Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A New Year's Resolution That Involves Wine and a Tiara? Sign Me Up!!

In April of this year, after some unforeseen and life-shaking circumstances, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed to make some changes. Life-quaking things often bring these realizations, and this time was no different, but as I pondered what to do, I became increasingly aware that my options were not abundant for so many reasons. I knew from experience that hoping that those around you would change, needing them to change for you, wishing and dreaming about the day they would wake up after experiencing three ghosts completely renewed in a Scroogian way–well–it wasn’t happening. The changes I needed to make had to be my own. But how?

After much prayer and much conversation with Dr. Speed Dial, I realized that like so many of us, much of my self-worth came from outside and not from within. I am not sure I ever really understood that loving myself was as essential as loving my children, my husband, and my God. I had fallen into the trap that oodles of parents fall into in which we give and we give and we give to all the others in our lives; hugs, kisses, advice, time, space, understanding, wisdom, our laps, our sanity, and love–we give so much love that quite often we forget. We do forget don’t we mommies and daddies? We forget that in order to KEEP giving to others, we must remember to give to ourselves. It is essential that we love who we are as much as we love those we hold dearest.
So although it was April, four months into the new year, I made an unorthodox albeit late resolution to give the gift of love to myself daily, to start loving myself right away. Living this way for the past 6 months, I have found that there are so many powerful results of loving oneself. For one, you begin to claim your life and become much surer of who you are. It feels damn good, and best of all, you never again have to hand over your personal power to someone else saying, “Here you go. Hope you don’t break it.” Nope not anymore.
Now, I know that that seems like a task that is easier said than done. After all, a parent’s days are so full of the responsibilities that come with loving others that there’s no way to find time to love ourselves. Au contraire! Loving ourselves is much simpler than it sounds. It doesn’t cost much if anything at all and after a bit of practice, the “how” to love ourselves becomes easy and automatic. Think this might be a resolution you can and should keep? Check out the list of things I did this year. They just might help you get started. Have any other ideas? I’d love to see them in the comments section!
40 Simple Ways to Start Loving Yourself Right Away:
  1. Take a bubble bath wearing a tiara, holding a glass of wine in one hand and a good book in another.
  2. Embrace the unknown. You never know what opportunities will come from it.
  3. Wear sequins.
  4. Need a reminder? Make a list of reasons of why you love yourself. Read it before bed.
  5. Stretch in the mornings. There are fabulous short, quick and speedy yoga videos to get your juices flowing. Try them out. It feels so good.
  6. Clean out closets.
  7. Reach out to others. It just takes one person with whom you can be vulnerable. Do you know someone like that?
  8. Have media black-out days.
  9. Ask for help.
  10. Know that you are good enough ALL THE TIME. Even when you don’t feel like that’s true…no…ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like it’s true.
  11. Do your very, very best to stop judging people…including yourself.
  12. Increase the amount of greens you eat.
  13. Listen to new types of music…and even if it’s in the kitchen…DANCE.
  14. At least once a year, treat  yourself to new clothes.
  15. Change your alarm clock to something that makes you smile! Got a favorite song? Have that wake you up. Nothing says, “I hate myself” like starting off your day with an annoying repetitive blast!
  16. Be good to your body.
  17. Wear fuzzy socks in the winter.
  18. Know that you deserve love…and ONLY be with those who do.
  19. Be vibrant and colorful. If not in dress, then in word and action.
  20. Have integrity. Nothing helps one sleep better than knowing that all intentions were kind and good in nature.
  21. Do something that you’ve been afraid to do.
  22. Eat dark chocolate.
  23. Find amazing new role models. My new go-to-for-inspiration is Amy Ferris, author of Marrying George Clooney! Don't know her? Oh..You must make time!!
  24. Get more sunshine.
  25. Stop–just stop–trying to fit in. You are fine…you are just fine the way you are.
  26. Get out everything that you’ve been holding onto.
  27. Decide how you want to be treated by others and do not accept anything that doesn’t coincide with that decision.
  28. Write a letter to yourself as a child. Tell him or her the things they need to hear.
  29. Run away. (For a short trip with yourself or a friend or a child.)
  30. Be brave.
  31. Talk to strangers.
  32. Make the most of every opportunity.
  33. Dress up for yourself.
  34. Use Facebook. There you’ll be connected with acquaintances who may become your dearest friends, you’ll find like-minded humans, read interesting articles and find needed diversions from stress and anxiety.
  35. Bake, create, ski, write, read, play games, do puzzles, do something, do ANYTHING preferably that is not related to a mommy or daddy duty.
  36. Forgive…That does not mean forget, accept or all is fine and dandy. Forgiveness, as Dr. Maya Angelou tells it, is saying, “I am done with it because it’s best for me and my wellness.” Forgive…be done with it.
  37. Speak to yourself with kind tones, with words of wisdom, coo and coddle and use a voice that is meant for the smallest infant.
  38. Rely on yourself. Be loyal to yourself.  Do all for yourself that you used to wish someone else would do for you.
  39. Accept and revel in genuine compliments!
  40. Be your own best friend!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ode to the Flannel Nightgown

All this talk lately about yoga pants being the perfect piece of clothing for women just seems so silly to me. I can't understand this line of thinking, truly I can't. It seems absolutely implausible. Obviously these clothing-scientists-of-sort have never ever experienced the pure and unadulterated bliss that one gets when donning a flannel nightgown.  Ah yes,  poor under appreciated flannel nightgown! Isn't it about time that someone sing your praises?  So with that in mind, here are the top 6 things that make flannel nightgowns ROCK!

1. No Waist Band.  That's right ladies--no elastic or drawstring or fold down bandeau! Who needs 'em? They rest directly on the certain special body part that dogs us, um you know, at that time of the month, after a satisfying meal, or after a holiday-week-gorge-fest (perhaps ESPECIALLY after a holiday gorge fest!) Although there is SOME give in the spandex that makes up our lauded yoga pants, that waistband is still there cutting into, putting pressure on and reminding us like a nagging wife of the bloat and unwanted fat cells that have set up shop on our stomachs. Flannel nightgowns, on the other hand, bell out at JUST the right place. If we're standing, they never even graze our bulging bellies. Furthermore, it seems to me those yoga pants add even more salt to the abdomen-wound when we sit down! Don't tell me that you've never experienced the unbridled unpleasantness of a waistband that immediately folds down with every sit-down.  A flannel nightgown never ever needs to be fished out of the folds of flab and hitched up over the top! Never! Ever!

