Category Archives: Personal
I was explaining to my son exactly why I went on a vacation to California, leaving him and his older brother in the care of their father.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. You’re going through a mid-life crisis.”
I spun around so quickly, I think I scared him. The only reason why my youngest boy didn’t receive my full wrath after that remark was because I figured he had been parroting the words of my ex. He had to have been. Who else would be so closely affected by me wanting to escape from responsibility for a mere week (out of 1,144 weeks that we were together)? The one man on this planet to have tried – and succeeded – to have guilted me from doing those things and seeing those people who really fed my soul. (Okay, so I allowed it, but still…)
“Mid-life crisis” is usually said with a judgmental and condescending tone. To me, this phrase smacks of negativity. As if reaching this point is a bad thing, as if we’ve stepped over to the darker side of the tracks.
Anyway, whoever whispered that choice little phrase into my son’s ear needs to hear what I have to say.
Self Discovery is the new Mid-Life Crisis.
“Mid-life crisis,” I think, is being in a place of self discovery. It’s when we look around and reassess our life and say, “Hey! There I am! I had no idea I would enjoy something like that.” So we start playing and doing things we’d forgotten to have fun doing. Stuff we’d stupidly put on hold for… what? Whatever we were doing that we felt took precedence over our own needs, could have been tailored to work around or with us. If we hadn’t shelved the fun or passion for so long, we never would have gotten to this point in the first place. And while we’re in this state of “confusion,” our loved ones sit back and patiently wait for us to “come back” to our senses. Will we ever come back? I hope not.
I believe those with the tsk, tsk attitude might be a tad frightened when people like me wake up one day and say they’ve had enough. I’m a threat. I can single-handedly shake their tree and leave them scratching their heads, wondering what just blew through their forest. I’m a break from their safe routine.
The reality is that this state of mind should be encouraged, for it is through the process of finding out what makes us happy, that this happiness will undoubtedly spill over into the outside world, not fester and breakdown, such as what happened to me not too long ago.
So, today, on my 50th birthday, I find myself still making up for lost time, and with a little help from my friends, the road to discovery has been over-the-top amazing.
The joy I’ve found and the joy I have yet to find will be for my friends and family as well. So, here’s to 50 more years of self discovery…. Cheers!
It’s a double-edged sword. A two-faced creature. The stuff that either makes dreams come true or shatter into itty bitty tears. It’s the glue between relationships – personal or professional. It’s what raises the bar for a lot of us or, if not met, can disappoint and crush.
No. It’s not love.
Expanding on yet another post I wrote almost two years ago about boxes and labels and expectations being a big part of that, I’ve come to another crossroads in my still-developing life. I’ve been willing to accept that I cannot be contained, cannot be categorized, and I’ve reveled in that freedom. But it wasn’t enough. Others still criticized and pushed their expectations on me to be a certain way and, though I stood my ground, I’d found old habits threatening to resurface. I felt guilty and wanted to bend to their will.
So this time around I’d made it perfectly clear. Do. Not. Expect. Anything. From. Me. I am who I want to be, not who you want me to be. Not my job to fulfill your expectations.
It was easy for me to wrap my head around the fact that their expectations were their issue. Not mine.
Some people complied, some people didn’t and that, honestly, annoyed me because, damn it. I expected them to respect my request.
Ahh, but I’d gotten caught in my own box of expectations, didn’t I? It didn’t occur to me until my cousin mentioned that she was waiting for someone to do something and it wasn’t panning out. She then added, “Oh well. That’s my expectation. Gotta let it go.” This ah-ha moment hit me like a nice 2 x 4 across my ego. I had to release the expectations I had of others. Yeah, I know. I said “duh,” too.
It’s brilliant. Obvious and simple, but brilliant. I’d thought of all of the little expectations I’d had of other people and I just had to laugh, starting with the expectation that others will release their expectations of me. A close second was how events or situations should turn out. Unpredictable at best with all of the possible outcomes, it was far easier to release that expectation then to try to control something I had no control over.
So, yeah. This expectation thing is a two-way street, a journey that if everyone took, could very well circumvent a lot of frustration. As much as we might like to, we cannot control and we cannot predict what another will do. We can only observe and try to respect.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I had no idea that the gap that launched me into single status could possibly get any wider. I can see now, though, how inevitable it would be, for as I kept taking steps backward, slowly turning away from the disaster my life had become, and finally running like hell, my scenery changed, my viewpoint cleared, and my vision sharpened. I found myself standing in a place my ex would never understand. The rules regarding school work, curfew, healthy eating – the rules that united, albeit loosely, the ex and I together – soon became the mother of all disagreements.
