Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How To (Not) Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for the past few years I have been invited to participate in the "breast cancer awareness" games. This year they started early and include posting something utterly ridiculous or completely disturbing as a facebook status. When someone (obviously) likes or comments on the status, they immediately get this message in their inbox. 
If you have never heard of this game, you're probably confused. Allow me to explain. 

In order to promote breast cancer "awareness," I'm supposed to tell the world, via a facebook status, that my husband has been cheating on me. Then, when my friends and family start responding with concern, I send them a private message telling them I was just kidding in the name of breast cancer and suggest they do the same.

I hope that clears up any confusion. 

Wait... what??

Perhaps I'm slow or just plain stupid, because I don't get it. I don't understand how this game promotes anything but divorce and social leprosy. The best part? Without question...women continue to pass it along. 

Serious Question: What the hairy fuck does that have to do with breast cancer??? There's not even a link to anything breast cancer related! 

I cannot even wrap my brain around how stupid that is. 

It's almost as concerning as the number of "ice bucket challenge" videos I've seen with NO mention of ALS. Nothing impresses me more than people who are willing to dump a bucket of ice over their heads (and the heads of their children) to raise awareness for a cause that shall remain nameless

In order to help, I have compiled two short lists regarding how awareness is and isn't raised.

10 Things You Can Do that WILL NOT raise breast cancer awareness: 

1. Send a chain letter to every woman you know on facebook that has nothing to do with breast cancer. 
2. Fart into a jar. 
3. Use the words "breast cancer" in a sentence.
4. Tell everyone at the DMV you have Herpes.
5. Tell people on facebook you're going to France for 23 days. 
6. Wear pink.
7. Announce the color of your bra to everyone on facebook.
8. Enrage or scare all your relatives and friends and then tell them you did it for breast cancer.
9. Watch someone else fart into a jar.
10. Video tape yourself doing something brave and/or crazy for the cause, but DO NOT mention the actual cause in your video.

10 Things You Can Do that WILL raise breast cancer awareness:

1. Send an email to every woman you know on facebook with a link to the National Breast Cancer Foundation's website, and remind them that October is breast cancer awareness month.
2. Don't wait until October to talk about breast cancer or remind your friends to do self-exams.
3. Share the Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam on your facebook page for women who may not know how to do it.
4. Donate any amount of money to fund breast cancer research and blab about it to everyone on facebook.
5. Participate in a 39 mile or 3-Day walk in your area to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. 
6. Talk about breast cancer. 
7. Encourage the women in your life to make and keep doctor's and mammogram appointments even though they use that horrible torture device. 
8. Start an awareness campaign.
9. Make up some flyers with information about breast cancer, prevention, etc. and post them around your town.
10. Share this post right now.


Friday, August 29, 2014

BEAUTY WINS: Kicking Ugly In The Tits - The Final Chapter

This is the third and final chapter of the Beauty Wins - Kicking Ugly In The Tits series. Weeks ago, I sent out a request for "Beauty" in all forms and the response has humbled me. This project has not only given me the opportunity connect with many of my beautiful friends, but also to share with you the reasons I love them.  

Life's too short to focus on the ugly parts, and this has been such a gift to me. Parts One and Deux lifted my spirits while reaffirming my commitment to positivity, and I could not have picked three more incredibly powerful women to conclude this kick-ass series. I hope you'll agree. 

The first time I heard Chandreyee Lahiri's voice, I lost my breath. She was reading her stunning post First Unborn aloud, and I could not control the fiercegut wrenching emotion it provoked inside me. She spoke of an unimaginable loss - a horrific event - with such grace; a spirit that leapt from her words and snuggled deep in my chest, yanking at the strings of my heart. While she spoke of her willingness to find beauty in the brightly colored kidney tray that held her tiny angel, I was overwhelmed with gratitude just to be in the room with her. I don't think she is aware of how much love I feel for her and the amount pure, undeniable beauty and light she possesses. 

photo via Silver Linings Cloudy Days

Chandreyee's submission Lost Keys, is one more example of her relentless commitment to the search for silver linings.

Jessica Cobb of Domestic Pirate is the kind of woman you just want to be friends with. She's kind, loving, and generous, and would totally kick someone's ass for you if it was warranted. She's not afraid to speak up about the shit that's important even if it's not "popular," and I have a ridiculous amount of respect for her. 

photo via @DomesticPirate

She's just like... genuinely awesome. 

