I’m Speaking

“Mr. Vice President, I’m Speaking.”

“If you don’t mind letting me finish, we can then have a conversation, OK?”

These two phrases (and the fly) are what struck me the most during last night’s Vice Presidential debate.

I’m speaking.

Such a powerful statement in two simple words.

As an educated woman with a career, I was never taught or encouraged to say those two words. Though, I’ve thought them every time a man spoke over me or interrupted me or refused to pay attention as I spoke. I’m not alone in this. Every woman in America is familiar with the silent seething that accompanies these moments.

At the end of the debate, I sent a co-worker a text saying I was going to order us shirts that say “I’m speaking” for us to wear to meetings.

Senator Harris exuded power and confidence as she refused to yield her time or voice to the white man who, without a hint of shame or hesitation, worked to overpower and silence her. She didn’t flinch. She looked him dead in the (pink) eye and said, “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking.”

When my daughter is older, I will play her clips of Senator Harris during last night’s debate. Our voices as women matter. Our words matter.

Thank you Senator Harris for reclaiming your time and asserting your voice.

It’s Okay to not be Okay

The other day I read an article about how kids are responding to quarantine.

Sleep regressions.

Behavior regressions.

Potty-training regressions.

Ugh. Yes.

It’s hard being cooped up in the house with your parents all day. It’s hard missing your friends. It’s hard to lose your routine. It’s hard to comprehend all of this when you can read yet.

It’s hard to figure out how to explain all of this as a parent.

I was under no illusion that working from home with my husband, two kids, and three pets would be easy. I understood it would be difficult and I very much get that I am lucky to be privileged enough to do so.

We are safe. We are healthy. We are together.

I should be grateful. I am grateful.

But I’m also losing my fucking mind.

Last night, I slept on the hard-wood floor beside my daughter’s crib because she screams bloody murder when she wakes up every hour unless someone is in her room with her. And, of course, she won’t sleep in our bed because that would be too easy.

My son had his first accident in almost a year. He’s started hitting, screaming, and breaking down anytime he hears the word no. He’s almost five, and I’d naively believed we were past this.

But COVID-19 had other plans for us.

Is it possible to have a parental regression? I feel like all I do is yell and ruin their lives. I have no idea how to handle any of this. Like, there’s no training for parenthood but there’s literally nothing on this. I hope therapists are prepared for the onslaught of COVID kids in 2030.

I see other parents doing arts and crafts and showing off their stellar parenting skills. I see advice on doing all these things, and yet I don’t know where to find the time.

Between normal work obligations, meetings, mini-crisis, cooking, cleaning, tempering temper tantrums, balancing my spouse’s work needs and meetings, and keeping us all alive, I don’t have the time or mental capacity for much else.

I have reading commitments for the blog and Bookstagram to keep up. I have a new book I’m writing (about an unemployed, single, childless woman with one elderly cat, of course). I have me to remember and take care of.

I don’t have the energy to curate and prepare the materials to make shaving cream art or macaroni necklaces every single day. We try to get outside and play in our yard when we can but that is time away from work. (Hello guilt, my constant friend.)

So many well-meaning people want to remind us parents that we’re living in a historic moment and should cherish this time with our kids. I’d love to, Susan, but it’s kinda hard to cherish a time filled with screaming, sleepless nights, and mounting pressure. There’s no playbook for this and it’s hard to stomach advice from people not living the same quarantine life.

My sole hope for my family is that we make it out intact and alive. We won’t be learning any new skills or creating mini art museums.

I’ll do my best to take things one day at a time but I know me well enough to know that I’ll be stressing out over the future. After all, I’m not about to let this pandemic change too much.

I have to constantly remind myself that it is okay to not be okay. It’s okay to breakdown on occasion. It’s okay to not have the answers. It’s okay to feel smothered by your children. It’s okay. None of this is normal. We’re all doing the best we can, and if the best we can do is give in to allowing our kids to run around the asylum naked, then run they will.

Vanilla Hazelnut Cold Foam Cold Brew

If you’re anything like me, you’re really missing Starbucks. I mean, I’ve been making my own coffee at home using Coffee Over Cardio (affiliate link, including a coupon to save 10% on your order with code 10andreanourse).

Earlier this week, the glass beaker for my French Press cracked 😭), so I busted out my cold brew tumbler and brewed a “pot” of Coffee Over Cardio’s Doctor’s Orders (Vanilla Hazelnut) and decided to get fancy.

