How I Got Through College as a Single Parent

Hump day, whaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? This week has been dragging for me! I thought it was Wednesday yesterday and that has just thrown everything off. Boooooooo!!

You may or may not have noticed this about me yet, but I am kind of a type-A freakazoid. As such, I like to try to plan as many things out as possible so I can be prepared everything. Well knowing that we're moving in less than 5 weeks has me seriously trying to plan and get shit organized, because moving is so stressful and I'm hoping to make it as smooth as possible for everyone. However I'm also kind of in panic mode and feeling a lot of pressure about it too. There's just so much to do and really not very much time to do it all. I've actually started a spreadsheet with three columns labeled "Things to Do", "Things to Buy", "Things to Pack" - type-A right hurrrrrrrrrr!!

I'm not sure why I told you that other than to get it out and in the universe, maybe? Anyone have any tips to make this easier?

Also, I wanted to mention that Le Tote has another seriously awesome deal going on right now that I want to make sure to get out to you guys in case you're thinking about joining. Now through June 30, you can get 60% off the first month of a Le Tote subscription by using the code SAVEME60. This is not a joke...60% is a LOT of savings! So head on over and get signed up and try it out - don't miss out on this deal!

My last Le Tote box was FIRE and I love all four of the dresses, but I especially love this one. It's soooooo pretty and the pattern is unique and I think it's pretty flattering!

As always, I would never recommend you try anything that I myself don't use on the regs. I love Le Tote and it has saved my work wardrobe right now while I'm still in-between sizes trying to lose this baby weight. I am a part of an affiliate program with Le Tote, so if you decide to sign up using my link I will get a small commission as a thank you. Thanks for your support!

Today I wanted to talk to you about something that I happen to have a lot of experience with, but it is a huge challenge that may seem insurmountable to many people. 

I've mentioned this a few times in different posts and here, but to those who haven't been reading for a long time or may have missed it, I was a single mom to my son Justin for a very long time. My ex-husband and I separated when Justin was less than a year old and from that point forward, I was a single parent. Just in case you're not sure, I'd like to reiterate...

Being a single parent is really hard.

It's also extremely rewarding and can be lots of fun, but when it comes down to it, it's really, REALLY hard. As a single parent, you are completely responsible for the well-being of another human. That human is 100% reliant on you for everything and you have to make sure that you are able to provide that human with what they need in life AND give them love and support and all that good stuff. 

When I got divorced I was still in the Air Force but I knew I didn't want to make the military a career and as such, I separated as soon as I was able to and began my first semester of college pretty much immediately. At that time, I thought I wanted to be a nurse and enrolled in a local community college back home in Illinois. This leads me to my first two tips for successfully getting through college as a single parent. 

Join the military

First off, there are a few states out there that will give you 100% free tuition if you join the military and come back to that state once you separate. Illinois (and Texas...maybe Alaska and Connecticut) is one of those states and as such, I was able to use my GI Bill to cover some of my living expenses. Join the military and do your service. I am a huge advocate for the military because it gave me some seriously awesome experiences, some fantastic friends, insane work ethic and free mother effing college. 

It is possible to be in the military as a single parent - you'll need to make sure you have help and may want to look into the reserves or guard, but you can do it if you really want it!


Go to a community college

For some reason community colleges tend to get looked down on as not being as academically advanced as 4-year schools, but that was not my experience at all. Most of my favorite professors from my college career were in the community college I attended - they were more accessible and helpful than the professors at the university I transferred to after 2 years and they really seemed to care more about my future. Plus community college is exponentially cheaper than a 4-year school so you are able to get a degree for a much smaller cost.

I chose to get a 4-year degree in business (specifically marketing) after changing my mind on my major, but there are several 2-year degrees that you can get amazing jobs with - nursing, engineering, paralegals, etc. You can also always look into trade schools, however I'm not sure how grants/loans/scholarships work for those. 

Talk to a counselor and figure out your options and then go from there.

Take all the help you can get

This includes loans, grants, babysitting from family and friends, live at home, etc. - don't think you have to do it all on your own and I highly recommend you don't try to do it on your own. When we first moved back to Illinois Justin and I lived at my parent's house for over a year. I had a lot of debt when I got out of the Air Force, so I wasn't able to afford living on my own at that time. After about a year I moved in with a friend from high school and lived there for a little while before I found a really cute, cheap, and tiny apartment in the town where my 4-year university was located. That being said, I still needed help with babysitting and hugs from my mom on bad days, so we spent a lot of time hanging out at my mom's house or driving down to my dad's in St. Louis when we wanted a weekend away. 

Sometimes you just have to play giraffe football...a really weird game we made up one day at my mom's house when the power was out...

Another thing that I was lucky to have the option of having, was roommates. I actually lived with two different friends while I was in school and while having a roommate can obviously suck sometimes, it made it more financially feasible. Plus both of them were amazing and would hang out with Justin so I could run sometimes or when I had to go to the library to work on late-night group projects!

Financially there are a lot of resources for single parents. As a single parent you are able to qualify for a lot of grants, which are basically free money for school. Then there are always scholarship programs, especially for specific majors such as nursing, teaching, and social work. And there are always student loans, however I caution you against taking out too many student loans as they are a bitch to pay-off. I only had $25,000 in student loans when I left college and I've been out of school for 7 years and still have $16,000 left to pay. You will also want to be really careful about taking out student loans if you are majoring in something that doesn't pay very well or doesn't have a good job-outlook, since your loan payments can easily be $200-500 a month and that's a lot if you're only making $30,000 a year after school. Throw a kid or two in the mix and that's just not enough to live on.

Be careful with student loans!

Another thing you need to do is get over your pride and look into public assistance programs. As a single parent in college you will probably qualify for food stamps, free or reduced daycare, and possibly even housing assistance. There was a time in college when I did receive food stamps and I am not at all ashamed to admit it, because it helped me get through school and now I'm paying back into the system so others can do the same thing. I was also able to qualify for free or reduced child care the entire time I was in school, which helped a lot. 

Also make sure you're getting child support. Contact your local child support agency and have them open up a case for you if you aren't getting it. And if you are getting it but it's been a few years and you know the other parent is making substantially more money now, make sure you get it amended. It does take a little work, but you shouldn't have to do it on your own.

Do your research and don't hesitate to take every possible form of help you can get!

Now you may be wondering, how did I manage to get any studying done when I had a crazy 3-7 year old boy running around and being insane all the time? Let me tell you my secret...

