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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

She Is My Girl...

I love my girl. Like crazy. She's 14 now. She's beautiful and brilliant and hilarious.

She's opinionated and she's not afraid to offer up those opinions (even if no one's asked for them). She has few filters. Yet. There are several social issues she believes so strongly in and she's more than willing to speak up for and about them. But she has few filters. Yet.

Though she was a loner when she was little, she is definitely a social creature now. She has an amazing group of friends - girls and boys. She loves them fiercely and she tells them so. She's not afraid of confrontation, though, and if a friend does something she doesn't like, she'll say so. She also processes criticism about herself and tries to make changes when she feels it's warranted.

She doesn't always feel it's warranted.

She is a beautiful writer and the way she strings words together leaves me speechless. She's scared of math. She loves to learn and she'll regale me with the process for conjugating verbs in Spanish or details about The Plague or the War du jour during car rides, so I know she truly is learning and not simply memorizing facts. She's self-directed and organized and she manages her work in a way I only ever dreamed of doing. In a way I still dream of doing.

She gets that from her father.

She's left-handed and right-brained. Creative, she loves words and art and the theater. She'd like to make films one day. And publish a book.

On land, she's less-than-graceful, but in the water, she's a joy to watch. Butterfly is her stroke. Swim team is her happy place.

She works hard... if she's inspired. If not, she coasts a bit.

She loves Doctor Who and Harry Potter and Sherlock Holmes. She loves all things English, actually. She reads voraciously. Voraciously. John Green is her favorite author. Right now. She seeks out cool and interesting music, and by the time everyone else catches on to it, she's moved on to another artist or group that's even cooler and more interesting.

She lives in jeans and Chucks and pretty scarves. She wears glasses - cool, hipster-y Ray Bans... and she likes them. Without them, she's blind. She can paint the most amazing designs on her fingernails -  designs like Van Gogh's 'Starry Night' and Merida from 'Brave.' She has beautiful hair that she can never quite get chlorine-free.

She calls herself 'weird' and 'geeky' and 'awkward' but believes all of those things are OK.


She has my nose, which she hates, my smile, which she can't deny, and my sense of humor, which she loves. She sounds just like me on the phone.

She's cynical for one so young, and she definitely inherited the sarcasm gene, but she also embodies the positivity of youth that comes from knowing your whole life is ahead of you.

She is not (and has never been) what I would call a sweet child... but she has sweet moments.

She wants a tattoo. One day. And if she gets one, it will likely be a literary quote.

She has a boyfriend. She believed, until recently, that no boy would ever like her and she refused to hear my assurances that many would (and probably already did). And he's cute. Really cute. She wasn't sure she wanted to "date" him at first and when I met him, I said, "How on earth were you not sure? He's adorable!" She replied, "Well, I know he's cute, but looks aren't everything, Mom. I didn't know if I liked him."

She is comfortable in her own body and she doesn't alter her opinion of herself because of advertisements and media influence. When a friend confided that she was trying to lose weight, my girl admonished her, telling her that she is perfect as she is and that she can't compare herself to other girls because everyone has different body types.

She is brilliant.

She makes me laugh. A lot. Sometimes she makes me shake my head in astonishment... in wonder... and in sheer frustration. She is not perfect. She has her moods and her attitudes and there are days when she makes me understand why some species eat their young. Sometimes, when she's being awful, I hug her tightly... because it keeps me from pushing her out a window.

But I love her more every day. And I like her more every day.

Her dad isn't in the picture. He's been gone for so long that she doesn't want him in it anymore. That makes me sad. I loved my dad so much and I wanted that for her, too. But it's out of my control. So I try to be both for her. And so far, it seems that I've been enough.

She talks to me. A lot. I don't think for a second that she tells me everything, but I know she tells me so much of her life... and I know I'm so privileged to hear it. I forget that not all mothers are so lucky. She said to me yesterday, "I don't think you really understand how unusual our relationship is."

I might not.

But I do know how very lucky I am.

