Friday, June 20, 2014

How Two Norwegian Africans Became My Talisman

So you may or may not have heard the song, "Am I Wrong" by Nico and Vinz. No? Haven't heard it? Here you go. I've even imported the video here for you - but you can only see it, I think, if you're on a 'puter.

I can honestly say I am grateful to pop culture for once. How is this possible? Well....because it led me to this song.

My husband has been searching for a job for a few months. He graduated with his degree just a few weeks ago and, being prior-service military, is ready to start his civilian career. Now this isn't just any career we're talking about here....this is his chance to do whatever he wants, wherever he wants, and with whichever company he pleases. There is no other time in his entire life where he will have the opportunity to literally choose his job as easily as he can now. He's fresh-faced, devout in his learned skills, and dedicated to doing what's best for his family. It is such a beautiful time in his life - in my life.

Except there's one minor problem. Me.

You see, I currently work full time out of the home. I started my own little freelancing business from my home last year, but that little business is, well, little. And it has no benefits. So I continue to work my full-time corporate job. Now I enjoy my job, for the most part. I like the adult interaction and I draw a ton of inspiration from the crazy things that happen at work every day. But all this time I spend in the office leaves me with very little time for the one thing I want to do more than anything in the engaged in my kids' lives.

Now before you other working moms blow a gasket, hear me out - I understand a woman can be engaged in her childrens' lives while working. I understand for some people, a perfect work-life balance is achievable. I, however, was spoiled.

I had the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom with my oldest for a few years while my husband was deployed. It was the most challenging, exhausting, enriching time of my life. I will never forget how close she and I were - like little partners in crime, fighting evil dust bunnies together, taking long walks around the hills of Germany, and going to every community event ever.

She was my only companion to the store, the library, the gym, even the Eiffel Tower.

I woke to her voice every morning, picked her up and hugged her whenever I wanted, and made cupcakes with "pretty pretty" sprinkles on them.

I heard her the moment she read her first words. I was sitting on a cold tile floor the day she used the potty for the first time. I made mistakes. I lost my temper. I did things that to this day fill me with such a deep regret I can barely think about them without tearing up. But this is what being a stay-at-home mom is all about. It is a beautiful cycle of joy, struggle, but most importantly, love. I loved being with her. I loved watching her grow. I loved it.

Those precious years absolutely ruined my work-life balance perception...they consistently draw me into memories and comparisons between my relationships with my kids now and my relationship with my kid then. It's not the same. The resulting feeling of loss and sorrow is suffocating.

When I sit back and think, "what is life?" I don't see a corporate career, or professional success, or plaques filled with degrees and years of education. I see my kids, I see my man making a bonfire in the backyard, I see myself writing a book. Life, for me, is my children, my home, and my passions. Every day that passes feels like another day of missed moments I can never get back....for a paycheck. And I get it, I pay for the roof and the food and the school and blah blah blah those justifications don't ease my conscious anymore. I've repeated them to myself for so long with such force, such falseness, that they've worn out their welcome in my heart. I've found what I'm passionate about...and it lies at home.

So you see where this is going.

I cannot get home and fulfill those very deeply-rooted parts of me until my partner finds a job. No pressure, honey!

Stuck between self-centered motivations and being a supportive spouse, I often find myself feeling frustrated, guilty, and doubtful.

What if I never get this freelancing thing off the ground. What if I put too much pressure on him. What if I end up missing another year of my kids' lives. What if he finds a job and they lay him off. The what-if syndrome is coming out in full force these days. It's so easy for me to get down...much harder for me to sustain a positive attitude. That ain't good when you've got a partner looking for a job. My worries rub off on him and we both end up exhausted and feeling terrible about ourselves. There's gotta be a better way.

Which brings me back to that song at the beginning of this post.

The artists, Nico Sereba and Vincent Dery, are from Norway. They drew upon their African roots to create "Am I Wrong," an internationally-acclaimed single that rose to the top of European charts in a matter of days. Their song infuses African drumbeats and tempos with an addictive chorus that speaks to dreams, reaching for the sky, and living the way you want to. The music video (WATCH IT) offers a rare glimpse into the beauty and joy of Botswana, a South African country often depicted as war-torn and sick. They chose to film the video there because they wanted people to see the good in a place normally associated with bad. The song is by far the most positive, uplifting thing I've heard in years.

But the best part?

They released the song over a year ago, from Norway. The hit won over millions of fans in countries like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria, and of course, Norway...yet it took the two artists over a year to break into the American market. They even underwent a name change - went from Envy to Nico and Vinz (because let's face it, Envy sounds dumb as hell). But the point is this: it didn't matter how many millions of people loved their music and bought their albums. They still had to line up with the other musical hopefuls and be patient. They had to drive on and endure to keep their dream alive.

And for this Momma, who's ambitions are little less radical, although just as passionate, finding this out was a huge wake up call.

My timeline needs to disappear and my positivity needs to reappear.

If these two dudes can do it, a couple of African-Norwegian singers who had to start from the ground up multiple times to build their dreams and become what they wanted to be, then heck...I can do it, right? I can be a bit more resilient. I can be a bit more patient, more supportive, and less influenced by those who bring me down. I can keep the dream alive - hold fast to it and work each day to make it real. I can do those things. Anybody can. You can.

