Prayers are not enough.

{I first wrote this blog post December 17, 2012 right after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am saddened that it is still so relevant to the mass shooting in Orlando and I think it bears repeating- Prayers are not enough}

I am about to sound like an asshole- a compassionless human with a heart of stone and terrible timing. That being said, here is my next statement: Prayers, hugs and a weekend of indulging your children isn’t going to magically solve the tragic realities of mass shootings. #startsendinghatemailnow

I think the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary is heart wrenchingly awful, massively devastating and simply incomprehensible. The outpouring of grief on Facebook was emotional to say the very least. Friends were imploring parents to hug their kiddos and be thankful for their own children’s lives. The tearful request for prayers of the families of Newtown was powerfully moving. I think this response is on-par for such tragic events. There is the usual call to hug those around you and to pray for the families affected by the tragedy. The nation as a whole takes a deep breath and a small reflective pause while we work on healing the hearts and minds of all Americans. But, I ask (with slight trepidation) what does that really do for the problem at hand? Unfortunately, all the prayers in the world will not end the violence and hate that is in the mind of a killer. I have no answers. This isn’t a blog to work out my plan to end gun violence, it will not help solve the mental health care crisis, it will not help answer why bad things happen to innocent people. I guess I am just thinking out loud. So, in that case, thanks for reading thus far.

I have read that many schools will have armed officers on campus today. I am sure that is reassuring to a country still reeling for a school shooting. I wonder how long school districts already stretched budgets will be able to employ these officers. At what point will we forget the tragedy and allow things to go back to status quo? When will our silent prayers for these terrible times quiet into the background of our hectic lives? Then what? What will change? When is the right time to address this problem with any amount of direct debate?

I know the thought of sending my kids to school never to bring them home again was sobering. I didn’t indulge my kids with candy or later bedtimes, I didn’t allow them to watch Dora all day, I didn’t keep them on my lap all day. I didn’t want to change my routine or let the bad guy win. I thought that keeping my day normalized would help me digest the hate displayed that day. I didn’t think that extra fruit snacks would help heal the world. I may sound callus, but I am ok with that. I would rather foster real discussions to help address the root problems. Perhaps I am just a realist or perhaps I am just an asshole.

First we heal, and then we deal, right? I suppose. Too bad that by the time we heal, another tragedy strikes and the “dealing” part of the equation never gets addressed. When do we say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH?? Good God, 20 innocent kids are dead and it still isn’t time to make a CHANGE??

Go hug your babies. But, don’t forget to hug them every day. Be thankful for your loved ones the whole year- not just when tragedy strikes. I think that is when the real healing can begin.


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Welcome Back

It has been one year and four months since the night he didn’t want to come home and I texted “Then I think we should get a divorce”. I capped off the evening with a giant Xanax and a call to my mom explaining that my marriage was over for real this time. That night seems like forever ago. Surreal almost. I bet it’s like childbirth- an event so traumatic that our brains simply won’t allow us fully remember the pain, instead it’s broken into hazy memories punctuated with clear, brief, visceral emotional response.

But, for the first time in YEARS- I feel like me again!

Granted, I am back in my hometown, living in the house I grew up in, teaching for the district that I spent all my schooling in and dining at the hole-in-the wall Mexican places that were around 20 years ago- but I have grown. I am different. I am confident, independent and damn proud of my accomplishments. I am definitely not used to looking in the mirror and liking what I see. Typically, I am hypercritical. My arms are too flabby, my nose is too pronounced, my knees bend in a weird way and my C-section scars are too visible and puffy. I have never felt particularly comfortable in my own skin. But, I had to force myself to flip the script. I had to learn to love myself before I would ever begin to heal the real scars. I read books, listened to podcasts, reconnected with old friends, planned weekends away, splurged on massages, went shopping for art and began scouring Facebook for new LulaRoe prints. I became obsessed with bold colors and patterns in effort to beautify my new life.