I am so very lucky. She is my girl. I am her mom. She is not the child I imagined I'd have. She is so much better than that child. And through her eyes, I see the world differently. I see it as it can be and not as it is. I see it as it should be. She makes me want to be a better person. She makes me strive to be a better person.

She is my girl. And I am her mom.

And I am so very lucky.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

What the World Needs Now...

Growing up, I rarely heard the words, 'I love you.' My family, immediate and extended, simply didn't say it. I don't know why... it was the way we were raised, I guess -- Old Country. I can probably count on one hand the number of times my mother said it to me. My dad said it even less. I didn't doubt they loved me, mind you... we simply didn't say the words. Attempting it felt awkward... uncomfortable... forced.

Then we got a puppy. A fuzzy black spaniel mix who oozed joy and devotion and unconditional love. And those three words started rolling off my tongue pretty easily.

And it was the start of something beautiful.

Eventually, I was able to say it to my friends... then to a very select few men in my life (never more than one at a time, however!). Over time, it became so easy and normal to say it that once, when talking on the phone to a client who had the same name as my then-husband, I ended our conversation with, "I love you." There was dead silence for a few seconds and then my mortified verbal stumbling around in an attempt to explain why I'd just declared my love to someone whose resume I was writing. Thankfully, he had a good sense of humor and pronounced my customer service 'top-notch!'

Now, at this time in my life, I say the words 'I love you' a lot. I say them several times every day to my daughter, my dog, and at least a couple of my friends.

Someone told me once that saying those words often cheapens them.

Saying the words 'I love you' often...

... cheapens them.

Can you imagine? Can anyone ever hear them too often? Any child? Any friend? Any lover or spouse? Any person who feels unloved or unwanted?

Now, I understand if they're said without feeling or simply to appease a need or desire when they aren't truly meant. Saying anything that requires conviction and belief when you don't feel it alters the meaning of the words, certainly.

But I never say them that way.

When I say 'I love you,' I mean it.

When I fall in love, I mean it.

And I fall in love all the time...

... not romantically, as that has happened very rarely in my life.

But I fall in love all the time with peoples' spirits... with their souls... with their senses of humor... with the mischievous gleams in their eyes... with their beautiful smiles and silly laughs... with their compassion and kindness... their intelligence... their passion and conviction... their generosity... their humanity... their creativity... their humbleness... their determination to rise above the obstacles and the hurt we all must face... with their ability to dance when they want to limp away in pain... with their energy and enthusiasm and zest for Life.

I fall in love with the love they exude and express outwardly -- to the world and the people in it.

And being in love? Like that? Makes me happy.

And the world needs more in-love, happy people.

Lots more.


I figure it's why we're here.

If you can think of a better reason? Let me know, OK?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

My daughter is beautiful. And amazing. And brilliant. And talented. And ridiculously funny.

These things I know for sure.


Doubts it all.

All the damned time.

It makes me crazy. I am constantly wishing she could see herself through my eyes. If she could, she would be kinder to herself. Gentler. She would love the person she is the way I love the person she is -- beyond all reason and limits. She would look in the mirror and be happy with what she sees. She would celebrate her many accomplishments instead of bemoaning her shortcomings. She would be unafraid to show the world and Life just how incredible she is.

And I wonder why she simply cannot see her amazingness the way I do. She says, "You're my mother. You love me. You can't see me clearly."

Pfffttt. Ridiculous! Because I love her, I see her more clearly than anyone! She thinks I can't see her faults? Ridiculous! I am the one who has to deal with them directly! She thinks I can't see her shortcomings? Ridiculous! I see them, but they are far outweighed by her talents!

I know part of it is that she's 14 and these teen years (and the ones just before) are defined by self-doubt and anxiety about... well... everything. And I know part of it is the fact that she is surrounded by friends who are just as beautiful and amazing and brilliant and talented and funny as she is... but they are beautiful and amazing and brilliant and talented and funny in different ways than she is... and we always, always (always!) compare ourselves to others, often perceiving ourselves as 'less than.'

And I am afraid -- terrified -- that part of her inability to see herself clearly is because of...


I have set a poor example.

