I Love My Ordinary Life

Yes, I love my ordinary life.

I’m fortunate, I realize, to have the opportunity to travel and see extraordinary places and meet people from all over the world. I love the thrill of figuring out how to navigate a new city, find a restaurant serving the best breakfast in town and sipping coffee on a quiet hotel patio. Pushing my introverted self to meet new people stretches my boundaries and opens me to encounter people outside my Northern California teacher-writer-mom comfort zone. I can survive with just a carry on suitcase and my patchwork bag to tote my computer, journal and some (four this trip!) novels I eagerly anticipate snuggling up with under the white duvet covers in an air conditioned hotel room.

But today, the fifth day without a hug from my kid or a kiss from my husband, I woke up reminded of how much I love my ordinary life.

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Sunset at Santa Monica Beach – not my ordinary life.

The L.A. cityscape outside my window remains unchanged, only the swirl of red tail lights on the freeway below indicating the time and day. It’s still smoggy, it’s still lit with a combination of neon and traffic and the continual hovering hum of helicopters cuts through the glass every hour or so. It’s beautiful in this room, high up and away from it all, but despite the comfort and quiet, I’m missing my ordinary life.

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Hotel rooms – not my ordinary life, either.

Do you get this way when you travel? Do you have those moments when suddenly all the newness and discomfort you feel from being out of your ‘place’ washes over you with a surge of homesickness, and you wonder how you can make it to the airport and on the plane and through baggage claim and to the economy lot and down the freeway until you’re home?

I’m glad I’m not the only one *wink and a smile*.

Oh, how I love my ordinary life.

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Home to my ordinary life.

Homecoming, a smile and a hug from my sixteen-year-old, a few dirty dishes on the counter (what, Mom – I cleaned up every day!) and scrounging in the fridge for an easy dinner. Heading out into my garden, sultry summer night breezes kissing my skin. Basil pots look ok, veggie garden a little droopy but nothing that can’t be revived. I mix some yeast and flour, honey and oatmeal, a touch of butter and salt and wait for the scent of fresh bread for dinner. So far, re-entry going well.

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Lemon cucumber, tomatoes, and basil in my ordinary veggie garden.

I can hardly wait to snuggle under my patchwork quilt, ceiling fan clicking as it lulls me to sleep. Crickets outside my open window instead of traffic noise. I can see the light from my son’s window, and hear the thud of his weights as he works out downstairs. Tomorrow I’ll fall into rhythm with laundry and grocery shopping, make something yummy for my boys to eat. Chocolate chip cookies, maybe, or pasta creamy with cheese and fresh basil.

Oh yes, I love my extraordinary, ordinary life, I smile as I sink into my pillow.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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BlogHer 16 – A Photo Story From Los Angeles

Last week I pushed myself out of my introverted comfort zone and went to BlogHer 16 in Los Angeles.

It’s not easy for me to go to a huge conference, share a room with women I don’t know, and spend four days surrounded by thousands of people with very little alone time; you can imagine how awesome BlogHer must be if I manage to make it there!

Last year was my first BlogHer- and I went big- flying all the way from California to New York City  I wrote about my BlogHer 15 experience last year, and I have to say that not being a “newbie” for this year’s conference made it much, much less overwhelming and far more enjoyable overall.

A bit of background about BlogHer- it was founded in 2008 as a publishing company created by women for women to write and share content- the kind of company the founders always wanted to work with but couldn’t find. BlogHer has helped thousands of women writers and entrepreneurs  become empowered and successful, and with last year’s alignment with SheKnows Media, is certain to help thousands more women reach their dreams and live their passions.

So much happens at BlogHer- I thought I’d offer a BlogHer16- A Photo Story of Los Angeles to help you have a sneak peek, and hopefully motivate you to join me next year!

BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
I’m not a big city girl – so I always head out into nature. Santa Monica beach is full of all sorts of interesting creatures, and great views, too!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
I wanted my BlogHer 16 roommate from North Carolina to have the ultimate L.A. beach experience – doesn’t get more beautiful than palm trees in the sunset.
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
After walking nearly 8 miles along the beach, we headed for Third Street Promenade – a gorgeous outdoor shopping mall in Santa Monica. Thank goodness for our Lyft ride home – we were exhausted!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
BlogHer and SheKnows Media always choose beautiful locations for the BlogHer annual conference. The downtown JW Marriott was top notch, and our view from our room on the top floor was awesome – and I could constantly check the freeway traffic!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Los Angeles always has cool stuff to look at – our hotel was right around the corner from the Grammy Museum. Grammy Awards 2016!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
BlogHer does a fantastic job making us feel welcome, and showing us how to get around the hotel…so many experts among us! (I’m called a ‘middle school’ expert!)
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
A big part of the BlogHer 16 conferences is the Expo – a chance for bloggers to connect with brands and check out all the trending products heading out into the marketplace. Thursday night is dubbed “Evening at the Expo”, so if you’re there early, you can get the first glance at the products, hosts, and have some drinks and appetizers . I’m a huge HGTV nerd, so meeting Sabrina Soto (Velcro ambassador) was great fun – and she helped me figure out how to hang Lily’s apartment curtains with their new HANGables product – fingers crossed it works! And yes, she’s as sweet in person as she is on TV…
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
The days and nights of the conference are jam packed – I love the Staples event each year (I’m a teacher and secret-stationery-supply-hoarder, you know!), and this year’s hosts Lori Loughlin (remember Aunt Becky from Full House?) and Gabby Reece (Olympic volleyball star) offered their ‘celebrity mom’ perspective on back to school. I left with a fab new backpack and gift card for school supplies! Win-win!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Loved Gabby’s super down-to-earth thoughts on mothering.
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
And I can’t forget the speakers…I stay mostly on the “Publishing and Writing” strand, and this talk on content by Lain Ehmann, Rachel Holis (The Chic Site), Susan Kaplow and Jadah Sellner (Super Green Smoothies) really made me think about building a community with love and consistently offering honest, helpful information. It was powerful.
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
BlogHer 16 did have its share of celebrity keynotes – Buffy the Vampire Slayer, anyone? I LOVED Sarah Michelle Gellar’s message about living life, tackling challenges, and remembering that failure is our first attempt at learning. She’s launching a new product line called Foodstir- look for it in Whole Foods soon. And maybe a Buffy reboot in the works???
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
I popped into a Business strand – talking about being an expert, and the ‘imposter syndrome’ with Julie Ross Godar and Tiffany Pham. I just love some of their points about being ‘smart’ to see your faults, and being OK with talking about what scares us. I had to LOL when I read the ‘fake it til you make it’ part – I tell my students that all the time!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Lunchtime keynote at BlogHer 16 –  Kim K. Make your own judgment – I’m not going to hate on my blog. She has beautiful hair.
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Another spotlight moment – meeting Jessica Leahy, author of “The Gift of Failure” and writer for the New York Times. Teachers really are kindred spirits. When she saw me fan-girl with her book (and yes, she jumped down from the podium to sign it), she made my day. Love her brain. And the rest of the panel – Kathy Cano-Murillo (CraftyChica.com), Ayinde Howell (ieatgrass.com) and Penny Sansevieri were pretty cool, too!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
I haven’t gotten my official AARP card – yet – but I was nevertheless invited to their #DisruptAging talk. I’m so glad I went – besides the delish bubbly and the free book, I was surrounded by the wisdom that comes with having lived for 50+ decades, and the beauty that comes with it.
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Can you believe they’re all over 50? Successful, smart, strong women. Surround yourself with who you want to be.
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
I volunteered as a mic wrangler this year, offering me the chance to meet speakers and run around the room like I’ve got my own talk show! This session was about writing a memoir – these four women have each published their stories ranging from college advice (Christine Glascoe Crowder) , living in a harem (Jillian Lauren), grieving the loss of parents (Claire Bidwell Smith) and living in India (Jenny Feldon). I’ve got their books on my to-read list for sure!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Lunchtime speaker at BlogHer 16 Lucy McBath – mom of Jordan Davis and Faith and Outreach Leader for Everytown for Gun Safety – brought tears to my eyes.
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Saturday’s lunch ended with keynote Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Big Bang Theory) sharing her thoughts on being a ‘hippie-crunchy-chewy-mom’ and how to live an authentic life in and out of the spotlight of celebrity. The had the crowd mesmerized! Have you checked out her website, GrokNation.com? So cool!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Another fun BlogHer event was watching the screening of Tig Nataro’s new pilot TV show, “One Mississippi” – and she entertained us with a Q and A right after.
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Feet up, last speaker of BlogHer 16. Comfy shoes and clothing is a must!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
One thing BlogHer knows how to do is have fun – the closing party at The Conga Room (owned by Jimmy Smits, Jennifer Lopez, will.i.am) was hoppin’ thanks to child-prodigy DJ Fulano. He’s only 13!
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Is this my tired face, or my “I love Whiskey Sours” face?
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Saturday night, packing up…one of my favorite free swag items from the conference was this tee from the TNT #GoodBehavior TV show (and yes, we had a choice!).
BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Just some free swag…great booths at the Expo this year! I’m telling you…that bai Cocofusion is like a pina colada in a bottle!

