize… ain’t many “easy” items. Which is probably a good thing, but it’s a little intimidating. My reasoning was that this time around, I had 10 years to accomplish everything, but I neglected to factor in difficulty level in general and how much it would de-motivate me to even bother.

So I’m starting with what I’d consider the easiest item of the list, which, let’s be honest, isn’t exactly easy… running another 15k.

I’ve been training since November–which, let me tell you, confirms how out-of-shape I’ve gotten–and over the last few weeks, my workouts have been closer to 4 and 5 miles at a time. This is a huge improvement over the 1-mile runs I was taking in November. Now, this Saturday, I have my big 15k – about 9 miles. I’m not pressuring myself to do it in any kind of speed or timeframe, but they do shut the course down at 2 hours and 15 minutes, so I guess that’s the only consideration. I think I’ll squarely beat that.

I’m proud that I’ve made time for exercise as often as I have during my first year as a mom. Cam turned 1 a couple of weeks ago and it’s been a trip! But he also forces me to focus on the moment and enjoy the present, which is something I struggle to do.

Wish me luck on Saturday. I’ll need energy to wake up at the crack of dawn in the first place.

The Case For A Lifestyle Business

I’m approaching the 2 year mark of the day I took a giant leap and became a freelancer – a worker in the “gig economy” and a terrifying foray into an unpredictable, unreliable industry.

I guess I never really articulated on here why I pursued this path in the first place. At times, I struggled with the details myself.

  • I wanted to be my own boss.
  • I had been at multiple jobs during massive waves of layoffs, and although I was fortunately spared in both cases, it made me realize that advertising is inherently untrustworthy when it comes to predictable employment. I knew freelancing was a risk, but if I could drum up enough business, I would actually be diversifying that risk so if the bottom fell out with one client, I had others to fall back on.
  • Without becoming a VP or higher (which comes with its own stressors and challenges, including a higher risk of layoff potential), I had tapped out the top of my salary and I wanted the ability to control that faucet if things went well.

But the number ONE reason I began freelancing was that I wanted flexibility. Flexibility to choose my projects and clients, work as much or as little as I wanted, create my own schedule, and work from home (or wherever I was traveling). That was ultimately the dream. It was a risky dream – giving up consistency for flexibility. Things could have completely bombed. I feared I wouldn’t get enough business, or I wasn’t good enough to command my hourly rate. You know… whatever terror often goes with making a leap like this. And it’s wise to have that fear. I sucked at a lot of the business crap at first. It was like getting a business degree on the fly.

But Brandon and I talked deeply and decided that the timing would never be better to give it a shot. We worked out our worst, likely, and best-case scenarios and planned how we would attack things if “shit hit the fan.” I researched accountants and S-Corps and benefits. I laid a base with my leads and started blogging to generate some LinkedIn interest. And I’m thrilled that after nearly two years of hard work, I have had only a couple of months (the first month and last July) when I wasn’t 100% booked with work at least 40 hours per week. And it was my choice to take all of that on.

Demand has grown for my skillset and I sometimes have to politely decline leads, which I don’t at all take for granted. It kills me when I have to say no – I feel supremely privileged and fortunate. The reason I bring this up is because it’s led me to consider expanding and starting my own thing – sub-contracting folks under me and building more of a brand. I think there’s a great market out there and a lot of people who are interested, as I was, in this freelancing dream (scary as it is). There are a ton of moms who, like me, enjoy the idea of working part-time and have a lot to offer, but our industry isn’t set up for that in a formal way. I could see it working and I think the person who does it will be really successful. And maybe rich.

But I realized something recently that’s about me and me only, and it was difficult to come to terms with: I’m okay with my current level of success. I don’t need to build an empire, even if I could (and it’s a debate if I could at all, of course!). The reasons I pursued freelancing in the first place weren’t about world domination and retiring early. It was about finding a balance and diversifying my challenges. Being happier. Spending more time with my family. Traveling when I want to. Learning and growing every day. Maybe making some extra money – or choosing not to and having more time on my hands instead. Not being a CEO.

As Americans, it is implied from birth that the American dream means bigger and better; business ownership and, ultimately, Trump-like name recognition on your buildings or thousands of employees on your payroll. I thought for a long time that might be something I wanted. And God knows if I could ever make that happen at all. But I recently realized… I don’t know if that’s me. I don’t know if I want that stress, that risk, that responsibility.

