Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Change your lifestyle, change your life.

I just got back from my doctor's office where we reviewed my labs from last week (I had gone in to have my cholesterol rechecked after going off Pravastatin a few months ago) and the news was really, really great.

My LDL (or "bad" cholesterol) is now LOWER than it was when I was on 40 mg of Pravastatin! I am in the healthy range and don't have to consider my self a person with high cholesterol anymore.

I am so excited, I can't stand it!

Ever since my mom dragged me to a health fair at age 14, I've known I had high cholesterol. While I'm not exactly sure how high is high, I do know this: my life insurance is more expensive than it would be for a "healthy" person, my old doctor put me on a cholesterol lowering statin the very first time she met me, and no one clinical has ever suggested my diet could do much at all to turn it around.

It appeared I was one of the lucky ones who had high cholesterol because of my genetics. I mean, it's not like I was sitting around drinking Cokes and eating fast food every day. I was practically doing everything right! Sure I ate more pasta and pizza than I probably should have and marked the end of most days with a drink (or 3). But how bad could that be? In the grand scheme of things, I knew I ate healthier than most people. So if I still had high cholesterol, it had to be my genes. Right?

That's what my previous doctor said and why I went along with the prescription drugs for a while. But recently it started to feel like a slippery slope. If high cholesterol could be passed down to me from my mom, then so could Alzheimer's. I know that could be true, but really don't want to believe that it's possible for me. That might sound crazy, but I honestly believe a good deal of what happens to us is what we believe will happen to us. Wrong or not, I see no harm in envisioning myself healthy and happy long into the future.

I wanted to prove to myself that genes are just one piece of the puzzle. That what scientists are saying about epigenetics holds more weight than what we've always heard about genetics. Perhaps my particular genes would make me have to try harder than someone who didn't inherit a predisposition for high cholesterol but I could handle that. As long as I'm in the drivers seat, I'm happy to drive.

Since the key to almost every disease you can imagine is inflammation, the goal was to get as anti-inflammatory as I could. Things that cause inflammation include:
  • Poor diet (sugar, refined flour, processed foods, trans fats and saturated fats)
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
I knew I could exercise more but I felt pretty good about my diet and how I handled stress. Since my doctor wasn't impressed with the C-reactive protein test that checks for inflammation (the results can be skewed if you have a sore throat or a hang nail or really, anything at all that could be causing inflammation), he suggested I simply "try harder."

I decided to tackle my diet first because, honestly, it seemed like the easiest step. My doctor suggested cutting out wheat, dairy, sugar and corn because they tend to cause the most problems in most people. After doing that for a few weeks, Bill and I decided to try the Clean Program cleanse. It was a 21 day elimination diet (we had to cut out caffeine, alcohol, nightshades, tofu, etc in addition to the big four we already stopped). We drank protein shakes for breakfast and dinner, ate a healthy lunch, fasted 12 or more hours each night and took lots of supplements. 

It might sound like a nightmare but it was actually pretty great. Well, after the first four days of caffeine withdrawal. Have you ever experienced that? It's brutal. I honestly thought I was stroking out at one point because my head hurt SO bad. But once it was over, everything else was fine. I guess it's easy to eat well when the food tastes so good.

Rice, quinoa, black beans, avocado, mango, kale, green salsa

Roasted cauliflower with a side of hummus.

Morning juice

Kale salad with pears and pecans

We even managed to (mostly) stay clean in Mexico! 

After the 21 days were over, we were supposed to slowly reintroduce foods into our diet to see what bothered us and what didn't but we kind of took our own approach. I call it extreme moderation. Most of the time (like when we're cooking or at home) we stick to the 21 day plan. Mostly. More or less... And then occasionally, in moderation, we eat or drink whatever we want.

I'm pretty sure it all balances out.