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BlogHer 16 - A Photo Story From Los Angeles
Sunday morning slog through LAX with 51 pounds of swag hiding in my bag – be sure to always bring a BIG, empty duffel to BlogHer!

BlogHer is definitely the place for writers and bloggers and women who want to surround themselves with others who want to work hard to reach their dreams. Have you been to a BlogHer conference? Come with me next year!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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reading with mamawolfe: Here I Go Again by Jen Lancaster

Sometimes we all need a break from the rough and tumble reality we call life.  Sometimes we just need to stop, slide into position, and crack the spine of a good book.  Sometimes, escaping reality into someone else’s life just makes ours seem…much more bearable.

When Jen Lancaster’s new novel Here I Go Again arrived, just one look at the lime green cover made me smile.  I could tell this book was going to be fun…and I was right! Just like an umbrella-adorned cocktail sipped poolside, Jen’s novel went down easily-just what I needed before grading stacks of essays, evaluating book projects, and turning in semester grades.  I needed something easy to digest, pretty to look at, and, sigh, not too heady.

Here I Go Again shares the story of Lissy Ryder, beginning at her 20 year high school reunion. As she faces the reality she has created for herself, she begins to obsess with her shallow, divorced, out of shape and rock bottom self, and in a Back to the Future like time-travel event, manages to return to her teenage years to ‘reset’ her life. I know, it sounds a bit hokey, but it was entertaining-who hasn’t wanted to do that?

Back to the Future
Back to the Future (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At first, I thought the story had taken a dive and nearly stopped reading.  But Jen Lancaster’s clever writing, witty language and comforting references to all things early 90s kept me hooked.  I began to care about what happened to this pathetic creature!  I certainly I knew girls like her in high school-the quintessential “mean girl”, the popular, pretty, never-without-a-date blonde cheerleader type.  The kind of girl that, like Lissy, comes back to high school reunions full of faded glory.  But somehow, I slid into the story like looking into an old yearbook, each page reminding me of how happy I was to graduate and leave the world of cliques, dating and drama behind.

Here I Go Again tackles the dark side of high school, where each of us struggles to find ourselves in the face of what can seem to be overwhelming daily critiques of our every move.   As Lissy says to kids today, “ Save your budding individuality for college…stay with the herd!  The herd’s way safer than being out there all by your lonesome with your pink hair and nose ring! Eccentricity is great…but wait until you graduate.”  Having been one of those outside the herd, I think she makes a point, but also misses one: being eccentric develops character, something she ultimately learns the hard way.  Lancaster’s deft writing allows adult readers to wince in remembrance as well as sit with confidence that not only can we survive the trials in life, but come out exactly where we’re supposed to be.

