I remember the day I peed on a stick and shockingly read two lines. I remember the day we found out we were having a girl. I remember the long, difficult struggle of birth and the weeks and months following. The transition to being your mom wasn’t an easy one but those are all memories now.
I have completely, utterly, hopelessly, passionately fallen in love with you, my daughter, my pixie, my joy, my pride.
You grow every day to be a person I am proud of. You create, you laugh, you rejoice. You show me what living with imagination is. You teach me to ride my bike in the grass because cement isn’t necessary. You invite me in to your imagination of talking horses and pet shops. You warm me with your arms and your impossibly long legs, mygod how did they get so long, wrap around my waist when I lift you for possibly the last time of your life.
You love your brother with so much strength, allowing him still to climb in to your lap. You are patient with him, mostly, and I am grateful for your relationship. I watch you as you get on the bus, I send thoughts of strength and success as you smile out the window with your new adult teeth and wave the I love you sign.
You are faithful with your friendships, still enjoying each birthday with our closest and dearest. You are tender to your core and your love means more to me than a thousand successful clients.
One day I will successfully show you how much you’ve changed my life, LB. Until that time I will soak you up, each possible day, each available hug, each snuggle. We love you dearly. So. Very.
There’s a theory of mine. Ok, it’s not just *my* theory, I’ve actually read a book, watched a documentary and heard a famous comedian talk about it. It’s called the “Pro You Decision” theory.
See, I’m a big believer of making your own fate. I think there’s a lot of self fulfilling prophecy out there. If someone is always feeling like a loser who can’t lose weight, I’m fairly sure they’re going to be a loser who can’t lose weight. If you take that same person and shift their mind in to a positive “I can totally lose weight! I’m able to make those decisions to move in that direction!” I think eventually it will happen. It’s been my own experience in many areas of my life at least.
To get out of a spiral of despair, I try to make a Pro Me decision. It’s a small decision, can be seemingly inconsequential, but necessary. This morning I chose to get up early, take a brisk walk, and start work early with a todo list in hand. It has shaped my entire day. One Pro You decision leads to another Pro You decision. It’s not cosmic magic. It’s the simple fact that by placing your mind in a positive position, you’re more able to see the positive choices presented to you in a day. By working out in the morning I’m more willing to select healthier foods during the day. By selecting healthier foods I’ll have more energy. The afternoon will be more productive because I have more energy and my productivity will boost my self confidence at work and help me feel satisfied when I return home. One small decision this morning will set the stage for an entire day of awesome.
What is your Pro You Decision?
Bird by Bird - A business plan
“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’ -Anne Lamott
I’m overwhelmed to a ridiculous state. Somewhere along the path of amazing, whilst traveling and producing and speaking, my cart became full of expectations, deadlines and impossibility.
“If you say no too often, Leslie, they won’t ask you back to babysit. Be careful when you turn down a job opportunity.” -Oma Flinger
I was 7 when I started my first business. A friend from down the street and I ran in to the woods beyond our houses and collected rocks, interesting twigs and other “potentially beautiful” items. We ran home, painted each carefully, and set out knocking on every door asking if they wanted to purchase our art for ten cents each. I made about a dollar that day peddling my work amongst the neighborhood.
At 10 I decided to run an in-home daycare for an hour a day at my parent’s house. My mother wasn’t a fan of having 12 children in our small home, so I set up the garage as a small “school” setting and offered to take children who lived near by at a small fee to teach them a play that we would perform at the end of the week. It was a cabbage patch kid reenactment set to the tunes of a record I owned. At the end of the week, parents came to watch the play and praised the sweaty mess of children I directed in the two car garage in Houston.
Having recently decided to take life by the unicorn horn (if you will) and start a new, more amazing, better freelance business than I’d ever had before, I opened up my contacts to accept new work. Happily, Joyfully, Thankfully work flew in the front door, even more than I knew I could take. My mother’s words bubbled to the surface and her years of an incredibly strong work ethic and high expectations of her own life replicated in my own. I took the work, even when the deadlines were smashed together, with travel booking both ends, and said yes to it all.
I said YES to it all.