Seventeen years ago, as part of my efforts to be the “perfect” mom, I adopted other women’s examples of what raising children “should be,” even if it didn’t resonate with me. Man, was that exhausting. I had rules up the wazoo and fought to keep them in place. And the boys fought back.
But eight months ago the blinders dropped to my feet and I found that I had forgotten to preach what I practiced. The solution was so simple.
Let them be.
Which is exactly how I prefer to be treated. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do or telling me what path to choose, so why should I do that to my boys? Sure, my body may be older, but my children’s souls are just as experienced as mine. These boys aren’t mine in the possession sense. From a spiritual point of view, I don’t have the right to put borders around their spirits and make them the exact image that society or even I believe to be true. I’m here to guide them, not mold them. They know who they need to be. Besides, what a waste of time when quite possibly after 18 years, they’re going to do and be what they want anyway. I know I did.
It is my belief that we come into this existence knowing what our life path is. The road map has already been printed up, although our free will sometimes overrides that map and takes us on some wild side trips. When we truly deviate off that path,though, it doesn’t go unnoticed. Don’t we feel the discord when we want to go one direction and someone tries to convince us otherwise? Especially if the only source of righteousness is in their own mind? Or what about compromising on something we truly believe in?
My mother pushed me to go to college because it was what I “should” do, yet all I did was spin my wheels, lost a lot of brain cells, and ran up a student loan that never should have been. Besides, halfway through the first year I realized I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. This is one area I won’t push my boys on. No amount of lecturing is going to make this the right choice for them. True motivation must come from them. Otherwise it becomes my job to keep them going, a burden that will have us both resentful.
In the months past, I’ve gotten a clearer view of who my boys really are. Without the shoulds masking their true source, I’ve been able to appreciate their way of thinking. I’m beginning to understand what makes them tick and why they don’t fit into the boxes I’ve been trying to put them in.
Sex, drinking, drugs, school, safety, curfew – those are issues I will never compromise on. Honestly, though, I have no control over their ultimate decisions on those topics, but I’ve made damn sure they know what the consequences are if they deviate from my “recommendations.” So, armed with that information, it’s their decision as to what outcome they desire.
Some may think this is the wrong approach or the lazy way to parent, but it is actually very difficult at times. To stand back and watch their actions put in motion a set of reactions (whether they be mine or someone else’s) makes me want to peek out from behind splayed fingers. It’s nothing short of a challenge to stay back and let them do damage control. On the flip side, when they are really thinking it out and the outcome is in their favor? It’s awesome.
It felt good to finally release the ties, because forcing the boys to do what they clearly do not want to do didn’t resonate with what I was all about – freedom of choice and independence. I’ve let my boys make choices of when to go to sleep (though the connection between late nights and being tired the next day still hasn’t sunk in), meals, what school classes to take, and friends. As long as safety isn’t an issue and they’re not hurting others, I’m good.
Which might explain why they gravitate to me and not to the “other.” That “coolness” factor I seem to have with the boys and their friends is, I believe, actually the elation they experience when they connect with who they are.
Think about the people we tend to gravitate toward – those who speak to and understand our souls. Not those who contradict or repress our fires, but those who stoke it, feed it, and encourage it to rise.
My boys’ path is their own. I’ll be there to dust off their knees, put a band-aid on a broken heart, give them advice on hangover cures, and I’ll give them room to fly, because they’ll need it to get over the Grand Canyon-size crevasse of thought that yawns between “the other half” and me.
You know what it is. Sometimes it’s hereditary, sometimes it’s picked up from the environment we’re in. It can be in the air, easily passed along from one person to another. A lot of the time we’re scratching our head wondering where the hell it came from. And it’s not gender specific. Both male and female can be afflicted.
Though there are a few people in the human population who are immune to this, like, say Mother Teresa, most of us are able to steer clear of it, but even the toughest ones can fall prey.
Like me, for example. I contracted a bout of this many years ago after being around someone with a similar affliction. It was short-lived, fortunately, but from that day on, I’ve been diligent about keeping myself free and clear.
What is this Nasty? Pure, undiluted Meanness.
The day it hit me, I had a slap-in-the-face reality check. After some particularly choice words from my ex over the subject of laundry, of all things, I came back at him with a line so vile, so below the belt, both of our jaws dropped. Neither of us could believe that I, one of the nicest people I know (okay, I’m in the top 100 of those I know), could have actually said what I did. It was so out of character, so…so…not me. All I could do was close my mouth and slink away. I couldn’t even say I was sorry. Because I had meant it at the time. That was the part that shocked me – that I was even capable of saying something so hurtful. Since that day I have kept my mind and mouth in check, because the look on my ex’s face will burn forever in my brain.
