Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Let's talk about long-distance relationships

So I'm about a month into being "officially" in a relationship with the most wonderful man. He just happens to live 1,156 miles away from me, which comes with its fair share of speculation from some of the people in our lives. I don't know what their biggest fears/concerns are. Maybe that one of us has ulterior motives and is using the other or maybe that we're caught up in some artificial/lusty feelings or maybe that we're moving too fast or maybe that it's just not possible for us to overcome the distance and get to the same zip code long enough to be a long-term thing.

Well, I'm here to squash all that, so let's talk about long-distance relationships.

This year I have put myself out into the universe and entered the pool of eligible bachelorettes out on the dating field after several years of purposeful singleness and taking care of my daughter, myself, and the peace of our household. In that time, I have been on dates (or some version of that) with 8 dudes prior to Brice, and in the past couple years, I've talked to about quadruple that amount. (Side note: I have introduced Kimmy to like none of these guys, but I can't wait for her to meet Brice!)

My first point is this: there is no one like my boyfriend. No one. I've talked to enough dudes to know. Even the guys I've thought were the real deal turned out to either be duds (excuse the language, but this is colloquially known as being a fuckboy), a terribly incompatible match, on some whole other time-frame than me, or just terrified of commitment. Landing with these guys over and over again made me discover exactly what I want and deserve. So when that man materialized right in front of my eyes, you bet your ass I grabbed his hand and jumped!

Are we moving too fast? No. Honestly, I don't understand how anyone could think this. The distance forces us to crawl. We don't get to go out on dates every night or cuddle on the couch and watch movies together or hug or kiss or laugh together (sad face!) or anything that involves us being in the same proximity as each other. We spend a month at a time apart, book-ended by a long weekend spent together. So for all the spaces in-between, we spend our time talking...putting every single piece of information out on the table, getting to know every last thing about each other, and clinging onto each word. We memorize each other's minds, hearts, anxieties, fears, hopes, dreams, and goals. We text and talk on the phone and video chat and send silly snaps.

We talk about the tough stuff that many couples don't get to until much farther in their relationships: what ticks us off, what stresses us out, what we regret from our past, finances, credit scores, failures, our deepest insecurities, things we want to do and see but have maybe never felt supported enough to delve into. We take the time to learn how each other feels loved most, how to make the other one laugh, how to spot a bad day/mood and how to make it better. We make the best of what we have right here and now. There is no pressure, no tension. We're right on the same page. Our pace is perfect.

I say all this not because I feel like I need to justify my life choices to anyone, but to show that this is not a relationship I just randomly hopped into with no prior thought--and the same from his perspective. I have hoped and prayed for this man for years, and he's been looking for me for awhile, too. Please don't worry about us because we've got this!

Brice and I are serious about each other. This is real life. This is not a drill. This is not a game to us. Being together is not a band-aid fix for an issue in either of our lives. We are two grown, independent adults who are each individually and mutually choosing to be together. And I think I speak for both of us when I say that we definitely wouldn't put ourselves through the torture of being 6 states apart for a while if there wasn't something very real and very awesome between us. Yes, we met on the internet: a perfectly valid way of forming a human connection in the year 2017. The two of us knew our feelings were real long before we ever met in person, and meeting just solidified and deepened all that. And you want to know the best part? We have a plan to end the distance. Because when you love somebody, time and space do not matter. Love will win, and it will bring two hearts beating out of their chests for each other together.

For the most part, though, we've got a whole lot of supportive people in our corner. I think they really get us, and that support feels really, really good. (Thanks, y'all!)

But for any haters/doubters: even *if* we're both bat-shit crazy and our two very grounded selves both somehow have zero grip on reality and have imagined this whole love thing, whoop-de-freaking-do. That's for us to discover on our own, not to be told about by you.

We all have this one short life. And we're just two imperfect souls living ours the best way we know how.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fall for the guy

Fall for the guy who will do anything to get to you, who never forgets to text you back, who is genuinely excited to be in your life.

Fall for the guy who never lets a day go by without telling you you're beautiful.

Fall for the guy who listens without judgment.

Fall for the guy whose hugs feel like sunshine and rainbows.

Fall for the guy who loves his family and can't wait to meet yours too (including your daughter).

Fall for the guy who can stop time when he kisses you, who makes everything slow and easy when he's around.

