The P-word

Image courtesy of itsjustkev.blogspot.com

If you’ve been with me for a while (or even if you joined just recently) you know that I swear – a lot. If this is your very first visit to my blog – thank you for stopping by, and, FYI – I swear a lot.

How much? Let’s just say that The Girl’s first sentence was “Bite me, ‘ackass” (such a proudmommy moment). Before all y’all flame me about teaching a toddler to swear, I was exhausted, hormonal and unaware that my kid was paying attention when I swore at the TV.

I’ve talked about four letter words before – but most of my posts involve words that won’t get you kicked out of church (or school, or work…). Words like “Life” and “Hope” and even the less-than-four letters N-word (no, not that one, didn’t you see the “less than four letters”?).

Today’s P-word has more than four letters, but it’s one of the foulest four letter words I know.

The password is*:

Perfectionism.

I’m probably dating myself, but when I was young(er) I wanted to be Mary Poppins. She could sing and dance, fly through the air and rescue the fox from a hunt with ne’er a hair out of place. She was always calm, no matter how dire the situation (see the above fox rescue) and managed to look pretty with soot on her nose!

College professor says "Mary Poppins" is racist because of a scene where she gets covered in soot - LaCorte News

In short, she was practically perfect in every way.

Although perfectionism is classified as a personality trait and not a mental disorder, it is associated with serious mental health problems, including various anxiety disorders. Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC says that the “two types of anxiety disorders commonly associated with the belief that nothing is ever good enough are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder.”

I know what you’re thinking (because I’ve asked myself the same question) – “Where’s the harm in wanting to do my best?” I hear ya. We should always strive to do our best (unless, of course, you are feeling overwhelmed by all the bad and sad that 2020 has had to offer. In that case, getting up and getting dressed is more than enough. So is staying in your blanket fort). There’s a huge difference in “trying your best” and wanting needing to do everything perfectly Elizabeth Scott, MS  explains the difference this way:

Perfectionists are much less happy and easygoing than high achievers. While high achievers are able to bounce back fairly easily from disappointment, perfectionists tend to beat themselves up much more and wallow in negative feelings when their high expectations go unmet. They are also much more afraid to fail than high achievers. Because they place to much stock in results and become so disappointed by anything less than perfection, falure becomes a very scary prospect. And, since anything less than perfection is seen as failure, perfectionists sometimes (or in my case, usually always) put things off until the last minute.

How do you know if you’re a perfectionist? I, for one, didn’t realize it until my friends and family members pointed it out. I just assumed that everyone worked the same way – that everyone was extremely hard on themselves and that refusing to accept a compliment was perfectly normal (FYI – “Thank you – I rushed through it and made mistakes/could have done better” does not qualify as “accepting a compliment”).

For those of you whose friends and family members aren’t as brutally honest helpful as mine, Celes has provided a list of signs/symptoms. Here are a few:

  1. There is no room for mistakes.
  2. You have an all-or-nothing approach. You either do something well, or you don’t do it.
  3. You are extremely hard on yourself. You’re always quick to beat yourself up and feel extremely bad about a mistake for a long, long while.
  4. You constantly spot mistakes when others don’t see any. Sometimes these mistakes are real, sometimes they seem self-imagined.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been struggling with #3 lately. The girl had a minor car accident the other day. Both drivers are fine, and the damage to their cars was minor, BUT (it’s a big but) I missed a box when setting up her insurance policy, and our out of pocket will be higher than expected. My friends and family members (including The Girl) have tried to help by saying “everyone makes mistakes” “you’ve been on survival mode for the past 5 years” and “OMG let it go already” but…I can’t stop kicking myself. It’s as if I’m extremely hard on myself or something.

So you’re a perfectionist, now what?

First and foremost, welcome to the club! I don’t know if it will help, but you are not alone – perfectionism is increasing increasing year after year. Second, stop it. I mean it. Stop it right now.

Easier said than done, isn’t it? Trust me, I know – I’ve been a perfectionist for over half a century now (there I go again, dating myself – my husband won’t let me date anyone else). I’ve searched the web for tips and tricks and have come across posts, a step-by-step lifehack and even a few Youtube videos that look promising, but the most important thing to remember is this:

There is no such thing as perfect. 

So go out, do your best, and treat yourself as kindly as you would treat the people who are important to you – and Fuck the P-word.