It seems the more I do for myself, the easier it becomes and then I start wondering what the hell have I been doing for the past 10 years?? When did I get lost in the mix? When did I lose myself in the role of mother, wife and care-taker? When did I let life take over and spit me out with a vengeance? When the fuck did I decide that was the woman I wanted to be or how I wanted to define my life? I let “co-dependent caretaker with an alcoholic husband” become my moniker.

I have my life back. It sounds so.fucking.selfish. So selfish. I know. It has taken over a year to say sorrynotsorry. I do not give a damn.

I don’t live every day feeling less than anymore. I felt deeply ashamed that I couldn’t keep my husband happy. I felt ashamed that he cheated on me. I felt ashamed that I wasn’t a good enough wife or mother. I believed that I wasn’t enough. I wasn’t pretty enough, smart enough, interesting enough, sexy enough or talented enough. I started truly believing that I would never be enough. I told myself that I was just lucky to have a handsome husband, a nice house and good children. I didn’t believe that I could have it all. I rationalized that since I had a fairly decent life on the outside, I needed to settle with constant anxiety and inadequacy on the inside. I began to resign to the fact that a big, deep, supportive, loyal love wasn’t in the cards for me. I didn’t believe I was cut out for that kind of love.


I deserve it all. We ALL deserve it ALL!

So now, 480-ish days later, I can say I have done pretty fucking well picking up the shattered pieces. I haven’t drank alcohol in 13 months. I lost 40 pounds…then gained back 8. I have doubled the gray hairs on my head with a new career that passionately fulfills me. I have cultivated a home filled with all my favorite people and things. I have remained calm and collected while negotiating a co-parenting relationship with my ex-husband. I have become financially independent.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would end up here. I was 6 weeks late moving into our house (due to a squatter situation that I will write about later), I am a first year teacher learning how to manage 150 pubescent 8th graders and I am working my hardest to keep my own kids happy, healthy and sane through a incredibly difficult transition, but I am here. I am standing on my own two feet, feeling the fear and doing it anyways. selfcare



I Do Not Want Happiness

A couple years ago I was scrolling around on Pinterest, like I do, and came across this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Upon reading this I am sure I scoffed and mumbled some bullshit under my breath. At the time, I was really fucking confused. What do you mean the purpose of life is not to be happy? I thought that was the ultimate goal, the end game, right? Happiness. That is what everyone says they want to find! How the hell could happiness not be our main priority? There are 87,094 books on Amazon about finding “happiness”. This is insane. If it is not our purpose as humans, then why do we all want this illusive thing and why is it that no one seems to know how to find it?

Nine months ago my ex-husband said he needed to talk. He wasn’t happy and wasn’t sure that he was even capable of happiness and needed “time” to figure it all out. So, I too, took a step back and have been contemplating the idea of “happiness” and came to this conclusion:

Happiness is an empty word for lazy people.

Whew, I said it.

Remember back to middle school English- inevitably there were several posters like this ticky-tacked to the walls:

100 Words for "bad"

There are hundreds of more accurate and precise words.

Happy is lazy. More importantly, happy is passive.

Let us consider: content, fulfilled, utilized, honest, trustworthy, peaceful, compassionate and kind. These goals are more feasible. A blanket statement like, “I want to happy” is too big, too undefined and quite frankly, too misguided. How does one become happy? Who knows. Or maybe, ask one of the 87,094 authors on Amazon.

The idea of finding one’s happiness tends to be an outward idea. Those seeking the simplicity of happiness look for things that make them happy: a new car, new shoes, money, sex, food, vacation, cocktails. These items may bring temporary happiness for a week, a day, or maybe even just 10 minutes, but when the excitement of the thing wears off- it’s over. Happiness is consistently fleeting idea, especially when combined with tangible pursuits.

I am urging us to look deeper. Look within. Be more precise. We all want to be happy, but what else do you want?

I want to be compassionate. I want to be helpful. I want to be inspiring. I want to be loving. I want to be positive. I want to be encouraging. I want to be confident. I want to be friendly. I want to have purpose.

