Before and After

In a public restroom, before I open a stall door, I press really lightly to make sure that I don’t walk in on somebody who forgot to lock the door.

While I’m driving, I keep both hands on the wheel at all times, and I look in my rearview windows obsessively.

When my husband leaves to go to the store to buy bananas and milk, I imagine the doorbell ringing and a police officer arriving to tell me my husband is dead.

When we have a date night, I check my phone every 2 minutes, convinced I’ll see a text from the babysitter that something awful has happened.

When I daydream about retirement, and traveling, and grandkids, I’m scared I won’t be alive to experience it.

Someone tagged me in this photo recently (I’m the one on the left). It was taken when I was 21. I spent 3 summers  of college in the middle-of-nowhere Minnesota as a camp counselor at French Camp.  Yep, you read that right. I am (well, was at this point) fluent in French, and I used to be a middle school French teacher.


In the months following my twins dying, I didn’t ever think I would laugh again. When I did find something funny, there would be a little twang of guilt, a reminder that my babies were dead and I shouldn’t be laughing.

Of course, I do laugh now. Life is full of joy and hope for me. But … and this is a BIG but, (see what I did there?) I am actually not sure if I will feel the way I did in this picture ever again.

I think it’s important to note that there was pain in my heart when this photo was taken, too. My parents were divorcing, 3 of my grandparents had all died within months of each other, I had just been dumped.

I don’t remember this exact moment. But there is this carefree joy on my face that I barely recognize. I’ve spent years telling myself that it’s ok to be broken. That broken doesn’t mean ruined, or that I’m unloveable. That a lot of us are broken, and we’re making it through.

But, the truth is, sometimes I truly doubt that. Sometimes I feel like I do such a good job of faking it that people forget that I’m broken. There is this big battle that I am fighting every day. I know some people think I’m a flake. That I say “Yes, let’s do that!” but I don’t really mean it, and that I cancel social engagements because I’m lazy or because I don’t care. It’s so far from the truth. It’s just that a lot of times plans sound great until it gets close and then I kind of panic.

This is the new me. This is the me AFTER.

If you can believe it, my anxiety is 20 times better than it was just a few years ago. I found exercise, I found a small dose of anxiety medication that doesn’t make me fall asleep at 7:00 p.m. or feel like I can’t stop bouncing my knee. I write. I talk. I move.


But, I can’t stop myself from dreaming about a moment like the one above. I don’t drink alcohol. EVER. I mean, seriously, never. And people question me all the time about it (you’d think peer pressure would stop by the time you’re 36, but not so much). I have a variety of different answers that I give, but if I’m completely honest, I can’t handle that feeling of losing control. I am afraid of what that feeling of completely letting go will do to me. Will I continue to drink to search for that feeling?

I worry. Will I lose my friends because of my flaws? Will I be so broken that my husband will stop wanting to put up with me? Will my kids know that their mom isn’t totally normal?

I have a goal, and it is to get back to that feeling of pure, unwavering joy. A moment of laughter where I am not working about ANYTHING. Where I can trust that everyone is safe and cared for and I know that I have taken my life back from loss.

Will that day come? I’m not sure. But in the meantime, I’m meditating, and breathing, and moving, and laughing. My words help soothe my soul and my broken-ness is just one small piece of me. I am so much more!

So are you. ❤ ❤


5 Ways to Make Everyone Love You!

Photo on 8-9-17 at 8.57 PM #2

Today, I went to a district-wide meeting at work where I saw a ton of colleagues I haven’t seen in a while. I’m telling you—all day long I thought to myself, “Omg!  Every single person I look at seriously LOVES me.  I have, literally, ZERO enemies.” So, I thought I should write a blog post about how I never have to avoid anyone in hallways that are mad at me for some decision I made or something I said or didn’t say, and how I would NEVER even consider hiding at the end of a hallway pretending to be on the phone to avoid the brewing panic attack that running into someone who totally hates me may bring in.

Nope. Never.  So, here you go!  5 Ways to Make EVERYONE Love You!

