Monthly Archives: December 2012

Looking Back: Old Lessons, New Iterations


I’ve posted a couple write-ups this week about my accomplishments this year without really taking stock of what I’ve done. Despite my big personality, I’m modest.

I’ll allow the following: I’ve written a lot. I’ve seen my kids successfully to another year, I’ve invested time in myself and my marriage. I’ve helped friends and I’ve always been candid. Oh! And I helped get that Wink-O-Matic installed near the school.

I didn’t plan to write all week, but it’s hard to still the hands when they’ve apparently got something to say.

Here’s the dealio, I have learned a lot this year:

I catch more butterflies with nectar than I do with vinegar.

Counting to 10 before I speak helps.

Not having all the answers is a gift.

Checking my place: where am I in this discussion?, What is my gain?, What is my loss? is essential to my sanity.

Too much coffee gives me the shakes.

Taking a risk, replying to a tweet and joining a writer’s blog is a great idea.

I parted ways with people this year. It was time and I no longer harbor enmity toward them. It took a while though. The feelings of wrenching regret from supposedly “wasted time” – when things like that go up in flames – can be overwhelming. It wasn’t wasted time.

I learned I have the tenacity and energy and creativity and the chops to really take a go at this writing-a-book thing. (I just don’t have the ego or the business savvy.)

I learned that cyclical, intense and familiar energy, whether good or bad, is usually unhealthy.

I also made a few new friends as well, and they’re terrific people. Some of the nicest people I’ve never met.

For someone who spent a good 30+ years time shushing her intuition, 2012 has been a year of seeking it, finding it and trusting it.

The suggestions and nudges our intuitions make will always be right, but seldom easy: they might lead us down a challenging path; or make us confront what we avoid; and work harder than we thought we could. I’ve written so much about personal growth, self-improvement, mindfulness, grace, authenticity, dysfunction… every day offers a lesson.

These lessons will continue because I will continue to put myself out there.

2013 is going to be more of the same for me in that regard: bigger steps, bolder visions and higher hopes. What do we have to lose?

Enjoy the sublime version of Auld Lange Syne below, as the Scots intended it…

Thank you. Be safe tonight.

Stats! According to WordPress …


I’m pretty psyched to share these stats, they’re official from WordPress! I opened this site in June and just 7 months later I am enjoying almost 9,900 views. That’s not too exciting, about 4.6 views a day, but i don’t write every day. So I’m still pretty psyched. I have said publicly and privately, that I’d rather have both of you interested and loyal readers than 100,000 fly-bys.

The breakdown is below, if you’re curious. If you’re a commenter, you’re likely in here too! If you’re new, do take a peek at the top 5 posts listed below. They will give you a good sense of what I’m like and what you can expect from me. A book is in the works, I owe you that.

I have no idea how my stats compare to other blogs, but I don’t need to know. I am proud of all this work, I write and you happen to come back. You make my blog keep going, and that’s a dance I like, so …

Thank you.

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 16 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Attending to our Children


I didn’t plan to write today. But I have learned a lesson, one that I’ve avoided frankly, and I am better for it; it speaks to one of the reasons I started my blog: being a mother to three young men, so here we go.

Being a parent is not easy. I have a blogger friend Kelly DeBie, who posted this week about her young child’s meltdown after Christmas. She caught some flack for one reason or another when the simple fact was that she was just venting. Who hasn’t watched their child lose their tiny-fisted grasp on composure and feel helpless, feel as though you, the parent, have somehow created this tantrum simply because you couldn’t prevent it?

