Mortality is a Mother F*cker

Two years ago this week my phone rang during a post-pedicure lunch and drink with my best friend. It was our Friday thing that we did. Our kids were in preschool and this was our time to relax and enjoy some “me” time and celebrate the fact we had made it through the week of work, deadlines, kids and all the craziness that goes along with it. I loved these times. My best friend and I met when our 8 month old babies were in daycare together. They were 4 days apart and became best buds right away. It was sort of Kismet, because the same thing happened with us. We realized via a quick FaceBook glance that we had the same birthday. Not just the same day, but the same year- essentially we are twins from another mother. This was a very special week for us as well. Our babies had just graduated preschool and were heading to Kindergarten the following Monday. We were of course so proud, but also ready to drown our tears in a couple of glasses of wine.

So there we were with freshly painted toes, ready to order when my phone rang. I was enjoying a rather long lunch from work so I assumed someone was trying to get a hold of me to talk about a client I needed to deal with; but it was my Dad. My Dad is not a phone guy by any means and I had never seen his name come across my caller ID before. I would talk to my Dad often, always about sports and politics, but it was always on the tail end of a call I was having with my Mom. Maybe Mom just lost her phone, which seemed very probable in the 5 seconds it took me to pick up and answer. I did inherit the ability to lose anything-anytime from her. So I picked up the phone…..

It was my Dad and I immediately felt that sinking feeling in my stomach that something wasn’t right, but nothing prepared me for the two words I would hear next. Moms gone. I didn’t understand, I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t know what to say. Here I was, 2,000 miles away from my family and my Mom was dead. There would be no good-bye, there would be no last words, there would not be a last hug or promise or I love you, she was gone.

I was shaking uncontrollably and when I tried to get outside the restaurant I kept dropping my keys. Complete strangers were trying to help me. I made it outside but I don’t remember the rest of the conversation with my Dad. Something to the effect that he tried calling her all day from work and she didn’t answer and he had found her when he got home. She had been gone for a while and that is something I can’t imagine seeing. My parents were married for 37 years.

I’m not a super religious person but I do believe in a higher power and I know without a shadow of a doubt that a higher power put my best friend with me that day. She held me and let me cry and let me be angry all at once. She had lost someone equally as close and equally as sudden before, so she understood me completely. I don’t know what I would have done if she wasn’t with me. Thank you G.

I somehow made it home and my insane Type A personality took over. I had to call my ex-husband to let him know and make sure he could take our daughter for a few days. I was going to miss my baby’s first day of Kindergarten. I was angry about this. How dare you make me miss this, Mom? Her timing was not good. I had to call my boss and explain what had happened and that I would be out. I had to book a flight and a car and get back to Illinois as quickly as I could. I somehow managed all of this in a few short hours and was on a fairly empty plane back to Illinois that night. I cried the entire flight.

To be fair, the call did not come as a complete surprise. My Mom had not been well for years and through bouts of frustration with her, I had even said I expected to get that call. She was a brittle diabetic that didn’t take care of herself. she was diagnosed in her mid-thirties and managed it well for a while. When she was preparing for my wedding she started dieting in all the wrong ways, but she was determined to look nice for my big day. {insert major guilt} Her blood sugar would bottom out because she would take her insulin but wouldn’t eat. My Dad would often have to force feed her sugar wafers or orange juice, and when it was really bad he would have to inject her with emergency glucose shots. It was hard to watch. My Mom was a strong, social butterfly who loved to cook and loved to feed people even more so. She had a heart of gold, but easily hurt. We did not see eye to eye on much. I was career driven, loved sports and wanted to travel the world and live everywhere. She wanted me to settle down (down the street), and have babies and bake cookies with her on Saturdays. I knew I disappointed her many times.

The final blow to her health came a few years before her death in the form of Cancer. I f*cking hate cancer. It stole my Grandma, my Pop, my Aunt and many other members of my family. When we found out about her breast cancer, it was a shock. Resources are not plentiful in my little small town so treatments and appointments were often two hour trips away. An overzealous plastic surgeon almost killed her with a botched implant surgery after her double mastectomy. It killed me being so far away and I went back as often as I could. She fought hard and beat the cancer, but the toll it left on her body was undeniable. Her diabetes was even harder to control and she had a lot of pain.