Her submission, It's Not Just A Belly, is more than just incredibly beautiful. 

It's REAL. 

Sandy Ramsey of Mother Of Imperfection is one of my newer blogging buddies. You know when you just get a warm fuzzy feeling about someone?? THAT.  She's another one that exudes a sense of serenity, but also might be a secret ass kicker like Jessica. I really enjoy and appreciate her honesty and encouragement to "Say What You Need To Say."

In my humble opinion, she's the shit. She actually wrote this piece specifically for submission to the Beauty Wins Challenge. Seriously, how cool is that? Plus, have a read and try not to fall in love with her. Go ahead...I dare you.

"Several months ago, we found out that my twelve year old daughter has scoliosis. The curve in her lumbar spine is 38 degrees, which is pretty significant. She has to wear a plastic bending brace to bed every night so that while she's sleeping, which is when kids grow the most, her spine will be straight and the curve won't get worse, requiring surgery. 

Twelve is a hard age. To add a significant body issue to the issues a young girl in middle school faces already can be difficult.

Not this child. She is beauty and resilience. She is strength and bravery. Here she sits in the orthopedist office next to the plastic and foam shape of her curved body. She doesn't let the curve in her spine discourage or define her. 

She shines brighter than the light behind her. She is my beautiful hero." ~ Sandy Ramsey, Mother Of Imperfection

The words I would need to describe how grateful I am for this opportunity just don't exist. 

This blog and the friendships I have made as the result have changed my life. No matter the subject, totally hilarious or utterly depressing, these posts represent my truth. Your acceptance, compassion, and encouragement has meant the absolute world to me. 

I love your faces off. The End.

P.S. Don't worry, I have some more hilarious posts coming soon. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

BEAUTY: Kicking Ugly In The Tits - Part Deux

I hope you all enjoyed Part I of Kicking Ugly In The Tits! Welcome to part deux

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to share!! I'm aware that because these posts are not about hilarious ways to shave your neighbor, or how to get hot wax off your nipples, they will be shared less. Beauty doesn't always sell these days, and can't always compete. That's okay. That will not stop some of you from blasting these beautiful images and stories out into the universe. Every act of kindness and love makes a difference. 

Again, I would like to thank all that responded to my request for "beauty." I find it so easy to lose hope when the world is noisy, and this project touched my heart, fed my soul, and renewed my faith in humanity. 

I met "Mack" of Is there cheese in it? (because could there be a better blog title??) a while ago via Google+. She is blessed with my kind of humor, and I love love love it. I don't even know her first name, but I'm okay with that because she makes me laugh out loud (which is really hard to do). Her submission,  

"I picked love. and marriage. finding beauty in the midst of the mundane." ~@cheeseinit

Lori Campbell of Pretend Mommy Is Sleeping Beauty is awesome. She's been following the blog for a while, and we've become friends. I love when that happens. She is all things wonderful; witty, hilarious, and full of heart. 

"Okay I couldn't pick just one - I'm sorry. Everything is beautiful ;)

So I am sending you a picture of my kids when they were collecting donations for the food pantry  - they were so happy to help others.

And a picture of my windshield one morning with the frost.  It was so awesome.

And finally  - a picture of some artwork my kids did with contact paper and flowers. So pretty on the window with the light shining through." ~Lori Campbell

Cheryl Stober of Busy Since Birth is an incredible woman. We've been Massachusetts blogging buddies for a while, but I was able to connect with her on a whole new level during the Listen To Your Mother Boston show this year. Her spirit is kind and gentle, but also fierce. I love her tah death. Read her post Don't Ban Camp Body Talk and you'll understand what I mean. 

Beauty is everywhere. We just have to be willing to look for it. I hope you don't mind, but there will be one more post in this second, annual Beauty Wins series.  I know I said that if I received too many entries for a post, I'd have to pick and choose, but I couldn't! These submissions are all too beautiful not to be shared. 

Thanks for understanding. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

BEAUTY: Kicking Ugly In The Tits, Part I

This has been a tough week. Processing the loss of Robin Williams has left me in a shitstorm of emotion. Social media is blasting shit every day, and it's beyond overwhelming. Everyone has the right to grieve anyway they wish, but because of that, it's like WHOA. 