Study at McDonalds or the park

We would spend hours at McDonalds or at the park on a regular basis - I'm talking 3-5 times a week. Obviously it needs to be a McDonalds with a playplace, but this is one of the biggest things I did that helped me graduate! Justin would run around like a crazy person for hours, making best friends and burning off energy, and I'd tune everything out and study, study, study. We would go to McDonalds when the weather was crappy or when I needed wifi (it's FREE!) and we'd go to the park whenever I needed to do some reading. And I always took breaks to run around and play with him, since life isn't fun without fun. Duh. 

Word of caution on this, you do want to always make sure you can see your child and that you've had several, maybe even hundreds of talks about not talking to strangers, bullies, and what to do if someone does try to take them (FIGHT AND SCREAM!). I always sat in the playplace and made sure I knew where Justin was and always kept him in my line of vision while at the park. 

Work your ass off

Going to college as a single parent is not easy...at all. I was lucky in that I had some money coming in with my GI Bill and qualified for grants and had my parents to help out with babysitting or small loans for bills that I always paid back immediately, however I still had to work my ass off. This includes a part time job, doing homework until 3 in the morning or waking up early to read, late night study and group sessions for projects, writing papers during vacations, etc. 

I remember very specifically going on several vacations with my parents and watching everyone else drink beer all day without a care in the world while I sat back and wrote a paper or read school books. I know, #firstworldproblems at least I got vacations (thanks mom and dad!); I'm not complaining, just telling you how I made this work. There were also a few times that I had to scramble all over trying to find a restaurant with wifi while driving back from a trip so I could turn in an assignment on time. At one point we were driving back from Florida and I'm pretty sure we stopped by 3 or 4 restaurants in the mountains in Chattanooga before I found a place to turn my assignment in. Did it make my vacation less enjoyable? Sure! But I knew it's what I needed to do to get through school and that those small short-term sacrifices would pay off in a big way in the end. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed going on my first vacation after graduation to South Padre Island and just being able to relax on the beach with my mom and my son without having to do any homework.  

I also worked a lot of part-time jobs - waitress, bartender, barista...waitressing or bartending is a great way to get some extra cash if you have the personality for it. And I firmly believe everyone should work in the service industry at some point in their lives since it's really hard work and teaches you how to work hard and not be an asshole (always tip your server). There were many weekends where I would work Friday and Saturday nights (my mom would usually watch Justin) and would easily make $400-500. This went a long way towards paying bills, having food, and having fun...

Take time to have fun!

Fun doesn't have to cost anything. Justin and I went hiking a lot, would go down to my dad's house in St. Louis and explore the city there, we went to every playground we could find, the zoo, children's museums, canoeing/tubing on the river with friends and family, etc. We'd often pick up a $5 footlong from Subway to share (remember when they were $5?) and a lot of museums/parks/things to do have discounts for students/veterans so everything we did was cheap. 

Get creative

This includes finding ways to study, things to do, and ways to make money. I am actually a 6-time egg donor, which obviously helped a lot towards getting me cash for school/living/fun stuff to do, but that's not for everyone and there are risks involved so I don't recommend it to people. Figure out things you can do to make your life easier or to get money and do it! Babysit, pet-sit, walk dogs, wash cars, rent out your 2nd bedroom as an Airbnb....do what you have to do to get through college, because I promise you, it's worth it for you and for your kids in the end. 

Push through it

I have actually had several people tell me that their lives just aren't as easy as mine or that not everyone can work as hard as I do...WHAT?!?! First of all, my life has not been easy in the slightest and I have had to work and work hard for everything that I have - literally nothing has been given to me. There were many times while I was in school where I just wanted to cry and give up (and I did cry a lot, actually). But I never gave up because I knew it would be worth it in the end and it has definitely been worth it. Yes, I am a hard worker and driven internally to work my butt off now, but I firmly believe everyone can work as hard as I do because I haven't always been this way. I was the laziest teenager who ever lived. I slept until 3 all summer and on the weekends, I never worked out, was crap about helping out around the house, and I barely put any effort into school. It wasn't until I had Justin that I realized I needed to get my ass into gear and really start trying to make something of my life so I can give him the best life possible.

Find something that drives you and motivates you and focus on that. Use whatever that is to keep you going even when times are tough. As I mentioned above, I cried A LOT through this process because it is a really hard thing to do, however Justin seemed to always know when I was down and he'd wrap his sticky little arms around me and give me big hugs and kisses and this kept me going. I talk about other things I do to keep myself motivated here if you want to check it out for more ideas. And when you go through that hard time and pull through it, whether it's a bad grade, your car gets repossessed right before Easter and you have all of the Easter stuff for your son in your car (true story - I used to be really terrible with money) or you have finally graduated after 2-4 years of seriously hard work, be proud of yourself. Because you did it. And it's SO worth it!

And then once you get that degree and start a job, you can start looking into fun things like certifications or advanced degrees because you are absolutely insane like I am...or just enjoy this accomplishment, since it's a huge one!

Thanks for stopping by - I'll be back on Friday with more shenanigans and insanity!

Monday on a Tuesday and the BIG NEWS!

Is it just me, or do you also feel like you only got 2 days off and it's actually Monday? There's no way I'm the only one feeling this way. 

Needless to say, I was on the struggle bus for real today. Actually, I was on the struggle bus all weekend. Jules is not sleeping well at all. We've moved her back into her bedroom and we're basically back to square one with her sleeping like total crap and waking up and then we bring her into our room and she sleeps horribly and basically keeps me up all night. And I feel super guilty doing any sleep training since she just went through that whole hospital/illness ordeal and is extra clingy and needy right now. So for now, I'm back in the no sleep club. 

Last night was especially bad since I kept dreaming we were living in a house like the house from The Conjuring, which is scary AF and kept jolting me awake all night long. And then Jules was screaming bloody murder and I brought her to bed where she rotisseried all night long, kicking me and resulting in an awful night of "sleep".

I would say send coffee, except my anxiety is through the roof right now and caffeine makes my anxiety much worse. So don't send coffee. Send me a clone who can work for me all day while I nap under my desk. 

Before I jump into the BIG NEWS, I thought I'd do a workout round-up from last week. 

It wasn't a great week for workouts - I'm still getting back into the swing of things after being in the hospital the week prior, Jules isn't sleeping well, and I'm also not sleeping well, so waking up to workout was a real struggle all week last week.

Monday - P90X Chest & Back and core workout 

I was off of work so I could take Jules to some doctor's appointments, so I didn't end up working out until 11. Which means I was able to smile BEFORE my workout. It's amazing how that works when you're not still half asleep and feeling like the living dead!

