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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Comfort Zone was Disrupted...I got through it

I was approached by my husband via email on Friday at 3pm asking if I could help his company do an audit on a new property they are interested in acquiring.  When I first read his email I was totally stoked, thinking "hell yeah"!  Then I read more into the email realizing it would be all day Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.  My heart sank and anxiety kicked in.  This sounds totally silly right?  Ok, listen.  As most of you know I'm huge into planning, having things organized and most importantly I need "time" to digest.  I had already reached out to Addison's school letting them know that I could volunteer to help walk the kids a mile over to their swimming classes, Brody is home on Tuesday, I pick up several kids in the afternoon from school, Addison has swim practice on Tuesday at 4:30 and most importantly...I decided to start training for a 1/2 marathon that I'm majorly dedicated too so this was going to throw off my gym time.  Just like that, in an instant my excitement to say "yes" turned into me needing an extra anxiety pill.

My husband is no fool when it comes to his crazy wife, he's been around for a VERY long time.  As soon as he got home we discussed this further and simply said "babe, I got this".  He already thought everything through and had a game plan that passed my inspection.  Luckily our previous daycare provider was able to take Brody all day on Tuesday and my husband stepped in at 2pm to take care of all my afternoon/evening mom duties (we decided to skip swim practice since Addi was already swimming earlier that day).  I worked from 9-6 on Tuesday with no anxiety (other than I knew I had to run to Party City after this long day to pick up items for the teacher luncheon the next day), I walked into the house with John cooking dinner and found that life moved forward even though I wasn't there to be the one to handle it all!  Unfortunately since I didn't get all the work done on Tuesday I had to go back on Wednesday, once again my amazing husband stepped right in and drove Brody to school in order for me to get back to the audit.  Luckily it was only a 1/2 day of working and I was able to conduct my afternoon as normal.

I had no idea how important this whole "stay at home mom" job really meant to me.  I'm always thinking how I would love to go back to work even if its part-time for some extra money and I can't tell you the countless times that I'm home with the kids thinking "holy crap I need to get a fricken job...this sucks".  After this episode I'm realizing, umm this actually doesn't suck.  How lucky am I to have the opportunity to pick up my kids from school everyday?  How lucky am I to have the opportunity to volunteer at my kids school anytime I want?  How lucky am I to have the opportunity to basically make my own schedule and get things done that most working moms have to do on their lunch hour or on the weekends?  I honestly have it made!  I'm realizing more and more that money isn't everything.  Yes it would be awesome to have that extra income to help us when its time for shopping or those rainy days when everything falls apart, but I'll never get this time back that I spend with my kids.  I've realized, I don't want anyone else taking care of them when they are out of school and I enjoy getting to know the teachers and staff at the schools because I'm there so often.  I truly feel beyond blessed that I have this chance to do what I do.  There's times that I'm down on myself because I wish I could bring money to the table, but when I pick up my kids after school receiving a big hug and kiss and them telling me they missed me...there's just simply no monetary value you can put on that.

Last night Addison and I were talking and she asked me "mommy do you have to go back to daddy's work tomorrow?"  I explained no I was done with what he needed help with.  She then said "Ohh good, I really don't like it when you work."  I laughed because she's always asking me to get a job so she can go to after school camp, which of course I brought that up and she confirmed "well, I changed my mind.  I like having you come to my school and picking me up."  She melted my heart and while I was melting I realized, yup...I'm doing exactly what I was meant to do.  Isn't funny how often times you have to be reminded that what you are doing IS impacting someone one way or another.  My heart is full and my anxiety level is back to "normal" for now!    

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Next Generation of LOVE!


Yesterday we had some friends over for some Easter cookie baking!  I say baking, but it really consists of us buying the pre-made sugar cookie dough and I even threw in a chocolate chip (because I'm crazy like that).  Its always a beautiful thing to get the kids together and watch them create whatever they want, but most importantly memories.  The brothers were there too, but they were too busy fighting with pretend swords and every couple minutes telling on one another.  Watching the girls smile and laugh melts my heart.  They didn't care that after the cookies came out of the oven they just looked like blobs they simply just enjoyed their time together.  I look at these 3 girls who are embarking on turning 7 or who are already 7 and think...this is what life's all about.  I feel incredibly lucky that Addison is having this experience of being with new and old friends.  She is the most loving little girl and enjoys having fun with her friends.  She's the peacemaker if its necessary and the one who is more than willing to give a friend a hug if they are upset. 

