Tag Archives: advice

It’s Going to Suck

Image courtesy morguefile.com

Image courtesy morguefile.com

It’s been a tough week and it’s ONLY TUESDAY.

Tonight, I talked with a friend who is going through a hard few months, and today was especially awful. I shared with her another bit of advice from my sage friend, Robin. You might remember Robin from last week and that thought she once gave me about the worst thing you can do for someone you love.

You know how, in tough times, people often say, “It’s going to be OK” when they’re trying to provide comfort? Well, when Fartbuster and I were divorcing, I said, “It’s going to be OK” in front of Robin one day.

She shook her head gently and said:

“Oh, no, honey…It is going to suck. You are going to be OK.”

And that is the truth. Tough times are going to be tough. That’s why we had to make up a whole nuther word to describe them because “good times” didn’t work. Death of a loved one sucks. Divorce sucks. Parenting struggles, health problems, foreclosures–all that messy shit we live through every day SUCKS. But YOU are going to be OK.

Share that encouragement with someone today, whoever needs to hear it–even yourself.

It’s a Wonder Any of Us Survived

4th century, gold and glass medallion, Roman mother and child

4th century, gold and glass medallion, Roman mother and child

Tonight, I listened as another mother expressed some guilt over discovering that her 9 week old baby wasn’t gaining enough weight. The lactation consultant figured out that the baby needed more milk in the evening when the mom’s supply was low. After the baby gobbled up 7 ounces of pumped milk that first evening, the mother burst into tears because she realized then how hungry her baby must have been on the other nights.

Oh, I remember those feelings. The “cold” that turned out to be a double ear infection. The funny spot that was staph. The “teething” that was really hand/foot/mouth blisters. No matter how much we read and worry and track and monitor, it’s all still a surprise half the time.

My advice to the new mom came straight from my stepmother, Big Gay.

“Honey, put down the whip.”

That’s what she says whenever I’m flogging myself over some mistake or almost mistake (kinda like when Richard was yelling “Old Lady!”). Quit beating yourself up because there’s nothing to be gained from punishing yourself for not being omniscient.

Midnight, Mother and Sleepy Child, 1794

Midnight, Mother and Sleepy Child, 1794

Sharing that nugget of advice reminded me of a funny moment of parenting advice that Big Gay gave me when I was pregnant the first time. I drove down for a visit when I was about four months pregnant with Vivi. While we were eating dinner, I started getting really tired. Big Gay asked if I was sleeping OK.

“Usually,” I answered, “but last night I woke up at 2 a.m. and realized in a panic that I was sleeping flat on my back and the book says you’re not supposed to do that after about 10 weeks because the weight of the baby can restrict blood flow and cause the baby not to get enough oxygen so I’m supposed to sleep on my side and when I woke up and realized that I was sleeping on my back I felt so nervous about accidentally doing it again that I couldn’t really rest after that.”

Big Gay looked at me for a few seconds, like she was trying to figure out if I was kidding. Or if I might be having a neurological attack of some kind.

“No sleeping on your back? Huh. I don’t think I ever knew that when I was pregnant.”

I nodded in all seriousness. “Yep, it’s in the ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ book.”

Moche Culture, 3rd century Peru, ceramic mother and child figure

Moche Culture, 3rd century Peru, ceramic mother and child figure

She picked up her bourbon and took a sip. “We didn’t have anything like that.” She leaned across the table and whispered, “And it’s a wonder any of you survived.”

Then we had a good laugh and I promised to put down the whip. And while I was at it, I put down that book, too.

Women have been doing this a long time. Even before Google.


Don’t Pass It By


After Edith Wharton (author of novels The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome) began publishing her work in her middle years, she struck up a correspondence with the already respected author, Henry James.  She admired him greatly.  (Insert yawn here because Henry James has that effect on me.)  The two writers communicated by letter for three years before they ever met in person.  When they finally did meet, they became good friends. (Insert image of Daniel Day-Lewis in a frock coat having a fraught with meaning but sexually repressed and whispered conversation with Michelle Pfeiffer in a fussy bonnet.)  

