Archive for July, 2010
Years ago, I spotted a Maxine or Cathy cartoon where the main character (Cathy or Maxine) was slumped dramtically on the couch, perhaps there was something like chocolate just out of reach, and the caption read, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I think I am Cathy. Or Maxine. And I bet a lot of you identify with me.
Yesterday, a good friend and I took our boys on a field trip. The field trip involved some driving time and so we had an opportunity to just let conversation unravel (when does that happen?) and take us wherever our (my) sometimes non-sequitor thoughts wanted to go. And I finally placed my hand on the pulse point of something.
First, some background…
A few weeks ago, I was on the phone with a woman who was asking me to speak at an event. Sure, I said, and we went through all the details. As we went to get off the phone, I said, “Thank you, David.” Now, do any of you know any women named David? Me neither. I apologized all over myself and all I could think of as we were getting off the phone was, “I bet that gave her a lot of confidence about having me speak at her conference.”
A few days later, I was talking to a woman that I don’t really know about African hair. She was asking what we do for Happy’s hair and telling me that her friend who had adopted a child from Ethiopia was having a hard time finding a barber. We have a friend who has adopted an Ethiopian boy who lives in their city, and they, too, had a hard time finding a barber but, finally, did. I mentioned that I would be happy to help link the two families up as her friend might finally be able to find a bartender. Yep, you read that right. I suggested a bartender for that woman’s problems and not a barber.
I’ve never been flakey and yet… the tiredness I feel since becoming a mom is unlike anything I’ve ever known. While I love being Happy’s mom (because, seriously, how could I not), I do miss the effervescene, spirit, pluck, efficiency, focus, generosity, thoughtfulness that I once had. Especially because those traits weren’t just ones that I enjoyed, they were ones that I felt really defined who I was, how I was in the world.
Fairly often, I get an email inviting me to do something. Half the time, it’s something I want to do, I feel called to do. Half the time, it’s not. When it’s not, it’s not so hard to say no. I mean, I have a finite amount of time available and already can’t do what I want in it, how can I say yes to something that I don’t want to do. You all know this situation, too. But when it’s something I want to do, I struggle. Because I want to do it, I feel called to do it, it’s something that jives with who I am as a person. And so I say yes. And then, often, the night before, I think, “Why did I get myself into this…” and that’s the tiredness talking. Because they next day, I do it, and I love it and, just for a moment, I see a glimmer of the girl I used to be. And I am so happy to see her, to see a shade of myself, that I almost want to cry in joy, relief, and maybe a little sadness, too. And I am so happy to have had a moment where I could most be the person that I want to be.
As my friend, Jen, and I were driving down the road on our field trip, I said, “I want to be the woman after the event who is excited and happy that she did it, not the one the day before that is dreading why she signed up.”
Sometimes, I wonder if a week at some spa with early bedtimes, late wake-up times and loads of self-care would solve the problem, would bring me back to myself. But I think all that would happen is that I would return home to my life of working at home while raising a child at home and the depletion would just return. I thought that going vegetarian might help, but not really in any dramatic way. I think it just is what it is for the duration, ya know. It’s a new normal that I have to adapt to, that so many of us have had to adapt to over generations.
Earlier in our drive, Jen and I had talked a little about Beautiful You and some of the exercises in it. She asked if I do them now. And some I do and some I don’t– but many of them I have had to do over time to get to where I am in terms of understanding that my body’s appearance doesn’t define me. But, over the years, I have so confidently come to understand that the person within defines me and now, with the exhaustion and with the busy-ness, I am not quite certain about this person within. When Jen asked me about using the Beautiful You premises, I was reminded of what I need to do to cure what ails me internally. I want that spark back. I need that spark back. And, sometimes, just acting “As If” can get you there. So today, tomorrow, next week, next month, I am acting as if. As if I already have all the energy I need. As if I already have all the rest I need. As if the personality that used to come effortlessly to me still does. Because the only way I can get it back is to be it. I have decided that instead of missing the woman I used to be, I am just going to be her.
How about you? Any ways that you are acting as if these days?
Ah, the beach. Overall, it was a really great trip. When Happy first saw the ocean this year (remember, he was an instant fan of the ocean last week and crawled right into crashing waves), he cried. It took about an hour of playing in the sand with his back to the ocean before he was willing to discuss going down and checking out high tide. But he did, and then exhibited a healthy sense of awe and fear of the water for the rest fo the week. He was hesitant enough to not run in (and this kid runs into EVERYTHING- check out that sprint on the beach on one of our early morning walks) but excited enough to always grab our hand and pull us down to go with him. He loved jumping waves, splashing into tidal pools, being pulled around in this little blow-up boat, and chasing the birds (fortunately, he never realized that he could feed the birds from his snack because birds totally freak BF out). We were there with friends and he was very much into the big kids– opting for them first and only reverting to us if a big kid wasn’t up for having a toddler tag along.
