This is Not a Time to Be Weak.

President-elect Trump will take office tomorrow. I’ve already written on this blog about my feelings regarding his election…which are really more like non-feelings because I can’t seem to muster up any enthusiasm either way…but I do want to address a trend I see still going strong among voters, particularly women and minorities. Many are claiming that they feel fear, angst, frustration, or restlessness over this changing of the guard. I will not fault anyone for having those feelings even if I don’t share them myself. However, you cannot simply decide to live in those feelings. This is not a time to be weak. Choosing to get angry and just stay angry, to cry and continue crying, or to be scared and just stay scared is NOT the way any of us needs to go right now. Doing so makes you into the awful things Donald claimed you were on his campaign trail, and I, for one, will not allow he or any other misinformed man or woman to define me like that.

I can’t afford to.

I have worked FAR too hard to become the woman that I am. I’m not perfect, but I damn sure am better than I used to be. I had no choice but to grow up and toughen up because life happened. I didn’t get everything I wanted. I had my ass handed to me. I was disrespected and taken advantage of. I had to learn to fight for myself. And not so I could claim some title of “badass” or “bad bitch” or bad “whatever is trending out there that women are glomming onto currently.” I had to do this so that I could become the wife and mom I was destined to be. I can’t expect to keep my household running if I fuel it on fear and anger. I can’t move myself forward as a leader in my personal and professional life by allowing other people’s inaccurate labels to stick. I can’t raise my babies in this broken world by being weak.

I KNOW that I am smart. I KNOW that I am capable. I KNOW my worth.

Donald being president doesn’t change any of that.

Of course, I never viewed Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as my saviors either, so you might say I just don’t have much faith in the presidency in general.

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They really do look more like casino patrons than a First Couple.

I think I’m sadder that the uneducated Melania Trump will now be my First Lady. That…is a downgrade.

2016 – Oh Baby, What a Year It’s Been

I always recap the year on New Year’s Eve or some date close to it, so here I am again…but I don’t have nearly as much time to be as detailed as I’d normally be, so I’m going to do my best at summarizing my takeaways over the last 365 days.

The first thing I have to say is that 2016 has been a monumental year. One of my best. I’m ending it in a different place than I started, which is always a feather in my cap, and while my life has taken a dramatic turn from what it once was, it makes me happy that this year I finally found the courage to be myself.

1. I kept my faith first this year, and as a result, I got some of the things I’ve been longing for. No, it wasn’t always easy to choose Jesus first, to not act and wait for His word, and to stick to what He states for us is right. But I did. I chose the hard path. And He rewarded me for it by helping me grow by leaps and bounds.

2. My family is growing! I thought we couldn’t have more kids. I thought something was wrong with me. Something was definitely wrong with me, but it was my thinking, not my reproductive system. Our son will be here in March. Though Kennedy is a fantastic kiddo, she doesn’t deserve to be an only child, and as it’s looking now, she won’t be. (I’m so, so happy for that)

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Just us, the founders of Team Oesterlein. ❤️

3. My marriage is on the upswing, after a long period of downswing. We have no fairytale romance or whirlwind story to speak of. We’re just two imperfect people who like having each other around and tend to do some great stuff when we stick together. I don’t speak for him, but I will go so far as to say that we both learned this year how to put aside the bullshit, and dial up the realness. I’ve enjoyed abandoning the periphery in favor of growing closer to the person I said a vow to grow with almost nine years ago.

4. My career moved in a positive direction this year. I was finally able to move away from teaching in favor of something else related to education. I love the field, but I wasn’t in love with teaching anymore. I’m currently in love with curriculum, though.

5. I stuck to my biggest New Year’s Resolution for 2016 by abandoning Facebook…as well as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Yes, it did mean I had to give up being a Beachbody coach as well, not because it’s impossible to work that business while not on social media, but because I wasn’t willing to invest the time to learn to do so. I walked away. Certain people are still mad. That’s okay, I left on a good note and have nothing bad to say. People’s opinions of me are really none of my business or concern.

6. I got the upper hand on my anxiety this year. I did this through a variety of measures including prayer, meditation, journaling, speaking to a counselor, subscribing to The Anxiety Coaches Podcast, my semicolon tattoo, setting new boundaries, being wholly honest with others about my feelings, and what I view most important: practicing emotional detachment. I found the courage to release myself from the weight of things I was under and didn’t need to be. Don’t ask me why I felt like I had to assume these burdens; in some way, I think I thought I was being a good friend or person by doing so. But no more. Especially when referring to the phenomenon that was #5 of this list, I have learned to confidently view myself as being in control of my life and its direction. I cut my obligations to others by cutting people out who only expect things of me but offer nothing. I toughened up. I’ve learned how to say no, how to stand up for myself, and how to not care about pleasing others. Did it cost me anything? Yeah, I suppose. But what I gained? Priceless. I have clear perspective on who I am. I recognize that my feelings are not my reality and therefore I don’t need to be victimized by them. I’ve learned how to pick up a thought and also put it down so that I can live in the moment. I was never like this when I was a Facebook user. I’m a better wife and mom now. I love who I am. And I’d rather love me and be hated by others than do things the other way around. My husband and daughter seem to love me for this too, and they (as well as our impending arrival) are the only ones I’m interested in making happy. (Mom and dad too, but we’re all 32 years deep, so they can’t really get rid of me. Did I mention they celebrated 35 years married this year?!)

Okay, well, I’m off to take K to my parents’ house for a bit. I can’t effing wait to see you, 2017. Many thanks to 2016 for everything it brought. I couldn’t have written a better year for myself if I’d tried.

