Things I Don’t Get


My niece has inspired a new list for me this evening. I will call it “Things I Don’t Get”…

1. Why anyone would need an additional belly button tattoo right next to the original: was the first one lonely?Didn’t it hurt enough the first time?

2. Skinny jeans: they certainly don’t make anyone skinny!

3. 18 self-checkout machines manned by 3 employees staring at the 26 people in the regular check-out lane for who shopping in the first place was a big enough ordeal without bagging it all too…

3.5 Ditto for airport self service kiosks;

4. Entertainment venues offering children’s parties where parents are not free;

5. The existence of caffeine-free diet soda in general (and how I have managed twice now in two weeks to buy it);

6. Why they can’t make in rewards card that accommodates a plethora of vendors;

7. Velveeta.

Clearly I am getting old, rigid and easily confused, but honestly it wears me out just thinking about this stuff.

The first item on my list is really just to razz my sister about her crazy kids…though yeah, STILL don’t get it.

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Split a Million Ways


Those articles that shout “you too can have it all” must be outright lies…or just belong to someone else’s reality.

It has been well over a month since I have written anything more elaborate than a Facebook status: partially because I haven’t had time and partially because I get ashamed when I see myself falling behind and would rather fall off the map than admit I see an inability to get everything done as a weakness instead of just a practical reality.

In the past few weeks, I have had a loved one unexpectedly hospitalized (way scary), giant projects at work, the birth of a new niece and travel shoved in with general survival. Add in several anxiety attacks, occasional bouts of exercise, toddler tantrum remediation and obligatory social occasions and you have…

Life.

It’s the way it goes. You roll with it or fight it; the former has benefits of conservation of energy, the latter allows room for the illusion that we have much control.

I went away for a hiring event (one I worked my arse off to plan and execute) for one of my company’s locations. It was many long hours on my feet, and my blister’s blisters had babies over a 4 day period.

My sainted hubby had the kids alone while I was gone. Both kids and the dog got sick at the same time. After 4 days of business travel I flew home, got off the plane, arrived at my house (after an hour stuck in rush hour traffic) and took over for the weekend.

Today I went back to work wondering
If I really did anything this weekend beyond herding crying children, wiping gooey, snotty faces and hiding in the bathroom (which doesn’t work by the way).

And yet? I have a job to go to and a reason to work hard. I have the children and family I always wanted. We’re not rich, but we have a roof and clothes and help should we need it. I have reasons to laugh daily.  Everyone made it through their various illnesses, and I am still here to write about it all.

And while I wish I were writing more, perhaps I should just be grateful I can write at all, and  be pleased when I can eek out more than a fragment in a bathroom stall (ew!) or during bouts of insomnia.

Or maybe at least I can be willing to accept that I am human, I can only do so much, and be thankful for those things that I do manage to get done…and accept that for me, if I am spending time cuddling my babies (and yes, they are not technically babies, dangit, but they are my babies) and providing for their welfare as best I can, I’m doing okay…and maybe work on trying to better fit some of the other bits in there too and not be so hard on myself.

The Evolution of Dreams


I have always thought it important to have both dreams and  goals.  For much of my life, that was difficult to articulate: I am one for who most of those dreams have always been a little hazy and insubstantial…with a few exceptions:

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Early Morning Debacles of the Embarrassing Kind


I woke this morning before 5am, as is becoming normal for me. I went into the bathroom, starting to get ready to take a shower and I realized my iPhone was at 1% of battery life. Instantly panicked (as anyone as phone-dependent as I am quickly becomes at this status) I brought my phone over to the outlet in the bedroom and plugged it in. I started checking my email, etc. and the next thing I knew, ended up working on a blog post for www.mischiefofminions.com (my other blog, more kiddie-focused: feel free to check it out!).

My husband discovered me still there when he woke up 40 minutes later.

“Um – whatcha doing?” he asked.

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Dinner time on a diet


I may have mentioned previously that I am not a skinny gal. It’s a battle I continue to fight: at times my efforts are pretty hardcore.

Like now, for instance.

A working mom’s best friends are sometimes drive-thru windows and at least partially pre-packaged meals at least once or twice a week.

Not an option. I have a very limited diet and need to prepare my own meals. It sucks.

What becomes harder? Walking into the house and preparing a meal that will feed me and making additional options for everyone else…far tastier options.

It’s not just the cooking. It’s the dang dishes and the clean-up. It is a giant pain in the hooey.

What I need is a personal chef and housekeeper. For that matter, a personal trainer would not run amiss.

But if I had those things, I also probably wouldn’t need to work the hours I do, etc., etc.

Ah well. Night 3 of home-cooking included cooked cabbage. Not the tastiest item, especially without lots of butter and salt. My family’s option included pasta, which I can’t have.

