Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Dog Days of Summer

No, not what you think. THIS blog is the way the dog days of summer are looking in Florida this year…from Bruno’s point of view. I think.

Something hits the den hard. Attack! The top of the den is collapsing! Then water slides down the see-through places. It’s just more rain. Up, humans! Okay, so maybe this wasn’t an attack, but don’t you hear anything?

Human Mom sits up in her bed really fast. Good! She should have walked me an hour ago, even though it’s still pretty dark. I gotta go!

H.M. (Human Mom) says, “You gotta go, puppy?”

Duh. I just said that. I mean, why else am I contorting my body so that every possible bit is pressed up against the door of your special den? By the way, when can I finally sleep in the special den?

H.M. says, “It’s coming down too hard. I’m gonna shower first, puppy. Hang in there.”

Wait, what?!?!?! You do know that I can’t actually cross my legs, right? And you’re going to go into the inside rain? Why, for the love of kibble? There’s rain OUTSIDE.

I have to admit, the rain changes while she’s getting wet inside—it’s more like the boy pouring the water can on me than the time I accidentally walked in front of the hose.

“Hang in there, puppy. You’re doing great. Let me get ready.”

I know how this goes…she puts on the slick fur that makes water drip off. I put on my leash. She puts on her foot covers. We get the sacred receptacle for my offerings—she always calls them “poop bags” for some reason. This time we get the giant stick that turns into a mushroom. It keeps her head out of the rain, but I don’t see why, since her hair is still wet. And the water always slides off the mushroom thingy onto me.

“Okay. All ready? Good job! Here we go!” She finally opens the door.

Yeah, here we go all right—just watch me go! So I post a comment on the neighbors’ grass. That’s the only good thing about the rain. Normally I’m not allowed to pee there. I mean, what’s the point in peeing on your own grass?

“C’mon. Let’s get back inside!” H.M. doesn’t look happy.

I don’t know what’s bugging her—I’m the one getting all the extra water from the mushroom thingy all over my back!

Finally, we‘re safe, nice and cozy between the car and garage wall. Time to shake!

“Oh, Bruno! Do you HAVE to? There’s a towel ten steps away!”

Oops. Yeah, she hates it when I shake next to her, especially after she goes into the inside rain—the shower thing. I don’t know why she doesn’t just shake off, too. It works for me!

But the towel…Oh yeah, man. Why do I always forget the towel? That thing is awesome. Just not—hey! not my feet. Off the feet. Not that one either. All four? Are you insane, woman?

And then she makes me breakfast, which is cool—she’s good like that—but if she thinks I’m going to eat while all that water’s attacking, she’s got another think coming. Nobody appreciates how hard I work to guard this den.

Well, that was a short, stupid walk, but there’s probably no good pee-mail today anyway.

I hope H.M. knows we’re going to have to take a solid walk soon. And by solid, I mean…well, she’s gonna need those sacred receptacles.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

My Only Goal

I love Brene Brown and I especially love her TED Talk onVulnerability. I’ve watched it several times and always hear something new.

But the other day I was lurking on a couple of Facebook threads about how we value ourselves and what makes a good parent. I realized something—I’m not comfortable saying, as Dr. Brown recommends, “I am enough.”

It took me a lot of driving and showering and washing dishes (my thinking times) to figure out why. Luckily, I was spending two hours a day in the car getting S. to and from circus camp that week, so I had some GOOD thinking time. Here’s what I came up with.

If anyone, even me, says, “I am enough”—if I give them (or me) the authority, the power, the position, the measuring stick, to say that I am enough—then I also give them (or me) the power to say, “I am not enough.”

I’m a recovering perfectionist, as I’ve mentioned, and I’m really pursuing being vulnerable in my relationships these days. My kids know it all, so I’m constantly practicing humility with them. Here’s an example.

Me (cheerfully): “It’s 8:15. Time to get in the car!”
Kid (appalled): “Mo-om! It’s 8:14!!!”
Me (learning humility): “You’re right. I’m wrong. Let’s get in the car.”

