Posts in Connection

Feeling Invisible and the Grace of Strangers

January 10th, 2018 Posted by Connection 2 thoughts on “Feeling Invisible and the Grace of Strangers”

“Hi! Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you! I just had to say something to you. I’ve seen you walking, and I want to wish you the best with your baby!”

Pressing one hand into the small of my back and using my other hand to shade my eyes, I stop, squint, and search for the voice. Is that person talking to me?

Even though it’s only 6:30 a.m., the sun in already beating down on me. I feel sweat rolling down the back of my neck, seeping into the regular-sized-person exercise top I pulled snug over my nine-month pregnant belly. I’ve been pounding the pavement for days, weeks, really, begging for this baby to be born. The other two just…came on their own. But this one seems content to hunker down.

So I’ve been walking. And walking. And walking. Long and with purpose. And still no baby.

I pull one earbud out of my ear and see the car creeping along beside me, the window rolled down, and this lady waving to me.

“I’ve loved watching you! Good luck!”

And she rolls away.

What? She’s been watching me? She’s seen me?

I smile, just a little, my mood softening, just a little. I plug my earbud back in and finish my walk. Maybe this walk will be the one that brings on this baby.

Is that the baby? Can I see him? We’ve been watching you and wondering if you’ve had that baby!

Michael just got out the NICU a couple of days ago, and we’re out for one of our first walks. I’m battered and bruised both physically and mentally. I hear phantom beeps of monitors. I only just stopped crying a couple of days ago. But I can’t hide in our house because I also have a toddler and a life and a dog that needs walking.

I guide the BOB over and pull back the Aiden and Anais blanket.

“Oh, he’s so cute!” they say. “And you look great!”

I’ll take whatever I can get, so I thank them, and we start back home.

“Slow down! Slow down, please!”

I know they won’t listen, so I don’t know why I bother saying it. They love to run down this steep hill. All I can see when they do that are skinned knees and tears. And yet….oh well, there they go.

I’m huffing as I push Thomas in the BOB, this fateful single BOB we’ve had since Kate was born. We got it as a gift from my parents. I remember we were so excited because we love to walk our neighborhood, and we decided this was the perfect stroller for our walking lifestyle. Dan got it all put together, and I rolled it around our family room, my big belly between me and the handle bar, dreaming about the baby that would sit inside that stroller.

Little did I know how much she’d scream. Like scream for the entire walk. And the first several years of her life. Oh, well.

Anyway. I’m pushing Thomas with one hand, holding Beatrice on the leash in the other hand. It’s October, so it’s still warm, but not too warm. And I can see that the sun is working towards that autumn light. I’m watching Kate and Michael run on the sidewalk when I feel a car slow down next to me. Oh, no. Another parent lost on their way to baseball practice.

I’m about to explain how to get to Yeonas Park when this lady rolls down the window and before I can say anything she says:

“I’ve been watching you for years. I remember when you were pregnant with that little girl. And you had an older dog, right? And now, wow! Look at you. Three kids. Amazing. You are truly blessed, and it’s been a blessing watching you. Bye!”

I stand there like I’ve been stunned. You’ve been watching me? YOU SEE ME? YOU REALLY SEE ME?!

When I became a mother, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t know how to feed a baby or put a baby to sleep or how to deal with a baby who wouldn’t stop crying. Three kids later, I figured out all those things. I learned to breastfeed while strolling the aisles of Harris Teeter while talking on the phone with my mom. Spontaneous puking doesn’t even make me blink. Poop everywhere is a daily part of my life. I don’t get to go anywhere without at least one child ending up on the ground screaming and crying and generally acting a fool. I employ the football hold on the daily, wrangling a kid in the other arm while the football-carried child kicks and cries and everyone watches me, and I don’t care.

I got used to all that stuff. I, dare I say, even mastered all that stuff.

But what I never, ever got used to and never, ever figured out was how to deal with feeling invisible. Sure, what I did mattered in that it kept children alive. But what about who I was? Did that matter? Did I matter? Who was I anymore, anyway?

I think, on some level, we all want to be seen. I know I do. Life with little kids has made me a hermit. I can’t take Thomas anywhere. The other day I tried to go to Target, and he ran away from me so many times I finally gave up and abandoned our Dollar Spot Valentines cards, RX Bars, and L’Oréal’s newest mascara because I wasn’t going to chase him one more time and watch people’s horrified expressions one more time.

