Wednesday, August 31, 2011

All you can do is love them anyway

I've been trying to sleep for hours and it won't come. Too much on my mind and no clear starting point to even begin sorting it all out.

Many of my readers are parents - some with grown kids, some with infants, some in-between. But I'm sure you've all been where I am at some point in your life: standing there rejected by your child and wondering where you went wrong. How to fix it.

I've raised my kids to be respectful of us and all adults. I've always taught my kids there's nothing wrong with questioning someone's actions or authority (even my own) as long as it's done with respect and with the understanding that while you're entitled to your opinions, you may, in fact, be wrong. I've always encouraged them to come to me when they have a problem with something I've done or said and I try to live by that rule, as well.

I make mistakes. I make the wrong choices. I screw up. I've never pretended otherwise. If there was a parenting handbook, I'd memorize the damn thing, but there's not. There are no right or wrong answers across the board. Like I told my son tonight, we have to take what we know and combine that information with the opportunities we're given and hope it turns out all right. Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we don't. I'm not perfect. None of us are.

I won't go into details because overall, it's a private matter, but my son and I had a pretty massive falling out last night. I've spent most of today licking my wounds and trying to make sense of the fallout. He had opinions, which he is entitled to but went about delivering them the wronnnnng way. When I took some deep breaths and tried to approach something resembling an intelligent response absent of the hurt and betrayal I was feeling, I managed to put together an email addressing each of his points and sent it to him. I don't know if he'll read it. In fact, quite honestly, I'll be surprised if he does. But I did take the time to respond and I did so without letting my wounded heart influence my words. I did what I wish he'd have done.

But most importantly, before I addressed anything else, I told him I love him.

Sometimes, that's all we can do as parents - love them. Even when they don't love us back.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Live out loud

I created a Facebook group a couple weeks ago for the alumni of my old high school. It doesn't just include my graduating class, but encompasses all the students who went there as well as faculty and even friends we knew from other schools. I was hoping to reminisce about some good times, laugh about the stupid stuff we did and maybe get in touch with old classmates. What I wasn't counting on, however, was the reality that slapped me in the face.

I made a post to honor those we'd lost over the years since our time in school, including my best friend from junior high. I knew some other kids had passed away in the graduating class behind mine, so that was no surprise. It was, however, a surprise to find out some of the people I'd been close to growing up had also died. People like my mom's best friend's son. We weren't friends, but I knew him because of my mom's friendship with his mom. People like the kid a year behind me who killed himself because of the guilt he carried regarding an accident that had taken the lives of two of his class mates.

As I was trying to process this information from the group, a post was made on another part of Facebook alerting me to the suicide of a friend from another time in my life. He'd always been a jovial, fun-loving person, so his death also came as a surprise to me. He left his eight-year-old son without a father.

In all this, I can only offer a few words and that is: Life's too short.

It's too short to be angry. Jealous. Hurt. In pain. Stuck. Unhappy. Sad. Depressed. Bored. Bitter. Uninspired. Unmotivated. Anxious. Scared. Worried. Stressed.

Don't sit on the sidelines and wait for someone to grab you and drag you into your life. Make it happen. Reach out. Call somebody. Send a letter. Step into the spotlight. Grab life by the horns and say "Let's do this!" Do stupid shit. Make mistakes. Make them again. Laugh. Cry. Laugh til you cry. Color a picture. Draw a picture. Paint a picture. Sculpt something. Write a story. Write a whole book. Skip more. Run more. Fly a kite. Swim with your dog. Adopt a dog. Or a cat. Or a pigeon. Forgive. Forget. Move on. Kiss a stranger. Kiss a friend. Take a vacation. Go on a weekend getaway with your best friends. Go alone. Go fishing. Turn off your TV. Turn on some music. Take a chance. Go to your class reunion. Skip one. Build something. Break something. Visit a museum. Buy a house. Sell your house. Go camping. Get up before a sunrise. Or stay up all night and watch it. Sing. Sing badly. Dance. Dance in the rain. Dance like a fool. Dance like a six-year-old. Dance with a six-year-old. Make something out of Play-Doh. Hell, eat Play-Doh. Splash in the puddles. Breathe. Breathe deeply. Let go. Trust. Love.

Love again.

Love til it hurts.

Then love some more.

