Category Archives: Personal Growth

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

Little Green

“There’ll be icicles and birthday clothes
And sometimes there’ll be sorrow”

Joni Mitchell, Little Green

It would always start the week before. I’d find myself slip away a bit, not really a depression, more like melancholy. I’d open my closet, find my pity party dress, get all dressed up, and ready to jump into a week long funk. For years, I didn’t know why. It’s my birthday. I’m supposed to be excited to celebrate another year and to spend time with friends and family. I’m supposed to be happy, right? And yet, year after year, exactly one week before the day, I was a wreck. Anxious, hiding, waiting for it to be over. At the same time, I wanted to be celebrated and loved.

For years, I felt an emptiness on my birthday that I could not fully articulate. As an adoptee, feelings of abandonment came up that I could easily justify away, but never really ignore. I found that my justification was for others. My arrival into a new family was a happy celebration, but I always felt a little like a commodity. I was the THING that changed their lives. This baby made things better. This is an INCREDIBLY uncomfortable thing to say out loud and I don’t for one minute think that my parents or any other adoptive parent think of their child as property or something other than their child. But still, despite knowing that my parents didn’t feel this way, every year, I felt sad because of the day I was born. I was given up, a mistake and something that was not good news for a teenage girl. I spent years denying that this sentiment because I could easily point to a million reasons why I was grateful and lucky. I never told my parents because my birthday was one of the best days of their lives. I appreciated that this was true for them, but it also made me feel guilty for not always feeling the same.

So every year, this abandoned little girl crept towards me, and year after year, I’d try to avoid her. A couple years ago, I started to pay attention and not run away from her. I slowly let her get closer and take up space, but still kept her a safe distance away.  I’ve grown accustomed to her though, and over the course of years, I’ve let myself get to know her. Listen to her. Tell her it’s okay. Okay to feel like you were a mistake, lots of people, adopted and biological, feel this way. But what I’ve also been able to do is look at it differently now that I am mother. When my kids hurt or struggle, I want desperately to make them- and myself to some degree- feel better. I want to tell them to NOT feel that way, that they SHOULDN’t feel that way, but here’s the thing: THEY DO. It’s all them, and if I give them the space to feel whatever they feel, maybe I can help them give it a voice and hopefully, they can come to some reconciliation. I hope I can be a better friend and partner to others, that I can listen and say, “I see you’re broken, and I’m just going to hold you until you feel a little better.” I’ve learned that was all I wanted, and by doing this for them, I’ve had to hold myself and to do the same. So, I’ve given myself permission to feel sad on my birthday and for some birthdays, I do. It’s MY birthday… not my parents, not a young girl who ended up in a sticky situation, not my own children. It’s MY birthday, and I’ve discovered a beauty in celebrating my life, even the parts that hurt. The broken parts of us all make the others more shiny. They all make up the woman I’ve become, who, by the way, I now know isn’t a mistake.

P.S. Don’t worry Mom, today I’m very happy. Thank you and Dad for giving me the best THING I could ever have. A beautiful family who may not get me most of the time, but loves me always. I love you.

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Filed under Motherhood, Personal Growth, truth

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

Let’s Try Not to Get Hepatitis Today, Ok?

Yesterday was one of those days where I found myself doing, saying and experiencing things I never imagined I would ever do, say or experience.  Things that when you imagine being a parent, you NEVER could possibly anticipate.  Things you NEVER thought you would NEED to say.  If you have kids, I expect that you will relate to at least one.  If you are considering having children, maybe just read these as cautionary tales, it’s certainly possible it’s just my precious little gems who are adorably insane.  If you don’t have kids and have no plans to do so in the future,  enjoy the laughs and your holiday weekend.  I remember sleeping in on a day off fondly.

So this happened today:

  • Dude, really?  You are seriously eating my soul.  I mean c’mon! Do you have to try and eat crap off of the ground- I mean crap that has already been- I can’t even finish this sentence without throwing up in my mouth.  I pray that you won’t be the gross kid when you get to middle school.
  • Both kids in the pool, having fun.  I settle into a book, when one of the boys sneaks up behind me and makes a hacking, blowing your nose kinda sound. I’m trying desperately to relax.
    “Mommy, was that funny?”
    “No”
    “Why not?”
    “Because I want to relax.”
    “Well, I want to eat.”
  • “Mom, lets play ‘does that hurt’, ok?”  Before I can even say no:
    Poke- “Does that hurt?”
    Poke- “Does that hurt?”
    Poke- “Does that hurt?”
  • This weekend, we rented a condo in a resort across from the beach.  When walking from the concierge:
    “Do you think living here is like living at Office Depot?” asked my child.
    “Why would it be like living at Office Depot?”
    “Because Office Depot has everything and so does this place- except a pool. Office Depot doesn’t have a pool. Or basketballs.”
  • I don’t know if this is just a boy thing, but do all kids end up turning every song into one about poop and farts?  And is it a boy-mom thing or just me to join in.

“The slippery fish, the slippery fish, FARTING in the water,
The slippery fish, the slippery first, PFFFT… PFFFT… PFFFT…
Oh no!  He’s pooping on… an octopus, an octopus…”

What I hadn’t expected, however, was the very end.  I had really had enough of the hamster-wheel of parenting and all I could think about was getting into my pajamas and into bed.  Instead, as I thought about the day, I remembered when my son and I were out on boogie boards (my first time) and I was enjoying riding the waves.  At some point, we both got a bit too far out and we needed to wait for a couple of big waves to bring us in.  He was crying- he was really scared.  I was shook up, too.  We went back up to sit on our blanket and catch our breath and I just held him as he calmed down.  Then, we talked about what happened, how we should handle the waves in the future and that while the ocean is a beautiful thing, it can be dangerous and needs to be respected.  Then we stopped and got quiet for a minute and my son looked at me and said, “It was pretty cool, though, right Mom?”  Very cool.  And since you didn’t eat that crap off the ground, I’m pretty sure you didn’t catch a communicable disease so hey, win-win.