These are smaller, more specific goals, but most importantly, they do not rely on outside factors. The keys to compassion, inspiration, confidence and positivity lie WITHIN yourself. You cannot buy these items or rely on someone else to give you them. Their impact is not momentary. Confidence will stay housed within you forever. Compassion, once learned, is a life long skill. Positivity is a way of life.

I truly believe the only way to “be happy” is to love yourself- every little piece of you, even the dark and scary corners. When you wake up in the morning confident in your choices, you, my dear, have found the purpose of life. Stop worrying about “happiness”. Take it out of the vernacular. Happiness is lazy. Search for something greater.


Compassionate Co-Parenting, Part 2.

My co-parent and I had been together over a decade when we agreed to divorce. We began dating in college when we were only 20 and 21 years old. We have spent over a third of our lifetimes together but our children will have little to no memory of us all living under one roof. At 6 and 3, our oldest may have a couple fleeting memories from here or there, but our son won’t have any memories at all. None. Our children will never remember waking up and crawling into bed with us for sleepy morning cuddles or cleaning the house while belting out the Frozen soundtrack or even huddling in the shower together during a tornado warnings.

Our relationship as “mom and dad” will be not be defined by our marriage, but only by our DIVORCE. They will not remember our 7 year marriage- only our lifetime of divorce. This divorce will end up being our legacy and how we handle this separation, move, and co-parenting relationship will be the foundation that our children will base their knowledge of love, support, and partnership between their parents.

Our marriage went up in flames, but holy crap, we have the incredible opportunity to have an AMAZING divorce! We can rewrite history. We can let bygones be bygones, forgive each other of our trespasses and be the best fucking co-parents on the planet! We can wipe the slate clean, begin at the ground level and start all over again. We can be the friends that once went to a J Crew sample sale in college and joked about our cobblering skills to fix a broken sole. We can be friends that once drove around one New Years Eve in my old Ford Probe looking for a party and ended up ringing in the New Year at a stop light. We can be the friends that discuss the previous night’s episode of The Daily Show (RIP) and how glad we were to see Jon Stewart in NYC before he left the show. We can be friends that commiserate over home repair and our that time we got ripped off by the roofing company after the massive hail storm. We can be friends that enjoy each other’s company while hanging with our progeny and are happy to part ways at the end of the day.

We could literally put everything shitty aside and move on into our new lives and new roles as healthy, functioning, compassionate co-parents. Wouldn’t that be crazy? We could be Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet. We could be supportive and caring and just put our own baggage away for the happiness and stability for those fantastic little people we brought into this world together.


You can read more on my take on Compassionate Co-Parenting, here. Thanks!

Supper in a Swimsuit

You will be so proud of me!! Well, maybe you will be. You may not really know me and in that case, you may not care at all, but I assure you, if we were friends, you would be super freaking proud of me! 

I cooked dinner in my swimsuit.
Not impressed?? You should be. I don’t like to be naked. I didn’t grow up in a naked I house. I never sleep in the nude. I don’t walk around the house in my bra and underwear. It’s just not for me. Never really has been really, even in my younger, skinnier, pre-kids days. In the last couple years of our marriage my ex-husband mentioned several times that I had become fairly self-conscious. He was right. After two pregnancies, two C-sections and an abdominal surgery, I was very self-conscious. I gained weight in odd places that I had never gained weight before and I had gnarly Frankenstein scars running across my stomach. My husband used to (jokingly) call me fatty scar-belly. I took it as a joke, I was pregnant at the time, but it definitely didn’t help my body image issues. I never felt sexy after kids, instead I felt out of proportion and awkward. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. I am sure you could read in a bit deeper between the lines, perhaps being a mom didn’t make me comfortable either. I didn’t feel complete or content. I felt tugged in a million directions and was eventually torn limb from limb. I became so obsessed with taking care of everyone around me that I literally forgot about ME. I still had sex, I still really enjoyed sex, but I didn’t have the confidence that I had in college. You know, BK, before kids, when you boobs are perky and tight jeans didn’t mean a muffin top, but instead they hugged your ass just right. That girl was gone.
By the end, all I was left with was a fairly self-conscious mom, a nagging wife and a shell of the woman I used to be. My confidence was shot and I felt stuck. I think without this divorce, I may never have been able to pull myself from the mire. I was stuck in quicksand. The more I screamed and kicked “Save me! Please!”, the deeper I sank.
So finally, 6 years AK (after kids), I am 30 pounds lighter and making fish sticks for my kiddos while dancing around the kitchen in my swimsuit. Today, I filled the kid’s little backyard pool and laid out on the lounger in the yard while listening to my “Divorce Source Radio” podcast. I came inside to start dinner and later, it occurred to me that I was still in my suit, just walking around like it was no big deal- because it wasn’t a big deal! My kids love me unconditionally and they don’t care that I still want to lose a couple more pounds. Honestly, they were just psyched that I agreed to fish sticks and macaroni in the same meal.
Tonight was a win/win for everyone!

