Awesomeness in the World Libby

Family Beach Vacation

We just got back from a family vacation at the beach…it was so nice and relaxing:

  1. No cooking: So we stayed in a hotel which meant that we had to eat all our meals out – so nice not to have to shop and cook…or clean up!
  2. No rules:  Being on a break from our regular routine means we don’t have to adhere to our standard rules and regulations – late bedtimes, more sweets, wearing whatever we want, more sweets…
  3. Togetherness: During the school year, I often feel like relaxing means being alone (or at least away from my family), but this vacation we were all about togetherness and it was nice to truly enjoy each other’s company.
  4. Fun: Rather than parsing out our fun having, we just let it all rip and had extra fun stuff every day: beach, roller coasters, arcades, unhealthy food, boardwalk games, movies – why wait until Friday?!
  5. Friendly: We were all so relaxed, we were so much more friendly to each other – less parental nagging, less spousal snapping and many more fart jokes.

What is it about being away that makes all these things possible? Why can’t we be as easy and breezy with each other when we’re at home? I’m pretty sure we can be, but I can’t say I’ve mastered the art of getting anywhere close to replicating the feelings of lightness that I have when I’m “away from it all.” I think that’s something to strive for throughout the year, keeping the spirit of vacation in my heart all year ‘round. I’ll probably fail, but I can get closer; if we all make an effort and collectively make headway, I think out time together will be special no matter where and when we are…that’s some memory-making!

– Libby Bingham

Inside My Head Karen


Loss:  the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value. 

-New Oxford American Dictionary

The loss of a life. The loss of love. The loss of a job. The loss of health. The loss of money. The loss of friendship. The loss of a game.

Why is loss so painful?

It creates a grief in our hearts that can feel unbearable, overwhelming, deflating, disheartening, discouraging, or anxious.

We all deal with loss differently.

  • Some build walls as a shield of protection.
  • Some avoid the topic because it’s easier to not talk about it.
  • Some get angry to avoid breaking down in tears.
  • Some are overly sensitive because touching the wound is excruciating.
  • Some use dark humor to cover up the deep pain.
  • Some go quiet to silence the multitude of thoughts racing through their mind.
  • Some escape through substance to drown the grief.
  • Some flight because it’s easier to carry on than to deal with it.
  • Some meditate for relief from their anxiety.
  • Some choose retribution to avoid the feeling of rejection.

There is no perfect way to grieve loss. It’s impossible to perform flawlessly when we grieve.

Even in sports, I watch a team lose the championship and some are crying, some are throwing their towel down in frustration, some are sitting on the bench head in hands looking down at the ground, some head straight to the locker room and some are trying to remain composed and professional for the sake of the spectators.

It doesn’t matter how we deal with loss, the reality is we all identify with loss.

Here’s the kicker: and as much as you want to get over it, you don’t bounce back. Yes, time will heal, but not in a bouncy way!

Healing the experience of loss is more like filling a bucket of water with a syringe. Each drop is one step closer to restoring a full bucket inside you. We forget we need to replenish our souls! The expression “a cup of cold water to the soul” is about filling the bucket back up. And filling the bucket takes time.  It’s a process.  Replenishment takes time, and some buckets may take a little longer than others.

All that is required of us is this: simply say yes to the process. A willingness to allow ourselves to be replenished.  Time is patient.

– Karen Thrall

* also published on

Inside My Head

Looking for an Adult

I was at my volunteer shift on a crisis hotline last night and a new listener checked in with me on a call he’d received earlier. He wanted to see if he’d handled it the right way and made the comment, “I just wanted to check in with an adult.” He said it with a sense of humor since we’re very clearly both adults in the sense that we’re able to legally drive a car, vote and have an alcoholic drink. We also both have paid jobs and people who trust us with responsibility in said jobs, as well as in our volunteer hotline jobs. But his choice of words stood out to me – no matter how old we are, we don’t ever stop looking for an adult.

