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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Story of Too Much Information.

We're approaching the beginning of a New Year and a new decade for me.
A few days ago I was feeling hopeful and awake but again that hammer of doubt has come pounding behind me saying "you have to be perfect and you're not". 
It's the worst trait. I have never had much a problem with pride but doubt?
It's the worst and it's as if it got stuck somewhere deep inside of me and I've been feeding it my whole life. 
Not all the time or even a lot but just enough to keep it alive and pissed off because it hasn't been able to fully thrive so it gets hungry and it starts scratching at my heart and my head and I find myself today thinking that even though I know I haven't fucked up THIS week...everyone thinks I'm a loser. 
I'm a big hot mess of disaster and it sucks. 
I'm feeling sorry for myself but instead of thinking 'poor me, poor baby' it's actually the opposite.
I don't love me today. I don't even like me.
I'm feeling gross, inefficient, sloppy, short tempered and have taken up eating bread as my main food group.
I guess...and I hope I am having an ebb of rolling towards the bottom, crashing hard, pausing and then floating back up to a place of more ease.
I suppose the issue that's making this all feel so overwhelming and suffocating is that I think I'm not supposed to feel this way.
I put so much energy and thought into being in acceptance of the moment but ugggghhh...I hate this. 
I hate feeling this way. I hate wanting to scream and cry anytime anyone else shows a bit of impatience towards me. I hate that I look in the mirror and only see a phony face with a boring nose. 
I hate the fake tone of my hair but I'm not ready to be old.
I'm failing at everything I try to be good at.
I'n in full Winter mode but I'm not even doing that well.
Does that make sense?
I want to be alone but I still have another week before I get more than a handful of hours to myself and knowing me...I will probably do everything I can to feel guilty about it.
What the hell is wrong with me?
Is it PMS?
Is it depression? 
Is it...oh, is it...too much gluten?
I'm hell bent on doubting all of those possibilities by the way and I'm preparing to go on a retreat and I'm terrified that all of the people I meet will see what a loser I am and I will just have a much longer list of folks disappointed in me.

This will pass.
Yesterday...I felt content.
Yesterday...I was in love with everyone.
We are beginning a New Year and I am feeling scared, unstable and wanting so much to hide in a corner and cry but I don't have the time so I will do it right now.
In front of everyone.

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's my Top 40.

I know, I know age is but a state of mind. 
It ain't nothing but a number however tomorrow I will be 40 years old which means I've been breathing on this planet for 14,609 days.
I like to think that I've used most of this time wisely.
I like to think that but it isn't true.
I've spent much time not doing much of anything and plenty of time engaging in mindless and/or reckless behavior.
What I can do now is reflect and notice what I have learned about myself and this world we live in.
The following things aren't intended to be pearls of wisdom but my own life's observations so humor me and then go on with your day.
Thank you.

1. I do not like doughnuts not even a little.
2. No matter how old they get...ones siblings will always be inappropriate and gross and by siblings I mean my 3 brothers.
3. My useless defense mechanism of internally saying "fuck you, I'm going to laugh in your face" when challenged with criticism or discipline is still something I default to when feeling wounded.
5. I am more like my mother than I am not.
6. I will always enjoy watching The Wizard of Oz.
7. Having big cartoon eyes can often get me out of or attract trouble.
8. I wish I didn't worry so much about people liking me but I do.
9. Being alone is wonderful.
10. Cooking is a craft, a meditation and an act of love.
11. How the toilet paper rolls is important to some people but not to me.
12. I don't have a favorite color.
13. I like music that reminds me of salty air, stormy nights and whiskey. It's true...I'm a fan of Pirate Songs.
14. Being a mother is something I adore and something I continuously question my ability to do well.
15. No matter how many therapists I see, how much I meditate and practice yoga ...I am still neurotic and human. 
16. I love to learn.
17. Breakfast is my least favorite meal.
18. I am fickle about everything or am I?
19. I am riddled with doubt but don't question that it is my most self destructive quality.
20. I prefer weather that is too hot to too cold and I most definitely do not like the feeling of wind but I like the sound of it.
21. The theramin and water phone are under appreciated instruments.
22. I am a loyal friend.
23. I am a passionate lover.
24. The world will always be in conflict but there is never a moment wasted to make that untrue.
25. I want Universal Healthcare.
26. I grit my teeth whenever I hear footsteps coming up quickly behind me on a city street.
27. Being told to smile pisses me off.
28. I prefer to grocery shop daily than buy in bulk.
29. I can sing fairly well when alone or with Atticus but only then.
30. I feel sad that people are attracted to justifying prejudices and that we have entertainment networks that masquerade as news networks to further the oppression of others.
31. I often confuse my anxiety for anger.
32. There is never a season that isn't boot season.
33. I have accomplished more than I expected but not what I expected.
34. Love and attraction may not always be found with who you think it's going to be with.
35. I like to fight and debate and be proven wrong.
36. Art is the best way to communicate from the heart without words or hugs.
37. I'm not a hugger but want to be.
38. I still want my Daddy when times are confusing or unclear.
39. I take the pain of clients home with me even though I know it's unhealthy.
40. Smothering tofu with hot sauce is better than just eating hot sauce with a spoon.

That's it. 
Or atleast that's 40 things and I'm all about that number today.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sly like a fox.

Remember how a few weeks ago I said I would quit drinking? 
No? 
Well, I did and I lied.
Or maybe, I can rephrase it as...I changed my mind.
Is that just sly word play? 
Maybe but the reason for this flip-flop isn't because I can't live without alcohol but because it's not the drinking that's the problem...it's my 'all or nothing' attitude. 
I am either going to be Straight Edge or I am going to be a Lush.
I've worn the badges before:
I'm going to be Vegan for 23 years and then I'm going to eat so much flesh that I get sick.
I'm going to have sugar for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then give it up entirely.
I'm going to be a HOT MESS for years and then remake myself as a Yogini Goddess.
Ughhh... eye roll, please.

But, this behavior was learned or should I say happily embraced from my parents.
Especially, my father.
He needed to be the best at everything but also fluctuated between his extremes of consumption.
He was an expert at Yo-Yo dieting.
One month it would be nothing but bee pollen and wheat germ on tuna salad and then it would switch to nightly grilled peanut butter sandwiches and ice cream drenched in honey.
It was all or nothing...back and forth which is a terrible cycle, for me, anyway.
In spite of this well practiced habit of pacing the edges of sweetness and disaster, I have actually come a long way from gleefully wearing the perfectionist crown but now and then... 
The Sparkly Queen of Perfectionism stops by and starts knocking at the front door with all her distractions of jewels and prizes right when I'm in the middle of something or I'm tired and not properly dressed.
It's annoying.
So what do I do?
Do I say "not now, I'm busy" or "I'm sorry, but I wasn't expecting guests today".
Nope.
I panic and fall into an 'oh my gawd, where's my perfect outfit, how can I appear like I have it all together, am I bowing correctly?' inner dialogue and I begin panting at the mouth to get that pretty crown back where it belongs...on my too small head where it can then slip down my face and become an akward collar that makes it difficult for me to turn my neck and shift perspective.
It's a obnoxious little scenario.

