You throw like a girl…

I originally posted this piece in November of 2011. I am re-running it after seeing this awsome commercial air during the Super Bowl. May it change the way we talk to boys and girls.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

What does that mean? Is the throw not far enough, fast enough? Is it exacted with a limp wrist, an unfinished follow through? Whatever it means, I don’t think it is meant to flatter the recipient.

My son played little league. Somewhere in the midst of Landon’s first season I concluded little league is where dads work out their own childhood sports trauma.  Either the bully is shouting insults to whomever he wants to feel bigger than-usually the coach or the umpire but in some cases, his son, or the nerd dad who is desperately yelling batting, throwing, running, sliding, or catching advise so his son won’t be a nerd too. It was disturbing to sit on those bleachers with those dads.

Then there are the coaches. Some coach’s coach for the love of the game and they like kids. Some coaches are dads working out their stuff, but with a coaches hat on. It seemed, however, that both types of coaches yelled, “YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL!” to some unsuspecting boy who had just attempted, but failed, to get the runner out at first base. I countered by yelling, “GOOD TRY!” I don’t think it helped the kid in question.

Perhaps the intention for yelling this statement was to stimulate the secretion of testosterone in the 6,7,8 year old boy, making them tougher so they could throw better. I don’t think it worked. What I noticed was the “throws like a girl” player became a little more tentative in his movements and in the game. He looked to me like he wanted to be smaller. Maybe he did.

As a mom-once a girl-sitting in the stands, with a daughter-at that time, still a girl-I had a reaction to the thrown insult (no pun intended) which was amplified if my son was the object of the coaches idiocy. I looked around the stands at the other moms and dads certain I would see the same outrage on their faces. I didn’t. In some cases I think they were just glad it wasn’t said to their son. I wondered what the young sisters of these players felt when throwing like a girl was used as an insult.

I remember being a junior in a high school gym class. I was walking across the gym toward the locker room in my one piece, blue and white striped jersey gym suit when I over heard Dena colluding with the “pretty, popular girls” that they should nominate me for homecoming queen. They all laughed. I knew what they meant and it wasn’t kind. I wanted to disappear. That last stretch to the locker room door was forever.

In my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity chose me as their homecoming queen. This put me in U of D’s race for the coronation of their queen. A fraternity brother met up with me as I crossed campus headed to class to tell me the good news.

I immediately referenced my high school gym trauma and believed this was another cruel joke. A repeat of 1975. My self image was based on the belief that the possibility of MEEE being homecoming queen was a laughable impossibility. I told my him how hurt I was, what a mean joke and limped away. I remember the look on his face.

Later, when I saw my picture in the university paper, amongst all the other “pretty, popular girls,” I realized it wasn’t a joke. Now his look of bewilderment made sense. This contradicted my long held belief of myself.

I needed to make a choice. What/who was I going to believe? Who was I going to see when I looked in the mirror? I picked. I decided to let go of the self deprecating messages I referenced to remind me of my place. I practiced (I am still practicing) letting go of my self judgement by gathering new data. I listened to others and believed them when they told me I was attractive.  I decided if I am going to believe someone, I might as well believe the people that say kind words. Right? It’s amazing how difficult that can be to do.

All of this works most of the time. But when I am particularly insecure or vulnerable I feel myself back in that high school locker room getting smaller and smaller. This is when I have to be kind to myself, surround my self with people that love me and assure that 17 year old that there is so much more to her than her looks.

I didn’t win the homecoming queen crown. It was enough to be nominated (not really, I am just saying that).

What does that mean? Is the throw not far enough, fast enough? Is it exacted with a limp wrist, an unfinished follow through? Whatever it means, I don’t think it is meant to flatter the recipient.

My son played little league. Somewhere in the midst of Landon’s first season I concluded little league is where dads work out their own childhood sports trauma.  Either the bully is shouting insults to whomever he wants to feel bigger than-usually the coach or the umpire but in some cases, his son, or the nerd dad who is desperately yelling batting, throwing, running, sliding, or catching advise so his son won’t be a nerd too. It was disturbing to sit on those bleachers with those dads.

Then there are the coaches. Some coach’s coach for the love of the game and they like kids. Some coaches are dads working out their stuff, but with a coaches hat on. It seemed, however, that both types of coaches yelled, “YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL!” to some unsuspecting boy who had just attempted, but failed, to get the runner out at first base. I countered by yelling, “GOOD TRY!” I don’t think it helped the kid in question.

Perhaps the intention for yelling this statement was to stimulate the secretion of testosterone in the 6,7,8 year old boy, making them tougher so they could throw better. I don’t think it worked. What I noticed was the “throws like a girl” player became a little more tentative in his movements and in the game. He looked to me like he wanted to be smaller. Maybe he did.

As a mom-once a girl-sitting in the stands, with a daughter-at that time, still a girl-I had a reaction to the thrown insult (no pun intended) which was amplified if my son was the object of the coaches idiocy. I looked around the stands at the other moms and dads certain I would see the same outrage on their faces. I didn’t. In some cases I think they were just glad it wasn’t said to their son. I wondered what the young sisters of these players felt when throwing like a girl was used as an insult.

I remember being a junior in a high school gym class. I was walking across the gym toward the locker room in my one piece, blue and white striped jersey gym suit when I over heard Dena colluding with the “pretty, popular girls” that they should nominate me for homecoming queen. They all laughed. I knew what they meant and it wasn’t kind. I wanted to disappear. That last stretch to the locker room door was forever.

In my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity chose me as their homecoming queen. This put me in U of D’s race for the coronation of their queen. A fraternity brother met up with me as I crossed campus headed to class to tell me the good news.

I immediately referenced my high school gym trauma and believed this was another cruel joke. A repeat of 1975. My self image was based on the belief that the possibility of MEEE being homecoming queen was a laughable impossibility. I told my him how hurt I was, what a mean joke and limped away. I remember the look on his face.

Later, when I saw my picture in the university paper, amongst all the other “pretty, popular girls,” I realized it wasn’t a joke. Now his look of bewilderment made sense. This contradicted my long held belief of myself.

I needed to make a choice. What/who was I going to believe? Who was I going to see when I looked in the mirror? I picked. I decided to let go of the self deprecating messages I referenced to remind me of my place. I practiced (I am still practicing) letting go of my self judgement by gathering new data. I listened to others and believed them when they told me I was attractive.  I decided if I am going to believe someone, I might as well believe the people that say kind words. Right? It’s amazing how difficult that can be to do.

All of this works most of the time. But when I am particularly insecure or vulnerable I feel myself back in that high school locker room getting smaller and smaller. This is when I have to be kind to myself, surround my self with people that love me and assure that 17 year old that there is so much more to her than her looks.

XO

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P.S. I didn’t win the homecoming queen crown. It was enough to be nominated (not really, I am just saying that).

 

Be careful what you meditate for…

Sunday morning I listened to Christine Page’s Island Of Memories meditation. She guided me to an island to meet wise elders that had been waiting for me. There was a gift from them on a table. She said it was an object that belonged to me but that I had not seen in this lifetime. I was guided to connect with this item and to learn from it.

The message from my object was to find my determination, clarity, voice and certainty. I liked this message. I liked the way it made me feel. I felt determined, clear, vocal and certain.

At the end of the meditation Christine suggested I journal my findings. I knew if I took the time to journal I would further delay my much coveted first-cup-of-Sunday-morning-coffee. But I have trusted Christine for many years and I knew myself. As clear as the details were in that moment, this afternoon I would be asking myself, “What were those four words?” (In fact, as I write this 1 hour later I can only remember determined and clear, I had to look in my journal to find the other two.)

So I pulled out my journal and wrote.

Those of you that journal know the phenomenon of when your hand writes something before your brain registers it as a thought. That is what happened. I wrote the details of the attributes. Then wrote, “Find determination, clarity, voice and certainty in everything that I do.”

Initially I missed the nuanced difference in this statement. I was in my familiar, exhaustive search of finding the activities I am determined, clear, vocal, and certain about. “Is IT my writing that I haven’t done in over 6 months. Is IT furniture painting that I just don’t seem to make time for? Is IT my relationships which usually win my time without a thought? Is IT my work? Or…is IT all the things I tell myself I should be doing. A Tai Chi Class? Yoga? Qigong? Cleaning out the garage?”.

After racking myself silly with, “What is IT?” my self preservation lovingly stepped in, as she always does, and conveniently helped me forget what I was looking for…or was that my age? Either way I was relieved, happily distracted, and off to make my coffee.

My morning routine didn’t seem to change much. I did move a bit more slowly, taking time to notice my grandmothers plates as I emptied the dishwasher, looking deliberately at the different patterns, saying out loud to am empty kitchen, “Each one is prettier than the next.” I felt my love for these plates. I did light some candles, turn on Sunday morning Baroque, and spent a deliberate moment admiring the Stargazer Lilies on my dining room table.

As I sat down coffee in hand, certain I was sitting to write because yesterday I promised myself I would, I felt my determination. As I wondered what the hell I would write, I felt my clarity and voice and began this story.

Half way through, while searching for the spelling of a word, I accidentally deleted the post. I searched and searched for a way to bring it back. I was determined! My Help bar told me coldly told me,You can’t undo this action.

Really? My Self passed before my eyes. All the ways I move on from this kind frustration. I can start the laundry. It’s Heidi’s birthday I can call her and catch up. I can take the Christmas decorations down…yes they are still up. I could go for a walk.

Or…I could bring my determination, clarity, voice and certainty to this project, as I had been guided to do, and begin again. I sat for a LONG moment, fingers on the keyboard, trying to recapture my pithy, funny, thoughtful first draft.

I grudgingly started over. With each sentence my reluctance finding her voice, her certainty, her determination, and her clarity.

Distraction is easier. Sometimes.

Listening to and following guidance is not easier, but, it is satisfying. Every single time.

 

With love,
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It feels like Sunday morning…

Some times it is so simple. The special things.

It’s Sunday morning. I am unloading the dishwasher. Tom is cooking breakfast. Eggs. Bacon. Grits. Yo-Yo Ma on the stereo.

I feel at home. I feel grateful. It is these simple things that occur, at a time when I am available to appreciate them, that move me to gratitude and to tears. In these moments I know I am the luckiest woman alive.

The smells of breakfast evoke a memory of a Sunday morning spent with a long-ago friend. We didn’t know each other when we were co-eds at the University of Delaware, but we met through a mutual U of D friend when we both moved to Richmond Va after graduation. We immediately liked each other and decided to get an apartment togther. We found a third floor apartment on Grace Street, in the Fan district of the city. At that time the Fan was considered an unsafe area by those living in the suburbs. To us it was artsy, diverse and the kind of dangerous we loved as 21 years olds. The complex was three, old, southern, brick buildings with a tree filled courtyard in front. Our apartment had French doors opening to a roof terrace with lovely hard wood floors. And it was affordable on our inks-not-dry-on-the-diplomas incomes. Perhaps because we needed to share the space with very large cockroaches. Something neither of us knew about since we were Yankees.

Diane and I sometimes made Sunday morning breakfast together. Music in the background. Good smells filling our look-mom-no-hands sanctuary. I felt like a grown up. I felt like how I imagined it would be when I was on my own. In my own life. In these moments I forgot I was lonely and very broke. I got a job as a bank teller, which was not my strong suit as my drawer never settled. My manager liked my people-skills and knew I wasn’t enough of a math-master-mind to steal from them, so he kept me. I was also homesick for my college roommates who were living together in Philadelphia. When they threw a party they would call me. They passed the phone and I talked to everyone just like I was back at school. When I hung up I would feel a pit in my stomach and question my decision to strike out on my own. (Why I randomly picked Richmond to move to, without a job or knowing anyone is another story. One that has unfolded many times throughout my life uncovering well held family secrets.)

It was the smells and simplicity of this morning that caused me to time traveled 34 years. I tried to describe to Tom what I was feeling; my amazement at my young self, my friendship with Diane, my love for my college roommates, my appreciation of a slow Sunday morning. After several attempts landed on, “It feels like Sunday morning.”

Gratitude born of simplicity gives me hope. I am relieved that I don’t have to do, or have, or be the grand gestures. I also know I have to be moving at a slow enough rate of speed to notice.

XO

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Luv Ya

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s casual. “Luv ya,” I call over my shoulder as I head out the door.

I notice when I choose this abbreviated endearment to express my love. I notice when someone chooses to say to me. I feel a bit empty. Not necessarily bad empty, just empty. Like eating fat free ice cream. It’s fine. It looks like ice cream. It’s cold. It’s just not that filling.

Even if I formalize it a bit more by saying, “Love you,” my emptiness lingers. I feel the missing “I.”

Try it yourself. Say, Love you. Now say, I Love you. Do you notice a difference?

I do. I feel me when I use “I” and I feel you when you say “I”. (DId that make sense? Hope so. I hope so.) When I say, “I,” I am owning what I say. I am in my words. I am in me. I am holding myself accountable. I said that. I meant that. And you know it.

Anytime I drop “I” from my sentence it changes the fat content of my message. “Miss you.”  “Understand.”  “Sorry.”

Recently, before heading out to do some shopping, I stopped at our local diner for a late breakfast. Two eggs over easy, bacon, no toast. Two pancakes. My favorite. A little protein to modify the effects of the sugar and white flour high/crash of the pancakes. I sat at the counter with the other single diners enjoying my urban life.

There was a young man sitting alone at the end of the counter. He was hard not to notice. He was not using his inside voice. His amplified banter with the waitress distracted me from my book. I wanted him to be quiet.

At one point his girlfriend texted him. Maybe his wife, but I hope not. He apparently was late for something they had planned and she was wondering where he was. He reported this loudly and jovially as he shoved a large fork-full of his hungry-man breakfast into his mouth.Unknown-1

After he swallowed, he shared his antidote for an angry girlfriend. He had clearly used it many times.  “Luv ya honey.” He was very proud of himself. He had the formula. “It works every time,” he confidently confided to the entire diner. “That’s all I need to say and she will be fine.” He went on eating and enjoying the company of the waitress.

I thought how lucky it was for me to hear since I had begun writing this post and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Now I knew. I also thought, how unlucky for this girlfriend to be taken in by manipulative words that sound like I Love You, but I imagine didn’t feel like it.

Perhaps that is the litmus test. Regardless of the I, or lack there of, do I feel loved when you say it to me?

Likewise, do I feel loving when I am calling over my shoulder my many variations of those 3 simple words? Do I mean it as a perfunctory sentiment? Do I mean it at all? Am I offering all the fat or 2%?

Just something to think about over breakfast…since I couldn’t concentrate on my book.

XO

 
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A day in the mountains…

I spent yesterday in a time warp. Jena was a bridesmaid in a best-childhood-girlfriends’ wedding, along with several other lifelong friends, and Tom and I were invited to join the celebration.

Going back to the mountains is a mixed bag for me. I feel totally at home and out of place at the same time. This is how I spent the 24 years I lived there. A neighbor and a stranger.

The small church was packed. I recognized one pew full of people on the other side of the church from where Tom and I sat in folding chairs. It was filled with the neighbors and friends I had raised my kids with, and my X husband and his new wife Patty, from Boswell, PA. Really!

The ceremony these two young kids created was touching. It brought me to tears. Their words, humor and poignancy made me realize how grown up our daughters had become. (Jena if you are reading this don’t get any ideas.)The bride (and groom) had clearly designed a wedding that was uniquely their own. Everyone recognized their personalities and quirks. The groom deliberately ended his wedding vows with a preposition (they are both English buffs), to alleviate his brides insecurity that her vows wouldn’t be as good as his. “Where are your vows at?”

Instead of communion, or lighting a common candle, or pouring colored sand into a bottle, the groom poured milk into a goblet, the bride chocolate. Together they stirred it into chocolate milk. The best man provided two straws and together they drank from the same cup. There was not a dry eye, or a face without a smile, in the church.

The bride and her dad danced to a song they sang together on road trips. Not just any song, but the operatic Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli – Time to Say Goodbye. As they spun around the dance floor they sang it to one another, hitting high notes with dramatic flourish.

In his toast, her dad told funny stories. One in particular was about a phone call he got while working the late shift. She told him she had hit a bird with her car. She had killed it. But, it was still stuck in her grill. Could he please get it out when he got home? “Of course,” he said. Turned out the bird was a goose. Stuck in the grill, and the hood, in such a way that as she drove the 4 foot wing span opened and closed.

Again, not a dry eye or an unsmiling face in the room. Conjoined polarities.

At the end of the evening Tom asked me to drive home. I took the wheel without hesitation. I knew these roads. I had driven them most of my adult life. I recently told someone that I am still learning to be a city driver because I am really a country driver. City driving, with all the cars on the road, the on/off ramps that send me careening into 70 mph traffic, the street lingo rolling off natives tongues — the parkway, the crosstown blvd, the boulevard — the surprise road closures that knock me off my course, keeps my breathing shallow and my wits on end. Being in the mountains, driving in the dark was a piece of wedding cake.

Except it wasn’t. And when had it gotten THIS DARK? I couldn’t see anything outside of my headlights. At some point I noticed the road we were on was getting terribly narrow and winding. I didn’t remember this stretch of road from Ohiopyle to Chalk Hill. Where were we and how had I gotten off course?

I could hear Twilight Zone music playing, Rod Sterlings voice saying, “You have just entered another dimension.”

Tom pretended to calmly suggest I wait to find a driveway to turn around in. He was concerned that the sides of the road would be swampy. In a very small voice I told him I didn’t suspect there was going to be any driveways along this road.

And there wasn’t.

I eventually found a wider part of the road and did a K-K-K turn, knowing that to go further could lead us into the part of the mountains where no man has gone before and returned to tell the story. Dunbar.

I wound my way back up the road, totally disoriented in a completely familiar place. And let me say again, it was so damn DARK. We came to an intersection that I sat at for more than a minute, getting my bearings. (You can do that on country roads at 8:30 at night cuz you are the only one on the road.)

My wits returned, I turned right and successfully drove us home. To Pittsburgh. That is my home now. But driving past the entrance to Deer Lake, my home of 24 years, I could have just as easily turned left to go home.

Returning to a past life. That is what I did yesterday. I fell back into conversations as though I hadn’t been gone for 5 years. As though I had seen neighbors just the other day. But when they asked me, “What’s new?” how do I begin to tell them: my whole life.

Perhaps you can never go home again. Or at least not without some disorientation.

 

Do I Matter to You?

The woman I referenced in last weeks post, the one that asked where my blog was, told me this week that it would be okay with her if I wanted to write about her. My first reaction was, “Be careful what you ask for.” My second was curiosity. Why did she want me to write about her?

Turns out she wanted to know if she mattered to me. If she was important to me. Interesting. Was she worthy to be written about?

In fact she is a very interesting woman and I care a lot about her. She decorates for Halloween, makes a stand to not decorate for Christmas then caves and does it, struggles with family obligations, loves to travel and works professionally with women.  She asks important life questions like, “Is this all there is?” She actually reminds me of myself at her age. (God did I just say that? Am I that old?) She agreed. She sees herself in me 20 years from now. (I am that old.)

As she and I talked about her invitation, and where it came from in her, I knew I had to take her up on her offer. It so perfectly unveiled our ever present want/need to know we matter to an other. That we are special. Valued. Important.

It was easy to give her what she wanted. I told her how much I liked her and how I look forward to our time together. But even more than that, I told her it takes a brave woman to ask those questions and risk the answers. For that I admired her.images

So let’s think about this for a moment. How do we know if we matter to others? Sometimes we ask. Often we don’t. We prefer to wait for clues, signals and then make up a story based on the others words or behaviors. Sometimes that story is in our favor and sometimes it is not.

To ask, “Do I matter to you?”, is vulnerable-making and as a species we avoid our vulnerability at all costs. The number one reason we don’t want to feel our feelings is because we don’t want to feel vulnerable. I get it. I don’t like to either. And, like my young friend, I try to do it anyway. It is worth the risk. The pain can be great but so can the connection that comes from a spoken, “You matter to me.” I think it is worth it.

Would you be willing to ask your important others what they feel toward you this week? To tell your important others what they mean to you? (Yea it goes both ways.) Report back. I would love to hear your stories.
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I fell in love yesterday

Yesterday Tom and I went antiquing.

We headed to Sewickley. Tom said he knew of some shoppes there. Turns out he didn’t. We drove past the only place that had stuff spilling out of it’s doors, the word Antiques plastered across its front, but because it wasn’t in Sewickley and it wasn’t the place he was thinking about and it was on the other side of the road and he would have had to slow the car down to turn around, we didn’t stop, we continued to Sewickley.

“Okay.”

We walked up one side of the main street Sewickley and down the other. No antique stores. We did, however, find a quaint outdoor cafe to get a bite of lunch. We also found Ideas Vintage Market.

I walked in and was transported to France. The furniture was works of art. A turquoise distressed rocker that I am sure has, or will soon, rock someone’s baby to sleep. French white dressers, benches, and tables. A secretary, distressed in light grey and white, with the softest pink painted inside the glass doors. I couldn’t get enough. I walked slowly by each piece, caressing them, admiring them, imaging the home it would live in.

I was smitten.

I have, in the past, painted furniture; Jena’s bedroom set bought from a WVU grad, small flea market tables, benches, adirondack chairs, even brooms. It was fun and a great way to buy cheap pieces and turn them into something fresh. Give them a new personality. But these pieces, I so tenderly touched at Ideas, were more than just refreshed, these pieces were transformed.

I realized I was holding my breath. I was awestruck.

Judith, the owner, came over and introduced herself. She explained that she opened the shop yesterday and that she paints the pieces herself. Furthermore, the row of big, white, tables in the center of the room were there for the furniture painting classes she is going to teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“CLASSES? I can come learn how to paint pieces like this?”

“Yes.”

My mind was going a mile a minute. I could paint our bedroom furniture. The secretary in the living room. My rocker. The lamp. I could find some cheap end tables on Craig’s List, recreate them, and save myself the price of brand new, french white, distressed, Arhaus, Restoration Hardware, or Pottery Barn pieces selling for $900.

Tom overheard us. Slowly he approached. I noticed he wasn’t fondling any of the furniture as he passed by it.

“Is there anything you won’t paint?” he asked Judith. I knew where this was going. He is from the tribe that doesn’t believe in painting wood. Wood is wood and should look like wood, is his motto; unless it is bad or ugly wood, or my furniture-which he doesn’t like anyway.

Judith had his number. She showed him the pieces that she hadn’t painted, either because of the detail in the wood, the grain, or an inlay. She had some of his tribal blood in her too. He was soothed. Temporarily.

We left the store with Judith’s number so I could text her pictures of pieces I wanted to get her opinion on and with plans to attend a class. I jabbered all the way home about the money we could save given my creative license.

I spent the better part of today scouring Craig’s List for end tables. I had found a pair yesterday for $425 at a place in the Strip that I was considering, until I found Ideas Vintage Market. Now I was on a mission to rehab something. For really cheap.

As I was scouring, I was also texting Judith with pictures of the bedroom furniture. I didn’t dare send pictures of the secretary, Tom had made it quite clear on the way home that his grandmothers piece was OFF LIMITS.

“Okay. Okay.”

I excitedly told him Judith LOVED our bedroom furniture. Since it was a family piece from his mom I knew he would be pleased. Judith texted that maybe we just wanted an antique lace linen to throw over them, but what color was I thinking. I excitedly shared all this with Tom.

“PATRICIA, PLEASE find SOMETHING TO DO,” he admonished from his place on the couch.

Have you ever been so insulted and cracked up at the same time? Had he just said that? Like he was a 1950’s executive, home from a long days work, enjoying his martini but having to move one more ceramic knic-nac his bored housewife made at ceramics class in order to put his drink down.

“OHHH. You didn’t just say that.”

A couple of days ago Heidi told me she thinks I should get a dog. She said I needed something to take care of since I am still having empty-nest-postpartum-wedding- depression symptoms. I told her I really didn’t want a dog, and how funny she should say that because Landon thought I should get a fish.

They are right. I need to have something to transform.

I am going to paint some bad ass furniture.

waxseal2

 

 

PS I found some end table to love

I am so excited I can't sleep

I am so excited I can’t sleep

 

I DO. I HAVE. I BE.

At our July women’s group Jude summed up life with these three choices. They made sense to me. I knew these in myself. I wrote them down and have been noticing them ever since.

I DO.

And boy, do I. I think this way. All. Of. The. Time.

“What do I need to do?” I feel tired.

“What should I do?” I feel exhausted.

“I finally I got that done, but look at all I didn’t get done.” I feel beaten.

It’s hard to get out of bed some mornings.

I believed that when the kids were launched I would have all kinds of time on my hands. That I would get it all done, whatever it was that needed doing. Maybe I would even be bored. That I would entertain myself by organizing my junk drawer.

I am not keeping up with my list of to do’s. I cannot even close my junk drawer.

 

I HAVE. 

I have down sized twice in the last 5 years so I have much less than I ever did. I kinda like this. I live in a small home that will not tolerate a lot of stuff. This reality supports minimal accumulation. It makes window shopping bittersweet…I see something I love and want, knowing it will truly make my life complete, but, remind myself there is no place to put it, hang it, or prop it. I walk away…sad for not having, relieved that that purchase will not be on my next months Visa bill.

However, I have cleverly rectified this dilemma by disguising my consumerism as necessary home improvement projects. Depending on the day and my mood this list can be quite long. My have and my do are a formidable couple.

I was visiting with a friend yesterday and while we talked I was gathering home improvement ideas from her place. I mused that maybe I would rip out our wrought iron banister, explaining I never was a fan of wrought iron and by replacing it with wood, like her’s, it would warm up our place. Laura said she kind of liked wrought iron, she said she thought it looked clean. I remembered she has an iron coffee table and end table. Then she said, “I don’t know, you could do that, maybe you are made of money and that is not a consideration.”

Thank you Jesus. Or Laura. Those words cut right through my need to have. My budget  and my sensibility rose to the surface. I felt relieved. Less to pay for and less to do.

I went home and appreciated my wrought iron bannister in a whole new way.

 

To BE. 

There is sooo much written on this state of mind. It is unarguably the way to be (no pun intended). But, man, is it hard to do (hah, another pun).

I have been mulling around the idea of how to turn my to do list into a want list so I can be more in the moment while doing it. Still with me?

If I do what I do, fully doing it, then I will be. Got that?

So when I am finished writing this post I plan to weed my garden. Weeding is not one of my favorite activities. I wish I were one of those people that feel contentment yanking and sweating and clipping, but I am not. However, I do walk through my garden every time I leave the house, often stopping to admire it, amazed with myself for creating such a spot of beauty, so I want it to look good.

I found my want. I want to pull weeds, tend to my garden, restore it to beauty. It is no longer a to do, but a want.

I consider calling my friend Heidi while I garden since we have been playing phone tag…you know, kill two birds with one stone (bad garden metaphor). I quickly remind myself that multitasking is not conducive to being.

I decide to just garden, to be fully in the moment, pulling weeds, clipping plants, sweating like a women in menopause; not thinking about the next chore to be done.

Wish me luck…
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Post Script

My garden looks beautiful. I still didn’t love the job, but I love the result both in the garden and in myself.

I was fully in my moment, BEING while I was DOING.

 

 

 

I should be writing…but instead I am making zucchini bread

My 4th loaf is in the oven as I type this…and since I have gained 4 lbs in the last 2 weeks I shouldn’t be making my 4th loaf. But without an intervention I am headed into the kitchen to make my 5th batch. I still have zucchini and flour that must be used. Right?

I am using the mixer I got as a wedding gift in 1981 to make the bread. It’s a Sunbeam. I don’t think it was an especially expensive model or brand, back in the day, but they just seemed to make things to last back then.

I still have my Maytag washer from the early 90‘s. Recently I needed a service call to rebalance the tub and asked if I should simply replace it. The repair man, who may not have been as old as the washer, enthusiastically advised me to hold on to it as long as I could, saying, they don’t make them like this any more. His excitement sounded like he could have been talking about a vintage car.

Sadly however, I think my 32 year old mixer is dying. In the middle of my 2nd batch it began to sputter to a stop then accelerate to a speed that sent the zucchini batter air-born. It did this each time I turned my back to reach for something I needed; like a spatula to help it along; or the jar of cinnamon; or when my head was in the oven checking the other loaves with a toothpick. The beaters began to pick up speed, reaching full throttle, followed by the sound of thick dough hitting solid surfaces. Everything was in slow motion. You know the phenomenon when you can’t move fast enough to stop something bad from happening.

Many years ago I remember watching Jena fly down the driveway on her bike, beach towel around her neck, going to meet friends at the lake. As I sat on the deck, grateful  she was old enough to swim on her own so I could lounge a bit longer, her beach towel caught in her front tire and over her handle bars she flew. I saw it all in slow motion as I jummppedd uup aaand rraann doowwnn tthe stteeppss tooo hheerrr.

So it was with the mixer as I rreeaaacchhed tooooo tttuuurrnn iiiitttt ooofffff.

Both times there was a mess to clean up.

So why, you may ask, am I making ALL OF THIS DAMN BREAD?

I will tell you. Some of you have mentioned that I have not posted since the 15th. The Monday after the wedding.

Before the wedding I told my soon-to-be daughter-in-law that although they had been engaged for 2 years, and owned a home together, that rituals are powerful acts of intention and that the wedding ceremony would change them.

Well, I don’t know if that has been their experience, but it sure as hell has been mine. Since their wedding I have been suffering from what Tom lovingly calls Postpartum- Empty-Nest-Wedding-Depression-Syndrome.

I didn’t write because I could not yet verbalize what I was feeling and I was so absorbed in what I was feeling there was nothing else to write about.

Henceforth, no blog posts.

So this morning, after 6 loaves…yeah I made more…of homemade bread, I can talk/write. Doing something that offered instant gratification, unlike child rearing, was what I needed to soothe what ailed me.

The truth is I don’t know how to be my kids mom anymore.

My kids no longer need me in their everyday life. I am no longer their taxi service, their chief cook and dish washer, their special events planner, or the arms that hold them in the middle of the night when they are frightened. So if I am none of these, what am I?

How do I include myself in their adult lives?

I don’t have a model for this evolved relational style. My mom and I never bridged this transition, for many, many reasons. As a consequence of this, I feel lost. And a bit, okay, a lot, worried they will drift from me and I will become a clinging, you’ll miss me when I am dead, mom.

Truth be told, I want to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I raised two really interesting people and I like them.

It was suggested to me by a wise friend, that gave me the zucchini from her garden, that I ask Landon and Jena to co-create this next stage with me. What a novel idea…I hadn’t even thought of that. My paradigm still one of…as the mom I will figure it out and present it. Clearly, if we are moving toward an adult-to-adult modus operandi, I need to include them.

Perhaps this is the beginning and I don’t need to have any more figured out…even though I really, really, like to have things figured out.

I think I will give Landon a call see if he wants to come over for dinner…Lauren is out of town.

And I have ZUCCHINI BREAD!!!
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Sorry this is late, I was at a wedding….

How did I get old enough to have a son getting married? 00000010

How did he get old enough to be getting married?

I can’t say, exactly, how I feel about my oldest tying the knot — bittersweet is the first layer, but there is weeping underneath –I can tell you that our life together is flashing before my eyes, in a good way.

I remember the day after he was born. It was when moms still got a 3 day hospital stay and if you paid for it, a candle lit dinner for two. It was a fair attempt at reestablishing romance, but the donut I sat on was a physical reminder that I was out of commission for a while. Landon and I were alone in our room. I was holding him against me, nuzzling him. Out of the blue he lifted his head away from my chest — I didn’t think new borns could do that — and looked me straight in the eye. In that instant I knew we were in this together. His eyes said, “Here we go mom’”

A couple of nights ago I sat on the deck, alone in the dark, looking at the stars, missing Landon’s youth and my mothering of him. He was a sweetheart and he was a hand full. He took life at full speed, which meant several trips to the ER, firemen pulling him out of a mucky swamp sink hole before hypothermia set in, and looking out my kitchen window one winter afternoon to see a car fly pass with him being pulled behind it on ski’s.

Still, today, I hear stories. He and Jena will decide to tell me about-the-time-when…they pulled the mattress off the spare-room bed into the living room, piled all the couch cushions on top of it, then leapt over the loft railing onto soft heap below. Or when he and his friends jumped, repeatedly, over a bonfire they started in the driveway. Or when he took my SUV off-road. Or…the stories go one and on…

As my first born, most everything I did was an experiment. We were learning together. I taught him know what he felt, what he wanted and to speak up for both. I remember at one particularly difficult stage in his adolescence rethinking my approach, realizing there may be something to be said for the adages, children should be seen and not heard and because I said so…As a result of my parenting style, he could argue like a lawyer. We often thought he would choose that profession. He could out-argue me. And often did. I remember walking away wondering how I ended up saying yes when I was sure I meant no.

And he was a sweetheart.

He struggled with dyslexia and a gluten intolerance — before gluten free was even a term. Together we worked creatively to deal with these issues and they were very hard on him. My heart often broke watching him find his way. I remember one evening, when he was in the 3rd grade, sitting together on the edge of my bed, holding him after a particularly hard day at school, assuring him that it would get better and that I would not let him do it alone.

If I sum up how I mothered it would be that I had my kid’s backs. I read, as a young mom, that my job was to provide a safe harbor for them. That the world was going to beat them up, and they would need a place/person that would provide sanctuary. That was always my guiding principle. I hope they felt that.

So on his wedding day, as we had a moment alone, waiting for all the guests to be seated, I hugged him hard, pulled my head away from his chest, looked him in the eye and said, “Here you go Sweetheart. You have everything you need.”
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