religion + politics.

you know the rule of thumb, right?  the general rule that everyone says.  to keep things civil, don't talk about religion or politics.  you never know who you're sitting across the table from.  a wiccan.  a devout catholic.  a hardcore conservative.  so you don't bring it up.  you talk about other things.   things that don't hit too close to home.

i think it's time to add a few more things to the list, people: marriage and babies. 

hear me out.

how many of you have been in long term relationships?  maybe you've talked about marriage and it's not your thing.  maybe one of you is ready to make that commitment but the other isn't sure yet.  it's a see saw, deciding to get married, each person letting a little more of their feet float off the ground and trusting they won't come crashing down.  you have to be at the same place, equally balanced, for it to be right.  maybe someone is planning to propose and it's just around the corner.  and someone, somewhere, out of turn asks, "so, when are you two getting married?"  and awkwardness ensues.  it's not for everyone, marriage.  and that's ok.

and then, you get married.  and it's not long before the questions, once more, start to come again.  "so, when are you going to have a baby?"  because why not just get it all out in the open, right?  the fact that maybe you haven't talked about having kids?  that someone wants one and someone doesn't?  that maybe you've decided not to be parents?  or that -- worst of all -- you've been trying.  you've been struggling.  and you can't do it.  so sure, let's get it all out in the open, right?

one last thing guys.

never, ever, ever, under any circumstance, ask a woman if she's pregnant.  not because she didn't order a glass of wine at dinner.  not because she just threw up.  not because she skipped over her favorite sushi dinner.  not even if you saw a sonogram picture on her coffee table.  because you will offend her if she isn't pregnant.  she will feel like she looks bloated, or tired, or just fat.  or maybe, just maybe... she is pregnant.  and she isn't ready to tell you yet.  and i assure you, no one who is pregnant is just waiting for someone to ask so she can tell you all about it.

photo by hogger & co
step off, people.  let's just let everyone have their space a little.

ok, stepping off my soapbox now.

20 things i learned in my 20s.

this weekend i will be thirty.

usually, i kind of freak out about my birthday.  i spend a lot of time moping around.  but this year, i'm feeling pretty good about it.  part of it has to do with my 30 before 30 list, which has had me accomplishing goals and learning new things and feeling really good about 30.

i've been spending a lot of time thinking about where my life is now, and thinking of where my life was at 20.  so many mistakes, so many bad haircuts.  but if i had to do it all again, i don't think there's anything i'd change. 

but that isn't to say there weren't a few bumps around the road.  let's look back on some lessons i've learned... and some hairstyles i've had. 

1.  don't take yourself so seriously.  like amy poehler said, 'no one looks stupid when they're having fun.'
2.  go after what you want.  people aren't mind readers -- bosses, boyfriends, etc.  ask for the raise you want.  tell people what is on your mind.  it turns out much better than you imagine it will.

3.  go. travel, move, etc. if it doesn't work, you can always go back home.  this is the number one thing i learned and the piece of advice i dole out the most by far. 

4.  no one actually pays attention to fashion.  be true to your own personal style - wearing something 'trendy' makes you look like someone else.  i have finally found my look and couldn't be happier, or feel more comfortable in my own skin.

5.  there's nothing wrong with pursuing someone, but a real relationship is 50//50.  if you're doing all the work, it's not right.

6.  people change and that's ok.  you won't be the same person at 30 that you were at 20, and your friendships might reflect that.  embrace it and roll with it.

7.  there's no reason to keep a scale in your house.  are you healthy?  do you like what you see in the mirror when you're naked?  ok then.  love your body -- it's the only one you get

8.  always be honest.  with your words, with your actions, with your work.  even when it hurts.

9.  the best experiences in life happen outside your comfort zone.  ski fast, take chances [right mom?].

10.  there really never will be a better tv show than friends.  seriously.

11.  things don't always work out the way you thought they would, but there's always a reason for it.  mourn the loss of whatever you thought was going to happen, and then move on.

12.  you can't force things.  you know when they're not a good fit, when you're questioning it -- whether it's a career, a relationship, a move.  you know in your heart.  follow it.  live things for you, and not for who you think you should be, or who other people think you are.  do what's best for you. 

13.  keep a journal.  you'll want to look back on things someday, even the mundane everyday.  i made the shift from long, erratic journal entries to a daily line a day journal and i'm going on three years now.  love it.

14.  send mail.  birthday cards, thank you cards, just because letters.  it's important and it makes people feel good. 

15.  above all else, communicate.  those little problems that you dismiss day to day don't just fade.  it is literally the key to every relationship in your life.

16.  diets are a waste.  everything -- everything! -- in moderation, and you'll be fine.  life is way too short to only eat salads.

