Tag Archives: change

When Mom’s the Child


I’m feeling a little blue at the moment; my youngest and I had a skirmish. He is newly 12. He’s in sixth grade. He runs late every morning… no matter how early I wake him, he never gets downstairs until 8 and then he drags around and we have not been at school on time in weeks.

Today, I packed his lunch bag in his backpack. It was 8:25. We had a chance… we could’ve been out of the house by 8:30. But I discovered he’d pulled it out of that space and was trying to jam it into another compartment.

It wasn’t fitting, and he was snarfing and huffing to get it in. He was also completely bitter that I’d put it in a place where it just went “phoomp” into place. (But we all know he wasn’t mad at me, he was frustrated at his conundrum.)


I was putting on my coat and looping my scarf. The clock beamed 8:30. I stepped over to undo his efforts and redo mine: putting the lunch bag back where I had it. He’s snarfing and snarling.

As we were walking down the steps out front, he was still bitching about it. About how it was fitting just fine when he was putting it in. About how the delay was my fault because I put his lunch in “the wrong place.”

But where I put it wasn’t the wrong place. Where he was trying to jam it was the wrong place. The zipper simply wouldn’t zip around it; it wasn’t going to fit in the backpack. Plus the lunch bag was not going to stay in the backpack all day. The moment kids get to school they take it out… I disagreed with his protests.

Step step step.

Huff. Grumble. Step.

Dragon’s breath plumed from our faces in the cold frosty air. Mittened hands flopped and flapped, gesticulating and emphasizing our perspectives. Muffled voices pointedly pressing through the scarves.

We shared twenty more steps in relative embattlement.

So we were about 1/2 way down our pipestem and he was still grumbling about it. “I’m going to be late because of YOU…”

That was it. I was done. I turned to him and said, “Ok. you’re entirely wrong about this. You were late to begin with; this is a daily thing with you. No matter when I wake you, you don’t seem to appear before 8 am. With your shoes missing most of the time. The lunch bag simply wasn’t fitting. It fit the way I put it and where it is now. It might not be where YOU want it, but it works. It’s 8:33, the late bell is in seven minutes. You MIGHT make it if we dash. ”

Then he starts to tell me how wrong I am. He’s 12. I’m 48.

I get it.

I’m arguing with someone one-fourth my age. So what do I do? The mature thing:

“I’m out. Goodbye. Go on.”

He swiftly looked at me with huge eyes: half scared, half stunned. Then a mental shift and a set of his jaw: he got a cocky look on his face and kept going.

I then turned around to go home. I decided right then and there, after nearly 13 years of consistently walking at least one of my children to school every day, to pack it up. We were having a moment. We each needed to be alone.

I let him walk himself to school, hoping he would use the crossing guard. His little body, behooded and scarved kept going.

He didn’t look back.

I didn’t say anything else.

No “I love you.” Or “I love you.” Or even “I love you.”

Now I’m sitting by the phone hopeful it won’t ring with an absentee notice from the school. I’m hopeful he didn’t run into assholic Scary Cretin on the path with his giant shit-dropping dogs.

I’m sure he’s fine and he arrived without a scratch; he’s in 6th grade and younger kids with far sterner parents walk all by themselves from as far as a mile.

But I’ve never done that: I’ve never sent him out on his own because I was fed up. We have had far worse irreconcilable differences and walked all the way to school, usually cuddling halfway there.

So now it’s gnawing at me, because of my filter, from when I was a kid. On days when we were too late waking up and we couldn’t get rides with our neighbors, my mother made us walk to school, probably about a mile and a half away. A brother and me, alone all the time in all sorts of weather through Buffalo’s tougher city streets, crossing big-time, city-express, 4-way traffic intersections where metro buses and 18-wheelers traveled and pounded. I’m sure she drove us a handful of times, but she didn’t get her license until she was in her 40s and her unpredictable sobriety created a challenge for us to get there safely if she was a driver. So I have this huge rut of guilt and shame of making him walk on his own.

He used the crossing guard. I’m sure of it. It’s a vow he’s made. We might be angry at each othe, but he’s not crazy stupid. The rest is all path amongst the trees.

I fought the urge to run after him. I was like a magnet fighting off its polarity, forcing myself to stay in the house and not chase him down like Scarlett running after Rhett.

He’s fine. Right?

Am I?

Thank you.

A Poem to help you change for the better; 2014 In the Rearview


Hi all, thanks for your support and friendship this year. This has been another year of growtzzzzgngngngnzzzzngn ngggggnnnnnnnnzzzzngnggggnan.

