Let’s Abolish Mondays

Mondays can be rough no matter what. It’s hard to get going again after a weekend. My Mondays are even more sketchy because I have therapy sessions on Monday mornings. Depending on the type of session, I can find myself mentally exhausted before noon on a day when I typically have a ton to do. So, my Monday looked like this today, Dropped Thing 2 at school at 7:45. Drove the 20 miles home. Did a training session with the puppy. Showered. Drove 22 miles back to the city for therapy and did some tough, emotionally draining work there for an hour. Ran to the liquor store for beverages for a party we’re hosting on Thursday. Stopped by the bank. Drove to two stores to knock off some holiday shopping. Made it home by 2. Ate a little lunch, wrapped a couple gifts, and did some laundry. Left at 3 to pick up some items at a store before collecting Thing 2 at 4:15. I arrived home at 5, just in time to let the dog out and greet hubby who picked up takeout for dinner. The rest of my night has been a blur because I am spent, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I could have fallen asleep at the dinner table, but I powered through.

Steve and I were discussing tonight that the work weeks in the United States are insane. No one needs to be working 40+ hours per week. Wouldn’t we be a much better, healthier, happier, more relaxed, less bitter and homicidal nation if we worked 32 hour weeks and had a day off mid-week instead of just having two days on a weekend? I mean, I know it’s better now than it was back in the mid-1800s when people had to cut lumber to build their own homes and then dig their own wells and grow all their own food. I get it. We’re pretty cushy with our air fryer ovens and indoor plumbing and all, but it’s all what you’re used to. Our lives go at six million miles an hour these days, and it is taxing. It’s no wonder we live for Fridays and want to run away on Mondays. We are inundated with information and news and bombarded with ads and requests for our attention. And, in the midst of all of this, we try to maintain relationships and households. It’s no wonder pioneer folks had their kids working by age 6. They couldn’t do it all without help either.

I think my corgi puppy, Loki, summed Mondays up best when I tried to capture his photo this morning:

Monday mood

Adulting is hard.

The Perfectionism Predicament

It’s me! On a ski slope in Utah.

The other day during a Peloton ride, the instructor said something that I have been turning over in my head since then. He was talking about how often we will do something, like say a Peloton workout, and be upset with ourselves if we don’t meet the challenge placed in front of us. He was encouraging riders to do their best for that day, but to know that some days you won’t achieve the goals and that is okay. Every day is different. Some days are harder. It’s okay to meet yourself where you are. Then he said, “Perfectionism is a disguise for insecurity.”

Whoa. I have struggled with the ugly beast of perfectionism most of my life. I’ve also battled insecurity. But it never occurred to me that the two might be linked, or at least I’ve never heard it expressed quite that way. It’s accurate, though. When you are feeling insecure about something, be it person or circumstance or item, you may feel a need to control it. Like my parents before me, I was raised to believe if you can’t do something well, you shouldn’t do it at all. I can’t attribute a number to the times I’ve walked away from opportunities because those opportunities meant I would have to be new to some place or some task or some one. Appearing “stupid” (a stand-in term for any number of different negative adjectives, like incompetent or pathetic) became my biggest fear.

Around the time my husband and I were first married, we went skiing with some friends for the day at a mountain known for more difficult terrain. Of the people in our group, I knew I was the least experienced skier. I was nervous about it. After our first run, I knew my fears were valid. If skiing expertise ranked from 1 (never tried) to 10 (world’s best), my husband and our friends were solid 8 skiers and I was maybe a 4. I struggled to keep up. At one point, we were at the top of an expert run and there was a tow rope to the top of the ridge. The group decided we would take it and ski a nearby bowl. I had never ridden a tow rope. I was terrified of them. I’d seen countless videos of people being dragged up the slope by one of those contraptions. I was not about to take one now for the first time in front of 7 other people I knew. No way. No how. I told them I’d meet them down in the lodge. The rest of the story got ugly for me. My friends tried to convince me. I rejected their arguments. Back and forth, we went. Until finally, completely exasperated, I had a meltdown on the slope. Raised voice, flailing arms, animated speech. The whole nine yards. The only thing I didn’t do was throw myself down and bang my clenched fists in the snow. It was a toddler tantrum. I basically told them, “You can’t boss me,” and took off down the slope in a big old drama queen flourish. You know what? That was when I realized that my fear of appearing stupid might be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I traded the potential to appear foolish if I didn’t navigate the tow rope correctly to the reality of appearing foolish by having a hissy fit on a mountain about a tow rope. Oy.

