Category Archives: life lessons

Mother, Wife, Demon-slayer

6df30ac8a387944ff5579c32f2641adb[1]“Life is filled with big questions – Fate or Destiny? Heaven or Hell? Love or Attraction? Reason or Impulse? Beatles or Rolling Stones?” – Stephen King, Bazaar of Bad Dreams

“To be, or not to be –that is the question” William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act III sc 1.

I LOVE Shakespeare. Love him. As in a total, squealy fangirl crush (and not just because he was played by Joseph Fiennes in Shakespeare in Love) I’ve seen pictures. He was…mmmm. What’s the word I’m looking for? Less than attractive (Yes, I know, that’s three  words). Hey, we’ve all seen the pictures of the old dude with the big balding head in the weird old lady collar.

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I took Shakespeare courses in college, tutored other students and read his works “just for fun”. Yeah. I was THAT kid.  My friends and I spent hours pouring over every play, interpreting and debating the meaning of every scene and  soliloquy – but none more so than the infamous passage from Hamlet, Act III Scene 1.

So why am I bringing this up today? Well, first of all, Heath Ledger would have turned 38 this week, and (ICYMI) Spike released a trailer for the new I am Heath Ledger biography.

Secondly, a friend decided “not to be” earlier this week, and it got me thinking (always a dangerous thing to do). I’ve spoken before about my battles with the EIC and depression, but I will continue to talk about it until the stigma surrounding mental illness is a thing of the past.

Robert, like Heath Ledger, was a brightly shining star – a beautiful-from-the-inside-out incredibly talented creative soul who seemed to move effortlessly amongst us mere mortals. I was in awe of his talent and imagination, his quick wit and genuine warmth. He was not only a talented artist and inventor, he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He appeared to be comfortable in his own skin, and I assumed that he was free of the destructive voices and demons that torment most artists.

Shows how little I know. What do they say? “Appearances are deceiving”? “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes”? (or, as Steve Martin puts it “Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes.”)

They say that stars who burn the brightest burn the fastest. No, I do not know who “they” are, or why this appears to be true. I assume it has something to do with the limited amount of fuel and the speed at which it is burned, but I’m not a science guy (TBH I’m not a guy at all, although I could be. I met a bartender who spelled his name T-R-A-C-E-Y on St. Patrick’s day, but that’s neither here nor there).

I’m not a science guy, I’m a creative.

Creative brains are weird.

Greater minds than mine have debated whether the stereotype of the “tortured artist” is legitimate. It might be a cliché, but, judging by the Facebook comments from his friends and fellow performers (“I’ve battled depression for years” and “depression has been my constant companion” to quote a few), it’s legitimate. I know that all the artists I’ve met have struggled with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. I believe it is because we are encouraged, as artists and performers, to break down our walls and express our truest self. Shedding our protective layers leaves us open, raw and more vulnerable to “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.”

Please note – I am not a trained professional, nor do I play one on TV.  I have, however, been battling inner demons for decades. Feel free to take my advice with a grain of salt (and a shot of tequila):

First – Depression is an evil, scum-sucking mother F-r. He travels with his BFFs Hopelessness and Despair. This terrible trio will cheat, lie and steal. They will tell you that nobody cares about you and that nobody wants to listen to you whine. They will take turns sitting in the middle of your chest whispering horrible lies into your ear until you’re nothing but a quivering, weepy mass of snot.

Knowing that Depression is a liar doesn’t fix things. Trust me when I say that knowing something intellectually doesn’t stop me from sliding all the way to the bottom of the pit of despair.

Every single time I find myself at the bottom of the pit, I think “What the hell am I doing here/I’ll never get out.”*  I have, however, recently learned to recognize the symptoms of the spiral before depression gains traction. I wish I could tell you what they are, but they’re different for everyone. Hopefully it won’t take you forty-something years to identify yours.

Secondly (or maybe this should be first) fighting the demons only makes them stronger, and is incredibly exhausting. Strangely enough, giving them a chance to voice their opinions renders them powerless. When the voices start whispering, I take pen to paper and write down everything they say (in cursive, so the words can flow). I write without rebuttal until they stop speaking. Believe me when I say that a person (or inner demon) who is allowed to vent without interruption will eventually run out of steam. What you do next depends on what works for you – you can respond to them, verbally or on paper, you can shred the papers, burn them, or use them to line a birdcage. Eventually you might find the strength to do the one thing that banishes them – laugh at them. Demons are like the boggarts in Harry Potter – hiding in the deepest, darkest corners of our mind, filling us with mind numbing fear, and disappearing with the first giggle.

