Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Blessings

The college graduate!
It's been almost 2 months since my last post. A reminder of how busy life can can get sometimes. During this period some life-changing things have occurred. First, my oldest child graduated (with honors and a history degree) from college. His journey through life -- especially adolescence -- has been bumpy at times so this day was a grand celebration even if he now has great trepidation of his next steps. Luckily he has a sweet boyfriend to walk with him in the streets of New York City so that puts Mama at ease.

Other big life changes include my boss of 7 years retiring. Some may think this is not such a big deal but when you work closely with someone for that long it is. He was a mentor and friend and even though his expectations were sometimes way too high, I managed to meet them and grew in my own confidence. That said, here comes the new Sheriff and I am anxious about if I will measure up to her standards or get a long with her. Work has defined who I am for so long and for once I would just like to work, go home and rest...for about a year!

I am looking forward to one big thing...moving to a new home. My husband and I are one of those couples who have looked at lots and open houses for years. We love our little home that we added on to and raised our two kids in but it's like giving birth to a new kid through the design and construction of this house. Pangs of guilt hit me sometimes when terrible things happen in the world or a friend gets cancer and I am finding joy in picking out colors and hardwood floors. But then I am reminded what I have learned from two years of therapy -- I deserve to want, and be happy and find joy. My life's mission is not to make sure everyone else is happy (ok it sort of is, but that's just how I'm wired).

Until then I'm hoping to enjoy a little summertime visiting friends, family and trying to be grateful for every minute of every day. Even when it's crappy. Even when crazy people are shouting at each other on TV and blowing up airports. Even when protesters take over a parade and say mean, awful things (that's another blog).

I just realized I don't have a title for this blog. But I feel better after writing. Now go out there and love yourself people. I'm gonna try. After I dry my hair, eat breakfast and all that morning stuff those in the animal kingdom do not have to worry about. Although maybe they do I guess...grooming, killing their next meal, etc.

OK that's enough rambling voices in my head. STOP! Humans think way too much. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

No means....YES?

Well I have to admit the first week of intentionally trying to say "No" more has been a mixed bust.

No is a slippery slope because if you get in the habit you may say No to things you enjoy or that make you feel better, like a morning run or a walk with a friend.

Yesterday I took my foreign exchange daughter to a glass blowing class with some other kids from her group. It was a beautiful day outside -- where I had hoped to be -- but it ended up being quite interesting. Who knew making a glass could be such a process and art? I also enjoyed talking to kids from all over the world -- Belgium, Ukraine..and my girl from Kazakhstan. The thing they like least about American schools? Kids making out in the halls and grinding at dances. The thing they like best? The people and...wait for it...WALMART!

Today I'm going to have to find that balance of Yes and NO because it's Monday. I know exercise needs to be a YES even though I want to often say NO. Beyond that...we'll see how it goes.


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Just Say No

I recently read an article in Oprah about an affirmation book called The Year of Yes. I had to smile as I've lived that life and what I found was professionally or personally it wore me out. Maybe it's because my own Mom was on a zillion committees and always volunteering (for the most part that was her job, along with raising us). Or maybe it's just in my nature as a "pleaser" to try to make sure everyone else's needs were met before my own. Whatever the reason, I've decided that next year will be a year of non-commitments. My own The Year of No.

This is really hard for me because in general I'm a very positive person, but over the last couple years I have become more negative. Ironically, I think it's because I forgot to do things that made me happy. As women we are raised to be nurturers. From babysitting to baking to breastfeeding, our society at least in the last century has done it's best to try and convince women that their place is in the home. And if a women wants to work outside the home, power to her but she'd better still give 100% at home. And while you're at it don't forget to be the Facebook perfect friend who volunteers and gets 1,000 likes and "atta girls" from friends and friends of friends and strangers.

So we'll see how this goes for me. It's not like I can drop out of life. I'm getting a new boss in a couple months and I'm pretty sure me saying "no" to every request would not sit well with her or my longevity at the office. But I am going to be more selective of what I do. My parents are getting older and I want to spend more time with them. My kids are getting older and soon we will have an empty nest. And I'm getting older and realizing life really is short. So many people I know -- of all ages -- are battling cancer and other diseases and I need to take better care of myself.

So here goes...nothing!  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Mommy needs a Makeover

Snapchat experiment
A few months ago I colored and cut my hair. It was darker, flippier and made people look at me twice.

"Did you darken your hair? You look so different."
"I didn't recognize you!"
"Love your new look (winky, winky. OK I made that up. Nobody but a weirdo or my Mom winks at me anymore. I'm 47 for God's sake!)