Image courtesy of daveswordsofwisdom.com

What tools do you use to deal with perfectionistic tendencies (full disclosure – I re-wrote this question three four seven times).

For those of you who are too young to remember, Password was one of my favorite game shows. Allen Ludden was wonderful, but Bert Convy always made me laugh.

Love is Love

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I’m hetero, but I  have friends, family members and coworkers who are part of the LGBTQ+ community, and The Girl was an active member of her high school’s SAGA club. I don’t think having a personal tie to the community matters. Love is love. 

Today is National Coming Out Day. Most of you probably know what it is and why it’s important, but just in case you don’t:

Wikipedia defines it as an annual LGBT awareness day to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. 

Will Kohler’s post on Back2Sonewall tells us that “it was founded in 1988 by Robert Eichberg, a psychologist from New Mexico and founder of the personal growth workshop, The Experience, and Jean O’Leary, an openly-gay political leader from Los Angeles and then head of the national Gay Rights Advocates. October 11th was chosen because it was the anniversary of the 1987 national march on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.”

So that’s the “what”, now for the “why”:

National Today continues by saying that “Eichberg, who would later die in 1995 of complications from AIDS, said that the strongest tool in the human rights movement was to illustrate that most people already know and respect someone in the LGBTQ+ community. “

Harvey Milk agreed, stating that coming out was the most radical and powerful action members of the LGBTQ community could take.

Wendy Ho says it is “based on the idea that the personal is political, that the most basic form of activism can be coming out to friends, family and coworkers, and living openly.” She continues by saying that “The core idea is that homophobia thrives in silence and people are less likely to maintain homophobic belief when they discover that a loved one is LGBTQ+.”

silence

image courtesy of TES

Although gay rights have come a long way since Matthew Wayne Shepard was beaten, tortured and left to die in 1998, we still have a long way to go.

Just this February former Miami Hurricanes running back T.J. Callan shared his story of being driven from the University of Miami football team due to homophobic taunts and anti-gay attitudes among the coaching staff. Throughout his time with the team, he didn’t hear a single positive message about gay people from anybody, including teammates who have gay family members.

Although things have (seemingly) improved since Brandon Teena’s rape and murder (I still can’t bring myself to watch Boys Don’t Cry), the number of transgender people murdered in 2020 surpassed the total for 2019 in just seven months. Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears was stabbed to death while attending a vigil for murder victim Tyrell Penney. Let me say it again for the people in the back: Aja was murdered while attending a vigil for a murder victim. 

Unlike Harvey Milk, I don’t think everyone needs to come out of the closet, and I definitely condemn “outing” by members of the press/gay rights activists. Coming out is a personal decision and should not be forced on anyone.

Even in these so called “enlightened times” coming out of the closet can be incredibly difficult. According to a 2018 review study LGBT teenagers are three times as likely to attempt suicide as their heterosexual peers. Individuals can face backlash from their friends/coworkers/church group, and are at increased risk for bullying as well as both physical and sexual dating violence. On top of everything else,  40% of homeless youth are LGBT teens who have been kicked out of the house or have left home due to negative relationships with family.

Look, I understand that some religions consider homosexuality a sin. What I DON’T understand is why one sin would be considered “worse” than another. Those religious leaders who condemn homosexuality are often guilty of adultery (lust), pride and greed (mansions, private jets and six figure salaries). What is it they say about pointing fingers?

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image courtesy of quotesgram.com

But if Danny Cortez (a Southern Baptist pastor who describes himself as “everything that a conservative Christian is”) can change his mind, then anything is possible.

“Coming out” is scary for everyone involved – not just the individual who is choosing to share their truth, but for those they choose to tell. It is our job, as friends and family members, coworkers and neighbors, to be brave enough to support those who are coming out of the dark and into the light. This 2016 ScaryMommy post is addressed to parents, but I think we could all benefit from the first tip:

  1. Don’t freak out.

NCOD2

P.S. I shared this the other day, but I think it bears repeating – LOVE HAS NO LABELS (and yes, I’m shouting from the rooftops. Or my desk. Whatever.)