For instance, if I drink a smoothie for breakfast every day (kale, blueberries, half a banana, coconut oil, almond butter, rice protein and a scoop of super greens) and eat a salad or soup or healthy leftovers for lunch and make a whole foods plant based dinner almost every single night, you better believe I'm eating pizza the next time someone offers.

Which, oh my gosh, I just remembered - I ate pizza the night before my labs! It was Easter weekend so all bets were pretty much off. I drank margaritas and wine, ate chips and salsa and birthday cake and cheese, and had more than a few of my kids' Reese's eggs. I was afraid it might mess up my results (and I'm sure it did have an impact, actually), but I still came out A-OK!

I now have no prescription drugs in my life. I'm just like a normal human being! I'm definitely not against them (when you need them, they are a miracle), but it feels really good to know that what I eat and how I live can affect my health just as much (if not more) than a bottle of pills. It makes me feel like I have a lot more control over my destiny than I perhaps believed. Which, when your parents have ailments you'd rather not inherit, is a really, really good feeling.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rain garden.

Rain, rain, go away. Come again another day...

Like, tomorrow. Tomorrow would be great.

See, in a few hours, we're picking up twenty five deep-rooted native plants from Cumberland River Compact to plant in our very own rain garden.

What's a rain garden, you ask? Well, let me tell you!

A rain garden is a shallow, constructed depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. It is located to receive runoff from hard surfaces such as a roof via a downspout, a sidewalk or driveway. Rain gardens slow down the rush of water from these hard surfaces, hold the water for a short period of time and allow it to naturally infiltrate into the ground. A rain garden can be thought of as a personal water quality system because it filters the runoff from your roof and lawn and recharges the groundwater. (from the Cumberland River Compact website)

Rain gardens can also be really pretty.

Win, win, win!

Bill and I spent most of yesterday clearing an 8X10 section of our backyard. It was hard but satisfying work. By the end of the day, pretty much everything hurt (that's a lot of shoveling, bending over, sorting soil and worms from grass, weeds and roots...) but our shallow depression was ready to go. I couldn't wait to see our finished garden.

Then it started to rain.


And it really hasn't stopped since. I haven't peeked outside yet this morning, but I'm guessing there's an 8X10 mud puddle in the wettest part of our yard. (Fortunately, I already know it'll drain fast.) And it's very likely that all the pretty little plants we put in containers yesterday are drowning by now.

Edited to add: just got up to get the boys a bagel (yes, I'm in bed drinking tea and writing this, so sue me!), and it looks like I was right. ALL the rain is rushing straight toward our puddle and it's the only place in the yard with standing water. More or less exactly what we want to happen. It's starting to look like we'll have ourselves a real nice rain garden! Stay tuned... (And please let all this potentially awful weather pass us and everyone else by)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Decisions, decisions.

It's Friday night. Dishes are (finally) done, kids are in bed and Bill just left for a playdate with his buddy. (If your husband doesn't have a BFF, I highly recommend you look into that for him, like, immediately. It's the best.)

TGIF, am I right?!

Totally. Although, I'm not gonna lie, this kind of situation can also be a little stressful for me. I mean, how often do I get a whole Friday night to myself?

Not that often!

I should probably do something amazing, right?

I mean, I could work on my screenplay or write one of the blog posts I've drafted in my head or check in with my art journal or, at the very least, fold some laundry so the dryer stops yelling at me.

Any one of those things (except the laundry...) would be totally fun and fulfilling and a great way to spend my night.

But let's be honest. It's already past my bedtime I had enough wine with dinner that I could easily fall asleep until next Tuesday. Which sounds kind of like the best but also a little bit like a waste of a perfectly good Friday night.

Plus, if I'm honest, all I really want to do is check in with my Bravermans. I'm almost caught up with the series which is totally bumming me out but also making me want to lap up the few episodes I have left with a major Friday night binge sesh.

And after the week I've had with my very emotional three year old, there's no better way I can think to spend this time than with a made up family whose problems don't affect me one tiny bit.