My daughter and I flew back in May before she passed and had one of the most amazing visits we could have. My Mom spent hours in the yard with my daughter planting flowers and building memories. There were family afternoons with my brothers and their families and the wedding of my Moms brother that tied everything together perfectly. My Mom was good. We didn’t fight- which was rare. We got pedicures together and shopped and laughed and cried about my impending divorce. She was my rock and my best friend. When we pulled out of the drive on our way back to the airport, I didn’t know that was the last hug, the last picture together or the last time I would BE with my Mom.

The last two years have been hard. I reach for the phone to call her. I blame her for not trying a little harder to take care of herself, and then I blame myself for not being there to help. I know we hear it all the time, Life is short, hug the ones you love, tell them what they mean to you, blah, blah, blah. I did this, I told my Mom how much I loved her all the time. I told her how much she meant to me and how much I needed her in my life. Sometimes it’s just not enough. Mortality is a Mother F*cker and we can’t change things. She comes to me in my dreams when I need her, and I truly believe it is her. If you made it this far, thank you for letting me share. It was therapeutic to write and I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this.

Without my friends, the last two years would have been impossible, and I thank them for everything. I only hope I can be that friend when I am needed. Don’t desert your friends when sh*t happens. They may not know how to ask for help and they may be hard to be friends with, I know I was. This blog is all about the trials and tribulations that we go through in life and how we are able to to do just a little bit easier with a little help from our friends.

#jointheconversation

Meet Amy

1374286_10203394932259836_780398353_n (1)Aloha! I’m Amy, and at the ripe old age of 40, I’m the “senior” member of the gang. I was born and raised in Hawaii, and moved to the mainland to attend college, first at the University of Arkansas (WPS!!), then at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. I met my future husband there (in a bar, natch) and we settled down on the Surface of the Sun in Chandler, AZ outside of Phoenix where we’ve lived ever since, except for a 6-year stay in Thornton, CO where my family and I became HUGE Denver Broncos fans.

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My boys (my husband and my sons) are the loves of my life, but they’re not without their challenges. My youngest, Sam, struggles with ADHD, ODD, anxiety and other depression. My older son, Jack, is brilliant, but is impacted by ADD and anxiety. You’ll hear me often discussing some of the specific issues we have with their conditions. I go to counseling too, to better cope with mothering special needs kids as well as to deal with my own shit. Believe it or not, I’m not perfect. I know — take a moment to let it soak in. 😉

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When I’m not competing for Mother/Wife of the Year, I love to cook, eat, run (because I like to eat), hike, and TRAVEL. I caught the travel bug at a very young age and have been lucky enough to see some of the great sights of the US, Europe, and Asia. I believe that life should be about creating memories, not collecting things, and am trying to pass on my wanderlust to my kids.

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I’ve always been blessed with the girlfriends in my life, and I literally have no idea what I would do without them. That’s not to say I haven’t had the wool pulled over my eyes a couple times, or decided that I was over the drama associated with certain people, but I’m fortunate that probably 90% of my friend choices have been well made. I always felt bad for women who considered other women to be “competition”, and I was always just a little suspicious of women who didn’t have at least a couple of close, true girlfriends. The Girlfriends that we’ve started this community with have literally been with me at some of my absolute lowest periods, and have shared some of my happiest times. I know you’ll grow to love them as much as I do!

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And without further ado, a bit about me:

Name: Amy F.

Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii

Family: I was adopted at birth by my parents Bob and Jo Ann and was raised with a younger sister, Ann, who was also adopted. When I was 18, I petitioned the state to open my adoption records and was connected with my birthfather Fred and his daughters (my younger half-sisters) Aleah and Nicole, and with my birthmother Sandy.

Relationship status: Married to Matt for almost 17 years, together for almost 20.

Kids: Jack is 14, almost 15 and a gentle (somewhat absent-minded) giant. Sam is 9, almost 10, and has ADHD and anxiety, something for which we’ve been seeing a counselor and a psychiatrist for several years.

