Hooray! My Boy Is Coming Home (If only for a minute)

This is my baby.

Actually, these are my babies.

My baby is coming home to visit for a few days starting tonight. We are so excited! He rarely comes home because of …

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This.

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And this.

While he is here we will be busy…

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Visiting his step-dad at his job.

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Shopping for his new apartment.

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Eating burgers and fries at Wahlburgers.

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And of course drinking beer.

It will go too fast, and then he will have to leave. We will be sad.

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I’ll be back next week to write about it. All the adventures…experiences…and emotions that we have with special people in our life.

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Until then…

Who Cares If The Bed Isn’t Made. I Wish It Wasn’t Me

hospital cornersOld habits die hard for sure. It took me until my third son was 16 years old – which just happened a month ago – to stop making his bed. I know, I know. But there’s something about having all the beds made in the morning that I find appealing, even soothing.  Maybe it’s because when I grew up the beds were always made, and I had to make my own. My mother taught me early, and taught me well. I had hospital corners down like an army sergeant.

But that’s not necessarily a good thing. Because in addition to growing up learning how to make my bed without wrinkles, empty the trash every day, clean the house to pass a white glove test, do the laundry being sure whites were separate, and whatever other chores I was enlisted to do – I also became fairly OCD. To the point that my house until recently was ridiculously neat – everything has its place.

unmade bedThat’s why I’m a little proud of myself for looking at my son’s bed and not making it. I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been easy. I get that pull to pull it together in no time flat, ensuring it’s fluffed and neat. I ask him to do it and he knows how, he just doesn’t do it like me, if he does it at all.

It’s ironic, all three of my boys are not neatniks, in fact much to my dismay, they’re sort of all big slobs. I guess I get that – they swung the other way after watching their mother toil daily over her version of house-perfection. Which in the great scheme of things is stupid, but it’s engrained all the way to my bones.

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So I’m trying to change that, I just don’t know to what degree. I can’t go cold turkey and be a slob, and that’s not even necessary. I just want to ease up on a few things, so I’m starting with my son’s room.

Most people know OCD is a control issue – when we feel out of control we have these rigid ideas about how things need to be, so our actions, reactions and thoughts all steer us toward that sensation that everything is ok. It’s a relief to me when I look around my house and things are in their place. The beds are made, the laundry is done, there aren’t any hairs in the sink. But I really don’t like that about myself, I’m tired of being uptight.

I told Sir Husband I was going to try to lighten up on my incessant need for neatness as I ponder getting a job that wouldn’t be working from home, where I can work and still clean up.

He said to me, “Yes, things would definitely change and you’d have to let a lot go, but truthfully I like your neatness and how organized the house is, it’s nice to come home to the clean.”

Say no more. He doesn’t know this, but he sort of let me off the hook from breaking my habits too fast. Not sure I can go from hospital corners to leaving dishes in the sink, although I guess anything is possible. But for now, baby steps are okay.

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Partaking In Joy Is Part Of Our Daily Grind

Wisdom food for thought:

Do we define joy by achieving a desired outcome? Or is the joy on the path itself?

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I don’t really feel like chewing on that, because like the rest of the human race, I just want to feel the joy whenever I want, which of course, is always. But it doesn’t work that way for the majority of us, so I’m trying to figure it out.

When Sir Husband received the news that he was getting his dream job a couple of months ago and we would be moving back home, we felt this burst of joy coming through us at light speed. Ironically, it was exhausting and we experienced some weird physical symptoms that are typically signs of distress. Bathroom issues…GERD…headaches…and both of us stopped sleeping.

It was weird because we were so excited that our path was finally changing for the better, so why were we so wiped out? Years of heavy stress finally lifting, and cloud nine was wearing us down. Oh we were definitely happy, we just didn’t expect the process of executing the joy to feel different than how we defined joy itself. It didn’t seem to make sense. Joy after all, is a feeling. Or is it?