I think a decision has been made.

Good night, y'all. Here's hoping for more writing time next week. xo

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stranger in the night.

You know those families who come home from Disney with autograph books full of signatures from allllllll the different characters?

That will never be us.

Because Finn is terrified of mascots. Or big guys, as he sometimes calls them. He's completely freaked by just about anything in costume. Which is kind of ironic because not a day goes by without someone dressing up around here... 

Chuck-e-cheese is a total nightmare (and it has that guy in a mouse costume...). The bouncy place we mostly love? If the big monkey is there (or if he might be there...), Finn won't leave my side. And he STILL talks about the mascot he saw at the baseball game we went to last summer.

I usually try my best to convince him that there's nothing to be scared of - it's just a person in a funny costume! - but with the Easter bunny, I totally get where he's coming from. At the Easter parade we went to on Saturday, every single Easter Bunny mascot that paraded past looked completely different. The only thing they had in common was that they were all a little freaky.

At least with Santa there's a fairly universal, agreed-upon look. White beard, red suit, black boots, check. Finn still doesn't want to go anywhere near him (never mind sit on his lap), but at least he knows what he's working with.

But the bunny thing? Yikes.

Easter eve (is that a thing?) Finn had a terrible time getting to sleep. First he wanted to be locked in his room so the bunny couldn't get near him. Then, after Uncle Erick explained that the bunny was a pretty nice guy who didn't stay long, minded his own business AND brought candy (I was out drinking margaritas with Moose and Bill...), Finn burst into tears and tried to opt out of Easter all together. Candy is great but not if it means one of these guys traipsing around your house in the middle of the night.

Or even weirder...what if it was just a bunny? How would it even hold a basket? I mean, no one really seems to know. We've spent so much time and energy figuring out Santa but I don't think anyone has ever sat down to really think about this bunny. What's he look like? Where does he live? How does he get around? Are their reindeer involved? The more questions my kids ask the more I realize I don't know a single thing about this elusive rabbit. I'm just glad we don't have to think about it for another year. Finn could use a good night's sleep...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dance with me.

I was looking for my softball glove at my parents' house when I discovered the closet of forgotten dresses. My mom was sort of a tom boy (she said she had to wear tennis shoes to her own wedding so her dad would recognize her) so this was a fun discovery. There were exactly four dresses: my mom's wedding dress, the dress she wore to my wedding, the dress she wore to my sister's wedding and this:

Pretty great, right? It is definitely hand made and I want to believe my mom made it herself. She wasn't much of a sewer but I know she made curtains for our old much harder could a dress be? (I'm obviously not much of a sewer either.) Whether she made it or not doesn't really matter as I have no problem believing whatever stories I want to believe.

I tried on the fabulous dress my mom made and guess what? It fit PERFECTLY. Like, beyond. I obviously had to steal it. But first, I had to wear it all morning at my parents' house, taking every opportunity to spin and twirl and show off my new old dress. (I used to do this with my mom's fancy nighties all the time. I've always loved to play dress up.)

As soon as I came into my parents bedroom show them the dress I would be stealing, my mom's face lit up. She smiled at me and nodded and said, "I like that!" Since she had hardly said a word since we arrived, this hit me like a ton of bricks. I spun around like a good little girl and took it as a sign that the dress she made was meant for me.

A little while later, it was my job to distract my mom so my dad could get his Rush Limbaugh e-mail fix (she literally follows him everywhere he goes...). When my sister and I visited together in December, we discovered the best way to do this was with a dance party in the kitchen. She responds fairly well to music and showing off our most random dance moves gave us something fun we could do that also felt helpful. Plus, it was really funny when we did moves she didn't like (she would just make a face and shake her head no). It became our morning ritual and was easily one of the highlights of our trip.

This time it was just me dancing. But I had the dress. And my mom really liked the dress (she kept smiling at me and saying, "pretty"). Plus, how fun is it to dance in a twirly dress? So I put on a CD and got to dancing!

