Category Archives: fear

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. – Elie Wiesel

Social Media posts are a real bummer these days, am I right? I miss hamsters eating burritos!

I heard some complaining that they were tired of the depressing posts about the former Stanford student who got off easy for sexual assault and the responses to Emily Doe’s letter she read in court. Chances are, they aren’t the 1 in 5 women who have had the pleasure of being the victim of unwelcome sexual advances or God forbid, rape and sexual assault.

And enough already with their feed being inundated with comments, stories, and various posts about the Orlando shooting and a desire that our government reassess – or at least have a grown up conversation about- our gun laws, I hope to God their privilege protects them long enough to never fear being open about who they are or who they, or their children, love.

When “Black Lives Matter” compels you correct someone with, “ALL Lives Matter” and remind everyone that being a cop is hard. Yeah, it’s got to be a real breeze to worry about driving or walking or breathing, all while being Black.

People are screaming out to be heard because of a constant reminder that many of us are marginalized and not enough, just as we are, to be left the hell alone. If it is depressing to see our pleas and reminders of the way so many people are treated- DO SOMETHING. If you are one of the privileged, SPEAK UP! I’m tired and weary of preaching to a choir that already agrees, but I cannot be silent.

If nothing else, let’s make a deal. If you want us go back to cat videos, pictures of our kids on the first day of school, and what we are eating for dinner, and God knows we ALL want that, listen and take a second to look at your privilege. If you can use it in any way, use it stop hate and reject anyone who wants hate and fear to be the path we take in our country.

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July 7, 2016 · 2:17 pm

These Are Days

These are days, you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this and as you feel it

“These Are Days”, 10,000 Maniacs

I remember receiving the message from a vintage friend. He told me that our friend was sick. Fucking Cancer. I gotta say, yeah cancer sucks, but you gotta give it to fucking cancer for getting you off your ass and take stock and tell people that they are loved and let them love you. I was lucky enough to have that chance with her, and over the last two years of her life, especially during the last six months, where we had several conversations over email, text, and Facebook. I remember she was at the hospital doing a iron infusion and was bored and her iPad wasn’t streaming and couldn’t go anywhere or do anything. She was telling me that she just finished her sad little pop tart and now what?

I told her jokes. Really stupid, bad jokes. I found funny videos.  We made up a song about needing to pee but being attached to an IV pole. She asked me about the things going on in my life, so I told her about my silly life. It felt really uncomfortable telling her about my problems when she was desperately trying to not die and fight cancer. We reminisced about sleepovers in junior high, listening to Purple Rain and those horrible parrots her mom had, which, by the way, terrified me every time I slept over. I was too embarrassed and didn’t want to be seen as ‘not cool’, although I suspect my Pat Benatar hairstyle and Harry Caray glasses probably negated any concerns.

One thing we talked about was our hang-ups and when we think someone else has got it all, we’ve got to remember that chance are, they are just as insecure as we are. When we were teenagers, I thought my friend was so amazing and so cool. I was so envious- she was smart, kind, popular and so beautiful. She had AMAZING hair, and her smile? Man, she had a radiance and glow that was contagious. I’m glad I got to tell her that. But really, I was happier to hear that she wasn’t always so sure of herself, but that she had learned, especially because of fucking cancer that the critics mattered a whole lot less than her own truth.

One thing we talked about was bad days- and good days too, but when we’d complain about the shitty things, all I kept hearing in my head was, “there will be days.” There will be days- days when you just don’t know if you are doing any of it right. Days where it just seems too, too hard. They seem to go on forever, but these are just days. There are other days where you feel invincible. Where ideas flow, energy is plentiful and love shines on you everywhere you look. These never last long enough, these days.

This is our life. A series of days, good and bad, and none of them are on our terms. I don’t mean to sound melodramatic, but I’ve learned that most things will happen with or without my input. People I love will have beautiful, healthy babies, get new jobs, buy their dream homes and have wonderful relationships. People I love will get stupid fucking cancer. People I love will struggle over things big and small. People, who I think have it all, have crap days, but I just might not see them. And some people will avoid these days at all costs, not only ignoring the bad days, but missing the good ones completely.