I know it's hard to keep the faith. I lose the faith on a regular basis, despite the fact I believe in a Higher Being and know I'm not "supposed" to doubt. I'm a worrying, flaw-filled doubter. Like that kid on the Polar Express. I'm a doubbbbtteerrr!

But everyone has something they draw inspiration, luck, happiness, and magic from. Some people go to the Bible. Others rub rocks. Still others seek out the love of a spouse or friend. My inspirational device changes. This week, it came in the form of two Norwegian Africans.

I try to find a positive song, a positive book, a positive smell for crying out loud.....ANYthing that will remind me of my strength....and I grab it with both hands. I bear hug that shit. I lean on it and remember the abilities of those who have gone before me - and when my talisman of motivation ceases to bring those feeling of joy and renewal, I find another one. This song will prolly annoy the piss out of me in a few months. But until then, I'm gonna hold fast to the message and let it wash over me and convert my impatience into faith and hope again.

Any of you have strength talismans? A certain quote, picture, or movie that pumps you up? I'd love to hear about it in the comments down below!

I hope you each have a beautiful weekend and as always, thank you so, so much for reading :)



  1. My favorite part..."My timeline needs to disappear and my positivity needs to reappear." Good advice. Stopping in from SITS. Have a wonderful day.

    1. Thank you so much Andrea :) I get so wrapped up in the mechanics of it's obnoxious because life doesn't care what I want! So glad you stopped by :) Have an incredible day!

  2. Great post. I particularly love the line: My timeline needs to disappear and my positivity needs to reappear.
    Newest follower from SITS sharpest!

    1. Thank you so much! Love meeting my SITS-tahs!! :) And yes - that is my let go of the timeline I set for myself and relax a little. I gotta learn to be more flexible! Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. I can definitely relate to what you're saying about how your job simply isn't the most important thing for you. I don't even have kids yet but even without them I already know that I would love the freedom and flexibility of being a non-working Mom if we can swing that when the time comes. My Mom didn't have a job when I was growing up--she had to go to work for a few years more recently and I am sad that my baby sister doesn't get so many memories of Mom at home--because my Mom's job required a lot of traveling. Now my Mom's back at home, mostly, and I think she's a lot happier about it, too.

    1. Some people are really into their careers, ya know? It's fine - it's what gives them passion and drive and all those happy feelings. My mom worked her butt off as a single mother for pretty much my entire childhood so I knew going into parenthood I didn't want the same for my kids. I saw how badly it broke her heart...and I'm very similar! It'll be great when I finally get there...but until then I just gotta keep hanging in there. Like that stupid cat picture. Thanks so much for stopping by Rach :)

  4. What a sweet mom you are. This just melted my heart. I know how you feel about the doubts. I have had those similar "what if" conversations with myself lately...about the book, about the blog. You name it. lol I am learning to shift those to something more like this...

    There is freedom waiting for you
    On the breezes of the sky,
    And you ask, “What if I fall?”
    Oh, but my darling,
    What if you fly?

    ~Erin Hanson

    What if all of our wildest dreams come true?

    I've been reading a lot of Brian Tracey and others like him lately. That keeps me focused and working on my goals. You are going to SOAR, Jen. Your freelancing business is going to be all you dream of and more! And then you will get to be back at home...where I know your heart is. Hang in there, sweet friend. xo ~Topaz

    1. This comment made me tear up! You are a beautiful writer - so glad I found you! And I LOVE the quote you shared....thinking it will stencil it on the wall in my office. I have not heard of Brian Tracey and absolutely will be checking into him as well. Thank you for reading and making my weekend!!! :) xoxox

  5. So have you read this post back while playing the amazing song? I did - and I am so uplifted I'm tearing up. I feel TOTALLY and completely feel you. It is so difficult sometimes to work - and do things that seem so unimportant compared to raising my children. Seeing them read for the first time, learn how to use the potty, feel the first loose tooth, it's such an insane balance.

    But as real as the struggles are the triumphs. I mean...we are moms! And we were able to stay home with our first many women can do that?

    And just imagine when your dreams do come true...envision it...believe it and you will achieve it. Good luck to your hubby - what an awesome opportunity for him as well...he can do anything he wants! What freedom.

    1. Kristen!! Thank you so so much - I love it - and you're so right, I've been so lucky to have some time with my first one! I am excited to have those moments back and do what I was intended to's getting there that is the hard part! Thank you so much for reading and believing in me :) You are the best!

  6. Jen, this post was just so open and raw and beautiful. "That's just how I feel" s sums up for me when I stopped practicing medicine to stay home. yes, I went to medical school and had a practice and ended up staying home at the end of the day. People thought I was CRAZY (including my own parents). But that's just how I felt even though almost nobody understood. But I just had to do what felt right for my family.
    I love the story of this song and the group. How uplifting. I love the song, too!
    Thank you so much for such an uplifting and inspiring post!! --Lisa

    1. Thanks Lisa :) :) :) I love that you chose a different path - one based on your true passions and love, not just the one our culture/friends/family idealize as the "perfect" path in life. I am so appreciative of your comments and so glad you stopped by! :)

  7. What a sweet post. I love being able to stay home with my kids. They drive me crazy, but I'm so glad I can experience things with them.

    1. Right? It's the hardest job ever, honestly...but also the most rewarding. Thanks for reading :) :) :) I'm so excited you stopped by!! :)