Looking For Wisdom In All The Wrong Places

IMG_2655

I am writing this post for you as well as myself…

There is a dissatisfaction permeating the very air around us. This isn’t a menacing thought or one stated haphazardly, but something that I have been thinking about.

You reach a certain point in your life and start looking backwards. “I should’ve done this differently” or “gee, I have not accomplished AT ALL, what I thought I would have at this point”.

Fruitless ruminating.

Social media doesn’t help because it seems that everyone else has it together. Fabulous lives with fabulous homes and fabulous families and fabulous kitchens with just the right amount of subway tile.

“What am I doing wrong?”, we think. “What is wrong with me?”, we wonder.

The answer of course, is nothing. Nothing is wrong with you. You are more than fine.

The problem isn’t necessarily social media either. I have met blogging friends in real life whom I consider friends, and that never would have had happened without social media.

I feel that as people striving to try and find our “why”, we are trying to find answers from people and things and gurus and everyone and their mother, when the answer is really within ourselves. No, I am not spouting some new-age mumbo jumbo, I am saying that we ignore our gut feelings and what we really want out of life because we are doing things because that is what we are supposed to do.

Take myself as an example:

Growing up, I was a smart kid. I got good grades, took an AP class when it was merited, got into college, graduated from said college with a Bachelor’s degree, followed the blueprint that was my life. What precise job I was supposed to hold, I am not sure. I took a mediocre job after college graduation, got raises that barely covered my cost of living, and eeked out an adult-this-is-supposed-to-be-what-it-is-like living.

In my spare time I read voraciously and occasionally wrote.

But all I really wanted to do is be a mother.

I had this epiphany the other day when reading a post from a woman who always knew she didn’t want children and how people keep hounding her about it and at the end of the day, it is her choice.

For me, it is always been the complete opposite. I always knew I wanted my own family, I always wanted to be a mother, and even more to the point, I always knew I wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. I wanted to pick my kids up from school, bake chocolate chip cookies, go on field trips with the class, kind of mother.

This is what I always wanted.

And it clicked for me, why I never wanted some kind of professional career when I was younger, and why I don’t want one now. I think for the longest time, I kind of felt bad about that, like I had to hand in my feminist card or something, because I didn’t want to conquer the world. My generation was supposed to do it all, right? Well, I didn’t.

And the other day, after reading this woman’s post and her choices in life that had led her to this point in her musings, my epiphany non-withstanding, I realized that I have the life I have always wanted.

Yes, let me repeat that. I have the life I have always wanted.

It is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, let me tell you. There is no sugar coating here. There are aspects of my life that I want to change and am putting in place, the proper tools to do just that. I still struggle with my depression, which is and can be, a daily battle. I lost my home years ago and still struggle with the guilt of that. My finances could be better, sure and living in a super expensive state comes with its own woes.

But at the core: I have the life that I want. I am married to my best friend in the whole wide world and I have two daughters whom I love fiercely.

Everything else will fall into place.

I have been, to quote a song that I love, looking for wisdom in all the wrong places, but that wisdom is really and truly inside of me. I have been on this earth for several decades now, and no one knows what is better for me, THAN ME.

Me. I know what is best for me.

And maybe deep down, I always knew.

Advertisements

Currently: The What Day Is It Edition

Seriously though… I can’t keep up. All the days are going by in some crazy kind of blur and I am a bit flabbergasted that Halloween is in less than a week. I mean, it seems like we just ushered in Fall with our obligatory Pumpkin Spice Latte, and now it is almost time to eat all the candy celebrate Halloween.

Good-bye October. You were swell  🙂

What I Am Loving:

The Pumpkin Patch!

IMG_2386

We went to a different pumpkin patch this year and we had such a great time! The weather was perfect (for Southern California, it definitely was. Going to the pumpkin patch when it is 90° or more outside is no bueno).

This one had rides, a train, games, food, and of course pumpkins. Oh, and also a haunted house and a hay maze. My older daughter won prizes at the games she played and she decorated a pumpkin. She had a great time  🙂 My ten month-old on the other hand, well let’s just say, I think she’ll enjoy it so much more on the next go round! 😉

IMG_2385

What I Am Absolutely Over:

Yes, you guessed it. The news. It literally is a $#@!show every day. Every. Single. Day.

