Recharging the Internal Battery

If you follow me on social media, Facebook or Instagram specifically, you probably saw the slew of photos I posted while away with my family. (Sorry for the over-posting btw.) Between the clean salt air, the soothing ocean waters, warm sand, sun and time with my family, I arrived home after 10 days completely rejuvenated. I’ve vacationed before but never have I come back to reality feeling this recharged.

So why now? Why this vacation?

My family has a home on the water in Westerly, Rhode Island and I’ve been lucky enough to vacation there every August for the past 33 years. My grandparents built the home with the hopes they could have a central location for the children, grandchildren and now, great-grandchildren to gather.

Their goal has been achieved…and then some.

While I’ve gone there every summer, it wasn’t until this particular vacation that I truly appreciated the spiritual and physical benefits of taking a break. Maybe it’s because I needed the vacation more than I have in the past. Perhaps it’s my age or my kid’s ages? You know how it is when you go on “vacation” with your kids when they’re little. It’s not a vacation, it’s just geography.

Now, however, my boys are old enough to fend for themselves. I don’t have to chase them down the beach or get up at the ass-crack of dawn to get the four of them breakfast. I don’t have tiny bodies and multiple feet kicking me in the back at 3 a.m. There’s no worry that they’ll wander off alone and lost. (Let’s be honest, if they’re teenagers, you kind of don’t mind when they wander off on their own.) But my sons have been at the self-sufficient stage for a while, so I know that wasn’t the reason that this vacation provided a true recharge of my internal batteries.

After some thoughtful reflection, I believe it was my mindset and intention that made the difference.

Over the past year, I’ve done a lot of soul searching. Both personally and professionally. It’s been a transformative year and anyone who’s been through phases like this, knows that they aren’t easy. These segments of life are uncomfortable but necessary if we want to continue growing and learning.

I went into this vacation with the mindset and intention of getting the most out of it that I could. I left my worries at the door and kept my focus on the moment at hand. It can be challenging not to dwell on past mistakes or worry about what might happen in the future. Unfortunately, this past year I did a lot of both.

However, during my 10 days in Rhode Island I did neither. Okay. That’s not completely truthful. I would catch myself falling into that trap and then force myself to remain focused on the moment at hand because that’s all we really have, anyway.

The here and now is what’s real.

What I discovered is that I’m far happier and less stressed if I simply keep my focus on living in the moment. We can’t rewrite history and we have little control over the future. The only time we can control is the moment we are living in right now.

When I got back to New York and set foot inside our house, I was thrilled to be home. Grateful for the crooked little house on the crooked little street filled with testosterone and barking dogs. The organized chaos of our home is familiar and oddly reassuring. In spite of being greeted by a stampede of pups,  I felt remarkably refreshed, at ease and at peace. More so than I have in a long time.

LIfe’s challenges remain but my mindset has shifted and I believe that is what’s made all the difference.

Onward…

 

 

 

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Monday Mom Fails: Cooking

The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but in my case it’s paved with the remnants of burnt pancakes, cookies and sad attempts at anything au gratin.

I am a mom and a wife. I am supposed to enjoy cooking for my family. At least, that’s the unwritten rule, right?  Well, I don’t. I mean, I try. I’ve always had to cook because  I have a household full of dudes who need to be fed. I tend to burn stuff. When I make cookies, the boys look at the bottom first to see if it has “mom’s burnt touch”. For real.

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When my four sons were little, I wasn’t one of those moms who made four different dinners. I made one and you ate it or you didn’t–there’s always cereal for the naysayers. Truth be told, that’s still my food philosophy, especially since they’re all old enough to fend for themselves. I’ve even instituted a weekly “Fend for yourself night” and it’s saved my sanity.

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I have struggled with guilt over this personal weakness for years.  I’m not good at it. Not even a little bit. However, despite my handicap, I try. I torture myself (and my family) and keep trying. I Pinterest stuff all the time. I save recipes and tell myself lies about how I’m going to be so much better at it this time. I’m not. I follow the recipes but it never ever comes out like the pictures on my damn Pinterest boards. My food is usually edible but it isn’t awesome by any stretch of the imagination and much of the time it’s flat-out ugly.

When-youre-so-bad-at-cooking-funny-fails_1I could be the poster-mom for Pinterest food fails. If you’re like me and you want some reassurance that you aren’t the only one who makes a pancake bunny that looks like Satan’s little helper, check out this BuzzFeed article and you’ll feel much better.

There are many of us.

I’ve asked my sons, who are now in high school and college, if they are bummed out their mom isn’t a good cook. To my surprise, they started to list the food I make that they love. “Your Homemade meatballs are awesome and my friends love those too. The peanut chicken and rice, and that burger-crescent-ring-thing. Oh, and the white bread that you make from scratch at Christmastime is the best!”

I was dumbfounded. I thought for sure they’d mention numerous times I’ve filled the kitchen with smoke or burnt the cookies beyond recognition. They didn’t.

So for all of you moms out there who feel less than or somehow not as awesome because you can’t cook or decoupage a desk to look like your kid’s favorite cartoon animal, take heart. When your kids grow up they’ll remember the stuff you did well.

More importantly, they’ll know that you tried. You took care of them. They were fed and they were loved. The meals you crafted may not have been gourmet style or fit for Pinterest–except the FAIL board–but you made it for them and that’s what they’ll remember.

Being loved makes everything better.