Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Life, in Lists: I'm thankful for...

When you ask fourth graders what they're thankful for, the answers will range from "my family" to "donuts."

Yesterday, my 44 students stood in a circle in the classroom, surrounding parents who had come to feast on pie and cupcakes and spend a few precious moments peeking into their children's school lives. And as these children shared their answers, I thought about how, if I were to be really honest, my responses would also range from the very big things to the donut-variety. Yes, health and family and shelter and enough money to pay the bills are certainly at the top of my Thanksgiving prayers this year, but then it's those little things that really make you smile and giddy in life.

I am thankful for...

1. Hubby (To quote a wise and hot man: "You will always be my 1, 2, and 3.")
4. My two little boys (because in spite of the fact that you drive me crazy and make my life that much more exhausting, it really is an honor to be your Mommy and know that you are little concoctions of Daddy and Me)
5. Healthy (and mostly kickin') parents who are still fun and kind and are practically my own personal babysitters
6. A cancer-free sister who is smiling again
7. The four-day weekend
8. The Christmas CDs are coming out
9. Red velvet mini cupcakes with cream cheese icing
10. My Girls (G, C, K: I love you guys)
11. Getting a copy of a book in the mail, opening it up, and seeing MY ESSAY IN IT!
12. Working with friends who always have my back and make me laugh
13. Living 20 minutes from some of the world's best beaches
14. Wine
15. Coffee
16. Beer
17. E! News
18. A nearly-healed plantar fasciitis
19. "Sex and the City" reruns
20. Really good books
21. Dave Matthews Band lyrics
22. Fresh air and sun
23. Christmas toy shopping nearly done
24. Finding a good therapist again
25. Effective migraine medication
26. Finding a boot camp class at the perfect time for my schedule that I do not have to pay extra for
27. Poetry
28. My Dearest Friend (B: I love you More Than That)
29. Fashion magazines
30. The feeling I get when I actually stop and concentrate on a deep, slow breath
31. Parents who tell me their children love to read or come to school because of me
32. Finally letting go of (most of) the angst, anger, and anxiety from my adolescence and twenties
33. The Birds of Paradise in my front yard
34. The pool in my backyard
35. Pizza
36. Everyone being healthy and here for Thanksgiving (I'll have to remember this one when some sort of inevitable dysfunctional situation occurs)
37. This blog, because it helped me remember who I was before I learned to censor myself
38. Sleep!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

We need to talk

Here's the weird thing, I think, about friendships: we all want to be just like the characters of Sex and the City...all open and blunt and honest and communicative. We want to be able to talk to each other totally uncensored, unedited, with no nerves, no qualms, no reservations. But how many of us really, really do?

I talk a lot. I am super open with almost everyone. I think most of my friends would say that I am transparent. And although I know there are lots of things that I am not good at, I know I'm good at communicating. Yet, when it comes to talking to my girlfriends (and I mean my most intimate ones...The Ones Who Matter), I struggle. (Inside, at least.)

It's not the conversation part or the confrontation part. It's not that I don't know what to say or how to say it. It's all about the Should.

Should I tell her?
Should I be this upset/disturbed/bothered about it?
Should I risk disturbing the current status of this friendship about this "little thing"?

And there it is. It always manages to creep in. The self-doubt.

I doubt whether my feelings are valid enough.

The best way I can describe it is with the phrase: internally sheepish.

It's like, inside, I'm this little girl, digging the toe of her shoe into the playground dirt, tilting her head all lopsided-like to meet her shrugging shoulder, eyes averted, mumbling about hurt feelings.

On the outside, though, there's my Rational Self...the one that has had many years of therapy, lots of experiences to build herself up, and surrounds herself with wonderful people who inspire and enrich her.  Luckily, that's the version that shows up for The Big Stuff. That version ignores the sheepish little girl inside. That version knows that strong women who want strong friendships talk.

My friends--The Ones Who Matter--will surely read this sooner rather than later (they're awesome cheerleaders like that), and I wonder what they will think of this.

"Talk?" they will wonder, probably. "But we talk about everything."
"Talk?" they will wonder. "But Liz tells me what she thinks all the time." (I know...how lucky are they, huh?)

But I have no problems whatsoever talking about everything all the time: money, sex, men,
fears, goals, dreams, parenting, body issues, therapy sessions...

But talking about me being upset with them about something in particular?

I do it.

But I hesitate.
I ponder.
I feel all uncomfortable and fidgety and internally sheepish.

I thought, initially, that this was just a Me thing...that most good female friends really hash it out on a regular basis, but then, I thought: Maybe not? Aren't we, women, known for being grudge-holders and petty? Aren't we known for keeping things in for the sake of peace? And don't most of us know of someone (or lived it ourselves) who had a female friendship that went, suddenly, wrong? I wonder how often other women get miffed at something a girlfriend did, a minor thing, perhaps, and they leave it alone...to sit there, to fester, to grow into something bigger? Something important?

So I am curious: When it comes to bringing something up that is nagging you about your female (good) friends, do you just throw it out there, no hesitation a la Samantha...No fear? No sheepishness?
Or are you more like Charlotte, and struggle sometimes, too?

