Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 Trends From 2014 I Didn't Jump On

All about the bread, 'bout the bread, all gluten 
Most of 2014's trends were fitness trends, which means this post was originally titled 150 Trends from 2014 I Didn't Jump On. Instead, I capped it at 10, because the internet likes that. And in the interest of a fair and balanced review, I kept my exercise hating tendency in check. So, here are the Trends from 2014 that left me, meh.

1.) PALEO: While I love a good piece of butcher quality meat, no one is ever going to take my gluten away. I want all the glutens. Forever and ever, amen. The meat craze can go get crazy with someone else because I'm over here with a bowl of saltines dolloped with red raspberry jelly on my lap. All smiles and starch-comforted, how else is there to live?

2.) CROSSFIT: If CrossFit is the only way to be fit, then call me NoFit. No Interested too. I'll keep the reasons to myself, for three seconds. And then I'll tell you. I've had three children. Any sudden bursts of movement and it's not pretty -- not pretty looking and especially not pretty sounding. I also prefer to keep my bowel movements private and not witnessed in a warehouse.

3.)  UBER:  No, thank you. My safety is A-#1 priority in my life. I'm not calling a person I don't know (another way of saying *stranger*) to come get me and take me somewhere while they control the wheel.  Why? Because not everyone shares the same morals and values, that's why. Ain't gonna happen. No place is that important to get to. Two strangers in a car, one who is at command central while I'm in the back. Guess who holds all the cards? Hint: the one holding them is the one who's all in on this trend.

4.) DROP-CROTCH HAREM PANTS: I don't need a special cut pant to be trendy, my middle-aged butt already makes all my pants drop-crotch.

5.) PINK CAMOUFLAGE: I'm tough. But not really. I'm tough. But not really. I can't handle all that back and forth in my head. You are, or you aren't. I am, but not really... *and not only that, but you're not invisible, you know, not even in a pinkish way.

6.) THE WORD "BAE": This one wasn't my choice. I like the way it sounds, but my kids beat me to the punch and made it clear I was to never use it. No matter if they were present or not. As it should be, my bae... er, my children.

7.)  ELLO: Usually (always) I take awhile in starting anything new as it is. If it's something online, it could be weeks before I twist my arm and tell myself to get back into the 21st century. So, after Ello was splashed all over my Facebook feed with Jump Facebook's Ship Now! I took my trademark week and a half before I began googling youtube tutorials on Ello. Heh, it was gone. Just like that. Ello, good-bye.

8.) AERIAL YOGA:  Feeling weightless while suspended mid air on silk hammocks, sounds like the magic cure to free you from that which holds you down. Money, stress, relationships, too full a plate and not enough hours to get it finished. It sounds good, but I'm not paying for that. Not when I already have my own sensory deprivation tank slash floating on air unit. I call it my bed.

9.) BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: Ah, this one was easy to pass on, strictly preference and the aesthetics of symmetry. Benedict may make others' grow dizzy at first sight, but I've never been one for a man with eyes up on his forehead. Nothing personal, just that I prefer a more quarter-planed face; eyes in this quadrant, and the forehead left just for that, the forehead.

And how could we forget:

10.) COCONUT OIL GARGLING: This was a close one. Remember, I called this trends I passed on, not trends I was nearly tempted with. This one almost got me. It had all the lure that calls my name: easy, effortless, no exercise involved, and cheap. Started by Gwyneth, all you had to do was buy coconut oil and gargle for 20 minutes, though the head of Goop would never call it gargling. The process was going viral under the practice of "oil pulling." Word games, making us conjure up visions of toxins being pulled from our polluted delicate systems via a coconut oil train. I thought about it, and then decided, 20 minutes? I can't even hold a smile for the camera for 60 seconds without my muscles spasming, how am I going to gargle for 20 minutes without ending up looking like Dizzy Gillespie for the rest of my life. But did I pass? In all honesty to you, no I didn't. I tried it. I now refer to it as the longest 20 minutes of my life.