So I’m home. A lot. Sometimes I worry I don’t know how to be a part of the world anymore. That being home and feeling invisible stripped away my personness. I fear I won’t know how to interact with people. I’m scared I’m fading away.

The other day I had to go to Athleta to pick up a top my store ordered for me from another store. I had both boys with me. I braced myself for what I knew they would do. Hide in clothing racks and pop out at shoppers just trying to buy cute printed tights. I knew they would slide around the dressing room floor. I knew I’d need to beg them not to peek their heads under dressing room curtains.

When I got to the store, several Athleta corporate employees happen to be there. I panicked just a little. I wanted to be able to speak intelligently, hold a conversation. And keep an eye on my boys who would undoubtedly be destroying piles of neatly folded tank tops.

I managed to pick up my shirt, make good enough small talk, and as I was leaving (and coaxing Thomas out from under a display), a man shopping with his wife turned to me and said “you’ve really managed a lot here in the past 30 minutes!”

Pulling Thomas out from under the mannequin, I smiled and thanked him.

I feel invisible because I can’t even see myself. The other day I read a comic and the mom in the comic (also a mom of three) remarked that she couldn’t even remember her own name. I totally get that. But just because I feel invisible doesn’t mean it’s true.

People are out there, extending me grace. It’s up to me to see it. And be sure to pass it on to the next person I see. Maybe she feels invisible, too. Well. I see you.

#Reverb17 // August 2017 // Places

August 30th, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “#Reverb17 // August 2017 // Places”

If you want to learn more about #reverb, check out my huge #reverb archive. Join the #reverb Facebook group here!

Prompt for August 2017: 5 Places You’ve Visited, Would Love to Go Again, or a New Place to Experience

Travel right now in my life is not my favorite. Going any place with my kids is a trip. Definitely not a vacation. Oh well. At some point they won’t be so terrible to travel with. Until then…

5. The Outerbanks. We go to Duck, N.C. every year, with varying results. Last year was so fun. This year? Not so much. Kate realized creatures live in the ocean (e.g. jelly fish, crabs, fish). So she refused to go in. Then Michael refused to go in. Also, they didn’t like that the beach is sandy. But! This year I tried Stand Up Paddleboard and Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga for the first time. I loved it! I could paddleboard all day. It looks challenging – but it’s not really. If you have the chance try it!

4. Sedona, A.Z. I LOVE Arizona. I’ve only been to Sedona twice, but it’s one of my favorite places. I love the terrain – there’s something so mystical about it! I also love the sunny days and dry heat.

3. Santa Ana Pueblo / Albuquerque / Santa Fe New Mexico. Dan and I are going to New Mexico in September! This is our first trip without kids in over five years! Can’t wait! This is also our first time to New Mexico, so I’d love some suggestions!

2. Many, many years ago when I was a sophomore in high school, I went to San Francisco for a journalism conference. We went to Alcatraz, rode the trolley, saw seals on the pier, and trekked around Muir Woods. I loved that trip, and I’d love to go back as an adult.

1. After I graduated college, my family went on a cruise around Key West and a few surrounding areas. I loved Key West and Hemingway’s House. I didn’t really love the rest of the trip (I found the rocking of the boat make me nauseated, and, strangely, so did snorkeling). But I did enjoy the festive feeling (and the key lime pie!) of Key West.

Where is your favorite place to travel? And I’ll take all your New Mexico suggestions!

#reverb17 // July 2017 // Food

August 2nd, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “#reverb17 // July 2017 // Food”

I am catching up on #reverb prompts because they’re fun, and I feel like it! If you want to learn more about #reverb, check out my huge #reverb archive. Join the #reverb Facebook group here!

Prompt for July 2017: 6 Recipes/Restaurants/Treats You’ve Tried or Want to Try this Year

1. PrepDish sponsored my podcast for July, and I love the PrepDish blog and the meal plans. The founder, Allison, is a dietician and a former private chef, so she knows her stuff when it comes to nutrition, health, and what real people want to eat. I love their meal plans and recipes. For a free two week trial, go to – tell me how it goes!

2. I just ordered and received two new cook books: 100 Days of Real Food and 100 Days of Real Food: Fast and Fabulous. I’ve only flipped through, but, so far, I love what I see! Can’t wait to test these recipes out.

