Just Me, Myself and My Madness

I honestly don’t think anyone has noticed but since I (finally) announced my engagement I’ve been more active online and I’m creating funny content again. I didn’t plan to start the year off this way. It just became the right time to ninja kick my writers block and get back to blogging.

Soooo, yeah. I took a break from blogging. I didn’t feel the need to announce, explain or justify it. It organically happened and I didn’t fight it. I also don’t get why people announce when they are taking a blogging break… but, that is just me.

I needed to take the break for many reasons.

I wanted to really focus on my family after going from a single Mom to a working things out and getting my family back together blended family Mom. Sure, there was a lot I wanted to share during the transition but I chose to sit on it all and just be in the moment. Oh, people noticed which was honestly lovely. I missed it. Some days I missed it more than I expected to. I just needed to be with them.

I also needed to learn how to live with another adult and factor in his feelings and not just do what I want. Thankfully, he is very understanding of my quirks, gets my insanity and happens to be really sexy with all the housework he does. Yeah, I needed to focus on that too.

I read a few months back how a blogger friend was feeling guilty about not sharing some things that were going on in her life. I wondered… why are we obligated? We choose what to share, how to share it, when to share and why we share it.

I chose to not share until I was sure on what I wanted to share in case what I was sharing was share worthy and not a flop of sharisms.

Uh, I hope you could follow that… I just confused the crap out of myself! hehe

Plus, what the crap was with all the blogger internet drama?! Please, tell me we aren’t going in the direction of cat fighting on the internet from jealousy and gossip! Please, tell me that we are going to utilize our spaces for something other than mudslinging. Can’t blogs be more than just fuel for smack talking fodder? The mob mentality of creating internet uproars over differences of opinions are really stupid.

Yes, stupid.

I don’t care what the topic is. We aren’t angry mobs of blogging sheep. Well, we shouldn’t be.

I don’t do the drama game. If someone dislikes what I’m about or I dislike what they are about then they simply fall off my radar. I’m not going to care what they are doing and they shouldn’t care what I am doing. Just because we can be all creepy up in someone’s blogging window trying to find something to talk smack about does NOT mean we should. I will never quite understand why people who loathe me will follow my every public internet move. It doesn’t keep me up at night. I probably laugh about it with my friends more than I should… humor helps me get through the things that make my head hurt. I seriously do “Live, laugh and ninja kick.” in life. It’s a formula that works for me.

The way I work is simple:

Things/people make me mad, sad or insert-negative-reaction-here.

I change them, accept them or laugh at them.

Or a combo/all of the above.

Actually, at some point I will always find a way to laugh at it.

Then I move on.

Rinse and repeat.

I’m not insensitive. I have empathy. I am very compassionate. I’m also not without anger. Quite the opposite, actually. I get all super hulk smash angsty and need to vent and process. I do that on my own time and not with keyboard courage. To be perfectly honest, I spent a lot of my life being angry and hostile and it’s draining. I choose not to waste my time staying angry and hateful. Life is just too rad.

The name of my blog is the core of my beliefs… and I truly feel you either have to be enjoying the radness of life or working damn hard to get there. I don’t see how whining is involved in the equation of awesomeness.

I like the internet to be funny. I like it when it’s inspiring. I like communicating and walking away with some kind of positives. I know it can’t always be that but there should be a balance.

It was hard to find that balance most days.

It wasn’t just all the drama that caused me to take a break. That was the smallest part in comparison to my family or what I have taken from my break.

I also needed to take time to focus and figure out what I wanted to do with this amazing space and network I created. Words cannot convey how much this platform means to me and what ripples of awesomeness has come from it.

I’ve been told by many that they love my blog. The fact that my words mean something, make someone laugh or inspire is indescribable. It’s been said that I do sponsored content differently and better because I have a story behind it which is what I try to achieve. I’ve helped others with food allergies and having a not so typical family. I’ve made friends and I’ve pissed people off (hehehe) … I’ve traveled… I’ve expanded my knowledge and skills… This blog and journey has given me so much. Most of which I still can’t wrap my head around because I’m not trying to be awesome, inspiring or anything really. I just wondered if a Mom like me dealing with things in an almost crazy way would be well received.

I want to continue to give back, give more and expand. I do want to focus more on my writing and less on the marketing. I want to get my book projects done and launch my philanthropy project. I may do a spinoff blog for all the sponsored content and use Don’t Speak Whinese as a sponsor-free zone or change the design of my site to make it more segregated. I’ve got plans and now it’s time to put them all in motion rather than obsessing over planning.

I see so much content out there about how to make the perfect blog. I’ve seen lists and tips on how to “do it right”. I’ve read articles about being a perfect blogger. I’ve listened to panels debating how to do it right.

You know what I realized after getting some clarity in stepping back? Just like parenting, there is no one right way. There is simply what is what is right for you. There are best practices and things that are frowned upon. Ultimately, do what you love because that is what feels right. Oh, and just like parenting there will always be people who think they know better, do it best and think you are wrong…

But, who cares!?

Without a doubt I can say that I have stayed 100% true to myself, my word and my intentions with this space. I’m just me. I’m kind of (okay, really) weird. I am too smart for my own good at times while being a total jackass at others. I just needed a recharge, a solid direction and a fire up my bum to get me going again.

So, I’m back.

Let’s rock.

And… I’ve missed you all.

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Nothing About Us Is Typical

I’m strange and peculiar.

I know that is an understatement but it’s something I have to put out there before I continue. My life is anything but ordinary but that doesn’t make it wrong despite what some may judge. I’ve never believed there is a set path to live your life in order to be a model citizen.

I feel that you should make the best with what you can and live life fully without being an intentional jerk-face all the time.

I’m good being a jerk-face. I’m not going to lie. It is situational but I don’t live my days living up to ultimate jerk-facedom.

