Friday, August 26, 2016

I Still Have 24 Hours

The other night when we went for our walk (my gosh how I love our walks) I noticed how much too quickly the long days of summer are ending. Night comes at us faster now, and so does the time until you leave for your first year in college.

This is a new beginning, like all your graduation cards said. It's a new beginning, and it springs from your time spent with us. This is the nature of the life cycle, and growing up and letting go and the day of your leaving for Madison is here in 24 hours.

I still have 24 ours of you living at home with us, as you have for the past 18 years.
It's hard to say goodbye because I have been with you since the first second you were born. Think of how that is, to not have you here next to me the way you have been for your entire life. As soon as the nurses placed you in my arms, a lump grew in my throat as I thought about how I would only have you for a while, and it's that thought that I've kept in my heart with every second of being with you, talking with you, loving you, and being in awe of you. What a gift it is to be your mother! I knew that time with you, every day of it, would be steps of letting go at every milestone: the first coo, the first smile, the first giggle, the first steps, the first words, the first day at school.

In one day, we will drive you to a new home, and a school that will be yours. You will be in a new place, and we will both be in a new space. College is where your future will take on more dimension, though seeds of it can be seen when I look back on your days.

I remember standing in front of the house with you when your were three years old. I had read of an experiment to do with bug lovers—something you already were by then. Insects were something that fascinated you since you could point. The directions told us to place a white sheet under a shrub and shake the branches, the goal would be to inspect all the bugs that would fall out. And so we did, we shook and oh my gosh with wide eyes we looked. The unbelieving amazement in your eyes at the amount of life that had just seconds before been invisible to us, is one of the mile markers in how I knew who you were: someone in wonder of nature. The rest of that day we spent carrying that white sheet from bush to bush, and you stood shaking branches and then stooping down to not just look, but to classify each type of bug that was revealed. You were fascinated then -- as you still are -- with the sky, with biology, with weather, with physics, with science, with the creation of the world we live in.

It's this, seeing you grow into the loving, kind, wise, compassionate, introspective person that you are, that has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I wrote you a long list of things I know are important to a happy, satisfying, content and purposeful life. I'll give it to you when we drop you off Sunday, because I know how that will be. With me hiccupping and hanging on tight and trying to talk, and then starting all over with hiccupping again.

That's what we all want, you know, to have someone love us enough to hiccup over. If we know we matter, if we know we have made the world better, if we've had a chance to contribute and feel how we do make a difference, this fills us with a sense of pride and belief. We know our world needs us in it.

I can tell you that you've made a difference in our household of five: and in my world, especially. You've turned my life into one I couldn't have dreamed of, but I know that you want to feel that same significance for yourself, from your own labor.

I pray that I have helped you realize your worth and significance in the time I've had you, Xavier.

You'll be away at school, yes, but you will forever live here in my heart. And if you do feel alone and a little bit lost from time to time, remember that just at that moment, there is someone back home holding your picture and sending you love.  

I am so proud, and so very fortunate, to be the one with the honor of signing this,

With Love,

Your Mom
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday, August 18, 2016

But My Feelings, They Are So Strong

Emotions are with us, every day. Some of these feelings are fantastic, others chew our stomachs up and leave us light headed and spent. I'm one that runs either hot or cold, there is no moderate temp in my blood. And when all is aligned just wrong versus just right, I feel like I'm losing my mind, because my feelings, why must they be so strong?

On days that are without challenge, I do all right with the mildly conjuring-up-feelings emotion. I am able to sail through the meh moments, but when I’m walloped in the temples by something that sends my diastolic numbers pounding through the Velcro cuff, I need help.

It's the cross-eyed angry that spills out and shocks me when I look in the mirror and don't see steam blowing out from the top of my skull. In those moments, I don’t know what to do with myself. My breaths come in shallow and rapid and my scalp tightens around my skull. From my teen child who takes me on in a verbal tug-of-war for an extra round of PlayStation to the neighbor who comments on my recycling pile on the side of the house, I am sent to the edge. 

What do I do with these bull-in-the-ring emotions?

I do the only thing there is to do: unclench my jaw so I don't run to the dentist thinking I need a root canal from the pain only t be semi-relieved (I guess) that I trenched my TMJ.

It’s hard to keep a cap on it, especially when I'm out in the world where everyone is watching. And the world loves to witness a melt down – but I won’t have them see it from me. That's what the Trump campaign is for.