  1. Don’t ever stand up for what you believe in. Just agree with what everyone else says. It doesn’t actually matter what you think. I mean, in the end nobody is going to change their way of thinking anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Having an opinion about something is SO last decade.
  2. Don’t do what is right, just do what will make everyone else happy. As a teacher, if a parent is urging me to do something, I do it. Whether it is ethically ok or not. You can’t really think about the student, you just have to make whoever is going to be mad at you happy. We do NOT want people angry with us.
  3. Learn to have (at least) 2 faces. One for when you’re actually talking to a person, and one for when you’re talking ABOUT them with someone else. You can say what you really mean to someone who is already your friend, but everyone else you just totally suck up to them. Keep your enemies close, and all that. I know that’s true because there is totally a quote about it.
  4. Pay for everyone else’s stuff. All the time. If you go out to lunch, you definitely need to pay for it. If you overhear someone saying, “Ooh, I totally want that!” immediately go and purchase it. Money can’t buy you love? HA!  HAHAHAHA!  Dude, all you need is your Visa and ERRRYBODY will ADORE you.
  5. The most important thing you can do to make sure the everyone loves you is to NEVER, EVER be yourself. Find out everything about yourself that annoys other people and DO NOT DO THAT. You absolutely canNOT be yourself. Don’t laugh so loud! Don’t be so boring! You’ll probably need to get a little notebook to get in your purse (I totally suggest Moleskin notebooks, they are the best) and keep notes about who likes what about you. Don’t forget, you have to like all the books and movies they like, and dislike what they dislike. It can be a lot to remember.

*Everyone knows this is sarcasm, right?  I wish we had a separate sarcasm font.

Meant to Be?

I have very few memories of my childhood.  I can remember breaking my wrist right before my Kindergarten music concert, I can remember the Christmas I got my first boombox, and I can remember the day the librarian told me I had officially read every book in the children’s section in the library and she handed me a Stephen King (I was 8).

I remember that my parents fought.  A lot.  The kind of fighting where I would shut all the windows and doors, hoping the neighbors wouldn’t hear, and then I’d lock my bedroom door, turn up my radio, and read on the floor in my closet.  Fights were about big things: whose money was used for what, and about tiny things: someone came home from the grocery store later than normal and didn’t know what was for dinner.

My household was full of yelling, and anger, and fear. In 4th grade, I told my teacher, Mrs. Higgins, that I was sure my parents were getting divorced.  They did, but not until I was 21 years old, after I was out of the house.

I had a boyfriend in high school.  It was the kind of boyfriend straight out of a movie, at first.  He was unbelievably romantic (dancing in the kitchen kind of romantic) and he was a singer.  He had a gorgeous voice and dreamed about going to Nashville someday to make it.  We spent Friday nights at a small-town bar, me and his parents and his grandma having chicken sandwiches and watching him sing every country Karaoke song they had.

In true 1st love fashion, I was going to marry him and live in that small town forever and have babies and then things started to go really wrong.  But, you see, to me fighting was normal.  After just a few months of the relationship, I was crying hysterically every time I got dropped off or hung up the phone.  My friends, my sweet friends, they tried to warn me; my mom tried to warn me.  I had to figure it out for myself (we won’t talk about the fact that it took me 2 years…).

After we finally broke up  vowed that I would do anything to marry someone that would bring me the opposite of what my own parents had.  I wouldn’t be controlled, I wouldn’t be told I wasn’t worth it, I wouldn’t be punished for accidentally letting the dog out.

When I met my husband, I was instantly enamored by his quiet, calm personality.  I loved him immediately and I went back home after that first summer of camp (yep, I met my husband at summer camp, yo) and told my college roommates that he was the one.  But, he didn’t quite love me back yet.  I needed him to love me.

Together, we have worked so hard to have a partnership.  An actual relationship where we both have a say, and where we make decisions together (little to big!).  If I’m invited to a movie, say, I’ll run it past him first.  I’m not asking him for permission-I’m making sure he doesn’t mind if I’m not home for dinner or whatever. We would rather be home together than out alone.

This week, hubs had an opportunity come up.  If I haven’t mentioned before, he is THE MOST hard working person on this planet.  I do not lie.  But, anyway, it was something that he knew was a long-shot, but we decided together that we’d go for it. If it happened-we would have to sell our house, move across the state very quickly, and pretty much every single thing about our life would change.

