Friday, December 28, 2007

The Healing Power of Soul Train

The Soooooooooouuuuuuuul Train. Do you remember that wonderful baritone voice? Don Cornelius on a Saturday morning introducing the great likes of The "The Isley Brothers" , "The Emotions", Rufus featuring Chaka Khan"? Who was your favorite?

I am up in the middle of the night. As usual. Working on "getting a life".

But "Soul Train" is on and it is giving me some sort of familiar comfort.. Big 'ol afros, plaid Fred Astaires, leisure suits and platform shoes! I love it.

A Soul Train Line is sometimes all it takes to de-stress, relax, have a great laugh, and be in the moment. This or any other throw back can be great medicine. Not in a "perpetual state of reminiscing" way but in a "keep the good moments for when you need them" way.

The Isley Brothers are doing it for me right now. "Live! Live it Up!, Live! LIve it Up!"

Soul Train........!. Rewind is good for the soul!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Is It All Just Too Much?!

I cleared a pathway through my living room and dining room 5 times today. This was after I discarded of all the tissue paper and gift bags, torn wrapping paper and bows that had made their way under the couch.

My son lamented "Mom, there is not enough room in the trash cans. I gave him a lesson on how to be a human trash compacter in order to get more stuff into the big cans and what to pull out for the big blue recycling can. His cries continued, "Moommmmm! There's still no more room!"

"How could that be?!" I said to myself as I pushed a scooter out of the way, picked up play money and a cash register from the middle of the floor and dropped 1, 2, 3, FOUR Dora dolls into the toy chest. I squeezed my way past the HUGE Dora tent staked in the dining room, kicked past several empty boxes and random pieces of wrapping paper in the kitchen and out the back door.

He was right. No more room. No more room in 2 huge black cans + 1 big blue recycling can.

I think it's just too much.

Despite our vows to NOT make gifts the "reason for the season", somewhere we failed. Our house runneth over. In addition, we made the "hoarders" mistake of not getting rid of the old toys prior to bringing in the truckload of new ones.

Something must be done. In the immediate, since I am chicken, I will wait until the little ones are at daycare, and then I will snatch up all the old, un-played with toys and take them to a women's/children's shelter.

For the future, I will do my "self-discipline, don't get caught up in the cute toddler faces" push-ups to help me resist, (better yet help their father resist) buying everything in sight because he wants to see their dimples when they are grinning at him.

If it's more than can be put away. It's too much. If each gift opened leads to questions of "where's another one?" It's too much.
If you can't fit all of the trash in your trash cans. IT"S TOO MUCH!

Remember the reason for the season.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Ease on Down the Road...

I bought some RED SHOES!!

My quest to reinvent myself has been slow but sure, "joy and pain".

I was recently inspired by Sew Transformed and her "In Her Shoes" blog, and spurred on Liz, Joy and "Carrie Bradshaw" of course and began dreaming of RED shoes. I have never owned any.

I used to own heels. Lots of heels. I think that from 25-35 years of age, heels were 95% of my shoe wardrobe. All day, I pranced, strolled and sashayed, sometimes I even trotted (again like Carrie Bradshaw ) all over.

Over the past few years, a few more years in age, a couple more kids and, less time, the shoe wardrobe has taken a turn for the worst. There has been the early morning rush, that leaves little time for wardrobe changes, a baby on each hip, briefcase in one hand, lunch bag in another hand,and a kid in front and back, going downstairs. Not heel friendly ( at least not in a graceful way.)

It is amazing how some of us allow ourselves to be the first casualty in our busy lives. We often make the sacrifice of exercise and regular trips to the nail and hair salon. We also sometimes (a lot of the times) make the sacrifice of our sexiness, lookin' hot - ness.

Now don't get me wrong. I am not equating sexiness with high heels, but it's hard to argue that high heels can make your legs, stance, and look, totally sexy.

Then, last week, my school had our annual "Holiday Production". An homage to "The Wiz" (and to me, that must also mean"The Wizard of Oz".) I needed a new pair of shoes.

I wasn't in the store 5 minutes when I saw them. They called my name. My "Get A LIfe-Janie" angels were on my shoulders saying, "Yes!", "They're so cute.", "GET THEM!" They were Ruby Slippers.

It had to be a metaphor. Dorothy, a journey, meeting new friends, taking risks, being courageous, thinking and feeling?! These were the shoes for me!

I looked good when I got dressed. My feet were hot. As a matter of fact, I looked hot! The heels were high, but I knew I could "fake it till I made it". Off, I went.

By the time I got to the venue, they were feeling a little tight, but, it had been a long time. "Not to worry", I told my self. I'll be sitting most of the night anyway.

The musical started and I was sitting, but there was a strange numbness in my right foot. BUT I WAS SITTING DOWN?!

I stood up to walk some students to the bathroom and thought 'Hmmmm, this is not comfortable. Let me ask a parent to take them. These things are pinching me"

By the time my students had to go to the wings for their number an hour later, I was hobbling, (but trying not to let them see me hobble) Just take slow steps...."oh my god, I am supposed to be looking hot!"

Thank goodness the 8th grade number was the LAST number. The number entitled "Home". By this time, my sexy Ruby Slippers felt like they were on fire and my toes must have been bleeding!

As little Dorothy's voice rang out, hitting those last notes...."like hooooooooommmmmmmeeee!, I was painfully clicking the heels of my ruby slippers together. "There's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home!".

The curtain closed. I snatched...well, peeled those beautiful, sexy heels off of my feet and hobbled to my car. I drove home in comfort, shoeless.

Although by the time I walked in my door, my Ruby Slippers were slung somewhere in the back of the car, I had felt good in the process. I had found my heart, my brains and my courage (just think, over some red shoes?!) and thank goodness, I found home, cause those shoes had to come off!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hold Up! Wait a Minute! Part III - Your Urgency is NOT my Emergency!

One of my faves, 'Los Angelista" got me thinking about other peoples urgencies. Sometimes people get us caught up in their "urgencies"! We might be moving through our days, balanced, no chaos, orderly, checking things of our checklist in a calm and productive way.

(You know I have been challenged to get things in order, get organized, and find balance.)

So we are rollin'. The clothes are washed, the number 2 on your checklist is complete, you are steadily checking your list of appointments and phone calls, you know what the priorities are. You feel calm and in control. YES!! I am getting it together! The business is in order, then....someone hits you up with the "urgent" email. Something that they need done "yesterday" is left in a panic on your voice/email!

Well, the thought that stayed with me was from Los Angelista, stating that she was practicing "not worrying about returning "non-urgent " phone calls right away." It gave her a sense of calm and peace

I realized that a lot of what stresses my day is O.P.P That's right! Other peoples problems! But not simply other peoples problems. Other peoples urgent issues that turn into your, "STOP! Let me save YOU and the world problems.

Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to be un-empathetic here. I don't want to see anyone hurting, in need or trouble. For my friends, loved ones, colleagues and sometimes complete strangers I am willing to give, help, bail out (of trouble) and console.

However, times, when someone is standing in front of you, demanding "Quick! I need you to sign off on these documents so that I can get them out by the time Fed-Ex comes!" or "Oh my gosh! The bank is closing in 15 minutes and my brother has my car and he won't answer his cell phone and I HAVE to get there before it closes or else 5 checks are going to bounce?!" or "Quick, what's that telephone number you gave me 2 weeks ago? I lost it and....these are peace and calm zappers!

Some well meaning person, is just trying to live their life and get things done, but they are asking you to STOP, immediately whatever you are doing and save their world. And you know what? Until recently, I tried to do just that. Stop and help them save their world. The problem is, I realized that my world starts to unravel just a little bit at that moment.

I also realized in a moment...a second, that I was getting caught up in the drama of someone else's urgency. In that moment, my schedule, plan, day was going to be turned upside down, by someone that I love dearly, but who was having a raggedy urgency.

Your urgency is NOT my emergency! I appreciate your circumstance. I respect where you are coming from. However, I am not always able to stop what I am doing and help you repair the problems of your day. I am not being uncaring or mean. I am simply asking you to respect that I too have deadlines and projects, children to pick up and bank deposits to make. I must find a way to manage my life that does not negatively impact others as much as possible.

So now, I say, " I would love to help you out as soon as I finish this project I'm working on" or "I will be available in an hour if you still need assistance.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hold Up! Wait a Minute! Part II

My explorations and meditations towards fully embracing life bring me to new realizations everyday! I have listened to the universe (and my kids) and have begun to leave the phone on silent, in the car as much as I can. When I get home, I put my computer in the office and close the door for at least 2 hours. So the technology is out of sight and mind.

I soon however, discovered another brain!

How much time do we spend in the past and/or in the future instead of being "present"?

I have been a subscriber to Real Simple magazine for a couple of years now. Real Simple along with O magazine and Oprah's charge to "Live Your Best Life" are "presents" in my mailbox each month. ( and clutter in my bathroom, living room and nightstand, but that's another post).

Each, offers countless tips, tricks and "tried and true" ways to live a more fulfilling life. So I end up constantly thinking of ways to make things "better". Then, yesterday evening as I was trying to multi-task my evening away, attempting to "make things better for the next hour, day, week or infinity, I realized that one of my twins was earnestly trying to tell me something. Her mouth was poised in the most adorable contortion as she tried to make the words come out in some intelligible fashion. Her brow was furrowed and her hands were alive in the air, hopeful that the gestures would aid in my comprehension.

I realized in that moment, as I was mentally attempting to rectify all the past and future problems of my household and the world, that trying to figure out "What the hell she was trying to tell me was so much more important!" So I STOPPED. I stopped all thoughts, ideas, questions, worries from entering my brain at that moment simply by paying attention to only her.

It was a hilarious, full, enjoyable moment ( for me, because she clearly lost patience with my ignorant, non-toddler speaking self very quickly! Her hands were on her hips in exasperation. lol)

In that moment I realized how many moments might be passing me by. Moments of music, flowers, conversations with people I adore, smells, the breeze on my face, the feel of soft cotton or my tivoed Young and the Restless. These moments became shallow and fleeting, because I had not given them my full PRESENCE. Instead I had given them my partial presence, while I was busy pondering and/or planning something that had already happened or that was going to happen.

So I spent today, being present. Listening to the music that was on the radio. Listening to every note of the songs on my ipod. Feeling the chill in the air this morning as I bundled my brood into the car. Feeling my body sucked to the back of the seat of the plane as it took off today for business (yeah I had the shot of tequila, but I still focused on the moment! :) ). I absorbed every PRESENT moment. Peoples voices as I had conversations and the spare moments of silence. Breathing in and out. Each moment, I was present.

It feels so good! It is a free non-medicated, non-intoxicated relaxation technique. If you are being present, you can't be anything else. No matter what is going on, good, bad, in the middle, you relax. Not a little, but a lot, because there is only one thing in front of you.

So the universe sent me my toddler ,saying with a very serious face "PUPPIES GOOK! DORA FAVRIK PUPPIES! I FAVRIK PUPPIES. I PICK FAVRICK PUPPIES WIS DORA!!" Which simply means "Puppies are good. Dora has a favorite puppy. I have a favorite puppy. It is the same favorite puppy as Dora." Being present gave me "this present"!

Be present!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tag-I'm It!

Although like Mes Deux Cents (who tagged me) suggested, this feels like the blogger version of a chain letter, I like finding out quirky, random things about you all. So I am going to list 7 random and/or weird facts about myself. Then I will tag 7 other bloggers by telling them so in the comments of their blog. (Liz said I must explain and of course she is right!)

1. I have read and/or seen all of August Wilson's plays. - The first play I saw was Joe Turner's Come and Gone. When I learned he was going to chronicle black life(in particular for black males) for every decade of the 20th century, I became intrigued. I love purpose, patterns and plans!

2. I have to wash my feet before I get in the bed. - At the end of a long, hard day, I look forward to my wonderful, comfy bed and fresh sheets (if they aren't fresh, I change them immediately). I go barefoot all the time, howevergrubby feet and fresh sheets don't mix.

3. I say my prayers in the shower. It began as the only place that I was not interrupted by one of my adorable children. Now it is my little sanctuary , running water, the smell of is the perfect place.

4. When I am tired I chew the inside of my lip. - What can I say, my dad did it, and so did my big sister.

5. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) - Fashion Merchandising was my major. I thought that I wanted to be a Fashion Journalist. Once I started working in the industry I didn't like it at all. It seemed very singularly focused and people were definitely NOT the focus.

6. I MUST have a shot of Tequila before I get on a plane - post 911 I have been a petrified flier. I mean, cancelled vacations petrified. In the last two years, I have had to travel for work approximately twice a month. The first time, I got to the airport and almost turned around. Instead, I went to the bar, asked for a shot and it calmed me down enough to not be the worst nightmare of the entire plane.

7. I watch The Wizard of Oz and The Wiz once a year. - To see the Wicked Witch melt and Evaline get flushed down the huge toilet of course!

I too am bending the rules here, because I am only tagging 3 bloggers. Although I read several blogs, I think blogging etiquette says that I should only tag those people who I comment/respond to on a regular basis. Maybe others like Mes Deux will tag more than 7 to make up for my lack.

Mama Blah Blah
Sew Transformed
The Looney Bin: Outrageous but True

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Being Thankful!

I am sure that many of us will be posting our thanks on this day. This is a good thing. When we remember all that we have to be thankful for, it somehow makes most of our troubles seem much to miniscule to even acknowledge. These are in no particular order of importance. Just the way they come to me at 5 a.m.