Several years ago, I was in a three car accident. A teen driver rear-ended me at a stoplight with so much force that I was pushed into the car in front of me. As we all got out of the cars, the teen driver was already crying and his friend was visibly shaken. The couple in front of me weren’t that much younger than I was, though they were clearly wondering what the hell had just happened. And in that second, I knew I was the adult in the situation. I was the oldest, least shaken and knew what had happened, so the role fell to me. I made sure no one was seriously injured (thankfully, that the was case) and I told the teen to call a parent while I called the police. And the whole time this was happening, I remember wondering how in the world I was the adult in this situation. When did that happen?
More often that we admit, there are times in our lives when we think surely there must be someone else who should be in charge. How did we end up as adult in the room? Lots of factors can contribute to how adult we feel at any given time – our age, experience, confidence, abilities, health, financial status, support network, and on and on. And while we’d like to think we’ve got it under control most of the time, there are also times we just don’t want to be the adult in the room. We don’t feel like the situation is best handled if we’re in charge and we desperately hope someone else will do it. Or at the very least, someone will tell us it will be okay if we do find ourselves the adult in the room.
So the moral of the story…cut yourself some slack next time you find yourself looking for the adult in the room and you’re well above toddler age. The rest of us are doing the same thing.
Awesomeness in the World Libby

Good Enough

Last week, I was listening to my favorite podcast, Dear Sugar, and they brought up the phrase “good enough” in terms of parenting. It’s a topic that they talk about often, how we (mostly as Americans) are obsessed with being “perfect” parents and how trying to attain perfection is, at least, impossible and, at most, destructive (this is my takeaway – they’re much more nuanced and articulate). It is beneficial for all involved – especially for the child! – for us to embrace the idea of simply being good enough. I thought I might try to apply the concept to our professional selves, as well.

My friend is super stressed about her job – she has a new boss who is micromanaging projects that my friend has been managing for over ten years – it is wreaking havoc with her schedule, her self-esteem and professional confidence. We’ve talked a few times about how it may be time to think about doing something else and moving on. Each time, however, she says she has SO much to do and she doesn’t want to do less than her best, and as a result, she has no time to save herself.

My question is why? Why do we feel compelled to be terrific/great/perfect at everything? Why is being a B student such a terrible thing? Another friend has edified me about the 80/20 rule – if we can get to 80%, call it done and stop obsessing about the remaining 20%. I’m not saying we should phone it in, but if I decide to put in 80% of the effort at work, I’ll have another 20% to put towards my son, my husband, self-care, friends, my aging parents, etc. And that 80% isn’t some ordinary 80%, it’s still kickass and worthwhile, it just doesn’t suck the life right out of me leaving nothing left for other things I care about.

I think it would be nice if we changed the dialogue a little bit, or at least the t-shirts:

  • World’s Most Okay Mom
  • I’m #2

Look, this might not be my best blog post, but I think it is good enough.

P.S. A belated happy birthday shout-out to my childhood friend, Susie…hope your day is beautiful, friend!

– Libby Bingham

Inside My Head

Hey, Jealousy!

Hey Jealousy isn’t just a catchy little Gin Blossom tune from 1989 (the actual year, not the recent Taylor Swift album paying homage to the same year – oof, I feel old. But I digress…). It’s the recognition of a powerful emotion. “Hey, Jealously! Where the hell did you come from?”

Jealousy is a sneaky little feeling that seems most often to come out of nowhere and the poor guy gets a bad reputation. Last week, I was talking with a friend who was having a hard time admitting she was jealous of a colleague. In the telling of a story about this colleague, my friend hesitated and said, “I know it’s bad and I shouldn’t say it, but maybe it’s jealousy?”

But here’s the thing. Jealousy itself isn’t bad. None of the emotions we feel are – we can’t help it. It’s how we feel. It’s what we do about jealously and his fellow emotion friends that can get us into trouble. We’re taught early one to assign judgements to our emotions – it’s good to feel happy, excited or joyful. It’s bad to feel sad, anxious or jealous. And that’s really what gets us into trouble. Our emotions are powerful guides that can help us and we should really cut them some slack when they show up. We need to be less quick to assign a judgement to them and listen to what they’re trying to tell us.