Vanilla Hazelnut Cold Foam Cold Brew

  • 1 Cup Coffee Over Cardio Doctor’s Orders (Cold Brewed)
  • 1/4 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Ice
  • 1/2 TBS Stevia (split)
  • 2 Squirts Sweet Leaf Vanilla flavored Sweet Drops
  1. Pour the cold brew into a cup, add 1 squirt Sweet Drops and 1/4 TBS Stevia. Stir.
  2. Add ice.
  3. In a separate cup, add milk and remaining stevia and Sweet Drops. Using a handheld frother, froth the milk until desired firmness is reached. If you don’t have a frother, you can put into a container with a tight lid (that’s really important) and shake it until you can’t feel your arms.
  4. Pour foam over coffee.
  5. Ta-Da you’re a barista!

I’ve made this recipe twice now & it’s pretty damn perfect. Highly recommend. You need this in your life. And, to save 10% on your Coffee Over Cardio order, be sure to use code 10andreanourse at check out. Added bonus? You’ll be supporting a woman-owned small business.

Finding My Voice in this new Normal

What’s on your agenda this week? Mine? Stay home. Keep the humans alive. That’s it.

As we settle into this new “normal” I find myself reflecting on our old normal, and I’m beginning to wonder if all the things we found important are important now.

Somewhere in this crisis chaos, I’m starting to find my voices. As all the parts of my life melt into one inside our home, I’m finding that I may not like how each voice has evolved over the years.

My writing voice. I spent last year trying to write the books I thought the industry wanted. I focused on serious stories with a message. And, while I loved what I wrote, I’m realizing it’s not what I want to write now. Now I want flawed, relatable characters that do stupid and funny things and find themselves along the way. I want to laugh and roll my eyes at their antics. So, that’s what I’m writing now and I’m writing it for me. Writing has always been my escape, and I need that more than ever.

My mom voice. This voice is loud. It’s impatient. It’s loving. It’s distracted. It’s tired. Every day is a learning experience, and I’m trying to find the softness and patience my children deserve but it’s a struggle.

My wife voice. This is the hardest one to define. I don’t know if my wife voice and I are even speaking the same language.

My work voice. Ugh. Working mom life has always been a tug of war. Now that my work and mom lives are literally one and the same it’s even harder. I get to juggle an important meeting with my boss while my daughter is screaming at me, “I pooped! I poo-oooped! Mama! I pooped” and my boss is doing his best to ignore it. I get to try to explain to my small children that even though Mommy is home, Mommy can’t always play.

Despite the messiness and insanity, this new normal is hard but rewarding. By doing this little thing of staying home, we can actually make a difference.

This pandemic isn’t a hoax or something blown out of proportion. It’s not a political pawn. It’s not a chance to have parties and gatherings.

It is a sober reminder of our humanity and how each and every action we each take impacts our neighbors, friends, and family.

Finding Comfort

How are you doing?

The world is a messy and slightly scary place right now. The place I used to seek refuge in is now the only place I can go. I’m naturally a homebody until I have to be, then I start itching to go places.

Our daycare closed this week, so now my husband and I are working from home with two kids, two cats, and a dog. We, like millions of people around the world, are going a wee bit stir crazy.

Last night, I pulled out the emergency chocolate chips and baked up a batch of the most comforting cookie I know.

What’s a book that makes you feel the way that freshly baked chocolate chip cookies do?

You know, that warm, pull you into a hug, soothe you from the inside out kinda feeling.

For me, these are books that I got completely lost in. They took me out of my life and into another life, time, or even place, which I desperately need right now.

Women Are The Future

Today is International Women’s Day, and I’ve struggled to find the words to adequately convey what I’m thinking today. I am a woman and a mother of a strong, independent little girl who will grow up to be a formidable and fierce woman.

The world she’s being raise in will call her bossy or rude or a bitch when she stands her ground and demands that her voice be heard.

Boys and men will tell her to smile more and think she owes them something.

Bosses will underestimate her. Teachers will pass over her. Co-workers will y’all over and dismiss her.

All because she’s a woman. But the loss is theirs because I can already see the forces colliding inside her. Strength. Sense of self. Power. Leadership. Creativity. Dominance.

