Episode 117: Ask Me Anything #1

We asked you inside our Secret Facebook Group to let us know what personal questions you had for me. No question was off limits.

And we received so many responses we decided to turn them into a new series. We’re calling it: Ask Me Anything.

We’ve organized your questions into categories (because we’re type A) and this week we’re taking a break from addiction and having a little fun.

Later on in the new Ask Me Anything series I’ll answer questions about my current marriage to Brian, my ex-husband, my kids and how I decided to leave, etc.

And just because I wanted to make sure I was keeping it real with you guys, and not selling you some Instagram-Facebook image of my life – I have asked my best friends to take turns interviewing me. These ladies won’t let me get away with anything. And they’ve supported me through it all.

I hope you enjoy!


Olivia: Okay let’s start. Are you ready?

Michelle: Yes.

Olivia: Are you nervous?

Michelle: No. I’m not nervous at all.

Olivia: Did you ever get nervous for podcasting?

Michelle: I used to get incredibly nervous, and it was funny because there was like five people listening. I remember thinking, “Who am I getting nervous for? I’m not on Oprah.”

I think it’s always nerve-racking when you’re putting anything that comes from your heart out to the world. There’s always that thought of, “Are people gonna like it? Will people resonate with it? Am I saying something that’s offending somebody?” I’m still worried about that. I worry about people and putting my foot in my mouth because I tend to do that in real life, quite often.

Olivia: Right. I know nothing about that.

Michelle: That’s why we’re friends. We can keep each other in check.

I’m usually really confident when somebody is asking me about addiction – that’s when I feel like I nailed it.

Olivia: You’re in your wheelhouse.

Michelle: I am. That’s my wheelhouse, and I feel like I can own that. But, ask me about math? Then I’m out of my element.

Olivia: But you can own something even if you don’t know about it, right? Because you have a lot of self-confidence.

Michelle: Do you view me as having a lot of self-confidence?

Olivia: Yes.

Michelle: That’s so funny. Are you just saying that because this is my podcast?

Olivia: No, no, no…I see you because you know what you want. The one thing I think about you is, you’re self-reflective sometimes. When you’re like, “Oh, I don’t know if I should’ve done that.” Or, “You know, did I do that the right way?” And I think that’s just part of being a kind individual, and a lovable person.

But I think that you know what you want in life. You know the people you want to surround yourself with. You know how you wanna raise your children. And because you’re so focused, and you’ve drilled down on those goals, and you know how to get to them, that’s what’s gonna ultimately lead to your mental health, and happiness. Nothing is going to get in your way. You’re very determined.

So I think with that determination comes a lot of self-confidence. There’s a lot of people-pleasers, which you’re not.

Michelle: Isn’t that funny. I love that you’re saying this. Did you come into my life about a year and a half ago?

Olivia: Year and a half, yeah.

Michelle: If you had known me 10 years ago, you would’ve been describing the exact opposite. I was all over the map, had no idea what I wanted, and was completely lacking confidence. I didn’t know what I wanted because I was too busy asking what everybody else wanted. That was my goal in life, to make my husband happy, and my kids perfect.

Olivia: Now you’re like, “We’re a mess, and I’m okay with it.”

Michelle: Do you know what’s so funny? That’s so true. I have gotten to a place where I’m almost more proud of being a mess than I am embarrassed if I would try to portray perfection.

Olivia: That’s exactly it.

Michelle: Do you feel the same way?

Olivia: Yeah, 100%. Because even if I’m a disaster, I still come from a good place. I have a good heart, and I’m trying hard, so I don’t mean to. I make mistakes and hurt people, but I apologize now. I’d rather see people for the real me because that’s something I can stand behind. That’s something I can be proud of, right? It’s so much work trying to pretend all the time.

Michelle: It’s exhausting.

Olivia: It’s not healthy.

Michelle: For example, this morning, I saw a picture of a couple who were professionally photographed with their kids. They were all wearing matching blue shirts, with matching pants, and her hair was perfect.

Olivia: With shirts tucked in, the boys with belts, and she has the beautiful gown on.

Michelle: And the shoes. Of course, it’s all about the shoes.

Olivia: Right, yes. Of course.

Michelle: But here’s the funny thing: she had great shoes on, but all of her kids didn’t.

Olivia: Oh, like, “We just sit around to perfection, but totally casual.”

Michelle: Exactly. Like, “We’re acceptable, and totally normal because we’re not wearing shoes. But every single inch of us is perfect.”

And I thought to myself, what would it be like if someone were to come in and take a picture of me, my kids, and my husband. It’d be a mess. And you know what? I would be so proud of that picture.