A good businesswoman can handle this, I decided. I’ll sub-contract out what I can’t do, I’ll do what I want to focus on in the future, and I’ll continue to grow because clients will be happy and my role will change to project manager slash mobile web prototype dev. This seemed the perfect plan.
I’m sure every tiny business owner thinks this at the start. But starting a business is like bringing home your new baby to an empty house that first day and suddenly it wakes up pissed. The invoices aren’t paid, the subcontractor fails to do their work and the client is calling hourly asking where said work is.
I’m not foolish enough to think those who last beyond the first year of business did not work 80 hours a week at some points. I have great friends who succeed regularly and work diligently in their business that I model my own after. I know they, too, stay up nights in a row working, laboring, building because they are passionate in their lives and their futures.
“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is this one fact, this one reason, I am still walking ahead, one foot at a time, producing code one tag at a time, writing this lesson one bird at a time. I’ve been drinking tea at midnight across friends who also care deeply of their work, listening to music and slamming furiously away at our keyboards. We share a goal, I their contractor, they my biggest fans, and we stay late, rise early, work diligently. I am away from my family but I am not alone. I am aching but it is not in vein. I am wary but it is not forever.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” -Robert Collier
The solace I find in those who overcome is immeasurable. Each of those people who inspire me to be greater than that I am now, who achieve what I long to achieve, who share in honesty their own struggles and triumphs, who are transparent in their joys and failures, and who believe in me beyond what I think I am capable of, remind me that seeing the dawn again from this side of my laptop is worth this small sacrifice of time. One day my daughter will ask me about my work and I will tell her with absolute certainty, I love what I do, I love you more, but I love, absolutely love, my life. I hope she finds a passion worth staying up for. There is no other way to live.
Life is a mindset. Life can get in the way of living if you let it. Practicality. Reality. Analysis. Risk.
I do not sit idle well. Beyond what I assume would qualify me for major intervention in a public school system possibly including tranquilizers, I pursue ideals the way children pursue sugar highs. I crave them. At times it can be annoying, I’m sure. “Oh! LOOK! I have the opportunity to [go] [see] [do] this [thing] [place] [job]!” Sometimes I annoy my self with my own enthusiasm. The bubble, it rises quickly and pops easily.
There are risks in life beyond measure. Deciding to return to graduate school, to take that perfect seeming job, to raise children with your spouse; these are beyond resources the mind can grasp. Sleepiness, fear, failure. Real consequences to ideals that each begin as an enthusiastic mind-set.
But the precipise does not come once a lifetime. As you stagger through the rocky terrain of aging, stumbling, climbing, learning, the road twists back upon itself and forces decisions at each turn. Do you jump or do you side step?
I? I jump. And I don’t look back.
A letter came in the mail today. I was reminded about a generation so much greater than ours. While we are sending emails, incapable of being bothered by the post-office, my Great Aunt Marcy sent my son a card for his 4th birthday. It’s not just a card this time, it’s a reminder. When she lost her husband of 50 years I couldn’t be bothered to send a single thing while she, in return, never once forgets a birthday of her great, great grandnephew. I couldn’t bear to open the card and see only, “Love Aunt Marcy” instead of adding “and Uncle Charles” to the second row.
I stood at the back door and cried.
Earlier today I was reminded that while I have “friends” on facebook I don’t know what they’re up to. People are having babies, graduating, changing jobs. All while I sit and stare at a computer screen 8 hours a day and wrangle children in my “spare” time. There is a book deal! There is traveling! There are speaking proposals to be done! And yet, my kitchen sits neglected, my friends grow entire human beings and my children await another year of life and summer and fall.
My Uncle Charles died while I was in the middle of a travel spree earlier this year. His life was a good one, he was a strong man, although handicapped by a motor cycle accident many years before I was born (the least reason of which I refuse to let Mr. Flinger purchase one of those death traps). I knew him as 100% amazing, strong and intelligent, always a proud father and grandfather, uncle and husband. He was old forever, since I was ten perhaps, endlessly aging at an impossibly slow rate. He would live forever, I thought, because they do: Your family. They live forever and you forget how short and unforgiving life truly is. Thirty years is nothing to someone in their fifties. They’ve conquered teen-age years, early adult, middle age. They are forever etched in their families mind as equally old: always the same, un-aging until the day they suddenly die reminding you of reality.