So, what has got me all up in a tizzy this time?
Why did I decide I needed to quit drinking?
For one, I was finding myself thinking about having a beer as soon as I walked in the door instead of wanting to hug my son and boyfriend.
That's a problem.
I was feeling as if I couldn't possibly be good company without it and I've been abusing alcohol that way since I left my Ex-husband almost 4 years ago.
I made no apologies for becoming a manic drunk right after I left him...in fact I made it my mission to overindulge in everything.
Beer. Whiskey. Men. Candy. Clothes. 
If I wanted it...I was going to have it.
I could have handled myself with more grace but I didn't and that's ok because I learned a lot about myself from those experiences:
sex doesn't equal love, sleeping with all your friends is fun but it always creates drama, eating sugar all the time makes me moody but drinking? 
Well...I just gained an unhealthy routine and when your son begins lecturing you about drinking too much beer you can't NOT stop and pause and go 'oh, shit...there's many things I hope my son will carry as memories but watching me open a beer before sitting down to ask about his day shouldn't be one of them'.
So, I berated myself as a failure and decided I would remake myself as Super Mom...super yogini, super woman and a model of Sattivic purity and I hit the reinvent myself button and the lies began....
Lie #1. I am a "happy go lucky, anything goes" type.
Lie #2. I'm a bad person for drinking, especially since my job is to teach people moderation and self-acceptance.
Lie #3. The new me will love every sober minute of my life.
Awwww...Fucking Hell, already.
What a bunch of crappola.
Seriously.
I'm a girl who needs stability, moderation and self acceptance not a bunch of 'throw the old me away and be a shiny new version of the girl I used to know' so I decided to put the brakes on all of it.

My practice is moderation and awareness not attachments to perfection and adversity to being human.
I'm human. My hair is greying. My face is showing the signs of loving sunshine, beer and smoking cigarettes when I was younger but I have grown up. That's all. So? I'm not going to quit drinking, I'm going to eat meat now and then when it's offered to me and sometimes I'm going to buy crap I don't need but it's fine.
It really is.

I have spent the past few weeks looking at why I want what I want.
What benefit will I gain and the reality is it's freakin hard to live with awareness and I'm not going to do it well ALL THE TIME but I do enjoy challenge and I know it's good for me.
That's how I grow...when I have that inner impulse that says 'just chug the damn beer' or 'buy the Long Johns with pictures of foxes on them and do it right now'...it's a challenge to pause before just going for it but it's also a habit that's actually easy to embrace.
It really is simple.
Stop. 
Breathe.
Easy.
I just forgot for awhile.
So, I'm back to practing what I preach and doing it before the temptations raise their jazz hands with a 'look at me' exuberance.
So far so good.
The loved ones are loved first when I come home and if I want a beer at the end of the day...I might have it.
It's ok.
I am ok.
And the Long John's with the foxes on them...well, they are nice and cozy in my closet.



Friday, November 14, 2014

I'm the Dragon Lady.

Why do we think it's so bad to be angry?

A few weeks ago, I shared my anger regarding a young man who was standing on the corner with a sign that said "You deserve Rape" on one side and "Whore" on the other. I was angered that as I was just trying to make a left turn to go grocery shopping I was suddenly confronted with a huge sign that said I deserved to be raped. 
I was also angry that a woman who was also just trying to walk to class was suddenly visually assaulted with a peer holding a sign sending her the same message. I was angry that parents would have to explain the "what is rape, Mommy" to their kids so I FBed about it.
I didn't expect it to make this guy's sign disappear by posting about it but instead of quietly putting my anger to the side and saying he doesn't deserve my time...I decided that indeed he did. I received a lot of feedback and it was all helpful for me to process my unexpected emotions but my anger wasn't consuming me or causing me torment. It was anger. I stated it and I had no ill will against him however not everyone interpreted it that way.

I have practiced Lovingkindness and Forgiveness for several years now but it really has only been a recent thing that I can honestly say that my heart is a forgiving heart. And when I say recent...I mean like last month.
I forgave all of my sexual predators years ago. I've forgiven myself for many of my mistakes.
However, the person that I allowed to hold my heart captive has been my mother and even though I have been trying to forgive her since I was a child...it wasn't until I fully embraced my anger regarding the experiences that I was able to get through it. 
I had to sit with the rage, the disappointment and sadness first and then to heal...I had to confront it and her  directly and I did. Not with violent words or an amped up heart rate but with honesty and love. A shitload of love and deep breaths.
It was extremely terrifying for me because as a child my defensive mechanism was to make excuses for her and blame myself but it wasn't until I looked at her with compassion and simultaneously hated her actions that I was able to grieve and move on. 
So...I have no fear of anger but it seems to be the big bad wolf of the yoga and "enlightened" crowd in general.
My perception is that if I am not quoting peace, love and rainbows then there must be something broken in my heart but to me I see it as a freedom from resistance because it's going to be there.

I recently met with an incredibly sweet and kind woman who met me for a consult at work to discuss ways she could be more present in her life. I asked her in what way did she want to practice and she talked about the usual desire to notice the beauty around her, to eat with more awareness and do things more slowly which was all good but then she said she didn't want to get angry at her husband when he won't help her around the house. She didn't want to be angry that he said its her job to cook and clean even though they are both retired. She didn't want him to think she was a mean person.
Well...needless to say I told her there was NOTHING wrong about feeling disappointment, unappreciated and angry about being disrespected.
She looked at me as if my face had suddenly morphed into the head of Yosemite Sam.
How could her meditation teacher be telling her she can be angry and it's ok?
That's not what she wanted.
She didn't want to experience anger.
It's unpleasant. Or is it?
After her mouth closed and she took a breath I explained that what she was really looking for was tools to navigate that anger in a way that isn't so reactive and emotionally charged and by all means...I get it. 
I work on it EVERY DAMN DAY.
Once she understood that anger isn't a bad thing she actually seemed relieved.
Now, Is it going to fix her issues with her mysogenistic husband? I have no idea.
Anger and sadness are inevitable but we all seem to want to push it away OR wallow in it. 
I guess we do the same with joy and love. We either run from our feelings or cling to them just as we do people, things, sensations and thoughts.
We want things to be concrete and clear but in order to have clarity about anything you have to pause and have the patience to consider both sides of the coin first. We want joy but we must also experience sorrow, isn't that correct? If we are angry or sad it just means we care passionately about something or atleast this is a lesson I have taken from a dear friend and unintended mentor.
(Speaking about you, MG).
I don't think expressing anger in a nonviolent way is anything to be afraid of. I don't think it lessens my desire for a world filled with understanding and compassion and I don't think it negates my daily practice of Lovingkindness.
In fact, when I share my anger and outrage about something repulsive, I find that it inspires me to be better person.
My heart doesn't harden when I FB status that someone is being a jerk. Their behavior was awful.
I also understand that 'the jerk' will always suffer more because they must live with themselves and with hearts that are lacking a relief from their own suffering.
As a friend responded on the day that I expressed so much sadness and anger on that funny public forum "hurt people, hurt people". 
It's not an excuse but just some insight so that my heart doesn't lash out in a violent way to perpetuate the cycle.

Of course, the real work begins with taking that anger and using its inspiration to create change and inspire others not to wish violence on someone else. 
We "deserve love". 
That boy on the street standing with his sign deserves love. He doesn't have it right now.
I don't think I am the one that will change his heart but I can teach my son that when he's angry nobody needs to pay for it. 
He can be angry but find a way to learn from it, to be with disappointment and rejection so he doesn't grow up thinking that others deserve pain but not to hide from his anger because it's going to be there and it's not a bad thing.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

I will drink to that!

This is the year I quit drinking.
Seriously...it may be the only thing George W. Bush and I have in common and I hope to actually beat the "quit drinking when I turned 40" mark by a few months. 
I told my son that for his birthday (which is actually next week despite his party being last Saturday) I would quit drinking.
He didn't ask directly but he has been monitoring my beer consumption and has brought it up multiple times during our morning commutes to school "you know beer isn't healthy, soda isn't healthy, candy isn't healthy! If I can't have it then why should you? ".
Good question, young man.
So why now?
I didn't wake up hung over this morning. 
I didn't drink too much yesterday but almost everyday since December 16th, 2008 I have had a daily drink or two or four.
Why do I remember this date?
Because...
It was the first beer I had after my son was born and before that I had gone almost 2 years without any alcohol except for a shot of whiskey on New Years Eve 2006 in Bisbee, Arizona.
Am I an alcoholic? 
I don't know.
Maybe?
Do I meditate every morning, practice yoga, exercise and eat an almost 100% plant based diet? 
Yep. 
I do all those wonderful things but...
I used to be a strict Vegan who chain smoked Marlboro Reds so my history with balancing the good with the bad is something I've been mastering since I first started stealing wine and watering it down from my father in High school.
I was saving him calories and if you knew my Dad you would know he was a calorie counting wheat germ eating health nut...a few months of every year, anyway.
So...me drinking his wine meant I was actually helping him, right?
Of course.