Also the core workout I'm doing is still the transverse abdominal workout for diastasis recti - I am staying away from traditional ab workouts until I make some awesome progress on my gap.  

Tuesday - nothing, nada, rest day

I couldn't wake up to workout before going back to work and there was no way I was doing it after work. Oh well!

Wednesday - P90X Arms & Shoulders and core workout

I worked a half-day on Wednesday because my mom was flying home in the afternoon and we weren't ready to take Jules back to daycare yet, so I slept through my alarm in the morning and did my workout in the afternoon. Hence the happy "before" picture. 

And just in case you're wondering how I manage to do an almost hour-long workout while I have a toddler in the house who is awake?

I use the iPad for my workout and Jules hangs out on the couch and watches a movie on the tv. Right now she's really into all of the Toy Story movies, Sing, and the Secret Life of Pets. She does sometimes get up and whine, but she usually allows me to put her back on the couch or have her play with her toys and 95% of the time I can finish my entire workout without any major meltdowns. 

Where there's a will there's a way, and I will get my workout in!

Thursday - Speedwork and core workout

First, I exploded my aminos/preworkout all over everything on the counter. I'm still not even sure how it happened - I was tired and spazzed out or something? 

This lead to me giving a stank-ass-before-run face - look at that grumpy face!

However a good run always makes me feel better and this was a pretty awesome run! Hard as crap and humid as a mother, but a good run!

What a fantastic picture of me. So flattering.

Friday - P90X Legs and Back and core workout

I was definitely struggling a bit, as you can see from my lovely pictures above, however I managed to get my crap together and get a great workout in so that's all that matters!

See what a great workout does though? Look at how happy I am! Using filters helps too...

Then I took Saturday and Sunday off because Jules slept horribly and it was ridiculously hot outside and I didn't want to run or do anything. 

So I had 3 rest days last week - whatever, it is what it is!

As I mentioned a post or 2 ago, I gained a solid 5 pounds the week we were in the hospital with Jules - stress + all.the.carbs = fluff. On top of the lack of activity, excessive carbs/wine consumption, and stress, it was also a certain special time of the month. Resulting in me being extra super fluffy. Between then and now, I have lost some of the fluff, however I still have 9 pounds to go before hitting pre-Jules weight and then a solid 4-6lbs to get to a "happy" place...although at this point I think I'd be pretty happy just to get to pre-Jules weight. And yes, the scale and I are back together for now but there's a legit reason for this...

I have to lose the Jules/wine/food weight (I can't realistically call it baby weight anymore...). You may be asking yourself why there's an urgency now when I've been carrying it around for 16 months without much concern...wellI have to be able to fit into all of my cold weather clothes again by September or so...

Because we're moving to Rhode Island!

The company I work for has their home office in Rhode Island and I've been offered a promotion with a completely new position in a different department. I know I've mentioned not loving my job all that much in the past - I've hit a bit of a ceiling here in Florida and can't promote without moving, plus I love being challenged and haven't felt challenged in awhile. So Jason and I decided to accept the position/move and we'll be moving in mid-July or so. Well, I'll be moving with the kids and Jason will likely have to stay behind for a couple of months until he's able to start a position in RI or Mass (law enforcement jobs hire in waves so he likely won't be able to start right away even if he gets hired somewhere right away). So this will obviously be a huge challenge since I'll be moving to a new state, with a higher cost of living, with two children, and likely by myself for a few months. However Jason and I have done the long distance thing in the past and taking this move/job sets us up to be able to finally put roots down somewhere for good instead of having to worry about moving every few years in order to move up in my career. Being in home office is something I've always wanted, so I'm super excited for the possibilities for my career and our lives in RI. I've always had this ridiculous vision of Jules running through an apple orchard in the fall with cute, little pigtails and a basket of apples...is that weird? 

So we'll have to struggle for a bit, but I have always found that it's the hardest times and riskiest choices that have the greatest pay-offs. 

Luckily I have quite a few friends up in RI and Mass and Jason has a lot of family in CT that will only be a 2 hour drive away, so we have more of a support system that I've ever had when moving in the past - we moved to Mass and Florida without knowing anyone in either place. We're already planning on Jason coming up once a month for a week at a time so we're still able to see each other as much as possible, and I'm 100% confident this will only make us stronger as a family/couple. 

So bring on the lobster, Block Island ferry, nor'easters, FALL, pumpkin everything, NYC, blizzards and snow days, hiking every weekend, leaf peeping, weiners, and Waterfire! 

And now you know why I was dreaming about living in the Conjuring house...it took place in Rhode Island! So I'll be getting super hippie-dippy and smudging and sage-ing the crap out of wherever we move to because I'm not doing any crazy haunting crap. No way!

You better believe this is going to end up resulting in some interesting posts, so I hope you have subscribed so you never miss any of this crazy adventure!

Does anyone have any tips for moving cross country with 2 kids? I've done it a couple of times with 1 kid, but doing anything with 2 kids is a huge challenge! Also have you ever saged a house? It's a legit thing that people do to cleanse bad energy from a new home before moving in - I'm seriously going to do it. I can see Jason in my head shaking his head while reading this. Lol. 

Have a great day!

Working Mom Wednesday

Happy Hump Day! It's a downhill slide to Friday from here, my friends! 

Don't forget Mother's Day this weekend!

There's still time for you to put something special together or order something nice from Amazon, so get on that! 

I do recommend you learn from me and don't send something to your mom that includes something perishable that will melt in the heat...because I live in Florida. And it's hot. Oops.

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about something near and dear to my heart, which is being a working mom. I will be completely honest in that even if I didn't need to work, I would still work. I really enjoy working - seriously! I've been working from way before it was probably legal, starting off as a babysitter for a few years before getting my first official job as a busser at a restaurant when I was 15. I worked at McDonald's for a couple of years in high school, became a server at a number of different restaurants, was in the military, was a bartender and a barista before finally joining Corporate America in June of 2010. 

When I started in my current career, my son and I were transferred from Central Illinois where we had family and friends to Western Massachusetts where we did not know a single person. I'm talking not one person. And I was a single mom, so I didn't really have any help from anyone other than my silly 6 year old. Was it hard? SURE! But I'm a firm believer that it's the hard stuff and how we deal with it that builds our character. And I might be a bit biased, but I have an AWESOME character. 