While I am a very open book I also happen to suck at talking about important details in my life that, I suppose, most people are better about divulging.

The love of my life and I have had a very long and somewhat crazy journey. We met when we were both already single parents and I had moved to New York, we fell madly in love, we lived together, we blended our family, it was like our kids were meant to be siblings, we found out we were having a baby… and things fell apart. I became a single mother again but with two kiddos and moved back to California to be closer to family. We had a very long road over many years of repairing what had almost been damaged and lost completely.

That isn’t the typical love story… and I make no apologies for it. I do not care how it may seem to some that we had such a strange story getting to the point we are now. Life is full of unexpected turns and unpredictable choices along the way no matter how perfect anyone tries to play it up. We went through a lot and some were the hardest times of my life… but, we are here now and truly better than ever. Our four kids are happy and life is mostly the way it should be.

And all those hard times are distant memories. We are happy now and our lives are so completely blended again I often forget we had dark times. It wasn’t without work but I’m glad for us and our children that we chose to work on it.

Oh Yeah, That Engagement Story… Thing

It feels silly to announce an engagement when we live together, consider ourselves married and have a child together in addition to our blended brood. His kids.. my kids… they are all “our” kids and we are a family. That isn’t something a piece of paper defines.

Our engagement story is worth telling… if you like that kind of mushy crap…

Side Note: He is very lucky to have a woman like me who is very sentimental and romantic. That was dripping with sarcasm. Poor guy.

We had a date night and I had no idea what we were doing or where we were going. I usually plan everything and he relies on me to make the decisions. It was kind of exciting to hand that over to him. I dolled myself up. Heels, hair done and make up with a fancy dress. It’s not something I do often because I prefer my usual comfortable clothes. But, I was being fancy… for him.

We ate at the Sky Room which the ultimate romantic spot in Long Beach. He knows I love the beach and our view of the ocean was amazing. It was also a full moon that night which made the nighttime sky glow even brighter. The food was delicious, the wine (for me) was plenty and we enjoyed our kid free romantic dinner for two. It was the first time we had a night like that.

After dinner he insisted we walked along the beach. We went to the first beach we had been to together. I had to take off my heels, he took off his fancy shoes and we held hands and walked under the full moon.

Two things I should mention here. I’m not a naturally affectionate or mushy person except with my kids… and him. When we met we fell in love and it was constant hand holding, public smooches and mushy crap that I usually don’t like. The other thing I want to mention is this man hates being dirty. He hates dirt. Stains make him freak out. He cares more about keeping his clothes flawless than I ever pay attention to. I’m the outdoorsy dirt on the face camping chick while he is the guy who falls apart over ketchup stains and avoids wrinkles. His fancy pants were getting dirty and damp from the sand and he wasn’t even complaining.

So, I started to think something was up… but, he knows I don’t like surprises.I told him NOT to propose to me in some kind of weird mushy way that would make me uncomfortable. I didn’t expect it at all.

Of course, he ignored what I said about not proposing and the threats that followed… he got down on one knee and said a lot of loving, wonderful and mushy things that… sorry everyone, but those are for us. He had a beautiful ring and he looked up at me with a smile on his face. His expression was one that seemed like he was worried I was going to hit him and wanting to throw up from stress.

I called him a jackass and said “Of course I’m going to marry you… stand up right now, dammit.” and we kissed. I, affectionately, kind of smacked him on the arm… multiple times… and hard… during the whole thing. He swears people were watching us probably wondering if he was going to retract his proposal after the AFFECTIONATE arm slap beating I gave him.

I’m romantic.

We have both been married before and our previous marriages were more about our first born kids, being young and all that stuff rather than love. I bring that up to preface what I’m about to share. When we got in the car I, affectionately (I love that word), smacked him in the arm again and demanded to know how much he spent on the ring. I’m a very frugal person and don’t like spending a lot of money on myself.

Him: I’m not telling you exactly… but a LOT more than I’ve spent on one of those before…

Me: Did you really just say that?

Him: Uh… yeah… I’m NOT smart!

Me: I know… and I love you anyway, jackass.

We laughed. I still make fun of him for that. It was hilarious, and no I wasn’t the slightest bit offended.

It was perfectly us.

He then told me how nervous he had been all night and how he had been trying to hide the ring in his pants. He was also worried that I was going to say no… because I’m unpredictable like that and he was worried I was going to say no just because I told him not to propose.

We told the kids right away and they were happy. His oldest actually knew and had helped him pick out the ring which meant the world to me.

This engagement happened before he moved across the country from New York to California to put our family back together. That was over a year and a half ago. Yeah, I know… forever ago!

Our engagement was a promise and commitment to moving forward… not just to me but to all of us.

More Proof that I’m an Unintentional Jerk-face

I also kind of forgot to tell my friends (and family too, I guess) about the engagement. I told some but then I got all uncomfortable when they would get all weird and girly about it. So, I think I just stopped talking about it because I figured everyone would assume and that was enough.

I totally see the flaws in my logic.

When we were in Big Sur this past summer I was there to see one of my best friends be proposed to. I loved it! Another friend said later to me, “Oh! You are going to be next!” … and I replied with, “Uh, oh that already happened! I’m just not wearing the ring because we are camping!”

I thought they were going to bury me in the woods. Women friends can be scary.

Months ago I put up a video on my Facebook page of newly hatched leopard geckos making weird noises and you can clearly see my ring in it. That resulted in my phone and messages blowing up with “OMG ARE YOU ENGAGED?!”

Basically, I’m really bad at announcing major life events. I’m very thankful I have wonderful friends who accept me. See, what I said earlier about living life not being an intentional jerkface?! Prime examples of that.

No, we still aren’t married. We will be one day but the journey getting to that point is, truly, more important to me than having a ceremony.