1. My Beautiful,Healthy Children - They are amazing, full of life, honest, unconditional, resilient and brilliant. They put a smile on my face even when I think I can't find or manufacture one.

2. Wise and wonderful friends - It is wonderful to have people who love you, care about you and take care of you because they WANT to.

3. Wonderful Works of Art - Movies/plays, books/blogs, music, photography/painting, dancing etc. I am thankful to be able to enjoy, participate in and appreciate other peoples expressions of life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

4. Learning Opporutunities - Every circumstance, every situation, word, predicament is an opportunity to learn. I have been having many of these this year. Some of them challenging, heart wrenching moments that seem to SUCK initially. However, not one has been lost on me. I am soaking them up, letting them sink in and getting the lessons. (sometimes not fast enough for my friends, but getting them none the less.)

5. Family - My sister and mother are amazing, creative, warm and wonderful! My big sister and daddy are ever watching and with me.

6. Possibilities - Each day is full of them. Create and have what you desire. It is not a dream, something only for the "rich and famous" . The possibilities are endless for each of us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The New Dirty Dancing?!

Friday night was my son's 13th birthday party. I have finally recovered physically (kinda) from the preparation, long day, loud blaring music and clean-up. I have not mentally or emotionally recovered however from the degree of "chaperoning" necessary.

I have been teaching middle school for 14 years. I have had middle schoolers of my own now for 3 years. In May, my graduating 8th grade class had a Spring Farewell Dance. They got all dressed up and partied. The dance until you sweat kinda partying that I can relate to. There were a few hoochified moments where we had to separate a couple of curious pubescents that were attempting to get "their grind on" in the midst of the crowd. Again, I could relate. (I am really going to date myself here) I have very vivid memories of me, a pair of Jordache Jeans (that I poured my willowy, 15 year old body into), Daryl Taylor (a SO FINE, tall, dark and handsome guard on our schools basketball team) and a Peaches and Herb slow jam! Yes, the grind was on!

I can understand, acknowledge and accept the awkward developmental stage of the 12-16 year old crowd. Their blossoming sexuality, wonderings, questions, crushes, moodiness, and impatience with anyone over 18, are natural in this stage of development. As uncomfortable as it makes the adults, it is natural! We have all been there. If we are honest, thinking, responsible adults that have adolescents in our lives, we handle this stage with patience, and proactivity. We listen carefully, very carefully to their questions and conversations, so that the communication, messages and lessons are clear. We want them to be confident and comfortable( as comfortable as they can be) about who they are and what they are experiencing. We want them to have self-respect and to respect others. We want them to be knowledgable about what it means to make responsible choices for themselves in the 21st century. This process is waaaaay more complex than I am able to discuss in the few words of this blog.

What I didn't realize is that apparently it is too complex for parents to tell their 13-15 years olds that LAP DANCING is not an acceptable dance in middle school...or high school....or ANYWHERE unless it is the privacy of your home or your place of employment if you happen to be a "stripper"!

So you can imagine my SHOCK, to put it mildly, when several of the boys at the party proceeded to get chairs and move them to the center of the room. I was confused by this for a moment, until I watched, appalled, as several of the girls proceeded to "choose" their boys, turn around and "pop that booty" in their laps!

As Oprah's BFF, Gayle King would say, "Aw, HELL TO THE NAW!!!"

My good friend/co-chaperone, went to the DJ, got a mike and made the announcement " ANYONE who is participating in lap dancing will have their parents, grandparents, aunites, uncles, WHOMEVER is your caregiver, called to come and pick you up!" The most disappointing part of this was that after the announcement, half of the kids sat down. They didn't know what to do when we took "stripper dancing" off the table?!

Now as much as I take up for Beyonce, my mind immediately flashed to the Prime Time BET awards of a year or so ago, when Destiny's Child, IN PRIME TIME, pulled Magic Johnson, Terrence Howard and Nelly to the stage and proceeded to give them lap dances in front of God and the world. At the time, I thought it simply "entertaining" cause I love me some Beyonce and I love, love, love me some Terrence Howard. In retrospect, I think of my own children's television/computer/media exposure. All of the televisions in my house have a ratings lock on them. When they ask me to unlock them, I need to know what it is that they are trying to watch. Only after my approval do I unlock it. I keep a constant eye on the computer screens as well. But they were sitting watching the BET awards with me that night. And I honestly don't remember the conversation during the "lap dance" segment.

But you better believe early Saturday morning, we had a serious conversation about many things, self-respect, respect of others, and appropriate forms of dancing. They are CLEAR that lap dancing is NOT on that list.

Overall, I feel sad that this generation of children and teenagers have had their innocence robbed from them. The gratuitous sex, violence, and "reality" of the television and internet have left little to the imagination, little for them to be shocked by. But much to learn and/or unlearn about being self-respecting, thinking, responsible, productive young adults.

Although my father would have snatched me off of the dance floor had he been witness to my 3 minute "relatively" innocent slow grind with Daryl Taylor, he would have been amused and relieved that most of my time at parties and dances was spent working up a sweat doing the Cabbage Patch, Smurf, Roger Rabbit or Running Man (I'm dating myself again). When we left "the spot" we were laughing, sweaty and ready for Fat Burger because we had "GOTTEN OUR GROOVE ON", NOT gotten our "GROOVE' on!?!

One good thing about my Friday night experience is that I TEACH most of the students who were at my son's party . My lesson and discussions for the next 2 days before Thanksgiving are clear. Something along the lines of "comparing and contrasting" Middle School Students with Strippers/Men who get lap dances!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hold Up! Wait a Minute!

One day after work, a colleague pointed out one of the mothers picking her child up. She said " that lady is always on her cell phone." I watched her going in and coming out, and sure enough she walked into the building on the phone, she came out of the building on the phone and drove off on the phone, cute little girl in tow. Then for the next week I watched for this mother and everyday... every single day, she was on the phone when she pulled up and on the phone when she pulled off.

Another guy I work with had his computer crash a couple of weeks ago. You can imagine his face while in the middle of teaching it made that awful little "I'm Out" sound, and went black. He paced, lamented, pulled his hair. I wished him well and left for my weekend. On Monday, he had a new computer, but informed me that he and his toddler son, had the best weekend. "We played, chilled...I actually watched football without multi-tasking."

Before either of these occurrences, I had been considering my own "Blackberry-itis". That is the disease where some version of handheld/internet "world connection/life controller" is constantly attached to one or more parts of the body. I thought one day "what did I do before I had immediate access to all the people and information in CREATION, both pertinent and useless, 24/7?!!'

The answer, I concluded was that I paid attention and had patience.

I have noticed the impatient tapping of my hands and feet, when my texts are not replied to immediatly. I HIT the space bar with intolerance if a website takes longer than 10 seconds to load.

