with Lynne and Leslie

Why I’ll miss Julia the most on “Parenthood”

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here!

As you know if you read this blog at all, both of us are die-hard fans of NBC’s one-episode-from-the-end family drama “Parenthood,” which is not to say that we are always fans of the show’s creative choices or of its characters. But that’s what family is – you don’t always like ‘em but you do always love ‘em.

So I cried through last night’s episode, the last one until the series finale (the real finale, and not that fake NBC “the last episode before the last episode before the fall finale” crap they do in previews), because this show makes everybody cry. And I realized something weird – the character whose story I was most interested in seeing the conclusion of was Julia (Erika Christensen), the youngest Braverman daughter and, at least initially, the most financially successful besides oldest brother Adam (Peter Krause).

And that’s funny because when the show debuted, not only was Julia the least-focused on, character-wise, but probably the Braverman kid that got the least attention, perhaps because she seemed to have it all figured out and wasn’t as much drama as overgrown man-child Crosby (Dax Shepard) and perpetual screw-up Sarah (Lauren Graham). And with her sweet supportive husband and cute, if hideously bratty daughter, high-powered lawyer Julia was the one you didn’t have to worry about. So the show didn’t and neither did I – other than her pretty husband, I never paid her much mind.

When the show started, the character I most identified with was Adam’s wife Kristina (Monica Potter), who’d grown up in an unhappy family and wasn’t always appreciative of the way the Bravermans barged in, physically and emotionally, into each other’s business. (I’m from a big family who’s in and out of each other’s business, even across state lines, and I get it. We’re exhausting.) What a difference six season makes. When “Parenthood” debuted, I’d been married for less than a month. Now, right before my fifth anniversary, I realize that I relate much more to the nuances of marriage as seen through the eyes of Julia and Joel (Sam Jaeger) than to Kristina, a dedicated mother who’s become, to me, increasingly sour and self-righteous.

Julia, however, has become more intriguing because she’s had to find out who she was as a wife, a mother, a professional, a woman and even in the order of her original family. When the show begins, she’s the breadwinner, and Joel, who was in contracting and had seen his work affected by the economy, is happy to be the primary at-home parent. And it works perfectly, so the two don’t see how deciding to add another child to their family would be anything less than perfect – perfect-er! But life happens, as we know it does, and they can’t get pregnant again. Then the young woman who was to let them adopt her baby changes her mind. So they adopt Victor, an older child who’d been in foster care and who made them work for his affection because he was afraid of being rejected again.

Wow.  Suddenly Julia’s life felt real to me, more real than the nth iteration of Sarah screwing up relationships at will and Adam and Kristina’s various personal and professional conflicts. The always stable attorney quits her job, so that she can be around to provide the stability that both her kids need, at the same time that Joel’s career starts picking up again. But this causes issues that the always-solid rock of the family never predicted. She hadn’t considered how much of her identity was wrapped up in her job, how much her confidence rested on it. Meanwhile, her sacrifice at work doesn’t magically make things easier at home, and as Joel’s star rises, Julia flounders. She’s threatened by Joel’s success, horrified a little to realize how selfish that felt, and envious that he got to have an escape, one he’d not had for years.

Then came the convoluted conflict that TV shows have to have, the writerly script things thrown in just because someone in a meeting thought there needed to be some drama: Julia begins flirting with a fellow parent at their kids’ school, a dad who, like her, is a displaced professional, as Joel’s very attractive lady boss begins showing some interest in him. Because she’s always the one in control, Julia refuses to admit there’s an issue until an ill-fated kiss between her and the school dad, which throws Joel into an anger spiral that almost immediately results in him shutting her out and moving out.

That part felt stupid and rushed, but it went to the heart of the problem in many relationships of any type – people not talking to each other and assuming they’d all work out because they always had. By the time Joel realizes he’s screwed up and wants to sort it out, the divorce papers are being signed. Julia’s dating a college friend who is now her boss at her new law firm, the kids are adjusting to the split as best they can, and she pleads with him to just sign the papers already…about three seconds before they wind up in bed together. And from there, the two start a semi-secret reconciliation, which was cemented in last night’s episode when Joel moves back in. Daughter Sidney is thrilled but Victor, who knows a thing or two about chaos, isn’t convinced. How do they know, he asks, that they won’t wind up fighting and miserable again?