Plus, I don’t actually want to plan a wedding and I am hoping we can just elope and throw a big party later or something. ;)

And I am sure that once that happens it will take me awhile to officially announce it…

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“Live, laugh and ninja kick” is my motto on life. It’s helped me learn how to truly be happy and ninja kick life’s obstacles. Sure, life isn’t perfect and sometimes we deal with less that stellar situations…

But, it’s how we choose to get through the day that really defines how to truly be happy.

It seems silly, to me, to write this because I don’t perceive myself as being influential, inspiring or uh insertanythingpositivehere. I’m just me but I share my life and experiences in attempt to help others by making them laugh or providing some insight. I’ve been asked many times and over countless years how to truly be happy and my only response has been to just choose to be. It’s a choice. It is often a freaking hard choice!

So, I decided to put together this list of tips on how to truly be happy and keep on ninja kicking.

Tip #1 – Don’t Speak Whinese!

That isn’t a clever yet obvious way to plug my blog name… it is true. It is the core of what I believe in. Life just plain sucks at times. Things don’t always go as planned. No matter how often you try to expect the unexpected more twists, turns and obstacles find a way of screwing things up. It’s downright devastating at times. Some moments we find ourselves at the lowest point we ever thought possible and it seems improbable to climb our way out of it… but, you will. It’s a moment in time. Do not get consumed by it and the best way to allow it to take over completely is to invest too much time whining.

You don’t gain anything from speaking whinese. Sure, it feels great to vent. It feels amazing to get it off your chest. Sometimes you just want to talk shit, be angry and release that bitter demon! Give yourself a small amount of time to get it out and then stop whining. Move forward because you need to. If you keep whining about the same thing you are just going to keep reliving it, resurfacing negative emotions and probably annoying the people around you.

Wine tastes much better than whine.

Tip #2 – Choose To Be Happy!

Yes, it’s that simple. It’s a choice. When you stop whining about your situation and can see through the negative fog it’s easier to realize that things aren’t always that bad. Take a serious look at the daily issues or complaints you have about life and ask yourself “Does this really make my life unhappy or is it just unfortunate?”. Most of the time you will see that it’s not misery it’s just annoying. Don’t let those annoyances and smaller issues in life get you down.

If you redirected that energy into thinking about all the awesome things you have going on it will make those tiny issues vanish. Wouldn’t you rather be talking about the good in your life rather than bitching all the time? I find negativity to be draining and completely pointless.

When something really gets you down or makes you mad… find something good to think about. When my daughter is in the hospital or we have long days of labs due to her chronic illness I try to keep things positive. It’s not easy but it is a choice. We take silly pictures. We write stories. We plan amazing trips for when she is healthy. What we don’t do is focus on why we are there or the things she is missing out on. We can laugh at even the most painful times.

Tip #3 – Ninja Kick Those Obstacles!

You have a huge obstacle in the way on your road to happiness… are you going to let it stop you or are you going to kick it out of the way? It’s a choice to overcome it and there are detours, reroutes and sometimes plain brute force to get around it.

Find a solution. Be resourceful. Seek support. Do not settle. Prioritize your life to make it happen and just do it. Don’t put it off. Don’t get discouraged.

You will not be able to fight a battle unless you start kicking some ass… and you will probably have to start with your own ass. It’s not easy to kick your own butt!

You can do it and no one can say otherwise. There are countless stories of women, men and children overcoming the odds who didn’t allow obstacles to get in their way and stop them on their journey. For every excuse you may have there are endless examples contradicting what you may have convinced yourself.

The solution is there. Find it. Oh… and speaking of excuses…

Tip #4 – Stop Making Excuses!

Every mistake I’ve made (oh and there is a hefty load of those) I’ve tried to accept it, take ownership of my choices in it and do my best not to repeat it. I don’t make excuses. I try to avoid blaming others because I’ve always had a choice in the matter… except if it has to do with my brother because I will still blame him for all I can. He’s a brat.

Seriously though… I hear from so many people all the things they want to do, or that they wished they didn’t do or hope to change. With these shoulda, coulda, woulda’s I hear a lot of excuses.

“I want to do that but…”

“I wish that never happened but…”

“I want to change this but…”

No buts! No more. Stop it, right freaking now. You want something? Do it. Refer to all of the above.

You didn’t like how something turned out? It won’t do you any good, progress the situation or change anything if you keep making excuses. Figure out what is really stopping you, drop the excuses and just do it!

And to quote Yoda (yes, I’m waving my geek flag… what?!) “Do or do not. There is no try.”

Tip #5 – Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative!

Did anyone else besides me sing that while reading it? When I was a young girl my grandma in Japan, who was the most classy woman ever, listened to jazz and swing. One of the songs she played often was about accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative. Not only is this song beautiful but it’s also a very Japanese way of thinking.

I never heard her complain or voice any negatives her whole life. She so positive even if things were rough. She told me that it’s a choice to fill your life with good things or bad and good people or negative people. She also said if you were stuck with something negative then it’s your choice on how you deal with it or how often.

Yes, this seems similar to choose to be happy but it’s more about purging the negatives. I wrote about negative friendships last year when I found myself and many friends dealing with toxic situations. Every situation is obviously unique but you can flush and febreeze that yucky junk out of your life most of the time.

Sometimes it’s just not worth it to deal with someone’s negativity. You have choices. You can find a resolution, you can cut ties or you can redirect the situation.

You may also feel like you got the crap end of the stick and can’t do anything about it. Well, you can… it just may take some work. Again, see above.

Tip #6- Do Something Every Freaking Day That Makes You Feel Awesome

What do you enjoy? What makes you feel great? What empowers you? What inspires you? What causes you to jump for joy, pat yourself on the back or scream “Who’s the queen of the sandbox?! Who’s Tonka Truck is this!?”

Do it. Get it done. Feel awesome. Rinse and repeat.