Olivia: But that’s the picture that you want, right? You guys could pull it together. You have so much style and amazingness. You’d be like, “Okay, team meeting. Now, everybody make sure your faces are washed.” You’d have to be on the same page. Then the flash would go off, and everyone would pose, and you’d get the picture.

I think, for me, it’s the same thing. Social media is very difficult. I just saw a post from my girlfriend on Facebook. It was one of those marriage posts which slaughters me because I’m divorced. It’s X amount of years dating and X amount of years of marriage.

I know for me, personally, that they went through a huge transition and struggle in their marriage. There was infidelity, and she was hospitalized for a while. That doesn’t make any of it less real, right? They’ve been together, and through difficulties, and that’s wonderful. We should celebrate that. But all the pictures, and all this promotion of marriage, it’s difficult.

I’ve looked at two different women’s families and literally thought, “God I wish I had that” from their pictures. They’re both now divorced.

Michelle: Right.

Olivia: You never know. It’s just so hard to hold yourself up to that image all the time.

Michelle: I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I don’t look at social media at all. I have two accounts of my favorite authors that I go on maybe once a month. I’m challenged technically, but I discovered there’s a search feature on Instagram just recently.

Olivia: And this is why I love you.

Michelle: I was like, “Oh my God, I don’t have to type in the whole name.”

So I look up my two authors, and that’s it. That’s all I do. I’m super restrained, and really, really careful because it would make me feel jealous, and I’ve got a great life.

Olivia: Yes, you have an amazing life.

Michelle: I’m sitting here saying, “Why am I comparing myself?” The comparison is just awful.

Olivia: Devastating. Comparison is the thief of joy, right?

Michelle: I’m just speaking for myself, but I think women who don’t love social media, is because of the lack of honesty. I believe one of my strongest values is truth. Like, tell me the truth, no matter what. And I think that comes from being married to an addict and being lied to for 10 years. If you’re truthful, I can respect that.

Olivia: I will go through your journey with you, but let’s all be honest about what it is.

Michelle: I really value that in people. That’s one thing I love about our friendship – I know you’re going to tell me the truth, no matter how hard it is for me to hear.

Olivia: Right, absolutely.

Michelle: And I just told you a truth a couple of minutes ago in the kitchen. And it was probably hard for you to hear.

Olivia: Yes, yes.

Michelle: But we have that type of friendship.

Olivia: And you need it.

Michelle: Yeah.

Olivia: I had a mentor some years ago that said to me, and I’ll never forget this, he said, “People are gonna throw shoes at you. They’re going to be really pretty shoes that you’re gonna want to put on, but they don’t fit you. And they’re going throw ugly, stinky, nasty shoes at you, that you’ll put on anyway because you think you deserve it. But they don’t fit you.”

You always need to be sure when compliments and negativity come at you, that they actually fit before you walk around in it, right? With you, I don’t have to see if they fit or not – I know they do because I trust the source. I know you’re not going be throwing things at me that don’t fit. There’s a truth to it.

But when we have all these things coming in that we’re internalizing that are told to us that we don’t really find to be true. It’s important to evaluate it.

Michelle: Okay, two things. One is, you love that story.

Olivia: I do, I’ve told you that a lot! But truth sticks with you.

Michelle: It stuck with you for sure. And number two is, I think you’re raising a really good point. Especially for women in this community.

For us, when we’re married to an addict, we do trust that source. We’ve made a commitment for the rest of our lives to that source. We’ve trusted our parents. We trust some of our people, and sometimes, even what they say, it’s not true. It may not be coming from a good place. Often, it’s not even coming from a sober place.

Olivia: If you don’t know yourself well enough, how do you know if it’s truth or not? You have to know yourself.

Michelle: Amen.

Olivia: And then you become strong and get self-confidence. That’s when you start to know and love yourself.

Michelle: When I was in the middle of my divorce, I remember the day when I thought, “I’m not gonna put one single moment of energy into the addiction, at all. I’m going to put every single ounce of that into discovering me. Figuring out what I want, who am I, what do I want my life to become. What are my strengths and weaknesses, what do I need to improve.”

Just transferring energy from that toxic addiction place that’s so draining. It would occupy every ounce, every cell, every thought.

Olivia: Every emotion.

Michelle: Yeah. That’s why you get addicted to addiction. Even if you’re not the one addicted. Because it just sucks you in. Having the strength to say, “No more. I’m putting this towards me.”

People often ask me what I think about a certain rehab? Or what do I think about this pill that’s supposed to make you sober? I’m always like, “You know what? I don’t even care.” That’s not what our community is about. It’s about us. Me even talking about that is feeding the beast. It’s buying into what we shouldn’t be putting our energy into.