I didn’t get a lot of pictures this year compared to last year for a few reasons. A. I have had such bad luck with cameras in dry, indoor spaces, that I had a lot of hesitation about taking a camera outdoors for long periods of time. Call me shell-shocked. B. Using a camera I wasn’t familiar with was really frustrating and I couldn’t figure out how to look back at the pictures that I had taken and only realized after I was home how many of them were not focused. C. The humidity (and, holy cow, could it have been any more miserable in North Carolina last week?) steamed the camera up so often that it was near impossible to get a non-foggy shot. So here are the four best shots of the week. I took about 50 shots one morning on the beach for a birthday picture for the babe and 45 of them are just a white haze. Oh well. What can you do but covet an SLR camera that you really have no business owning because you drop cameras and let toddlers pour water on them?
One last thing: check out that last picture. Isn’t the scar healing great? You can barely tell that Happy fought the door and the door won. Big ups to the ER doc who had done the plastic surgery fellowship.
So one of the very fun things that happened while I was at the beach was that my publisher sent me the whole book jacket to take a peek at and it’s just beautiful. Supposedly, I can insert a pdf document onto this blog for you to see but I can’t figure it out so here’s the link for you to check it out if you are so inclined: beautiful you full cover2.
I sent the designer a big, effusive thank you note because, seriously, how great is that cover?
I started working on the book trailer for Beautiful You and I think I am actually going to be able to figure out how to use Windows Movie Maker. There’s still time to be a part of the trailer. Here’s the information you need to become a video star!
In other whole shebang news, I have now graduated up to having a presence on Twitter and Facebook. Because I can barely put a phone number in my cell phone, this is astounding news. But I am not going all hightech– my paper calendar and mechanical pencil are still keeping my days straight for me.
My friend and fellow writer, Patrice Gaines, teaches a monthly workshop at a jail in Charlotte. Convinced that words have a healing power, Patrice has started a project called 30 Letters for 30 Sisters. She is asking women of all ages and backgrounds to write a letter to a sister in prison and to send that letter to Patrice via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Her vision is to give each woman in her workshop a letter each time she goes for the monthly workshp (so please spread the word about this opportunity, too). Won’t you sit down for a minute right now and craft a letter to another woman? You can begin the letter Dear Sister or any way that suits you and sign off with just your first name (or no name at all), if you like. Patrice asks for letters to be no longer than 2 pages but less than a page is just fine, too. Mostly, Patrice just wants to offer these women encouragement and to let them know that someone has thought of them and that they are part of a larger community. I just wrote a letter and included a quote that I really love that I thought would be encouraging right now for the recipient. I hope you’ll take the time to write one, too, and send it Patrice’s way. Thanks so much for considering!
The annual trek to the beach has been completed. And here is my question? Why, oh why, is returning from vacation so, so stressful? It doesn’t help that we returned on Sunday, so the hours we have to process mail, read seven days of newspaper, clean out email, do five loads of laundry, unpack, etc are just so, so few. So, this today, will be a fast little wrap-up, let’s call it a beach post mortem, and then come Tuesday, we’ll return to our regularly programmed blogging.
5 books read: Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, The One that I Want, Red Hook Road, The Opposite of Love, and I Do Not Come to You By Chance. All great reads.
1 camera preserved. I did not destroy my parents’ camera while on vacation. My parents will be the most impressed by this revelation because they know me as “the accident looking for a place to happen.”
1,000 hives. My arms and shoulders are covered in hives. I have a predisposition for hives when heat and sun-exposed. Totally forgot to pack the plethora of prescription of allergy medicine that I can take to battle them so the battle is beginning today. If you run into me in the next few days and I seem catatonic, it is from the massive amounts of anti-histamine I am taking.
5,000 waves jumped. When Happy first saw the ocean this time around, he cried. An hour later, we were jumping waves. He had just enough of a sense of fear not to plunge in without us, but enough of a sense of adventure to demand that we go in with him.
1/4 an ice cream cone consumed. Happy consumed the rest. Literally took mine from me after finishing his (well, his cone came to an abrupt end with a drop) and gripped on with both hands so I could get nowhere near it. I love ice cream. This was a grave miscarriage of justice.
10. The number of times we watched the beginning of Shrek today on the drive home. My parents treated Happy (and us) to a travel DVD player for the long trip to the ocean and we put in Shrek. Happy’s obsessed with Donkey and also with hitting buttons. We restarted Shrek multiple times but only got to the end twice (which is a shame since there is nothing cuter than watching Happy sing I am a Believer at the end of Shrek).