Technology is the blessing and curse of my existence. While it allows me to communicate, to numerous folks, seemingly all at the same time and give and get information in seconds, it also, pulls me into a sort of FAKE PRESENT TENSE. I am communicating with someone in "real time/the moment" but I am NOT "in the moment". Invariably, someone that is standing right in front of me and SHOULD have my attention, doesn't because of this sleek, sexy little distraction. In addition, when anything takes more than 15 seconds to respond to me, I become indignant! WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG?!

Some companies around the globe have begun to issue Fridays "No email Fridays". Can you imagine?! Well , yes I can. The folks in charge are having the same revelations that all of us are. Technology, as wonderful as it is, is not a substitute for human contact. God forbid we actually have a CONVERSATION with someone! So on Fridays, people have to actually TALK to one another. If there is a problem, a question, they have to walk 20 feet to the next cubicle and ask. E-meets, iphone meets, sidekick meets are NO-NO's on Fridays. Hallelujah!

Now, don't get me wrong. I love-love-looooovee, my little Blackberry piece of heaven! But I realized that, my 2 year old twins and "teenage wonders", want my FULL attention, when they are counting from 1-25 (they're geniuses) or telling me about the latest Volleyball Tournament/Drama class.

One of the talk show hosts on Oprah and Friends (XM radio) ended her show one day by saying, "and when you pick your kids up from school today, hang up your cell phone." Wow! I began to replay all the days that I spend in the car with my beautiful, articulate, funny children when I haven't enjoyed any of that, because I was on the phone, talking about something that could have surely waited. So from now on, while my beautiful bundles are in the car, my phone is on some type of "emergency only" notification. I mean, really, what was I doing before "immediate access"? I was waiting until I got home. I can do the same now. Can you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness

It's been a minute since my last post. Wild-eyed and searching for balance I signed off and logged out. In the time since then I have, as J.California Cooper put it, been trying to "swim to the top of the rain". It is raining a very busy life, long days at work, 6 children that need love, support and attention, and a relationship that is hanging by a thread. So posting and even reading the bloggers I love-love-love had taken a backseat to my woes.

But then, on a day that was turning out sort of yucky, a simple but wonderful kindness, brought me back. Someone sent me a comment to my last post to ask me where I was and tell me that they missed me.

It got me thinking. We see our co-workers, neighbors, people out and about, people online and we don't know what they might be going through. A bad day, illness, feeling overwhelmed, under pressure, lonely...and a random act of kindness might be just what they need to lift their spirits, give them hope, put a smile on their face and in their hearts and keep them going. A word, a token, a helping hand don't cost much, but the rewards are priceless.

Kindness is a gift, pass it on.

Thank you Mes Deux Cents!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Finding Balance

Soooooo, after I was lulled into a false sense of perfection by summer vacation, school started. I started back to work and all hell broke loose. My wonderfully stacked linen closets are now either empty or ravaged. Dinner does not sing "G. Garvin" melodically, but screams, HAMBURGER HELPER, hoarsely. My 40 minute, morning power walks are now 15 minutes of running up and down the back stairs at work while my students are at recess.

In search of balance? With all we have on our plates, it is difficult to keep the scale from tipping more in one direction than the other. "The other" represents work, children, home, more work, kids,dishes & laundry, soccer practice, grocery shopping etc. The "light" side is YOU. It is unfortunate for those of us that must schedule "me time" either at 11:00 p.m. or 4:30 a.m.! These are the times when the house is quiet and we can do ANY activity quietly and uninterrupted. Is there something wrong with that.?

Sometimes we think we are alone in this quest to balance our lives. To get everything done with a smile and time left over for ourselves is something that occurs between midnight and 5:00 a.m., in our dreams. Coffee keeps us moving, late night re-runs put us to sleep. I don't think this is how it is supposed to be!

You know misery loves company. I just thought that some people had a schedule, had balance and stuck to it. You know, Saturday morning 8 a.m - grocery story, 10 a.m. - laundry, 12 p.m. - park with the kids, on time EVERY DAY. That was my best friend. I listened to her schedule and knew that all I needed was discipline. I could DO IT ALL TOO! Recently, she took on the responsibility of caring for infant twins! HELLOOOOOO, LATE TO WORK!! Now don't get me wrong, I am not gloating in her new found "unbalance". It is just nice to know that I am not lazy, unorganized or unmotivated. It is about the fact that many of us are juggling around the schedules of people we love and/or are responsible for.

I think that the key is kind of like what we are taught about saving money. Deduct your savings FIRST! This insures/assures that you are doing YOU! OUr families are our first priority, however we cannot take care of the kids, family and work if we are raggedy and tired.

Make YOUR you time FIRST! Put it on a calendar, set it up with the nanny, hubby or baby sitter. YOUR TIME! Even if it is just a 30 minute walk, or 20 minutes in a hot bath. Schedule your YOU time, in the midst of the chaos, the baskets of unfolded clothes, kids crying, soccer practice, and dinner cooking, make time for you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


People...the FDA, media, researchers, companies, etc spend a lot of time, money and energy, identifying, categorizing, labeling and warning people about toxins that are hazardous to our physical and mental health. Television shows and movies have been made about the disastrous effects on children, adults, and whole communities being exposed to various life threatening substances. We scurry around buying anti-bacterial soap, organic produce, testing for lead, making sure we dispose of old paint, cleaners (dirty diapers) and other potentially dangerous household items properly. Recently in my quest to get rid of disgusting feral cats from my yard, I investigated several methods until I found one that wouldn't harm the cats, just get them to go away.

So why is it when we are so cautious about ridding ourselves, homes and neighborhoods of toxic substances do we put up with toxic people?

You know who I'm talking about. These are the people that suck the very life out of us. Usually slowly and painfully. They are people that we encounter on a fairly regular basis. They are probably people that you call, relative, friend or lover and that is why they are still there, like a leech, getting their nourishment from your demise.

Well I say it's time for DETOX!

Who do you have in your life that is there purely for their own benefit? You will recognize this person by their constant complaining. Or maybe it's when they tell you they love you but want you to change everything thing you think, say and do. It's the friend who hates all your other friends, or the lover who questions every single thing you do. It could be the person who is always right while you are always wrong. It is the person that it takes an unnatural amount of energy to be around and when you/they leave, you are both relieved AND exhausted.

For this person that is squashing, stomping out, quelling your joy, enthusiasm, breath, life... get one of those BIG yellow containers that says "HAZARDOUS MATERIALS" and STUFF THEIR BUTT IN IT!

It is time for you to DETOX!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Phenomenal Women

On this eve before the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, I just stopped for a moment to think of all you phenomenal women out there. All of you rushing about to get that last load of laundry washed, dinner cooked, dishes washed, babies out of the tub and into bed, lunches packed, backpacks checked, clothes laid out, teeth brushed, faces washed, to do lists checked, groceries put up, emails returned, dogs walked, phones answered, kids tucked in, floor swept, pants pressed, and so it goes.

