19 October 2011

Making an Impact

Recently I was reading articles on people who had made a difference in the world.  They had created organizations that helped thousands of people, led revolutions of women calling for an end to violence, sold most of their belongings to in-need people and then traveled around the country helping others, etc.  Their stories touched me.  But they didn't touch me in the way you'd expect.  While I was in awe of their ability to make such an impact on their world I was more left wondering what my legacy would be.  Statues are erected, scholarships and buildings are named, forests are dedicated to people who make large contributions to the betterment of society, the environment, even just for excelling at what they do (how many statues to athletes and artists are there?).  I will not short-change myself and say that I have no talents, nothing to contribute.  I may not have been a Tony award or Pulitzer prize winner, but I think I could have inspired and touched people more than I do now.

All that got me thinking about what I can do.  What impact can I have at this point in my life?  I thought all of this as I sat at Kara's bedside reading to her.  I realized that the impact I can have shouldn't be so selfish.  Wanting to touch all those people is selfish.  Wanting to be recognized for my accomplishments is selfish.  What's most important is upstairs in her bed "reading" the books I just read.  It's in her crib sleeping peacefully after a day filled with play and new discoveries.  My mom touched MANY people's lives and hearts simply by being herself.  She reached out to others and taught them valuable lessons just by showing them her own kindness.  No statues have been erected to her (unless you count her headstone).  There are no scholarships, buildings or forests bearing her name.  But she taught so many people simple but enduring lessons about love, compassion and acceptance.  She raised me to care and respect the earth and humanity.  She gave everything she could to her children and then gave some more.  So maybe that should be my legacy, my impact too.  To carry on those lessons and to bring them to my children and their friends.  To just be myself.  My own light, my own personality, can touch people.  As a mom I have the chance to make a huge difference in two lives, my children's.  I can teach them things to raise them up and show them all the possibilities of the world.  That is a power, a legacy that no one should take lightly or think little of.  Somewhere along the way all those great thinkers and doers had to have someone who taught them valuable lessons that helped them reach their great heights.  I'm slowly realizing that it isn't the height you reach that matters.  It's the work you do to lift others up to new ones.

19 August 2011

Scheduling Time

We all go through it, how the hell do we fit everything into our days?  How do we meet the needs and wants of our children, our partner, our home and ourselves?  No, I'm not about to give you the golden ticket to figuring it out. 

I've recently been struggling with figuring out how to make every little thing fit into the few hours we have each day, the few days we have each week, and the few weeks we have each month.  The year can go fuck itself.  Some of the demands I'm navigating:
School (now 3 days a week)
Dance lessons (enrolling in this fall)
Playdates (she's very social and wants to know who we're seeing and where we're going each day)
Homeschooling (she's very intelligent and we want to have her tested next Spring for early entrance to Kindergarten)
One-on-one time with Adam and I (when we do this, she behaves better)

FunFit classes (enrolled in for the fall once a week)
Playdates (all of her friends are Kara's friends.  She needs more babies and toddlers closer to her age around)
Naps (she doesn't nap so well out and about and is a horrid night time sleeper without them)
One-on-one time with Adam and/or I (she often has to share us with Kara or other household chores)

Some sort of athletic activity
One-on-one time with me
Time to himself
Work and conference time

Cleaning (as in, all of it.  I don't want to admit how much of this gets negelcted.  But if you're a dirt or germaphobe, don't come over)
Cooking (I want to be sure what we're eating is healthy and a wide variety of styles)

Projects (I can't count how many I have half started somewhere)
Organizing (since I can't use my organizational skills in an office setting I go nuts at home and organize and label everything.  But it never stays that way)
Artistic expression (I miss theater and writing.  I just signed up for a once a week for four week writing boot camp)
Time to myself
Time with Adam

So yeah, it's a lot.  It's hard to fit all of that into the time that we have.  Our general weekly schedule fits in the basics and the hard scheduled items (like school and classes).  But then on the weekends it gets tricky.  We have to go grocery shopping (and that includes the meal planning, which can take over an hour).  We have naps to get in.  We try to pick up and clean around the house the things we don't do daily (toy pick up, bits of laundry- although one load can take over a day to go from getting it to the washer to put away, dishwasher unloaded/reload, kitchen picked up).  We also fit in a lot of our socialization with other families, errands we want to do together and then time at home, doing nothing.  Ahhhhh nothing.