Notice I just put “kid” and not an initial—they both do this. Constantly. And, yes, I’m slowly and gently teaching them that’s not really the way we adults approach polite interaction. I’m also practicing saying that I did, in fact, have the time wrong by one minute. Baby steps!

I’m working on deeper things, too, like saying no to commitments that will be too much for me. That hurts for someone who has always valued herself based on a full resume and calendar. And I’m also working on feeling my emotions in the moment and expressing them to my husband, whether they’re fully formed, well-articulated, justifiable, or not. That one’s SCARY. It’s amazing how long I’ve lived without being able to do that.

Anyway, so as a recovering perfectionist, I can give you LOTS of ways that I am NOT ENOUGH. For example, I’m still flippin’ recovering—not recovered. Right? How is that enough?

So here’s what I’d rather say: I am.

Right or wrong, enough or not—these are future driven ideas. We’ll only find out if we are right or enough when…well, in the future. Not now. Right now, all I know is that I am.

Okay, so if you’re as argumentative as I am—or as my kids are; I wonder where they get it?—you might say, “Hey! So if all I know is that I am, how do I make decisions? How do I decide?” Good question, oh Argumentative One! (And I mean that in the most loving way possible.)

Oprah does this “things I know for sure” part of her magazine. (I may have read it once.) I’ve always wondered what I know for sure. And every single time, I come up with only one thing: Love or fear. Every single human decision in this world boils down to acting out of love or acting out of fear. I’ve yet to find an exception.

And I find that when I am and when I choose fear, I do some crazy stuff—stuff that does NOT tend to work out in the long run. When I am and I choose love…wow. Even if everything goes to heck, I’m still happy with my choice. How does THAT happen? I don’t know. But the trick is choosing love in the moment, without thinking of the future. And no, I don't mean tell your kid to have that third brownie because you're in the moment and don't need to think about stomachaches. No. Love, in that moment, is the difficult answer. Enough brownies.

So I’d like to say that I am. And I’m choosing love whenever I can manage it. And I have to recognize that Jonathan Larson figured it all out, all the wisdom of our modern era, and put it into one song. Be. Choose love over fear.

There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret or
Life is yours to miss
No other road, no other way
No day but today

I can't control                                      Will I lose my dignity
My destiny                                          Will someone care
I trust my soul                                     Will I wake tomorrow
My only goal                                       From this nightmare?

Is just to be

So there you go. Be. Love. Listen to Rent.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Stages of Shakeology®

It’s sweeping the nation, but you still haven’t tried it. Why not? In all likelihood, you have simply gotten stuck in one of the early Stages of Shakeology®. Don’t worry—once you become aware of all the stages, you, too, can progress from Skeptic to Spatula-Licker in no time!

So, without further ado, I give you...The Stages of Shakeology®!

1.       You Hear a Rumor—You think, Another multi-level marketing thing. Who needs another sugar-laden “protein” drink? Geez.
2.       A Friend Tries It—You think, Wow. I can’t believe a friend of mine (let’s call that friend “The Healthy One”) fell for it. Geez.
3.       That Friend Looks Good—You think, Wow! The Healthy One is glowing. I wonder what’s up? You think it’s Shakeology®? Cool. Maybe I’ll check that out.
4.       You Get Some Info—You think, Hmmm. Whole foods? Unprocessed? Herbs from their native habitats? Put together by THE guy who knows everything about herbs? Look at that nutritional content!
5.       You Try A Sample—You think, Um. This texture’s…interesting. I’m not sure about this shake recipe that The Healthy One recommended. Well, I’m drinking it now…might as well finish. You know, it’s not that bad. Kind of good. Maybe I’ll add different ingredients tomorrow…
6.       Things Change—You think, Well, MY shake recipes definitely taste better. This is good. Hey, kids, try this shake I made!
7.       You Like ItYou think, When is it time for breakfast? I can’t wait for my Shakeology®. I bought some new frozen fruits to try. Ooo—or should I try the almond milk? Or both? Hmmmm. No, kids! Get away from my shake. (This is the phase where you may find yourself using a spatula to scrape the inside of your glass.)
8.       You Look and Feel Gooooodd—At this point, the secret gets out. The Healthy One asks how long you’ve been drinking Shakeology® and gives you the Secret Shake-O Smile. (Just kidding—about the smile. There’s no secret smile. The rest is true.) All your other friends ask what you’ve changed. Your hair, nails, and skin may look amazing. Your energy may be up. Your cravings—especially for carbs—may be down. You may be less bloated. You may find you have much more stable moods.
9.       Your Friends Ask You About It— Once you get an excuse, you just can’t stop talking about it! You only stop when you remember Stages 1 and 2 and realize all your friends are giving you THAT look—the look that says they’re still in Stages 1 and 2.
10.   You Talk Too Much—At this point, you may be embarrassed to find that you’ve done some crazy stuff in the name of Shake-O, like admitting on the internet that you scrape your glass with a spatula and lick said spatula, often with Aerosmith’s “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” running through your head. 

