When Your Man Says He Likes How You Look Naked, Believe Him

I hate my pudgy stomach. Two C-sections, countless cookies and cakes and brownies and too few hours engaged in cardio have left me feeling really full around my middle. I like my arms, my thighs, my shoulders, calves and even my butt, but my belly? That.thing.must.GO!

However, my husband will routinely put his hand on my belly and squeeze, meaning it in an endearing way, and I always freak out. “Don’t touch my belly fat!” I immediately make plans to get to the gym and sweat for an hour.

But see, I’m doing myself a disservice here. I wish I could see my body the way my husband does. He sees a woman when he looks at me. He likes my curves and all my edges (heeey John Legend), and doesn’t see imperfections. He sees me, and the way my body is supposed to look.

When I see myself naked in the mirror, I see a project. Tone those arms, lose that gut, slim those thighs. But when my husband sees me naked, he thinks, “Mine. Mine. Mine.”

It’s difficult for a woman who struggles with self-image to accept that what her man is telling her is genuine, but ladies, I’ll let you in on a little secret: when you begin to look at yourself and say, “Yeah, my body is banging, even with the cellulite,” you begin to see what he sees. You begin to see an attractive woman and all the cool things your body can do.

Men don’t look at the female form in the same way we do. Yes, they enjoy traditionally beautiful women like Beyonce or Scarlett Johansson, but “regular” women turn them on in ways we as women can’t even imagine.

So the next time your man compliments your body, don’t shirk away from it. Accept it with a smile and say, “Thank you.”

What do you see when you look at yourself naked? Are you in awe of your natural beauty or do you critique yourself every time?

Spill It: Would You Ask A Friend To Do Your Laundry?

by Leah Outten

“I’m just going to put this out there and be honest: I am struggling in this first trimester. I’m in near tears right now because I am exhausted (taking iron does help, but now I’m not sleeping well at night nor will my body allow me to nap when Ashlyn does anymore) and nauseous off and on and just emotional. I feel like I’m back in the pit I was a year ago and it makes it really hard to be the mom I want to be. If anyone would be willing to help pick up groceries at Costco or Trader Joes whenever you go, I can pay in cash. My kids are also super bored and watching way too much TV as I am in survival mode, so playdates would be awesome if you want to hang out with one or two. And if you love to fold laundry, I have mountains of them. Other than that, prayers are always helpful.”

This was my Facebook status 3 weeks ago. See, I was in the middle of my first trimester carrying my fourth child with my other 3 kids under the age of 7 at home during summer break. Whew. As you can see, I had no more left of me to give to anyone, except to this growing baby already demanding so much from me. Not that that is a bad thing, it is expected with pregnancy at times, but it lead me to be exhausted in every sense of the word– emotionally and physically. I truly felt like I was living just to survive the day.  

I needed help.

Sure, my husband can and did help but since he also works full time during the day and can’t do all the chores and give our kids the attention they desire and need in the few hours before bed! I was desperate for help during the day to ease my heavy load (literally). The answers to my Facebook status above left me in awe.  I felt so loved and that rare feeling of a village surrounding us to care for our physical needs was ever so present. Friends from church and all over offered to grocery shop, watch a few of my children, bring dinner over, and even fold my mountain of laundry! Those who couldn’t physically offer help due to distance offered prayers and good thoughts, which is equally important in my mind. I also received many encouraging comments like this,

Leah, I commend you for your honesty and for being brave enough to ask for help. So many of us just suffer and try to put on a brave face instead of reaching out to the friends that WANT to be there for us. You are an amazing person!

I think that sums up the point of this post. It is not a shameful thing to ask for help. It is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.  Like my friend said, you have friends who want to help! They just need to know your needs to know how to help, but you have to speak up for that to happen.

Think of it this way: If you knew a friend was in need with something that you could provide, would you even hesitate to help? I didn’t think so.

Also, the beautiful thing to remember is that this season will not last forever so one day you will be in a place where you can pay it forward and help others when the situation arises.  Whatever the reason for where you are in tough times, whether it is pregnancy, a new baby, health issues, depression, job loss, whatever– people want to help. Why? Because they love and care for you.  Most likely, they have been there and felt what you have felt before. Maybe they had help and want to share that with you now, or maybe they wish they had had help in their tough time.