Olivia: It does. Do you ever feel like because you have a whole circus of children, a very demanding job that you take very seriously, and a husband who has a successful career, that you’ve lost yourself? I think a lot of women struggle because there are so many pressures from all that they’re doing.

Do you ever feel like you’re putting so much energy into these outside things that you’re not concentrating on what you need? How do you keep yourself in check with that?

Michelle: The answer to this is, I say no to just about everything.

Olivia: You do. You don’t show up because your priorities are your family, right? And yourself.

That’s why whenever I can get you, I feel very thrilled with the time that I have.

Michelle: That’s pretty much how I do it. For me, the healthiest version is to get really, really good at saying ‘no thank you.’ And also, I have found that I do better with less and not over-scheduling. My kids aren’t in a ton of activities and are probably the least involved in extracurriculars out of the whole grade. They don’t even have any extracurriculars.

Olivia: Their extracurricular is their family. They come and hang out. I have an only child; she’s in everything. I’m always thinking, “Oh my God, we have five minutes alone at home, what are we gonna do with it? I don’t know.”

Michelle: I think that comes with having a big family, though. Our extracurricular is our living room. Last night, we baked cookies, ate dinner together, hung out and watched the Great British Baking Show. I’m obsessed with it.

Olivia: So is my mom.

Michelle: It’s disgusting. I’m losing sleep and have bags under my eyes because I have to find out who won. I’m gaining like 20 pounds because of what they’re cooking.

I sit and watch and think, “I’m going to make a patisserie…whatever the heck it is.”

Olivia: Did you make it?

Michelle: No. So at 10 pm last night, I went downstairs and decided that a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch will do the trick.

Olivia: How often do you watch TV? What do you watch? I’m getting into the fun questions.

Michelle: One of my weaknesses is that I’m not particularly a laid back person.

Olivia: No! Really? You don’t just relax in your pajamas all day and chill while the kids run around making your house a disaster?

Michelle: I don’t have that gene. So I’m a big believer in looking to your parents and seeing what they were like. And then how does that affect me? M dad is 78. He’s writing a screenplay, and he lives in New York City. You can’t get him to leave New York City to come to Florida.

My mom wants to hike. She’s in her late 60s and is getting ready to hike the Appalachian Trail for seven months.

Both of my parents are high-achievers. They need dreams and have ambitions. Which means I have a double-dose. Nobody’s lazy in my family. I don’t want to say lazy, but apathetic. You know? Which is another word for lazy.

Olivia: A nice word. It’s better.

Michelle: And see, I was worried about offending somebody.

Olivia: If you’re lazy, we accept and don’t judge you. If you want to play around in your pajamas, it’s fine. Because if you don’t, then you’re not going to be happy. If you’re trying to be the woman that does everything, and your nature is that you just like to relax, and enjoy life, and sit back, there’s no morality in it, right?

Michelle: Totally.

Olivia: So, do what you want to do.

Michelle: Well, yes and no. My husband is incredibly laid back, so he’s a good balance for me. He reminds me to sit down. And I have to restrain myself from being like, “Okay! Activity #15 on a Saturday.” Take, for example, this weekend. I have every hour planned on Saturday to do things, but we’re all doing it together as a family.

Olivia: Wait, so you just said you like very open spaces, and you don’t over-schedule yourself, and now the truth comes out. Do you have every moment of it scheduled?

Michelle: Thank you for saying that. See what I mean?

Olivia: I challenge you, right?

Michelle: Thank you for checking me. I can show you my calendar afterward. Basically, it’s in large blocks of time. For example, from 2:00 to 8:00 o’clock on Saturday, we’re baking and decorating cookies, then trimming the tree. What does that even mean? Does anyone trim the tree?

Olivia: I have twisty garland I put around it. Is that trimming? I don’t know. Oh, trimming is actually trimming with shears because we just chopped it down in the backyard? No. I don’t trim.

Michelle: No. Nobody trims. We’re decorating the tree. And then we’re hanging up outside lights.

Olivia: And that’s in your schedule. That makes me very anxious.

Michelle: You know what else is in my schedule? I Googled the top holiday movies, and every night this week, we have a different movie scheduled.

Olivia: You’re such a mom!

Michelle: But that’s open space…

Olivia: Right. And that makes you happy.

Michelle: It does. It brings me such joy.

Olivia: It would make me so anxious.

Michelle: Why?

Olivia: Because I’m a mess. And I probably should get that way because I’m forgetful. My mind is always in a million places. Scheduling is like the death of me. It’s so grown up, and restrictive, and not open. I always have this moving list of 5,000 things I need to do in my head. I have it scheduled on my work calendar as AHN mother luncheon.