Most importantly, if you (or a loved one) is struggling with depression or have run out of cope, ask for help. Yes, help is a four letter word, but it’s not a foul one. Don’t wait until you’re stuck at the bottom of a cold dark pit. Call a friend, call a family member, call a stranger. You can dial 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. If you don’t want to call, you can even send a text.

I was going to end with the inspirational “Don’t You Quit” poem, but it’s a little pithy for me today. I’ll leave you with Dylan Thomas instead.

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* Well, that’s not exactly true. My first thought is “Wow, it’s dark and cold down here. Next time I should bring a space heater and a booklight”.

On Love, Loss, and Laughter

images71V16YFPI know what you’re thinking – “Where the hell has Tracey been and what kind of writer doesn’t write?” (or, as my EIC would say, “If a writer isn’t writing, doesn’t that mean they’re not a writer?”)

In Hell. Literally (Ok, maybe not literally). A stuck writer. That’s what kind.

Grief has eaten my brain, and stolen my creativity.

I lost someone a month ago who was incredibly important to me. Well, I didn’t’ “lose” him. It’s not like he was a set of car keys, or a sock that disappeared from the dryer, or my mind.

Sorry for that. I have a habit of trying to compensate for emotional issues with sarcasm and lame attempts at humor. Let me try again.

My friend died a month ago.

Wow. There it is, in black and white. The phrase I’ve avoided. I know it’s hard to read, but trust me, it’s harder to write and practically impossible to believe. Timothy Leary was right when he said “Death is the last taboo.”  Nobody dies. They “pass on” or “leave us”, “slip away” or “go to a better place”.

I call bullshit.

My friend died.

Three words. So simple and so misleading. Here’s how dictionary.com breaks down the sentence:

My – belonging to or associated with the speaker.

Friend – a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual of family relations

Died – to cease to live; undergo the complete and permanent cessation of all vital functions

The thing is, Mario wasn’t just “my” friend. He was EVERYONE’S friend. Yeah, he was THAT guy. He was charming and funny, smart and kind. No matter where he went, he always ended up surrounded by a group of people who were jostling for position and vying for his attention. Mario, like my mother, seemed to believe that there is no such thing as a stranger. Strangers are simply friends you haven’t yet met.

He was my friend, but he was more than that. There are friends, and then there are people who are so much more than simply friends – we call these people our “family of heart”. We might not be related by blood, but we are joined by a love that is even stronger than family ties. Mario was my friend, my mentor, my brother of heart.

I met Mario when we were young and foolish, hopeful and fearless. He was dating the woman who ran the booth I worked for – the woman who would become one of my very best friends. In a blink of an eye, they were married, and raising 3 kids.

Mario and Virginia were playing house and being Responsible Adults while I was still trying to decide how to style my hair. It took me longer to grow up, but eventually I got married and had a kid of my own. I am incredibly lucky to have had their help in raising my daughter. Mario was a perfect example of a father for my spouse to emulate, and Virginia was the same for me. Their three kids are amazing people, despite the fact that their parents have a twisted sense of humor (It gave me hope that our daughter wouldn’t be Permanently Damaged). The fact that they were still wildly in love with each other even after 35 years together was inspiring – a testimony to the power of True Love.

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Mario’s kids asked us to write down things that we learned from him, to list our favorite sayings or quotes. I couldn’t think of anything at the time. I’m sure people remember a lot of “Mario-isms”, but I can’t remember anything other than him saying “OUTSTANDING!” when things would go less than perfectly, or when someone would do something that was extraordinarily stupid. But here are things that I learned from him:

Be kind. Mario was nice to everyone – no matter what they believed, what they looked like, how they dressed, how much money they made (or didn’t make). He was one of the popular kids, but he wasn’t one of the mean girls (which is not to say that he didn’t enjoy a little CCC* when warranted). He went out of his way to be kind to people who were often overlooked or ignored. He was even nice to the weird kid in the corner (What? No, that wasn’t me, why would you think that?).

Be polite We disagreed about many things (politics, religion, and whether the Three Stooges were funny). As strong minded (or, in my case, hard headed) individuals, we agreed to disagree. Having friends with opinions which differ from one’s own makes life more interesting.

but don’t be a pushover. (does this one really need explaining?)