Fall for the guy who acknowledges, loves, and respects your independence, but who speaks directly to your love language and steps right in and helps with the overwhelming stuff anyway (like cleaning your biggest pet peeve: gritty kitchen floors) without ever expecting anything in return.

Fall for the guy who calls you, even though he kind of hates talking on the phone.

Fall for the guy who never once makes you feel ashamed when you write him an entire novel of all the things that are on your mind.

Fall for the guy who will put all his fears in the back of his mind to chase happiness with you.

Fall for the guy who drives your accidentally drunk self home, hands you a glass of water, feeds you an amazing meal he's cooked, listens to your random conversation topics, tucks you in, and then kisses your forehead right before you fall asleep.

Fall for the guy who responds to, "Want to go on an adventure?" with "I'll go anywhere with you."

Fall for the guy who holds your hand every chance he gets.

Fall for the guy who looks at all your flaws dead-on and still chooses you anyway.

Fall for the guy who makes you laugh, who makes you try new things, who makes you settle more deeply into yourself with confidence.

Fall for the guy who's not embarrassed to show you off to his friends and who says sweet things no matter who's within earshot.

Fall for the guy who cooks and brings you a plate of dinner and sits with you as you spaz out over an accounting quiz for a few hours of your life.

Fall for the guy whose actions and words consistently tell you exactly where you stand.

Fall for the guy who is calm and steady in all the ways you are not, yet accepts you just the way you are.

When you find him, he'll be exactly what you deserve, exactly what you've waited for, exactly what people have pleaded with you to know has always existed in the vastness of humankind. He'll leave you standing in breathless wonderment trying to figure out how you ever thought anyone else measured up.

WAIT FOR HIM, LADIES. He is real, and he is somewhere looking for you too.

BG + KP <3

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Do things that scare you (single momma travel edition)

One of my proudest accomplishments to date was when I took my daughter to Disney World for her 3rd birthday, just me and her. Gobs of people tried to talk me out of it, friends and family alike. But it was something I felt like I just needed to do for us, and I'm so glad I listened to myself. I learned many, many things on that trip, the biggest of which was that I absolutely can handle taking my daughter somewhere all on my own, all while managing uncertainties and having a whole lot of fun! It was the pivotal experience of my single parenting journey, and it made me realize that I am more than capable.

That was in August 2015. Since then, I've made it a goal of mine to jump at any opportunity to travel with Kimmy. We've been camping together, to King's Island, to zoos, to Disney on Ice, to state parks, to Amish Country, and we just got back from Chicago last night. It's extremely scary and intimidating to take her on trips by myself, but I know the rewards are well worth the stress of overcoming that fear.

Are these trips easy? No. They strain our budget, they push my stress through the roof, and I have to consciously quell my endlessly nagging anxieties the whole time we're on a vacation. Like, seriously the entire time. A lot of little things make me a nervous wreck when I'm responsible for another human being: public transportation, crossing the street, airport security lines, whether or not my kid has peed and pooped recently, whether she's well hydrated, how much money is in my checking account at this exact moment in time, how much cash I have, where the nearest ATM is, whether there will be errors in any of our reservations, whether I have forgotten anything I need, etc., etc., etc. Last year on vacation, we were hit by an intoxicated driver and landed with a completely totaled car before we even made it to our hotel! So, yeah. Not easy at all. There is always some unforeseen circumstance a blink of the eye away that can throw a wrench in the most carefully laid plans.

Are these types of trips fun, though? Heckkkk yes! It feels SO GOOD to get one-on-one quality time with my mini me. It's the perfect opportunity for both of us to get an attitude adjustment, to reset our behaviors, to break out of our monotonous routines, to make new memories, to just get out of the house, and to talk about things heart to heart. I love our girl time, and I will chase these small getaways with her any chance I get.

This past vacation to Chicago, in particular, really helped us get grounded. We had a long year, month, and week leading up to this trip with tons of changes and long, tired days. Kimmy just finished up her school year on Friday, so we headed to the airport right after that. I was stressed about having just finished the end of my grad school term and probably not earning a letter grade that reflects the depth of what I actually took away from the class knowledge-wise. We just really needed to get away, and so we did!