Here is the question: 
How am I gonna do it? and why? 
I love beer. 
I've got a pretty good appreciation for it.
I worked in breweries for years and I can tell you that a fresh pour from a nitrous tap is heaven.
Ambers are my current favorites but the Vanilla Porter at Borderlands is pretty amazing (thank you, Zack for letting me get a taste of it) and so far Tucson's Dragoon Brewery has not disappointed me, yet. 
So...it's not easy. 
I'm not some "Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf" type that gets crappy at dinner parties or an "Old E" swigging slop fest but I drink every night and depending on the time of the month I can be a pretty mean spirited drunk.
No doubts about it.

For almost 6 years I have been thinking "maybe, I don't need to quit, entirely. If I give myself rules, I can cut down considerably. I will only drink when out and about or I will only have 1 beer after work and I will have to also drink 3 glasses of water with each beer". 
I used to do this kind of bargaining with cigarettes and with sugar and with flavored non-dairy creamer (that addiction may be most embarrassing one) but the reality is I have to do it Cold Turkey which sucks.
Cold Turkey? Just stop? It's shittty. 
I get shitty the evening of and then what happens? The next morning, I wake up and feel great except then I get nervous because most of my social interaction outside of work involves drinking and despite knowing that I am freakishly charming when sober, I still get anxious when I am out and about with my peers or family so I drink.
It feels like a stress busting sigh...that edge is softened and my internal story that says "everyone thinks I am an idiot" quiets a bit and I forget about it for awhile until the buzz wears off and it starts again so then I grab another and another.

Of course, it's not just social situations...it's my end of the day reward for driving an hour home and walking into a home that is never as clean as I want and immediately hearing 2 barking dogs that even after a year have yet to get used to eachother.
Instead of getting mad...I walk to the fridge and grab a beer.
I start to chug it before I look around and begin to feel annoyed. Unfortunately, after an hour or two I am suddenly too tired to deal with the evening needs of motherhood and partnership so I become short and impatient.
This cycle sucks and it's sucking me dry so it has to stop.

Every morning when I wake up, I meditate. 
I love it and I can't imagine waking up and imbibing to escape reality.
Even when I know my day is super packed I would never consider drinking first thing. 
My mornings are the most pure and beautiful part of my day because I am 100% awake so why do I have to drink and escape every night?
Everyday... I try to help others and I try everyday to be a better Mom and be a better partner but the reality is I want to have some silence and to have more than 3 hours to myself any given week but because I'm asking for more than most ever get...I feel guilty hence reason #7 million on why I need another drink.
Oh me and my messy ego.
So?
Today...I am going to go to a family BBQ and I will have a beer and probably a few more.
I love my brother but I don't fit in with his social circle so I will drink and hope I don't start any liberal leaning arguments.

Fuck.

When will I stop?
Here it is...here is the date:
November 16th.
There it is.
Why that date?
I dunno.
Will it be forever?
I don't know that either but it can't continue the way it has been...I deserve better as does my son and my boyfriend and my friends and my family.
I am missing out and I don't have anymore time to lose...
So here's to 40 and may it be sober.







Saturday, October 25, 2014

Today will be filled with sunshine.

Tomorrow is my son's 6th Birthday Party.
So...I should be monitoring the cake baking situation in my kitchen. I have a dozen cupcakes (for the School Fall festival that happens in 4 hours) and a gluten free cake option (for the birthday party) in the oven and considering the fact that this is year #2 that I busted the homemade piñata a day before the big day I really shouldn't be adding another distraction to my afternoon but I am.
It's my happy cathartic place to vent and try to sort out the ridiculousness of my life.
The past month has already felt like a years worth of drama condensed into 30 days.
I confronted my mother and created boundaries, I am feeling insecure at work, I've had 2 or 3 colds and allergic reactions to whatever is happening in the desert, my boyfriend bought a house so I did my not as usual as it used to be "Oh, things are going the way I've always hoped in a relationship? Well, then...let's break up because I am hormonal and I don't trust happiness to last".
Hello...craaazy.
If I were an astrology type I'd be knocking on Mercury's door with a bag full of stinky hot poop awaiting it's return home but I'm too tired to be that motivated.
Often, I wish I was more of the "believing" type because I wouldn't be so damn willing to take responsibility for my part in this mess of chaos. I am entirely a willing and active participant.
Of course, in the big scheme of things I can and do count my blessings to be born a privileged white girl from a Middle Class family. I've been given more than my fair share of second and third and a million chances to dust myself off and keep on moving forward but "Wow"...
Yesterday, as I was trying to figure out a new work schedule to accommodate the need to now pick up Atticus from school on Tuesdays and Thursday because he has been kicked out of his After-School program for being too disruptive for teachers who are volunteering their time...
I get a flurry of texts and emails letting me know that I am apparently asking for money to be wired to an account in Instanbul despite being in Catalina and trying not to freak the fuck out as I also check my phone to see if the principle has called again.
Wonderful. 
My brain, my heart and my ego feels much like my internet account: Hacked, hijacked and lied to.
The cakes in the kitchen are my responsibility but I swear if they burn it will be because the oven is conspiring against me. 
The timer is on. 
The temperature is set but I don't trust anything to work out with ease.

However, it has. 
Cakes are baked...all four of them and the emergency bought piñata is a monster of paper mâché and sparkles and stuffed to the brim with treats.
The party will be happening sooner than later...except before all that I have a Pap Smear, a counseling session with Atticus's Dad and his therapist and then we hit the school celebration in a few hours.

Doctor session goes well...I may feel like I'm dying but according to her I'm not getting to it any faster than I was yesterday so that's a relief.
The counseling session?
Hmmm...well, it was going well until I decided to get too personal and bring up some of The Ex's issues.
(Alysa Volpe, shut up with the need to be an open book about everything, especially other people's shit)

Que the tympani drum roll...
Dad is up, storms out and the counselor and I sit in uncomfortable silence for way to long before going through the motions so that I feel like I get my money's worth for the next 20 minutes that will resolve nothing.
I call him afterwards and get an earful about what a terrible person I am.
Again.
Again.
And...Again.

I apologize. It's a no win situation. I've spent 20 years trying to be heard and hoping that at some point a moment of recognition, appreciation and acknowledgment might be experienced but I should know by now that I am a bitch, a disappointment and the source of ruin for my Ex's life.
I'm a jerk and me writing this probably won't help to change that perception, either.
My anxiety levels are through the roof and despite my boyfriend's extremely generous and amorous attempts to help me release some of it...I am just gonna have to get through it, feel like shit, want to scream but smile instead and recognize that today...in 3 hours the drama of my life can be put on hold.
Atticus's has been waiting for this day for almost a year and if there's one thing I know is this kid deserves a day of awesome.
He is awesome!
Today is my son's 6th Birthday Party and the cakes couldn't be more perfect.






Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fly, Little Bird. Fly.

We all have patterns that seem to have been established early in our lives.
Mine is to 'Wing it'.
I like to throw my hands up in the air and say "Well, let's see what happens if I do this?".
This approach has led to many wonderful and enlightening happenings in my life as well as some messes of epic proportions.
I packed up all my stuff and moved to Portland, Oregon via Amtrak when I was 23 and have no regrets.
Most of my most memorable performances when I was younger and spinning fire were improvised.
When I teach a yoga class or give a lecture,  I usually have a bit of an idea of what I will do but for the most part I teach with an open heart to gauge the energy of the class and those are the classes that tend to be the most transformative for everyone else so it works for me to be a bit unbridled and organic in how I let things unfold, however, my impulsive nature has also led to some MAJOR catastrophes...
Me and my 'Fuck It Bucket' mentality (to steal from David Sedaris's brother The Rooster) has led me into some very dark and scary places both literally and emotionally.
I've had many lessons in 'Perhaps, I should have thought about this a bit more'...like that time I drunk emailed my longtime boyfriend who was again out of town for several weeks and decided to propose marriage.
The wedding happened but the marriage didn't last.
Of course, there are always lessons and I think for me, my ability to try to understand them and find the positive is also a habit that has offset the disasters.
Despite years of dysfunction between my ex-husband and myself,  I now have a son who I adore as well as a new boyfriend who loves me as much as I love him... so much like the Buddhist story about the son who breaks his leg but escapes going to war...you never know how things will turn out except that eventually we will all die.
Oh gosh, I sure hope this doesn't come to a surprise to anyone.


