Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Something I May Have Forgotten as I Leave for BlogHer12

Tomorrow I leave for BlogHer12.  

So I am clicking along, feeling really good about myself when I am hit by a wave of anxiety.  How can this be?  I have everything ready to be packed.  What could I possibly be nervous about?

Oh, leaving my kids.  Yes, that has made me a bit anxious.

When I left for BlogHer last year, I don’t remember feeling this anxious.  If memory serves me correctly (and I am going by memory because I don’t have time to go back into the archives to check), I remember feeling a bit relieved that I was getting a break.

But this year is different.  Maybe because I feel this is becoming more than a hobby.  It’s a bit more than just “checking this whole blogging thing out.”

I kind of feeling that I am cheating on my kids.  Did I also mention that I am missing my nine year anniversary to go to this?  (We did celebrate this weekend).

But through all this muddy guilty feelings, I do see this little light shining through.  Last week, I was working on some blogging stuff when Marie came up to me.  She wondered what I was doing, and I told her I was writing a blog post and working on my new website.  She said, “I want to be like you when you grow up.  You write, you do stuff on the computer, and you’re home.”

Hmm, I didn’t think it looked like that from the outside.  I always feel torn, like I should be doing a craft or constantly engaging with the kids.  Maybe I’m showing some work/home balance that I wasn’t even aware of.

As for the guilt of leaving for BlogHer, I’ll get over it.  It’s more the anticipation; once I’m there, I’m good.

So here’s to another adventure.  Yes, it’s hard to leave.  But if I focus on that, I’m only going to miss so much when I’m at BlogHer.  I’m going to try my best to live in the moment so I enjoy myself at the conference and am present for my family.

Can’t wait to let you know how it goes!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: The List Producer’s Top Apps for BlogHer12

Next week, is THE week; the week where bloggers from everywhere make the pilgrimage to the selected location (this year to New York) to learn about blogging and finally meet all those amazing people they’ve been chatting it up with online in person.   Otherwise known as BlogHer12!

I cannot wait!!

And this time, I am showing up with my iPhone.  Not one of my subpar smart phones of the past.  No, my game changer iPhone!  The one main difference I have noticed is that the apps just work.  No more Twitter issues.  Hello, Instagram! 

So imagine my delight when I found this awesome must-have app list by Paula Rizzo from List Producer!  I cannot wait to try these out!!  (And to meet her in person)!

What are some of your favorite organizing apps?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sailing a New Ship

First of all, did you get a chance to check out my Macomb Patch post about my views on Michigan’s waiver from No Child LeftBehind?   Or how about my Detroit News MichMoms post about Greenfield Village?  If you did, feel free to click on the links or check out my BRAND NEW WEBSITE erinjandarawlings.comwhich will showcase my weekly writings around the Internet as well as catalog my past contributions, kind of like a working resume. 

Remember my rock star Saturday night of a photoshoot with Brandy that ended in an almost bachelorette party with a run-in with a former student?  The photo shoot was for headshot photos for a casting call for the charity event of Village ofRochester Hills La Femme Fall Fashion Show.

As a fashion civilian, I had no idea what I was doing.  Even though it is for a good cause and I’m supporting local businesses, I was nervous.  My sweat glands are directly linked to the nervous part of my brain (which is a pretty large section).  Add ninety-five degree heat and a black dress, and I was a sweaty, nervous wreck!

Luckily, among the sea of young girls, there was another woman in the 30-45 years old bracket who just happened to be a former model.  Thankfully, she gave me some tips on walking and turning.  Runway models make it look so easy and natural.  And it’s walking – it *should* be natural.  But there was nothing natural about walking and posing.

I have to say that I did OK with walking, but not so good with the turning.  My feet were sloshing around in sweat while I was teetering on four inch heels.

However, I deemed the adventure a success on the following measures:

I managed to avoid looking like Ramona Singer in herwalk down the fashion runway

I didn’t freak out and pull out the Derek ZoolanderBlue Steel or Magnum look.  (“They’re the same look, people!”)

I didn’t fall.

Most importantly (second only to not looking like Ramona), I had fun!  To be more accurate, I had a blast!

Here, take a look at the photos taken by Capturing Life's Moments.  This one and this one are my favorites!