For 5 nights, I lay awake at night, wondering and worrying.  It would be an adventure! We’ll be together and that’s all we need, right? I’m ready for something new, I could focus on my writing, maybe I could stay home for a year, I’d live close to a city!

But, my support is here.  We have a beautiful home, lovely friends, we both have excellent jobs and our kids go to AMAZING schools.  We wouldn’t have anything-not even a dentist.  A hairdresser.  A doctor. A babysitter.

Thinking about this, about the village we have here, I began to be so frightened I could hardly breathe.  Was I willing to leave all this?

In my life after loss, I have a really hard time with the whole, “Things happen for a reason,” explanation.  You see, if I said to myself that the job would happen if it’s supposed to, it’s like admitting that my babies died because they were supposed to.

I urged husband to go for it.  I told him I was on board.  And I secretly worried.  Even though I knew I wanted to stay here.  Even though I knew that it felt too risky for me, I told him we were going for it. You see, I’m his partner. And if the roles were reversed, and I needed his support, you better believe I’d expect it.  So, we went together, and we looked into it.

And it didn’t work out.  And when I found out, I cried telling him how guilty I felt that I was dishonest with him and how badly I hoped we’d get to stay here.  And how guilty I felt hoping that it wouldn’t work out even though I wanted him to be happy and I knew he deserved this. I cried with relief and felt a huge brick of stress lift up off of me.

Each and every day, I am so thankful that I can talk to my husband. That I can tell him everything and know he’ll still love me (well, at least so far, and at least I think so…LOL!). I am so grateful my kids see a partnership that isn’t just fighting and disagreements.

Thinking about moving-looking at houses and thinking about a new community-it shook something loose in me. It made me take a good look at what I have here, my support network.  I thought about the incredible school I am so lucky to teach at, and my children get to attend.

Maybe someday I’ll be up for an adventure…Vegas when I’m retired, Fo’ Sho!

Have you ever picked up and moved your whole family to somewhere new? Are you the kind of person looking for adventure, or would you prefer no change at all?  Let me know in the comments.





Get Your News Here! Get Your News!

Here are 3 things I want to tell you right now:

  1.  My book is being PUBLISHED!!!  I have had 2 offers from mid-size presses in my state, and hopefully early next year it’ll be on the shelf!  Working title is:  Almost a Mother: A Memoir of Before and After.  It’s all about what happened when my twins died, my HONEST journey through grief (I like to tell people it is NOT a dew drop and falling leaf kinda book-like I tell a story about how I wanted to kick pregnant people because I wanted to have a baby so badly) and then how, through my blog writing, I met other ladies who helped me through.  I even tell you how I fly ALL the way to L.A. to meet one of those “strangers.”  If you ask me, it’s definitely a little sad, but my goal is to show you hope in the face of the storm!
  2. I’m going to be on a podcast!  It is called “Friending” and you should go to iTunes and subscribe to it now.  I’ll be on the episode called “The Fat Friend” and possibly some more after that!  It’s been super fun to be involved.  EEK!
  3. I could use a little help spreading the word about Um, You Guys. If you don’t mind, it helps a billion times over if you like and comment on the posts, share them, or invite your friends to like the page.  Facebook doesn’t like you to see “business” pages unless they pay.  I’m not making any money off of any of this, but I would love to get the word out about my writing and my book and my audience has been slowly building.  The more often you interact with the posts, the more you’ll see.  And if you haven’t seen me pop up in a while, search for me in the search bar and you’ll see my posts from the last few days.

I think all of you are SO awesome, and thank you all so much for helping to be a part of this fabulous community!  You are all my people!  We need a name…hmmmmm….Maybe we could be “The Guys.”

Help me! What should we call ourselves?

What’s worse than being a murderer?


Catfishing (From

The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).

Possible motivations: revenge, loneliness, curiosity, boredom

The term catfishing was inspired by the 2010 documentary “Catfish.”

Gwen was worried that her online boyfriend was a phoney after she saw a TVprogram about Catfishing.”

