Fitness Apps, Artist Dawn Lensing & Puberty Talks…Oh My!

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Watch Full Video @ https://youtu.be/WElgnDh3EJY

I know better than to buy for now rather than paying for quantity, yet when my expensive blender stopped working after only two short years, I did what I never ever EVER do…I bought a super cheap blender…and IT IS TERRIBLE (in the most optimistic way…)! However, I am going to own this terrible purchase until it dies and I can justify buying my dream blender that would make all of my wildest smoothie dreams come true…and then some!

Here’s my DREAM blender…a thing of great power blending beauty:
https://amzn.to/2rpmkrh

My Simple Green Smoothie Recipe that’s super easy and delish, while only needing four ingredients:
1. handful of kale
2. 1c super charged cranberry juice
3. a couple of dollops of vanilla greek yogurt
4. handful of frozen mixed berries
…blend to smoothie deliciousness

AND if you want a more involved, seriously delicious and nutritionally super charged to the MAX smoothie, check out this video recipe of mine from a few years ago. It’s AMAZE-BALLS!!! https://youtu.be/3bFcepP8GK4

Now, on to the next awesome thing on my mind… What’s your favorite fitness app????
I’ve loved Endomondo, Strava, My Fitness Pal, etc., but I’m bored with them and want YOUR input!!! What apps do you love most when you’re training or tracking your nutrition??? I feel like I’ve used them ALL, yet I still like to change things up sometimes and keep it fresh! Please comment below with YOUR faves!

NEXT and really the MOST important and fabulous: Check out this incredible artist friend of mine. She. Is. Phenomenal!!!!!
DAWN LENSING @Gabrielle_Flora_Artworks on Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/dawn_lensing/

To say I am crazy about her work is the understatement of the century! She does large and small pieces, great interpretive pieces full of color and movement and flow and energy and pure beauty!

A funny thing happened… So, Friday Charlotte came home from school and said, “So, we had the puberty talk at school today.”

I don’t know who wanted to crawl under the table faster, me or her, but we maintained, and I was reminded of a funny story of the year my oldest (now finishing his freshman year of college!!!) brought home his permission slip for the puberty video watching at school. I was on auto-pilot, signing the stack of papers that come home every day from schools, particularly true when you have multiple children!!! So, I signed his paper, assuming I was giving my permission to watch that horribly embarrassing puberty video…it turns out this permission slip was only to be signed if we DID NOT want our children to participate. Yes, my son was the only kiddo in his grade who had to sit on the bench in the hallway while the rest of the kids watched the video, etc. Poor guy. #funnybuttrue !!!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a GREAT day,
Mar!lyn

How Many Irons Are In Your Fire?

Image from Instagram @semi_rad because I love his work!!!!

I think too often about how different my grandparents’ lives were when they were 40 with kids and jobs and lives, than my own. Beyond the obvious technological differences, I believe they lived considerably different lives. Lives where there was work and there was home. Jobs and family. Chores and down time. Social time and family time. I believe there was less overlap of all of the above, and more focus when they were in each of these modes.

When my grandfather was working a call from his wife would have meant grave emergency, not a flippant, bored check in. When he got home from work, he left work at work and spent time with his wife and children. He had dates with my grandmother and other couples. He sat in “his chair” and watched the news or read the paper.

Even while I was still married and even though we made attempts to keep the children’s activities and extracurriculars yo a manageable minimum, I’ve lived this life meeting myself coming and going at every turn. Poorly multitasking. Poorly mothering. Poorly relaxing. It’s no wonder that some days I hit the proverbial wall and take two naps and give up on my todo list (with a great amount of guilt!).

How many irons do we really need in the fire??? I am a huge proponent for hard work and maximizing our social presence and self branding and activity, but at what cost??? Certainly it reduces our quality of living when we are always thinking of the next thing rather than experiencing the moment we are in.

These are my thoughts and I am curious as to yours. What are your best tips for maximizing life while also maximizing everything else????

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Marilyn

My Domestic Abuse Story | Post + Video

MY DOMESTIC ABUSE STORY: Because I want to help others escape, heal, and live complete lives without the terror of domestic violence.

I am telling my story because I am a single mother of 3, trying to enjoy life, continue to raise and nurture my kids, be a strong addition to my family’s badge jewelry business (HoustonBadge.com), and also feed my own personal and professional goals.

I am telling my story because I don’t want to be a negative statistic; I’m trying like hell to live and succeed without government assistance and it’s hard and I’m tired.

