Saturday, June 29, 2013

Suggested Visualizations for Those Averse to Exercise

photo credit: alternatePhotography via photopin cc

There are some things you'll never hear me say when it's time to do what I've put off doing until I can't put it off anymore (besides dishes, laundry, beds, cleaning, emails, cooking...) 

When I wait up until almost midnight, and the day is almost gone and I keep hoping I'll just do it already and then comes the hour in which it can no longer remain not done.

The minutes go by and I sigh and reach for the running shoes and change into the non binding clothes, that wouldn't be so binding if I would just do it.

It's time to exercise.

I don't like to exercise. My children take sympathy and lend me their playlists, they keep me company, walk with me, tell me jokes while I'm on the dreadmill, face their dogs downward alongside me, but I don't like it. It's not fun, I have no energy, it takes up a HUGE chunk of time -- something I'm already way too short of.

But, but but but, if I don't do it, I don't like the way my thighs start to sound like butter being whipped in a bowl, I don't like how I can feel my stomach jiggle when I drive over potholes, I don't like how I can see my batwings in the periphery when I wave good-bye to my children when they leave in the morning.

There's also that small thing about staying alive to see my grandchildren.

And so, armed (ha!) with all these reasons, I drag my floppiness off the couch and go exercise.

It's not easy to motivate me and one tactic that has always worked as a fire under my butt, ever since I was a little girl, is fear. Scare tactics. Frighten me out of my skull, that's my love language.

I'm sharing with those of you today, anyone out there like me, who would rather scrape paint off the outside of a house while on a 9-foot ladder under a 95 degree noon day sun with only warm berry-flavored Gatorade to sip, my list of Powerful Imitation Tony Robbins-Like Fear Factor Visualizations to get that adipose on the active track.

This is what I think of when I don't want to just do it! **Print it out, put it up, carry it with you, commit it to memory:

  • 1.  I imagine what my body looks like if I were to see myself bare naked, running, in slow motion. Right? This'll have you moving in no time.

  • 2.  See yourself naked again, but this time standing on your head. Boom. You've just upped the dreadmill to 4mph.

  • 3.  Imagine what innocent bystanders would be subjected to if a sudden gust of summer wind blew your sweet new flirty skirt up while at the Friday morning farmer's market. You love people too much for this to assault their eyes, don't you? Now adding a 1.5 incline to dreadmill.

  • 4.  I don't want to see me miss a summer day not at the pool with my kids. It doesn't take much, and I don't ask for much. Just a few more planks in the morning, alternate sides, three minutes each. That's all we need.

  • 5.  See myself being okay wearing the tank tops of summer. I'm not seeing an image here with arms that look like rubber bands, just a little hoisting of the lunch lady flaps, and I'm good.

  • 6.  I want to keep seeing myself clutching my chest in front of my kids because I'm around to hear the sweet things they say to me, not because I need the new defibrillators our auxiliary fire department just purchased.

  • 7.  While I'm on my fifty minute of exercise with ten more to go, I see my heart beating and growing strong and suddenly, I know just what The Grinch felt when his heart grew three sizes that day.

  • 8.  I see my legs getting strong enough to still outlast my husband and the kids on our bike rides and this one is super important to me because I never want them to have to stop mid-trail and turn around and to shout "ya comin', mom?"

  • 9.  I like to see the BIG FIVE benefits of exercise flash before my eyes, lined up in bold black old-school capital letters. Look them up on google... they're tremendous.

  • 10. You won't look them up, will you. That's why I did it for you:

     1.) The force of blood pumping through your arteries and veins cleans out and dislodges fat. Picture it.
     2.) Heart pumping makes your heart, which is a muscle, get good and strong. See it flexing.
     3.) Exercise creates endorphins! Feel good hormones! Better than getting your Prozac doubled.
     4.) Physical activity uses up stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline, and now they have      somewhere to go instead of running around your body shouting "where do we go? where do we go?" Believe me, you feel them when they're trapped inside.
     5.)  Burning an extra 100 calories a day loses 10 pounds of weight a year. Burning 200 calories a day is 20 pounds a year! 300 calories a day is 30 pounds a year! I like to play this game and go through the possibilities in my head up to 10,000 calories a day.

One visualization I battled over sharing or not and finally decided what the heck, we're all family here.