No matter how much I do enjoy working and the accomplishment I feel after a hard day of work, there are times when it is a struggle to be a working mom. Either the baby kept me up all night long or Justin is being a bunghole and got behind on homework or he's having a teenage meltdown and Jules won't let me make dinner or I just want more than a couple of minutes between when I get home from work and Jason leaves to have a conversation with my husband...I'd be lying if I told you there aren't times I wish I could be home more/all the time. This week with Jules being sick has been one of those times. Poor baby :-(

Still, I wouldn't change my working for anything and thought I'd share my top 3 tips that helps me make it work. Because let's be real, we all need help and ideas to stay afloat sometimes!

My top 3 working mom tips!

MEAL PLAN

I know I've been talking about doing a meal planning post since I started this dang blog and I still haven't done it - SORRY! Here's an abbreviated post on how I do it. 

First and foremost - plan your meals and grocery list. I do this every Saturday/Sunday and while you can use any old notebook to do it, I found this on Amazon and like it because it's a better size to keep in my purse and it's just a bit more organized than a normal notebook. 

I know some people like to do a full week's worth of meals on a Sunday and then eat them the rest of the week, but I personally think that's disgusting and can't do it. I'm sorry if you do that and can get away with it, but I can't stomach eating chicken that was prepped on a Sunday 5 days later - gross! Plus I seem to get food poisoning by just looking at something that's partially spoiled and I can't handle that ish; ain't nobody got time for that!

Instead of prepping all of my meals ahead of time, I make all of our meals as simple as possible and make them either at the time of the meal or a day or two ahead. For example, I always eat my breakfast and dinner the same day I make it (unless we're having leftover spaghetti or something) but I make my lunch the night before I plan on eating it, usually while I'm cleaning up after dinner and doing the dishes. 

I rarely if ever eat out while at work since I always prep my lunches one or two nights beforehand. I also like to try to eat different stuff for lunches since I tend to get sick of eating the same thing every single day. For example, this week I ate pulled BBQ chicken with rice and broccoli on Monday and Tuesday, leftover dinner on Wednesday (honey garlic meatballs, noodles, broccoli), and I'll have chicken sausage, rice and broccoli on Thursday and Friday. I eat a lot of chicken sausage with rice and broccoli, however Trader Joe's, Aldi, and even Walmart have an awesome variety of nitrate-free chicken sausage that doesn't have any nasty shit in it (mostly anyway) and because there's a variety of flavors I don't get sick of eating it on the regular. 

My biggest take away with meal planning is to plan all of your meals on paper and make them as simple as possible. I prefer to make things that don't require a recipe or if they do require a recipe, it's nothing crazy that I'll look at on Wednesday night and be like, NOPE and then order a pizza because I'm effing exhausted. Most Wednesday's and Thursday's we end up eating leftovers or something super easy like...you guessed it; chicken sausage :-)

I save my complicated Pinterest recipes for Sunday night dinner - I love Sunday night dinner!

Moving on to my next tip which is to...

Let shit go

Seriously. You cannot be a working mom and have junior and juniorette in ballet, baseball, basketball, and tumbling, expect them to be on the honor roll to your detriment because you have to help them with homework every night, have a clean house, make a gourmet dinner, provide homemade, organic cupcakes at all school functions, watch all of your stories on tv, drink wine like a boss with your friends, have regular sex with your spouse/SO, exercise and keep yourself fit, etc. 

You need to prioritize the stuff that is important to you and let some of that other stuff go. I refuse to have Justin in more than 1 extracurricular activity at a time - it doesn't benefit him or me to be running around from sport to activity to home for dinner at 8pm and still having 3 hours of homework to do and a messy house and I haven't even sat down yet and I'm going to lose my marbles...NOPE. I also don't try to stress myself out about cleaning because it will always be there and it will get taken care of eventually (...my effing bathroom mirror is still dirty...). I always take time for myself to get my workout in before going to work so I don't lose my mind and I try to take an hour after the kids are in bed or occupied to watch something on tv that I want to watch in complete silence. 

You may have heard this before, but you know when you're on a plane and they tell you to put your oxygen mask on before helping anyone else? This is so applicable in every day life. Take care of yourself and then worry about everyone else - in doing so you'll be better able to take care of everyone else, I promise. 

And my last and final tip...

Get new-ish clothes

I am going to include some affiliate links here, but hear me out...I'm not just trying to get you to subscribe so I get paid. I use Le Tote myself and have used it regularly since I became pregnant, and it has been a lifesaver for me. 

Full disclosure - these links are affiliate links for Le Tote. What that means to you is if you click on them and decide to subscribe, I will get a small financial thank you from Le Tote for the recommendation. I would never recommend anything to you that I myself do not use and I have been a member of Le Tote for almost 2 years now so it's obviously worth the recommendation!

I love having a pretty new outfit to wear into work. That may seem super materialistic, but the fact of the matter is, I feel better when I look better and I'm pretty sure most of you are the same way. As a manager in Corporate America, I've always made it a point to dress the part of the position I want, not the position I have. Meaning I might be a middle manager, but I like to dress like I'm a VP #respectmyauthoritah

When I found out I was pregnant with Jules and then started looking at how freaking expensive maternity clothes are, I was like...shit...leggings and tunics it is (which is totally fine if that's your deal - it's just not mine). Then I remembered reading about Le Tote and how awesome their maternity clothes were, so I decided to give them a shot.

There are 3 different options for maternity boxes:

  • 3 clothing items & 2 accessories for $69/month
  • 4 clothing items for $69/month
  • 2 clothing items & 1 accessory for $49/month 

I chose the 4 clothing items box starting when I was about 6 months pregnant, since I could no longer squeeze myself in my tight dresses and it was getting embarrassing for me and everyone else. I always got 4 dresses in each box and loved every single dress I was ever sent. Seriously, when you're huge and pregnant and get something new you can wear whenever you want, it makes a huge difference in how you feel while waddling into work while 38 weeks pregnant and miserable. 

How does it work?

You can click on the link above for a complete FAQ on the website, or read below for more from how my brain interprets it.

You sign up and fill out a style/size profile and then you are also able to go through all of the clothing available and like items you'd like to have sent to you. Next you get a text/email stating your box is ready to be styled. If you don't like what they picked for you, you can trade those items out for a different item - I would always trade out any shirts/pants/skirts for dresses since I hate wearing pants pretty much all the time, but I especially LOATHE wearing pants while pregnant. I have found that I will typically only get 1 or two of my "liked" items per tote, but some of my favorite items have actually been things that I didn't "like" - trust the process.

You'll receive your box a couple of days after it's shipped and the items are already washed and ready for you to wear! Once you're sick of wearing those items, you send them back in a bag they include in your box and then wait for your next tote. What's SUPER cool is if you really love something, you can just keep it and purchase it at a discounted price (compared to retail price).  