Keep learning. Mario was always reading, always trying to better himself. As Albert Einstein said “Once you stop learning, you start dying.”

Make people smile Mario would do almost anything to get a laugh (that’s not exactly true. There was no “almost” about it).

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by embracing your inner weirdo – In a world where everyone worries about what others think/we struggle to fit in, to be normal (please note, “normal” is just a setting on the washing machine), Mario stood out as someone who just didn’t give a flying f…

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Don’t whine. (Aka “Suck it up, Buttercup”) The past few years were incredibly hard physically and psychologically, and yet, Mario was always smiling (or maybe it was a grimace). His outlook could best be described this way:

Be strong… Mario was in a lot of pain, but he never let it stop him from doing the things that he needed or wanted to do. Long days at work which required hours of driving? Every day. Trips to Yosemite, to hockey games, to shows and soccer games and even a longa** Christmas parade? NP. The thing that stands out most is the fact that, whenever I came to visit, no matter how much pain he was in, Mario always stood up to say hello.

but don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it (TBH I never heard Mario ask for help for himself. He was always asking for help for someone else).

and always offer help to those who need it. In a world where people rise above the masses by putting others down, Mario lifted people up.

Those are the things I’ve learned from Mario’s life. What did I learn from his death?

That “Only the good die young” is not a meaningless phrase. Neither is “Life’s a Bitch, and then you die.” That we need to find make time for those we love. When I was a kid, I thought nothing of knocking on my friend’s door, and asking if they could come out and play. We lose that ability when we grow up – we get busy with life – with school, with work. We worry that our houses are too messy for guests, or that our friends are too busy for us. We SCHEDULE our lives and our visits, instead of just “popping in to say hello”. We text and skype and send messages via snapchat or twitter. We brag about the fact that Facebook has allowed us to “reconnect” with old friends and family members, but we don’t take make the time to see each other “IRL”. WE NEED TO STOP THAT, RIGHT NOW.

What did I learn from my friend’s death? Life is short, and none of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Mario’s younger daughter got married in November. At the reception, he asked me told me to stop by after work for a “beer and bitch” session, but I assumed it was the whisky talking, and that we would have a chance to catch up “soon”. Please believe me when I say that “SOON” DOESN’T COME SOON ENOUGH.

I know this was a long post, so, in the immortal words of Inygo Montoya “let me sum up”. What did I learn from Mario?

Live fearlessly, love fiercely and laugh at all that life throws your way.

And, oh yeah, always pet the puppies.

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*Catty Corner Commentary

Fork, yeah!

thvtmdn5vdI swear. A lot. I didn’t always have a filthy mouth, but, once I started, I swore loudly and often (my parents were so proud). My favorite word started with an f and ended in a k. It wasn’t “fork”, but that’s the word I will use in this post, because I am trying to beat my addiction. I’ve even started a 12 step program. Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’m addicted to four letter words. Like most 12 step programs, the first step is admitting you have a problem and that you’re powerless to stop. The second step is to believe that a power greater than yourself can help you stop (Yeah, right. Even the power of parenthood couldn’t stop me. My daughter’s first sentence was “Bite me jackass”). The third step is…ummm..fuck if I know. Dammit. Back to day one. Hello, my name is Tracey, and I’m addicted to four letter words….

My husband hoped that becoming an accidental mother would change me. After all, mothers are sweet and kind, loving and gentle. Evidently I didn’t get the memo, because the only thing that changed was that I went from being a wife that swore to a mother with a dirty mouth. The good news is that, when people would “slip” and swear in front of my tweenager, she would just shrug and roll her eyes when they apologized (“I’ve heard worse”).

I know, I know, women shouldn’t swear/it’s not ladylike. TBH I don’t know what the big deal is. Studies have shown that swearing is good for you and reduces pain. Just recently I posted a popular FB meme as my status. I’ll share it here, ICYMI

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image courtesy of imgarcade.com

There are issues when you’re a woman who loves to swear. Nineteen of them have been identified by the awesome Erin La Rosa from Buzzfeed. Being far from “normal” (FYI normal is just a setting on the dryer), my issue wasn’t one of them. Using the “f-word” was cathartic at first, but, like most gateway drugs, one day it stopped giving me the rush I craved. I tried using other words, but they didn’t have the punch I needed. The logical next step in my progression (regression?) was to link them together in strange and unusual ways, but”I’ll see you next Tuesday you cat-faced mother forking son of a female dog” took too damn long. In searching for a new/better four letter word (one that will express my frustration with my current situation and the increasingly dark and dismaying world climate) I found the perfect word.