2. Otherworldly.What other garment can make you feel like Jane Eyre?  Just button it up to the top, add an English accent and walk down a long hallway holding a candle and BOOM! Instant Victorian Heroine! Let's see yoga pants do that?

3. So Warm!!  I mean, after all, flannel is the go-to material this season! So many of us love those flannel sheets that get dusted off during the coldest of months! Who wouldn't want to be able to WEAR those flannel sheets (so to speak) from the time they get home from work until they have to get dressed the next day?  While yoga pants CAN take you from work to play to the grocery store, they cannot warm you on a cold winter night the way that the flannel nightgown can.

4. Go Commando! Buy a floor-length flannel nightgown and no one-NO ONE-will ever know if you choose to walk around sans undies.  Hell, flannel material is so forgiving no one would ever know if you decided to forgo ALL lingerie. (Unless you are Dolly Parton...then I'm not so sure.) And well, with yoga pants...well...we ALL know when a woman is...ehem...without her underwear. And speaking of wedgies....

5.  No Wedgies--Not sure if this needs any explanation especially if
you've ever tried to sleep in yoga pants or walked behind an underwearless-yoga-pants-wearing woman!

6.. Body Type-Schmody-Type! Although yoga pants are worn by all shapes and sizes, it doesn't necessarily mean that they flatter everyone. I know for myself, my thighs, hips and rear end tend to be on the curvy side (stop smirking...) so, unless I wear a tunicky thing on top, I am often self-conscious with the way the material on yoga pants cling to these body parts. I don't know about you, but it isn't a wish of mine to frame my large derriere in clingy, glittery, shiny spandex.  Yet, I have never met a woman who doesn't do a flannel nightgown right. Tall or short, fat or skinny, large-chested or Kardashian-bottomed, flannel nightgowns are just fine on any body type!

So what do you say?  To hell with the yoga pants lovers! Let's start a flannel nightgown revolution! Pull up a chair, grab a pint of Ben and Jerry's and let's toast the only garment that won't remind afterwards why we should have put the ice cream down!

Friday, December 5, 2014

December Is...

December. The mere word seems to send so many into a tailspin.  It is a word that has become synonymous with stress and rushing around like a colony of ants. We can forget can’t we?  We can let all of the necessities and commitments feel like lead burdens around our neck. We have those December list don’t we? And we check them twice.
But December isn’t have-to’s and need-to’s.  It isn’t watching the Joneses and feeling green with envy. December isn’t meant for stress and strife, and it isn’t about obligation. December isn’t envying what the other moms, or dads, or co-workers are doing, and it certainly isn’t doing it better.  December isn’t rampant maniacal running to and fro. It isn’t “I haven’t got a thing to wear!” December isn’t meant to be the month of dreading and draining and dragging. It shouldn’t be must-do’s and “oh my I am out time!” It’s December. It’s December. Have you forgotten? Try and remember what this month means to some, to a child?  If the mere mention of December brings about anxiety and stress, perhaps it’d be better if we tried to remember what December IS?
December is tinsel and twinkle and treasure.
It is sparkle and snowflakes and celebration.
It is candlelight, strings-of-light, and starlight.
December is tradition great and small.
It is taking a running leap at a patch of ice on the sidewalk and careening toward a snowbank at warp speed.
It is the shoosh of ice skates on a frozen pond and the rumble of plows that drive by on a winter night.
December is the thrill of flying on a snowboard, a sled or on skis. It is the cold air stinging your cheeks.
It is itchy toes warming up.
December is honoring our heritage and our beliefs.
It is lighting candles in celebration, in remembering.
It is prayer.
It is majesty.
December is snuggling under a fuzzy blanket with just the soft light and sweet smell of the tree to accompany you.
December is food; mouth-watering, sweet, salty, stunning, glorious food that gathers us together.
It is the satisfying hum from the voices of those you love all in one place.
It is smiling.
It is kissing and hugging.
It is giving of your time, of your talent, and of things that are needed.
December is slow and steady and stillness
December is music; both old and new.
December is magic and moments.
December is love.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Most Meaningful Moment

After pulling the flannel nightgown over my head, I sat down in my worn rocking chair and text Son1:

I leaned my head back waiting for a response and smiled. It had been a particularly satisfying weekend. Son1 was home from college with Magicalfairyprincessgirlfriend so they could rehearse for a Christmas show they'll be performing in soon. The time spent together was chuck full of intellectual college-type talk; psychological theory, professors who rock, assignments that don't, time spent with roommates and on and on. 

I opened my eyes and looked at the response. Hmmm. Usually I get a text from Son1 when he arrives safely back into the arms of his dorm suite because, well, I may perhaps be a bit of a worrier...just maybe, and he knows me so well. ( didn't expect him to answer if he was driving...Magicalfairyprincessgirlfriend would answer for him typically under that scenario.)

I continued to stare at the screen, willing it to answer. It didn't and so I text:

Knowing myself, I got up from my chair and went to the bathroom to wash my face and to keep my mind occupied. I scrubbed away still smiling at the time spent with those two crazy kids...adults...kid-adults...Anywhooo...I was smiling, smiling large. I smushed that smile along with the rest of my face into a fluffy towel, patted it dry and walked back to my chair where the phone rested. Nothing...nothing at all. Just two lonely green talk bubbles with my texts echoing on a vast white screen. And looking back on it now, that's when it probably gruesome mom-imagination kicked in...It started as a flash of an image; a car turned over laying on its roof, two pieces of my heart laying in hospital beds. Cell phones flung hither and yon not to be found and so no way for the emergency officials to know how to find me...the mom.  From there my brain moved on to some freak snow storm that somehow fell just on the Mass Turnpike, dumping feet and feet of the slippery white stuff and forcing Son1 to pull off the road. There they'd sit, stranded...gas light on...contemplating wrapping the seat upholstery around their feet so that they could walk to safety. (Clearly I watch wayyyy too much reality tv!) 

