For the Love…Of Blogging: Writing Wednesday

Welcome to Day 3 of For the Love…Of Blogging!

Today Miranda and I are going to stretch our English teacher wings on you guys and share some of what we know (and teach) about writing.

My topic is voice.

I used to have a big sign that a student made for me that read “Write Like You” in my old classroom.

And it’s really my mantra when writing any of my blogs.  I don’t want to sound like anyone else except Katie Sluiter.

When I posted my first vlog, someone told me she loved it so much because the way I talked match EXACTLY what she heard in her head when she read my blog.

That?  Was huge for me.

So how do you find your voice.  For me, it’s a combination of things.

1. Show Don’t Tell. Whether I am telling you about my PPD experiences, my miscarriages, my wedding, my job, or my son, I want you to feel like you are there with me.

I do this by closing my eyes and concentrating on the very core of what I am trying to talk about–the few moments that make up the big feeling.

Take this post for instance. I could have just told you about how my father-in-law had cancer and I was there to hear the diagnosis and it sucked.  But TELLING you would make you say, “yeah, that sucks.”  SHOWING you would put you in that room with me.  It would give you the feelings of those around me.  It would make you have the chills and then the sweats.

I want to take you to a place, a time, a moment.  Not just tell you a quick narrative.

Showing you my snapshot of life?

It would help you experience what I did. It would make my writing something you could relate to.  You would start making connections to things that made you feel that way.

I would be real to you.

Bloggers that are so very real (and serve as inspiration?)  to me that you should check out as examples?

Kris and Nichole are good places to start.  They are some of the very best Show Don’t Tellers on the internet.

2. Be honest.

You don’t have to spill all of your family secrets or tell us when your Lady Week is, but showing your readers that you are a real person: flaws and all, is a good thing.

I try to post my fails along with my successes.  Just this past Saturday I confessed that I am not always a good friend. I also let my kid watch TV and I didn’t think being a mom meant living in a state of toy chaos.

Sharing your honest joys AND fears AND fails?  Creates a person.

Some of my favorite REAL peeps?  There is Blair who lovingly puts it out there…ALL out there.  There is also Adrienne for whom I have so much love.  She is real and honest and I love her. And of course there is my etwin, Miranda who pours her heart out to her audience.  Lastly, Casey has always floored me for being so honest that I swear she is in my brain.

3. Seriously…write like YOU.

Once you start creating honest snap shots for your reader, you need to do it using YOUR voice.  Don’t try to imitate others.  Maybe you have your own phrases or a unique writing structure (I tend to do short paragraphs and minimal words) or distinct tone (sarcastic, funny, sensitive…whatever your personality is)…the key is to be YOU and not someone else.

I have been told that this post where I hate on Wal-Mart drips of Katie.  (I also try to show and not tell…even though it’s a story).

Bloggers who amaze me with their unique style?  Who I would totally know out of a blogging line up?

Kimberly might have a bad back, but she has a wicked sense of humor that amazes me.  And I would know CDG from a pile of blogs any day…her writing is AWESOME.   And please?  Lori could hide behind…well…she couldn’t hide from me.

4. Write what you know.

You are an expert at your life.  You are an expert at YOU.  Write about that.  Don’t dabble in things you can’t speak of.  I know nothing about breastfeeding or cloth-diappering.  I did neither.  I will be starting zero posts about those things.

I don’t know much about html or SEO or feeds.  I will not be giving you tips on those.

I know about my life.  I know about MY ppd (not yours).  I know about writing.  I know about ME.

That is what I will be writing about.

And you should write what YOU know.

Bloggers who write what they know (and do it well)?  Gigi knows a lot about a lot (I swear…she is like the Cat in the Hat of blogging).  Lindsey is another someone I feel always writes what she knows…her family, her blog, her life…and does it well.  The Empress is also someone I feel like is an “authority” because of her blogging style.  which I dig.