Love WINS!


“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.” -Justice Kennedy

I still believe in love. My own love may not have worked out so well, but I still believe it is possible. I believe in a real, true love of epic proportion. I don’t think that I am being overly optimistic, I think that I am finally asking for what I deserve- a love based on fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. I deserve fidelity. I deserve devotion. I deserve sacrifice.

I have had crappy boundaries. In fact, I have had practically non-existent boundaries. Maybe I didn’t think that I was deserving of anything more. Maybe I didn’t have the self-esteem to stand up and demand better. Either way, due to my lack of boundaries, I became bitter, resentful, suspicious and angry. This is not love. I think this is what they mean by “a thin line between love and hate”. I never really understood that saying, but it is beginning to make more sense.

Love is a choice. Everyday. Everyday you must choose to put time and effort into caring for your delicate and precious love. Everyday you choose fidelity. Everyday you choose devotion. Everyday you choose to sacrifice for your family. If you are not waking up every morning with the intention to choose LOVE, then it will not flourish. Love cannot be taken for granted. Love is special. I love love! I love love even more now that I have lost it. I loved being unified by marriage and I do not want to turn cold and unreceptive to the idea of love.

My hope is to continue to practice compassion. Compassion with defined boundaries. Giving with defined boundaries. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life suppressing venom and vitriol. I don’t want to consume poison hoping the other person dies. It is so easy to get caught in the sticky web of animosity and revenge and I do not want that kind of negativity in my one precious life.

I choose to let go and move on.

So, today is a great LEAP forward for love! We should celebrate those brave enough to love fully, deeply and completely. Those that choose the profound union of marriage. Those willing to exemplify the “highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion and sacrifice”! What a beautiful opportunity to LET LOVE WIN! Because, after all, love is love.

Love is Love

Update: By the Numbers

28: Pounds I have lost

89: Days without alcohol

36: Days until the kids and I move into our own home

5: Days left before the divorce should be final

31: Days we will both live under the same roof after being officially divorced

1: Time in the last 2 months that I have completely lost my shit and exploded into a fiery mountain of rage and completely broken trust

6: Times I have looked up Al-Anon meetings

0: Al-Anon meetings I have actually attended

3: Times I have looked up Co-dependent Anonymous meetings

0: Co-dependent Anonymous meetings I have attended

45 (ish): Times I have wanted to take a Xanax in the last 2 months

1: Times I actually took a Xanax

5: Average number of times I work out a week

174, 609: Cuddles I have given my kids lately

235, 090: Number of “I love you” daily

79: Days until I have my first day of junior high all over again

5: Times a day I cannot keep my head from rabbit holing into unpleasant places

5: Times a day I pull myself out and back into the sunshine

1: Hour I have brushed up on American History…you know, the subject I will soon be TEACHING.

300: Approximately the number of hours I should spend brushing up on American History

3: Nights I will be gone for a teaching conference that I was invited to attend in New Orleans

10: Teachers from my school that were invited to the conference

3: Times a day I have thoughts that literally make me sick to my stomach

10: Times a day I have thoughts that make me smile

1300: Calories a day I need to stay under to lose 1.5lbs a week.