They don’t. And this is where I realized how much I love Julia and how I will miss her the most, because she and Joel have the most real conversation about marriage I’ve seen on TV in some time, maybe ever. Joel realizes that Julia’s still in close contact with her now-ex, still her boss, and that this makes him uncomfortable. They both realize that they hadn’t considered a lot of stuff, and that there’s a lot to talk about. Joel doesn’t want to fight about it, because he, like the kids, is afraid of the fragile truce fracturing. Julia, on the other hand is “afraid not to fight,” because she doesn’t want the problems that exploded the first time to be repeated. So they sit in their car, away from the kids, and hash it out. It’s not pleasant. But it’s part of making it work. And I believe it will.

I have told this story before, but it bears recapping – the best advice I’ve ever gotten about marriage was from a former college Christian fellowship staffer when I was a freshman, who told us that she’d learned in her first year as a wife that “love is not a feeling. Love is a commitment.” Marriage is work. Marriage is details and conflict and compromise and just talking about stuff you’d rather just put a Band-aid on before moving on to brunch, because it never, hopefully, ends. “Parenthood” is the story of several marriages, but somehow Julia and Joel’s, the one that briefly ended, is the one that seems the most real, the story that is the most about these two people and the choices they make to do the work. Julia used to be the one I ignored because she seemed so figured out, but it’s her conflicts that made her real. Bravo.

Ode To My Kid’s Crib Upon Finding That He Can Get Out Of It

by SweetMidlife

by Lynne, with apologies to Boyz II Men. But not really.

How do I say goodbye to what we had?

The high bars that kept him in helped Mom and Dad.

I thought we’d have more time together

But that boy learned to climb, yes he did.

It’s so hard to say to say goodbye to your kid’s crib.

So I’ll take with me the memories (with me the memories)

Of the peace of having a nice confined kid

It’s so hard to say goodbye to your kid’s crib (Crib-i-i-i-i-i-i-ib)

Pouring a drink out for my homie, the crib.

Pouring a drink out for my homie, the crib.

Love Is A House

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here.

Last weekend, my sister and I both traveled from our houses (mine in Maryland and hers in Florida), each with the kid we raise (we each have a toddler), and went to my Mom’s house in Little Rock for a few days. It was beautiful and laugh-filled, and it is also weird because I just wrote “my Mom’s house” and not “my parents’ house”, a phrase it has been very hard to say. See, this is the first time that we’d been to Arkansas since our dad’s funeral 3 years ago.

And it was better than last time, but still weird.

The last time I was there were two trips, actually, a few weeks apart. The first was Fathers’ Day Weekend of 2012, when my husband and I took our then 2-week old son to meet my dad, who was dying. We knew it. We knew it. But I was still in some denial that he would pull through. And they met, and Daddy was happy. And he stopped talking while we were there, and the baby, my mom, my aunts and uncle and I went back and forth to the hospital. Mommy and Daddy’s house was respite, because we got to leave the hospital and the sadness there and be comfortable, and act like things were normal, which is good in those situations. And a lie. But you need some normalcy in those times. And I got to go to Daddy’s office upstairs and pray and wish that he would recover and come back home, and sit in that chair, and maybe tell my mom the WiFi password, because she forgot it and we counted on him to know these things. And we went back to MD, and Daddy died about a week later.

The second trip was on July 4, when my husband and baby and I went back for Daddy’s funeral. We have a big family, so it took time to get it together and to make sure that everyone would be there. And there are a bunch of us, and we had like 8 people sleeping there. And the house was a respite again, but this time from the funeral home and the viewing and cemetery visits, and the wake and the funeral, and also the Mexican place up the street with $2.50 Happy Hour Margaritas. We liked that. And it was great to have a place to rest and nurse and pump milk and watch TV and eat all of the food people brought (ALL. THE. FOOD.) and laugh some. But there were also tears there, and the realization that Daddy wasn’t coming back, at least not in the flesh, and going into his office felt so strange, and we still didn’t know the WiFi password.