HOPE

(hōp)

v. hoped, hop·ing, hopes
v.intr.

1. To wish for a particular event that one considers possible: We are hoping for more financial support.
2. Archaic To have confidence; trust.
v.tr.

To desire and consider possible: I hope that you will join us for dinner. We hope to buy a house in the spring. See Synonyms at expect.

I’ve spoken about hope before. One of my first posts talked about losing and finding hope. the other one talked about fear and the power of Hope. When I picture Hope, I see a rare and delicate flower. It’s a fragile thing, easily lost and hard to find when life gets rough. The good news is that Hope is bioluminescent, allowing you to find it even on the darkest of nights. With a little love and a lot of TLC it will blossom, bloom and grow. I believe the best way to feed Hope is by sharing and spreading love, which is how I came up with an acronym –

Help

One

Person

Every

Day**

Look, it’s getting scary out there. It’s too much. Too much anger. Too much hate. Let’s see if there’s such a thing as too much love**. Hold the door for someone, share a smile, compliment a stranger. Be kind to each other. Play nicely in the sandbox.

And on those days where life beats you down and everyone is being an asshat, swear like a sailor like a woman who loves to curse. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

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image courtesy of gurl.com

 

I have a couple of questions (take out your #2 pencils):

  1. Do you swear, and (if so) what’s your favorite four letter word?
  2. What is your favorite story of hope?
  3. How do you “pay it forward“?

*Oops, that’s “HOPED” not “HOPE”. Dammit, I was hoping that this post would be perfect 😉

**there is, and it causes chafing, but that’s a topic for a different post

What are you afraid of?

fear2When I was little, I was afraid of the dark. No, not the creatures that lived in the dark closet or the monsters who hid in the darkness under the bed – I was afraid of the lack of light itself. It hung in the corners at bedtime, waiting for my parents to kiss me goodnight and leave my room. As they crossed the threshold, it slid down the walls and crept across the floor until slowly, oh so slowly,  it reached the foot of my bed. I would huddle in a ball by the head of the bed, eyes opened so widely I feared they would fall out, lips pinched tight against screams and tears, until finally the darkness reached out to touch a toe, and I’d let loose with a shriek that “it’s coming to get me!”

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image credit to waxycamera.wordpress.com

I’m not quite sure why it scared me so. Maybe it was because I thought the darkness was a monster – a dark, oily blanket that swallowed everything it touched. Maybe it was because my overactive imagine could hear it whispering (it was just my imagination, wasn’t it?). Whatever the reason, I slept with the hall light on until I left for college (Just kidding. Maybe).

As an adult* I’m proud to say that I’ve outgrown my fear of the dark. What? No, that’s not a nightlight in my room. I mean, it IS a nightlight, but it’s not because I’m afraid – it’s because I’m clumsy. I need a light to help me avoid corners and legos and other little bits of clutter that reach to trip me on my way to the bathroom.

As a mother, I’m no longer afraid of the dark – there are scarier things than monsters that live in the closet or under the bed. Things like dangerous playgrounds filled with too tall ladders, slippery slides and swings without seatbelts and germ-laden ball pits and suburban soccer moms and snack duty and PTA meetings and awards ceremonies and school plays (as the mother to a child who was in a continuous growth spurt, school plays were always accompanied by a muttered prayer please don’t let her fall off the stage, please don’t let her fall of the stage…).

But there’s nothing, in all my years of phobias and fears (rational and irrational), that has scared me more than two little words. Two words that can bring me to my knees, eyes shut and heart pounding. You laugh, but trust me, these two words can send a grown man screaming from the room. I don’t like to speak for other people (I can hear you laughing – stop it!), but I’m pretty sure I can speak for parents everywhere, when I say there’s nothing scarier than these two little words:

“I’m bored”.

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image courtesy of pictures88.com

Every parent responds differently to “I’m bored”. I’ve heard everything from “You have a whole room of toys, how can you be bored?” to “When I was your age, I didn’t have time to be bored”. Evidently some adults have forgotten their childhood – how the days stretched on for hours, and summer seemed endless. On the first day of vacation, my friends and I would race outside after breakfast,  to play tag or ball or hopscotch or ride bikes until the streetlights turned on– and eventually, the newness of summer would morph into endless repetition and we’d be…bored. Please note, I’m referring  to the definition of bored as “To make weary by being dull, repetitive, or tedious“– I don’t want to suggest that, in an attempt to relieve our boredom, we’d bore holes into each other (if only because our dads locked their tools in the garage).

