The Elephant in the Blog

Every time I’ve sat down and tried to blog about anything lately, it somehow turns into a post about my mom. Not wanting to be reduced to “the girl with the dead mom who can’t stop talking about it”, I just end up letting the posts languish on The Island of Misfit Drafts ™. No more.
Guys, I miss my mom a lot. Everyone warns you that the first round of holidays after you lose someone is difficult, but since Judy wasn’t into Christmas, I didn’t think it would hit me quite so hard. I thought wrong.
I think that the disconnect is that I was picturing it like The Family Stone (spoilers ahead). Christmas is this Very Important family tradition and Diane Keaton’s character loves Christmas and then she dies and they all gather to hang ornaments without her and reflect on how different Christmastime is without their mom, their rock. Judy, in contrast, was a complete humbug. She did not honour Christmas in her heart and try to keep it all the year. So, it’s decidedly not nostalgia that’s driving this latest wave of grief that I’m riding out, but I can’t imagine that the fact that it’s hitting me so hard right as the holiday season begins (as foreseen by my therapist and basically every resource I found about grief processing) is purely coincidental.
I fell this week. The kids had a snow day and I was in a mood and it was just an awful, overwhelming day. I felt like such a miserable heap of wasted space. I was determined to stop being scream-y mom and start being fun and enriching mom, so I decided that I was going to bring some snow inside for the kids to play with (since Jamey isn’t terribly keen on playing outside in the snow). And so I rolled up the rug so it wouldn’t get wet, dug all the sand toys out of the playroom closet, and cleaned a tray to fill with snow, a process that should have taken about two minutes, but was made ten times longer by my grumpy, bored, impatient children. By the time I was ready to go outside and collect the snow, I was still not feeling like fun mom; I was feeling like end of my rope mom.
I had gotten one foot safely into its boot, and had then resorted to a slapstick-esque hopping around trying to yank my other boot on, when I lost my balance. With my right hand entangled in the boot of my airborne foot, my only choice to keep from face-planting was to catch myself using the heel of my left hand. The impact was…intense.
I spent a significant amount of time lying completely still, not wanting to move, in case something was broken. Then slowly, I began to bend and rotate each joint, one-by-one. Luckily, the damage was negligible, not even half as bad as I had been preparing myself for. All in all, it was a complete nonevent.
I got up and got myself an ice pack for my wrist and then I sat down on the couch and began to sob. Not because of the pain or humiliation that comes with being a professional klutz, but because I so desperately miss having someone to talk to about all of the mundane nonevents. I cried about the nine months worth of boring minutiae of my life that I had been keeping to myself and about the yet-to-be-determined amount that would continue to pile up because I no longer had anyone who cared, really cared, to hear them.
I know that I am not the only person who has been left with a gaping, Judy-shaped hole in my life. I know I’m not the only person who misses her or is still,on some level, struggling to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone. More broadly, I know I’m most definitely not the only one who has to navigate a world without their “person” in it. I wish that knowing all these things did anything to ease the feelings of loneliness and isolation that have swallowed me up as of late.
I don’t have an eloquent way to wrap this post up. There’s no neat little bow to put on top of such a disjointed wet blanket of an entry, but I have learned one thing while I typed this up. Writing about the thing that I don’t want to write about feels objectively better than not writing at all, for fear of mentioning said thing I don’t want to write about. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Breaking the Habit