A few years ago, the hubs and I found out about this documentary called “Catfish.”  It starred a guy who figured out that this beautiful, young, fabulous girl he was sending gifts and money and love to was actually an old, married woman from a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.  He now has a show on MTV where he helps people who think they are being catfished figure out if they are or not.  He’ll help them do research, fly them to where their person lives, and make them ‘fess up.

For a while, I wondered why B and I still watch this show, mostly because it is the SADDEST SHOW IN THE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE.  And it is the kind of sad that just makes you feel like the world is ending.  Worse than the Sarah McLachlan-song-abused-animal-commercial kind of sadness.

It is the kind of sadness that shows, to me, a fundamental horrible part of society that is probably the root of a lot of things. Allow me to explain.

The episode that we watched this week starred a boy who had contracted a virus which had left him paralyzed from the shoulders down.  He had been in an online relationship with a girl (a beautiful, blue-eyed, blond girl) for years, and according to him, she had helped carry him through his darkest moments.  Moments where he thought he would die, where he was totally alone and even sometimes suicidal.  He loved her so much and wanted to marry her (he was ready to propose), but she refused to meet with him in person or video-chat.

So, the hosts of the show set out to meet the mystery girl.  When they arrive, they find a quiet, timid, sweet girl who has had a terrible life.  Emotionally abused, always told she wasn’t worth it, both her parents had died and even though they didn’t really deserve it, she nursed them until their deaths.

But … and I bet you’ve guessed it by now, she wasn’t the “hot girl” from the photos she had been sending him.  She was in tears, telling them that she just couldn’t bring herself to meet him.  “He won’t like me anymore once he sees its me,” she says to the camera.

I’m always screaming at the TV when I watch this show.  “Yes, he will, honey!  You GO GET YOUR MAN!  You are WORTH IT, GIRL!”  B rolls his eyes and laughs at me.

OH!  WAIT! I forgot to tell you about the part where they goggled her name or phone number or something and it turns out that someone by that name has a mugshot and was CONVICTED OF MURDER.  When asked if that was a deal breaker?  “Well, I mean, I really love her!” he says.  Who cares if she’s a murderer–he loves her!

She arrives.  From first glance, you can immediately tell IT. IS. OVER.  She is overweight.  She is not “classically” beautiful.  She has no self-confidence whatsoever.  You can see it ALL OVER HIS FACE.  She tells him she loves him.  She tells him it’s ok if he is sick and that he can’t move from his chair. She will take care of him.  She doesn’t mind; she’s always done it for everyone else.

He does not reply.

A month later, they check in with him.  Are they in a relationship?  “Uh, no, I’m actually dating someone else,” he says.

Would it be ok if take a second to recap?  This man, who has gone through an almost life-ending experience, who is paralyzed, who has been in love with someone for years, who LOVES HER SO MUCH THAT HE IS OK IF SHE ACTUALLY MURDERED SOMEONE, suddenly wants nothing to do with her. She’s fat, after all.

I went and watched my daughter sleeping after this episode ended.  What do I wish for her?  Honestly, sometimes I just wish that it’s easy for her.  “Please, please, let her be thin and healthy and popular so she knows she is worth it.”  But then…but THEN, I think, “Please somehow, just let her find someone who knows she is worth MORE THAN HER LOOKS.  Please, please let that happen.”

We live in a society where it’s more ok to be a murderer than it is to be fat.  And people all around you are so lonely and so desperate to be loved and are being left behind.  We are so stuck in our ridiculous notions of what we should look like and dress like and what our houses should be like and we are leaving goodness behind.


I have so many dreams for my children, but I worry about my daughter so much more than my son.  As a woman, I know how much my worth relies on how I look.  I got somehow totally, totally lucky, because my husband does not love me for how I look.  I know this because I am not “beautiful.”  I am overweight. And he loves ME.  I can’t even handle how lucky I am.  But that shouldn’t be the exception.

Each year I talk to my 4th graders about what character is. “It’s who you are when no one is watching,” I tell them, over and over.  I try to show them, I try to model for them what good character means.  I admit to them that I have insecurities but I hope they don’t.  And each year I have 9 year-olds who don’t like how they look, who think they are fat, who throw over half their lunches away so that they don’t get fatter.

I don’t know how to make this end.  I don’t.  You can debate obesity and health and fat-shaming and blah-blah-blah, but what I want is GOODNESS.