Whether you work in or out of the home, old job or new (like my friend Joy(ous) and her new principal job) you are probably doing most of this with little (very little in my case :) ) or no help. And yet, you are fabulous, in control,vulnerable, effective and efficient, witty, sexy, loving and wise. You can't be replaced. No, you can't do it all, but all that you do MAH-VA-LOUS-LY!! Here's to you!

Phenomenal Woman
by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman

Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Toddler Symphony Moments

I think it is 100 degrees inside at 9:30 p.m. The window is open, the fan is on and sweat is raining. Sexy huh?! What makes this moment even more pleasant is that I have decided that the twins need to start sleeping in their own beds. (more on the idiocy of family beds...or not, later).

So in addition to mopping myself off every 2 minutes, I am being seranaded by the terrific (not terrible - lmao) twos version of "Happy Feet". Twin #1 is singing very softly over and over and over to Sprout's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:" Twin #2 however is ticked off that I am making her stay in her bed so she is doing her version of crying/fussing which sounds so much like Mumble. You know, that half duck, half goose kind of grating, honking noise?! This really is a beautiful mommy moment.

At any rate, maybe I will pop 'Happy Feet' in the DVD, it might cool me off.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Random Traffic Musings

Why does the traffic flow in L.A. change sooooo much when school is out. All summer I have been driving grooves in numerous L.A. streets moving kids back and forth between summer school and various sporting practices, camps etc. The whole time (even though I HATE driving) not minding because by Los Angeles standards the traffic was light. The 7:40 trip to summer school a breeze, the 4 o'clock pick up from Volleyball practice almost painless.

Then Monday, August 27th came. The first day of school for many. My daughter's first day of high school. We left the house at our usual 7:45 time and BAM! Cars everywhere! Like I thought there had to be an accident BAM! If it was an accident, it was a 3 day one, because every morning it has been the same. So it got me wondering...where were all these drivers when all the kids were on summer vacation?

Is everybody an educator? I'm a teacher, so I know that many of us are off during summer, clearing the streets for those people with "Real World" jobs, but there could not possibly be enough teachers to cause a 10 minute difference in my ETA to any given destination?!

Do "Real World" people get to change their working hours when their kids are on summer vacation? Only to return to the regular hours exactly when school starts?

Does everybody but me go on an extended vacation during the summer and only come back for the start of school?

Does everybody but me work from home, allowing them to stay at home during summer while their kids are home?

Do that many people work from home? I have been thinking about checking with my principal to see if I can just set up my "isight" camera on my MAC and hold video classes from home. Oh YEAH! My 8th graders will loooooove that!

Anyway, tomorrow I plan to leave home at 7:30 sharp with my brood! (although it doesn't seem like it, 15 minutes is a lot with 2 year olds...14 year olds... hell, anybody but yourself!) I hope this 15 minute differential will make for smoother, less anxious travel. We shall see

Friday, August 24, 2007

How To Be More Productive or Don't Keep Doing the Same Thing and Expect Different Results

You have probably heard much of this before. However, sometimes it takes hearing it one more time to get you in gear. Or maybe it is just hearing it from an "ordinary girl"....maybe an ordinary working mom with 6 kids will help it sink in?? No matter what I do, or pray for, or write in my journal about being more organized, effective and efficient, a few things always work. I don't necessarily like these things at their commencement, but they work if what I am shooting for is a productive, peaceful day. At any rate, if you find your days are not going the way you want, or you are not getting enough done, you for sure can't keep doing the same thing over and over and expect different results.

1. Get up an hour earlier - Now many of you are saying "how can getting up at 5am instead of 6am be peaceful? I know, it is hard. This is especially true if you have beautiful babies breath blowing gently in your face. Or even better, beautiful, sexy man arms wrapped around your waist. It is soooo hard to get up. However, if you do this ONE simple thing, your day will be so much more productive. Just think, you can get something accomplished before the rest of the world wakes up! It is a GREAT jumpstart to a hectic day. I have found that working out and eating breakfast are wonderful things to do between 5 and 6 a.m. These are two things that I don't have to think about for the rest of the day. I know if I don't do these two things early, I am going to be thinking about "stopping at McDonalds or Starbucks" (time and money), and when am I going to attempt to get rid of this "mother's apron" ( c-section overflap)? Get up 1 hour earlier and you will feel SO MUCH BETTER!

2. Eat breakfast - See above, but if I eat breakfast I have one less thing to worry about until lunchtime. The difference between my thoughts and productivity if I eat breakfast and don't is amazing! If I don't eat breakfast, as soon as I get to work, my mind starts to wander. Ummm, Krispy Kreme sounds so good right now...I wonder who is going out to lunch...I think I want something from 'Little Belize' today" This is all going on while 25 adorable adolescents sit before me waiting to discuss the internal conflict of Walter Lee Younger in "A Raisin In the Sun". Eat Breakfast!

3. Straighten your desk before you leave for work - At the end of the day, I am soooo tempted to run out of the building and begin driving grooves in the street from Volleyball Practice to Football Practice to Cheerleading Practice, but I have to STOP. Write my agenda on the board for the next day...this helps if for some reason I am delayed the next morning. Do whatever task is necessary for you to be ready to "just start" the next morning. It really only takes about 5 minutes to make that list, sort papers for the "in and out" box, and your next day will start off right!

4. No T.V for 2 hours - When we get home ( all 7 of us) , there is NO T.V.! We are by no means the television police. Hedonistically, there is a television in every room of our house, except the bathrooms. However, when we get home in the evening, I want to hear only the sounds of my family putting clothes in the laundry, starting homework or even going outside to play. No EXTRA noise. This seems to get everyone focused. Including me. I can start dinner peacefully, without arguments about who gets to watch what "tivoed" show first?! ( I have such inside kids!) Even the twins, go to their table and begin writing drawing or some other "quiet" activity until dinner time.

5. Plan Your Meals - Planning meals saves time and money. If I know what I am going to cook ahead of time each day, I only shop for what's necessary AND I know what to take out Tuesday for Wednesdays dinner. The same is true for breakfast and lunch. It's all there if I plan ahead of time. It's a crap shoot if I don't . (a crap shoot and I feel like crap when I don't have Spaghetti for the Spaghetti!

6. Kids eat only in the Kitchen - this might be a no-brainer, but if you have teens and a kitchen/family great room thing going on, then everybody sort of migrates towards the t.v. with their snacks and such. This seemingly harmless act just creates more for me to do, scraping stuff off the floor, making kids come in and remove rice krispy treat wrappers from the under the couch. So they MUST eat EVERYTHING in the KITCHEN only.

7. Grocery Shop Online - Some of you, might like the leisurely quiet time that you get perusing the aisles for groceries. For me it is one more thing to add to an already full day. In addition, I can shop on at 2 in the morning if necessary and they groceries arrive the next day while I am getting something else done, AT HOME.

