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  There's not much I love more than reading a good book, and 2017 proved to be a pretty good year on that front. All told, I read 55 books, and a lot of them were really good. (Some weren't. I make notes on my phone about what I read, and some of the comments say things like, "Pretty dumb" and "Author tried too hard to be funny." I might be brutally honest...


  Goodness, I wanted to be like her. I somehow started following her through Instagram, that wonderful and terrible social media app that lets us peer into the lives of people we don't even know. She is a lifestyle and fitness guru, one of those people who is gorgeous and seems to turn everything she touches to gold. She has a pretty large following on social media, and it's easy to see why. Her tiny body is perfectly toned, and her posts about the workouts she does show why that's the case. She exercises all the time, even going to the gym after her kids are in bed. In her world, it seems, there's no such thing as being too tired to work out. She only eats healthy foods, or that's all she shows, and her meal-prepped lunches look like a personal chef prepared them. Her hair is long and blonde, perfectly wavy and always done just so. She has a radiant white smile, her perfectly straight teeth glowing in every photo she posts. And I wanted to be like her. That's such a 7th grade thing of me to say, I know. But in her pictures she looks like everything I'm not, and I found myself...


  My life looks nothing like the one I planned. My life doesn't look like most of my friends' lives. I am different from most of the other moms in my circle. And different is hard. In fact, I've come to realize this about myself and my pattern of thinking: I often don't just think of myself as different. I think of myself as abnormal. I think of my reality as a Plan B. I was married once before, and that marriage ended in divorce. So for a while, I was a divorced, single mom of two. Then I met the man who changed my world, and I remarried. So now I am a formerly divorced, single mom who is remarried. My children live with me, but they still see their dad often and spend a good bit of time with him. I am so grateful this is true. But my situation is a rarity in my circle. Even though the divorce rate in our country is at 50%, it is not directly around me. So I am different. Don't misunderstand, though. I am ridiculously happy in my life now. My husband is the best man I know, and he showers us with affection. He goes out of his...


  When I magically and mysteriously become inexplicably rich, the first thing I will do is hire someone to clean my bathrooms. The two children I gave birth to have been granted that great privilege now, and their skills are still somewhat, shall I say, lacking. Their top priority is to finish, not necessarily finish well. And bathrooms need to be cleaned well. That brings me to the task I just completed today - the deep cleaning of a bathroom my dear offspring only surface cleaned. Sigh. It made me feel like a pig. I'm one of those people who hates visual clutter and who actually enjoys organizing. But apparently when it comes to deep cleaning, I turn a blinder eye than I realize. I got on my hands and knees, a la Cinderella, wiping down cabinet fronts and scrubbing baseboards. Can we talk about what disgusting dust collectors they are? And the unbelievable amount of hair I apparently lose each day? Bleh. It's easy to ignore it when it's not right in your face. But when you're crawling around at ground level, it's right there in your face. And it's gross. So like any woman worth her salt, I began the negative self-talk. I fussed at myself for...