[Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash ]
It’s the dead of winter, people. Happy New Year.
The days are short and dark, our families have drained our energies in the name of Love and Tradition. The trees stand bare, the rabid squirrels are foraging, until the frost finally comes to kill any last bit of life that might be holding on.
We sit with our hangovers, untagging ourselves across Facebook, sipping our gingerbread lattes, and we sit. We Think. We Ponder. We try to change our entire lives while we wait for Spring. We commit to vegetarian stew; freezing cold runs up the mountain; ridiculous hours of grace-based parenting. We sign up at the gym, we give up our weekends to being unplugged and pretend-reading other people’s books.
Maybe New Year’s Resolutions are only intended to get us through the barren, forsaken season of winter; to keep us breathing & moving forward until Spring.
And THIS, my dear friends, is when I like to celebrate the New Year. A few weeks beyond Easter, the food-coma lifts and spring officially arrives. The rains let up, and everything turns glorious green, and happiness returns to my neighborhood. The days get longer, the sun is brighter, the air is warmer.
So this year, I say write your resolutions. And hold them dearly as the tightrope that can bring you through the end of Winter and propel you into Spring with a few successes under your belt. Agree to press forward for the next 8-10 weeks. Hit the gym. Eat the stew. And when the first day of Spring arrives, release yourself from the hook. Remember that those resolutions were written by a crazy, sleep-deprived person in the dead of winter.
Come Spring, enjoy a non-holiday-inspired coffee, and make a new plan. Good things will happen when it’s not so damn cold out. I promise.
My love jugs have been screened every year since I turned 36 years old. Which, coincidentally was the last time I wore a bikini in public.
Paper gown, opened to the front.
Lead apron, wrapped loosely around the waist.
Florescent lights, poured abundantly over pale skin.
Vanity be damned.
“Turn a little to the left, dear.” The technician presses her palm against my ribs and slides my breast upward onto the cold, glass plate. Her face stands two inches from mine, while my tiny pink nipples stand at attention, freezing and pointy, waiting.
She lowers the top glass, creates a formidable vice grip, and presses my sexy little orbs slowly but surely, until they’re smashed flat. Thinner than an iPhone 5.
“And hold….” Exhale. Switch.
I get it, the mammogram part. Early detection is the key, they say repeatedly.
But why, exactly, are we checking for cancer by using a machine that causes cancer? You know, the whole marie-curie-died-from-inventing-radiation thing?
Solution: Lead Apron
Clearly, to protect us from the culminating damage those “small bits” of radiation have caused, from Airport Scanners to Dental XRays to CT Scans. How thoughtful.
But a skirt? Seriously? Apparently, my Menopausal Lady Parts are in high demand in the wide world of modern medicine. Along with my belly fat, jello thighs, and flabby moon cheeks.
Thanks to the lead skirt: All protected.
What about my brain? Or my luscious lips, or tired retinas, or sun-damaged face, or vocal chords for that matter? If given the choice for lead-based apparel, I’d choose a full-face ski mask with a turtleneck dickie. Who needs reproductive lady parts at my age? I need brain cells. I need supple facial skin and full lips and eyes that stay in my head. I need a heart that pumps steady, and lungs that take in as much oxygen as my little aging body can handle.
I need to be able to walk into a room and smile grand, to throw my head back with a full head of hair cascading down my back, and laugh like it’s oxygen, to plump my lips and bat my eyes. I’m a woman for crying out loud. A woman, incidentally, who is finished having babies.
I’m not complaining. Women’s lives are saved everyday by mammograms.
I just want to choose my protective apparel. A thick lead helmet would be nice. Maybe a lead face mask. A nice lead dickie that covers my upper respiratory system. Is that too much to ask?
Let’s do this.
[ Photo by Mroux Bulikowska on Unsplash ]
I’ve never been great at clipping coupons or holding out for milk and eggs until Super Saver Dollar Days. But if I cruise by a 24-pack of canned tuna on sale, you can bet it’ll be in my pantry by noon. Impulsive deals are sexy.
Which is why I love the entire world of Groupon copycats that stumble into my inbox every morning. No planning, no list-making, no coupon-cutting required. You might even say it’s ADD-friendly.