Maybe having a lifestyle business that supports my family and gives me what I want IS ENOUGH. At very least – it’s enough for now.

I’ve seen my baby grow all year and we spend lots of time hanging as a family. I can confidently say I saw his first steps, and that makes me so happy. I can take a lunch break with him and his dad. We can keep him in part-time childcare so his dad can work, but Brandon loves having Mondays and Tuesdays as daddy/son time.

I don’t often work past 6pm. I work with companies and clients I’m passionate about, and I don’t feel like a slave to the business because I’m only responsible for my family – not for the families of a bunch of employees. I don’t have to manage anyone, have their one-on-ones, deal with too much political drama in the office. And I can’t tell you how refreshing that is (although I have to admit, I love mentoring employees… you don’t need to be their official “boss” to do that, though!).

As an ambitious person always trying to grow and succeed, it’s been a weird realization to come to – and honestly has very little to do with me becoming a mom. It has to do with realizing there’s more to life than work. And as I put my bullet journal together this year, it was fun to fill it with as much stuff focused on my life as I did for stuff focused on work. May we all have that kind of opportunity.

So to all my fellow dreamers, do you. Build your empire – or don’t. Be a badass boss babe, work for yourself, find a 9-5 that respects your time, or build a plan for passive income. There are so many ways to live life – we don’t all have to pursue the same things, and that’s part of what makes our experiences rich. There is still WAY too much inequality of opportunity in this world and it’s my sincere hope that we are soon able to see our way out of that as a country. (It’s a bunch of crap that I have the ability to pursue my dreams when so many others simply can’t.) But for me… I’m good where I am. And I just cross my fingers I can keep the status quo going. I am so freaking lucky and so freaking grateful.

When Nothing Is Enough

I’m part of a group of self-identifying women on Facebook, thousands of lovely, like-minded women who support each other, ask questions about where to buy hemp milk, whatever. It’s oozing with crunchiness, hippy-dippiness, and over-sensitivity. And I was stupid enough to ask for some friendly advice.

We’ve been toying with the idea of getting a second home outside the country, potentially living there one day, as we’re concerned with the education and healthcare systems in America, as well as our culture of consumerism-at-all-costs. The divide that has happened in this country leading up to, and since, the election also has us sad and concerned for the country’s future. And having lived abroad as a child myself, I can attest to the change it creates in you to experience another culture when you’re young. I want that for Cameron.

Most of the comments on the post were friendly and helpful; giving me advice about Visas and taxes, making suggestions about countries that might make sense. But some interpreted my highly early-stage question as some sort of assumption that we could move wherever we wanted and were owed things from the world. They further ripped me for having a “white child” and suggested that we could find exactly what we wanted in Atlanta since we were so privileged already.

I shouldn’t let trolls get to me, but the reaction really put me into a dark hole. I try so hard, every day, to understand and acknowledge my privilege. We live in a diverse neighborhood because we like being around people who are different from us. It is my #1 goal as a parent to ensure Cameron uses his privilege the right way. We volunteer, donate, give to the homeless and treat them as neighbors. We fight for those without a voice. We march. We rally. I call my representatives, and often. It saddens and infuriates me to feel like there’s literally nothing I can do to make some people happy. That because I have certain things and others don’t, that I deserve to be treated like garbage or told my family doesn’t have a right to try and pursue happiness as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

I don’t have any more to give. I have been screaming into an endless void for a year now, trying to use my voice for those who can’t speak. Unlearning racism. Acknowledging my privilege. Teaching my child to do the same.

And here I am. Square one. Diminished and embarrassed, like being unhappy with this country is a right reserved only for the disenfranchised.

I am endlessly fortunate, for so, so many things. And I am eternally grateful. But sometimes I don’t think it’s enough until I also feel un-endingly guilty as well. Like I have to bleed to somehow make things square.

Is this how right Right feels? Is this why they hate us? Because we can’t see beyond our own noses to recognize the people at the end of them?

40 Before 40

In ten years, I’ll be officially middle-aged.

In the four years leading up to 30 since I started this blog, I accomplished 25 of the 30 tasks on my To Do list – not half bad, especially considering the ones I never hit were “get spiritual” and “be happy just as I am.” I mean… how vague can you get?

What have I learned? Well, for one thing, get more specific with your goals. Also, be open to what comes at you. I, somewhat unexpectedly, became a mom during the process of this, and you know, you’ve got to go with the flow. I started a business – not on the list. We renovated a whole house – not on the list. So what if I didn’t hit Octoberfest or see Machu Picchu yet?