Now, one of my first memories of saying 'screw it to consequences' was around the age of 5. I packed up my Mandy dolls, their clothes and headed North to Mrs.Weiderman's house to begin a new life. I figured with my new freedom, I would be free to eat snacks when I wanted and not be left to sit 2nd-Fiddle to my new brother, Paul.
Sadly for me, Mrs. Weiderman didn't have the same sense of adventure I had and promptly called my mother and I was picked up and had to face my punishment with my nose in the corner for what seemed like hours.
The amount of times I abruptly tried to find adventure in the small desert mining town I grew up in are countless. 
In school, if I didn't like the project we were working on, I would destroy it or refuse to do it the way the teacher had demonstrated. 
Those kinds of outbursts got me sent to the principal several times to bend over and receive THE PADDLE...but I still didn't care so it's not surprising that like me and many of his relatives, my son has inherited the same impulsive and curious gene that led my mother to leave Newport Beach, California at the age of 19, marry my father 2 weeks after their first date and have a baby (that would be me) some 9 months later.


My son, much like myself, seems to be focused on learning things the hard way.
We get an idea and go with it, manuals and mentors be damned...we both would rather fall down several times, raise our hands up in the air and say "I'm ok!", fall a few more times until the bruises are so painful that we finally look up and ask "a little help, here?" with a look of confusion wondering why all those offerings of assistance from those around hadn't been a bit louder so we could hear it through our protests of "I can do it myself!".

So...here we are.
Atticus. Me. Kindergarten.
Who knew, it would be so hard?
Not me.
I figured he would be just fine. 
He is smart, social and funny but he is also prideful and didn't want to tell me that he was scared out of his mind.
His 1st preschool experience was less than stellar. 
It was dirty, understaffed and cost me $10 a day which as a single mom in the middle of filing for divorce and bankruptcy was all I could afford. We left after finding out he had been bullied by teachers and students.
His 2nd preschool was equally traumatizing as he was kicked out of for instigating a classroom revolt:
He led his classmates out of their room, down the hall, outside to the playground and then promptly locked the teachers inside of the school. 
To be honest, I wasn't sure if I should High-5 him or ground him but when he finally found a new preschool that encouraged independent thought, I knew things would be better and they were.
I figured he was done with the impulsive behavior...but why? 
Considering that I continue to struggle with my own need to fight or run when I am unexpectedly startled by my own insecurity, it was an unrealistic belief.
We are both aware of our strengths but sometimes our weaknesses become all consuming and we freak the fuck out.
The difference is that he is 5 and I will be 40 in a few months so my expectations for him have been unfair just as they were unfair when my mother had me pegged at an early age as our housekeeper, cook and general emotional glue for our Head-In-The-Sand family.
I expected Atticus to keep it together...to walk with his breath the way we have so many times at home when we have had a hard day but instead I received a phone call on Day 2 of school that not only had my boy had a meltdown but he kicked his teacher.
Hard.
She bled.
His principal called to explain the details of his behavior and as she explained them I realized that they weren't far from the last time I threw my own tantrum but instead of kicking someone, I threw my iPad across the room.
Monkey see...Monkey Do.
Is it in our genes?
Maybe...but it can be dealt with.
My brother and myself have received many emotionally abusive emails from our mother over the years and then watched her without remorse justify her meanness so I can say that there is at least progress in that both Atticus and I have emotionally evolved into people who understand when we are hurtful, it only hurts more and longer when we cause someone else to suffer.
I have become much better at not becoming overwhelmed with anger or sadness to the point of reaction and I have taught him that even though it will still happen, we must always take the initiative to apologize and do some self reflection so we can learn and be kinder.

Atticus is only 5 but he seems to get it.

This last week was better.
The weekend following his kicking incident was followed by a new ritual to sit and practice Lovingkindness Meditation.
Its not a cure-all but it's good for all of us.
His teachers and counselor have given him responsibilities that encourage his need to be in charge by allowing him to care for the chickens and the school garden. 
He's good at it.
We are finding our way and I realize that just because it's been my habit to improvise my way through my life that when it comes to him I need to pause more. 
I wasn't shown much in the way of coping skills, preparation or patience. 
My mom, however unfair, believed I was smart enough to take care of myself and in many ways I AM stronger because of that but I see now that I also adopted that habit of not always recognizing that despite my child's need to be independent and figure it all out in his own, he still needs a mother to guide him and set a good example.
Me, the woman who rallies against 'magical thinking' has been thinking that my kid would magically charm his way through school without my support.
I was wrong.
I still want to embrace our curious natures but I have a duty to establish a foundation that creates stability first so I'm working on that.
I am fortunate to have a partner that helps ground us.
He recognizes that sometimes...I am exhausted after working all day and my reactive nature is going to be more easily awakened so he, unlike me,  prepares to give me time alone. 
It's been life changing.
Without any bravado he gives me space when I need it and I have learned from his example to give Atticus the same gentle support.

Again, Atticus and myself...we are stubborn and a bit prideful but once we realize that there are people who loves us regardless of how sloppy we may appear at times, we become comfortable. We are able to stay and not run away. 
We can be still like a pebble at the bottom of a stream but also allow for our passion and ideas to flow with ease instead of manifesting like a flash flood full of destruction and aimlessness.
I still enjoy the unexpected outcomes that come from being spontaneous and I don't want to discourage the need to spread our wings but hopefully I can establish a new routine for us both to look first and make sure we won't smack anyone else mid flight as we take a much needed soar into the unknown.








Thursday, July 10, 2014

Like a Girl.

Feminism.
It's been on my mind a lot, lately.
My mother told me at a young age that The Feminist Movement was merely a shield for Man-Haters and Loose Women to be awful. She said that women thought they were gaining freedoms by sleeping with whomever they chose and getting jobs but really they would eventually regret all that slutting around and wind up lonely spinsters. To keep me even more in fear of the Feminist Monster she told me that if I ever had sex outside of marriage I would contract cancer of the vagina and would go blind if I took Birth Control. 
Thankfully, like so many other bizarre 'life lessons' I was taught, I  took it with a grain of salt and then gleefully allowed my brain to be washed by my liberal leaning teachers as I got older.
Woo-Hoo.
To be fair...I don't think any of my teachers ever ranted about social-politics with the exception of a math teacher who said we should treat our environment with respect and not trash it. 
Gasp...what a freak!
Aye, but I digress.
Back to Feminism and well...treating Everything and Everyone with respect

Last month after ANOTHER shooting in our nation, we were reminded that some still see women as mere bodies meant to pleasure the whims of others and if they don't do so they will be killed and/or raped. Last week we got to watch some assholes on The Supreme Court throw women's reproductive rights down the crapper in the name of Relgious Freedom. 
So, as I picked up my Birth Control from the pharmacy the other day, I had a sense of gratitude that my employer will not deny my right to life saving health care and I do mean life saving. While I enjoy the benefits of pregnancy prevention, my main reason for taking birth control is so that my PMDD can be more manageable and I don't become an inconsolable and somewhat suicidal wreck once a month.
What struck me more after picking up my prescription was that I shouldn't even have to worry whether or not my employer will have a moral, I mean oppressive, objection to my right to control my body.
I pay for my insurance.
I work for it and to think women now have to consider if a job will support their rights as a human being to regulate their bodies is insane.
Do men?
It's my understanding that Viagra and Vasectomies are still covered.
So?
I'm freaking pissed off and not just about that.