So it was that I did not make my Uncle Charle’s funeral. Traveling from Dallas, to return to Austin for SXSW, there was little time between. San Antonio felt a decade away, a rent-a-car, two young children unable to see their own mom. My Aunt had her family, her nieces and nephews, my aunts and uncles, her daughters and sons. She was loved and my Great Uncle Charles was rejoiced and I, from afar, joined them. Until this moment I did not think twice. My family needed me home. My work needed me present. My children wanted their own mother.
Still, only two months later, a card arrived reminding me that I will never be your Aunt Marcy. I will not ever fill the shoes of my Grandmother. I will not walk in the ways of those so much more wise, those who love beyond the now, those who see beyond the years. There is reason to live close to those who age before you: to live near extended family. To understand the wisdom of years and wrinkles that we can only imagine. At mid-thirty my age feels heavy. I feel the burden of time. Speaking to those whose lives span eternal decades remind me: a card, though simple, scribbled with ink, and stuck with a “forever” stamp, is more than just a card. It is an entire mindset of love and forgiveness: One I hope to live up to one day.
“Um, do you have sage?” I ask at Whole Foods. It seems logical that if one would need something to cleanse spirits, Whole Foods would have it.
You know: Hippies and all that.
“You mean for burning?” I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about. I think you burn it. I’m not sure what I’m looking for but I’ve been told by at least four people to try a sage cleanse for our house so this year will be infinitely better than the last. Sage cleansing. I couldn’t even bother to look it up before I go marching in to Whole Foods to buy it.
“Here you go,” says the thin, purposefully unkempt girl working at the Yuppy-Hippie-Overpriced-Grocery-Store. She leaves and I’m faced with a decision; two small sage sticks or one large stick? “We need all the cleansing possible,” I mutter and grab the biggest sage stick I can find.
It sounds cheesy, and it is, I’m sure. Sage cleansing our house? As if I believed in spirits and karma and life forces and such. Bah.
Except, ..... what if?
Mr. Flinger and I decided to try our very own Mind Enema this year. After two coincidental clicks pointed us to The Secret, the documentary, we watched with small cynicism and large wonder. “Well isn’t THAT ridiculous,” Mr. Flinger says at the close. “But, what the hell, right?”
Right. This is how we embrace our future. “What the hell!”
What the hell indeed.
So going forward, decided to think only positive thoughts. “Think about what you WANT not what you DO NOT want.” This is my mantra.
“I will.. I am.. I shall… I have…” Not “I don’t.. I won’t… I refuse… I hope… I fear…”
It’s such a subtle adjustment, such a tiny switch. The answers come quickly and quietly.
“I miss Yoga. I will find a new Yoga studio,” I said during Kick Boxing a month ago. Two days ago a new friend informs me of the new Power Yoga studio down the street. It’s amazing. It’s perfect. My new friend and I hit it off on yet another level and I proudly add her to the list of people I’m thankful for.
The list is growing with my appreciation and joy.
“The Condo will close.” I say it with confidence. I do not jinx it. I am not afraid to say it with pride. The Condo Will Close. The home we have been selling for nearly a year is ready to go to new hands. The home we brought our baby boy home to is ready for a new family. The home we first knew here so far from our friends, became a place of familiarity, friendly playdates, many holidays. It now goes to a new set of memories and we let it go. Friday: The Condo Will Close.
The list goes on and on. We say things with confidence and power and love. We declare our lives as worthy and joyful. We tell our family they are loved and strong and beautiful. We work together, actively making goals reality.
“You’re working so much.” “You’re always working.” “It sucks you have to work so much.” I’ve heard this from no less than 18 people in the past month. I’m working, working a lot. I’m fulfilling my full time job and a part time freelancer job on top of being a mother and a woman who strives to work out and find harmony. Harmony in the midst of chaos and deadlines and bills. Harmony and Joy.