I have advice for anyone who’s gonna get up in any parent’s face, about raising a child when s/he chooses to lose his temper after a day of Christmas:

    1. Get on your knees, walk on them and stay there for an entire day. See how you like it.
    2. See what you think of life from less than 4′ tall. See how much attention you get from people who are a full 18″ to 2′ taller than you are. See if they hear you when you speak at a normal tone of voice.
    3. See how you like watching their jaws move and their lips flap when they talk fast and louder sometimes than you can handle. If there is drinking involved, rest your butt on your heels and get used to waiting and louder talking from everyone.
    4. See if they hear you when you say you want to leave somewhere or that you’re tired or that you don’t feel well.
    5. See nothing but belt buckles and hip pockets and muffin tops and beer bellies and the bottom halves of purses and gym bags and forearms. See what it’s like.
    6. Stay like that for the next year. Have Christmas and birthdays and errand runs and carpools and hear disagreements.
    7. Still on your knees? Just checking. Go to school and be nice to kids who are mean to you. Try to get along with everyone. Do what the teacher says. Suppress your desire to ask for everything under the sun because some other kids in your class get everything they want.
    8. See stuff on the news you don’t understand (try watching Al Jazeera for a few days like this if you don’t get where I’m coming from), hearing movies with explosions or cooking in the kitchen or the dog barking outside and try to open the sliding door but you’re not strong enough to close it on your own… see how that goes and then,
    9. And then, on The Biggest Day of The Year, the one you’ve waited for all year long: when something does or doesn’t go your way, or you hear things you do or don’t understand or you say something you did or didn’t mean and you got something you were or weren’t expecting: try to keep your shit together when you’ve simply had a long day.

Let me know how that goes.

I can’t believe Kelly’s catching flack for her post. I don’t normally run to someone’s rescue online like this, but I get where she’s coming from. I am not her, but I can understand how helpless we can feel at the times our kids lose their moods.

Years ago, I was on a solo flight with my new and only 18-month-old boy. The changes in air pressure are a real pain for a sentient adult; imagine being a toddler who was working through an ear infection. He was out of sorts and grumbly. Most people were OK with that. His utter cuteness and the blue velvet short-pants outfit I had him in with saddle shoes and peter pan collar belied his potential fury. There was this one guy, Captain A-hole, a business man in a cheap suit sitting in coach like the rest of us who thought my son was a twerp. We were on our ascent to whateverty-thousand feet when my son lost it. I feverishly shushed my son, like freakin’ Meryl Streep in “Sophie’s Choice” (not a pleasant or easy movie). I was aware that my son was causing disruption. I bounced him, gave him a lollipop, sang to him, and none of it worked. He was in pain.

This guy turned around and glared at me one too many times. I could hear his friends ask him to ease up. The next time he glared at me, I said to him, three rows up and two seats over, “HEY. YES, YOU. I’m aware that my son’s bugging you or aggravating your otherwise pleasant experience on this plane. But I’m here to remind you that unlike you, my son wasn’t born at 45 in Coach and totally awesome cool. So unless you have a helpful advice to offer me or a crumb of compassion, I suggest you keep your eyes forward so your head will follow.”

His friends smiled at me and told him to cut it out.

Our kids, they need us. They need us to protect them, to defend them, to cajole them, to train them, to raise them, to hold them accountable and to be there, really Be There for them. I have been deficit in that department a bit lately because we’re all home and I’m doing my thing: writing, when they’re normally at school.

I think I have made up for it though, hence the lesson: I just spent 90 minutes in the basement with Thing 2, he’ll be 12 in a month. Gah! Where does the time go?!

He’s my mini me: sweet, cunning and clever. He actively flouts the rules around here; he’s spirited and so kind, but a handful at times too. I love him so much though… and then I want to squeeze the pulp out of him.

His biggest rule breaking is about eating food and candy away from the kitchen: near the computer, on the furniture, in the basement, in his room… you get it.

We have a windowless basement I call The Bunker, it’s great for watching movies. We have yummy hunter green microsuede sectional down there. He sneaks food down there all the time. I clean up and moan and scream and lose my shit, like a little kid frankly, because I’m tired of doing it.