These rules could easily be a series of posts each.  This is just the nitty gritty of what it takes to have a good writing voice/style.

For today’s blog hop (which is located at Miranda’s blog)…I want to encourage you to explode a moment…give your reader a snapshot from your memory. I love the idea of exploding a moment so much, I started a blog just to do that (yes, I am plugging myself here, what?).  So give it a try.  Need ideas?  Look at this or this or this.  All posts where I gave the readers a snapshot through my words.

And don’t forget to head over to Miranda‘s…she will show you some of the more technical stuff about writing that will make it more readable and flowy (she is better at the organizational stuff than I am…by far!)

So what do you think?  Good tips?  Hard challenge?  Did I leave out your favorite bloggers?  Talk to me!

 MommyofaMonster This post was featured!

For The Love…Of Blogging Top Ten Tuesday

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Usually Tuesdays in Sluiter Nation are Top Ten Tuesday…and today is no different!  However today, since it’s our blogging love week, I am going to focus on the Top Ten Reasons I Love to Blog.

Make sure to go check out Miranda‘s Top Ten today too and then link of your own Top Ten Reasons to Blog!

So here I go…

10. My friends and family know what the heck we are up to. I know this one sounds lame, but it is the reason I started the blog back in 2007…so the people I love would know about our lives.  In fact, I always had to email the link once every couple weeks to everyone because I had NO idea how to do RSS or email subscriptions let alone tell people about them.

9. This is MY house. I know it’s been said before, but your blog is your house.  You can have your opinion (not that I do very opinionated stuff, really, but the OPTION is there).   I like that one day I can write a letter to my son and the next day I can talk about my depression.  And I can say what I want because it is MY space in this world.

8. Blogging it out. Time and time again I have come here or to twitter to just pound my feelings out onto my keyboard…into my screen…and out into the interwebs.  And you know what?  You can read or not read, but I feel better getting it out of my head.  That is something I didn’t know my blog could be when I first started it.

7. The Other Blogs. Part of my love of blogging is YOU.  reading YOUR blogs.  Finding women people who I can relate to…whose words touch me.

6. Community. This one is going to be on here twice…because there are two kinds I have found.  There is the community right here…in Sluiter Nation.  You.  You who come here and support me and love me and converse with me (and those of you who don’t, you’ll notice that your comments do not show up…see reason #9: MY HOUSE).

5. Community. I love blogging for the communities that have been formed here.  I have found PPD communities here and here (amongst others).  I have found writing communities like this. And I have found places to safely publish stories that are very sensitive to me with the security that only positive, loving comments will be let through.

4. A Creative Outlet. I had NO idea…NO IDEA…i could write.  I mean, I knew I could write essays and teach the basics of grammar, but to actually put something together with voice?  that could move someone?  No idea.  Blogging has challenged me to be a better writer…something I love.

3. Friends. If you told me a year ago that by February 2011, I would have a whole slew of new best friends…and that i would have only met a teeny tiny few of them in real life?  I would have laughed at you and called you ridiculous.  No one meets people online (no one that isn’t a little weird).  But it’s true.  I have met women here who I consider extremely close friends.  And I have never met them. well, in real life.

2. Showing Off. I have made a point of always being honest.  And honestly?  I like to be the center of attention (just ask my mom).  Blogging is like my own personal spotlight.

1. My Life: In Writing. Someday?  I will be old and not so typey typey on the computer.  My children will be grown and gone.  Some day I will be gone.  And my children, my grandchildren…they will have my words.  They will have pictures of us.  They will know what life was like through my eyes.  Think of how precious of a gift that is.  Can you imagine if you had a book handed to you of what your great great grandmother had written?  For the good and the bad?  These are my words.  My experiences.

Now it’s your turn!  What are your Top Ten Reasons to blog or to love blogging?  Share with  us!  Link up!

ps. since this is a blog hop and we are loving on blogging, please try to comment on as many people in the hop as you can…even if it’s just the person ahead of you and after you in the lineup!  WE LOVE BLOGGING!

