#ThrowbackThursday: My Daughter Doesn’t Take Piano Lessons (And Other Things I’m Failing At)

Originally published 6/21/2013

“Mommy can I take piano lessons?”

I consider this request. I would like her to take piano lessons, but we have no piano. It seems unreasonable that I should go buy one. She suggests a keyboard. Even still. We’ve done dance, gymnastics, acting lessons, soccer and girl scouts. We participate in swimming and drama. Can’t I just let myself off the hook, piano-wise?

The other day, I was folding laundry when a commercial for paper towels came on. The mother just smiles as her daughter “helps” her by sloshing a ridiculously full bowl of soup across the kitchen to the dining room table. Mommy, head in the clouds, smiles as she notes that her daughter likes to help. Mommy is unfazed as she reaches for a paper towel.

I instantly hate the overly patient Bounty mommy, certain that there are real Bounty mommies everywhere and I am definitely not one. I would have shut down the whole soup carrying thing before she even took a step. I bet Bounty mommy even cooked the soup with her daughter. Meh.

I feel like the Queen of Hurry Up, You Have To and How Many Times Do I Have To Tell You. It’s a kingdom where my minions are Disappointment, Guilt, Remorse and Regret. I know I am not alone in this kingdom. It just feels like it.

I yell sometimes. My headaches rob me of a lot of patience. Sometimes, I don’t feel like listening to her stories. I cook a real dinner 2-3 times a week. I am on my phone too much. I should make her put her iPad away more. No, your bathing suit isn’t clean for camp. We should be taking walks. I need to sign us up for some yoga classes. Yes yes, that would be fun and not at all challenging to fit into our packed schedule. Why aren’t we eating nice summer dinners on the patio more. We watch too much TV. I don’t like getting up in the evening to tuck her in. That is lame.

The other day, out of the blue…….

Hannah: I’m proud of the life you made. Even though things didn’t go as you planned, you picked yourself up and built a nice life. You don’t live off of anyone. You did it yourself.

Me: If there was someone to live off of, I would.

Hannah: I’m trying to have a moment here.

And those are the moments when I know I’m doing more good than harm. I smile to myself.

Another Interesting, But Unfruitful Procedure

I went for another “let’s see if this works” headache procedure yesterday. It’s called a Sphenopalatine Ganglion Block and it’s disgusting.

As I waited for the nurse to do her paperwork, I gazed at the only piece of artwork in the exam room.

IMG_0063

Weird choice for an exam room. Wondered if all of the exam rooms contained senior stock photos.  I’m used to seeing pictures of egrets or sand dunes.

“Is that the doctor?” I asked the nurse, half joking.

“No,” said the nurse chuckling.

I imagine it must be some famous geriatric surfer. I don’t travel in surfing circles, but I’m sure he’s probably an important part of that community.

Doctor has me lay down on the exam table while he and I begin a dance called The Approach and Pull Away. Very popular dance in doctors’ offices, I suspect. He approaches my nose with the liquid, I turn my head. He approaches, I turn. Cha cha cha. I finally get ahold of myself and let him pour the bitter water DOWN MY NOSTRILS.

<gag, choke, cough sniff, almost barf>

Now the Q-tips.

“Close your eyes,” he said. In regular life, those words are usually followed by some awesome surprise. In medical life, it’s never good. He had obviously wised up since the liquid. He didn’t want me to see the gigantic size of the Q-tips he was about to shove DOWN MY NOSTRILS. I didn’t want to see them either, so I happily complied. He inserted one Q-tip into each of my nostrils and pushed them in until they touched the back of my throat. Yeah. Picture it. It’s as unpleasant as it sounds.

“Ok just lay there and I’ll be back in 15 minutes,” said the doctor.

“Ok but DON’T FORGET TO COME BACK!” I said nervously. Doc laughs. No, but for real, I thought, don’t forget!

So I laid on the table, Q-tips sticking out like walrus tusks. I stared at geriatric surfer. He was my only friend.

Doc came back, as promised, and removed the Q-tips. “See how your headache is tonight,” he said.

“Ok,” I humored him, too familiar with this drill. “I will.”

I felt dollar signs exploding from the top of my head as I left. Another bundle of money for another procedure. And today I still feel the same. Next!

Photo courtesy of Wikepedia

 

I Think It’s Not Really About The Guns

“Guns don’t kill, people do.”