Michelle: Are you going to a mother luncheon?

Olivia: No, but my schedule is open for the people I work closest with to see. So I put it as a mother’s luncheon today, and then I think, “Shoot. What did I save that time for? I have something to do today”! I’m going through my Google calendar, trying to find out what I have to do today.

Michelle: That’s hilarious.

Olivia: But that’s just the way I live my life.

Michelle: That’s why you’re fun.

Olivia: Right, and I feel like it’s freedom. People who are closest to me have to accept it. Like my best friend – I didn’t show up to my first goddaughter’s baby shower because I forgot. That’s just me, and it brings me joy to live that way. If you can’t accept it, I get it. I’m not the person for you.

It drives my family nuts because I’m never on top of my game. I lose my car keys 15 times a day. I think to myself, “You’re such a mess. Stop it.” I could be restricted, but not happy. What do you want me to be?

Michelle: Totally.

Olivia: I’m happy the way that I am. If I weren’t, then I would need to change. Right?

Michelle: But you embrace it.

Olivia: Absolutely.

Michelle: And you’re super fun. That’s why I need fun people in my life to remind me, “Michelle, it’s time to immerse from your cocoon and get the heck out of your house.”

It’s so funny, one of the questions the women asked was, “how do you have fun?” And my team laughed when they read that. I was like, “you guys, I’m fun!”

For me, my fun is looking at my people in my house and talking with them.

Olivia: What you’ve built, and the people that surround you.

Michelle: There’s nothing better. That, and Disney World. They took me for my 40th birthday as a surprise and got me a park-hopper pass.

Olivia: When you’re not looking I’m going to get the little Disney bumper stickers. I can’t believe you’re a Disney woman.

Michelle: Well let’s define this for a second because I feel like we need park here.

Olivia: I feel like one day I’m going to show up at your house and you’re going to have a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and ears on.

Michelle: You’re offending me. You’re offending people.

Olivia: That’s fine. It’s not what I would picture for you, that’s all. I like giving you a hard time.

Michelle: I wear fashionable clothes.

Olivia: You do wear very fashionable clothes.

Michelle: I want to preface: there’s no problem with wearing Disney ears, and a sweatshirt.

Here’s the deal. When you pull into Disney and see the arches, my heart just explodes with love.

Olivia: Who knew? Oh my gosh.

Michelle: I swear to you. We all just went for Brian’s birthday – my brother and my sister-in-law, mom, and Gary. And then all the kids and me. Last time we went, I was a bit of a bossy-pants about the schedule.

Olivia: Oh no.

Michelle: So I had to promise everyone before we went this year, that I don’t care, just as long as we’re there by 9:00 AM. I’m letting it go. And I did.

That’s what I kept telling everybody. See how casual I am? I’m casual right now.

Olivia: I feel like that’s the funny thing because, in a way, I feel like I’m really scheduled too. I’m flexible, but I’m intense. Mine is different.

Michelle: You are intense.

Olivia: I will imagine a situation and have expectations about it. So if we’re going to Disney, I might not have every moment planned, but I have the feeling, and the emotion, and the experience planned in my head. Because I’ve thought about it so much. Yet when we go, if it gets off-kilter somehow, and it’s not working out the way that I want it to, that’s a hard adjustment for me.

Michelle: It’s a disappointment.

So here’s what I’m learning, because we’re coming into my new favorite subject. And I have to restrain myself from mentioning this every five minutes to everybody like your story with the shoes.

Olivia: Which we could get to your pet peeves of how you’re a germaphobe and organized.

Michelle: That’s why that story with the shoes bothers me. Every time you go to mention it I’m like, “she’s gonna bring up the dirty shoes.”

Olivia: Well, I wore a lot of dirty shoes for a while, right? Guilt, and shame – I wore them.

Michelle: Not literally.

Olivia: No, not literally. I mean sometimes in my life, when I had my skater phase, and I was wearing my Vans, they were pretty nasty.

Michelle: Were you in a skater phase?

Olivia: Yeah, in high school. I had green hair and everything.

Michelle: That’s so funny. Green hair?

Olivia: I know you wouldn’t think…

Michelle: No way. Because now you’re in a knitting club and sew. Look how far you’ve come.

What were we talking about?

Olivia: Your favorite topic.

Michelle: My new favorite thing. And we’re going to stay here for five minutes because it’s no fun. And this is supposed to be the fun podcast.

I feel like my theme for 2019 is making a huge point to drop my expectations of everything.

Olivia: Of yourself?

