formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I Feel You, Little Homie...

I posted this on Facebook this morning:

This morning, on my way to work, I saw my neighbor dragging her small son to the bus stop, quite literally. He had thrown himself onto the ground, his expression one of resolute determination.

He. Was. Not. Going. To. School.

Mom had him by one arm, pulling his prone and remarkably Jell-o-y form, his heels scraping the asphalt the whole way. When I passed by, I nodded to him in solidarity and understanding. His eyes pleaded with me to help. Alas, I could not. All I could do was mouth, “I feel you, little homie. I feel you.”

I meant it as a funny post, and I think it was received it as such, but it prompted a comment from a friend: “What a little brat.” This friend doesn’t have children, generally doesn’t like them (about which he’s vocal), and resents having to share public places with them. A conversation about children’s behavior ensued.

I get frustrated, as do all parents, I think, when a childless person, who spends little time with/around kids, puts his two cents in regarding how children should be raised. My friend, an overall great guy (except for the whole ‘children are devil-spawn’ thing), feels quite justified in giving his opinion because 1) he was a child and, therefore, does have ‘experience’, and 2) he is forced to share the world with little humans. They’re fair points, I suppose, but having been a child is far different from parenting them. I admit that I was judge-y before I was a parent. It’s so easy to say, “If I had a kid…” but you don’t really know until you have that kid. Then a whole lot of what you ‘know’ flies out the window.

Here is what I do know, based on my own years parenting and many years of working directly with small children:

Good, happy, healthy kids misbehave. Period. Good, happy, healthy kids can be brats and have melt-downs, sometimes (gah!) in public. Good, happy, healthy kids will sometimes push their parents to the point of exasperation and exhaustion, making them want to kick their little butts so far into the future, their clothes will be out of style.

I’m betting that every single parent in the world knows this. I’m also betting that every parent in the world has been (or will be) embarrassed by one of these situations at least once (or 400 times).

Imagine how this mom felt... (heh)

Kids – all kids, but especially little ones – are learning. They’re learning everything. They have no real control over their lives – and sometimes they want it so very desperately. They have little control over their emotions.  They don’t understand that being tired can make them act like the Anti-Christ, that being hungry brings out the demons in them, that when they’re angry or scared, they can’t just lash out at whoever is near. They are learning. We, as parents and as adults, are teaching. Or we should be.

Condemning a child – labeling him negatively, especially based on just a snapshot of behavior – is wrong. Assuming he always behaves badly is most likely inaccurate. Not understanding that there is a reason for the behavior is doing that child a disservice. There is always a reason. The reason might not be readily apparent, it’s true, and it might not be a good one (according to adult standards) but it’s always there. Trying to understand the reason tells the child that what is happening in his head and his heart is important. It’s validating. It teaches empathy and tolerance. It creates healthy, empathetic, caring adults.

And I think we need more of those sorts of adults in this world.

None of this means that bad behavior should be condoned.

It doesn’t mean that kids shouldn’t be held appropriately accountable for their behavior.

My little neighbor obviously didn’t want to go to school this morning. I don’t know why. I don’t know his reason. I do know he’s a lovely little guy with a normally sunny disposition and his resistance (I can’t even call it a tantrum) to heading to the bus stop was unusual. I also know that his mother deemed his resistance futile. He went to school, like it or not (not).

And I went to work this morning, like it or not (not).

That’s Life.

Parenting is a hard job. It’s a really hard job. Some of us are good at it. Some of us are not. Most of us are just trying to get through the day. Most of us are also well aware that our kids are the results of our efforts – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the utterly exhausted. And it scares the shit out of us.

I don’t believe in wrapping kids in bubble wrap. I don’t believe in protecting them from loss, from losing, and from the pain and frustration that comes from not getting what they want. I believe they need freedom to explore, to make mistakes, and to learn to think for themselves. I believe we have to prepare them for living in the real world, which means working hard, paying dues, losing (hopefully less than winning), helping others, being grateful, and giving back. I believe that competition can be good but not at the expense of learning to play fairly. I believe that teaching our kids that there are consequences for every action, as well as how to deal with being hurt, with pain, with anger, frustration, and loss are some of the most important lessons we can teach. And I believe that making sure kids understand that they are not their mistakes and shortcomings – and that they are worthy of great love in spite of their mistakes and shortcomings – is key to bringing them up in the healthiest possible way.

When kids are loved and taught well, their behavior generally follows. Make no mistake, every child will misbehave. Every child will have bratty moments. But the child who chronically misbehaves is missing something (or may have a condition or disability which makes managing his behavior difficult). And that is not his fault. So attempting to understand his reasons for misbehaving can only help him.

We have become a society so willing to judge and condemn people for behavior/ideas/words we don’t like. We demand tolerance of our views but we’re not willing to extend it. This world needs change on a grand scale.

And I think it needs to start with the youngest among us.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Four Years

When I was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, before I knew its name or prognosis or treatment, my world went entirely grey and I was gripped by an overwhelming fear. It wasn't for myself (not at first, anyway. That came later). It was for my girl.

Ryan was just finishing up middle school. She was at a vulnerable age. She still had high school ahead of her - four years of high school. After that, she'd be off to college, off on her own, making her way in the world without me.

