Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Posts Tagged "help"

Permission: A Year Run-Free

Posted on May 1, 2013 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Featured |

Permission: A Year Run-Free

It broke my heart almost every morning that I didn’t run. I love to run, I love to not have a huge ass, too, so running and I have always gotten along. Until last May.

A year ago, my sweet ex and I reluctantly broke up for good, and although the change was good, it rocked every single part of my life. I found myself unable to go for an early morning run (who would watch the kids?), unable to get to the gym after work since I took a job an hour from home after our break-up. Every morning I woke up and instantly felt awful that I knew, before even getting out of bed, that I wouldn’t exercise that day. And hence, every day started with a failure.

Thank God for therapists.

One day this awesome therapist said to me, “You are not going to work out. This we know. What you haven’t done is give yourself the permission to take time off from exercise.”

Somehow that word, “permission” sucker-punched me. It was true: I needed to give myself permission to remove exercise from my life for awhile. I needed to take it off of my to-do list or the should list or whatever list. I needed to not worry about it. At all.

I was suddenly sure of myself in a way I hadn’t been in months. I went home, I collected all of my workout and running clothes and I put them up in the closet. And the most amazing thing happened: the next morning, and every morning since then, I have woken up without the dread of missing a workout. Friends would tell me about a race or a run or a hike or a bike and I was truly happy for their fitness; just as happy as I was about my mental fitness.

Today marks one year of giving myself permission to be exercise-free. I pulled down my running clothes and tried them on. They were tight, but they fit. A year without running and my clothes still fit! I didn’t turn into a massive hog or a slobby sloth. My 42-year-old ass looks like a 42-year-old jiggly ass that hasn’t worked out in a year, but I can live with that. Because my 42-year-old mind is fit as can be. I did it.

My kids are older now, and leaving for a bit in the morning is not scary anymore. My job in Pleasanton didn’t last past the winter and I get to work from my home office most days, so a workout is fully possible today in a way it couldn’t have been a year ago.

This morning I walked four miles with a friend, loving every minute of being back on the trail. Tomorrow I’ll go for a short run. I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow.

Read More

F-Off Cancer

Posted on Jan 24, 2011 in Friends |

F-Off Cancer

I always knew cancer as the big scary C-word. My dad’s best friend was a hard-living smoker, drinking wild cowboy type and died of lung cancer at 40-something. But moms with cancer? F-off. That’s not fair. Over the years, various cancer devils have sunken lives of friends and family, but none has broken me until this year.

My family and friends with cancer are ass-kickers. They are true take-no-prisoners type women. I don’t feel sorry for them. It seems irrational, incomprehensible that in my 30s (still for another few weeks), I can have friends who are in remission from very serious cancers, two that are still fighting like hell, one that moved onto his next life, one that is cured and several that are not. What the F? Stupid f-ing cancer.

Susan’s latest post about feeling lucky as she plows her way into the first days of a new, experimental treatment, was one of the most inspired I’ve ever read. I sent it to the women I know — not for sympathy for Susan, but in hopes that they too, surrounded by cancer as we all are, would see what living means.

If you want to know what true living is like, read WhyMommy’s written work or participate in her brainchild, working to give  Lymphedema Sleeves to cancer patients. You can leave a comment on several blogs where friends of Susan are donating $1 toward Cricket’s Answer, the organization working with Susan to provide needs to women with breast cancer.

Hey Susan, all the way from California: No Princess Fights Alone.

Read More

The Manners Police

Posted on Jan 15, 2011 in Featured, Motherboard |

The Manners Police

Maybe it was over-the-top, or maybe I’m just from a bit of a different generation that my kids, but my childhood was filled with a mix of wild fun and play dotted by perfecting manners and etiquette from the age of 8. I spent endless weekends learning to pour tea (pour from the right, eldest/most senior woman served first) to working on my punch-drinking skills (take white gloves off, lay in lap, keep your head up). In retrospect, it seems a little intense, but I gots me some Emily Post skilz. I want to teach my kids manners that will help them navigate conversation and environment, and demonstrate grace when not nailing each other with Nerf darts.

Four tips I learned in finishing school (HA! DID I JUST TYPE THAT?!), that I’d like to pass along to my kidlets:

1. Ballroom Dancing: The Ode to Commander Unander. Every Friday night my brother and I would go to a hall with other kids in my neighborhood in our dressy clothes. I’d say it was itchy and uncomfortable, but actually, I liked wearing the dresses (below the knee), having my hair done nicely and wearing tiny high heels. The only thing I didn’t really like was the gloves. White gloves aren’t really becoming on anyone, especially on a girl like me with hands like Shaq.  Over several years we learned to dance ballroom with a strict, old, washed-up ballroom dancer. “Commander Unander” and his shiny black tuxedo shoes swept me across the room like a feather. I loved it. Learning to dance ballroom was a wonderful gift — I can still walz and foxtrot my way through any wedding reception without wrapping my arms around my date like a drunk prom girl.