I've found that the best trick to traveling with my daughter is not planning everything out. Of course, I made our lodging reservation and made sure all our transportation was planned out. But other than that, I only had 2 things planned going into this trip: a day at the zoo on day one and tickets to see Aladdin the musical on day two. That left us with a wide open schedule to be sure to have plenty of time to enjoy each other, instead of having all our time blocked off to do activity after activity for the sake of having a full itinerary. This also left room for Kimmy to make choices and feel like she had a say in what we were doing, not just be forced to do whatever I had planned for us. It really helped us be a team!

Also, we were mega broke this trip. But you know what? We had an absolute blast! Did we come home with a suitcase full of souvenirs? Nope. I actually can't think of a single souvenir we bought, unless you count the $1 balloon art flower we got on a street corner or our big bags of Garrett's popcorn. But we took lots of pictures and made a whole lot of memories! A tour guide during a trip to Europe in college once said, "Take pictures with your eyes and with your heart--those will be your best memories," and it's so true. I mean, I took pictures with my phone, too, but they just serve to reinforce all the things I saw and experienced. I don't look back and think, "Oh, I really love this one thing I bought in Europe." Instead, I think, "That Nuremberg Easter market was one of the neatest experiences of my life," "or that sunset view of Paris from the steps of Sacre-Coeur Basilica changed my life completely" or "the way my sisters in Cambodia hugged me still makes me feel warm inside." I value experiences so much more deeply than things, and I think Kimmy would tell you the same. She didn't even ask for anything in Chicago, except to show me some things she liked in the Disney Store that she would love it if she got for her birthday in August. She asked for a boat ride and a fresh-squeezed lemonade and to go splash in the water fountains in Millennium Park.

We walked about 28 miles over the long weekend, and little miss didn't complain a single time about being tired or hot. Not one time. How strong and grown up is she?! I was so proud! We ate free hostel breakfast and peanut butter sandwiches and hot dogs and cotton candy and ice cream and only one sit-down restaurant meal (deep dish pizza). We painted our nails and watched cartoons. We window shopped and played in the parks and got free Minions tattoos. We chased geese, had a picnic, rode a boat taxi, and walked down along the river and all along the Lakefront Trail. We gawked at the enormity of Buckingham Fountain--twice. We met friends at the zoo and made new friends at the Old Navy coloring table and at Millennium Park. We saw an amazing musical and had vending machine snacks for dinner afterwards because it was a Sunday, and I forgot everything would close early (oops). We went in shops just to ride the escalators. We got caught in a summer downpour and got so soaked we had to go in Walgreens to buy paper towels and dry ourselves off. We went to a museum we could get into for free with our WonderLab membership here. We talked and danced and soaked it all in. We even made up our own vacation theme song! It was an amazing trip.

So, anyway, my point is this...

ALL PARENTS EVERYWHERE (especially my fellow beautiful and amazing superhero single mommas who might lack the confidence to take the plunge or who might deal with an overabundance of unsolicited advice to the contrary from people who don't have a clue what it's like to walk in our shoes): GRAB YOUR KID(S) AND GO. Go anywhere. For a few days, for a week, overnight, doesn't matter. Pick a place and get in your car, on a plane, train, or boat. Just go. Go an hour away and stay in a hotel and watch TV, order pizza, and swim in the hotel pool. Get in the car and drive until you get to somewhere that seems like a good destination. Go a few towns over and spend the day there. Eat McDonald's or sandwiches or granola bars and apples for every meal if that's all you can afford. Stay on a friend's couch or an Airbnb or hostel. Go camping and sleep in a tent. Sleep in a rest area in your car for all I care--just go! Whatever you're scared of is minuscule in comparison to the lessons and memories you can find when you travel.

Lastly: if your fear is a person whispering in your ear that it's unsafe and foolish to travel with your child(ren), don't listen to them. Listen to you. Use your head and your street smarts. You know how to keep your kid safe. You know how your kid will react to any number of situations, which will help you choose where to take them. You know what you're capable of--and even if you don't, go somewhere anyway because you'll certainly find out. You'll never thrive under the dark cloud of pessimistic and paranoid advice. Go chase your sunshine!

More later.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Good and bad

After a very introspective weekend, I have one conclusion: life is such a crazy--at times insane--mix of good and bad.

Opposite emotions exist in parallel, or they're intertwined. There's sadness, joy, loneliness, emptiness, happiness, and humor all at once. You can't have just one. You can't be all patched up and put together all the time either.

