Archive for Life’ Category

13

Aug
2011

Back to School Blues

Lately, I am immersed in the music of my teen years. To be specific: Stevie Nicks. Back then, I had no idea what her lyrics really meant when she was pouring her heart out in “Landslide” and “After the Glitter Fades,” but I get it now. I can only guess, but I’m pretty sure Stevie was roughly my age at that time, watching her babies grow into young adults, the push and pull of hold on, let go, and having to reflect upon the proverbial question that most women our age ask: ‘Who am I when these children leave?’ Midlife crisis? Maybe. I prefer to think of it as a grief process. I’ll expand later.

And so I find myself standing in a turbulent ocean that tumbles me about, casting me onto the sand, coughing, begging for breath as I watch my son drive himself off to high school and a daughter entering her final year at the K-8 school I so love. They are growing up. Out. Away. We’ve done our job correctly. They are independent, bright, self-motivated, strong-willed.
And yet…

My husband and I have a couple in our lives who have modeled family life, parenting, and a strong, loving marriage. We’ve known them nearly the entire 23 years of our marriage and have watched all three of their children grow up, marry, and make families of their own. I remember a day when the wife said to me on a late summer day when I had young school-aged children who perpetually ran me ragged, “I’m so sad when my kids go back to school. I miss ‘em so much. Don’t you?”

I’m nothing if not perfectly honest. I blinked a couple of times, admiring her 16-year-old’s arm draped across her shoulder; the warm look of love they exchanged. It was something straight out of a Nicholas Sparks novel. I considered lying, but that’s not my thing. So, I took a big breath and said, “No, I’m counting the days.”

I know those of you who have young children are not judging me. You are laughing out loud, and thinking, “Oh, thank God!” Let’s face it, young children are wonderful, but if you are home full-time, it’s EX-HAUS-TING! And if you work, well, foggetaboutit! Double exhausting! But, I tell you, there was this significant shift that happened last year where the discipline lessened and the talking/sharing/disclosure deepened, and suddenly I realized, wow…I, um…kind of don’t want you to leave. Ever. Yikes!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to follow my children to college (maybe), but there is this profound sense of loss that I have this year watching my children return to school. They are indeed my friends now. I like them (okay, to be fair 98% of the time.)

In the grief process, we say that the pining is eventually followed by resolution wherein one’s life accommodates the emptiness and there’s a shift in one’s lifestyle. One day, the bereaved wakes up with a sense of, “Hey…I’m adapting.” I’ll adapt. I mean, come on, my book’s coming out next week, I’m working on hard copies coming out in the fall, I need to do endless self-promotion on the internet and in bookstores all over El Dorado, Sacramento, and Santa Cruz Counties, and focus on my health, spiritual well-being, friendships, and marriage. My life will be full. Packed, actually!

But you know how it is…you’ll be really immersed in a project, or writing a line in your book, or picking up a piece of laundry, and your breath will catch in your throat…and you’ll think, I wonder what he’s doing? I wonder what she’s doing? Is it 3:00 yet? I better get a snack ready.

“…but time makes you bolder, and children get older, and I’m getting older, too…” ~ Stevie
Nicks, “Landslide”

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31

Jul
2011

Playing in the Sandbox

I am currently at the coast with (brace yourself) six teenagers. Five are boys. Yes, you can smell the testosterone and yes, the food bill will require a small loan. My daughter has
gotten lumped into “hanging out with” or “come on boys” for years now. She rolls with their crass humor, arm punches, and more than occasional, oh…how shall I say this delicately?…unwanted odorous expressions. However, now that she, too, is a teen and I would prefer that she be clad in a full body wet suit rather than her itty-bitty Billabong bikini. It’s hard to see her as one of “the boys.” Nevertheless, for the simplicity of this blog, I will refer to the kids here forward as: “the boys.”

The theme of my blog centers a great deal around the inner shift that I experience as I have observed my children and children close to me. They grow from young, curious, fairly innocent beings and it seems that overnight they explode into adult like bodies but with minds that race to catch up. There’s a lot of posturing, checking out who is looking, posing, “please, Mom, God…we’re not little kids anymore,” conversations. During this week, I have witnessed
most of this melt away and what has emerged looked a lot like a scene that was next to me on the beach on day four of our trip. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let me go back to day three.