After having Jules I put my account on hold until I went back to work and realized I was for sure not fitting in any of my pre-baby clothes. Once I faced that harsh reality, I signed up for the classic subscription which is a bit cheaper than the maternity membership. 

  • 3 clothing items & 2 accessories for $59/month
  • 4 clothing items for $59/month
  • 2 clothing items & 1 accessory for $39/month

The past couple of totes I've gotten have included items that I never would have picked myself, other than the 1 or 2 items I had "liked", and those have ended up being some of my favorite pieces. I've branched out from just work dresses to shirts and casual dresses and I've even kept a couple of them. 

So why am I recommending you subscribe to a $60/month clothing subscription service? Because it has helped this 16 month postpartum mama who goes to work full-time, likes to look like I have my shit together, and is still between sizes feel good about herself. And that's really saying something because we all know how hard it can be sometimes to feel good about yourself, espsecially when the house is a disaster and/or the baby won't eat/sleep and/or the teenager keeps locking himself in the bathroom for way too long and you just can't even. 

Le Tote

Have any of you tried Le Tote or any of the other subscription services? I tried StitchFix a few years ago, but wasn't overly impressed. The clothes weren't great quality and were expensive for the quality (I went with the cheap box and could have gotten better stuff at Forever21, in my opinion). 

Do you have any tried and true tips for me to help me out? I'm always up for more ways to make my life easier!

See ya tomorrow!

I'm a Happy, Peppy Person - How I Keep My Energy Up & Stay Positive

Happy Friday Eve, my friends! How is your day/week going so far? 

I'm still having a crazy-doozy of a week, and I'm blaming it on the full moon. I know these are super small potatoes in the grand stew that is life, but here are some of the fun things that have happened so far this week:

  • Jules is sleeping like crap. Like super duper crappity crap. She has been waking up 1-3 times and waking up for good earlier than usual, which is throwing my entire morning routine off. This morning she decided to wake up at 5:30, which was about 5 minutes into my workout. Instead of stopping (not an option), I brought her downstairs, gave her some cereal and some water, and put the Minions movie on my iPad. It kind of worked. 
  • The wifi wasn't working yesterday morning, but I didn't know it was the wifi and assumed it was the AppleTV (we don't have cable, FYI). So I did a hard reset of the AppleTV and then figured out the wifi was broken. Meaning I need to reinstall all of the apps on the AppleTV and I don't know any of the dang passwords.  
  • Julianna's hairbrush went missing and it was picture day yesterday - I attempted to do cute pigtails using my brush, but it just wouldn't work because her hair is fine. So her hair wasn't done for pictures.
  • Speaking of the pictures, Jules refused to smile and is actually super teary-eyed and sad in her picture; the upside of this is we didn't pay $50 for a ton of pictures we won't use the majority of!
  • There is still egg everywhere from our shenanigans the other day - I found a bunch on the floor and wall of Julianna's play enclosure in the living room, which is pretty far from where the stupid egg exploded. I am not a real grown-up and I refuse to adult. Obviously. But now I have to clean it up, which is dumb.
  • Scooby is still on antibiotics and absolutely hates them, so any time I go near him he tries to hide. This resulted in him running under the bed yesterday morning and missing a dose because I couldn't get him out and I needed to leave for work like 5 minutes earlier. 
  • I tried to make my breakfast yesterday before going to work; I have been doing a copycat Bacon Gouda Egg sandwich from Starbucks the past few weeks, because I love that sandwich, but it costs like $5 and it's hardly big enough for a snack. So I've been making it at home. Went to make it yesterday and the cheese I'd just opened a day or two prior was freaking MOLDY. I don't do mold. I know some people will cut it off and still eat it, but I can't. My stomach won't allow it and I'd puke all over. 

So just in case you haven't figured it out, I'm cranky and I'm tired and my house is covered in egg and I don't want to adult. At all. So how in the crap am I still energized and (mostly) positive? Let me let you in on my ways...

Crack. 

Just kidding. Don't do crack, it's wack.

First and foremost, I exercise.

Even on the nights when Jules is up several times and I'm so effing tired I can't even, I just get up and do it. As long as I was able to get 4-5 hours of sleep, I'm forcing myself to get up and get my workout in. Now you might be thinking to yourself that this is dumb and how is it possible that waking up 60-90 minutes early to do something active gives you energy, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have never regretted a workout. Ever. Sure it's sometimes hard to roll my happy ass out of bed, but I know that by getting my workout in I'll feel great when I'm done and it will give me energy to get through the day. I do always have my preworkout aminos and sometimes will have a small bowl of cereal prior to starting my workout, which gives me that little burst of energy I need to push play or run out of the front door for a run. 

I know a lot of people struggle with that 2-3pm slump where they are dead tired and need to get another coffee in them to survive. You're probably going to hate me for saying this, but I don't have that slump (anymore). And I really think it's because I workout in the morning. 

Another reason I don't get that slump?

I don't drink any caffeine after noon. 

Ever. Like never ever. As I've mentioned in the past, I only drink one caffeinated drink a day, and that's usually my preworkout amino drink. Any time I do drink caffeine after noon, I struggle to sleep that night and have anxiety attacks that day. So if you're really struggling with your energy and you have the dreaded slump every day, try cutting that caffeine out in the afternoon and do a workout in the morning. It might take a couple of weeks, but I promise you will see some positive results and feel so much better!

So now you're like, but Jamie, how will I make it through the day without my mid-afternoon caffeine? 

Don't worry, I have more!

Get up and move around. 

Get up  and go for a quick walk. Shoot, just get up and go to the bathroom or get some water. Go outside for 2 minutes, even it it's cold and snowy and cloudy. That might even jolt you awake even better than when it's warm and sunny. Either way, get outside and move. I work in an environment where we're all expected to be available to answer phone calls and questions as they come, but it's still okay to get up for a few minutes and shake your legs out. So if we can do it, you can do it!

Eat a balanced diet. 

Don't be like 26 year old Jamie. 

What this means is protein, fat, and carbs. I've done the low carb thing and I understand the appeal - you lose a lot of weight quickly and it really leans you out. But I don't give a crap what anyone says, I have NEVER had more energy on a low carb diet. I always have a headache and feel like shit and my brain doesn't work. On that same token, you need to balance the carbs you eat with protein and good fats. Don't just eat a donut or pop tarts for breakfast, wash it down with a soda, have some "healthy" veggie pasta for lunch, and then wonder why you're so tired and gaining weight and feel like crap every afternoon.