But until then? She needed me.

So I needed time. I needed four years. Just four years. Anything after that would be icing on the cake.

It's an interesting thing when an Atheist is faced with an existential crisis. There is no asking God for a favor, no bargaining with him, no prayers that will help. Oh, one can "send thoughts/needs/desires out into the Universe," but when it comes right down to it?

One must deal on one's own.

So I sat myself down, shaking with fear, sick to my stomach, and I crawled into my own head. I reminded the sad, sick, tired mama staring back at me that she was not alone; that there was a little girl (for she will always be a little girl in my head) who needed her, no matter the diagnosis, prognosis, or treatment.


That little girl - that best-by-far thing I have ever had a hand in creating, that brilliant, funny, self-sufficient, utterly fabulous, completely colorful person - wasn't finished growing up yet. And though she had people who loved her, who could help her to stumble through Life, she only had one mother.


So I resolved that no matter what the oncologist said, I would get four more years. No matter what the cancer was called, no matter how much of me it wanted or needed, the wants and needs of the girl who calls me 'Mom' would take precedence because she - she - would always be more important.

We are now three years gone.

It hasn't been an easy time. I've spent a lot of time sick and tired and frustrated and angry. And though the prognosis is not devastating (for which I am ever so grateful), the cancer has still taken from us - from both of us - in measures of time and well-being and peace of mind.

But we are here. Together. I will get my fourth year. And I will get icing on the cake, too. Now I'm looking beyond next year; I'm looking forward to watching my girl graduate from college and going on to do big things in this world. And she will do big things, in part, because she was mothered. By me. I don't take credit for her accomplishments, mind you, but I do take credit for giving her the love and support she has needed to become the spectacular person she is.

So today, on my 17th Mother's Day, I'm looking back on the last three years, but only for a moment. Today I look forward to all the Mother's Days I will celebrate with my girl. The cancer will still be with me, always there, lurking in a dark grey corner of my head... but always - always - far less important than she.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

So Many Words, But Mostly Two

When Donald Trump, the man who wants to "lead" this country, stood in front of the world and implied that his penis is of better-than-adequate size, I cringed. I thought maybe, just maybe, we'd hit the bottom of the barrel. I thought that surely his vulgarity, his juvenile, narcissistic, pre-teen behavior, his foul language, and his extremely undignified and ignorant ways would finally do him in. I thought maybe his supporters would finally say, "Dude. Enough." 

I thought wrong. 

They laughed. They cheered him on. He speaks to them on a third grade level (the lowest of all the candidates), because he knows who the majority of his supporters are, and they ate it up, just like third graders hearing a dirty joke on the playground. 

I was ashamed. Embarrassed.


But today? Well, today I crossed over into another plane of negative feelings.

I just watched clip after clip after clip of Donald Trump speaking at his rallies - clips in which he called for violence from his supporters, swearing to pay their legal fees if they injured protesters, clips in which he wished aloud that he could hurt protesters himself, and clips in which he spoke in other vile ways. They were not "liberal media" (HA!) spins. They were his words, coming from his mouth, at his rallies, to his supporters. They were and are words he is PROUD of. 

He is not even attempting to speak words that will bring us together as a nation or even to unite a party that's crumbling in on itself; he is doing his best to separate us, to segregate us; he is doing his best to open old wounds and create new ones.

And he is basking in the hatred the way the rest of us bask in sunshine.

I am sitting here shaking with shame and embarrassment, as well as disgust and anger. I am appalled. I am, like so many, utterly incredulous. 

I read a PBS poll yesterday which asked the question, "How has your view of America changed during this election?" There were nearly 600 replies. I read about 100 of them before moving on. The two most used words in the responses I saw? 

Ashamed and Embarrassed

Me, too.

I know many people who identify as Republican who also find Trump's rise shameful and embarrassing, as well as appalling, disconcerting, and surprising. They thought he was a joke. I believed he was a joke for a long time, too. I simply did not want to believe the Republican party could sink to this level - and that's saying something, given their utterly appalling behavior over the last several years; given how they've accomplished little of significance during their time in power, except finding every way imaginable to disrespect the man in the White House, except actively and knowingly widening the divide in the country, except fully admitted obstructionism (to the detriment of the entire country, their own constituents included). They have behaved like small children. Actually, no, they haven't. That's an insult to small children who can't always control their behavior. They have behaved like a group of petty, entitled, spoiled, disagreeable middle-schoolers, who, unlike real middle-schoolers, will never grow up.

The fact is, the Republican party created this whole Trump situation; they paved the way for this vile attitude spreading across America; they are 100% responsible for this shame - shame that more than half the country is reeling with today and that the rest of the world is simply shaking its head at in complete disbelief. I'm getting tired of my friends and family around the globe asking me, "Diane. What in the fresh hell is going on over there? Is this serious?" I hate that my teenager is ashamed to be American right now. I have no answers.

What I do know is that this is not what America should be. This is not what will make America great.

This is foul, disgusting, shameful, and embarrassing. It is wrong.