I think it took two days for “the boys” to run themselves ragged, eat as many Starburst candies, mini-Hershey’s, slurp down several sodas, and then lie around moaning, “God, why does my
stomach hurt,” to realize that they could pace themselves. We hit our stride as a group on day three when the shovel made it to the beach. “Let’s dig a giant hole and we can all sit in it,” my son called out. This received a cricket chirping response. Luckily, my nephew is here with us and he has been part of a prior hole digging extravaganza and knows that this is not your ordinary little hole. I won’t name names, but someone moaned that it sounded like a lot
of work. But, as soon as some muscles started flexing and pretty girls in skimpy bikinis walked by lowering their sunglasses to check out the boy who was digging, they were all jumping at the chance to dig the biggest hole on the beach! Let me just say, it was awesome!

Just twenty-four hours later, our hole long forgotten, the boys all clad in wetsuits as they ran
for some of the biggest waves I’ve seen this summer, I parked myself in a beach chair vowing not to move for at least ten minutes. I’d hit the proverbial wall: late nights, lots of meal prep, never-ending tidying, no down time. I took a big breath and looked around at the groups of people enjoying the little sliver of sunshine that peeked through the fog. Beside me was a group of four young mothers with…grab your Kleenex…four little boys. One was nursing her little one. One was sweetly talking one down from chucking sand at another. Two were
digging with their little plastic blue and yellow shovels, digging their hole.

I got teary eyed then…I get teary eyed now.

Out in the ocean, ”the boys” were getting further and further away because of the tide carrying them down shore. That’s what tides do–they carry you away. When “the boys” were out there, they needed to focus on me as a reference point or they’d lose their way. Every once in a while, I’d stand up and wave my hand and then they’d know where I was. That’s what they need now: a wave; to know where I am; to know that they are still safe, and then to come back to
me.

When “my boys” came out of the surf, I ran down to the water line to meet them and took their picture. I wanted to capture that moment forever. I had the urge to throw my arms around
them and say, “I love you! Please stop growing up!” Instead, we walked up to our place on the beach, each of them with their own story of how this or that wave pummeled them and did I see it?

I let them walk on ahead and stayed back a few feet, letting myself linger at the site of the
young mommies and little boys. The young mommies caught my eye and I said
to them, pointing to“my boys”, ”In a few years, your little boys will look like my little boys. It goes by like that.” I snapped my fingers. They nodded and agreed knowingly.

But they really don’t know. I didn’t know.

I’ve probably said it before, and I’ll say it again, a friend told me that when I get into these nostalgic moments I should cling to this: Don’t be sad that it’s over; be happy that it happened.

I need to go…”the boys” will be waking soon. They’ll be hungry and then we’ll be off to play in the sand for another day…

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6

Jul
2011

Water is Thicker Than Blood

Just hours ago, I returned from a week-long trip with a combination of my family. As we walked down the beach, I imagined God looking down at the rainbow of color, size, and age. The youngest was 11, the oldest 85 and the rest fit the bell curve with me smack in the middle. Chinese, Italian, Polish, Dutch, and Greek, yet all a member of one family. How could that be? Certainly not all “really” related. Right? Grrrr…

When I was a counselor, I used to educate my clients about what and who pushed their “buttons.” You know, someone will say that certain something (think back to your teens and your mom giving you that look and saying, “Oh, you have a pimple.”) that will send you to the moon and back (again, thinking back, you in return give her the look of death, turn away, and blast Van Halen…just an example, of course.)

I have a few “buttons” and have educated my teens about them and now they know what not to say or they are likely to see a young, injured, wounded side of me emerge, lash out, then retreat and lick my wounds. That’s precisely what the “buttons” are all about: old pain pushed, reactivated.

One of my BIG “buttons” is the expression, “Blood is thicker than water.” Even typing the phrase makes my temple get a little heartbeat of rage. Big breath. What a stupid expression! AND YET, I have heard it many times in the last several years to denote that family ties by blood are the ultimate strong relationship and relationships by choice or adoption are somehow weaker and may not stand the test of time or adversity.

Okay. I’m done. “Back to the loving place”, as Ellen DeGeneres would say. So there we were, the nine of us, on the beach, strolling through Chinatown…no, that’s wrong…pushing our way through waves of people in Chinatown, delighting on fresh strawberries and bagels, screaming with excitement over 4th of July fireworks in a county that outlaws fireworks (hah!), and I had this moment that can only be described as: Full. Loved. Loving. Adored. Adoring. Loyal. Belonging. This heterogeneous group made up of many ages, cultures, and beliefs was united by the love of family. It didn’t matter that blood was not shared; that several of us were adopted into the family name; that the cousins share zero blood.