2. Table Top Knowledge: AKA Why do I have three forks? I can remember sitting at a fellow manners freak parents’ house for table training. It looked like a dishwasher exploded in front of me, but in truth, it was pretty easy to decipher after just a few times of practice. When in doubt, work from outside by course with your utensils, unless you don’t, then the waiter is likely to save you. Just don’t use the same utensil for multiple courses or take it off the plate and put it on the table (that was the kiss of manners death). It was more than napkins on laps though. A lot of what we learned here was subtle: don’t push a plate away from you, use the butter knife to put butter on plate not on bread, drinks go on the right. So far we’ve got the kids setting the table for dinner as a first step.

3. Host Management: Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds. As a kid, my parents took me everywhere — from dinner parties to galas. There’s only one whale at any soiree: the hostess. Once you get the gist that it’s all about paying respect to her, you’ve got it made. Bring a gift (Not flowers or food, but instead a small gift  like a homemade card from kids or special soaps); look in her eye, give her a compliment about her home or food; and most of all, don’t do anything without the hostess doing it first. By that I mean don’t put any food in your mouth until she has. Neeeeevvver.

4. Food: Not See-Food. I don’t think I ever chewed a piece of food with my mouth open. I never remember doing it, anyway. My son, Thing 1, has never breached the open mouth gap, either. My dear Thing 2, however, is a see-food eater. Oh man, the battle. One thing I remember learning was a sure-fire way to help curb this food nightmare was to tell the kids to take very small bites. It helps, but it’s not full-proof. Counting to 10 while chewing is another trick. I’m all about learning opportunities, but this one I have no tolerance for. Chew with your mouth closed or don’t sit at my table.

I’ve come to understand that it’s not popular to teach etiquette to children in 2011 — I guess it comes off as snobby or wanna-be high class. I see it differently than that. I spent eight years as a kid going through manners training and in the end, I apply more of it today than most of high school classes put together. I want my kids to grow up with tools that will carry them from the house down the street to The White House and every little cottage along the way.

This post was inspired by the smarty pants team at the Yahoo! Motherboard. (#ymotherboard)

Read More

House of Blues

Posted on Jan 10, 2011 in Featured, Rants |

House of Blues

I went on Twitter and DMed @la_gringa with capitalized swear words describing the latest in a fitful rage from our house upon us, it’s lowly unsuspecting dwellers.

This time, it’s the dishwasher that went from silent rinse cycle to Jabba-the-Hutt moans within minutes. And then it wouldn’t turn off. At all. I went to go outside to the power box, but I couldn’t. Why, you might ask? Because the side door is broken. Not the lock, the door. An expensive door, no less. An expensive door whose company (obviously for building shitty doors) went out of businesses. So now we need a new side door and a dishwasher/Jabba-the-Hutt killer.

Of course this is barely on the heels of the window this morning where my daughter exclaimed, “Oh look mommy, it rained in the kitchen.” Frigging million-year-old uninsulated windows just were no match for a winter’s night and a heating duct right next to it. No worries, the window (and most of them now in our home) are non-functional. The quaint 100-year-old house look isn’t so quaint when it all falls apart. Today I counted: only five of the 22 windows in our downstairs can actually open. The others are all broken, sealed shut or have busted pulleys (yes, that old). Oh, and the five that work? Four of them are poorly replaced windows with missing screens on most, the other one I jammed unlocked for safety.

I’d escape it all to my upstairs abode for a good marathon of Dog, the Bounty Hunter, but the TV there suddenly no longer has sound. I guess the LG is sick of the political rhetoric too and finally cut off the volume to save me from myself. Ah, maybe I’ll take a warm shower to relieve the stress of a falling apart house — oh wait, that won’t work, the (relatively new) grout is all dissolved away and new mold creeps in daily. I think I’ll pass on the cozy shower and go for a bath — nope. The drain stopper is broken and the towel rack fell down because the old lathen plaster can’t hold a screw. I’d use the downstairs shower, but it was constructed improperly and will flood the floor. I am convinced that a blind Bob-the-Builder and his estranged lover, Handy Manny built this house.

I feel like running away before I’m reminded that this house is more than most will ever have, with neighbors and friends surrounding me that I couldn’t dream of having. I hate my house until I remember that my children live one block from their grandparents and can walk to school. I loathe being here until I realize that if it weren’t for this home, we’d have never had all the fun that caused all this ruckus to start with.