I almost can't wait for 2015, imagine the trends I'll be able to pass on then. If I were a betting woman, I'd say all of them. Again.

* * *

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Purple Clover



Monday, December 29, 2014

This Is 18

I once had a household of boys. They were pint sized and forever underfoot. My life was an endless existence of tripping over elaborate toy fire truck scenes and featured the indispensable me, in the middle of their Engine Company No. 9, my generous hip to waist valley made a wonderful holding tank for misbehaving and time-outed fire trucks.

Weeks and months and years of chubby cheeks to kiss and fall in love with over and over again with their velvety smoothness. Even chubbier thighs to raspberry when they weren't quick enough to get away from the sneaky mama alligator who hid behind the dining room chair legs to surprise them.

They would wake me too early, I never had the sleep I needed to take on the day. I would fix my small children breakfast, lunch, their dinner. Dressing them and washing them up and planning the activity for the day, everything was according to me. I had never been so essential in my life.

I am still in a household of males, but now, it's me who wakes them. When I ask what they'd like for dinner, sometimes the answer is "I fixed myself something already, thanks, mom." Dressing them? My clothing choices are met with rolled eyes and "you're kidding me, right?" And how is it that I've gone from knowing by blind memory every inch of their body, from the small pinpoint brown freckle on the outer edge of one's left foot to the pinkish quarter circle on the other one's left elbow, to not having seen their bodies in longer than I can remember?

After our first was born, I feared that if we had more children, I couldn't love them with the same interdependent existence that my first and I shared.

At seven months pregnant with you, our second child, the middle of the night would have me eyes wide open, asking what if, what if, what if I don't love him as much as my first one? But then, you were born, and the amazement I felt at seeing your face for the first time made me gasp, as if I had never seen a baby of mine before. I remember laughing when they gave you to me because I loved you so much that fast and how ridiculously incredible to love again like that.

I was once the mother of babies who squirmed to be out of my arms and let down, who then grew into children who'd wiggle free of my hands impatient to run in the park, and zoomed into teens who began taking phones into their rooms to talk privately. This, from a time when I could carry all three of them at once.

And today, I am the mother of a second adult child.

This is 18. The pudgy hands and creased wrists of yours that I memorized now have fingers longer than mine. My laundry basket is filled with your jeans whose inseams rival that of your father's. From boy to child to man, where if I hear a voice in the house, I'm tricked about who's home, is it you? is it your father?

This is 18. I watch you, my second boy, confident, happy, liking who you are. When I see you laugh with friends at school, or the ease with your smile when you greet everyone, it takes those words that creep into my heart, the ones that tell me You could have done more, been more, worked harder, for them, and shows me, that this life is good because you've come to believe what I've whispered in your ear since you were first mine: You're wonderful. You're beautiful. I can't wait to see who you'll be!

When do boys turn into men? It seems, overnight.

* * *

Happy birthday, my beautiful son. You're wonderful. You're beautiful. I'm so glad you're here.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas, Again

This was our second Christmas without my mother.

We set a place for her near our tree, her wedding picture alongside a lit candle, before we began our Christmas Eve. It has been 16 months since she passed away, and moments of her still sneak into my day. It's a surprise where these snatches of memory come from—I can't trace what coaxes these thoughts out, because I will be in the middle of something unrelated to anything my mother did, like washing out my son's lunch box, and then I'm suddenly standing, remembering how she never liked driving in icy weather.

Sixteen months, and I don't miss her any less, and I don't miss her any more, than that first holiday without her.

People ask me if things are easier for me this year. I know, or at least I hope, that they mean to soothe me when they promise, “You'll get over it.” My hope is that I never get over it. I don't want to not notice that she's gone from my life. I don't have as one of my goals, to get “over” losing her.