A house you love falls through: fear of the unknown.
A new opportunity presents itself: hopefulness.
Your kid acts up with a behavior you thought was old news: anger.
The love of your life puts you in the friendzone: loneliness.
You laugh at the most hilarious thing you've ever seen: joy.
You read something that breaks your heart: sadness.
You disappoint someone: self-guilt.
You kiss your daughter and feel your heart beat just a little harder: love.
You bask in the perfect spring weather and just smile: bliss.

All of these feelings are varying degrees of temporary. Some brief and some that come in waves for years.

Life is weird. All we can do is push through and support the people in our circles and search for happiness and hope to stay afloat. It's about the journey, right?

Goodnight, odd world.

Friday, March 3, 2017


Kimberly Margaret Pierce

July 6, 1987 - March 3, 2004

I love you. I miss you.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Middle child syndrome

I grew up with a pretty constant feeling of being misunderstood.

I was a middle child sandwiched in between a warrior-princess, mega-independent, born-leader older sister and an attention-getting, rule-changing, volatile-tempered younger brother.

There I was, just hanging out in the middle all alone, hoping to be noticed for my wild creativity, intense empathy, strong compassion, and various random talents. "Notice me! Let me be the center of attention just once!"

Don't get me wrong, I knew my parents loved me and stuff. But, your shiny edges just don't shine as brightly when you have a sibling on each side dulling that glow. For Kim and Kevin, each with a side free to blow in the breeze and shine in the sun, it was easy having a "place" in the world--at least from my comparative perspective.

My childhood years that I spent trying to find my place and figure out who I was as a sandwich filling (hah!) shaped me into an extreme introvert. I was always looking inward to find my footing. Birth order definitely affected me, and middle child syndrome is oh-so real--I even wrote a pretty compelling term paper on it once for a developmental psych class.

Then when Kim died, I had no place in the order. I was suddenly in the forefront, but I didn't want any of that attention. Like, at all. I'm still that way. "Don't notice me. Let me not be the center of attention--I don't like it. Let me hang back and people-watch and offer my input when the time is right for me."

It's weird, and I'm still adjusting. I also occasionally encounter that feeling of being misunderstood, and it unsettles me. It's a super "off" feeling. But, I guess it's not very realistic to expect to be understood all the time.

Anyway, getting to the point, I have one particular friend who sees me. Like, really sees me. We only met last month, so every time I rediscover that I'm totally understood and safe, I re-live the "wow" of that feeling. It's pretty amazing. There are only a handful of friends in the entirety of my life with whom I've fallen into such tight lockstep like this. I'm enjoying it. It's nice making new friends, and it's even nicer feeling like there's not a thing about me I have to censor or put in a huge amount of effort to explain.

La vie est très bonne.

 More later,

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Things I wish I had known (part 3 of more to come eventually)

I wish I had known that that piece of advice older females give younger females is so true: "Your confidence is the most important thing you'll ever have. When you're sure of yourself, it shows. That's when people will start to see you for your real worth. People are magnetized by a woman's confidence."

Like, it's really actually true. Y'all know I hate me some advice. But this is one piece of advice I can get on board with. I've been really true to me and confident in my decisions these past few years.

Annnnd....I've been dating.

There, I said it.

I've been dating. I have put myself out into the world. Was this a smart decision? TBD. The dating pool and the dating game are entirely different than when I was last dating (circa 2008). I mean, vastly different. The whole online component and all.

Also, I don't really think I want a relationship, so I'm not sure what the end goal is here. But, it's been really cool to be open to talking to different types of guys and testing the waters and just getting to know some dudes. I've met some really cool people! (And some duds, but that's par for the course, I suppose.) And I've met some guys non-confident me would've thought she didn't have a chance with, but that's not really the case. So, I'm enjoying myself.

It feels good to know who I am and what I'm about. When a guy and I differ on something--an opinion, a preference, a value--I don't get all bent out of shape and wonder if I can measure up. I'm sitting there feeling good about myself and wondering if he can measure up to what I want/need. Confidence makes all the difference.

Worst case scenario: I make some good local friends.
Best case scenario: I'm not really sure.

But, whatever. Girls: be you. Don't be a social chameleon. Just be you.