500: Average number of calories I burn at the gym every day

1.5: Longest distance of miles I have consecutively run

3: Average number of miles I run/walk a day

1: (maybe 2) Times I look around everyday and think,”it will all be ok, I got this”.

My Collection

This morning I was listening to Taylor Swift while on the treadmill, you know, like you do- and I had an epiphany: to make sense of this world I will become a collector- a collector of experiences. A collector of happiness, pain, sadness, excitement and passion. I will collect the good and the bad so that I can understand the depth and breadth of human capacity. We may not seek out some of these experiences on purpose, but they happen and we need to accept that they can happen to all of us eventually. Mourning, grieving, pain and death- they are all inevitable and universal. If you are lucky enough to experience great love, you will eventually experience great loss. Given a long enough timeline, everyone will share these same experiences and it is how we react and learn from them that is the true test. So far, here are some gems from my collection:




Being on stage.

Falling in love.


Graduating college.

Living dollar to dollar.

Being dumped.

Engagement. Twice.


Cancer scare.





C-Section. Twice.

Buying a house.

Bailing someone out of jail.


Filing Divorce papers. Twice.

Unconditional love.


Soul mates.

Best friends.



Panic attacks.

Car wrecks.

Getting my dream job.

A million Dave Matthews Band concerts.

Unrequited love.



Happy tears while crossing off an item from my bucket list.


Compassionate Co-Parenting

Co-parenting.Compassionate co-parenting. It sounds so Gwyneth, doesn’t it?

Compassionate co-parenting is like a decent sex-less marriage. Some days are really good and some days you just want to chop the other person up into little chunks and burn them to smithereens in the backyard. (Unrelated side note: Should I ever be on death row, my last meal would be El Palenque chips and salsa and a Shipleys’ pink frosted donut with sprinkles.) We are still living together, so I am sure things will shift a good bit when we have our own homes and a more routine schedule, but for now, you need to be nice. Nicer than you were when you were married. This past weekend, he got up with the kids and let me sleep in and I made him a cup of coffee and let him take a nap in my bed.


You need to smile and be kind. (Even if you are grinning through gritted teeth) You need to give space and not pry. (Don’t ask too many questions- it’s for your own good, I promise- and never snoop into phone or email accounts or social media) You need to respect their time and social life. (Don’t abuse your/their days with the kids) You need to be considerate when spending joint money. (We are still a one income house until July) You need to enjoy the other parent’s company enough to participate in family activities. (The smile on our kid’s faces when we are all together is totally worth the potentially awkward family dynamics.)


What I find the most difficult thing with compassionate co-parenting is the balance. You can neither hate nor love your ex-spouse. If you hate, you are bringing in negativity and resentment into the new parenting relationship. If you love, you won’t be emotionally ready to move on and re-define the parenting relationship. There is certain level of detachment that both parents must successfully reach, yet still care for the father or mother of their children in a very real and respectful way. I feel like it is walking a tightrope of emotional stability. You have to want to be around your ex-spouse enough to make family days happen and yet strong enough to walk away at the end of the day and be happy that you mutually decided on a divorce.


You loved this person once. At some point you lived a great love story with passion and commitment. At some point you planned to spend the rest of your God given days together. At some point you wanted to share that love and had a couple kids, gifting your genetic combinations with the world. You loved this person. We tend to forget that there was a beginning to our stories. It may have ended less than happily, but there was a time when you couldn’t imagine your life without this person. If you have children, you won’t. They are your family. Forever. Roles will redefine and feelings will change but you are a family. Sometimes a weird, uncomfortable, fucked-up family, but a family all the same.


Successful compassionate co-parenting, much like a successful marriage requires communication, hard work and compromise. So, if you weren’t good at it while you were hitched, you are still going to have to work your ass off at it while you are divorced. (And honestly, if you are getting a divorce- you probably were not good at it) We are not good at it. I am not good at it. Unfortunately, you don’t get to just sign along the dotted line and walk your separate ways. When there are children involved, it is never that simple. You put aside you own insecurities and petty issues and take one for the team. (Or at least you try. Oh, God, I try. I fail most of the time, but I try.)