I’ve known that this expression, blood is thicker than water, is ridiculous and have taught my children this, but it’s great when we can have the lesson taught without words, isn’t it? Some of us may have created family through friends and our children learn that blood ties can be irrelevant; it is what is in the heart of the person and the close bond that counts.

I’m looking for a good come-back the next time I hear someone say, “Blood is thicker than water.” Maybe I’ll say, “Unless, of course, you’re on coumadin.”

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21

Jun
2011

The Gift of Community

Over the weekend, I attended one of the most lovely and tender weddings ever. If I’ve been to your wedding and you are offended, I am truly sorry; this really was that special. Plus, I’ve known the bride since she was an angel in heaven, so, you have to give me that. At that wedding, I had the joy of revisiting my past community, circa 1997-1999. It wasn’t any community, though. It was a very special and timely one. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I came back home from the wedding, and as is usually the case, an idea began percolating for my blog and (this is a bit of news) what might turn into an idea for a parenting book! What popped out is the importance of community for our kids, particularly in the teen and tween years. Whether we provide community through church, a neighborhood, athletic organization, or an extended family (I’m lucky enough to be a part of several of these!), our children establish deep ties and long roots that help them feel connected and plugged in. Likewise, they can go to someone in the community, other than their parents, when something arises and talking to Mom and Dad is too weird, awkward, or downright awful.

So, back to my wedding. As I said, this bride, oh, this bride…she was breathtaking. I told her right before the wedding that I could hardly believe she was getting married. Shouldn’t she still be playing with Barbies under her stairwell closet with my son?

And so it set off a domino effect of memories of each of these children. The oldest brother of the bride babysat my never-sit-down-play-with-me, toddler. The oldest brother is now married, has a lovely daughter, with one on the way. He’s gentle, kind, handsome and reminded me that he helped me fill in my daughter’s baby book because I didn’t know which bands were cool due to my only playing Barnie tunes at the time (btw, it was Third Eye Blind.)

Then there’s the second oldest brother, also married and a father to two little ones, who will never age because he’s got a sweet baby face. That’s okay, it matches the sweetness in his heart. My memory of him: at around age 10, he saw my daughter with her silk blankie clutched in one hand, and thumb in her mouth. So, he spent his own money at a church fundraiser to buy her another one like it.

At the reception, we were seated with another part of our 97-99 community. They had children who were a bit closer to my kids’ age. The oldest couldn’t be there, but what I recall is his lovely giant smile and that he was always eager to push someone on a swing and greeted my husband and I with eye contact and a hug (the ability to greet adults with eye contact is something that seems to be lost, I fear, in many children……sorry, it’s sipnshare, not sipnpreach, but I can do that, too.)

Their daughter, a few years older than my son, beautiful…a bit old for him, but hey, I love a good arranged marriage (KIDDING…sort of ) had to be reminded of a train ride that our three families took to see Santa Claus. I jogged her memory, adding the details of a breakfast, the slow train ride in North Bend, then sitting on Santa’s lap. I told her how Marina, my daughter, looked wide-eyed with horror at sitting on Santa’s lap (it was the beginning of her fear of Santa.) Something clicked and this girl broke into laughter: Yes, why do parents teach us to fear strangers and then plop them on a strangers lap? Scary! Something to that effect…

It was only a matter of time until we got to the youngest son of our 97-99 community seated at our table. For me and many others, this is the best story, which, by the way, was told multiple times throughout the night and both my son and this great, amazing, handsome, funny, and well-humored kid, will never, ever forget because it will now not only be told on the Internet, but the photo is linked. I got permission. Don’t think me too crass. Here it goes: The two boys were roughly two 1/2 or 3 years old. It was summer. It was time for potty training. My philosophy on potty training is this: take off their diaper they don’t have the safety net. That’s it. Both my kids trained without any stress in less than a week at a very young age. Maybe I should write that book! Anyway, the two of them were running around together, al fresco, then whirled into the house, hopped up into the father’s brown chair and, “Wait, wait, wait,” cried out the mommies. It was the cutest photo-op ever. Well, that photo was plastered in both of their fathers’ offices. Both fathers work for the same company but in two different states. We have company picnics and Christmas parties. You get the picture. These two boys will never live this down. It will probably be told at their weddings, bless their heart.