Occupation: Currently I’m a Senior Customer Manager for a global healthcare company, but most of my professional career has been spent in accounting and finance.

Dream job: Travel consultant/Travel writer

Astrological sign: Capricorn

Turn-ons: Smiling eyes; the sound of rain on a tin roof; thunderstorms; the smell and sound of the ocean; the feel of the crisp Hawaii upcountry air.

Turn-offs: Closed-minded people; the word “panties”; pictures of cells (I swear that’s true – I freaked out in high school biology because looking at cells under the microscope grossed me the hell out!)

Favorite cocktail: Depends on my mood. Red wine is my go-to, but I do love a good vodka cocktail and craft brews.

Favorite food: It’s probably easier for me to tell you what kind of food I DON’T like. If I had to choose a favorite, it would be Italian. Or Hawaiian. Or Korean. Or Chinese (my favorite restaurant in the world is a Chinese restaurant in my hometown that I grew up loving).

Favorite sports teams: I love most sports, but I’m most passionate about football and am a huge Denver Broncos fan.

Best vacation: Tough to say – I’ve had many great vacations – but it would likely be a 2013 17-day trip to Rome, Florence, Venice, Paris and London that Matt and I took to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.

Dream vacation destination: I have so many! I would like my next “big” vacation to be Carribean island trip with my whole family.

Best advice ever given to you, and by whom?: It sounds so cliché, but my dad always drilled into us that we were to treat EVERYONE – regardless of social status, race, income level, religion, and the like – with the same respect that we would want granted to us. I can still remember some of the VERY public tongue lashings I received when he caught me being rude and disrespectful.

Guilty pleasure: Trashy romance novels. I’m always so embarrassed when people ask “What are you reading?” because telling them that I’m almost done with The Secret of the Sheik’s New Bride isn’t exactly something to brag about.

Beach or mountains?: Both. I was raised in Hawaii and was always a beach baby, but we lived in Denver for almost 6 years and I LOVED being in the mountains.

Morning or night person?: Afternoon. Morning is too early and Night is too late.

Describe something about yourself that not a lot of people know: I’m pretty much an open book, so it’s difficult to come up with something new that people don’t know. It would probably have to be that growing up in Hawaii is not necessarily as idyllic as it sounds. I’m “hapa” (half-Asian, half-Caucasian), and was raised by “haole” (Caucasian, mainlanders) parents, so it was difficult finding my identity. As a child, there was often cultural bullying because of my haole side, but when I moved to Arkansas, tapping into my Asian side was equally difficult. When people ask, “Why don’t you live in Hawaii?!” it’s difficult to explain that I don’t want my haole kids to grow up with the same pressures that I often felt.

What is your favorite thing about yourself?: My sense of humor. I consider myself pretty quick-witted, but what I like most about my sense of humor is my ability to tap into it during dark times.

Three people you’d like to have a drink with: Princess Grace, Chris Pratt, and my dad (he passed away in 2000)

Do you believe in ghosts?: Absolutely, and I believe that I’ve been visited and had brushes with them before. I believe my father has visited me and my boys many times.

I’m looking forward to sharing more about myself, my family, and my friends with you, and hope you’ll do the same!