Often things get pushed aside.  Like, I don't give Kara much attention when she works on her workbooks because I'm trying to play with Rowan.  Or both girls get ignored while I try to cook dinner.  Often Adam and I don't get time together so we can get things picked up.

I've started to remove things from my to-do list and social calendar.  I used to have a planned playdate once a month on Saturday for babies and toddlers.  I've sinced decided that no one was coming anyway to not waste time on it.  I had to cut back what work I do with my mom's group because it was taking away from time with Adam or to work on my projects.  I've scheduled activities that will fit what each person needs and then set up weekends and near schedule free times.  We try to have at least one "unplanned" weekend a month.  That means we turn down ALL invitations for that weekend.  If we really want to do something, we rearrange so that we have one free weekend. 

I don't know if this need for uber scheduling or the need to ignore half your house is part of being a parent or just part of life in general.  But I do know that each month I look at my calendar and wonder how the hell I got so booked up so fast.  And when will life slow down? The answer?  Never.

01 August 2011

An open letter to my mom

Dear Mom;

I know it's been a while since I last sat down to write to you.  I'm sure you understand how busy I've been though.  The girls certainly do take up a lot of my time.  Add to it that I try to keep some semblance of a social life going, tend to my marriage and that wonderful relationship, and help other moms out and well, there isn't much time left for writing to you.  Not that you really need me to write, you know what's going on in my life just as well as I do.  With your vantage point you probably understand it more than I do.  Which kind of brings me to the point of this letter. 

It's been 12 years since I last got to actually talk to you.  I'm really sad for those last words too. They weren't very kind or loving at all.  I'm sure you understand that I was angry and hurt.  But it doesn't change the fact that my last words to you had nothing to do with how much I love and value you.  I know I've mentioned it before here and there how much I appreciate all the long listening sessions you've given me.  Adam's about the only other person who just knows to sit and listen and to respond quietly and gently.  I remember how in college I'd call you almost every day just to talk.  I'd babble for ever about this that and the other thing, half the time it was rambling and I probably never finished half my thoughts.  But you'd listen and respond where you thought it was valued or important.  You taught me many lessons in those conversations even with a simple and quiet word here and there.  I remember one time you told me that you disagreed with me and explained why.  I can't remember the exact reason or topic, but I remember the calm way you talked to me.  You didn't judge me for my opinion or my view.  You just simply told me where you were coming from.  That one time, believe it or not, has really shaped how I talk with people when we disagree.  I try to stay calm and follow your example of never judging.  The biggest lesson you ever taught me, in all my life has been to accept and welcome everyone.  No matter who they are, they are valid people.  It's been rough sometimes. There are times I want to brush people off, but even when I get into arguments and think that I completely clash with someone, I still care about them.  I still want to be sure they're ok.  Remember when you accepted the guy I was engaged to and everyone else didn't?  The way you welcomed D into our home and our lives helped me feel secure in my choices and let me know that they were my choices to make.  I have always wondered what you thought of Adam.  The notes and letters I've gotten from you haven't really told me anything about how you see him.  But you only got to meet him what, 3 or 4 times before we parted ways?  There's so much I want to say and tell you.  12 years is a long time to go without talking to one's best friend.  Huh, I don't suppose I ever told you that either?  Yeah, the times that you were around and really with it I counted you as my best friend.  You've always known me better than anyone else.  Dad once told me that I knew you better that just about anyone.  I always wondered how it was that you and I got to be so close when my personality is so much more like Dad's?  I suppose it's because you and I were together a fair bit when I was younger.  I can't go to a mall or a garage sale without thinking of you.  And even though we spent so much time going to malls or garage sales together, you still taught me that it's not about the having or the buying.  The material things are nice and all, but they don't take the place of the personal interactions.  Not to mention the impact it all has on the earth.  Yup, I know, I'm your little hippie child.  You should see it when I put on the Peter, Paul & Mary 10 Years Together album (on vinyl even!).  I start dancing and singing and the girls get into it too.  There's hope for them yet Mom!  I bet I drove you nuts sometimes with how much I'd play that album.  Over and over and over again.  Usually skipping right to "If I had a hammer".  I remember I'd go find a bell to ring.  At least I never went to get a hammer to bang. 

