Giddyup, Ya’ll! I’m Headed to a Dude Ranch!

I’m so excited to finally make this announcement as I’ve known about this for months but had to keep it quiet! I’ve been wanting to get more into travel blogging and this here press trip to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch is kickin’ it off!

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Blogger Press Trip | adayinmollywood.com

Starting tomorrow, I will head south with four other awesome bloggers to an authentic Dude Ranch in Jasper, Arkansas! I’m taking this trip to get a real, behind-the-scenes look at how a Dude Ranch operates. I hope to share a glimpse with all of you and inspire you to take a vacation that might be out of the norm!

They’ll be a lot of fun things to do. But here’s the thing . . . I’ve never really done any of them before. Horseback riding, ziplining, rock climbing, canoeing, fishing . . . hmmmm. This city girl is a just a little bit nervous. I’ll be out of my element for sure. I mean, there’s no Starbucks or Target! What if I need something?!

But seriously.

I hope to challenge myself, be brave and also use these next few days as a reboot for my mind, body and soul. I’m sure the land will be beautiful and getting some peace and quiet? WHAT IS THAT EVEN?!

I’m 36-years-old and I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots. At least I can check that off the bucket list, baby! This cowgirl is ready to ride off into the sunset!

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Thank you, kindly, to the fine people of Horseshoe Canyon Ranch for sponsoring us city folks’ trip and bringing us down south for some good old-fashioned fun!

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The beauty and the burden of having a daughter

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I can be honest with you guys, right? When I found out Sawyer was a girl, I was so so so very thrilled! But I was also really really scared about having a daughter.

I remember my teenage years. It was a challenge to navigate the world as a young girl coming into her own. There were television shows and magazines showing me what beautiful should look like. And I wasn’t any of those things. During my teenage years I was made fun of for a few different reasons.

My legs were too skinny (i.e. chicken legs was what they called me). My eyes were too small. I had clear braces, occasional acne and I always had to get a perm (thanks a lot, mom!). I didn’t ever think I was pretty and my self confidence suffered. All because society made me think what I looked like during those years just wasn’t good enough.

Let’s just call those the weird years, okay? The oh-my-god-mom-but-why-doesn’t-anyone-like-me years. It almost pains me to show you these photos. But then I remember I actually did grow up and get over the awkward stage (rockin’ the doc martens on the far right).

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The truth is, it wasn’t really that bad. Were there growing pains? Sure there were. But now I know literally every other girl was going through the same darn thing. We were, and still are, constantly bombarded with images of what beautiful should look like. And no matter how hard we try to just be – sometimes it sinks in a little and we end up trying to change pieces of who we are in the name of “fitting in.”

So when I found out I would be raising a daughter? I felt a little uneasy and a lot unprepared. After all, if I hadn’t succeeded at drowning out all the body image B.S. how in the world was I supposed to teach my own daughter to be proud of who she is?!

And then, when they placed my girl in my arms for the very first time, I knew. I knew what I had to tell her for the rest of her life.

I love you for you. All of you. Every day.

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I will even love you during the weird years. The days when you cry and beg not to go to school because you have a zit on your nose. The nights you walk down the stairs in a formal dress to go to a school dance and you feel so pretty it’s like you’re walking on air. I will love you in your worst moments and in your best.

I will appreciate you for who you are and try my best to respect the choices you make for your image and your life.

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I will try to give you advice instead of orders. Encouragement instead of demands. Support instead of judgement.

I realize all this talk may seem premature. But I have ten years to prepare myself for the weird years and figured I better get a head start.

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You’re only 16-months-old now and although I love all the little things about you like the way you scrunch your nose when you smile, or lower your chin when you pout or stand up on your tippie-toes when you reach for something – your curly hair is quite possibly my favorite thing.

The beauty and the burden of having a daughter | adayinmollywood.com

I love the way it curls under right at the base of your neck. Those soft, tender curls flip up with the heat of your body. I’m sure your appearance will change as you grow. But oh, how I love those curls. And if they stay, I sure hope you do too!

Dove shares this same outlook and has launched the Love Your Curls campaign to encourage women to celebrate their curls and inspire future generations to do the same.

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One way they’re helping us do this is with a beautiful book of poetic tributes to curly haired girls. I have to say, when I opened this up I wasn’t expecting the waterworks! But The Dance did me in.

Dove Love Your Curls Poetry Book

Can I help it if I’m sentimental? Yes, I am that mom. I cut off a little lock of her hair and I’m saving it in her baby keepsakes.

Baby's Lock of Hair

I am so glad there is a company out there that GETS IT when it comes to body image. Dove certainly does and I love using their products, most recently the Dove Hair Quench Absolute line of products.

Dove Hair Quench Absolute Products

I’m not so afraid of having a daughter anymore. I figure if I made it out of the weird years, I’m pretty sure she will too.

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I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

5 Awesome Ways to Bring the Beach to Your Backyard + Giveaway

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bestway. All opinions are 100% mine.

