November 25, 2015

Six Steps to Meeting New People as a Parent (Even if You’re Scared)

blue washed wood floor with animal rug

Moving is a big deal. I don’t think it matters if you move three blocks or across the country, it unsettles your routine and upends your life in a way that only new adventures can. Because we only moved 30 minutes down the road (and because I’m an eternal optimist) I assumed, though, moving wasn’t going to affect me at all; I’d still see my friends most days and do all the same things we used to do in the same neighborhood, because what’s a little half hour drive? We’d basically have our house in San Rafael, but live our life in our old San Francisco neighborhood so we’d have a lovely new home and NOTHING WOULD CHANGE.

Which, surprise, surprise, is not at all how it has turned out. Thirty minutes is not a big drive, but not one you want to do multiple times a day. Plus, we moved to San Rafael for actual reasons that include liking the town and weather so some days it’s nice to stay put and enjoy it. This new revelation (we moved and that means WE LIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE) means I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that, yes, in fact our preschool has changed, our friends aren’t around the corner to drop by for an impromptu playdate, our new baristas don’t automatically know my coffee drink, and I’m going to have to put some effort into building a new community and making San Rafael home.

Which, in theory, is fine. I love meeting new people and consider it one of my strengths that I can talk to anyone about anything, but it still takes effort and motivation, two things that have been in short supply with all unpacking and readjusting that’s been going on around here. So, I am going to lean on my tried and true method for meeting new people and get out there, because my current method of relying on a 2- and 4-year old for adult stimulation is not working.

Six Simple Steps for Making New Friends as a Parent:

1. Get out of the house. I know this seems obvious, but you have to leave your house in order to meet people. I mean, there’s probably not anyone hiding in your closet, and, if there is, are you sure they’re the person you want to be friends with?

Here’s the thing, it’s easy to use getting the house together or organizing your bills or settling in as an excuse to not leave (and I’m not undermining the importance of having a lovely space to come home to), but if you want to make friends you’re going to have to leave the confines of your home.

2. Go where the moms hang out. Listen, if you’re a parent, you’ve got it made. I can pretty much guarantee that most of the other adults at the playground/play space/coffee shop are dying to talk to someone taller than three feet about anything other than Minions (I mean, aren’t you?). Put yourself in their literal space and start talking. I know, but, Kara, how do I start a conversation?!?! Well…

3. Use your kids. The hardest part of having a conversation with a stranger is the opener. So, use the fact you both have kids to create common ground – comment on how cute their baby is, ask how old their kiddo is, see where they got their shoes. Be as genuine as possible (don’t say you like their hat if you hate it!), but don’t overthink this. Just ask a question and then listen to their answer and then ask another one (how long have you lived in the neighborhood?) and before you know it, you’ll be having a conversation.

4. Grow a pair. Once you’ve connected with someone and spent a few minutes chatting, take the leap and ask for their number. This is going to feel weird, and remind you of your years dating that you were certain were behind you, and THAT’S OKAY. Just say, “This was so fun chatting! We should meet up again sometime.” (Why yes it was fun!) “Can I get your number?” I promise, it’s as easy as that.

5. Text them right away. You guys, texting is the greatest invention ever for building new friendships. It’s low maintenance, easy to do, and every mom I know loves it because you can feel connected while still watching your kids. So, use it. As you’re leaving the playground send a quick text about how great it was to meet and how you’re looking forward to hanging out again soon.

6. Follow up. You’ve done the hard part of making the connection, now don’t let it wither on the vine. Within the next day or two, send a text asking your new friend if they want to meet you at the playground or join you for an excursion or, heaven forbid, grab a glass of wine. And then they’ll say yes and before you know it, you’ll have a new friend.