I stood up quick and waved my hand to clear my frantic and overworked mind, picked up the phone and text:

When he didn't answer, I moved on to Magicalfairyprincessgirlfriend--no answer there. I decided on one more desperate text:
After 6 or 7 (or maybe 8)  direct phone calls to both Magicalfairyprincessgirlfriend's and Son1's phone, both of which went directly to voice mail fueling the cellphone-has-flown-out-of-the-car-during-a-bloody-car-wreck theory, I went sort of crazy. (Okay, crazIER than just five minutes before.) I will spare you the minute details of that mini-breakdown but they just may include a frantic call to my local state police office inquiring about how to find out about accidents on state roads, a Facebook message to Magicalfairyprincessgirlfriend's mother and perhaps one to a suite-mate of Son1's (although if pressed I will plead the 5th...) Those details may also include a manic and rude awakening of Son1's step-father where I MAY have cried a bit telling him the gruesome details of what I thought had befallen my two dear college students...All of those things MAY have taken place (but once again, if asked directly I will deny, deny and deeeeee--ny!)

Just as I was about to unleash my wrath on a bureaucrat at the state police office who actually had the gall to speak to me as if I was a tad out of my mind (CAN YOU IMAGINE????) the phone buzzed with a call on the second line. It was Son1 apologizing...his phone had died and there was no time to charge it before he and Magicalfairyprincessgirlfriend had to dash off to acapella rehearsal. 

Instantly...instantly my shoulders came out of my ears, the nervous maniacal stomach butterflies flew away and I found myself laughing out loud. I plopped down on my bed, and while some of you are probably wondering if my relief soon turned to anger, it didn't. Not at all. 

Here's the thing--he's doing it. Son1 is doing it. Everything that I have ever dreamed for him; every-single-thing. I wanted him to take risks. He is. I wanted him to get involved. He is. I dreamed that he'd use his God-given talents. He is. I hoped that he'd know how very worthy he was of friends, and camaraderie, and relationships galore. He does. I imagined him growing and thinking and changing in an intellectual community that carried him into adulthood. He's doing just that. 

Mamas, for years we dream and we want and we hope and imagine for our children. While we're in the thick of it...the raising years, the nail biting years, the holy-moly-where-did-this-surly-alien-being-come-from years it doesn't feel as if any of those dreams, wants, hopes and imaginings will ever come to fruition.  How could they when they can't pack a backpack, or pick up garbage that is right in front of them, or manage to wash their underwear more than once a month (if that...)? It seems as if all the things that we wish for our children will never ever come true. But let me tell you will happen. It WILL, and when it does, when we finally understand that they are off...that their wings are spread and they are flying at an altitude that seems downright amazing...when that moment of  realization hits--the feeling, well, it's breathtakingly beautiful. Even if just five minutes before because of a mistake on their part you were convinced that they were lying dead in a ditch somewhere, you will laugh...laugh out loud, because honestly I am not sure that there will ever be a moment more important, more meaningful than the one where it dawns on us that our children are going to be just fine as adults. Just fine indeed. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An Open Letter to the Drug Addict Who Turned In My Son

Dear Drug Addict, Drug Dealer, Ex Friend of My Son,

You turned him in to the police. In his words, you ratted on him. To him, you are a narc, a stool pigeon. He, my son, is angry and disillusioned  and hurt. After all, you sniffed together, toked together, sold drugs to other people's children' together and stole together to support your habits. He doesn't understand why his "boy" turned him in. He--will never forget this act of disloyalty. He will never forgive it.

Then there's me. How do I feel about you? Believe it or not I am so incredibly grateful, so very grateful. In fact, this blog post is meant as a thank you. Thank you for turning him in. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, thanks...

I will admit that from the moment the two of you met, way back in kindergarten, I warned my son about you. I told him that you were bad news. But he didn't listen, and you and he bonded over illicit illegal activities and your broken homes.  But I was wrong. I am surprisingly happy that the two of you found each other. If you hadn't, he may still be out there, on the streets, doing drugs, getting high, selling to the sons and daughters of worried parents. He'd still be out there with you or someone else stealing, taking things that belonged to others and selling them in a way that gives no regard to the many he was hurting. Instead, he's sitting in a cell awaiting his indictment.  And for the first time, for the first time in two years, he's clean. He's detoxed. He's sleeping. He's had to face reality without the haze and fog of illegal substances.

Although his health alone is enough to thank you, it isn't the biggest reason that I am grateful. Nope. Not the biggest reason at all. You see for the last two  years I have been fighting a losing battle against formidable fierce foes, and no matter what weapon I used against them, I was sorely beaten. The biggest enemy, the giant named "The System" fights back with ludicrous laws and wields its powerful apathy, relentless relentless apathy. I will admit that I have crawled into many corners licking my wounds because of this enemy and had all but given up. But then you came along, and with one fell swipe of a  pen took down that system and all of its  might. And you may not know this but by doing so, by turning him in to save yourself, you became a soldier in my army to fight against all that you love; drugs, crime, lying, sneaking and dishonesty.

Because of you, I have slept for the first time in two years without worry, without nightmares that taunt me with my son's seemingly impending death, without fear.  For the first time  in many many months I have hope.  Because of his arrest, he'll plea in court. He'll take a plea and go to rehab. Rehab! And then he'll spend the next five years on probation.

Now I am not sure what my son will do in rehab or out of rehab. It may be a fresh start or a dead end. Those decisions are his and his alone. But whatever happens in the future, no matter what, you have given this long suffering mother a reprieve. If he chooses to take some help then I can rest easy. If he chooses to return to his life of drugs and law breaking, I can also rest easy for five years, thanks to a probation sentence that will return him to jail if he violates the terms.

So you see, oh Man-who-turned-my-son-in, you have done what I thought was impossible, what I have unsuccessfully tried to do for two years. You managed not only to get my child out of the toxic poisonous environment that perpetuated his drug use and pain, but by selling him out you set in motion a safety net that makes it so he is, for awhile, not without support. And for that, I am forever in your debt...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

An Open Letter to The Tech-Distracted Dad in Dennys

Dear Daddy With the Phone and Beautiful Son,

I watched you and your son today. At first it was because the two of you together gave me such a warm feeling sitting there side by side on one side of a booth. I admired you for possibly making a decision to sit next to your son instead of across from him. That intimacy was nice to imagine...and it seems that that was all I was doing...imagining. Very quickly my opinion of you changed and truly my heart broke for both your son and you. What a waste your breakfast was. What a waste of a moment you will never get back.