I'm sure I know a few people who support him - some wholeheartedly from Day One and some who will because they believe he will be the "lesser of two evils" (and frighteningly, when it comes to the battle between Trump and Cruz, I actually do believe Trump is the better of two, as I see real evil in Cruz, but when it comes to a battle between Trump and either of the Democratic candidates, I simply cannot see how he is better than either of them in any respect [and I will not vote for either of them without significant reservations]). I hope Trump's supporters really pay attention to the way he talks both to and about the people who disagree with him. 

I also hope they realize that if he ever makes it to office, there will be people who will disagree with him every single day and those third-grade-level supporters cheering at his bravado and schoolyard bully tactics right now will not mean a single thing then. Like it or not, we live in a global society and peace and prosperity for us has a whole lot to do with how we relate to others. And that requires maturity, diplomacy, and dignity, not childish name-calling and threats.

And if those supporters do pay attention, and the violent, vulgar rhetoric he spews is acceptable to them on any level, if this is the sort of speak they want coming from the White House, to their fellow countrymen and to the rest of the world, then the shame so many of us feel about Trump is duly and rightfully extended to them. 

Shame and embarrassment...

...two unpleasant words and feelings which will, hopefully, spur us on as a nation to become and behave better than we are right now. Because if we don't make things better, our shame and embarrassment are going to get so much bigger. 

And shame and embarrassment will be the least of our worries.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Here Comes The Sun

In the words of the Beatles, 

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say, it's all right

Little darling
It's been a long, cold, lonely winter
Little darling
It seems like years since it's been here

Here comes the sun
Here comes the sun
And I say, it's all right

That what they say. What do I say? 

I say, it's about damned time!

It has most certainly been a long, cold, lonely winter and I am more ready for spring than I think I have ever been. I took my fuzzy boy to the park this afternoon and we had a lie-down in the grass, just soaking up the sun. I'm reasonably certain I'm very, very low on Vitamin D. 

Although I'm always ready for winter to be over, spring feels even more important to me this year than it has in the past. I'm ready to feel better, physically as well as in my head and heart. I didn't expect to feel unwell this winter, especially after such a difficult summer, but Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you. I got hit with one, square in the face. 

But I'm back up, on wobbly legs, ready to move forward. 

And I say, it's all right. 

And it's gonna be all right. 

It is. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Goal Digger - Follow-up to February

I've been kind of dreading this post. February has been a hard month, yo. It was dark and cold, I haven't been feeling well at all, and I sank into a little bit of a depression. I debated on just skipping my goals update altogether but then I decided it was important to do it. I'm famous for walking away... for abandoning goals and plans when I perceive (or admit) failure.

Not this time.

This time I'm going to simply face the music. I met some goals. I didn't meet others.

And that's OK. 

Today starts another month. I can regroup. Adjust. Start over.

And that's OK. 

So, last month, I planned to do quite a bit:

1. Journal daily - I managed for about 10 days. Then I turned inward and didn't want to pour my heart out. 
2. Complete a new Vision Board - Nope. Still haven't done it.
3. Go on two Artist's Dates - Yes. Went on three!
4. Perform two Mindful Acts of Kindness/Connection/Giving - Yes. Did four!
5. Write three blog posts per week - Except for one week when I was feeling really low.
6. Read two of the books on my nightstand - Yes. Read three.
7. Re-start Whole 30 - Nope. Not yet. But I feel really rotten right now and I know it'll make me feel better, so March has to be it.
8. Work out four times per week - Yeah. No. 
9. Continue Declutter 365 - Yes. This is going very well. Now I need to take the stuff I've put aside to donate to the charity shop.
10. Start new savings plan (and try not to dip into it!) - Yes. I've actually done pretty well with this. I haven't saved as much as I would have liked, but I had a big car repair come up, which sucked some of it.
11. Complete resume writing video scripts (work) - No. Not finished yet. But I will be this week.
12. Reach $1000 of my Arctic Dip fundraising goal (work) - Yes. I raised over $1300, which was more than any other individual or group (and I earned a certificate for a 70 minute massage. Squee!).
13. Get half-way through a new writing project (average 1000 words per day) - No. I did great for about 10 days and that's when I hit the low point. 
 14. Purchase a new fitness tracker and begin working toward 10,000 steps per day - Nope. Just not in the budget at the moment.  
15. Complete all the Special Olympics paperwork and organizational tasks necessary to start practice on February 29 - Yes. And we had our first practice last night! It was fantastic and I'm looking forward to a great season!

I also planned our summer camping vacation (to Canada); the campsite is reserved and paid for. That was a big thing I hadn't listed, so I'm happy about it.

So, I successfully completed about half of my goals. Given how I was feeling for most of the month, I'm going to count February as a success overall.

It's my party and I'll be successful if I want to. 

Shut up.

I've been thinking about March and what I want to accomplish. I think I'm setting too many goals - specifically, too many things I need to do daily. So this month I'm going to concentrate on a just a few daily things and a bunch of one-offs. Because I've felt so lousy, I think my focus needs to be on just feeling better physically. The weather seems to be turning (though I've heard there's snow in the forecast for Friday) and I think that will help. I just need to focus. There are a couple of things I will continue (like the declutter project, the artist dates, and my savings plan), but I'm not including them in the list. If I get to the end of the month and find that I've let them slide altogether, I'll add them back. There are also a few things I'm dropping for now, like the daily journaling and the writing project. Though journaling should ideally help me to feel better, it's not doing that right now; it feels more like pressure and I don't want or need that. As for the writing project, it feels like a chore and I'm really struggling with a foggy brain and some memory issues, so I'm putting it on hold for now. I'm not abandoning it. 