First up was The Mamas and the Papas. It started off okay with a little California Dreaming but as soon as This is Dedicated to the One I Love started, I completely lost it.

While I'm far away from you my baby,
I know it's hard for you my baby,
Because it's hard for me my baby...

I mean, I'm wearing my mom's dress and she's smiling at me and telling me she's glad I'm here and they keep singing my baby in that faraway nostalgic way. Oof. Now I'm crying all over again!

I was having a hard time getting a hold of myself. Which, I have to say, very rarely happens to me. I am not a huge crier but this was killing me. I had to change the music.

I figured nothing about George Straight could make me emotional so I put it on. Sure he has a soulful kind of voice but I'm not at all familiar with his music. I was sure this was a step in the right direction. But wouldn't you know it, the very first lyrics bowled me over.

Ain't love so strange, ain't it a pain in your heart...*

Come on, George! Work with me here, buddy. I skipped to the next song:

Haven't you heard, daddy's gone crazy.
Haven't you heard, mama is gone...

By this point I was pretty much bawling my eyes out.

When Bill showed up a few hours later and found me hanging out in my moms dress with a tear stained face, I just kind of shrugged. "My doctor said I'd probably have a much wider range of emotions without the Zoloft..." I think he was right.

*upon further investigation, the lyrics are actually ain't love A STRAIN... but at the time, ain't love strange was really speaking to me. You know me and lyrics... 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Imperfect expert.

At the airport gift shop, I picked up a few magazines for our flight home. This used to be the perfect excuse for a guilty pleasure like People but a few years ago I realized I could get through an entire magazine without recognizing a single celebrity. So I had to switch it up. I've tried girly fashion mags (what to wear right now? um, seriously, whatever fits and is clean works for me), fitness magazines (THE best diet, THE best workout, THE quickest way to feel bad about myself), parenting magazines (top ten things to worry about this month!), news magazines (like reading People and not knowing anyone... with facts!), travel magazines (fun to look at but not really my fave to read), and interior design magazines (typically my very best bet).

Last time we traveled, I picked up Southern Living which I quickly decided is my very favorite magazine I've never subscribed to. Plus, I knew a few people in it and got to read nice things about Nashville which is always fun.

This time, I didn't see Southern Living but I did see Country Living which was super exciting because I knew there was an article on the Red Barn Round-Up which is easily one of my favorite things I've ever done in Nashville. I also picked up a couple magazines I judged solely by their covers: Scientific American Mind with a cover story about memory (because, hello, i just saw my mom), and The Atlantic with a cover story about the overprotected kid.

As soon as I launched into The Atlantic, I realized I had already read the article online (whoops). It had spurred one of my neighbors to email everyone on the block to see if we could just pretend like it was still the good old days and loosen up a bit with our kids. (YES!) I still read the article in its entirety and couldn't help but feeling somewhat smug about my own somewhat hands-off approach to parenting.

I spent the rest of the flight sitting across the aisle from my kids basking in what felt like parental success. I don't hover. I let my kids have their own experiences. I don't step in and solve their problems or claim their victories. I don't even check Liam's homework! All in, I felt like a pretty good mom.

In fact, I started thinking about my perspective as a parent and what I might have to offer as a writer. Maybe I could write something for The Atlantic? Or Huffington Post? I should definitely pursue submitting something to Home / School / Life magazine. And maybe Parents as well? It doesn't all have to be doom and gloom!

By the time we got off the flight, I practically felt like a parenting expert (I'd been daydreaming about all the things I could write about). I gotta say, I was feeling pretty good.

For about five minutes.

Then I tried to take Finn to the bathroom.

He immediately started to protest which was weird because we all just heard him say he had to go. While I usually try to figure out what's really bothering him before trudging ahead, this seemed completely irrational. He had to go, I had to go, let's go! But it's never quite that simple, is it?