So let’s give this another shot, with a longer timeline, just to keep things interesting. Who’s with me?

 

TRAVEL A LOT

40. Machu Picchu. Duh.

I actually wrote this blog draft before we went to Peru. So I’m excited to say… um, I’ve done this already!

Machu Picchu!

39. Go to Australia.

38. Go to Africa.

37. Complete Handstands Across America. (To date, I’ve hit GA, SC, NC, TN, PA, WV, VA, FL, AZ, NY, NJ, CT, AL, CO, IL, and WY.)

36. Take Cameron to a place that’s non-English-speaking.

35. Take my mom on a vacation.

 

MAKE SOME MONEY

34. Increase my income by 10% at least one year.

33. Attend at least 5 networking events each year.

32. Take a continuing education course in a related field.

 

BE A GOOD MOM

31. Help Cameron with his homework. Even when I don’t understand it.

30. Log at least one solid moment where I go, “My kid made the choice to do the RIGHT thing.”

29. Tell Cameron EVERY SINGLE DAY that I love him.

 

BE A GOOD WIFE

28. Show Brandon at least once a month how much I really appreciate him – even when he’s driving me COMPLETELY INSANE for whatever reason.

27. Have a date night alone with Brandon at least once a month.

 

DISCONNECT

26. Give up Facebook (or whatever the hot thing of the moment is) for a SOLID month.

25. Go on at least 10 family outings completely without my phone.

24. Turn off the TV for a month. Before 30, I struggled to do this for a week. Let’s up the game.

 

STAY HEALTHY

23. Run another 15k.

22. Take fitness classes at least once a week for 6 months – jazzercise, dance, Zumba, kickboxing, yoga… whatever.

21. Go a month without alcohol.

20. Go a month without bread.

 

BE ADVENTUROUS

19. Participate in a big cultural event (like I wanted to before 30 :).

18. Run for a public office.

17. Learn another new skill (welding, embroidery, calligraphy, etc).

 

CHILL OUT

16. Do absolutely nothing for a full weekend.

15. Write in a journal every day for a month.

14. Read a few more classic books.

13. Go on vacation somewhere that’s purely relaxing, not necessarily an “adventure” destination, just to enjoy it.

 

BE A GOOD FRIEND

13. Send care packages to 10 friends for no good reason.

12. Check in more often on friends who are going through crappy times.

 

PROTECT MY INVESTMENTS

11. Get my retirement savings to $500k by age 40.

10. Diversify my investments – BitCoin? International real estate? Etc?

9. Keep 6 months worth of savings in the bank “just in case.”

8. Keep, and stick to, a freakin’ budget for 6 months (to start).

7. Start a trust fund for Cam, and keep his college money saving.

6. Get smarter about investing – take a class in stock trading or similar.

5. Donate $10k to charity/a good cause.

 

WOAH, BUDDY

4. Flip/renovate a house.

3. Own chickens.

2. Move internationally for a period of time.

 

The last 1 is still TBD… could be big, could be small. Time will tell…..

Dear Elizabeth

Dear Elizabeth,

I find myself on the precipice of despair and fury on a daily basis. I don’t know how you walk into your job with your head held high every day, watching as our democracy slowly crumbles around us, fighting like hell to grip it together.

I don’t know if we’re doing the right thing. I look at history and the people who took the path of peace and love often got steamrolled. The angry mob often won out. They stormed the Bastille. They tossed the tea.

The angry mob is able to do heinous and unspeakable things: genocides, throwing elections, overthrowing governments, assassinations, secessions – you name it. They get things done. It’s sick what an angry group of people is capable of.

And our response is to shout that “love trumps hate,” even when that doesn’t appear to be true. I in no way suggest we Democrats need to get violent or anything, but we should be angry. We should be motivated. We should be in collective agreement about our plans for the future. Because the angry mob has already formed underneath our president, and we are the silent majority.

I don’t agree with everything you do, or the ways you do it. But I respect your willingness to never back down, and to call those in power to the table. I want to see you mad as hell, and I want you to motivate all the rest of us to get mad as hell too. Because only when we are angry are we going to be driven to positive action. Only when we’re mad will we continue to fight for what is right.

My baby is almost 8 months old and I fear for his future. I fear that our country is being designed by puppetmasters and string-pullers, run by corporations, and losing its middle class entirely. I deeply fear that our president is mentally ill and will do something catastrophic. But even once that nightmare concludes–hopefully safely–we have been gerrymandered and bought and sold so many times over that our representation in government looks like a shell of its people.