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When I mentioned this to local guru Dr. Christiane Northrup, she laughed and said, “Correct – your body and mind don’t know what to do with all the toxic overload from the past now that it’s over.” As we know, emotional toxicity can cause physical symptoms from stress, and we’ve had plenty of that. So turns out feeling joy is actually a process. Who knew?

pathAfter a few weeks on our new path of joy we noticed something else. That joy doesn’t always override the daily stressors. Life still happens in all of its grit and glory no matter what. That also tripped us up. Hold on – we have joy now, why is sh*t still happening that feels stressful? First we’re joyful and tired, then we’re joyful, stressed and tired, doesn’t joy win out and erase life’s other junk? Easy answer, no.

Intellectually I guess we knew this, but when you get a taste of pure joy, you don’t want it to leave. So things had to become a matter of perspective.

We habitually went to feeling sad or bad when anything went “wrong,” but interestingly yin yangthe joy of our new path was still happening. Is it possible to experience both things at once?  Stress and joy linked in a yin yang circle bouncing like a super ball through our daily existence?

The goal I’m told, is to experience joy as the constant undercurrent that rises to the surface – and here’s the key – when we let it. So that begs the wisdom question again, is joy in the desired outcome or is it on the path? Only we can know.

 

no guts no glory

(Notes from the Universe)

What’s Beyond Our Comfort Zone? Maybe A Welcome Surprise

Comfort zones for most people extend well beyond billowy soft cotton tees or bed linens. Well beyond our physical body. And well beyond the walls we call home. As I ventured out for my first visit to a new hair salon – which demands that comfort is key – I got more and more prickly as I drove the six short miles. The scenery drastically changed, so did, well, everything.

But let’s back up. I love the city and proclaim to be an urban girl. I am, within limits. But I stepped outside my comfort zone when I got out of the car at this center city salon. It’s Aveda – a well known, upscale, organic, chi chi international chain that is fairly overpriced yet interestingly desirable.aveda

I started going to an Aveda salon by mistake, when I lived in the ‘burbs about 50 miles from our new digs. Back in the day, Aveda was just coming on the scene and everybody wanted its botanically-based products, especially those of us with an aversion to chemicals. While I welcomed that, when my longtime stylist said she was switching to Aveda I was naturally a bit hesitant. I’m a creature of habit and worry about change. But I trusted her, and after the first round I was hooked. It smelled better, looked better, even felt better. So I sucked up the cost every few weeks to ensure I didn’t sport any gray.  (And a quick side note – I feel very fortunate, this is a first-world situation I know.)you smell like aveda

Through the years and several moves I frequented the local Aveda salons nearest me, and grew accustomed to the the familiarity. My color formula transferred easily from place to place, I never really missed a beat. I was comfortable.

But now, out of the burbs – I’m actually embarrassed and ashamed to say – I had a little hesitancy as I drove through some unfamiliar-looking territory. I don’t pay much attention to lifestyle but sometimes it catches my eye. We live in such a different world now, pretty much nowhere is technically “safe.”

Whatever it is that knocks us out of our comfort zone – and it can be anything really – we notice. Our senses heighten, our posture straightens, our mind and heart may start racing, it’s really only natural, and admittedly happens to everyone.

perfet hairI drove around the block in circles at least four times looking for a parking space outside this new salon. I parked the car with hesitancy, went inside, and decided at that moment this place was not for me. Sure it was Aveda, but it didn’t feel the same. I couldn’t leave though, I would be charged for missing an appointment.

And here’s the crazy part. As the experience unfolded, much to my surprise, it was simply wonderful. The stylist and I were totally compatible and chatted as if we had known each other for years. The crew was just my speed, the expertise beyond compare. I felt completely at home in that Aveda salon. That’s a pretty big endorsement coming from a new but seasoned color client.