It is okay to ask for help. Ask for your village to surround you, you’ll be surprised by what a weight it will lift from your burdens!

Do you feel that you could ask for help when needed? Have you asked for it in the past?

#SheInspires | Michelle Jones: “On Really Tough Days I Need To Write In My Journal”

I just met Michelle recently (as in, she retweeted some of my links, I checked out her blog and instantly became a fan). She is due with her second child any day now and she also has an 11-month-old who keeps her on her toes. I love her blog, BlackZenMama, and everything it represents. I’m sure you’ll dig Michelle just as much as I do.

12

Name: Michelle Jones
Age: 24
Kids: Two girls/ A one-year old and I’m due with my second child late July 2014
Whenever I have a moment of free time I look forward to… a nap or a long, hot shower (my bathroom is sorta like my sanctuary!)
My mommy superpower is…. preparing her favorite meals/snacks
On really tough days I… need to write in my journal. It’s one of the best ways I can clear my thoughts and truly relax.
My kids inspire me to…. challenge myself. I want them to say one day “Wow, mama you actually did THAT?”
One thing I miss from my pre-Mommy life is….going out late-night randomly with my husband. Seriously, we would hop in our car just to go get a sundae from Sonic around 11 at night! Fun Times!
The thing that scares me the most about motherhood is….losing my children physically. I suffered many female complications (including a miscarriage) before I was able to successfully conceive so the thought of losing them still lingers around from time to time.
The thing that excites me the most about motherhood is….watching them experience life.
I know for sure I’m passionate about...my family. I care so much about their well-being more than my own at times. I always want to see them happy and enthusiastic about life. 
If my kids can only remember one thing I teach them, I hope it’s...to never stop evolving in life
I feel like a great mom when….my daughter bounces up and down laughing hysterically from a silly face or sound I made.
My personal motto is…..always be present in the moment and enjoy every part of it.
One thing that would make motherhood easier is if….I had a clone.

 

 

 

 

Why I Make My Kids Go To Bed Every Night At 7 P.M.

My aunt has lived in Texas for the majority of my life, whereas I have always lived in Ohio. This means I don’t see her much and our in-person communication is pretty much limited to holidays and special events like weddings.

Once, she was in town for just a random visit and wanted to come by and see me and the kids. But she didn’t, because it was 7 p.m. and she knew (everyone knew) that at 7 p.m., my house shuts down and it’s time for my kids to go to bed.

“I didn’t want to mess up your routine,” she told me. “They told me how you are about bedtime!”

She wasn’t lying. For the first five years of my children’s life, I have been anal about bedtime. At first, it was just so they could get the recommended 11 hours of sleep a night that my pediatrician kept bugging me about. The clock hit 7 and without much fuss, my kids would stop playing their games and head upstairs to begin their bedtime routine. As they’ve gotten older, I’ve become a little more relaxed and let them play until 7:30.

This summer, I relaxed a bit and let them go to sleep much later – like 9 p.m. I’d make them brush their teeth and put on pajamas but they could play in their room until they felt like going to sleep.

Big mistake.

Instead of having that downtime to relax and do whatever I wanted, I was still on “Mommy Duty.” And since my kids get up at 6 a.m. no matter what time they go to bed, I was inevitably losing three hours of “me-time” a day. And that’s no good.

Putting my kids to bed at a regular time was good for everybody. For my kids, who needed their rest. For my stress levels, which needed to come down a bit after a day full of “mommying.” For my husband, who would like to talk to his wife without kids’ elbows and requests in the way.

So now I’m back to the regular bedtime – I don’t care if it’s summer or not. And even two days into it, I feel less stress and my kids are happier in the mornings because they’re not as tired. Don’t be afraid to experiment in your family with what works best for you. You set the tone. You make the rules.

What about you? Do your kids have a regular bedtime – even in the summer?

How Do I Sustain My Life As A Blogger When My Life Bores Me To Tears?

For those who are faithful readers, you might notice the frequency of my posts have been hit or miss this summer. I’ve been dealing with my daughter’s health issues and the stress that comes with having the kids out of school, with a husband working long hours. After finally pinpointing the problem, the medicines my daughter is taking necessitates us staying close to home so it just feels like one loooong day. (Thankfully, she is doing much, much better after only one week on the medication.)