For the Love…Of Blogging: Meet Me Monday

It’s here!  It’s finally here!

**For the Love…Of Blogging is in no way associated with the blog of a similar name, For The Love of Blogs. We did not know they existed (even though we googled our name first), but they appear to be another lovely way to get involved in the community of blogging.  All content in our event has been thought up by myself and Miranda on our own even though we realize there are probably similar ideas out in the blogging world already since not much out there is totally unique.  We apologize if you ever blogged about blogging and are offended by  us.  That is not our intent.

This is the first annual, For the Love…Of Blogging…um…event!  Yes, we shall call it an event!  A Blogging Event!

So what is “For the Love…of Blogging,” you ask?

It is a week-long commitment by me and my lovely friend, Miranda, to bring you our love of blogging, and give you some tips and fun and conversation all about BLOGGING!

We are starting the week with a meet and greet of sorts.  We are going to give you a little tour of our blogs and ask that you make up a little tour of yours.  Then, come back and link up (and grab the link for yourself to add to the bottom of your post)! This will be a lovely way to meet all sorts of new bloggers!  Hopefully you will add some to your reader and they will add you!

So here we go…at tour of Sluiter Nation.

First, you should check out my Author page to find out a little about me.  You’ll find out that I am a high school English/Spanish teacher and a part-time community college adjunct English instructor.  You will find out that I am a wife.  You will find out that I am a mother to the sweet and cuddley Eddie.

Then you should check out my The Nation page to learn about my little family that I blog about here.  There are some fun pictures there of my husband (Cortney) and I, and of our little man, Eddie.  It also gives you my contact info.

I started blogging back in July of 2007 after Cort and I traveled to Montana for a wedding of a friend.  I realized that my family and friends are all OVER the place and could use a place to keep up with us.  My first year of blogging was a snooze-fest.  Even for family and friends.

I became a mom in June of 2009 and the posts became more interesting.

In spring of 2010 I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and decided to share it with the internet.

Things sort of exploded from there.  I found community in other PPD/A moms and in other working moms.

And suddenly I found tons of blogs.

I started leaving comments.

And suddenly I had readers here!

I was suddenly being asked to guest post and to join groups.

I discovered that I don’t just like to talk a lot…I love to WRITE.

I started a participating in The Red Dress Club and Mama Kat’s Writing Workshop.

I started a meme called Top Ten Tuesdays.

Eventually I started a creative writing blog for my “not mom blog” writing called Exploded Moments, and a reading blog for book reviews called Katie’s Bookcase.

I have been featured here, here, here, and here (among other places).

I was asked to be–and accepted–a hostess spot with The Red Dress Club.

All these things in the last year…because I connected with other bloggers.  Other women like me.

I think the biggest thing I learned…and fell in love with…in the blogging world is the community that is formed here.  And community isn’t created out of me just talking to nobody.  It happens when I connect with others on their blogs and the connect with me here.

So while you get to know me here, remember:  this week will only be as helpful as the level of your participation.  The more you take part, the more you will get out of it.

I hope you learn something this week.

I hope you take risks in your blogging this week,

I hope you WIN something this week (we have a kazillion giveaways on Friday!)

But most of all?  I hope you have fun!

So tell us about YOU…and link up! It’s going to be a GREAT week!

much ado about crock pots

This past weekend there was quite a bit of ruckus going on in the twitter world.  In fact, you could say that twitter?  Was all a’twitter about crock pots.

@thenextmartha (the lovely, Jen of The Martha Project), tweeted something along the lines of nothing good ever comes out of a crock pot.  You can read her post about that here.

There was sort of an uproar.  I mean, normally if you want to see twitter get so heated you tweet about breastfeeding vs bottle feeding or SAHM vs working mom or whatever, but who knew a household appliance could get so many panties in a bunch?

I’ll admit.  My panties were officially bunched over her blasphemous statement.

I really like my crock pot.