Blurbs. You’ve noticed them. Maybe they’ve even inspired you to buy a book. They are those quotes on the back of book jackets or inside flaps that tell you what other people– usually writers who maybe tackle the same sort of subjects– thought of the book.
Well, the first two blurbs have arrived for Beautiful You and here they are:
As I read Rosie Molinary’s Beautiful You: A Daily Guide to Radical Self-Acceptance, I found myself marking the pages that contained body image wisdom that really resonated with me. Guess what? By the time the book was finished, I’d marked more than half the pages! Molinary has done a fabulous job of offering practical and doable advice to help women see — and appreciate — themselves in a whole new way, and to realize that a healthy body image is about so much more than what we think we see in the mirror. I’m giving this book my ultimate seal of approval — I’m handing it off to my 14-year-old daughter. — Dara Chadwick, Author, You’d Be So Pretty If: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies — Even When We Don’t Love Our Own
Women are sick of the same tired, stale body image advice. Don’t tell us to ‘Slick on some sexy red lipstick’ or ‘Spend a day at the spa’ – we need real, functional tips that can help us break out of a bad body image day. Rosie Molinary answers our call in Beautiful You. Her ideas are inspired, creative, and totally doable, with many carrying a trickle-down effect to the younger generation of girls. With the first day of reading it, my copy was thoroughly dog-eared and I can’t wait to employ Tip #39 this January, when I ask my husband and best friend to write a body image-based New Year’s resolution for me. – Leslie Goldman, Author, Locker Room Diaries: The Naked Truth About Women, Body Image, and Re-imagining the “Perfect” Body (Da Capo, 2007)
How exciting! I usually forget that I am figuratively ‘pregnant’ with this book and that it will soon be ‘due.’ And so little moments where my publisher emails me to say, ”here’s a blurb” or my publicist says, “Let’s get your launch party scheduled” (could this be the literary equivalent of a baby shower?) seem almost surreal– as if I am talking about some other life that I am not living because the life I am living involves dirty diapers, a dog who acts like a diva, water loss (the water line went out last week. We went two days without water. Seems the decades old water lines are giving up on us), and other insanity. But dates are starting to be scheduled (New York and Miami, here I come) and maybe soon it will feel more real. If you are from around these parts, put October 9th in your calendar. More information soon in hopes that you can come to my book baby shower (and because it’s me after all, there’s s fair chance that cupcakes will be involved).
I was asked recently what I thought the best body-loving advice was.
Doesn’t this person know me at all, I thought. I can’t boil it down to just one soundbite.
And then I did.
First, do no harm.
Just for today, I want us all to imbed this mantra in our head. First, do no harm- to ourselves, physically or emotionally.
If we can start by just stopping the abuse we hand out– abuse that looks like too little sleep, too much berating, “constructive” criticism, too much sugar, too little food, inactivity, too much activity, add other offenses here– we will have made a significant step.
So, what’s the harm you are not dishing out today? And what is your best body-loving advice?
We are officially the place where digital cameras come to die.
Yep, a third camera in as many months has bitten the dust. This one at my own hands. I don’t really want to talk about it.
Anyway, the culprit of this rash of camera deaths is my photo a day project. Last year, on Happy’s birthday, I had this idea to take a picture of him everyday between birthdays one and two (And then at the end, make a flip book like video of every picture. This idea even though I know nothing about making a video. That’s the frustration waiting for me in August). For a girl who knows nothing about technology (seriously, I think Excel spreadsheets are magic), this is way too much togetherness with a camera. I try everyday to get some unique picture of Happy. He’s in the wagon and I think, I’ve never taken a picture of him in the wagon and so I grab the camera, that does not fit in a pocket, and try to take a picture of him in the wagon (even though I need to be pulling, too, to keep him satisfied and even though pulling means we’re not still and so the photo doesn’t come out and so the game of getting today’s one shot goes on and on and on). And then I am done with the camera and it gets put in some precarious place outdoors so we can finish kicking the ball or pulling the wagon or blowing bubbles or whatever and then, inevitably, I am in some hurry and the opportunity for something to happen to the camera is ripe.
Granted, the first two camera deaths were not literally at my hands, but they were able to happen because the camera was around all the time, trying to capture that day’s shot.
Yesterday, I was telling a friend about the picture a day project and she was like, “Oh well, you got close. You should be happy with that.” Does she not know me at all? No, that’s so not how it works. Now, so close to year 2, I have to finish the picture a day project. I mean I have tortured myself already for 320 days with this project. I cannot just stop now, so close to the finish line. For a couple days, I’ll have to figure out a way to get the picture (my cell phone camera? The photos are low quality but they are photos nonetheless) and then my parents are letting me borrow their camera (although my mom said, “Don’t break this one, too” and I told her that at my rate, I couldn’t promise her anything but if these things do indeed happen in three, well, then we’re done) to get me to the end of the picture a day project. Then the camera will come out only on special occassions. Because I, apparently, can’t have nice things.