But this really is the whole point of community. People you love and who love you hold a little piece of you inside their hearts and vice versa. None of us tell that story to humiliate them…well…no, really, we tell it because we love them and we’ve watched each of these wonderful, funny, goofy, brace-filled mouths, temper-throwing, slamming the door, ‘I-don’t-wan’t-you-to-hug-me-in-public-anymore’, rap-blasting, Third Eye Blind-loving, getting married at 20 (!) kids turn into amazing young adults who are now forming their own families and sense of community. If we can offer our teens/tweens anything, it is the gift of community. True community, where rich storytelling abides, confidences are held, and a person can be him or herself. Accepted. Loved. Held.

As I write this, thinking of this new married couple who are on their honeymoon, probably drunk on the bliss of new marriage, I send them a prayer of well-wishes as they begin their new community. I want to remind that little girl,who in actuality is now a young lady, that she can always dip her toe into her old 97-99 community pond, knowing that we are here with a hug, encouragement, and always a memory and story.

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11

Jun
2011

The Glass is Always Half Full

I have a new favorite song: Good Life by One Republic. It comes at a time when I should probably have it pumped into my ears 24/7, reminding myself that indeed, this is a good life, and it is.

Ask my children, “Is your mom an optimist or a pessimist?” and they will tell you, hands down, “Oh, she sees the best in everything.” The silver lining; the glass half full; the promise of a new tomorrow; the hope that things will get better. I need not go on with any more clichés. They chuckle a bit at this, perhaps, because they also know my “story.” The “family of origin” story. The legacy of my family is not a rated-G Brady Bunch (if you watched television in the 70′s) story. It’s more of a “Cape Fear” mixed with “Mommy Dearest” with a twist of “Fantasy Island” thrown in for good looks :) Hundreds of dollars of therapy and a counseling degree to my name and “Tadah!” here I am, living to tell about it, relatively unjaded and a true optimist! Huh! Go figure?

This optimism and hope or redemption is the message of my book, Out of Breath. Really, each one of us has a situation in life like that of the prodigal son in which we’ve walked away from that which is good and right, all hope is lost, we don’t deserve redemption, but the father waits with open arms and receives back the son that was lost. Redemption. That father was an optimist. He saw the glass half full. He never gave up when critics said, “Come on man…he’s a loser!”

There have been some dark days in my life lately as I’ve endured a great deal of physical pain. It has been beyond painful. It would be a lie to say that I’ve been upbeat and positive all the time. I’ve thrown my hands in the air and said, “I can’t do this anymore. I can’t stand it any longer.” Not once have my friends or family seen me as weak, or undeserved of help. They have not judged, or told me to “buck-up.”

Instead they came along side me and said, ”It’s okay…we’ll stand for you.” And cook for you. And drive for you. And watch television with you. And give up time with my teenage friends for you. And rub your shoulders. And pray with you. And hold your hand. And tell you all about my day. And take a nature walk with you even though I’m 16. And…and… and… I’m experiencing this wonderful care and grace. Of course, I didn’t bring this sickness upon myself, but to be showered with this much love and care is…well…sort of amazing and sometimes uncomfortable for me, but I’m learning to say, “Thank you,” and bask and in the presence of God working through others.

My reflection: the glass isn’t half full; it’s overflowing.

 

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7

Jun
2011

Keep Those Plates A Spinnin’

Keepin’ Those Plates A Spinnin’

I awoke moments ago from a

short nap (doctor’s, friend’s, and husband’s orders), thinking I should make

this blog about surviving shingles by Susan Salluce. Has a comedic,

rolling-off-the-tongue sound, yes? But I trust that this dark time in my life

will all pass like my obsession with headbands that matched my mini-skirts in

the 80s.

There’s a lot of pain inside and out right now. Before I drifted off, I read a

personal message on Facebook from a friend whose son recently died by suicide.

America, perhaps the world, has forgotten that thousands remain homeless in

Sendai, Japan from the tsunami/earthquake. I’m reminded every time I read my

friend Marsha’s blog and her selfless devotion at serving this population who

are now with nothing. Someone else told me that her daughter has been bullied;

so much so that her daughter feels suicidal. There’s so much pain “out

there.” There’s so much pain “in here.”

I’m a feeler. I always have been. When my parents would get a raging case of

the crazies and ship me off to my grandparents, my grandmother would fold me

into her safe, cozy lap, stroke my head, and tell me, “It’s okay, baby.