There is a fear of sadness, I can feel it from others. An uncomfortable vibe that reflects fromthem, to me. I'm sure, seeing me, lips trembling, voice cracking, eyes tearing, it can't be easy to witness. But there is a beauty in sitting, giving attention to someone when they tell of how they love and miss, dream of and wish for, that person that is now gone and forever absent from their life. Right there, that moment when I listen to them, I can picture the place in their heart.
In the beginning, my children were afraid of sadness, too. They would get nervous and interrupt when I'd begin to talk about my mother, asking for reassurance, "You're not going to cry, are you?" I would answer honestly, "I just might." Then, I'd add, "but it's important that you let me finish. It's all right if I cry. Don't let it scare you."
I began a lot of stories this holiday week with the words, "My mother used to..." My children listened, no one stopping me with the worried question, will you cry? They know, I love telling stories about her, the memories of the life we shared together. If I break into tears, they're no longer fearful. They let my emotions run their course, slowly then peaking, then ebbing away. Happy that I had ears to hear her name. I don't always cry, more often than not, I do tell a story with my voice even and unwavering.
If tears come to my eyes when I talk about my mother, it's not always because of grief. There is pride, too, in being her daughter. If a tear or two drops, it's from the love for her that overwhelms me. You think you feel love for someone when they're breathing next to you. There is no way I can prepare anyone for the heart explosion of what you feel at their loss.

Just as there is more than one kind of tear, there is more than one way to celebrate the holidays. The commercials on TV and radio show us what they ideally are: full dining rooms gathered with family and everyone home. But the mourners celebrate too. With achingly less volume, and more quiet, with less words from our mouths, but hours of replayed conversations once had. We are loving, remembering, and lingering on memories of the ones we will love forever.

If you know us, the mourners, ask us how we're doing. Give us the chance to say their name, to let who they are fall off our tongues and float into the universe.

Don't be scared to let us speak.
Don't hush our tears, or cut our words short.

As uncomfortable as raw emotion is to see, be our friend. Take our hand, and don't break eye contact, let us tell you the words we carry.

Grief is a gift. I'll never be over not having my mother with me and I don't want to be.
Allow us to give our sorrow, words. It helps to keep our hearts from breaking.
“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the over wrought heart and bids it break.”

-William Shakespeare
* * *

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

When Christmas Comes Around

When I sit down to write on this blog, I think of you, the one who will be reading the words here. Some say they write for themselves, and though it's true that I can't imagine a life without writing, there is a lot that goes in my personal journals and has never been read by anyone. This online space that I am fortunate enough to have cultivated here, is tended to with the promise to myself that anyone who clicks over, doesn't leave without feeling a part of how we are all in this together---sharing lives and moments of laughter, love, hardship and hope.

I want you to feel inspired, motivated, maybe discover a new point of view, and more than anything, less alone.

With a heart bursting with gratitude, I thank you for reading this blog. You have changed my life, and I wish you could feel the joy you bring with your support and encouragement.

Happy holidays, my friends, and may you have moments that fill you with everything you need.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being part of my life.
* * *

Sunday, December 21, 2014

That One Christmas You'll Always Remember

Some remember stacks of gifts under the tree, others recall having someone special home with them. We share holiday stories of finally getting the puppy we asked for or the dollhouse we dreamed of.

My most sparkling Christmas was of a night when I had everything I wanted.

I am honored that our local public radio station, WUWM, allowed me to share it with their audience:

Merry Holidays and the Happiest of New Year's to you, my friends.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

When They Come Home

It was a long three month stay away. My firstborn is home from his first semester at college and tonight, nothing can take away my smile. There's more dinner dishes in the sink and the washer is back to groaning again from use. The refrigerator door opened and closed enough times tonight that I thought we'd go burn through a light bulb.

My son is good, he looks healthy, happy, and comes alive when he talks of life on campus. I listen to his voice fill the kitchen and his laugh grips my heart hard enough to hurt.

Our family sits around him, asking their questions. His father asks him about classes, grades. I think how the week before, he wasn't here. The yogurt turns sour because he's not home to eat it. The orange juice goes tart and the bananas turn brown for the same reason. After three months, I still haven't learned how to shop for a household that doesn't have him in it.