Living Social stole my heart, offering hip stuff that simultaneously promised to make me a super-cool person while creating a Bucket List worth publishing. I felt more adventurous just by opening my inbox each morning.
Today’s Deal! 72 sessions with a personal trainer, an 83-day excursion around the world, under-water sushi-making, nude sculpting classes for the entire family… all for the price of a double-tall-non-fat-caramel-machiatto. Or something like that.
Until recently: Toe Fungus Removal. 15 minutes for One Foot, only $299.
That’s a bigger price tag than the hot yoga wear at Lulu Lemon.
Has Toe Fungus truly become a social epidemic? Is Toe Fungus reaching heights on Bucket Lists around the world? I looked the other way when I watched Carpet Cleaning and Teeth Whitening sneak into my inbox. But this was too much to bear.
I want my brands to stay faithful. I don’t need Pottery Barn Dog Food, or Rocky Road Ice Cream from the Mac Store. I expect Tide to clean my clothes; McDonald’s to deliver french fries that are crazy hot and full of grease; and I wanted Living Social to give me deals for Lifestyle Awesomeness.
Deep down, I fear that my bucket list isn’t all that interesting. I’m not afraid of the dying part. Just the Living Awesome part. And I trusted Living Social to raise me up at least One Adventurous Notch.
So I guess I feel a bit betrayed and misunderstood. And at the end of the day, or first thing in morning, isn’t that all we want? To be understood? To know that someone out there Gets Us? Even a fledgling startup brand that caters to my cheap side?
So I’m settling in. Getting comfortable with Today. Never mind tomorrow, or publishing my bucket list, or leaving a legacy of Awesome Adventures.
I’m staying faithful to the hearts I hold at this very moment, waking up grateful each day the sun rises in the east. Staying true to my amazing daughters, my dear friends and family at large, the lemon tree in my backyard, the dog I have to walk, and all the crazies on the street who say hello because they’re loose in the head.
I’m trading up. Living Grateful.
[Photo by Bill Anastas on Unsplash]
After 4 days in Disneyland last week, I’m letting go of Travel Fear. Right up there with Stranger Danger, and Don’t Touch the Handrail.
Sure, I’ve been known to feel a bit queasy when I first swipe my key card, pausing in front of my hotel room. And I’m not above yelling at my children to put on the too-hot feety pajamas I packed, no matter if we’re vacationing in Hawaii.
Just like you, I’ve seen the black light footage on Nightline exposing all the world’s humanity left behind; despite the Five Star Housekeeping team that promises to sterilize this room that we’ll call home for the next five days.
I’m not suggesting that the World at Large is particularly disgusting.
I’ve held my vomiting 3 year old while she tossed chicken nuggets and chocolate ice cream all over the bed, then leaked pee juice through her PJs at four in the morning. I’ve fallen asleep in my own sweat after hiking too far, I’ve dropped bits of ceaser salad anchovies and goat cheese crostini while watching last year’s blockbuster, and I’ve spilled vodka and bourbon across the pillow when I was too tipsy to properly open the tiny-capped mini-bar selection.
And I consider myself a fairly responsible, tidy person.
So I can only imagine the other ten thousand guests sharing my room. Tired families with five kids under the age of six; newlyweds making babies; high school reunion after parties; wannabe Rockstars with heavy entourages taking ecstasy or edibles or whatever they do now. And in between all that, a string of single guests too depressed to bathe.
It’s almost reason enough to buy a timeshare. All 52 weeks.
Instead, I’ve learned to let it go. Otherwise, where will it end? How will I keep from becoming the kook wearing bright yellow dish-washing gloves and hospital booties to the grocery store, and a sterile face mask to get my mail? It’s a slippery slope from Careful Traveler to Howard Hughes’s crazy cousin.
So I say, free yourself! Sleep in the sheets! Walk barefoot! Massage the grocery cart handle! Use public restrooms! Rest your head on movie seats!
There’s a lot of freedom in letting go of the Little Things. And it’s excellent practice if we ever want to let go of the Big Things. Try it this week. I dare you.