Life has a learning curve, and for some it may take years. When it comes to comfort we need to learn to stretch, because it may reveal something we never knew was there. Growth is pretty amazing. And good hair color definitely is too.

comfort zone is a beautiful place

Securing A Job Is Actually An Inside Job

I realized I have a little problem with confidence. On the outside I present as a strong, confident, accomplished person, but inside…totally different story.

burr poolWe were invited to a poolside gathering at our new condo complex last weekend, complete with cocktails, a beautiful spread of food and the perfect background jazz. It’s not a complex actually, it’s an old estate home that was renovated into about 20 two-story condo units. It sits on 23 acres of pristine land behind an old stone wall, so it’s quite intimate and equally elegant.

I didn’t really know anyone, except for burr backmy immediate neighbors, although we have seen others in passing, each of us waving hello. Last week when I had the great lost cat fiasco, I emailed the manager of the estate who emailed all of the residents to watch for our cat. Within minutes I not only had people outside looking for her, but I had several emails of support. I knew then that I was living with compatible people.

So when I met one of my email neighbors face-to-face, also a cat-lover, I thanked her profusely for her kindness, and we got to chatting. “What do you do?” she asked me. That’s a loaded question given my history.

I certainly couldn’t answer, “Well I am an abuse survivor who lives to tell about it…mother of a grown child formerly on the autism spectrum [what do you say when they grow up?]…and an independently employed lost professional soul when it comes to an official job title.”

writerSo instead, I told her I’m a writer – which I am – that is my cosmic gift or special purpose from which I’m trying desperately to make a living. “Oh how interesting and ironic,” she said. “I need to hire a writer!”

Turns out she works at one of the premiere medical facilities in our city, in fact, it’s known world-wide, and she works in Communications – my original degree and first job out of college. When I heard where she worked and that she was hiring a writer I proceeded to tell her the highlights of my resume as if I was amazing. I would like to think that on some level I was amazing, I used to work for the Kennedy family among other things, but I lost that loving feeling about myself quite some time ago when my life took a drastic turn of catastrophic proportion.

But that was then. And now, I suppose I could appear amazing on the outside, but feeling it on the inside? Not so much. After I had proclaimed my substantial credentials (which may very well be in the eyes of the externally confident beholder,) she asked for my resume. “I will send it tomorrow!” I proclaimed. Again – pretending to be awesome.

resumeInside I was a wreck. It was fairly intimidating that in her pile of perfectly-premiere applications that mine would be amongst them – the underdog who bases her credentials on life experience instead of work history. Oh sure, it’s listed, but almost as a sidebar. I have adopted my own resume format which talks about who I am and what I know, not necessarily what I have “done” in the working world.

So be it. After I hesitantly sent her my resume – she is my neighbor after all and I will have to see her possibly for years to come – I owned my individuality. Never mind I’m terrified about being able to sustain any job, let alone a full-time one, the stamina it takes of a day-in and day-out career, and living a “normal” life after years of trauma and drama with a body that feels chronic pain. But those are technicalities. Ones that I hope, will sort themselves out day-by-day.

In the meantime, maybe confidence is overrated. Maybe, being who we are – even as an underdog – has its benefits. Underdogs are flexible, able to be more innovative, aren’t tied by reputations and the pressure of being the best kid in the class. There’s a freedom to express ourselves without intense risk, and an opportunity to be more creative in how we showcase who we are. We can be our authentic selves, and that’s the gold-standard of existence. We just have to come to believe it.

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When the Fearless Pursuit of Peace and Sleep Leads To Trying Vape

We’re not smokers, so when I found out a while back that my 20-something son had been smoking for years to soothe his anxiety, I wasn’t happy. Smoking seems both stupid and gross. That’s not to say I didn’t try a few puffs as a teenager. I’m referring to cigarettes, which now are fairly un-hip.

vape juiceI didn’t realize my boy was so cutting edge when he went from tobacco to vape. When electronic cigarettes came on the scene a few years ago he switched over, touting the benefits of using a tobacco-less product, ignoring the fact that inhaling flavored nicotine chemicals called “juice” may not be such a good idea. In fact, I’m really worried.

vaporizersVaping connoisseurs believe that the clear, sweet-smelling vapor that they pour into their e-cig, aka vaporizer, is not only safe, but effective when needing a fix. Not to mention the devices come in different shapes, styles, sizes, colors and wattage.