It's been a good first semester away from home for him. School is one hundred percent what he dreamed it would be.

When he passes a mirror, he tells me he's been eating less starch, more protein, and how good this looks on him. I stop myself from saying how easy it is to look good when you're 19. He's solid, strong, and hugging him feels like you're encircling a tree. When I ask how he's sleeping, feeling, he says great. He adds, working hard, too, and meeting the coolest people. His mood is fantastic, and his eyes dance with the details of his days.

I had a hint once of what life like this would be like for the both of us. He had just begun school, still so little. When I picked him up after four hours, he was unstoppable as he bubbled over with news of projects, books, what the teacher said. His joy was palpable, but my uncensored reaction to realizing his life was now going to contain parts without me in it, struck me smack in the chest.

Time rushes past. It doesn't seem like we are part of the years we're in, but around us, are the souvenirs from along the way. I see the foot stool I painted green for him, the one he once needed to reach the sink. How is it that it still occupies this same corner? As if it's ever going back to its original purpose.

It's hard to not say, tell me everything.

I wait until we have time alone to ask him where he gets his hair cut, is there a really good pasta place close by, did it feel strange the first night he wasn't home?

Are your boots warm enough?

Do you use a buddy system when you go out? please say yes

Why don't I ever see pictures of you with a hat on? do you need another one?

If I know the small things, then I can see him clearly in the days he's not here, I can envision 9:01 or 2:50 or 11:09.

Things feel different. The duffel bag on the floor of his room reminds me whenever I walk past that this is a visit. Ponder that. Your child visiting.

I watch my son as he talks about the life he has now, the one that's his. I am amazed at how well I take it. I was always certain, I mean a million dollars bet certain, that when he left, I would have been lost. I pictured myself walking in circles, befuddled, needing to learn the new way to live with one of my children gone. Instead, I find myself thrilled for him, relieved that he's adapted, grateful that he is happy. I feel all of these things at the same time as the lump in my throat.

He's home, but not in the same way as he was home his first 18 years, and yet, I am OK. I marvel at the power of love, so strong for someone else that it can override what I should be feeling now, what I thought I would be -- an ache of the heart.
* * *

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Days of December

Nine days to go. It'll soon be Christmas Eve at our house, and my first son will be home from college. I think of how my second boy will have just one more Christmas with us, then he'll be on his own, too. I've got the third littlest still with me for a good chunk of years, but we all know what they say about time, and how it flies.

It's the thought of them, how this is their life, that fuels me. I feel bone weary this year, December has been a tough month for our nation and for our world. December is emotionally trying for me as it is, with the weight of loss of the ones no longer with us. When too much of the news on TV and radio start to feel like boulders on my back, I turn everything off and turn everything toward making life for my children.

Surprisingly, or not, I do December without a to-do list. I gave myself a pass on not keeping up with anything that magazines or the internet tell me I need, decades ago. I never had it in me, and I didn't see it growing up, so with that, I wouldn't notice if something was missing. Like expectations.

I meet the basics, a clean home, some juniper berries and cedar branches from the yard put around the stairs and front door, small gifts, and a prelit tree in the corner. This is good, and when I spend an hour adding twinkling lights around the fireplace, it's magical.

That's my style, and my family accepts it along with me. What they see others do, if it's going all out, they're fine with. I always hope that the people who do so much more than I do, do it because they feel the love for it. That it fills their tank to have their December be one that is full of splendor, in their eyes. With my whole heart, I hope it's done with no resentment, and that with each string of lights they put up, there's a sparkle of anticipation. I hope it's the joy of spreading cheer that propels them, and not the pressure of the season.

This is not to say I haven't had holiday seasons in my life where I've tried something that didn't feel natural to me. The year I had a subscription to Real Simple magazine (a gift from someone I think truly wanted me to be more like them) the theme was “Scandinavian Christmas.” Every room featured in the issue's pages were done in icy blue and glittery snow white. I tried it. I left the traditional red and green decorations from the Christmas years before packed away in the basement, and I went to a home decorating store and filled the back of the minivan with shimmering pale blues and sequined white branches. I drove everything home, pushed the house doors open, and then threw the whole scheme in the rooms. I looked around and felt like I was in someone else's house, one that was a chilly ice skating rink of an abode and left me muttering "Where's my sweater, I need my sweater."