No.  I adore my crock pot.

I don’t even really know why I put it away.  From the minute the temperature dips below 70 degrees until sometime in March, we have a crock pot meal at LEAST once a week.

I was not the only one that felt this week.  We crock pot addicts came out in droves to defend our dinner machine.

In fact, a few of us (Miranda, Jen, and I) decided we had something to prove.  And?  This blog hop was born!  Miranda’s is the first post…and from what I’ve tried of her recipes?  They are going to be GOOOOD!!!!  So go check hers out.

As for me?  I am blessing you with THREE recipes: one for chicken, one for beef, and one for pork.

Ok so first is my crock pot recipe for chicken.  This thing is YUM!  I got it from my mom…from some little pamphlet she has.  This is too good for a pamphlet:

Chicken in a Pot:

2 carrots–sliced

2 small white onions–sliced

2 stalks of celery–cut into 1-inch pieces

1 whole broiler/fryer chicken (3-4 pounds-ish)

salt and pepper for taste

a can of no salt/low sodium chicken broth

basil

put the veggies in the bottom of the crockpot and pour the can of chicken broth over them.  Throw in some salt and pepper for taste.  Put the chicken on top and add basil.

Plup (that is my mom’s term) in the crockpot on low for 8-10 hours.

Next up?  The soup that brings me back to my childhood…

Veggie Beef Soup:

about 3/4 pound of stew cut beef seared in a pan and then tossed in the crock pot

add (and I never measure this…just toss in to your liking):

potatoes

carrots

corn (I used canned)

peas (I use frozen)

stewed tomatoes

beef broth (I usually use one of those boxes)

worchester sauce (just a couple tablespoons or so)

tomato juice (a couple cans)

a few beef boulion cubes

a few shakes of chili powder

salt/pepper

Let this “plup” on low in the crock pot all day.  We like this with homemade cinnamon rolls. mmmm!

And last, but not least, a pork recipe my cousin, Rachel gave me.

Tangy Pork Ribs

You can use baby back or spare ribs for this, but I have also used a pork tenderloin and it was amazing, so choose some pork, sear it, throw it in a crock pot.

Then you want to create the magic sauce:

3/4 cups of white vinegar

1/2 cup of ketchup

2 tbs of sugar

2 tbs of worchester sauce

1 garlic clove minced

1/3 jar of your fave BBQ sauce (we use sweet baby rays)

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp salt

dash of pepper

3/4 cups water

mix this all together and pour over your pork.

Let plup on low for about 6-8 hours.

I cannot even begin to explain how yum this is.  You will want it for leftovers, but you will find yourself eating ALL of it.

So…crock pot heaven right there.  But if you still don’t believe in the loveliness of the crock pot or if you just can’t get enough crock pot recipes?  There are bunches more just below!  Click and gather, people!

And if you have a great one to share?  Post it and link up!  This hop will be up for a week!  A long, tasty week!

Cancer? Oh it Sucks!