Anyway, in my world, change is welcome -  no matter how small. All this "live in the moment" and "being present" talk exhausts me sometimes because frankly, I'm bored with the moment. I've been working at the same job for 10 years. Married to the same (wonderful) man for 25 years and living in the same house for 22 years. At 32 I must have been going through something like this because I got a tattoo. An astrological and now graying tattoo that to this day I forget is there until I see my drooping backside in the mirror and think, "What the hell was I thinking getting a tramp stamp?"

My Dad has this awesome saying, "You change, to learn to grow." I can't remember the last time I tried anything new unless you count getting a Snapchat account because I was amused by the funny apps my foreign exchange daughter kept showing me and making me laugh harder than I have in a long time. Suddenly I could be a bunny, or a goth, or Golem (I do a mean "My Precious!" given the chance and voiceover). It was stupid but fun. Until of course my own biological daughter berated and unfriended me because apparently Snapchat belonged to her and her alone.

So, I'm kind of stewing in my stable little world waiting for something to happen. I have always believed in fate and signs and such, but realize that Hugh Grant is not going to walk into my office and ask me to dash off to Britain, and I do not have the patience for knitting or talent for starting my own band. My husband once bought me the ukulele I just had to have one Christmas. I played it all of four times.

Don't get me wrong, I am so so grateful for my life and health and friends and family. I admire people who work at the same job for 30+ years (shout out to Dad), and eat the same thing for breakfast and are confined to a very small world due to circumstances beyond their control and never complain. But I am not that person.

I need more than a haircut. I need a life makeover.





Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Young love


 A couple weeks ago my 16-year-old daughter proposed her birthday present to me: to have her boyfriend over for dinner.

Now, you may scoff "what a self-centered teenage thing to do," but consider the backstory....I had been encouraging her for months to have this fella over more. They had been dating for at least five months (though there was some passionate first love drama a couple years back) and she was always going to his house to hang with his family and watch movies. They were obviously the chosen ones. I was the stepmother.

Seriously though, I had myself believing "doesn't every teenager want to have their significant other over all the time to hang out with their parents?"

HellaNO!

But for whatever reason, this she did. This was the second time the young man with the deep voice and swagger had been to our house (at least that I know of), and while a boyfriend of few words, he was polite and treated my daughter with respect and answered my allowed three questions:

Are you planning on going back to school? 
What are you interested in studying? 
Do you still think about playing baseball? 

"Yes." 
"I have no idea really."
"Actually maybe..."

He was obliging. She was highly annoyed.

Still, they ate the pizza I had picked up along with the salad her Dad had made. We made small talk and then they went back to her room (yes we even let her close the door now though she doesn't see the point since her bedroom is off the kitchen and we can "hear everything." Reverse psychology? Perhaps).

Still, it was a lovely birthday present for me, the Mom who just wants to be loved. To be cool. The Mom with the house where all the kids like to hang out and watch movies and eat popcorn; the one they want to share their problems with and cry with when their home life isn't working out...or not.

I have recently come to the conclusion that I have to let my kids live their own lives. Now almost 20 and 17, I'm happy my kids are independent. If I embarrass them, score for me! My job is not to have them like me but to provide them with direction and self-sufficiency skills -- right? Right?

My wish for my kids used to be "if they are happy and can support themselves that is all I wish for."

Today a friend told me his cousin once told him, "If my kids don't go to prison then I will have succeeded as a parent."

I'd like to think my bar is a little higher than that, but if my birthday present is to hang out with my kid and the boy she loves so be it.

Maybe next year they'll take me bowling!




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Courage is contagious

What do you do when you realize life is just a blip in the Milky Way? Do you a) pull the covers over your head and refuse to get out of bed? b) take chances in all you do and say "yes" often because we're all gonna die anyway or c) sit back, take a breath and be grateful for all you have?

I have been in stages of life where all these choices have made sense at the time. The trick is to keep rotating and not go to one extreme or another. I try to err on the grateful side as lately there are so many people I know who have come upon hard times due to illness or circumstance beyond their control. This doesn't make my own sufferings or conflicts any less important but it helps put it in perspective that as humans, we all suffer. Then we help each other up and keep moving forward. Or at least moving!