SO. ----------> Here are a few ways to keep yourself from doing a Brittany Umbrella Dance for your whole neighborhood to catch on video next time you lose your cool:

◾Decide that whatever it is, it is not a big deal. Even if it is, table it till you’re behind closed doors. Remember that these days, everyone’s got a camera.

◾Use the word “frustrated” when explaining your feelings instead of “mad.” Saying “mad” just makes you “mad.”

◾Deconstruct your feelings. Make it a game; think about what led to what, and how you got there. This buys you time until you get home and can pull into your garage and lose it in the minivan out of view.

◾Write a letter full of every GD cuss word you can think of. Oh, do try it–it feels so good.

◾Find a friend who can talk you down. Call, text, tweet it out. Someone is sure to side with you and that’s all you want really, to hear, “that sucks donkey balls, man!”

◾Count to ten. It takes the Ready-Aim-Fire sequence out of your brain. And whatever you do, NEVER jump across a counter and grab anyone by the lapels. Not even if they sent your family's luggage to Australia.

◾Observe and note what your physical reaction to being mad as hell is. This will crack you up because you’ll sound like a Learning Channel Special: “Tingly scalp, beads of sweat on upper lip. Light headedness and numb fingertips accompany the pounding heart bouncing out of the rib cage.”

Being mad and feeling it should not be the same thing as going mad. Life will always have moments that move you to anger quicker than unchecked rice on the stove. But an angry fool is still just a fool (you can quote me on that).

The next time you want someone’s head on a platter, take a bunch of deep breaths instead and walk away. We all know that no matter how good it feels to call for a beheading, in the end, it would still just look gross.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

What to Write When You Think "But My Life is Too Boring to Write About"

Think your life is one not interesting enough to write about? Wishing you had something to say from days that stretch back into what you think is ordinary?

Here's something for you to know: no one's life is ordinary and no one's days are ever without event.

I'm on BlogHer today talking about how to find the moments in our lives, and explore them for content.

Click over and give it a read, and then, what else? But start writing.

"What makes a story compelling is the feeling that you are reading over somebody's shoulder as they write in their diary, or that you're being whispered to and trusted with the words you'll soon hear...[read more on  Mining the Moments, on BlogHer]


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Pow! I'm a Life Coach!

Taking care of children is a mind blow. They look to you as possessor of all knowledge, and I'll be honest, it's fantastic for the ego. I give my three children life lesson as vignettes of my life appear, without summons, and today I thought, Why shouldn't I take my podium pounding sessions public? And so I have.
You too can now can benefit from the well from which I dip. As with anything, take what serves you, leave what serves others.

LESSONS LEARNED: Volume 26 of What Life Has Taught Me:

--Say “good morning” back, especially when you don't feel like it.
--Repeat someone’s name after they introduce themselves. People love to her their names.

--I am not going to assume anything, but let's talk friends. If you’re not interested in making friends, then move along: nothing to see here. BUT if you are tired of your social circle consisting of one, then I’ve got some tips for you.
Friendship Tips 101:

◾Before you say you want friends, you have to know what that means. Friends mean responsibility, caring, being there. If it’s not a two way street, then that’s not friends. You may just be using each other to not be alone. That won’t work.

◾Manners are important. Manners mean no nose picking, farting, grabbing your crotch or constantly sticking your side boobs back in place.

◾Don’t play with your food, don’t chew with your mouth open, don’t eat with your hands, don’t wipe your hands on the tablecloth or on your shirt or anyone’s shirt when you pretend to give them a hug good-bye.

◾Don’t focus only on the people that you want to like you. Think of everyone. They usually turn out to be cooler than the ones you think you want to like you.

◾If someone doesn’t like you, accept it. Don’t be needy. Don’t ask what is wrong with you, why don’t they like you, is there a chance?, don’t give them money to like you or buy them presents. Move on.

◾Just because you feel like doing something doesn’t mean you should do it. You may want to laugh and point at your friend’s new haircut but that’s not nice. Don’t do it.

◾Ask people about their lives, it shows you care. And if you don’t care, well then, we need to ask why you say you want friends. Back to step one: meaning of friendship.

◾Always ask permission before touching, grabbing, snatching, pushing, jumping, climbing, bumping, rubbing a person. ALWAYS.

◾And the most important rule of all:
If anyone says they won’t be your friend if you don’t play spin the bottle or Doctor with them, tell them your mother doesn’t let you play those games. Then leave that house and never be friends with them again. Oh, sorry, forgot I wasn't talking to my kids again. 
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