A Rising Tide

rising tide

I had an ugly mental moment this morning.  I’ve been cultivating a sense of abundance this week.  Trying to focus on all that I have.  Chanting, “I am enough, I am enough.”  Rowing my little boat and keeping it low in the water, right in the middle of the channel.

This Voice of the Year thing on Friday is a big deal for me.  I’m claiming that.  Some days, I numb myself from the excitement so that I don’t confess that I am thrilled to have wanted something and gone out and gotten it. I’ve been trying to stay in a positive, happy place with it instead of moving straight into “I hope I don’t screw this up” territory.

This is not a left-handed plea for y’all to say, “You’re going to be fine!”  I’m just telling you where my head went because I learned something from it.  I learned that it’s really hard for me to accept attention for doing something well.  I crave that kind of attention.  I seek it out.  But when it comes, I am afraid that the rug will be pulled out from under me.  I am afraid that someone else will come along and take what I wanted so much just because I admitted that I wanted it.  I am afraid that the “You’re OK!” store will be empty by the time I get there.

I am afraid.

That’s the gist of it.  At the heart of perfectionism is fear.  At the heart of my anxiety is fear.  At the heart of my depression is fear.  It’s always fear that I won’t be enough.

I am enough.

And here’s where the ugly mental thing came in.  I saw that another blogger, who’s very creative and clever and funny, will be doing an event the same time I will.  My immediate reaction, instead of, “Oh, wonderful!  I can’t wait to spend some time with her!” was “Seek and destroy.  If you get near her, you will be less.”  Suddenly, I wanted her to fail so that she wouldn’t take any of my success.

What the hell????  I’ve never even met her.

Luckily, I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book, “The Gift of Imperfection.”  I recognized a shame reaction as I was having it.  And even luckier, I had a therapy appointment already scheduled for today!

I made myself sit with the fear.  I checked my evidence and it proved that I have a right to be there, regardless of who else is around me.  I talked it through and realized that this once-in-a-lifetime event is also a big package of every inadequacy trigger I have, all rolled up into one.  People will see that I am old and overweight.  I might cry.  I might get short of breath and look like I’m panicking.  I might not be that good.  I might be good, but not the best.  I might ask for too much.  Maybe it’s arrogant of me to walk out on stage.

I’m reading a story about Richard and it might not be good enough to honor his memory.

These are my triggers.  Maybe they will make me sing and I’ll just black out altogether.

Part of going to therapy is letting these feelings come up.  Sitting with them.  Saying hello, then moving ON.  Even when they are scurrying to catch up to me.

I did my work with my therapist and I came back to the knowledge that there is enough of enough for everyone.  I don’t have to scrap with other writers for a limited number of readers.  I can be good.  She can be good.  You can be good.  We can all be wonderful together.

The creative life is not a competition; it’s a tide.  A rising tide lifts all boats.  When I occupy a space of abundance in my own heart, I can share it with others.  When I’m stuck in fear, I have nothing to give.  I am going to loosen my grasp, let the tide take me.  A rising tide, lifting all boats.

I’m not even going to reread this because I might chicken out on publishing it.  Just remember this:  fear doesn’t have to stop you.  It won’t stop me.

Swimmin’ In the Rain

A Man In Love

A Man In Love

Let’s see…for the month of July, we’ve spent $1000 on pool repairs and maintenance.  What with bad weather, assorted sicknesses, and a brief green period, the pool has sat idle for most of July.  If we divide that $1000 by 3 people going swimming 3 times each and that comes out to….carry the one…borrow 10…old math vs. new math….too much damn money and not enough fun!  So I left work today with one goal in mind:  GET IN THE POOL.

(Oh, and by the way, the bikini still hasn’t been worn.  It was too BIG!  I’ll try again with one size down.)

Anyhewwwww.  We got in the pool.  Vivi started some elaborate game that required her to corral a bunch of stray pool noodles (that she referred to as “dawn horses” or Eohippus) and some rubber balls (baby sabre tooth tigers) while Carlos and I worked on him kicking and blowing bubbles.

And not 10 minutes into our swim, it started to rain.  Big plunking drops that hit the surface of the water so hard, each drop made a bubble pop up.