Someone, me actually, suggested to me that I’m creating this world of spoiled brattish children: they don’t know how to vacuum (they do, but it’s easier for me to do it). They don’t know how to do laundry (they do, but it’s easier for me to do it). They don’t know how to cook (they do, but it’s easier for me to do it). Clean a bathroom (they do, and I won’t touch it).

I see where this is going. Do you? I have given them tools to live in the world, but I don’t make my sons keep them sharp and handy. The tools rust. They become dull and forgotten. I realize this happens because I want to look out for my own interests: writing, reading, running, watching Vincent D’Onofrio on “Law & Order” and any other number of self-involved schemes. Sleep, cruise the web, yoga studying… the fact of the matter is that there are only so many hours in a day.

But today, when we were all eating our lunch together I noticed T2 was gone. Where was he and his sesame toasted bagel with cream cheese? I called down to the basement. No answer. I went to the playroom where the computer is… no answer. I went to the steps to see if he was in his room. No answer. I went back to the basement door and followed the crumbs. He was on the sectional in the corner, under a blanket playing a video game.

I took a few deep breaths and actually said to him, “I’m not going to lose my crap on you. Instead, you’re coming upstairs to eat that thing and I’ll come up with a suitable punishment…”

“FOR WHAT? JEEZ MOM! EVERYONE ELSE DOES THIS!!!” he screamed at me and I said, “No not everyone else does this. They really don’t. You are the only one, really, who takes food down here consistently and eats it whenever he feels like it. The rules are clear: NO FOOD DOWN HERE.”

He joined us. I gnawed and gnashed at my bagel and lox. I sucked down my tea. I told him he’d have a consequence.

He inhaled his food, returned to the basement and I festered.

I honestly couldn’t come up with a consequence: what? No food? That’s stupid and illegal. No video games? For the rest of Christmas break? AM I INSANE? Who gets punished more? I’m staring down the barrel of a really crappy weather system heading our way.

Think, you peabrain!

Eureka! To make up for his blatant and chronic disregard, I went back to the playbook: I made him do my job. Little kids make little messes; big kids make big ones. Initially he gave me guff, but he relented.

I made him vacuum under and above all the cushions, spray clean and scrub the upholsterly from his spilled gogurts and smoothies “Eww, that smells awful, like dried milk…” he said when I told him to sniff it before we scrubbed.

He moved the sectional and cleaned out all the wrappers, juice-box straw condoms (yes, I said ‘juice-box straw condoms’), goldfish crackers and kettle corn out from between the sections. Then I made him vacuum the stairs because his cookie crumbs and sesame seeds were all over them.

He hated me at first, but then he said when we were all done, “You are a good mom, mom. It smells nice down here. I won’t do this anymore, and definitely not without asking.”

We shall see. I think he’s learned his lesson. But it’s self-serving: if I don’t enforce this now, his wife will hate my guts and I’ll never see my grandchildren.

It’s hard to be a mom sometimes. We have to do these things: enforce, stay aware, model appropriately and follow-through on our policies. If we don’t: we get shitty behavior. I’m hopeful that 90 minutes of sweat equity in The Bunker will pay off.

Parenting felt different today and I’m convinced it was because I stayed with him. If I just left him down there, I’dve not been satisfied and he would’ve felt really punished and isolated. Now he sees how hard I work to keep things nice. And I got to see him work real hard too. We both saw each other. That was huge. We bonded over a Dyson.

I asked him, “How long do you think it took to mess up this room?” and he thought and said, “A couple weeks?”

I said, “No, but good guess. I vacuumed on Christmas eve so it would be nice on Christmas. All this stuff is recent.”

He said a little sadly, “And this morning when I ate my cookie and this afternoon when I ate my bagel down here.”

I said, “Yes. Just the past couple days, and it probably only took 5 or 10 minutes total to mess up, do you think?”

He said, “So it took us 90 minutes to clean up what took probably less than 15 minutes to mess?” I nodded, “Yeah, it’s hard to keep up with you guys…” He said, “That’s not very fair to you,” and he hugged me.

