Insomnia Noises

Fan whirring
Frogs croaking
Stomach gurgling
Mattress creaking
Car rumbling by
Cat deep breathing
Husband tossing & turning
Dog sighing
Clock ticking
Child stirring
Birds waking & chirping
My brain desperately screaming “please let me go to sleep.”

Wordless Wednesday

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Gratitude: A Huge Motivator

It’s not often I am at a loss for words.

But yesterday, out of the blue, I received some flowers and a note that took my words and my breath away. It opened up my heart and my mind in refreshing ways and made me feel so alive.

I had two enormous takeaways from this kind, sweet and thoughtful gesture.

The first was it made me feel so good that I was spontaneously motivated to want to do the same for others so they could feel this way too. I guess it’s called paying it forward. Generosity begets generosity. Kindness fosters kindness. We are all so naturally self-involved and so very busy. It might cross our minds to add a thoughtful action to the to-do list. I know I do this. But the fact that a few good people took a moment out of the humdrum and busy-ness of their everyday to put thought into action – and plaster a smile on my face as a consequence – is huge.

The second takeaway is the realization of the impact each of us has on other people, even if we are not aware of it. Our actions, words, reactions, unspoken words and general comportment are being observed and felt by people we see every day and by the people we pass by. I’m acutely aware of this around my kids and their friends – these little sponges are watching and listening and processing all the time. Thanks to yesterday’s generous gesture, I have been reminded of the power of my character. That may sound egotistical and it’s not intended that way. What I mean is that I have become even more cognizant of the effect of my behavior – and that there’s a responsibility that comes with that.

So, my friends, thank you. Not just for the beautiful flowers but for the motivation you’ve re-ignited in me.

A Simple Message to My Kids: Guns Kill

Guns are not fun; guns are not toys; guns are not light sabers; guns are not video games.

GUNS KILL.GUNS HURT.

Today, some poor child’s Mommy and Daddy died. Someone’s brother and sister. Cousin. Aunt. Uncle. Friend.

I am unspeakably sad for these poor souls as well as those injured in today’s ghastly, unfathomable attack. And their families.

This is, sadly, not a one-off incident. Guns kill and maim innocent people every day.

THIS is why I don’t like Nerf guns. THIS is why I don’t like you watching scenes from the Transformers movies and similar. THIS is why I prefer that you don’t play senseless and violent video games. THIS is why I encourage you not to build Lego machine guns and pretend chase and shoot each other.

It is not a game. I say again. Guns are not fun. Guns kill. Guns hurt.

I know you’ll find some other implement to pretend fight with. It’s innate. Good versus evil is at the core of every story and every reality. Take guns away from demented or evil or sick people and yes, they will find another tool with which to hurt. Politics is not part of this discussion.

But as I read the news today and try to process the horror of this and figure how – or if – I should explain this to my kids, these two words scream from my head and my heart.

Guns Kill.

Wide-Eyed & Petrified

I’m in a deep soupy sleep but something is tugging me into consciousness. I hear my name being called: not yelled, not moaned but with a tone that signals urgency and concern. I leap out of bed before my eyes are even open, senses alert, even though the grey matter is still revving up.

I enter your room and your eyes immediately find me, wide open but droopy, petrified but relieved, covers askew.

“Mama!” you breathe.

I sit down and you throw your arms around my neck, your skin sweaty and damp and smelling like a boy. You cling on to me and I let you, hoping this intense contact will chase away whatever monsters, scary thoughts or fears had the audacity of invading your dreams. I feel your pulse slowing down, your fear unwinding, your muscles and mind letting go of the adrenalin, the panic, the confusion. I am sorely tempted to climb under the covers with you and hold you tight against me forever.

Instead, I carefully help you lie back down, flip your pillow over so its cool side calms your flushed cheeks. I rub your back in hypnotic circles. Your eyelids flutter, your breath deepens and once again, you are in dreamland, hopefully this time a place filled with fun and smiles and adventures.