I know what you’re thinking. We’re a month past winter break and summer is a lifetime away – so why was I reminded of the chill of these two little words?

Because

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As a kid, I was too busy to be bored. As a college student, there weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, so boredom was out of the question. As “someone’s wife” I was a hyphenated woman (wife/masseuse/biller/coder/actor/comedian/cook/housekeeper) and much too busy following Cosmo magazine’s challenge to “do it all and do it all well” to be bored. As a pregnant woman (and then new mother), I was too sleep deprived to be anything but tired (which rapidly evolved into being too busy to be bored). Now that I’m the parent of a not-quite 17 year old, my life is becoming my own once again, and I’m bored, bored. B-o-r-e-d.

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Boredom is dangerous, because she usually brings along her friends apathy and despair.  The three friends like to grab you by the hair and drag you down the grey-bricked road to depression.

Because I’m a Virgo, I immediately researched the symptoms to and remedies for boredom. The internet provided a whole slew of images and ideas.

 

This one made me laugh:

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but only because I would follow Boredom all the way down the grey-bricked road to  limbo before doing chores to break her.

And then I got an email from DailyOm.com** telling me that The sense of feeling bored in life can be an indicator that we need to be proactive in creating change” (I love it when the universe/God/the Goddess/the force dumps an answer in my lap). So it looks as though I am looking to change, which is not as easy as looking FOR change. I hate change. It’s hard, but I suppose it’s not as hard as being dragged down a brick road by your hair.

The bad news is that I’m not sure I know who I am, now that I’m not just “someone’s wife” or “someone’s mother”. The good news is that I’m returning to the things I did BM (Before Motherhood) and I still love them. The best news is that I may be bored, but at least nobody’s drilling holes into my abdomen – or my brain.

So tell me – what do you do to combat boredom? And how do you being to change, when your inner child is kicking, screaming and going limp at the very idea?

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*I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again – what is a dult and why would anyone want to be one?

**The DailyOM is amazing. Really and truly. If you’re not following them, you should be.

Hormones and Whore Moans

_20170131_080930I’m in hell (not literally, although that might explain my absence). They don’t have Wi-Fi in hell. They also don’t have ice water or chocolate. I don’t want to be here, but I’ve wound up here, despite my good intentions. It’s not that I’m evil, it’s just that lately I’ve had an overwhelming urge to reach out and touch someone – with a baseball bat.

It’s possible that my agitation is a reflection of all the hatred and anger that’s out there right now –but I don’t think that’s it. I think my violent urges can be blamed on the fact that I am a “woman of a certain age” and that I’m going through the dreaded M word. The word that-must-not-be-named (with apologies to J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter). No, not marriage, although the thought of marriage can cause dread among a select (mostly masculine) portion of the populace. And not Maternity, although that can cause dread, anxiety and flat out fear (and rightfully so – children are assholes! I would know, I used to be one).

I’m talking about Menopause. My friends and I prefer the phrase “mental pause” (for good reason. Ever since it started my brain has been permanently paused). TBH, I’ve been very lucky. I’ve only had a few “personal summers” (during the summer, which seems incredibly cruel) and zero night sweats. I gained 10 pounds, but that could be due to my newfound love of Modelo Negra.

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One of my biggest issues has been hair loss*. Then there’s the newfound sleeplessness associated with shifting hormonal levels (granted, mid-life insomnia is not unique to menopausal women, but I’m including it here because it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want, so there ;-P). According to an article on WebMD, a study published in the journal Menopause in 2001 observed that “insomnia is a frequently reported complaint in menopausal women.” The reason: You may be sleeping – or wanting to sleep — but your estrogen levels are still up dancing all night long. And that continual action can interrupt healthy sleep. I’d really like to know why, when I’m too tired to stay up to watch CSI, my estrogen levels have the energy to stay up dancing all night long. Ah well, I’m using the extra free time to power through my reading list.