Michelle: Myself, my business, my marriage, my kids, my friendships…all of it.

Olivia: Why?

Michelle: Because here’s the thing. You can tell me from a fun girl’s perspective, and I’ll tell you from a serious girl’s perspective.

Let’s take one of my random kids. He’s getting ready to take the SATs/ACTs. I project my expectations on him of getting a 30 on the ACT, because I know he’s capable. He’s really smart.

He wants to be a lawyer eventually. So, I’m sitting here, and he comes out of my office after doing some tutoring. He says, “I just took the practice test, and it was a 28.”

I looked at him and said, “That’s great, but I thought we were aiming for 30.” And as soon as it came out of my mouth…

Olivia: You were like, yikes.

Michelle: I’m a jerk, number one, for doing that. Number two, who the heck am I to decide that he needs a 30?

Olivia: Right. What did you get on your SAT?

Michelle: I didn’t even take the SATs. I remember doing Christmas trees on my SATs. So, first of all, that’s an expectation that I placed and pulled out of nowhere.

Olivia: You didn’t ask him for his goal.

Michelle: But even if it was his goal, it shouldn’t be my goal. My goal should be to encourage him and let him know that no matter what the heck he gets, I’m darn proud of him.

Olivia: Yes, exactly.

Michelle: And number two, my goal should be to provide him with as much support as I possibly can by providing a quiet space to study, if he chooses.

And if he doesn’t choose to study, and gets a 15, that’s okay too. I need to drop that expectation. Addiction taught me this. If my son, Lance, gets a 15 and blows off the ACT, what’s going to happen? He’ll probably get into a lovely community college. Which, oh, by the way, is extremely inexpensive around here.

Olivia: What if he chooses not to go to college?

Michelle: Exactly. What if he does? Let’s take it even another step further. What if he chooses to work at FedEx as a checkout person? You know what? I’m completely okay with that. Why am I okay with that? Because the only things I care about with my kids are two things.

One is, are they a kind human being. Is he kind at working at FedEx? Or is he a jerk checking out people? Is he rude? Does he have an attitude? Or is he showing up on time with integrity and being kind? Is he sharing light with the people that come in contact with him?

And number two: I care if they’re helping make the world better. That sounds so cheesy. Are you contributing? Or are you a giver, or a taker?

Are you doing something to help somebody else? Or are you asking for people to help you at all times, and you’re just living in that martyr, enabling type of space.

If those two things are met, I’m happy. My son might eventually be a lawyer if he blows off the SATs, but he has to own and learn from that on his own. I dislike the word journey, but I’m going to use it. On his journey of life.

Olivia: When you want it, right.

Michelle: Who says at 18 years old that automatically you’re supposed to grow up and know what you want to do.

Olivia: So, here’s the thing. If your child has potential – which Lance’s potential is exponential – and they’re lazy, apathetic, toward their potential, at what point do you step in to help them?

Michelle: I don’t.

Olivia: To guide them?

Michelle: I don’t. I pull them aside, and I have a really loving conversation. I say to them, “Listen. You can do better than this. I know you’re not giving it your best. But ultimately the decision is yours. I would like to see you try harder, particularly because I’m paying for your education and this is coming at a cost. But I’ll support you, no matter what. I’m your biggest cheerleader and your greatest fan.

And if there’s something that you need that will help you choose to do better, then let’s talk about that. But I am not going to breathe down your back. I’m not going to make you accountable to me, or to answer to me. If you get an F, then that’s on you. Period.”

Olivia: What if your child was making unhealthy decisions?

Michelle: What do you mean, like drugs or alcohol?

Olivia: Sure.

Michelle: Oh. Forget it.

Olivia: That’s where you’re going to have expectations.

Michelle: Gloves are off. Game on.

Olivia: But what if they’re deciding to come home from school every day, play video games, and not learn.

Michelle: Some of them do.

Olivia: Alright. What if they’re making decisions that you know is not leading to their happiness? And they’re struggling?

Michelle: They’re going to have to figure out what their own happiness is.

Olivia: Right. But you’ll counsel them through it without expectations. Be a guide.

Michelle: I’ll always pull them aside and check in with them on a regular basis and say, “Are you sure this is what you want? Are you sure this is the best choice for you?”

Olivia: It’s giving up control, and allowing them that, wow. That makes me anxious.

Michelle: Does it?

Olivia: Yes.

Michelle: See, it’s so funny. I was packing Henry’s backpack this morning. Henry’s 8. I was sitting there thinking about how he didn’t do his homework last night. I don’t know if your daughter did her homework.