In the years since, we have missed him, and seen Mommy a lot, because she has come up here to Maryland for holidays and such, since most of our family are still here, and she has been to Florida to see Leslie’s family, too, so we have had plenty of Mommy, but because of time and money and the like, neither of us had been down to Little Rock since the funeral. And it was a beautiful weekend. I felt Daddy’s presence, but the sadness was removed from it. I did have some moments, sitting in the chair that I fed my kid in when we were there for the funeral, and looking at the couch where I slept while my infant son slept in a drawer (yes, we did that) between hospital visits, and I thought of the cloud that hung over us the last time we were there, the tangible fog that is grief. But I then remembered that this was also the same couch that we watched all the Law and Order with Daddy on, and the same one we slept on in front of the fireplace when we came to visit for Christmas and the heat went out because of a massive ice storm. And that kitchen table was the one that held all of that funeral food, but also the one where we ate leftover catfish, and the one that my dad sat at when he tearfully told our then-boyfriends/now-husbands that Leslie and I were the most important things in the world to him, and that they needed to take care of us (my husband swears that my dad was pointing a gun at them under the table, but that did not happen, but you know daddies and daughters). And that kitchen counter was where all of the bottles sat when we were there last, but it also held the Fry Daddy that our Daddy fried the aforementioned fish in. And there was the old fashioned popcorn popper that he stayed up all night one Christmas Eve to put together for Mommy. And in the living room there used to be a hospital bed, but there were also the pictures of family that Daddy “borrowed” from people’s houses and set up on his coffee table. Because that’s what homes are. They are keepers of all of your memories, both happy and painful. And if you are fortunate, the meter click backs to happy again. Even on those sad visits, there was some joy, and on this past weekend, there were toddlers and trucks and Pack and Plays and also Margaritas, because yes. Daddy never met Leslie’s little one, and only saw mine for a weekend, but we didn’t land on that. We landed on how he would have had a good time running around with them, but also would have set those tantrums straight. He would have loved it. So even though we missed him, and missed him greatly (and my mother misses him in that space daily), it was a circle of life thing (which is fitting because The Lion King was my Daddy’s favorite EVAH). Life goes on. And that’s really, really good.

Fuzzy picture of a boy, his Mommy and his zebra, all going to Arkansas.

Fuzzy picture of a boy, his Mommy’s hair and shoulder, and his zebra, all going to Arkansas.


Don’t Be a Screen-Obsessed Zombie with Questionable Pull-Ups

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here.

Friends of ours at church were giving away a toy laptop for toddlers, and we snapped it up for our kid. He loved it, and when we finally put batteries in it, he liked it even more, because it actually did stuff, like talk about music, and every time you push a letter, it tells you about a different animal, and it has a little doggie on it who dances, and the whole thing is really funny. We let him play with it for an extended time last night, even into what is usually story time, so he only wanted 4 stories instead of the usual 87 he asks for. When I went into get him this morning, he was standing up in his crib, pointing to the laptop, saying “My ‘puter!” Now, the smell coming from his Pull-Up was toxic and very offensive to anyone who has a nose, but my kid was so ready to play, he ignored it. And I let him play for a few more minutes, and he giggled and laughed and danced while fumes came out of his butt. He let me lay him down to change him, while he held the laptop up in the air. It was kinda sad. Because I have often been so preoccupied with checking Facebook, or seeing who just e-mailed me, or who got kicked off on Top Chef, that I forgot to eat first, and wondered why my stomach was beating me up. And that was because I had been up for an hour blinded by my screen.

Here is what I think. Computers are awesome and such, because I am using one to write this here blog post on, but don’t love them so much that you forget to bathe or talk to people and form sentences or eat or go to the bathroom. I want to set a better example for my kid, and I need to do better for me, too.