Take our good friend jealousy. He shows up when you see something you want. A colleague gets a promotion. A friend gets married. A cousin takes a trip abroad. If we see these things and want them for ourselves, jealousy can be an exceptionally powerful motivator. What do I need to do to get the promotion? Did I know getting married was that important to me? Should I prioritize a travel fund more than a new car? If we allow jealously to fester and he moves in, gets comfortable and starts making us say mean things to our colleague, wish our friend ill or be outwardly gleeful when our cousin gets food poisoning on her trip, jealousy is bad news. That’s where we get into trouble.

On the flip side, harnessing jealousy and understanding that it’s a reflection of our own values and shifting priorities can be incredibly powerful. In talking about this with another friend, she shared she gets jealous when she’s out and about and sees parents and children having a good time together. She doesn’t get jealous when she sees nice cars or the newest and biggest houses. Having a child is important to her and she doesn’t have one yet – having a nice car and beautiful house are not important to her. She’s listened to jealously and let it help her focus on what’s she’s prioritizing now.

So the next time you notice jealousy popping by to say hello, pay attention to what he’s trying to tell you before you kick him out. He may have a thing or two to share with you.

Inside My Head Libby


I just found out that my co-worker’s grandmother just died. She was – understandably – wrecked and had to leave work. Today, we are all sharing thoughts with her to show support and it got me thinking about my own grandmothers and what I learned from them:

  1. Always have a good time. My maternal grandmother was a party girl – my earliest memories of her revolve around entertaining: hams, turkeys, bloody marys, smoking and swing music. While my mother has a different view of things, to me it was always an environment of joy, celebration and friendship. The warmth she exuded while entertaining was the same whether the house was full of people or just the two of us. Either way, she taught me that it’s important to have fun with the people you love.
  2. If all else fails, make fudge. My paternal grandmother was not the warm and fuzzy type. She was serious, cranky and distant…we had very little in common. But we still managed to connect on a very basic level: she made the best fudge ever. She may not have been able to hug and snuggle me, but that fudge let me know how much she loved me. (That and her mac ‘n cheese…yum…)
  3. A place of refuge. When I was in college, times were tough for my family; we were going through a lot. I didn’t know or understand the extent of things, but I did know that my parents had a series of difficult decisions and there was a lot of stress. My grandmother stepped in with the option for me to live with her. She wasn’t one for heart-to-hearts, but she offered me a place to decompress and process in peace.
  4. Music is important. With both grandmothers, music played a role in our relationships. At both houses, there was always music in the background (my paternal grandfather was a drummer in a Dixieland band). When we would arrive at my grandmother’s house, she would direct us upstairs to “put on your suits” and go get into the pool – she had an old “boom box” that she’d put in the window from the kitchen and blast swing music while we swam. They were both one-woman audiences for all our shows and musicals. They taught me songs that I sing to my own children.

I am under no delusion that my grandmothers were perfect, or that they were even good mothers. But they were important people in my life, people who offered support, guidance, a way out and love…to me, they are wonderful foundational pieces of my childhood and my adulthood. I thank them for all they were capable of giving and for giving it – I think that might be the most important lesson: giving something is better than giving nothing…the smallest things can end up being bigger than you’d ever think possible!

– Libby Bingham

Ashley Inside My Head

Embracing the Ugly Cry

January was one of the weirdest months I’ve experienced as an adult, and it was, without a doubt, a terrible way to kick off 2016. I should’ve known – my horoscope for the month was pretty clear: “Communication will be impossible this month,” and “people will misunderstand not just your words, but your actions as well…” I thought, psh, I’m a great communicator. Bring it on.