Olivia: We did two hours of homework last night. She’s in second grade and is academically-challenged. I’m going to get emotional about it. Some parents can sit down with the spelling list, and it takes them five minutes. So this is the expectations of my child, right? Because I’m a lawyer, I’m smart; I just didn’t work hard. I had a tough upbringing.

My ex-husband is a lawyer – he’s the most brilliant man I’ve ever met. He’s very smart. So when I had a child, I almost had her tested for gifted. Now she’s well behind her grade level, in a lot of different areas, and she struggles. Which is not to say, she’s not smart.

Michelle: She’s going to be brilliant.

Olivia: This just isn’t her time. She’s going to be brilliant. But I have expectations. I was out of town on business, so her father didn’t realize she had a spelling test last week, and got a 63% which was not her fault. That’s my fault. That’s her dad’s fault. You’re judging a second grader on something that she cannot control, didn’t understand it, and didn’t have the autonomy to study on her own.

So I’m like, this week, you’re getting 100%, and I don’t care if we have to sit here all night long. This is what’s going to happen. Is it because I feel like a failure? Is it because I am pushing my own expectations on to my daughter? It’s not going to make her happy, and it certainly didn’t make her happy sitting there for two hours doing homework.

Michelle: It’s so interesting, and I love that we’re having this conversation because your parenting style is not wrong. And neither is mine. Because Henry went to school without his homework done, I don’t even know what spelling list you’re referring to. I didn’t know they had a spelling test.

Olivia: Every Friday now. And they’re hard. It’s simple: apple, letter, but some of them have two letters, and some don’t. I don’t have the skills to teach. That’s the hard thing about the homework, is I’m not a teacher. I outsourced it to the school that I pay for. That’s your job.

She just taught me today that if a syllable ends in a consonant, and starts in the same consonant, then there’s two. Like let-ter. No idea. I’m not the one to be teaching her second-grade spelling.

Michelle: Can I just tell you something so funny since we’re on the topic of kids. Henry made the spelling bee competition.

Olivia: You went over the words with him though, right?

Michelle: No.

You have to get in the top five of the grade. Then the parents get invited to a special event where those kids compete.

Everybody knows I’m dyslexic. We’re sitting in the auditorium, and I’m totally chill about it. And so is Henry. He could care less. I asked him every day, “Hey, you know you’ve got. Do you wanna practice?”

He’s like, “No, I’m fine.”

He didn’t care. It wasn’t that he thought he got it. It’s just he was like, “Nah, meh.” So it was like, well if he doesn’t care, why the heck am I going to care? I don’t need him to win. I don’t care. Frankly, it’s in the middle of the day; it’s very inconvenient to my work — I kind of wish you did fail.

Olivia: Right? Yes.

Michelle: I’m just joking.

Olivia: I know, it’s like when I’m dating a big sports guy, I pray for their team to lose, so they don’t make the playoffs. I’m like, “Lose!” Quietly. I’m like, “Yeah, baby, I’m with you. Yay! Go, team.”

Michelle: So we’re sitting in the auditorium and all of a sudden he’s up on stage, and it’s official. They have judges and a microphone. The principal and all the other parents are there.

All of a sudden my heart just starts pounding. I was like, this is really bad. He’s going to fail. He’s going to cry because he’s a sensitive kid. And I’m a jerk. I should’ve been on top of this.

Olivia: Mom guilt. The worst.

Michelle: Yeah. I didn’t anticipate to care about this. Because his last name is Anderson, he’s first.

Olivia: How hard were you praying at that moment?

Michelle: I wasn’t, but he was. I’ll post a picture in the notes on the podcast. All he did, the whole time, whether he was up at the microphone, or sitting in his chair, was pray.

Olivia: Oh my gosh.

Michelle: He just kept his hands together, in prayer. Either at the podium or on the stage. I thought it was so funny. I could tell he got nervous all of a sudden.

He made it eight rounds. I don’t know how.

Olivia: That’s amazing. And he was fine after that.

Henry at the spelling bee

Michelle: He was. Three kids got out before him. He went and sat down.

Olivia: No tears.

Michelle: No tears. When he got out, this is a funny story. And then we’ll end this podcast because it’s way too long.

Olivia: I didn’t get to any of my questions.

Michelle: Nobody’s listening anymore. Everyone’s hitting unsubscribe.

I’m just joking.

So, I’m sitting there listening to him do the word, and he’s on his fifth round. I don’t remember the word, but let’s say it was ‘Grayson.’ He was into the second letter and says, “G-R-” and then he stops. I look at Brian, who’s next to me and I put my head down because I’m like, “I know that this is wrong. He just got it wrong, so he’s out.”

He finishes the word, and the woman says, “Correct.” And I’m like, “This is why I don’t practice spelling.”