Me in last year's swim suit -- if they made the skirt any longer on that thing it'd be a berka.
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Thursday, June 27, 2013

BlogHer and Wishing You Weren't Too Terrified To Attend

There is this big, big social media conference coming up the end of July, in Chicago. It will more than likely have over 5,000 attendees. It's known as the world's largest social media conference for women.

Huge stuff. Big deal. Thrilling chance of a lifetime to meet most of your favorite reads and readers, face to face. It's called BlogHer.

You really want to go to this conference and see everyone, you do -- but you don't even entertain the thought because people terrify you. Or, you've bought your ticket because you really want to go, but now you're dreading the fact that you did.

What to do. You don't want to miss this but you don't want to be there among the unknown, either. Because your personality type is the kind that gets overwhelmed and panicky at the thought of a small city of people and the swimming sea of faces that await you. In a concentrated space. I mean, you really don't actually ::know:: anyone.

But, still, again, YOU REALLY WANT TO GO. You're tired of missing out on things just because you feel you don't know if you'll do the right thing around all those people. Where others see the chance to squee (it's a thing that happens a lot when bloggers meet) and hugging and high pitched excited talking one over the other because of the thrill of being together with your people, y'all...

My first BlogHer, San Diego, and never was I happier to see someone than when I saw Polly.

... for you, something else happens -- fight or flight kicks in. And you don't want to pay all that money and make all those plans for child care for five days away, just to end up hiding in your hotel room, berating yourself with the "I knew I shouldn't have come!" self talk while you dial home, crying, promising yourself you'll never come to one of these again.

I'm with you. I hear you. And I feel just this way, but still, I really want to go.

So, I'm going. I have my ticket, and I'm taking the train to Chicago, and I'll be at BlogHer '13.

Because it will be four nights and four days of getting the rare chance to say thank you in person to all the writers that make me smile and feel less alone in my world. I'll be with my people. And I won't have to pretend to be normal for FOUR DAYS.

ohmygosh poor Ree, could I be any more obnoxious. I love her.

It's work for me to bring myself out of my shell, but I do it. It doesn't feel any more natural now than it did when I first went to BlogHer two years ago, but I'm there, because missing out on things from fear or panic is not something I want. And I'm not saying it's easy to do, to just buck up and do it. No, I'm not saying that at all.

I'm saying that the risk, the perceived threat to our being, the fear that makes us want to lock the hotel door behind us while we dive under the covers, is not going to win.

I've examined what brings out the adrenaline in me that tells me to run and stay in my hotel room, and I'm going to press over-ride on these emotions and do my possible best.

Years ago, but years ago, this wonderful therapist *again on this site with the fabulous therapist, I know* I had told me that the best defense we have against any attack is knowledge. Information; finding out what causes what brings out what and therein you can start to re-work the puzzle to create a different picture.

What you find on introspection is uniquely your story. For me, my answers come from the fear of past mistakes, past done-to-mes, past pain.

It's the wanting to avoid the above said pain that'll send you flying to the nearest bank of elevators,  pressing and lighting up aaaaaall the buttons thinking that will get you a ride back to your room sooner. Hide, hide, you just want to be safe and hidden.

I know what's behind my fear; it's the what-if of saying the wrong thing, acting the wrong way, not being friendly enough, being dog wagging tail too friendly, being boring, not being witty, having nothing to say, all this and a bag of peanuts too while I worry about my flabby arms in my sleeveless tops knocking someone out while I run to hug them. In other words, pick a card, any card.

I fear these things because they've all happened to me before, every one. And I wince at the memory. I have said the wrong thing and called a blogger the wrong name in front of her tens and tens of friends, I have hugged someone who was very very hands off, I have appeared unfriendly when I was actually just overwhelmed at meeting so many people at once (so interesting how overwhelmed more often than not gets translated as unapproachable), I have met someone I really liked and just about jumped in their lap -- when the feelings were not equally returned. I have been quiet, not saying anything, while surrounded by so many faces at once. I have not always been able to think of something clever to say. I have thought of something funny to say, but then it was only laugh out loud funny to me. And I do have slap-happy flabby arms in tank tops.

I've pulled each of those cards out of the deck.

But, and this is the thing, every single time I've taken a chance and gone to this mini world within a hotel... it's been good. Really good. I come home after being hugged back as hard I hugged, someone I didn't think would know me, did; I had one on one time with the special people who inspire me in my daily life, I could feel that people liked being with me, I was with others who were just as overtaken by emotion at being with PEOPLE who blogged for pete's sake, and that got what we all do online. Where is this in real life, right? There were scheduled programs, panels, sessions, workshops, talks; in rooms, hotel bars, hallway floors, about to captcha or not to captcha.

