chateau frontenac

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXI

I’m still hanging in there with the Roman numerals, but I’m convinced it’s going to catch up to me sometime soon…

This week has been an absolute whirlwind. I’ve no idea how we wound up at Tuesday again already. Sometimes I feel like I meet myself coming and going! At any rate, here’s the list:

The biggest thing I’m grateful for this week is we finally nailed down the details of our vacation. We’re headed to Montreal and Quebec City this August by way of Niagara Falls. My husband, son and I had spent quite a bit of time trying to nail down a good time to go on vacation, where we wanted to go, and even though we’d thrown around the idea of heading to Quebec for awhile, in the end we weren’t sure we could get it all scheduled the way we wanted. But we did and we’ve now booked our apartments for Quebec City and Montreal, which I’m very excited about! We generally stay in apartments or condos rather than hotels so that we can cook if we like and it’s generally cheaper, believe it or not. I’m excited to get a little French immersion (even if it isn’t Paris) and I think it will be fun showing our son a taste of French living. Or French Canadian living.

chateau frontenac

Chateau Frontenac – Quebec City

I made a decision last week that’s been a long time coming (and one that I’m going to go into further detail about later). I went off my antidepressants. It’s only been 5 days but so far so good. I didn’t go through any withdrawal symptoms, which wasn’t really surprising as my dosage was so low anyway. I realize it’s not something that would work for everyone, nor would I recommend it for others, but it’s one that I hope is going to work better for me. I’ll keep y’all posted.

I also cut out almost all of the supplements I’ve been taking and I’m making some rather drastic changes to my diet. I’m not going on a diet; simply changing the way I eat. I’m trying to cut way back on carbs and sugars because they generally make me feel like shit when I eat them and I’m tired of feeling sluggish and tired all the time. I’m trying to stick with more protein and fruits and veggies. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes, too but so far I’m feeling really good. I’m sure in a few days I’ll be willing to commit murder for a sugar packet but I’ll be all right.

all the sugar

And “Deadpool”. Can we talk about “Deadpool” for a second? I’m not a huge fan of superhero movies, but this one – wow. First of all, Ryan Reynolds. Nobody beats him for gorgeous smartassery goodness. And he is so in his element in this movie. It’s line after line after line of just raw hilarity. And yeah, it’s raw. I’ve seen a few parents complaining that it’s an “R” rated superhero movie but y’know, adults deserve some fun, too. Not everything has to be kid-appropriate. And as a parent, you’ve got to realize that if you’re taking your kid to a movie you haven’t researched beforehand, well…you’re rollin’ the dice, baby. That’s why they put those ratings on the movies – to give you a heads-up that it’s not a squeaky clean “Captain America” movie. (Thank goodness!) It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a movie that was so good I wanted to walk back in and watch it again immediately but this one made me feel that way. So I’m just going to say it’s the best superhero movie since “The Dark Knight” (and yes, I loved “The Avengers” but I stand by my assessment) and really, for me, “The Dark Knight” was great because of Heath Ledger.

So all in all, it’s been a fun week. And really, is there anything better than that?

Much love. – Mama Bear

How lucky I

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XX

This was an exciting week!

First off, my son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law sent out their “save the date” notices last week! It’s always fun to get happy mail, and aren’t wedding invitations the happiest mail? We’re all so excited for the two of them; not just for the wedding, but for the happily ever after part! There’s nothing like marrying your best friend. And I know I’m a bit biased, but they really do make the cutest couple.

save the date


In other happy mail-related things, I’ve gotten in some Instagram prize giveaway loops recently and last week, I won a $600 gift card to Sephora! Ooooh, I am stalking the UPS guy today because my first $300 order is about to be delivered and it’s gonna be like Christmas morning up in here! And to top it off, I placed the order through the Ebates website, so I am also getting $27 in cash back for using the gift card to spoil myself and get all purty. You can’t beat that with a stick! And $600 buys a LOT of glitter and spackle, folks. I’m pretty sure me with that much make-up is gonna wind up looking something like this:

cat with makeup

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…

And in a week full of wins and fun stuff, my husband and I took off Saturday for an overnight trip to Detroit! Yes, Detroit. A few highlights – the world’s best reuben (not even kidding), a trip to the Detroit Institute of the Arts, our first experience with tapas (5 stars), a stay in one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed at, and a disappointing and brief trip to the Motor City casino that still wound up being fun. I plan on posting all the details on Mama Bear Tried It later on and I’ll post a link here. But long story short, we had a blast! The older I get the more I realize that what’s most important in life is not where you are but who you’re with. Lucky for me, my husband can make even arctic temperatures in Detroit a lot of fun!