Knowing that my High School student niece, despite having a life of her own and having overcome major obstacles as a child, is still expected to make food for her father and brother even though they are fully competent enough to make their own damn lunch has my heart breaking and feeling sad because I understand the mentality that has continued to thread its way not just through my family but the world at large. Being raised in a teeny tiny desert town with 3 brothers, a father raised in rural Ohio and a mother who was raised by her very Conservative Grandmother meant I would be raised to fulfill a very certain role which was assured by the very meaning of my name.
Alysa Mar'et.
According to a book my Mom read, it means 'Delicate Princess' and she reminded me of that on a regular basis.
To me it just screams 'Fluffy Flower Glitter Muck'. I thought it was dumb because I felt anything but 'delicate.'
I loved playing in the dirt, making car cities in the yard with my little brother, practicing ballet, helping my mother with chores, helping my father wash cars, playing with dolls and making forts. I don't think there was anything very unique about any of that but as I grew up I began to question why my brothers were allowed to do certain things but I was not.
I liked being a Brownie and a Girl Scout, however, I also felt like there were other things to do besides arts, crafts, double-dutch and roller skating. 
My older brothers got to play sports, cuss and go hunting.
I went to ballet 3 times a week and I loved it but I also wanted to play football, be included in camping trips and ride 4 Wheelers like my brothers.
The whole family would get together to watch and support my brother, Jon every weekend as he played football, ran track and wrestled his way to State Championships but my yearly dance recitals were only attended by my parents.
My brothers did not have to attend because well...it was 'girly'.
Ya know, boring.

When I was 10 years old my family was in a car accident that left my mother with major hip damage and also began her life long addiction to pain killers
For the rest of the family, it was expected that I would take over the cooking and cleaning. In addition, I took care of my little brother and made sure my grades never dipped below a B. If any one of those things did not happen I was often beaten with belts, wooden spoons, brooms or dragged by my hair by my mother. As we grew older, my Dad helped my brothers start their own Car Detailng Business. I wasn't allowed to participate. 
My brothers would have up to 5 cars a day to wash and detail during the weekends and would easily walk away with a few hundred dollars to put in the bank on Monday morning so by the time my older brother's got their licenses they were able to afford pretty nice cars.
Because, I wasn't allowed to work or receive an allowance, I had no money saved up when I was 16 so I got a job at a Frame Shop and was able to save enough to eventually get a car when I was 18. 
A girl doin it for herself, I guess, which was fine but a little bit annoying.

I recognize that the oppression I endured doesn't even scratch the surface of the violence, murder and educational suppression suffered by females around the world. I also know that my brothers were also told that they had certain obligations they had to fulfill. They were given jobs at very young ages, so they could establish a strong work ethic because they would be expected to be the bread winners when they grew up.
As expected, 2 of my brothers do support their families, now.
Very much so.

I also remember my older brother Jon being humiliated for crying when my oldest brother Jimmy thought it would be funny to spray the interior of a car with water after Jon had just spent 2 hours cleaning it.
Jimmy wasn't in trouble but Jon was laughed at for being a weakling.
So...it isn't too surprising that my Brother Jon, now speaks of "Men's work" with pride and doesn't consider the harm he has done to his relationship with his daughter as she resents being a shadow in his home despite accomplishing a great amount in her short life so far.
I'm angry about it.
I don't want her to resent her dad.
I want her to understand that he was raised in a family and society that fed him these stereotypes. I hope she will have compassion for his ignorance but I don't think it should be used as an excuse to hold tight to harmful beliefs that hurt humanity, in general, either.

When my brothers grew up they were praised for their athletic successes, their ability to lift heavy objects and run away faster then anybody else. I was never envious of the skill but I was envious of the praise. Despite getting straight A's and writing awards I never received the attention that my brothers did from my parents. What made me valuable wasn't my skill or achievement, it was needing to be the prettiest girl in the room. It was such a concern, that my mother "spoiled" me by gifting me with a nose job before High School. 
Hallelujah!
With fingers crossed, I think my parents hoped that their social activist of a daughter who spent her weekends volunteering for Tucson Aids Project and collecting recyclables would simmer down and make herself respectable enough to find herself a rich husband and be a trophy wife.
Me. A trophy wife. Hilarious.

It took me years to not worry about the fact that the face I saw in the mirror wasn't recognizable to me and remember that my worth was more that my appearance. I resisted the story that women were to be seen and not heard but I eventually fell into the confines of 'be pretty' and forgot my strengths and voice for many years. 
Sometimes, I still do. 
The younger and prettier ex-girlfriends of my partner still preoccupy my brain at times when I should be focusing on how to make the world a better place. My hard work, my compassion and my honesty are my strengths. My looks are nice but they won't last. However, the actions I choose can make a difference.

I am a woman raising a boy to become a person who respects everyone. 
A person who can pause and ask a woman for her time and not expect it. A person willing to listen and learn before reacting and I hope that I will raise a son who will eventually reconsider the answer he recently gave me when asked what he would do if he woke up a girl.
My boyfriend recently attended a workshop regarding violence against women. He told me of a study in which children were asked what they would do if they woke up as the opposite sex. 
The girls said things like " I would be President or a doctor."

The boys overwhelmingly said " I would kill myself."
Little boys said they would kill themselves if they woke up as girls.
If you need to stop and cry for a moment, please do because it is heart breaking.

I thought that there was no way MY son would say this. 
So, I asked him the same question.
His reply wasn't as severe as theirs but it wasn't far from it.
I'm his mother.
A single-mother who left an emotionally abusive relationship.
I work full-time, I care for him and financially support him.
I encourage him to share his emotions, to do what he likes...
He watches Spider-Man, he watches The Powerpuff Girls, he likes bugs, painting his toenails with glitter, he likes digging in the dirt and he likes helping me bake cookies. I work hard to expose him to balance, equality and kindness but yet...being born a girl still seems like the worst thing he could be.
Why?
Why? 
Why are we constantly working so hard to burn bridges that could connect us as a whole? Why is the idea that a woman being able to manage her fertility a threat even though men don't question their need to have sex, make love and just fuck for curiosities sake but women...no way should they have the same freedom.
No way!
Education. Jobs. Financial independence? Why is that a threat?
I really don't know.
I don't know why feminism is a dirty word that equally has women recoil and say " I'm not a feminist because I like men."
Maybe, feminism is too gender specific, as well.
Maybe we need a new term, then.
Could we call ourselves Compassionists?
Equalitists? 
Would that work?

I have been thinking a lot about Feminism. 
I've been thinking a lot about the fear that complicates our need to find compassion for one another and the fear that has even turned us into beings that look at our phones more than we look at one another and that saddens me.
All I can do is know that this girl will fight 'like a girl' to raise my child to love like a curious and open-hearted being.
That's all I can do but I think it's a fucking lot.




 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hello, Green-Eyed Monster Buddy. When did you arrive?

Last week I took a much needed vacation. 
It totaled 8 days and it was the longest vacation I've ever taken in my adult life.
I took time off to celebrate family, love and life.

The 1st day of a 3 day road trip was good overall.
My son and my boyfriend loaded up the car and set ourselves north towards Oregon.
We passed several desert towns that peppered the landscape like weeds clinging to life in patches of dirt.
They were dusty, prickly and unapologetic in their disdain for the likes of me and my little liberal family but I was happy just to be out of my element and experiencing something new for a change.
I had forgotten the pleasure of throwing your feet up on the dash and looking out the window to daydream and hold the hands of the ones you love.
It's as sweet as can be.

Our first major stop was Las Vegas.
One of my life's great loves, my Grandma Betty is dying. 
My plan had been to stop by to see my grandmother with little notice so that we could spend some much needed time together.
For years, we talked on the phone regularly but due to my lack of time management skills and her inability to continue long conversations...our chats have become more quarterly than monthly.
I just wanted to see her and despite some family drama it was a sweet visit.
My grandmother was bright eyed but not the same vivacious woman I've known most of my life.
I reminded her about the wild stories of her youth.
The anatomically correct dolls she used to make and her travels around the world.
We giggled.
My heart was and is full from our brief time to connect.