We filled out Packet One of the divorce papers last night. We had been getting along so well lately I really contemplated putting it off. Again. I didn’t want to rock the boat and bring up things, like a “morality clause”. I didn’t want to argue over who gets the kids on what holiday. (Just in case you were wondering, he has even years and I have odd years.) We hope to attend the holidays together, but you know, worst case scenario and all…


We will make it through this, just like we have made it through everything else.


I went out to dinner with a friend from high school the other night. She married a man that had been head over heels her since they were 14.  They now have two adorable kids and a brand new house in the town we grew up in. She is a successful oncology PA and he is a CPA. They both do very well and are happy, but, get this- she feels like a failure.
Her words not mine.


She has a man who loves her deeply, two wonderful kids, a great job, a big new house in the suburbs and yet still feels like a failure. This boggles my freaking mind. I asked how it was possible that she could feel so negatively about her life and this is what she said, “I am not sure where I thought I would be by this age, but this isn’t what I thought my life would look like.”

She never thought she would end up back in her home town, a mile from her parents house with kids that would be attending the same elementary school she did. She had a ten year plan and never thought she would slow her career mid-stream to stay home with her kids. She definitely didn’t think she would have resigned to the suburbs so quickly. She had this vision of living in the cool, fancy (read rich doctors close to medical center, great schools and restaurants) area of town, pushing a stroller to a downtown festival on the weekends.

I was shocked. Stunned.

Here I am 33, nearly divorced, 2 kids, job hunting and moving back into my childhood home thinking I am the one that failed. We even said the same sentence:

Do you ever feel like you failed?”

Jinx. You owe me a margarita.

Two completely different paths have brought us both back to the same geographical location and somehow we both see ourselves as failures. This fascinates me.

I have often remarked how we are so much more alike than different. We all have similar fears and hopes. We all have struggles and pain. We all are striving for something that we cannot quite reach. We all have vices. We all have demons that we are trying to quiet. Yet, here I am with a good friend, who seems to have her shit together, and she too feels like a failure.

I think we get so caught up on other people’s Facebook lives and want that. We want the adorable kids in oversized bows and matching outfits. We want the gigantic new build with a Tahoe in the driveway. We want fabulous date nights with a handsome spouse and beach vacations with cabanas and fruity drinks. We want. We want. We want. We want this made-up image in our head. An image that we may never truly be able to define. An image of perfection that we will not be able to obtain- mainly because it’s not real. I know this because I love people. I love to get to know people. I like to know what makes them tick and what makes them happy. I hear from people all the time about their own struggles with marriage or depression or raising children. It’s hard. Life is hard and unexpected in its twists and nothing turns out quite like we want it to. But that’s okay, it’s the journey that brings us to someplace we didn’t know existed. We reach a distant land with opportunities we didn’t know we were missing out on. I feel like we are so busy planning and plotting that we miss the journey while waiting for the next destination.

I followed the path. I graduated college, got married, brought a house, had kids…I followed the fucking path and it got shot to hell. I played by the rules and I have nothing to show for it but anxiety attacks and a shitty failed marriage. But, I also two amazing kids and I am closer to my family and old friends that have known me for 20 years. That’s a different path than expected, for sure, but it’s been comforting. I am so happy to have friends I can meet me for dinner and explain how our perfect lives became such failures. It’s rare to have such honesty in our world today and I am so thankful that I made such amazing connections all those years ago. I may not have known why real, true and deep friendships would be so important, but now, I know why I work so hard to make and keep good people around me. Some day you may find yourself lonely, in the middle of a failed life, and need support from friends that understand you in a way that few people will. I am glad all those years ago I made smart decisions for the future me. Subconsciously we know what is truly important: family, deep friendships, love and grace. That’s all we need. The rest of the stuff is just a bonus.