I can’t add myself to the litany of retrospective posts; I do enough of that in my own time, I will be damned if I do that to you in The Last Post Of The Year.

I typically don’t really give a toot about New Year’s Eve / Day culture. To me, we have every breath to look at how we are living and to use the next one to change our behavior if we are aware enough to know we need it.

And most of us need it.

2014 is over. It’s about 2 hours away from being toast. Dust. Ashes. Yesterday. It doesn’t matter how we feel about 2014. Many people suffered and many people triumphed. It doesn’t matter because it’s in the past. So if you or me or your neighbor or your best friend or your worst enemy spends one moment but one laced with gratitude thinking about 2014, it’s a waste.

Here’s my instruction: Have a safe and empowering final hours of 2014. I hope that when we look back on it, we can learn something and then apply it for a fantastic ’15. Just for clarification: I’m all for retrospectives if they put you in a good frame of mind and remind you of how far you’ve come. It’s when they loop and repeat and grind you and your beloved listener into a silent submission or prayer for it to end, that they are useless.

Here’s my plea: If you’re One of Those People Who Knows Your Faults But Does Nothing About Them And Continues To Hurt People, please … please … please: stop. If you’re feeling hot in the face or your stomach hurts or you feel like someone is watching you right now, you know it’s you I’m talking to. Stop hurting people. Start changing your behavior. As I say to my sons and the kids I teach creative writing, “Stop apologizing. Change your behavior.” If an elementary school kid can get it, you can too.

And if you’re a victim or a martyr or you feel like you’re in a rut, in a loop or other haze thinking about something you can’t change because you blew it, here’s a poem I didn’t write which can help you move in another direction:

There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk: An Autobiography In Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost … I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walked on the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place, but it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walked down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walked down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

That’s a simple, elegant, witty and To The *#^&%@)! Point reminder that we are in charge of our own lives and its direction. It’s both liberating and daunting because it’s so much easier to blame other people for our stuff. Anyway… Food for thought.

Here’s a pic of me and my team on our singular sunny day on Hilton Head Island, SC.


Here’s a pic of me and my husband and oldest son after we did the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Eve … The water was 53˚ and this was my first and definitely not my last PBP. I am a beast now… bring on the plunges!


May you all both have fantastic and healthy remaining hours tonight and abundant spiritual, mental and physical health in 2015.

Thanks for sticking around. It’s been fun. 2015 is gonna rock; just like 2014 did.

Thank you.

Regeneration, Anniversaries and Magnolias


I have been struggling to write of late.

It’s not that I don’t have things to say; I have plenty. It’s that some subjects are ones that I’d really like to kick to the curb (like the bullying thing we dealt with) and another subject is too overwhelming to share, so it’s been blocking me from saying anything at all.

It was shown to me this morning though, as I went out to visit my “little gem magnolia” tree that I bought for my husband for a wedding anniversary / father’s day gift a few years ago, that life is about tending to ourselves and loving as best we can and that its moments — the good and the bad — are evanescent.

We had the tree in the front (north) corner of our home. I love to garden, but I hate the technicalities of “needs full sun” or “partial shade.” I can’t be bothered with those details. So when I planted the tree a few years ago in that corner, beneath  an eventual canopy of oaks, weeping willow and shade from houses, I sort of knew but denied that the tree was doomed.

I didn’t have the heart to plug it into our backyard, which I knew was shaded once the oak, birch, cherry and poplar leaves filled in.

So a couple years later, I moved it to a southern corner of our house which gets a fair amount of morning sun. It thrived there. The only problem was that it was just beneath an eave, so it was a matter of time: either the tree or the roof.

I loved that tree. My husband loves Magnolias. I knew that a Great Southern Magnolia tree on our property was out of the question as they are massive and well, dirty. But on the day we were wed, twenty years ago tomorrow, the magnolia blooms were abundant outside our little Georgetown church.

So I moved the tree again this spring. We took the slide off our playground set (why any of us buys swing sets is beyond me… the kids just want to be with the parents, our boys have outgrown it. Little kids who visit always end up migrating to the front of our house where the action is) so the tree is now taking up permanent residence in a nice spot which gets at least six hours of sun every day.

Here is a picture of how it’s dealing with its move:

I know it's common for these guys to shed, but this is about 50% of its foliage.

I know it’s common for these guys to shed, but this is about 50% of its foliage.