Don't like something? Quit. Do something else. Nobody's life ever stopped because they switched careers. Or lovers. Or moved. Or changed their hair color. Or got a tattoo. Or pierced something.

None of us know how long we've got. Some of us make choices in our lives that could prolong our time here, but you could leave the gym and get hit by a bus. Don't spend your life being afraid.

Do any of these things.

Do all of these things.

But whatever you do, LIVE. OUT. LOUD.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Shit or get off the pot

Almost a year ago, I decided that I wanted to live in New York City (for the reasons see my previous blogs). Since then I've been in the planning stages of this endeavor. I researched the hell out of areas I would like to live, jobs I'd like to do and the schools to which I'd like to send my daughter. I've researched some more. And again. And...'s time to shit or get off the pot.

Financially, we cannot move to New York City right now. Aside from the expense of living in that city, we're bound to a house we have to sell and a savings account we need to rebuild. I traveled a lot again this summer (and knew when I began that it would mean a setback for the move), went to a friend's wedding (which meant expenses related to travel and wardrobe I wouldn't have normally spent) and thanks to all the travel, some car repairs & upkeep that seems to never end. Long story short: the big move waits.

That being said, I'm not waiting.

I talked to Hubs tonight about spending a month in New York around the first of the year. A sabbatical in the city is how this whole move talk had come up in the first place, so it wasn't really something we hadn't discussed before. This little tryst, however won't be a three-month venture as originally planned. Instead, it'll be a brief five-week period. I am the most creative when I'm inspired by the lights and sounds of New York, so what better place to go to finish the edits on my book and expose myself to other writers and possible agents through conferences and classes the city can offer me? I'm fortunate to have AMAZING friends who have offered to let me stay with them. My only expenses will be personal spending money, food and transportation within the city. We're a thrifty bunch, so I'm not worried whatsoever. I also have good friends in the city who I know won't let me go hungry or without a ride somewhere if I need it.

I want to explore more of the city while I'm there - see the in's and out's of different neighborhoods and boroughs. I want to talk to a realtor to find out what hurdles we'll need to overcome in relocating to the East coast. I want to talk to other New Yorkers who have relocated themselves and find out what problems cropped up for them. I refuse to go into something without exhausting all the possible scenarios, so this trip is important not just for my creative nature, but for my organized one, too. I won't move my family half-way across the country only to find out we can't find decent housing or the job market isn't what I thought it was. I've been telling myself that I have ONE shot at doing this right and the more prepared I can be going into it, the better. This trip will help with that preparation.

When I told Ann Marie tonight about spending a month in NY, her response was "'bout time." Apparently she's been waiting for me to shit or get off the pot, too.

What I don't know if I've mentioned is how very in-sync I seem to be with my closest friends on this move. Kimmi, one of my best friends since first grade, will be relocating to NYC (hopefully) by November. She's been in Denver all of her adult life and like me, she wants to go where she's creatively-influenced. AM, the bestie mentioned above, is also wanting to make her way to the Big Apple. And of course, my friends Jenn, Sherri and Todd are already there. I have other friends and acquaintances I've come to know who aren't far off either.

I'm one of those "signs" people - I believe everything happens for a reason but if I'm not feeling it, it won't happen - and everything is pointing to this month in New York being exactly what needs to happen.

Now...if somebody can tell me why I chose the coldest damn month of the year to do my little experiment I'd be extremely grateful. (There is NOTHING as cold as Brooklyn in January.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Walk a mile

This picture was taken around my 6th birthday. I was a happy kid then. What you can't really see is my lazy eye. Or the extra weight I carried in my stomach. Or the scars on my legs from mosquito bites. You can't tell that I'm not athletic. Or some sort of brainiac. You can't tell that I'm not comfortable in my own skin. You can't tell that I sleep with a light on because I'm plagued by nightmares. You don't know that every day of my life my classmates make fun of me for my weight or my clothes or where I live or what bike I ride or who my friends are.

Here I am at 15. I've got a smile on my face here, too. You can see I've got a few pimples, but what teenager doesn't? Here again, though, there are things you don't see. You can't tell that I was up all night the night before because my mother was hallucinating from her pain medication. You don't realize that I've missed almost a week of school because I've spent that time taking care of her. You don't know that we have to live in this small apartment because my father deserted my mother and me two years earlier, leaving us with no way to afford to keep our family home. You don't know that in less than six months, I'll be forced to move again because my mother dies from the cancer that steals her hair, her sleep and her mind.