I think I’m a little slow on the uptake of cutting edge anything, because I only recently learned that not only can you fill your customized e-cig with juice, you can also use it to smoke pot. I don’t smoke that either, but apparently a lot of folks do.

potThat’s a whole other story – the miracles and magic of marijuana to help with everything from mind-blowing to chilling out to chronic pain to insomnia. In the old days you rolled a few pinches in some rolling paper, licked it, sealed it – sheesh, what a time-consuming mess. Now, you just put it in your vaporizer and apparently you’re good to go.

can't sleepThe pot phase came and went for my kid. But imagine my surprise when a good friend shared a little secret she has. Upscale citizen, polished professional, magnificent mommy, exceptional human – the poor woman has a case of insomnia so bad she makes vampires look like wimps. Not only is she up most of the night, she still functions most of the day. She’s a survivalist.

And a hip one to boot. Because when she revealed her new plan to take a few puffs to aid her sleep, my ears actually perked up. I don’t sleep well either. Although I’m pretty sure I’m too uptight to try it.

Her story cracked me up – middle-age insomniac mom learns from other middle-age insomniac mom that vaping dope helps you sleep like a baby. While her husband is away, she secretly purchases a vaporizer, makes contact with a local and reputable dealer who delivers said product right to her door – arranged to ensure no one was home. She hides her paraphernalia and her substance knowing it’s there but invisible, a tempting little treat that may actually soothe her sleep.

I’m betting this is more common than we think. Melatonin to sleep? Nah, that’s old-school. When that doesn’t work, try pot. I’m not judging her, in fact I wish I was that cool. To not be afraid to try something “new” that is medically-approved for health issues? Longterm insomnia counts.

This isn’t about keeping up with the Joneses, it’s about keeping up with the times, and doing so without fear. I can’t condone my son vaping vape, but my friend vaping weed? Right on.

 

if it scares you

What Do you Say To Long Lost Friends When Life Hasn’t Been A Fairy Tale

moonlight walkIn the midst of a crazy high school registration protocol that made me feel like I was getting security clearance just so my kid could attend, there was a ray of light.

I had just spent three hours filling out paperwork, proving my identity and tending to the details for my son to start his junior year. Although I had tried to look my semi-best, I was now a bit frazzled. As I stood in the hallway with the registrar discussing the need for a mid-day cocktail after jumping through all the hoops, someone walked by who looked familiar.

It took a few seconds before I knew who she was, or she me, then the hugging commenced. We were friends more than 16 years ago but hadn’t seen each other since I left town. Lots of life happens as time moves on, and you never know who will cross your path at any point, or how they now may be.

life storyWhat do you do when you run into people after many years of no contact? What do you tell them? Do you just hit the highlights and leave the low points out for now, or forever? Do you spit-shine your story, polish up your past or just smile and say nothing at all?

When people we lose touch with periodically cross our minds, we usually just assume that their life is what it was when we knew them. Especially if our life is not at all how it was – it’s so easy to think that they are living their own happily ever after. It’s that perception that other people are happier than we are – the grass is always greener mentality.

glass slipperIn the few minutes my former friend and I quickly chatted, I learned her Cinderella story had its own twists and turns, and I completely understood. But she was still filled with so much beauty and grace in spite of it. She may have aged the teeniest of bits, but it wasn’t noticeable. Come on, most women secretly compare, and I know the toll from my own stressors.

So what was I thinking while we were chatting? Wow she looks great, she must think I look horrible. Will she even want to reconnect after losing touch all these years? Will she think I’m a fail? She seems as awesome as she always did. Did she even really like me back then so right now is she just being nice?

The inner dialogue we have when dialoging with others can be interesting. I really did not have reason to worry about anything because in all honesty life is what it is and we are who we are. The real question I had was, is it possible to pick up my old life where I left off but have it be new and better now? She brought in that ray of light.