Oh mum, so much time has passed.  When Rowan was born I wished more than ever that you were there to see her.  My first look at her and I thought "she looks like Mom!".  She still does too.  Her face reminds me so much of you.  It's funny, but Kara's named for you but Rowan looks like you.  I guess that way both my girls have a part of you to them.  Their hair even reminds me of you.  It's sort of that all in one in between color.  Not quite brown or blonde or red.  Speaking of which, did you ever notice my eyes changing to more of a hazel?  Since you've been away I've noticed them changing.  Again, it reminds me of you.  I remember you saying your eyes were changing color as you got older.  There's so much about getting older and the changes I'm going through I wish I could talk to you about.  I remember when I was younger and I'd be in your room while you got dressed.  I remember asking what those marks were on your belly and you told me stretch marks from having had us 3 kids.  I remember watching the way you put on a bra.  Now that I'm older I'd love to talk to you about how my body has changed and how I see it differently since I've had 2 kids.  It's one thing to talk to my other mom friends, but to talk to the woman who bore me and raised me would be really helpful and nice.  Heck, even the simpler things like the fact that my hands are starting to ache more from simple tasks.  And my one knee hurts a lot lately.  Did you ever go through all that?  Is this part of being your daughter or is it just what every woman goes through?  I hear my friends talking about how they talked to their mom lately. Or their mom was over and comparing their kids to them as kids.  I wish you would come do that too.  I wonder just how spoiled you'd make all your grandkids.  I imagine very. 

How have you been by the way?  Do you not worry about all the issues that were bothering you before?  Have you gotten to see the people you wanted and the places you always dreamed of?  What was it like when you left?  Did you notice us at all?  Sorry I wasn't there when you left.  I couldn't stay to watch, I just had to get out and away.  I sometimes wonder if I had stayed there would you have left?  If I had gone to talk to you like I had thought, would it have made any difference or was it already too late?  I guess these are things we'll never know.

Well, it's a little late.  The girls are finally asleep and Adam and I need to spend some time together.  Kara's been asking about you lately.  If you have a bit, I'm sure she'd like get to know you.  But I understand if you're not free.  I've been thinking of making the drive to see you the next time we're back home.  It's quite a drive from Dad's though so we may wait until the girls are older.  I hope this letter finds you well.  I'll try to write again soon.  In the mean time, rest in peace and know you are well loved and missed.

Love always,
your babe

30 July 2011


When I was younger I always loved fairy tales.  The stately ladies, kind peasant girls, wise wizards enchanted me.  I was enthralled with the idea of a prince, king or sweet peasant boy rescuing me from some garden, enchantment, or helping me solve some labyrinth.  I often would sit on swings and imagine I was a beautiful girl swinging in her luscious garden in beautiful flowing clothes.  My hair often was imagined away to be a golden blonde or dark chestnut brown instead of its normal bright flaming red.  I'd pretend that some handsome and brave guy would see me as I swung above the stone walls.  He'd be so taken with my beauty and my singing voice or kindness to the animals around me that he'd fight to find a way in.  Eventually we'd go off and live happily ever after in a stately home, not always a palace, but a place with more lovely gardens.

When I got older I found myself with no support at home because of my mom's drinking.  I didn't feel like I had a father figure, or any parent really (sorry dad, but I didn't).  I often dreamed that I would be taken away from my misery of being a preteen and having such a rough home life.  I realized then that fairy tales weren't going to do me a damn bit of good.  I didn't believe in anything religious and had no escape that I trusted.  It was about that time that I developed a lot of issues with self-harm and suicide.  I found that to get attention from adults I had to be as dramatic as possible.  That's not saying that my self-hurting or mild suicide attempts were an attempt to get attention.  The two are not always connected and in my case they were not.  I just found that if I dramatized things more I would get more attention.  At about that time I started to make my self-harm attempts hidden, at least from the adults.  I started to have even more suicide issues turned real and started to hate life and actually want to die.  I know in many ways I still wanted to be rescued but I also took time to try and rescue my friends.  I wanted to be that smart beautiful girl in some imagined world.  But I realized that in this one I would never be what I wanted. 