“OK, let’s get out of the pool!” I hollered in my best upbeat yet not-to-be-contradicted Mom voice.  I shuffled towards the steps with Carlos in tow.  Vivi set the Eohippuseseses free in the deep end and headed over.  She pointed to our cups, sitting beside the steps and said, “Aw, man!  The rain is getting in our water!”

Wait, what?

Duh.

The rain is getting in our water?  And we’re getting out of the pool because…we might get wet?  Wetter?

I stood still and listened for a moment.  No thunder.  No lightning.  No high winds.  Just plinky plunky rain on our heads that were already wet from being in the pool.  Hell, it was warmer in the pool.

So we got back in.  And we LAUGHED about it.  I turned my face up to the sky and let the rain plunk and plink on my skin.  Carlos practiced holding on to the wall and kicking.  Vivi went back to the life of a nomadic prehistoric herdsgirl.

We went swimming in the rain.  Because sometimes you follow an old habit just out of habit, but when you look around, there’s no real REASON for that habit.

Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo
Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo 
Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo 
Doo-dloo-doo-doo-doo-doo…

I’m singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feelin’
I’m happy again
I’m laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun’s in my heart
And I’m ready for love
Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I’ve a smile on my face
I walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Just singin’,
Singin’ in the rain

Dancin’ in the rain
Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah
Dee-ah dee-ah dee-ah
I’m happy again!
I’m singin’ and dancin’ in the rain!

I’m dancin’ and singin’ in the rain…

Why am I smiling
And why do I sing?
Why does September 
Seem sunny as spring?
Why do I get up
Each morning and start?
Happy and head up 
With joy in my heart
Why is each new task
A trifle to do?
Because I am living
A life full of you.

(Hit it, Gene Kelly! If you’ve never watched this segment from the movie, PLEASE do yourself a jaunty little Tuesday kind of favor and take four minutes.  It’s totally worth it.)

 

A Tidy Kitchen Will Break Your Heart

beverage-21905_1280

A tidy kitchen.

“Just.  Wash. The. Godforsaken. POTS.”

That’s what I was growling under my breath tonight as I clung to the edge of the kitchen sink and tried not to pass out from the bleach fumes.  See, G is a chemist by training and he thinks that there’s NOTHING that bleach can’t fix.  Especially pots and pans.  He–being both a chemist and a MAN–refuses to just pick up the f’ing scrub brush and scrub the pot.  Instead, he leaves this morning’s waffle batter bowl sitting in the sink with equal parts bleach and water until the concoction eats through the stuck on stuff.  And my last nerve.

This makes me NUTS.  Just wash the pots and be done with it!!!!  His bleach fetish is also why most of my tshirts have a little line of bleached out dots right across the belly, where I’ve leaned up against the sink too soon after he’s “done the dishes.”

Is it just me or is your blood pressure up too?  GAH!!!!

So I finished up all the dishes once my eyes could focus from the fumes.  Done and done–ten minutes and NO DAMAGE to anyone’s respiratory system.  But the fumes did remind me of a story and a lesson I learned about 10 years ago this summer.

A few weeks after Richard and I bought this house and moved in together, my sister called me.  “So how’s it going?” she asked.

“It’s great…except there are a couple of things that are hard to adjust to after a few years on my own.”

She thought I was talking about manstink, but I assured her we had separate bathrooms.

“No, it’s the fact that he NEVER shuts the kitchen cabinets!  Or drawers!  He’ll walk into a perfectly clean kitchen to make a cup of coffee and leave the cabinet door hanging open, the spoon drawer sticking out, a sticky spoon NEXT TO the sink, and the creamer on the counter!”

My sister hooted.  Turns out her husband does the same thing and it makes her crazy too.

For months, Richard walked through the kitchen doing his thing and I walked right behind him tidying up.  (Which, if you’ve been in my house since I had kids….is no longer my practice.)

Then he got sick.  And he went to Baltimore for treatments.  I went up there on his heels for the first week but I had to come home eventually.

One morning, I walked into the kitchen to get something for breakfast and there wasn’t a thing out of place.  Except him.  The cabinets were fine, but he wasn’t.  I sank to the floor, right there in front of that clean sink, and sobbed until the dogs got worried and started to lick me.

A tidy kitchen will break your heart.

Sharing a life with someone takes compromise.  Sharing a home with other people is hard.  It’s messy.

Wonderfully, wonderfully messy.

And that’s not just the bleach fumes talking.