3. We’ve been eating dinner at the pool, and an easy way to make a pool-side dinner is with my crock pot. I cooked two large chicken breasts on low in a carton of chicken stock for about eight hours. Then I removed the breasts, shredded them with two forks, and added them to a bowl. Then I added a good quality barbeque sauce a tablespoon at a time until I reached the desired saturation. So good! The kids had them on tortillas, and I ate it plain with salad.

4. Acai bowls. I LOVE acai bowls. My favorite frozen acai is from Trader Joes. It is the perfect amount and doesn’t contain sugar. Good grief, I get so frustrated with added sugar.

5. RX Bars. I tried to eat real meals whenever possible and avoid things like bars. But, when I need a quick snack and don’t have time to make myself a smoothie or some other healthy, real food snack, I reach for RX bars. They contain only real ingredients, taste awesome, and tide me over.

6. Scrambles. Scrambles are my go-to meal. I know some people don’t like eggs or are dairy free. Hang on, I have a suggestion for you. For those of you who do like eggs, scramble those up and put anything in there. It’ll taste great! I like to do peppers, spinach, chicken sausage, sweet potatoes, etc… For those of you who don’t like eggs, saute those veggies, protein, and starches and then add some quinoa. The quinoa will act as your binder, similar to what the eggs do.

What have you been munching on?

#reverb17 // June 2017 // 7 Ways to Kick Back and Enjoy Summer

July 31st, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “#reverb17 // June 2017 // 7 Ways to Kick Back and Enjoy Summer”

I am catching up on #reverb prompts because they’re fun, and I feel like it! If you want to learn more about #reverb, check out my huge #reverb archive. Join the #reverb Facebook group here!

Prompt for June 2017: 7 Ways to Kick Back and Enjoy Summer

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite time of year. I love not having to deal with school, I love the long days, I love the sun, I love the heat, I love the pool. Here are my favorite ways to enjoy summer

1. The pool, obviously. The pool is my happy place. The kids have fun and no one fights! Our pool is only a few minutes away, and it’s filled with the nicest families. I know the pool can be stressful, so last summer I made a Pool Mom Guide that I hope helps make the pool more fun!

2. Find a refreshing summer drink. For me, that’s cold brew. Sometimes I make it, sometimes I buy it. It’s all good.

3. Create a summer uniform. I like to plan ahead, and this summer I knew I would be at the pool and park and otherwise sweating outside. So I planned head with cool and sweat wicking clothes. I have tons of loose and comfy t-shirts and tank tops and lightweight leggings. I’m cool, casual, and comfy.

4. All the fruit! My kids go through so much summer fruit. We eat lots of watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, etc…

5. Garden crops. Truth be told, I don’t take much, if any, responsibility for the garden. I bought the plants, and my mother-in-law helped me put them in the ground. And Dan tends to them. That being said, I love looking at it! And I love when Dan brings in the fresh tomatoes. And I enjoy eating them.

6. Go semi-routineless. I love structure and routine. But I also love an open schedule. The summer lets me do both. Swim team and swim lessons in the morning. Home for lunch and rest. Afternoon back at the pool. Nothing (except swim practice!) has to happen at a specific time, and I love that.

7. Read! When I was in school, I loved reading for hours and hours a day. My mom or dad would take me to the library over the weekend, and by the end of the week, I finished my stack of books and was ready for another stack. I used to read a book a day! Oh, the luxury! I can’t quite do that now, but I read every chance I get.

How do you embrace summer?

#reverb17 // May 2017 // 8 Favorite Things EVER

July 27th, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “#reverb17 // May 2017 // 8 Favorite Things EVER”

I am catching up on #reverb prompts because they’re fun, and I feel like it! If you want to learn more about #reverb, check out my huge #reverb archive. Join the #reverb Facebook group here!

Prompt for May 2017: 8 Of My Favorite Things EVER

I love talking about my favorite things! Talking favorites, is, well, my favorite! Here are my current top 8 favs:

1. My wrap cardigan from Athleta. I cannot remember the exact one I have, but they have a version all the time. The current version of mine is the Studio Wrap. I wear it approximately four or five times a week. It’s super soft, comfy, and goes with everything. I have it in gray, and I want it in black.