Olivia: I’ve done that so many times. I did that last night when we were spelling “simple,” because it didn’t look right. I thought it had two P’s. It wasn’t two P’s; there’s one P in simple.

I yelled at her from the car one time – I was in the front seat. She was doing her math, and I’m like, “I am smarter than you!” Because she has to argue with me, and she was actually right, it was so humbling.

Michelle: But afterward, I could see he was proud of himself but unsure. You know how you see your kid kind of on the verge of not being sure how they should feel about this.

He got off the stage, and then every kid left. The winner won. I walked over to him and said, “I’m so proud of you! You are so much smarter than me! You’re making us have a bad name because you’re so smart! I got this word wrong, and you were right.” And all of a sudden, the “I’m not sure how I should feel about this,” turned into a giant smile.

I think it’s important for us, as parents, and for ourselves as women, to celebrate the victories for sure.

Olivia: For sure.

Michelle: But we’re also going to celebrate the crap out of our failures.

Olivia: Right. That’s how we learn.

Michelle: It’s about your expectations and your perspective on things. He had the courage. I don’t care if he came off the first round. He had the courage to freaking get up on stage. You know?

Olivia: But I’ll say this, your kids don’t have false bravado. They don’t have an ego with them.

Michelle: Thank you for saying that.

Olivia: You need to have the celebrations, and celebrate the failures that you tried, and do that because it’s real. And they need to have self-esteem. Ego is something different than self-esteem.

Michelle: Absolutely.

Olivia: And they don’t have an ego. So there’s a way to celebrate that.

Michelle: But don’t you think that kids that don’t have an ego, come from parents that are humble? Kids with giant self-esteem issues that are boisterous, and the know-it-alls, they’re the ones that think they are cooler than cool. They come from parents that tend to put that kind of pressure on them.

Olivia: They need it because they’re insecure. They’re insecure about their kids.

Michelle: Yes. Their kids are a self-reflection on them. Whereas I try, even though I have a gazillion children, to let every one of my kids be exactly who they were planned to be. And by the way, none of them match up to what I thought they were going to be.

Olivia: You’re right.

In the early years – like Lauren, for example – you maybe urged her to wear a dress or do makeup. Or suggested to have a spa day, and she’s like, “give me my tennis shoes.”

Michelle: And, I had her in the cheerleading squad. She doesn’t even like PE.

Olivia: It’s absolutely okay to be a cheerleader. We’re laughing because it doesn’t fit her, right?

Michelle: I was a cheerleader.

Olivia: And that’s my daughter. I am not an overly girly-girl. Do you think I am?

Michelle: Yes.

Olivia: But I don’t wear earrings, and generally don’t wear makeup. I’m in workout clothes all the time.

Michelle: No woman doesn’t wear workout clothes all the time.

Olivia: But there are fancy moms at our kid’s school.

Michelle: There are very fancy moms. We could do a whole podcast on fancy moms.

Olivia: Right, so I’m separate from a fancy mom. And my daughter sees me that way.

Before my daughter goes to the grocery store, she puts on bracelets, perfume, and lip gloss. That’s who she is. I hung out with skaters. She’s likely going to be the cheerleader, right? I bought her construction toys when she was little, and books. I wanted her to be a tomboyish girl, and cool. But her idea of cool is something that’s different than mine. She is who she is. There’s certain programming, I think when they come out that you can’t change.

Michelle: Do you want to wrap up with one more question? Did we get to any of them?

Olivia: Any fun questions? No.

Michelle: Okay give me one.

Olivia: Are you disappointed?

Michelle: No, I’m not disappointed. I don’t know if people listening are disappointed.

Olivia: What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Michelle: Okay. What would you say my biggest pet peeve is, knowing me?

Olivia: Well, now we’re getting into something deep. I would say somebody who’s fake or phony. But, on a more fun level, I would say you are a huge germaphobe.

Michelle: How is that fun?

Olivia: We were in your kitchen one time, and I know you don’t like to touch people. You don’t like to touch things or long nails because germs get under them. You’re really grossed out by pretty much anything, which is hilarious because I’m grossed out by nothing.

We’re standing, talking with a group of moms, and you said to one of them, “How’s your hair so full all the time?” She’s like, “Oh they’re extensions. Here feel.” And you’re like, “No I’m good.” But she kept urging you to feel them, to the point where you had to. There was no out. Just watching you slowly extend your hand into the woman’s weave in her hair.

Michelle: She was gorgeous. And her hair looked stunning.

Olivia: She looks perfect all the time, but I could see you touching the oil, and the grease on somebody else’s hair.