I am a 48-year-old version of her. I find it nearly impossible to see my own beauty and amazingness and brilliance and talent, even when -- especially when -- it's pointed out to me.


Need to practice what I preach.

The example I've set her for has fallen woefully short.

Don't get me wrong... one thing I've always believed I'm good at is being her mother. We have an incredible relationship and she is all those wonderful things, in part, because I have nurtured them in her. I know this. But, unknowingly, I have allowed her to believe that not acknowledging your own amazingness -- not celebrating yourself and who you are -- is OK.

My friends tell me all the time that I am amazing and wonderful and all manner of lovely things. I hear what they say. I do. I get validation all the time. But I pooh-pooh it as bias...

They love me, so they can't see me clearly.


I do believe I've heard that somewhere before.


I learned a long time ago that this sort of thing is called a legacy burden. We pass these negative beliefs and behaviors down, from generation to generation, without even realizing we're doing it. I was made aware of it when discussing body image issues with my therapist a long time ago. I vowed never to pass those worries on to Ryan and I've done a great job of that, I think. She has a healthy body and, overall, is happy in it and with it.

But I didn't realize what I was doing... what I am doing... what burdens she will carry... what burdens she is carrying because of the way I see myself.

This negative self-talk has been something I've been aware of for a long time. It's something I've tried to work on, periodically, over the years. But this is the first time I've realized how it's affecting the person I love most in this world. Stupidly, I didn't think she could hear me. I didn't think she would know what was going on in my own head. And this is the first time I've realized that she is seeing herself through the same mirror I've been using.

It's time...

It's time to get a new mirror.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Boy From 30 Years Ago

Once upon a time (nearly 30 years ago), a girl met a boy.

She was the sort who embraced convention, while secretly longing to step out of the box. He was the sort who quietly kicked the box aside and did his own thing. She liked him. A lot. He liked her. A lot. They spent time together. A lot of time.

Eventually they turned awkward flirting (which consisted mainly of her messing up his carefully spiked hair and him pretending to be annoyed by it) into a sweet romance. With kissing. A lot of kissing.

Over time, their feelings for one another deepened. The flirting and the romance turned into love.

First love.

But neither the girl nor the boy was very good at actually saying how they felt. Or understanding how they felt. They were young. Their hearts were both strong and terribly fragile at once… their egos and confidence even more fragile than their hearts.

But still, they loved each other.

Until the girl made a mistake. A terrible mistake. Her ego got too big and too loud and it couldn’t hear what the boy's heart was saying... or what her own heart was saying.

And she broke them.

She broke their love. She damaged it beyond repair. And when she tried to fix it, she couldn’t. The boy was hurt and sad and angry and proud… and he pushed her away.

And it was over.

They were over.

She didn’t know it, but he still thought of her.

He didn’t know it, but she still thought of him.

But it was over.

And they went on with their lives. They fell in love again, with other people. They lived -- in new places, with spouses and children, with happiness and hurt, with endings and new beginnings.

And every now and then, they thought of one another.

Then? A long time later, they reconnected through the magic of the Interwebs.

The girl was so happy to find out that the boy’s life was good. She was thrilled to see he’d achieved the happiness he so deserved. And they traveled down Memory Lane and laughed about old times.

Then they went their separate ways again, this time knowing there was a thread tying them together… and this thread had always been there, even if they hadn’t known it... and this thread would always be there.
And there was great comfort in knowing it was there.

And then? Something happened to the girl and she needed support… and the boy was there, the thread pulling them back together. His words soothed her spirit and made her forget, if even for a moment, that anything was wrong. He made her remember why she’d loved him so many years ago…
And he made her love him all over again.

But this love? This love is different...

With this love, there is no ego… no awkwardness…

There is no romance... no flirting...

With this love, there is just heart.

Just friendship.

And the knowledge that time can make whole what was once broken.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


My fear of doctors was ingrained early. The first pediatrician I remember, Dr. Cook, was a morbidly obese, gruff-voiced gargantuan, with a penchant for chewing on toothpicks and pen caps. My mother adored him. My brothers liked him. I was terrified of him. He set the tone for my interactions with doctors for the rest of my life, which is:

I go when I feel like I’m dying.

