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.

 

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Fresh Start In A Familiar Place and Hopefully Familiar Faces

bdayA long time ago I ran away from my life when I could not take one more second of Mr. Ex’s absurd gambling addiction. His personal turmoil left our whole family in a shredded heap on the floor. It was ugly. I needed safety, sanity and peace for myself and my children.

When I left to set up in another state with my high school best friend and soul partner, I also left people who mattered to me back home. All the people I was close to – friends who were like family, neighbors who were friends, everyone in my personal orbit from my handyman and car repair guy to hair stylist, even milkman.

IMG_2019It was hard. And despite my situational amnesia brought on by the trauma and drama, I never forgot one of them. But they seemed to quickly forget me.

It’s not uncommon when people are going through personal difficulties for those around them to distance themselves. Humans can only take so much before they turn away from strife and turmoil.

IMG_1464But let’s back up – when we are going through crazy times, we can also change, sometimes drastically. Our temperament, vibe, even personality can morph into an unrecognizable state. So I don’t blame those who disconnected – they were essentially saving themselves from the mess both my life and I had become.

That’s not to say it didn’t hurt. We count on people to be there for us in our time of need. But it’s not always in sickness and health ’til death do us part like the saying goes. So seven years ago, I lost most of my tribe, except for the ones I could count on one hand, and for whom I am eternally grateful.

IMG_1522-1One of the best things about being human is that we have these opportunities for fresh starts. Sometimes we take them over and over until we feel like we got it right. Other times life gives us the chance for a do-over, or a magical portal opens.

I recently walked through that door with Sir Husband, and am back home. This time the view is quite different. The past is revealing itself – so much has not changed since I lived here years ago…but so much has.

10417018_10201470902129241_3006093295010639328_n copyAnd I want to reconnect with people who mattered to me. So I got brave and cautiously took the leap with a few I left behind. It took some guts, some faith and the tricky skill of not having any expectations.

By the way how do we not have expectations? I mean come on. I missed these people, I would love a big, happy reunion. How could I not? I’m different. Life is different. All is right with the world now and then some.

IMG_1434The point is, I did it. Cautiously. I started with a benign text to the numbers that were still in my phone, I sent emails to the old email addresses I had, I even called and left a couple of messages.

And it happened. Not right away, but I heard back. With open, welcoming arms. There are many others, but I will baby-step my way down memory lane and see how it goes.

People are people so you just never know. But that’s the allure of friendships and the enchantment of human fresh starts.

 

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Even on His Birthday My Teen Won’t Leave His Room

tyler bday 007 copyBirthday season just opened in our house. We have three birthdays in just under a month, starting yesterday when the youngest turned 16.

I love to celebrate special occasions, especially birthdays, especially for those I birthed. I’m pretty sure I even celebrated in the delivery room as my kids were being born. I remember my doctor on the third child asked me why I was so smiley despite all the pain. Little did I know what that truly meant.

I spent my boy’s 16th birthday pretty much by myself. No cars and friends and cheer for him, he just hung out in his room. Like almost everyday, I can’t get my teenager out of his room and I don’t know what to do.

I have tried everything, but he won’t really come out except to go to school and eat, and it’s been going on for a couple years. Why am I waiting so long to speak up? Because I keep hoping it will change.

He isn’t hiding anything that we can tell, he’s got a fancy computer and spends all his time online. Introverted, totally tech, smart as a whip honors student, he’s not like me or his sibs. He opts out of interaction and seems perfectly happy. But it makes me really sad.

No matter what I do or say to try to help him, he pishaws and rolls his eyes. I realize this is teenager-speak, I’m not new to this. My other two 20-somethings seem to be fine, so I guess this will pass. But it’s worrisome nonetheless. He’s isolated and putting on weight, and even with encouragement from family and friends, it’s like trying to move a boulder. 26_23.jpg_24 copy

Nobody tells mothers that one day they will feel pain with their children like they did in the delivery room. Having children is as heartbreaking as it is joyful, and the teenage years are intense. All kinds of factors come into play – genes and environment, family status and stability, extended family, community – everything plays a role. So on some level I have to wonder where in all this I failed to help him be the best he could be.

Or maybe I didn’t. Maybe this is his best. Teenagers are still developing in their bodies and in the world. So I try to give him the benefit of the doubt instead of blaming myself. He’s not young anymore, not to mention he’s the size of an adult, unlike when he was two and I could control his life.