Yes, I was anxious.  (Over thirty and in a casting call for a charity fashion show?  Yikes!)  But in the moment, I let go and just had fun.  I mean, I never thought in a million years I would be trying out for a fashion show.  It’s not that I thought that this ship had sailed, I never even knew it was at the dock.

I walked away with a little pep in my step.  I did something new.  I stepped out of my comfort zone . . . and had fun!  And it just goes to show me that this Second Act is full of surprises.

Have you ever done something you never ever though you would do?  Did you have fun?  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: My Favorite Travel Size Beauty Products

In two weeks, I will be making the pilgrimage to the biggest blogger conference, otherwise known as BlogHer.  I am SO EXCITED!!

I used to feel dread and anxiety as I packed for trips, especially those on airplanes.  Not because I am afraid of flying or fear of experience something new.  Oh, no.  Something much more complicated than that. 

Fitting all my beauty products in a quart size bag was the source of my anxiety.  It’s like a huge challenge.  But then add in my deficit in spatial relations, and it put me Right. Over. The. Edge. 

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling in the past two years, and I’ve done away with most of that anxiety by embracing travel size products.  Are they pricier?  Yes.  Are they worth it?  Totally!  And if they aren’t, I’ll just buy a package of travel size containers at Target and fill ‘em up!

BOOM.  Anxiety gone.

Here’s a list of my favorites.  What are your must-haves?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I Don’t Even Know Who I Am Anymore!

I’m not sure if you saw it on Twitter, but I had a pretty interesting Saturday night.  And by interesting, I don’t mean commenting on the shows I was catching up on my DVR.  Oh, no.  I was out!  On a Saturday night!

Brandy at Brandy Nicole Photography was doing a photo shoot for my headshots that I needed for this fashion show casting call I am going to on Sunday. 

What?!  A fashion show?  But you are not a model and well into your thirties.  Well, my friend Shannon at Detroit Fashion News is organizing a fashion show for charity at The Village of Rochester Mall, and I decided to go out of my comfort box and try something new for a good cause.

A photo shoot?  A fashion show?  I don’t even recognize my life right now.  It’s crazy!

The photo shoot was fun, but it was not easy for me.  I’m not the most photogenic person.  If someone tells me to smile, it can range anywhere from a grimace to an over exaggerated clown smile.  So when you see the final products, you can totally appreciate Brandy’s mad photo taking/editing skills.

Even though I listened to some fun pre-kid music mixed with some Katy Perry and drank two Skinny Minis, it wasn’t until the end that I started to smile more naturally.  I’ll tell you what, I have a whole new respect for models after this little adventure.  It’s hard to “pose” natural.  I started to over think my smile.  Is this too sneery?  Is this too EXCITED? 

Well, I must have not looked like myself because my dental hygienist just happened to walked past us (we were at a park) and she said, “Hey!  Do I know you?  I think you’re Erin, but I didn’t recognize you all dolled up like that.”

Yes, I usually look underdone throughout the day.  Point taken.

So after we wrapped (Wow!  Do I sound like a total celeb or what?!), we decided to hook up with one of Brandy’s friends and Lyndsay from Cordial Punch and go to a bachelorette party!  Not like a Magic Mike bachelorette party, more like a bunch of girls meeting up at a local bar.  Long story short, we never actually met up with the bachelorette party, so it was just us four hotties hanging out.  I hadn’t been out to a bar with just the girls since before Marie was born.  I totally forgot bar etiquette.  I threw caution to the wind and picked up the first round.  I felt so alive!  It was totally fun! 

Until this guy sat next to me.  I didn’t think he was checking me out because in my mind, I’m a mother of two and those days are long gone.  So he starts talking to me, and I find myself responding in this ultra-perky, totally non-sexy voice.  Come to find out, he’s a former student of mine!  I didn’t recognize this trim, tan young man because the last time I saw him, he was in the ninth grade boy and under construction.