I was with bloggers.

I thought of funny things to say and made people funnier than I am, laugh. That's what I remind myself of... Remember the last time you did this, you were so glad you did. So do it again. 

My eternal BlogHer roommates, third year in a row. Dusty and Varda.

And so I do. And it's not easy, but I do.

We may not like the work, but oh how we love the fruit.

If you're one of the ones like me, whose first reaction to BlogHer is "I don't know how to do a big conference," please think twice. Go. If you do, look for me-- I'll be easy to spot, so say hello. I'll be the one with the deer frozen in the headlights look-- but if you get a little closer, you'll see that I'm having the time of my life. I'm smiling, I just have one of those faces.

I've got my ticket for BlogHer, not even flabby armpits could stop me.


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Monday, June 24, 2013

Catching Up, and The Winner of the Summer Reading Basket!

Summer is here in Wisconsin, and that means that all of us in the mitten-shaped state lose our minds and pack every minute with ACTIVITIES! because SUMMER! We all know Wisconsin is shaped like a mitten to try and keep us warm. Our winters are legendary, below zero temps and wind chill factors that make you cry. When summer hits, we know we only have six weeks to be outside and get our yearly quota of mosquito bites and vitamin D.

And seriously, it's been a humid start to the summer thus far. I'm going through a gallon of cream rinse a day trying to keep this puffball on top of my head patted down. Living in the suburbs, there's nary a tube of what I could so easily find when I lived in the city -- the one thing that worked its magic on ethnic hair. VO-5.

I've taken to sleeping with a plaid hunter's cap strapped to my skull in hopes of somehow flattening the wild sage that's sprouting from my scalp follicles.

Russian sage is beautiful, yes -- but unfortunately, the same don't-hold-me-back look doesn't translate when it's on my head.

Summer is finally GD here, y'all, and despite the hair conditions of Guam, we're loving it. Our days are free, but business goes on.

Here's a quick recap of the week:

--I've been on LoopLetters (my new favorite thing) this week as part of a writers' series on summer injuries, click over to enjoy these stories Fibula Knee Groin Finger Face!  Kick The Can: A War Story by Ben Van Iten, This Didn’t Really Happen. This Is Fiction. Don’t Sue Me For Defamation. by Whitney Collins, Happy Fourth Of July In A Red, White, And Blue Fingertip by Alexandra Rosas, and I’m More Of An Autumn by Ken Martin.

--My second favorite thing has become the new site Purple Clover. I am thrilled to be writing for them, and I have been introduced to some great story tellers there. Purple Clover is going to be a community where the search for life lessons learned told in a humble, soul bearing way, will be found. I really hope you check them out. I write there this week of the Not-so-fine-art of letting go, and what it feels like when your first born practice child, turns 18.

--And we have big news! Through the winner of the summer reading basket giveaway offered by five fabulous authors is Kathy Radigan of My Dishwasher's Possessed. Kathy, please email me your address so that I can forward the information to the authors, they will be sending you your books directly! SO excited for you, and what a prize!

Here's to sun screen slathered days, Deep Woods Off layered nights, and the surprise of a tube of VO-5 on a store shelf someday.


Your Wisconsin Russian Sage-Head

So pretty sprouting wild and free out of the ground, but not my head

photo credit: mmwm via photopin cc

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Apple... Tree

Many of you know from my updates on facebook and twitter, that my days/weeks are spent in care and visits to my ailing mother. (story here)

Her life has been one far beyond anything I could ever hope to cover here, and she has remained a woman that to this day, is intriguing and unpredictable.

One constant, however, and all six of her children would agree, is the very first image we see in our minds when we think of her.

Fashion hound.

In a lace-up number on the far right.

 Fashion queen.
The one looking straight at the camera.

Fashion slave?

She is on the right, and her beautiful face here kills me.


In soft grey with spring green underneath. Never would have thought of that.

She was always one dressed in what she found to be fashionable, and her taste? Seeing her from my child's eyes convinced me that you are born with style know how and if not, you can try to learn it, but it is an essence, a predisposition and a whimsical gift that you recognize instantly on someone as innate or *book-learned.*

The soft grey suit again, this time paired with a confident stare.