He starting doing that thing where he stopped moving his feet so I was suddenly dragging him across the food court floor, so I picked him up. "I! Want! To go! By! My! Self!" he yelled, one very loud word at a time. I tried to laugh it off and kept walking. "Buddy, you can't go all alone in the airport!" (So much for free range parenting...) "But you can go in your own stall if you want to." He could sense he wasn't going to get exactly what he wanted and started to dig in his heels. Never a good sign with a strong willed child...

By the time we got in a stall, I could tell he was about 10 seconds from a full on tantrum. I went to the bathroom as quick as I could, hoping he wouldn't slam open the door and bolt (he didn't!). "Okay, Finny, your turn," I said as nonchalantly as I could. He wouldn't budge. I offered to leave the stall, find him a new stall, give him my second born child (ha), but nothing worked. Honestly, I could have offered him a chocolate covered rainbow and he would have thrown it in my face. So I picked him up and made a beeline for the door.

That's when he started to scream. If you've never heard Finn scream, boy, you are missing out. It's loud and shrill with a laser like focus on whatever (or whoever) it is he's upset with.

In this case, that would be me.

I'm not going to lie, it's been a while since I've even seen the kind of scene we were making. He was flailing and screaming while I did my best not to drop him. I tried setting him down to reason with him at one point but he swatted at me and made a run for it. There's nothing like chasing a three year old through an airport (in boots!) to make you realize once and for all you are not a runner.

I was mortified.

I'm usually the mom who has it all together at the airport. I have never, not once, been this mom. (I mean, not in the airport...) I had absolutely no idea what to do. There's no reasoning with Finn when he's like this. He's just...completely out of control. All I could think to do was take him to the closest, most secluded corner I could find and just let him work it out. LOUDLY. While I tried not to die of embarrassment.

After a few minutes, Bill came over to where we were (he just followed the blood curdling screams...) and that's when things went really bad. As soon as Bill picked Finn up, he completely stopped crying. It was like someone had flipped a switch. A switch that I, his mother, had no idea where to find.

Now I was the one who wanted to have a tantrum. I couldn't believe how angry I was at my own child. How dare he scream in my face and hit me like that in public! He made me look (and feel) like a complete failure. And to calm down for Bill but not for me? The nerve!

Finn bounced back immediately as if nothing had ever happened but I could hardly look at him. My ego had taken a major beating and I needed a moment to lick my wounds. He had surprised and embarrassed me and made me completely doubt myself as a mother. Not to mention completely knocked me off my high horse. How could I write about parenting? What a joke!

Although, now that I've had some time to cool down, I can see things a bit more clearly. I may not be a parenting expert (whatever the heck that is) but I am intimately familiar with the front lines of raising children. I can cite things that 'work' and things that 'don't work' but I also know there are times when all the expert advice in the world is no match for a headstrong three year old.

Besides, who wants to take advice from a perfect parent? Or worse? Someone who doesn't even have kids! Not me.

Maybe knowing (really knowing...) the ups and downs of parenting doesn't make me a failure so much as it makes me uniquely qualified. Our experience makes us experts.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Security brother.

We went to a birthday party this afternoon. One of my oldest friend's son turned 8 and we just happened to be in town for the party. Best timing! It was at one if those bouncy places that the boys love so, of course, they had a blast.

I kept thinking about the last time we happened to catch a party with this family and remembering how shy Liam was. He was clingy and slow to warm up and never really left my side. And now? Look at him! He's running around like he owns the darn place!

We were probably there 20 minutes before I realized Liam and Finn were practically glued together. No wonder Liam didn't need any time to warm up. He had a built in side kick!

Once I noticed it, the whole thing became even sweeter. And kind of funny once I realized that Bill and I were doing the exact same thing...

They never left each other's side the entire party. It was so, so sweet. 

Later I told Liam how much I appreciated him looking after Finn and helping him feel comfortable. "I'm glad Finn was there," he said. "Without him I'm too shy to have fun!"  