Most people that read this blog know that we lost Cort’s dad to cancer five years ago.  I have blogged about that many times, and this year?  I will let Cort blog about it over at his own blog.  Steve was his dad, and since the five year anniversary (usually I think of anniversaries as happy…but what else to you call it?) is coming up next week AND there is a cancer sucks blog hop going on, it really is his story to tell.  So check out Tasty Buttered Toast since I believe his plan is to talk about his dad’s birthday (on Monday, Aug 9) and his passing (Saturday, Aug 14).
ALL cancer is terrible.  No matter what type someone gets it reeks havoc physically on its victim, and it terrifies and devastates family and friends.   Not only did we lose Cortney’s dad to lung cancer, but many  of our aunts and grandmas have had to battle breast cancer.  And earlier this year, I found out a friend from high school, Lynette…someone MY age…has been thrown into this bit of hell called breast cancer.
Back in June I shared that Cort and I felt strongly that we wanted to do something for Lynette, so we signed up to run the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure 5k in September. 
I thought I would take a second to update you on our progress.
First of all, you can read about Lynette’s fight and how great she is doing on her blog. She claims she is not as strong as she sounds, but she is for sure amazing.  We weren’t that close in high school, but somehow a tragedy like cancer puts things into perspective.  She is my peer.  She is a fellow momma.  She is a wife.  She is a fighter.
So as you can see, all of Sluiter Nation has the “Fight Like a Girl” Tshirt to support Lynette’s fight.
Cortney and I have also been training for the 5K using the Couch to 5K training program.  We started out pretty strong with our new gear and a pile of enthusiasm.
Then I got a stupid knee injury.  I did something painful and awful to the ligaments in my left knee.  I actually had to have physical therapy!  I felt so dumb…like it wasn’t a REAL injury.  I felt like it was a “fat, out of shape” injury.  But I worked that PT and got better in only 5 sessions (my PT was actually quite amazed)!
So I am back at it.  
Cortney is on Week seven of nine.  He is currently running for 25 minutes straight.  He is a machine, I tell you. He enjoys tolerates early morning runs–around 6:30am–before it gets super awful walk on the sun hot outside.
I am on week four of ten (we are both doing Couch to 5K, but there are variations of it).  I am currently running for a whopping 7 minutes straight.  I do my running on the treadmill since it’s easier on my knees.  And usually I get my run in around nap–after my lunch digests.
By September 25?  We both want to be able to run the full 5k.  I clearly have more work to do.  Eek!
We have also been raising money for the Race for the Cure.  We both have pledge pages.  Recently, we upped our goals.  We started out with goals being $250.  We blew those out of the water within a month of fundraising (which means we get to wear the pink ribbon when we run!  Yay!  Because WHO WHO will not wear the ribbon!  Seinfeld anyone?  No?  Ok then…).  So we have both now RAISED our goals to $500 each! 
Can you imagine Sluiter Nation being able to raise a THOUSAND dollars for cancer research?!?
Plus if we do that, we will each win a New Balance gift card, which I will be in turn giving away here on the blog…to thank you all for your support!
So help us help kick cancer in the face, butt, and gut! 
Click on the above pictures to get to either mine or Cortney’s pledge pages for the 5k.  
We appreciate your support and generosity. 
You can read more about my journey with training for the 5k on the blog, Running Between Tweets.  A group blog started by a bunch of online people I “know” who are all doing the Couch to 5k program.  Read about all of our struggles and victories!
And Cortney talks about his ups and downs with running (and life in general) over on Tasty Buttered Toast.

Click on the links below to read more cancer sucks stories.  I can’t promise you won’t cry…even at the ones with happy endings.  But they are powerful, powerful stories.

Sluiter Nation is NOT Going to BlogHer ’10

Wait…some of you may be wondering what the ham sandwich BlogHer even is.

BlogHer is the BIGGEST blogger conference of the year.  This year it’s this coming weekend in New York City. There are all sorts of workshops and parties and networking opportunities and swag and sponsors and…and…and ALL MY FAVORITE BLOGGERS (well, a LOT of them).  In my head?  It is all glamorous and wonderful and there is talk and hugs and learning and love going on.

Sluiter Nation will not be there.

What?!?  Why not?  I can hear you gasping as you read that.  Yes, I know.  Sounds right up my alley.  Sounds like loads of fun.  Sounds like the ULTIMATE girls weekend away.

Yup, still not going.

Twitter is all a, well twitter, with #blogher talk.  Everyone is discussing what to pack, where to meet, who is rooming with whom.  It’s a big slumber party!

And I’m not going.

Sigh.

It’s not because I don’t want to!  And yes, I am hugely jealous of those going.  Every time someone new tweets about it?  I get a little sad I won’t be there.

But here is the thing…I found out about it WAY TOO LATE.

I know, I know..I’ve been blogging for three years.  But really?  I have just been in this world of blogging/twitter for just over two months. I was all unaware of this community of bloggers!  I didn’t even know BlogHer existed three months ago, and by that time?  It was all sold out.