While your son poked away at his banana french toast, your meal went untouched. Your head was down, fingers flying across the screen of a smart phone. You sat in silence. No one spoke for 10 straight minutes. Yes...I timed it. I. Timed. It. While you amused yourself with texts and games and Facebook, your son swung his legs, put a few bites of food in his mouth and stared off into space. Every once in awhile, he'd look over at me. I'd smile. But he was shy, not really trusting my friendliness. But I kept staring, willing you to pick up your head and meet my eyes. But you never did. You never did.

That son of yours, he's beautiful. His eyes are so big and so clear. Have you ever looked into them? Do they stay with you the way they have stayed with me? What do you think he saw with those eyes today? I know, if you don't. He saw a father that was completely and utterly checked out. He saw a father who didn't understand the miracle that was sitting next to him. He saw a father who was more interested in words and games and images then he was with the flesh and blood and a vessel of feelings. He kept looking at you hoping that he was noticeable. And unfortunately he never saw himself as that. He never did.

There was a moment...a very quick which I thought that you were going to prove me wrong, that perhaps the inattentiveness was just a fluke. You raised your head. My heart leaped and so did your son's. I saw it in those beautiful eyes and in the way he snapped to attention and sat up straight and tall. "Here I am daddy!" he seemed to say. I waited holding my breath to see if the interaction you were about to have would be a deep one, a necessary one, a meaningful one. It wasn't. It wasn't at all. "Be sure you eat those bananas" you said staring at his plate, and you instantly went back to your phone surfing. So you missed it. You missed his distress. He crumbled. I am not sure it was because he didn't like bananas or because of your inability to see your son as a human who needs you and your attention and your wisdom and your eyes gazing into his and your support and your love...good gracious...he needs your love. After you looked away, his gorgeous face squeezed into one thousand muscle contractions of pain. Those gorgeous eyes shined with pooled tears and his mouth opened in one of those heart breaking silent cries. He cried silently for 3 minutes. Yes...I timed it. I. Timed. It. And you never looked over. You never reached for him. You never stole one of those bananas and elbowed him in jest. You didn't notice the silent cry. But I did and I can't forget it.

When the crying subsided, a change came over that angelic face. Your son made a decision. He was GOING to get your attention no matter what. At first he tried to impress you. All decked out in his soccer uniform, cleats, socks, jersey, and shorts, he stood up and practiced his kicks. He kicked over and over and over and over glancing at you after each and every kick. Very soon those kicks changed. It was almost undetectable, but there was a change. Those kicks became fiercer. He grunted with each one and swung his leg hard. He stopped looking at you and zoned in on those violent air kicks. I wonder what he imagined was at the end of them. Maybe I don't wonder...When the kicks didn't work, that son of yours crawled under the restaurant table. He was old to do that. Had to be at least 8. But that didn't matter. He was under the table, legs sprawled across your feet. Did you feel them? You didn't indicate so. Then he got up on his knees, head crouched down and he started rocking the loose chair across from you. Did you see it? You didn't indicate so. When that didn't work, he got up and my heart jumped into my throat as he walked away from the table toward the door. He clearly had enough. He marched with purpose one, five, ten strides and then...well then he looked back with that old hope in his beautiful eyes. You finally noticed. You finally looked up from the sanctified phone. "We are going in a sec," you mumbled. And then you shifted your attention to the meal. "Wow! That was an expensive breakfast!" you exclaimed. Yes sir, yes sir it was. It was a very expensive breakfast but not in the way that you were talking about.

That breakfast cost you. It cost you a great deal. It cost you the chance to connect with your son one-on-one, man-to-man. It cost you a moment to talk about the game, to teach him about sportsmanship, to tell him how much you enjoy watching him play or smile or kick or chat with his teammates. It cost you the privilege of perhaps teaching him what a man SHOULD be like as a father. It cost you seconds, minutes, an hour of gazing into those beautiful eyes. That is time that you will NEVER have refunded. It cost you a chance to high five him, to tell him a joke, to ask him about school or to help him solve a problem. Oh sir, it cost you, and if you continue on this tech-obsessed road, you will end up very poor indeed.

I have been doing this parenting thing for a long time and I can tell you for sure, I can promise you without a wavering certainty that you will ultimately one day lose the greatest riches that has ever been bestowed upon you. Your inattentiveness, your inability to connect, your lack of respect for the human that you created will cost you your son. And trust me when I say that when that day comes, you will look back and wish that you had been the father that he needed. You will wish that you taught him what a father/son relationship should be like. You will wish that you had been present in triumphs and his mistakes. And by "present" I mean THERE really THERE telling him what's right, what's wrong, how to be a successful human, how to grow into a confident adult, how to respect women like his mother and perhaps a sister. You'll wish that you looked into his eyes more often and marveled at the beauty of them. You will lose him--mentally, or physically or emotionally or a combination of all three.

Is your phone more important than the relationship you have with your son? Moment to moment it may feel urgent. It may feel more important. Business calls. You and his mom are divorced and you are trying to connect with a new woman. You may even be doing it to spite that ex spouse or baby mama without even knowing you are. But I ask you again sir, how will your inattentiveness effect your son's future? Have you ever thought about it? How will you feel if there comes a time, when breakfasts with him, chats with him, watching him play soccer is no longer an option? He'll rebel. He will rebel. A child without the guidance of a responsible father will soon feel angry and resentful and unimportant and he or she will inevitably turn to someone or someTHING else to fill the hole? What will you do then? Do you think your phone will give you the answer?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Feeling Desperate?