Let's examine: 
  1. In the last month I have learned of a baby cousin with RSV in intensive care, a student hit by a car in a crosswalk, one colleague with a brain tumor and another with ovarian cancer, a friend who lost her job and is facing surgery, a friend whose Dad has congestive heart failure, and a beautiful young woman with stubborn cancer that keeps coming back despite countless bouts of chemo. 
  2. A friend who struggles with addiction has decided to get clean and I know it's going to be really really hard for her. 
  3. A shy young woman who moved to town after her dad died. She wants new friends and is so brave, putting herself out there on Facebook trying to make new friends.  
  4. My Dad, who was diagnosed last year with Parkinson's. He is frustrated and confused at times, but he doesn't complain, and my Mom is learning how to be a patient caregiver. Their marriage and devotion still astounds me. No surprise this year is their 50th anniversary! 
I am in awe of all these amazing individuals and their courage. They give me hope and a deepening faith in humanity -- and gratefulness for a tomorrow that may or may not come.

Be brave! 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

This one's for the girls

There are several things I hold sacred: my family, Saturday morning yoga and my girlfriends.

I have different circles of girlfriends. One friend, Nikki, I have known since I was five years old. She taught me to ride a bike and how margarine in a tub is so completely amazing on white bread toast.  Another, Louise, has remained steadfast since our daughters started 1st grade together. She is a devoted mother of three, speaks with a British accent (which I sometimes unknowingly adopt when I am with her or talking about her) and has the uncanny ability to remember every accessory gift I ever gave her and wear it when we are getting together. I have friends from high school, college, summer camps, book clubs and past jobs. They all hold a special place in my heart and life for different reasons.

Then there are "the girls." Formally known as the "Mandeville girls," for the town where I moved my senior year of high school. While I had no trouble being the new kid, I was not quite prepared for small town, southern Louisiana culture into which I was dropped from suburban Kansas. A land of drive-thru daiquiri shops, Po'Boys and big hair. The first day I went to my classes, acting confident and smart. Back home I had been editor of my newspaper, a 4.0 student and  boy band groupie. At lunch that day people gathered in "the pit" -- literally a hole in the ground with stairs. Like a sunken auditorium. If the bottom had fallen out the school would lose all it's popular people and then what would happen to the social hierarchy that is high school? I wasn't sure what to do. Did I just go up to someone and say "Hey ya'll!" or wait for someone to approach me and invite me to sit with them. I didn't have to decide thanks to Betty. She was a no-nonsense, short blonde girl who was wicked smart and a cheerleader. Apparently she had been impressed with something snarky I had said to one of the teachers earlier in the day and invited me to be her friend. This is significant because I am not really that funny. Which is why I probably don't have a million followers on my blog like my idol Jenny Lawson. Anyway, it was the start of what would become a nearly three decade friendship for me and Betty and "the girls."

She introduced me around to Tara, Nicole, Denece, Erin and Bridgett. I think at least half of them were cheerleaders. Keep in mind I was the uncoordinated drama dork who the Kansas girls had invited to try out for cheerleading as their partner to make them look extra good. I could not do the splits and my half-ass cartwheel would probably kick the petite cheer captain in the face. I dressed like a tomboy and colored my own hair to a slight orange tint. My mother still shopped for me. But still these girls welcomed me into their tribe. Call it Southern hospitality or maybe they just saw in me something I had yet to see in myself. Fun? Kindness? Or just that kindred girlfriend spirit no one can explain. It's like girlfriend magic. You either click or you don't. And that magic leads to reveal more magic and powers you didn't even know you had -- like dancing on tables given enough Jungle Juice, or singing hours of bad karaoke in someone's living room (yes people actually own these amazing things)...but I am getting ahead of myself.

We eventually all graduated, went to college, got married and settled down to be grown ups. At this point I would like to apologize profusely for missing all but one of their weddings since I was a poor married girl myself at the time living in far flung Washington state on a part-time reporter's salary. I'm sure they were the most awesome of weddings, but after that I vowed to take every opportunity I could to see this fun loving chicks despite my geography and income bracket.

So came the high school reunions (where we were still the coolest chicks around( and annual girlfriend gatherings usually in Texas and sometimes in Mexico (OK, I missed those too). The husbands started tagging along because as you would expect we married cool guys and they all liked each other. Alas, my hubbie is kind of a loner and has NEVER come to these frickin' awesome reunions. But I know in time he will meet these amazing Republican Southerners and be impressed by their wit, humor and ability to welcome any nature California liberal to their man cave of fun. Ok. That sounds kind of kinky but "the girls" know what I mean. I also know when I went through a very trying time with my family in which I thought they would not understand, these guys handed me a hug and a beer and said, "we get it...it's ok!" I love you "boys."

So I am seeing how long this blog entry is and realize I may need another chapter. Or entry. Hence, here's to girlfriends and friends of all sorts. Facebook friends, high school friends, old friends, new friends. People who love you for you. Even when you are mess. Even when you only see each other every couple years. Here's to "my girls."

"Cheers!"

Note; And sorry for the thong thing.