2. The Happy Planner. I am straight up OBSESSED with the entire Happy Planner line. OBSSESSED. I have two of them – the personal and big size. I have several accessories, too, including the pen case, different covers, additional paper, stickers, etc… I love this line because it’s modular – you can add and remove at will! Love that. Love the women behind the brand. Love it all!

3. L’Oreal brow pencil. The one I have is a twist up with a spooli on the other end. I’ve been using it for months, and it’s my favorite brow product I’ve ever used.

4. Essential oils. I am new to essential oils, but I’ve managed to acquire a lot of oils, both oils I put in my diffuser and roll ons. I like the Aura Cacia chakra set.

5. Sparkling water. I’m partial to La Croix and Spindrift, but I’ll drink it all.

6. Exercise. I love exercise; it’s my favorite way to start my day and get those feel good feelings going. I recently certified in barre and yoga, so I’m especially loving those (and fusing them together!).

7. Reading. I’ve always loved reading, but I’ll fall in and out of love when I run into a book that’s not my favorite. I have to remind myself to quit books that I don’t like, so I can find my new favorite read.

8. The pool! We’ve been spending our days at the pool this summer between swim team and swim lessons. I love the community at our pool. The pool families are the nicest and sweetest bunch.

What are some of your favorites? I’m always looking for new things!

#reverb17 // April 2017 // 9 Things to Purge

July 26th, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “#reverb17 // April 2017 // 9 Things to Purge”

I am catching up on #reverb prompts because they’re fun, and I feel like it! If you want to learn more about #reverb, check out my huge #reverb archive. Join the #reverb Facebook group here!

Prompt for April 2017: What 9 Things Can You Purge Or Get Rid Of?

I LOVE getting rid of stuff! It’s my favorite. The fewer things I have, the fewer things I have to manage. Here’s what I recently purged:

1. Baby toys. Thomas just turned two (!), so it was time to get rid of baby toys, clothes, etc… I dropped off a bunch of stuff at Goodwill, and I hope someone else can use all that stuff!

2. Books the kids don’t like/no longer read. We have a ton of books, but the kids don’t love all of them. Whatever they didn’t like to read anymore went on to Goodwill.

3. Kitchen gadgets. I went through all the kitchen cabinets and drawers, and I packed up all sorts of duplicate items and gadgets that I don’t use. I love having empty kitchen shelves and drawers that aren’t jammed packed.

4. My closet. I am packing up a big bag to send to ThredUp. My general rule is: if I haven’t worn it in a year, out it goes. There are a few things that I haven’t worn, but I am holding on to. I go through my closet frequently, so that I am always reassessing my clothes.

5. Negative thoughts. Purging just isn’t for stuff! I’m choosing to purge negative thoughts.

6. Paper. I went through my purse, my coupon folder, and any other areas around the house where I had stuff like old receipts, bills, etc… I have come to realize I don’t need nearly as many of those papery things as I need.

7. The Pantry. I love cleaning out the pantry. I am embarrassed to say how many times I’ve uncovered gross, old food.

8. My van. I’m trying hard to keep junk and trash out of the van. It’s hard because I tend to keep stuff in there and treat it like a storage unit.

9. My email. I am all about that Inbox 0 game, and it’s something I do accomplish daily.

Do you like to purge? I especially love cleaning closets. Call me! I’ll come over to help!

#reverb17 // March 2017 // 10 Ways to Escape the Winter Blues

July 24th, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “#reverb17 // March 2017 // 10 Ways to Escape the Winter Blues”

I am catching up on #reverb prompts because they’re fun, and I feel like it! If you want to learn more about #reverb, check out my huge #reverb archive. Join the #reverb Facebook group here!

Prompt for March 2017: 10 Ways to Escape the Winter Blues

It’s about 90 degrees in the Northern Virginia area right now. And about 100000% humidity. But I’m not complaining because I do not like winter. I’d much rather it be hot, sunny, and sweaty than cold, dark, and sad.

I am not a winter person. Never have been, probably never will be. I don’t like the cold. I don’t like the dark days. I don’t like wrestling my three kids into jackets and hats and gloves.

Each winter I get the blues. Perhaps I have seasonal affective disorder. Or run of the mill winter blues. Either way, here are a few ways I tried to chase away the winter blues.