8. Same bedtime every night for the kids - Nothing throws my day off like letting the kids go to bed when they get ready.(this is especially a challenge with 4 grumbling teens) Now of course, summertime is a bit more flexible, but during the school year, a nightly routine and everybody under the covers no later than 9 p.m. is a must!

9. Lay out clothes and prepare lunches at night - this is one I really have to MAKE myself do, but when I don't, I regret it as soon as I open my eyes. It takes 15 minutes at night and saves me more in the morning.

10. 15 Minute Room Sweep - Before I go to my room I sweep the house quickly to straighten, pick up any stray toys, clothes that might have been left around that the kids missed. It is so nice to get up inthe morning to a straight house.

11. Do Me - I really try to turn off the T.V. (you're smart if you don't even have one in your bedroom) and listen to something soothing or read to relax before I go to sleep. Definitely NO NEWS before I close my eyes. Bad dreams make for a restless night. Or maybe just writing your journal can be peaceful. Whatever they entry is, try to end with 3 things you are thankful for. Many times one of mine "thankfuls" is I am thankful for 15 minutes of quiet before I go to sleep.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Good Kind of Grungy

I am giggling right now. My daughter is a full fledged high school girl. ( I still can't believe it?!) We were taking our regular evening walk with the twins. I didn't have to drag anybody out this evening, it was sooooo hot inside. All the girls went on our leisurely stroll around the neighborhood.

We were doing something usually silly, like trying to get the twins to skip or "Walk, Walk, POSE! (our version of America's Next Top Model, when my 14 year old, says "MOM! Stop, Stop!. I looked around, but ignored her. (She has some type of moody outburst every 30 minutes). She fell behind... way behind our "sidewalk, catwalk" and started this sort-of "sauntering, sashay" Half-way trying to look cute, the other half trying to not die of embarassment from our "runway reject" game.

I swung around to my right, and what before my wondering eye should appear, but the cutest bunch of boys you ever did see. I couldn't help but smile. There were about 8 of them on bikes and skateboards. Varying, beautiful shades of the chocolate rainbow. The same variety in height and hair, but cute, every single one of them. And yes, they were a little bit grungy.

I mentioned this to my daughter, who informed me with a smile "that's the good kind of grungy mom!"

Which she followed with, "Do I still have my bike?"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Inside Kids vs. Outside Kids

The hot days of summer have brought about a horrifying realization. My kids are "screen potato inside kids". All activities revolve around a screen,T.V. screen, computer screen, tiny phone screen.

Being a teacher, means that I am home with my beautiful, wonderful, children most of the summer. AAAAAHHHHH! Now, I must preface this with the fact that I have two shifts of children. I have four adolescents/teenagers , my 12 and 15 year old plus my "bonus" children, aged 11 and 15. All together, two boys and two girls right smack in the middle of "moody, obnoxious, leave me alone, rolling eyes, sucking teeth, why not, can I have, this is so boring" pleasure years.

But wait, the second shift. I have 2 year old fraternal twins. Girls.

So it is 5 pm and inside it is an oven. "Take the twins outside, I will be out in a minute" , I say as I try to finish "SOMETHING"! You know, laundry, dinner, bills, a book, I am just trying to have a few moments during that "golden time of day" also known as the cranky, screaming, restless can't wait until 9:00 time of day.

I hear four groans.

Okay, "let's walk to the store for ice cream!" I say.

That is sure to get a more positive response. It does. "I'll go" , "Me, too" times 2.

The twins are game. "yets go mommy!" They cant' wait to get outside for ANYTHING.

As we are walking, I can't help but notice the many children on bikes, rollerblades or walking and socializing in our neighborhood. "What's up with that?", I think.

My screen potato daughter informs me that outside kids are grungy. "Excuse me?!" my socially correct, mom-self retorts.

"I'm sorry mom. Outside kids are grungy looking."

Of course, I am becoming more indignant by the second.

" We've just got more to do inside than sweat out our hair, my daughter says," You know, text, IM, watch 'High School Musical 2".

As I watch the "outside children" skate or ride down the street hair flying, pants torn, skates too big, I cant help but think that my kids are missing out on an important part of their childhood.

Now, mind you, when I was growing up, I was an inside kid without a choice. My mama MADE US go outside.

"Get on outside NOW!" , my mama would say, "And don't be coming in here bringing flies" That meant STAY OUTSIDE! No in and out.

Of course we didn't have cell phones, computers and WII. We also didn't have television with five thousand, two hundred and forty five stations.

As a parent, I envy the "outside kids" . They seem to be the ones really living. They are riding bikes, playing basketball and jumping double-dutch. I have to beg my children to go outside, even if their 2 year old sisters, love outside.

What did I do wrong. I was determined to raise, well balanced, adventurous, happy children. Not, " I'm watching a re-rerun of Zach and Cody" kids.

I am not trying to put a value on this. Parenting is hard work. Parenting requires consistency, intensity and committment, that sometimes is just plain exhausting. This doesn't mean that you are a bad parent, or that a value can be placed on what each person does as an individual, inside or outside.

However. as the twins long to "go on the gwass", I recognize my responsibility to take them there. I want them to have the desire, ability and confidence to go skating or riding about the neighborhood during the hot days of summer or whenever they want. I have a new chance with the twins, to break the habit of my other beautiful, intelligent children of thinkging that the most valuable expriences occur inside. Clearly, messed up hair and torn pants are a part of chiildhood that once past are hard to regain.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I am NOT My Hair, but My Hair is Me!

Oooooh Freedom! I don't mean to hyperbolize something as potentially trivial as a haircut, but I am freed! I got a haircut. I mean maaajoor haircut. My hair went from the middle of my back, to Halle Berry, circa 2002. My hair is finally ME!

I didn't realize how much energy, expectation and OPP (other people's perceptions) are tied up in hair. Well, if I am honest, I do know. Hair is a big deal, especially for black folks. You know, " a woman's hair is her "crown and glory!". Unfortunately, I assumed that the 'crown and glory' part only applied to long hair. ( We know for black folks that might be true), but now I know better. My short cut is glorious!

A hair rut is what I was in. My hair was short in my 20's. I was chic, sophisticated and fabulous! My hair was short in my thirities. I was divorced, independent and happy. The past ten years, I have been looking at myself in the mirror wondering who I was looking at.

Yes, my hair was long. Yes, certain "hair struck" people fawned over it and told me how "pretty" it was. Yes, I began to live in my hair for everyone else.

I felt old, and stalled The long greys were coming in and making their appearance in some sort of explosion all over my head.

I was WAY too reliant on the "ponytail". Ladies, this is not a cute option for everyday of your life. It was not my signature. It was not a style. It was "something to do".

I finally made the realization last week that I was not living MY hair dream, but other peoples. Not cool.

So I called a salon, and asked who could do "cute short hair" immediately.
My daughter cried... HER hair issues.