Some days are harder than others. Sometimes we feel like we have no time, no energy and just don’t give a crap. Choose to do something that makes you feel awesome. It will be different for everyone and it may change for you often.

Don’t whine about the day, realize you need to choose to be happy, ninja kick any obstacles out of your way, do NOT make excuses and eliminate any negative preventing you from doing that one thing.

And do it. You deserve it. You need it. Your family and friends want you to feel awesome. You are damn worth it.

I seriously have hard days where I feel like I just can’t handle it all. I have had many days where I just want to break and don’t want to do anything anymore. I’ve had some very hard and low points that made it seem like life would never recover.

And in those times and on those days sometimes all I could do was crank up the music and rock out to something that just made me feel good. Sometimes it was to soak in the tub with a book even for fifteen minutes. Other days it was to buy someone lunch who needed it. A few times it was to go out of my way to help someone… just cause. Or I bought that freaking doughnut I shouldn’t have had.

But, I found something even if it was a moment. A single moment can turn into more. Then you find yourself filling your days with many of those moments and realize you found how to truly be happy and how to keep on ninja kicking.

My life is far from perfect. There are a lot of things about my life that no one would want to deal with. I don’t think I’m better than anyone. I’m not where I want to be in life… but I am happy… even when things kind of suck. It’s my life and I worked hard to get here and am okay with the screw ups along the way. I’m going to appreciate what I can and be happy even if it is one awesome moment at a time.

Keep on ninja kicking and let me know how it goes.

Live, laugh and ninja kick.

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The Young Entrepreneur

I became an entrepreneur at a very young age because I was determined to get out of my house as soon as I could and see the world. It also just came naturally to me.

I took my allowance and purchased candy by the case and then sold it for a profit to friends and neighbors. I also had an unusual skill where I could easily win stuffed animals at carnivals, amusement parks and arcades. I spent a few dollars, won my limit and then sold them with a huge profit margin.

I loved arts and crafts so I made cards, doll clothes and interesting things I put together from basically nothing and sold them. I wrote poetry and I painted or printed on paper that I often handmade myself. I then framed it and sold them.

I took care of neighbors animals, washed cars, pulled weeds, scooped dog poop and had lemonade stands regularly. Sometimes I would tell my Dad I was going to play at a friend’s house but I was visiting my “customers”.

 Not All Heroes Wear Capes

A lot of these ideas I came up with were my own but some were encouraged by my Uncle. He also happened to be my hero. For various reasons my childhood home wasn’t the best so he would rescue me from it and we would have adventures.

My Uncle Joe was a vendor at college football games where he sold apparel. I was a little girl running around beaming in USC and UCLA apparel yelling “Let’s go USC aka University of Spoiled Children!” and I’d taunt UCLA fans by saying “U Clowns Lost Again!”. It turned heads, we had a blast and I loved talking to all the people coming to our booth. Thankfully, we never had any issues. The customers just thought I was hilarious and I had absolutely no idea what I was saying.

I was sometimes allowed a small part of the table where I could sell my own goods. Most of the people I talked to were so nice and supportive. I especially remember a woman who purchased a poem I wrote about the ocean. I collected shells for weeks, scrubbed them, painted some and glued them on the frame. She opened the frame and asked me to sign it. I didn’t even think I should sign them. I was a little embarrassed and hesitant. She said, “Sweetie, I want your signature because you are going to be known one day. You have a determination about you that I’ve never seen… even in my students. Just keep pushing forward when anything gets in your way.”

I remember feeling so awkward from her praise that I wanted to crawl in a hole and throw up. I made a joke about pushing my older brother because he was always in my way.

My uncle told me that night that she was some big shot professor at the college and he was proud of me.

He was also a popcorn and cotton candy vendor at the IMAX Theatre. When I helped him I learned about customer service, up-selling and impulse buying. After the overdose of cotton candy during that time I can’t eat the stuff now. I once picked up a pack of cloth napkins, painted on them with “puffy paint” and sold them to his customers. I proudly paid for dinner that night.

At the end of the day with my Uncle Joe he hugged me, told me I was very beautiful, strong and the smartest girl around which made me a dangerous combination. He also reminded me not to tell my Dad about the things we did. I knew that we didn’t tell him because I was a kid and I shouldn’t be doing those things even though it wasn’t exactly wrong. I knew they didn’t get along and my Uncle never wanted to put me in the middle. We kind of just had this understanding that the less information about the day the better. To this day he really doesn’t know the details about any of this. I guess it’s good he doesn’t read my blog!

Becoming Your Own Hero

It was important to my uncle to teach me how to be resourceful and teach me things I am so thankful for now. Every day seemed to be an adventure filled with knowledge with him. I just thought that was how he was. He exposed me to every different walk of life, controversy and world issues with a great determination that telling me things like, “All people start out good. Sometimes they just make bad decisions or are in hard times and they seem bad. If you can help without being in danger, always do it. One small act can change a person’s entire perspective in life but if it doesn’t then know you did what you could. Don’t ever judge them or yourself.”

Everything he knew about people, business and the world he took the opportunity to expand my mind with. I learned more from him in a weekend than I did in a month in school. He spoiled me rotten and could never tell me no. I wasn’t without consequence. Anytime I got in trouble or made a mistake he would simply explain why it was more important for me to own up to my mistakes and learn from them. “Never make excuses and don’t whine about something you did to yourself. Just don’t do it again!”

I thought we were going to take on the entire world together.

All of this happened by the time I was in middle school. Yes, I was very young with a lot on my plate.

Then everything changed. I couldn’t see my uncle anymore. He was sick and he wanted me to remember him when we were on the adventures or he was “rescuing” me on a bad day. I talked to him on the phone and cried that he wasn’t being my hero who rescued me when things were getting hard. I wanted my adventures and I didn’t get what was happening.

He kept reminding me that I was beautiful, strong and smart and he taught me everything to be my own hero.