My mother was not *book-learned* with her sense of style. Had any of us ever had the chance to skip into her dreams at just the right timed moment, we'd find her floating in gowns and sheaths straight from the pages of Vogue magazine.

From a time when Red Revival, gold hoops, and two hair combs were all you needed.

19 years old in a classic plaid skirt and bored stance.

The brothers as handsome as their sister.

My mother is on the left in black and a strand of pearls, my father is crouched below. My aunt looks on.

My mother on the left, in three different plaid patterns, and yet... it works.

It is with this knowledge of my mother, armed with the technicolor memories of her platform sandals and silk neck scarves, that make me smile when I walk into her room where she is now, in an assisted living center, and she looks up to see me arriving in ankle cuffed jeans, a black T shirt, Converse tennis shoes, and her first words to me are "Your pants, they could be farmer's. And is that T shirt your husband's? Are you here without earrings and how pale you look with no lipstick."

I will miss this. 

And more than missing these words, I will miss the voice that reminds me of the stock I come from.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Reading Basket For You

My kids are home for summer vacation. You might as well know, I love it. I know, I know, there's lots I've read out there of how you can't be my friend if I like my kids home, but I do.

Anyway, on their last day of school, I pick them up with a van full of balloons. Then we go for french fries and soda, **fast food?? aaargh! unfriend!** The first morning that my children are mine home again, I let them sleep in, then they come downstairs to cinnamon rolls. We do it the same way every year.

Another thing they wake up to on their first day of vacation, is a large reading basket I've set out for them at the bottom of the stairs. They love it. It's filled with books, magazines, notebooks, sketchpads, markers, charcoal pencils, pastels, small travel games, and a few card games, too.

What I have for you today, courtesy of so very many wonderful, talented people I've met on the internet, is a summer reading basket for you.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win.

Up on deck for some very lucky winners, the following top of the line reads:

--Jill Smokler, Scary Mommy's, second book; Motherhood Comes Naturally, and other vicious lies. This book is right on. It's something I truly needed when I started this parenting gig 18 years ago. I thought I was supposed to hit the ground running. 18 summers later, and I'm still learning.  Written in Jill's reassuring style that tells us, we're all in this together. A winner.

--Tracy Beckerman's newest, Lost in Suburbia. I've met Tracy in real life, and her essays here are as close to having your BFF living right next door as you can get. No topic off limits for her, Tracy spills it on what the rest of us keep quiet. She takes the words right out of my mouth by asking, "What the heck happened here? And whose house am I in?"

--Lela Davidson's Who Peed On My Yoga Mat. Lela, an adorable pixie of a woman, is another one who reads my mind out loud. She is the best friend from college that you've been smart enough to hang onto. Her writing is irreverent, yet still deeply in love with mothering. This is a great book to carry around in your purse--easily pulled out for hidden giggles in between classes and at swim lesson pick up.

--Rita Arens, of Surrender, Dorothy, offers us a painfully beautiful glimpse of adolescent life during the stormy times of uncertainty and doubt. For those who love YA literature, as I do. Vulnerable, aching, and absolutely irresistible. A must read, The Obvious Game, by Rita Arens.

--I am proud to say, that the last book here up for this giveaway is authored by someone who was an editor for me. Una LaMarche. This woman with a keen eye for the subtleties that take writing from pretty good to knocking it out of the ballpark, has written Five Summers, a YA novel that had me hooked from the first page with sentences like "words flowed from her like the very next breaths she was taking."  It's the story of four friends and five summers they share together. Captivating.

These fabulous reads are yours if you win! Please leave a comment to win, and the authors will send out the books to you. All books are available through Amazon, if you can't wait to spend your summer nights falling asleep to some mighty fine writing, as I do. 

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Monday, June 17, 2013

He's Back, But I Don't Know For How Long

The mood has struck him, and Baby E, who is now 11 (!!!) has asked to do a post. It's 10 PM and it's summer vacation. The windows are open and it's a beautiful summer night.

We're sitting on the sofa together and I say why the heck not.

**thank you, Baby E. xo**

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Hi, it's me, finally. I want to write tonight right away before I forget about the things I want to say. I want to talk about everything and I'm thinking of everything that has happened to me. 

This is me when I first began blogging. I was seven.

This is me now with the iPod that I got for Christmas. I'll tell you later about the songs I like.