Desperation is certainly an emotion that is felt by humans more than once throughout our lives.  It isn't solely a depressed emotion, or a poor emotion, or a lonely emotion.  Desperation thwacks us all--ALL. Perhaps desperation feels worse when things, the big things, are what's causing it.  Perhaps someone has lost a family member or a whole family.  Perhaps a single mom can't pay the bills or feed her children.  Perhaps a beloved job has been lost.  Perhaps a family home has burned to the ground, or someone has received news of a terminal illness.  These big things; family, money, jobs, homes and health are usually what give us comfort and keep us going.  However, if these things are all of a sudden taken from us somehow, I am sure--I know--it would feel like we've been set upon a surf board on a 80 ft. wave with a massive rip current underneath.  Nothing on which to lean. So what would help us keep our balance?  

This is a question I have been pondering over the last week.  There are so many who don't have the safety and love and security of family, work and home and health.  What keeps them going when the big things are gone?  What would keep me going if those big things suddenly disappeared?  More importantly, besides the big things, what are the little things I would miss if I suddenly disappeared?  

So for the last 48 hours, I have been paying attention to my days, my hours, my minutes, my split seconds.  I took stock of my life's little joys, and what I've found is that when putting my mind to it, there are so many wonderful seemingly insignificant things in this world that bring a sense of satisfaction and even happiness that I have never really even considered.  

Take yesterday for instance, I made homemade spaghetti sauce with meatballs.  As I was preparing the food, I imagined never being able to do that particular task again.  What I found was that there were so many things that I'd miss: the smell of garlic on my fingers after dicing, the tangy taste of sauce on my tongue while sampling, the pure feeling of satisfaction when a recipe comes together, the super smells that waft through the house when using a crock pot.  All of these I'd miss if I were suddenly gone.  

Last night, after a taxing day with my daughter, my husband gave me a foot rub and while that is one of life's BIG pleasures, I tried to break the act down into the small things that just make life spectacular.  I learned that even without a sweet husband, there were amazing things about my feet (yes I said my feet) and that rub that I'd miss if I suddenly disappeared.  Don't you just love the feeling of relief you get when you finally sit down after a long day and kick off your shoes?  What about rolling your ankles in circles as they rest on an ottoman or flexing and pointing your toes?  I found I loved to sit with the left side of my left foot resting between my big and second toe on my right foot. The cotton-candy smell of the lotion that my husband uses I realized is quite decadent and certainly makes me feel happy.  Even its consistency is one that I never really stopped to think about.  It isn't that runny lotion that one buys in the drug store, but the kind that feels like frosting in your hand and stands at attention before getting applied to your skin.  Lotion and feet--life's little pleasures.  Whodathunkit? 

This morning, when feeding the dog, once again I imagined what it'd be like if I couldn't do that anymore.  I instantly knew that I'd yearn for the clicking of the dog's nails on the ceramic floor produced by Charley's joyful reindeer-type leap.  Even the sound of the kibbles hitting his bowl makes a sort of music.  And even now, sitting here writing away, I am thinking about the miracle of my brain and how it sends light speed messages so that my fingers move easily along the keyboard and that I love the way it feels when my nails click away on each key's smooth surface.  Currently there's a bird in my front yard cawing with a chorus of crickets behind it and a little breeze is billowing my sheer curtain through the open windows.  All of this is usually background noise and distraction but today I hear it differently.  I see it differently.  These are earth's tiny miracles that I have taken for granted for so long. I am sure without a shadow of a doubt that I'd miss all of this if somehow it or I were to disappear tomorrow. The small things can sustain us a bit if we let them.

I know, I do know that life is hard, the news is bleak,and the world seems to be crumbling.  But perhaps...perhaps, if we can zoom in on what once we thought was the mundane like cooking dinner, feeding the pet, sitting on a couch in our living room, lotion, and yes, even feet, we may realize that there is so much to life that we can lean on when standing on that shaky surfboard.  There are many things we'd miss if we disappeared into the ethers.  So when desperation knocks on our door some bleak day, when life's BIG things trouble or leave us cold, you and I can try and lean on the little things, the everyday things that I now know are not just noise, and details and things that I completely ignored, but instead are small miracles and necessary joys without which life just wouldn't be the same.  

After doing some thinking, I'd love to have you add what small things you'd miss if you could no longer experience them.  Let's help each other appreciate life's small miracles!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams' Suicide: What only those that are depressed know.

Robin Williams is dead.  The funny man, everyone's uncle, thespian extraordinaire...killed himself perhaps as a result of an all too prevalent disease; depression.  As expected, the world came out wearing black, mourning, lauding, crying for this brilliant brilliant light of man.  I, like most people, read tweets, posts, watched CNN, unhealthily wading through text and mass media alike to try and make some sense of something so senseless. As I read, one line kept showing up...over and over in one form or another; "If you are in pain, please seek help."  "If you are thinking about killing yourself, find someone to talk to." "Here is the suicide hotline's number."  I have to tell you that the cavernous pit in my stomach grew a bit larger because although these words were written or spoken with good intentions, they show how deeply depression is misunderstood.

As a fellow clinically depressed human, let me assure you that many of us are talking and talking and talking to therapists on speed dial, to our pastors, to our best friends, to our doctors, to God.  As Daphne Merkin so eloquently stated in her 2009 NY Times Magazine article, "I have sat in shrinks' offices going on four decades and talked about my wish to die the way the way other people may talk about their wish to find a lover."  We talk.  I promise you we talk.  We also take medicine and exercise.  We stop eating foods with unnatural chemicals.  We sit ad nauseum in front of UV lights in the darkness of winter.  We take vitamin supplements. Hell some have even subjected their delicate minds to electric shock "therapy" to rid themselves of the malignant drowning-in-a-deep-thick-black-bleak-mucky-mud-feeling that is a favorite companion of this horrific disease.  

But here's something that many don't know...especially people who aren't depressed, who haven't had a run in with this dire foe.  Sometimes all the talking, the meds, the running and eating well, spending time with loved ones, even time in a psychiatric facility--it isn't enough.  We sometimes have bouts where nothing works--NOTHING, and it is those times that are the most daunting and haunted for those of us who try to function in a society that sometimes stigmatizes or rejects the searing physical and emotional pain that one feels when in the midst of that crushing remoteness. 