Make sure that whatever you're eating for breakfast and lunch (and dinner too) has carbs and protein and fat. If you want to eat oatmeal for breakfast that's great, but don't just eat oatmeal. Have an egg or two on the side, or add some chia seeds and protein powder to the oatmeal. One of the best benefits of eating more protein and balancing out the carbs you eat with protein and fat is that the food you eat will keep you full for a longer period of time. I think this is probably another reason I don't get that slump - every lunch I have includes carbs, protein, and fat. I rarely need to eat after my lunch until I get home from work and get dinner ready...although I do sometimes snack on chips because I love them and I can't quit them. #imnotaquitter

That pasta was the bomb.com. 

One final and totally amazing thing that I have recently started doing that keeps my energy up is...

Water temp cycling at the end of my shower. 

I have no clue where I read this, but a couple of months ago I read that at the end of your shower you can run the water super cold for 10 seconds, hot for 10 seconds, and then super cold again for another 10 seconds and it will give you energy. Guys, this has been a game changer for me. I have been running cold water at the end of my shower for a long time , but doing the cold-hot-cold cycle immediately gives me a surge of energy that is long-lasting. Plus it makes your hair shiny!

Also if you're not taking a shower in the morning, I would recommend you do it; always works to wake me up!

So I've given you some of my tips for energy, but how about the ways I stay positive? First of all, I'm just a positive person. I may complain a lot and call people assholes all the time, but deep-down inside this crazy body, I truly believe in glass half-full AND I believe in the best in people. This does sometimes get me screwed over (because there are assholes out there that take advantage of this trait), but that's okay because I also believe in karma and those assholes will get theirs eventually.  

Being positive and having a happy face can be a struggle even for me sometimes, but I'm always getting compliments on how full of energy and happy I am so whatever I'm doing is working. 

I remember reading on a blog that I read and I'm sorry I don't have the link to the specific post, but Tina had a blurb at the end of a blog a year or two ago about changing your mindset and a good way to do that.

So here's my biggest secret...instead of thinking about having to do stuff instead I think about getting to do stuff. That's it and it's one of my biggest tips for energy AND positivity! I use this almost every single morning when my alarm goes off and I just don't want to get up and workout. I may not want to do it, but I get to. The same goes for work - I will totally admit that I don't love my job. Sure, I'm good at it, but I don't really love it all that much. So what do I do when I'm in my car complaining on Snapchat before going into work because I really don't want to do it that day but I need to get my butt inside and get to work? I think to myself that I may not want to go to work, but I get to. 

So I urge you to start doing this yourself (and thank you so much to Tina for posting about this since it has made a big positive impact in my life).

You may not want to go to work/clean/workout/adult, but at least you get to. 

And there are people out there who can't do what you get to do. I promise that making this one change in your mindset will make a huge difference in your overall attitude.

Don't worry, that's not all - I have some more tips for you. 

Smile

Force yourself to smile, even if you don't want to. I know it sounds cliche, but the more you smile the better your mood will be. If I'm in a particularly shitty mood I have a guided mediation that I have bookmarked on Insight Timer that is absolutely amazing. Just don't do it in front of people because it will make you look batshit crazy due to having your eyes closed and smiling approximately 900 times during the meditation. So find a nice, quiet room somewhere and try it out. You might feel weird the first few times you do it, but even then I can ensure you'll be in a better mood. 

Do something ridiculous/funny

All of my friends and family are funny and ridiculous people. We send each other funny pictures and videos and do ridiculous things to make each other laugh.  We are all also positive people - coincidence? I think not. If you're feeling down, do something funny or watch something funny. Look up ridiculous cat meme's. Watch Vine compilations. Whatever makes you or others laugh will pep you up immensely!

This also ties into my next tip which is to...

Surround yourself with positive people. 

Negativity spreads - don't hang out with negative people! Have you ever noticed that you'll be at work or somewhere and one person will start complaining about something being wrong. Either something isn't right or unfair, but for whatever reason something just sets them off. So they're complaining and going on and on and even if they're not justified and you know it, I bet it brought your mood down, right? I do everything I can to remove myself from negative situations. You obviously cannot remove yourself 100% of the time, but by getting out of the negative situations and away from the negative people as often as you can, you remove that influence from your life as much as you can control it. And that's a good thing. 

Dress up and put your face on.

No matter how crappy I feel after being up with Jules all night long or having a crap night/morning, I always make sure I shower, put on something nice, and do my hair and make-up for work. Except on the weekend - then I just braid my bangs and don't usually wash my hair unless we have something planned, but just the fact that it's the weekend is enough to make me happy. There have even been times when I have overslept and I have called and let my boss know I'm going to be late and I'll stay late or skip my lunch to make up for it (luckily my bosses are awesome). This might just be me, but I would feel so much worse if I threw on any old thing and didn't make myself look decent.

Just to be clear, this isn't even full-on a vanity thing. It's really not so much about looking good, but feeling like I have my shit together by looking like I have my shit together. And we all know I really don't and I'm a hot mess 90% of the time - but I can fake like I'm on my A-game with the best of them! So if you're feeling really down and out, get all dolled up and I bet you'll feel a bit better (bathroom selfie is optional...). If not, maybe try my next tip...

Watch something dumb.

I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've been made fun of for watching crap tv and silly movies. Yes, I know it's crap, but while you're watching your "smart" tv shows/movies and the news and all of the negativity that's sometimes associated with those things, I am completely disconnected and watching something ridiculous and probably laughing about it and feeling pretty good about life. I don't have to think and it makes me laugh and I'm a happy, peppy person overall, so it's obviously working!

Do something nice for someone

And this part is key...do it without expecting anything in return. If you're in the drive-thru somewhere, pay it forward and buy the food for the person behind you (unless they're driving a minivan, because I'm not made of money, kay?!?). If your friend is talking about needing help with something, volunteer to help without having to be asked. When you're at the store and see something that you know your spouse/significant other/kids would love, get it for them and surprise them with it (I often do this with candy/treats for my husband and kids). If you only do nice things for others because you expect them to reciprocate, you will end up disappointed ALL THE TIME. However I've noticed that just doing something nice for someone gives me all the good feels, which is a type of reciprocation and enough for me to do it again and again and again. 

Treat yo'self!