WMHD

mental-health-awareness-month-living-with-depression-01-758x606[1]I know what you’re thinking. I do – I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again (and again) – I know what you’re thinking, because I’m psychic. Or am I psychotic? I keep forgetting (damn you brainfog!)…

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In all serious, you’re probably wondering “What the f-k does WMHD mean?” Ok, maybe not, because not everyone has a potty mouth, and at least one of you is already familiar with the acronym (I’m talking to YOU, smarty pants) – but just in case you didn’t know, it’s not What Might Help Daddy or Where Mom Hides Drugs (not that I have any to hide, in case you were wondering). Today is World Mental Health Day. From Wikipedia:

“World Mental health Day (10 October) is an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries. This day, each October, thousands of supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to mental illness and its major effects on peoples’ lives worldwide.” Today also marks the last day of Mental Illness Awareness Week.

In 2017 the National Institute of Mental Health estimated that nearly one in five U.S. adults lived with a mental illness – but, as reported in this GMA article, experts are worried about the recent rise in mental health issues. According to a nationwide poll by the Kaiser Family Foundations, “more than half of U.S. adults (about 53%) reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the pandemic” (and layoffs, and global warming, and increased hate crimes). The article goes on to say that “13% of adults had started or increased alcohol consumption or drug use to help cope with the pandemic and 11% of all adults, and 25% of those 18 to 24 had seriously considered suicide in the past month.”

The numbers in the UK are’t any better. Mind’s latest research showed that more than 60% of adults and 68% of young people in the UK felt their mental health deteriorated during the Coronavirus pandemic and lock-down. 

I know what you’re thinking (I do – haven’t you forgotten already?). “Thanks for the dose of doom and gloom” (told you I’m psychic).

While the data from their first article is depressing, today’s post by Katie Kindelan lists 9 ways to boost your mental health. Here are my top 4:

  1. Set a time limit for news (better yet, watch Some Good News with John Krasinksi again). 
  2. Designate a daily worry time. “I’ll give myself 20 minutes a day where I’m allowed to think about whatever I want and worry about whatever I want…if any worries or anxieties come up at other points of the day, I’m not allowed to dwell on them..I save them for the next day’s worry time.” 
  3. Connect to your senses. “Do activities that connect you with your senses, whether that’s exercise or it could be meditation or even cooking…anything that has you connect with your body is going to help you get out of your mind and reduce anxiety.”
  4. Know when to seek help. “Depression and anxiety can show up in many different forms, but some of the signs can include difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much, changes in appetite, a sense of hopelessness or meaninglessness, or even thoughts that you don’t want to live any more.” If you are in crisis or know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. 

In my research for today’s post, I came across a video that made me cry and I hate crying alone, so I had to share:

It’s vital that we work together to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness. To paraphrase (ok, steal) from the video, too often people suffer in silence, die in silence, life in silence, and it doesn’t have to be that way. Together we can make life more manageable, but we still have a long way to travel. 

The theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is “Do One Thing” for better mental health – either by doing something for yourself or reaching out to someone else. Abintergro suggests we start small, either by going for a walk or trying a new hobby.*

I believe the “something small” should be remembering that our perceived differences are so much smaller than the things we have in common. We need to remember that We Are All Human and that Love is Love.

*My newest obsession hobby is drawing. Here is my morning Pooh (capital P – not that I’m judging, everyone poops). 

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One last video on WMHD from two of  my favorite men

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Illness Awareness Week

It’s national Mental Illness Awareness week, and this post dropped into my reader. Cassandra Creswell is an amazing young woman who is trying to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues. I loved this post and I hope you love it too. You can follow her here.

This week (October 4-10) is National Mental Illness Awareness week. The purpose of this week is to bring awareness to mental health issues, and to stop the stigma, discrimination, and shame that surrounds the topic. A lot of people suffer in silence because of these stigmas and the shame that they feel. In the United […]

Mental Illness Awareness.. — Welcome to the Chaos..

Happy Fall Y’all

image courtesy of momdot.com

Happy Fall! FYI that’s Fall as in brisk mornings and changing leaves, spooky decorations and bonfires (unless you live in California), hot chocolate and pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING, not “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” You’re probably too young to remember that particular commercial (lucky you).

After two months of 70 hour workweeks my side gig is finally coming to an end. I have tons of free time, which should mean that I have time to clean, write, catch up on Lucifer and This is Us or just Get Things Done.

Instead I’ve taken up a new hobby, and I’ve been spending far too much time drawing (my husband has nicknamed me Simon).