When depression pitches a tent, when it decides to stay despite all measures, it is suffocating in its presence.  For me, every inch--from the hair follicles on my head to the numerous bones in my feet-- prickles with excruciating merciless pain and burn with the distinct feeling of one million matches being pressed against the totality of my skin. My limbs and head feel like they weigh thousands of pounds.  It is a monumental task to lift myself out of bed each day and move through what used to be simple air, oxygen and hydrogen that instead feels like a massive sucking sludge.  When I lay down at the end of the day the exhaustion is inexplicable and a concrete slab of anxiety presses down on my chest making it impossible to breathe.  When depression fights to stay, it follows me into my sleep permeating my dreams making them real and vivid and murderous.  It raids my subconscious and brings to the surface every fear that's buried there.  I wake in the midst of a panic so fierce that I am sure my beleaguered heart will explode into tiny bits, and then...and then I wake up. I do it all over again; a twisted Ground Hog Day movie that refuses to end.  Is it any wonder that some choose to end the cycle themselves?  

So in honor of Robin, for his laughter and his legacy, instead of sending someone to the nearest hotline or hoping that the clinically depressed reach out to someone, please...reach out to them, stay with them, ensure them that you'll never leave, that you'll be there for as long as they need you.  I am lucky. I have that--ten fold.  Don't get me wrong, so many have left--"friends" telling me that my life just drags them down--depression is not for the weak. It takes great strength for both the depressed and those that love them to not waiver in their resolve. Remember, those that are depressed don't want to be that way.  We are working, working every hour, every minute, every millisecond to navigate a life with this disease. So, for Robin's sake, to end the stigma of this disease, and to understand it just a little bit more, if you know someone whose depressed, reach out with an ear, a hand, an unwavering friendship. Be a light in that unending blackness.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Definition of Dad--Ed Fisher's Way

There is this man and he loves.  There is this man and he teaches love.  There's this man and he wears love on his sleeves, in his smile, in the sound of his warbly voice, in the way his eyes twinkle at each and every human at which he gazes.  There is this man and he IS love.

Ed Fisher, lovingly called 'Pops', has forever changed my definition of "father."   A father loves you through all your mistakes and missteps.  That's Ed Fisher's way.  A father loves being with you and makes you feel as if you are the only one in the room, as if what you have to say and what you think matters.  That's Ed Fisher's way.  A father is a provider not just monetarily but one who gives of his time and a listening ear, a funny story and free "I love you's" each and every time you come and go.   He is a man whom you worship, and one you idolize.  His mind is occupied by God's word and the immense love he has for his family. He doesn't look outward for glory and laudation, for his family is more than enough...and you know that by the look of pride he has for each and every member. That's Ed Fisher's way.  Ed is a father that is never out of reach.  He's there, with a warm hug and without judgment or scoff.  He'll sit on the couch and sing you his favorite hymns just as easily as he'll sit under the dining room table to play hide and seek with his grandchildren. That's Ed Fisher's way.

Always the quintessential father, you never have to worry about falling from his good graces, as the word "rejection" just isn't in his vocabulary. You don't have to act or look or speak or think a certain way.  You don't have to be talented or pretty or handsome or ugly or broken or sad.  You don't HAVE to be anything. He loves us without conditions.  He loves us despites our not's and no's and nothings.  He loves because that is what a father--a true and real and consummate father--does.  He loves.  And no matter where I am, no matter what mistakes I have made, no matter where I go even if I trip and fall on my way, I can count on this father's steady, unwavering love.  This dad's love anchors me to Earth and let's me rise above it as well.  This father's love give me strength and an unending need to be as good as he makes me feel.  I love you, Pops.  I am a teacher, a writer, a thinker, and a seeker.  I am your son's wife and your granddaughter's mother, but one of the titles that I am most proud of, most fortunate to have bestowed upon me is that of Ed Fisher's daughter-in-law, Ed Fisher's daughter.  I thank you, dear father-in-law, dear father, for loving me like I was worth it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

To the Woman With The Raised Eyebrows: I did not abandon my son

To the Woman With The Raised Eyebrows,

“How’s your son doing?”  You posed this question to me in the middle of a Walmart aisle even though you are merely an acquaintance.   It didn’t surprise me though.  When you live in a small town, a town in which you grew up and now live and work, news travels fast whether it be true or false.  It was no secret to many that my son had been in lots of trouble for the last year; getting kicked out of school (from the district in which I teach), being put on probation, using drugs, as well as many other parental nightmarish things.  I was used to the questions and had gotten pretty good at being vague, or so I thought.  

“Pretty much the same,” was my canned answer.  This is the answer I give to those who don’t really deserve an answer.  These words help me to replace my anger at the audacity of the asking by those who have no business doing so.  And so, it was the answer I gave to you as well,  “Pretty much the same.”  

Usually that ends it.  That phrase is a signal that there really is nothing to talk about.  It’s a signal that I really don’t want to say much.  It’s usually a signal to change the subject which is what I tried on that day we ran into one another.  

“How’s your family?” I asked.  But you didn’t want to let it go.  For some reason, a reason that I may never know, you pressed forward saying,  

“Oh dear!  How do you handle that when you have a small child in the house?  How do you keep her from all of the things he’s doing?”   

And I don’t know why but I instantly felt defensive. I am ashamed of myself.  I shouldn’t have felt that way.  But I did.  So I answered your question when I should have been strong enough to tell you that those logistics were really my family’s business and not yours.  

Instead I blurted out, “She doesn’t see him. We don’t see him. He doesn’t come to our home.  So she doesn’t know about ‘all of the things he’s doing’.”  

And that’s when it happened.  Your eyebrows raised to the ceiling  and out of your mouth came what I am sure is the reaction that many parents would have about our decision to not see our son.  “What do you mean you don’t see him?  How could you abandon him? If his mom won’t help him, who will?”  

I felt my neck get hot and an iron fist begin to clench in the very center of me.  Angry words began to line up like soldiers in my brain.  But I took a deep breath and I reminded myself that you were ignorant.  Your questions proved that.  You had absolutely no information about my son and our relationship and so instead of letting those war words fly, I chose to forgive you.  Right there in the middle of Walmart...I forgave you, wheeled around you, managed a “Yes, I guess that is one way to look at it,” and pushed my cart heavily laden with groceries and guilt down the aisle away from you.