Days later...
We arrived in Bend, Oregon for my boyfriend's sister's wedding.
I like his sister...a great deal.
She is smart, funny and thoughtful so it was an honor to be included in her festivities.
They were AMAZING festivities that included a 3 day camp out in Sisters, Oregon and days of circus performances and activities.
I figured I would fit right in...
I tend to make friends with ease and am used to being around stressed out strangers but as soon as we got there I realized I was the odd duck.
My boyfriend's ex is also his sister's best friend.
She would be the unofficial Maid of Honor.
I told myself I would not feel awkward about it.
At first, I didn't.
I like his ex-girlfriend.
She's very outgoing and charismatic.
She is also younger, prettier, thinner and seems to have all the qualities that I know I shouldn't cling too as I age but...well, for fuck's sake...sometimes I still do.
I'm a grown woman who looks pretty damn good and makes a living doing what I love so...
I'm not exactly chopped liver, but still after days of traveling and a brief and unsettling interaction with my mother days earlier in Vegas...I was feeling a bit low.
Unintentionally, I brought my insecurities with me and by the end of the trip it felt like they were the heaviest suitcase I packed.

Regardless of my mental "Woe is Me", 
I figured things would go smoothly despite sharing space for the next 5 days.
Soon after we arrived the ex decided to confront the situation head on.
I respected her directness but also resented the conversations focal point of saying how awkward I (Me. Almost 40 year old Single-Mom. Me.) must feel.
It kind of sucked but I don't think the intention was meant to make me uncomfortable.
tried to laugh it off.
I've managed to be friendly with most of my ex's girlfriends so I see no reason to feel insecure about a love's past love. 
I tried to engage in conversation but insecurity began to overwhelm me, anyway.
It is a familiar place for me.
Often, too much so.
So...recognizing it as my comfortable foundation I dug in deep to root myself in.

I am always ready to embrace insecurity and fear...thinking that this time if I just 'pretend smile' more, I will have the upper hand but over time I'm always always left feeling more broken and vulnerable than before.

So...I took my feelings of unworthiness and retreated to throw myself a pity party.
Instead of acknowledging the ridiculousness of the situation I thought drinking my insecurities under the table might muster up some liquid courage.
I was not going to be the wallflower of the weekend.
I'm funny.
I'm charismatic....
Years ago, I was the charming and cute one.

Ahhh... but as alcohol, tiredness and hormones mixed...well, I just became overwhelmed with a feeling of smallness.
Suddenly every word I said was the dumbest thing a person could say...
In addition, I was bloated and instead of only feeling 5 lbs heavier it felt like my body had morphed into a giant marshmallow that was also erupting with zits and matted hair.
Oh God? Reeeeally?

I had a meltdown on a walk with my son and boyfriend before we left to set up for the wedding.
It was ugly but after that, I was able to keep myself fairly contained.
Once we got there I figured I'd be distracted but also be welcomed by everyone there.
The entire wedding party were friends of family and my boyfriend and his ex.
The family was loving but the friends...well...even getting eye contact felt like a struggle. 
It felt bad.
Periodically, I would leave the festivities to either go for a run, explore the woods with Atticus or just walk back to the cabin to catch my breath and try not to have an anxiety attack.

Suddenly a mantra of 'Nobody wants me here' took over.
In my mind I was just the Short-Zitty-Gargatuan that kept following her child around and hovering in corners pretending to be in awe of his every movement when really I just wanted to crawl into bed and cry.

I was in Oregon.
Beautiful Fucking Oregon.
And...I even though I was able to appreciate it, I was just as easily pulled into Over-Dramatic-Hell everytime I had to hang out with his ex.
She is super adorable.
Oh...and smart.
Super freakin smart.
So...my smallness grew.

By the last day...my body, my spirit and my emotions were shot. 
My regular meditation and yoga practice had been ignored for most of the trip. 
I had consumed more meat and hard alcohol over the weekend than I ever have in the past.
I was toxic.
Toxic with shitty thoughts, emotions and expectations so...
I exploded.
It started small.
My boyfriend who had been busy being a loyal brother and Master of Ceremonies all weekend had promised to spend the day with Atticus and me but as I walked into the backyard it was everyone else enjoying his company but me.
Poor pitiful me.
My insecurities couldn't be contained.
They asked if I was hungry and all I could do was react with a very immature,
"No, I don't want any of THAT food".
Awesome.

Again...it just sucked.
I lost my shit. 

My boyfriend is incredibly sensitive to my Bat-Shit Crazy moments and quickly tried to remedy the situation.
We got in the car, fed me some food and we drove to a waterfall.
It was beautiful but even there it took me at least half the trip to pull my head out of my ass and breathe.
My son asked if "I was gonna calm down, now...so we could have a good day?" and I did.
Or ,at least, I tried.
...but I couldn't shake the feeling of being a 3rd Wheel.
It didn't help that I had been called by the Ex-girlfriend's name earlier in the day.
It just seemed to confirm that even though I had walked into the situation open hearted and wanting to connect...well, I was in a competition I had not practiced or studied for.

So here I am...back home in my Hot Desert Town...
Alone to process and get some clarity.
At first, I beat myself up for being so damn insecure, then I beat myself up because I should have felt insecure and accepted it...but honestly, what I've come to recognize is that I probably wasn't the only one feeling awkward.
The beautiful ex-girlfriend may had tossed the insecurity ball into my corner hoping to be rid of it but in the end...
I think it hit both of us.
She and I talked.
I don't know if we will be good friends...maybe that's a naive expectation.
But I will try.
I like her.

If there is nothing else I take away it's to recognize that there's nothing wrong with feelng insecure but to be jealous is to believe that the object of that envy doesn't also suffer and well...that's just not true.
We all gots our shit.

Today...as I worked with a very successful and beautiful woman who just turned 50...I found myself thinking 'I hope I have my crap together like she does in 10 years. She's gorgeous, strong, wealthy and Holy Crap she runs a non-profit to help children with cancer...I  don't know if I will ever be that awesome.' and as if on que she proceeded to tell me how beautiful she thinks I am and how amazing what I do for a living is.
Thank you, I thought.
She's right!





Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Beware of the mother in the candy aisle.

Being a mother is difficult.
Obviously.
Being a mother who tries to keep her sanity amongst a million opinions, parenting techniques and snarky comments from strangers and even her own support group is a challenge to put it politely.
I'm not a perfect mom.
No Mother is.
I am a Mother who raises her voice to epic 'Italian' levels and because of that my son does, too.

I set the precedent for that kind of behavior just as my parents did for me.
My Dad was not much of a hitter but he was a yeller.
My mother was a rager and I'm still going to therapy to get over it so, I get it.
I do.
Generational Habits.
They run thick don't they?
The best within us wants our family legacies to insure gratitude and kindness not violence and resentment so I work at reigning in behavior that might encourage the latter.
I'm reminded on a regular basis by my partner that the temper tantrums my son throws are very similar to my own.
That kind of insight is helpful but not quite the support I need after a long work day.
It's intended to be a 'wake up call' but when you've been trying your best to raise a thoughtful child who splits his time with a father who thinks it's funny to teach his son to cuss and tells him that going to school is punishment... 
Well...the reality is that THIS Mother just wants a little compassion, maybe a hug and to be told everything is going to be ok even if it's just ok for another moment.

I'm trying to be a good mother.
I think considering the circumstances that my son was brought into he is doing well but I've been guilted for not taking my son to his current preschool years ago and all I can say is that yes...
I wish I had been able to afford a more nurturing preschool in the past but I was living paycheck to paycheck without financial support from his father.
Things changed when I finally reached out for help from my family.
My own shame and delay in asking for help meant that Atticus started school later, more stressed out than most children his age and impulsive.
He has thrived since he began his new school and I am grateful that he has been able to grow. 
I have, as well.
I also know that we could have had it much worse.
I have family to lean on and I am privileged for that.
I grieve for the families that are truly alone, working all the time but under constant stress and having to make even tougher decisions than I have.