But as Suziespeaks pointed out, it’s the final quarter of the year, and the hell that is 2020 is finally coming to an end. It’s entirely possible that the new year will bring a fresh level of hell (how many levels did Dante say there were?), but I intend on starting 2021 with a clean slate – and a clean house.

Weekend #1 didn’t go entirely as planned. I was going to prep the livingroom for a new coat of paint, but decided to take a daycation at the beach instead. The water was finally warm(ish) and The Girl and I were able to swim and boogie board and search for shells while The Man watched the Sooners get trounced.

Sunday The Girl worked as a PA on a friend’s movie and we watched football with socially distant strangers. I was sad. Not because The Girl was working on a movie and I wasn’t (that’s a lie. I really miss being on set) but because the Chicago Bears forgot how to play football. I’m not sure what they were doing on the field, but I wouldn’t call it football (yeah, yeah, I know – the Colt’s D is #1 in the league. IDC)….and don’t get me started on the Lakers. I mean hellooooo – Jimmy Butler is just one guy. The five of you can’t stop one guy? (fingers crossed that tonight goes a little better).

Sorry. This post wasn’t supposed to be all about sports, but OMG couldn’t just ONE of my teams have won? It’s probably my fault that they lost – the universe wanted me to paint.

My point (yes, I have one) is that I want to spend the last quarter of the year Getting My Shit Together.

If you haven’t done it by midlife – why start now?

Oh goody, it’s the EIC. How I’ve missed you – not.

(EIC sulks away)

Wow. What a pouty hormonal B (the EIC, not me – although it applies to me as well…and the Girl. Sometimes I feel sorry for my husband – but he can be a pouty hormonal B sometimes too.)

ANYWAY. When I first got sent home (way back in March. April sometime this year) I thought “oh, I can use the time I save not commuting to tackle the garage and give the house a coat of paint” (I’m not sure how much tackling and painting I thought I’d get done with my extra hour/day, but that’s not the point) – and here we are, half a year later, and I still need to tackle and paint (which has nothing to do with bait and tackle, but coffee has kicked my ADHD into overdrive).

So I am trying to get organized – going through closets and drawers and tossing anything that doesn’t “spark joy” – all I have left are a pair of sweats, my supersoft robe, a bottle of wine and a box of chocolates.

I’m also going through files on my computer (not that I have any personal files on my computer, because we’ve been warned about that)…and I came across a document from eons ago – back when I first started blogging and was trying to “find my niche.” I knew that I couldn’t be Erma Bombeck (sigh. If only…) but I wanted to help new mothers survive the wilds of suburbia and parenthood with sanity (mostly) intact.

I was having a hard time coming up with a name for my blog, and although I love “Twisting Suburbia – Tales From the Skewed Side” my first tagline was a little darker:

Twisting Suburbia – Putting the F-U in fun, and the FUN in dysfunctional.

I have to admit I’m a little sad that I didn’t use this one:

Because I’m a B*tch – confessions from a mediocre aunt and a horrible mother

The document also includes a list of games for exhausted mothers/fathers/siblings/babysitters. The following games should give you 5-15 minutes of “free” time. Time to go to the bathroom, or take a catnap or cry softly while adding some Irish to your coffee:

  • Hide and DON’T seek
  •  The quiet game
  •  Statues (note – never touch/unfreeze the frozen player)
  •  Post-apocalyptic planet: everybody’s dead. Dead people don’t move. (Please note – this game may be hijacked by older children playing post-apocalyptic zombie apocalypse, but never fear – you can outrun a zombie, unless it’s one of those zombies from World War Z)

Full disclosure – I played hide and don’t seek with my brother. After about 5 minutes he would come looking for me.

“Why aren’t you looking for me?”

“You’re such a good hider – go hide again.”

He would play for at least 15 minutes, and I know of at least once that he fell asleep while waiting for me to find him.

I tried playing Hide and Don’t Seek with my daughter – when I told her to “go hide again” she rolled her eyes and walked away.

So, tell me  – what’cha doing with the rest of the year? How do you plan to “start fresh” in 2021? I’d love to hear from you (and not just because reading comments is better than painting the livingroom).