Another year, I tried to do what I saw everyone else preparing to do at the grocery store, their shopping carts filled with 10 pound bags of flour and packs of 20 sticks of creamery butter. If children across America were going to have cookies for Christmas, then my children would too. After a weekend of baking and a constantly hot oven, I turned out a kitchen table-full of cookies on cooling racks. The product of all those hours of rolling and cutting were gone in two hours when my husband walked in through the door famished from work.

I've had lots of Christmas Year adventures where I spent time doing what I thought I was supposed to be. Like the year of collection displaying. I gathered small wooden Christmas trees and placed them atop the piano. I packed nutcrackers, big and small, and then carried them throughout the house, tucking them here and there. The kids didn't like nutcrackers in the bathroom, "I feel watched, mom." I had a year of miniature white Christmas tree candles, too. Kind of feels like you have double vision in Lilliput.

The year of the mini white Christmas trees was followed by the year of crackled silver glass, followed by the year of bunches of red berries tied to any protruding knobbed surface. I even held two holiday parties one year. Between cleaning the house and arranging the food, I was a stressed out disaster. Hostessing is not my in blood and I couldn't make myself like it no matter how loud the siren call from Real Simple's Holiday Table edition.

Through this entire process of trying on to see who I am for the holidays, I found out one thing. Who I am is someone who enjoys looking forward to the day in December where I see the smiles from being together and the delight in finding just the right gift. I'm someone who likes it slow, unhurried, with the day spread out before us and no one paying never no mind to any clock.

We have just two weeks left before the year ends. If we listen to what our hearts and bodies tell us, we'll strike the balance we need. Elf on a shelf, Secret Santa, or a minimalist season like me, it's your choice. Garland the heck out of it all, dip everything in glitter and sparkles, because it gives you joy. Or find contentment and satisfaction in a three feet bough set simply against the corner.

I only send wishes for you to be in the moments, and not feel like you should do more, haven't done enough, or that you've done too much. There should be no need to defend what feels right. Whether that means falling asleep with garland wrapped around your neck while you whisper Rudolph's name, or your family looks at their gifts and asks, "Hey, isn't that the wrapping paper from my birthday?" It's red, close enough.

Take care, my friends. Happy holidays to you.
*Clock just moved to midnight. Only eight days left until we're all together. 

* * *
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Saturday, December 13, 2014

What's Christmas Like When You're Allergic to Evergreens?

Made in China. My kids could recognize those three words on any gold foil tag by the time they were 3 years old. And not in a sound-it-out way but an "Oh! Yeah. It all has to be Made in China for Mama for Christmas. Right, mama? Cuz mama's 'lergic to real things. Look for the tags that say Made in China, guys."

It took me years to figure out I was allergic to evergreen. I had no idea the itchy hands, burning eyes, scratchy throat, husky Demi Moore voice, were all symptoms of a Coniferous Attack on my body. Hard to believe, but here I am, to tell it.

We would bring home garland, ready to deck the halls, our car trunk full of boughs and red velvet for festooning, and no sooner did I began to swaddle and swirl the house mantle and bannisters, when I'd begin itching. Just like a Gold Bond commercial. Oh that darn itch, that darn itch. Pine trees made me suddenly 88 years old. I attributed it to dry skin, it was winter, after all, and we were outside running errands all day. So I'd go through bottles and bottles of lotion feeling temporary relief and then, right back to the burn and the itch. (sexy bit of writing here today, isn't it?)