A caveat: Putting yourself out there is a vulnerable, risky business. There’s a chance, you’ll try and talk to someone and they won’t engage or you’ll text someone and they won’t ever get back to you or even that you’ll meet up again and find you actually don’t connect the way you hoped. THAT’S OKAY. It doesn’t say anything about you, I promise, even though it can feel dangerously personal, especially when you’re in a more exposed state like when you’ve just moved. Don’t let this stop you. I promise, there are plenty of people out there who want more friends and want to be friends with you – like any other thing worth doing, it takes time and love and energy (jeez, could I make it sound anymore fun?). If you keep putting yourself out there, you will meet people and build a community of people who support you and know your favorite coffee drink.

November 11, 2015

Sequins + How I’m Finally Feeling Okay About Being Their Ambassador

Easy to wear, cool fashion for moms with jeans and gold lame jacket - Fabulistas
I’m going to be honest, you guys, most of the time I feel pretty idiotic writing these style posts. Here I am, a grown ass woman, not only showing you photos of what I’m wearing, but attaching a level of importance that I feel it’s appropriate to share it WITH THE ENTIRE WORLD. Shouldn’t I be spending that time/energy on something more meaningful like solving problems or directly helping people or, at the very least, getting my own house in order so we’re not constantly verging on the edge of chaos and toddler riot?

I’ve always worried about this. If I was acting and loving it, I would quit so I could pursue something more noble like teaching, which I liked fine but wasn’t passionate about and didn’t stick. If I was volunteering with kids (who think I’m hilarious, obviously, and most of the time listen to me) I felt bad I wasn’t doing something more impactful like organizing rallies and starting underground movements. If I was laughing at a party, I would wonder if I shouldn’t be starting conversations about current events; if I was racing for Parkinson’s (because I’ve been impacted by it) I’d wonder if that was fair to Alzheimers; if I was sitting and listening to a friend work their way through a problem I’d worry I should be raising money for Parkinson’s.

Who I am never felt like the right way to be and the right place to be. So, for a long time, I covered my soul and happiness up so I didn’t offend the world with my true self.
Easy to wear, cool fashion for moms with jeans and gold lame jacket - Fabulistas-2
Because, rather frustratingly at times, I am someone who enjoys and is naturally good at the little, seemingly innocuous things in life: I will listen and analyze the crap out of your life until you are back in a place where you can at least lift your head up, I will laugh at anyone’s jokes (or attempt at jokes) because I recognize the bravery that takes, I will NEVER leave your party before it’s truly over, I will try anything new even if I’m scared shitless, I will volunteer to come up on stage with you so we can both look like fools together, I will get up early to write blog posts that I hope make moms feel a teensy bit braver and less alone, and I will stay up late making Frozen crafts so a bunch of kids will have a reminder of how full of love and fun life can be.

None of these things will save the planet or fix Syria or keep my kids safe in school, which is embarrassing to the part of me that always believed I’d be less showgirl and more statesman.
Easy to wear, cool fashion for moms with jeans and gold lame jacket - Fabulistas-3
But, what if it is enough? What if I trusted I’m not meant to solve the big problems, but that my place here, among the sequins and laughter and confusion and chaos of parenting, is exactly where I’m supposed to be? What if I trusted that my hard-fought journey to joy was the path I was supposed to take and the lessons I learned along the way actually have value?

Now, that is friggin’ scary. Because it means relinquishing all the things I think I “should” be and accepting who I actually am at this moment in time. Part of the allure, for me, of fighting to be a “better” person is that it’s basically telling the world I too get who I am is not enough; there’s a version of me out there who is funnier, smarter, more gifted, skinnier, more cultured and worldly, and, frankly, watches better TV, and I will one day get there and be her and then I’ll finally be worthy of this thing called life and my place in it.

Well, my friends, that is dumb. If you came to me and asked if we could hold off being friends until you lost five pounds/started a non-profit/read every book on the Man Booker list/learned how to use Snapchat I would laugh. Really hard. And then I’d ask you where the best place you’ve ever traveled was, because that’s pretty much a window to a person’s soul, and maybe we’d tell each other our dreams and memories and become best friends and find our lives and laughter entwined for all time and our kids would get married to each other and it would be amazing. Or maybe we’d find we didn’t have a ton in common and wish each other well. Either way, there is nothing in that scenario that asks either of us to be someone other than who we actually are and we’d probably kick to the curb anyone who required that of us.