Hey, all. It’s me, your friendly, neighborhood bad blogger here.
Giving up on projects has been a lifelong bad habit of mine. I’ve started more books and blogs than I can remember. I dive into a project with so much hope. I work on it day and night. And then some minor obstacle comes up. One of the kids is sick. I have an IEP meeting to prep for. My husband has to work overtime. I help a friend move. I miss a day of writing. I jump back in, telling myself that it’s okay. Life happens, and I just need to find my groove again. I don’t like the way a post is reading, so I start it over. The next day, I still can’t seem to get it right. I miss another day. And another. I have a bad week. And before I know it, it feels almost embarrassing to keep trying. Isn’t it easier to just archive the evidence and try to forget about the failure? Well, sure. But as I get older and become more accustomed to this “life” thing that we’re all attempting, I am learning that “easy” isn’t always…well, easy.
One of the prompts on the list that Ali and I compiled was to discuss a bad habit that we wanted to break this year, and I fully intended to use this blog as both a vehicle to shift my nature, and proof that I had, in fact, overcome it. Really, my goal was more about creating good habits than breaking bad ones, but those concepts are kind of two sides of the same coin, yes?
Well, as the second half of 2018 rapidly approaches, and I am still able to count my published blog posts from this year on my fingers, my brain is sending up its default white flags. Typically, this is the point where I would accept defeat, quietly delete posts, and deactivate my Instagram, and tell myself that it’s okay because nothing bad can come from dropping this one project. No one is counting on me.
I can rationalize until the cows come home, and maybe even feed them my innumerable excuses. I mean, I’ll still be constantly stressed out over my unsuccessful blog, but at least the cows can offer tea and sympathy.
They say that the first step to solving a problem is recognizing that it exists. I am an expert problem existence recognizer, but like so much else in my life, I usually lose interest after the first step.

Not. This. Time.

Please Be Prompt

I have a secret. I am not as creative as I pretend to be. My mind works in a very peculiar way and while I often have original ideas, I struggle quite a bit with developing  and connecting them to create something.
I spent a lot of time learning this about myself. It was really hard to come to term with at the beginning. I had always thought of creativity as one of my defining characteristics. But if I was so creative, then how come I couldn’t finish my book? How could I have been a fabulous (and oh, so humble) writer in school but such a terrible blogger? It wasn’t easy to reconcile, but I knew I had to get to the bottom of it. Not writing was making me miserable.
The overarching theme of my 2018 resolutions was sapping misery from my life in any aspect where it existed, so I dove headfirst back into the blogosphere. I managed to write two posts in a week, and rewarded myself by purchasing my domain name. #superseriousblogger
And then, as I always do, I hit another wall. I tried writing good content. Really, I did. I have like, sixteen abandoned drafts going right now. But nothing was coming together the way that I wanted it to.

Well, enter Ali. Ali (or as her close friends call her, Bowerbird, By Ali), is the singular best person I met in my 20s. She and I have an awful lot in common, including a big ol’ soft spot for the written word. Ali, however, is far more creative and motivated than I am.
On more than one occasion, she has reached out in an attempt to get me to be her blog buddy (like a gym buddy, but like, without the sweat) and I always agree in the way you agree to catch up with an old friend that you bumped into at the grocery store “Oh my goodness, yes! We simply have to get together sometime!” You sincerely would love to, but you low-key know it probably ain’t happening. No malice, just realism, amirite?
In Ali’s latest effort to establish a symbiotic, mutual accountability type relationship, she struck gold. Writing prompts: the difference between starting from scratch and having some good bones to work with.

We had abstractly discussed it a bit on the night of my birthday, but we were both drinking gin, and I had sort of forgot the conversation had transpired until she texted me the following Monday to suggest that we try to find a list of prompts and work from it together. After searching for some time, it became clear that it would be harder to find the perfect list than we had anticipated. Well, what if we were to come up with our own list? It took some blood, sweat, tears, and ignoring my kids, but by that selfsame night, when we combined our lists, we had managed to scrape up 115 Prompts for Lifestyle Bloggers. Apparently, that’s almost a year’s worth of two-a-week posts ( I mean, I didn’t do the math but Ali seems the trustworthy sort).
Boom. Writer’s block: solved.