This is me eating corn like a maniac. We buy local sweet corn and look at the pile of cobs on my plate. It's delicious.

This is me with the thing I made, a hand glove, I made it from Hexabits. I'll tell you more about that cool building toy later.

This is me on the almost last day of school. I'm thinking about all that I did.

This is me with balloons on the last last day of school. My mom picked me up and had the van full of balloons for me.

This is me with a giant cootie catcher I made before school ended. Some of the fortunes in it were "bad luck," "good luck," "watch out."

This is my big brother making a basket and me behind him with orange on.

This is my shot. I'm not dancing.

Back to words only.

On the almost last day of school, on a Monday and beginning of summer, our class went to a picnic at the park. I thought it was going to be lame with teachers organizing everything where you have to do what they say but we got to do whatever we wanted. It was pretty cool.

On the second last day of school, which was Tuesday, we did this thing called Field Day where a bunch of games are set up and you try to win them. It was fun.

On the last day of school, we went to mass for an hour. And then we had an hour long recess but just because it was raining two drops they made us go in and we watched the dumbest movie in the world. I turned my chair around just to stare at the wall instead. I groaned a couple of times but made sure the teacher didn't hear me.

For games for the summer, buy your kids Hexabits. It's a building kit of little hexagons that interlock, it's pretty cool. You have to be over three years old, though.  

For books, buy your kids Planet Tad, Big Nate, and The Middle School Series. 

For things to do, get a kick ball and go to the pool and invite friends over.

For Nintendo Games, there is this game called WarioWare  D.I.Y. It's this really cool game where you get to make your own game and there's like 80 preloaded games in it. They're like mini games so it's super fun.

For Wii games, there is this awesome game called Super Paper Mario. It's where you're Mario and you flip between 2D and 3D dimensions. It's really awesome.

For iPad, MY MOM WON AN iPAD!  I just want to say that.

What else I want to say is that I like to eat corn and I'm going to play outside a lot.


I like to go to Charcoal Grill for their rotisserie chicken that they serve you in a frisbee and you can ask for dark or light meat and get half a chicken and waffle fries, I like to go to Dave and Buster's and play the Pirate Game there, and go to the park with my friends.


I'm going to write more because I have more free time.

OH! for songs I like on my iPod, I like Don't You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia, and then there is Feel So Close by Calvin Harris, and there's also Safe and Sound by Capital Cities. Good Time by Flo Rida and Can't Hold Us (you can buy the clean versions with no swears like the D word and the S word gone) by Mackelmore and #thatPOWER by Will.I.Am. 

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**Auggie's mom here. I'm being featured today at an amazing website, Purple Clover. I have a piece up on what I think I'll do, after this little guy is gone. It'll be here faster than I know it. Thank you for checking it out, "Profound Experiences in Grocery Stores," via Purple Clover.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day Letters

A collection of Father's Day Letters.

Four letters written in celebration of fathers, the ones who were and are imperfectly perfect, and impossible to forget.

I'm proud to be among the letters chosen to be featured today on LoopLetters, with I am Orlando Bloom's Daughter.

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Loop is a weekly dose of storytelling delivered to your inbox. These stories are funny, sad, true, thinky, and whatever else you can come up with, because oh! They're written by you. So why don't you put that in your pipe and smoke it? Send your submissions to

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Digital Trails: Results of My Cyber Surveillance

If you're on the internet, surf the web, send texts, update your Facebook page, use email, call on your cell phone, use a credit or debit card, watch TV, download movies, order through Netflix or pick something off Hulu, there exists the very real chance of cyber surveillance.

You don't even have to be somebody.

I listened to a program on NPR this morning on what type of information is gathered from our online interactions, and do you know what this data on us is called? Collected intelligence.

And though I know this is serious business, and we are right to demand details and origin of requests for anything on us that is done without our knowledge or consent, I have to feel sorry for anyone official who is assigned to monitor my digital discards.

Collected intelligence?

If you say so.

More like oh my gosh if I have to survey this woman one more minute I am going to stick my head in a blender. Someone, please, send help to this poor woman now. Also probably likelier I should apologize to them than them to me for, you know, the undisclosed spying.

I imagine their Captain's log on me would go like this:

-6:45 AM Subject calls school, inquiring as to whether or not this is last week of school for children, or if next week is. School promises to send school calendar to her again, via email.