XOXO, Amy

Meet Leslie

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Hi ya’ll! I grew up in the cornfields of Illinois in a very small one-stoplight town. Ok, it’s just a blinking red light at the four-way stop, but you get the idea. It was an everyone-knows-everyone kind of town which meant I couldn’t get away with anything. I played sports, did well in school and counted the days until I could break out of my little town. I studied marketing at Purdue and this is where I fell in love with College Football. It was my dream to work in sports broadcasting so I moved to California with my best friend from college. We literally flipped a coin in a bar one night and said heads New York, Tails California. Tails won, so we loaded up a U-Haul truck and drove across the country. Los Angeles nearly chewed us up and spit us out a few times, but we made it with lots of great memories of Hollywood nights, soap opera star stalkers and the night someone couldn’t believe that we didn’t have cell phones, because even homeless people have cell phones. Ugh. I worked for CBS, ABC and Fox Sports trying to claw my way to even the bottom. Some of my best California memories were sitting in the broadcasting booth of the Coliseum or Qualcomm Stadium, but eventually I realized that Sports was just going to be a hobby and I had to make a living, so back to my roots I went.  I have worked in Technology marketing now for almost 15 years. I’m a Tech nerd who always has to have the latest gadgets. I met my future husband in California. He was the nice guy, the loyal guy and the guy who had goals and ambition. We were best friends and things just seemed to make sense. His job moved us to Arizona a few years later right before we were married. I hated Arizona. It was hot, dirty and I missed my friends. Less than a year after we married I was pregnant with my daughter. She is the blessing from our failed marriage, but more to come on that later. Now I have been in Arizona for almost 10 years and have learned to not only like it here, I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. My friends here are like family. I am blessed with a beautiful, smart and sassy daughter who is my every reason for everything. I have a job I love and I work from home. And now I have this little project. I didn’t go into much detail into my last few years because I have so much to say about it. This blog/FB page/whatever you want to call it is my way of saying that my girlfriends saved my life more times than they know. So stick around, join the conversation and know this is a safe, judgement-free, low-expectation place. Xoxo- Leslie

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Name: Leslie

Occupation: Account Executive

Dream job: Sideline Reporter for the Big10 Network

Hometown: Hoopeston, IL which is 2 hours straight south of Chicago on the IL/IN border smack dab in the middle of the cornfields.  My High School mascot was a Cornjerker, and no I’m not kidding.  Google it. You’re Welcome.

Family:  I was lucky.  I had a great childhood with two hard-working, loving parents. My Mom was a baker/cake decorator/neighborhood Mom.  There was always an extra kid or two at our table for nightly family dinners. I lost her almost two years ago to a combo of Breast Cancer and Diabetes. My Dad is probably the hardest working Man I’ve ever met and the biggest baseball fan you will ever know. I credit him for my well-rounded intelligence on all things sports.  I have two brothers with beautiful families including 2 nieces and 4 nephews I adore.

Relationship status: Divorced for two years after a 7 year marriage to a great person and the father of my daughter.  Currently single after a few Post-divorce dating disasters.  (More on that to come)  I could write a book on the comedy that is Online Dating.

Kids: One amazing 7-year-old daughter named Hannah.  She loves everything pink, dance, gymnastics and playing dress up.

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Astrological sign: Scorpio

Turn-ons: Intelligence and good teeth

Turn-offs: Racism/Negativity/Bully/Disrespectful

Favorite cocktail: I’m a Beer girl. (Remember the cornfield thing) But as I have matured and realized my metabolism isn’t what it used to be, I love a vodka/soda with extra, extra lime.

Favorite food: Sushi. I could eat it every single day

Favorite sports teams: Purdue/Chicago Cubs/Chicago Bears/Chicago Blackhawks – Stanley Cup, baby!

Best vacation: The first one that comes to mind is a trip I took to Cabo San Lucas with my girlfriends last year.

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Dream vacation destination: Europe. Currently planning trip for the Fall of 2016 with a few of The Girlfriend Blueprint girls for my 40th birthday.

Best advice ever given to you, and by whom?: Respect the game, hustle off the field, tuck in your shirt. ~My Dad talking about Softball

To me this has so much meaning. You have to respect your life. Hustle for what you want. Show up. Do your best and know at the end of the day you gave everything you possible could.

Guilty pleasure: Haagen-Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream (runs a close second to my girlfriends and how I deal with shit) Did I mention I’m an emotional eater?

Beach or mountains?: This is so hard. I grew up in the cornfields of Illinois and only saw the ocean one time before I was 21 years old.  Also, I never saw real mountains until I was 22 when I made a trip to the Grand Teton Mountains in Wyoming. (Most beautiful place in the continental US) The ocean/beach gives me solace, strength and an inner peace that I can’t describe, but an escape to the mountains can be almost magical.  Let’s just say I’m an outdoorsy kind of girl.