I have had all of these days too. I guess what I am trying to say is that I can’t give everything to each of these days. I have to accept that they are just days in my life and all get to have a place in my story. And after my friend died, when we were sitting at her house after her funeral, I was struck with a sense of gratitude that I got to have a role in the story of her life. Maybe it was just a small part, kind of like when I got to play “Friend #1” in the Buffalo Grove High School presentation of “Oklahoma!”. I killed it by the way. I sat on that grassy knoll and pretended to be really devoted to whatever the lead chick was saying. My point is, I had a part. It didn’t matter if I was the lead or in the background, I was part of the story.

Lately, I’ve put a lot of stock into not only letting my bad days define me and the days that follow, but also the size of my role in the story. I’m working hard to take steps to pursue a dream, and I’m getting close to realizing it. But then I get scared and want to throw it away. I get stuck in my own hang-ups and start comparing myself to others. I take things personally. And really, none of it is anything more than my own insecurity and fear and remember that the critics don’t count for much. Then I remember my dear friend and how these are just days. Beautiful days that I want to remember.

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Filed under fear, self-confidence, truth

Oh My Lanta

 

“But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”

Neil Gaiman

These days, I feel like I’m going to either throw up or poop myself. Neil Gaiman talks above about walking down the street naked, being exposed, but I never felt comfortable, or compelled for that matter, to strut my kibbles and bits in public. My discomfort manifests in a complete loss of the bodily functions I have come to rely upon. It’s gross, but you have my word that I won’t go into detail. I’m not that kind of writer. I will say that this isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this (and wasn’t pregnant). I know what this is. It’s my gut. It’s telling me that I’m headed in the right direction, that what I’m about to do is going to be significant in my life and it’s exactly right. I’d call it a cleanse, but that’s a bit too L.A., plus, it doesn’t include cayenne or ginger.

My first memory of this shit show was in high school. I loved singing and wanted to perform. Early on, I auditioned for the school musical and didn’t make it. Still, I joined choir and sang anyway. Later that year, I auditioned for “Concert Choir” and didn’t make it either. That was okay, I knew I wasn’t really ready. I loved singing and didn’t mind Varsity Choir (which took anyone who signed up). In Varsity Choir, I yearned to get better. I wanted to be good enough to make it into Concert Choir and even more, I wanted to be in “Expressions”. Expressions was a 24 member ‘show choir’-think Glee- not with quite as many cheesy renditions, but just as much drama. From the first time I saw them perform, I knew I wanted in. I sang well, but when I had auditioned my sophomore year, I didn’t make the group and I knew why. I wasn’t ready. I worked my ass off the next year, and when I auditioned, I was terrified. For the days leading up to the tryouts, I was sick. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t do anything but work on my routine and mentally picture myself making it. I knew I was good enough and I knew that the director saw how hard I worked all year. My gut told me I would make it and I did. That was something I hadn’t felt in the previous auditions. I had never been so physically certain that I was doing something, that for me, was big.

The tricky part about my trusting my gut, is that her pesky sister, ‘self-doubt’ shares space nearby and is always eavesdropping on our heart-to-heart talks. And in the moments where my gut lets me rest, she likes to sneak in and whisper in my ear. “You’re not tall or skinny or pretty as the other girls trying out. You’re decent enough as a singer, but really? There are better ones out there. Why don’t you just stick with choir. It’s so much safer and you won’t be as hurt when you don’t make it.”

I listened to her. Considered what she had to say. She was right about so much of it. I wasn’t as tall or as thin and didn’t look like some of the others, but I was ME. I had a good attitude and I worked hard. I was ready, able, and (sometimes more importantly) willing to do whatever my director asked- if it meant jumping up to second soprano or helping the small group of boys in the tenor section to help and increase their presence. I was funny, a nice kid, and you know what? I was good enough to make it and take my place in that group. I offered something special- each one of us in that group that year did. And it made us great.

Over the years, I can point to several examples when I have experienced this same level of nausea. There have been times when I allowed self-doubt to share her opinions loudly and gave her the power to lull me into a false sense of safety in certainty and ignore my gut. Each of these times, I’ve had regrets because in addition to giving into my fears, I actively avoided and ignored something that made me incredibly happy. When I have told her to F off, with all the grace I can muster, and gone with my gut, I’ve gotten it right.

I talk to my kids about their gut and when something in their belly feels right, it’s right and when it feels wrong, it’s wrong. I keep it simple and leave the poop talk to them, which they’ve mastered at much more appropriate times. Like dinner. Instead, I try to encourage them explore the things that make their heart sing, to let that voice be louder than self-doubt, which I suspect will invariably creep in. As a mom, this feels right, but it also forces me to push myself as a creative person to listen to my own advice. How can I ask them to follow their instincts if I won’t do the same? It’s simple. I can’t.