My daughter, like every girl I know, is far more than a cute face with a pretty dress and a bow. She’s more than a daughter. More than a sister. More than any label anyone slaps on her.

Women are the life force of this planet. They’re the calm before, during, and after the storms.

Women and girls are the future, and it will take each and every one of us to ensure that all of our voices are heard.

Getting Back to Me

For the past year, I’ve been attempting to balance working motherhood, marriage, reading, launching a Bookstagram, and writing and querying.

I wrote four full manuscripts. I read 120 books. I lost my patience, my temper, and at times, my mind. I stopped taking care of myself. My hair? Hot mess. My makeup? Huh, what’s that? My nails? Anxiety chewed a hole through my hands.

Nothing was or is balanced. The scales will never be perfect and that’s okay. What isn’t okay is that I completely let my health and self-care slip into the void.

I’m proud of the writing I did and the progress I made (12 manuscript requests and counting, let’s not talk about the rejections that piled up as well). I’m not to my goal yet, but I am closer.

I absolutely love the Bookstagram community I’ve joined. I’ve made some amazing friends there too—writing partners, confidants, mom friends—and it’s been a joy to be a part of.

I’m not planning on changing any of this, but I do need to get back to doing the things I loved doing before. My first step? Getting my platinum hair back. I missed it. A lot. Then, back to doing my makeup and having fun with it. Because for me, it is about the fun of it and not whatever society deems as important or beauty or whatever. It’s for me.

Decade in Review

I don’t even know where to start this. Ten years ago, I was a different person. I was 28 and on the verge of graduating college. I worked in a men’s clothing store and had dreams of working in politics. I’d also written my first novel (may it forever rest in peace in a box under my bed).

I was single and was convinced I would always be. And, I had no clue what the next day would hold, much less the next decade.

Ten years later, I’ve now written almost ten books. I’m married and a mom. I finished my undergrad and went on to get my MBA. I have a career (in retail, but using those overpriced pieces of paper). I’ve self-published three novels, and I’m currently submitting my work and querying agents.

Those are all of the tangible changes. The biggest changes are the ones you can’t see. I’m finally working towards finding comfort in my own skin. I’m finding my words and my voice. But, most importantly, I’ve laid out a clear vision for the person, wife, mother, and author I want to be. I’ve accepted that perfection is neither obtainable nor an option—and, I don’t want it.

In the last decade, I’ve become the person I never knew I wanted to be, but I still have a lot of growing and learning left to do. Cheers to the next 10 years.

PS 2020 in an election year. So, make sure you’re registered! And, of course, VOTE.

2020 Word of the Year: Intentional

Are you a habitual scroller? I can lose hours on social media. HOURS. I scroll and scroll and I don’t even think I’m actually paying attention. But I love it.

It’s a problem.

My word of the year for 2020 is Intentional.

I want to be intentional with my time and energy. To have a clear purpose. To be goal-oriented and focused. To ensure that everything I do is driving those goals and purposes forward. And, lastly, to be present in every moment I can.

This means implementing discipline around my social media usage. So, I’m sitting down now to make a plan and shift through those goals and intentions.

An Unexpected Confidence Boost

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a nail biter and a nail picker. It’s a terrible habit that is made worse by stress and anxiety. Earlier this year I shared a post about this. At the time, I was stressed at work and at home. I was also knee-deep in my first round of querying. I’d written 3 books and was planning to start another.

My hands were awful. Like, I hated having them visible. They also hurt. It was bad—possibly the worst they’d ever been.

I kept seeing these gorgeous imPRESS press-on nails on BooksAndMargs Instagram and loved them. They looked amazing. They didn’t look anything like my hands.

On a whim, I picked up a set at Target and decided I’d use them as a reward. I needed some form of incentive to stop biting and picking.

In a moment very on-brand for me, I didn’t wait until my fingers were better. I think they sat on my desk for two whole days before I caved. I was shocked at how easy they were to apply. Even more shocking? They looked good!

Within a week of applying the first set, my fingers were already healing. They were starting to look really good. Five weeks and four sets later and they are completely healed. I can’t believe my hands are the hands in these photos. I’m definitely not embarrassed by these fingers anymore and I’ve kicked a bad habit in the process. And, I’m officially obsessed with imPRESS Manicures. I’ve started collecting sets and my son’s favorite thing to do is pick out my next set. Me too, kid, me too.