…but then shit gets real.

I’m 29 weeks and two days today. Though I went out for preterm labor at 30 weeks last time, I’ve gotten familiar with which signs to look out for, and I’ve done better at warding off excessive Braxton Hicks, cramping, dehydration, and malnutrition. At this point, we have as little as eight more weeks to go, and as many as thirteen. All I know is this: I am ready to not be pregnant anymore.

Pregnancy and motherhood gets mislabeled all the time in our culture. The expectation is that a woman with children is fulfilled and happy. Her cup runneth over with the joyous reality of caring for another small being that is a part of her. Motherhood is the supposed end game for women’s adult development, and the vehicle through which most of us become mothers, pregnancy, is a joyous time as well. We glow, we show, we grow. All of it is happy, reeks of cotton candy and sprinkles, and provides ultimate satisfaction.

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The aforementioned is definitely a part of motherhood and pregnancy for most. In my eyes, having children serves as a representation of the love my husband and I share, and getting to have that representation coo, crawl, and walk about with an inane cuteness that I myself could never have dreamt up warms my heart. But then, shit gets real. My toddler daughter has picked up habits like talking back, telling small lies, and refusing to sleep in her own bed again. I deal with these, along with her other typical 3-year-old antics while also harboring a growing baby boy who seems to want to kick his way into the world, at the expense of my own comfort. He nauseates me (yes, the nausea has returned as of last week), puts insane amounts of pressure on my back and pelvis, turns me away from certain foods, sends me running to the bathroom at least six times a night, keeps me from sleeping, and requires a massive nutritional intake that I’ve never had to maintain in my life just to sustain myself.

And my symptoms and dealings aren’t even the worst I’ve seen or heard of.

Some women have children who are much worse in the behavior department than Kennedy is, and receive no help from their spouse or other family in disciplining. Some women have to work outside of the home – I have the luxury of working full time from within my house. Some women are sick through their entire pregnancies and have to be placed on meds; I don’t feel great, but I haven’t vomited due to nausea so far, and am not on special medication to keep me hydrated or nourished.

Some women can’t carry.

So you see, while the entrance to motherhood and subsequent wild ride afterward can bring joy, it can also bring a lot of heartache and pain. A woman’s cup runneth over with things to worry about, circumstances to deal with, and both physical and mental setbacks.

It will be a mental fight more than anything for me to get to the finish line and meet my son. I love him so much. I’m so grateful God chose me for him. But oh my gosh am I tired of what this is doing to me. Compared to who I was at the start of this year, I’m pretty sedentary, lifeless, and sometimes feel useless. I dream of returning to pole dancing, weight lifting, and serious power yoga. I dream of being able to fire on all cylinders again. I miss who I was. I know some part of her is never coming back because she now has two children to care for, but even being able to resemble some version of her again would make me happy.

 

Thankfully, I’ve got a good team surrounding me and am not in this alone.🌸

Forever Young and Loved

There was this phrase that was popular when I was in high school among some of my alternative, “misfit” peers. I have no clue if it originated with my generation; my guess is that someone much older than us coined it. It went something like, “Die young, stay pretty.” It never really resonated with me, though the idea of staying pretty forever seemed cool as a 16 year old.

As I’ve gotten older, and learned a little more about longevity, the gravity of life, the importance of taking care of self, and gotten a grasp on just what it means to age (in other words, age 40 isn’t ancient to me like it was when I was 15) I’ve come to recoil from that statement.

Life is so precious to me now.

Maybe it’s because I’ve witnessed so much loss. Maybe it’s because I’m just more adult now. Maybe the experience of bringing forth life has given it new meaning to me.

Anyway, all of this meandering is my shaky attempt at reflecting on the glory and devastation we all inevitably experience in some way when well-known people pass away seemingly before their time. None of us have the authority to say who should live forever, who should be spared, and who “deserves” to die. Even in my own emotional haste, I’ve made statements that someone like George Zimmerman deserves to die. I don’t entirely take back that statement, as I don’t believe that man should be walking around free, bragging about shooting and killing an unarmed teen and beating up women, but ultimately, that isn’t up to me. Similarly, neither I nor anyone else gets to say, “Hey, God, you made a mistake by taking Michael Jackson so soon. Give him back,” or “Wait, let’s let Philando Castile live so he can tell his side,” or “Eh, maybe we shouldn’t end Princess Diana’s life yet.”

All we are really allowed to do is cope.

And I know it’s popular to claim that regular folks like me and others shouldn’t get so upset when celebrities we don’t even know pass away, but I think that’s a dumb statement as well. Was my day-to-day truly impacted when Whitney died? Eh, no. Hearing her songs play made me a little more emotional, but overall, it didn’t affect my job, my home, or my marriage. But did I have a right to grieve? Yeah…I did. So many of us did. Many women my age grew up listening to her music, so the prospect of not having that presence around anymore is a change. Seeing Steve Jobs lose his battle with cancer made mortality appear all too real for us onlookers; even a man with massive wealth and abundant innovation was not immune to that disease. Likewise, when we lose others, based on their impact on our upbringing, our worldly view, and the memories we identify with their presence, it affects us, even if they were just somebody famous far away from us.

So with that being said, I really hope that those we’ve all lost in 2016 are resting well, at peace, and those left behind to mourn them – particularly those closest to them – are able to move forward peacefully as well.

Losing my grandmother has taught me that we never really get over people. We just move through the experience of losing them however we can.

#GeorgeMichael
#CarrieFisher
#BlackLivesMatter
#GwenIfill