Siblings for the win!

Just some old pics of me and parents have stuff like this stuck all over the place - I can't help myself!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Last time I stayed at my parents house with the boys, it was one of the worst nights sleep I'd ever had. The three of us shared a full bed so I spent part of the night getting kicked in the face and the rest of the night camped out on the couch thinking about all the things that had gone down in this house.

We had gotten up so early for our flight this trip that I had a feeling sleep wouldn't be an issue for any of us. I was right. We got in our little bed at 7pm and slept like rocks.

Until the doorbell rang at midnight.

I'm not typically a very light sleeper but this woke me up like a shot of adrenalin. The front door is right next to our slightly open bedroom window so if someone was on the front porch they were less than five feet from where Liam, Finn and I were sprawled out like a litter of puppies.

I was scared. Who would be at our door in the middle of the night? And why hadn't anyone else heard the doorbell? The house was silent except for Finn's breathing and my pounding heart.

Suddenly I heard the door to the garage open. Crap! I wasn't going crazy, there really was someone there. I crept to the window and slowly pulled back the shade.

There she was. My mom. Standing in the garage in her baby blue snowflake pajamas just kind of looking around. I had never even considered for a second it could have been her wandering around the front yard. Now I was more scared than ever.

I snuck out of our room and halfhearted whispered for my dad as I scurried to the front door. I knew he'd be upset that she was up and really upset that he hadn't heard her leave the house (this had to be a first...). I'd so much rather just handle it myself.

By the time I got to the garage she was sitting in the front seat of my dad's Jeep. When she saw me her face lit up. "There you are!" she said smiling and then kind of shrugged her shoulders like, your guess is as good as mine...

I asked her if she wanted me to get in. "Do you want to go somewhere?"

She smiled and shrugged and nodded. "Can you do that?"

I knew I should try to get her back in the house or, at the very least, let my dad know we were okay. But she was talking to me. Smiling at me. Of course we could!

I got in the driver's seat and we sat there for a few minutes, talking but mostly not talking. I was pretty sure my dad was going to walk in and bust us any second, a feeling I'm quite used to at this house. "Hey, Mom. Do you think we should go home?"

She followed me out of the garage but instead of heading toward the front door, she walked down the walkway, away from the house. What could I do but go with her?

It was a beautiful night - crisp and clear, not too cold, with a half moon and a dozen or so stars lighting our way. So we went for a walk. Me, barefoot and bleary eyed; her in the snowflake pajamas my sister gave her that match her big, blue eyes.

She fussed with the neighbor's mailbox, changed directions a few times, shrugged her shoulders every time we made eye contact. But it was nice. Peaceful. I would have walked all night but I was afraid my dad would wake up and not know where we were. So I steered her back to the house.

I never even considered we might be locked out. No wonder she rang the bell!

Years of being a latchkey kid had taught me some tricks but the key I found didn't fit the door and I knew my mom wouldn't wait for me while I jumped the fence to the backyard. She was obviously somewhat of a flight risk.

So I did the only thing else I could think to do - what she did - I rang the bell.

We waited. My stomach churned. What if he didn't hear us? What if he did? Please don't be mad, please don't be mad...

He handled it well and for all I know she stayed in bed the rest of the night. I fell back to sleep eventually too, once the adrenalin died down and I finished writing half of this (it would have seemed like a dream if I didn't get it down in print).

I'm curious to see what he has to say about all this in the morning. Has it happened before? What are we going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again?

And of course, my biggest question, how is he doing this day after day after day all on his own?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Nashville, let's kick some butts together.

I'm about to tell you something pretty alarming. Two things actually:

1. Cigarette butts don't decompose.

Like, EVER. I don't know why this comes as such a shock to me. All those years of casually smoking and dropping cigarette butts out the car window or putting them out in the gutter are making me cringe right now. I was young, sure, but how did I not think about what would happen long term? I must have justified it in my mind - it's just one teeny tiny little butt... - and never, until very recently, thought about whether or not they would decompose.