We exchange a few pleasantries.  I tell him my name is no longer Janda and that I am married with two kids.  I no longer teach English and apologize if I was bitchy to him.  He said I was a tad bit bitchy.  And then he proceeds to say how easy my job was as a teacher.  After I ask him his age (which was and unbelievable twenty-six), I tell him that I was four years younger than him when I was his teacher and had a hard time dealing with the pressure of being a teacher at such a young age.  When I tell him that I stay home with my kids, he tells me, again, how easy my life is.  And then asks me, five minutes later, if I am married.

Oh, now I am starting to put the pieces together, but I continue along with the conversation as this ultra-perky, non-sexy person.

And then he says, “So, you are married, right?”  It was less of a question, and more of fact checking statement. 

At this point, I am 90% sure he is kinda maybe hitting on me.  I tell him that I am married with two kids and unavailable.

I discreetly ask Brandy’s friend for backup and get the hell out of there as fast as I could.  Because that was just way too weird.

A photo shoot?  A casting call?  And now a former student hitting on me?

Like I said, I don’t even know who I am anymore!

Now it’s your turn – tell me a crazy story!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop: In Honor of Bastille Day

I have been living fast and furious over here.  Well, you already know about the traveling.  But now it’s play dates and day camps and running errands with both kids.  Due to the fleeting nature of the season, I feel like I want to cram as much summer *fun* into each day.  

And by fun, I’m not talking about sipping a glass of wine on the patio at dusk.  I’m talking about the manual labor kind of fun.  The kind which requires wrangling kids in and out of bathing suits and slathering on sunscreen.  (Oh, the horrors of slathering on sunscreen!  It’s as if I am rubbing them down with shards of glass).  The kind that requires patience of steel as I grit my teeth and have the inevitable “conversation” of why we are going to Target for toothpaste and paper towel, not for toys.

I have decided to have a mental vacation while creating this week’s list of my favorite French things.  I may not be able to drink a cup of coffee in peace let alone go to France for the weekend, but I can enjoy these things on the list, preferably after the bebes have gone to bed, non?

Be sure to add your favorite French things in the linky below!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In Photos: A Beach in Lexington, Michigan

 This photo was taken in Lexington when we stayed at my aunt’s lake house.  I’ve been going here for years, but this time was different.  I wrote about it here for the Detroit News MichMoms blog.

I focused on the brightening and contrast tools with layers that Brandy from Brandy Nicole Photography taught me.  I am learning that a photo doesn’t always need a total overhaul.  These edits may be subtle, but they are just enough to make the photo reach its full potential.

Which is kind of symbolic of yesterday’s post and today’s post at MichMoms.

Once an English teacher, always an English teacher, right?

So here’s the original:

Here’s the edited version:

I cropped the photo, and made a duplicate layer.  Then I went to Enhance Tab and clicked on Brightness and Contrast.  I made the Background Copy (NOT Background) super light by sliding the brightness over to the right and Contrast to the left.  I wanted to make the buckets, sandcastles, and waves brighter.

Then I highlighted the Background , clicked on Eraser tool, and went over the buckets, sandcastles, and waves so the super light original background copy would show through

What do you think?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Being an Adult

When I was a kid, I thought someone in their twenties was an actual, real adult.

For me, I was far from being an adult in my early twenties.  I was a full-time student making little dollars at my pet crematorium/salon receptionist job.  I was a *tad* financially dependent on my parents.   I partook in some light partying. 

 I thought once I graduated, got a job, and moved out, I would be an Official Adult.  But something was missing, and I felt like a big kid with her own apartment and a job.

I thought for sure when I got married, I would instantly feel like an adult.  But I didn’t.

Becoming a parent had to be that magical moment when I would feel like a real adult, but I had Postpartum Depression with both kids.  And that just made me feel like a giant fake adult pretending to be a parent.

How could this be?  At the time, I was thirty-one years old, married with two kids and a mortgage?  Those are all very adult things, and I still felt like I wasn’t legit.

I think, for me, it has been a long, subtle process of evaluating my habits and general outlook on life.  I’ve had to ask a lot of questions: Why do I think this way?  Why do I react this way?  Is this my true reaction or something hanging on from other influences?     

It’s been through choosing my own path.

It’s about learning a new dance.

It’s been about honoring my instincts.

And knowing my inner voice is wiser than the part of me that craves validation and acceptance from others.

This becoming an adult thing?  It’s not easy.  I work on it Every. Damn. Day.