I am telling my story because abuse doesn’t have just one look. It happens in the midst of beautiful, middle class families with their beautiful homes and nice cars and family portraits framed on the walls. It happens to even the most optimistic among us.

I am telling my story because I am so angry. I’m angry with myself for living that life for 12 years of marriage, and I’m angry because he still continues to have a hateful foothold in my life with his drunken texts in the middle of the night and his angry cussing screams. I’m angry at him for being this abusive man instead of the man I fell in love with. I’m angry at myself for not leaving at the very first incident. And I’m angry because my children are–in turn–angry with me for staying with him as long as I did, and they may never forgive me.

Abuse is a funny thing. When someone you love and vowed to cherish forever vacillates between loving and loathing you, it becomes difficult to tell where the solid ground is. When things are good, they’re GREAT! When things are bad you never know how bad they could possibly get and you ride out the storms in complete survival mode.

When I retrace the steps of my story, I remember that the abuse began subtly, emotionally, in the form of control. It began with statements like, “We don’t have to kiss every night,” and “We don’t have to have sex so often.” That withholding of intimacy was a great blow to me, as a woman, and as a newlywed.

We had blended our families and my children were four and five years old at the time his were teens. He began having very strong opinions about my parenting positions, which he had claimed to agree with when we were dating, and would be argumentative over parenting choices even when we were actually agreeing on the course of action. The partnership we shared when dating quickly revealed itself as a façade to hide the control hungry person who would stop at nothing to win.

The first time he hit me, he was drunk. He was often drunk, but I do not allow the alcohol to take the blame for the person consuming it. He was mad–at something, at anything!–and he started punching me. As he punched, I was getting pushed back nearer and nearer to a window. I was in such shock that this was happening, and in complete fear that these iron fists were going to punch me right through that window behind me.

There were times when he would punch. There were times my big, strong husband would pick me up and literally throw me across the room–into walls, through doorways, onto furniture. There were times he would pin me down to the ground, holding my hair in his giant hand and slam my head down on the hard wood or tile floors.

It is hard for me to look at pictures from our life. I love family photos and I see all of the little faces of my children and step-sons, and I see his and my faces. I love the pictures and they make me smile, then I remember… ‘That was the time he got arrested for public intoxication at my high school reunion then spent the next three weeks taking it out on me,’ OR ‘That was the anniversary when we went away for the weekend to celebrate and as soon as we got home something triggered him and he shoved my face into the door and my jaw was bruised and sore for a week.

I have had injuries. Physical and emotional scars. So many excuses and cover ups. So many tears and apologies and nights and days of hate and seething and kindness laced with the stench of vodka and regret.

But never change!

Apologies and promises but never change.

More anger but never expressed in a healthier way, only escalated abuse.

That’s the thing about abusers–if they do something and get away with it, you can bet they’ll go further next time, and further still the time after that, and the cycle will continue until (1) you’re dead, or (2) you stop allowing them to get away with the abuse.

When he turned the abuse onto my children I realized this was never going to end and it was never going to get better. No couples counseling was going to start working longer than a few days. No promises of change were ever going to kick in. No half-hearted attempts to quit drinking were ever going to make me more valuable to him than the vodka bottle. No number of times when I would literally be screaming at Satan to let loose of my husband would ever make him a genuinely kind, non-abusive man, husband, and father.

I felt because my babies were now teenagers and they had begun to loathe this man who had been the only father they had really had, yet he wasn’t much of a father to them at all.

I left him because I was tired of being awoken from sleep in the middle of the night to seething rage, triggered by who knows what, and directed at me.

I left because I realized I had given this marriage my ALL and yet all of the hope and optimism and love and prayers in the world weren’t going to save me, I was going to have to step out. I had to realize I was worthy and strong.

I can’t say that I saved myself, however. Family members, dear friends, professional abuse counselors and ministers have helped me along this journey. And it is a journey. It’s not over but it’s well underway.

It has been over two years, now, since I left my husband. He still loves and loathes me, depending on the hour. He still offers to help me or do things for me when he’s happy, and then flips the script on me and blames me for accepting his help or gift or whatever.

I share this with you today because if you are reading/watching this, you or someone you know is very likely in a dangerous situation involving domestic violence. So, here’s my simple advice for leaving, but I recommend seeking professional help in whatever way possible as soon as possible, for tomorrow may be too late.

1. Come to terms with the FACT that no amount of stuff or money are worth your life. If you can’t get out with them, leave them! There are friends, family members, churches and organizations, shelters and outreach programs that can help you.

