The Perfection of Perception

There seems to be some confusion in my house about what “clean” is. I am a bit fanatic when it comes to cleaning the nest. But the rest of my family? Forget it. They perceive clean to include things like crusty dishes the sink, clothes dropped wherever they were standing when they took them off, and beard trimmings as bathroom decoration.

But they live with someone who washes her dishes before they go into the dishwasher, has two accessible (and decorative) laundry baskets, one for darks, one for lights, and of course a bathroom free of hair. Of any kind.

I grew up in pretty sterile environment, immaculately cleaned on a regular basis, we weren’t even really allowed to use the strategically placed wastebaskets. Well, that’s partially not true. We could use them, but they were assuredly emptied by the clean-can fairy every, single day. Problem is, I sort of do that now too, which made me start to question perception.

catnewsPerception: a result of perceiving. Observation. A mental image. Concept. Cognition. Consciousness.

Consciousness. Now there’s a term the world throws around a lot lately. Spiritual consciousness. Ethical consciousness. Moral consciousness. We’ve all got a lot to think about at the moment.

I have drawn an appreciation for perception, especially since the last presidential election. For many years of my life I thought most of us were on the same page. Turns out we weren’t. Everybody has their own idea of what will most comfortably make their own little world go around. And it’s not working out too well. Why does everybody think everybody else is wrong?


Sometimes they are. Moral consciousness is a big deal. The Me Too movement is helping lock down that one person’s perception of what’s ok when another’s isn’t, isn’t ok. There’s really not a lot of room for perception here.

Ethical consciousness, is similar, but a little different. This is where our personal thoughts reflect our social behaviors, like not eating chickens that were treated really badly by a corporate processing house during the birds’ short lives. I personally do not eat certain brands of chicken because I perceive the treatment of their slaughterhouse chickens to be inappropriate.


Spiritual consciousness is such a hot topic. We are part of a humanity that is slowly but desperately waking up. This one is about our connection to the unseen, to the Divine, to the concept that we are all part of one Infinite Consciousness, one Source, not separate from God, but part of God. Too much?  Ok.

Environment matters. People matter. Self and self-care matters. Not being judgmental matters. A completely unselfish, tender, loving caring attitude matters. Better?  Spiritual consciousness.

But let’s get back to perception. It’s the basis of all of these things called consciousness. It’s how we view situations and life and therefore respond to it. No two people really have the same perception. What one person thinks and feels is unique, no matter what, even when we try to walk in another’s shoes. Empathy helps, but it’s not the definer.

Which brings me back to the crusty dishes in the sink and a bathroom floor covered in beard trimmings. Does it really matter? Maybe not. But paying attention to somebody else’s perception – and giving it some serious thought – does. And it’s applicable to just about everything in life.   Perfect.     perfect


Just Joy

I’m recycling an old mantra for the new year, one I made up a while back. Just joy.

Just joy comes in really handy for what I like to call those “situations of the moment.”

Like when your cat pukes on the carpet and you step in it on your way out the door…IMG_1517 copyyour to-go coffee lid pops off and spills all over you and the driver’s seat…and you miss your train to work by a millisecond. Take a deep breath. Just joy.

Sometimes they pile up – those little or not-so-little things that make life seem difficult, annoying, or even occasionally unbearable. Some of us have the ability to look at the bright side no matter what, and others of us need a reminder. Just joy.

It’s been a whopping three degrees for a week now, with no end in sight. Climate change or cruel joke from the weather gods, doesn’t matter. It’s absolutely painful to go outside. Just joyIMG_7822

You’re just sitting down to open presents on Christmas Day with your family, and your ex-husband and his wife show up unannounced…and stay for brunch. Surprise! Just joy.

IMG_3654When you have a fire in the fireplace, are pajama’d up and hunkered down to watch a movie and that feeling of dread sets in because Internet TV options are overwhelming. There’s too much to choose from.

And, despite the “turbo blast” internet you pay for, your TV can’t keep up with your scrolling.    Click click click, lag lag lag, ugh ugh ugh.    So you give up and go to bed. Just joy.

When you wake up in the middle of the night with social justice anxiety because you feel like America has become a corporate dictatorship, run by the cable company and a crazy government, and you realize you are whining about First World problems but don’t really care because in that moment it’s all relative. No guilt! Just joy.

When you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions your kids might want to make, then you realize resolutions don’t work anyway…either does judging (or hounding) your kids… Just joy.

When the toilet is clogged, your grey roots sprouted too soon, you’re out of milk, and it’s way too cold to go outside…doesn’t even matter! No need to invest in stress.

Because when life seems unsolvable ~ it’s actually really not.

Say it with me.




The Missing Chapter in my “Moms of Millennials” Manual

Where in the Moms of Millennials manual is the chapter, “Your college senior moved home and isn’t leaving?”


Secretly, I was thrilled this summer when my 22-year-old middle child moved home to finish his senior year of college at a school near us. It wasn’t exactly his choice, but due to some financial fiascos, he’s home. He was only staying a week until he found his own apartment, but it turns out apartments in our metro-locale are too expensive – for pretty much everybody, including the boy.