God is in control.” Her words echo inside me still today. Oh, but what I

wouldn’t give to feel her rub my head just one more time. (Sorry, Lisa…I

can’t help it; I always make you cry.) Feeling the pain of others TOO much is

ultimately what led me to quit my job as a therapist. Compassion Fatigue is a

fancy word for it.

All that angst fuels my writing, though, so that is the upside of “all

that.” I wrote my first novel, Out of Breath, in less than a year.

Let me clarify…I wrote the first draft in less than a year :) I wrote a short

story, Knew He’d Be Next, as though a fever had consumed me, when I

learned of another suicide and a friend of mine asked, “How are your

children with all of this?”

“They’re fine,” I replied.

The silence on the other end was deafening. My friend added, “Your

children have lived through way too many of these. Do they know that?”

I dropped the phone and asked them how they were. Their response led me to

write that short story through the voice of a sixteen year old girl. My daughter

said that it was as if I climbed inside her head. She wasn’t so fine, I guess.

They’ve lived through a lot. They too, are feelers. They are amazing and

wonderful kids.

So what does this have to do with plates? Every once in a while, someone will

ask me, “Don’t you get angry with God about all this?” or “How

can a loving God let such a thing happen,” referring to the death of a kid

whose life was just taking off or 100,000 people in a city whose homes were

swept away without warning.

I don’t claim to be a theologian. My pastors read this blog, so I apologize for

my attempt at explaining what I understand about God, but here’s what comes to

mind: Plate Spinning. I know…I’ll explain.

Plate spinning…you know, whether you’ve seen it on America’s Got Talent (i.e.

you are under 40) or on The Ed Sullivan Show (you are over 40), where a person

spins several plates on a series of poles and has to keep them spinning or

they’ll come crashing down.

I like to think that all of us on earth are those spinning plates. We’re

humming along quite nicely and then something happens: shingles, crazy

thoughts, bullying, a spouse cheats, an agent rejects you, you don’t get

invited to the party, and suddenly you get all wobbly. God didn’t make you get

all wobbly; life happens. That is how it is! &$%@ happens, in other words.

But here’s the beautiful thing, and even when I think about it, I get weepy:

God sends the artist, the plate spinner, to come and spin you so that you don’t

come crashing down to earth. Oh, and I am so blessed. I have been sent so many

plate spinners. More than I could ever have imagined. Just when I was so wobbly

that I could see my plate turning into great shards of ceramic, there was a

phone call, a meal delivered, an email, a Facebook message, a hug, and on, and

on, and on…and you know what, I’m still wobbly but my plate keeps spinning.

This is why my faith does not die in adversity. I have also felt energized to

write. I encourage you, regardless of your belief system, to identify your

plate spinners, and give them a thank you. It all spins back around.

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3

Jun
2011

Keepin’ Those Plates A Spinnin’

>I awoke moments ago from a short nap (doctor’s, friend’s, and husband’s orders), thinking I should make this blog about surviving shingles by Susan Salluce. Has a comedic, rolling-off-the-tongue sound, yes? But I trust that this dark time in my life will all pass like my obsession with headbands that matched my mini-skirts in the 80s.

There’s a lot of pain inside and out right now. Before I drifted off, I read a personal message on Facebook from a friend whose son recently died by suicide. America, perhaps the world, has forgotten that thousands remain homeless in Sendai, Japan from the tsunami/earthquake. I’m reminded every time I read my friend Marsha’s blog and her selfless devotion at serving this population who are now with nothing. Someone else told me that her daughter has been bullied; so much so that her daughter feels suicidal. There’s so much pain “out there.” There’s so much pain “in here.”

I’m a feeler. I always have been. When my parents would get a raging case of the crazies and ship me off to my grandparents, my grandmother would fold me into her safe, cozy lap, stroke my head, and tell me, “It’s okay, baby. God is in control.” Her words echo inside me still today. Oh, but what I wouldn’t give to feel her rub my head just one more time. (Sorry, Lisa…I can’t help it; I always make you cry.) Feeling the pain of others TOO much is ultimately what led me to quit my job as a therapist. Compassion Fatigue is a fancy word for it.