Some days are hard.  That pesky measuring stick of what I *should* be doing and how I *should* be doing it is hard to put away.  And other days I am clicking along, feeling good about my choices even though they might be different choices. 

Like I said, becoming my own person has not been easy for me.  But that feeling of freedom that comes being this evolved version of myself, that feeling of lightness – it’s all been worth it.

I am better to those around me when I am not comparing myself to others or trying to do things others may have done them.

I am me.

And that’s what being an adult means to me.

When did you feel like an adult?

Friday, July 6, 2012

In Photos: Another Chicago Photo Using Layers and Masks

Another Chicago photo!  Remember that little trip I went on that included a stay at Kimpton Hotel Allegro that I won’t stop talking about because it was the coolest thing EVER!

In case you don’t remember, here’s the original post I wrote about it.  But if you click on this link and read mylatest Detroit News MichMoms post, I really explain what this trip meant to me.  Check out and let me know what you think.

So here’s how I took this photo:

And made it look like this:

Crop out as much junk as I could.

I enhanced it by brightening it to 50 and Contrast to 22

I used the Clone Stamp to get the rest of the junk.

I created another layer and lightened it up a lot.

I added a mask so the super light background showed up, but then used the Paintbrush tool to go over Marie to show the original layer with her in it.

Sound complicated?  I thought so, until I practiced it and it finally clicked!  If I can figure this out, I have total faith that you can, too!  Yay!  Also, Brandy is a fantastic teacher!

If you have an issue with Photoshop Elements 10 that you want to go over, let me know if the comments!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: My Travel Favorites

Hope everyone is had a great Fourth of July!   This is going to be a short post today since we are still in holiday mode.  I have been writing a lot about what traveling, so I decided to do a pre-created Skinny Scoop list called My Travel Favorites.  I love these lists!

What are your travel favorites?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

On Saying Yes

I say “no” many times during any given day, which is then usually followed by a “sorry.”

Practicing no takes discipline.  It’s really, really hard.  Similar to yoga, I practice saying no in hopes that one day it will become easier.  Saying no can feel like the dreaded triangle pose (my yoga nemesis), but after I breath and repeat a positive affirmation, I feel a small sense of triumph of pushing myself to my edge. . . and surviving.

So I cherish the times when I get to say yes.  I feel free!  I feel alive! With only a twinge of guilt (which is totally different than feeling weighed down with guilt and only a twinge of that yummy, light alive feeling).

Case in point: I just had the amazing opportunity to partake in Kimpton’s Hotel Allegro Chicago and their Allegro Kids Rule program.

I could not be more excited!

Except that the dates directly coincided with my family vacation that I had had planned for months. We were to make the pilgrimage across I80 East with my parents and spend a few days in New Jersey and then a few days in New York.  It was going to be a great time!  We had plans!  There were expectations!

Which was all blown to bits when I received that fateful email from the wonderful people of Kimpton.

For a very brief millisecond, I thought about turning it down.  I am very big on following through with commitments, especially those concerning family.

And then I said, “Yes.”  I knew I could make this work and do some variation of both.

I called my family that we were going to be staying with and (nervously) (bravely) asked them if they would mind hosting us the week earlier.  Although I am willing to accommodate others, it felt totally weird to ask that of someone else.  Not to sound all martyr-ly, but my schedule is always revolving around others and is rarely in the forefront.  I felt guilty and icky.

But I worked through it and just yes.

Yes to the unknown.

Yes to the possibilities.

Yes to me.

During this time, a high school memory came flooding my memory.  I was fifteen, and my sophomore Spanish class was going to Spain.  I remember looking at my teacher with such awe and excitement.  I remember wanting this to work so badly, but thinking no way in HELL were my parents going to be cool with sending me across the Atlantic Ocean.  

I was even afraid to ask my parents.  Going all the way to Europe seemed so abstract, too far from my everyday reality.  I was shockingly surprised that not only did my parents day yes, they were excited and wanted to come with me.

I was given the gift that no aspiration is too big.  I learned that asking is the first step.  And the impression of my parents not only agreeing, but being excited has left a deeply imprinted on my psyche.

And from this, my place of yes was born.

Have you recently said yes to something that seemed impossible?