This wasn't just about baking cookies, this was about my baby girl looking back smiling and remembering how much fun she had with her friends at Easter.  This is all I ever want for my kids.  I want them to have beautiful memories no matter what we do.  Addison is constantly saying things like "remember when we did this or that with so and so...that was awesome"!  I listen carefully and then go to bed at night thinking...SCORE, I was a good mom today and totally just taught my daughter what life is all about.  This is what I want to continue to install in her until she goes off to college where hopefully she'll end up figuring out what's important and she can make the right choices of what she knows will be important in life.  I have the highest hopes for my kids because every single day I'm embedding the fact that every decision I'm making for them is to help mold the type of adult they will be.  Obviously I want my children to be successful, but the most important characteristic I pray for them to have is humility and love for all people.  I will continue with all my being to show them a life of giving back and how its much more important to help others that need to laugh or need a hug, because John and I will be the ones who are giving them that life of laughter and life of nothing but I love yous.  I'm beyond clear that life isn't going to always be roses and happy times, but once again that's where I step in and we figure out what did they learn from that situation.  It is my mission to make my children's home a place where we can talk about anything and resolve whatever feelings they have so they don't have to live their adult life with too many questions.  I 100% believe depending on the type of home you keep is how your children will turn out.  This is why I have to make sure my kids know there is not 1 thing we can't talk about, they can trust us with anything and as they get old know that John and I will navigate through whatever it is we need to help them feel at peace...yikes I hope this works!     

Friday, April 18, 2014

Regression or Progression?

Last night the most lovely girl (she's 33, but since she's younger than me I will call her a girl) came to the door.  Normally I'm rolling my eyes and telling the kids to just ignore them and they will go away.  I was reading a book and really didn't want to get up and see who was there.  Then I was like, crap what if its a neighbor who locked themselves out of their house or car and they need to make a call or something just dreadful (because of course that's how my mind works).  Anyway I answered the door and I'm really happy I did.  The girl was with PBS asking people to donate money to help this awesome station.  Normally I would grab my checkbook and be like here you go, but I decided to decline due to how much I've already been supporting several non-profits.  I was secretly hoping that John was listening in the background and giving me air high fives because this was a huge step for me.  After I sadly declined we continued to talk and she explained that she had just moved to town and was wanting to know more about the area.  I gladly told her how much we love St. Pete and we moved here about 8 years ago and we love it.  She was in shock and I just looked at her like "what did I say"?  Apparently she just moved here from Michigan as well and after we discussed which part I was like holy crap.  She grew up in Rochester Hills and we shared stories about where I lived and how John and I actually once lived in that area as well.  I could sense she was a little nervous and scared about the transition since she came out here on her own and just like me when I moved here we both knew it was nothing like Michigan.  While I've been working on reeling myself in and not getting too close to people too fast I felt compelled to "take her under my wing".  I of course asked her if she had a Facebook account since that's a pretty safe way to communicate and then my phone number.  I mean c'mon, when something like this falls on your lap you can't just ignore it.  She really wants to move to St. Pete since right now she's living with a friend in Clearwater, I didn't want her to feel alone in this new city and I told her I would for sure give her as much information as she needed.  I mean for the first 2 years I had to navigate this city all on my own so why not give this girl a little help.  Once we exchanged information, I of course gave her a big hug letting her know every thing's going to be ok and I shut the door.  As soon as that door was shut John of course came out shaking his head.  He said "I thought you were going to work on not doing stuff like this anymore?"  I explained I couldn't help it since it just felt right.  He thinks I'm crazy, I think I'm nice.

So, looking at the situation I put myself in last night I feel right.  I feel warm and fuzzy and more than anything I'm ok that I just put myself out there to help a complete stranger.  Isn't that what life is all about?  I mean you see someone possibly struggling and having all these questions you can't just turn them away...its just not my thang.  Of course I laid in bed last night contemplating whether I'm starting to regress, thinking "crap...I'm not as strong as I thought I was".  Then the voices in my head and the warm feeling in my heart knew, I did do the right thing.  I mean its not like I'm gonna ask the girl to live with us or anything!  I say cheers to helping a Michigander make her way to becoming a Floridian! 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Having Kids Can Be a Blessing...Right?