I didn't let that stop me.

I got it chopped. Cut. Freed.

Sampson, in the bible, lost his strength when his hair was cut. I gained mine.

When my hair fell away, so did anger, negativity, doubt, insecurity and malaise.

Now, in the words of Patti Labelle, "I got a new attitude!" I'm feelin good from my HEAD to my shoes.

So, think about your hair. Who are you doing it for? You, or somebody else? Does your hair empower you, EXPRESS you, or weigh you down?!

If you don't feel light and empowered, then take drastic measures! Step out in something fresh! Something new.

I am NOT my hair, but now, my hair is me! Confident, sexy, intelligent and free!

Free your hair and the rest will follow!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Peace. Be Still

Find a peaceful place. This is a hard task in my busy, chaotic household, but I am not just talking about a peaceful physical place. As a matter of fact, I am mostly talking about a peaceful mental, spiritual and emotional place. Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in the rut of replaying, retelling, reliving, reacting in negativity. Negative thoughts, negative talk, negative acts. Peace be still.

Begin to experience joy by thinking and living that which will bring you joy. Speak it, live it, be it. I am not saying that you ignore your problems, or pretend they don't exist. I am saying that when you find yourself inundated with negativity, stop. Find something beautiful to look at or listen to, play with your kids, take a walk in the park, do anything that allows the good to move in and the bad to move on out, even if just for a moment. If you do this enough, it might stick.

Many of us have been reading and discussing the bridge tragedy in Minnesota. It is cause for pause because you realize that everything you know can change in an instant. It sounds a bit cliche', but life is too short to do much else but experience that which brings us joy and peace.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Pulling the Covers Over Your Head

Sometimes you need to cover your head with the sheets. This act does not indicate a lack of resolve or fortitude on your part. It can serve to accomplish just that if you keep your wits about you. (If your wits are no where to be found, make sure your "therapist-friend" has a key to your house.)

If you are traveling through relationship hell(or any other mid-life hell) as I am, and still managing to keep the house together, shuttle the children back and forth, and get to work on time with a smile, you deserve the indulgence of staying in bed for a day. Where did we get the CRAZY idea that WE have to hold everything together while everything feels like it is coming apart anyway?!

Sometimes we are so successful at being Superwoman, that we forget that we are NOT Superwoman. We distract ourselves with everything from making lunches and cleaning the bathroom, to surfing the internet and returning phone calls. We are victorious at ignoring our feelings, and this really is not a good thing. Ignoring our feelings about what really sucks in our lives does not get us any closer to feeling better or resolving the issues.

So send the kids to school, day camp, or call a babysitter. Get a couple of good sappy movies, or a cd of sappy songs, close the door, crawl in the bed and let yourself feel whatever you are feeling. Sad, depressed, confused or maybe just tired, just feel it. Sleep, cry or scream into the pillow. You deserve it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Clear the Clutter

You know that every time you walk past that pile of old, yellow newspapers in the corner, by the kitchen door, you sigh. You suck your teeth when you dig through that drawer to try and find the spare gate key. You have probably stopped opening the hall closet door at all, for fear that you will be caught in an avalanche.
We have gotten so used to, and maybe even comfortable with the presence of clutter, that we ignore the nuisance and inconvenience of it. The problem is that we don't really ignore it. Clutter is an energy zapper, mood killer and a prison warden. If you are feeling like me right about now, then something has got to change.
I have had a revelation in the last few months. The clutter in my home is a manifestation of my personal emotional and mental, clutter. Many 40ish woman (Halle Berry isn't reading this!) have added some clutter to their beautiful bodies. They also might be experiencing some challenges in concentration and focus. In addition, you might be feeling something akin to anxiety or depression. And as if ALL of this isn't enough, your relationship could use a really good colonic!
Just look around you and pick something that needs to go. Pick just ONE thing. I am going to start with my purse. It is relatively non-threatening and I have regular, consistent interaction with it. All those old receipts (what do I still have them for, I have worn the shoes 25 times?!) I can't dig any more color out of that old lipstick tube with my fingernail…get RID of it! The pacifier has got to GO. The twins are two years old!
I am just starting there. I will clear the clutter one project at a time, purse, desk, linen closet, garage, colon….man??? If necessary, he will have to go too!
You MUST start somewhere if you are serious about change. Inside-Out, Outside- In. It doesn't matter. Pick a project. Finish it. You are on your way to transforming your life!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Healing Power of G. Garvin

Comfort food. We all know the healing power of comfort food. Whatever your favorite is…warm, gooey macaroni and cheese, a hot baked potato slathered in butter and sour cream, hot biscuits and fried chicken, a pint of Ben & Jerry's…these foods, soothe the soul and the stomach (in that order). We curl up in a corner of our "comfy couch" or stack the pillows just right in the bed, or go to wherever the quiet spot is, with our bowl, plate and utensils…. and indulge. We let it all melt together, and away. The stress, heartbreak, fatigue…whatever circumstances, feelings or person led you to your craving, your pain is temporarily, melted away in those few moments you spend in the comfort of food.
My comfort food has a man attached. That's right, when I need comfort and a good meal, I Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin. This man can cook for me any day. His husky, baritone voice eases stress immediately, taking me step by step… adding onions, mushrooms, oil…it really doesn't matter what he is adding as long as he doesn't stop talking, "This is ya boy G. Garvin and this is HOW WE DO! That is sexy healing for ya. Baseball cap or bald head, ALWAYS with that crisp, un-tucked shirt. Umm-mm-mmm.
I have actually tried my hand at G. Garvin's luscious creations, but I must admit that I often just watch my TiVO'd Turn Up the Heat…late at night. Just me and G. No food is necessary. Just me and a sexy man, talking and cooking . Let the healing begin!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

What Are Friends For?

In the midst of a life crisis or change, therapy is probably in order. During these times, we definitely lose perspective. What is real, imaginary and/or just plain drama, might elude us as we exist behind a mask of tears. Someone to sit and talk to is essential. Someone whose objectivity helps us to remember that we are not crazy, ugly, or unlovable is comforting.
Although a therapist would be great , (because you get to rant and complain to a complete stranger whom if they judge you…you could care less) a friend will do, at the cost of maybe lunch or a pitcher of margaritas.
I don't mean just ANY friend. If you are like me, you don't have many friends and so this is not an issue. The one or two that you have are real keepers. However, if you have several people that you find yourself sharing intimate details with, you must use some discretion.
• Your "therapist friend" must not be miserable in his/her own love life.
o You don't need "gripe" or "male-bashing" sessions.
o Some friends think that "all men are dogs" and then your misery has just found company. (Contrary to what you may be feeling at the moment this IS NOT a good thing.)
• She/he must be a good listener, because you are most likely to go on and on and on about your angst.
• She/he must be able to withstand your tantrums. You know the ones where you take out your angst on them, only to apologize profusely within 10 minutes.
• She/he must be extroverted and tenacious enough to get you out of the house when you have pulled the covers over your head one too many times.
• When you DO get out, she/he must be persistent enough, not to let you buy yet ANOTHER BLACK, ANYTHING! She/he encourages you to try something NEW, and at the same time NOT pull a Britney Spears!
• She/he must have an incredible spirit of discernment. They need to know when to tell you what you WANT to hear and when to say "Awww, Hell - to -the - Nah!"
• Most importantly, she/he must be available to offer comfort in the middle of the night when you call sobbing because your heart is broken.
Yes, therapy is great. It might save some wear and tear on a friendship. However, a "therapist friend" knows you, knows your situation and will be there long after the money runs out. Friends are irreplaceable during life's changes, because they help one another grow and find all the joys of life that are hiding behind funky situations.