2. Get professional help! If you can afford to pay a counselor (preferably one who specializes in domestic abuse) and can do so without your abuser finding out, do that! If you can’t afford this or cannot do it without your abuser knowing, there are free counseling resources in your area! Call from a friend’s phone, do whatever you have to do to get this service. These professionals will help your transition out of your abusive situation as safe and well-planned as possible. They are amazing life savers!!!

3. When you are ready to leave, let the local police know! Domestic violence calls are the most dangerous that any police officer can ever go on because they are so unpredictable. As dangerous as they are for the men and women who are trying to help serve and protect, these sorts of situations are exponentially more dangerous for YOU! Alert them so they can be on call and hopefully closely patrolling your neighborhood in case danger escalates.

4. Know that there are going to be days when even the most brutally victimized will regret leaving their abuser. Nights will be hard. You need a support system around you to hold your hand at times, and drag you kicking and screaming at other times. Get your support network ready because you are going to need them not only today but for years as you continue to adjust and journey forward.

5. Also know that this transition is going to hurt like hell, BUT it will NEVER hurt as badly as the abuse and betrayal hurt.

This is only the beginning. If this speaks to even one person and saves even one person from an abusive relationship, then this heartbreak I have felt is worth it!

I would like to follow this video/post up with another centered on moving into new relationships once you feel ready, and what constitutes “ready” because that’s going to be different for everyone. Not just a “how to date” but a true moving on and continuing the journey story of encouragement and hopefully some helpful tips, as well. Please let me know if this sort of follow-up would be of interest to you or someone you know.

Thank you for your attention. I hope this has been meaningful to you and that you feel it’s been time well spent.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a GREAT day,
Mar!lyn

Your Opinion of Yourself Matters MORE!

There is no human being living today who’s opinion of YOU should be of higher value to you than your own!

This is such an easy trap–for men and women, alike!

Be your best self for you, and if others embrace you at your truest, it’s a win!

Likewise, do not expect someone else to change for you; allow them to be their truest version of themselves and either choose to embrace that person or move on.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mar!lyn

Enjoy the video; I have it set to begin at 9:11 so you see the conversation that truly spoke to me this morning and precipitated this post.

Decision Making Strategy, Simplified

Limit your options for more power over your choice.

When you are making big decisions, instead of looking at every imaginable possibility, immediately narrow the field to two or three of the most obvious best choices.

By doing so, you are considerably more likely to:

(1) make a decision rather than vacillate in indecision and likely stalemate, and

(2) make that decision faster!

This is effective, efficient decision making at its finest!

What big decisions are you sorting through right now?

How much time and energy have you already wasted in stalemate?

Narrow it down.

Look past the white noise.

Choose.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mar!lyn

Have Everything You Want…In Due Time

Hello, hello, friends!!!!

Here’s a quick message to encourage you and remind you that you can have a whole laundry list of big dreams and goals, but you aren’t failing just because you’re not accomplishing every goal on your list all at once!!!

Young or old, you have a lot of living left to do, so don’t shortchange the accomplishments you achieve every day just because it was “only one” versus many.

Focus and determination will get you to those big goals and keep you motivated to continually reach higher, so more, be more, and accomplish more!!!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mar!lyn

Watch the #DailyCheer messages from Marilyn, your #OptimismGuru at: https://youtu.be/3_xNqqe60CM

Constant Juggle

Everyone I know feels like they’re living a cliche.

Chasing their own tails.

Meeting themselves coming and going.

Trying to keep their heads above water.

Taking two steps forward and one back.

Always striving, never achieving.

It sucks!!!!

Am I the only person who doesn’t think our parents…or at least our grandparents…didn’t feel like this? I’m turning 40 very soon (I say for the sake of age reference, but feel free to wish me a happy birthday while you’re at it) and I can guarantee that my grandparents were never lazy; never not working hard. But they were also not in a constant state of frazzle. So why us???

I feel like we are doing everything wrong as a generation and yet we are also leading the charge.

Well, your grandparents didn’t have social media. They didn’t have two parents earners, the dad worked and the mother kept house. They valued their down time. They didn’t have their kids enrolled in everything from soccer to tutoring or piano lessons to gymnast every day of their youth. …etc.

To that I can only say: True.

Yet, I am not going to give up my primary job or my passion projects.

I’m not going to put my phone down (it has my entire life on it and does the job that 10 people would have done in my grandparents generation).