Here I am just before my 21st birthday. As you can see, I'm in the hospital and I've just given birth to my son. You can also see that my face is very puffy and I don't look my best. What you don't know is that in this picture, I'm high as hell on morphine for the pain of my emergency C-section and I'm still fighting the effects of toxemia - a serious gestational disease that nearly took my life and the life of my son. You also don't know that just twelve hours after this photo was taken, my son coded in the NICU when his lungs collapsed. Fortunately, he had brilliant neonatologists and he survived.

This is my bestie, Ann Marie. This was taken last June so we're in our mid-thi*mumbles*. What you probably know about us is that we've been friends since we were teenagers and that we often speak in our own secret language about things very few people know anything about. It can become annoying to some and we've lost friends because of it. But what you don't know is that "twin-sense" we have has been vital to our lives for over twenty years. It was developed to keep our meddling ex-husbands out of our business. You also don't know that when this picture was taken, AM would go home that night to face a hell she never thought she'd have to face. Her husband was escorted from the house that night by the police. Her life would never be the same. Having that twin-sense saved her from a much worser fate.

My point in all this is that you can see someone and not know what their struggles are. You might even have met them a few times, but until you walk a mile in their shoes, you truly know nothing about them. You don't know why they act a certain way or why their walls are up or why they cringe when you hug them or why the word "heifer" makes them physically nauseous. You. Don't. Know.

So as a new school year starts, I'm encouraging my kids to look beneath what they see... to smile at someone they don't know, to befriend the unfriendable, to reach out to new students and say hello. They may need it more than you can humanly imagine. I'm going to try and do the same.
Just remember:

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Now that THAT'S done...

Let's address something else.

In my facebook status the other day, I posted a message toward an abusive spouse who had threatened the life of a family member. I used the words "son of a bitch" and "fuck."

Those who know me -- TRULY know me -- shouldn't be surprised by my message nor my language. I'm a foul-mouthed person. It's a flaw I have and I've always battled with it. I'm a work in progress and believe me when I tell you that progress is SLOW. I make no apologies because again...I am who I am and I don't believe in censoring myself because what I say, think or do might make someone else uncomfortable. If you choose to unfriend me, that's your choice and I won't deny you that right.

That being said, I'd like to address the fact that my former pastor publicly admonished me for my "abusive language" in the post and unfriended me.

Again, if you choose to unfriend me, that's your choice. HOWEVER, the thing I have a problem with is that this "Man of God" didn't address what the post was about, nor did he offer to pray about the situation, much less find out what the situation was to begin with. He didn't offer any Christian insight. Didn't offer anything Christian whatsoever, in my opinion. Instead, he took my words at face value, made a judgment and cut me out of his life.


Just. Like. That.

Now, I realize that I have much to learn about God and the bible and everything that goes along with those two things. However, I've been in deep discussions with God lately about a lot of topics and this particular event came up yesterday in my prayers. Call me naive, but I like to think that my God is forgiving, patient and tolerant of my flaws. He knows I'm not perfect and that I don't try to be. He knows I've got faults and that I sin daily. He also knows that He made me that way.

He knows I can't learn without lessons and that every action I do has consequences -- as do I.

Unfortunately, the lesson in this recent unfriending is that when I needed my pastor's faith and beliefs, he wasn't there for me. Instead, he judged me and tossed me aside like a worthless piece of scrap.

I could be wrong, but for some reason, I don't see God being very happy with that action. Jesus himself befriended addicts, prostitutes and the socially scorned. I do know that much. I also know that in all the chapters of the bible, not once does it say "You shall be outcast for your use of the F bomb." I'm not justifying my language or the anger in which my post was made. But what I do justify is the fact that God loves me despite all that. I have NO doubts whatsoever in that.

What I do doubt, however, is my former pastor's ability to lead an entire congregation closer to God when he can't even overlook my faults as a human being. That's more heart-breaking than anything else.

I love God, but right now, my opinion about religion isn't so high.

(*Disclaimer: This post isn't meant to invite attacks regarding my religious beliefs, their "correct/incorrectness" or your interpretation of the Bible.)