An Open Letter To My Teenage Female Cousins

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Lovely young ladies,

I’m older than you.  But I’m not too old.  Old enough to know a few things, young enough for you to still think I’m cool (you do think I’m cool, right?  Say yes).  So let me tell you a few important things about life:

  1. Mirrors are made of liquid metal and glass.  That’s it.  Don’t give them any power. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think “Oh no, I look fat!” or “Why can’t my hair look like her hair?” or “Damn you, large pimple!” But that’s giving the mirror way too much credit. The mirror can’t see that I’m really funny or smart or kind. Don’t let a mirror convince you that you’re not amazing, because you totally are.
  1. Boys must be good. Boys are weird, but you probably already know that because you each have brothers and fathers, and I personally know they’re weird. But they’re also pretty amazing, right? I know your dads and brothers love you like precious treasures. Not every boy will love you like that. Don’t give those boys the time of day! If they make you feel small or stupid or worthless, they are not allowed in your life.
  1. Be brave. Life takes guts. You’re gonna need to put on some courage each day. Being brave doesn’t mean you can’t show your emotions or have bad days or get scared. Being brave means doing the right thing even when you have a bad day or you are scared. Many people will tell you to be hard and toughen up, I think you should stay soft and lovely and open-hearted. But do all of these things while being brave.   Stand up for what’s right, stand up for yourself, and do it with kindness.  Always.
  1. Learn how to say NO. If somebody asks you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, say “no.” If somebody pressures you to do something that will not serve you, say “no.” If a guy wants you to do things that you don’t want to do, say “no.” If a girlfriend encourages you to be mean to somebody else in order to be cool, say “no.” You are a strong human being, and you have the right to say NO!
  1. Do what you love. Be the type of person who does awesome things. Don’t turn down opportunities to do the things you love, and never feel like the things you love to do are stupid. You only get one life, and I know it feels like you have SO MUCH TIME. And, in a way, you do. But in another way, it goes by so quickly. Don’t waste that time.  Fill up your days with things that make you smile on your face and in your heart.
  1. Interesting is better than cool; in fact, interesting is the real cool When I was a teenager, I thought being like everybody else was cool. Listening to the music everyone liked, dressing how everyone else dressed, buying things just because other people buy those things. I wanted to be cool. But if everyone else is doing it, it’s really not all that interesting, is it? It’s the same ol’ story. Be an original instead of a copy.
  1. No matter what, I love you. You are going to screw up.  You are going to fail.   You’ll probably fall in love with somebody who is all wrong for you. You’ll say rude things you don’t mean, and you’ll say rude things you do mean.  You’re a person, and nobody can do it perfectly. But you will always have a friend in me. I will always love you no matter what.  Luckily for all of us, we have a family that will always love us too. Not everybody else has family like that. So be that same source of love for other people.

With hugs and love,

Your big cousin xo


An Open Letter is part of a series to share positive, uplifting letters to the people of this world.  Open letters on blogs have a reputation for being biting and judgmental.  An Open Letter strives to bring hope and life and kindness back to the art of writing letters.

An Open Letter to My Little Brother on His 19th Birthday

An Open Letter to Millennials from a Gen Xer

A Family Cruise to Mexico

My parents took me, my boyfriend, my brother, and one of his friends on a 3-day Carnival family cruise to Ensenada, Mexico.  I’ve taken this cruise before, but this was the first time as a family trip.  We also tried some new and daring things when we were in Ensenada.

Family Cruise to Mexico

On Thursday, we filled up the day with lounging by the pool and drinking lots of drinks.  We dressed up and had a lovely dinner in which I spilled an entire glass of ice water on my boyfriend’s pants. Good times, folks, good times. On Friday, we spent the day in Ensenada, Mexico.  We started at Las Cañadas with zip lines and hanging bridges.