Maybe it’s time to extend the same courtesy to ourselves. Maybe it’s time to generously open up our heart to who we are deep down and embrace it. Maybe it’s time to quit worrying about who we think we “might be” and give a sloppy kiss to who we actually are right now.

Easy to wear, cool fashion for moms with jeans and gold lame jacket - Fabulistas-4So, I’m really going to try. I’m going to embrace the side of me that believes the right outfit can change your outlook and that tickling your kids is the best gift you can give them. I’m going to evangelize the moms who are living full, complicated lives because I know what risky business that is, and I’m going to be okay with the fact that I’m absolutely thrilled we’re heading into the holidays and I get to wear reindeer antlers as everyday wear, and I’m going to stop worrying that I can’t save every kid in the world. Or maybe I’ll give myself a pass on worrying about it and accept that I’ll always worry incessantly about it? I don’t know, this whole acceptance thing is complicated and now it’s starting to feel like I’m improving myself into accepting myself, which is pretty much the opposite of what I had planned, but is totally fine because that is where I am right now.

OMG. Just plan on a lot more sequins, okay?

similar gold cardigan: Dillards // white tank: Express // best jeans ever: Express // blue Nike high tops: really, really old, but if I see them again, I’ll let you know!

October 29, 2015

School Photo Costume with Dual Exposure for Halloween

Senior Picture Photo Costume for Halloween with Backdrop and Dual Exposure - Fabulistas-2When I was in elementary school there were few things I wanted more than to have Ryan Slinkard pick me to wear his Vans hat (with those two flaps in the back that underscored his lock on coolness) and to get a fancy school photo taken with some sort of background that would hopefully highlight my inner beauty in a way that made Ryan Slinkard want to give me his Vans hat to wear. I may never get to feel the wind in my hat flaps, but I decided this year I’m a grown woman so, dammit, I WILL have the third grade photo I dreamed about.

Senior Picture Photo Costume for Halloween with Backdrop and Dual Exposure - Fabulistas-3
I love the laser back drop school photo I saw flying around the Internet last year, but I felt I needed a touch more glamour and nothing says I’m living the high life more than soft lighting and a thoughtful expression that shows I have the depth to contemplate the effects of climate change on populous regions in the Indian Ocean (if that is a place) yet the groundedness to have on hand an easy Paleo recipe that’s kid-friendly. I may have built this photo up in my mind a bit.

Senior Picture Photo Costume for Halloween with Backdrop and Dual Exposure - Fabulistas-4Now it’s probably fairly obvious but I had some serious problems with the photo part of the costume. First, I had to try and get the soft lighting look, which is pretty tricky when you don’t know Photoshop. So basically I had two options – pay someone $15 to do it for me or learn Photoshop. Because I was in the midst of a move and crying every night over my to do list, of course, I taught myself Photoshop. Duh.

The second problem was the printing. I originally had it ready to print a full backdrop to cover the poster board, but when they told me it would be $87 I decided to rethink. Instead I opted for just printing my head (only $2.25) and trusting it’s close enough everyone will get what I’m going for. If I did it again, I’d probably print out another 8 sheets of just the black to cover the whole background so it’s consistent but I figured the soft lighting was distracting enough I didn’t need to worry.

Senior Picture Photo Costume for Halloween with Backdrop and Dual Exposure - Fabulistas-5Now, listen, I know a lot of the younger crowd likes costumes that are on the flirty side because Halloween is not just about the candy, it’s also about the eye candy (ba-bam!) so I road tested this for you and, as you can see, I think you’ll do juuuuuust fine. 

Senior Picture Photo Costume for Halloween with Backdrop and Dual Exposure - Fabulistas-6In fact, I fully expect to see a certain Vans cap show up in my mailbox in the very near future.

Photos by Erica Bean Photography.

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