Plug in. But take care of your business too.



The impending end of “Parenthood,” grief and “appropriateness”

by SweetMidlife


This is Leslie, and both my sister and I are dreading the end of our frustrating, exhilarating and ultimately emotionally binding stint as quasi-members of talky-talky fictional Bay area family the Bravermans, of NBC’s “Parenthood” (or as my husband calls it, ‘I just hate those people.’)

I don’t hate the Bravermans, a multi-generational, sometimes too-close band of brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, nieces, uncles, aunts, nephews, aunt’s boyfriends, niece’s rage-happy boyfriends and whatnot. I love them. And I include all of those relationships to point out the complicated and very realistic way in which the scripted family is connected, and how the actions and affections of someone you didn’t even consider yourself all that close to can impact your life, particularly if, like the Bravermans, you’re all up under each other all the time and don’t seem to have enough friends you aren’t related to.

Those sometimes painful but unbreakable ties, as in life, sometimes exhibit themselves in times of stress, as in last Thursday’s episode, when the Bravermans are gathered in what Lynne and I can tell you is the unhappiest place on earth – a hospital waiting room at some Godforsaken hour waiting to hear if your father’s going to live or not. And in that moment of overwhelming fear and dread – their father Zeek (Craig T. Nelson) has probably just had a heart attack – any other emotion that manages to edge its way into the room is welcome, at least for a couple of seconds before the clouds come crashing down when the doors swing open.

So as they’re sitting there, trying not to cry, sister Julia (Erika Christiansen) walks in obviously dressed in the outfit she was wearing the night before (She’s…reacquainting herself with her ex-husband. Without her pants.)  Her sisters and niece rib her about it, which to me seemed not only completely natural – these people are all up in each other’s business, after all, so of course they’d comment – but healthy, because it’s normal to not want to talk about your father possibly dying several hundred feet away.

So normal did it seem that the moment sort of went over my head, until I read the recap on EW.com, which I read faithfully. The writer, Michelle Newman, liked the episode but was bothered by the mid-tragedy jocularity – ” I get that it’s a natural instinct in times like this to try to deflect the enormity of the situation, but the gossipy nature of their conversation seemed inappropriate, no matter how much I wanted to know all the deets,” she writes.

I read that passage over three or four times, and then called my sister and paraphrased it for her. And as good a writer as Newman is, this made us wonder if she’s ever been in that waiting room, if she’s ever lost someone. If she has, and she grieves differently, no judgement. I hope that her method got her through, and that she is doing well. But we wholeheartedly disagree, like, a lot, that appropriateness has anything whatsoever to do with that moment. Not in the thick of things.

Look: An unscheduled walk of shame to focus on is a gift in this situation. Lynne and I are part of the sad Parental Loss club, but since childhood have been going to funerals, sitting vigil in waiting rooms and at bedsides, and, as of the death of my mother-in-law almost five years ago, sitting shiva.

And while I believe that it’s inappropriate to start stuff with your family in a moment of weakness, like, unrelated stuff that could wait, life continues even as Death prepares to ring the doorbell (Lord, I wish you could yell “We aren’t here!” and turn the porch light off until it goes dejectedly back to its car and goes away.) Babies will pee in the pew at the funeral. The florist will mistakenly but beautifully decorate the wreath from your cousin Chick and family “Chicken Family,” and everyone you are related to will laugh so hard that it’s painful, even as the rest of the mourners look at you like you crazy. Your father will miss Gladys Knight’s performance on “Dancing With The Stars” because he’s on his way to dialysis, and even though he needs the dialysis to live, he will grumble about it, because he was only watching this stupid show for Gladys.

Every single one of those things has happened in the past 30 years to us and I can tell you this – You do not stop loving, eating, peeing, laughing or being human in the middle of tragedy. Humanity is a gift in these cases, in those rooms. Humanity keeps you sane, or as sane as you can be kept, because you’re trying to scratch your brain out of your skull trying to keep it from chanting “He’s gonna die. He’s gonna die. Hey, Hoda’s hair looks nice! He’s gonna die.”