We probably won’t make it to the beach this summer and I gotta tell you – I’m super sad about that! I love the beach so much. In fact, there’s a part of me that feels like I was meant to live near a beach. The sand in my toes any time I wish would be amazing. But, that’s just not to be.

What do you do when you can’t go to the beach? You bring the beach TO YOU! I’ve been thinking about our summer bucket list and realized there is so much fun we can have right in our own backyard! Wanna bring the beach to your backyard? Here’s some great ideas to get you started.

Looking for some summer fun with the kids? Bring the beach to the backyard with these five tips! #H2OGO! #ad

1. Build Sandcastles

Now I know what you’re thinking. How are the kids supposed to build sandcastles with no sand?! And I’ll tell you – a sandbox. They have very reasonably priced sandboxes at the store or you could build one from free plans you can find on pinterest like my neighbors did (it’s super awesome, by the way). Your kids will LOVE it and it will keep them busy. Will they get dirty? Of course. But hey, that’s what summer is all about, right?

2. Buy the Beachwear

Lounge chair, beach towels, flip-flops, striped umbrella. If you wish you were on the beach just PRETEND YOU ARE. Your neighbors will think you’ve gone crazy. So what. In fact, buy one of those tacky little signs that says, “Gone to the Beach” and put it on your front door. Then tell your family you’re having a pretend beach day in the backyard. I promise – your kids will think you’re the coolest.

3. Make Waves

If you’re not lucky enough to have a pool in your backyard there are other awesome ways to provide a day of water fun! When we took the boys to the beach for the first time in 2013, they loved boogie boarding. Obviously that’s not an option when all you’ve got is grass! So the H2OGO! Water Slide is where it’s at. It comes in a single, double or triple slide and has a Speed Ramp™ to provide a safe landing. This is the next best thing I can give them! And hey, you know we’re buying the double, right? You can buy it at Amazon.com, Walmart.com, Target.com and Toys R’ Us. 

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4. Sound it Out

One of the best things about the beach are the sounds all around you. Seagulls calling, waves splashing, a ship’s horn in the distance. Buy a CD or download something and make sure to play it loud. You’ve got to have the sounds to really capture the essence of the ocean!

5. Put an Umbrella in Your Drink

Why is it they only do this in Mexico or the Caribbean. I say, a fruity drink with a little umbrella in it is necessary no matter where you live! Mix up a virgin daquiri sure to cool everyone off on a hot day. Put an umbrella in it and your kids will really get a kick out of this special frozen drink you made for them!

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Now I’m really ready for summer, aren’t you? To kick things off one lucky reader will win an H2O GO! Water Slide so they can turn their backyard into a beachy dream! All you have to do is comment and tell me what your favorite beach is and I’ll choose a winner at random.

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Please Note:

  • H2OGO! is not for adult use, and is not for children over 12 or under 5 years of age.
  • This product is not for use by anyone over 5 feet tall or weighing more than 110 pounds.

Visit Sponsors Site

If my kids learn anything from me – let it be this

A year ago today I was in a very dark place. I had just been let go from my job and I thought my newborn daughter was going to die. It didn’t matter that the thought was unfounded. My brain told me every second of every day to prepare myself. She would die from an unknown illness. Postpartum anxiety can go to hell.

I was alone. I was unhealthy. I was unmedicated. And let’s just be honest, my relationship with my husband wasn’t real swell either. Dealing with the likes of me for 13 years? Yeah, God bless that man.

He pulled away from me during this time. I don’t blame him. I pulled away first.

Truthfully, I just wanted to die. I thought I was strong enough to manage a stressful, high-profile job right after I had my third child. I interviewed at six days postpartum with swollen breasts, cracked nipples while still cramping and bleeding. I started a new job three weeks after I had her.

Why, you might ask, would I be crazy enough to do this?

Because our finances were in the shitter again. And I felt bad for my husband who was working so much to try to give us the life I thought we had to have.

I never even really wanted the job I lost. Now that I look back it was the wrong decision for everyone involved. It was unfair to my family, unfair to the organization. But most of all it was unfair to ME.

A year ago I laid in my closet, my fingers clutching the clothes I had bought that we couldn’t afford. I cried – no – SOBBED is more like it. I couldn’t catch my breath. I thought I would die right then and there.

I thought of my kids, my husband, my extended family. I had let everyone down AGAIN. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

I stayed like that for maybe an hour before I was able to pull myself up. I looked at the mascara dried on my tear-stained cheeks. Well, this is just embarrassing, I thought. You’re better than this.

Very suddenly, almost as if lightning had struck in that exact spot, I had an answer. Of course it didn’t work out. OF COURSE! This is not what you were made to do. You were made to write. You were made to tell stories. And this?

This chapter needs to be edited with a big fat red marker.

I knew then what I had to do. I had to find a new job. I had to write.

And two months later I landed a dream job. I write stories about amazing people every day. I listen while other people tell me their story and then I try to tell it for them.

