The blog I’ve been terrified to share…

A few months ago, my business coach, Jo-Ná Williams, and really, my life coach, told me to write a ‘balls to the wall’ blog, a blog where I held nothing back. I started a lot of drafts, telling myself they were super vulnerable and honest, but they all sucked.

But today, I felt the urge to write it, finally. Just as my favorite quote from Ernest Hemmingway reminds me, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

So here I am, bleeding all over the page for you.

Before I joined Jo-Ná’s mastermind program, I thought I knew exactly what I was doing. I thought I was running my business really well and I didn’t need anybody’s help. I thought I was balancing the wife/mom/entrepreneur act just fine. I thought I was killing it, honestly.

I was actually a ****ing mess.

I thought it would be a piece of cake to turn my new ideas for the business into realities. I knew Jo-Ná through legal work we’d done together and I needed some new documents drafted, so that’s how this journey began. I never planned on joining a mastermind program. I knew what they were. I heard other people liked them. But again, I didn’t need help. I was doing just fine. Why would I pay money for someone to tell me otherwise?

I don’t know what clicked on this particular day, but I had a conversation with Jo-Ná and during that call, I agreed to join her mastermind. I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, or what it would do for me, if anything. But, I was 100% sure in that moment, it was the right move. I wasn’t getting anywhere by myself and something told me I needed to let someone in and get support.

I was working my ass off and not making the money I desired. I was losing time with my family and friends because my workload constantly took over. My weekends became non-existent and taking time off made me feel guilty. My stress levels were through the roof and it was affecting my entire world.

We began in January and after a few weeks, seriously just weeks, of working with Jo-Ná, everything suddenly made sense.

I was the biggest reason I wasn’t succeeding or following through with plans.
I was the reason I was working myself into the ground.
I was stopping my growth out of fear of both failure and success.
I was scared and anxious.
I was alone when I didn’t need to be.

Negativity ruled.

All these thoughts ran through my head:

People won’t like my writing courses.
My personality is too over the top.
People won’t pay me enough.
People won’t care.
It’s too competitive out there.
I’m too busy to get this up and running.
I can’t afford the start-up costs.

I was lost in my own head. I felt I wasn’t worthy of success. I also wasn’t keen on investing much in myself either.

Let me tell you, after throwing that concept out the window and investing over $7K in the first quarter of 2017 alone, there is absolutely NO turning back now.

That money went toward training, coaching, filing a trademark, creation of legal documents to make sure I was protecting my work, software, logo design. You name it and I paid it. It no longer became a fear of spending too much; it became a fear of not moving forward, not growing, not evolving and never trying something new.

Being a part of this mastermind flipped my entire life upside down in the best way imaginable.

I didn’t realize all the internal demons that were growling around in my gut.
I didn’t know how to silence them or kill them.
I didn’t know how to trust my passionate heart over my steady brain.
I didn’t know how much I’d lost of myself when I stopped taking care of myself.
I didn’t know how much people’s words and negativity were affecting my mood.
I didn’t see how guilt, doubt and fear were clouding my vision.
I didn’t see the big picture, only the one I was cautiously drawing in my head.
I didn’t see the things I was doing that were wreaking havoc on my well-being.
I didn’t understand how fake I was being because I was too afraid to be real.
I didn’t know how to set boundaries and be truly honest and open with my feelings.
I didn’t believe I could have it all or deserved to.
I didn’t believe in me.

I was holding my breath waiting for a life that was never going to happen, when I had the power to breathe and live it, the entire time.

I didn’t know a person’s words, support and love would completely transform my life in such a short amount of time, or that a stranger would become a person to which I’d easily bare my soul. I didn’t know because I didn’t believe it was possible.

I’ll tell you from the bottom of my heart, it is.

I needed this experience or I’d never be where I am right now. If you can open your heart and your mind to working with a coach or a mentor, please do it.

I’m so close to putting Let’s Meet For Copy out into the world.

If I can do this, you can do anything.

All my love.

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To my second baby, a letter from Mommy

Dear Santino,

A year ago today, I sat down and wrote a letter to your big brother and right now, I do the same for you. In his letter, I talked about YOU. And how he was going to have a brother and our lives were going to change. And here we are, a year later, and you are coming up on your 1st birthday already! Time flies.

My second baby. My final baby. Oh, my sweet boy, how you have changed our lives.

Currently, you are bouncing away in your bouncer, as I type, wondering why I’m not holding you. I’m sorry! You are so patient as your mommy works at home and you share your time with her computer. You tug on my headphones as I do conference calls and my clients know you by name. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. You are already so smart. You are almost walking. You are eating a lot of new foods. You are smiling and dancing and talking. You are a ball of energy, just like your big brother. You look up to him with eyes that I’ll never stop trying to capture in a photo, because they are priceless.