Today though, I wish I had a little shack on the beach reading novels and watching the sunset while Mr. Roper fixed the leaky faucets.

Read More

Uwe is Dying

Posted on Sep 25, 2010 in Family and Friends, Featured |

Uwe is Dying

My friend Uwe is dying.

Tonight I wrote a long meaningful blog post about my friend and his extraordinary wife, my friend. I wrote a draft about these last days. I wrote poignant words about how an entire community of people are living for them this week as he and his family face the end of his life.  I wrote about how @la_gringa and I think about them almost all the time right now.

What a silly stupid post. There are no words. Delete. Delete. Delete.

I explained death tonight to my children. They saw Uwe earlier today, only one half of him in this world, the other in his next. It frightened them. They asked me what would become of him and I told them that I believed he’d become a redwood tree; a giant, full, quiet, shaded redwood tree. We came home and my son told me that he thought a man in a wheelchair should become someone who could fly. He thought Uwe would become a rare falcon. He drew a picture of “cycle of a life” drawing. 1. Start as a baby 2. Grow to a teenager. 3. Die as a very old person.

My daughter thought and listened. She cried and didn’t say much. Before going to bed she told me that she thought Uwe would become The Giving Tree in his next life so he could keep giving to his family.

I tucked them in. My son asked me what I’d come back as in my next life, and I told him a dog. That made him laugh. I’m allergic to dogs.

And our life goes on, while just one block away, Uwe’s does not.

Read More

Mama Bear Pounces on Unsuspecting Teacher

Posted on Sep 23, 2010 in Featured, Rants, School |

Mama Bear Pounces on Unsuspecting Teacher

I can see the headline now, “Mama Bear Pounces on Unsuspecting Teacher” with a horrific tale of a mother at wits-end with her child’s teacher. It’s not pretty. Trust me, because you’re looking at Mama Bear. Rowr.

I’ve been wondering what’s going on with my Thing 1, a normally fun-loving, silly, smart, smartass, school-loving kid. About a week after school started he began to refer to himself as “bad,” started lying, getting in trouble at school almost every day and yelling at his friends. At home, his regular excitement for school was replaced with silence. Something was wrong. I asked the doctor, talked to friends and to my Thing. Why the seismic shift? Somehow for all my investigation into what could be bothering my child, it never occurred to me that it was his new teacher that would be the cause.  And when it hit me — it hit me. Hard.

In a fit of frustration, I pounced on the poor woman. I screamed and pointed and cried. I smashed my hand into my fist and went off on her, “YOU are the reason my child is unhappy. You know what’s wrong with him? YOU! YOU!” Oh, that was just the beginning. I went completely off-the-deep-end. After 10 minutes, I left, exhausted and frustrated. She had said nothing.

Somehow, the mystery had clicked for me and I was mad as hell. I — who writes strategic marketing plans for school programs for fun, who worships my kids’ teachers and promotes their school and their programs like it’s a full-time job — completely let-loose. Never mind that this woman is a  seasoned, highly regarded teacher with a stellar reputation.  I was the mama bear protecting her baby and there was nothing that was going to stop me from letting this woman know how I felt.

I went home and was sorry. Not sorry that I’d finally gotten to the bottom of what was going on with my kid, but sorry that I’d spoken to someone with such passion. I wrote an apology note immediately, but you and I both know, an apology at that point is worthless, I caused more damage than she could have ever done to my kid. I am now going to be known as the crazy mom that went off on her kid’s teacher.

The next day I read about the father who had boarded a school bus to defend his daughter being bullied. The normally upstanding guy with a nice family and good home simply lost it. He told CNN the next day: “She finally opened up and told me what was going on,” Jones said. “And from there, you know, being a dad just loving my daughter … and just loving all my kids, you know. … [At] that point, my heart broke when I [saw] her standing there … [she] wasn’t going to get on the bus crying. And a dad is a dad. And I was going to be her protector that day.”

I can relate. Truly. My feelings as a mom overruled any logical, reasonable behavior I could have mustered. I truly feel for James Jones as a parent and as a dad who was overcome by the need to protect his child. I feel for him as a parent who must apologize, like I did, for behavior unbecoming to any upstanding person. I feel for him as a man who made a bad situation worse, because that’s just what I did. I made it about me, not about the issue.

There is something carnal about parents and their children. Maybe it’s instinct to protect or an overwhelming sense of responsibility to make their lives as happy and peaceful as they can possibly be. Maybe it’s a chemical reaction that bears have to their cubs — keeping danger at bay with all the ferociousness they can muster. Maybe I’m just a mom.

Read More