The misfires and layers of miscommunication were awful. Five days after my husband and I lost our beloved dog, my parents and younger sister (who’s 18, a senior in high school, and obviously still living at home) decided to welcome a brand new puppy to the family – same breed as the adored puppy we had just lost. Having never had an indoor pet (I’m not counting the random fish or multitude of hamsters I had as an only child until the age of 8), this whole thing was highly unusual for my family. To make matters worse, I had waved the red flag and said, “please don’t do this, it’s going to come with a whole crazy level of hurt for me.” They did it anyway. The only saving grace? They live 600 miles away.

At work, our team is adjusting to new ways of working, new ways of thinking, and new teammates. Tensions are high, but in a good way. It’s the way you know something great is on the horizon. But it doesn’t mean it’s been easy, and when the conflict came to a head, we got everything out in the open and dealt with it.

What I learned from all the grief, misunderstanding, and growing pains January brought was this: you’ve gotta embrace the ugly cry. I’m talking the red-in-the-face, crinkled nose, snot bubbles, congestion-inducing ugly cry. There is definitely a time and a place for the ugly cry, but when appropriate, it feels pretty damn good. Most of my “time and place” for the ugly cry in January was in late in the evening, on the phone with my grandmother, likely sitting in the staircase at my apartment complex where no one dare goes. (I’m a closet crier, clearly.)

I felt so cleansed moving into February. I’m sure it’s close to the feeling most people had moving into the new year. And now that Mercury is moving out of retrograde, this Capricorn is waving goodbye to the ugly cry for awhile.

– Ashley Respecki

Awesomeness in the World

Fourth Place

I was meeting a friend for lunch last week and my walk there took me through a park. It was a warm enough day in January that there were a lot of people out and about (or maybe it wasn’t that warm and people were just thrilled to be out of their homes after our big snow storm. Either way…). There was a group of 7 people who caught my attention – presumably two mothers and their five kids. (Okay, after considering this last sentence, maybe it wasn’t that warm out. If I had multiple children at home during a snow storm, I’d be out whenever I could, regardless of the temperature!) One child was being carried and the other four girls were running around while their caretakers kept close watch.

In their playing, the four girls were racing to an imaginary finish. The first one crossed and yelled out, “I’m first!” She was followed by the second and third girls who also eagerly claimed their places with shouts of glee. Finally, the fourth – and seemingly youngest – caught up and triumphantly shouted “I’m fourth!” with as much pride as the first three. In that instant, she made my heart happy with the way she viewed the world. She wasn’t sad about being the smallest or coming in last. Instead, she was delighted with her finish – she placed FOURTH, after all! And what struck me as equally impressive was that her fellow racers didn’t tell her she lost or correct her fourth place finish to a last place finish – they all continued on to whatever adventure was next, happy to have completed the race.

This whole exchange happened in the span of less than a minute, but stuck with me for the rest of the day (and into this week, clearly). I was delighted by the joyous statement of fact, free from any judgement along with it. It made me wonder when we lose that – when do we stop seeing fourth place and start seeing last place? Others may be quick to point out our shortcomings, but I so much prefer this girl’s way of seeing the world and her place in it. I think we could all stand to be a little kinder to ourselves. Focus a bit more on the facts and a bit less on the judgement. See a few more fourth place finishes and a few less last place finishes. This was a wonderful reminder to me and I hope sticks with me until I get the next reminder.

Here’s to all our fourth place finishes!

Inside My Head Libby

Snow Bound

Last week, the Washington, DC area got rocked by a blizzard. There was a lot of hype and hullabaloo preceding the “snow event,” but it was warranted – the area got hit with anywhere from 20 – 36 inches of snow. CRAZY. And it was crazy – everything was shut down: Metro, the federal government, fast food establishments. Here are some observations:

  1. Nature is something. Watching the entire blizzard process was incredible – the snow, the wind, a fox that was running around in the front yard trying to figure out where to go…amazing. To see how the snow accumulated, especially waking up in the morning and the landscape and totally changed, was remarkable. Being blinded by the sun sparkling on the snow and seeing the trees decorated as if in a Macy’s Christmas window makes me happy. Nature!
  2. “A sweater is something you have to wear when your mother feels cold.” I think this is a Nora Ephron quote, or maybe Oscar Wilde (thanks a lot, internet…) and it has been hammered home these past several days while cabin-fevered up with my seven-year-old son. “Put some socks on!” “Mom, my feet are hot!” I think it’s too cold to go outside, and he is outside tunneling through snow for hours. To me, snow means we can’t go anywhere, to him it means he doesn’t have to go anywhere [school]! As usual, it is all about perspective. Which also reminds me that I am ridiculously thankful I am “imprisoned” in a warm house with plenty of food, cable and internet.
  3. The Martian is inspirational. If you haven’t seen it yet, it really is impressive – although ridiculously suspenseful (I had to make my parents tell me the ending halfway through because I couldn’t take it). If you think “surviving” the blizzard is tough, try being abandoned on Mars. It made me realize how impressive our meteorologists are, that they used science to predict all of what would happen and prepared us well, probably saving many lives. Best takeaway from the movie is to find ways to “science the shit out of” life’s challenges. Not sure that will get me more half-n-half for this morning’s coffee, but it is definitely a way to look at other obstacles in my life moving forward. (My science-brained husband may be more useful than I thought!)
  4. Jack Daniels knows how to make friends. When it was finally over, my dad and I were out shoveling the driveway making incremental headway. A neighbor down the street used his snowblower to clear the sidewalk all the way to our house. Dad went inside and got the bottle of Jack to help warm the guy up and say thank you – next thing I know, there are four other neighbors hanging out, drinking and shooting the breeze. I didn’t even know there were that many people in the neighborhood!
  5. Family. Because we were worried about losing power, I left my husband holding down the home front and went to my parents’ house where they rarely lose power (thank you, underground power lines!). My worries were not realized (phew) but I knew my husband would be okay, while if we had stayed, I would have worried about my parents and about my son. And everyone else in the family was worried about all of us here – phone calls were coming in from Ukraine, Buffalo, Boston and Scotland to check on us. It was nice to know so many people care about us, but being apart from loved ones is the biggest challenge of the whole endeavor. Stay warm, safe and snuggled if you can!

– Libby Bingham

Awesomeness in the World Karen

We Are Not Immune to Hope

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are not immune to hope.

Regardless of your circumstances, you will find a whisper of hope. We must find this hope in every aspect of our lives.

Never dismiss hope.

If there’s any topic I want to petition, it would be in contending for the richness of living a hope-filled life. Hope is what takes us out of muck and chaos. Hope is what drives us to rise above our challenges.

Disappointment can dry up our optimism. What does disappointment sound like? Here are a few examples:

  1.  “It’s not fair.”
  2. “Why am I the only one who…”
  3. “I knew it was too good to be true.”
  4. “I can’t believe…”
  5. “I doubt it’ll happen.”
  6. “I’m worried…”
  7. “I expect.”
  8. “I regret.”
  9. “I don’t trust…”
  10. “I am discouraged.”

How many of these phrases have you thought or said over the course of your life? Take inventory.

If your hope has waned, reclaim it today. Why? Because hope is a cup of cold water quenching your thirst. Ensure hope is in the rhythm of your daily life. It is a gift for you.

Here are few examples of what hope offers.

  1. Gratitude: Find what you’re grateful for.
  2. Encouragement: Ask someone for encouraging words.
  3. Community: Lean on others and they will prop you up.
  4. Love: Love conquers all doubt. Receive love from loving people.
  5. Acceptance: Let go of needing to know the outcome. Ride the wave.
  6. Expectancy: Open yourself up to what might be possible.
  7. Clarity: Find what you truly value and what you deeply desire.
  8. Vision: Illuminate your eyes to see something bigger than yourself.
  9. Trust: Know that something good is waiting for you.
  10. Wonder: Believe like a child. Learn like a child. Trust like a child.

This all belongs to you. Every day.

And one more thing, when you surround yourself with hope-filled people, they are contagious.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on