He has gone through a lot with our family trauma, problems and pain. But all I can do is keep showing him things are now really good, and role model every day.

So as I search for the answer to help my teen thrive, I keep repeating the old standbys – everybody is on their own journey…parents are only vessels, kids are individuals…don’t make him someone he isn’t…he has to want to change, nobody can do it for him…  But some days it’s really hard.

I guess one day he will come out of his room. In the meantime I’ll keep trying…and waiting…and trying…and hoping. This is parenthood.

 

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This Middle-Age Girl Can Still Fit In Her Wedding Dress

At what age do we stop worrying about our body image? Is it a universal socio-cultural issue, or is it strictly personal? Body image to me feels stressful, most days I feel fat. Ok ok. I’m not fat, I know that intellectually, and well, I guess physically. But I grew up chubby, with a Weight Watchers group leader mother and a stick-thin father and to this day have a skewed image of myself.

Poor Sir Husband is always trying to convince me that I’m thin and beautiful. I don’t believe him, he’s said that since we were teens. So when he asked me to try on my old wedding dress that we uncovered as we were sorting through boxes to move, I thought he was out of his mind. There’s no way that would fit me now. IMG_2792

I wore it a zillion years ago when I married Mr. Ex, had three babies who grew up since then, and I now have a bit of a midlife spread. Not sure why my hips are widening but apparently that’s normal, except for movie stars who age without any change to their girlish figures.

Sir Husband and I had spent the day finding a new setting for my engagement ring that for no reason fell apart, so we were in the marital mood when he asked me to try on the dress. I needed to do something with it anyway, I figured I’d donate it to a women’s shelter since we don’t have any girls in the family who would likely want to wear it. What the heck, I’ll humor him and put it on, or at least half-on because I’m sure it won’t fit. What have I got to lose (besides a few pounds of course.)

FullSizeRenderI stood in the middle of the living room and took off my skirt and top and stepped into the form-fitted cumbersome gown. I didn’t recall it feeling that itchy when I wore it the first time around. As I pulled it up I got more and more surprised. It was on, but there’s no way it will zip. Surprise, the thing zipped up although my curves were showing through.

This was totally a milestone moment. I think women secretly hope their wedding dress will fit years later, after babies and the wear and tear of life. I know I did. But I sure as heck couldn’t believe it. It must have been too big back then.

I immediately sent a text photo of me to Mr. Ex’s Mrs., who simply replied with “I hate you.” It was funny, I knew what she meant. But I sort of did feel proud.

FullSizeRender-2I am not shallow, but my whole life I never felt thin, my tummy’s little pooch was my nemesis – I could never wear a two-piece. This is all an internal issue, I know that now. But forever it caused me problems, in fact I was bulimic through my college years.

Eventually I recovered from that, and taking care of my body became a way of life. Apparently enough that my wedding dress still fit. Lately however the midlife spread is messing with my mind.

There’s nothing about our bodies that ever stays the same – the point that pop-culture never makes. It’s learning to be ok with ourselves every, single day, or at any milestone. If we love who we are no matter what, that is what shines through – our size has nothing to do with it. I know that for everyone else, but for me?

Maybe I’ll go have some cake.

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Middle Age Musing ~ Is it how you look? Nope, It’s How You Feel

 

I’m just going to blurt this out.  Goddesses do age.

IMG_1214I know women’s role model and pseudo-mentor Dr. Christiane Northrup says they don’t, she prides herself on her ability to grow older without subscribing to the status-quo negative thinking about the golden years of life. And that’s awesome.

But I’m walking the fine line between beliefs and reality. Although I’m all for a Goddess-mentality, some days working the program feels tricky.

I never really thought about aging, until I was pushing 45, it didn’t pertain to me. A concept verses a reality, getting old was for other people. Then I noticed little things about my body that were clearly different approaching midlife. Can’t eat the same things with digestive ease. Perimenopause hormones wreak havoc at a whim. Need reading glasses. Ready for bed before midnight. Sagging. Wrinkles. Flumpiness (my made-up midlife word.) GRAY HAIR. That one really gets me.

You try to keep up with the changes – heading them off at the pass, switching up exercise routines, make-up regimes, new clothes one size bigger – but it gets harder and harder to keep up. Eventually you have to accept that aging is for real.

IMG_1217Some aging people honestly don’t care. I like to pretend I don’t, and I’m getting better at that – not just because practice makes perfect. The truth is, we don’t have a choice. The only choice we have is how we choose to accept it and work with it. Goddess mentality says we embrace it. Ok, that takes a little work, but I’m working on it.