This post could not have been planned for a better time. I need this. I'm honored by the responses to my request for beauty this year. With all the time and energy we focus on the negative, I feel it's important to highlight the good; the beauty that's within all of us. 

Couldn't we all use a little more beauty in our lives? 

I know that if I had sent out a request for stories about something awful, I probably would have been slammed with many more submissions, as it doesn't take much thought or heart to share what sucks. I don't know why that is, but this is my tiny attempt to do something about it. The women who took the time to submit these amazing stories and photos have my complete respect and admiration. It takes an enormous amount of courage to see beauty,  especially during trying times. 

These women are beautiful. They are the women I want in my corner. They are the shit. 

I love that the definition of beauty is different for everyone, and doesn't have to fit any mold. I always appreciate the opportunity to see it through your eyes. 

These posts and pictures are breath taking. 
Like, literally...I lost my breath. 

Starr Bryson from The Insomniac's Dream is an amazing human being. I've known her for years now, and can attest to both her strength and huge heart. She's a survivor, and her boys are so lucky to have her as their mom. 

She decided to send a photo of her youngest son sitting up in his hospital bed. He was eeating for the first time after his appendectomy, with his favorite panda by his side.   

"This, to me is beauty," she said. "It shows the resiliency of children, and the absolute relief I felt when he was alright and on his way to recovery.  A truly beautiful moment for a worried mother."  

The second submission is a post Starr wrote the night her father died.  "...it's a raw and painful account of how his death affected me, but ended on a positive note of my very real and last memory of my father.  A legacy of a daughter's love for a truly wonderful man." 

I Will Remember You, Dad is beyond beautiful, because it's about "finding the positives among the negatives, appreciating life, and hanging on tight to memories- what could be more beautiful than that?" Nothing. Starr warned me that this post would make me bawl my eyes out...she was right. SO powerful. 

See? I told you she's incredible!

The next few submissions are via the beautiful and talented woman behind Outsmarted Mommy

Jennifer Lizza is another tough lady who's been through a lot this year, but still makes time to see the beauty. She has helped me through some shit this year, and she's definitely one of my favorite women in the blogging community. 

"If they handed out maps when you became a parent the roads would be filled with twists and turns. A lot of them would be dead ends. There would be steep hills and roads that would lead to more steep hills followed by deep valleys. There would be miles of roads without a light in sight but there would always be a road that would lead to the most beautiful beach with the most beautiful sunset and every night all the parents would gather there to support one another and remember why they began this journey in the first place...because at the end of the day the journey is hard but the destination is amazing. The hardest journeys often lead to the most beautiful destinations." 
~ Jennifer Lizza, Outsmarted Mommy

I met Maggie Draper about a month ago on twitter, and she's been cracking me up ever since. She and her husband recently started a blog called Our Parenthood Adventures and you should definitely check it out. 

"Here's a picture I took of my son holding Daddy's hand. It's always been a favorite of ours. " ~Maggie Draper

Because so many of you were generous with submissions, I'm splitting this challenge into two posts. Not that I don't want to overwhelm you with gorgeous pictures and beautiful stories... I just also want to make sure that the love gets shared and spread around a bit. I also want to make sure that each of these incredible women gets the focus and attention she most certainly deserves. 

This has been such a wonderful experience. I am so grateful to have received such a response. I'm 100% confident that, because of your commitment to love and beauty, we definitely gave Ugly a bitch slap today. 

Please share this. There's so much beauty in the world, even when we're not looking, and people might appreciate the reminder. 

Life is short and precious, damn it!! 

I love your faces off.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It's Time To Kick Ugly In The Tits

Last year I was inspired by my good friend Starr over at The Insomniac's Dream when she shared a post called. "21 Things That Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity." It was a post that has since been deleted from the site we found it on, so I can't share, but it was basically 21 stories of people NOT being selfish assholes. There were pictures of people practicing kindness, giving freely of themselves...just because...and it made me cry. 

It was one of those posts. 

It's not often that we gravitate to those posts. More often, it's the ones about 21 ways to get a flat stomach, be rid of pesky wrinkles, or celebrities on their way to rehab that grab at our attention. We, as a society, seem to love the ugly. I'm not judging, because I'm guilty too, but as I sat there with snot and tears running down my face, I felt inspired to take action. 