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Good Intentions

Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo and I have posted 17 times.  That’s 55%, if I round up, which of course I did.  To some, posting just over half of the time would be a failure, but this, for me, could not be further from the truth.   I did not set out with any intentions to post each day- although that was something to strive towards.  For me, it was my intention to follow through and participate in this for the entire month.  You see, I always start with good intentions.  I begin a lot of things with gusto and after a few days, maybe a week, tops, I lose interest or get distracted and stop what I was so eager to begin in the first place.  I know this about myself- it’s kinda my thing.

But does it have to be ‘my thing?  I just completed a practice of writing regularly over the course of a month.  I faced criticism and chose to continue writing- even when self-doubt crept in.  This has given me the confidence to follow through in other areas, too.  I am learning that I can choose to do something and sometimes I will get great pleasure from it and continue.  Other times I will discover that I am not getting much from it and decide to stop- or I may decide that while I don’t get much from it, it is still valuable.  It doesn’t really matter.  To me, what matters is the attempt and willingness to try something new.

Going forward, it is my intention to post twice a week, with the acknowledgement that I may post more frequently as I feel compelled.  If you like my blog, please SUBSCRIBE or just hit LIKE on a post.  I sincerely appreciate all of the support and love I’ve received from many of you.  It is so special and something that keeps me on the path of my good intentions.

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Date Night

When I was in my twenties, single and without children or much in the way of responsibility, I used to occasionally take myself on a date.  I would take a shower, put on makeup and a nice outfit and even spray on a little perfume too.  The courtship of myself was something I took seriously and I wanted to impress myself.  I picked a nice restaurant, enjoyed a good meal and then if I was in the mood, I would treat myself to a movie or a coffee in a cafe someplace.  A lady never kisses and tells, but if the date went well… maybe I’d get lucky?  Who knows?  Anything’s possible on a good date. The whole point of dating myself is to take time- to treat myself as I want others to treat me, to explore the things that I enjoy and mostly, to enjoy my own company and build my self-esteem.  Looking back now, it was an admirable idea, but I wasn’t ready to really learn these things.

Now, I’m in my early forties now and as you know from reading this blog, I am on a journey of self-discovery and I believe I am now ready to fully embrace myself, exactly as I am.  Now that I am single again, there are some nights without kids and I thought I would see if I was free tonight.  To my delight, I was.  I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but it is now 6:47 p.m. and I am home blogging.  So yeah, it didn’t go great.

I’ll be honest, I’m WAY out of practice in terms of dating myself.  I waiting until the last minute, basically took myself out to dinner immediately following yoga, despite being a sweaty mess.  I do get points for taking myself to a new favorite restaurant of mine, LYFE Kitchen.  I had a book and my mind on their vegan ‘sausage & cheese’ ravioli and recalling the days when I would go out on solo date nights, I was very optimistic.  Walking to the restaurant, I checked to see what movies were playing.  I saw that Lee Daniels’, “The Butler” was starting about an hour later so this was all looking good.

Walking into the restaurant, I see that they have ‘happy hour’ prices for appetizers so I opt to order Edamame Hummus along with my ravioli.   I knew it would be too much food, but it was HALF PRICE!  You can’t just pass that up!  As I sat and waited, I relaxed, read a little, listened to the music playing.  Good music- and I was super excited when I heard, “Can’t Let it Go” by Lucinda Williams* (written by Randy Weeks).  She is so darn talented and I haven’t heard that song in some time.  Anyway, the hummus shows up and it was so beautiful.  Fresh edamame, radishes, tomatoes and cucumbers along with these tasty flax seed chips.  Delicious.  I know this isn’t a restaurant review, but the hummus made me so happy!  If you find yourself at LYFE Kitchen, seriously, try it.  Good stuff.

I don't know if you can see it, but there are tons of fresh veggies and flax seed crackers with it.

Edamame Hummus.  Book.  Iced Tea.  This is good stuff.

I should have trusted my instincts, though.  I was enjoying myself and ended up eating too much of it and then ate my ravioli too.  If you know me in real life and personally over the last few years, you know that I don’t eat that much and when I do overindulge, I am one sad little panda.  I had to tell my date to take me home.  Date over! And it was going so well!

As I drove home, I thought about the date.  I felt the familiar pangs of guilt I recalled from dating in the past- like I was letting someone down by taking care of myself.  Instead, I challenged myself to think about it as the other person.  If someone told me that they needed to go home, wouldn’t I understand?  Of course I would.  And it was then I reminded myself that I deserved the same grace that I would offer someone else.  So instead of thinking about the past, the too much hummus debacle and going home before seeing a movie, I thought about my standards of dating- whether it be myself or another person:

1.  Not only should I NOT make a date last minute, I should NOT say yes if asked last minute, either.  Meeting up with a friend is one thing, but in my opinion, a date should be planned.

2. If I must go on a date after yoga, I will take a shower and put on clothes that are date-worthy.  I enjoy dressing to impress not only my date, but also myself.

3.  Know my limits and keep my eyes on the entire evening.  Even if hummus is half-price.

4.  If I do need to call it a night for whatever reason, it is fine to apologize and even feel disappointed.  Someone who is worth dating will understand.

*So as I sat, writing this and listening to Lucinda Williams, I found out that she was played in L.A. tonight. Had I planned it, that would have been a kick ass date.

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Filed under Food, Personal Growth, self-confidence, What Really Happened