I still don’t touch the bedspread. That’s just crazy talk.
[ Photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash ]
Things could always be worse. You could slip into a burning volcano, inadvertently crush a sleeping baby on the subway, get caught in the middle of a raccoon death match while you’re buying kettle corn for your six year old. You could trip over a homeless man and knock your shiny white teeth out. Permanently.
On the brighter side, you could win a lifetime supply of xanax, or audition for a random casting call and find yourself in next year’s Rom-Com, opposite Ryan Gosling. Soon, you and Mr. G are exploring your deep love for poetry and launching your new fragrance line: Serendipity.
Thing is, our sense of gratitude is difficult to sustain when it’s rooted in everyone else’s condition. It’s hard to keep track whether I should be grateful that I have two legs and a working va-jayjay, or throw my self-pity out the car window with all my material possessions and go save the world.
For me, I decided to let go of the stuff I “should” be thankful for. I stopped comparing myself to everyone else, stopped pretending that my guilt over all the tragedies in the world was actually gratitude, along with the “At least I’m not dealing with ____” justifications.
If your crazy toddler is painting the new furniture with the Justin Beiber nail polish that your thirteen year old left on the floor, don’t go all crazy and start chanting ‘I’m grateful for my son, I’m grateful for my son,” to make it happen. Just let that one go for now. These are the moments when the billions of poverty-stricken children simply don’t come to mind; or the women working for two dollars a day; or the teenager facing adulthood with a baby in her belly. And that’s okay. Really.
Today, dig a little deeper. Thanksgiving: Quiet the part of your brain that is busy grunting, and write down the first fifty things come to mind, without censoring the shoulds and should’nts. Once you’re done, go cross a whole bunch of stuff off. It’s okay if you’re not really thankful today for your kids, or your husband, or your job. But I think you’ll be left with a few things still beaming from your paper.
Today, be thankful for those few things. Maybe it’s toilet paper. Maybe it’s the sunlight. Maybe it’s running water. Or maybe someone you love is exiting rehab and you have hope. Or your sister’s cancer is in recession. We all have more than a few things.
The moment you decide to be thankful, it starts to take root and grow something good. Those little seeds start busting their little underground butts till they can pop up toward the sunlight and show the world. That garden will be bursting in no time.
Let’s go be thankful for our own stuff, and start beginning to enjoy the life we’re living.
[Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash]
Funny thing about Firsts: there ‘s a looming hope toward a fabulous outcome, but there’s no real evidence that success will arrive dressed and ready for dinner.
My first little publication was sold door-to-door when I was ten, and Charlie was eleven. We were lucky enough to have an old typewriter, a busy neighborhood complete with dogpiles, bloody noses, and the biggest bike ramps we could build with a pile of plywood and a few cinder blocks stolen from the construction site nearby. Full of great ambition, we sat one afternoon and typed everything we knew about our block, our world. Two pages later, we had our first and final copy of the Neighborhood News.
Life moved on: First kiss, first dance, first hangover, first police roundup, first community service, you get the idea.
Monumental events always got me running for my typewriter, my laptop, to get the story down, to pass it on. My first real love, first pregnancy, first child. Then I’d think, how ridiculously awkward and silly for me to think that my story has any real value, any true right to be put out into the world.
Seasons turned, I started my own company with a fabulous friend, my husband joined a rock band, we hosted dance parties and martini blitzes, and I was ready to tell the world all that I’d accomplished in my 30-something years. But before I could get the story down, my company had grown recklessly unprofitable, my marriage began to collapse; I entered the world of divorce, depression, and financial devastation. That same year, a dear friend lost her nineteen year-old son, and another close friend lost her brother to leukemia. That’s a lot of drama in one little paragraph. Life is hard.
The thing is, there’s no perfect day to start telling your story. The story just keeps unraveling, written and re-written as the days progress.
So this year I decided it was time to start passing it on. I hope you find a bit of solidarity, a small connection, a moment of laughter in the midst of everything pressing in. I hope you leave each post feeling a bit lighter, more inspired and encouraged to reach for all that you are designed to become in this crazy thing called life.