Two of my three birds recently flew out of the nest. I thought that meant a new invigoration would ignite and I would be ready again to fly, like I did back in my 20s. So far it’s more like a limp. But the opportunity is there to expend more mental energy on me.

When we’re raising kids our lives are full of whatever it is about them. We go on the back burner, occasionally bringing ourselves to the front, but more often than not, we’re plowing through day-by-day and year-by-year for them, until one day we notice that things are different. And that doesn’t mean different-bad. It’s just different. Bodies. Capabilities. Priorities. Focus.

While having coffee with a woman I recently met who opted for the career-no kids path, now approaching the end of her childbearing years, it all became quite clear. We had completely different lives – our choices landing us in totally different realms. She soared her way to the top of her field, while I fought my way through my first toilsome marriage. She combatted woman-in-the-workplace tough roadblocks, while I tried to save my son’s life as he battled on the autism spectrum. While we sat at the table together discussing our polar vantage points, one commonality remained. We are both aging. Two humans, two women, different lives, same trajectory.

I have a mother who loves to point out that the golden years aren’t really golden. But I think it’s how we think about it that dictates our golden years. Yep, Goddesses age, but age is irrelevant. As our bodies change, we have to change our minds. There’s truth to having a youthful mentality and that’s where I prefer to commit.

It always goes back to one of my favorite quotes by the late Wayne Dyer.

Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.

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In A Box Of Heirlooms, It’s The Words That Really Matter

barbie weddingWhen little girls dream of their wedding day, it usually involves dolls dressed in a pretty ruffly dress. Maybe it’s Barbie, or an American Girl Doll, or her favorite stuffed animal adorned in special doll clothes, but she imagines with all of her might. Then the real day comes, and more often than not we wear a traditional gown that becomes an heirloom in our mind, the dress our daughter will wear, maybe her daughter after that.

I did that. I even wore my great-aunt’s veil which made it through decades of basement storage in an old yellowed cardboard box. I paid a fortune to preserve my own all-lace form-fitted gown and that long antique veil which were neatly tucked into a new box, ready for my daughter.

Oops. I had sons. Three of them. The third one was supposed to be my girl, the one who would would wear that dress. Life happens.

When I learned I was pregnant with my first baby and the ultrasound confirmed he was a boy, I set out on the journey of preparation. I wrote him letters in a journal every week, telling him things I thought he would want to later know, about my pregnancy, his family, and any wisdom I could impart at age 29.

Next baby, same thing. Baby boy revealed during pregnancy, excitement, preparation, writing, more wisdom shared, now at age 31. The pages continued to fill in my journal, hand-written in black ink. With each entry I moved the red satin ribbon over to mark the special spot where I would continue to write to my sons.

xmas and new house 006 copyBut as time went on and the daily routine of raising children became my focus, I just wrote when I felt inspired. I kept the hardbound journal in a small wooden chest next to the pristinely-preserved wedding gown tucked away in its box in the basement. Only now it was next to christening clothes that my two baby boys sweetly wore.

Eventually the third boy arrived, the journal now worn, the entries less frequent. The wooden chest was filled with memorabilia – baby books, tiny blankets, zippered bags holding their first locks of hair, important documents, special gifts, silver cups, even my own silver rattle, an antique, quite tarnished and chewed, the only thing left from my infancy.

For years my carefully-preserved wedding dress was nestled safely between hope and trust that its future would be secured. But I had three boys, and eventually divorced. The gown’s value now minimal and purpose lost, I finally opened the box that had been sealed some two decades before, to decide its place in my life. I kept the dress…its preservation not mattering anymore.

So it’s tightly rolled up with the veil, even smashed a bit in a plastic bag underneath the remnants of my babies’ keepsakes. The wooden box is long gone, along with many of the things that lost their significance as time went on. The boys grew up, we moved frequently, so much “stuff” lost along the way.

A few pieces of tangible memories now stay safe in a plastic storage container, perhaps one day important to the boys. It’s the journal’s worth that is immeasurable. Not the gown, probably not the veil – although almost a century old, not the christening clothes, the blankets, or even the old tarnished rattle. It’s the words hand-written on the pages, that rose from the depths of my heart and soul. The heirloom is the love. It makes the memories, sustains all time, and is the true foundation of our dreams.

 

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