I’m sad to have a government in place today that is not representative of most of the country. I’m sad the evil out there feels justified that it is winning. I’m terrified for my son, and the things he will encounter as a result of this mess. Will he encounter record-breaking hurricanes every year for the rest of his life? Will he be able to pay for college? Will he ever be able to buy a house? Have a family with another man, if that’s what’s in his heart? Become a Muslim, if he’s so inclined? Read classic books that speak to controversial topics? Speak his mind? Trust the press and the news he sees? Live without concern that his every move is being tracked? Not be concerned about foreign governments manipulating him?

I say all this as the mom of a white boy; I can only imagine what goes through the minds of the moms of black boys, immigrant girls, transgender children. Our social progress is under attack, our ecosystem is hanging in a precarious balance, and Equifax is selling our financial data to the highest bidder. And what do we stand for?

We can’t just stand as the opposition, the resistance. We have to stand for more.

I want to see our Democratic manifesto, the thing we rally behind. I want to see more from this country than infighting and blame. I want to get angry as hell, but angry for the right reasons – because our choices have been stolen from all of us and put in the hands of the .1%.

Rather than telling you what I don’t like, this is what I believe needs to happen. Is it what the party will rally behind? Only time will tell.

  • Free and accessible healthcare for all, as it is a human right.
  • Restrictions on financial institutions, real estate, and data companies. (I say this as someone who works with data. Frankly, no company should be allowed to store data on someone indefinitely. They should be actively using the data, or they should dump it. It makes us too vulnerable to risk otherwise.)
  • LGBTQ rights.
  • Black lives matter. As a result, police should be held to a higher standard than they are – we need training programs for police officers for de-escalation, race relations programs, and swift action taken when police abuse their power.
  • The legalization of marijuana. There is NO reason it should be illegal, other than to provide an excuse to throw people of color in jail.
  • Higher taxes on the wealthy, lower taxes on the middle class. We know trickle-down economics does not work. It actually doesn’t even make sense, frankly. If I handed you $10k, you wouldn’t decide to hire a PT maid. You’d bank it or spend it in various places. The same applies to the wealthy. Tax breaks don’t mean they create jobs. Tax breaks to the middle and lower classes result in more jobs, because collectively, those breaks are spent into the economy, producing a demand for jobs to fulfill that spending.
  • Easy, accessible abortions. Because women have the right to choose.
  • More welcoming regulations around legal immigration and trade. Our economy is dependent on the economies around the world. The most successful countries have a give-and-take relationship with each other.
  • Job training for those displaced by outsourced and automated jobs. A robot took your job–not an illegal Mexican. But you’re still unemployed, so let’s train you how to do something else to feed your family.
  • Gun control. Nobody should be able to kill 58 people, and injure more than 500, in 15 minutes.
  • Heavier federal funding for public education. College students should be motivated to become teachers. We need to pay them like they matter, and support the schools like they house minds who will make decisions for the future.
  • Less funding for the military. We have an amazing military and it’s not necessary to keep throwing money at it with outrageous abandon. Fund it appropriately but cut the fat.
  • More funding for research on social programs that work – how we can improve Welfare, Social Security, etc. and make the dollars we spend there more efficient at helping people onto their feet.
  • Consideration for government regulations and programs for low-income housing – how to make it easier for people to stay in their homes in the wake of gentrification, how to make it easier for people to purchase their first home, etc.
  • Equal pay for equal work.
  • Free and accessible access to women’s preventative healthcare and family planning resources, as having a plan means healthier children and families, which removes long-term financial burdens on the system. (Not to mention, it’s the right thing to do.)
  • Access and research for mental health treatment programs and addiction programs.
  • Acknowledgement that climate change is real, and a place at the table as one of the countries who will lead the charge to slow its effects.

I’m sure there are more bullets I could add here but these are the ones off the top of my head. I honestly can’t imagine what most people would have an issue with on most of these. How can we rally together to make these a reality, and gather to fight FOR something rather than constantly fighting AGAINST something?

Elizabeth, I’m sure you’ll never read this, but I have to get it off my chest. Wherever you are today, please give me strength, and I’ll send a little to you. I want to help you make this country closer to the way it was when you were growing up, economically… but with the progressive ideals young people are inherently gathering around today.