Mommy had a much easier pregnancy with you, than with your brother. You arrived exactly one day before your due date, at 7 lb., 6 oz, 21 inches long and with a full head of beautiful hair.

IMG_5404You have changed our lives with your arrival and now mommy and daddy say things like “our kids” and “our boys” which makes us feel really old, but also really loved.

We couldn’t have asked for a more precious family. We fiercely love each other every day and we love you more than words (even if you never sleep and are kinda grouchy when you’re hungry, as your brother would say).

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Your brother loved you from the very first second he saw you. He is so proud of you. He always makes time to feed you a bottle or play with you or dance with you. He shares his toys with you and the two of you laugh and enjoy being brothers and best friends. You have helped your brother grow, mature and learn about love and friendship.

I never want you to lose that love. Even with your brother gets older and might not want to play with his little brother quite so much, know that he loves you a ton and it’s just a silly phase he’s going through. He is your best friend for life. And he will always look out for you. I want you look out for him, too.

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You are not even a year old yet, but you’ve grown and changed so much. We had to cut your hair before your first birthday (sorry, Pap!) because it was getting into your eyes and ears and driving you crazy. But it’s part of your personality and we will cherish these photos forever. Whether your hair is long or short, you’re adorable and wonderful and perfect just the way you are. Never forget that.

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I want you to know that just because you were born second, doesn’t mean a thing. Your brother had a lot of time with mommy and daddy before you were born, but now you are getting a lot of attention and your brother is giving up some of his. Since you are so far apart in age, you need a lot of extra care right now and sometimes you make your brother a little jealous.

I want you know a few things and I promise to write you more letters as you get older. But this being just a month shy of your first birthday, here is what I want to say:

You are amazing and loving and caring at such a young age. Never lose that.

Even when you wake me in the middle of the night, or throw food all over me, I still love you more than life and I know I’ll miss those moments when they are gone. 

Thank you for being there for me as your brother went off to kindergarten. If I didn’t have you by my side every morning as I drop him off, my heart might just explode with sadness. My first baby is growing up and my second baby, you are there to help me understand that and give me extra baby hugs and kisses when I need them most. 

I miss you anytime I’m not around you. I love our time together, just me and you. When we talk about our plans and the awesome life you have ahead of you. 

I can’t wait until you can talk and we can really understand each other, although, I feel like we already understand each other right now, using no words at all. 

Below are the same things I wrote to your brother and they are 100% true for you, too:

I cry when I think about you getting older and not needing me as much anymore, because I’ll always need you. 

You will always be one of my best friends.

You will always be the person I wish I could be more like.

I will always hold you, hug you, love you and help you in any stage of your life.

I promise to plan special days for just you and I for the rest of your life.

Santino, your name means ‘the savior’ in Italian and you surely are one. You are our dream come true. You are our second baby, our final baby, the last piece to our family puzzle.

I’m proud to be your Mommy. My son, I love you.

 

 

 

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Dear Santa…it’s been awhile

Dear Santa,

It’s been awhile since I’ve written you a letter. I guess I got too caught up in this whole adult thing and I thought it was about time I checked in.

This year, I haven’t had much Christmas spirit. I know…I’m sorry. I’ve been so busy with work and now I’m a mom of two, which makes things even busier. And we’ve all been pretty sick this whole month, with various colds and coughs. I feel like everything has felt rushed. Shopping, decorating, cooking, cleaning, wrapping – who has the time??

Then last night, my family and I went to see lights at a local Christmas village. And every year (for the past 10 years my husband and I have been going) we pick out something from the gift shop to add to our Christmas collection. We write the year on the bottom so we remember when we got it and it’s a tradition that I love. This year we picked this:

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And it inspired me to write to you today. I believe in the magic that surrounds Christmas. And even though this year has been a little more rushed and busy, I am beyond blessed and I need to stop and remember that. Right. Now.

I took a minute and scrolled through my recent photos and found that I was absolutely enjoying the season. I just didn’t realize how much I’ve done this month. And I want to say thank you, Santa. I know you were behind this…the greatest gifts.

I got to spend time with my sister, mom and aunt making crafts and watching a Christmas program at a local church for our annual ‘Sister Christmas.’ We always plan a Saturday in December to spend the entire day together and it was full of hot tea, glitter and conversation.

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I got to sit by the glow of my Christmas tree with my amazing husband, watching our favorite Christmas movies and enjoying our Starbucks.