When they said “hanging bridges,” I thought they’d all be like this first one:

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But no.  They were all very shaky, high, and terrifying.  I genuinely hated every second, and then genuinely felt so glad that I did them (the second my feet touched the dirt ground!).  I held everyone up by my slowness caution. I kept either my dad or brother behind me and my boyfriend in front of me.  They were great cheerleaders.

Obviously the people in my life are a bit crazy……

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We finished up the day at La Bufadora.

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My parents had a romantic lunch, while we “youngsters” went around to every little shop to buy food and tequila shots.

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In a little taco shop, my brother put lots of hot sauce on his taco, oblivious to the fact that Mexican hot sauce is not the same as American hot sauce.  His face turned bright red and the restaurant women AND all the shop owners near by made fun of him.  It was the best.

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We returned to the cruise ship 2 minutes after the required time, luckily they still let us in.  We spent the next day lounging by the pool.  I even convinced my boy to do the Cupid Shuffle with me on the deck.  We ate a lot, gambled some, watched funny comedy, and had a lovely time. Thanks Mom and Dad!

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Click HERE for my post on Carnival Cruise’s Gluten Free Travel

I Don’t Want to be Judged by my Uterus

I Don’t Want to be Judged by my Uterus

judged by my uterus
Let’s be honest ladies, we aren’t always known for being each other’s champions. We too often place each other into categories and anybody who is out – is out. It’s like Mean Girls we don’t grow up from. Apparently, we haven’t matured out of high school cliques simply because we no longer have history exams or pass notes to cute boys.

The craziest part: all this female division, judgment, and rivalry is so often based upon reproduction. A basic scientific truth is that we can grow babies within our bodies. We have sex, then sometimes a human-creature-baby emerges in an otherwise useless body part: The Uterus. Then that human-creature-baby grows eyelashes and fingernails and eventually escapes The Uterus. Our lives are forever changed and forever divided by that truth. Women are classified by our relation to this scientific phenomenon of birth.

We have:

The Stay-at-Home-Mom and the The Working Mom camps.

The “I never want kids!” camp.

The Organic, Baby-Wearing Mom camp.

The “Let the kids eat GMOs, I did and survived” camp.

The Unwed Mother camp.

The “Oops, the condom broke” camp.

The “I want kids, but can’t” camp.

The Adoptive Mother camp.

The Abortive Mother camp.

The Young Mother and the Old Mother camps.

The Grandma camp.

The Mother-in-Law camp.

The “I’d Rather Be an Auntie” camp.

The “Maybe I want kids someday, but stop asking me when that will be” camp.

The I just have sex because I love it camp.

Sound familiar?

We are categorized as women based on our mommy (or not-mommy) status and, all too often, are judged for the camp we’re in.uterus

I don’t have kids and I don’t want them right now. I believe in birth control, lots of it. But I might want kids someday. I can see myself being strict when it comes to education, lax when it comes to cleaning up. I can see myself ordering out most meals, hiring a nanny so I can work some, and caring more about messy, glittery art projects than paying bills on time. All of this might be entirely untrue, I might surprise myself.  Or I may never have a biological child. I honestly don’t know.

But this I do know:  My worth to this universe does not hang solely on my Mommy-status or lack thereof.  My worth does not depend entirely on what my Uterus does or does not do. Neither does yours.

We each have our own stories, every woman is an individual.  But our individual stories weave into a beautiful tapestry of interesting textures and colors. Motherhood (in all its various modes) or lack of motherhood (for all its various reasons) are not the ONLY aspects of our lives.

Mothers are important and special and wonderful. But no woman is ever only a mother. In the same way no man is ever only a father. We have complex, interesting lives. And within those lives are various chapters. When we boil down our lives to one aspect, we lose out on the whole story.  And we make lots of room for attacks, judgement, and unhealthy competition.

In Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, Amy shares her motto:  “Good for her, not for me.”  This should be our response to the women around us. Good for her that she adopted that baby from China. Good for her that she decided to have twelve kids. Good for her that cooks every single organic meal. Good for her that she works that killer job instead. Good for her that she decided to remain childless. Good for her that she fosters. Good for her that she uses breast milk OR uses formula (that means she’s FEEDING HER CHILD!).  Good for her that she wants to wait a long time before having kids. Good for her.