Plus?  It is SUPER expensive.  I have decided if I want to go next year?  I need to start saving now. Or three months ago.  Anyway, I need to start saving.

So, that all being said…I hope everyone going has a super fabulous time…but to you ladies who are home with me this weekend?  Cheers to you!  Link up below and we can have our own pity wine party!

Friday Flip-offs!

One of my favorite things to read on Friday are all the Friday Flip-offs that are going on out there in the bloggy world.  I keep meaning to link up to Kludgy Mom and do my own flip-offs…I mean, I flip stuff off for real on a daily basis, why wouldn’t I give you guys the complied list? So here it goes….

To this ridiculous humidity…you make me wear a ridiculous “bun” in my hair every day and I sweat just going to the mailbox.  It’s gross.  I’m sick of having perma-swass.  Flip off!

To Nickelodeon…why in the mess is your programming wrong?  The Tivo says, “Dora the Explorer” at 9:00 and 9:30.  Then you play Spongebob instead?  Eddie is fuming.  Flip off.

To itunes…how much of Cort’s time are you going to suck?  Why can’t you just nicely keep all one million hours of our music on our machines?  All I want is to create a new work out mix for my shuffle.  You suck so hard.  Flip off times a million.

To the never ending pile of dishes in my sink.  How are you possible?  We run the dishwasher almost once a day?  Why are we STILL washing dishes by hand too?  One constant, never-ending flip off.

And finally, I can’t end this post without flipping off PPD.  You are annoying and stupid and a thief.  While I am getting a handle on you, you are pissing me off by making my friends sad, depressed, and angry.  You bring pain and hurt to good, beautiful people.  And for that I not just flip you off, but I give you a good, hard kick in your behind too.

So that is all…for this week, anyway.  Want more flip off’s?  Or possibly to enter your own?  Hit up the blog-hop below…

Oh, and have a super, flip-off free weekend!

Hope Sinks, but Never Drowns

HOPE is when YOU believe what you want is attainable.

Seven years ago I was without hope.  And for what feels like a stupid reason now.  I don’t want to go into it too much because I don’t want to give it anymore thought, but I put most of my future hope in a guy.  Dumb.  Anyway, when he broke my heart after five years, I thought it was the end.  I was 25; I was back home in my small town after graduation college; I didn’t have a job; and I didn’t have many friends that lived near me anymore.  I didn’t know how to meet anyone new–I had spent all my “meet new people” years dating one guy.

Instead of seeing that now I was free to travel or do whatever I wanted with no ties, I was blinded by failure.  I spent days, weeks, months wallowing in my little house with my cat and Captain Morgan.

I wanted a teaching job that I could love.

I wanted a guy who would make me smile.

I wanted a family and a nice little house.

None of these things seemed attainable.  I thought I had completely failed. I had lost hope entirely. I had lost faith in myself as well as in the world around me.

But there were two people in my life who were determined NOT to let me drown my sorrows and myself over something like a guy.  They would NOT let my life fall apart.  They saw who I was before him and knew that that girl was still in there somewhere.

Those two people were my best friend, Tonya, and my husband, Cortney.

I know I have posted this picture before, but it’s my absolute favorite.  These two have stuck with me as I have swum in the depths of depression more times than I can count.  They are always my hope.

In fact, after that summer seven years ago, Cortney stuck by me as more than my friend.  We fell in love, and were married.  Tonya was there.  She cried and couldn’t finish her matron of honor speech.  It’s the only time I’ve ever seen her break down.

It’s easy for me to sink into sadness and despair.  When bad happens to my Hope Team, I get swept up in it almost as much as they do.  I thought our world was over when Tonya was diagnosed with diabetes.  I took Cort’s pain into my heart when his dad died.  It’s hard for me to see the people who have been my strongest support have bad things happen.