Yes, that’s what I do. It’s amazing and I’m good at it. I’m succeeding when, at this time last year, I never thought I could.

A year ago today – I lost my job. I lost my mind. But that’s not what really matters, is it?

If my kids learn anything from me . . . let it be this:

You only get one chance is BULLSHIT. No really, it’s a lie that will make you feel like failure is not an option.

Hey, kids. Let me clear something up for you. FAILURE IS INEVITABLE.

If you are passionate about something, which I hope you are, people are going to shit on you. They are going to knock you down. There will be times in your life when you will lay on the floor and sob and have snot coming out of your nose. It will be sad and gross.

BUT YOU WILL EVENTUALLY GET UP.

It may be a little early to let you in on this little secret. At age 6, 5 and 16 months, you’ve got some growing up to do before you ever face the kind of pain and uncertainty adults have to face.

I will love you for whoever you choose to become. If you rock it on the first try at something? Awesome! That’s very admirable.

But if you miss a goal, miss a note, miss a beat? Awesome! That’s very admirable too.

Chances are you’ll try harder the next time. I know I have.

I’m not 100% yet. Let’s just put this out there right now – I never will be. But I know this much is true – I’m better for having crumbled under the pressure.

I am often exhausted from all the trying, the striving, the pushing and the pulling. The monotony and utter chaos of balancing everything that matters to me. It’s good and hard and sad and happy all at once.

But man, if there’s one thing I’ve learned through this amazing roller coaster that is my life

The crumbling of a dream is not what matters. It’s the comeback that counts.

Be the comeback kid. Yes, the view is lovely from the top. But the ride up from the valley is even better.

“This is my fight song”

When You Can’t Find Your Rose-Colored Glasses

As someone with a mental illness, I was so happy to hear that May is now officially National Mental Health Awareness Month. So it seems like the perfect time to address some things.

I recently learned I was unfriended on Facebook by some people who thought I could be “too dark” at times. Well, I just want to say – I’m sorry. But I can’t always find my rose-colored glasses. I wish I could spend my time making sure other people are comfortable with every word that comes out of my mouth. But I can’t. And I also don’t want to.

Depression is REAL. Anxiety is REAL. Bipolar disorder is REAL. Mental illness is REAL.

Every year, about 42.5 million American adults (or 1 in 5 people) suffers from some form of mental illness. That’s 1 in 5, guys. You know what that means? Even if YOU have never had to live with a mental illness, chances are pretty fucking good that someone you know and love has.

They may not talk about it. Hell, I don’t even like to talk about it. But I do. Because MORE PEOPLE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT THIS!

Over the years, I have lost a lot of things because of my illness. Love interests, jobs, my keys and/or my phone, memories, whole years. But the one that hurts the most is losing friendships.

I realize I’m not always a fun person to be around. I understand there are some people who, for whatever reason, need to walk away from being friends with me. And that’s okay. There’s nothing to forgive. I know I don’t always say the right thing, do the right thing or make the right choice.

But you know what? That shit still hurts. Even if they weren’t really that great of friends before? It still hurts. Because it reinforces that I am flawed. I am imperfect. There is something inherently wrong with me.

I have always had a hard time seeing through rose-colored glasses. Maybe that’s my illness talking or maybe not. I’ll never know for sure.

Maybe my glasses are extra thick because of what my brain does to me, which by the way, is not my choice. I didn’t choose this, ya know?

Maybe my glasses have smudges on them making it more difficult to see the blessings in my life.

But every once in awhile, when I work really hard at being my best self, I’m able to take those thick, smudgy glasses off. I look around and see an amazing husband who accepts me for exactly who I am. He lovingly says he “loves my crazy” and it means the world to me that he will stick by me when I can’t even find any type of glasses anymore.

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Then I see my kids. My three beautiful children who hug me and kiss me and tell me they love me all the time. It may not be fair to use them as medication. But oh, they are the best balm to my soul that I will ever know. No medicine on the face of this earth could replace their warmth, their smiles or the way they make me belly laugh every single day.

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And my family – my mom and dad, my three beautiful, wonderful sisters. I don’t write about them here very often. But through thick and thin, they have always had my back. Even when we were screaming at each other and fighting – I know we would do anything for each other.

Or my friends – I may not have a ton of them, but the ones who have stuck around? They are worth more than gold to me. And I hope someday we are old ladies together, laughing about the hard years and the good years.

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I’m not trying to guilt anyone into feeling remorse for walking away from me. The truth is, I don’t really want to be your friend if you don’t really want to be mine. I know I’ve hurt people. I’ve know I’ve made mistakes. I’m not a perfect person.

But I am A PERSON.

A living, breathing, feeling human being who has an illness that sometimes makes it difficult to function like a living, breathing, feeling human being. All I know is the best kind of people in my life are the ones who stay and say . . .

I don’t know where your rose-colored glasses are but let me help you look.