Being a parent requires patience, skill, emotional maturity and financial finesse.
I didn't have much of that when I left my son's father and became a single mother.
I just knew I couldn't stand living the way I had been for 16 years.
I had no plan.
I had no idea how to be the mother I wanted to be so I have read books, observed other parents and locked myself in my room to cry it out MANY times.

I know my non-parent friend shake their heads and say "Why would anyone have a child?".
Some days I wonder the same thing but I get reminded more often than not that the person I brought into this insane, crazy and dying world is HERE and he fantastic.
He's here and he is LOUD about it.
Willful.
Stubborn.
Kind.
Generous.
He has a sense of humor that is both intelligent and absurd.

And...today?
My ass is tired and exhausted.
My morning was spent fluctuating between sweet cuddles, perfecting my squash blossom recipe and not freaking out after an hour of Atticus chanting words I don't recall but may as well have been "I'm annoying" over and over.
It's barely 11am and I raised my voice at least twice today before leaving the house.
I didn't feel good about it but I'm not beating myself up about it.
Not too much, anyway...just a little.

About an hour ago, we went to the market. 
It's something we do almost every day.
My boyfriend finds my 'European-style' of daily market trips to be charming and ridiculous but it's my thing.
I want my food fresh.

And because this is a routine, rules have been established regarding grocery store etiquette:
Stay near Mama.
No hands in the bins and don't put anything in your mouth.

When I am well rested, calm and poised I know it's easiest to just stick my son in the cart in order to ensure no tiny, dirty hands find their way into the candy bins at Sprouts.
Today was not that day.
Today,  I thought we'd wing it with a small hand basket since my list was short.
Everything would be fine.
I was wrong.

Atticus streamlined it to the Gummy Worm bin before I even had a chance to pick up my basket.
He walked towards me with his head down and his hands covered up by his t-shirt.
I knew what was up.
He had stolen some candy but before I could talk to him about it an older woman walked up behind him and said "Little Boy, they are going to throw you in jail for stealing. Do you know that?".
I didn't say a word.
I figured maybe a stranger would get through to him faster than I ever had and despite having a mouth filled with gooey grossness he immediately said he was "Sorry" and apologized.
I figured it was settled.
Lesson learned...
But, then this woman grabbed my son and began to spank him.
I was stunned.
I grabbed him away from her and again had that moment of "What the fuck do I do that doesn't get ME arrested."
Thankfully, I didn't have to do a thing.
A mother who was also in the midst of battling her very small kid from reaching out from his stroller to grab snacks from the bins stood up for me saying "It seems to me you need to learn some boundaries because you just crossed the line."
I thanked the helpful mother who just gave me that always appreciated look of 'Motherhood is hard'.
The spanking woman just walked away and I stood there feeling angry, spent and tired.

I probably could have followed the spanking woman and given her a piece of my mind.
I didn't.
I felt that the whole scenario was my fault.
 I had failed in every way. 
I shouldn't have let him out of my sight. 
I should have told that women to mind her own business from the get-go. 
I should never have bought sweets for my son, in the first place. 
I should have...

Yes, I'm judging myself!

I'm judging myself but so is everyone else.
My family, my friends, my boyfriend, my son...
When I feel frustrated I get a list of why my son acts out and it always my fault:

I should have stayed with his father and worked on being a 'real mother' and not focus on a career.
I should have him medicated (his pediatrician disagrees, by the way).
I SHOULD spank him.
I should NEVER raise my voice to him.
If I had a vaginal birth he wouldn't be so high strung.
If I hadn't had him vaccinated he wouldn't be full of negative energy.

Honestly...it's shit.
I'm tired.

Parenting is hard work so why do we make it so much more difficult for the people who are trying so hard to bring another person of value up in this world by bullying them?

As mothers...the expectations and fear mongering begins before you even give birth:

Do NOT rest on your right side or lay on your back.
Don't eat feta cheese unless you have a death wish for your child.
Sushi? 
No way...who cares that cultures all over the world seem to procreate and eat raw fish but us? Americans? 
No way!
It's too bad we don't demonize processed food the way we do fish.

You MUST breastfeed if you want to bond properly with your child.
I did for almost 4 years and we are very close but I don't think that's the only reason.

You should Home-Birth.
You should Hypnobirth.
Or to be efficient you should schedule your C-section.
Heck, Preplan your child's afterbirth craniosacral appointment.
Do not circumcise.
Circumcise.
Raise them gender neutral.
No TV.
Classical music, only.
Baby Einstein all the way!
Aye...stop.
Stop!
It's exhausting, isn't it?

For crying out loud, Motherhood shouldn't be a competition, should it?

I just want to raise a good person.
I remind him on a regular basis how wonderful he is.
I hold his hand and remind him to stand up for himself and he does.
I can assure you of that!
He stands up to me all the time AND I don't always agree with him but our battle of wills always ends with hugs.
I don't believe it's weak to apologize when I am wrong or I am traumatizing him when I hold accountable for his actions.
I know that in the end my son is his own person.
He came through me but he isn't mine.
He will do what he does and I do my best to let him learn from his mistakes without shaming him.

He's a bright, curious, clever, mischievous, fearless and completely awkward person.
It's awesome.
When I put him to rest at night or wait for him to wake up in the morning...
I see the world's most beautiful person quiet and all I want is for him to wake up and ask for cuddle time.
Those are the best kind of difficult moments in my book but not the ones I learn from.

So as I've had time to reflect on this morning's drama, I am reminded that while being a mother is hard, it is incredibly rewarding.
I get to watch this little person grow up.
I get to watch myself evolve and find my own voice.
In the moment, at the market, I felt somewhat powerless and overwhelmed but even that messy moment has reinforced my recognition of how I want to raise my son.
He shouldn't steal.
He shouldn't lie but he also doesn't need to be abused by strangers and neither do I.
He knows there are repercussions for his actions and like most adults he picks and chooses when he learns from his mistakes and when he doesn't.
But...he is learning.
He sits himself down in the midst of meltdowns to breathe.
He walks with his breath when he knows he is about to explode.
It's not everytime just now and then but it counts and I know that little bit of self care he learned came from me and that's huge.
And I'm grateful.
The abusive habits that were handed down throughout my family line CAN be broken and I will do whatever it takes to see to it.
No matter how hard it is.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Shhh...I'm practicing YOGA.

I've been thinking a lot about 'YOGA' and all that it means to the students that arrive to share their time with me. 

Because I work at a resort my students are transient  often doing yoga for the 1st time so I take my responsibility to welcome them into the possibility of a practice with care.

Yoga has been a big part of my life for almost 20 years and I appreciate the challenges it has brought to my attention.

The need to find steadiness and ease as you stand on one foot may not seem like much until you realize how many stories your mind can throw at you:

I need to get my foot up to my thigh...then I'm really good at this.

Why can't I get my foot above my ankle...I'm good at making dinner.

What should I eat for dinner?

Is that guy next to me farting?

Look everyone...my foot is on my inner thigh...clearly, I am a better person because...oops, I just farted.

I'm a terrible person.

And so on and so on.


My first class was at our local community college when I was 20 years old and I remember thinking a few things:

1. The twisty blonde next to me was gonna eat crow in a few weeks because my body was younger, bendier and I was going to show her she wasn't the only impressive Gumby in the room.

2. The white haired bearded man teaching the class must have been doing this since the 60s. 

Did he ever met George Harrison? 

3. I bet if tell him I've been a vegetarian since I was 14...he will be very impressed. 

4. What language is he using?

5. Everyone else knows what 'Vira-ba-whatsana' means so they must be smarter and more enlightened than me.

6. They probably don't get mad like I do.

7. Why can't I touch my toes?

8. I reeeeeally need to be touching my toes.

9. Damn it. Why can't I touch my toes?

10. I'm gonna practice the crap out of this and be so amazing that everyone will be so jealous of me and my ability to touch my toes.