Okay, but that’s still a really big problem.

Each time an act of gun violence occurs, I feel like we try to treat the symptoms but not the disease. Gun violence is a symptom of a much larger problem. Gun control is a band-aid and not a cure.

Like when Hannah and I get home from a long day, it’s a million degrees out, I have a headache and I trip over her backpack and yell, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO LEAVE YOUR BACKPACK HERE! I’VE TOLD YOU A MILLION TIMES TO TAKE IT TO YOUR ROOM! YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME!” Hannah stares at me for a moment and then says, “Ok this obviously isn’t about the backpack. What’s the real issue?”

It’s like that.

She could move her backpack, but that’s not really what has me pissed. And even if she hadn’t left her backpack there, I’d find another dumb reason to explode. So what really needs attention is the root of my anger, not the location of the backpack.

I’m not a gun person. Like most Americans, I support common sense gun legislation. Yes! Good. Do it. That’s an appropriate reaction. Lock all that shit down! Especially the ridiculous automatic weapons. That’s a no-brainer for anyone, you’d think.

But also…negative emotions stem from fear …and violence is a symptom of fear. Fear is the real disease and it’s spreading. It’s becoming accepted as part of our culture (I’m looking at you and your fence, Donald Trump). It’s a spiritual problem that needs our attention.

“There are only two emotions: love and fear. All positive emotions come from love, all negative emotions from fear. From love flows happiness, contentment, peace, and joy. From fear comes anger, hate, anxiety and guilt. It’s true that there are only two primary emotions, love and fear. But it’s more accurate to say that there is only love or fear, for we cannot feel these two emotions together, at exactly the same time. They’re opposites. If we’re in fear, we are not in a place of love. When we’re in a place of love, we cannot be in a place of fear.” —Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

What do you think? I would love to hear. Please feel free to comment!

If you like this article and want to read more of my blog, like my Facebook page at www.facebook.com/growingtowardthesun/.

 

#Throwback Thursday: Where Perfectionism Exists, Shame is Always Lurking

Originally published 5/19/14

My good friend and I were taking our lunchtime stroll when I mentioned how my recent 3 week cough had gotten me to the point where if I coughed too long and hard—I peed a little. What’s that about, I pondered, since I had a C-section birth. Is it just typical aging? I’m only 40!

“They say we are supposed to be doing those kegel things,” my friend noted.

“Yeah, in the car at red lights or whatever,” I said, “I never remember to do those things.” Why can’t I remember to do things, I thought silently.

My friend sighed and unknowingly answered, “There are just too many things to do!”

I agree. There are too many things to do. And it’s pretty overwhelming when you insist on trying to do all of them. I’m in awe that we even try.

Recycle or prepare to see your face on the wall of awful citizens.
Don’t use too much electricity and get those green lightbulbs, too.
Don’t eat too much sugar. Or carbs. Or meat. Or dairy. Or fat.
Eggs will ruin your life. Oh nevermind, eggs are awesome.
Drink tea but not coffee..oh wait coffee adds years to your life..who knew.
Walk 5 minutes every hour or come to terms with an early death.
Use sunscreen and make sure it has SUV protection..oh I mean UVA.
Get teacher gifts but no more apple items for pete’s sake.
Moisturize. Exfoliate. Condition. Floss.
Use glass, not plastic everyone knows plastic contains BPA.
Eat organic. You know, if you want to live and all.
Keep your photos archived, backed up and printed if you want to be a good mom.
Get your oil changed every 3000 miles ok how about every 5000.
Do your breast exams or it will be your fault when you get cancer.
Change your air filter do you want your kid to get asthma?
Clip the cat’s nails or you’re going to suffer the consequences.
Lift weights because you know you lose muscle mass every year after 40.
Read or stay completely ignorant.
Don’t watch too much TV because then you’re just wasting your life.
Keep up your gratitude journal because people who journal have happier lives.
Back up your files and if you don’t, your hard drive will definitely go bad.
Update your iOS if you want to be in the know.
Rotate your tires or you’ll have no one to blame but yourself for that blowout.
Cut the grass or the neighbors will think you’re bad lazy people.
Take these vitamins but not these or these, but yes these, no not those, these.
Register for PTA but only if you’re a good parent.
Remember birthdays or just be a thoughtless sucky person.
Meditate or just have that heart attack instead.
Drink 8 glasses of water and no diet soda doesn’t count.
Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc. Etc.