 

A Blender Family

family-76781_640“Mommy?  Who’s my stepmother?”

“You don’t have a stepmother, sweetie.”

“But you’re Sissy’s stepmother.”

“Right.  I’m Sissy’s stepmother because Daddy was married to her mommy but now he’s married to me.”

“So Daddy is Sissy’s stepfather?”

“No.  Daddy is Sissy’s daddy just like he’s your daddy.  Bob is Sissy’s stepfather.  A step is someone who’s married to your parent after your parents decide not to be married anymore. You don’t have any steps because your parents are still married to each other.”

“Do you have steps?”

“Yes!  Nana is my stepmother because she’s married to my dad, Papa.  Papa and Grandma Janice had Aunt Gay, Uncle Joe, and me.  Then when Nana and Papa got married, Aunt Brett became our stepsister.”

“Is Sam my stepsister?”

“No, Sam is Sissy’s stepsister because her dad is married to Sissy’s mom.  But you know what?  We just say sister.  Sam is Sissy’s sister.  Sissy is your sister.  Aunt Brett is my sister.  We’re a blended family.”

“What’s a blender family?”

“It’s when people are married and have kids then they decide not to be married to each other anymore.  If they marry someone else, then you blend the family together and your family gets bigger.”

“Like mixing fruit in a smoothie?”

“YES!  Exactly like that.”

“So how many times has Daddy been married?  I know YOU married a LOT of people…”

blink….blink…blink…

Excuse me, little girl?

A Sentence That’s Always True

Last night, just after I had taken my antibiotics and some ibuprofen to battle strep throat, I wrote my gratitude list for the day.  My body felt gross all over from the fever and my throat felt like raw glass every time I swallowed.  So in my list, I wrote “I can go to the doctor when I need to,” and “G took care of the kids so I could rest.”  I added a few more lines about the kids and my excitement over BlogHer.  For the last line in my gratitude list, I wrote, “This too shall pass.”ring

When the throat pain woke me up at 5 a.m. that morning, I thought it was postnasal drip.  By lunchtime, when the pain continued to escalate, I remembered our pediatrician saying, “A sore throat without a cough is strep,” I didn’t wait any longer.  Went straight to the doc in a box and felt great relief when I walked out with a positive strep test and a prescription.  I know that I will feel better in about 24 hours.  I know now what I’m dealing with, I’ve taken the actions that I can take.  Now I rest in the knowledge that “this too shall pass.”

But where’s the comfort in “this too shall pass?”  This proverb is often attributed to King Solomon, but it also appears in the works of Sufi poets.  I’ve heard it told that King Solomon asked his greatest wise men to think of a sentence that is always true, under every condition and in every situation.  The wise men, after much consideration, presented him with the sentence “This too shall pass.”  Solomon had the sentence inscribed on a ring so that each day, he could turn the ring and remind himself of something that was always true.

We most often hear this phrase in tough times, when we remind ourselves that the pain of today will pass.  The sore throat will heal.  The teenager will come around.  The job situation will resolve itself.  The budget won’t always be this tight.  Sleep will come tomorrow night.

Do we remember to say it on good days too?  As my son runs towards me to give me a hug, do I put down my phone so I can hug him with both arms?  When my daughter wants me to play some complicated game that she’s invented herself, do I make the time?  When the frogs are croaking outside, do I sit and listen?  Because this too shall pass.

One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned with time, with grief, with joy–is that this too shall pass.  The great lie that my depression used to tell me is “you will always feel like this.”  That’s not true.  The great lie that anxiety tells me is “you will always feel like this.”  Nope, it passes.  Physical pain, emotional pain.  It passes.

Every night, I sneak into my son’s room after he’s asleep to run my fingers through his hair.  Because this too shall pass.

Sunday Sweetness–Things To Desire

I have this poem on an old creased piece of notepaper, written out for me in my friend Mike’s very distinctive handwriting. It’s one of my most precious possessions. He sent it to me when we were new friends, long before I was heartbroken or frustrated or jaded. Long before I had known abiding love, great accomplishment, quiet peace. I come back to it every so often for a reminder of his kind gift and our long friendship.  I love him because he reminds me to be gentle with myself and to strive to be happy.

I hope you are a peace today.  Be cheerful.
POEM - Desiderata photo Desiderata.png