1. Stick to my normal fitness routine. I exercise every single morning, no excuses. My morning exercise ritual always makes me feel good, and it feels extra good on those dark, cold mornings.

2. Take a walk. I love walking the dog, but sometimes in the winter, it feels too cold. But, if I bundle up and it’s not too freezing, and I have a travel mug of coffee, I’m good to go.

3. Make time for friends. When it’s cold and dark at 4:30 p.m., the last thing I want to do is go out. But when I do, I always feel better.

4. Make a hot beverage. I love coffee, and I always look forward to that hot, steaming cup every morning, no matter the outside temperature. But during those cold, winter afternoons, a hot mug of flavorful tea feels really comforting.

5. New pajamas. I sleep in shorts year round (I love getting into a cold bed no matter the season!). A new pair of pajamas feels cozy and soft.

6. New slippers. I always wear slippers, and around the winter time, Costco will have a new fuzzy pair out, and I always snap them up.

7. Plan for the spring and summer. I need to look forward to something during those dark days. Thinking ahead to the warm weather (and the pool!) makes me feel better.

8. Make a crock pot meal. Winter time, to me, is always hot soup weather. I love chicken tortilla soup, black bean soup, and, of course, chili.

9. Clean and purge. I know lots of people like to do a spring clean, but I like to clean and purge year round. I use a cold afternoon to warm up by going through closets.

10. Meditate. Again, something I like to do regularly, but I make certain I do it in the winter because I get so down that I need that extra boost of happiness.

I’m glad the winter is ways off! I am soaking up summer as much as possible! Do you get the winter blues? How do you feel better?

#Reverb17 // February 2017 // 11 Ways to Send Out Love

June 19th, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “#Reverb17 // February 2017 // 11 Ways to Send Out Love”

Well. It’s June. And I have only done one #reverb prompt. However, I say, better late than never! I am going to catch up on all these prompts because they’re fun, and I feel like it! If you want to learn more about #reverb, check out my huge #reverb archive. Join the #reverb Facebook group here!

Prompt for February 2017: What are 11 ways you can send out love?

My love language is Words of Affirmation. My least favorite love language? Physical Touch. So. Tell me I’m great. FROM OVER THERE!

As a mom of small people, I am touched way too much. Like most parents of small children, there comes a time when you just can’t take one more being invading your space. Since I’m over touched, I have to make a concerted effort to reach out with affection. This is tough because it’s hard to cuddle three kids. It usually leads to kicking, hitting, and screaming as they all fight to be as close to me as possible.

Anyway! Here are 11 ways even a over-touched person can send out love:

1. The Check In. I love checking in on people. It’s so easy now with text and email and Voxer (my favorite!). Each day I can think of at least one person to check in on. I just shoot that person a text or email saying “I’ve been thinking about you!” It takes no time, and I think people like to know you’re thinking about them. I know I do!

2. The Unexpected Card. I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I need to get back on it. I love sending snail mail to let people know I love them and am carrying them in my heart and mind.

3. Teaching Group Fitness. I love teaching group fitness. I feel like we’re sending out lots of love energy all around the room as we move in sync.

4. Smiling at Random People. I love smiling! Smiling’s my favorite! HA! Are you an Elf fan? I love that movie. And I do love smiling. I smile at people even if they don’t return the smile/look at me like I’m crazy. That’s ok!

5. Saying Please and Thank You. I’m big into thanking people. And asking nicely. It’s so easy to get caught up in my own head that I blast through the day without seeing anyone around me. To stay mindful, I make a concerted effort to say “please” and “thank you” and even “how are you?” and actually wait for a response before moving on. I do this at the grocery, the gym, at Target, anytime I interact. I like to top it off with a genuine “have a great day!”

6. Let Others Go First. Whenever I get to shop alone (MY FAVORITE!), and I get in the checkout and see there is a parent juggling kids or someone else who could really benefit from going ahead of me, I always let them go first. I have the time, so why not? I have been on the receiving end of this gesture a few times, and it’s made my day.

7. Made Me Think of You Gift. Sometimes in my travels I run across things that immediately bring to mind a specific person in my life. I love snapping up those little gifts that I know will mean so much.

8. Connect People Together. Often in my circles I realize two people would benefit from knowing each other. Seeing those connections help both parties makes me so happy!

9. Support, Support, Support. What can I do to promote someone else? What can I do to lift someone up? How can I share someone’s cool work?