And for those of you who missed it, here’s the Life Call commercial that everyone mocks:

Voices, I hear voices

image courtesy of theawesomedaily.com

It’s Monday, which means that I need to post (well, I don’t NEED to post, but I WANT to post, and I promised that I would try writing on a regular basis). Unfortunately my brain has melted and the voices in my head are snoring. Loudly. I promise to post something new soon (“soon” as in “sometime this week” not “soon” as in “See you soon” which somehow never comes…..)

Twisting Suburbia

voicesI have a confession to make. Seeing that I’m not Catholic, you’ll have to listen to my confession. If it will make you feel better, I’ll sit in a small stuffy room while I type.

I hear voices. No, not in a Joan of Arc way, and no, my dog doesn’t talk to me (probably because I don’t have a dog), but I do hear voices. They pop up when I read an “informative” article, listen to the side effects during a pharmaceutical commercial or when someone cuts me off on the freeway.

Sometimes the voices are helpful: “Pick up Lauren at school. Don’t forget to call your aunt. Today is your husband’s birthday. Hey, that a-hole just cut you off!”.

Sometimes they are catty: “Wow, did she look in the mirror before she left the house?”.

Sometimes the voices are lead by my EIC (Evil Inner Critic): “Wow, did…

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To Be or Not To Be….

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Don’t panic – even though Life is a four letter word and I empathize with Hamlet’s rant on the pain and unfairness of life (really and truly, 2020 has been nothing but a clusterfuck of mammoth proportions) I’m not ready to shuffle off my mortal coil – I’m grabbing a bag of popcorn and settling in to watch the rest of the circus.

For those not familiar with it (no judgment, but why aren’t you?) the soliloquy appears in Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare’s Hamlet….What? You’re not familiar with the play? Oh em gee – why not? It has everything – fratricide, romance, suicide, ghosts, murder, swordplay – it even has an acting troupe!

Confession time – Hamlet was my introduction to Shakespeare – and while the rest of the class moaned and groaned, I sped through it and spent the rest of the semester working through the First Folio. Twelfth Night is definitely my favorite play, but Hamlet will always have a special place in my heart (you never forget your first). I know everyone raves about Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, but I have to admit to being impressed with a pre-batshit Mel Gibson in the role, and You MUST see Benedict Cumberbatch (yes I am a Cumberbitch, why do you ask)..or there’s Tennant, or Simm or Scott…..

Where was I? Ah, The Soliloquy. Hamlet has a lot of monologues (seriously, the guy talks to himself ALL THE TIME, but so do I), but this is one of the most well-known. Time’s compilation of Shakespeare’s 15 most beloved quotes puts “To be or not to be” at the top of their list.

I would sum up our (his) story so far, but you need to read/see it for yourself. Let’s just say that the Prince of Denmark is having a shitty year (sound familiar? Seriously though – has anyone tried rebooting 2020?). He starts Act III by contemplating death and suicide. He wonders if death is nothing more than a never-ending sleep, and worries about “what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil.” He eventually decides that most people will choose “to be” because we are cowards or “dread of something after death.”

But I digress (damn you adult-onset ADHD!). As I said at the start of the post, I am not having a Hamlet moment. I am having a “what do I want to be when I grow up?” moment. First and foremost – who thought that being a grown up was a great idea? I mean, REALLY. I don’t know about you, but I am definitely more Peter Pan than Hamlet.

I’ve reached mid-life without deciding what I wanted to be. That’s a lie. I knew what I wanted to be, but then I changed my mind. I’ve been a lighting designer, an actress, a comedian, a massage therapist, a Medx tech, a waitress, a receptionist, a medical biller/collector/coder, a wife, a mother, a referee, a coach…..and now I’m teaching myself to be an artist (thank you Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain).

I’m more than halfway through life and I still don’t know what I want to be (maybe this quiz will help) – but as nasty as 2020 has been, I think we should take a moment and listen to Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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So tell me – what do you want to be when you grow up?

Life is a Four-letter Word.

I swear. A lot. If you’re offended by four letter words, this is definitely not the place you want to be. I swear so frequently that I was surprised that my daughter wasn’t sent home from school for using foul language.

So yes, I swear like a sailor. A drunk one. A drunk sailor who has just smashed his balls on a dare. But that’s not what this post is about.

I mean, it’s about four-letter words, but not the ones you shouldn’t use in church (even if you smash your balls).