P.S. And am I the only one who still really misses that show and its characters? Hopefully not, or else this post is going to seem really out-of-style.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A "Quiet" Sunday Morning

The sunlight creeps into the bedroom and I panic momentarily: did we oversleep?

But then, no, I realize, it's Sunday.

Not a workday.

Deep sigh of relief and contentment.

I settle back into sleep.

A while later, I hear the whispers that are happening clear across the house (still love the baby monitor even though there are no babies here): little brother is asking big brother if he is awake.

He is. now.

More muffled whispers about playing and breakfast and sleep and TV.

I stumble out of bed, turn the monitor down, get back under the covers, and once again, settle back into sleep.

Eventually, I am awakened again by plastic cereal bowls being placed on counter tops way too loudly....package rustling sounds followed by clinking into the plastic bowls.

They have found the Froot Loops.

The frig is opened and slammed. The silverware drawer is open and shut (loudly).

More "whispers."

I see the clock and realize the yoga class I had half-planned on taking has already started. Slight guilt and regret threaten, but they are quickly shushed with the reminder that lazy mornings rarely happen in this house. I suspect that such a morning probably has more Om value than the actual class.

I finally come out of hiding and turn on the coffee maker.

I am greeted by two moppy-headed boys in superhero underwear.

They have lost interest in the colorful circles of sugar and have moved onto guitars, of course, because it's Sunday morning.

I start to discourage, to warn them that Daddy is still in bed, the covers halfway covering his body, the pillow completely over his head. But then the littlest one actually starts to serenade me: "You are my sunshine" and "Twinkle Twinkle Star."

He wins, and instead, I send him into the bedroom to sing and play for Daddy.

Now the big one thinks it's the perfect time for a pirate sword. He jumps into our bed, straddling Daddy, sword in hand.

And this is it when you have boys: a blond little one wearing glasses and shrieking lullabies with a guitar, a brown-haired not-so-little one with round eyes threatening with foam swords.

Good morning.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I am a writer

I don't write for an audience.
I write for Me.

That's what I tell myself, anyways. And, for the most part, it's true.

I've been a writer for as long as I can remember.

That sentence, there, is hard for me to form:
I have been a writer for as long as I can remember.

Usually, it's more along the lines of:
I love to write...or...I have always loved writing...or...I wanted to be a writer when I was a kid...or, my favorite disclaimer of my artistic ability: Yes, I've had several books published, but that doesn't really count, because they were educational books, so I'm not really a writer, I just love to write.

"But ultimately, a writer is someone who writes," according to Dani Shapiro, author of Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life.

And write, I do.

All the time and everywhere and for as long as I can remember: scribbled sentences on coffee shop napkins, diaries and journals and notebooks filled to the margins, pages and pages of typed up "chapter books" on my sister's typewriter when I was eleven, love letters, hate letters, poems filled with angst and dripping in narcissism, musings and essays and blog posts...

I write.

Always have.

And for the first time in my life, I am just starting to realize that I no longer want to clean that up, or tack a disclaimer onto it, or apologize for it, or explain it. It's a very, very big part of who I am. It's the one thing I found all on my own, when I was very little, and figured out that not only could I do it pretty well, but I loved doing it, and even more consequential: I needed to do it.

It's because of this need--this internal thing--that I write for myself. I write because I have to. I write because when some thought starts pinging around inside my head, I can't get it out until I put it to paper (or, in this case, screen). So yes, I was being truthful when I said: I don't write for an audience. I write for myself.

But I never said it didn't matter if someone else reads it, or says it's good, or tells me I moved her or made her laugh or made her feel relief. I write for myself, but when someone is out there and notices it, well then...it makes the rapture of having written something all the more...rapturous.

That's why when Stephanie Sprenger and Jessica Smock of The HerStories Project contacted me and asked if they could include one of my pieces in their upcoming anthology, it was a really, really big deal. I don't think I realized, in fact, how much I actually cared if there really was an audience out there until this happened. I keep saying how "honored" I am to be included amongst these 50 contributing writers for this project, but I feel like it sounds so cliché. Everyone says I'm honored, all the time. But I am. I am honored.

It is a honor.

...An honor that they found me, that somehow out there in the blogosphere, someone read my words and thought they were good enough and important enough and relevant enough to include in this project.

I wrote the essay that will be included in the anthology for Me. I wrote it because, at the time, I needed to. I wrote it because I'm a writer. But it sure is nice when someone else is sitting out there, in the audience, listening and applauding.


"The HerStories Project: Women Explore the Joy, Pain, and Power of Female Friendship is a collection of essays from over 50 women writers, encompassing tales from the sandbox to the inbox."
All the info on the book can be found here.  Read some of the early reviews, find out how this project got started, and of course, look for li'l ol' me on the "Contributor" tab. And then, make sure you sign up for updates...you'll receive all the information on the book's upcoming release, as well as sneak peeks and discount information.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Can you really?

any break
the routine
anything different
is a
from what Life demands
day to day

I long

for some
that feels
breaking free
beating the system