I’m not bitter, not really. I ignored my daughter’s comments about my soggy lettuce. I tried not to smell the delicious carbs. I ignored my husband’s pitying look. I am eating what I should and hopefully it will lead to better things.

That said? The lovely cabbage smell? The kind of smell that sneaks up on you in hallways of random apartment buildings?

Yeah, they won’t be running away from that anytime soon.

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Commuting Bliss


Today, for a training class, I found myself back on a commuter train, going into the city with the other thousands of public transportation takers into the city.

And you know what? I found I’d missed it a little.

Usually my commute via car is about 45 minutes. Typically this time is used for making appointments, coordinating the pickup of children, the occasional touch base with sisters or friends and avoiding traffic bottlenecks.

Today?

I got to close my eyes!! And they have apparently instituted quiet cars during rush hour! I could have wept with joy.

And on the way home? I did the same thing!

I am not saying I want to return to my city commute: it’s too far from my kids should I need to get home in a pinch. But for one day?

Dreamy. Literally.

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Concessions of a working mum


There are many ways in which my life has changed while trying to balance a family, kids, and a career. I now find myself:

  • Listening to books a la .mp3 while commuting since keeping my eyes open with a real book seems impossible;
  • Writing blog entries on my cell phone mornings at two a.m. while waiting for my small son to fall back asleep;
  • Watching the first 10 minutes of one television show on the DVR over a three evening period because I keep falling asleep before the 11th;
  • Sneaking into my children’s rooms to watch them sleep because I get such little time with them during the day (and occasionally waking up in their rooms);
  • Catching up on the lives of my family via Facebook since so rarely are we able to even speak on the phone at the same times;
  • Not having any kind of consistent social life outside of the minions;
  • Getting little quality time (read: any time) spent on hair, makeup, or general beautification unless I am willing to get up at 3am (sorry world);
  • An almost constant craving for Sleep, Sleep, Sleep (Um, have I mentioned sleep?) has supplanted almost all other desires.

And honestly? I am so grateful for the two little Berserkers I have that as long as they remain decently clothed, fed, and (reasonably) happy, nothing else matters. There is nothing I am unwilling to do in that pursuit, no job I would not undertake, and I am sure that is true of you too.

The minions: my main inspiration for everything.

True Confessions: I want to be like my Mom.


I hear all the time how women don’t want to become like their mothers. I feel sorry for them.

Don’t get me wrong: my mama isn’t the cuddly, Hallmark type. She can cut you down into shreds with words if you get on her bad side, she can talk you into doing things you would never in a million years otherwise consider, and I would pit her against Mike Tyson any day: the power of her stare would make the guy quiver and shrink into the fetal position in a heartbeat.

  • She once tackled me, sat on my stomach and put gum in my hair when she caught me chewing it with my braces on.
  • She abandoned me post-surgery in the food court of a shopping mall because I couldn’t keep up. (Notably, I had had my wisdom teeth removed and couldn’t eat either.)
  • She cancelled Christmas one year on us because we were such naughty kids.

In essence, my mommy is one tough b*tch. She is the badass of motherhood. And I want to (mostly) be just like her when I grow up.

My mama can out-cook, out-clean, and out-organize just about anyone that I know. She will give the clothes off her back to someone in a pinch. She has raised most of her grandchildren for free. She is an artist, a poet, and an accountant, and had she had the opportunity to go to college, she would have pulled straight “A’s” out of pure determination.

BKS would put any executive to shame with her ability to understand the bigger picture of a situation. She will go a week without sleep preparing for a party and making it perfect; she is relentless in her diligence to everything. She never forgets (although she may occasionally get confused) and she is always prepared.

She is the strongest woman I know, and can simultaneously be trusted with your deepest secret and depended on to help wherever she can. She is ridiculously self-less. She has bailed me out of my own messes so many times I cannot even count, and she loves the heck out of me even if I make absolutely no sense to her.

And believe me, I make little to no sense to her. It’s not that I’m so complex, it’s that she thinks I am completely ass-backwards in most respects. She’s probably right.

  • She told me not to move to the City – I did so anyway.
  • She told me I was a fool to go on vacation on my own to the Pacific Northwest, renting a car and staying in hostels up the Pacific Coast.
  • She yelled at me when I called her from the side of Multnomah Falls, telling me not to use the cell phone because I could be lynched or fall.
  • She has told me on numerous occasions that I have far too much fun and that I should work harder. She’s probably right.

Truthfully, my mother’s not entirely sure how I’ve survived this long. I’m not entirely sure how I’ve survived this long either – except by the Grace of God and the help of friends and family.

Anyway – even if I don’t make sense to her – my mom has pushed me to do something with my writing for about 25 years now. I think she knows that inside, that’s what I really want to do, if I can only figure out how to do it. I haven’t managed it yet, but I am trying: if I had half her moxie and drive, I am pretty sure I’d have managed a book or six by now.