I am a very disciplined person - I wake up early to workout almost every single day and eat well most of the time. The key words there are almost and most of the time. If I was 100% healthy and disciplined all the time I would be one miserable beyotch. You can't miss out on all of the good things in life, and treating yourself is a GOOD thing. Take that rest day if you need it. Go on vacation and don't do a workout the entire time, unless you really want to do it. Eat 80% of the cookie butter cake you make for your husband for his birthday (recipe here...make it; it was amazing). Drink that beer/wine/cider/margarita. Get a groupon for a massage and take a half-day off of work to go get it without feeling an ounce of guilt. Take a bubble bath after the kids are in bed and leave the kitchen not perfectly clean.

The best part about being disciplined and healthy most of the time is when I treat myself. Because MAN does it taste/smell/feel good to do it. So don't make every day a treat/cheat but make sure you always have some sort of treat to look forward to or something fun planned for the future, which gives you something to look forward to and in turn, makes you HAPPY!

So what do you guys think? Are any of these tips things you already do in your life? Are you going to try any of these tips out yourself? 

Also, make that cake. It's awesome. 

TOMORROW IS FRIDAY!!!!!

Have a great day!

Jamie, out *mic drop*

A-Z of Being a Working Mom

Ahhhhh...the joys of being a working mom.

Like when you burn the shit out of your neck when you're running late while getting ready in the morning...no, just me?

This post is brought to you by me, a working mom who seriously feels like she's barely keeping her shit together 90% of the time so maybe I'm not the best person to be getting advice from...HA! But in all seriousness, here's what I do to try to keep it together as a working mom of two. Those of you with more than two are the real heroes here. 

Before I start, I am in no way, shape, or form saying that I am busier as a working mom than a mom who doesn't work - we're all busy, just in different ways. I will say that I miss watching HGTV while my daughter napped on me during my maternity leave, but that is not even kind of an example of how a SAHM operates - that's just how operated while I was home with my daughter for five months. #runonsentencealert! That was awesome and I love all of those dang shows. I might take a couple of days off this summer just so I can stay home and watch HGTV! 

I now bring you, the A-Z of being a working mom...

A - Attitude is everything (almost)

There are so many days where I wake up exhausted and cranky and I'm just not feeling it. If you follow me on Snapchat this is actually a fairly regular occurrence that I mention in the morning. Those are the days when I tend to put on the most ridiculous song I can find (Mr. Blue Sky usually works for me) and try to dance and put on a smiley face on my drive to work. I've found that if you force the smile on and try to just fake like you're happy, before you know it you'll actually be happy. So fake it til you make it!

 B - Be brave

Don't be afraid to take chances, even when it may affect your family. You obviously don't want to quit your breadwinning job to become a circus performer (unless it's really lucrative), but don't be afraid to take that promotion, move across the country, try something new, etc. These are the times when you will learn the most about yourself and show your family what you're made of. Justin and I have moved from Alaska to Illinois to Massachusetts and now we're in Florida (for now). We've made awesome friends and had awesome times at each place and have had our struggles as well. Don't let that stop you, because it's those struggles that really show you how badass you are. 

C - Cry it out

There are some days where I might be handling emergencies from everyone - my team, people from other teams, my kids, my husband, etc., and before I know it, it's already 9:30 and I haven't sat down yet and I just want to lay on the floor and cry. Sometimes I keep it together, but some days you just need to cry it out. I almost always feel better after a good cry, so don't try to hold it in and be tough. All that will get you is a shitty mood. And if you have a hard time crying, just start watching This is Us. That'll get those tears out, I promise!

D - Don't say yes to everything

I think as women we are often expected to just say yes to everything that's offered to us. I have turned down projects, promotions, and moves because I knew it wasn't what was best for me and my family. Does it suck to say no? YES - especially when it's a chance to finally get what you've been working towards for years. But you can't say yes to everything. And for God's sake, don't try to make a bunch of cookies on a weeknight when you're already exhausted and overwhelmed. Sometimes store bought is best when it saves you from a nervous breakdown. #justsaying

E - Entertain at your house

After working a full day/week the last thing I usually want to do is go out. While I do enjoy getting dolled up and going out or hitting up a restaurant for a meal every once in awhile, it's so much easier to just have people over. Especially if they're people who you know won't mind that your house isn't perfectly clean (mine never is). Get a bag of chips, some wine, and hang out with some friends who are just as overwhelmed as you are. I recommend playing Cards Against Humanity or Guitar Hero - no thinking required, and lots of fun to be had. 

F - Sometimes you just have to say fuck it. 

You know I couldn't have an A-Z without including the "F" word. In order to survive you just have to let things go. You aren't going to make everyone happy, you aren't going to be the most popular person on Earth, you won't be a perfect boss, your house is going to be disgusting sometimes and you know what? Fuck it. Do what you need to do to be happy for and with yourself and everything else will be fine, I promise you.

G - Be genuine

Give everyone else support and empathy without expecting anything in return. If you expect anything in return I promise you will be disappointed, however I've found that by being a genuine person who shows empathy, the universe will give it back to you...sometimes. Just don't have ulterior motives or an agenda, because I have never seen that work out for anyone. I believe that the reason I am good at my job is because I care and am genuine with the people I work with - they know I have their best interests at heart and even when I'm telling them something they don't want to hear, they know it's from a good place. 

H - Have fun & don't take everything so seriously

You spend so much of your day at work and it's so important to have fun. It's obviously not going to be a blast all the time, but take time here and there to do something ridiculous. One of my coworkers and I have a witching hour around 4 when we will usually get up and start doing something ridiculous for a couple of minutes. Crack some jokes with a coworker or prank someone (as long as you can do it without getting fired). Life is too short to be serious all the time. 

This doesn't just apply to being at work - make sure you goof off and have fun when you're home too. I have absolutely no problems doing something ridiculous to get a laugh and can often be found dancing around the living room with my kids to a Disney movie or messing around while at the store to make it more fun...

I - Invest

Invest in yourself, in your clothes, in your hair, and in your shoes. Take time to learn more about your job or enrich yourself in one way or another. I had zero insurance experience when I began my career but have since earned 3 insurance designations (one of them earned me a free trip to Hawaii). In doing this you will become a better worker and will also provide a good example for your children.

As for the clothes/hair/shoes - dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Even when I was 9 months pregnant I refused to come to work in leggings and flats. In order to do this I actually subscribed to letote, which is essentially a clothes rental service. They have an option for maternity clothes, which is the only reason I looked decent during my pregnancy because maternity clothes are expensive AF. And now that I'm in-between sizes I have started the service back up, since it ensures I have decent looking clothes that fit me. Also be sure to take an extra 20 minutes to make sure you look like you care about yourself since I have always found it to be helpful in my life to look put-together (even when I'm a hot mess on the inside - fake it til you make it, people!). 

