Dear Me,

My husband recently checked out a book that was comprised of people writing letters to their teenage selves. My first reaction was good grief, that sounds so depressing.

My daughter will turn 13 this year; and apart from my excitement over watching her mature, I’m bracing myself. It’s here—the teenage years.

Has anyone ever had a truly authentic, positive experience in relation to the ages of 13 to…well…adulthood? Whenever adulthood happens? Side note: I’m nearly 37 years old and still can’t think of myself as an adult. I’ve never once made a meal plan, am terrible with money, and have never owned a sensible coat.

So, I present to you my hopeful letter to teenage Scout. Maybe some reflection will force me to grow a little.

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Hey you,

I see you. You may feel like people don’t see you, but I do. I see your confusion, your doubts, and am here to reassure you that those are completely normal. You, however, are not completely normal. Embrace it. Trust me, it’s a good thing.

What I wish for you above all else is that you would stop being afraid. Don’t be afraid to tell people no. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Don’t be afraid to laugh, dance, or be ridiculous. Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Stop trying to fit everyone else’s mold. You will go through a short period of loving Matchbox 20, and even though you will look back on that phase of life with great disappointment in 20 years, I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. It’s also okay to wear dress pants with tennis shoes, black with brown, and obnoxious floral prints because guess what, kid. The 90’s will make a decent comeback in your mid to late 30’s and you’ll be totally prepared.

You’re also not stupid, ugly or doomed in any way. Don’t listen to other people’s “prophecies”, or words from their twisted ideologies. They’ll just cripple you and lead you down the wrong path every time. Follow YOUR path.

You will find a boy. Or rather, he will find you. He will fill a lot of the void you’re feeling. Listen to him, love him, and appreciate every single moment you have with him. Remember that the little arguments, while healthy, are never important. You’re worthy of love. Let him teach you how to love.

Please, take advantage of your time before you walk down the aisle. There will be a few years in your life that will find you living on your own, in your own space. Don’t take it for granted. Some day—when your life is full of laundry, dishes, and cleaning fish tanks you’ll miss it. Oh, and a note about walking down the aisle. Trust me on this one. Just elope.

You will be a mother, so please quit worrying about whether or not that’s in your future. It’ll suck some days, and be all that you’d ever thought it’d be on others. Even the days that suck will be nothing short of the greatest gift you’ve ever been given.

Only foster and hold onto those relationships that better you as a person. The sooner you learn this, the less heartache you’ll experience as you grow into the person you’re meant to be.

Okay. Be strong. Be awesome. Kick ass. Also, Johnny Depp turns out to be a real asshole, so go ahead and take those posters down.

Love, Me. Also you.

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Simple Thoughts on Health

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Body positive culture is such an important movement. It teaches us to love our bodies, no matter our size or shape. It teaches us that jumping to conclusions about others can be hurtful. As a woman who’s ranged from sizes 12 to 22 in adulthood, I’ve found an insurmountable amount of encouragement in the community

With those things in mind I’ve resisted sharing my fairly recent journey, other than occasionally sharing my meals & looser pant victories on instagram stories.

One thing that sucks is that when you lose any amount of noticeable weight, people consistently tell you that you look amazing. The moment you gain some of that back though, the compliments come to a screeching halt. It’s hard not to buy into the idea that your exterior will have an impact on how others treat you. Why is that? Because it’s absolutely true; it does.

Anyway. About 6 weeks or so ago I went to the doctor. (A fairly new luxury for me thanks to the AHCA.) I had an elevated heart rate and just felt generally icky. Her solution? Quit sitting around so much. It’s so simple, right? Only it isn’t. But when she pointed out the fact that I’d spent years taking care of babies, and that it was time to take care of myself, I had to admit that she’d figured me out. I was using busy motherhood as an excuse to not nurture myself.

Why is self care such a hard thing? And I don’t think this is a problem specific to women or mothers, as society would have us believe. It’s a universal disease, the idea that we have to stay busy. So busy in fact that by the time we wind down for the day we’re just too damn tired to cook a decent meal or go for a quick stroll around the neighborhood. I haven’t figured out the solution to this problem yet, and if anyone else has please let me know.

As I venture into the unfamiliar territory of trying to take better care of myself, I’m doing my best to not dwell on numbers on a scale. The change in my heart rate has been way more noticeable than any weight changes after all, and I no longer feel like it’s going to leap out of my chest at bedtime.

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt truly uncomfortable with my body. I’m loved by a man who adores every curve, dimple, and jiggle. I love cooking and good food, holding strong onto the belief that eating is one thing that everyone can bond over. Language and cultural barriers are moot point when you’re sitting at a dinner table with someone.

So here I am, at nearly 37, and I guess that if going for a walk every day and replacing some bad meals with better ones will give me more time to fight with my kids about dirty laundry; or doctor our dog’s wound he got from pissing off our neighbor’s dog, only to have him rub his head in the mud right afterwards, I’ll do my best.

*This was going to be an instagram post, but I got too wordy so it will now live here. Some day I’ll blog something worth something.

Here I Am

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Last week I spent a few days filling in for a friend at the law office where she works. When I say I filled in what I really mean is that I only did about half of her job, which was answering the phone then emailing the attorneys their messages. It was fascinating stuff. That, or my life is so full of dishes and laundry that anything done outside of our house without kids in tow feels like an adventure.

While waiting for the phone to ring during a slow afternoon I wasted more than my fair share of post-it notes by channeling middle school me and doodling. (My doodle skills still haven’t progressed past hearts, rainbows, and kitty cats. I am the Lisa Frank generation.) That’s when I found myself writing the words, “I Am Am I Who Am I?” Have you guys seen those YouTube videos? If not feel free to search for her then thank me later.

The words had nothing to do with mysterious, beautiful women but a question of identity. You see, I’ve worn many hats.

Insecure high school student (I realize this one doesn’t make me unique.)

Bitter college student, pissed at the world and in love with punk music (Also…not unique.)

Girlfriend

Fiancé

Wife

City hall employee

Mother

Retail minion

Manager of children’s cooking school (I still miss this job.)

Photographer

Social media content person

Insurance salesperson

Private school librarian

And now, the current version of me. Homeschooling mom and writer. 

I’ve never really stopped writing since I was kid, although a lot of it was done in my head via daydreams. While it wasn’t written down on paper or typed on a keyboard I’ve always had stories in there running laps, keeping me from focusing on the real life happening right in front of me. It’s how I fall asleep every night, making up stories. It’s how I keep from going a little insane from the beautiful, yet still monotonous, day to day life of feeding hungry mouths and sweeping floors.

I’m Scout Castoe, writer, and I’m happy to be here.

By the way, can any fellow writers tell me how long it takes to stop feeling pretentious while labeling yourself in such a way? I’d love to know.