I’ve been very concerned about it. So I’ve taken, in the last three weeks, to giving it one gallon of water every morning; “slow and steady wins the race” as they say and while I’ve been slightly frightened of the dropped leaves, I have been absolutely amazed by the ability of this tree to get its crap together and rally.

Socrates said it best:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

It’s like us. If we concentrate on what needs to happen, if we stop thinking about what happened to us and remember our goal: thrive and grow and learn and bloom, then we will be ok too. I’ve been so distracted by the bully stuff and old patterns in my behavior that I’ve forgotten the point of all of it: to rally to learn and to stick to myself.

The action of “mewling and puking” as Mom used to say about our past troubles is what gives them life. If we just see them for what they are: feelings about an action, instead of the action or result, then we’re ok.

To wit, Eckhart Tolle:

“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it.”

Every Single Person In Our Lives is a teacher.

I don’t care if it’s your spouse or your parent or your sibling or your best friend. Every single one of those people is here to teach you and to teach me — in fact maybe I’m supposed to learn something from you if you comment — how to live better. How to improve and to grow and to face fear and move on. Not shove crap deep away in some hole in our souls, to “man up” or crap like that, but to face it, own it, deal with it and learn — with great humility — from it.

In the case of the things that are bothering me, it’s not the results. It’s the feelings. The results are what needed to happen: self-advocacy, self-assurance, family solidarity, self growth. What the other people do with those situations I can’t be bothered with. It my attachment to an outcome or an expectation of an incident that gets me in trouble.

So back to the tree…

It's doing better.

It’s doing better. You can see the new growth at the “12 o’clock” position at the top of the tree. New stuff is coming in! It’s so exciting!

And so, we don’t have to think that growth can take a long time. For humans, it can be instantaneous and just as promising as that tree above. The tree would definitely not do as well if it weren’t for my intervention. It would get along and grow, but it would take a while.

For humans, it’s the same: we need each other. Even in the shitty, hard experiences, we need each other — to learn. To learn how to be more patient, to learn how to SEE THE OTHER PERSON, to learn how to deal with our own mucky crap, to learn how to press on and chin up and as Scarlett O’Hara did at that party Melanie threw after she was caught kissing Ashley (“oh! Ashhhlaay!”) we can hold our heads up high because why?

Because we are still here. And we must learn to go on.

So of course because it’s a plant, plants (trees, whatever) grow mostly at the top. I wasn’t sure of how the magnolia was going to respond to all those dropped leaves. But I do now…

Check that out! New buds are coming in where the old buds fell off... and soon, this tree will be unstoppable.

Check that out! New buds are coming in where the old buds fell off… and soon, this tree will be unstoppable.

I apologize for the out-of-focus nature of this picture. If you’re feeling nauseated, blame me. If you think you’ve had too much to drink this morning, blame the photo.

I’m so thrilled about this tree. I’ve made my husband come out at look at it at least once a week. He’s usually like this:

Oh cute >pat pat pat< honey, you’ve made a plant grow. >pat pat pat< I’m going to be over here doing something important.

Just kidding. He’s actually pretty into me.

But now these days, he’s totally excited because he knows how much this tree means to me that it means so much to him.

Look, our kids will be out of here in 20,000 years. We will be all alone. With the dogs. And the cats. But the tree will be here and we will have it to gaze upon while our kids are off being fantastic and ignoring us.

So remember what I said about tomorrow being our anniversary and that on the day we wed, the magnolia blossoms were abundant on the trees flanking our church?



Look who’s got some blossoms now y’all!

This tree has shown me: grow where you are planted. Grow any way you can. When you are planted in the best possible circumstances: light, sun, water and some dog poop to boot, you will do well. The dog poop, is not just a literal thing; it’s a metaphor as well: we only grow best when we see, accept and deal with the shit we are standing in.

Think of the shit you’ve had to stand in and deal with and muck through as your manure. Your manure to help turn you into the most amazing person. Because you are.

Thank you.



Midnight Messages: “Breadcrumbs” and Moving On


I’ve started reading Panache Desai’s Discovering Your Soul Signature, which is a 33-day, thrice daily date you make with yourself. In the morning, noon and evening, you read his short essays / meditations to help you see things differently and become more open to the concept of uncovering your yucky, dark, pitchy self so you can let yourself shine.