I am not going to disconnect from my friends and loved ones.

I am likely not going to cook a perfect three-course meal for my family every night.

I may not make every school assembly or participate in every PTO event.

I may not take Sundays off from work occasionally because I took Saturdays off to go on a date or spend the day ALONE in an art museum…or three.

I may not always have poise or patience or grace or smiles.

I may not be my grandmother. I may not always be good at juggling. I may drop a ball or two in this life…daily. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

In a world where opinions are our most powerful form of currency, always present, always vying for our attention…

In a world where everything and everyone seems to have a voracious craving for attention, and is never satisfied…

This is the world in which we live, my friends, and I admit that I am as guilty as the next loud mouthed, selfie taking, video making, blog writing, social media posting, sharing, sharing, sharing person out there.

So, what the heck are we to do with all of this?

First, how are we supposed to have any time to create our own individual identities when life seems all about one-upsmanship?

Second, how do we quiet our minds even for sound sleep when we have a constant Twitter-esque feed of thoughts and opinions and post creation going through our heads around the clock?

And next, how do we truly take in all that is thrown at us and assimilate it in a way that we can do something with the good and discard the ill-serving?

How do we live through each day of this without going completely nutty?

Personally, I struggle even with creating content and the ever-present question: To share or not to share? I love to create, and that creation feels somewhat cheapened when self-promotion comes into play. So, do I write, paint, collage, graphic design, digitally sculpt, record, and post merely for the sake of the art of creation, then sit back and cross my fingers that anyone may actually be interested in what I have presented? I am reading a fascinating book (Perennial Seller by Ryan Holiday) that likely is the catalyst behind today’s quest, but challenges the artist to create the art for the sake of creating masterpieces. Those masterpieces will stand the test of time if they truly are masterpieces, and if they are not then shouldn’t we either find a medium in which we can each create our own version of the masterpiece, or work harder at our craft until what we create truly does stand the test of time.

IF our creations are great, they will stand on their own and self-promotion becomes a moot point.

As much as I agree with putting effort into making great work, isn’t this why so many classical artists—artists whom now grace every cheesy calendar and coffee mug—were completely broke while still alive? When I was younger and spending every dime I made on art supplies I half-joked with every person I ever gave a painting to that they should be sure and hang onto it until I am dead because then it may be worth something.

Marketing genius Seth Godin comes closest to this create but don’t self-promote mindset of anyone I can think of who is living out this extremely loud and incredibly close digital era. Yet he is succeeding. He writes. He posts. He leaves it alone. But his genius is grasped onto by countless busy sharers who take his words and feed them to others at lightning speeds.

Therefore, if we all produce, produce, produce, but resist the pull to share, share, share, what happens to anything we’re creating in this, the Age of Attention?

This post may prove to be the worst-case-scenario of exactly what I am lifting up here. There’s no full-circle answer here, tied up neatly with a bow and a shareable quip. There are only more questions and the inevitable question at the end as I will again struggle with the if’s and where’s of social networking.

For now, I am going to focus my time and energy on creating. If you find value that makes me happy, however my joy is in the creating. If I allow my satisfaction to be derived from your perception of my work then (1) my own joy is in your hands rather than my own and (2) it is fleeting. I’m not a fan of “feast or famine” happiness and I encourage you to also take stock of the work you create and the WHY behind it. **Another great book: Start with Why by Simon Sinek.

Until next time, my friends, I appreciate your time and attention. I know it is in short supply these days so if you’re still reading at this point, I sincerely thank you.

Make it a great day,

Marilyn

More Isn’t Always Better 

We live in a time when more is more and we are getting stuffed to the brim with MORE. I’m in overload, how about you? Forget the 1980’s being touted as “the age of excess,” this is the age of excess right now. Here. Today. 

I’m not all about the pendulum swing in the total opposite direction, either. I don’t want to be gagging on extra extra everything, but I am also not a minimalist, per se. I am a fence walker. 

I want to be socially connected without ignoring the breathing lives in front of me. I want to consume enough information about the world in which we live to be able to add value to conversion. I want to allow my children to grow in their age as I was allowed to in mine without allowing them to live strictly through their devices. 

Here’s the rub. We all say stuff like this, but too often we do nothing to change this habit we have formed. Like complaining about being overweight while eating a banana split. 

More is just more. But sometimes we need to realize that our proverbial pants don’t fit anymore, our relationships are suffering, and hours consuming have merely spent your hours and given nothing real in return.