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend the other day regarding our kids.  Our kids are around the same age and she was explaining to me how her son who just turned 4 has been acting out, doing things like not listening, fighting more with his sister and just being slightly more difficult than before.  She asked me how do my kids get along?  Are they fighting more or am I going through any of the same things?  It was actually hard to answer her.  First, I didn't want to hurt her feelings and make her think she's alone in what is going on and then also it was hard because I just have my own point of view of parenting. 

I think I've explained this before, but I found becoming a mother a challenge in the beginning.  I even explained to my friend that when I became pregnant John and I were super excited and in shock that "this is really going to happen...we're going to be parents".  I had all these fantasies of what being a mother would be like, but I should have known from the beginning it wasn't going to be ANYTHING like I pictured.  As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Addison, John had the opportunity for us to move to Florida to help run a company.  Obviously I was like "hell yes" and then we found out I was pregnant 2 weeks later and I was like "wait, who's going to help us with this baby?"  After getting through that initial shock and finally being at peace with the fact it was going to just be the two of us with lots of visitors I decided that I would be fine.  Then Miss Addison entered our lives and my view on motherhood changed after a couple of days.  When I had Addison it was before all the acid-reflux talk began and doctor's were prescribing medicine for babies that were constantly crying.  John and I were so miserable, Addison would constantly be upset and we had to hold her non-stop.  I was seriously pissed.  This is not how its suppose to be, we were going to have a beautiful baby girl and she was going to sleep all day, let us look at her beautiful face whenever we wanted and then after she ate she would sleep through the night.  Holy hell that wasn't happening by a landslide.  I'm sure the anxiety I was feeling rubbed off on her which probably put her on edge even more than a child who had a "normal" mother.  I truly didn't think it was going to be this hard.  Then 3 1/2 years later we had Brody.  I had the worst pregnancy and was constantly thinking once again "what the hell did I do"?  After Brody was born I was praying every day that he would be nothing like Addison as a baby.  I was seriously holding my breath staring at him and wondering if we were going to go through the same type of traumas we endured with Addi.  Well, he took a little bit longer, but low and behold history repeated itself and this little guy wanted our attention at all times.  There was no putting him in the swing and letting him sleep while I got to watch, bedtime was a nightmare that consisted of holding him until he fell asleep and then laying him down in which he would wake up right away screaming.  I seriously couldn't believe how difficult my children were as babies.  I would continue to tell myself "god only gives us what we can handle".  There were many times where I questioned if motherhood was for me and if I was even capable of doing this...then reality set it and I knew "there's no turning back now".

Luckily for us our kids have truly grown into amazing toddlers, preschoolers and now Addison is in 1st grade.  People constantly praise me on what a good girl Addison is and what a good listener she is (sigh of relief).  Brody just started preschool this year and once again I'm being praised by what an amazing little boy he is.  One of the teachers pulled me aside to tell me what a joy he is to have in class.  I guess all the girls love him and basically follow his every move.  What a great complement right...I mean for someone who thought their children were going to grow up being angry and possibly resent me for all the anxiety I inflicted on them due to "them" not fulfilling my fantasy of being a mother.  I can look back now and thank god for getting me through these difficult times and while we still have a really long road a head, I'm now finding myself thanking god that I didn't completely screw them up by showing my disappointment along the way those first couple years.

Going back to the discussion with my friend.  After she was explaining that her son has been difficult since turning 4 I basically ran home and told John that once again "the plan" is going to be all screwed up.  I've been waiting for Brody to turn 4 because from what I remember with Addison this is when life got really good.  She became so independent and was a joy to take places, so to hear that 4 might not be the magic number for Brody sent me into a frenzy.  John simply shook me and said "you are crazy", I looked at him confused and realized your right.  Brody's already there he's already started his independence and is a joy to be around.  I mean the only thing I truly have to complain about is the fact he won't poop on the potty, he hates leaving the house (which lasts 2 minutes of crying when we get in the car) and when he's tired his life is miserable (which once again normally only lasts about 2 minutes).  I mean most of the time he's in his own little world playing with dinosaurs and telling me how much he loves me.  Seriously, how can I really complain about that?  So, I explained to my friend that while for the most part my kids do get along really well (only playing referee on certain occasions) and that he does behave most of time, but in my point of view its far from perfect.  Once again this is what I'm working on within myself.  I've never been the person to live in the moment, I always tend to want to fast forward to the good parts and then when I look back I forget that those bad parts really weren't "that bad".  I'm a work in progress as a person, a mother and even a wife.  I set the standards for myself way too high and tend to oversee even a minute of greatness due to wanting life to only be looked at as perfection.  One thing I'm grateful for is I'm realizing this now and I'm well aware of my flaws, I'm changing for the better day by day.  Choosing to confront these obstacles head on is what will make me a better person for all people that choose to be in my life.  My existence is getting brighter and brighter every single day...but I still thank God I won't be having anymore children and we are pass that fricken baby phase!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What is Your Purpose? Such a deep question...