For several years, I was a pretty devoted road cyclist. My dad had been diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of lymphoma and all the waiting, watching, and wondering became too much in the midst of his treatment process. I got on my bike in the hopes that completing a couple century rides with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program would help me feel purposeful and powerful in the midst of driving the highway back and forth between our homes and chemo treatments. I had been cycling a fair amount before my dad’s diagnosis, completing weekend two-state bike rides with the MS Society or getting an early morning ride in with a girlfriend to catch up on our lives. And so I knew the precariousness of the cyclist, how they are beholden to the other drivers on the road paying attention, giving them the right of way when they are due (bikes are considered another vehicle on the road with the same rights and responsibilities). I was often surprised at how angry some drivers would get at cyclists, as if being on a bike is a specific afront to those who drive cars- although I don’t know a single cyclist who feels that way (in fact, all the cyclists I know drive cars, too). But I was fortunate to never have a close call with a vehicle because the reality is that the vehicle will always win, the cyclist stands no chance. I haven’t been on my bike since Happy came home because cycling is a time intensive sport. It takes a long time to get out the door (air in tires, drinks prepped, snack pocket full, etc) and a fair amount of time to either drive to deserted country roads or to pedal out to deserted country roads. For awhile, I was cycling at least 8 hours every Saturday and Sunday. Now, I certainly can’t find two hours for a workout a day (some days, I can’t find 20 minutes for a shower), much less 8. But I still have an affinity for the peacefulness of the sport; pedaling is where I have felt the greatest sense of peace and the closest to my faith. I get why cyclists get out there. I understand the pull of the pedals. I miss that peace.
This past weekend, one of my dear friends was cycling when a car cut her off in order to pull into a parking space. Anna hit the car as well as another parked car and suffered a concussion, a bruised shoulder, a spattering of other bruises, and some significant road rash.* My friend Anna who is as sweet and fun-loving and committed and passionate and unassuming and compassionate and happy and friendly and good as they come. It could have been worse, several eye witnesses saw Anna’s head go under the car and possibly strike a wheel. But, maybe, instead of focusing on how it could have been worse, what we should focus on is how it could have been better.
I live in a very active town. There are runners and cyclists- of all ages- everywhere. Once, not too long ago, I pulled up to a stop sign and peered out- left than right- to make my right turn. With no car coming, I turned. I heard a huge thump on the back of my car. Perplexed, I looked in my rear view. A runner, angry at me for cutting him off, had slapped the tail of my car in frustration. I seriously never saw him. I wasn’t on my cell phone. I wasn’t talking to anyone in the car. I wasn’t in a hurry; I was simply going from the town post office to my house. The truth is I just didn’t see him coming up the sidewalk towards me. It’s a sidewalk I come up plenty of times, on my own runs or pushing Happy in the stroller, and I always stop there, afraid to cross unless a driver specifically waves for me to pass; I will not cross unless it is obvious that they see me. On the day the runner and I crossed paths, I think we were both in our own private worlds. He likely happy to be on a run, pleased with his time, and feeling like he was really visibile. Me likely so happy to be in a quiet car for a moment, no one needing me, happy to be invisible for a moment. Except, it turns out, he was invisible to me, his smack on the rear of the car showing me he was there, damn it.
I made the turn shaken. What if I had hit that man, I thought. How his life would have changed, how my life would have changed. Could either of us have survived it– him physically, me emotionally? That moment rattled me. Undid me. That man is someone’s whole world, I thought, and I could have taken him out of it just because I didn’t notice him. So now I look both ways twice when I need to turn in my town. I look for the cars on the roads first and then the runners, bikers, strollers on the sidewalk the second time because I never want to be so busy, so in a hurry, so in my own head, that I am not able to see and make way for the humanity all around me.
That statement, really, is the metaphor for everything that has meaning to me in my life- seeing and making way for the humanity all around me. But, today, I just want it to be the way that we all see the streets in front of us because the alternative is so ghastly, so life altering that the text message we are reading, the phone call we are making, the song we are singing, the conversation we are having, the dream we are dreaming is really pale and insignificant in comparison. Today, tomorrow, next week , next month, as you drive, stay present. Notice the Annas out there running, biking, pushing their babies, and make room. Not because they or where they are going are more important than you, but because they are equally important, and, to someone, they are the whole world.
* I should note that this is the second car/ bike accident in my small town in one week. The first accident resulted in a cyclist being airlifted to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Anna’s accident, so close to the last one, makes me worry that these accidents may be becoming more common.