Sometimes I look back at my archives like, “How did I manage to write nearly 1,500 posts for this site when my day-to-day life is so BORING?” I’ve been dying to do a day-in-the-life video of my life as a blogger, but 360 days a year, my life is probably more boring than yours.

I wake up. I take care of my kids. I make breakfast. I write. I take them to school. I write. I pick them up from school. I write. I make dinner. Occasionally I make it to the gym. Yawn.

The truth is, I’m not living life to the fullest. Not yet. I think it’s slight PTSD from my unplanned pregnancy, when my life was flipped upside down and I found myself pregnant, poor, and unwed. I never ever wanted to feel that caught off-guard again. So I began to approach everything from a “What if?” perspective and I’m always guarding against a worst-case scenario.

I don’t go out because I want to save money. I don’t buy clothes because I want to save money. I don’t paint my nails or get my hair professionally done because I want to save money. I don’t do a lot of things normal people do because I’m always scared something big will happen and I won’t have the money to pay for it because I spent that $5 last week at Subway. (I have a very unhealthy relationship with money.)

But sometimes…you have to spend a little bit of money to have fun. I’m giving myself permission to loosen up the purse strings and allow myself to treat myself to something new or a new experience every once in a while. I’m an adult. It’s time I start living like one.

I feel like I’m half-assing it in my personal life. I work 60+ hours a week building my career, but I give myself absolutely no down time to explore some of my other interests. Lately I’ve been feeling the urge to paint, or to build something with my hands, or to learn to play an instrument. I know I have a lot to offer the world with my creativity, my integrity and my vision, but I’ve been stagnant. I want to have that fabulous adult life I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl. I’m nearing 30 and it’s becoming so clear that I want more for my life. I love this space I’ve carved out online, but how can I continue here if there is nothing going on with me other than brainstorming things to write? I have to actually do things, not just write about doing things.

I’ve got work to do. Who’s joining me?

#SheInspires | Natasha Vianna: “Being A Young Mother Doesn’t Mean You Have To Give Up Your Youth”

I don’t even remember when I first met Natasha but I’m glad I did. Over the past several years she has been outspoken about everything that matters – equality, reproductive rights, respect for teen parents and more. She is one of my idols and I’m thrilled to salute her in this #SheInspires series:

Natasha Vianna

Name: Natasha Vianna

Age: 26

Kids: 1 daughter, 8 years old

Twitter: twitter.com/natashavianna

Whenever I have a moment of free time I look forward to… reading. I recently finished Janet Mock’s book, Redefining Realness, and have been really reflecting on how a book can have such a great impact on my life. As a young mom, I think I so often looked for tasks to complete during free time but rarely focused on personal growth and emotional well-being. Books allow me to escape from current reality and travel into a place where my mind is nourished and stress fades away.

My mommy superpower is… being able to quickly and creatively craft a backup plan. There’s no such thing as bad news when it comes to changing plans with your child. So if something doesn’t go as planned, or it starts raining, or you realize you left your wallet in your other purse, there’s always an, “I have an awesome new idea” moment that makes me feel like I can take on the world.

On really tough days I… take naps. I wish I had something more motivating to say but naps can really change how I proceed through the rest of my entire day.

The thing that scares me the most about motherhood is… that you’re constantly feeling like you have to tip toe around situations that may bring judgment. Motherhood, especially young motherhood, isn’t seen as something women grow into or learn how to master so we’re left with stares and comments and unnecessary parenting tips from strangers in a grocery store. It scares me that our society doesn’t recognize and value women and mothers for their courage, creativity, and strength.

The thing that excites me the most about motherhood is… that I get to support, love, and nurture someone who will do the same for others someday. I have spent a lot of my time thinking about how the world can be a scary place and I’ve reflected a lot on the way so many people treated me. In a strange way, those negative experiences helped mold my plan to raise an empathetic and sensitive child who would go on to teach others the same.