A few months back, I did something I always wanted to do. I had an opportunity to write and perform a 10 minute set of stand up comedy as “The Virgin” in Nicole Blaine’s Virgin Sacrifice show. I was incredibly proud of it and humbled (and thrilled) by the feedback I received from real-life comics and writers. I’ve been pursuing my writing and have found myself in the midst of some fantastic creative breakthroughs and with that, a big bout of the barfs. It’s odd though. I haven’t heard self-doubt yet. I know she’s there, paying attention, trying to find her chance to chime in, but it’s oddly quiet. I’m taking full advantage of her silence, though, writing away, and enjoying my Pepto-Bismal Parfait.

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Filed under fear, Motherhood, Personal Growth, self-confidence, truth

1979

I really want to apologize to my kids. I fucked up and completely miscalculated. Not a big surprise, knowing how much I suck at math and science. I totally meant to raise them in 1979, not 2015. When I thought about having kids, I thought about them growing up riding their bikes without a helmet, playing kickball or hide and seek, whenever and wherever, without fear of someone texting and driving or having an opinion about them not wearing a helmet and having a bottle of water within arm’s reach. I assumed they would play with their friends, not their friends and their parents who would micromanage every argument or move they made. I thought they would learn to fight their own battles among other children and learn how one minute they could be so pissed at their best friend and how unconditional love worked when they forgot all about it 15 minutes later. I planned on letting them spend their free time running off to the park or wherever they wanted to go, just knowing to be home by dinner. In my miscalculation, I now need to be the one to coordinate a scheduled ‘play date’ for a specified amount of time with proper supervision. My children don’t need to be concerned with such responsibilities as using a phone to call a friend and ask them to play, risk hearing “no”, or letting their creativity and natural sense of wonder drive the events of the day. It’s still important though, so in 2015, I have vetted and arranged time for them to ‘be creative’ and ‘curious’ every Tuesday afternoon in a class I found. I will drive them, pay for it, watch from the waiting gallery to supervise. I will ensure that they are doing it right and not being too curious, not making it uncomfortable for others or deviating too far from the assigned curriculum. We will then drive home and I will give them my assessment of their experience.

How in the hell did this happen? How did we advance in so many ways as a society in the last 36 years and yet, as a parent, I’ve completely retreated into control and fear in my attempt to raise them? You see, these young ones in 2015 are believed to be too immature to be trusted with such things as self-control, responsibility, having instincts, and natural consequences. I don’t know if there is any hard data to support this, but our collective fear has made this our new way of raising kids. Had I raised them in 1979, they would have had a chance to just learn these things, without my interference. In 1979, children were automatically ‘free-range’, but in 2015, I can get arrested for adopting this belief, so instead we are stuck together. I want them to have freedom and to grow and develop as they will, but I don’t know how to let go when I’m sitting right there. I watch them grow with eyes that have seen too much. In 1979, I wouldn’t have to supervise every step of their growth and development. Instead, I would ask about their day at dinner and I would listen to their experiences and you know what? I would be really interested and I would want to hear everything. But here in 2015, I am always right there experiencing it with them, so not only do they not have the freedom to figure it all out, but I don’t even have a chance to be curious about what they think or what they’ve experienced.

In 1979, I was 8. I went to day camp on a bus over the summer, I called friends to make plans, told (not asked) my mom that I would back later, played a little and then came home for a snack. I remember one time, in 1979, being in the park and doing flips off of the monkey bars. A wood chip landed in my knee and I was bleeding. It hurt a lot. After a little crying, I walked to the house across from the park, because I knew a girl from school lived there. I was smart enough at 8 years old to figure out a solution to my problem. In case you missed it, I was BY MYSELF in the park doing flips off the monkey bars. If you are a parent today, I ask you to stop and think about that. My son is going to be 9 next week and I know that most of us wouldn’t let our kids do that today. We have a million reasons- many are justified too- about why we can’t and won’t let them do that, but my point is that I was NO SMARTER than my son is. The difference? I had the opportunity to experience life and figure out how to handle 8 year old problems. I was able to do that because I had the chance to experience 5 year old problems. And 6 year old problems. And 7 year old problems. And that was how I grew up in 1979. So how do I let my kids figure out their 6 and 9 year old problems? Maybe I need to stop looking at their lives with my 40-something eyes which are getting close to needing help seeing things up close. Maybe I need to stop trying to see their lives up close, let them experience things and just be there when they need me. Let them ASK for things, call a friend, have a fight and learn that they are better at solving their problems than I ever thought. With all that free time I might just be able to refocus on things that are important to me. I love to cook. Maybe I can spend time making a great dinner so I can hear what my kids did today in 2015.