But somehow, through their valleys and through my dark paths, they have kept that faith that all we want in life can happen.  I am beyond amazed at their strength every day, but even more they keep proving my doubt wrong.

I have a teaching job that I love.

I have a guy that makes me smile (every day!).

I have a family and a nice little house.

They are there with words of hope and positivity every time I start to doubt.  When feeling my worst, Tonya will text me that I am beautiful and that she loves me.  When I am just having a hard day and the anxiety is taking over, Cortney will hold my hand before bed and tell me he loves me.

And you know what?  Because of their love and strength, I am able to dig way down and find the fighter in me.  I can find the hope that suck way down to a place so deep I thought it would drown completely and take me with it.

When I don’t believe that we will make it financially , or that I will keep a job, or that we will be able to have more kids, or even that I will be able to wear a bikini again, Tonya and Cort prove me wrong.

They help ME to believe that the things I want ARE attainable.  They help me to have HOPE.

Letter to My Former Self

I love blog hops.  LOVE them.  For one they give me something cool to write about…something I wouldn’t normally have thought up all on my own (like my wedding or my former self).  They also give me a reason to read millions of blogs other than my typical reason of “oh my word, there are 400 unread things in my google reader!”

And come on…I love a good running motif among blogs–knowing that each one I click will be on the same topic, but done in a completely unique way.  I think it’s the English teacher in me.

Anyway…here we go.  To my former self…with pictures (even the awkward ones):

To my Wee Self:

Hey hot stuff…you look smashing in all outfits.  That is the best thing about being wee.  You don’t care what you’re wearing, but you do prefer pink and ruffles.  Because you are a little girly girl.  Now.  You won’t always be, but you are for now, so revel in it.  Also, it’s ok that mommy and daddy are making you move out of your “pretty” room and into a new house.  There will be faux fur on the walls in that room, but mommy will make it a pretty blue with little flowers.  And you will LOVE that room.  You will read and listen to music and talk to boys on the phone in that room.  It will be your special place for many, many years.  Oh, and don’t be so shy around non-family.  You won’t always be shy, but I wish it hadn’t taken you so long to figure that out.

To my Almost an Adolescent Self:

You have no idea what you are in for.  You are still pretty cute…look at you with that cute hair and sweater (nice perm.  thanks, mom).  You are even starting to think boys are sort of cute.  But you don’t really understand those feelings or know how to act on them other than to smack that cute boy in class HARD in the arm whenever he walks by.  This?  Is not a good way to attract a guy.  But you won’t figure that out until high school.  sigh…

To my Super Awkward Self:

 First of all, nice OP sweatshirt and jean skirt.  You were hot.  Oh except for those dirty, “white” socks.  No good.  Anyway, I should tell you that you are about to break out in zits.  Until about 1994.  Boys will mock you for this.  One boy in seventh grade science will tell you that you are too ugly to be anyone’s girlfriend ever.  He will say this RIGHT after you tell him he is cute IN science class.  Oh, and you have sit by him all year because Mr. Piersma doesn’t ever change seating charts.  Ever.  But seriously?  I wish you wouldn’t have harbored that.  I wish you didn’t care what idiot adolescent boys said about you. I wish that wouldn’t have led to your low-self esteem around guys.  You are hilarious and THAT is great to guys.  You don’t learn that for awhile yet though.  I am sad about that.

To my Early High School Self:

Still you think you are fat and ugly in this picture.  WHY?  You are so small that this dress is a little big on you.  And you thought this hair was ridiculous…but it’s sort of cute. The half bang is what is ridiculous.  But you don’t learn that until college.  So sad for your hair.  You totally have a long-term boyfriend by now.  I wish you didn’t put all you stock and time into that guy.  I want you to go do more high school things than sit around at his house and watch movies or hang out with his friends or wait for him to come home from college.  Senior year you had TONS of friends–once you let go of the guy and started believing YOU were worth being friends with on your own.  I wish you had figured that out freshman year.

