Tammy McConnell

Tammy McConnell

Content creator/marketer, social media manager

Life is so messy and beautiful!This photo is captioned: "Life is so messy and beautiful." Perfection is not necessary... and to me, not even desirable. New year resolutions should fit YOU and YOUR lifestyle.

My new year resolutions will be decidedly atypical for 2017. It's time to break out of that mold that I've encased myself in. My resolve will be based on MY expectations for my life this year, and not what I think others have come to expect of me. It's time to stand behind all those positive-thinking memes I like on facebook. (Sidenote: I have no shame in liking good, positive encouragement on social media.) 

This year, I'll go to the movies, by myself. I love a good drama! When I see a trailer for a good movie, I will make a plan to go see it, while it is still in the theater. Why should I have to wait for it to come out on BluRay, or for someone's schedule to clear up enough to go see it with me? I am good company! And I am an adult! I'm going to the movies this year!

My "me time" is going to be filled with home improvement projects this year. There are things that MUST get done. I call them, "put out the fires" projects. The toilet might fall through the floor soon, and we only have one bathroom. I think this one qualifies as, "hurry up and get it done!"

Then, there are the "wouldn't it be nice if" projects. I will make time for them also. Wouldn't it be nice if my whole bathroom looked like my Pinterest board? Yep, that's on deck this year. Side note for lurking gift givers: power tools... just sayin'.

I get great satisfaction from completing a hard job, especially one that involves physical labor. When complete, I've reached goals of physical, emotional, and intellectual fulfillment. Think about it. A home improvement project is a good workout. It makes you feel great about what you can accomplish all by yourself. And avoiding a big repair/construction bill makes your budget happy! No labor charges for this gal!

When faced with decisions such as saving money for a new couch vs. taking my kids out to eat, which do you think I'll choose? If you know me at all, even a little, the answer to this question is easy. Let's eat! ...and laugh, and share, and learn more about each other. When my life is over, and the kids are all grown up, no one will remember what my couch looked like. (Well, maybe my kids will; they HATE my couch!) But, I think they'll remember the wonderful, fun times we had together. Memory building will be the name of my game this year!

Over the past several years, since my divorce, and the death of my brother, my priorities have experienced a pretty big shift. I've come to realize that a connection with my extended family is a huge part of my well-being. Facebook is great. Phone calls are awesome. But, face-to-face has reached top-level importance for me. You guessed it! A 2,600+ mile, round-trip is in the planning stages as you read this. I have already turned in my leave request at work. FAMILY has become the center of my universe. I will not apologize for that, ever.

It appears that 2017 is shaping up to be a great year, even before it has started. My wish for you, is that you will be able to identify those things that are of utmost importance in your life, and reach for them like you never have before. A year's worth of reaching will not be wasted.  You'll see.

Happy New Year, friends!

 

Sunday, 22 May 2016 19:13 In Latest Articles Tags
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I’ve been on my own for 5+ years now. I didn’t start thinking about the perfect man right away when I divorced my husband of 19 years. In fact, it took me a few years to even dare to dream about it. I’ll be brutally honest; I didn’t marry for the right reasons. I wasn’t a strong person. I was a single mom. I had a past. I had a lot of things to figure out... and I should have done it on my own; but I didn’t. This guy came along and said all the right things, pretended to love my daughter (who was 5 years old), and told me he could live with my “demons”. I married him – after only knowing him for two months.

Nineteen years later, I had changed most of my bad habits, and given birth to four more children. All my life, I can only remember ALWAYS wanting to be a mom. I got my wish; and I wouldn’t trade even one moment of being a mom for anything in the world! My dreams came true! But, I am ashamed to admit, the marriage part suffered irreparable damage. Stuff happens... and boy, did it happen! The gory details are no one’s business. Let’s suffice it to say, divorce was the ONLY answer.

When my marriage finally came to an inevitable end, it felt like I had to leave the planet for a little while. It was like the time when I was in second grade - my cousin Holly rode her bicycle out into the road from her circle driveway, and got hit by a car, and died. She was only a year or so older than me. I remember my stepdad, her uncle, sitting on our kitchen floor, crying. That night, when the evening news came on, I was just incredulous! ‘How could the news still be on? Don’t they know what happened to Holly? Don’t they care?’ It was like that. My world had fallen apart, and nobody cared. Everybody just went on with his or her own life.

I’ve thought about writing this article for a long time. My decision to actually publish it comes with much trepidation! You don’t ever really know a person, right? I sometimes wonder if I even know myself. Over the past few years, I’ve pondered this exact thought, and wondered how I will EVER meet my perfect man. I’ve joked with friends and coworkers that he’ll have to be perfect, because now I know everything I don’t want in a man. I have so many experiences to draw from.

But, it’s time. Time to shake things up; maybe MAKE something happen. I will be fifty this year. I just can’t see living out the rest of my life alone. I have a lot to offer, and I’m really a pretty simple gal. I know there has to be ONE guy out there that’s perfect... for me. So... here are the private thoughts that happen in my head... constantly.