He passed away and my hero was gone.

I spent years feeling angry, lost and bitter. I even resented the things he worked so hard to teach me because I just wanted him there.

Turning Sadness and Hard Times Into Empowerment

Then life moved forward and everything he instilled in me became the water that washed away the hard times. I knew and understood things most people my age didn’t. I grew up very fast and kept pushing everything out of my way to carve my own path though I had no idea what that path was.

I was kind of frolicking like a drunken monkey on a winding road with a blind fold on and one roller skate.

When I became a young mother of a daughter with life threatening medical issues, chronic pain and a multitude of health hurdles I found myself tapping into everything my uncle taught me. I became resourceful again. I became determined. I had to figure out how to be home with my daughter and carve a career for myself. I did work outside of the home for awhile but that became near impossible being a single Mom.

I’ve obsessively researched most work at home jobs over the last decade. I’ve been a daycare provider, tutor, created children’s clothing, designed/sewed/sold animal beds, ghost writer, community manager and tossed myself into small business consulting. In addition to constantly creating adventures with my children I have spent most of my time learning. I soak up everything I can and I teach it to them.

I was also alone during most of this. On top of that when you have a chronically ill child you see the worst side in people. Since becoming a Mom I’ve had more judgment thrown at me than when I was a rebellious teenager.

I accepted the judgment from others and brushed off their negativity and kept ninja kicking life’s obstacles. Okay, I didn’t just let it roll off my back. I sometimes took their vile negativity and told them to shove it somewhere uncomfortable.

Let’s Rock

Now, I am able to look at everything I’ve been through and feel thankful for it. I like where I am. It hasn’t been easy in the slightest but life never is. We can choose how we react to negativity or hard times. I choose to build a big fire with it to light the flames that charge me.

I get why my Uncle spent all those years teaching me everything he could. He knew he was dying and he wasn’t always going to be there for me. I appreciate him teaching me how to be my own hero and never allowing someone else define the rules of my life.

Though, I would give anything to hear him say and do the most ridiculous things to make me laugh and forget about the pains in my world.

One of the girls in my Girl Scout Troop told me, “Miss Leila, you teach me more than any teacher I’ve ever had and you make me feel like I can truly make a difference in the world. And I do because of you.”

Okay, sure… I am seemingly far from the best role model. I’m crude, confrontational, loud and obnoxiously abrasive at times. I can be a lot to deal with. I dress weird. I am hard to keep up with. I’m always doing really stupid things. I can become apathetic and angry easily. I think I exhaust my friends regularly and it takes me a very long time to admit when I am wrong.

That is because I am wrong so rarely, by the way. ha!

Um, I’m now finding myself extremely thankful for my patient friends.

I’m taking everything that I’ve learned and I’ve melted it down, molded it into my own thing and created something new to help others while progressing my career, passions and determination further. I’m launching a new project that will hopefully be different, empower youth and help others learn to “Live, Laugh and Ninja Kick.”

Let’s have an adventure.

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People have a hard time letting go of negative perspectives of others – why are we so often defined by our mistakes, flaws and bad choices rather than our assets?

When I was a kid I was a pain in the ass.

Shocking, right?

I affectionately refer to my childhood days as me being a feral kid who was left to her own devices. It was true for the most part.

When I was a teenager I was basically that rebellious kid you hope your children don’t become. I was defiant, tough as nails, opinionated, obnoxiously competitive, dressed in ways to make myself unattractive/ward people off, did what I wanted because I was of the mind I could do anything… I pushed all the limits when trying to fight and embrace life at the same time. I made people mad, often, with how I was. I’ve been in more dangerous situations than should be possible. I just wanted to be me, live my life and find my own path.

Did I think it was cool? No, I thought I was pretty much an idiot but didn’t care. I didn’t hold myself in a high regard.

I was constantly told that everything I did was wrong. I acted wrong. I thought wrong. I was just plain wrong.

That is how I was always defined. Wrong.

The more anyone tried to hold me down the more I fought. I fought hard. I fought some stupid freaking battles too.

I used to get angry at the fact that people still see me as that same crazy child. I thought they were being narrow minded asshairs who couldn’t widen their vision.

Then I realized – I‘m still that person and… I kind of like that person now. That person that I was is still who I am to my core. I’m sure you can ask anyone and they will define me the same way as back then… just in a different way. A different perspective. A different filter. But, I’m still the same. Am I still wrong? Was I wrong then?

Shit if I know… because who can really say what is wrong? It’s all a matter of how you view it.

I can say one thing…

It’s the actions that have changed.

It’s how I utilize those aspects of my personality now compared to what I chose in the past that makes my life different.

Now? The quirks in my personality are seen as empowering, motivating and often endearing. (which makes all of you crazy!)

Oh I know some people think I’m batshit and don’t care too much for me. I’m fine with that. (insert obscene gesture here with a wicked smile)

I can’t control anyone’s opinion of me or how they choose to see me. I can argue that how they observe me is off kilter or inaccurate because they aren’t seeing past their own bullshit. I can be pissy about it. I can loathe it. I can whine and get angry.

Or I can accept that I know me and I don’t need to worry about all the other noise out there.

Ultimately? I’m unabashedly just being myself. You get no wizard behind the curtain. There isn’t a mask. No illusion. You get no shocking revelations. You get exactly what I put out there – flaws and all! Yes, it makes me vulnerable to an extent and people often use it against me. Yes, people judge, make assumptions and when my flaws are so obvious they are gonna focus on those. I’d much rather put out there exactly as I am and allow people to choose to take it or leave it.

I’m not perfect then or now. I don’t try to be and I’ll never pretend to be. I won’t apologize for the kid that I was (maybe to my Dad… maybe) and I sure as hell won’t apologize for who I am now.