us detroit

So I had a great week, but this one starts off with the anniversary of losing my dad. This is the first year I haven’t felt crippling depression the entire month of February, so I am grateful for that but as time goes on, I’m realizing that there really is no such thing as closure. And that’s what I’m trying to come to terms with now. I’m never going to stop missing him. The hole that he left is never going to go away. I’m always going to want to hear his voice again or see him smile. But it’s finally starting to sink in that I’m going to survive this, and that while I’ll always miss him, it’s okay for me to move on to focusing on remembering the good times that I had with him and being grateful that I had him for 42 years. There are plenty of folks that aren’t that lucky. And billions who were never lucky enough to have met him, much less have him for a father. I wish he’d lived long enough to see our kids get married and to become a great-grandpa, but I know he’s still proud as hell. So today I’m grateful that I had him and proud to be his daughter. And now, I’m going to go listen to some George Jones and hope that he hears it, wherever he is. I love you, Daddy.

dad obit photo cropped

Much love. – Mama Bear

dear inner critic

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XIX

Sitting here bundled up late on a Tuesday evening getting ready to share a bit of gratitude with y’all and hoping everyone’s safe and sound after another round of snow (not here – we just got a dusting)! I heard the groundhog is calling for some spring soon, and I cannot wait!

For the last week or so I’ve been dealing with some serious knee pain and not doing it very graciously. I absolutely hate not being able to go about my usual daily routine and I’ve never really dealt with knee pain before so I wasn’t aware of how totally batshit it can make you after a day or so! It did force me to slow down a bit, which isn’t a bad thing, but it also made me appreciate how important mobility is (and what a grump I’m going to be if I ever lose it!). I don’t often really sit down and take stock of all the amazing things my body does for me until a part of it isn’t working properly. As I get older, I grow more and more aware of the changes my body is going through and how it sometimes takes me longer to bounce back now and I try to be more appreciative of what I have. I find that if I’m kinder to my body, it returns that kindness by allowing me to do more, move more, lift more and live more. But if I stop listening to the signals my body gives me now, it starts yelling at me in a hurry!

And while we’re on the subject of being kind to your body, I’m reading a really interesting book called “Always Hungry” by David Ludwig, M.D.. I’ve been struggling for awhile with hitting a plateau in my health and fitness and am not liking the way it’s making me feel. I long ago gave up on diets in all their forms. They don’t work, they make me miserable and they make me fatter. But I’m interested in the science of food and how our bodies use it to make energy and that’s what this book is about. I’ve long suspected that a severely restrictive low-fat diet wasn’t the answer for me, and that I had to find some changes I could make in my life that would work for me and not make me crazy about food and eating and my weight. And now, through some of the information I’m learning in this book, I’m finding that for me, what works is avoiding processed foods and all the additives and avoiding carbs for the most part and focusing on protein and fruits and veggies. I don’t feel like I’m depriving myself of anything and I’m already starting to feel better. I think that’s the key to it all – finding a lifestyle you can live with and small changes you can implement. For me it’s not about a number on the scale or a dress size or even how I look; it’s about treating my body with respect so that it will continue to work for me and keep me healthy. always hungry

You can click on the photo to order the book on Amazon.

I’m also grateful that my husband and I are actually going out of town for Valentine’s Day! Where are we going? Why, scenic Detroit! Yeah, yeah, it might not sound like a romantic date but I’m telling you, we can have a good time anywhere! I’ve been dying to take him to the Detroit Institute of Arts for a couple of years and we’re going to check out the museum, hit some restaurants, maybe the casino and just enjoy the near-zero temperatures together! Seriously, though, I think one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your relationships is to learn to find something positive or fun in whatever you’re doing. And most of the time, I can find something fun to do no matter where I go, especially if my husband’s involved. That’s a damn rare thing, I think.