Having performed Mama Magic, I tip toe out of the room, eager to get back to my own bed and my own dreamland.

Just as I get to the door ….. “Mama!”

And so it goes.

Feet Are Overrated

I’ve never been a fan of feet.

Sure, they help you stand up, which is useful. But apart from ensuring our verticalness, it is my humble opinion that feet serve no redeeming purpose.

Feet are ugly, full of callouses, dead skin, fungi, warts, blisters, bunions, gnarly toes and scratchy nails. They are usually smelly. They get hot and swollen from hours of being stuffed into oxygen-deprived socks and often ill-fitting shoes.

Don’t even get me started on toe nails and the heinous act of nail clipping.

If you are fortunate enough to have reasonably-sized ones, then a nice pair of shoes go a long way towards covering up the uselessness and ugliness of your feet.

Even podiatry is an ugly word.

Babies are the sole proprietors of cute, beautiful, sweet smelling feet. This lasts until they are about 3 or 4 years old, when their cuteness converts into sweaty, smelliness.

In my vision of things, we’d have no feet. Rather, we would have a beautiful assortment of shoes that are solid, filled with the appropriate amount of weight to keep us upright. We would just slot them onto our ankles when we get up and remove them to sleep.

Is that so ridiculous?

Thanks for listening.

P.S. Don’t ever search Google for images of ugly feet – you have been warned.

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Happiness: It’s Your Choice, Kid

Stop complaining.

Quit your whining.

Stop comparing what you have or don’t have to someone else.

Don’t act like a victim.

Happiness is your choice, kid.

Only you can make the difference between a great day and a crappy one.

So smile, keep your head held high, be a good friend, laugh, show kindness, participate and be sure to be silly. See, it’ll rub off on those around you.

Make today as awesome as you are.

(Applies to grown-ups too.)

On a Wing & a Prayer

I exist in “wing-it” mode.

Both personally and professionally, I get by thanks to a canny mixture of knowing just enough about a lot of things, being a master of the multi-task, taking life one day at a time, faking it, a large dose of silliness plus the occasional lightning strike of serendipity. Lucky for me, it works most of the time. Being in my 40s helps too – apparently I project a sense of maturity and confidence that makes people think I know what I’m talking about.

And much of the time I do! I’m not full of BS. I have experience, credentials, some wisdom and common sense on my side. But existing in “wing-it” mode is not necessarily a comfortable place. One of these days, I’ll trip up, get caught out. It’s happened before.

Once, during my University years, I remember a small, French poetry class. Just as I took my seat, it dawned on me that I had completely forgotten to read the piece we were to be discussing. Worse, I was wearing a fuchsia-colored top! I don’t remember if I fessed up or if I kept my mouth shut or just was lucky enough not to be called on. Either way, I remember the gut-curdling feeling of exposure and vulnerability.

That was when it didn’t really matter that much. But today, I have kids to raise, a household to run with a husband as my co-pilot, and a career to maintain and thrive. It’s a fragile, complex and extremely important tower of cards.

How did I get to this “wing-it” state ? I blame a combination of “having it all,” the speed of life, being just a teeny bit smart and street-wise, and Paulo Coelho’s “The Alchemist.”

Being a working Mom means operating at warp speed, making judgment calls about which battles to pick, who to please first, figuring priority and productivity trade-offs, constantly planning and worrying about the details. This applies to both the home and the job. It’s a state of hyper-vigilance. Let one thing go and the whole precariously constructed tower of cards could come tumbling down.

But the truth is, I actually get a kick out of living in “wing-it” mode. It’s a little like stage fright. The adrenaline of knowing that I need to put on a good performance, precisely when it matters. Recognizing a signal (per Coelho’s writings) and seizing it. The thrill of discovering luck is on my side, buoying my wings.

Would I like to slow it down? You bet. But I’ve also a sneaking suspicion, I’d be bored.

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