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I got to watch my five year old grow into the little man he is and really begin to understand what Christmas is all about. And tell me he learned about Mary and Joseph and Jesus in Sunday school and how “God is in our hearts.” And he knew what that meant. When did he get so grown up?

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I got to spend time with my brother, who lives in Connecticut and I haven’t seen since June, for two full days. And watch him with my boys. He is such a sweet uncle and godfather and I miss him terribly, but I’m proud of him working his dream job at ESPN and making a name for himself. He used to be my baby brother, but now he is a big, strong man. When did HE get so grown up?

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I got to share an early Christmas dinner and drink a few cocktails with my sister and laugh like we always do. She is one of the best people I know. She loves unconditionally and she’s always there with a smile and a helping hand. She is a perfect aunt and I love her dearly. Being with both my siblings, and all of our family, during this time of year is everything.

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I got to spend time with friends – new and old. And in 2017, I look forward to making more time to spend with everyone I love and that loves me. You all know who you are.

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And I got to sit on my couch in the morning, holding my sweet baby boy, with a cup of coffee and enjoy the beautiful snow outside. Winter really is magical.

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Christmas hasn’t happened yet. We still have a few days to stop and slow down. I still have lots of family and friends to see and visit. I will enjoy every single moment the next few days bring.

I know this year may be hard for you. If you are lonely, if you have lost someone, if you are hurting. Please know that I love you and I am thinking of you.

We lost my Papa Jack on Christmas Eve 10 years ago and it was the hardest Christmas I’ve ever had. There was joy and happiness in the loveliness of the day, but such sadness and pain at our great loss.

Santa, you’ve given me great gifts this year. I only ask for a few more: more patience, more time with family and friends, health, happiness and love.

Thank you,

Tara

From my home to yours, Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.
No matter what you celebrate, may your season be full of love and hope. 

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10 Years And Counting…

My husband and I just celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary and I had to blog and reflect on this milestone.

As a kid, 10 years seemed like forever. Think about it. That’s all of middle school, high school and college. WHAT???

These past 10 went by so fast, I feel like we just met. There are still things we are learning about each other and stories we haven’t shared. He still makes me laugh more than anyone on the planet and we have so much fun together, just the two of us.

We got married young, 23 and 24, and the world was such a different place.

Guys, we had disposable cameras at the tables at our wedding. That was still a thing. There were no Facebook pictures, no wedding hashtags and certainly no Pinterest.

In those 10 years, we’ve grown up together.

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We’ve lived in two different houses and an apartment; we’ve made lasting friendships, as well as lost friends; we’ve went clubbing, thrown great parties and made memories that could fill pages upon pages; we’ve been there for friends and family as they got married, divorced, had babies, moved away; we’ve gone on super memorable vacations to places like New York City and Disney World; we’ve watched every season of Survivor and a million other shows together; we’ve changed jobs and started businesses; we’ve worked through times when money was tight and times when money was right; we’ve done house renovations and projects; we’ve spent time crying together and countless hours laughing together and so much more.

For the first five years it was just us and we lived it up. But now, we have two boys that are the light of our lives and our greatest loves.

They have helped us grow up, become more caring and understanding, more patient and loving. Being parents is one of our favorite jobs and even though it’s not easy, it’s the best decision we ever made.

We’ve grown both personally and in our relationship. Our personalities and values are the same, but we are more mature and better spouses to one another because we know what makes the other happy. He’s never going to fill out school paperwork and I’m not going to clean the shower. We do what works best for our marriage. It always comes first.

Faith, family, friends, football, fun. That pretty much sums us up. We believe in God and the power of this union, we have strong and fantastic families and friends that always support and love us, we love football and even though we root for different teams, we respect the other, and we seriously have a blast together.

Man, we just have so much fun. Whether it’s a dance party with the kids or trading witty comments at the right moment. We just came back from a trip to Atlantic City to celebrate this 10 year anniversary and we went out clubbing Thursday night. We sent our friends a Snap and one responded, “I love that you guys still club it up.”

Hell yeah. Why not? Being serious is boring. We will continue to go out and dance and drink and meet people and love life as long as they keep letting us in. LOL.

We are both always up for anything and will embarrass or make fun of ourselves to make others laugh. We love to see smiles on the faces around us. There is nothing better. We just fit. We’re similar in the right ways and balance each other out in the differences.

I’ve introduced him to coffee and books. He’s introduced me to fantasy football and thrifting.

There’s never been a day that an ‘I love you’ hasn’t passed our lips. We say it multiple times a day and mean it more and more every single time.