That’s what we all want – to have our life be better now, every day better, especially when we have endured hard times. But more than that, first we have to be ok with where we have been, who we are, and where we hope we are going. We meet and even re-meet people along the way and want to be accepted, connected and fulfilled. But we shouldn’t worry. Time always tells what will happen.

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I Wasn’t Prepared For Red-Level Security When I Registered My Kid For School

red alertWe hear on the news what has become of the world – our national security, our cyber security, even our privacy. It’s disconcerting to know that we are not particularly safe on any level. Ironically, technology is supposed to help us be more safe, more protected, from secret intelligence to microchip credit cards, but nothing would have prepared me for what I went through to simply register my kid for high school.

Sixteen years ago I moved away from my quiet little town, just 10 miles outside of the big city I now call home again. A lot can happen in 16 years, and a lot did. I just didn’t know that as much as it has not changed, it’s really a whole new world.

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First I noticed increased traffic. This state is known for its traffic, but I thought we would relish in our quiet side streets like we used to. Nope. Then I noticed the small local businesses that I used to call for my home needs are now big businesses that don’t return my calls. Some family businesses survived through the years, but even they are different – nearly a generation gone by – grown children running the business their way.

The town has not changed in beauty, but has changed in numbers. That became clear when I saw that the high school that used to abut my neighborhood is now the middle school, and a big, shiny new high school stands where a plot of trees used to be. I was in awe of the new structure. But it was the inside that surprised me.

We had a registration appointment for my now-junior son. First we had to be buzzed through two sets of doors. Then they took my driver’s license and scanned it into a device that not only made an electronic copy, but printed out a special badge with my picture on it. At the same time that machine also let the administration know if I was a criminal.

paperworkWe had to provide more than 50 pages of signed documentation as proof of everything – residence, citizenship, marriage, language, driver’s licenses, notarized affidavits, utility bills, pay stubs, W-2s, home insurance, bank statement, house payment, and that was just for the parents. The registrar said that if they have any questions, they actually send the police to your house to be sure that you truly live there and with the people you say you do. I have never gone through anything like this to enroll my boys in school. It blew my mind.

My son did better with it than I did, I felt fairly invaded. Why would I lie about who I am, where I live, or anything relating to our identities? Apparently people do. It was like a government agency background check. Then I learned the school re-checks periodically to be sure we’re still good.

That was just for high school. When I learned what we have to do to get our driver’s licenses and car registrations I was shocked again. We don’t live in a police state…or maybe we kind of do. I’ll be so glad when the administration of moving is done and we’re finally real residents here. I must have been living under a rock before, but I bet now even that’s not too safe.

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It’s Ok To Be Happy Even When We’re Not

A heck of a lot of people seem miserable right now, and until recently, I used to be one of them. It’s so easy to get caught up in our stressors and not realize how impacted we are or even who we are because of them.  And because birds of a feather flock together, we gravitate toward others who are equally miserable and support us in our unhappiness. Then we call them our tribe, our community, and we feel better about ourselves and our life. After all, misery loves company.

unhappy hour

A long time ago I became part of a special needs advocacy group that had thousands of parents all fighting the same process to help their child diagnosed on the autism spectrum. It felt good to belong to a group of like-minded parents on the same journey. I made quite a few close friends and we banded together in determination and support.

mazeRaising a child on the autism spectrum can feel like living in a dark maze that takes an incredible amount of effort, diligence and hope to survive. There are so many pitfalls along the way, but we have that community of supporters who hold our hand, sometimes even carry us, without asking for anything in return.

Through the years it was interesting to watch how other people coped. As time went on our children grew up, but some of us stayed friends maintaining a special timeless bond.

The trouble is, that the misery that we felt going through the toughest times with our children became so habitual that for some of us, it stuck. We lived in daily turmoil, so much so that our mindsets settled into that pattern of darkness and despair, pessimism, fear, sadness and pain. We never came out of the dark hole long enough for the light to make a difference.