All that angst fuels my writing, though, so that is the upside of “all that.” I wrote my first novel, Out of Breath, in less than a year. Let me clarify…I wrote the first draft in less than a year :) I wrote a short story, Knew He’d Be Next, as though a fever had consumed me, when I learned of another suicide and a friend of mine asked, “How are your children with all of this?”
“They’re fine,” I replied.
The silence on the other end was deafening. My friend added, “Your children have lived through way too many of these. Do they know that?”
I dropped the phone and asked them how they were. Their response led me to write that short story through the voice of a sixteen year old girl. My daughter said that it was as if I climbed inside her head. She wasn’t so fine, I guess. They’ve lived through a lot. They too, are feelers. They are amazing and wonderful kids.
So what does this have to do with plates? Every once in a while, someone will ask me, “Don’t you get angry with God about all this?” or “How can a loving God let such a thing happen,” referring to the death of a kid whose life was just taking off or 100,000 people in a city whose homes were swept away without warning.

I don’t claim to be a theologian. My pastors read this blog, so I apologize for my attempt at explaining what I understand about God, but here’s what comes to mind: Plate Spinning. I know…I’ll explain.
Plate spinning…you know, whether you’ve seen it on America’s Got Talent (i.e. you are under 40) or on The Ed Sullivan Show (you are over 40), where a person spins several plates on a series of poles and has to keep them spinning or they’ll come crashing down.

I like to think that all of us on earth are those spinning plates. We’re humming along quite nicely and then something happens: shingles, crazy thoughts, bullying, a spouse cheats, an agent rejects you, you don’t get invited to the party, and suddenly you get all wobbly. God didn’t make you get all wobbly; life happens. That is how it is! &$%@ happens, in other words. But here’s the beautiful thing, and even when I think about it, I get weepy: God sends the artist, the plate spinner, to come and spin you so that you don’t come crashing down to earth. Oh, and I am so blessed. I have been sent so many plate spinners. More than I could ever have imagined. Just when I was so wobbly that I could see my plate turning into great shards of ceramic, there was a phone call, a meal delivered, an email, a facebook message, a hug, and on, and on, and on…and you know what, I’m still wobbly but my plate keeps spinning.

This is why my faith does not die in adversity. I have also felt energized to write. I encourage you, regardless of your belief system, to identify your plate spinners, and give them a thank you. It all spins back around. 

P.S. I will be changing my blog address to Word Press in the upcoming days. Please continue following me and spread the word!

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19

May
2011

Me and James Durbin

>Doesn’t quite roll of the tongue like Me and Bobby McGee, does it? That’s okay. I think that I learned something about James Durbin from American Idol this past weekend when I saw him at his homecoming and we have something in common. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I thought it would be somewhat of a rite-of-passage-type-memory to let my daughter, who was turning 13, to bring a friend down to James Durbin’s Homecoming concert to his hometown of Santa Cruz, Ca. It also happens to be my hometown. If you don’t know about James Durbin, I’ll fill you in. He’s a young man who has lived with high functioning Asperger’s and Tourette’s all his life. He has lots of facial ticks. Thus, he was teased tremendously growing up. He’s not only a talented musician, but a hero for the marginalized. James shares that many people gave him the strength to get him where he is. More on that in a minute.

Well, we made plans, excitement grew, my daughter and her friend were coveted by many in their class and then…James was voted off of American Idol. Thus, his homecoming concert was cancelled. What?! Well…we weren’t going to cancel our plans to go down. We’d simply go to the beach.

On our drive down, I got a phone call from someone who has been in my life since I was 11. He’s a parent figure and a wonderful man. He delivered exciting news: The concert was back on! My husband, who loves crowds as much as I like getting root canals, lost his cherub like demeanor. I told him to ”buck up” that this was for his daughter. He told me he was pretty sure that it was 50% for me. He was probably right.

We dropped off a tie-dyed stained packing blanket and two huge beach towels to save a spot on the sand by the Boardwalk’s concert stage at 10:00 a.m. I was stunned to see that very few people were there. That changed. By 4:30, some 30,000 people were crammed together to see their local hero. Besides my family and each of my kids’ friends, there were my childhood friends, Barbara and David. I like to refer to them as the parents I never got. They brought my kids cupcakes with James Durbin faces on them–each bite more delicious than the next. We listened to the warm up band play Beatles tunes. I tried to ignore how much my shingles were hurting. I felt the love of my family and family by choice. Then James arrived. Screaming, shouting, clapping, pictures. It was a moment to remember.

If you saw James get voted off of American Idol, you’ll recall how emotional he got. Even before they announced his name, he began to softly weep. It was heartbreaking. I heard a radio announcer the next morning say that perhaps he wasn’t cut out for fame, that he was too emotional. James Durbin addressed the crowd before he sang at the Boardwalk. He said that his tears on American Idol weren’t so much about getting voted off. Actually, they were more about how sad he was that he wouldn’t be having his homecoming. That he wanted to come home to his people; to the folks who had supported him and believed in him and told him that he could be something. That even though he had some challenges and people teased him, he could do something incredible.