So. Goals. OK, here goes... 

March Goals

1. Start Whole30 (seriously). 
2. Work out three times a week (even if it's just a walk in the park in the evening).
3. Write in my gratitude journal daily (these are relatively short lists, easier than full journal entries).
4. Read at least two books.
5. Perform two Mindful Acts of Kindness/Connection/Giving (I'm loving this one but it's not habit yet).
6. Complete the Vision Board (again, seriously).
7. Do three blog posts per week (this goal is forcing me to write here, which has been good for me).
8. Revise and send out the Junior Coach application for summer league.
9. Do passport renewals for Ryan and myself.
10. Submit my case study for my WISA certification (work). 
11. Clean the back porch.
12. Make a big charity shop run.

That should do it for now. I think I'm going to do short Sunday updates, too. That might help to keep me more accountable for the daily/weekly goals.

And onward to April 1! 

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Cat's Got My... Heart

I'm a dog person. I've always been a dog person. I love their furry, slobbery, waggy-butt selves. Everything about them makes me happy. I've had a dog since I was nine and I will likely have one until I'm 99. I love dogs.

I'm a dog person.

I've never been a cat person.

I don't dislike them. They're fine. I just never wanted one. But my daughter did. And so, when we were able, we got one. Rue. And she's lovely. She's a bit stand-offish, as cats (in my experience) are wont to be, but she's sweet and affectionate in her way. She loves our dog and he... likes... her. Everything was going along just fine.

And then I took a client into our local cat shelter for a cuddle visit.

While we were there, this little orange kitten dove at me. I caught him and held him like a baby. He promptly reached his little paws out, grabbed my hand, and started sucking on my finger like a pacifier. He fell dead asleep and stayed that way for the entire time I was at the shelter.

Uh oh.

My heart.

I got his story from the shelter workers. He'd been abandoned by his mama at just a day or two old. No one knows why. His foster family bottle-fed him until he was old enough to eat on his own and go to the shelter. As a result, he seemed to be under the impression that he was a human baby. A 3-month-old, fuzzy, 4-legged, human baby.

Oh, my heart.

I texted Ryan and told her about him. She went down later that afternoon to see him.

And we both went back later that evening and adopted him.

(Pip, Day One)

Two cats. We had two cats. Actually, we had one cat and one kitten. And our cat wasn't crazy about the kitten. We felt really guilty at first, thinking we'd ruined her life. She eventually warmed up to him. Mostly.

We called him Pip, after the character in Great Expectations. He is known by many variations of his name, including Pipsqueak, Pipster, Pippy Longstocking, as well as (the more appropriate) Monster, Little Red Menace, Rotten, Fatso, Chubby Checker, Chunkenstein, and Piggy (he'll eat anything, and I mean anything, and he has to be confined in another room at mealtime).

He's a handful.


I have never met a cat like this one. To be fair, I haven't met that many cats. But Pip is perhaps the most loving creature I've ever known (possibly because he was babied like a human when he was tiny)... and he's also the evilest. He's a toddler in the throes of the Terrible Twos, but in feline-form. When he's very quiet, you have to look for him because he's usually up to some sort of mischief. But when he's through being the rottenest of rotten things, he will dive at me, making this growly sound that I imagine is him saying, "Mama mama mama mama," hit me hard, and suck on one my fingers 'til he falls asleep.

It gets me every time. The puddles of drool the suckling creates, however, I could really do without.

I can't sit down without him sitting on me. He can't get close enough. And I can't get enough of his snuggles.


Though he's getting older, the mischief is still strong in him. We find him in unusual places (and he has prompted the purchase of child-proof locks for the cabinets and pantry)...


His brother and sister love him. Sort of. Mostly. Sometimes. They tolerate him, anyway... 

As for me, well, I still don't think I'm a cat person. But this cat? Well, I love this particular cat more than I ever imagined it possible to love a cat. He's not even a year old yet and I simply cannot imagine life without him. 

He is my baby. My sweet, soft, snuggly, rotten, mischievous, demon-spawn, funny, love-bug of a baby-cat. And he has my heart - utterly and completely (and surprisingly). But I wouldn't have it any other way.

I love him. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Politics, Yo

Politics, yo.

I know some people love the process. They revel in it. Want to be a part of it.

I'm not one of those people. 

I hate it. I hate pretty much everything about it. I think it's a vile system that thrives on greed, power, game-playing, and dishonesty. Mostly, I hate what politics have become for the ordinary person - this polarizing, living, breathing entity of US versus THEM.

If you're not with us, you're against us.

Have we ever, as a nation, been so divided? I don't think we have. I mean, every election year is ugly, no doubt, but right now? It's all so disgusting, so mean, so unpleasant, so... 