You can know with every ounce of your being that her decision is not for you. And you can still extend a hug instead of an eye roll.

Here’s the bottom line: I don’t want to be judged by my Uterus. And I’m guessing you don’t want to be either.

Let’s cut it out.

Millennial Mothering: My Struggle to be Perfect || Guest Post

Millennial Mothering: My Struggle to be Perfect || Guest Post

I love Millennials, and I love women’s issues.  I try to combine the two, but know I come up short when the discussion turns to motherhood.  That’s why I asked this amazing mother what it’s like.  Meet Ally, my sweet friend.  She told me she is “perfectly imperfect,” and I thought that only made her even more brave and amazing.  She’s hitting on a universal truth.  We aren’t perfect, and so many of us pretend to be/want to be – whether that be in motherhood or anything else.  This is truly beautiful and made me cry about 309 times. (P.S. She talks about how much she doubts herself – but I happen to think she is an INCREDIBLE mother!).  Be encouraged moms!  Be encouraged humans!  Happy Mother’s Day. – Tay xo

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I am a self- proclaimed perfectionist.
I struggle with comparison
I am a mom, a brand new mom
I write major run-on sentences.
I say “like” to much :)
I talk WAY to much
I forget to text/call people back A LOT!
And I struggle with judging myself with each of these things and so many more.

But recently, in the past 9 and a half months of being a mommy, I’ve really been examining this whole perfectionist thing. Who knows if I’m just so exhausted I don’t have the energy for it anymore, or if (and this is what I’m hoping it is) I’m just realizing that it is actually too exhausting to be perfect.
Who’s wanting/ needing me to be perfect?
My husband? Nope
My baby boy? No
My family and friends? Huh uh
God? NO
Me? Yes, wait, why?
Because I’m comparing myself to others. Plain and simple. I’m comparing myself to other mommas. Other Chrisitan women. Other 32 year olds. Etc. but again that all sounds exhausting once I write it down. That’s me wanting ME to be perfect. And I really don’t have the energy for it anymore. So, I’ve started looking at these “imperfections” and I’ve come to realize that they really aren’t that big of a deal.

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My imperfections make me… Me. They aren’t my flaws. Even though everyday my perfectionist self is ridiculously critical of those “flaws.”
I make the mistake (just like all of you I’m sure) and listen to the lies.
We try so hard to cover our blemishes. And I don’t just mean the annoying ones that pop up on our adult faces. But the blemishes that pop into our minds that cause us to bring ourselves down…
I don’t study the bible enough.
I keep the TV on way too much.
I need to lose the rest of this baby weight.
I need to cook for my husband more.
Be the housewife I’m supposed to be since I’m a “stay at home momma.”
(The list could go on for days)
I let those little lie blemishes get to me. Make me judge myself as a mom, a friend, a daughter, a wife and more importantly a Christian. But then I stop and think…
Is my little guy happy? Yes
And more importantly breathing? :) definitely yes
Does my husband know how much I love him? Yes.
Does God love me? Absolutely, without a doubt, YES!
So instead of these blemishes getting me down, I let them be reminders how how much I’m loved for my imperfect self!

And through this examination of my life, well this area of it at least, I’ve come up with a little saying.

“I am perfectly imperfect”

I look into my little boy’s eyes. See his unsurpassable love when he sees me. And know I’m doing it right. We may watch WAY to much tv. Let him play with my iPhone. Stare at the monitor while he sleeps to make sure he’s still breathing. But in spite of all of those different things, that so many people have opinions about, I know I’m doing everything right. Because he loves me and knows that I love him.