Morning or night person?: Definitely a Night person.  Ask anyone who has ever had to wake me up in the morning.

3 Things even my friends don’t know about me: 1. 95% of the time I listen to talk radio in my car 2. I would rather read non-fiction history books than 50 Shades of Grey 3. I came up with this question and have realized I am that friend that shares everything. Apparently my friends know everything about me.

Three people you’d like to have a drink with: 1. Tina Fey – I admire strong, funny women who do not apologize for their success.  2. John F. Kennedy – One of my strongest interests is politics and history. He saw so much in his short presidency. I would love to hear what his biggest accomplishments and regrets were and what else he would have done if he wasn’t assassinated. 3. My Grandpa. He passed a few years ago and left a hole in my heart.  He was a kind and gentle soul who always gave me a sense of comfort and always had a Bud Light nearby.

 Do you believe in ghosts?: Yes, and I believe my Mom comes to me in my dreams when I need her most.

Meet April

April 4Hi, my name is April! I was born in ’79 in Jackson, TN. I’ve lived in Annapolis, MD, most of Southern CA, Park City, UT, and am now in McKinney, TX. I got married to a pretty awesome guy (Joel) in 2004 and we had our one and only child (Samantha) in 2012. I was raised by a single Mother and due to her work we moved A LOT! I literally went to a new school every year… yeah, that’s right – you heard me correctly. 12 schools! So to say that I adapt to change very well or that I have being the “new kid” down would be the understatement of the century! Being raised by a strong single Mom has taught me a thing or two… mostly good things with a touch of bad. While married and sharing my life with someone I’ll never put myself in a position where I rely on anyone else to support me. Most people view that as good and I do too… but it comes with its own set of issues. I have a hard time relying on people to help me and can be a control freak. (I frustrate myself sometimes – ha!).

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Since we moved so much while growing up, I didn’t spend much time with family other than my Mom. I quickly learned that I needed to make my friends my family. I tend to be a positive person and look at that as a blessing! It meant that I got to PICK my family! The women that I’ve started this blog/public friendship circle with are my family. They have taught me to listen better, change, be open minded, love more, and enjoy life MORE!

Life is really too damn short and the older I’m getting the more I’m realizing that we need to support and stand together. Petty bull-shit needs to stop. We need to be more understanding of each other and help (oh, and allow people to help… see, I’m learning).

A few other things about me that aren’t quite so deep are:

  • I’ve been in online advertising for 13+ years and love what I do for a living!
  • I played water polo in school and swam competitively for most of my childhood
  • I’m a tomboy all the way (you’ll often hear me say I don’t really know how to be a “girl”)
  • I love sports, college basketball and football are my favorites (Go UCLA)!!April 3
  • I’m loyal to a fault but when treated badly it’s a little too easy for me to walk away (not great, I know… just who I am. It’s a part of the self preservation thing I’m sure a lot of people can relate to…)
  • And, let’s see…. I’m a happy person with a pretty even temperament. I don’t have major mood swings and love to laugh!
Below are the answers to my Q&A – Enjoy!

Name: April C.

Hometown: I’m going to say Annapolis, MD (I lived there the longest)

Family: Husband (Joel), Daughter (Samantha), Mother (Pamela), Father (Gary), Step-Mom (Jennifer), Little Sister (Lexie), Aunt, who is like a sister to me (Nancy), there’s more, but that’s my immediate family.

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Relationship status: Married (2004)

Kids: We have one, she’s our little princess and we don’t plan on having more. We waited so long before having her and my husband is 9 years older than me…. sooo, you do the math!

Occupation: Director or Online Advertising

Dream Job: I would love to sail for a living!

Astrological sign: Virgo

Favorite Cocktail: I gravitate toward wine, but I do love a good dirty martini (I hate sweet things)

Favorite food: SEAFOOD! I love shell fish! Growing up in Annapolis, MD… I’d go crabbing off our dock on the Chesapeake Bay. I’m not the girl that feels bad for the tossing the lobster into the boiling water and hearing the scream. I grew up around all that. My first job was at Annapolis Seafood. (My mouth is starting to water….) LOL!