I consider myself fortunate in that I have friends who have battled the M word. Women with whom I’ve been able compare notes and commiserate over a glass of wine (or three). I want to take this opportunity to let them know that I’m unfriending them. They failed to properly prepare me for Menopause Mood Swings. In their defense, NOTHING can prepare you for MMP. Severe PMS? Nope, not even close. Pregnancy hormones? Close, but no cigar. As my sister-in-law Jasmine put it “These hormones are no joke – I can want to kill someone and then sob uncontrollably at my own crazy in under five seconds.” I have her beat. I can go from upbeat to homicidal in 2.3 seconds, and I’m buying Kleenex by the buttload (damn those people in advertising anyway).

There are definitely things you can do to offset “power surges”. With two hormonal females under one roof, my husband learned fairly quickly that the best thing to do when someone you love starts riding the hormonal rollercoaster is throw chocolate and hide the pointy objects.  I’ve found that a glass of wine takes the edge off (added bonus – red wine has health benefits!), and that the aforementioned chocolate releases endorphins. I’ve heard rumors that endorphins are released during exercise, but that seems like a drastic measure. Experts recommend offsetting hormone surges with visualization and breathing exercises. I’ve found that this one works well for me:

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When all is said and done, I am forced to admit that menopause can be fun (trust me – menopause puts the f-u in “fun”). If nothing else, I’ve learned brand new games I can play by myself, including “Where did I put my___?” and “Why the hell did I come in here?” It’s because hormones create something known as “brain fog”. Evidently hormones, like zombies, eat your brain. Unlike zombies, hormones do not eat other peoples’ brains and cannot be killed by an arrow to the eye or a knife through the head (well, they CAN be, but it seems like a permanent solution to a temporary situation).

I’ve been told that, as I move further “post” my “post-menopausal” stage, things will get easier. In the meantime, I’m keeping Nathanial Parizek’s quote in mind:

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*Well, that’s not exactly true. I’m losing hair from my head, but I’m growing it in fun new places. My sideburns are particularly lovely.

So, tell me – how do YOU handle your hormonal shifts? Chocolate and wine? Meditation and yoga?

P.S. for those of you who have waited patiently to know the difference between hormones and whore moans – Both can be fake, but one responds well to chocolate, and one will cost you a little extra.

Hippo Gnu Deer

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Image courtesy of Sandra Boynton

Happy New year and welcome to a brand new me!

I know what you’re thinking – really I do. Not because I’m psychic, or because (thanks to Miss Sally’s magic mirror) I can see you*. It’s not even because I’m a mom and moms know EVERYTHING.

I know what you’re thinking, because every year, when people would say “Whooooo hooo! New year – it’s a fresh start!” I would roll my eyes so hard that I was afraid they’d fall out.

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And then 2016 happened. It was an extreme rollercoaster of a year,  filled with highs, lows, marriages, births and near death experiences.

To be honest, 2016 wasn’t terrible for me. It wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t horrible. We (“we” meaning my family – I haven’t started using the royal “we” – yet)  made it through with sanity and sense of humor mostly intact, which is more than can be said of some. Again, it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t great. We survived.

After five years riding Life’s rollercoaster, I’ve decided that survival is not enough. Surely I can do something more than just survive another year. Yesterday I started listening to “Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes. She opened with one of my favorite quotes:

If you want crappy tings to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something more.” – Christina Yang, Grey’s Anatomy

It occurred to me that in order to make some changes in my life, I might need to actually make some changes in my life. No, you didn’t read that wrong. For the past few years I’ve tried to make changes in my life by wishing and hoping, praying and swearing. Some things worked better than others (swearing always makes me feel better, especially when I’ve cracked my toe on the corner of the sofa), but they’ve only brought me so far.

Maya Angelou says it better:

“The need for change bulldozed a road down the center of my mind.”

I’ve decided that this year, instead of setting myself up for failure by making impossible resolutions (“I will cut out sugar, alcohol and caffeine, walk every day at lunch and have more patience for stupidity.”)I will try making small changes**.

I’m not quite sure what changes I’m going to make yet. The fact that I’ve recognized that I need to make changes feels like a big enough step for today. I’m with Bob. Baby steps to a new me.

*Romper Room was one of my favorite shows. For some reason, no matter how close I saw to the TV, or how loudly I screamed, Miss Sally couldn’t see me.

**I hate change. Change is hard. But I’m willing to try.

So tell me – are you making any new year’s resolutions? Have you broken them already?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmachanukwanstice!

th2!