I know for sure I’m passionate about… young mothers’ rights because, like Tara, I know how hard it is to parent young and how much harder it is when people feel the urge to shame you for your choices. Having given birth at 17, people have often dehumanized my daughter and labeled her as a public health issue or reduced her to one of the negative consequences of unsafe sex. My life and her life are often politicized and used as either examples or exceptions, but we were and are rarely seen as humans. This is why I partnered with 6 other amazing young mothers across the country to launch #NoTeenShame, a campaign raising awareness on the unnecessary stigmatization of teen parents in teen pregnancy prevention strategies.

If my daughter can only remember one thing I teach her, I hope it’s… the impact of love and respect. I was raised on tough love and the idea that children are not respected as experts on their own lives, and I do my best to challenge that and meet her in a safe middle ground. My hope is that as she moves on into adolescence and adulthood, she remembers the value of love and respect in how she engages with and interacts with people.

I feel like a great mom when… my daughter finds the strength to call me out on the things I need to work on. There are times when I’m stressed out and not giving her the attention she needs and she’ll just hold both of my hands, look into my eyes, and ask me if I need to take some deep breaths with her. Sometimes I smile and sometimes it makes me upset, but knowing that she has learned that responding in a loving way makes me feel like she will be such a great friend to so many people. Another time, I was super upset because her father was canceling another visitation weekend with her and had a hard time hiding my anger towards him. She hugged me and told me that while he was disappointing her, he was not hurting her and that her disappointment was not a burden I needed to carry. Yes, I almost cried.

My personal motto is... Being a young mother doesn’t mean you have to give up your youth. Your youthfulness is what will make this experience even greater! When we don’t fall into society’s expectations of what a mother needs to be or look like, I think we often beat ourselves up and try to meet those standards. As a teen mom, I thought that being a good mother meant acting more mature and being less goofy but that didn’t last long. Our goofiness is what got us through some difficult times.

One thing that would make motherhood easier is if... our society respected mothers in the workplace. I’m lucky to have a job where my boss understands when things just don’t go as planned and I never worry that my future in this role will be negatively impacted by these issues. While all mothers deserve this kind of understanding, not all will have this peace of mind.

No, Honey: You Don’t Need A “Beat Face” To Face The World

I very rarely wear a full face of makeup. Growing up, my mom stressed the importance of maintaining your natural beauty and she discouraged me from playing in makeup for fear that it would mess up my face. “You have beautiful skin,” she said. “Just wash it, moisturize, and drink your water.”

So that became my mantra. I went to an all-girls school so it  didn’t matter much. No one was checking for me in the hallways so why not walk around bare faced? I took all the money I would have spent on makeup and spent it on $25 undies at Victoria’s Secret. #SillyRabbit

By the time I got to college, I had thrown myself into my studies and into my extracurriculars so much that I didn’t spend much time partying or clubbing (the only two valid reasons why I would apply makeup). My makeup less streak continued.

When I got knocked up and decided to marry my daughter’s father, I went into Sephora to buy makeup for the wedding.

“What do you need?” one of the employees asked me.

“Um…” I look around the store. I want to say, “Everything,” but instead I say, “Foundation.”

She gets me to buy a $50 bottle of MakeupForever foundation that I’m not sure matched my skintone but whatever. Fun fact: Day of my wedding, the make-up artist looked at my foundation, tossed it to the side, and used the foundation she brought with her.

I’ve used that foundation exactly ONCE since I bought it in 2007 and this past weekend, after seeing it roll around in my drawer for a good five years unused, I tossed it.

WHAT IS MY POINT WITH ALL THIS BLABBING?

My point is that I feel increasingly in the minority here. The ranks of women in the “I Can And Do Leave The House Without Makeup” camp seem to be disappearing by the minute.

A simple search on YouTube can yield thousands of women (and men!) showing you how to apply your makeup and achieve that “beat face” look you see your favorite celeb rockin’. One vlogger, MakeupD0LL, has been criticized for her COMPLICATED  multi-multi-multi-step makeup/skincare regimens.

This make-up removal video (which I’m embedding here because I like her and am in no way trying to hate on her business she’s created for herself-she’s got skills!) is 10 minutes long and features no fewer than 15 products.