Off the top of my head, I can think of at least a dozen times when my insecurity about something drove me to embarrassing extremes and, sadly, some of them weren’t that long ago. So, I’m still working on this. I’m working not to worry so much about what other people think of me. I’m working to accept that good enough actually is good enough most of the time. I’m working to remember that even Michael Jordan probably missed his first shot. We’re human, and we do all have to start somewhere. And because there is no objectively perfect anything, no final destination, we really are pretty stupid for wasting our time trying to get there.

GET THE BUBBLE WRAP FOR BETTY WHITE!

I saw this post on Twitter and had only one thought: as a country, we need to get some bubble wrap, lots of bubble wrap. It’s imperative. Betty White is a national treasure. We have had a slate of shitty years recently. We’re all overwrought and stressed out. We need something good. Wait. Hold that. We deserve something good. We deserve to celebrate Betty White at 100. We must get bubble wrap and make her a fetching pantsuit out of it, put her in a protected room with the puppies and kittens she adores, and then light candles and pray for her safe deliverance to her 100th birthday party on January 17th. We. Deserve. Something. Good. And. This. Is. That. Thing.

Lord, hear our prayers.

You Don’t Know Him

Photo by Sergio Rota on Unsplash

As I was driving home after school drop off this morning, a guy in a lifted Ford pickup was tailgating me. Because of the vehicle he was driving, I’ll admit I had some preconceived ideas about him and what kind of person he must be, especially because he was tailgating. But, I have been working on not being quite as judgmental and giving people the benefit of the doubt. In situations like the one this morning, I try to remind myself that I have no idea who this person is or what might be going on his life. I remind myself his aggressive driving behavior is not my business. I take a deep breath in, wish him well on his journey, and try not to stare at him with daggers through the rear view (which I am sure he could see since he was that close).

He did eventually pull around me and, due to traffic, landed directly in front of me instead. This provided an opportunity to see his myriad bumper stickers. He had a Marine Corps license plate, so I thanked him mentally for his service. Then I noticed his Blue Lives Matter sticker, an automatic rifle sticker, and a Let’s Go, Brandon sticker. I took another deep breath. These things for sure told me that this guy and I would not see eye-to-eye in a political conversation.

In these situations, when I am even further inclined to judge someone I don’t know a thing about other than what their bumper stickers say, I like to play a little game with myself. I imagine something about them that would make me change my mind about my negative thoughts. So, today I imagined this gentleman owns three rescue pups and visits his grandmother in the Memory Care Center every Sunday. For good measure, I imagined the reason he was tailgating me was because he was late on his way to a parent-teacher conference for a daughter he adopted out of foster care. I don’t know him. This could legitimately be his story. Who am I to say? I don’t know him from Adam. Hell. His name could be Adam.

I mean, it’s probably not. And he probably does hate Joe Biden and think masks and vaccines are for sheeple, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a decent person with many redeeming qualities.

My point here is that we’ve put a plethora of superficial determiners in place that allow us to dehumanize each other and make each other perceived enemies, which is a lot to do to people we don’t know at all. We can try to be better. We can at least give each other the benefit of the doubt. We’ll be wrong part of the time. Sometimes, the jerk tailing you will be exactly who you think he is, but sometimes he won’t. Sometimes he will be more complicated and not just a caricature that can be conjured up based on some bumper stickers, a lifted truck, and poor driving habits.

The Spiders Are Still Here, Dammit!