But what about others who do this on a constant basis? Earlier this week some friends, including “T” from Give Me A Valium With My Latte, and I were talking and the conversation turned to women who were nasty, bitchy, and just plain mean. We’re not talking about comments in the privacy of our own homes or amongst friends, but out-in-public mean – words intending to hurt, words that travel with such high velocity, they embed in others, compelling the receiver to “pay it forward,” or at least shoot it right back at the originator with intent to maim. It has a ripple effect and unless we’re skilled at dodging that bullet (which few of us are), many of us tend to get defensive, ball up our fists, and get ready to throw the insults right back.
That is an example of a short-lived case, sort of like the flu or a cold. As soon as the offending person leaves our orbit, we’re back to our sweet selves.
I see that situation on a daily basis with my boys. Separated, they are angels. Together, I’m packing my bags, ready for a Tijuana run just to avoid their energy. My oldest asked me once, “Mom, why is he so mean?” I wanted to shake him into next week and ask, “What do you expect when you treat him the same way?” But I didn’t. We’d had that same conversation at least one hundred times. There was no need to repeat it. My words obviously weren’t going to be sinking in anytime soon.
Some people, unfortunately, are raised in that nasty kind of environment, so when they step out their front door, they are ready to face the world with a frown and a bad attitude. They are the ones who suffer with chronic meanness. They are the ones who have no intention of entering rehab. They are the ones my friends and I were having a “discussion” about this week.
It’s sad, really. Friends and family are alienated from our lives because of the words they choose to utter. (My big brother and I, for example.) Cultures are separated because of the inability to reach for a positive or grateful thought.
I’ve never understood the concept of being mean to one another, to purposely set out to dig under another’s skin until they bleed. Perhaps it feeds the need to feel superior. I don’t know. Like I said. I don’t get it. “T” and I, along with many of my friends, prefer to live in a “no drama zone,” and I think that’s where I’m going to set up house. Not only is it easier on the body, but just think how much money we’ll save in Botox injections. Sheesh.
The life I give my boys is an outside-of-the-box kind of normal. Our house is lovingly referred to as “The Pit Stop” as we are rarely there and when we are, it’s to sleep and grab a shower and perhaps a few Z’s before we head out the door again. My erratic work and writing hours revolve around the boys’ equally erratic hours, shaped by their activities and sports. And the time that we actually spend at home, we spend together, yet apart. We have vastly different interests and temperments – I’m a hummingbird on speed, my oldest a little faster than a snail, and my youngest, somewhere in between.
I love reading, writing, exercising, yardwork…my boys don’t.
They adore Skyrim and Zelda…I don’t.
My oldest enjoys making decadent desserts. My youngest enjoys eating decadent desserts…I don’t, on either count.
My oldest and I love watching movies…my youngest doesn’t.
My youngest and I love hiking…my oldest doesn’t.
That being said, I’ve tried to reverse things a bit and make it “normal,” but failed miserably every time, ignoring the fact that when I’d tried to do what other mothers and fathers did with their family lives, it felt wrong for me, felt wrong for us.
I’ve pushed the boys on eating habits, on school, teen-tude behavior, and all I got was a big shove back. Not fun for either party involved.
Although rules and regulations are set in place, I gave up on trying to “be normal.” And it was freeing, because I didn’t have to pretend anymore. But skipping not too far behind that freedom was its annoying friend – guilt. I thought I had it all figured out when I wrote the Girl Power post, but I still found myself looking at all of my friends, wondering if I was off base. Shouldn’t I be playing board games or something?
I realized that trying to do what is “right”, for me anyway, is a lot like being a kite. Flying freely, yet anchored by the shoulds of the string, I’d feel “normal” and “accepted.”
But when the kite string is released, the more visible my free falling or “different” behavior is. While it’s kind of cool to do the rebel yell thing, there is a moment of ahh…damn…should I really be doing this?
I’ve come to the conclusion certain things aren’t going to happen – it just doesn’t work for us, no matter how hard I try. So one day after sweeping up the pieces of my latest attempts, I sat the boys down and said, “Listen. There is no ‘normal’ here. Our routine is just what happens as the day unfolds. We may not bond over playing catch, but we can bond while we do the Warrior Dash. I may not bake at Christmas time, but I’ll share a box of Oreo cookies with you. I’ll even be there for you if you want a tattoo. You know how completely unorthodox I am…”
My oldest had stopped me and said, “We know, Mom. We like you that way.”