After all my couch time with my four therapists, I thought I had this stuff down. I thought, “kindergarten-level” of the idea, but I loved that the book comes with its own ribbon to help set your place in it. I have also taken to writing in it along the margins and anywhere there’s an open space. Kindergartners doodle, so can I…

Day four, I believe, is dedicated to “Anger” and what we are supposed to do with it: feel it, notice it, acknowledge it and let it filter through us, hopefully by staving off an eruption. I would say that I’ve over the years gone from a 0% success rate with that endeavor to about 60% success lately. In those 40% moments when I do lose my cool, I lose it less intensely and for less time AND I catch myself sooner. So in the aggregate, I’d say my overall improvement is about 70%. This improvement has little to do with the book because I just started it. That’s why I snubbed the concept of the book being of any use to me.

The third essay on anger clearly caught my subsoncsious. I can’t remember what it said exactly, because I read it a week ago, but I do recall it suggesting that I think about what makes me angry and how I deal with it as I drift off to sleep. Seems counterintuitive, that thinking about crap that ticks you off is a sure-fire way to make you stay up all night, but this book’s approach was different: it didn’t impel the mental recovery of events, but rather, the sensation without judgement or rushing or shame for feeling any of it. This was a lot like the EMDR therapy I’d most recently experienced. Feel the feelings until they’re felt.

I woke that evening / morning (whatever, it’s agitating to me to say it’s “morning” when it’s dark out and we should be sleeping) with a thought of “why am i so mad?” and the word “breadcrumbs” startled me, then the concept of fairy tales and I began to write:


Of course I thought my handwriting at the time was fantastically legible. I was all, “This is gonna be sooooo easy to read in the morning … it’s gonna be brilliant and make sooooo much sense … I love you man …”

It was dark, I didn’t have my glasses on, my face was practically on the notebook and I was half asleep. I think I drooled too.

“Breadcrumbs — do you really want to return to the place you were? It’s subconscious. Stop using breadcrumbs. Come out @ end — stronger — different. Maybe your person was never the person you thought they were; did you project that quality on to them? Did you “make” them special in your head — ‘Oh grandma, what big eyes you have …’

Woodsman — be your own woodsman. If someone else comes in to save the day, what have you learned?”

Then I collapsed and fell back to sleep.

I felt compelled during that experience and later when I woke up to share it with a good friend of mine for certain, and then to write about it here, later on, after she had time to do her own thing with it and after I had time to let it settle into me.

Up until today, I believed that message revolved solely my experiences with the bullying my son and then family had endured at the nod of people we trusted. I locked in on that idea that I had projected my ideals, my intention to not only live a life of authenticity but to also seek it in others, mostly in application to those people who decieved us.

That projection, as all of our subconscious yearnings and projections do, did nothing but create a false identity or false relationship in my mind. Oh for the love of Pete! How many times have I done that — ‘oh grandma what big eyes you have?’ to myself?

This projection was based only on my incredibly naïve wish and whole intention to live as graciously, honestly as fairly as I could. I don’t play games with people. It’s SOOOOooOOOOOooooo exhausting. I’ve run out of gas for it all.

Back to intention: here’s a funny thing about them: no one intention looks the same as another, even though they might use the same words.

My intention is to live independently and with authenticity; to let my children grow and support their choices even though I might not agree with them and to cull their behaviors which don’t align with progressive, honest and forward living. In order to truly live and inspire an authentic life, we must absolutely put our desires, dreams and wishes aside for the other person — including our children — to fly or falter.

The children were never “ours”:

In 1872, when I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first son, my OB put that little doppler thing on my barely swollen belly (he had very advanced tools for the 19th century) and he looked at me, with this giant grin. His eyes met mine, above the rim of his glasses. He said to me, in that wonderful African way he had (which was barely understandable at times because his accent was so thick, his “t”s so precise and clean), “Doo yoo heah dat, Mommee? Dat’s your little man. Dat’s his hawtbeet. It is deeeferrent dan youse, yes? Quick, fastah. Already, he tellin’ you: ‘I ahm mhy ohn man. I ahm inside you, buht, I am separate.’ Rememebah dat, Mommee. He already his own guy.”

Boom. Right there. Lesson # 4,353,642,126 of life: we are all distinct even though we are connected. ‘Tis folly to expect our children to fulfill our dreams and wrong to ask them to enact our schemes (enter: codependence).

So back to intentions and then back to breadcrumbs and grandma and big eyes and the woodsman, I promise.

Our intentions can be the same as another’s: success, kindness, fairness, honesty … but they will look different on paper than they do in action. Neither one is better (one might be more in alignment with the universe and less self-serving) than the other, but they seldom mean the same thing to all people. Hence, different & separate heartbeats.