We still leave notes for one another. A Post-It on his work clothes, a typewritten note in my work folder. We text each other when our wedding song comes on the radio or Snapchat a hilarious filter while sitting right beside each other.

I can say, I am so lucky to have found my husband. He is my soulmate and best friend and yes, of course, drives me crazy. But, we love with a passion. No argument is ever that bad and nothing is too tough to get through. Love conquers all.

I knew him for 6 weeks when we got engaged. If I’m being honest, I knew after 2 hours that he was THE ONE. The first night, the first conversation. That is all it took.

For all my readers, single – engaged – married: believe in LOVE. If it hasn’t happened for you yet, I pray it will find you. It is never, ever too late. Don’t let age or circumstance fool you.

If you’ve found love, never let it go. And always work to keep it strong.

I can’t wait to celebrate the next 10 and the next 10 and the next 10 with this man.
Our story is my favorite story.

J, thank you for being the love of my life and the one to walk with me on this journey of life. I LOVE YOU.

Comparison pics below. Two from our honeymoon in AC in 2006 and two from our recent trip in 2016. We still do the model shot pic, because hey, it’s a tradition. Can’t stop now.

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Honeymoon 2006

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Honeymoon 2006, “Model shot”

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10 year vacation, 2016

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10 year vacation, 2016, “Model Shot”

 

 

 

I think we look a little different, but still super in love. 🙂

Tell me your advice to a lasting marriage or relationship. I want to hear your stories!

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You follow my blog so hopefully, you like how I write and you want more.

I’m in the process of cooking up some great things with my business, A Passion For The Pen, and I’m starting to put out a newsletter. If you want in, just sign up above!

I’m happy to meet you and share all things writing. I have a new course that will be launching in just a few months and I’d love to get your feedback as I create it. Thank you!

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Everyone’s looking for Pokémon, I’m just trying to find the post office

I’ve never been so lost within 15 minutes of my home as I was this week trying to find a particular post office. It was one of those “this should take no more than a half hour out of my day” to a full-out adventure, meeting some great people along the way. And with two kids in tow, stress was high, but laughs were abundant.

It began so simply. I signed up for a PO Box for my business. I went online and instead of renting a box at the post office closest to my house (because it’s on-street parking with meters and always really crowded) I opted for another post office a few miles further where the box was a little cheaper and I knew it would be easier to park and get the kiddos in and out.

I hadn’t been to the location before, but I’ve never put an address into Google Maps and not found it, so I didn’t think about it twice.

I packed up my kids and we started out. I put the address in and it brought up a post office which then said “permanently closed.” WHAT??? I know Google is silly sometimes, so I brushed it off as a mistake and started the trek. I paid a fee through the USPS website for the box, so I was pretty sure the post office was real.

I found it odd the way maps was taking me, but I followed it anyway. 15 minutes later and I was “at my destination” staring at a parking lot. Awesome. Maybe this post office didn’t actually exist?

I realized I was only 2 miles from my regular post office, so I decided to stop there and see if they could help.

I found a parking spot in front (bonus), got the kids out (baby carrier and all) and went in. Mind you, it’s 90 degrees, as well.

Luckily, no one was in line and we got right in. I talked to the lovely woman working there, explained the situation, and after making a call, she told me I could just get a box there if I wanted to and go online and cancel the other one. I realized the call she made was to the “other” post office and they did, in fact, exist! I told her I would rather go to the other office since I’d already paid, but the location wasn’t coming up in Google.

She took me and the kiddos into her office so I could talk to the woman on the phone working at the place I was trying to get to. I realized the address I had put in was for one town and there was another street with that same name in the next town over.

Now, I’m horrible at directions, unless it’s by landmarks. I was trying to listen while making sure my 5-year-old wasn’t taking all the lollipops offered to him out of the woman’s hand, which he did. (She was giving him flavor choices, he just took all three) and I was trying to get the baby his binky so he wasn’t fussy.

I heard a few landmarks and road names and figured I’d punch one of those into Maps and find my way. I thanked the woman for all her help and we headed back into the heat, back into the car.

Exit Post Office #1.

I plugged in one of the roads she told me and it came up. About 15 minutes away. Ok, perfect. We drove along, but when we got to the end of the road on my Maps and I tried to type in post office nearby, NOTHING came up. I had to make a decision, left or right. I chose right. (I chose wrong).

We drove up the wrong road and I realized I knew exactly where I was, but still had no idea where the post office could be. I tried to type it in again and one came up (not the original address, but one of the roads I remembered hearing on the phone) so I went for that. About 5 minutes away, this had to be it! My son and I were laughing like crazy at this point.