“You don’t have to do all of those things.” —People who live what must be a wonderful and peaceful existence.

Yeah. But.

Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment and blame.” —Brené Brown

Nailed it! That’s exactly how I operate.

I have often been criticized for being bossy, uptight and wanting things “just so”. Part of that I attribute to a bit of a roller coaster home life. I had no control then so, in order for me to feel ok as an adult, I need to have as much control as possible now.

But the other part, I had not considered. The not wanting to be judged. Not wanting anyone to tell me I messed up. Not wanting to look like I don’t have a handle on things. Because if I have a handle on things, then that means I am worthy and I am good enough for people to want me around. I am worth spending of their time and energy.

I know I am not alone in these feelings.

How many of us think:
If I don’t lose this last 20lbs, I am clearly not datable. If I don’t get these photo albums made, I won’t have any proof that I love my child. If I don’t remember a to ask my friend about their surgery, I am a self involved loser. If I forget to get back to a colleague, clearly I am incapable of handling my job. If I have a car wreck, it must mean I am a half wit. If I don’t play that game with my child, I am a terrible parent.

Brené talks about the usual “I am enough” type things, but what she says about permission slips caught my attention. She said a lot times, in order to stop beating herself up about things, she has to write permission slips for herself. I give myself permission to _______________.

I give myself permission to:
Be lazy.
Cry.
Take a break.
Let things go.
Be too tired to finish.
Not read a book.
Watch trash TV.
Slip up and yell.
Forget things.
Not be in the mood to deal with certain things all the time.
Let go of guilt.
Be ok with knowing I did my best.
Just get by sometimes.
Be silly.
Not sweat the small stuff.
Complain.

We are supposed to live in the moment. But plan for our future. And also learn from our past. Let’s give ourselves permission to do all or none of these things any time we damn well please.

Headaches: 1000000, Me: 0

If I didn’t have headaches
who would I be
I may never know
lucky unlucky me

The pain never stops
but no one can tell
and this is normal for me
living unwell

My enthusiasm for life
is sorely lacking
and it’s not that I’m negative
or that I’m slacking

My companion is pain
while searching for hope
the next procedure might help
but I’m thinking nope

So another day, another headache
is what I think when I wake
and I want to quit my whole life
but too much is at stake

I get up for Hannah
and try to grow toward the sun
to show her a life
well lived, with some fun

But when I’m alone
and everything is still
I see 40 more years
of this pain with no pill

And I get really fucking mad.

photo credit: Image taken from page 108 of ‘Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses’ via photopin (license)

When Your Summer Plans Fall Apart, Do What Dory Would Do

After a lot (A LOT) of back and forth about which summer theater camp session Hannah would attend, she decided on session A which runs the first half of the summer. The theater circles Hannah runs in at her middle school usually attend session B, but Hannah was determined to branch out and meet some new people as she found her current people not quite satisfactory.

Hannah told me, “They keep saying ‘But Hannah, you won’t know anyone at session A’ and I’m like ‘Well sometimes we can meet new people! We don’t have to stay in the same manipulative and abusive co-dependent groups!'” She didn’t really say that, but told me that was what she was thinking. She had grown tired of the immaturity, games and friends-one-day-but-not-the-next thing that had become a regular occurrence in her group. She was ready to brave a whole new world. Like Jasmine on a magic carpet ride.

Jasmine.gif

Fast forward to her crying every day after camp because groups and cliques were already formed and no one was interested in letting her invade them. I tried every approach to get her to stick it out, try harder, have faith, stand her ground. I was encouraging, empathetic, forceful and even nonchalant as I “let her decide” (i.e. decide to go back). Nothing was working! I found this upsetting for three reasons:

  1. I don’t want her to be comfortable with quitting. I try to teach her to honor her commitments. I didn’t feel like 3 days was ample trying time.
  2. The camp was paid for and I was told by a rather smug camp counselor that refunds are not a thing.
  3. I work full time and did not like the idea of Hannah aimless and home alone every day.

We had countless discussions about it over the course of 3 days which was exhausting. I kept expecting her to give in and try a little longer. That’s what would usually happen in these scenarios. But she wouldn’t. I could tell she was upset about quitting, but that it was even more upsetting to her to think about going back.