While this may seem like a shameless sales pitch (it is, a little), it's also really funny if you've been through it. So this one goes out to those who've been there!

And, yes, I am an authorized purveyor of Shakeology®. If you want to know more, you know where to find me!

That's Summer

The view from summer.

Where have I been lately?

That’s a darn good question. I’ve been in the Land of Summer, resting my writing muscles. A lot of my muscles, actually.

After a whirlwind spring, which wrapped up two years of all kinds of intensity, I took time off. I decided not to write until it felt fun again. And here it is! The magical laziness of summer, having our kids home, the respite from schoolwork and (most) extracurricular activities—they have all worked their powerful juju and I’m feeling my brain come back to life.

It’s so much fun watching the kids follow their whims. To start vacation, they redesigned Little A.’s Lego train to carry messages back and forth between their bedrooms. The doors of their bedrooms are exactly 12.5 inches apart. That’s summer.

The other day, S. combined her love of math (not my genes!) with her love of art and spent hours watching videos. Videos of what? Videos explaining how Fibinacci sequences occur in nature and art—including why Spongebob’s pineapple is all wrong. That’s summer.

We took a quick but wonderful trip to visit family—the first plane trip Little A. really remembers. (Side note: I LOVED how he referred to takeoff, every single time, as “when the plane launches.”) When we got home, he disappeared into his room (as he often does) and I heard the rattle of Legos (as I often do) and then he came out with a detailed Lego airport, complete with terminal, control tower, and a shuttle to the gates, just like our airport. Some people draw their experiences; some write them…he builds them. That’s summer.

This week and next, S. plunges fully into her favorite recreation (climbing) at one of her favorite places (circus camp). After a day shimmying, hanging, and spinning in an arena without air-conditioning, she comes home sweaty, sore, tired, and sometimes rope-burned. And ecstatic! That’s summer.

Little A., with time to focus, buckled down and earned his purple belt in tae kwon do. In any martial art, sometimes the student earns a new belt not easily, but predictably. Other times, earning a belt requires the student shake off an old way of thinking, dig a little deeper, and find new abilities inside. Little A. had one of those this time. It was epic. That’s summer.

As for me, I’m enjoying the respite from mandatory early morning wakings and the break from filling lunchboxes, signing forms, and managing school-related minutiae. Bedtimes have relaxed; I can take more time to cook creative dinners. Cooking may be one of my least favorite tasks, but I like it so much better when I have more than twenty minutes to get it together!

Mostly, I’m enjoying a break from being the taskmaster, the COO, the team manager, and—let’s face it—the bad guy of the family. The kids asked for a laidback summer, so we all agreed to Chore Day, Library Day, Movie Day, Beach Day, and Adventure Day on weekday mornings. Afternoons we get to ourselves. Except for a few weeks of camp, we all flow with this schedule that we all love.

Sure, occasionally, I have to remind someone to “Get in the car, right now, or I’m leaving you!” but otherwise we’re mellow.

And I’m beyond grateful for this time to hear what the kids are thinking, to take the slow, subtle approach to helping them grow, to joke with them, to just share space, time, and the beauty of the season.

That’s summer.