The perfect guy will love the outdoors, and want to go camping... a lot! “Please come with me,” he’ll say. “It won’t be any fun without you.” He’ll be handy, and make fixing things around the house a priority. Since the kids are grown up, and almost all ‘up and out,’ he’ll ask if they’re coming over this weekend, and he’ll hope the answer is yes. He’ll be genuinely excited about grandchildren and family gatherings. He’ll always include family, always.

Sometimes, he’ll want to hang out in the back yard; build a fire, drink a beer... with me... just me. He won’t mind just sitting and talking the night away. He’ll have to like talking... at least with me. One of the things I miss the most about being married – is having someone to talk to. I have my kids, but... there are certain things you just can’t talk about with your kids.

He’ll have friends. They will become “our friends” because they love spending time with him... and me. He’ll want to spend time with my friends too. He’ll want to be alone sometimes, or just hang with his friends... without me. That will be ok, because he’ll respect the fact that I’ve been on my own for quite awhile, and sometimes, alone time will be good for both of us.

He’ll have a good job, and be proud of the fact that he is able to provide for himself, and those that he loves. He’ll like going to work. He’ll be respected – among his coworkers, bosses, and peers. He’ll encourage me to excel at my job also.

I’ve learned what my values are over the past five years. (No, I didn’t know before.) I’ve also thought a lot about what’s important to me. I care a lot about certain things. Other things, I’ve decided, don’t matter to me. The perfect guy will respect that I have reasons for feeling the way I do. He won’t dismiss something as trivial, because he knows that I have a past – and I take very seriously the lessons I’ve learned from it.

I won’t expect him to enjoy everything that I enjoy, or even understand it. But, he’ll encourage me to keep tending my garden, renovating the house, and writing; because he will understand that those are the things that give me joy. They’re the things that make me tick. This is how I know he needs to have his own interests too. I will always be totally on board!

I will expect him to take some time to get to know me, more than two months. Not forever... I am not everyone’s cup of tea. I have grown to understand that people are SO different. It shouldn’t take long to realize, ‘you are not for me’. But, I think there is someone out there for everyone. I think there must be someone out there for me. Maybe I am the one person someone else has been looking for too.J

Saturday, 30 April 2016 09:58 In Latest Articles Tags
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Finding balance with your money is not an easy task. Single moms especially, need to cut every corner. I am now one, with three grown children still living at home. With two daughters in a private, four-year, college - that just happens to be right in our hometown, and a son who is still gleaning wisdom from family & friends before he spreads his wings and flies away; I am constantly searching for money-saving tips, so I will be able to oblige when one of them says, "Mom, can I borrow $20 til I get paid?" 

The other day, while enjoying my coffee on the back deck, admiring my handiwork in the yard, I was perusing the internet on my iPad. I ran across this article with some very handy tips that I thought I should share with you. 

Nine Tips on How to Hack Your Electric Bill

 

These are my kiddos — my daughter and her husband. They just celebrated their 1st anniversary. Since their anniversary is so close to Christmas, and money is always tight, I decided that making something for them using my creative abilities was in order. My goal this Christmas was to give my kids meaningful, heart-felt gifts that they could truly appreciate. It didn't take me long to come up with this; and I'm very pleased with the outcome.

I've done this kind of thing once before, for a co-worker's daughter's birthday. It was one of those milestones that she wanted to freeze in time. That turned out pretty great, too; and she said her daughter LOVED the gift!

So, I've decided to offer this service to you. For $20 (via PayPal), a photo (that can be emailed) and a little info about the recipient, you can present your loved one with a truly meaningful gift for their special occasion.

It doesn't matter where you live! Everything can be done electronically. I will send you the file containing the finished product. It can then be uploaded to your favorite photo processing center (i.e. Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, etc.), and voila! You've got the PERFECT gift for any occasion! You choose the size, and finish. You can have as many printed as you want. You are in control. I don't retain any rights to the finished product. 

I will keep the file for a limited amount of time, just in case. And I would like to use the resulting image from your order in my portfolio — but only with your permission, of course. You can choose whether you'd like to have my logo on the photo, or not. Someone might want to know how they can get one of these beautiful mementos. :) 

One little disclaimer: My site is all about home, family, balance. I will not use obscene or vulgar photos, or produce something that I feel is inappropriate. These magazine covers are intended to be keepsakes. I don't want to encourage any hard feelings for anyone. I'm all about promoting unity and family bonds, not family feuds.

Please provide your email address below before you select the Pay Now button, so I can send you instructions about submitting files that I will need. PayPal will walk you through the rest of the payment process. You can also choose to pay with your debit or credit card within PayPal. Your amount will be $20 per magazine cover that I create for you. Once I send you the completed file, it's yours to print as many as you like. If you have any questions, please ask in the text box provided during the payment process, or jot me a line from my contact form.

Your email address
Saturday, 13 December 2014 11:31 In Sitemap Tags
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Super Heroes are Us! 