Photo of our cute puppy in the shade because it’s over 70 degrees and he has black fur

It has been warm in Denver. Record-breaking warm. National news coverage level of warm. I was in Target this morning and I saw two women wearing sandals. SANDALS. In December. In Denver. This is nuts. The latest I am usually able to wear flip flops is October. We’re not exactly south Florida. We’re literally a mile high. When other people are getting rain, we are getting snow. But, here we are at December 2nd and we still have not had our first snow of the fall. We have not made it to December without a measurable snowfall since record keeping began here in 1882. It has been 224 consecutive days since we last had snowfall. This is not good for many reasons. The first of which is two-thirds of Colorado’s water supply comes from snowpack. The second is the dry conditions put us at serious risk for forest and brush fires. And the third of which is this:

This not-so-little wolf spider (can’t tell from the photo but he is about the size of my palm when his legs are extended) was waiting for me in my garage this morning. I rarely see these fellows after September. Sometimes I see them through October if it is a warm October. But I have not once seen them in November or beyond. Until this morning. As I came around the corner to my car door at 7:10 am so I could drive my son to school, he was right there. After I dropped a juicy expletive, I judged that he was at a safe distance for me to access my car door. I rushed in and slammed the door, checking to make sure he hadn’t made a leap for it (they do jump). I was safe. As much as I wanted to back out and run it over, he was a little too close to the wall. Damn. When I returned home and opened the garage door, I noticed he had moved. He was now positioned about right where I would need to exit. So, I did the only logical thing. I crawled over the center console, popped open the passenger side car door, and exited that way. When I later went to leave for an appointment, I noticed he was still there, so I entered my car from the passenger side because that is what any sane arachnophobe would do.

I like warm weather. I like sunshine. I’ve enjoyed not having to wear hats and gloves and snow boots yet. But with this latest spider development, I’ve decided to start praying for snow. I barely tolerate those hunting spiders in the late summer and fall, when I expect to see them. I certainly won’t stand for this now. They should be hiding underground at this very moment. They need to go and, for that to happen, it needs to get a lot colder and snowier here ASAP.

So, if anyone knows how to summon snowfall, I’m all ears. I would like to be able to be fear free in my garage and I would also like to enter my car through the driver’s side door tomorrow and for the foreseeable future. Feel free to leave me an ancient alchemist’s snowfall recipe or the number for a reputable shaman in the comments section. Thanks in advance.

My Tin Anniversary On WordPress

“Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.” ~Chinese proverb

This morning when I logged into WordPress to respond to comments on my post from yesterday, I was greeted with a note telling me I’m celebrating my 10th anniversary on WordPress. This seemed a little crazy to me, that ten years have slipped by since I made the commitment to begin writing again, so I went back to revisit my first post. Sure enough, it was written on December 6, 2011. In December 2011, our sons were 10 and 8. Most of my posts were about their crazy antics or our family life, which makes sense because in December 2011 my primary focus was our sons.

Fast forward ten years. Our sons are now 20 and 18, one is in Washington at college and the other will be heading off next fall. So my primary focus needs to change. In my early forties, I was pretty busy becoming what I thought I was supposed to be. I was working to be a better mother, a better child, a better spouse, and an overall better, more informed, more fit, more attractive human being. I was working at becoming something, which was kind of pointless because I already was something. Now in my early fifties I understand that I don’t need to become anything to be valuable. In fact, I am busily engaged in learning how to simply be and to meet myself where I am at. I’m busy learning how to just be me.

Image credit to Gary Larson of The Far Side

I started this blog ten years ago to hold myself accountable. I wanted to be able to track progress and growth. Mostly what I’ve done, though, is create a catalog of my life. I’m still an over-thinker. I still take on more than I should. I still don’t know where I’m headed. But I do have a record of where I’ve been. I’m growing slowly but, thanks to my blog, at least I have proof that I have not been standing still.