Turn-ons: Confidence is huge for me, sense of humor, someone who is responsible, not a follower, and has a good group of friends.

Turn-offs: Ignorance, judgmental, and egotistical (just to name a few) 😉

Fav sports teams: Dodger, Saints, UCLA, Kings, Lakers, and I love watching golfApril 2

Best vacation: I’d have to say my Honeymoon (we went to Atlantis)

Dream vacation: I’d love to take my Husband and Daughter to Spain

Best advice ever given to you and by whom: I’ve had a lot of good advice thrown my way. But the one that keep standing out to me right now for some reason is when I was 21/22… I was working full-time and got a little caught up in office gossip. I had someone I looked up to (and older than me) pull me aside and explain why it’s a BAD idea to get involved with that. (For so many reason, right?!?) To this day people call me “Quantico”. I’ve not only taken this advice while in the office but have worked hard to bring it into my personal life. If you have something to say about someone, you better make sure it’s something you’re also comfortable saying to their face. If not, keep your mouth shut!

Guilty Pleasure: Oh, this goes back to my shellfish love! When my Husband travels for work I get more crab legs than he needs to know about!

Beach or mountains: Shit…. Can I say both?? Is that allowed? Living in CA then Park City UT…. I can’t pick!

Morning or night person: MORNING! (When I didn’t have too much wine the night before)

Things your girlfriends don’t even know about you: They might not know that I really don’t like being a blonde. Being young looking and a blonde has made it a thousand times harder to be taken seriously in a corporate environment. And since I REFUSE to be “that girl” it’s been 2 times harder for me. I’ll have to update this when I think of more things… these chicks know a shit ton about me!!

Favorite thing about yourself: I feel that I’m pretty self aware and I like that about myself. If we’re talking physical… I’d pick being short, I love to wear some high ass heels!

3 people you’d like to have a drink with: The girls who started this with me! I miss them more than I could ever express! That might sound like I didn’t give this answer thought, but I did. I live in TX and most of them are in AZ. I miss them like crazy!

Do you believe in ghosts?: YES! I used to live in a super old house in Kent Island, MD. and I swear this place was haunted. You can’t experience what I did and NOT believe.

I hope some of you who read this can relate to me and know that there’s someone out there like you! Please keep reading along with us and submit thoughts, questions, or ideas! I look forward to seeing you online and maybe one day in person!

~April

Hello World!

Our blog idea came to be just like all our other brilliant ideas: over cocktails.

A couple of us were enjoying an impromptu happy hour when, as it often does, the topic drifted into the power of girlfriendships and how they should be celebrated. Our girlfriends are a source of strength and support – they make us laugh, offer a shoulder to lean and cry on, share our successes and our mistakes, and love and accept us for who we are. There’s no drama and gossip among true girlfriends, only love, acceptance and understanding.

The five girls of The Girlfriend Blueprint – Leslie, April, Geneva, Amy, and Rustie – created this community to mirror a girls night in in our world. Just a bunch of girls, sitting around, shooting the shit about all sorts of things: marriage, divorce, relationships, wine, parenthood, the latest season of OITNB, budgets, diets, recipes, recipes for diets, plus much, much more. Sometimes our conversations are light and funny. Sometimes they’re deep and intense. Sometimes they are just downright sucky. We don’t pull punches with one another, and we won’t do so here, but we always come from a place of support and love. Some of us (cough, cough – Amy – cough…) curse enough to make a sailor blush. Some of us are a little more reserved. You’ll get to know us – warts and all – as we share our thoughts and ideas (no matter how stream-of-consciousness) with you. Over the next few posts, we’ll be introducing ourselves, so you’ll get to know us better.

And we hope that you all will begin to share yourselves with us too! Let us know what you’re dealing with, what you want to shout from the (virtual) rooftops, and what you’d like to hear about from others. We’re pretty serious about wanting to create a safe community of women who will build each other up and give one another a safe place to land if they should trip.

So, Girlfriends…pull up a chair, grab a wine glass and join the conversation. We can’t wait to meet you.

XOXO,

The Girls