My point in all this? Learn to let go. Release those assumptions or desire to be seen the right way to others. Find the positives in yourself and don’t let anyone take that from you. Embrace yourself and forgive yourself for the stupid shit you have done. It’s over. It’s also over and done with for the other people out there too so cut them some damn slack.

Just simply be you and allow others to simply be them.

Be defined by you and what you choose to do not by what others want to see you as. They will always see you the way they want to. Nothing will ever change that.

If they don’t want to take the time to see past their own judgments then you don’t need them.

Each action you make now counts. Make the most of it.

Let’s keep on ninja kicking.

{ 14 comments }

Why I won’t speak whinese about #BlogHer12

by Leila on August 10, 2012

I’ve been on the fence for the last two days posting this. I am not trying to stir the pot or ruffle feathers but I really just can’t stand all the whining! It actually bums me out to see so much negativity about this conference.

First I want to start this off by saying – I get disappointment. I understand that things won’t always be perfect. I’ve been there where traveling, staff and expectations fall flat. Sometimes? Shit just sucks.

I get that. I live that. I embrace that and ninja kick the crap out of the way and focus on the good.

Sure, there were hiccups, annoyances and there is just no way everyone will be happy with everything.

Why focus on the negativity? Stop and think – is this one thing getting under your skin worth it?

Why so serious?

Was it crowded? Oh hell yes! But, that was also known before going there. Over 4k attendees and in a busy city… what did everyone expect? There are large conferences and then there are the smaller and more intimate ones… ahem… like the Aiming Low Non-con!

Was the transportation a pain in the butt? Um, of course… we were in NYC.

Were there mean girls? Annoying people? Jerks? Bad food? Stinky creepers on the bus? Music too loud? Bad staff? Uncomfortable/annoying/inconsiderate/fill-in-the-blank-here? Too much swag? Not enough? Not enough sessions? Too many? Too crowded? Nothing of interest? Private party drama? Parties not living up to expectations? Not enough eyecandy!?

Yes. All of the above and then some… so what do you do about it? Either accept that there will be annoying shit and make the most out of it or avoid the things you dislike.

Focusing on those negatives is so consuming. What about the good? That smile from someone you follow? The tip that inspired you? The motivation? The accomplishment that you went out there, to a big ass city with a bunch of crazy ass bloggers in an insanely intimidating situation… and you did it. You went. You were fucking there! And you…

… insert those positive moments here… Hold on to those. Even if they seem minimal to crappy service, rude people on elevators or funny smelling rooms!

Sidenote: I used to live in NYC. It always smells funky everywhere you go in the summer. It’s a smell… I can’t explain it. I got a whiff of it as soon as I got off the plane and then it sunk in my clothes. Bleh.

Never walk around in the city barefoot. *dies*

Anyway…

It’s a conference. It’s not a spa and resort. It’s not Disneyland.

I think we lose sight of the fact that it is a conference. It’s meant to be a way for you to progress your blog – and there are enough ways to make that happen at BlogHer. There are sessions, tables during meals where you can strike up a conversation, expo halls to meet brands, sponsored parties offering every type of atmosphere so you can find somewhere you belong. It’s all there. It’s up to us to make that happen.

Did you go there to learn?Attend sessions and find the right ones for you!
Didn’t find the content you want?Talk to the people you admire most in this crazy blogosphere!
Were the sessions crowded but you REALLY wanted to go? Sit your butt on the floor. Screw it. If it’s something valuable to you then make it work (yes that sucks but don’t let anything stop you from making the conference what YOU want!)
Did you go to network with people?Start conversations!
Did you go for the swag? – Try to go to all the parties that have it and engage in the Expo Hall (don’t be a jackass in the Expo Hall or hover in the drop room… cause… seriously… c’mon… no one likes a psycho ‘swag hag’. Let’s get real people.)
Did you go to get away from your kids, have a luxurious vacation and get your ass pampered?GO TO A FREAKING SPA! :)

I was exhausted before I got to BlogHer. I slept minimally. I was anxious helping plan the Come As You Are Party hosted by Aiming Low and The Mouthy Housewives and worried that I didn’t do enough… that things would fall apart or I’d break my foot again… but shhh… I kept my cool the whole time about it. Being away from my kids is the hardest thing ever since I’m a single Mom and my daughter’s health issues can flare up at any moment. My allergies were acting up. I don’t like the heat/humidity. My foot started giving me issues again.

But, you know what? I had a fucking blast! Was it perfect? Hell no. Did I do everything I wanted? Not a chance. Did I see everyone I intended to? Shit nah!

*shrug*

At the end of the day… I push out all the shoulda-coulda-wouldas and I embrace the fact that I made the freaking most of it and have no regrets – I do have a list of things I want to make different next year. But, that is MY choice to make it different.

I talked to many Whovians and supporters of our ‘Goodnight, Pond’ book. I went to some amazing parties. I met a crapton of people. I got the most amazing, lovely and random compliments on what I am doing on the interwebz. I had a TON of street meat.

Plus, I ran around like a jackass in a sparkly corn costume with my wingbitch Melysa at Sparklecorn so anything beyond that was for shits and giggles.

I freaking snuggled with a Wookiee when I was in a sparkling corn on the cob costume! THAT … well… I honestly don’t know what the crap to call that.

Think of it this way - It could have been worse - you could have been me with this insane idea

Seriously, keep on ninja kicking, stop speaking whinese and make it all worth it. Sometimes you just gotta say, “Screw it! I’m gonna make the most of this biatch! LETS DO THIS!” and power through it. Truly, no one can stop you from having a rad time. Lets do it!!!!

Life is too rad to focus on the bullshitI hope to see you all next year in Chicago.

{ 43 comments }

Taking Time For Yourself As a Mom

by Leila on May 31, 2012

I’m going away for the weekend with friends. We are renting a cabin in the mountains…

And I won’t have my kids.