A Little Daily Thanksgiving For Real

I am grateful for nature’s choice to turn off the lights with panache

I’ve stopped watching the television news. I’ve also turned off the news notifications on my phone. It came down to what I saw in a tweet the other day regarding the constant struggle between “I should probably be more informed about current events” and “I would like to be a functional human being with at least a vague will to live.” I decided I would like to be a somewhat functioning person without a casual drug habit. So, I’ve tried as much as possible to check out in a positive way. And for good reason, apparently. Because today I checked in on the news for like two minutes and discovered concern over a new variant, the real potential to lose abortion rights for women in this country as the now conservative majority Supreme Court hears a case from Mississippi, and yet another high school shooting with multiple fatalities. Are you kidding me? I wanted to throw my phone across the room. It reminded me of a scene from the 1987 film Roxanne starring Steve Martin, where the main character buys a newspaper from a machine (those were a thing once), reads the headline, and then puts another coin into the machine to open it so he can put the paper back. I don’t want to know all this.

I went to my meditation group meeting tonight where the theme was gratitude. We talked about how we can practice gratitude to improve our lives. There is actual science regarding how being grateful changes us in a positive way. This is what I need more of in my life. I need to pay attention to all the things that make me feel loved, supported, safe, sane, and secure, all the things I am deeply grateful for. Focusing on a pandemic that has taken over 5 million lives and doesn’t show any signs of abating is not helpful. Watching footage of terrorized teenagers after another school shooting is not helpful. Ruminating on the potential rollback of women’s rights after 50 years is not helpful. I’m not sure there’s a news story out there right now that could make me feel better. So, I am going to give gratitude a try and focus on all the good in my small universe of concern. This is the place where the most important people to me are. This is the realm that matters right now. Yes. I understand that people need to be engaged in society for positive change to come about, but society is a mess right now, and I shouldn’t be around them anyway since they could be contagious.

The next time I get overwhelmed by something, I am going to try to see instead an opportunity in that stressor for gratitude. If someone is vexing me, I am going to be grateful for the space they are giving me to grow in patience and love. Okay. Okay. Maybe I won’t succeed in that last one consistently, but you have to start somewhere.

Gratitude may not be the answer, but it has to be more positive than focusing on our shared reality, which feels not unlike watching the aftermath of a 100-car train wreck. So is anyone with me? Is it time to start a revolution of appreciation for the good we know is there but are choosing not to focus on? I’m going to need some strong positivity warriors in my camp. I’m not known for being Sally Sunshine. Glennon Doyle likes to say, “We can do hard things.” Finding gratitude these days seems like it might be a hard thing, but if Glennon says we can do it, then we can.

Light ‘Em Up

This two story inflatable might be a bit much

Now that we are past Thanksgiving, our neighborhood has gone full bore into holiday mode. The lights that were going up at the beginning of November were just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Since that time, more homes have had lights professionally and tastefully installed. Other homes have also been decked out by hand by well meaning homeowners. Inflatables have sprouted up in yards like dandelions in the summer. Lights are strung across back fences between neighboring houses. On one block, it’s clear that the homeowners consulted with each other because each house on the street has the same light-up snowman, so as you drive the street it seems you’re in the midst of a snowman parade. I can’t decide how I feel about it. On the one hand, it’s lovely to see people making the most of the season and taking pride in their homes. On the other hand, however, it’s one big festival of keeping up with the Joneses.

Our block has been on the low-key side of things thus far. There are thirteen homes on our street, and a little less than half have some sort of exterior illumination and only one of those was installed professionally. I have to admit, though, that after driving through the neighborhood tonight I started thinking that we need to up our game, at least a little from the one lit tree we have in our yard and the light-up corgi on our porch. It’s hard not to feel the siren’s song of oneupsmanship. It’s hard not to feel like we’re currently getting a D in Suburban Life.

I suspected when we bought into this neighborhood that these type of displays should be expected around the holidays but, damn, I seriously underestimated the collective decorative insanity of upper middle class white households. This year, we will likely forego the requisite holiday explosion, but we’re making plans for next year. Don’t worry, though. We will not be lighting up the night quite like these folks.