I told you that I got waylaid by Life last week. It happened again yesterday. The funny thing about yesterday is that I thought I’d scheduled this piece to post at 8AM, and was really sad heartbroken when nobody commented on it. To be honest I was heartbroken by things that happened yesterday, but I was also sad because “nobody likes me liked my post.”

Yesterday was a reminder that Life’s a bitch, but so am I. It’s not necessarily a bad thing:

Beautiful

Intelligent

Talented

Caring

Honest

When I was young(er) my friends and I loved playing The Game of Life. I would spend HOURS spinning the roulette wheel and stuffing little squarish pegs into round holes. (sidebar – it just occurred to me that most of my childhood games involved cards, roulette wheels and other forms of gambling, which makes me wonder – is Las Vegas sponsored by Milton Bradley? Time to get out the tinfoil hat)

 

FYI Life is not a game, and she is not playing. We may get second chances, but we don’t get “do-overs” and can’t just sweep the board and start again when the game doesn’t go the way we wanted it to (not that I ever did that).

She’s a sneaky B who waits until you’ve set up all your dominoes before “accidentally” bumping the table. She’s the gust of wind that sweeps your house of cards to the floor. She’s the snake in the garden, the worm in your apple, the phone call in the middle of the night. She’s…well, you get the picture.

She also brings joy, and love, and puppies and kittens and laughing babies and spring showers – and the smell of freshly mown grass and laundry sheets.

In other words she’s a schizophrenic manic depressive suffering from multiple personality disorder who gives you priceless presents and then finds joy in pulling the rug out from under you when your arms are full of glassware.

She’s also the designer and operator of the world’s craziest roller-coaster. The ride is scary and exhilarating. It twists and turns, rises and drops unexpectedly, making you scream with laughter and then shriek in fear (sometimes at the same time). And occasionally it makes you pee your pants or puke.

And just when you’re getting used to the twists, turns, lifts and drops, the ride is over. As you stand up you realize that it wasn’t as scary as you thought it would be, and you’re saddened by the fact that it was over far too soon. You grieve for the ones who didn’t make it to the end of the ride or choose not to ride at all. You wish that you could ride it again, but then you see the long line of riders who are waiting to board so you grab the things you brought with you, and you move on to the next big adventure – but not before passing along these words of wisdom:

Sit down, buckle up and throw your hands in the air. It’s more fun that way.

P.S. I wanted to take a moment to give a special shout-out to my sisters of heart. They listened to me vent, fed me food and wine, boosted me with love and laughter, and reminded me that the EIC is a lying asshat, and that we should always be as kind to ourselves as we are to those we love.

 

 

 

 

I’m Not What I’m Not (and neither are you)

 

My brother turned 50 last week. He used to be my baby brother, but now that he’s 50, he’s older than me.

He has to be older than me, because 50 is midlife (if we’re lucky) and there are so many things I thought I’d be before middle age, and I’m not any of them.

To be honest, I can’t remember what I thought I’d be by now (thanks Mental Pause!), but I don’t think this is it.

In fact, I know it isn’t.

I didn’t want to live in suburbia. I had escaped my hometown and planned on Never Returning. I brought my boyfriend home to meet my parents and he said the four most frightening words I’d ever heard – “It’s so pretty here.” We stayed for dinner and never left. I mean, we left my parents’ house (eventually. Don’t judge me – we were young and broke and they had room).  The nice thing about my hometown is that it’s centrally located – we spend the day skiing AND surfing (if only we did either of those things…..)

I never thought I’d get married. I loved my boyfriend/fiancé, but I didn’t want to marry him. I mean, my parents were married! And no, that’s not a comment on my parents’ marriage. They were happily married for 35 years. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I was old/mature enough to be a wife (tbh, I wasn’t). After 5 years and a “marry me or else” threat from the man, I walked down the aisle.

Our wedding was wonderful, and our reception an alcohol fueled dance fest, but I could have done without everyone asking The Question. We’d been living together 5 years, so I supposed it was inevitable, but it still surprised me when the first person asked it:

“So – when are you having kids?”

What? Why would I want to do that? I might (or might not) have been old enough to get married, but KIDS? My parents had kids!! So many people asked us (including my doctor) that I started responding with “I can’t have children.” If the asker was embarrassed/apologetic enough, I would follow up with “Oh, I’m physically capable, I just can’t stand them.”