And that’s the truth. I can count on one hand the number of antibiotics I’ve taken in my adult life. I can count on the other hand the number of check-ups I’ve had.

I don’t like doctors. Well, OK, that’s not true. Doctors are fine (some of them are downright lovely). What I don’t like is going to doctors. I dread it, in fact. It makes me feel sick. Ha! I’ve always said I’ll die of something that could have been easily prevented, diagnosed, or treated, if I’d just been willing to get a check-up.

Then I got cancer. How you like them apples?

When the cancer was diagnosed, it was because I thought I was dying. Not from cancer, mind you, but from a nasty infection in my gut… brought on by one of those damned antibiotics… taken for a kidney infection… which made me feel like I was dying.

The diagnosis threw me for a loop. It didn’t help that it was blurted out with little to no care or concern by a callous ER doctor, when he really didn’t know for sure what was wrong.

Turned out?  He was right.

After I gave it a little time to sink in, I did what I always do… I looked for the bright side. And there was one. This cancer – a slow-growing lymphoma – isn’t going to kill me. Well, it isn’t likely to kill me. It could, certainly, but it’s not likely to do so. It will never go away or go into remission, true, but it’s not likely to kill me. That’s a good thing! If you’re going to get cancer, this is the sort to get. So, YAY, ME!


So I went along, as I do, focusing on the bright side, ignoring the other stuff. Pushing it down and away… not dealing with it.

As I do.

Except… except for when I have to go to the cancer center for tests.

Walking through those doors? Just about does me in. Before I go and after I’m there, I can talk about it. I can joke about it. I’m bright and positive and fine. I am just fine.

I'm. Fine.

Except… except for when I have to go to the cancer center for tests.

And then I’m not so fine.

Walking through those doors brings it all to the front. Every little piece of fear and worry and anger and frustration… all right there… right in front of my face and crowding my brain and my heart.

And it all makes me cry.

And feel weak.

And I don’t like to feel weak.

For the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been feeling great. I don’t know if what I’ve been feeling is normal, since I don’t know what normal even is anymore, but it doesn’t feel good. This I know for sure. So I called the cancer center and had my November appointment moved up to this week. I went in for blood work this morning, so the doctor can review it all before Friday afternoon, when I’m scheduled see her. And let me tell you, I dreaded the appointment today, as getting blood from me is damn-near impossible. I have bad veins. I usually wind up getting stuck multiple times before they can get enough blood to test. But I was dreading this visit more than seemed logical. It was just lab work. Right? No big deal, for goodness sake. Right?

So when I walked through the doors of the cancer center at 8:30AM, and the now-familiar dread-weight settled on my psyche, I wasn’t surprised. My usual even-keeled, reasonably cheerful demeanor disappeared. I couldn’t look anyone, staff or other patients, in the eye. There was no smile, not for a single soul.

I was not myself.

I made it through, though. I got stuck three times – once for each vial of necessary blood. And then I trudged back out to my car, to head on into work. Instead of feeling the weight lift, however, as normal, I burst into tears. Everything I’d been holding back came gushing out.

That? Surprised me.

It hit me that this is something I am going to live with for the rest of my life. It hit me – hard – that I will be walking through the doors of the cancer center every few months for the rest of my life.

The. Rest. Of. My. Life.

And it dawned on me that I will never be able to enter into a relationship without having to say, at some point, “Oh, by the way, I have cancer. And I’m going to have it forever. It probably won’t kill me, but it could, and if you want to be with me, you will likely wind up having to spend time in a hospital. Also? Don’t get too attached to my hair, ‘cause it’ll probably go away from time to time.”

And suddenly?

I felt…



Less than.

And I realized that I’ve been feeling all these things every time I walk through the doors of the cancer center. That’s why the appointments make me cry. I just wasn’t acknowledging them.

As I do.

But now I have. And now I have to figure out what to do with these feelings.

But that? I don’t quite know how to do that.