When you are a writer, or an artist, you’re always looking at things differently. It might be the way the light shines on the waves or an expression on your child’s face. I knew in that moment that I had my next blog post. Even as I write this, I’m getting a little bit shaky and teary. Like James, there were people in my life who believed in me while I was growing up and were present when my parents were not. They are still present. They were present that very day…next to me. They are witnessing my children as they grow from toddlers to tweens, to teens, to a son with a driver’s license in the next week. Then there are people who live in my home, my family, who continue to believe in me as a writer even when doors close and other ones open. They wash my dishes when my body is tired and sit with me and watch American Idol or Ellen because that is about the pace of my life right now. And there are my dear friends who call, email, pray, facebook me, grocery shop, and make daily life lighter, more bearable because these are hard days right now.

Me and James Durbin–two lucky people surrounded by people who love us!

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2

May
2011

Down-Time…I Asked For It!

>Some writers will advise against fitting writing time in amidst laundry loads, exercise routines, picking up children, and the thousands of errands that we women run in a day—all that “stuff” can suck out our creativity and at the end of the day, we are left with minds of jello…sweaty, Sunday afternoon, green potluck jello, no less. I have been looking for the right moment to sit my butt down and crank out my next blog that has been solidifying (dare I say jelling) in my mind since we got back from our trip to the “happiest place on earth,” a.k.a., Disneyland. But, alas, I’ve been very, very, busy. AND, I have been feeling very, very awful. If I could just have some down-time. You know the expression: Be careful what you wish for. I got a case of shingles (I know—who under 80 gets that except me?) and now I have nothing but down-time. Unfortunately ”down” would be the operative word. So, I’m going to go “cognitive psychologist” on myself and act “as-if” I were feeling “in the mood” to write. This is a trick in the writing business and psychology, so I may as well give it a whirl. Plus, any day now a pretty little van from the memory care unit of the “recovery center” is going to pull up and tell me I’ve wandered off again, so I’d better crank this out before my internal drive crashes for good.

We went to Disneyland. I know, I’ve blown your mind. You’d have to know me and particularly my husband to know what an accomplishment this really is. Some people our age are doing what I would consider actively hostile and aggressively competitive things such as training for full marathons, including The Iron Man. My policy is that running is not necessary unless a mountain lion is chasing me and yes, I know, you are supposed to stand still and look big, but you go ahead and do that—I’m running. Really, when someone very thin, in Spandex, announces that they are training for a half, full, or triathlon, and that I can’t possibly know what I’ve been missing, that I will see God when I hit mile 8, and on and on, I feel assaulted. Bitch-slapped, if you will.

I grew up, predominantly, with my grandparents serving as my parents and thus so, I was surrounded by “old people.” “Real” old people. Not hair-dyed, face-lifted, tummy-tucked, label-wearing, tight-bottomed 65 year olds. No! I’m talking cookie baking, arms that waved long after their arms stopped, women who wore housecoats. Remember housecoats? I distinctly remember thinking, “I can’t wait until I’m 55 and can let myself go and live in a housecoat to cover mounds of flesh.” Now, I think they’d send social services out or at the very least my health insurance would cancel me. It’s an aggressive time to be aging!

I get it…people were less healthy “back then”; people live longer now; 50 is the new 40; blah, blah, blah…but I have no intention of doing a marathon…EVER. The three day park-hopper: that was my marathon. Hands down. My husband estimated that in the three days we ran from ride to ride (with a very organized friend who made use of the ride ap on her iPhone, which was divine, I must say) and darted from park to park, we walked an average of seven miles a day! That’s 21 miles in three days. Give or take a few miles, my friends, and you’ve got yourself a full marathon and I didn’t even have sponsors! It was very exhausting. I don’t remember Disneyland being so tiring as a child. Then again, back in the 70s, we had that awful, limited packet of tickets and once you were done, you were done. Too bad if you didn’t make it on Peter Pan’s Adventure. Go ride It’s a Small World one more time and sing that song into your psychosis.