17.  if you want to make a friend, be one first.  this is something you'd hear on sesame street but it's totally true. 

18.  your mom is right.  all the time.  really.  it's annoying.

19.  learn where to splurge and where to save.  no one in the world needs a gucci tee shirt.  but the chemicals you rub on your face?  pick the good ones. 

20.  most importantly, get the haircut.  or dye it.  whatever.  it's hair, and it will grow back.

hurricane baby.

for someone planning a natural birth, i did surprisingly little worrying about, you know, the actual birth part.  i took the class, held the ice cubes, found my happy place, practiced the breathing, bought the exercise ball.  by in the end, i just knew deep down that pushing out a tiny human would work itself out and that no matter what i did i would not be able to control my birth.

instead, i wisely spent the last weeks of my pregnancy absolutely horrified of those first few postpartum weeks.  controllable crying? bleeding nipples? no sleep? unbearable pain to poop? gauze underwear? no, no, no, no, no.  this would not do.  i was paranoid of 'catching' postpartum depressing, as if it was something i could wisely avoid with placental supplements and hand washing.  as much as i loved reading birth stories, i read every postpartum blog post and article i could get my swollen fingers on.  ten essentials to get you through your baby's first six weekswhat no one told me about postpartumwhy you'll be the happiest and saddest in your life after birth!  i figured knowledge was power and ventured into the motherhood tunnel with as much information about the darkness as i could find.

and just like pregnancy, i had some but not all of those postpartum experiences i read about.  a few were just as bad as i had braced myself for, while others were nothing to write home about.  but there was one very troubling thing that happened postpartum that i absolutely did NOT read anything about beforehand - and it was far and away the hardest part of the healing process.  and i'm still in the healing mode.

postpartum is hard on your relationship with your partner.

like, really hard.

and just like any other symptom of the pregnancy experience, there are varying degrees of 'hard.'  for me, this meant those first three postpartum months were the most difficult of my marriage.

i don't really blog about my relationship with PI, because it's the most personal and close-to-my-heart thing in my life, plus, you know, privacy.  but what i'll say is that we aren't fighters.  we are best friends, we are absolutely evenly matched and see eye-to-eye on nearly everything, and where we don't fight we have intelligent discussion and debate.  there is the occasional  B   I   G  fight, complete with yelling, but these are few and far between.  we don't go to bed angry.  we don't hold grudges or keep things inside.  we discuss, we get to the root of the issue, and then we move on.

but postpartum was like hurricane katina for our relationship.  we knew a storm was coming, that it would be something to weather, but we had no idea just how difficult it would be.

my mom said it best to me [as moms always do], as she stroked my hair and tears wet my cheeks.  she was at a conference and the keynote speaker had everyone stand up.  reach your arms up high, she instructed.  as high as they can go.  business people all around had their arms stretched towards the ceiling.  great, she said.  now - reach higher.  

to me, that's it felt like in the thick of it.  when i was running two hour increments of sleep at a time.  when my nipples were raw from baby sucks.  when all i wanted was for someone to burp the baby so i could go back to sleep.  when feeding the cats in the morning for me was the most romantic gesture i could think of.  when i was putting so much effort into taking care of someone else i could hardly take care of myself.  that's when you have to take care of your relationship too.  to close the door to the nursery when the baby is screaming so he can get some uninterrupted sleep, too.  to make a pot of hot coffee for him who can drink caffeine.  to remember that as hard as it is to be alone with the baby all day, it's harder to be away from the baby all day. 

to reach higher.  and it's not easy.  at times there will literally be someone sleeping between you in bed.  i say all this not to scare people of postpartum the way i was scared, but to let you know that the storm will pass.  a few bumps in the road does not mean your marriage is doomed.  it doesn't mean it was a mistake to have that squishy little baby.  it means that, just as your body has to adjust, everything else in your life has to adjust - and yes, this does include your relationship. 

but like any storm, it will ease up.  it doesn't go on forever.  just like all the postpartum-newborny stuff, each week is a little better.  each month will feel like a new year.  and then, you'll get a babysitter, you'll laugh, you'll have a kiss that feels like the first you ever had, and you'll remember how much you love each other that you made that squishy little baby in the first place.

the thing i learned is that yes, your partner is trying just as hard as you.  even if it doesn't feel like it.  everyone is always giving 100%, because that's what it is to be a parent.  each of you will have different responsibilities, but that doesn't make yours more important than theirs.  but more importantly than that - just as your baby won't take care of himself, your relationship won't take care of itself.  you have to baby it, work at it.

and suddenly... there were three in the bed and the little one said...
[photo by hogger + co]
but we took care of our relationship.  we have adjusted to life's new routines and made changes where we needed to.  the worst part of our storm has passed.  the sun is shining on us once again.  and it's as bright as it's ever been.