She’s got: 
Wipes
Oil cleanser
Oil-Free Cleanser with Clarisonic Mia 2
Clay Mask
Lip Care system (3 steps)
Toner
Acne Treatment
Three Separate Serums
Night cream/Eye cream

All I have to say is those YouTube checks must be NICE because honey, ain’t no way I’m spending that much on product. Y’all lucky if I wash my face four times a week with one regular cleanser. You know I use olive oil or raw shea butter on my face? Everything I put on my skin I can also cook with. #Multipurpose

I love a woman who can rock a bare face. It’s the most beautiful to me—acne blemishes, hyperpigmentation and all. But just like with everything else, the Internet is the great equalizer. Anyone with halfway decent DSL can get makeup tutorials from women who know how to rock those pencils and brushes! It’s a great time for makeup enthusiasts!

On the other hand, I feel like those women who dare to rock only minimal makeup or none at all are considered “brave.” What insane times we’re living in! It’s natural to want to look your best, but what if you “feel your best” when you are in your natural glory? What then?

Give me your opinion: Is a “beat face” your everyday look or only for special occasions? Does the amount of makeup a woman wears say anything about how she views herself?

 

[Open Thread] How Do You Get Involved In Your Child’s School?

teachers

I’m working with the insanely smart and dedicated women over at The Mission List to talk about a subject that is near and dear to my heart: education. Specifically, how YOU choose to get involved at your child’s school. I’m especially excited to get your feedback, because often the assumption is that young parents don’t care or don’t know how to get involved on behalf of their child’s education. But from what I’ve witnessed here, I know it’s not true.

  • How would you improve communication channels between parents and teachers/administrators at your child’s school?

My school does a decent job of reaching out to parents. Our principal is always out and about and if you come up to the school at any point during the day, you will run into her and she will greet you by name. There are newsletters and email listservs that keep you in the loop about upcoming events. Plus, each teacher my children have had is very good about returning phone calls and emails. At their school, I have no complaints.

Do you feel the same? Is there anything you would change about the communication at your child’s school?

  • What does it take to motivate you to advocate or take action on an educational issue (local, state, and/or national)?

After Sandy Hook, the local police department sent one officer to be stationed at each school during the school day. My daughter was terrified. One day as I was dropping her off, she started crying in the backseat, saying police officers had guns and that frightened her. I asked my daughter if anyone explained to her why she was seeing cops in the hallways. Surely they understood that students might need an explanation on why they know having armed police officers in the school. But no. There was no assembly, no announcement. Just show up to school and now there’s cops.

I had spoken to administrators and they agreed with my position. The next day there was an all-school assembly where the police officer assigned to the school spoke with the children and allowed them to ask questions. My daughter came home from school with a smile on her face and there were no more tears at drop off.

This is but a small example of advocacy, but I’d love to hear your stories. When have you had to advocate on behalf of your child’s education, whether it was a local, state, or national issue? 

She Inspires: Chaunie Brusie, Nurse + Young Parent Advocate

Back in 2012, I had a series that I ran on the blog called, “She Inspires!” I picked noteworthy women (aren’t we all?) to give YML readers a peek inside their lives. My goal with this was to give everyday mamas some shine and perhaps share a little bit of mommy wisdom amongst ourselves. I’m pleased to announce that it’s back and better than ever! Want to nominate someone for the series? Email me or send me a tweet with that person’s handle!  

notforprofit.com

Name: Chaunie Brusie
Age: 28
Kids: Two girls: 6,4,and my son: 2, and another little girl due in August :)
Blog/Business URLhttp://www.tinybluelines.com

Whenever I have a moment of free time I look forward to…

Reading! I’m a total bookworm at heart–always have been and always will be. I love reading actual books whenever I get the chance, which is usually late at night and in sacrifice of my other favorite thing–sleeping!

My mommy superpower is….

Staying one step ahead. I work from home, so it’s all about staying one step ahead to avoid major stressors in the day. That means laying out clothes, prepping food early on, and always having snacks on hand to avoid small people meltdowns!

On really tough days I…

Am not actually very grown-up about things, I have to admit. I tend to get super tired and cranky and even though rationally, I know I just need a good night’s sleep, I will sigh the martyred sigh of mothers everywhere until bedtime.

The thing that scares me the most about motherhood is….