Monday, July 9, 2007


Where you at?! This is not a rhetorical question. Nor, is it a reminisce of the goofy Boost Mobile commercials featuring mischievous octogenarians groovin' to a Fabolous tune (Whoo hooo!) . I genuinely want to know "where YOU at?"
I BET you know where all the kids are, because you have been dropping them off and picking them up, and dropping them off and picking them up and … You pro-ba-bly know where your mate is, or at least, where the hell he is supposed to be. And if I take a wild guess, I know where YOU are. You are behind the steering wheel, in front of the stove, at the grocery store, rushing out of the house to work, underneath a pile of laundry….I could go on , but it might get overwhelming…or depressing…or the obvious combination of the two.
Now don't get me wrong. I am not bemoaning the duties of "woman". It is gratifying to care for our families. What I AM bemoaning is the cessation of caring for ourselves. The kids have dance, sports, friends, movie-night. Your man is most definitely doing HIS thing, whatever that may be…golf, basketball, poker, working on the car. What, besides caring for everyone else do YOU love or want to do? When was the last time you did it? Where YOU at?!
What one thing would you do right now if you had the time? What is it? What do you want to try? Read a book, work in the garden, take a dance class, write poetry? Why aren't you doing it? Self- neglect is the number cause of…..unhappiness, relationship drama, depression…you name it. Of course I have no real statistics to back this up, except my own devastating spiral into all of the above.
When I looked up and my man had one foot out the door, I looked in the mirror and asked myself, "where you at?" I couldn't find even a glimpse of the person he had fallen in love with. Even if I just forget about him for a minute( make it more, my best friend would say) and try to find the me that I used to be in love with, it is a difficult task.
So ladies, get out a pen and paper, right now! Make a list of five things that YOU want, have wanted, been wanting to do. Start slow, but do at least ONE this week. Tell me "where you AT?!"

Friday, July 6, 2007

7 in the Bed

Even in the midst of drama and emotion, the family comes first. So here we are, family trip, mostly about the kids, but it makes for a nice, neutral spot to remember why you mated with this person in the first place. With toddler twins the bed gets crowded anyway, but going through it, makes for a much more crowded situation.

First, there is the elephant called "rough times" which takes up about 1/4 of the bed. Nasty visitor is this tension, which we almost always feel compelled to try and remove by force.
Second, is Male Trepidation (MT). This really amounts to his fear of his HUGE balls being removed in the middle of the night, by the bitter woman lying two children away from him. (Somehow MT always shows itself as Assanine Arrogance.) MT typically tries to hog half of the bed.
Third, The Brick, which is the vulnerable females alter ego. She is vying for 1/2 the bed, determined not to let MT win over. She stands ready to hit Vulnerable Female right over the head the minute she starts to swoon in nostalgic weakness. "BAM! Get a Clue, this is the same fool that didn't come home the other night.

The good thing is that even with all those folks in the bed, the neutral locale made for civil conversation. Natural, non-reactionary talk about kids, work, relationship. You know he really is so funny....and charming. He really is just going through a phase he doesn't mean to......BAM! BAM! BAM!

Guess who just got control of the covers?!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Who Moved My Man?!

Most of us subconsciously anticipate some degree of change over a period of time without drama. We put on a few pounds, our favorite show ends it's run, the kids need new shoes ,we notice a grey hair. We are somehow prepared for these gradual, ever present shifts in our realities. As a matter of fact, things might get monotonous if these changes did not occur.
So why then, if we know that change is inevitable do we lose it the moment that we recognize…more truthfully, acknowledge, changes in our man and relationships?
It isn't that we don't notice the changes. Let's be honest here. We are pretty good at noticing the most miniscule changes in everything. Especially if you are a control freak like me.
Unfortunately it seems that there are some things that we just assume….desire….hope will be consistent, steady and dependable. Our relationship with our man is one of those things.
We begin in such bliss, and frankly we want it to stay that way. Admit it, even in your annoyed rantings at picking up his underwear off the floor, or helping him to find his keys for the thousandth time, you are all still in the "fairytale" mindset with your relationship…and in bliss.
Then…when you least expect it, a brick falls on your head. Once the room stops spinning and you get your focus, you barely recognize the man that is standing before you. Yes, it looks like the man you love, sounds like the man you love, but something about THIS man in front of you just ain't quite right.
The man YOU love HATES shopping, but this one keeps coming home with new polo shirts and cologne. The man you love comes in to kiss you while you are frying chicken and asks what time dinner will be ready, this new creature announces "Oh, I decided to go vegetarian"?! The man you love, coaches the kids basketball team, this new man says, " I don't think I want to be in a relationship anymore" WTF!!
So you pick your mouth up off of the floor and quietly…. well, not so quietly, go into warp speed trying to get things back the way they are supposed to be before your man loses any more of his damn mind! You clean a little better, take a cooking class and learn to make a mean Tofu Teriyaki, and of course you stop by Victoria's Secret and turn up the heat in the sheets!
All this running and cooking and _________ of course just moved that man right back where he was when you last saw him, right? WRONG!
Spencer Johnson, helped me figure it out in his very honest, very succinct book, Who Moved My Cheese . I got too comfortable. I committed to the situation before me because in that moment it was solid, secure and loving. I forgot or maybe, ignored the reality of change. Maybe I was just too inundated with life…. kids, work, dinner, sleep ( when I am lucky). How could this be?? I saw the grey hair and covered it, I bought the new shoes for our kids, I stopped the Tivo after the Sopranos finale, these things are evidence that I understand change, right?
So why do we conveniently not notice when our man has fallen asleep on the couch for 3 nights in a row, or that while he used to take us to all of his Season ticket holder Laker games, he now just goes alone, cause the "sitter thing is such a hassle".
In retrospect, I HAD noticed when the cheese…the man, had started to dwindle, but like Hem (Spencer, 1998), instead of anticipating and responding to change, I dug my heals in and demanded that my man and relationship NOT CHANGE!
It doesn't work . So stop! Stop running in circles. Stop digging in your heals. Stop pretending that things haven't changed because it IS time for a change.