I felt like kicking Ugly in the tits. 

I asked the question, "Why Can't Beauty Win?" and couldn't come up with a good answer. If enough of us bring it, Ugly doesn't stand a chance, right? It was then that the official Next Life, NO Kids Beauty Wins Challenge was born.

I was absolutely blown away by the entries, and moved by how many of you wanted to share your beauty. It was an incredible success. So much so that I'm doing it again! I'm calling for submissions!!

Here's how it works:

You are invited to submit whatever beauty looks like to you. It can be in any form that can be sent via email, and should not be of any naked private parts. Just kidding (No I'm not; I'm actually very serious, you silly freaks). 

It can be...
  • poems you wrote
  • pictures you've taken
  • pictures of art projects that you or your kids have created
  • songs you've written
  • posts about something beautiful that happened or that you love

You. Name. It.

Email your submission to julie@nextlifenokids.com**!!! 
(**side note for spammers: There is a special place for you in Hell, and if you blast my email with your ridiculous shit, I will hunt you down. Unless of course I've inherited a bazillion dollars from King Tut. In that case, let me know.)

It's THAT simple. 

Here's an example submitted by Britney Adler of Britney's Message

Submissions will close on August 8th. I will post as many as I can, but depending on the response, may have to limit to the first 20 submissions. 

I'm SO EXCITED to see what you've got for me!! I'm also thrilled to get the opportunity to see beauty through your eyes. 

Why are you still reading this post?? Get moving!! Go get your beauty on, People!!

Let's kick Ugly in the tits.

Monday, July 14, 2014

10 Hilarious Tips For Surviving Your Son's "Toddler Years"

1. Learn to appreciate the word, "NO." 

Even if the question is, "Do you want a cookie?" your toddler will probably take this opportunity to make it clear that you are not in control. 

2. Have cat-like reflexes, and be prepared to respond to situations like a fucking Ninja at all times.  

I have learned that toddler boys are a lot like spider monkeys. It takes less than a second to climb over gates, scale walls, and attempt to fly off of basically anything. In this scenario, the ability to be in seven places at once is preferable. However, if you are lacking in this department, simply be prepared, at all times, to jump from one side of your house to the other at lightening speed. 

3. Keep anything that can be thrown or used as a weapon as close to the ceiling as possible.

This list includes, but is not limited to pencils, pens, crayons and markers, the family pet, television remotes, toys, books, and whatever else isn't nailed to the floor.

4. Learn to embrace being beaten about the head, neck, and face with whatever is handy. 

See #3

5. If you are looking for something, and it was at any time in your toddler's possession, it's definitely in the toilet. 

Your toddler may not be interested in using the potty for training, but it sure is a fun place to hide stuff.

6. Always have crackers in your hand.

Toddlers like crackers. 

7. Be bilingual.

When toddlers get angry, they often swear and say terribly harsh things in a language that is definitely not English. I'm pretty sure my toddler speaks German, but yours might speak something else entirely.

8. No matter what you are doing for your toddler, hurry the fuck up.

Toddlers are busy. They don't have the time or patience to wait for you to dilly dally around making them breakfast etc. What's the matter with you? You should have had that shit ready yesterday.

9. Whatever you are eating, reading, or looking at belongs to your toddler.

Nothing is yours until he's done with it, and even then he'll reserve the right to change his mind and reclaim it. There is only one exception to this rule. If your toddler claims ownership of a snack you're eating and doesn't like it, the bite will be drooled onto his shirt, and the rest of the item will be thrown onto the floor; still not yours.

10. Say good-bye to privacy in the bathroom.

Seriously. What the hell are you doing in there anyway? 

Oh, and one more thing...

DO NOT have, borrow, purchase, hold, or wear anything nice OR expensive when in the presence of your toddler. 

Trust me, you'll thank me later. 

original photo credit: russteaches via photopin ccphoto credit: jurvetson via photopin cc

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Don't Be A "C U Next Tuesday"

If you follow my blog, you know I have struggled with depression for what feels like forever. You will also know that my specific case includes a side of OCD and a sprinkle of agoraphobia. 

Leaving the house, where there are germs AND the risk of an emotional breakdown in the middle of a store, restaurant, etc. can be quite frightening. I've been trying to push myself when I have good days. Sometimes, I have to literally bolt out of the house before I have time to think about all the reasons I shouldn't. 