Again…

I won’t have my kids!!!! Kid free all weekend!!!

I constantly say that parents need to make time for themselves. You can’t solely focus on your kids. You have to have to make you worth it as well. Well, I’m a fucking hypocrite because this is the first weekend away from my kids that I can remember that is just for me. I still have guilt when I go out. I don’t take my friends up on their offers to watch them. It takes a lot for me to call in the babysitter.

But, I am getting away for the weekend. It’s not work or blog related. Just me getting away… just because.

It’s not a birthday.

There isn’t a big event.

I’m not doing a review or having any social media related activities going on.

… though I still plan on writing and getting work done up there. I’m still me. I can’t help it!

No big ass celebration.

Friends. Food. Booze. Fun. That’s all I care about for the weekend…

And I do not feel a bit guilty about it. Okay, I do… but I am still going. I haven’t packed yet but I will.

I spent an insane amount of money on food so they wouldn’t starve in the 2 nights I am gone while they are with perfectly capable adults.

I washed every item of clothing they have… because in two days the world may end if their favorite underoos or shirts are dirty.

I refilled every medicine they take regularly even though they had enough for a month already.

I also realized I haven’t been posting as much since I injured my foot so I decided to make a post about my weekend trip, fears and procrastinations when I should be packing.

I know parents shouldn’t feel guilty for having a life outside of their children. I know that I deserve time away with my friends. I damn well know I earned this shit since I am the only parent 100% of the time and I have little help. My kids are amazing, well behaved and absolute joys… and if they were horrible maybe I would be sitting on my porch waiting to leave already. I know I don’t need to go and that I just want to… and that is okay.

So, I’m going to enjoy the shit out of this, as I do all things, and make some memories. My kids will be fine and so will I… and I will probably think the whole time that I have to do this more often…

While I am constantly checking in on my kids and telling them how much I miss them.

 

{ 3 comments }

Post image for Mother Figures and Seemingly Simple Advice that Changes Everything About You

Thank you to Tout for sponsoring this post and encouraging me to share mom’s best advice! Visit the SELF + The Honest Co. + Tout contest on.self.com/MomKnows to share the best advice you received from your mom and enter to win $500 worth of The Honest Company product and a Maya Brenner Designs necklace valued at $200, in addition to having their Tout featured on SELF.com. Additionally, for every response a donation will be made to Baby2Baby.

 

My Grandma and I (Making loved ones lose sleep from the beginning!)

Mother Figures and Coming Full Circle

I was pretty much raised by a single Dad so Mother’s Day has always been about my both of my grandmas. Even as I became a Mom I think about the other women who molded me to become the woman I am today instead of celebrating myself. I am in many ways very different than the women who influenced me but there are so many strong aspects of my personality that come from them… and I am thankful for that.

When I was a kid my brother and I used to spend a lot of time in Japan visiting family over the summers. I wish I had the perspective that I have now to appreciate it fully. I thought I knew everything back then but I realize now… that I actually DO know everything… or very close to it. Okay, not really but I am on a mission to know everything.

Anyway… I could be an absolute stubborn, defiant, angry, make everyone pull their hair out child.

Shocking, right??

I remember being very young and in Japan without my Dad with our relatives. We spent a long time there… almost the whole summer. It started to feel less like vacation and more like our everyday life… so I started to appreciate it less. I was angry at my brother for something that I can’t even recall now so that shows how insignificant it was. I was seething. I still remember that anger and I held it for days. It wasn’t the kind of anger that got me attention because I remember just being on my own, not talking to anyone and being generally pissed off.

My grandma sat next to me and in her very poised, confident and graceful way simply explained, “Being angry is a choice. So is being happy. You can choose to be angry every single day and become anger. Or you can choose to be happy and become happiness.”

I immediately made excuses to justify my anger. Everything was obviously not my fault. It was his, them, her, that thing or other stuff and whatever else sounded logical.

Even at that age I knew they were just excuses. I was choosing to spend days angry and yeah, I was a very angry kid. I had a lot more reasons to be angry than most and I hated that. I was sick of being angry. Until that moment no one ever told me it was in my control.

It’s always been in my control.

I get asked often how I do what I do, on my own and with the perspective that I have. I’m praised for my love of life. I’m complimented on taking on what I can without complaints. I’ve been asked so many times… Why aren’t you angry? How can you really be that happy?

And I know these things are asked because some may be questioning if I am truly happy or putting on a front. Some also find it inspiring and want to know how when it may appear to be impossible.

I think back to that moment seeing my beautiful grandma who never had a bad day and the seemingly simple advice she gave me. Someone who went through more sacrifice and hard decisions than most women ever have to face. I think about her and how she just had this way about being absolutely positive, cheery and making you feel like life was glorious… because she chose that perspective.

I am angry and I have a lot to be angry about. I have a kid that gets sick a lot. I’ve dealt with more crappy people and life altering situations than most. I’ve lost everything I’ve worked for multiple times. I’ve been surrounded by non-supportive and negative people my whole life. I’m constantly judged, assumed of and looked down upon.

But, I choose not to become anger. I choose for it to not define me.

I choose to ninja kick life’s obstacles and make the most of it and find happiness.

I could be miserable, bitter and really freaking angry at the world and make all the excuses I can to justify becoming a smoldering anger ball.

That kind of life seems to be an absolute waste when there are so many glorious moments to be had.

So, I’m choosing happiness. It is my choice to be happy despite how many opportunities I may have to become anger.

And I will always have my grandma, Alishia, to thank for that.

 

Thank you again to Tout for sponsoring my post. Visit on.self.com/MomKnows to share the best advice you received from your mom. Fans and readers can reply directly via webcams at www.Tout.com, through Tout’s mobile application, on www.Facebook.com/TheHonestCompany and www.Self.com/health/mothers-day in addition to other promotional sites. Viewers can watch the entire stream of replies on the Tout widget on http://www.self.com and share their favorites to their Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest pages, as well as by email and SMS.