The fact that someday, my children may sit around a table and hash out all of my flaws! It’s so hard being responsible for all these little lives when I know I am far from perfection myself. It’s easy to fool them when they are little, but when they are older? *shudder*

The thing that excites me the most about motherhood is….

Watching my children learn new things. I admit that I’m a blubber ball mom and have a hard time watching my kids grow up (and letting them grow!), but it helps to focus on knowing that there are so many exciting and wonderful things in the world that they can experience as they grow.

If my kids can only remember one thing I teach them, I hope it’s….

That reading is awesome! All of my kids love to read so far and it’s one thing that I feel I’ve done right as a mom, instilling that love in them. I only hope it can stay with them for life.

I feel like a great mom when….

I can learn to have more patience and speak kindly always. I don’t ever want my kids to feel like they are bothering me for interrupting my work–because my first job is them, no contest.

My personal motto is…..

design

Read more from Chaunie at her website, on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Behind The Curtain: Why Being Your Own Boss Can Sometimes Suck

Back in 2011, I decided that I was going to try to do something I’d wanted to do my whole life: be a full-time writer.

Unlike other small children, my answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” didn’t change from week to week. I wanted to be a writer. Full stop. That’s it.

So I went hunting for writing jobs. Some paid well, some were laughable. An editor friend of mine reached out and asked me to write a post for this new site and it would pay me $250 for roughly 500 words. (To put it in perspective, I regularly write 500-word posts here at least four days a week.) I accepted any assignments she gave me, and for a while, it seemed like I was well on my way to replacing my lost income from my PR job.

One day, the CEO of that site called me directly. Asked me to become a contributing writer, paying me $100 per article, and I would get a guaranteed 10 articles (of my choosing) per month. At the time, I was very happy to get it because I got kids, yo, and it was the highest paying writing job I could find. Plus, the CEO asked me. Lil’ ol’ me from Ohio, receiving a phone call from the CEO while he lounged poolside in LA. Consider my ego stroked. I accepted.

All went well for two months.

In June, I sent my invoice for $1000 for 10 articles written in May. A full month and a half goes by before they send me a check. Only the check is for $250. WHERE IS MY $750, THOUGH? Had me looking at my check like,

ice cube gif

I email and email and get no response. At this point, I’ve also got my June invoice and a few articles from July pending with them. Their accounts payable department finally responds, saying my rate and the rate of all the other writers had been slashed to $25 per post and we just had to accept that the rest of our money wasn’t coming.

Now they’ve made me mad.

justin timberlake gif

I called and emailed the CEO (who was the one who asked me to write) and he was dodging my phone calls like a pro.

I would call and get angry with his secretary. “I KNOW HE’S RIGHT THERE, TANISHA! PUT HIM ON THE PHONE!”  She, of course, refuses, even though I can practically hear him sitting there.

BREAKING BAD GIF

They owed me $1500 for May and June and $300 for July. I needed my money. That was a mortgage payment I was missing. I kept this up for weeks. I tried to get the other writers to organize with me for some type of collective suit, but they weren’t interested. “Just accept it as a loss,” they said. “We’re moving on.”

The website has since gone out of business and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t happy about that. They played me to the left, meanwhile my bills still kept coming. How you gonna change payment terms AFTER the work is completed? We had a contract! An agreement. Freelancing is wack sometimes.

Lesson Learned: Sometimes, people will not pay you. Do as much as you can to guarantee at least a deposit for your services, add strictly worded language in your contract about refusal to pay and pad your bank account for the lean times.

There is so much faith that goes on behind the scenes. You have to believe the work will continue to come, or that you will be nimble enough to adapt if it doesn’t. You have to believe that the person on the other end of that accounts payable email address sees those emails and understands that the quicker you get your check, the faster it hits your check, the faster your mortgage company can get their share. You have to believe you are fulfilling your life’s purpose and that the small (and large) setbacks are worth the headache in the long run.

I do hope to share more stories of my life as a small business owner—the good, the bad and the ugly. Now only will it help me gain perspective about my career (I still had enough money to pay my mortgage after this incident, thankfully) but it is my hope that it will also help you all as you decide to branch out and create side hustles and small businesses!

Have questions about business, working from home, balancing motherhood? Hit me up on my Ask.fm page and your questions might spark a full blog post!