I love her dearly, respect her more than anyone, and hope someday to do as I am told like a good girl and to make her proud.

So, Momma, it’s not a book, and I doubt you’ll ever read it – but this Blog’s for you.

Take a Deep Breath…Now.


I find myself holding my breath way too frequently: when I am waiting for a decision at work to be made on a candidate I’ve presented, when my to-do list far exceeds my normal life expectancy, and when I’m particularly worried that someone will notice I’ve forgotten to brush my teeth*(ew) in my rush to get to work.

I get stressed. I get anxious. I worry, about the important stuff and the totally non-important stuff. And I just found out hey, scientifically? Holding your breath apparently just makes all of that bad stuff worse.

Apparently, all that yoga stuff and meditation nonsense has some real validity to it: beyond the allure of the “in” exercise and the promise of a smoothie afterwards, there is a lot that we can do in the way of lowering stress, reducing anxiety, and achieving mental clarity if we make a conscious effort to take long, slow deep breaths. Remember to breathe OUT all the way too, or you will defeat the purpose.

When the idiot you work with (I just assume every place has at least one) does something to frustrate you, run in the bathroom and sit for a few minutes and slow down your breathing. Make it deep and even.

When you have a report due, and Excel is kicking your proverbial ass, go outside for 5 minutes. Again, breath deeply. Even if it is ridiculously hot outside, changing your breath and your environment can really help you get a fresh perspective on your problem.

You may feel like you have no time at all to do even that much: but if you take a few moments to recharge your brain, and quiet your heart, the oxygen that you take through slow breathing has massive restorative and energizing properties. Taking a few minutes to make your mind function more effectively will ultimately save you a lot more in the long run.

And even if you’re not stressed right now? Do the breathing exercises anyway. Try to do it a few times a day – maybe treat it like endurance training. That way, you’ll totally have it down the next time the poop hits the fan and you could really use some perspective and a highly functional mind.

*as a disclaimer, I *do* keep a spare toothbrush at work for these emergencies. 🙂

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Keeping it Real


It is sooo easy to get caught up in wanting what you don’t have. The high-end baby couture, the money,the boats,  the vacations, the careers. I find myself wishing I had a different shape, a more exciting job, and a cabin with a giant hammock.

When it comes to “thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ goods” – I need to go to confession more.  At this rate, I’m likely to be struck by lightning.

Jealousy just doesn’t make you feel good inside: it cripples and blinds you to the awesome things you do have. It steals your contentment. It makes you anxious. It makes you bitchy and resentful. You are not fun to be around (I speak from personal experience and the testimony of friends who have called me on it when guilty of being “that girl”).

Comparing yourself to others creates an internal dialogue that somehow you are better or worse than someone else. Neither is healthy. Telling yourself you are better keeps you from working on your defects, and telling yourself you are worse becomes an excuse.

Here are a few things I’ve been taught over the years:

  • Don’t assume. The stories we tell ourselves about the would-be happiness of others based on the cool things they have and do are usually pure fiction. That chick carrying a Prada bag with the fab social calendar may not actually like any of the people she is with, but utterly terrified to be alone.
  • Skinny people (apparently) need love too. My size six friends want to be twos, and the size twos want to be zeros. They don’t eat much food, and are just as self-conscious – if not more stressed – about their own appearance as I am.   There is fierce competition in the set.  They also break easily and fall through grates routinely. (Have I mentioned most of my dearest friends are skinny? And gorgeous?)  Give them many hugs…gentle ones.
  • The more you put your focus on giving to others and work to make others’ lives happier, the less you focus on yourself or what you don’t have. Try volunteering. Shock your mother by showing up and doing something for her. Go clean your sister’s house.
  • Focus on what you have. Lay on the floor in your house. Look at the ceiling and be grateful you have a roof. Imagine not having one. Put your hand on your belly. Is it full? Are you hungry? Even being able to ask that question is luxury. Are you wearing clothes? Do you have a car to take you to work? Do you get to have a job? If you have what you need, even if it isn’t what you want, you’re luckier than many, many people.
  • If there is something you want, work for it.  If you want the trip to Disney, start saving now.  Put in more time at work, or get creative and figure out a way to increase your income if you can.  You are the only one who can really do anything to improve your situation, regardless of how you got there.  Take responsibility for making your life better.

Occasionally, when I remember to do these things, I find I feel an awful lot better about life and people in general. I’m still sarcastic, yes,  but I enjoy life more.

The reality is unless we can learn to be happy In our own skins and content with what we have, chances are we won’t know what to do with more anyway.

That said, you people with the awesome boats and sweet swimming pools? I’m a great cook and would love to visit…

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Have I mentioned my beautiful, skinny friends occasionally take me to amazingly gorgeous islands with pools? I am blessed.