Are you still washing your hands from that?

Michelle: Yes. That was my worst nightmare. You’ve been around a lot of my germ stuff.

I think about germs so much, I probably need to go to a support group..maybe I should start one.

Olivia: Probably.

Do you want to do one more?

Michelle: Sure. Why not?

Olivia: We’re already at an hour, why not go two hours.

Michelle: If they’re still with us, it’s a miracle.

Olivia: How do you manifest good in your life? What are your biggest fears? I feel like we’ve gotten all this.

How about this one: who’s your favorite kid?

Michelle: Oh my gosh. Okay, can we talk about that for a second?

I was with my sister-in-law, and we were standing in line at Disney.
She asked me, “Do you have favorites?”

And here’s the truth, because my kids don’t listen to this podcast. Thank God. I do have favorites, but they change every day.

Olivia: That’s what my mom said. She had five children with my father before they got divorced. She said that at different points in time in her life, every kid has been a favorite.

Michelle: I think it depends on what I’m doing.

Olivia: Like, there’s a favorite to take shopping, there’s a favorite to go hiking with. There’s a favorite to bake with.

Michelle: Yes. If I’m running errands, it’s Lauren because she and I can laugh. She thinks I’m hilarious and laughs at all my jokes.

Olivia: You are hilarious. That’s my favorite kind of person in the world.

Michelle: She takes notes about my funny jokes and keeps a log. Then she shares them with her friends at the lunch table. There’s no greater compliment.

Olivia: She needs to have her own blog like, “Stuff my mom says.” Right?

Michelle: But then I’d be mortified.

Olivia: I know, right?

Michelle: Half the people would stop listening to this. No, I’m joking.

But if I want to get into a really philosophical, or theological conversation, Lance is my favorite. We have very different opinions about a lot of things, but he can hang in there. My goodness, he’s smart.

He says stuff, and I’ll say, “I don’t even know what that means.” But it’s so impressive to me.

If I’m coming home from a hair appointment, nobody notices. But Graham always does. And he’ll be like, “Mom your hair looks beautiful.”

Olivia: Awww.

Michelle: He’s going to make a great husband one day. He’s super sweet.

Olivia: And what about Charlie?

Michelle: Charlie’s most obedient. He’s a rock and is like his dad.

Olivia: Oh really? Just a solid guy. He’ll be a good husband then, too.

Michelle: He’ll be a great husband. He is like Brian and doesn’t talk badly about anybody. Even people that have done him wrong.

He does everything he’s told, and always comes to me and says, “Can I help you with something?” Who does that?

Olivia: Right. Especially a boy. Well not to be sexist, because that was a very sexist comment.

Michelle: That was.

Olivia: Okay, I’m taking it back.

Michelle: But, they’re all wonderful in their own special way.

Okay, anything else?

Olivia: No. I think we covered enough.

Michelle: We did well. There were so many that asked if I was on an island, what was one thing I would take? Is that on there?

Olivia: It was, if you were stranded on an island, yes.

Michelle: Okay, here’s my answer.

Olivia: Oh gosh. This is not going to be fun.

Michelle: It is fun. It’s cheese. Is that fun? Cheese is not fun?

Olivia: Cheese is going to rot in two days. That’s what you’re gonna bring?

Michelle: Well, not if you put it in the cave.

Olivia: You’re so impractical. That’s what you would bring is cheese? Of all the things, like a family album, your favorite music. I guess you wouldn’t have a way to charge your favorite music; it would run out. But still, I mean…cheese?

Michelle: I think that’s awesome. No? I’d love a thing of cheese, just a variety. Like a fancy cheese plate with charcuterie.

Olivia: It’s not like a machete to help you, or flint, or anything like that. You’re going to show up with your charcuterie plate.

Michelle: It is. It’s a smorgasbord of cheese.

Olivia: Oh my gosh. At least you have a plate afterward that you could utilize in some kind of way.

Michelle: There you go.

Olivia: Maybe if you had a cheese knife with it, you could use it to dig for grubs when you had nothing else to eat because all your cheese spoiled.

Michelle: Dig for grubs?

Olivia: Yeah.

Michelle: What are grubs?

Olivia: They’re little worms that you can have to eat because you don’t have food.

Michelle: Oh my gosh. That’s disgusting. Now we’re getting into the germs. I’d rather die than eat grubs.

Olivia: Dig for strawberries.

This was fun. I don’t know if anybody else had fun, but I had fun.

Michelle: If you couldn’t tell, we didn’t rehearse this.

Olivia: But I was given a strict script that went off the rails.

Michelle: Thank you for doing this.

Olivia: Thank you for inviting me.


 

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