Sir Husband and I downsized just over a year ago into a sweet two-bedroom townhouse with the youngest child – now a senior in high school. Not that we were counting down to Empty Nest (but we actually were,) and now the nest is overflowing with two man-sized-not-so-sweetly-smelling-video-game-playing-chow-hound-nearly-grown-children.

I didn’t know the return of the grown child to the nest wasn’t just a myth.

Here are a few other things I didn’t know.

1. There’s a fine line between your grown baby as your live-in child and your roommate. That isn’t possibly pot I smell is it? Wait, you are going where? To Hooters?

2. Be sure to have plenty of chips, chicken nuggets and beer on hand. And prepare to replenish frequently.

3. The bathroom has smells it never had before…let’s just leave it at that. And, sharing one full bathroom with two grown man-children requires daily cleaning. We have a limitless investment in Clorox wipes.



4. Asking too many questions leads to answers you wish you didn’t know. Sure, I’m grateful he shares things about himself as a adult now, but my brain crinkles up when I hear some of it, this is my baby.

5. Witnessing your husband and your college-age son bond is like watching and hearing a couple of frat boys summarize last night’s house party.

6. Skype is open 24/7 for online gaming, and face-to-facing your girlfriend in the wee hours. Hallelujah for headphones. Not to mention we get our money’s worth now on Netflix.

7. The F-word reverberates through the bedroom door down the stairwell like wind chimes swinging in a breeze.

FullSizeRender-28. Mom-instincts die hard…

…So what I get up early every day to make sure he has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch in a brown bag that I hand to him on his way out the door for school (yea I know it’s college,) along with a travel mug of coffee and a muffin.

And I simultaneously ask him what he wants for dinner, or if he will even be home for dinner, so I can be sure to Tupperware-up the leftovers for his long shift at the Apple store after school.


Nope, this chapter isn’t in the manual.  But he’s still ‘adorbs’ (millennial-speak,) especially when he needs something and slurs the phrase, “Um, Can yew dooooo it?” in full millennial-whine, with a flashy grin.

And having him live here is actually showing me a few things about what happens when we help raise a human to adulthood. I feel pretty fortunate. He’s smart, he’s funny, he works hard (maybe not at cleaning his room,) and most importantly, he’s independent.

My work here, is done.



Is Your Seasonal Soap Addictive? Say Goodbye to Sound Judgement.


Tis almost the season, so I thought I’d do a little early shopping.

My favorite hand soap –  Method Vanilla Chai foaming – only comes out once a year, which I learned last year much to my dismay. This is the absolute best-smelling hand soap ever invented. A little vanilla, a little cinnamon, a little warm tea, and it lingers on your hands just long enough to offer a momentary waft of aromatherapy.

the method handsoapI picked one up last year from a grocery store clearance bin, only to find out it was 99 cents of pure liquid gold. Of course when I went back to get more, it was gone, and wasn’t even available online.

Completely bummed, I ensured that every member of my family who used it, only did a half-pump (totally plenty) so it would last twice as long. When the bottle was almost empty I added water, just to get the spit sip (it works.)

So this year, determined to buy enough to last all year – at full price now – I went online to a famous big-box store, and sure enough, I could order three (the maximum allowed, who knew it would be rationed,) and get free shipping.

Boom. Done. In two days I had three bottles of my favorite foaming hand soap in my hand, one for each bathroom and a spare.

And then… The next day, three more bottles arrived from the same big-box store, left at my front door.

Wait. What? I checked my credit card and was only charged once. Lottery win! Or…ethical dilemma? Do I return the three “freebies,” or do I keep them as some kind of gift from the Cosmos? Maybe there is a Santa Claus, disguised as the UPS guy?

IMG_3581I haven’t really ever won anything, well, I did win a book after commenting on a Facebook Live feed last summer. I was “randomly chosen,” and got a signed, first-release hardcover. So it’s possible three more soaps were a total win. Maybe I was “randomly chosen” in the warehouse to get a bonus box.

I wrestled with it all day. I asked Sir Husband what to do. It haunted me a bit (which is good perhaps? I’d be a fail as a thief.) I could donate the three free ones… or, I could put the bottles away in the closet because hey, there’s still time to decide, the holidays are just getting started. When in doubt, wait it out.

So I did. And then, as if it was the movie Groundhog Day – when every day repeats itself over and over – ANOTHER box of three arrived 24 hours later. Not kidding. Now what?


Luckily Thanksgiving is here, so when we go around the table before we eat and say what we’re grateful for — an uncomfortable tradition because for some reason it elicits guilt — I’ll know just what to say.

But wait! Before you sit down to eat – everybody wash your hands.

wash your hands

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 …

MitchCollege2 copy


apple store

And this.

While he is here we will be busy…


Visiting his step-dad at his job.


Shopping for his new apartment.


Eating burgers and fries at Wahlburgers.


And of course drinking beer.

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

15528byeMitch1 copy

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.

IMG_0135 copy

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.


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.

small steps




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?

soul food 1

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?


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.


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