Well, without further ado, here are our 115 moderately interesting topics for the lifestyle blogger:

  • Recent purchase review
  • A day in snapshots/a day in the life with pictures
  • Try and review a current trend
  • Create and share a playlist for any occasion
  • Book review
  • Five polyvore outfits
  • 10 Gifts for a _________ fan
  • Try three different mascaras and review
  • Share your skill (tips)
  • Letter to teenage self
  • Go-to weeknight dinner recipe
  • Test and review cheap wines
  • A few favorite apps
  • Who you follow on Instagram
  • Tips for the recently engaged
  • Ikea Rast styling
  • Movie Review
  • Experience with religion (or lack thereof)
  • Live blog a TV event
  • Go screen free for an entire day (or as much as reasonably possible) and then blog about it
  • Rank season finales of Game of Thrones
  • Girls Night Out ideas
  • Spend a week learning a language you’ve never spoken before
  • The five worst kinds of facebook posts
  • Tried and true hacks (beauty, organizational, etc)
  • Your Meyers Briggs type and what you believe about it
  • 10 great books for [age group]
  • Great couples/group Halloween costumes
  • Review a “classic” book that you never read
  • TBT old facebook statuses/tweets/pictures/etc that are mildly embarrassing
  • Dream vacation (with real research)
  • X Amount of things that [profession] would like you to know
  • Letter to a bully from school
  • Album review
  • Learn about a badass woman who is not well known and write a report
  • Raid Your Closet post with pictures
  • The best and worst thing that happened this week
  • Create an Instagram challenge
  • Five websites that you spend the most time on
  • Write a poem
  • Unwinding routine
  • Funny twitter/tumblr post listicle
  • Pop Culture rant about something you don’t get
  • Spring Cleaning tips
  • Fun party games (no board required)
  • Least favorite character from a beloved show/movie/book
  • Vegan/vegetarian for a week
  • Try something new beauty-wise
  • Stuff you’re still hanging onto for nostalgia’s sake
  • Stocking stuffer ideas
  • First time customer review for a local business
  • 10 most attractive celebrities
  • Opinion on a controversial topic
  • Try to learn a new skill and document it
  • Favorite local business
  • Ten things you do when you’re alone
  • Holiday traditions in your family/important family traditions
  • Getting started in your hobby
  • Story of why you started blogging and meaning behind your name
  • Ten things about me
  • Travel bucket list
  • Favorite holiday and why
  • Me time/self care activities
  • Pics & writeup from a trip
  • Favorite piece of clothing
  • Tour of your bookshelf
  • Ten things I’m grateful for right now
  • Animated tv or movie characters you had a crush on
  • Introduce your family/what family means
  • Favorite spot in the house & why
  • Something you once hated and now like
  • Book you read as a teen that you still think about
  • Get your tarot read and write about it, even if you’re a huge skeptic
  • A bad habit you want to break this year
  • What you wish someone had told you before your wedding/planning your wedding
  • Describe a dream in full detail
  • Where do you see yourself in five years
  • Favorite bar/restaurant/coffee shop
  • DIY fail/diy mistakes
  • Favorite board game
  • What do you do when you host a gathering?
  • Favorite seasonal date
  • Favorite beauty product & why
  • Getting inspired when you’re in a rut
  • Products you swear by (any genre)
  • Favorite dessert plus recipe (or link to a recipe)
  • Favorite things about spring
  • Favorite things about summer
  • Favorite things about fall
  • Favorite things about winter
  • A regret
  • Have someone do a guest post
  • Do a 30 day challenge
  • Long term project you’re working on
  • Health PSA
  • Behind the scenes of your blog
  • Post about your take on the state of your current industry (blogging/parenting/writing; cooking/blogging/writing)
  • Tattoo story/tattoos you want to get
  • Create and share blogging mood board (or writing mood board for a specific writing project)
  • Freebie: we get to blog about this challenge that we’re doing
  • Late 20s vs Early 20s
  • Cocktail recipe
  • Holiday stress
  • Gift selecting process (not like things to buy but how you decide what to buy)
  • Share experiences/tips/reflect on current position
  • Relationship advice
  • Hardest thing you and SO went through together and how your relationship seemed stronger after
  • Mood playlist
  • Stress relief/dealing with stress/leaving stress behind
  • Bringing yourself out of a funk
  • Ways to bond with your SO
  • A car related memory
  • A sports (playing or watching) memory
  • Something from a long time ago that still pisses you off but isn’t that serious and you should probably let it go
  • Weird perfumes that you’d buy if they existed (like unusual smells that you love)

Pin it, share it, play along! And tell us what your favorite blog prompts are.