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Filed under fear, I was wrong., Mom Rant, parenting, Personal Growth, What Really Happened

I’m a Guest Blogger! What?

Today, I am guest blogging on SoberMommies.

Yesterday, I reflected on motherhood, gratitude and 9/11.  This time it’s personal.  This was probably the most difficult post I have written to date- sharing my story is hard, especially when it wasn’t a story I wanted anyone to know.  There is a saying that our secrets keep us sick and my secret could have easily made me very sick.  I share my hope today and my gratitude for others who positively listen and love me.

Reflections of Gratitude on 9/11
The other day, I cleaned the boys’ bathroom.  It was disgusting.  If you have sons, you know what I am talking about.  Running to the toilet, barely making it types of messes.  Dirt and grime around the sink, and the remnants of soccer practice and recess all over the tub.  As I scrubbed, trying not to throw up in my mouth, I thought about women I know-  mothers who may never get to complain and feel grossed out by such things.  READ MORE

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Filed under fear, Food, Motherhood, Personal Growth, What Really Happened

When Is Hate Ok?

This may sound like a stupid question.  Obviously, most people agree that hate is NOT ok.  But lately I’ve been seeing some examples of things I consider pretty hateful and they upset me.  I mean, what is the right thing to do when you see hate around you?  Do you have a responsibility to stand up and say something?  What if it means that others might end up hating me?  What am I teaching my kids when I see hateful acts and say nothing?

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Is it okay to continue to have the Olympics there when anyone who identifies as LGBT is at risk of persecution?  I’ve heard justification that networks and sponsors and others have already spent a lot of money and moving it would cost more.  SO, just to be sure I understand, HATE is OK if it means that you will lose money?  Is HATE OK if you have trained your entire life to compete?  And if the Olympics are held in Sochi, do I still watch?
Is it okay to hurt another person, even kill them, if they confuse you?  If you are so uncomfortable with another person’s gender expression or identity, you can justify harming them?  It starts in the schoolyard.  The other day, a child at my house made fun of my son for having a ‘girl toy’.  I not blaming anyone either- I understand that as they grow, they are learning about expression and gender norms and our marketing of toys and television doesn’t help.  In that moment, I explained that any child may like anything he or she wants and under no circumstances is it okay to make them feel bad about it.  A boy who likes princesses and a girl who likes ninjas are perfect in my eyes and I sincerely hope that they have the freedom to grow up in a world where they can be who they are.  But for all the talk about anti-bullying initiatives in schools, we don’t seem to apply the same rules to adults.  We don’t put images of gender fluidity on TV or when we market toys and for all of our progressive beliefs, we still are squeamish when we see it in our children.
Young Celebrities- You know who I’m talking about.
Is it okay to put a microscope up to and mock someone’s disease or personal challenges or just growing up if it sells magazines or generates ad revenue?  These are young people and I am so sad that they have people around them who are supposed to be there to help them grow up safely and instead are being put in really scary, dangerous situations.  I can’t even begin to imagine if in my 20’s I was expected to support other people financially with my talent/celebrity AND figure out how to be an adult.  They are held to a standard that I certainly couldn’t attain.  I’m not sure if any of us could if we were in their situation and had so much of our childhood modified.  I’m not here to judge whether or not they ‘asked for it’ by being in the industry, I’m merely suggesting a bit of empathy.
I have very little in the way of answers, but what I can do is speak up when I disagree.  I can go to places like Change.org and my elected officials and state my concerns about issues that matter to me.  I can serve as a role model for my children instead of relying on celebrities who are still growing up themselves and be there to help navigate what my children see.  I can offer compassion and respect to others who may make me feel uncomfortable with things that I don’t understand.  Most of all, I can consider how I would want to be treated in the same situation and act as if.

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Filed under fear, Mom Rant