This can happen with anything in life, whatever our issues and circumstances – health, family, work, relationships – doesn’t matter. We can get stuck without realizing it, looking at our life and the world around us wondering when it will all change for the better.

happy againBut it’s not the world that has to change, it’s us. And it took me a lot of years to really see that. Our actions and responses are rote. The way we think, feel, see, hear – we perceive our entire life through our misery filter. Eventually, when it goes on long enough, we forget that it’s ok to be happy. Question is, are we willing.

After losing most of my friends and life as I knew it, it finally occurred to me that my misery was inside of me. That was huge. But ironically the road to happiness was actually harder to navigate than the road to raising a child on the spectrum. I had to examine and shift every, single aspect of my thinking in each moment, every, single day. I had to re-route my habitual way of existing mentally, emotionally, even physically. It was literally “starting over” all the time – catching myself and what I said, thought, felt, and reaching for a better option.

I did the work and feel much better. But I’m not sure the work is ever “over.” It’s all about how we look at things and whether we can find the goodness, even when it’s minute. When the goal is happiness, the path is deciding it’s possible right now. No matter what.

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Written yesterday on my son’s 23rd birthday. We both made it to the other side. 

What’s My Definition of Cool? Not A Mouse In The House

Some people are just really cool and are phased by very little. Like my childhood friend who lives in New York City. People who can live in the heart of New York City to me, are the epitome of cool. It’s the place of infinite everything from good to bad, I could not live there. Although I’m a city girl, we all have comfort levels in our location that match our personal vibe.

I have several friends who love the countryside – another location that at various times I have had the pleasure of experiencing. That’s where I first learned about mice when we had them in our big farmhouse barn. They didn’t bother me, and I didn’t bother them.

Unless they are your pet in a cage, nobody really wants to deal with mice. But they’re a reality whether you live in the city or the country. And yesterday I had the pleasure of a real life Tom and Jerry experience that left me wondering if the cosmos are having a field day with my recent intention to be more calm and cool.

When I got up and went about my morning routine I wondered why the cats were hovering around the sofa and not their empty food bowl. So I reached underneath to rescue what I FullSizeRender-3thought was their favorite jingly ball that gets stuck under there IMG_2237a thousand times a day.

You know where this is going.

At first I shrieked and ran when the grey furry rodent made a dash from under the couch to under the nearby chair. Then I called Sir Husband at work and begged him to come home and get it. (Yes, gender roles are real.) Of course he didn’t and said he’d do it after work.

FullSizeRender-1For the next hour I sat on the stairs overlooking the living room like it was a lookout perch – hoping the mouse would not climb up – and trying to calm down. Self dialogue went something like this:

  • It’s just a mouse, it’s small and scared….Oh but it’s probably pooping everywhere in fear.
  • Maybe the cats will get it….What’s taking so long, are they are not ferocious killers? 
  • This after Monday’s post about my personality Type A wiring?…Not embracing the irony.
  • This is a perfect opportunity to change….Grrrr. Sigh. Ok. Thank God it’s not a rat. 

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FullSizeRender-4Eventually I went Home Depot, bought traps and set them around the living room. As the day went on I got more comfortable with the small, scared city mouse in my living room, hiding under furniture, watching the cats circle around its hiding spot like lions waiting to pounce.

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I never shook my own scaredy-cat fear of the little creature, but I sort of learned to live with it. Did that improve my less-than-calm m.o? Or was it a life test mandating I once and for all rid myself of my semi-princess personality – the very one I blogged that I want to dial down? Maybe it was an exercise in self-sufficiency…or futility.

Whatever it was, I tried to channel both my New York City friend and Oprah who I recently heard share one of her favorite Eckhart Tolle quotes:

“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.”

I bet the mouse’s consciousness expanded. Mine definitely did. Who knows, maybe it will become our pet. Kidding. But that would definitely make me cool.

(At the time of this post the mouse was still hiding in my living room…)

 

experience in the moment