Now I know.

Traditional cigarette butts are made of synthetic polymer cellulose acetate which breaks apart after about a dozen year but never fully biodegrades. Since the smokers on Earth go through about 4.3 TRILLION cigarettes a year (and about 30% of those butts end up on the ground), that's somewhere around 500,000 TONS of pollution. Every. Single. Year.

Doesn't seem so teeny tiny now.

And, that might not even be the worst part...

2. The majority of these discarded cigarette butts end up washing into our rivers and streams during rains.

On the surface this sounds terrible: who wants little bits of trash floating around a fresh water stream? But the problem goes so much deeper.

Cigarette filters, by design, accumulate toxins. So just one tiny butt can contain up to 60 known human carcinogens, including formaldehyde and chromium. Within an hour of contact with water, these chemicals begin leaching into the environment.

That's our water!

They also end up being eaten by fish, birds, and other wildlife...including children! When we took the boys canoeing on the Harpeth a couple years ago, we had to swat cigarette butts out of Finn's little hands more than once. He just couldnt figure out what was up with all the soft white rocks on shore! I'm thankful he was no longer in the phase where everything had to go in his mouth because that would have been really gross. Not to mention, incredibly dangerous.

So, what to do? Thankfully Nashville Clean Water Project has some ideas. They've teamed up with TerraCycle to turn Nashville's cigarette butts into industrial shipping pallets. How cool is that?! They have a great plan but they can't do it alone. Please check out their Indiegogo campaign and consider making a contribution. There are lots of great prizes (like a $5 Whole Foods gift card for a $15 donation!) and you can be part of helping make Nashville's rivers and streams clean and toxin free.

Thank you, friends!

I guess you hear what you want to hear.

Thinking you know the lyrics to a song when really you don't is one of my favorite things.

I can remember, clear as day, walking to the bus stop with my sister and our neighbors when Moose (who was walking behind us) started busting out George Michael's Faith. She was dance walking down the street, really strutting her stuff and singing, "I've gotta have tits, tits, tits. I've gotta have tits, a-tits, a-tits-ah! Ba-bay!"

She was seven. We've teased her about it ever since.

I rarely sing out loud. Not even in the shower or car when no one else can hear me. Really the only time I sing is to my kids. Either softly at bedtime or really loudly to annoy them. I honestly think I sound like an opera singer or anyone else "good" who is really just loud and makes their voice move around a lot, so once I get started I don't want to stop. I sing until they want to kill me.

Whether or not I have the lyrics right obviously doesn't matter. No one cares what I'm singing; they just want me to stop singing it.

But tonight I realized something kind of funny.

We listen to a lot of Bob Marley in our house. (Why? Because it's awesome and never gets old, duh.) I've heard all the songs so many times I've kind of stopped hearing them. But last week one of his songs came on while I was listening with headphones and I heard the lyrics differently than I ever had before. It was like I finally really understood what my man was saying!

All these years I thought he was singing, "could you be loved" but now it was perfectly clear that was wrong. It's not could you be LOVED, it's could you be LOVE.

Could you be love?
Then be love.

I suddenly loved the song about a thousand times more. In fact, I started running it through my head like some sort of mantra. Could you be love? Then be love... How beautiful is that? Rather than trying to be smart or rich or successful or this title or that just be LOVE. Yes! It sent me running for my art journal.

As I was clipping and gluing and inspiring the crap out of myself with my new mantra, I decided to listen to Legend. I pulled it up on my new Beats Music app (like Spotify but apparently artists get paid better royalties) and immediately saw the actual title of the song.

Turns out I was right all along.

(Actual lyrics: Could you be love and be loved... pretty close!)

I have to say, I think I like my version better. What can I say? My sister and I have a gift with the lyrics!