At about that time a male figure came into my life who was loving, saw me as beautiful and told me that I was smart and talented.  He loved to hear me sing and said I was the kindest person he had known.  This boyfriend became a father figure to me and a lover.  Sadly he was also somewhat manipulative even if he didn't realize he was doing it.  He didn't like some of my friends, so I stopped associating with them.  He thought some of what I did was childish so I stopped it.  He listened to certain music and didn't like some of what I listened to so I changed it.  I was searching for approval and for acceptance by anyone.  Later he would even cut down my looks and my talents.  Even with some of the emotional abuse and manipulation I stuck it out.  The way I saw it, my knight in shining armor was better than nothing.  I got love, attention and some respect from him when I felt none from own family or my peers.  He had come into my garden, fallen in love, and rescued me.

Later when that relationship finally died and ended I swore off relationships for a time.  Only a few months later another man entered my life who I latched onto to save me.  This time mostly from myself.  I was so self-destructive by this time that I was hardly functioning in "normal" society.  Drugs, avoidance of responsibilities, even avoiding friends and family were my main methods.  I had been cutting myself for years but it really escalated at this time.  In part due to the loss of the relationship that had gotten me through my teen years.  I fantasized about taking a leap off of what had been known as "suicide bridge".  I had a great view of it from my window and it seemed to call to me.  I avoided walking on it at all costs because I knew I would be tempted.  So here enters yet another rescuer to save me.

It seems to me that I have always turned to others to rescue me.  I've asked others to save me from my own brink of destroying myself.  I've known that I have strength and have tried to get through life solo but people have encouraged me to seek and accept help.  As we went through the family counseling for my mom's addiction I always heard them saying "you can't do it alone, get help."  It felt so wrong to me but they always said "you are helpless, you need others to do it for you".  I know they were talking about addiction, but to a young girl all you hear is that when you get in a rough spot in life get someone else to save you because you're powerless.  So now I often feel I can't do anything without help.  I swung from an extreme of saving myself when no one was around and being alone to needing someone.  Where's the balance? 

I have always loved two of Ani Difranco's songs.  In "Not a Pretty Girl" the lines
"I am no damsel in distess
and I don't need to be rescued
so put me down punk
maybe you'd prefer a maiden fair?"
Have rung true for quite some time.  I don't feel like a maiden fair.  But I also don't want to feel like a damsel in distress.  I love the song because it is what I feel I am not.  I may not be a pretty girl in the sense of looks, but I always feel I need saving.  The other song that means a lot to me is "Superhero"
"I used to be a superhero
no one could touch me
not even myself
you are like a phone booth
I somehow stumbled into
and now look at me
I am just like everybody else"
I often feel that at one point I was a superhero taking so much burdens on my own back and then I found these phone booths that were others and walked in.  Then I became powerless.  I had to have that person to save me.
I often wonder if that first rescuer felt the need to rescue me way back when (we'll call him D).   Did he always think he had to be my savior?  His little brother once told me that D said he was only dating me because he didn't want me to kill myself. D denied it but I always sort of felt it was there, under the surface.  If it was true then what would have helped me more I think was if instead he had been a good friend and told me my value.  But we were young teens and didn't know any better.  I do not fault D for that or for trying to save what he saw as a damsel in distress.  It is quite natural for a teen boy to want to seem so strong and powerful by rescuing and helping a girl.  Now with my husband I sometimes feel he too came on as a rescuer.  I was pretty down and out when we met and I ended up even lower and worse a few months later when my mom died.  So again, I needed rescuing/saving.  When he goes on conferences I often wonder how I'll get by with 2 kids.  So I turn to others to help when they can.  But I still feel often like I'm floundering.  I get through fine, but it's still there in my mind that I need to be rescued from doing this solo.

I have wondered a lot lately if I do have the strength to survive on my own.  With no kids I'm sure I could do it, and it might be good for me.  But with kids, I just don't quite feel the strength.  I don't really remember many times I was fully on my own in my life.  Just me having to rely on myself.  A job, an apartment to pay for and maintain, make friends and be entertained on my own. The closest I think I ever got was during college but then I had others to turn to and rely on.  I sometimes want to do an experiment and go off to a city I know no one in, get a job somewhere and sign a month to month lease.  Then see how long I can survive, see how I do totally on my own.  In college I was too messed up half the time to really get an idea of if I had the strength to do it.