Holy crap!  Life has been quite interesting since my last post.  I decided to take a step back, let life move around me, clear my head of all the negatives and just reflect on the really happy moments I'm presently living.  I'll have to tell you...overall its helped the tightness in my chest to feel a little looser, my shoulders are starting to drift back down to where they should be rather than the tightness I'm constantly feeling from stress and most importantly my brain is being filled with positive thoughts of what my future holds.  Don't get me wrong, I am human and as I've said before an emotional person, but its never felt better to actually let myself be happy.

I've been doing a lot of soul searching and have come across a couple of people that have really opened my eyes to life.  I'll write briefly on who exactly these people are in a minute, but what these people all have in common to me is there passion for life and how they share this passion to help others. 

What I've been struggling with on a personal level is trying to find my purpose and what exactly was I put on this earth to do.  Why did God choose me to represent this body and more importantly give me this incredible feeling of wanting to change the world?  I know its such a silly question, but if you truly think about this question are you able to answer it?  I know I'm a wife, a mother, a person with an awesome family, I'm super awesome when it comes to working on Word documents, I'm a hard worker but the thing I know I'm really good at is having the ability to care about all people.  Whenever I leave the house I make sure to wear a smile on my face hoping its contagious and perhaps even change a strangers day simply because a lady in the grocery store showed her pearly whites and said "hello".  Obviously thinking about my purpose can be answered in so many ways as I've listed above, but the fire that is burning inside just simply isn't letting me stop at the roles I'm currently serving.  I know I can be and do more and I'm not going to stop searching for this "other" role. 

I recently read "Carry On, Warrior", by the beautiful most amazing Glennon Melton.  Once again, holy crap this book has changed my life.  Glennon not only wrote this gorgeous book, but she also has one of the most intriguing blogs I've ever read (http://momastery.com/blog/).  I'm beyond in love with Glennon to say the least.  I've been following her blog for a while and wanted to get her book since it came out about a year ago, but kind of put it to the side knowing I'll look into what she's all about when I have the time.  Well, Glennon fell hard into my life at the best time possible.  With all the feelings I've been dealing with and the thoughts of doubt about myself, I decided the time was now and checked out her blog a little closer and had a total hmmm...moment.  I couldn't believe what I was reading,  the things she was writing about was exactly what I needed to hear.  I love how she expresses that life is hard, but we are not alone, this is how she explains her view of life "Everybody is going through something in their life and Life is brutal. But it’s also beautiful. Brutiful, I call it. Life’s brutal and beautiful are woven together so tightly that they can’t be separated. Reject the brutal, reject the beauty. So now I embrace both, and I live well and hard and real."  As a woman who felt I was doing everything right and then one day wake up and feel like "ohh god, I suck", it was really helpful to read "Carry On, Warrior" to understand that I really don't suck, I'm just still trying to figure things out and need to work on letting my guard down and more than anything enjoy life a little more.

One of the perks to reading an awesome blog daily you also get to learn about other people that are changing lives one way or another.  After reading momastery.com/blog I came across the name Lewis Howes.  Glennon had done an amazing entry on this gentleman and of course since I'm so in love with her and she was talking about him I had to check out his work.  Once again I was blown away.  Lewis does a blog which includes a podcast "The School of Greatness" with whoever he is talking about (http://lewishowes.com/).  His podcast tend to be around an hour long and I'll tell you, I've listened to 3 just in a day (shh...don't tell John).  Listening to his podcast that was on today and the some other previous ones continued to help me shed the many layers of insecurity I continue to hold.  I'm always finding myself to think of some great ideas of what I want to do, but then I immediately think of every possible reason why this idea can't simply be good.  I'm learning to start to trust myself and believe that I am special and I can do special things to change people's lives.  I enjoyed learning new things about Lewis that would normally look at him and think "he's got it all and how in the world could he have any possible things to worry about"?  That's the problem that I face.  Most people I meet think I have it all, my life is exactly what they would want and I much really have all my ducks in a row.  However, its all just an act.  Obviously I want people to think that my life is amazing and I have crap together, but in real life nobody truly has all their crap together.  This is what I'm learning, nobody is perfect especially me.  At the end of each podcast he asks "What is your definition of Greatness"?  Of course I took some time and thought I would take a stab at what I think is my definition of greatness.  My definition of greatness would have to be living a life full of love for all people and executing my dream to help under privilege children that deserve to have a bright and successful future.  No child should be left behind simply because they come from poverty.