And finally, I’ve been following a blog called Uncustomary for awhile now. It’s run by a fabulously dynamic lady named Mary whose basic mission in life is to promote body positivity, self-love, mindfulness and peace in the most creative, colorful ways imaginable! I follow her on social media and I can tell you, she’s a wondrous ball of glittery positive energy and her attitude is infectious! Last month I took her awesome free 7-day e-course: “7 Steps to a Grateful Life” here and it really helped my gratitude and mindfulness practices and made me more consistent in those habits. Right now, I’m taking part in her “Month of Self-Love Challenge” here on social media and it’s a real eye-opener. I’ve done a lot of work, especially over the last few years, to become more comfortable in my own skin and to love myself with the same kind of unconditional openness that I love others. But it is still a challenge at times. And this “Self-Love Challenge” is demonstrating that to me because some of the prompts force me to step outside my comfort zone, but I love it and I can tell it’s inspiring real growth in me. That little voice inside that tells me that being proud of my accomplishments is wrong and prideful and that if I tell myself I’m beautiful I’m being vain is quieting down a little more every day. So if you love glitter and art and positivity and growth and self-love, go check out Mary’s website! You’ll be amazed, I promise! Here’s one of my posts for the “Month of Self-Love Challenge”:

dear inner critic

So tell me, dear readers – what are you grateful for today?

Much love. – Mama Bear


Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XVIII

(Just a heads-up: if you’re in love with those Roman numerals that I use, please understand that they’re going to come to an end in the not-so-distant future. My math skills only go so far!)

Here we are at Tuesday again and wow, it’s been a busy week! As I mentioned in a post last week , I’m a member of several Facebook groups for introverts and one of the members of that group posted another blogger’s article satirizing the very same groups and memes, suggesting that introverts viewed introversion as some sort of disability for which we expected special treatment. Needless to say, it ruffled a few feathers but it was also a sort of “a-ha moment” for me, so I wrote my blog post. Well, it was shared and featured on the introverts group and I got a really positive response from it! When you’re writing, you write because you have something to say but it’s always great when something you write really resonates with readers! And I love when the blog reaches a new group of people and lets me connect with them.

Another win – I just discovered yesterday that I’m in the top 50 sellers on my KEEP Collective team! I’m so happy to find that out! I haven’t had the chance to go all out the way that I’d like mostly because I was sick my first 3 weeks as a designer! What I think I love best about this experience with KEEP is that I really am learning something new every day and I’m gaining the courage and confidence to go after what I want. To be honest, I started as what we jokingly call a “kitnapper” – someone that joins just to get the kit. But I soon realized that in the last couple of years while I’ve been trying to find a good fit job-wise that would give me flexibility and allow me to work from home, the answer to both came along when I least expected it. I love it when things work out that way!

top 50 sales blog pic

I also signed up to go to KEEP’s annual conference (we call it “Hoopla”) in Charlotte, North Carolina in August! I’m so excited to meet the other designers I’ve “met” through Facebook. I know from past experience that going to a conference for work can be a real game-changer. Nothing gets me fired up with ideas and excitement like being around other people with the same goals and dreams!


I’m also grateful that my husband and I got a chance to go out for a date night on Friday. We went to see Lewis Black live in Columbus. We’ve actually got a couple of date nights scheduled over the next month or two. I’m really glad we’ve set aside some time to just be together. Sometimes that’s hard to do with our schedules but it’s definitely worth it.

And a big leap from our oldest son – he auditioned and won a lead role in “Angels in America” (which just happens to be one of his favorite plays!). We’re so excited for him! He wasn’t sure about auditioning, given that he’s working full-time, going to school and planning a wedding, but after a real nudge from Fate (a director who really wanted him for the play), he auditioned and got the role he wanted! He’s a great actor and it’s going to be wonderful to see him on stage again!

angels in america

And our daughter has moved back to the area, which I have to admit, makes me happy. I like having all 3 of my kids close to home. I know it’s a lot of stress moving and changing jobs and all of that, but we’re here to help with the stresses. I’ve also decided that the next time I move, I want to be wealthy enough to have someone do it for me! I think our daughter feels the same way!

I said several months ago that I felt like a monumental shift was coming, and I think all of these things are proof of that. I think there’s a common theme here: that change requires taking chances and saying “yes” and jumping in sometimes without knowing what the end result is going to be. Here’s to jumping in the deep end, even when it’s scary!

Have a beautiful week! – Mama Bear

change can be scary