My joking aside–here’s my point.  Like so many people who create, Edith Wharton went through a period when she struggled to find her voice.  She wandered uncommon paths for a woman of her position.  Wharton had been born into an old New York high society family, and was thus expected to marry well and live a presentable life.  Instead, she found herself stuck in a miserable marriage and yearning for her freedom.  (Ahem…Fartbuster, with a far superior dowry.)  She questioned whether anyone would care about the inner workings of the privileged world she knew. 

Henry James encouraged Edith Wharton to stick with writing about the New York City she knew so well–even though she disliked it. He said, “Don’t pass it by — the immediate, the real, the only, the yours.”

This life, the one we spend every day slogging through, is the straw we spin into gold.  We pass by so much in the search for something “important” or “meaningful.”  We climb over mountains of straw in the search for gold, not realizing that it’s lying all around us, waiting for us to work our magic!  

I hope you’ll take a look today at the immediate, the real.  What’s around you that’s beautiful or interesting?  What’s inside you that’s beautiful or interesting?  

Saturday Snort–Say What??

You-clearly-look-confused-lYesterday, I made reference to a traditional Polish proverb:  “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”  Here are some other odd sayings from other languages…

  • Hebrew: You don’t threaten a prostitute using a penis.
  • Russian: Don’t threaten a hedgehog with your naked butt.
  • Korean: You got a cat to watch your fish. (you came up with a solution that didn’t solve anything)
  • Norwegian: Taste is like the butt. It’s divided.
  • Finnish: Climbed up the tree ass first (idiotic)
  • My Grandfather:  You’re going around your ass to get to your elbow.
  • French: Having noodles framing your asshole (lucky)
  • Arabic: You bury me (I love you so much, I want to die before you do)
  • Spanish: I don’t even have a dead guy at this funeral (I don’t have a dog in this fight)
  • German: Two idiots, one thought (great minds think alike)
  • Russian: In times like these, it helps to remember there have always been times like these.



You know those times when you have a day that should have been a really good day–and it WAS a really good day–but then one person says one pissant thing and bursts the whole bubble?  And you keep telling yourself “Let it go!  Let it go!  That’s about them, not about you!  Kumbayah, My Lord, Kumbayah!” but your mind floooooooaaaats back to that meanness?  And by the end of the day you think you’ve forgotten about it but as soon as you sit in the car and take a deep breath before turning your mind to what to cook for dinner and who has homework left to do…then all of a sudden you’re CRYING?  And it’s not sad crying, it’s MAD crying?  Then 20 minutes later you’re back to thinking about meanness and wondering if you still remember the finer points of rolling toilet paper all over someone’s yard?  But you can’t do that because your husband is at a conference and you can’t leave the kids alone long enough to go t.p. some trees…oh, and you’re out of toilet paper?  And you can’t take the kids with you because you’d be setting a bad example and besides they suck at being stealthy?


I may or may not have had a day like that today.  Mind keeps floating back to meanness.  Retaliation.  Comeuppance.  (That’s twice in a week I’ve used “comeuppance” in a post so I think it might be time for a spa day.)

Days like today, I recall an old Polish Proverb:  “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”  It’s their clever way of saying “Not my problem” at the same time recognizing that life is essentially a circus filled with shit-flinging monkeys.  Circuses are fun, but they do smell.  

So I made a little picture to unleash my creative side.  If you find yourself surrounded by monkeys some day, print this out and tape it above your desk at work.  Or home.  Depends on the monkeys.  


Hit the Road, Jacqueline!

I’ve got a bonus column over at Work It, Mom! today.  This one is about taking a trip by yourself, for yourself.  Here’s a sample:  

Whether you’re going on a big trip or a little jaunt, the important thing to remember is that you have the right to step out into the world and explore.  I’ve traveled on my own for years and I still get the jitters sometimes, but I get over it.  It’s worth it.  I repeat to myself, “Be not afraid.  Be not afraid.”  Then I go.  


Click on this vintage travel poster from my favorite destination to read more about it!


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