I don’t want acceptance.  I want more than that.  I want people to see what is true-that we are so obsessed with sex and being “hot” and being embarrassed to not look “perfect” that some of us are missing out on the best stuff.

The deep, dark roots of all of this, though, is that this girl from my story, she is so desperately sad and alone.  She is forgotten.  We are forgetting people, and this is part of why I think mental illness is running rampant in our country.  People are just being forgotten.

Here is my plan for what I can do TODAY to combat this:

  1.  Greet everyone you see.
  2. SMILE.
  3. Extend a hand and MEAN IT.
  4. Practice humility.
  5. Try to quiet that “judgy” voice in your head (you know the one, omg she is so fat she should not be wearing that, I’m so grateful I don’t look like THAT).
  6. Stop talking aloud about superficial things in front of our children.  Don’t talk about how you hate your nose, how you wish your legs were longer, how you need to go on a diet, how your clothes are ugly.




I Hate Hot Dogs.

You Guys.

Most of the time I have so many ideas for blog posts in my head that it’s almost scary.  As in, I have to shake the thoughts outta my head so that I can focus on my day.  I always thought writers were totally making it up when they said that their fictional characters “talked to them” or whatever.

I know I’m not a “famous” writer (Although I have been “recognized” at both Subway and the Y, so I mean … ).  It’s kind of self-depricating to say that I know I never will be, but—well, you know.  But at the same time, I already feel a responsibility to this blog and Facebook page.  I haven’t made a dime off of it-I’m guessing I never will.  Instead, I spend my very little extra money to “boost” posts, or host giveaways.  The funny thing is, I’m not quite sure why.  I’m working on growing my followers list because…well, because in a little way it makes me feel like I’m doing something.

People can relate to me, I’m told.  People connect with my words.  I can feel that.  I love it.  I do!  But, I also have to be so careful with my words because I don’t want to sound egotistical or rude or dumb or selfish.  Just like all of the rest of my life, I want you all to like me, and I know some of you don’t.  Or won’t.  And, in my experience, most of the blog posts that hit the Huff Post, the kind that are shared a trillion times on Facebook, they’re shared because they are one of those things.  They strike a nerve with something and they’re the kind that make half of us scream, “Oh, HELL NO!” and the other half scream “Amen!”  That’s what makes something go viral.

So, since I know this won’t be making the rounds on the Huffington Circuit, here is my list of random thoughts:



  1.  I’m afraid that my kids are turning into unselfish, ungrateful jerks.  I try so hard not to buy them everything they want, and I say no a lot, but they expect it anyway.  I feel disappointed, mostly in myself.
  2. I saw myself in a full-length mirror today.  I cried.  My husband made me eat ice cream bc we are on vacation and it was a famous ice cream shop and it was homemade, but I just hated myself the entire time.
  3. I’m on an “adventure” ( I refuse anymore to call this a vacation) with my family to Omaha, Nebraska.  We love it here!  But, let me tell you.  On an average day, my kids say my name 45,000 times.  On a trip?  7,893,782, 012 times.
  4. Diet Cherry Limeade from Sonic.  Yep.
  5. I’ve read so many books, though!  Everything, Everything was so good.  At first I thought it was going to be just like the Fault in Our Stars, but it wasn’t and I loved it.  I finished the second book in a YA series, something like the Throne and Glass or something like that.  I’m hooked.  Don’t know why they call it YA, though.  I read “Final Girls,” my book of the month club pick, and I loved it.  Now, I’m reading a memoir by Sherman Alexie and I’m absolutely riveted.  (We spent a lot of time driving)
  6. My husband has taken to playing Candy Crush.  This makes me SO happy.  I don’t even know what that game is, but hubs is a chronic workaholic, so to see him mindlessly playing on his phone is AMAZE! (He just exclaimed, “YASSSSS!  My piggy bank is full!  Ohhhhh, you have to pay to open it?  That is BULL!) LOVE!
  7. I hate continental hotel breakfast.  Everyone bumps into each other. Everything has gluten.  My kids over-eat.  Stuff is stale.  But, you know….free.  So, yeah.
  8. Admission fees are, like, over the top.  It costs us $150 bucks to go to the zoo.  We had fun and stayed all day, and blah, blah, but whatever.  That included the IMAX, where my kids were terrified of the Great-White Sharks they showed in order to teach us that we’re not supposed to be afraid of them.
  9. I found a tiny local bookstore called “The Bookworm” and I was so happy.  I found a beautiful copy of Gone With the Wind and I’m so excited.
  10. My kids are playing with some other kids in the hotel pool while I write this.  It is SO FREAKING AMAZING when you don’t have to get in the pool with them anymore unless you want to.  WOOHOO!
  11. Hubs just yelled, “Oh, yeah, baby!  Chocolate Mountains are done!” and did a raise the roof gesture with his hands.  So, we’re kinda stuck in the 90s.  Whatever.
  12. I will always, always feel like I’m never good enough.  There is something ALWAYS tugging at me.  Which people from work still hate me?  How do I be around someone who doesn’t want to be friends with me anymore?  Why will I always be fat?  Why am I not asked to be on stuff at work anymore-I’m just the “average” joe, and it bugs me!!!  Why did I spend so much money?
  13. Today, my son told me, in his adorable 4-year-old voice, “Hey, mama?  Astronauts wear diapers, Bay-BEEEEEE”  No clue.  Anyone?
  14. I am depressed that I missed Big Brother this year.  NEED DVR BACK!
  15. And, last but not least, I hate hot dogs.  I have always hated them.  I will always hate them.  Why do they just assume that everyone loves them?  And when I was a kid I just at the bun (I know…) but I can’t even eat the damn bun anymore.  DOWN WITH HOT DOGS.