 

{ 4 comments }

Post image for Moving Furniture, Overcoming Vulnerability aka I Hurt My Ninja Kicker

Baaada big boom! Also, if you appreciate how awesome my pants are and why then you get bonus points.

I do everything on my own. I have little help (though I do have awesome friends that will help if I ever actually need/ask… but I don’t… but that is another topic) but I’m okay with that. I like that I am obnoxiously independent. It empowers me. I embrace it!

Even if it ends up costing me.

I have this problem with moving furniture on my own. In the last several years I have hurt myself from doing this… but I can’t stop it.

I get bored. I move things around.

Usually I just hurt my back because I think I’m like mother fucking She-Ra and can move heavy things without help. I always prove that I -can- move things and sometimes prove that my body is older than I’d like to admit. Sometimes. So, it’s totally worth it.

I was rearranging the playroom when an organizer broke apart unexpectedly on my freaking foot.

You know those three drawer plastic thingies? Well, loading them up with paper, books and chargers/random electronic parts isn’t a good idea… especially when you move the thing and it falls apart and hulk smashes your freaking foot. It is still in pieces where it fell. The only thing I cleaned up is the blood. Ugh.

Also… Kicking the thing with said smashed, bleeding foot while calling it a stupid whoreface anushair isn’t a good idea. My son has a more colorful vocabulary and it did make the pain worse.

I felt at the moment I needed to teach the organizer bitch a lesson. I’m very logical at times.

I admit it, I cried. Actually, at first I couldn’t feel anything! My whole body rushed with adrenaline and I felt nothing. I knew right away it was going to be bad when I went from entire body numbness to uncontrollable crying. I. Don’t. Cry. I couldn’t stand up, move my leg and could not control it. The gaping cut in it was so bad it took me awhile to get it to stop bleeding. I was trying to stay calm because it was just me and my son there and unfortunately, he started to freak out. That makes me feel horrible.

He was really sweet. He brought me every first aid kit, frozen bag of veggies and ice packs as well as every stuffed animal he could find so I had “friends to make me feel better” while I failed at my attempt to keep it together.

Besides when my home and car got broken into I don’t think I’ve felt that amount of vulnerability. I don’t like being vulnerable at all but this was a completely different level that scared me out. Admitting that makes me feel even more vulnerable. It is an endless cycle and one that I loathe. I have to recognize this though.

I was on the ground for about an hour before I actually called someone. During that time I had to really think about my options. I do not go to the doctor unless it is something serious and at the time it was seeming kind of serious. That opens a whole laundry list of other hurdles. I can’t drive with my foot like this. Who will watch the kids? How will I get there? How much will this cost? What happens after if it really is messed up? What about camping? How am I going to feed my kids? How much more am I going to screw this up because I lack the ability to just freaking chill?

And the big question that weighs on my mind…

What if this was worse and something horrible happened to me… what will happen to my kids?

That was a jolting moment of reality for me. That always weighs on my mind and isn’t a new thought. My kids rely on me 100% and by me being an obnoxious independent ass about things doesn’t do them any good. It all just sunk in heavier this time.

This can potentially screw up our summer plans but it could be worse. So many more worse things happen and have happened to the people in my world. In many ways I’m very lucky.

We have Japanese Festival dancing coming up. I can’t miss that. I wanted to take them camping this month. My daughter’s 500 Club celebration for Girl Scouts is next weekend. I’m now at a loss as to what to do for my son’s 5th birthday party. I have Big Sur and Bishop Fishing coming up before I know it! And BlogHer… ugh… the list goes on.

All of this because I was doing something I know I should ask help for.

But, I am too programmed to think that it would be a burden to bother anyone… even though I’d drop everything to help those I care about and never feel burdened by them.

I like to make everything into some kind of lesson that I can walk away a better person from it. Right now I can’t actually walk so I’ll hop away knowing that I have great people in my life that I can rely on when I need it. I can ask for help. I can choose not to ninja kick everything on my own because there are people out there that would do for me as I do for them. I only keep good damn people in my life. I need to learn to let them help so I don’t screw things up for my kids.

… and next time I decide to rearrange an entire room I will ask for help…

or just remove the drawers in things before moving heavy objects.

See… that IS progress.

{ 11 comments }

Post image for And Then Jenny the Bloggess Signed My Tongue

First… What’s in a THING?!

When you have a “thing” it usually has some grand story. Some epic fucking background. Something substantial that people just the that it’s your thing.

Then sometimes your “thing” is just an actual jackass thing you do when taking pictures.

Me sticking my tongue out has become a thing. It makes me comfortable in pictures otherwise I feel like I am looking like Sloth from The Goonies. See, when you try to make a nice face and smile for the picture you tend to want to look your best.

That moment is forever there digitally or in print… and the worst ones will end up on the internet as a mocking meme if you aren’t careful.

What if your five chins are showing? What if your eyes are crooked? What if your face looks exceptionally huge because your eyes vanish when you smile? Well, all of those worries are pure crap. I’d rather make a face and purposely always look like an ass making a face… instead of the ass that is trying to look pretty but actually looks like an ass.

That was an overuse of the word ass.

So, yeah… my thing is that I stick my tongue out in pictures. My friend Sugar Jones affectionately named my tongue Morris. It’s been requested that I make “the scrunch face” in pictures. I’ve even been told that people didn’t recognize me without my tongue sticking out!

It could be worse… I could be known for my overuse of the word vagina, buying crappy taxidermy and making people worship metal chickens. Actually, if I was known for those things it would make my “thing” a lot better. But, Jenny Lawson who writes The Bloggess has that covered.

The Point: Since many of you probably clicked on this because I mentioned Jenny the Bloggess!

[click to continue…]

{ 18 comments }