The Bravermans are not perfect. I do not understand some of their romantic or parenting choices, or entirely where their money comes from, or how moving from a giant rambling house with land in the expensive Bay area to an expensive big Victorian in a nice neighborhood in San Francisco is considered downsizing. I think, again, that they’d all benefit from having friends they aren’t sleeping with whose last names are not and have never been “Braverman.”

But I understand their passionate devotion, how they have never loved anyone more than each other while considering each the burr under their collective saddles. I understand how hard it is to extricate yourself from your family, even if you wanted to, and how sometimes you get all tossed together like an artisanal cranberry and feta salad, bumping against each other, and don’t even realize how good you go together until the spinning stops.

And I know that in those moments, I would not dare tell someone not to crack on their sister’s presumed previous activities, or their hair, or Hoda’s hair, or what’s on the front of the paper, or whatever worms its way into the room. Because I have been in that room, and know this: The pain that might be coming? THAT IS WHAT IS INAPPROPRIATE. It’s evil. It’s the Devil. It’s inevitable, maybe, but it sucks and it just feels wrong. Pain is interrupting your walk of shame, and Gladys Knight, and life, not the other way around. So if being a little tacky gets you through? You get a pass.

Today’s Overthink: That Dannon Greek Yogurt Commercial

by SweetMidlife

It’s Thursday and this is Lynne!!

Been thinking. I hope that's good.

Been thinking. I hope that’s good.

And I have probably over-thought this post and okay.

So, I have been nursing a cold the past few days, and I have been doing more sitting around than usual, and I have been reading and watching TV and allowing myself to get better while at the same time keeping my kid from jumping off of the bookcase. And more TV. And one of the things that you see a lot of when you watch daytime TV, especially at the beginning of the year, are lots of weight loss commercials. This coincides with people’s New Year resolutions to take better care of themselves, so weight loss and diet food and exercise equipment companies unveil these ads in early January like beer companies do for the Super Bowl. Yes indeed-y.

The one that started a rant for me and thus inspired this post was one for Dannon Light and Fit Greek Nonfat Yogurt. It has “The Power” by Snap! in the background, and in the commercial, a woman in an office sees a guy eating the largest cookie ever made, but because she is eating Dannon Greek yogurt and all of its healthy yummy protein, she has The Power (see what they did there?) to overcome that temptation and not want the cookie. And she takes her spoon from her yogurt, waves it like a wand, and zaps the guy’s cookie and shrinks it. Yay, yogurt spoon! Then another female co-worker comes up with HER Dannon Light and Fit Greek Nonfat Yogurt and uses her magic spoon to shrink the massive donut another guy is eating! And Snap sings, and everybody dance now, since we are in 90’s dance-music territory! And the guys look confused, and the magic spoon-armed ladies laugh and they are powerful and hooray Dannon!!

But something bothered me, and this is where the over-thinking comes in because it’s probably not that deep but here it is….

….They were zapping and shrinking someone else’s food. They were the ones trying to control their weight and feel good about it, but instead of just walking away from temptation and being happy with their yogurt, they saw someone else and derailed that person’s good time because the yogurt ladies couldn’t handle it. The ladies were the ones on the diet, not those other guys.

I get it. I do. I have been on a million and one diets, and started lifestyle changes, and I understand grasping the new knowledge that you get in a new program, and the enthusiasm that you have to have for the changes you need to make to actually stick. And you kind of become an evangelist about cutting carbs, or clean eating, or eating mindfully, or whatever it is you are doing because you want everybody to know how this can change their lives too! And it is good because those people are helped, but also easier if you don’t have to be around donut eaters because no one else is eating donuts either! But it doesn’t work like that.

Because successful change doesn’t happen, in my opinion, just because everyone has adapted to you. It happens when you learn to control your life and make better choices on your own, and then uphold those changes in the face of everybody else’s having not changed. It’s learning how to navigate your life in the midst of the real world. That’s real power. The power to be YOU and do what is best for YOU, a proud yogurt eater among the massive-donut eaters.