I've always been a politically opinionated person. I've always called myself an 'Independent', though I pretty much always vote one way. And since there are really only two ways to vote, I probably always will. Though there are similarities in the parties (I believe they are both controlled by corporate America), there are some significant differences, and several of those differences are so important to me that I will probably never jump the fence.

If I could? I'd remove myself from the process entirely. I'd ignore everything about it and go about my merry way, completely ignorant and blissful. But I can't. I feel that I have to vote, if for no other reason than to honor the women who fought so hard for my right to do so. And in order to vote, I have to be informed (as difficult as it may be to inform oneself, given the unreliability of the media and unbelievable amount of utter garbage that people spread around). But I will vote in this election as I have in every election in which I've participated - with a heavy heart... with the knowledge that there is no one who makes me feel really good about casting my vote.

No one.

There are, however, those who would make me feel much worse and I see it as my responsibility to do my little part (for whatever it's really worth) to make sure those people don't make it to their desired offices. But in the end, there isn't, nor has there ever been, anyone I feel wholeheartedly good about voting for.

Someone asked me the other day who my ideal candidate would be. Though there are a few people in national government I would like to see make a play for the presidency at some point, it's hard to say whether or not I'd want them to be elected until they actually do it and spell out their plans and platforms. I know the sort of person I'd like to see, though...

First, I want an atheist - someone who is not ruled by dogma, but by Humanism. A woman would be great. A black woman would be even better (as long as the country grows up and doesn't spew the ugly bigoted vitriol that's been hurled at our current President for the past 8 years). Yes, a black woman atheist with degrees in economics and perhaps the law or education. With kids in public school. I want a candidate whose moral compass is always pointing north, who always tries to do the right thing, regardless of who's trying to line her pockets. I want a candidate who sees all citizens as equal under the law, and who somehow inspires every lawmaker under her to do the same. A candidate who understands that we live in a global society and that peace is what we should be actively striving for, across the globe. I want a candidate who truly understands what it's like to live in the REAL America - the America that will bankrupt you if you get sick, the America where affordable housing is a joke and the homeless are treated like a disease, the America where the social care systems are designed to keep people in poverty, the America where for-profit prisons and the 'war on drugs' only creates more criminals, the America where guns are more plentiful than common sense, the America where wanting a college degree means being so far in debt upon graduation that you have to work for decades to pay off student loans, the America where being old is absolutely terrifying for a large number of seniors.

And I want a candidate who can find a way - some way - to make the parties work together.

I don't know that such a person exists. Well, that's not true. I'm certain she exists. She exists all over America. But I can't imagine her wanting to be President. And maybe that's the problem.

Anyone who actually wants the job is someone I don't want to have the job.

So, we're stuck with the ones who want to run. 

So, for now, though I can't remove myself from the process entirely, I will do so to the extent that I can. I'm as finished as I can be and still be informed enough to vote. I don't care what anyone else says or does about any of it. Few people want to discuss or learn; most people simply want their points of view to be heard... but hardly anyone's listening.

This next year is going to be torture. Thankfully, I don't have cable, so I can't see the campaign ads. I'm still in the process of limiting my social media feed and for the people I don't want to stop following, I'll just scroll quickly past the posts I don't want to see. I have to remind myself to stop reading the comments after nearly every online article, political or not, as in an election year, everything becomes political.

I'll make it through.

And then the election will be over.

And the bitching about the new President will begin.

Yeah. I'm really not happy about this.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I Like Blue... But...

Man, I have really been struggling lately. I'm struggling to keep my head above water. I'm struggling to keep a positive attitude. I'm struggling to feel happy.

Ryan once told me that the little round sad girl in that Pixar film, Inside Out, reminded her of me.

"She's you, if you were blue."  

I didn't want to, but I totally saw it. And right now? I resemble her more than I care to admit.

I'm blue. 

And it's making me so tired.

Part of it is personal junk I just have to deal with, part of it is the weather (I'm cold all the time and so ready for spring), and part of it - a big part of it - is all the negativity floating around right now, especially online. I expect the air will only get thicker, as we're in an election year, and it's proving to be an ugly one. I thought the last presidential election was bad but this one promises to (continue to) be horrible. Not only are the parties at war, there are mini wars going on within the parties.

It's too much. 

And it's making me so tired.

And it's not just politics. It seems that everyone is walking around so offended. By everything. And if they're not offended, they're annoyed. Or they're angry. And angry, annoyed, offended people can be mean. Really mean.

It's too much. 

And it's making me so tired.

I've toyed (a lot) with the idea of just bailing out of social media altogether... just giving up. And though I haven't ruled it out completely, the truth is, I gain a lot from my online interactions. I love my peeps. So, for now, I'm continuing to whittle down my exposure to the negativity. I've stopped following most news sites. It's helping. I've stopped following people who consistently post things that are contrary to my personal views (not because they're contrary, but because they're often factually wrong or they're simply mean-spirited opinions). It's helping. I've stopped following sites that post things that make my heart hurt (like animal abuse stories). It's helping. And I'll keep doing all of that.

As for me, myself, and I, we're making a vow... 

I saw this a while ago and I thought, what a wonderful a concept - to put into the world positive vibes by talking about everything you love, instead of inviting conflict and ugliness by talking about the things you despise. The idea wormed its way into my psyche and ever since, I've seen a shift in myself and what I'm putting out into the world.