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I made this tiny human. I prayed for him for 2 years, no correction, my whole entire life. I love him fiercely, with all my being. I never knew I could love like this. With all of me, without even trying. And because of that I know I’m doing it right. I’m mothering my son. My lovely, sweet, joyful little boy, perfectly. I may be imperfect sometimes all the time but in his eyes and more importantly in God’s eyes I am perfectly imperfect. I am a broken person and that’s just fine. Because I am loved by a loving, forgiving Father. Who loves me so much He heard my cries and prayers to be a mother. And He answered them. And more importantly He died for me. Not because I was am a perfect Christian girl, friend, daughter, wife. But because He loves me for the imperfect being I am. So I’m embracing my imperfect-ness. And living life!

Now, Please don’t read this and think “wow she’s really figured it all out, she’s got it all together”. Haha. Lies. I don’t. Believe me I still deal with these comparisons each and everyday. And I probably will for the rest of my life. I fight that perfectionist girl inside of me All. The. Time. She’s quit annoying actually! But I am learning to love my imperfections. Because God loves me in-spite of them.

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I’m learning to stop, breathe, listen to these imperfections and use them to build myself up. Because if I don’t I end up guilting and shaming myself and that’s counterproductive to what’s supposed to happen. I am human. Not God. I wasn’t designed to be perfect.

So I guess I’m not perfectly imperfect per say but instead…
I am an imperfect human loved by a absolutely perfect GOD!

IMG_3176Follow Ally’s Blog, One Little Mama Bear, HERE

Sometimes It’s Not Always Great

Sometimes It’s Not Always Great

Not Always Great

Sometimes it’s not always great, you know. But we always put our best faces on, don’t we?   We dry up the tears quickly enough to answer, “I’m fine” when the stranger asks us how we are. We never say, “Actually it’s all going to shit, thanks very much.”

Sometimes it’s not always great. We post pictures of our significant other being charming and delicious and never put up pictures representing fights. We caption our photos: “Here are the roses he bought me!” and “Isn’t she the prettiest?”   But we don’t seem to put up pictures of the air conditioning unit. The one that started the fight over saving money on the electric bill and lasted for days.

Sometimes it’s not always great. We look in the mirror and feel fat. Men and women. We both do. We wake up wrapped up in enough insecurity to last a lifetime, but it’s only a Tuesday. So we starve ourselves all day until we get home late at night, convince ourselves we deserve it, and binge. Then we wake up the next morning wrapped up in enough insecurity to last a lifetime, but it’s only a Wednesday.

Sometimes it’s not always great. Loved ones die. Loved ones abuse. Loved ones hurt. Or leave.  Loved ones don’t even know it, but unintentionally wound us. We hurt the most those we love the most. We have ghosts from our past that haunt us; we have ghosts in our future that haven’t popped up yet.

Sometimes it’s not always great. We can be our worst enemy, the villains in our own lives. We worry about somebody breaking into our homes and destroying all our possessions. But we break into our own heads and destroy every ounce of confidence. We say we can’t, we say we don’t deserve it.

Then we feel lonely and the car breaks down.

Sometimes, it’s not always great, you know.

The funny thing is – this lack of greatness, it’s universal. We all understand what it’s like. Yet we all hide it. “Maybe they won’t know I’m royally screwed up if I don’t tell them.” We put on masks; we pretend it’s all good. Some of us hide under religion or education or makeup. It’s like a game we all participate in. The “Who Can Hide Their Shit Better?” Game.

But if we cut the crap, we’d see that it’s sometimes not great for everyone. Then we could use the magic words. Me too. We can’t say them when we are all play The “Who Can Hide Their Shit Better?” Game.  Me too.

You’re a co-dependent? Me too. You’ve been divorced? Me too. You have church issues? Me too. You jumble your words and accidentally say hurtful things? Me too.  You have acne scars? Me too. You feel hate or bitterness? Me too. You feel bored? Me too. You worry if your life will be significant? Me too. You use negative self-talk? Me too. You fight with the people you love? Me too.

Sometimes it’s not always great? ME TOO.

Take off the mask. It’s amazing how many other people will join you.

Image via Flickr