At least that’s what I think. But I could be over-thinking this.


Bringing Sexy Back. In a Few Days.

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here. And that exclamation point was about all of the energy I have today.

I have a cold that I caught from my husband, who had it over the weekend. Some time on Monday night, it crept into my nose and I am sorry about that visual. But that is how it feels, y’all. I spent most of yesterday in bed, since my husband stayed home to take care of me and to make sure that the toddler didn’t wreck me, himself or the house. I feel better today, but still yucky, and it’s just me and the little boy today. And also Peppa Pig, monster truck videos on You Tube, and apricot preserves and a spoon. Those are my helpers.

I realized sometime this morning that the leggings I am wearing this Wednesday morning have been on my body since Monday night. They looked cute when I wore them with high boots and a cute dress to see my cousin be sworn in as State’s Attorney for a nearby county.  Now, paired with this red t-shirt with Cupid on it and various food stains, they look, well, sad. And that my sweet husband has had to share a bed with that for the last few nights.

Yeah, buddy!

Which reminds me of a lesson that I am learning, 4 years into this marriage thing, and that is this: sexy is fleeting. Sometimes I am snotty and achy and exhausted, and I can’t be bothered with showering, let alone lipstick. But that is okay. Because it be like that sometimes. Shoot, my normal is kinda natural, with maybe lip balm and lipstick, and if I am felling really fancy, eye liner. But these last few days I have ridden the train to grubby. But you know what IS sexy? A man who goes to the Rite-Aid at 7 am to get you more Dayquil and hand sanitizer. Because that is a man who cares, and who sees past the snot. And who doesn’t want to get sick again. But who also sees me through the ick.

So, I will take advantage of this rest, and put water on my body, and bring sexy back. Soon.




Five lines from ’90s Westerns I’ve said to toddlers

by SweetMidlife

1) “I’m your huckleberry!” (“Tombstone): Uttered during standoffs where the toddler is looking for a fight, and although you weigh more than him and can just snatch him up and put him to bed, you make eye contact and explain that you’re up to the challenge. And can also just snatch him up and put him to bed.

2) “You called down the thunder and now you’ve got it!” (“Tombstone”): Actually said by me, yesterday, to the wriggling little spider monkey in my arms who found out what happens when you test the “I swear if you throw that remote one more time, you’re going to nap time” rule. (I don’t bluff. Go and tell the other toddlers.)

3) “Tell them the law’s coming. Tell them I’m coming! And HELL’S COMING WITH ME!” (“Tombstone”) : I did not actually say that to a toddler. I said it to my husband after the “You called down the thunder” incident, because it’s the next line in the speech and I felt like a baller.

4) “You call yourself the scourge of New Mexico? By God, I am New Mexico!” (‘Young Guns 2″) This was a thwarted attempt to get said toddler to stop throwing my pot lids around. He thought it was hilarious. Was not taken seriously. Burned by a toddler. Not a good look.

5) “You killed the boys, Patsy!” (“Young Guns 2): OK, so the stuffed turtle and bear weren’t dead. But he did throw them off the couch, and then looked at me like “Why are my friends on the floor???” Umm, cause you rude?

You Can’t Do Anything If You Are Passed Out On the Floor

by SweetMidlife

Happy First Monday in January! Lynne here.

I won’t keep you long because I know you have a whole bunch to do. This is the first non-vacation day in a little bit for a bunch of you. Your kids are going back to school, you are going back to work, and if your work is at home, well, nothing has really changed. I just know that we are busy with the tasks that we have to do today, and if you are like a lot of folks, you are also armed with resolutions and changes that you are going to make this year and you are ready and you are going to be organized and pick up after yourself and eat healthy and workout and I am already tired after just writing that list. Because even though all of these changes are designed to make your life better, in the rush to get it all done, we forget that we’re supposed to feel better.