After checking out Lewis Howes blog I stumbled upon a person that both Lewis and Glennon have raved about and this is Adam Braun.  Adam started a charity called Pencils of Promise, "PoP brings life-changing education to children around the world by building quality schools and sustainable education programs" (http://pencilsofpromise.org/).  Adam is not your average charity founder, listening to his story and finding out what his vision for this charity actually opened my eyes in a crazy way.  He finds that many charities out there go out and ask for money to help fund their program, but he takes his charity a step further with wanting people to actually be involved.  Rather than someone handing over $50 and walking away thinking "ok, I did my good deed for the day" its more of a "wait, don't you want me to show you what I'm doing with your money"?  He does something like no other charity and actually keeps his website updated with information such as what was spent where and how perhaps this $50 has continued to help build schools that are so desperately needed.  He posts pictures of the children/community that are being helped along with staff members that are making sure these schools are changing lives and moving forward.  Its pretty emotional to see that something Adam thought would just be 1 school has now turned into over 200.  If that doesn't inspire someone I don't know what does.  Adam explains he was an average guy that had the chance to see the world, what it was lacking and actually jump in to make a difference in children's lives that are suffering due to poverty.  This guy is seriously mind blowing and listening to his story on the podcast will make you look at charities in a whole different light ( http://lewishowes.com/podcast/adam-braun-promise/)!

So, I know I've put way too much information on this post, but I simply had to share the amazing stuff that's going on around us.  3 different people really doing 3 different kinds of things to help make our world a better place, yet having one common goal in mind...to change people's lives.  Nothing feels better than to help people in any type of capacity.  Its time to take a step outside my comfort zone and figure out how am I going to fulfill my dream to change people's lives while also keeping that tough question of what is my purpose?        

Friday, April 11, 2014

New Beginnings...Again & Again...

I've been spending too much time asking myself..."who is Stephanie Vranich"?  Its crazy how life can get away from you and I'm finding myself questioning every possible inch of my being.  I've come up with several descriptions and while I write them down in my head, I then find myself coming back to that list and questioning what I thought the day before.  The more the days go by I feel like I have more big fat black lines going through those descriptions and I sink deeper and deeper into a dark hole.  I have no idea how or why I do this to myself (well, I have a little bit of an idea).  Overall what I come up with is...life is hard.  Seriously, I had no idea that getting older would be this complicated.  I mean seriously can't we just learn life lessons in our 20s, move on and live the next 60+ years not making those mistakes we learned from?  I wish I would let my life be this uncomplicated, but overall I'm just a complicated person.  I'm realizing this is something I struggle with and rather than continue to run away from it, I need to embrace it and continue to learn better ways of coping and moving forward.  Sinking deeper into this darker hole is quite frankly...easier then deal with issues head on.

I'm realizing my biggest problem is the fact when I come across a new task or exciting moment I throw my whole being into it.  The euphoria is beyond amazing and I want it more and more.  I don't just give myself a little bit of excitement I seriously drop everything and only focus on what is making me shake with amazing joy.  You would think that's a great thing right?  Well, in my situation its simply not.  I tend to invest so much energy and emotion into a certain situation that I am 9 times out of 10 most likely simply too invested, it does eventually hurt my family & my true friends and most importantly I get taken advantage of which quite frankly tends to emotionally hurt in the end.  Listen, I like making other people happy and I go to great lengths to accomplish this. 

I can't apologize that I see myself as being a nice person, a giving person and an overwhelmingly emotional person.  I truly wear my heart on my sleeve and most times people probably think I'm slightly a little too much for them to handle, but I just can't help it...or can I?  This is the lesson I'm working on.  Its time to reel myself in and look at a situation from all angles, even realizing while I think something is beyond perfect for me...how is it not?  It kills me thinking I have to change who I am, but in order to come to grips with the lessons I've learned in the past 7+ months its absolutely necessary.  I'm not saying this change can happen over night, but I sure as hell will continue making that descriptive list without big fat black lines going through them.  I just want to be happy and fill my dark hole with some pretty flowers and feel like I know who I am and be damn proud!