I know, I know, I’ve been remiss – I’m way behind in my biweekly posts (and have been for a while). Trust me, I feel really guilty (hey, I’m 1/2 Jewish – guilt is my specialty!) I’ve been crazy busy (or, at the very least, crazy). This week’s excuses are all holiday related – I’ve been tangled up in holiday lights, last minute shopping ,  holiday parties/plays/parades (not all at once). Wow. that was a lot of asides. Next year I’m finding a different way to express the voices in my head (I promise).

I’ve also been busy writing and mailing my generic Christmas letters. I know, you hate them. Most people do, but I just can’t stop myself (is there a 12 step program out there?). I started writing generic Christmas card letters when I was in college (too little free time, too many people who wanted to know that college hadn’t killed me). That was a few several more years ago than I am willing to admit to. It’s been so long ago that I’m pretty sure I started the trend (please don’t hate me). Here, for those of you who are interested, is my latest version (for those of you who aren’t interested, try learning how to adult instead).

thuukvo8ys

Happy Holidays! – To borrow from adequateman (you really need to read his hater’s guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog) – “2016 has sucked – all the good guys died”. I beg to differ – we’re still here, and that’s what’s important. It has been, with few exceptions, a less than pleasant year – but it’s almost over, and we’re not dead yet, so here’s to not getting on the cart!

It’s been a busy year for our family – my husband continues to heal from his near death experience(s). He is 97% of normal, which is closer to normal than I am, by at least 62% (you do the math). At this point, we are just waiting for the lawyers, and then he’ll be ready to get out and GET TO WORK. It’s been nice having him home (dinner on the table when I walk through the door? Yes please!), but we’ve spent more time together these past two years than we have in the previous 29 😉

Our daughter is enjoying her junior year of high school (with the exception of all the acronyms – PSAT, ACT, SAT AAAGHHH). This year (thanks to summer school) she was able to load her schedule with electives – ASB, choir, dance and Drama2 (as if she needs help Being Dramatic). She’s also finishing her 2nd semester of ASL. She and her fellow thespians are looking forward to getting fluent enough in sign language to produce a “deaf-west” style performance (with performers both speaking and signing). She wanted to raise a steer this year for the fair, but she’s decided to wait until her senior year (if it is anything like raising a pig, I’ll be eating a lot of chicken next year).

As for me, well, I’ve been staying out of trouble (mostly). It’s taken a year, but (one year post-op, as promised) my knee is finally feeling good enough that I can run (Let me be clear. I can run. I choose not to). This year I fulfilled my dream of performing at the Hollywood Fringe festival. I played Gertrude/seamstress in a 30 minute production of A Little Hamlet. I had so much fun that I’ve actually started reading audition notices again. I’ve also returned to writing/blogging –  I actually submitted pieces to two writing contests this year (I’ll get my winning notification in January) and I’m hoping to complete my WIP before I retire die. I’m also looking forward to returning to stand up next year. In short (too late) now that my daughter is 16 and no longer needs me is getting a life of her own, I’m free to return to my BM* life.

WE spent another Halloween volunteering at the best “haunted maze” in Ventura county. If you haven’t been to Deadzone805, you’ve been missing out. But you don’t need to, because NOW THEY’RE OPEN ALL YEAR! (They are running escape mazes for private parties/celebrations). We’ve also been volunteering at the ventura county animal shelter – she walks the dogs, and I schmooze the people. I keep trying to pimp out the pitbulls, but most people refuse to believe that their reputation is just bad press.

th52nrjpy8

vicious pitbull

 

2016 has been…challenging**…for most of us. I’m hoping that in 2017 we can get off the rollercoaster and board the cruise ship – it’s time for some smooth sailing (just remember – don’t get on the boat marked “3 hour tour”).

Thank you all for you love, support and prayers – and for helping me to find my sanity when I lost it. I made a huge dent in my New Year’s resolution to spend more time with family and friends, but I want to spend more time with YOU (you know who you are). Let’s set a date!

*Before Motherhood

**F-d

May your holiday season be filled with L’s and F’s***

(Love, Laughter & Light and Friends, Food & Family)

***Or chocolate and adult beverages – whichever works best for you

th8deomehe

 

 

Giving Thanks

thks6zppwwTomorrow is Thanksgiving – or, as we call it in my family, Black Friday eve 🙂

Like many who celebrate the holiday, our little threesome (no, not THAT kind of threesome) will gather together to eat too much,  drink too much, and watch too much football (as if there’s such a thing).

Every year, before diving into our loaded plates, each family member is invited to state one thing for which they’re grateful. Because I am a cynical/sarcastic sort, I usually pipe up with something along the lines of “I’m glad I’m not a turkey….”