Peace out, yo.

The Pain Olympics

I feel so sad that I lost my job.

Well, at least you had a good one for a while, I’ve been unemployed for months.

Ugh, I’m lonely.

Welcome to my world.  At least you…

My baby died.

At least you got to be pregnant.  At least you didn’t get to know them first.  At least you…

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I have heard “At least…”  We are so good at making everything about ourselves.  Well, that and just making a feeble attempt to make someone feel better.

I find it incredible how many ways we passive aggressively insult people.  From “Oh my gosh, you have WAY too much time on your hands” when someone is sharing their passion, to “Oh, no, not me, I would never/could never do that.”

(My favorite was when I was so sad about going back to work after my maternity leave ended and people said, “Oh, I could NEVER leave my baby and go back to work.”  Well, lady, I kind of want a house to live in.  So, there’s that.)

The constant battle to be better than everyone else, or to let them know that YOU have it worse is so tiring to me.  I think we’ve lost the ability to just support each other.  We have lost the ability to be happy for each other and think to ourselves, “How great for her.  My time will come.”

When someone is hurting, “I’m sorry. That really sucks,” goes such a long way.  Figure out what will help the person and tell them, “I’m going to do this for you.  Let me know if there’s anything else I can do.”

I mean, ok, we all have those people in our lives that seriously just complain about anything and everything.  “OMG, you will NOT believe it.  The phone rang JUST as I was starting to file my nails.  Now when will I do it?  I mean, the one is just so bad right now.”

Complainers aside, as humans we need to vent.  Sometimes it goes such a long way to just say aloud what is bugging us.  However, we need to vent somewhere where we feel safe.  Where we know that the person we are spilling to won’t just turn the whole thing around and remind us about how tough their life is.

And honestly, maybe their life is tougher.  We all have a story, right?  I remember that I was TERRIBLE at this after I lost my twins.  In my head I was always thinking, “That’s what’s wrong with you right now?  My babies are dead.”

This leads to the biggest problem, though, which I like to call the Pain Olympics.  Who is hurting worst?  Who needs more attention?  Who needs to be comforted more?

Just like any other kind of comparison, it’s hard not to do it.  It’s CRAZY hard not to do it.  But, we need to try.  We need to work so much harder at being active listeners and remember that most of the time there are much deeper issues than what the person can put into words.

And I do understand that sometimes we use at least to try to help the person put things into perspective.  There are times when someone just really has it wrong, and you mean well.

But, if you ask me, it’s time to stop qualifying things with “At least.”

What do you think?  Has someone done this to you?  Have you done this to someone else?