Life Isn’t Chess: You Can’t Go Back, So Just Go Forward

In April of 2006, just before our sons turned 4 and 6, we traveled to Captiva Island, Florida, to give them a taste of beach life. Because we are a landlocked, mile high family, we waited to make the long trip to a beautiful island until we were certain the boys would enjoy the experience (and we wouldn’t lose it on a four-hour flight with them). While we were there, we shuffled between the resort pool and the shell-strewn beach. The boys loved racing from the surf and building sand castles. We visited the famous Bubble Room for one dinner, and another night we ate ice cream for dinner and chased it with salt water taffy and all-day suckers. We saw a couple manatees near the boat docks. We took a sunset cruise to look for dolphins. And at the end of the trip, my husband took an epic photo of the boys and I, which became one of my all-time favorites.

April 2006

During the lockdowns and the time spent at home during 2020, I spent my some of my time dreaming of returning to Captiva with the boys. We were desperate for a beach trip after being stuck in our landlocked state for so long. I booked a 3-bedroom condo at the same resort we visited last time. We were in a different part of the resort this time around, closer to public restaurants and to the Starbucks just outside the resort entrance, but the rental was bigger and afforded the boys their own rooms. We spent a lot of time at the beach, but didn’t visit the pools because the boys were a bit too big for the kiddie waterslide now. Instead, we did some kayaking through mangroves on nearby Sanibel Island. We ate at the Bubble Room again and loved it. We wanted to repeat our ice cream dinner, but didn’t have the right resort card to gain access, which was a total bummer. Still, we discovered another restaurant that we loved so much we ate there twice. We saw more manatees this time than last time, including a momma and her baby off the docks outside our condo and another one that swam by us while we were in the surf in the Gulf. And on one clear evening, we went back to the spot where we took my favorite photo and attempted to recreate it as best we could. The palm trees were bigger, the boys were bigger, but the beauty of the moment was the same.

May 2021

When you have young kids, people love to tell you that you should cherish those moments because they go by so fast. They aren’t wrong. They fly by like they’re on a Japanese bullet train. But parenting is, from day one, a growth enterprise. There is no going backwards, as it’s meant to be a forward endeavor. So don’t let anyone convince you that watching your kids grow, change, and eventually move on into their own lives is somehow a negative, something to be depressed about. It’s the greatest gift a parent can receive. If you don’t believe me, ask a parent who has lost a child. As memorable as our trip was in 2006, it was better in 2021. I’m grateful we’ve made it this far together, and no matter what happens from here I will cherish ALL the memories, not just the ones from when the boys were small.

When The Words Don’t Come But Growth Does

What I have managed to accomplish while my brain has been on hiatus

The past week has been a blur. It seems my head hasn’t had the bandwidth for writing blogs or even thinking, really. I’m overwhelmed. Somewhere between the continuing pandemic, the transitions happening in our family, the addition of a furry ball of love with four short legs and sharpy teeth, and the annual stresses of the holiday season, I find myself a little out of sorts. I think I need a long winter’s nap or a two-week, solo, all-expenses-paid vacation to Bora Bora so I have time for my brain to snap back into place.

If there is good news about any of this, it’s that despite all the craziness I am finally at a place in my life where I know it’s okay to be off. I know I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be cranking out insightful, meaningful pieces daily. I’m allowed to struggle on occasion, to not know what I am thinking, to take a mental break to deal with the business of life and put up a Christmas tree and drive my son to the airport. The last time I wrote my blog every day, I did not acknowledge these things. I made apologies for what I felt was sloppy work. I’m not about that anymore. I’m not here now saying mea culpa to you. I’m here letting you know where my head is right now. I’m telling you that I care about writing, but I also care about honoring my mental and personal space. So this means I am making personal progress and achieving growth. Yay, me.

I even took time to dress my puppy for a photo

Sometimes we have to make compromises in life. Lately, the compromise I’ve been making is less time to write so I can take care of my family and myself. I’m hoping to have some space in my life and my head soon so I can go back to writing about things that make me passionate. For now, though, enjoy the photo of my cute puppers in a holiday bandana because sometimes a post with a photo of a corgi puppy in front of a Christmas tree is the only good we need in the world.