Finally, I had to just grow toward the sun and let it go. I had to just believe her.

I had to trust in her…and our relationship …and know that she just really really really didn’t want to go, whether I fully understood why or not. There was no point in my trying to get her up every morning, force her to get dressed, drive to camp—crying all the way—where I’d have to pry her crumpled sobbing body from the car and feel crummy all day at work thinking about it. Bleh.

The next night we went to see Finding Dory (aka my new favorite movie). After the movie, I told Hannah we were done discussing camp and we were not going to let camp ruin our lives. Hannah agreed and said, “We’re going to do what Dory would do.”

dorysiwmming

Yes! Regroup, reassess and figure it out! There’s always a way. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

So far, we have lined up one camp-replacing adventure for her already. Hannah is going with my sister and her 3 boys on a week long trip up north. God bless my sister. And Godspeed.

 

Why We Like To Blame The Gorilla Parents, The Alligator Parents & Everyone Else

When something terrible happens, I noticed that all the blamers seem to surface almost instantly. I was thinking of the parents of the little boy in the city of Orlando who was dragged to his death by an alligator. Is there any bigger nightmare?! People are criticizing them because there is a sign that says “No Swimming” even though the kid was just hanging out near the edge. It really could have happened to anyone. We’ve played on that shore many times. But people really seem to take comfort in assigning blame in these scenarios.

“Blame is the discharging of discomfort and pain.”—Brené Brown

Situations like this freak us out because they are so horrible and make things feel so wildly out of control. I was thinking last night how our first instinct is to try to pin it on someone so we can feel better. We need to feel in control again…I know, let’s blame someone. If the parents are to blame, that means it can’t happen to us because we would nevvvvver do what they did. We would make a waaaay different decision than they did. Except we might not.

Having no control is scary. And that makes us super uncomfortable. So instead of seizing the opportunity for empathy, we get caught up in the blame game. Blame is not the same as accountability. Accountability is expressing a feeling or establishing a boundary and less about judging.

We all play the blame game. Funny animated video about it below.

#ThrowbackThursday: Online Dating is a Pointless Endeavor With No End in Sight

Originally published 5/19/14
“Me. You. Tonight.”

Oh brother.

I sign in for 1 month. I sign off for 1 month. I sign in for 1 month. I sign off for 1 month. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a vicious cycle that begins with optimism and ends in loss of all faith in humanity.

Once you sign up, you’re immediately engulfed by a sea of profiles. None of which tell you anything. All blend together.

I love to laugh. Who doesn’t? I can go from jeans to dress up. I ponder if there are any men out there who stomp their foot and refuse to take off their jeans. I enjoy snowboarding, water skiing, rock climbing, surfing, scuba, biking, skydiving… Ok I’m already exhausted.

You begin to realize that online dating is both helpful and harmful. Advantages: quantity. Disadvantages: quantity. It’s way too easy to pass by an unflattering photo. Maybe one thing in their “About Me” turns you off. They don’t have this thing or that thing. And even though I am aware that this is a jackass way to be, I can’t seem to stop myself. I see one comment or observe one attribute or hobby and then start making up this whole story about that person.

Likes sports. I bet his whole life is sports and I do not want every Sunday swallowed up by football. Works in IT. I bet he has no sense of humor and is a huge know-it-all. Spend most of my time hunting and fishing. His politics are probably a nightmare. Love motorcycles. He couldn’t possibly be family oriented.

I try to look for people whose profiles show effort, like mindedness and a sense of humor. I’m honest in mine and forthright about the fact that I have a daughter. Still, once I find someone appealing, the invitations I get to meet are usually incredibly last minute.

Me: I’m free Wednesday.
Him: I have to move my kayak.
Me: Ok
Him: Tell you what…I’ll text you after I move my kayak and we’ll see if that leaves us time to meet up after.

Thanks for squeezing me in (maybe) and making me feel soooo special. And like I have nothing else to do but wait around for kayak movers. Pass.

So we all hang in a little bit longer…just in case…someone might have their kayak already moved and be able to plan a date…and maybe make that connection that will pave our way out of the world of online dating.

Until then, we keep growing toward the sun with our valiant efforts and never ending faith, open to…whatever happens.

photo credit: Cab over water via photopin (license)