But I want you to know...I want parents who haven’t experienced the things that I have experienced with my son to know...that the decisions that parents with troubled teens make are personal and agonizing and made with unconditional love and aren’t to be judged by anyone.  You don’t get to do that until you have lived with each and every one of us, until you have seen the backroom deals, the pleading, the letter writing, the bargaining, the visits to the hospital, to the principal, to court, to the police stations, the days of crying and the nights full of terror.  

Our decision to use “tough love” on my son came after every other method had been exhausted.  At the end of our rope, we spoke to a therapist who suggested what we knew all along; that my son, whom I love with all I have, will only change, will only seek help when HE thinks there’s a problem, when HE is ready and not a minute before.  She also helped us to see how necessary it was to tell him that as long as he continued living the lifestyle he was living, we couldn’t allow him in our home, that we wouldn’t pretend that all was well because to us and FOR him, all wasn’t well.  

Make no mistake, my son knows we love him.  Part of “letting him go” was to also tell him that when he was ready to live a different lifestyle, when he was ready to get help we’d move mountains to assist him.  We’d be his biggest cheerleaders. We’d use every resource and walk every step of the difficult journey with him.  But until then...until then...we just can’t support the life that he was choosing.  Loving someone unconditionally doesn’t mean that we don’t set boundaries. Had we continued to accept his behaviors as if they were alright in our world, we would have been sending a message to him that he could keep on walking down that dangerous path.  
So, my dear  Woman With Your Eyebrows Raised,  don’t ever make the mistake that being tough means we’ve abandoned my son. Tough love is just that--love that is tough--on BOTH the family AND the individual.


Friday, May 30, 2014

Graduates! Be Selfish!

Congratulations!  Such a milestone—finishing high school! Your family won’t have to tell you of their unending admiration for you.  Those feelings for you, they’ll wear on their sleeve and tell you over and over of their pride and unabiding love.  However, there IS something that they might NOT tell you, something important that you need to know before you pull out of your driveway and off to your new adventure--something so essential that it must be heard by every graduate. 

Although you probably learned the opposite all your life, let me tell you that these days after high school are ones in which it is essential to be…selfish.  That’s right.  It is time to think only of you.  You are enough, and you are worthy, so very worthy. 

You are worthy of an intellectual journey all your own.  Drink in all that your professors have to say.  Take advantage of educational experiences abroad.  Join clubs.  Act, sing, dance—Grab those four years of literacy, mathematics, history and science and squeeze the life out of them.  You are worthy of the best that education can offer.  Your brain is capable, your thoughts valuable, your contributions endless and needed.  Yes graduate, you are worthy. 

You are worthy of loyalty and love without compromise.  As you move into adulthood make a promise to yourself that you will seek out those who see your value, who know your goodness, who build you up and would never tear you down.  When you find them, hold onto them, because you see they are scarce in this world.  But scarcity does not mean that you settle.  You will need those that are true to you on your life course.  You are worthy of nothing less. Never ever accept anyone who isn’t keenly aware and fiercely protective of your worth. 

You are worthy of finding your purpose.  Take your time.  Let it come.  There is no rush.  Experience life to the fullest, try new things and someday…there it will be…your reason, your destiny.  And whatever it is that you find, you are worthy of exploring it to its highest possibility.  Don’t let anything stand in the way of who you want to become, of your earthly purpose.  If you fulfill that, everything else will fall into place.  
You are worthy of self-interest.   Your empathy and kindness is something to be celebrated indeed, but be sure it doesn’t cost you more than you can pay—your sanity, your peace of mind, your ability to do what you want to do, see what you want to see, go where you want to go.  The selflessness that you carry within you is admirable, but let me suggest or even urge that over the next few years, as you enter into adulthood that you remember to put yourself first more often than you do now.  You and your needs are worth it.  Rumi says to “Respond to any call that excites your spirit.” This quote should be the battle cry of the young!  I am certainly not saying “go ahead and be selfish”.  I am simply saying that words like “what is it that I want for myself?” and “I won’t take part in what wouldn’t be good for what I need right now,” are words that should move to the forefront of your mind.  Believe me, when you start your career, when you marry, when you have children, when your parents age there will be plenty of moments where selflessness and sacrifice will be necessities and must-do’s.  But at 18…it is perfectly ok to do what is best for you.  Don’t ever forget that that doing for yourself is something in which you are worthy. 

And finally great, gregarious graduate, you must think about yourself and know your worth because despite what the fairy tales tell us, there are NO knights in shining armor whose sole purpose is to rescue damsels in distress, no princes on white horses, no magical fairy godmothers.  You only have you and your sense of self-worth to get you to where you want to travel, to pull you up by the boot straps when you slip and fall.  Only your worthy self can turn your saddest days into happy ones, and your darkest places into light.   When it comes right down to it…down to the nitty gritty…YOU are all you’ve got.  

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Response to the Woman with a Louis Vuitton Bag

A few days ago, HuffPost Parent published an article by Anjali Joshi who made the decision to use her Louis Vuitton handbag as a diaper bag in

"an attempt to break out of the rigid mommy mold that society imposes on me and show the world that I am a woman like any other who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.

This idea, that a handbag could possibly define us as women, has dogged me since reading it. This is my response to her and any other woman who thinks that her worth is solely a result of what she wears and the material possessions she has acquired.

So you own a Louis Vuitton bag.  You saved and scraped from a meager teacher’s salary, and when you had your son you made the decision that you’d continue to carry it, and the reason for that, you say, is very simple.

My bag is an attempt to break out of the rigid mommy mold that society imposes on me and show the world that I am a woman like any other who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.

I agree with the sentiment above.  Oh how I agree.  It is tough on mommies to maintain some semblance of the woman before...the woman that’s still there under the Lifesavers, McDonald’s toys, juice boxes and used tissues that now occupy a once pristine handbag.  But, I am concerned about the idea that said handbag (albeit a Louis Vuitton) be the sole thing that represents you as the woman “who exists not only for her children, but for herself too.”  A handbag?  A handbag is going to help preserve your role as a woman? Is that truly the symbol you want to use to represent you, the one you want to use to break you out of your mommy role?   I’ll be blunt.  I don’t like the message.  Not one bit.   