Until we moved into this house. This lot has evergreens all over the back of it. I believe in live and let live, but there was this heavy bough on a pine branch that slapped my leg every time I was in the back of the yard, and the fresh thing had to go. I held it taut one day, while sawing at it with a rusty dull blade we inherited from the previous homeowners. About five effortless minutes of saw saw saw, and it was that darn burning itch like I had at Christmas. But in the day's light, I could see itty bitty bumps all over my hands where I was holding the evergreen.

Did we both just say it at the same time? Aha!

Evergreen! Evergreen is the culprit! I rushed into the house to tell everybody inside that I don't have winter eczema but an allergy to evergreen! Hmmm, go figure, no one seemed too astounded with this seismic shift to my life. To be fair, it was summer, and talk of garland and evergreen mantle swags don't get anyone excited in July.

Today, we have tubs of Made in China faux greenery in our basement. China's finest work, I mean, their finest, sits front and center in our front room. A Real Feel Artificial Christmas Tree, a glorious 9 feet tall branched prelit wonder, graces the corner of our house for the world to see.

I revere it, the kids respect it. We assemble it, top, middle, bottom, and fan out its branches. We stand back, and ooh and ahh while youngest plugs it in.

Fake? Naaah, sir, this tree is not fake. Fake is a word used for the plastic tree experiments of 1963. When you could see the sorrowful attempts of those that wanted to be modern and get a plastic tree. What was left standing after a multi-personned attempt at construction was something that looked like the one and only time my husband tried to save us money by giving our then 12 month old son a Flowbee hairchopcut.

No, our tree is no fake. What stands in our front picture window, is a life saving member of the family. This tree is as real as the beautiful non-itch of my hands.

* * *
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

19 Makeshift Snacks to the Rescue!

My friends call me "good enough girl." That's what they call me, all right. Because if it does in a pinch, and if it fills a temporary need, why, then.... GOOD ENOUGH!

Today, so filled with the holiday spirit am I, that I'm sharing my go-to good enough snacks that are satisfying for a second breakfast or second lunch. Whatever you partake in (I happen to dabble gold star in both)

Go ahead, cobble a little extra sumpin sumpin special just for you today.

Let the foodromance begin:
--Sliced bananas mixed with microwave melted Hershey's kisses and mini marshmallows.
--Graham cracker S'mores, 23 seconds in the microwave.
--Hot cocoa with a 5 second squirt of Reddi-Whip. Chocolate sauce? Don't mind if I do.
--McDonald's will mix half and half of any flavor shakes for you.
Lately, I'm all into the half Arctic Orange with half Chocolate. Ho my god.
--Peeled, sliced apples smothered in melted French Vanilla frosting.
--Any kind of cupcake, any number. They don't count as cake calories because they're little.
--Hot dog sliced the long way, filled with shredded cheese, wrapped in bacon and put under the broiler for 4 minutes. Dang.
--A dinner plate full of Doritos chips, sprinkled with taco seasoned shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, crumbled turkey meat, microwaved for 1:25, then dolloped --  twice -- with sour cream and guacamole.
--Guacamole. Naked. No spoon.
--One scoop of chocolate ice cream with maraschino cherries on top. Mmmmm-hmmm. Mmmm.
--Frozen Girl Scout Thin Mints.
--Boy Scout Cheese Pop Corn.
--Instant brownie in a box brownies slathered with raspberry preserves while they're still smoking hot.
--Those Hot-Lava-Cake-in-5-microwave-minutes kits. Holy Wow.
--Lay's Thick Cut Vinegar and Salt Potato Chips stuck in between the bun and hot sloppy joe meat.
--25 crumbled crackers floating on top of a home made bowl of chili, heavy on the tomatoes.
--Martha Stewart Brand New Recipe for Boston Cream Pie cupcakes. Again, due to size, calorie-less.
--A baked potato, nuked, and stuffed with bacon bits, sour cream, cheddar cheese and a touch of salsa.
--A tall glass of Fanta orange soda served over a big fat scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream: Voila! Dreamsicle.

Are we all smiling and patting our bellies now? Good enough.

*Bonus Snack: Chips-n-Beer. Oh, wait, that's dinner. Never mind.