To my Starting College Self:

WHY ARE YOU WEARING BULKY CLOTHING?  You are at your best body at this point in your life, but it’s all covered up in long flannels and baggy jeans and doc martins.  Damn you, grunge movement and your lumber jack fashion.  Um, self?  Stop clinging to guys for your identity.  Seriously.  You have discovered that you are cute to guys, but instead of settling for one, you just bounce from one to the next because you can.  Uncool.  Oh, and that skinny guy there in the Georgetown sweatshirt?  Too bad he has a girlfriend.  You’re going to end up with him.

Yeah, that guy holding his then-girlfriend’s sweatshirt.  And she?  Will become one of your best friends ever.  Her son will be your godson.  I’m glad you were always good and relationships.   You scored by keeping that guy and his girlfriend in your life.

To my College Self:

 Quit having so much fun.  Seriously.  There is fun and then there is TOO much fun.  You wait until senior year to learn this.  Probably should have learned it freshman year.  Although honestly?  There isn’t too much I would tell you NOT to do…except maybe don’t date some of the guys you did (both the ones from the UP come to mind), but I have always been glad you moved away from home and did this college thing on your own.  You always got SO homesick before college, but going to WMU really helped you come out of your shell as far as communicating with others and finding a path for yourself.  But that guy you started dating after sophomore year?  Maybe could have cut that down to a 2 year relationship instead of letting it drag on for 5.  I’m just sayin’.

To my Engaged Self:

If you ever cut your hair again, don’t part it down the middle (although you will make this mistake at LEAST two more times).  Also, don’t stress out about your wedding.  It is the best day ever.  Things don’t always work out how you had hoped, but that guy you are planning to walk down the aisle too?  He sticks by you and holds your hand through it.  Good choice.  Don’t worry so much about what other people think.  Do what you want.  Oh, and YOU are the grownup.  Those who can’t act like adults do not matter.  Don’t waste brainpower on them.

To my Newlywed Self:

You are a wife.  You finally have a guy who celebrates who YOU are and doesn’t try to make you more like him.  He supports your choices and you do a pretty good job of supporting his.  I wish I could tell you to be more patient.  He doesn’t think in the same process you do.  You will learn this, but I wish you knew it now.  It would have made those first couple years easier.  He takes longer to gather his thoughts and he doesn’t just blurt everything that is on his mind.  Be patient.  When he wants to talk, he will, but you might have to ask.  Don’t nag.  Some stuff he has to deal with on his own.

To my New Momma Self:

Oh honey, look at those bags.  This was the DAY after you came home.  You are sore from the C-section.  You are tired.  You are still bloated with water.  You are going to try to be supermom.  Please don’t.  This is something I so badly wish I could change for you.  Lay back, let other people do the work, and heal.  You say you’re fine.  You’re not.  You say yes to every visitor.  Don’t.  That little bundle?  He is about to turn colicky.  Please ask for help instead of trying to do it all yourself.  And when you don’t ask for help with Eddie?  Please ask for help with your mind.  What you are feeling?  NOT NORMAL!  Don’t wait nine months.  Just don’t.  Your whole family deserves better, and so do you!

To my Current Self:

 You are getting better.  Remember that.  You are still healing.  It’s ok to have bad days.  It’s ok to ask for help.  It’s ok to admit things aren’t perfect.  But you need to let go of things you can’t control.  Wait…let me say that again a little louder:  YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT ALL.  Your job?  Not in your hands.  Cort’s job?  Not in your control.  The future of all mankind?  Not for you to save by yourself.  All of these things and much more keep you awake at night.  Don’t let it.  Or at least continue getting help to prevent it.  You don’t like what you look like.  You don’t like the way you act.  You don’t like what goes on in your mind.  But you know what?  You are pretty; you are great; and your thoughts are valid.  YOU are a great person.  Even if you do not believe those words that you just typed.  You will hopefully believe them.  Some day.  At least that is my hope for you.

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