The other day, I bolted and forgot the diaper bag. I knew that if I went back I would stay, so I ventured on. I was just running out to buy a tarp anyway, so what could go wrong, right? 

Naturally, once I got to my destination, two towns away, I noticed a funky smell coming from the back seat. Obviously, because I had NO supplies, the toddler had a diaper full of diarrhea.

Did I drive him in his mess all the way back to our house? Hell no! I pulled into the nearest CVS parking lot. I have never shopped for diapers so fast and furiously. I was in and out in a matter of minutes, and decided to change him in the hatchback. Obviously, because I had forgotten the diaper bag, and had NO extra clothing, there was poo on his one piece outfit.

Thankfully, it was a 90 degree day. I stripped him down, gave him a baby wipe once-over, threw on a diaper, and drove to Marshalls. 

I booked it to the baby section of the store and counted three double takes and two lingering stares from old women. Fine, I'm a horrible mother because it's sweltering outside and I didn't dress my kid. Wait, what am I doing in the baby section again? Oh yeah, buying him an outfit because he shit all over himself. I'm a good mother. 

Fuck those bitches, right?

I found a cute outfit and walked back up to the front to get in line. One weird look...and I was sweating. I'm usually sweating because I'm fat, plus it was humid as fuck, but that day there was extra because I already felt like a shitty mother, and I could feel the world judging me for it. I had a naked toddler under my arm that wanted to walk (a.k.a. run away from me shrieking), and the morning had been straight out of Hell. Maybe it was in my head. Perhaps I was just being paranoid.

I started to smell shit. Had he gone AGAIN??? I checked his diaper and it was clear. Either he had gas or I managed to get shit on my clothes too. I decided I was totally ill equipped to deal with any more bullshit.

I thanked God there was only one person in front of me because the kid was ready to freak out. Nap time was approaching and, like me, he had had enough. The sweating was getting worse, and I can feel my face turning beet red. I started to pray for lightening to strike me just as the woman in front looked back and asked how old the baby was. I told her "He'll be two next month," and she gave me one of those smug, doughbaggy, condescending smiles while she looked him up and down. I explained that he was naked because he had an accident and I forgot the diaper bag.

"Did you forget the stroller too?"

I pride myself on being a pretty patient person. I don't usually haul off and smack people, even if they're really awful and deserve it. I am a professional tongue biter. But I was sweating...he was squirming...and I hated her. 

What I wanted to say was, "No C***,  I carried him in here because I didn't expect this horrific fucking purchase to take so long. I'm tired, sweating, and I'm fairly certain that I'm wearing human shit right now. Had I known I was going to be grilled by the likes of you, I would have put him in the stroller, freeing both hands so I could beat your face."

What I did say was...nothing, because Nora's mom stepped in.

I knew she was Nora's mom because she handed my obnoxious son her car keys, and asks him to name the letters on her keychain. 


She showed him the tiny green Croc shoe on the chain and asked him what color it was. Nora's mom told me that my son was, "absolutely beautiful," and that he looked "nice and cool on this hot day." 

Nora's mom was incredible. 

I don't understand the motivation behind taking an obviously difficult situation and adding fuel; why, when someone sees another clearly in distress, they take the shot at making it worse. I cannot identify with that type of thinking. I'm grateful for that. I am also grateful for people like Nora's Mom, and the calming effect she had on both me and my son the very moment I was about to lose it.

I could try to justify this other woman's behavior all day. Maybe she can't have children and is bitter because I get to feel suicidal in the line at Marshalls; kid in tow. I have no idea what that woman goes through so I'm grateful that I did not have the opportunity to respond in a hateful manor. 

I was so wrapped up in gratitude for Nora's mom that I was shocked when it was my turn at the register. I thanked Nora's Mom from the bottom of my heart, paid for the outfit, and got the hell out of there.

I still don't have a tarp.

If you see a woman out and about that looks like she's struggling, please treat her kindly. If you don't have anything nice to say, just smile in her general direction. I promise it will mean the world. Being that mom is humiliating enough without comments and/or dirty looks. I already feel like a failure in that scenario; the last thing I need is for you to rub it in. 

Please be gentle, be patient, be anything...but please don't be a "C U Next Tuesday."

original photo credit: aarongilson via photopin cc

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