10. Look People in the Eye. When I make eye contact, I’m telling someone, I hear you! I’m listening! Tell me more!

12. Say I Love and Appreciate You. I know, people say actions speak louder than words. Fair enough. But we all receive love differently, and sometimes we needs to see love and hear it. I love to tell my family and friends, I love you! I see you! You’re important to me!

How do you show love?

Plant. And Adjust.

June 12th, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “Plant. And Adjust.”

“So then I bought these sweet potatoes. And also pumpkins.”

“Oh, man, pumpkins,” I say. “Those spread like crazy!”

Swatting gnats away from our faces, we’re both shielding our eyes with our hands and starring at the raised beds. It’s sunny today, finally. But it’s just 9:30 a.m. So we talk about that, how the sun is coming in one way, for now, and what time we think the beds will be shaded. Will that be enough sun for the tomatoes?

“Tomatoes like a lot of sun,” I say. “They like it hot.”

“Okay,” she says. “But then what do I put here? And then what about over here? And what do I do with this space?”

She leads me behind the beds and then over to the side yard. We discuss an outdoor gym/play space for her sons, ages 7 and 4, nearly exactly the same age as Kate and Michael. I smile thinking about how we met. Almost seven years ago we both sported similar sized pregnant bellies at the Saturday 8 a.m. step aerobics class at a run-down Gold’s Gym. We smiled at each other, acknowledged our shared experiences. Then I had Kate and she had her son. And we both went on to earn certifications in various group fitness formats. And then, three years later, sporting matching bellies once again, we both had our second children.

Both of our oldest children go to the same school, and we both teach at the same gym. We knew each other before we were mothers to babies on the outside, and we have similar ambitions and ideas. And concerns and worries for our kids.

We take a detour in our conversation and chat about the school. What we like. What we don’t like. How much we want to be involved. As we discuss possible second-grade teachers, we make our way back to the garden beds.

“I bought these plants two weeks ago,” she says, gesturing to the cardboard box containing tomatoes and carrots and squash and various other plants. Why can’t I decide where to put them? I just want to plant them where I know they will grow and do well. I don’t want to waste this year seeing what happens.”

Something about her words smacked me in the face. But I just nod. And eventually we give up on gardening and go for a walk in the neighborhood so we can continue our discussion on school and the PTA and the like.

Later that day, and for the rest of the week, I kept replaying what she said. And I kept wondering why this gardening conversation hit such a nerve.

And then I realized it was because it was a metaphor for my whole life.

Okay, so maybe that sounds just a bit dramatic. But, really, it’s true. I want to know where I will succeed before I do it. I’m the plant, hanging out in a container too small for me, in a cardboard box, not benefiting from the soil, the sun, the water, and the communion with other plants because I’m too scared to make a move.

I want to plant myself where I know, for certain, I will grow.

But, that’s the thing. That’s the whole thing. I don’t get to know that.

I’ve planted a garden every year for the past six years. Some years I planted just the right stuff in the right place. Those years I had more tomato and basil than I could ever eat. And other years? It rained too much and my plants drowned. Or I didn’t have the right plants in the right place. Or cheeky squirrels ate every last tomato on the vine. So some years, I got nothing at all.

Some of those years I learned valuable lessons about squirrel repelling measures and that tomatoes really need full sun. And other years, I learned that sometimes things happen that are out of my control, like rain for two months in a row that drowns a garden.

I want to know what to do and where to put myself. But it doesn’t work that way.

So every year I plant. And adjust. And plant. And adjust.

On Fitting In vs. Belonging

April 20th, 2017 Posted by Connection 0 thoughts on “On Fitting In vs. Belonging”

“Well, I don’t know if I want to say that,” she says, watching me flat iron my hair and apply my BB cream. “Because the girls will laugh at me.”

I grit my teeth together and wait a moment before I respond. I want to respond with hateful comments. Real Mama Bear stuff about what I think about those girls. But that’s not helpful. Fighting mean with mean never seems to work out.

I wish this wasn’t still going on. But it is. The teacher knows about, and she’s doing her best. The three of us, Kate, me, and her teacher, had a sit-down conference about the goings on in the classroom. The teacher made it plain to Kate that she had her back. And I do, too.