So the projection I had of my ideal existence: independence, fairness, humor and progress was not at all in alignment with how things rolled out in that bullying situation; in fact, as painfully as it was to learn, none of it was at all in alignment with the truth.

That was my doing. That was my responsibility. That’s where I faltered. I did not fly. I ignored my independence.

“Oh Grandma, what big eyes you have …” This is so twisty. Little Red Riding Hood was no fool: she knew the wolf was in Grandma’s bonnet and bed. Or did she? When I was little, I liked to believe that Red knew. In Looney Toons, Red was played by Bugs Bunny, and he always knew what was up.

As I look back on the original story, Red was naïve (what we used to call “innocent”). Forgetting her mother’s orders to go straight away to Grandmother’s house, she was tricked by the wolf to spend time picking flowers in the woods while he went back to devour the grandmother. Even when Red got to the house and she sensed her unease at the home, she went in anyway (ignoring her intuition) and thus began the famous exchange, “Grandma! What big ___ you have” until when the wolf said, “The better to eat you with my dear!” just before she pounced out of bed and devoured Red.

Red and Grandmother were almost toast until a huntsman noticed that the front door was left open, and went into the house and cut open the wolf to rescue the pair. The story goes on to speak of other wolves who tried to trick Red and also get into the house, but she was savvier and they were finished off thanks to their greed and self-interest.

So speaking of toast: breadcrumbs. Yeah, I know: Hansel and Grethel.

Shit. I just reread that story. The mom: what a mean, horrible person. It was her idea to leave the kids in the woods with just a slice of bread. Dad was against it, but she won out. Yikes. I’d forgotten so much. But the kids heard the “mother” scheming for their ultimate fate.

(The fun part of re-reading these stories is that the very next paragraph, the parents are described as “old people” while Hansel snuck out to fetch white pebbles glowing in the moonlight.)

The children endured two trips into the woods, each bent on abandonment. The first one was foiled by the pebbles and the kids were back by noontime the next day. The second effort was “successful” because that bitch the mother locked Hansel in the house thus requiring him to use breadcrumbs, not pebbles, to mark the trail — BUT the breadcrumbs were eaten by birds in the deeper forest. On the third day of the second trip, a white bird found the children and led them to the edible gingerbread house owned by the duplicitous red-eyed old witch…

(No wonder I feared the elderly…)

Then the witch, sexist turd, made Grethel fetch food only for Hansel so she could fatten him up… then she tries to make Grethel check the oven but Grethel tricks the witch into showing her how to do it … and we all know how the story ends… the kids pillage the house and take its jewels back to dad, who is now curiously a widower. They all lived together “as happily as possible.” A wolf was the executor of the hotly contested estate after dad died.

They went back home. They went back where the trouble started.

What the breadcrumbs mean to me in my message is that in order to truly move on, to forge ahead in life and shed old patterns, relationships and habits which do not serve us, we have to not drop the breadcrumbs. We have to evolve into our own woodsman; we have to rescue ourselves.

The “place” (habit, relationship) we say we want to leave or change? If we drop breadcrumbs, we aren’t really ready to go/change.

Breadcrumbs can be different things to different people. For me, they can be a false sense of responsibility for a problem, which foments my old buddy chaos, which ensures I stay stuck.

So then the challenge from my higher self in my sleep was to stop using breadcrumbs. It was me calling me out, challenging me to greater growth by actively ditching bad habits from the past. No rearview mirrors. Don’t go back to the place I left…

I know this: my breadcrumbs lead to false solutions outside myself.

To wit: I can’t look externally for the solution to my problems when I might be the problem.

Marianne Williamson said it this way:

“Until we have met the monsters in ourselves, we keep trying to slay them in the outer world. And we find that we cannot. For all darkness in the world stems from darkness in the heart. And it is there that we must do our work.”
― Marianne Williamson, Everyday Grace: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness And Making Miracles

I like to make that a capital “W” for Work.

This was a long post about something, I’m sure.

Oh yes, here it is…. the point: Leaving that which no longer serves you means no more carbs. Stop it with the breadcrumbs. If you use breadcrumbs you do mean to return to the place (person/behavior) you were; you’re just flapping your wings and kicking up dust to get attention. It’s not wrong, it’s just not true. It’s not authentic. Here’s me: it also means that when you stop using breadcrumbs you can save your own day, and then: you will then become your own woodsman.

And that witches are nasty, foul creatures. That was point number two.

Thank you.