I *am* working too much but I am thankful for it. Working too much right now is the appropriate solution. It’s not forever, I tell my children. Mommy has to work a lot right now because we need it. Right now I am thankful to have venues to bring in money, to get our family in a new situation, to grow beyond the last year of turmoil. However much the world tries to get us down, I am thankful for the opportunity to prosper.
We are prospering. In spite of all the financial heart-ache, emotional frustrations, negative energy surrounding us: We. Are. Prospering.
I went for a run today. I looked up as the clouds parted for an entire twenty minutes. The sun spoke down to my skin with kisses and warmth. Joy. Happiness. Heaven.
How are we doing, you ask? We are fine. We are. Perfectly. Fine.
I’ve written about The Red Tent before. I loved this book about womanly camaraderie based in fictional ancient biblical times. It’s the sort of book that makes a lady a feminist. You practically wanna shout to your random sisters-of-the-hood from across the street, “YOU GO HONEY! YOU CAN DO IT! WE FUCKING BLEED ONCE A MONTH AND STILL TACKLE THE WORLD!” Then you high five a million angels and she high fives them back. Lady angels, of course.
Or maybe that’s just me and possibly Liz Lemon.
Consider this the eloquent transition from The Red Tent and 30Rock to how my friends ended up in a kitchen with our underwear on.
Some good friends of mine decided to do a weight-loss challenge together. A few of us gained a few pounds (cough seven) over the holiday and wanted to get back to our sleek, healthy selves but with some good ol’ competition with money involved. Nothing strengthens friendship like placing money between it.
So we gathered together in the kitchen of my friend’s house with a scale, a camera, and a tape measure. We stripped down to our “summer” selves, bathing suits, small tanks, bare tummies. We measured and weighed and posed.
It was a scene our children watched in both fascination and utter horror. “Our moms have LOST IT,” I overheard one of the three year olds say. A six year old bent down, “You just figured this out?”
We laughed and jiggled and confessed. I noticed how often we would want to cut ourselves down while building the other ones up. Someone would disagree, “oh, no no, you’re fine! You can do it!” and we would write down our stats and continue on, not a single judgement on the face of those in the room.
It was cathartic. We not only shared our insecurities, we showed them to each other, and the other girls? Didn’t wince once.
The first step to healing is being open to your people about where you’re at.
Afterward a friend texted me, “That was fun! Like Acid Rain!” We laughed about it, how insane we were to stand there in the kitchen, six women in our skivvies measuring and jiggling. At the same time, we all agree, it was fun in a way. Healing. Refreshing. Accepting. There’s something about knowing you’re accepted by other people to begin allowing you to accept yourself.
I love those ladies like sisters in a Red Tent. Women who you call to when your life is tough, when you feel fat and frustrated, when you hit financial rock bottom. These are my village of women and we proved to each other this week that there is no place we won’t go together. Even in our underwear.
When my son was a preemie, we were told RSV IS THE DEVIL.
I was a paranoid, germ-a-phobe literally walking around making people Purrell before they could LOOK at the baby. If I had face masks, I would’ve made you wear them.
No, I’m serious.
Now I’m much more relaxed with germs. “Bah! It’s the floor! Whatever, just wipe off the gummy bear and eat it anyway.”
My kids go to public schooling institutions. There’s not a lot I can do to prevent illness anymore. I’m over the whole “baby in a bubble” thing.
But mothereff I need to revisit that.
We have The RSV. Most notably, *I* have The RSV. My son and I share hours of hacking while my daughter is recovering. It’s estimated that RSV is the most common germ that causes lung and airway infections in infants and young children. Apparently I’m a big baby because dang, yo, this shit sucks.
Whiskey does not even cure it.
So excuse the hacking and snot-dripping while I briefly recount our Christmas.
Ready? :: cough ::
Christmas Eve was delciously amazing. Wonderful chicken, mash potatoes, stuffing: a real foodgasm. Vdog rocked dinner.
The gifts were even better.
We let the kids get up at 5:45 AM because we’re sadist like that. Self sacrifice! FOR THE LOVE OF CHRISTMAS. The boy joyfully informed us that our house did not crash under Santa’s weight (apparently there was some concern over Santa’s recent weight gain).