*Happy dance* They know I love them, and that is the glue that keeps us together. But then again, it could have been the Double Stuff Oreo cookies…
My mind is still abuzz with the editing and book cover design for my soon-to-be-released YA paranormal (the book cover, by the way, is being created by Crystalyn Abercrombie, natural-born artist and expert inker, who should be known the world over - OMG, OMG, OMG – it is fabulous!!!), so for today’s post, I decided to clean out the mental closet – a nice break from the routine.
Following in the footsteps of my fellow bloggers, August McLaughlin, Amber West, Tim O’Brien, Natalie Hartford, and Tameri Etherton, each who have done posts similar to this, I thought it would be fun to do a little Q & A session with you all, at Tameri’s urging, to see if you knew how much of a Goody-Goody I was/am (or not).
Here’s how this works: I’ll list some things that I may or may not have done. Your challenge is to let me know in the comments section which items you think are true or false. In a couple of days, I’ll give you the answers.
This should be interesting. I wonder what impression you have of me, given the previous soul-revealing posts I’ve written.
So, let’s get started:
1. In high school, I was a forgery expert.
2. In the 1980s I made Tijuana runs and snuck bottles of Everclear grain alcohol back across the border.
3. I helped organize a relief effort for Hurricane Katrina survivors in 2005.
4. I snuck backstage at a UFO concert back in the 1980s.
5. In college I cut my hair within inches of my scalp as a dare from my sorority sisters.
6. I slept in the gutter outside of my college dorm after a particularly wild night.
7. While working in the Security Department in college, I was a model employee.
8. I stole a moped.
9. I used to make cookies and distribute them to residents in retirement homes.
10. My college roommates and I had were very thrifty and furnished our apartment with stolen furniture.
There you have it. How well do you think you know me? Educated guesses and stabs in the dark are totally allowed.
I promise to hold myself up to the light of truth, to acknowledge my worthiness, and to know that I am not somehow flawed, but a work in progress.
I promise to go easy on myself on days when my reserves are low and to make it okay to say no.
I promise to praise myself as much as I praise others.
I promise to be grateful for all that I have accomplished and know what I have not yet accomplished is on its way.
I promise to see the woman in the mirror and always find something to be grateful for.
I promise to love without restraint if only for the sole reason that I am capable of doing so.
I promise to trust my inner voice, for I truly do know the best decision to make – the one that works for me.
I promise to use my experiences to my advantage, to learn from them, not berate or minimize them.
I promise not to take myself too seriously, to laugh a bit more, to take a few more risks, and to do things because I want to, not because I should.
I promise not to settle for less than I deserve.
I promise to believe that I can and will accomplish what I intend.
I promise to fix my nail polish if it gets chipped. It might seem trivial, but it’s also the little things that make the big difference in how I feel about myself.
I was all ready to do a post about something completely different than what this has turned out to be. I was chatting with a good friend about what my blog was going to be about and he suggested posting on the insanity of the Christmas season. My reply was that it was overdone and I had already touched upon it in a prior post. Besides, I thought later, I really wanted to keep away from the negative side of the season, the side of which my children, the youngest one anyway, seems to have been sucked into – the lists, the wanting more and more – I want, I want, I want – without regard for anyone (me) else. The whole thing was making me cranky. I didn’t need to add to it.
So I set upon a path for a completely different blog, but I kept thinking about a post that Give Me a Valium With My Latte posted on Facebook today, and once again, the direction of my blog shifted, and I began to smile.
The spirit of Christmas had entered the building.
We all know times are tough for many and this time of year adds a little more pressure on those who struggle financially. The desire to please and the desire to keep a roof over our heads crash in the middle and communication just breaks down. But we find a way, somehow, with cutting corners here and there, or whatever it takes to make it through.
As it turns out, kind and loving people are stepping in and lending a hand, just because that is what resonates in their heart. They have been dubbed the Layaway Angels.
These incredible people have stepped up to the plate and hit home runs for many, many people who used the layaway option at K-Mart stores as a way to purchase gifts for Christmas. Before these people were scheduled to pay off the balance of their purchases last week, many of these earth angels had taken care of the balances for these customers, leaving them in tears – very, very happy tears. For those fortunate enough to have been touched, this will be a Christmas to remember.
You can read the full story here. It’s not very long, and well worth your time. The video had me in tears.
To me, this is what Christmas is all about. The giving. The love. The reaching out. It could take the shape of a check, a hug, a plate of homemade fudge, a warm meal, or the gift of song. Whatever works.
Happy Holidays, everyone!