But the shift hasn't been big enough.

As always, I have work to do. 

So, from this point forward, I'm making a concentrated effort to leave the bashing, the complaining, the whining, the butt-hurt, the vitriol, and even the passive-aggressive jabs to anyone who feels it necessary to spit it out, in-person or online. 

I will, from this point forward, only promote what I love. I will no longer bash what I despise.

And I hope (I hope!) to be a better, happier (not quite so blue, much less tired), healthier person for it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

Today is my birthday. I'm 51. I don't feel 51. I don't know how old I feel, to be honest. In some ways, I'd swear I'm but a few days past 22. In others, 82 would be a closer bet. Usually, I'm kind of split... part of me still feels like a kid, like I simply can't believe some idiot would heap all this responsibility on my head long before I was trained up to deal with it. The other part of me feels completely and utterly world-weary.


I've dealt with depression a few times in my life. And one of the warning signs, a sign that I'm on that downward slope, is fatigue. Not just I need a nap fatigue, but that bone-tired, I don't wanna move ever sort of fatigue.

That's how I feel right now.

Depression, for me, is situational. It's usually the result of some significant stressor - death, divorce, money woes, illness. In fact, the first time I really dealt with it (that is, acknowledged and faced it), after my dad died, I wouldn't even admit at first that it was depression. I didn't believe it was depression. I always believed things would get better (I always believe things will get better), and I thought that if you knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel (even if you couldn't yet see it), you weren't depressed.

I was wrong.

Depression, for me, is not about medicine. I understand that it's necessary at times and that it works for others, and I'd never say people shouldn't medicate when necessary. But I've never found it necessary. And the therapist I saw for some time, during the deepest depressions I've weathered (after my dad died and after my marriage ended), didn't feel it was necessary either. And since medicines seem to rarely work for me the way they do for other people, I'm quite happy about that.

 So I'm in this state of significant fatigue at present, fending off a bout of depression I do not want or need. I spent much of the year after my 50th birthday celebration dealing with the stress and worries that come from having and being treated for cancer - the side-effects and illness, the financial difficulties, the single motherhood aspect, the residual foggy brain and memory problems, the realization that I am, indeed, mortal, and that mortality can be quite a fleeting thing. And I thought it was all over for a while. And then it wasn't over after all. And a whole year has passed in the blink of an eye and everything feels... not right. And all of it has left me tired.


Most days, I plug along, cheerful enough, my sense of humor intact, grateful for all I have and for the people in my life, with the ability to turn that gratitude into positivity. Most days.

But some days? Like today? Even though it's a day when oodles of people have taken the time to wish me well and say wonderful things to and about me, all I want to do is STOP. I want to take a long vacation - like MONTHS long - in a warm place, where all I have to do is sit in the sunshine and swim and read books and eat healthy food that someone else has prepared for me.

I know, I know. Everyone wants that. Can you blame them?

But that's not Life, is it? Life is getting up every day, even when it's cold and rainy and miserable out, taking the dog for a walk, cleaning the cats' litter box, cooking meals (mediocre though they may be), playing chauffeur, going to work, doing laundry, figuring out how to make a paycheck stretch much farther than it really should, and trying, trying, trying to get from Monday to Friday without breaking down, falling down, or bringing everyone else down.


Thankfully, depression, for me, is not (usually) a long-term thing. So, in a few days, weeks, or, heaven forbid, months, I'll feel mostly fine again. Not so worried. Not so tired.

But today? On my birthday? I'd just like the world to stop. Just for a little while.

It's not so much to ask. Is it?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

It's Just Sunday...

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day. It's not because I'm single. I've never been a fan - not when I was a kid, not when I was part of a dating couple, not when I was married.

It's partly because of the color scheme.

Pink and red together? Make me want to hurl. 

See? Blech! My stomach gets upset just looking at it. 

It's also partly because so many people wig out about the gifty part... must give the perfect gift... must get the perfect gift... 

Me? I was happy if I got a separate Valentine's Day present and birthday present (I was born on the 15th). 

It also drives me absolutely nuts that a lot of people feel like failures if they're single on Valentine's Day. I suppose it's understandable, really... every television, magazine, and Internet ad from January to V-Day features loving couples giving each other romantic gifts and having romantic dinners (oh, and don't get me started on the fact that it's damn-near impossible to go out to dinner [just plain dinner] on V-Day). It's enough to give a single person (especially one who would like to be in a relationship) a serious inferiority complex. 


It's one day. It means nothing in the grand scheme of things. The way I feel about Valentine's Day is much the way I feel about Thanksgiving. I hate that such a production is made over being grateful on one day (a day followed by the greedfest that is Black Friday). If you're grateful, be grateful every day! Think about it, say it, show it. Every. Single. Day. And if you love someone - or several someones - tell them. Every day. Don't wait until Valentine's Day to give them a gift or send them flowers. Do it when you think about it. And show them, not by giving gifts, but by doing for them.