Like this morning, I was running around trying to get the kitchen clean and take laundry downstairs because I am pledging to keep up with housework, and our tree is still up, and my husband wasn’t feeling well so I made him breakfast, and I read my Bible devotional because I need to ground myself spiritually, and then the toddler woke up and I brought him his firetruck so he could play while the oatmeal for my husband was finishing, and I drank some water, because hydration and whatnot. But I remembered that I had been up for hours and I hadn’t eaten anything myself.

Taking these down is another thing I am supposed to do. Yeah.

Taking these down is another thing I am supposed to do. Yeah.

And if you are passed out on the floor from all of the changing, well, that’s no good, is it?

The point of all of this discipline is supposed to be a better you, right? And you need a you for you to be better. So give yourself a break. Tackle a few things, get those square, then start on something else. By all means, have goals and stick to them. But we need you around in the process, okay? Do your thing, but feel good doing it. Take care of yourself.


Here’s some happy music as you go through your day.


Fabulous ’15! Five resolutions you can keep!

by SweetMidlife
It's a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.

It’s a blank slate. You might as well fill it well.


Leslie here! I greet you on this fine New Year’s Day from the Sweet Midlife’s southern headquarters, over a green smoothie and an episode from Season 4 of “The Wire.” My husband is sitting on the couch next to me under an afghan knitted by my Great-Aunt Martha. Many of those details figure into my New Year’s Resolutions…stop rolling your eyes. Yes, yes, I like you have been super stoked about all the stuff I was gonna do on Jan. 1, involving diet, exercise, job, you name it.

And Jan. 27 I, like you, was like “Screw it. Ice cream and couches rule.”

My sister wrote recently about her resolution to be more loving, and that’s an amazing thing to promise. That’s certainly on my list, but here are five more things I think I can stick to. For real. Stop side-eyeing me. You haven’t read them yet!

1) Be specific about my health goals while being realistic and non-sadistic. That rhymes. Almost like a Johnnie Cochran situation. But there are no gloves to fit into this one, just a middle-aged woman trying to fit into the clothes she was trying to be too skinny to fit into last year (and ain’t that a pip?). Last year I had a very mapped-out goal, to dive into a clean eating program, to work out a specific amount of time, and lose a specific amount of weight. This worked out quite well until a kid came to live with us in March, and to paraphrase Sweet Brown, ain’t nobody have time for making tomato soup from scratch. I beat myself up for my failure to fit my previous resolve into our new life, and got fatter for it. This year, I have decided to be proactive about my eating and working out and not use my fatigue as an excuse, because either I’m gonna do it or I’m not. Won’t get done for me. But I also refuse to use a timeline, and to beat myself up if that arbitrary deadline doesn’t pan out. Instead it’s day by day – I’ve got this smoothie, already told the guys at the gym they’ll see me today, and am going to hit my ab work the minute I get finished typing this. If we get lunch I get a salad or something not fried. I keep that up. I feel good about it. I go to bed and don’t tie my self worth into the choices I made. And then start over tomorrow.

Let's do this! Sweaty and set on change!

Let’s do this! Sweaty and set on change!

2) Call my grandmother more: And my aunties and my uncles, and my goddaughter and cousins and all the people I wonder about but don’t always pick up a phone and talk to.

3) Write everything down – I am not the most organized person in the world (understatement understatement understatement) and making myself write stuff down – my grocery list, the errands I have to run, my blogging and work interview schedule my work out goals – keeps me honest and accountable and not slapping myself in the forehead and going “Acck! I was supposed to blah blah blah!”

4) Finish what I started – meaning the novel I’ve been hovering around for three years in various incarnations. This year. For real. Been too long.

5) Be better to my skin: My consistent skin care regimen for the last 43 years, between a Grand Canyon’s worth of products, has basically been “Black don’t crack.” (Ahem) But my family’s excellent genes don’t mean I shouldn’t wear sunscreen, or daily wash my face with….something, and drink lots of water. I need to not be the first woman in my family to look her age.

I think these are all do-able. Sometimes stuff is hard, the stuff we need to do to survive. But it doesn’t have to be awful, or unpleasant. Let’s do it! Who’s with me?

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