-7:30AM Logs on to computer, attempt made for four minutes to clean out email, opts to log into twitter instead.

-7:45 AM - 8:55 AM  *ALERT! ALERT!* Continuously bounces back from twitter to Facebook, as if she is looking for important communication. UPDATE: False alarm. Merely checking and hoping for retweets and likes.

-9:05 AM Child's school calls. Child has forgotten lunch at home, please bring. She will bring right over.

-9:20 AM Logs off computer.

-9:29 AM Logs back on computer

-10:03AM Target calls. Wondering where client is since store opened three minutes ago and she's not at door. Bags of sliced apples on sale, two for a dollar.

-10:33 AM McDonald's emails. Did she receive BOGO McCafe coupon in mail? They missed her this morning.

-10:45 AM Returns books to library. Tape receipt of overdue fines shows would have been cheaper to purchase DVDs.

-11:55 AM Child's school calls. Where is lunch? Subject promises and swears she'll bring lunch to school in two minutes.

-11:57 AM About to leave house to bring requested lunch, but runs back in to Google "Are round toed shoes still in style?" before she walks into child's school.

-12:01 PM Uses drive-thru at McDonald's for Happy Meal. Subject asks to speak to manager when drive thru clerk won't allow NonFat Iced Mocha as substitute drink with Happy Meal.

-12:03 PM Pays for $2.99 Happy Meal with debit card. Order total comes to $11.31 as subject decides she needs two NonFat Iced Mochas.

-12:12 PM Delivers lunch to school. Parks in Bus Zone Only lane. Throws bag of McDonald's to child. Child has eight minutes left to eat.

-12:25 PM Subject drops off four bags of clothing to Goodwill, completes receipt for said donation online, as husband has requested for tax keeping purposes. Decides to just have a look-see inside, returns to car with more bags of clothes than what she removed from home.

-12:59 PM Subject returns home and google searches for Dunkin' Donuts rant she saw referenced on twitter. Disgusted enough to watch it twice. Decides depressing nature of Dunkin' Donuts link is reason enough to search for "funny kitten videos."

-1:46 PM Decides to forego dishes in sink and do yoga instead. Googles RodneyYee Beach Yoga youtube. Gets distracted by 'Ron Yee Illicit Affair' headline. 30 minutes pass as well as allotted time for yoga. Only enough time for quick microwave cheese bread before school pick up.

-2:20 PM Remembers how children arrive home hungry from school. Opens refrigerator, sees three slices of deli turkey. Runs to store, buys rotisserie chicken for dinner. Feels hungry therefore determines children also feel hungry. Runs back and gets two more deli chickens. Pays with credit card. Earns a penny off a gallon of gas up to fifteen gallons due to spending history on deli chicken. 

-2:30 PM Realizes husband has to be two places at same time and makes several frantic call and hang ups to husband's cell phone. Uses up what is left of air time, unable to leave message telling him only way to pick up son # 2 from swim and son #3 from soccer is to break the law. *ALERT! ALERT!Subject arranging illegal activity! UPDATE: Cancel alert, she just wants him to drive really fast.

-2:55 PM Texts teen son to apologize for being ten minutes late to pick up. Can he start walking home and she'll meet him half way? Subject sees son walking home and decides to creeper stalk from behind while texting him "This is Freddy Krueger."

-3:20 PM Teen son eventually picked up. Subject drops teen son off at gym. Goes in and pays monthly dues that are two months late. Realizes she is trying to pay with library card. Runs out to car for credit card. Pays with debit card instead. Gets home and realizes she paid with debit card. Calls gym back and asks for balance transfer to credit card not debit card. She is told change must be made in person. Rushes back to gym, stopping to drop youngest son at soccer on way to dropping middle son at swim on way to pick up oldest son from gym on way to pay gym fees with credit card. Chicken for dinner from this afternoon's stop at grocery store is botulising in trunk.

-3:39 PM Does google search "Chicken. Death. Children. How long."

*NOTE TO INFORMATION RECORDER: Suggest we terminate surveillance at this point. Data gathering resulting in unusual amount of recording material, labor, and time required for documentation. Subject's activities of no sound interest to anyone and appear to be without importance to any organization.

"...internet companies such as google, facebook, and yahoo are taking what they learn from search requests, such as Like buttons and using it to analyze a browser's preferences, tailoring ads and suggestions to their interests. Web surfing, tracking devices on mobile phones, companies defend this data mining as a consumer benefit." ~ Edmonton Journal

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Getting the Green Light

I've had to keep quiet for the last few months about something that makes me want to scream with joy.