I really did have a wonderful time and I recommend going with another family because it makes you behave better when you’re tired (and a nap seems wonderful but the hotel is just too far away to get to), hungry (but refuse to pay $7.00 for a salad), and angry (because some stranger just pushed their ten-year-old in a stroller over your foot–get up and walk, brat–we had to walk when we were at Disneylandthey didn’t even have strollers when we were kids…okay, they probably did, but, you get my drift…)

The next time one of these superior women boasts of her next marathon, I am going to reply, “Really. I just finished one myself. In fact, I trained so hard that I got shingles.” I’m sure this will elicit all sorts of sympathy and maybe Ms. Tight Buns will offer to make me a meal (probably vegan and tasteless, but I will receive it because it will make her feel better about herself.) Then the competitive button will be triggered and she will want to know which marathon I’m speaking and I’ll strain and squint my eyes to recall the name. “It’s an obscure one in Southern California around Easter. Something with the word hop or park. I’ll have to get back to you.”

Then I’ll go rest.

It’s fun to imagine the possibilities. Come on, I have to do something while I have all this down-time!

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10

Apr
2011

From Adrenalin rushes to Adrenal Support

>There was a time, my children think circa, oh, land of the dinosaurs, when I sought out “rushes”…adrenalin rushes. I was bubbly, extroverted 99% of the time, rarely slept, couldn’t wait for the next moment. Of course, now that I have some letters after my name, I also know that I was running from something. At the time, when I was ignorant and fairly unharmed, life was so exciting and I had energy ALL THE TIME!

I’m going to jump time a bit today, much like a novel which goes back and forth between twenty-year periods, so try and keep up…if you’re tired, this might be a particularly good time to grab that second cup of coffee; this is sip-n-share.

In my life as a mom of tween/teens, I spend a great deal of time in the car. It’s an honor. I get to hear, smell (often delightful…sometimes not so much…better with the girls than the boys), and feel so much that it’s palatable. All these sensations throw me back into my own teen angst and memories much like Harry Potter falling into the Pensieve. Here’s a glimpse: “Did you get invited to the party?” “Yes!” “No…” “Oh…” “Oh my gosh, did you see how blank was like totally flirting with blank and she like totally freaked.” “Your hair is like so straight. I love it. What do you use?” “Oh my God, my hair got like so frizzy in P.E. today. Uhh!” “I’m starving!” “I hate my hair.” “She’s so skinny.” And on, and on, and on.  Are you having deja vu? Tell me about it…It’s like being in the twilight zone every day.

Take a minute and notice the energy and bank that. Also notice what they talked about and bank that…I know, I’m making you work. Go get another cup of coffee. I promise, it will all come together. And if it doesn’t, it’s totally the movie theater’s fault because it was too dark and when I was fishing around for my junior mints, my notes for this blog fell out!

If you are lucky, you have a friend that reaches back in time to that era of insanity called adolescence. I don’t mean a facebook friend; a real friend. I have one. I’m trying to be a bit light and whimsical, but you know me, I’m going to throw you a curve ball. We weren’t always the best of friends. We were thrown together via our mothers. It took her mother’s death (a woman we both dearly loved) to knit us together. Okay, back to the lighthearted…when we were thirteen, we went to England together with our mothers. We had all those teen conversations. In the small town we stayed in, the epic place to go was a rollerskating rink. We would spend hours perfecting our outfits (for the record, I’m pretty sure I wore strictly purple and bright yellow that entire trip…it was the 80s). We flirted, we, “Oh my goshed,” we obsessed over our weight, ached over first crushes, we really did war with our hair…come on, this generation has flat irons!

Never once did we talk about this: bodily functions (here’s the connection). Oh, well, except for one time when she threw up out the train window after mixing chocolate and orange juice and I said something like, “Are you okay?” She replied, “Uh, huh.” And we never spoke of it again until we were in our late thirties.

So here it is: I spent nearly an hour on the phone with this friend of mine in the parking lot of the Nugget grocery store last week, and here were the themes: coping with pain, migraines, adrenal support for stress, pro-biotics (can we just agree that we won’t talk about how abusive it is to start on high quality pro-biotics), lack of sleep, exercise and the lack of, how we can get our hair straight (will this ever cease!), and on and on and on until I finally said, “When did we get so old? Let’s go back to England and go to the Hippodrome!” Of course, I don’t even know if the Hippodrome nightclub still exists and the bouncers probably would think we’d come to collect our daughters. Plus, the loud music would give me a migraine and I’d really need adrenal support seeing all those young people dancing like strippers.

I’ve turned into my grandmother…I need a cup of tea.

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