My kid forgets Mother's Day every year. Well, sometimes she doesn't actually forget it... she just lets it slide by without so much as a card (never mind a gift). It used to hurt my feelings. A lot. But then I realized that she gives me gifts every day. She does chores without me having to ask. If I do ask her to do something out of the ordinary, she does it, with no whining. She keeps up with her schoolwork and she follows all my rules. She makes my life so much easier than it might be, as a single mother. She sits at dinner nearly every night and tells me about everything going on in her life. She says thank you when I do for her. She makes me laugh. She makes life good. Every day. And I don't need a gift or a card on Mother's Day to know she loves me, to know she appreciates me. She shows me. 

All the time.

And that's what love is about. 

Every day.

So, my suggestion for whole Valentine's-celebrating world is this:

Don't sweat it.

Love your people up - all your people - all year. Make them feel special all year. Whisper (or shout!) your I love yous, give your gifts, make your special dinners all year. 

And if you're single? LOVE YOURSELF UP! All year. 

Don't you love how I give advice I haven't worked out how to manage myself yet? 

But I'm trying. 

Remember that you are a fully-formed human, all by yourself! That whole 'you complete me' thing? Bullshit. You complete you. Don't forget it!

Just because other people are in relationships (yay for them!) doesn't mean you have to be. It doesn't mean you matter less or that you're deficient in any way, Stop comparing yourself to other people. Damn it. Comparison is the thief of joy (I think Teddy Roosevelt said that. He was right).

Being single can be really cool. You know this. And if you don't know it, trust me. It's true. I wouldn't lie to you. Look here... you've got no one to answer to but you. You can do what you want, when you want, and you can eat whatever you want in bed without anyone whining about cracker crumbs. And? And? There is no snoring to keep you up. I swear to God, that was reason enough to get a divorce in my house. 

When you're single, you have time to heal yourself from past hurts. Of course, you have to do the work (which might not be easy), but that healing is so important. It's really, really important. So take the time. Do what you need to do to take care of you. 

Believe that you are fabulous. And if you don't believe it - if you're not in that place yet (and I so get not being in that place), start doing some things to get you there. Get up, get out, and do things that make you happy! Do things that challenge you! Do things that make you feel alive and accomplished and the very best version of you! 

And do all this stuff all year. For yourself... for the people you love... 

And next year? You'll be, like, "Valentine's Day? You mean Tuesday? Whatevs."

And maybe, just maybe, we can banish all things pink and red once and for all!

Saturday, February 13, 2016


Sometimes, you come across a group of words that could have spilled out of your own head, were you coherent enough to have formed them and strung them together.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

What's the Plan, Stan?

I like plans. I like thinking about them, making them, having them.

I do not always follow them, however. 

But that's not what this post is about.

When Life is stressful or worrisome, it helps to look forward. To plan something to look forward to

Summer vacation was the plan on tap this week.

Ryan and I go on week-long camping trips every summer. I've been taking her since she was two (the first couple of trips with her dad as a reluctant participant). We do this for a few reasons. First, the vacations of my childhood were taken in a tent and they were the very best days of my summers. I wanted to make sure Ryan had those experiences as well. Second, connecting with nature and being able to completely unplug for a week is good for the body, mind, and soul. Third, camping is much cheaper than staying in a hotel and, given our budget issues, it's really the only way we'd get any sort of decent holiday every year. 

We've camped from Maine to Florida and back to Maine, always staying in state or national parks. We learned the hard way that south is not the direction to go in August (and we always go in August, as we wait until swim season is over). One of our favorite parks is Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida, but after a trip during the hottest week of the entire year, we decided we would only ever travel north. 

Heatstroke is a bitch, yo.

For this summer, we considered Cape Cod (one of my favorite trips when I was a kid) and upstate New York (Finger Lakes and Thousand Lakes areas). In the end, we decided on Canada - La Mauricie National Park in Quebec province, to be specific. 

Halfway between Montreal and Quebec city, there are promising day-trips on the agenda, between hiking, paddling, biking, and generally lazing around on the banks of Lake Wapigazonke. 

That name seriously makes me giggle.



But look at this place... 

How fabulous is that view? 

I made the reservation and got a pleasant little surprise... the exchange rate! So the cost for seven nights in that majestic place is less than one night in a hotel at any vacation destination in the country. 

Can't beat it, baby!

In less than six (short) months, we'll be heading north, for a week of peace, quiet, and cool nights in a tent... 

(The orange one is mine.)

This week, when things were feeling less-than-stellar, it felt really good to put some plans into place... plans that will lead to something really good. 

Life is hard. It's peaks and valleys, ups and downs... and planning an up when you're in a down can make all the difference in the world.

This I know for sure.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Voice

Since my daughter could talk, no topic of conversation has been off limits. We talk about anything and everything. And we talk a lot. Topics include school, friends, boys, family, the future, current events, social issues, politics, religion, movies, books, art, writers, influential people. Everything. Anything.

While some of my friends have difficulty getting words out of their teenagers, I have difficulty getting mine to stop talking. Dinnertime can last hours.

I don't mind.

Not in the least.

I'm lucky, I know. I don't pretend to believe she tells me everything she thinks and does (I probably don't want to hear it all), but I get so much.

So very much.

I know things a lot of moms probably don't know. I guard this information; I keep it close to the vest because keeping her confidence is one of the most important things I think I can do as a mother. I want her to come to me. I want her to talk to me. And I know she'll stop if she can't trust me or if she thinks I'll react badly.