J- Just ask for help

Maybe this is just because I'm a type-A control freak, but I never ask for help with anything. I'd either rather do it all myself since I know if will get done right when I do it or I don't feel I should have to ask for help and people should just know because it's common courtesy. Take it from me - don't do this. Ask for help if you need help. I've recently starting asking for help at work whenever I'm drowning and you know what, people are happy to help, just as I'm happy to help them. Just let it go and let someone else take care of it and I promise, you'll feel better for it (lots of promising going on here!). Teamwork makes the dream work!

K - Kick up your feet and take a moment to yourself

Unless I'm studying for something, I spend my entire lunch break on my phone with my headphones in reading, watching funny videos, or doing something else entertaining. And I literally kick my feet up on a chair while doing it. So take that lunch break and take the time for yourself. This also applies to 4pm when your witching hour hits you - don't be scared to put on a horse mask and run around the office trying to make people laugh. (Unless it will get your fired...do something else if it will get you fired).

L - Leave work early...

Take a half-day off and go home when no one else will be there. Kick off your shoes, take off your bra, and take some time to relax in a quiet home without anyone there. Sure, you may just end up cleaning the entire effing time, but at least you got to clean without anyone else there to make messes after you. This is something I do several times a year and it's required for my sanity - without it, I literally never get a moment to myself where someone isn't relying on me for something and it's something I need to survive. 

M - Make time for yourself

This is my workout time every morning, 6 days a week. Yes, it requires me to wake-up at an ungodly time, usually after only 5-6 hours of sleep, but it's an hour or so that I get to myself, for myself. I think I would be a raving, certifiable lunatic without it. Like for real.

Oh that's right, I'm already crazy...

Oh that's right, I'm already crazy...

Oh that's right, I'm already crazy...

N - Never stop learning

I truly believe in being a lifetime learner and I'm always working towards a new something that I want to learn about. For the past few years, I've dedicated myself to learning more about the insurance business. I also take a lot of time and try to learn as much as I can about fitness and nutrition; I've thought about becoming a personal trainer and/or a registered dietitian. Right now I'm contemplating going back to school and getting either my MBA or my Masters in Human Resources. And I've always had plans to go back to school when I retire and get a degree in literature, since I love reading so much. 

O - Open yourself to criticism

This works in your personal and professional life. I promise you are not a flawless, perfect human being, since none of us are. To err is human (right? Isn't that how that phrase goes?). Take the advice/criticism that you get from people and learn from it. Some of it might be unfounded, but you can still learn from why it happened and become a better person when you do. 

P - Prep your meals ahead of time

In order to be firing at all cylinders I have to eat well. Eating well means not going out to eat every day for lunch (and that's expensive AF). To make sure I have food all week I always plan out and try to prep as much of my lunch as possible. I will do a full post on meal prep later, since the internet obviously needs more of those, but for now I just say plan it out and try to make your meal at night before you go to bed. This way you can grab it on your way out the door and you know you'll get a nutritious (ish) meal. This week I'm having BBQ chicken from Trader Joe's, rice mixed with pureed cauliflower and either asparagus or broccoli. It's yummy and easy and also leaves me more time for kicking my feet up on my lunch break since I'm not out running around getting food somewhere. 

Q - Quit feeling guilty

I don't know about you, but if I let it happen I  can feel guilty about everything all the time. I'm not a good enough boss, I can be a better mom, I suck at being a wife, I'm a bad friend, my house is a mess, I don't spend enough time walking the dog, the litter box is dirty, we ate chicken nuggets for dinner for the 3rd time this week...

Try not to let those thoughts overtake your psyche - constantly feeling guilty is no way to live. You are good enough. Your work is (mostly) done, your kids are fed, the really dog doesn't care, the cats will bite your fingers to show they're annoyed but they'll get over it, etc. Whenever you start to beat yourself up just remember that you're doing the best you can and that's the most important thing (and if you're not doing the best you can, then push it until you are).

R - Rest

Take time and rest. Even if it's just 30 minutes after everyone is down for bed and you can plop down on the couch for a bit and watch something dumb on tv, make sure you do it. Even if the laundry isn't done. Because you need that rest way more than those clothes need to be folded. If they end up wrinkled just throw them in the dryer for 20 minutes when you need to wear them #thatshowthismomirons

S - Share your knowledge/expertise

If you are mentoring or training someone, make sure you share all of your best tips/tricks/workflow so they are set-up to succeed. This isn't a competition and we should all be lifting each other up instead of trying to knock each other over. Do good stuff and good stuff will happen to you. I promise. 

T - Take time to enjoy the small stuff

Almost every night my daughter curls up against me and wraps her little arm around my neck as she's falling asleep. This morning my son gave me a hug as I was running out to my car and told me to have a good day. He's 13 people - he still hugs me! Someone on my team at work always takes the time to thank me for helping them meet a goal that they struggled to meet for years. That's what it's all about - make sure you take the time to enjoy it. 

U - Understand that it's not all about you

Someone might be snippy with you one day - don't take it personally. Your boss might have their door closed all day - it's probably not about you. Your kid will tell you they hate you - it happens to all of us. Take a deep breath, shake it off, and move on. 

V - Variety is the spice of life

business-cat-serious.jpg

This is especially important at work. If you find yourself getting bored, find something new to do. Look for a project you can help with or even ask for more responsibilities - I've done both! Don't let yourself get bored and stuck in a rut - that's when complacency happens and then it's a quick slide into lazy-town. 

W - Wine. 

Duh.

X - Extend yourself, but don't overextend yourself

It's fine to be uncomfortable in life; shoot, I think it's important and a good thing. The more uncomfortable you make yourself the more you'll put yourself out there and try new things. I always try to do new things and try things that make me uncomfortable since I know those are the best experiences you can have for growth - except bungee jumping or sky diving. Those experiences will never happen.

 That being said, don't overextend yourself. And for the love of Pete, don't sign your kids up for every sport under the sun while also expecting them to have straight A's and keep their room clean. Let your kids be a kid and let yourself chill sometimes (which is impossible if you're carting your kids to a million different practices each day after already working a full day). 

Y - You

Be you, take time for you, and don't forget who you are. Sometimes you do need to be selfish and take time that you need (which is what I do when I exercise). But by taking that time for you, you're better able to be the you everyone else needs too. Which sounds like something Dr. Seuss may have written, so if I plagiarized, it was not intentional.  

Z - Make sure your zipper is zipped

I used to have these work pants that would always unzip themselves. Talk about embarrassing. Now I only wear dresses. Lesson learned.

I hope you're all having a great day. Do any of you have anything to add to the list?