* * *

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Chinks in the Armor Are Hardest on Me

I was confessing to my close friend, my true reason for putting off decluttering.

It's because of what I find, I told her.

Letters in crayon hieroglyphics, love notes on torn construction paper, broken macaroni necklaces, hot wheels stashed away after being wrapped in Kleenex as a secret gift to me.

In my jam packed dresser drawers, I have pictures. They're a heartbreaking toss up every which way, photos that I would linger over and didn't want kept on a shelf in a photo album. The one here, I found Saturday afternoon. It's my last baby who is 12 now. He was so small, I could hold him cradled in one arm.

These treasures from my life do me in. I guess you could consider it torture I mean, to keep them. Why keep them. It's nostalgia, absolutely, it's something in my hand today from my life yesterday, like the 6 inch sword made from crossing craft sticks together and foil wrap. When it's in my palm, I'm transformed back into what my three children made me from the minute they were born. Their very own Ripley. I was untouchable, unbeatable and nothing stood in my way -- they gave me that role as if they came to this world knowing.

It became the meaning to my days. And I rose to that title, without question, I met it. I would sense them, the moment before their cries, and swoop into their room, lifting them from their crib. It felt like I was rescuing them from a tower.

Only mommy, they used to say.

Life continues in this way, the days the kind that fool you into thinking they will always be like this for you. You, their rider coming in on a steed, armed, ready, capable. Able to save in one deft move.

Spiders, balls caught in trees, knees needing bandages, bullies at the park, a fray in the favorite blue blanket. Nothing was impossible and you flew to them before they even knew they needed you.

Then, overnight ... you're not the only heroine they've always known.

One day, you look at the newest holiday pictures, and you gaze at the short woman lost amidst others taller.
Or you call them to you, because even when you squint, you still can't make out the fine print on the computer screen.
Or you ask them to the basement to lift boxes into the crawl space -- a job you once did before your knees turned to gravel.
When we walk at night, I have to take their arm in the darkness.

I can't stand to declutter, I tell my friend, because of all that I find.

The Umbilical Cord

Oh, Doctor, are you sure....
     the day he was born and you cut the cord-
     that cord that connects child to mother-
did you make it a clean cut? complete?

Because sometimes I wonder
    when the sound of his cry would cause
     the strange pain, prickly pins,
     "letting down" the milk to meet his need.
     And when, as he advanced to solids and fed with a spoon
     my mouth popped open
     with every attempt to spoon food into his;
     my tongue licked the corners of my mouth
     when the baby food spilled out on his face.

If the cord was cleanly cut, complete
     why the sinking sick stomach in me
     at the sight of his blood after a fall?
     Why is my mouth dry
     when he is the one on stage to say the lines?
     Why are my palms sweating
     when he is the pitcher on the mound?
    Why does my heart ache
      when his is broken?

Doctor, could you check?
I think the cord is still intact.

~Jana Vick

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Is That... Do I? What The Heck I Can't See

A difficult decision, but undeniable circumstances. It had to be done.

Fortunately, all went well and I am home. Resting comfortably? Yeah, sure, but I am whining and complaining all the way.

I had eye surgery Tuesday morning, and everything is still blurry with some razzle dazzle fireworks going on. I can't do a lot on my own and the eye drops that I have to take to avoid infection and calm inflammation sting like a mofo. I'm not happy. One can be grateful, and still not be a grinning fool.

Everything looks like nothing it actually is. My glasses don't work because my vision will be off until the swelling subsides, and so I pretty much have every light on in the house turned up to full candle power because dammnit I just can't see. I can make things out, but it's all a guessing game.

I finally decided to just get over it and enjoy the ride. So now, instead of migraine inducing jaw clenching frustration over screaming BUT WHAT IS IT! I just go with the flow. What I think it is, it shall be.

Like this picture I saw today. It was a holiday ad, but it looked like it was a woman who had just gone paleo and had rubbed the blood from her raw steak on her dress. Or maybe she's a fancy butcher. Either way, why question it. She looks happy.