Pretty much...me and my first experience was wanting to become a human pretzel.

I took the Sun Salutation handouts he gave me, showed them to my roommate and tried to convince her we would be doing this EVERY morning and we would become oh, so interesting.


Then for many years...I dated yoga.

On and off.

More like flirting...really.

A little stretch here and there, a few months every year dedicated to learning Primary Series from a DVD and dropping in at the class at my gym when I had time.

Then I got into Capoeria and Tai Chi and Pilates but like yoga...

I just wanted to look good while I did it.

Learning to play the berimbau or learnng the stories behind the movements of Tai Chi were not in my realm of interest.

I had other things to do...

And I did them...but then I hit 30.

I started to have a flurry of health issues and went back to yoga and found a studio near my house.

I even remember my first "real class" back.

I was late.

Not like a minute or 2 , probably closer to 10.

I walked in and plopped my mat down and when the teacher asked me calmly if I had done yoga before...

I said ' oh yeah, all the time.' 

She smiled.

She let me stay despite...and years down the road she actually hired me as a teacher.

The embarrassment and learning that came from my first year teaching are equally humbling but for now...let's focus on 'younger yoga me' and the new students I see all the time.


I meet  'younger yoga me' all the time.

Everyday.

Of course...

Now, they bring their cell phones and their outfits are smokin hot.

I also meet people who've never done a lick of yoga in their 60 years of life but their partner or friend or child dragged them along.

Yoga.

What's the big deal?

I love it because I will always have more to learn, about it and from it.

I watch people move in my classes and I explain to them that looking a certain way in a pose isn't the most important thing.

After all, the point of asana is to prevent future suffering so you can rest your body in meditation.

Some people get it, some roll their eyes and others beat them selves up or ask me to tell them what they're doing wrong.

Does it hurt?

What feels good about holding this posture?

If the answer is nothing and it hurts, then come out of it, already.


My own 'younger yoga me' still lingers within my mind.

She likes to come back to visit and she can be persistent just like current me.

She stops by and bangs loudly in my head whenever a student walks in with a perfectly toned body and an Olympic-Gymnist -Type practice.

I react.

I wonder if I'm lame because at 39 years of age I've decided that all I want is to be able to keep touching my toes until I'm 100.


Don't get get wrong...

I thouroughly enjoy the challenge of trying a handstand again and again but for me that is a physical challenge that just gives me a little adrenaline rush and reminds me to play...

I'm not a better yogini because I can do it and I'm not an inferior one either because I still wind up using the wall whenever I can.

I like my wall. 


'Older yoga me' has for the most part become okay with falling on my tuckus and trying again next week.

Of course that's me but what I see too often in classes is ego floating through the rooms like the never ending dust that is constantly stirred up with every breath.

The brighter the room, the more obvious the dust becomes in it.

It's all over the place and it seems to go unseen because the focus of my words get mistranslated in their minds and all they want is to nail 'the pose of the year' and wear neon colored Malabeads while doing it and then later listing every Yoga Festival they've attended.

My ego joins the party and I feel a little small because I think I'm somehow a disappointment.

I haven't studied with any rock star yogis like Shiva Rae?

I didn't travel to India?

I am not a strict vegan?

I don't play the Harmonium and I didn't participate in Shivaratri Puja?

No.No.No.


And then I breathe...


And recognize that I have managed to stay healthy and alive in this aging body.

I wake up each morning to sit and watch the little dramas from my mind percolate like my morning coffee (yes, I drink coffee) until I find some moments that just let me pause.

I practice.

I practice asana everyday...at least, a little.

Sometimes, it is a long Yin practice, sometimes it is 3 Sun Saluations and sometimes it's a sweaty 90 minute Vinyasa practice however movement isn't my priority anymore and I have to remind myself that I'm not better or lesser for it.

I remind myself when the yogis who DO want to perfect a pose walk in to my class to be humble and encouraging because I was once the same as them...

and what happened when I aligned my body just so, breathed in and out, held my dristhi?

I noticed a pause.

I noticed me.

I noticed my sadness, my joy, my anger...

I noticed compassion in my bones and muscles and got to watch my self moan with relief when I came out of Triangle Pose...and smile with delight when I first held headstand steadily.


Whatever we get from our practice has value but it's not always glorious, magical and sparkly.

I celebrate my fellow practitioners who beam with joy and speak to one another as if each comment is being written down as the Facebook Yoga Meme of the day.

I would love to be in a constant state of bliss and I've been told I could be, if I only worked harder.

I'm messy. 

I'm a moody, cranky, funny and joyful person and that is worthy: 

My strong jump backs, My pranayama practice...My geek outs regarding anatomy, 

My moments of ' oh, I just yelled at my dog for being a dog' right after I finished my yoga or meditation practice, 

My-I still struggle with my relationship with my mother,

My-Am or am not really attractive to my boyfriend,

My-I'm doing a Kitchari cleanse and 2 days later I'm gonna eat my body weight in Strawberry Pie moments are important and I shine the light on all of it with my students because even the old moldy stuff that becomes unearthed after I thought I just cleaned my shit up immaculately...

Well?

They have value.


So now...when 'younger yoga me' walks into my class...

Whether they are Santa-Monica-Power-Yogi-Proud or Iowa-is-this-a-cult? student...

I just hope they become a bit more aware of themselves during my class.

If they hold handstand with ease or never try it once...I hope that in the quiet of savasana they can hold themselves in their heart and have some compassion for themselves.

Maybe, that's not straight Sutra teachings but that's what 'YOGA' means to me.

Today.










 












Sunday, May 11, 2014

Earth to Mama! Hello? Where's my socks?

It's 8am and my son is still sleeping.
Happy Mother's Day to me!

I love this person and he knows it.
He's 5 and a half as of 6 days ago.
He was very upset that I had not planned a 1/2 Birthday Bash for him.
"Why didn't I send out invitations?"
"Am I even thinking about his 6th Birthday Party, yet?"
"Oh Mama...do you even have a jumping castle reserved and when are we going to Disneyland...I've never been in my whole life?!"

This guy...
My precious little boy who fluctuates between being my Cuddle-Muffin-Kiss-My-Boo-Boos for me and now the Shut-the-Door-I-Can-Do-It-All-By-Myself kid makes my heart flutter, sink, rage and soften to a place of comfortable vulnerability.

He is so strong.
So generous.
He wants what he wants but he will share it with everybody once he gets it.
This little boy is smart, curious, defiant and honest about it.
Like me, he has that very self inconvenient habit of admitting his follies.
"Mama...I broke this, I stole your lipstick, I cut up your shirt to make it more beautiful, I peed in the trash can to see what would happen".
He tells me all of it.
Or so I tell myself.

I love this age.
I remember my best friend telling me that each age was her favorite and I finally get it.
Newborn Atticus came in the midst of a crumbling marriage and I thnk he knew it.
Every night from 4 to whenever, his lungs wailed with cries and I remember holding him and thinking this speechless person is able to express my frustration in the most raw and honest way.
How will I ever show him love when our home is so dark and confining?
It was the complete opposite of how I wanted him to see the world.
During our divorce and transition, this boy kept me going.
He reminded me that I would be better...this was a stage and we would evolve and grow up together.
I'm finally growing up and he is a little boy.
Sometimes, he seems so much wiser than me and other times with fingers in nose, mouth and every other germ filled place I remember...nope he DOESN'T know everything.
I'm the Mama.
I make the breakfast, brush his hair, kiss his boo-boos, tell him when the scary parts of E.T. are over and I will be responsible for him for a long time and also have to find that balance between holding his hand tightly and then letting him run, fall and make a lot of mistakes.
A lot, I am sure.

So...Happy Mother's Day to me, to my own mother and grandmother and my community that tries to nurture and support us all on this brief little walk through life.