I never had that sort of relationship with my parents. I mean, my dad and I could talk for days, sure, but our conversations were about issues or events; they were not about feelings or personal struggles; they most certainly were not about uncomfortable topics (you know the ones). I never had those conversations with my mom either.

I still don't.

I vowed I would have a different relationship with my child. And I do. And I'm grateful.

Early on, I made sure she understood that the way I think, my opinions, and how I view the world are all about me and my experiences. I made sure she understood that the way she thinks, her opinions, and how she views the world have to be about her and her experiences. I've always told her that if she thinks like me, that's great... and if she doesn't think like me, that's great, too. As long as she's traveling her own path, as long as she reaches her conclusions through research and thoughtful contemplation, I'll be happy.

OK, maybe not happy. I mean, my dad surely wasn't happy when I disagreed with him about pretty much everything. I think he would have rather had a child who thought the way he did (and he did get two of them), but I think he was secretly quite pleased that I sorted things out for myself.

I have worked hard to make sure that when we discuss issues of the day, she gets to hear, to the best of my ability, all sides - my view as well as other views, the merits and negatives of all perspectives, the reasons I think the way I do and the reasons others think the way do. Sometimes it's not easy, but I think it's always important.

For a long time, when we discussed various issues, I heard my voice coming back at me. I think that's normal. When kids are forming opinions, they very often mirror their parents' views at first.

But recently, my voice has been absent. In its place I've heard another voice.


And it's clear. It's articulate. It's coming from a smart, witty, wise person - from a woman, not a child, and most certainly not from an entitled, apathetic teenager - the teenagers other people talk so much about... the teenagers I don't know.

Last night, at dinner, we had a conversation about the upcoming election, as we have been wont to do for the past several months. She has been incredibly interested in this campaign, following the candidates, watching the debates, reading, asking questions...

I find this really cool, especially given the fact that she can't even vote yet.

She talked about what impresses her, worries her, angers her, perplexes her. She said she had taken a long online test, designed to determine which candidate she thinks most like. Some of the results surprised her a bit at first. She admitted that there were some questions she couldn't answer intelligently, because she didn't know enough about a few of the issues.

"I have to learn more," she said.

I have to learn more.

That statement made this mama so proud.

She said she doesn't understand how people can say they're not interested in politics, because politics aren't just about who wants to get elected to what office... they're about life and how ours will be impacted by the governments we allow.

As I say, the words coming from her mouth lately have not been mine. I know this because they are words I haven't even thought of. They come forth unrehearsed and off the cuff. They show critical thinking and a person with an open, curious, thirsty mind, unwilling to simply accept the status quo.

Two years ago, a student teacher wrote Ryan a letter; in it, she said that Ryan has a special something - a spark -  and when they encounter it, teachers count themselves lucky.

I've always seen that spark.

And now I'm hearing it.

I look forward to the flame...

Friday, February 5, 2016

It's Gonna Be a Good Spring

After meeting with the Regional Director the local chapter of Special Olympics this afternoon, I'm feeling really excited about the next few months!

On February 29th, after several years without an area swim program, we plan to have a bunch of Special Olympics athletes in the pool! I'll be coaching, along with my co-worker, Paula (a lifeguard instructor and long-time swim teacher). It was slow-going to get all the information and support we needed, but it's really happening now.

We've had some good response and I actually know several of the people who have signed up thus far. One of the "kids" used to come into the video store I worked in when I was in college. He has Down Syndrome as was the happiest little boy I'd ever met. I'm looking forward to seeing if he's still a little - well, now a big - ray of sunshine.

There's already a big regional meet scheduled for the end of April, we'll likely do a smaller invitational meet at our pool in May, and there's the BIG statewide event in Richmond in June. I'm already excited at the prospect of being a part of it all!

Over the years, I've volunteered for many different organizations and causes. Every single one of those experiences was positive and left a lasting impression. But this one? Well, I have to admit that I'm looking forward to this one more than any other. My current job has given me a new appreciation for just how special certain people can be... and for just how lucky I am to be able to experience their special-ness firsthand.

And now I get to combine some pretty special people with WATER!

And we all know how I feel about water.


It's gonna be a good spring.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


I just read that today is World Cancer Day.


Cancer doesn't deserve a special day. You know why? Because cancer is a sonofabitch. 

And because it gets every single stinkin' day of the year, that's why.

Whether you're living with it or dying with it, it's there... it's right there...

It's needles and scans and just one more vial of blood. 
It's scars on the surface. 
It's a port just under the surface.
It's fatigue and nausea and side effects
It's goddamned poison in your veins. 
It's fear and anger and desperation.
It's small victories, if you're lucky, and tremendous losses, even when you're lucky.
It's remissions and relapses and it's spreading fast.
It's a taker of security and peace and time and dreams.
It's a giver of confusion and hurt and what the fuck did I ever do to deserve this?

It's holding your breath.

It's pain.

It's grief.
It's deep and profound and unrelenting grief.

And it's every single stinkin' day.

So, no. Just... no.

Cancer doesn't deserve its own day. Cancer deserves a kick in the teeth.