I also went on a tirade, my children held captive to it on a Sunday morning, while I launched with all I had into an op-ed piece in today's paper where I read the author's opinion that a certain segment of our population is 'undeserved' of special attention. What?! After a few minutes, my middle son came over to walk me to the sofa and help me lie down. He glimpsed at the article I was frothing over and said, "Mom, actually, the guy agrees with you. It says, 'underserved."

Never mind.

Mostly, I just have to take a deep breath these coming weeks, and heal. Everything will still be there when I'm up and 20/20.

Except I'm kind of worried about one thing. I just logged on to Facebook and I can tell something big is going down.

All my friends' updates say they were up till dawn "Ordering Chinese presents" for their kids.

Holy Cow I hope when I'm able to see again that Oriental Trading Company does speedy overnight delivery.

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Saturday, December 6, 2014

Announcing the Listen To Your Mother Anthology


Scheduled for release April 7, 2015 and published through Putnam Books, the much anticipated Listen To Your Mother anthology, featuring 56 stories chosen from over 1,000 live readings from LTYM Shows across America, is now available for pre-order.

I am honored to have an essay included among the incredible authors here. I read onstage for the LTYM Madison show of a moment spent with my Abuelita when I was four years, and how the power of her words has carried me to this day.

This anthology is a work of love, and I am grateful to everyone who has shared their stories, and especially to Ann Imig, the creator and national director of the  Listen To Your Mother Shows.

Praise for Listen to Your Mother“With their authentic glimpses into this hard, beautiful thing we call life, the essays between these covers led me to fresh perspectives on mothering and being mothered. I savored the open vulnerability that met me with each turn of the page. From the hilarious to the profound, and not bound by gender or geography, these stories generously plumbed the depths of all that is motherhood.” —Anna Whiston Donaldson, New York Times-bestselling author of Rare Bird

 *Did I mention you could pre-order now? You can, please click below for more details:

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Is There a Way to Talk to Someone Who Doesn't Believe in Racism?

Dear World:

I read something from someone today that said "Racism was in the '60s. What we see today isn't racism but people who don't know how to act in the world." I wanted to cry, I want to scream at them. Then something inside me makes me just go quiet. Tell me, Dear World, is there any way, at all, to talk to people who think that? Or should I just give up?

Heartbroken, Angry, Should I Just Stay Silent

Dear Dear Dear One:

I could begin with asking you how old you are, but that doesn't matter. You feel frustration, and frustration can be felt in someone as young as a few hours old or as old as 112. How do we get others to look at themselves? Your manner of interaction is all up to you. And no one would blame you if you did scream until you went hoarse. To feel what you feel is called being just. It's seeing inequality and ugly disparity and not being able to simply turn away. Being this way, to the degree that makes you question action, isn't easy. You know what's easy?

Not looking at truth, denying statistics, that's easy to do.

What's hard is asking ourselves the honest state of our reaction to people of color. This is painstaking work. It is impossible to not know things about yourself, your secrets, like distrust of a race, thoughts about people with skin that is black, brown, or your way of stiffening around those who are different from you. Believe me, we are no strangers to ourselves.

To wonder whether or not it matters that you say something, that considering staying silent while we live among others who are not treated equally, well... how would you answer that?

I can't think of anything more important to societal change than honest examination of self.

What is born from there could be action. Louder, and braver, an evolution into taking part and standing against human inequality. This takes voice, in the form of our hands, our conscience, our time, our marching feet, our typing fingers, our standing firm in the belief that our country needs to be for all the people - with opportunity and equal justice. Even if it isn't that right now. 

There is work to do from everyone. The natural draw to become defensive, and then hopeless, is a ceaseless danger. You wonder if you should just give up with someone who says that if everyone acted the way they're *supposed* to, they'd have no trouble in this world. To that, I say invite them to learn more. But you'll miss that chance, if you decide to never break your silence.

* * *

Is Racism Real?


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