But I've always had someone, some guy or some gal to rescue me.  I love to rescue my friends and help them out.  And my family.  But can I rescue myself?  Can I be the smart princess who manages to solve the riddles and help free the kingdom from the enchantment?  Or am I just the girl in the garden waiting for someone to come and show her something more?

07 July 2011


Sorry for the long hiatus.  After the chaos of my surgery and then the move I have added more tasks to my plate and haven't had a chance to get back to this blog.  It's a nice respite for me though.  A bit of a journal, a bit of a soap box, a bit of a way to keep in touch with everyone.  It's very exhibitionist of me and very self-centered I admit.  I want the whole world to know about the things I experience and the things I go through.  It's not very well written either. 

The past few days though have made me realize how much I need to come back to this.  I've been stressed out, worn out, strung out and ready to be hung out to dry.  Part of it is how busy we have been lately.  My social calendar reminds me too much of the Berenstain Bears book "Too Much Pressure".
I am almost always on the go; during the week, on the weekends, it doesn't matter.  It's gotten to the point where I have to schedule days at home.  Part of this is my fault. I am a social creature and so is Kara.  We both want to know what we're doing that day and who we're seeing.  If Kara gets told that we aren't going anywhere or doing anything she gets disappointed.  We still often have a good day at home, which is something I have to remember.  On weekends I figure I have Adam here to help me with the girls so larger outings are easier.  And we want to do things fun as a family.  But it means the house gets neglected and the "honey do" list gets put off for the week. 

We've had a fair number of house guests, more than we often do in such a short span of time.  My sister and her family came to visit.  We hadn't seen them in 3 years.  I missed them so much and was ecstatic that they came out!  It was a long haul for them coming from California.  We had a blast!  But it was also tiring to be on the go a lot and to be trying to wrangle Kara and her cousin (they are 2 months apart).  Now we have my in-laws visiting.  I like it when they come because my house is cleaner than ever, my laundry gets done, the girls are entertained and I can escape now and then.  But company, no matter how wonderful and no matter how helpful, is still company and can still get stressful.

Rowan turns one this month.  So I am also busy planning and organizing her birthday party.  I am working out the small details like what food to get and how much.  Who is going to help me prepare the food I'm making, stuff the goody bags, entertain the girls so I can work?  Who will help us stake our claim to the shelter (which I recently found out we can't reserve but is on a first come first serve basis)?

On top of all of that I have had to get my things together for a local consignment sale, price what didn't sell and what I couldn't sell there for a friend's garage sale, make sure Adam is doing ok after his procedure, do Promotions work for the mom's group I'm part of, and help the national mom's group with some projects.  I don't regret all of that.  I don't resent it either.  It's just a lot of stuff piled up on top of other things.

But there's something else looming on the horizon that makes me depressed this month.  It hit me today while I stood cooking.  I was wondering what my mom would have thought of my cooking skills.  She was a fantastic cook, my friends eagerly accepted invitations to eat with us.  One friend once told me that if I ever got to be as good of a cook as my mom I had to invite him over, even if we weren't on speaking terms.  I had gotten a new blender and was wondering what she would have thought of it.  I imagined her smile as she would whip up tons of new concoctions in a short amount of time.  That's when I realized what's been bugging me.  July fills me with dread, it always will in some ways I suspect (sorry Rowan).  But July leads into August 1st.  And every year I will always relive August 1, 1999.  Mom died that day, I was there.  I sat on the hood of a car while the EMT's worked on her inside the house with my dad nearby.  Adam comforted me as I awaited the news.   My mom had been an alcoholic, she had been in and out of my life for years.  But I was really close to her and we had healed some of the past issues.  I don't miss the drunk mom.  I miss the mom that never taught me how to peel and seed a tomato.  I miss the mom that never told me how she got through all those sleepless nights with babies.  I miss the mom that never saw me get married, set up my own kitchen, or even have the lead in a college play.  I miss the big things and the little things like phone calls every day (I used to call her almost every.single.day from college). 

So yeah.  Today's a day I'm just popping back in to say I'll try to be here more.  Because I sometimes like to think all these writings are making their way to Mom.  And maybe, just maybe, by writing all of this I can help some other person.

01 April 2011


Come out and get a great meal and support a great organization too.

*I know, where have I been and why haven't I done a real post in a while. I've been moving!