It wasn’t that I hated kids (really, I didn’t. Not all of them at least). It’s just that we were enjoying being DINKs (Dual Income No Kids), I was perfectly happy being the Fun Aunt, and I was superbusy with classes and auditions and Preparing to Be a Star (or at least a featured extra).

Then I became an Accidental Mother – and discovered that things really ARE different when they’re your own (and not just because you can’t hand them back). I told my manager that I was going to “take a year off” but I never went back. I could have. My husband was supportive and worked nights – but I really enjoyed spending time with the girl (even during the teen years).

The past 20 years have flown by, and my baby girl is not a baby any more. Or a girl. It’s not that she transitioned, it’s that calling the kid who is five inches taller than me a “girl” seems weird somehow. Of course, so does calling her a woman. If a child transitioning from baby to child is a toddler, what do you call a child who is in the transition period between girl and woman?

This year my daughter turned 20 and my baby brother turned 50 and I found myself having a meltdown, because I wasn’t where I thought I’d be. I wasn’t a single city girl living the Hollywood dream or a world traveling DINK or even a suburban soccer mom (AYSO ends at 18). The Black Dog grabbed hold and started dragging me into the pit.

And then I remembered. Happiness is based on perception. As Michael Schreiner reminds us, “The best way to (achieve happiness) is by focusing on…what you have instead of what you lack, on your gifts instead of your shortcomings.” He goes on to add “The people you know who are happy go through difficult circumstances just like everyone else. They are confronted with their fair share of failures and disappointments, but they don’t dwell on the negatives. They focus on the positives, when it’s dark they look for the stars.”

What I’m not is of no importance. It’s what I am that matters.

Or, as Popeye said, I am what I am.

I am a mother and a daughter.

I am a wife and a partner in crime.

I am a sister, an aunt, a niece and a cousin.

I am a friend.

I am kind and bitchy.

I am funny and sarcastic.

I am old enough to know better but young enough not to care.

I am more than the sum of my parts.

I am love.

I am woman, hear me roar.

I’m not sure where we go from here, but we’re better together. So tell me – who are you? 

 

 

Not Dead Yet

HI! How are you? What’s new and exciting? Have you missed me?

Once again I find myself apologizing for being MIA. It’s not my fault – I was killed by pirates.

(I was going to insert the “killed by pirates is good” scene from The Princess Bride here but evidently it doesn’t exist. If you can find it, please let me me know)

No, wait, not killed by pirates. That’s silly. If I had been killed by pirates, I’d be dead, and I’m not. It’s not like I’m a ghost (although I could be a ghostwriter, if anyone’s looking). KIDNAPPED. Kidnapped by pirates. Kidnapped by a handsome, rum-drinking pirate with a heart of gold (anyone else wish Elizabeth Swann had run off with Captain Jack?).

But I digress. Hey! How are you? What’s new and exciting?

Ok, I wasn’t killed or kidnapped by pirates – I got waylaid by Life. Life is a four letter word (literally. I can count). The past few years have been…challenging. Let me explain. No, there’s too much. Let me sum up.

My husband almost died (twice) and was out of work for 3 years waiting for a work comp case to settle. I’m not telling you to get sympathy* – I’m telling you so that you’ll understand where I’ve been. It’s been an interesting few years, but we’ve made it with sanity (mostly) intact.

Money has been tight, and the house needs work, so when the opportunity arose to pick up a part-time gig, I jumped on it like a pogostick. That’s a lie. I am far too old to be jumping on a pogostick (I tried once, and almost broke my neck).

 

I have a friend who is an HR professional and mother to a 2 year old (stay with me, this isn’t just my overactive ADHD). She works 70 hours/week, and still manages to take care of her house, her toddler and their son (bwahhahahahaha – see what I did there?).

I don’t know how she does it. After working a 12 hour day, all I want to do is crawl into bed with a box of chocolates and a bottle of wine and watch the Winchesters kill things. We have Disney, Netflix and Amazon prime, but I’ve watched all 15 seasons of Supernatural 3 times now (those boys are super pretty – can you blame me?)

It looks like my part-time gig is finally winding down, so I should have more time to write – but appearances are deceiving and, knowing me, I’ll probably find another excuse to do everything but write (oh look! Supernatural is on!).

So that catches you up on where I’ve been lately. Not dead, just dead tired. So tell me, what did I miss?

*We all know where sympathy comes in the dictionary (between shit and syphallis)