And today, about 2:00 p.m., I got the green light to go public.

You can see it here.

And thank you... because it's all of you that gave me the belief and encouragement to try.


Purple Clover

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Friday, June 7, 2013

The Power of Memoir

I'm proud to host author Monica Wesolowska here today, with an original post on the power of memoir. She explains the gift of voice through courageously telling our story; we help ourselves, we help others. We heal, we connect, we're less lost and alone. 
Read what she has to say, and I know you'll be compelled to find out more about her debut memoir, Holding Silvan: A Brief Life.  
Thank you.
* * *
From Scream to Smile: The Power of Memoir
By Monica Wesolowska
Before my son Silvan was born, I was happy with fiction. I read it. I wrote it. I taught it. I considered fiction one of my most intimate friends. Fiction gets us out of ourselves, I told my students, and into the skins of strangers. Fiction teaches empathy. But what amazed me more in fiction than new characters was getting lost in a new form, feeling bewildered by the shape of a story, then coming bang up against a truth at the end that was both familiar and startling.
But after my son Silvan died, the reader in me changed. Suddenly, I wasn’t after newness. I wanted only one story. I wanted memoirs about real mothers who’d lost real children—to miscarriage, stillbirth, drunk drivers, sudden illness. Though loss is everywhere, it rarely enters ordinary conversation and I didn’t want to be alone in my loss. I wanted to find what felt like Silvan’s story.
In praising memoirs, people often call them  “brave,” but when I began my own, there was no bravery about it. By then, I’d had two more children. They were healthy and happy; I was part of ordinary life again. But still I felt tempted whenever someone asked, “Don’t you want a third?” to scream, “I’ve already had three. My first son’s name was Silvan.”
So really my impetus for writing a memoir was this simple scream: “Silvan.”
But writing modulates the voice. I couldn’t scream forever. Once I found a voice with which to hold my particular son in all his universal newborn sweetness, I questioned the scream behind it. If I still felt like screaming, why? What questions haunted me? The questions I found were fundamental, big enough to fill a book: Did we make the right choice for Silvan? Did we love him enough? And where is Silvan now that we are mourning him?
Loss is shapeless. Memoir gives shape. That’s part of its power.
But having now sent the memoir out into the world, I find an even greater power to the form. In memoir, we create vessels for other people’s memories.
Last week, a woman came up to me after a reading. “I also had a son,” she said, “27 years ago. But after he died, I never had more children. So no one thinks of me as a mother. It just never comes up, but this memoir, it helps me remember.”
“What was his name?” I asked.
She looked surprised, then pleased. “Jubal,” she said tenderly.
“That’s a beautiful name,” I said.
She beamed. “So is Silvan.”

Monica Wesolowska lives with her family in Berkeley, California and has taught writing at UC Berkeley for over a decade. Click to learn more about her memoir, Holding Silvan: A Brief Life

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

10 Things I Did Right This Month!

I really should call this "!0 Things I Did Right! This Month!," because! I did something right!


Years and years ago, I learned a few tricks that I still keep in my back pocket, so I  can pull them out to use after the kind of weeks that feel more like they're months. The wise dispenser of this universal knowledge was my then therapist -- she would listen with her chin resting on the heels of both her hands, while I sat in her office that felt more like a living room, and tell her about my life.

"... and and (hic sob) and... i just can't take on anymore, you know? (hic)"

"... oh, that just ... sounds like SO much. You really are doing so much."

"... i... i... i know. and i'm tired." (knocks over mugful of pens on her desk grabbing for kleenex)

She was so smart, she knew what I needed was someone to hear my lamentations and to not offer advice. Her words were like honey down a sore throat, I lapped up her syrupy medicine by the eager spoonful.  "You need a break." "My gosh, how do you do it all?" "Is there anything you can't do?" Such music to my ears.

Yup, some mighty fine days in the sun right there. Until said Dr. developed psychotherapist burnout.  Buh-bye Wisconsin and your soul-crushing winters, hello rejuvenating Arizona with your healing rays.

But this treasure of a human being left me with something ever eternal: several use-to-the-day-I-die bits of advice that I have also passed on to my children.