I melted inside, but I have to stay on him; that’s the hard part… he’s super cute and I must attend to them in all ways: not just the easy times, but the hard times too. This means I must step away from what I love to do in order to step into what I love to be: a good parent. If we all do this, our rewards will be huge and we might even enjoy the work along the way.

Screen Shot 2012-12-28 at 9.39.22 PM

Thank you.

Year in Review: Most Popular Posts


Hi all —

It’s that time of year when we look back to look forward. Use the data and the lessons and the knowledge we have acquired over our fleeting lifetimes to learn what works and doesn’t work for the life and year(s) ahead.

I don’t do a ton of self-promotion. I’m a big believer in the tried and true, simple notion that if you’re good at what you do, word will get around. The organic growth I have witnessed on my blog (almost 10,000 views!) since joining WordPress in May has been encouraging. I tell myself to not get too mixed up in numbers, that this is not a popularity contest (despite what Facebook and other envy- and 15-minutes-of-fame -breeding “services” obviously push) and quality is something that builds on itself.

Starting with the best of intentions means you must work just as hard.

Writing, blogging, sharing, posting… all of these “arts” are hit and miss. The thing that keeps me going in this 21st Century world of self-disclosure is that I’m not alone: there will be posts that simply hit every mark I strive for: humor, candor, mindfulness, reflection and self-awareness. There will be some that also totally miss their marks, but I will be honest: these are posts that aren’t ready to be written or are those to which I am so close to the content that it’s hard to separate myself from it in any meaningful and translatable way.

I’m not big on fiction writing (publicly), so all my posts are true.

Enough stalling.

The top 10 most popular posts since May 27, 2012:

For the Ladies – Living and Thriving with PMDD – this humorous, candid and lengthy post written to help those who are afflicted with very deep PMS or “premenstrual dysphoric disorder” (PMDD) symptoms. I give a pretty clear picture of how PMDD manifested in me, some advice on how I deal with it and active links to help those people affected by it. PMDD is real, it’s scary as hell, and it can be managed.
Hoping the Mayans are Right – this was my post written after the Newtown murders where I hope that 12.21.12 was the “death” of the age of myopia, blame, selfishness and isolation.
Parents, Protect Your Children and My Letter to the School. – true story: I ended up “shadowing” a little kid to school one day because she was all alone on the path one morning.
After the Storm – this was written the day after “superstorm” Sandy decimated the east coast. I was utterly disgusted by the lack of awareness, the rabid and continual self-promotion on Twitter and some Facebook pages. This post is image heavy and candid (shocker).
False F(r)iendship, Feeling Unseen, Unheard and Dressing Very Old Wounds – everyone goes through life feeling like a doormat or a piece of furniture. Sometimes it’s a recurring theme in a lifetime. Here’s a way to recognize it, know you’re not alone and hopefully move on.
real – this was my “coming out” post where I shed a couple layers of my protective armor to let the world (or both my readers) know I’m not always blithe and living some fabulous life; that I have a story too.
Who – this is one of my “pages” on the blog (I have several at the masthead: who, what, when, where, why, respect, thanks and about). It’s just more about me… blah blah blah…
Justice for the Little People – I felt like William Wallace (Braveheart) when our school finally got what I’d been working my butt off for the past few years to get for the roadway in front of it. It feels good, despite the fact that the school administration is still mum about it.
Angry Rain, OldMan Car, and Tiger Mascot Suits – this is a melange of my observations one day. It includes humorous comments about the weather, my husband’s Toyota Avalon and a poignant observation of a dad returning from Afghanistan to be our school mascot.  I believe it was the beginning of what I ended up calling “Tuesday Morning Press.”
Respect – another “page” about my blog.