Post Office #2. We pull into the lot, I get the kiddos out once more, sweating, carrying the baby carrier, and head inside. I told the woman working, “We just talked on the phone about how to get here…” And she said,  “Nope, you are probably looking for “other post office.”

“YES, yes I am. WHERE IS IT???”

She told me it was about three miles down the road. Baby is now really fussy. But we are so close. So close! I started writing this post in my head at that moment.

She told me I would have to turn on a certain lane and that the road sign was covered by a tree, so watch for it. I thanked her for all her help and again, back in the heat, back in the car.

Three miles later, I saw the lane! Success. We made the turn and at the end of the road, I realized I was so focused on getting to that lane, I couldn’t remember left or right at the end of it. I chose right. (I chose right!)

The post office was nestled at the bottom of that street. It was the most beautiful sight I’d ever seen. Kiddos back out of the car for Post Office #3 and third time’s a charm. The woman inside was extremely sweet and we had a nice conversation about me not being able to find the location.

She said other people had mentioned that happening and she had no idea how to “change Google.” We had a good laugh and conversation. Enter lollipop #4.

I got the keys to my box, thanked yet another kind soul I met on this journey, and got the kiddos back in the car. I was only fifteen minutes from my house at this point. I’m amazed at how close I was, yet how lost I felt.

All told, we were gone about an hour and a half. Such a simple errand that turned into an adventure. My five-year old thought it was super fun to see all the post offices and get so many treats. Now every time we get in the car it’s, “Mommy, remember when you kept going the wrong way?” Followed by intense giggling. And I find myself giggling right along with him. It was pretty hilarious.

I’m thankful for all the kindness from every single person we met. And hey, I got a blog out of it, right? And a PO Box!

I’ve learned that when technology terribly fails, it’s people that come through. If I would have called the post office before I left and asked for directions, this never would have happened. I’ll think about that next time I need to research something, or ask a question, or get a quote. Online may be convenient, but people give you the human connection and kindness that technology never can.

 

 

 

 

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The Summer of Two

At the end of the week, I turn 33. What? I literally feel 16 most of the time. And in a few months, my husband and I will celebrate ten years of marriage. 10 years?? I’m also now a mom of two. TWO kids?? Again, how did I get to this point and how did it all happen in the blink of an eye? Time is FLYING and I’m just trying to keep up. My blogs help me stop for a moment and freeze time. I know in another ten years, I’ll enjoy reading these and remembering that time in my life.

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Then

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Now

This is the Summer of Two. A pretty milestone summer. For one, it’s the last summer before my oldest heads to kindergarten. Life will never be the same once he starts school full-time. It’s also the first summer we are a family of four. Two little boys home with mom all day, every day. Begin panic mode.

 

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2011: Vincenzo

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2016: Santino

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My loves

One kid to two kids is a big jump. Even though my oldest is five, and very self-sufficient, it’s still two little guys vying for mom’s attention.

I run a copywriting business, a business that has really grown over the last year and I’m busy. BUSY. I work with a handful of clients on a full-time basis and also handle project-based work as often as it comes. I have an independent contractor who assists me when I have way too much going on, but she has a full-time job, so usually everything falls into my lap. Being entrepreneur and mom is a balancing act like none other.

I run the business, and also act as stay-at-home mom. Which is THE HARDEST JOB ON EARTH. No nanny, no assistant, just me. I am constantly cleaning, doing laundry, dishes, making lunch or dinner, paying bills, running errands, playing with the kids, running the kids to their various appointments and activities. It never, ever, ever ends.

I never knew the true definition of busy until this point in my life. I need to learn to live on less sleep and still wake up with a smile and I need to remember to stop and take a break when things get too hectic. One day, I will miss the chaos and the noise.

I know the Summer of Two is going to be one amazing summer. Every day that goes by, my kids get a little older. And one day, the Summer of Two will have a very different meaning. The Summer of Two will simply mean my husband and I. The kids will be busy with their own lives, their own families.

I will embrace every crazy day with my family. My husband and I will work and do all the “adulting” required, but we will also…

take the boys on adventures, to amusement parks, on play dates with friends, out in the sun and in the rain, play mini-golf, ride go-carts, read books, learn and explore, make crafts, eat Popsicles and ice cream, take a ton of photos and videos and enjoy every second together. No matter how many diaper bags and changes of clothes we need to pack!

My friend just reminded me of the quote, “The days are long, but the years are short,” when talking about kids and it’s so very true.

So to ten wonderful years with my best friend, to year 33 ahead and to my two fantastic little boys, let’s make the Summer of Two – our best Summer yet!

Tell me about your summer plans!

 

 

 

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