Lissy’s desire to take a deep look at herself, the choices she made, and how each of our actions has a domino effect on those in our lives, sends a sweet message: we are all connected, and what we do matters.  And as the liner notes say, “Karma is the only bitch bigger than she is.”

Jen Lancaster’s novel, Here I Go Again, is definitely worth reading.  It’s a good reminder that what goes around, comes around, and we only go around once.  Make it worthwhile.

Would you like to read more about Here I Go Again? Please join our online discussion at BlogHer Book Club!

I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Fun Holiday Times

 

What has happened to the month of December? Is it really almost Christmas?

Panic hits. I haven’t finished shopping. In fact, I’ve barely started.

There’s something wrong when Christmas comes down to shopping. Buying something just for the sake of checking off a wish list isn’t my idea of fun holiday times. I don’t even really like the idea of making a ‘Christmas list’ unless you’re under the age of 18; adults shouldn’t be asking for things. Christmas should be for the children, right?

I love trying to find the ‘perfect’ gift for a family member. If someone has to give me a list of what to buy, I might as well just give them cash and let them pick it out for themselves. Gift lists take all the mystery out of gift-giving.

Panic builds. I’ve only got a few days left to find gifts…I suppose there are always gift cards. Cookies. A nice bottle of wine, or maybe a plant. Eew, but these feel so…impersonal.

I really dislike Christmas shopping when I feel panicked and pressured. I much prefer sitting by the fire, sipping some Christmas tea and listening to Bing croon some Christmas classics. Shopping malls are DEFINITELY not my hangout. I cannot stand crowds, traffic jams in parking lots, people struggling with oversized shopping bags, and the kids crying in the strollers who just want to go home and play.

Panic intensifies. The deadline is looming. I need gifts, and I’ve got teenage girls to shop for!

I’ve got an idea…and it won’t involve any driving, fussing with salespeople or fighting crowds! I can simply pull out my laptop, sip my tea and take advantage of a great holiday offer that will surely make my long-haired teenage girls happy on Christmas day!

Fekkai is offering 10% off your total order and a complimentary exclusive holiday headband with $50 purchase (while supplies last) Promo Code: HEADBAND.
Click here to take advantage of this special offer:


And just think: with one click, you can save money, find unique gifts for people on your list, and not have to leave the coziness of your living room!

Now THAT’S what I call some fun holiday times!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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reading with mamawolfe: Diary of a Submissive

“This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed are my own.”


It’s a good thing I got a free copy of this book to review; if I paid money for it, I would have been really disappointed.  One of the benefits of reviewing books for BlogHer Book Club is finding new authors and titles I wouldn’t otherwise know, so I approached Diary of a Submissive with an open mind.  Knowing it was marketed as a sort of 50 Shades of Grey didn’t excite me – I’ve never read that series, and never much cared for mass-market books at all.  Turns out I was right – this book just didn’t do it for me.



Diary of a Submissive starts with protagonist Sophie Morgan, a self-proclaimed “independent woman in her thirties with a successful journalism career.”  The book’s abrupt shift into telling the story of her ‘sexual awakening’ absolutely defies my definition of independent – Sophie is into D/s and spends the rest of her memoir explicitly trying to convince the reader that she is a ‘modern’ woman, depsite the fact that she allows men and women to strip her of any sense of self.


Some might claim that her submissiveness shows control over her body and her choices, but to me, it takes women back decades, centuries even, to a time when women fought for equality.  Reading Sophie’s story made me feel pity for her and her inability to stand up for herself.


Diary of a Submissive – don’t let the demure pearls on the cover fool you.  I should have trusted my gut and stayed away from a book that didn’t grab me from the start.

Want to read more opinions on Diary of a Submissive?  Join BlogHer’s book chat!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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