But we can’t control them. And, sadly, this won’t be an isolated incident. She will meet mean girl after mean girl after mean girl for the rest of her life.


She doesn’t want to get out of bed. For the second day in a row. I pad into her dark room and sit on her bed. Smoothing back her hair from her forehead, I ask her what she’s thinking.

“Nothing,” she says. “I’m just tired.”

This, from the girl who once told me: I never need sleep because I’m never tired! This from the girl with limitless amounts of energy. This from the girl who ran all over the soccer field laughing last night at practice. This from the girl with a Tigger temperament?

I know what’s going on. I feel the anger welling up in my chest. I want to scream.

But I’m out of moves.


I pull the van up in the Kiss and Ride line. Sliding the gear shift into park, I turn around and coax her up. There are people behind us. But I don’t care. They can go around. She needs a few more minutes.

Her head hanging, she slides up and perches behind me.

Taking her cheeks in my hands, I lift her head up.

“Your name is Kate Susan Bagley, and no one is better than you are,” I say. She nods. But I’m unconvinced.

The van door slides shut. I roll the window down and call to her. She pauses by the window. “I love you. Stand tall!”

She nods. But I know my words fall flat. Tears sting my eyes as I roll the window up and watch her walk away.


I’m crying. And I’m okay with her seeing. Because I want her to know, she’s not alone. Mean girls exist at any age. Even 32.

I’m crying because an email exchange with someone I barely know stunk of mean girl undertones and hit my raw nerves. That exposed nerve that says you’ll never be good enough. It was my raw nerve that says you’re out of her league. That raw nerve that says how dare you think you could be as cool as her.

I’m honest with Kate. I tell her a mean girl hurt my feelings. Just like the girls at school, this mean girl (woman) made it clear she thinks she is better than me.

“But she’s not,” I tell Kate. “She’s just mean.”


I’m playing Taylor Swift’s “Mean” in the bathroom while I get ready. Kate’s standing next to me.

“Did you know Taylor Swift got picked on when she was a little girl?” I ask Kate. She shakes her head. “Well,” I say. “If Taylor Swift let all those mean girls get her down, we wouldn’t be able to enjoy her music. I’m so glad Taylor Swift didn’t let those mean girls get her down.”

“Yeah, me too,” she says. “I love Shake It Off!”

“Me, too!” I say.


I’ve tried to fit in almost all my life. I tried wearing what all the cool girls wore. I tried acting like how all the cool girls acted. I tried talking like them, walking like them. But still, they’d snicker as I walked past. Ignore me when I tried to engage with them.

I spent most of high school eating in the library or the journalism room. I spent a lot of my years at college, trying to fit in, and, after I failed, wandering around the U.Va. grounds with a heavy backpack and a heavier heart, spending hours alone in the library.

As an adult I tried to fit in online with girls I met on the Internet. I tried to fit in with mommy groups. I felt like I was back in high school. There were the Cool Girls. And there was Me.

A couple of years ago, I gave up on trying to make them like me. Sometimes I catch myself doing it. But, mostly, it was too much energy to try to fit in. Around this time, I organically met some new women. Women who didn’t care about how I was dressed (or how my children dressed), how many IG followers I had, how many podcast downloads I boosted, or how many Facebook likes I had.

I didn’t need to fit into anything. Because I just belonged.


I’m a nice girl.

Sometimes I want to be a mean girl. Sometimes I want to be catty. Sometimes I want to talk smack.

Because being a nice girl means sometimes you get hurt. And sometimes, you’re lonely.

But I’m okay with that. I don’t need to fit in. I want something more. I want to belong. And I’m going to keep being nice. No matter what. Because that’s who I am.


We’re driving to soccer practice, and we see a dad and a girl about Kate’s age on the sidewalk. The dad is holding a water bottle, and the girl is holding a soccer ball.

“Hey! That’s the new girl on my soccer team!” Kate shouts from the back seat. “I’m going to be nice to her because that’s part of my job, you know.”

“Oh?” I say.

“Yep. I like being nice.”

“Me, too,” I say.

Hi! I’m Sarah, I am passionate about creating community, building deep connections, and the power of creativity. I live in Northern Virginia with my husband, our three kids, and our golden-lab mix.

I believe in leggings as pants, and I drink my coffee black. I love shopping at Costco, teaching group exercise classes, and, athleisure.

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