This year will be different. This year, when it’s my turn to speak, I will raise my glass and tell my family that I am thankful for “almost”. No, you didn’t read that wrong.

al·most

 (ôl′mōst′, ôl-mōst′)

adv.

Slightly short of; not quite; nearly: almost time to go; was almost asleep; had almost finished.

Those of you who know me well (and those of you who don’t, but have been following my blog*) know that this year has been a rough one. TBH the past 2-3 years have been “less than pleasant”. In the past several years, I almost lost my daughter, almost lost my husband (twice), almost lost my house and almost lost my mind (which is bad, because it’s much too small to be wandering around lost and alone).

BUT

As they say, “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades“. My family has  experienced so many blessings these last few years – we have received so much love and support from friends, family and even casual acquaintances , that I can’t help but be grateful.

They also say “That which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” – and it’s true. We have emerged from this year even stronger.

BUT

Thank you Life, for my lessons. I’m strong enough now.

I have two questions for you, my loyal listeners (I was going to say “readers”, but it doesn’t flow) – Who are “they” and what are you grateful for?

*Thank you for following me! You are one of the many things for which I am very, very grateful

th7

image courtesy of 28 days of gratitude

 

 

 

 

 

How to Adult

14322559_10208457641376300_3302490184261649212_n1 I don’t know what a dult is, or why anyone would want to be one, but welcome to lesson#1 of an occasional series

My coworker just insulted me. She called me a four letter word, and it pissed me off, but I’m pretty sure the HR director would laugh if I filed a complaint.

She said I was “nice”. If that’s not an insult, I don’t know what is.

I am not a nice girl. For one, at (mumbles quickly) years of age, I am no longer a “girl”, no matter how bad your vision or how low the lighting. And as far as “nice” goes, I am many things (smart, funny, sarcastic, cynical, bitchy and brutally honest*) but I am not nice, no matter what people say.

All of my life people have said “you’re so NICE”.  I’m usually quick to respond with “No, not really”.  What I am is polite. My mother was from the south, and it appears that her southern manners have rubbed off on me. She taught me how to behave in public – to be kind to strangers as well as friends, to say “please” and “thank you”, to hold doors open, and to respect my elders (yeah, that last one didn’t stick). I may know how to behave, but I have always been more Disney Villain than Disney Princess.

th0ne1w6bl

image credit to Hayden Williams

I know what you’re thinking (I do. It’s because I’m psychic. Or psychotic. I always get those two confused) – what’s wrong with being nice? Let’s start by looking at the definition, from Miriam Webster:

adjective \ˈnīs\

Popularity: Top 40% of words

Simple Definition of nice

  1. giving pleasure or joy : good and enjoyable
  2. : attractive or of good quality
  1. : kind, polite, and friendly

adjective po·lite \pə-ˈlīt\

There are, obviously, worse things to be called (I’ve been called those things too, usually by people who have issues with strong, independent, opinionated women). I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being “nice”. What bothers me is the fact that being kind and polite has become so rare that people assume that someone exhibiting those qualities is a nice person**. I am not one of them. I’ve met some genuinely nice people – their kindness is not tinged with any sarcasm or cynicism. It’s weird.

Over the past week (hell, over the past year) it’s become apparent that we need to be kind. We need to treat each other with, at the very least, respect and dignity. We need to stop focusing on our differences and find some commonalities. We need to be less angry and more forgiving. We need to be nice to each other.

Yeah. I said it.

We need to be nice. Especially with Black Friday coming up next week. Trust me, there are worse things you could be.

th5

*Seeing that I’ve made more than one person cry when I was “just being honest”, I’ve come to the conclusion that honesty is NOT always the best policy

** There’s also this:

thtsh56utd

And now I miss my mom, and my Okie relatives:

Hope

 

OnceYouChooseHope[1]It’s been a rough week – on top of everything else, my poor little limping-along Volvo went to the scrapyard in the sky (well, not literally – today it’s sitting in my driveway, like a giant paperweight or car shaped sculpture).

I came across this reminder (huge shout out to Livehappy.com), and wanted to send it out to all who are feeling hopeless this week. Sending love and light your way –

Life! Some things bring you closer & some tear you apart. I've been there, i've walked through the storm. Hope & Love made this Life Stronger than it has been in a long time.  Follow: https://www.pinterest.com/recoveryexpert/: