I’m headed under the covers…

I have a good friend that often says she doesn’t care.

Sometimes when she says this I feel judgmental, believing she should care. Other times I feel intrigued, wondering what would happen it I didn’t care either.

I think what she is really saying is she is not going to allow said person, event or thing to upset her. She is not going to get wrapped-around-the-axle like another friend describes herself doing.

My dad used to say, “I could care less,” when he was done with us and/or our behavior. (Grammatically speaking he should have said I couldn’t care less, but in that moment I wasn’t about to correct his English.) I knew what he meant was we were on the edge of trouble. I felt hurt when he said this. I wanted him to always care about everything pertaining to me. He usually didn’t. Maybe that is why I care so much today.

Recently, several days in a row, I came home from work and imageswent straight to bed. I thought I was tired. Tom determined I was depressed. That’s the thing with depression, the depress-e doesn’t recognize it, someone from the outside does.

I was depressed. And to my surprise, being truly honest here, I enjoyed it. I felt relieved  because when I am depressed I allow myself to care less. I didn’t worry about getting dinner ready or stopping at the store to pick up last minute items. I didn’t feel bad about not returning the calls I needed to make to friends and family. I didn’t care about the half finished house projects waiting for our attention. I didn’t feel not good enough or not important. Because, I didn’t care.

I had unwrapped myself from around the preverbal axle. This was a come-to-Jesus moment.

“Really?”, I asked myself in astonishment. Was this was how I was going to set boundaries? Am I going to take care of myself by going to bed at 5:00 and pulling the covers over my head?

Looking back, my early-to-bed was a break I needed. Kind of a deep breath in my schedule. I have taken this liberty a couple of other times in my life, always around big transitions. Deciding to end my marriage, moving into Pittsburgh and selling our families home, and recently Landon’s wedding.

Sometimes I just need to give myself a break. I depress myself to stop myself. Stop moving. Stop producing. Stop initiating. Going to bed accomplishes this. My mini depressive episode. I now trust this behavior in myself; as long as it is only a couple of days. My internal clock needed to reset.

I wonder if this is an option to getting sick. I used to do that. Every 7 years I would end up in the hospital. My doctor pondered this phenomenon out loud with me, “What’s up?”

Good question.

There are many ways to stop and regroup. This seems to be mine. It gets my attention and prompts me to make changes. I need to care differently. I need to care at least as much about myself as I do for someone else. I want to hold myself to a softer standard of accountability checking in with my energy level, my interest and my availability.

And after all that, I may decide, that sometimes, I just don’t care.

XO
waxseal2

 

 

 

Mom’s Who Do To Much

The other day a coworker asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving.

nice gloves

 

“Cooking.”

 

She asked if I usually cook Thanksgiving. It struck me as an odd question. Who else would cook?…I am the mom…after all.

 

“Yes, I have cooked, give or take a year, for the past 27 years.”

 

Her eyes got big, “Wow, I never cook Thanksgiving.” Now I was intrigued. She is a mom too. How did she pulled that off?

 

She explained that the first time she cooked a turkey it wasn’t fully cooked when she served it, so her family didn’t want her to be responsible for the next years, or any year after thats’ holiday meal.

 

Brilliant. Why had’t I thought of that? I had, after all, accidentally burned the first shirt my then husband asked me to iron resulting in his never asking again. I had the paradigm. I saw how it worked. I didn’t take the hint.

 

Later that same day, when rescheduling a client, I offered a session the week of Thanksgiving. She declined explaining she will be too busy preparing for Thanksgiving. She was cooking.

 

I thought of the many Thanksgiving weeks that I worked in Pittsburgh while living in Chalk Hill. An hour and a half commute that I returned home from on Wednesday night around 6 or 7. I had made the stuffing, nut bread, and cranberry bread and shopped the weekend before so all that needed to be done to get dinner on the table in the next 20 hours was par boil, peel and make the white sauce for the creamed onions; peel, boil and mash the potatoes; prepare and boil the green beans to toss into the sautéed garlic and chopped shallots; whip the heavy cream into perfect decadence; put the leaf in the table and set it for 8-10 friends and family; panic because every year I seemed to forget the cornucopia themed paper napkins leaving me with Scott Every Days to design the Martha Stewart wannabe table; oh yeah, stuff and cook the turkey.

Apple and pumpkin pie was deliciously prepared by my then Husband. I never learned how to make pies, so he did. (Hint, hint.) Kathleen brought the sweet potato casserole. Heidi another dessert and/or vegetable.

 

This is what I expected of myself. And soon it became what my family expected also. I  trained them well. It never occurred to me that it was too much to do or that I could do less. Especially when working a full week. Out of town no less.

 

It is Thanksgiving again with Christmas right around the corner. And you know I am no easier on myself at Christmas. I usually begin asking myself, sometime the morning of December 26th, why I do this to myself year after year, concluding with my traditional New Years Resolution promising not do so much in the new year.

 

I do it for other reasons too. I do it for the sake of tradition, so my kids have endearing holiday memories, because my mom cooked Mama B’s cornbread stuffing and creamed onions, although she did not work outside of the home and the tension at the well set table of china and sterling usually made dinner a fast and furious event, because when all the preparations are complete and the people I love most in the world are sitting around the table, I feel sweetly and fully blessed.

 

Yesterday I was offering to teach Jena how to make her great grandmothers Alabama corn bread stuffing. (Perhaps unconsciously passing the torch…PLEASE.) Jena said she was planning on being one of those people that never learned to cook. (She does seem to date guys that love to cook.) I heard myself judgmentally ask,”How do you think that will be for your kids?” My question shamed her into retracting her statement saying she was only kidding.

 

As I retold this exchange to Tom I owned how sexist it was of me to assume holiday traditions will be her responsibility.

 

So how does a mom do it? Create tradition, if that is important to her, and not exhaust herself in the process? Ask for more help? Do less? Care less? It is a labor of love that can end in tired resentment.

 

I would love to hear your ideas. How do you do it?

 

And Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

Wish You Were Here

I know I left you hanging…desperate for pictures of Toronto from our airport hotel window. I even took some for you to see, but for some technological reason that is waaayyyy beyond me, I was unable to post them. Until now.

But now I have a new, better, wonderful view to show you. The one that comes with the house we are renting in Gabian France.

Pretty amazing huh?

When Tom and I travel we like to bring some tradition back with us to keep that trip alive. When we went to Paris we loved the hand held shower heads. It felt so luxurious to have the shower head directly washing our toes we decided to install one in our shower at home. When we went to Mexico we brought home our love of Mexican food. Now we cook, a couple times a month, as traditionally Mexican as we can-in Pittsburgh. So what tradition do we want to bring back from the south of France?

Morning and evening swims.

Yeah, yeah, I know, minor detail, we don’t have a pool. But we didn’t have a hand held shower head 3 years ago either….

 

Here are a few more pictures I’d like to share with you.

 

We finally got our welcome to Barcelona sangria…They were huge and very good!!!

The guy rubbing his head? That is a couple from Essex England. They were visiting for the week and taking the bus tour of Barcelona the next day. They have been to the US, to California, they liked it a lot. I could tell you more but I won’t…

 

This picture is in the medieval village of Pezenas. There is a great street market there every Saturday. They have  food, wine, baskets, clothes, soaps and jewelry from vendors that speak very little to no English-in fact we have found that to be mainly true here- so our patched together French/Spanish is useless. Pezenas also has shops along narrow castle-like ancient passageways. We bought lots of stuff. I love stuff.

Not quite sure how I will get it home though.

 

Since I have been doing more traveling I have noticed I am drawn to windows and doors in other cities/countries. I made Tom stop the car for this one. I may frame this for our living room.

I wonder who lives there? What are their hopes and dreams? What is their favorite food? Are they happy?

I really hope so.

 

SO I will end here. It is late and we are headed to Provence tomorrow.

Hope you all are well.

xo Patricia

 

 

 

 

You Can Never Go Home

But this weekend I did.

 

We beat the Pittsburgh heat and headed to Confluence PA to a lovely B&B close to the Yough River.

 

Many of you know that I spent 24 years living, raising kids, and being married, in the Laurel Mountains. I have visited the area several times since I left in 2008. With each visit my past life has flashed before me leaving me slightly nauseous.  But this time, as we ascended the 1200 ft rise crossing the Summit Mt, my ears popping and the outside temperature dropping, I noticed a subtle shift in myself. I no longer felt the dread of returning to the place I called home and felt so alone.

 

In dread’s place? I felt at peace with my past. I felt gratitude for the beauty of where I raised my kids-I think they are better off for a rural childhood. I felt grace for the friends I did have that helped me feel normal. Thank you Lee, Kathleen and Anne. And I felt such a sweetness for the home Pete and I created-literally adding a 1200 ft addition to an existing 1939 log cabin by OURSELVES. (Yes, I had my own tool belt, hammer and tape measure. I could woman a power saw, drive a straight nail, be pregnant with Jena and feed 3 year old Landon, all at the same time. I was wonder woman!)  As my past flashed before me I smiled.

 

Tom asked if I wanted to drive into Deer Lake and see the house. My first response was, “NO,” I didn’t want to push my luck, but as we got closer to the turn into the community I essentially grew up in and grew my kids up in, I nodded yes. (Also, I was, at this point, well aware I wanted to share this with all of you. It felt too big to keep to myself so I thought some photos would help you get the picture.)

 

This is the gate house into the lake. Deer Lake was originally a gated community. Today the gate house is home for the easter bunnies visit, santa’s early arrival to take orders, random neighbors yard sales and the yearly board meeting where residents complain about other neighbor’s dogs. I remember sitting in some of those meetings thinking about real problems.

 

Now, before I show you pictures of the house, let me give you a very short history of my love affair with my log cabin home. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. Everyone who came into this home felt it too. It was special. Maybe it was built on land blessed by Native Americans, or maybe on a safe from the world energy vortex, or maybe the chestnut trees that the original cabin was built from carried with them all that is good in the world. Whatever it was this house was my magical place. It held me.

 

I think it looked much, much better when I lived there. It looks a little soulless to me now. I am sure I am not being biased.

Selling this was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Yet even in the selling of the home, it once again, in it’s final act of love toward me, called to it a buyer paying cash two weeks before the housing market crashed. My lovely home provided me with the retirement I didn’t have.

 

Here is an inside peek when I ran the kitchen.

I still regret I didn’t take that chandelier with me. It was original to the house.

 

Being back in the mountains, feeling my past meet my present with a much softer touch, reminded me of how healing this area is for me. Tom has said to me, on occasion, “I need to get you to the mountains.” He will explain later his suggestion has to do with my mood…I guess it like with kids, when they are crabby you put them in water…when I have walked on too much concrete we go to the woods.

 

Lying on the rocks today at Ohiopyle, temporarily dipping ourselves in and out of the chilly water, I knew I am better for living in this place. I felt myself unwind in a way I only do in the presence of large rocks and moving water. I know these rocks and they know me.

 

I sat up to see Tom watching me, “These are your rocks sweetheart. They have been waiting for you to come back.”

 

I know he is right.

 

 

20 Seconds of Courage

We watched We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson.  It is the semi true story of how a dad reconnects with himself and his children, especially his son, by buying a zoo after his wife dies. All the heart wrenching scenes of a grief stricken dad trying to do right by his children.

 

It was an okay movie. I felt a bit duped when we read in wikipedia that the real life wife died after they bought the zoo. I guess anguished dad stories sell more movie tickets.

 

Anyway, my point?

 

Mid way through the movie Matt Damon’s character tells his children the story of how he met their mom. He recalled how frightened he was to approach her in the local cafe. As he stood outside the cafe, deciding to act or leave, he heard his older brother telling him as a child, “All you need is 20 seconds of courage.” He went in and met his future wife.

 

20 seconds of courage. I loved that concept. It made sense to me. I could use that in my life.

 

Saturday night Tom and I went to our when we have something to celebrate restaurant. Our last celebration was when I sold my house. I took him out for lobster and champagne. This time we were celebrating his raise. He took me out. They didn’t have lobster, so we had really great fish and champagne.

 

Toward the end of the evening, the table in the corner of the room, surrounded by windows overlooking downtown Pittsburgh, began to fill with a group of women. Each one came in separately clearly excited to greet her already seated friends. I’d say they were in their forties, some dressed conservatively, others provocatively, all looking their best and beautiful. They hugged each other saying, “You look great!”

 

I couldn’t stop watching them. “You can’t take your eyes off them can you?” Tom noticed. I admitted I could not. He asked me if I had noticed the couple sitting there before them, 2 people lost in a 6 person table. I had not. “So what is so interesting to you about these women?” he asked. I wasn’t sure, but I was guessing they had a great story.

 

I watched a little longer hoping not to get caught eavesdropping or staring. Tom suggested I go over and introduce myself. He guessed my interest saying they might have a great story I could blog about. I looked him straight in the eye, the kind of straight in the eye that implied his idea was crazy.

I explained to my partner of 5 years, husband for 9 months, that I am basically a shy person. I couldn’t interrupt this table of friends to get my curiosity quenched. It was a ludicrous idea.

 

Then I heard it…loud and clear,

all you need is 20 seconds of courage.”

 

I made up my mind and walked over to their table. They looked up expecting to see the waiter and instead they saw me. I explained I am a local blogger and admitted I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I went on to say my husband encouraged me to come over because I imagined they had a great story of how they met, how often they gathered and what it meant to them to gather like this. They all smiled at me and to one another.

 

Their story. They met at Slippery Rock University their freshman year all teaching majors. Two remained in the education school and the others switched majors, but they remained friends throughout their college years and their lives. They explained they now live all over the country and haven’t seen each other in 25 years. This was their reunion. I teared up.

 

They asked me what I did. I explained I am a psychotherapist specializing in women’s issues. They invited me to sit down. “We need to talk to you,” they all laughed. (One of two responses occur when I tell someone I am a therapist. Either every one shuts up or no one shuts up.)

 

I took their pictures with several of their cameras and invited them to email me the long version of their story so I could share it with all of you. They took my card and said they would.

 

I feel better for meeting them. I feel sweet about life and friendship and courage.

 

All it took was 20 seconds of courage.

Random Acts of Kindness

Anyone that lives in Pittsburgh knows that going for a walk involves hills. It is the good news and the bad. I love that I have a treadmill right outside my door and hate that there is no such thing as a leisurely walk that doesn’t involve sweating.

 

So it was this morning. The spring weather has me ditching the gym and heading out over the hilly terrain of Pittsburgh to get my heart rate up and, hopefully soon, my butt in a favorite pair of summer slacks. On my last leg of my route is a very steep hill. As I looked up from the bottom, I prepared myself mentally and physically for the climb. I found a favorite song on my ipad, jacked up the volume, dropped my focus into my hips, made sure my feet were fully meeting the sidewalk, took a deep breath and started up the hill. Whew, half way up I decided there was no shame in stopping against a railing to rest. As I rested I noticed the neighborhood, smelled a cigar-couldn’t find the culprit-and noticed two cars drive past me going down the hill.

 

I started the second stretch. I was tired and not sure I wanted to, or could, do it. I remembered going into labor with Jena, my second child. When I got into the full throes of labor I said (well shouted) to my husband, “I changed my mind, I don’t want to do this.” I fully expected him to say okay and we would go home. We didn’t.

 

The also remembered was when I was leaving my marriage. I would go to the gym and run (I am not a runner) on the treadmill. I would think I was going to die. I would tell myself that if I could survive 5 more minutes of running than I wouldn’t die leaving my marriage. I ran those 5 minutes. I didn’t die. I felt more confident, so I ran 5 more telling myself, “If I can run 5 more minutes without dying…” I ran 30 minutes this way and successfully ended my marriage.

 

So it was with me and this hill. If I could do this hill I could survive anything. And, since every alternative route home also involved a steep incline, there was no backing out. Halfway up the second stretch a women in a Honda CRV pulled up next to me and rolled down her window. I wasn’t sure I could talk to give her the directions she must be stopping to ask me. Then it occurred to me, wasn’t she one of the cars that just passed me? I stopped walking and looked in through the open window.

 

“Do you need a ride?” she asked with concern.

 

I instantly had a visual of how tragic I must have looked plodding up this incline and felt ashamed. Gratefully, as quickly as my shame reared its disabling head, it was replaced by how touched I felt by her kindness. She had turned around to check on me.

 

“Bless your heart,” I said between gulps of air, “but I am going to do this!”

 

“You go girl!” she responded.

 

I did. I conquered that hill, with her encouragement and kindness inspiring me all the way.

 

Encouragement and kindness. I think that is all we need.

 

Thank you, woman in the CRV.

I Love My Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”

 

I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”

 

Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?

 

As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to… Continue reading

Loving Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”

I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”

Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?

As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to…

What if I didn’t?

What if I gave myself the time and energy to do those things I dream of.

What if I promised myself to follow my interest, my desire, my heart?

What if…(fill in your own)?

I can’t imagine it would be harmful to follow my interests. Can you?

So I have a challenge.

Together, let’s do one thing a week that is enough out of our ordinary routine that we smile, a heart felt smile, knowing we are alive. I will start a I LOVE MY LIFE forum on BeingBoswell and we can share our stories. Hearing others success and excitement can be contagious. Don’t make it a big deal thing, just easy and fun. A dinner at a new restaurant you always wanted to go to, a store you have wanted to explore, a book that has been calling your name, a meal you have wanted to cook, a friend you have wanted to spend time with, a new way home through a neighborhood you have wanted to see.

You get the idea.

To share your experience, scroll down and leave a comment! 

Don’t be shy. Your story will encourage all of us.

I will go first.

Mr. Volvo

The other morning Tom and I were headed to work.  We have been riding together since Tom’s car was totaled, Halloween morning, by a young kid who ran a red light. Since then we have been a one car family. At first this was very difficult for me. Truth be told, I hated it. I liked my time in the car alone. I could drive in silence, listen to music, a book or a conference on CD. My choice. I usually used the time to think, take stock. With Tom in the car it wasn’t my space anymore. However, during some of our morning commutes we had great conversation, caught up on things with each other, or made plans for the evening or week. Sometimes it was really nice. I enjoyed our company. So both experiences were true for me.

 

 

Anyway, this particular morning, as we headed up Bigelow Blvd traffic began to slow. It was still moving but slower than usual. Ahead of us I noticed an older Volvo, changing lanes, speeding up only to have to brake because both lanes were moving slowly, and honking his horn. At one point he was waving his arms in the air above his head. I wondered who was steering his car. He was clearly upset. Being the well trained defensive driver(thank you Mr Anderson) that I am, I tried to determine what had Mr Volvo so upset. Was he seeing something dangerous I wasn’t aware of? My assessment of the situation was that everyone was going slower, but at a constant rate of speed. Odd for this stretch of the road, but not dangerous to me.

 

I commented to Tom, “This guy is really upset.” Continue reading

Fat Free Relationships

I don’t like fat free food. I don’t like low fat food either. I don’t eat it anymore. I used to, believing it was good for me, but I was always hungry. Hunger and I do not get along. I avoid it at all costs. I always know where my next meal is coming from. I decided being hungry and miserable was a greater health risk than eating fat. I threw out the I can’t believe it’s not butter-I could- and returned to It is butter, really.

 

I can tell, on first sip, when my latte is mistakenly made with low fat milk. I use half and half in my coffee at home. There is nothing “light” in my frig.  I would rather not eat ice cream than eat it with all the natural fat sucked out.

 

To justify my rich taste, I read the Fat Fallacy by Will Cower. I remembered my two week trip to France. The French eat whole everything!  They are not overweight and do not have as high an incidence of heart disease as we do. I ate more bread with butter, cheese, cream, ham, pastry and wine while there than I do in two months in Pittsburgh. Surprisingly, I lost weight. I could argue I walked a lot. That being true and significant, the Fat Fallacy suggests we need fat to maintain a good weight. I choose to be a discipline of this belief-we all pick what beliefs we live by.

 

I have the same preference when it comes to my relationships. Continue reading