We’re treading on very thin ice here.  Haven’t you heard the news?  Women are second class citizens when it comes to work and pay and positions of power.  Espousing that material possession help us to remember who we were before children just helps to feed that kind of cynicism.  Women are so much more than fashion and makeup and shoes and high heels.  We are so much more.   My dear fellow mommy,  preserving the woman you are OUTSIDE of mommydom can be achieved in so many ways other than hanging on to a meaningless piece of merchandise.  What about the career you dreamed of?  How about volunteer work, a cause, or some sort of political involvement?  Dance in a production!  Sing on stage!  Get involved!  Get involved!  Your passions before your child are probably still the passions that you have running deep and full throughout your entire being.  Find a way to make them a real part of your world.  Find a way to be both the fantastic mama AND the woman with dreams, aspirations, wants and wishes.   Endeavors, not material possession, are what will help remind us that we are more than just a mom.  BEING the woman--allowing her to be or become through action will represent you (and other women) in a way that speaks to our potential, to our drive  to our successes and achievements so much more than clutching a bag (a material possession) from days gone by.  

And what about your son?  What message does the idea that “my handbag makes me a woman” give to him?  Don’t we want the future men of the world to learn that women are just as ambitious, just as capable, just as deserving of equal pay and equal consideration?  Like it or not it is our job, the moms of the world, to teach them to respect, revere and see as equals the opposite sex, and I am sure...absolutely sure...that a handbag will not be the symbol of that revolution.  We must choose well the decisions we make to preserve and uphold our rights to be women as well as mothers, and I hope for your son’s sake, and yours as well that it becomes clearer to you that you, your wishes and your dreams are far more worthy and eons more valuable than even a Louis Vuitton bag.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

How To Meditate While Your Kid Is Screaming In The Back Seat (Yes, Really)

Today's blog post comes from a new writing friend, Laura Probert.  It is the first post of a series I guess I'll call, "Make the Most of Your Moments, Mudders!"  I love her wisdom, and simply adore her ideas for mommy-meditation!  READ ON, Mudders!!  

The idea that you do not have to carve out an hour of crossed legged sitting on the floor, sans distractions, thumb and forefingers super glued together to practice meditation might be a shocker.  Being able to mediate while driving to the shoulder scrunching sounds of your child screaming in the back seat...priceless.  The idea comes from a book by Adyashanti called True Meditation.  He teaches us that every single moment of our every day regular lives, yep, even the noisy ones, are an opportunity for meditation.  We can now stop referring to meditation under our breath as the “M” word.  This is a game changer.

What this meditation master was talking about in his book was more along the lines of body awareness, being able to feel what is going on inside yourself at any given moment of the day, and respond rather than react, whether you are in a sitting mediation, changing a diaper, balancing your checkbook, washing the dishes, or yes, listening to your kid scream bloody murder.  

Teaching the idea of body awareness should be a foundation of every healing art, and included in Living and Parenting 101 classes that we get somewhere in our 20’s when the reality of life sinks in and we start fending for ourselves in this big bad world.  Instead we get sucked into the vortex of our stressful lives without any real guidance, and the only thing we really feel is out of control, and exhausted.  We must feel to heal.  Without the skill of body awareness, there is no choice, we are stuck in our chattering minds, intent on solving future problems or worrying about past choices and in the meantime, the body can be stuck in one big clench.  

The realization that any moment could be an opportunity to meditate, should cause a sigh of relief.  The full time job, two kids, two dogs, get the proper amount of exercise, traveling husband, busy life isn’t going to allow for “proper” mediation.  There is no doubt we need to do it, just no way in hell it is going to happen according to the rule books that we have all previously read.  This new idea is the way in, and it might turn out to be a huge blessing, giving you a practical practice of present moment awareness that could change the way you live, and parent, giving you opportunities for healing along the way.  

Here are 5 ways you can meditate anywhere, anytime, even while your kid is screaming in the back seat:

  1. Realize that any moment is a chance to feel and be present, so try being present to the feeling in your body as you roll over and sit up in bed in the morning.  What parts of you do you notice?  What kind of thoughts are already entering your mind?  How do you feel inside your body?

  1. When we drop down inside, shifting our energy and attention from the constant voices or messages in our mind, to the feeling senses, and notice what is going on in the body, we are becoming present to the moment, a moment of meditation.  So try doing this as you interact with the first person of the morning, and notice how your body reacts to their voice.  Just notice.  No judging.  No analyzing.

  1. As you get in touch with your present moment sensations, know that this is a pathway to your healing.  As you gather your things and walk out the door, take a moment to fully arrive in your body as it moves.  You can be aware in any movement...what hurts, what feels tight, what has ease and flow?  As you get more active, are you checking out and being drawn into your mind chatter?  Are you distracted by the demands of a child?  Breathe.  Stay in your body.  

  1. When you are driving in your car stopped at the light, buttocks and jaw clenching to the screech of your kid in his car seat behind you, take a breath.  Unclench.  Be here, now, and feel what your body is doing in response to the sound or stress.  Can you respond to the tantrum without checking out of your body?  Can you focus on relaxing and responding, no matter how loud it gets?  

  1. As you face the day’s challenges, at work with a frustrated colleague, at home with a sick child, or maybe on the phone with a distraught friend, stay in your body, relax and breathe, present to the tension so that in the same moment of feeling it, you are already releasing it.  Listen closely with your whole self, without the need to form a reply.  Your presence is a gift, both to them and to yourself.  

You can respond to life, aware and awake, in this way, and instead of reacting, you can meditate in these moments, allowing each of them to be an opportunity for a calm response and choice.  Every emotion has a physiological effect inside the body.  If you are reacting to life’s moments with anger or frustration, you will feel it inside.  Turning stressful moments into “awareness challenges” helps you change that physiology and your health for the better.  Does it still count as meditation if I don’t plant my butt cross legged on the floor for a predetermined amount of time every day?  I think so, and I know at least one meditation master that calls that true meditation.  

Laura Probert, MPT is the owner of Bodyworks Physical Therapy and the author of “Living, Healing and Taekwondo.”  Find out more about her profession, writing, and passions at and, and follow the progress of her new book at