"You are so strong." "I don't know how you do it all." "You can do anything!" "I couldn't do what you're doing."

These phrases are meant to encourage a struggling, single mom. But, to be brutally honest, they come across as an insincere, canned response to... "Oh, you know, I'm okay... "

I am not strong. I'm a fake. I'm constantly terrified that I will forever damage my kids somehow. I go into my bedroom and bawl my eyes out more times than I will ever care to tell you about. I work really, really hard; I have no clue how it comes across as effortless. I'm exhausted, spent, done. I can't do anything right. Will you please tell the phone company about my super powers? All they ever think about is money. They just don't get it!

Here are a few tricks I've stashed up my sleeve since I became a single mom four years ago - my little contribution to the hopeful future of broken families.

Embrace 'same ole, same ole' 

Develop a routine... it will save your life on high-stress days. It will help you to stay focused on the important things. Keep doing what works. Change what doesn't.

I just finished my nightly routine of setting the coffee maker and the alarm clock. These are things I do every weeknight. It's expected. It's noticeable. If I forget, someone will remind me. Mom's autopilot is broken. Someone switch the old girl back on please.

My car practically drives itself to work every day. Before I know how I got there, I'm opening my travel mug of coffee, and tucking my spare behind the monitor on my desk. I set my phone to vibrate, so the kids can message me at work (for important - or not so important - details of their lives) without disrupting my coworkers. I can focus on my job without wondering constantly about what they're doing, and "do they need me?"

I cannot stress enough, how liberating this routine thing has become. I actually feel like a "normal" person sometimes!

Pay the mortgage/rent first 

Have your mortgage payment automatically withdrawn as soon after payday as possible (or pay your rent first out of your paycheck). Once that money is pulled out of your account, it's gone. You can't spend it on something else. Your mortgage is THE MOST IMPORTANT bill you will pay. It keeps a roof over your head. It gives your kids a place to come HOME to. It's very, very important! At the end of the day, when you come home after work, you can relax, knowing you've at least accomplished one thing. You've given your kids a safe place to hunker down and regroup. The 8-10 hours you just spent away from them was fruitful. You did THIS for them.

Accept help 

If you're anything like I used to be, it will be very hard to accept help from anyone. After all, you have your superhero image to uphold. You can't have anyone knowing how desperate you are. Get over it! You are in a desperate situation. You will learn humility, or you will be miserable for the rest of your life. It doesn't just make YOU miserable, it makes your kids miserable, and your parents, and everyone who ever cared about you. They want nothing more than to be there for you. Accept their help. Be grateful. A grateful heart sleeps well at night. A well-rested mama can focus on the important things. Who needed what sewn, and what day is that parent/teacher conference?

Protect quality time 

Caution: Don't spend all your hours working. Keep time for the kids. Knowing how important that dollar is to your family, the temptation will be to grab every single one you can get your hands on. Don't fall for it! Your kids NEED you! You will reap rewards later if you protect that bonding time with them now.

Know that there is hope 

I have five kids. Two are up and out, three are still living at home currently. I really am not anxious for them to move out. I hope they stick around. They encourage me, even my most critical, tell-it-like-it-is, even-if-it-hurts child. "Do what you know, mom. You're good at it! Even if you don't make a lot of money, you'll make a little." The support of my kids... priceless!!!

Evidence: They leave me personal notes - on my desk in my home office, in my purse, on the kitchen counter. They're encouraging. They see me trying very hard to meet their needs. They see me struggle. They see me fail. They see me try, try again. They know I am doing everything in my power to make their lives comfortable. They know they are valuable, precious to someone... me. In return, they try to do the same for me. They try to make my life easier. Sometimes they feel guilty for asking me to do things for them. They know I'm busy, or tired, or frustrated. They sometimes forget that they were trying to encourage, and instead whine. They're human. I whine sometimes, too. I expect it... occasionally.

Don't put it in park 

One last thought for the "still marrieds": Don't sit idly by, expecting that you will always be taken care of. Take care of yourself too. There is a chance, no matter how strong your marriage is, that you'll have to do things on your own someday. Maybe you won't get divorced; but what if your other half dies? Or a bear carries them into the wilderness, never to be seen again?

Be smart. Be prepared. Learn things. Do things - NOW, while you can. If you don't need money, volunteer. Go to school. Be useful. Do things that you can put on a resume later.

I know. I know. You won't need it. You can always do it later. That doesn't apply to you.

Don't be fooled. Develop your skills. Do something you love. Later, you can use it to make money, pay bills, support your family. Just in case. Please, I'm begging you. Do NOT be idle!

Hey, life will hand you lemons. Take them! Use them! Worst-case scenario - you have contributed to your family's well-being. You can NEVER go wrong there!

Tammy McConnell was a stay-at-home mom for 19 years! Then, the unspeakable happened. She found herself at a crossroads, with 4 teenagers and a grown daughter to pilot into and through adulthood, alone. It IS possible to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and move on! She uses her website, growing-home.net, to encourage others like her, to do just that.