What I Am Looking Forward To:

A day where I don’t have allergies. Seriously. These winds came in last week (they are called the Santa Ana winds here) and they knocked down trees, blew stuff around in the air, and my sinuses are still a wreck. I am hoping that once it is November and the temperature drops just a bit more, things will steady out. *crossing fingers*

In Other News:

We have almost completed our Fall Bucket List.

44A8E68E-

In addition to watching It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and going to the pumpkin patch among other things, we made these Halloween Oreo Brookie Bars. Go to the store and make these things immediately. You won’t be sorry. You’re welcome.

All that is left on our list, is trick-or-treating. Mama is hoping there are some Three Musketeers bars in the ‘ol basket, because Mama loves her some Three Musketeer bars. And my girl loves to share, so… 😉

How have things been going for you guys? Are you doing anything special for Halloween?

Halloween Oreo Brookie Bars

Y’all… I came across this recipe on Instagram and earmarked it because I knew my older daughter would absolutely love to make this recipe with me, as well as absolutely love to eat it!

This recipe is literally brownies, Oreo cookies, and chocolate chip cookies, mixed together into some wonderful chocolate sugar-filled concoction

IMG_2319

This is what I had posted on my Instagram stories 🙂

I mean…c’mon, don’t you want to reach through the screen and eat them?

In the interest of full disclosure, I took a shortcut in making them. Because I was short on time, I picked up pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough. Normally, I would make these cookies from scratch as the recipe called for, but again, I was pressed for time.

IMG_2316

However you make them, the shortcut way or the original way, you will not be disappointed. We are literally eating these things for breakfast over here 😉

Ingredients For Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer:

  • ¾ cup butter softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 24 Halloween Oreo Cookies

Ingredients for Brownie Layer

  • 1 package of Brownie Mix
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 eggs

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 13″ x 9″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

For the Chocolate Chip Cookie Layer —>

  • Using an electric mixer, beat softened butter, brown sugar, white sugar, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs and continue to beat for another two minutes or until light and creamy.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Use a spoon to add flour mixture into butter mixture in increments, stirring until dough is combined. Stir chocolate chips into dough.
  • Spread dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish and use your hands to press it into an even layer.
  • Place the Halloween Oreo Cookies in rows over the dough.

For the Brownie Layer —>

  • Combine brownie mix, oil, water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.
  • Pour the prepared brownie batter over the Halloween Oreos.
  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the bars comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in pan and then cut into squares and serve.
  • Store bars in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes:

This recipe will yield 48 small bars or 24 larger bars.

Recipe courtesy of fromvalerieskitchen.com

 

 

Currently: It’s October Edition

September flew by in a blur, am I right? I feel as we get older, the months fly by at warp speed. If you need more encouragement on this, think about how many presidents’ terms you have lived through, lol  🙂

On to other things…

My No-Spend September:

It wasn’t 100% a no-spend month, but in our book, we did pretty good. Instead of going out to eat once a week, we only went to eat ONCE the Whole month. (insert clapping noise here). This is really good, y’all. I know we didn’t make it through the month without going out to eat for lunch, but one time versus four times in one month is a good thing. We paid a huuuuuuge chunk towards our medical bills and for that, I am thankful 🙂

44A8E68E-

Fall Bucket List:

I made a list of things to do for fun for the fall season, and my older daughter is super excited about it! On this list that is not able to be shown in this photo, is us making a spooky Oreo cookie cake. This will be the first time we are making it and we are both super excited to make it 🙂

Also what I love about this list is that I made it using extra paper I had around, and it is super cute and super frugal. Win-win.

What I Am Loving:

That Football is back on my television!!!!! I have been a huge football fan since I was a kid. It is my favorite sport to watch, along with hockey.

What I Am Absolutely Over:

The news. As usual. I can’t….

What I Am Looking Forward To:

All. The. Holidays. October. November. December. Bring It.

What is going on with you guys? Let me know! 🙂

I Don’t Know Who I Am Without You

5A71C943-

Really feeling the need to share what is on my heart right now…

As most of you know, I had a baby back in December. All was right in the world. I had my family, I was starting to eat right, I even managed to get in a few blog posts! I thought, hey, I got this! I can manage all of the things and I am Superwoman.

But the reality is, is that nothing was really okay. I thought it was and maybe on the outside, it looked like that, but it wasn’t.

It took my husband to point out to me my mood swings and constant crying and dark thoughts were all symptomatic of post-partum depression. I didn’t realize it because I didn’t have post-partum depression after the birth of my first child and also, I already suffer from depression as it is, and didn’t realize the volatility of my current situation.

If you are a new reader, then yes you may not know that depression is a part of my life.

I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that this wasn’t the case, but I know, it is true.

I don’t know who I am without you…

I had a tumultuous childhood. I had a lot of stuff happen in my life at a time when the real world shouldn’t intrude the way it did. I am not going to go into any kind of specifics because they are private and personal. But needless to say, I found myself “retreating” from others for reasons unbeknownst to me, and feeling sad for days at a time. These feelings would “magically” go away, until the next time they came knocking at my door, and I felt the sadness envelop me once again.

This cycle had been the blueprint for my entire life until one day, I broke.

In every way possible a person can mentally brake, I did.

And I realized that this thing, whatever it was, it was bigger than me. The beast needed to be tamed, and I needed help in doing just that.

With the help of my wonderful husband, a caring psychologist, and medication, I began to put my life back together.

This was years ago and there have been dark days since then and that is the truth. Depression doesn’t just “go away”. It is always there, for lack of a better term, “lurking”.  As people who deal with depression, we have to have tools in place, so that when the dark days come, we can better cope.

I don’t know who I am without you…

My whole life, whether I was aware of it or not, I have dealt with depression. I don’t know really, who I am, without it. It is a part of me, like an extra appendage.

All this to say that when I was made aware of this different kind of depression, this un yet mitigated for me post-partum variety, I was defiant and also at the same time resigned.

“I don’t have post-partum depression. I am fine!!!!”

“Oh no, not another depression. Why is this happening???”

Suffice to say, I realized that everything I was feeling, the everything is off-kilter feeling, the everything is wrong feeling, the uncontrollable sobbing, it was all true and I acknowledged it and attempted to move forward.

I am here.

It has been a tough road, I’ll be honest with you.

I have had to dig deep into reservoirs I didn’t even know I had. I had to trust myself and trust God. I have had to make changes in my life that are still new to me.

But I am here on the other side.

I just wanted to share a bit of me and who I am because I feel it is important. Blogs and social media tend to show the highlights and glossy side of life, but there is always an underbelly.

Thank you for reading ♥

Currently: The Sunday Afternoon Edition

Hey y’all! Long time no talk to!  🙂

I realized my last post was in April and I didn’t want anyone to think I fell off the face of the earth.

After having my 2nd daughter this past winter, I really thought I could manage being a mama to two, and blogging, and all the other things that definitively take up my time. I thought I had this whole thing figured out.

But I have learned the hard way (crying, mostly…) that there really are seasons to life and I can’t force things. There are only so many hours in the day and there is only so much I can fill my proverbial cup with. I am trying to keep myself healthy mentally and quite honestly, haven’t been doing too well in that department, but I am getting back into my groove, slowly but surely.

All this to say is I am not going anywhere: I will still be blogging here in my tiny corner of the internet  🙂 But my posting schedule might be a bit erratic, so bear with me! Being a mama to my girls and trying to get my mental and physical health back on track, are my big priorities right now.

Moving on…  🙂

What I Enjoyed This Past Month:

Going to the farmer’s market with my girls. My older daughter loves to go and sample foods and we always come home with some yummy fruits and vegetables!

IMG_1337

What I Am Absolutely Over:

Anything that is trending on twitter. Just don’t click on it. I swear, the world is going mad.

What I Am Looking Forward To:

The fact that this is my older daughter’s last week of school. Yay for no homework and rushing around every weekday morning!

I know this post is short and sweet, and I promise I will be back soon! Happy June everyone  🙂

I am on Instagram. I am much more active on that social media platform. Come say hi!

Extra Square Feet = Extra Anxiety

195B0247-

When I first started this blog, one of my first posts had to do with the size of our apartment at the time which was 530 square feet. This housed myself, my husband, my daughter, and my cat. And it worked for a while. Honestly.

But last year, we found out that we were expecting a baby at the same time my husband and I were starting to feel that after 18 months of cozy togetherness, the walls were starting to close in our beloved 530 square feet. So last spring, we upgraded to a bigger apartment and added another 150-ish square feet.

So now we are a family of four humans and one cat resting comfortably in 700 square feet.

Or are we?

Here is the thing: I absolutely try my darndest to limit what comes in our apartment. I freely admit that clutter and messes give me anxiety. I am also aware that I have two children who will inevitably make messes and am also aware of the hilarious dichotomy between the two.

Now to some, 4 people and a pet living in 700 square feet sounds just fine, while to others, the word “claustrophobia” probably comes to mind. And that is okay. This just happens to be our season of life right now.

I find that with the extra square footage that we acquired last spring, it is easier for items to make their way past our front door. It is easier for paperwork to pile up on the kitchen table and counters. It is easier to shove items in the master bedroom closet since it is bigger than our last one and now voila! items are now unseen.

And all of this ramps up my anxiety.

I understand that another reason we have additional items is because we now have a baby. Babies need clothing and diapers and wipes and…well you get it. They have things they need and all of this stuff has to go somewhere. My older daughter also has her items whether it is homework stuff, or her books or toys.

So being methodical about what comes in and out of our apartment is something that I continuously have to work on because I do absolutely love the size of our apartment. I love the natural light we get and I love all the trees I can see outside of my windows.

But I also need to find a healthy balance because anxiety is no joke. Clutter drives me crazy. I need to get a bit of Zen in my day-to-day, for reals…

Do you guys live in a space with a limited number of square feet? Any tips and tricks you can share? Let me know in the comments!  🙂

Simplify: My Goal For March

D7A9D762-

Although I embarked on decluttering missions last year, I feel like more can be done. And not just with decluttering, but with simplifying as a whole.

For example, mail gets tossed on tables, forgotten about, and then all of a sudden we are late paying a bill.

Weekday mornings are spent scrambling to make my daughter’s lunches.

We were gifted so many newborn clothes and other accoutrements for my other daughter, there is no way to wear them all or use them all, and they are taking up precious space in our small apartment.

I could go on, but you see where I am going with this…

Spring starts in March and so next month seems as good a time as any, to start simplifying our home and streamlining what we are doing and what is coming in and out of our home.

I literally am feeling overwhelmed with our living space. My OCD/neat freak tendencies are making my normally rational self become undone.

So I am taking action and March is the month to do it. 31 days to get $&!* done.

Who’s with me?  🙂

RELATED POST: Decluttering: Drowning in Paperwork

As The Page Turns: 2018 Reads So Far…

Last year my reading goal for the year was 50 books. I set my bar low just in case while dealing with pregnancy, I wouldn’t be able to read as much as usual. I ended up reading 69 books in 2017  🙂

This year, I set my goal pretty low (25 books) because I have a baby. There is just not the free time I used to have to be able to devour books. However, I have been able to sneak in some reading here and there during nap time (hers not mine), and here is what I have read so far since the beginning of the year:

Breathe Mama, Breathe by Shonda Moralis

IMG_0359

I enjoyed reading this book about mindfulness for mamas because let’s face it, there are times when being a mom can get the best of us. This book shows how to have mini meditation breaks during the day and still keep your sanity while taking care of your kiddos! Definitely recommend for mamas no matter what stage of parenting you are in.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

IMG_0387

LOVED THIS BOOK! I seriously had all the feelings about this novel and it is truly such a great read. This book about a young girl’s life in the early 1900’s in Brooklyn, is so good!

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

IMG_0395

Guys… I wanted to like this book. I really did. I adore Plath’s poetry and I thought I would feel the same about her stand-alone novel published right around the time of her suicide, but I just couldn’t. This book, which is a fictionalized version of Plath’s actual nervous breakdown and subsequent shock therapies, just really did not pull me in, as the main character wasn’t one that you could really understand and therefore, it was hard to sympathize with her subsequent downward spirals. I empathized with her plight, but felt not enough was explained as to how she got there.

A Talent For Murder by Andrew Wilson

IMG_0379

Meh… I was so looking forward to reading this book and was just completely disappointed. Agatha Christie, the mystery novelist, really did disappear for 9 days in 1926, and this author decided to take that true story and put his own fictionalized twist on it. The results were underwhelming. I feel that some bad guy telling Agatha Christie to commit a murder for him or else he tells the world that her husband is having an affair and Christie agrees to do what he says, in order to forsake unwanted publicity, seems far-fetched to say the least.

The Address by Fiona Shaw

IMG_0324

Such a great read!! This book which flips back and forth between 1885 and 1985 is so, so good! And it really is so interesting and the author gives great detail about how New York was in the late 1800’s.

The Year of Less by Cait Flanders

FullSizeR (1)

Cait blogs about mindfulness, minimalism, and personal finance. She wrote a book about how she decluttered her life and went on a shopping ban for a year and all the lessons she learned along the way. I have been reading Cait’s blog for years, so it was super cool to finally read her book! 🙂 I really enjoyed reading it.

And if y’all are interested in what I am currently reading, I post pictures of ’em over on Instagram. All the pictures in this post are from my account. Stop by and say hi!  🙂

What are you guys reading?

 

Currently: The January Edition

IMG_0158

Hey guys! I can’t believe I am actually in front of the computer typing and not holding a baby! My hubby is on baby duty and helping out while I get a quick post in to let you guys know that I am still here. Tired, but still here  🙂

We have definitely adjusted to our new dynamic in being a household of four instead of three. Well, five instead of four if you count the cat, but still, we have found our groove. But mama is exhausted. Life with a newborn is not for the faint-hearted, but obviously it is well-worth it and I am oh so thankful for both of my beautiful daughters!

What I Enjoyed This Past Month: Actually, I am still enjoying it: The series Victoria on Masterpiece about Queen Victoria when she first became queen. The second season just started and I am absolutely in love with the show just like I was last year when the first season debuted. If you aren’t watching it, you need to!

What I Am Absolutely Over: Twitter. Yes, I have a twitter account and yes I use it. But it seems like every day, it is just crap that is on there or crap that is trending. There are days when I consider deleting the app off of my phone, but then panic at the thought of not being “informed”. Does anyone else go through this? I seriously admire the people who have either sworn off twitter, or only check it when they actually sit down and log into their computer.

And this isn’t a complaint against the actual medium of twitter as a tool for social media. I enjoy the initial concept of twitter. And honestly, how else would I have found out that my favorite show Elementary, comes back on air with new episodes in April?  🙂 But some days, twitter leaves me exhausted with the sheer stupidity that seems to seep forth from it.

I just want twitter to be a happy place. Is that so wrong?

On The Healthy Living Front: I have indeed lost some of my pregnancy weight. But here is the truth: I am not actively trying to lose weight. I am only a few weeks postpartum for crying out loud. However, I am also not immune to the enormous pressure that is put on moms to lose the baby weight immediately. It took a couple of months to lose the weight after having my first daughter and I expect it take the same amount of time or a bit longer this time around.

I walk a lot and am eating as healthfully as possible but if I want a few potato chips with my lunch time sandwich instead of my normal side of carrots, I am not beating myself up over it. I accumulated this weight over 9 months; it is not going to disappear in a matter of weeks.

What I Am Currently Reading: A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. GUYS!!! I LOVE THIS BOOK! And I am not even done with it yet!

IMG_0387

I think for many people, this book may have been required reading at some point during your education, but I have never had a chance to read this novel. But I have always, always wanted to read it.

Well last week when I was at the library paying my overdue fines (#frugalfail), I wandered over to a section I rarely visit and saw this book on the shelf. I grabbed it and said to myself, it’s now or never, I am reading the gosh-darn thing, and checked the book out.

I get why this book is beloved and considered a classic. If you are a bookworm like myself and have never read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, please go to your local library and check this book out. You’re welcome  🙂

Also as a sidenote, I post pictures on Instagram of all the books that I have read. If you are looking for a book to get your hands on and are fresh out of book titles to peruse, check out my feed or better still, look up what I am reading under the hashtag #mackenziereads.

How is January going for you guys? Let me know!