The toys were played with, the packages were ripped and by 6:04 AM Christmas was over.
Like getting lucky. If you now what I mean. :: Elbow Elbow Nark Nark ::
*Passed out and everything if her new quilt*
Later in the day the gingerbread men were mutilated, the Wii was used for Man Bonding, and mass quantities of Spinach Dip and Chocolate Vodka was consumed. You know, the traditional Chocolate Vodka? Wait, it’s not? Oh, but it should be. OHMAHGAWD.
Now the tree is raw like our nostrils after blowing. But we are thankful and happy to have such friends surrounding us, love abounding around us and a new year to look forward to. Here we go, folks. Twenty-Eleven. May you not suck half as bad. :: hack cough hack ::
I’ve been sleepy since I was 16 years old. The first doctor I saw, during cross country season my Junior Year of High School, dismissed my complaints. “Look,” he leaned forward, his hands resting on this thighs, smelling of soap, “You’re not tired. You can’t be tired. You run 5 miles a day and get straight A’s. You’re not tired.”
But I *WAS* tired.
I continued to be tired and get dismissed for the next 19 years. I slept through college. Literally. I fell asleep regularly on my books in the library, drooling between pages of my Physics book. I went to bed at 9PM every night and fell asleep during movies my roommates and I would rent. I took three hour naps regularly and barely made it through until evening.
After having our daughter, I was attempting sleep following the 24 hours of labor, emergency C-section, medicated debacle. My oxygen monitor kept rining and a nurse would have to run in and reset it. I was frustrated, tired, and not able to sleep after 30 hours of exhaustion. “Has anyone ever talked to you about Sleep Apnea?” one nurse finally asked. “No?”
In fact, nobody would talk to me about it again for years to come. Doctors explored yeast imbalance, gluten intolerance, PCOS, Chronic Fatigue and so on. I’ve taken hormones and pills. I’ve done diet after diet to increase energy.
Still, though, I was sleepy.
At the urging of a very dear friend, I signed up for a sleep study. She’s probably the seventeenth person to tell me to do it, but it stuck. She’s just sort of that influential. Or that good at nagging. Either way.
I went in, got hooked up to a thousand wires and went to sleep. I say “sleep” not in a traditional sense but in a “wow, this is a lot of crap hooked up to me and I CAN’T ROLL OVER WHERE AM I WHY IS THIS UP MY NOSE” sort of way. Apparently it was just enough, though, for them to get a read on my sleeping habits.
The next morning I was standing talking to some random dude checking me out (literal and figurative here) at the grocery store. As he scanned the items in to the cart, he was staring at my boobs. I got annoyed, made light small talk and walked away thinking what a perv he was.
I got in the car, looked in the mirror and found what one may think is a hicky but by some sort of big mouthed gorilla.
It was the remaining redness from the wires the previous night.
Later in the afternoon I headed in to get my final diagnoses. Apnea. I have Sleep Apnea. I stop breathing TWENTY-SIX times an hour. Idealy you stop breathing, oh you know, NEVER. But apparently anything less than 5 times an hour is acceptable.
No wonder I’ve been tired for 20 years. Twenty. Years.
“You’ll be wearing a what to bed?” Mr. Flinger asks when I tell him the diagnoses. “A CPAP machine” I say. He looks at me and I know what he’s thinking, “You mean, like the thing Baby O had hooked up to him when he was in the NICU?” “Ayup” I reply. “Wow.. um.. that’s.. uh.. sexy…”
I realize I’m going to look like something out of some sci-fi movie at night now. “Hey Baby, come on over here and.. wait, hangon.. let me move my mask, oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you with that tube… oh hangon, the air is blowing on us, just a sec….” I get that I’m at my mid-thirty sexual peak and I’m royally screwed, not in the good way, of having any normal nights again.
But you know? Maybe I can use that. Something out of a sci-fi movie, eh?
Yea, that works.
But oh, this did make my day.
Thank you, Sincerely, Hello, Yo Yo,
11 guests here now.