Collaborative posts

No blogger can exist in an island. We are a tribe that empowers and encourages our fellow tribe members… here are some of the great posts of the year written by other bloggers and me, other bloggers as guests or me on other bloggers’ sites:

Guest Blog: DeBie Hive’s Photographic Eye Turns to Fall – A nice pictorial essay on what autumn means to one of my favorite people I’ve never met.

Yesvember: Gratitude Expressed in 100 Words or Less – six brave souls and mine endeavored to write what gratitude means to them in 100 words or less.

Dome Life – How to Paint “Prince Charming” – ever wanted to know how to paint a rooster? Here’s a blog post that shows you how the famous Lillian Connelly paints one anyway… and I got to keep the piece.

Guest Blog: Breast Cancer Awareness & “Sensitarian” – my friend Sharyn shares her letter she wrote a year ago, when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

Guest Blogger: Good Geek Ranting – I have mad respect for Shua Smith — the dude wrote a book, “The Rise of the Dragons,” and that’s not easy. He’s also a very clever and funny writer. His blog is one of my favorites.

Go here to find me there

Go to Good Geek Ranting to Find My Guest Post … this is probably one of my most funny posts; there’s something about being on someone else’s site that is liberating for me. I get to be a little crazier, I guess. But if you didn’t see this one – please go. Especially if you like Alice Cooper without makeup.

I’m Guest Blogging Today at DeBie Hive – lots of pics; this explains why I row and what I get from it. It’s about the meditative effects of the sport and how it feeds my soul.

Peevish Penman Post: How Forcing NaNoWriMo Can Break a Barbie – I’m thrilled and flattered to have been asked to be a regular contributor to a great writer’s blog called “Peevish Penman” and I will always link to it on my blog. This particular post is about my tarrying over NaNoWriMo this year. It involves putting Barbie’s head in a vise. Jealous?

My favorites

This is actually pretty hard. I’ve had a blog for almost two years and the posts are stacking up. My timing is random, my “themes” are random, but I’m seeing some patterns and that’s fine by me. I don’t know how to pick just a few. But I’ll give you some really old ones that remind me of why I started this in the first place.

taking my own advice. – my first post ever.

when you’re five years old – every 5 year old should feel like this is familiar territory; and the parent of five year olds need to remember what it’s like and not foist absurd expectations on to their kiddos.

shopping cart from hell – that’s right. read it.

raffle basket and beans – what happens when you look away.

perfect mother? no. not even close. – oy. I love my mom, but our relationship is not the easiest; we boast two totally different personalities. I am glad to have learned over the years that I’m not alone in that realm.

When the Bough Breaks: Forcing – this post earned me an award and was one of the last ones I wrote before I almost gave up on blogging due to some really insane and childish behavior by someone “in the field.”

Dear Things 1, 2 & 3: Don’t Tell the Neighbors, but Your Father Lives – I love my husband. He’s a great dad. Here’s why.

the toothpaste aisle from hell – yes. Don’t tell me you’ve got that aisle all figured out.

Marvelous Monday: Amazing Things – this is me: “If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.” – Eleanora Duse. I talk about it, my fascination and gratitude for “the everyday” in this post.

Go With Your Gut or What Happens When You Don’t – all i have to say: when your intuition says “don’t do that” — DON’T DO THAT.

she missed his final breath. – my neighbor died of metastatic lung cancer. this is about his surviving wife.

Two posts caught the eye of other bloggers the most this year. A Brie recipe, for obvious reasons, so here’s that…

And a quick post I wrote about some parent’s confusion between online sharing and jeopardizing their children’s safety. Just my opinion:

There. This is all I’m gonna throw at you. Although I’m not big on self-promotion, once I write that book, I’ll have to be better about it. In the meantime, I’m going to try it stone by stone. What’s up for 2013? Some cool stuff actually: I’ll be posting fiction on Fridays and in January, I’m going to be part of a fiction writing prompt. I’ll be here, doing my random thing. I’m going to endeavor to keep all posts to less than 1,500 words. (I’m six shy now).

Thank you so much for joining me here.