Behold, Dr. Suzanne's glistening pearls of wisdom:

1.  You don't have to be wrong for others to be right.

2.  Accept yourself for who you are, and live that life joyfully.

3.  Eat right, sleep enough, get out once a day.

4.  Be careful with the music you hear and the words you read.

5.  Wear a rubber band on your wrist, snap it every time you think a negative thought about yourself and then immediately replace that thought with a positive one.

6. And one of my favorites: If something was hard to do, don't wait for someone to say good job, YOU tell yourself *good job.*

I call this week a "good job, Alexandra!!" double exclamation point phase of life right now.

Had to call in the big guns more than once in May and remind myself to give out that pat on the back for work that I did manage to do, and forget about the two-thirds things that didn't move any closer off the to-do list than when they were on last month's to-do list.

Celebrate with me, won't you, my friends, and read along to my list of 10 things! I did right this month:

  • Hauled off a vanful of toys, shoes, books, games, clothes to Goodwill.
  • Cleaned, repaired, pressed, donated, school uniform items for kids that aren't able to buy a uniform when they outgrow their old ones.
  • Saw my mother several times this week. I never lose my patience when she asks me ten times in three minutes where the kids are. 

         "Where are they?"

         "In school."
         "Oh. Where are they?" 

  • Got it together at the last minute and hellyeah just made it into the neighborhood rummage sale. Reduce clutter, increase home zen.
  •  Wrote a stack of long overdue thank you letters.
  •  Vacuumed and cleaned the minivan!
  •  Cooked dinner at least four times per week.
  •  Said what the heck and laughed in the face of stacked dishes and laundry and went with the three boys to see Star Trek Into Darkness.
  •  Made a meal for a family of three boys whose mother just had surgery.
  • Starting at 7:30 a.m. one day this week, I went out to our front yard and had at it. We no longer look like the only haunted house in the subdivision.

There is still a lot I didn't do that I need to do before the kids are home for summer vacation BUT I did do some stuff, and doing some stuff is how you one by one knock the items off the list.

Am I right? Or am I right?

Wait, I can't hear you, can you say it louder, please?


Aw, I know. 

Thank you.

* * *

Saturday, June 1, 2013

So I Have A Son Who's 18 Now

Our oldest son turned 18 a month ago, and I still walk around telling myself, "I have a kid who's 18." It's not something you get used to easily.

I was listening to the radio while re-stocking the refrigerator for the second time in four days, because I live with one other teenager, an 11 year old, and two men, when a segment came on about women and dreams. The mental health expert being interviewed reported that women dream more vividly than men because we deal with more emotions. "Dreams," she explained, "are when we process the emotions of our day."

There's no magisoso to what we see when we close our eyes to sleep, it's just how we humans rehash the events of our life. (that would be why all the taco shells made out of bacon make at least one appearance per night)

This theory explains exactly so much about just how my brain is processing the emotion of having an 18-year-old son.

I had a dream this week where my bicepped son sat at the kitchen table, legs kicked open, downing white milk out of a quart container, streaming dribbles of it pouring down both sides of his mouth and onto to his unclothed chest.

"Stop!" I ordered while running toward him. "You're allergic to milk. You can't drink that!"

He kept glugging, not missing a drop, while he looked me straight on in the eye. Swallowing the last of it, he said in a bored tone, "Says you."

Wiping his dairy-drenched mouth with his hand, he stood up from the kitchen chair and went from being shirtless to suddenly head to cleated toe dressed in a red and white football uniform, huge shoulder pads sticking out of the jersey sleeves. He slammed a black helmet on his head with one hand and began to click across our wooden kitchen floor with his spikes on. I watched him walk out the back door and join up with a group of other red and white football jersey wearing 18 year olds.

"You can't play football!," I called out after him telepathically, because it's a dream, and I never talk in my dreams, it's just lightning bolts of thoughts. "Remember?," I brain messaged him, "We decided you'd swim instead, right?"

No brain waves of answer back.

I knew I couldn't pull him out of the marching ranks so I decided to make my next non verbal shout into the dream world a practical one. "When will you be home?," I asked via hopeful raised upwards eyebrows, ::feeling:: the emotions of wanting to bribe him with pork chops.

Clicking the helmet's chin strap, he mentally spit back his answer, "Two days." Kapow -- right between my frontal lobes.

Message received and noted.

Punk didn't even look back.

...processing processing processing...

Picture of an 18-year-old-man that is my son

 It does not compute.

* * *


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