Two steps forward, one step back, that’s just the way life goes.
Some days you just have to surrender to the place that you are and give your body the love and care it needs to heal and to grow stronger.
It can mean tossing out your preplanned day of work and activities and being exactly where you are.
Surrendering to yourself and the things that you can not control is a challenge, but it is also a sign of wisdom and a strength in itself.
We must always push ourselves to be better and to stretch beyond our comfort zone in our efforts to elevate, to illuminate, and to grow.
Surrendering to what is beyond your control, and allowing yourself to be still, to listen to your body and heart’s voice is critical to this journey.
Stillness is uncomfortable.
I want to move and to accomplish. That is what we are programmed to do in society. To achieve. To be able to have something measurable to show for our time. We are pressured to base our worth on this. I don’t want to feel imprisoned.
When I fight against what my body needs, I feel imprisoned, unable to achieve, itching to move and to fly.
Stillness forces me to be quiet, to be present, to be alone with myself while my body does what it needs to do. That is my challenge.
But stillness is a gift. It creates the to opportunity to quiet, to slow, and to hear your heart.
Ok New Englanders, I know you’re made of sterner stuff than most. We’ve all seen your Instagram pics of your snow fort beer coolers and night time blizzard grilling so we know you can take a punch and role with it, but this is the time of year common and good sense appear to abandon us all.
Let’s take this inevitable warm snap (it’s actually 56 degrees and raining here in Massachusetts) that makes a brief appearance each January causing perfectly reasonable individuals who’s blood and skin has been thickened by subzero temps and Nor Easter bitter wind squalls to break into heat rash and begin strolling around in cruise attire when any other season a coat would still be required.
Let’s also look at “casual Friday” and the slippery slope between “casual” and “dude, you forgot half your clothes, are you drunk or committing to a dare?”
This afternoon as I sat in traffic, pondering the great mysteries of life, one such mystery made its way up the sidewalk and past my idling car. It’s three in the afternoon on Friday and two people, two NOT TOGETHER people just casually strolled by with several articles of clothing missing.
FYI: that dude’s wearing DRESS SLACKS. Bare chested. There’s just no way to string together this guys outfit to explain his life choices. He’s also walking from the train. So he rode home on the train bare chested, in dress slacks. Let’s appreciate this for a moment. This is JANUARY. In MASSACHUSETTS.
The woman walking several paces behind him is covered in even less material. It’s 3pm, it’s January, it’s raining.
I’m sitting here thinking that maybe we need to go over the guidelines for casual attire Friday’s so that we are all on the same page. Or at least in the same library.
relaxed and unconcerned.
“she regarded his affairs with a casual indulgence”
synonyms: relaxed, friendly, informal, unceremonious, easygoing, free and easy; informallaid-back
“the inn’s casual atmosphere”
2. clothes or shoes suitable for everyday wear rather than formal occasions.
….sooooo, NOT half naked. At least not half naked as you stroll along the street on your way to or from work. I’ve drawn up some very simple, elegant, and clear flash cards to help those of you visual learners out there. All I ask is that BEFORE you leave for work do the following:
1. Stop. Don’t leave your place yet.
2. Look. In a full length mirror. This is your safety net. The reflection will alert you to any missing articles of clothing before you head out.
3. Ask. Ask yourself, a room mate, a partner, your cat. Ask “Am I wearing anything at all that covers the TOP half of my body, AND the BOTTOM half of my body?
If the answer to any part of that is “NO” then ADD the missing item. We don’t care if it matches. We just want that stuff covered at the office. Or on our way TO the office. For Gods sake it’s winter people! There is still SNOW on the ground and another storm on the way. Put your suntan lotion back in your bag, baby, we ain’t there yet.
*see attached helpful illustrations to use as a guide for tasteful public attire.
I have to be the most improbably existing person on this planet. I can’t go anywhere without getting lost, can’t walk in and out of stores in the mall without going back in the direction I was coming from, can’t open water bottles without spraying the interior of a vehicle, and can’t sip tea without simultaneously pouring some into my bra.
I am the bumblebee of humankind. When you look at a bumblebee and it’s wings you marvel at the improbability of success. You think to yourself “There is simply no way, NO WAY those wings can work with that body.” And yet there are bumblebees. They manage to exist, to more than exist, they manage to FLY.
And then there is me. My family and friends look at me and think “There is no way, NO WAY that brain can possible work in that head. No way. It’s sad but it’s science. There is just NO WAY that brain and that woman WORK.”
As much as it confounds everyone (even me!) I manage to find my way home each day. This gap in skill sets, this massive flaw in my design doesn’t seem to stop me from diving in, and I try (but never seem to succeed) improving upon these things.
Today I fumbled my way between appointments and buildings and finally made my way to my car to come home. I punched the key code in but nothing worked. I tried again and again with not even a clicking sound accompanying my finger punches on the buttons. I hip checked the door and tried again in case the door was ajar but no luck.
I stared tired and anxious and frustrated at the locked car, and then video-called my husband for help. I explained the problem while waving the phone for him to view the parts of the car I had already assaulted, while he calmly tried talking me through different tricks. Nothing.
Finally my husband told me to call roadside service and wait for them to come and let me in. As he explained the possible problems with my car and the solutions each might require, my gaze came to rest on an object on my passenger seat.
Strange. There was an oxygen tank on my passenger seat. Why was there an oxygen tank on my passenger seat? Who put it there? How did they get into my locked car? What the hell kind of crazy person would break into a car and leave an OXYGEN TANK behind?! I could be dealing with a madman or a kidnapper desperate to kidnap me for all I knew!
My husband talked on as I stared in deep confusion at the oxygen tank in my car. I glanced nervously over my shoulder as my husband continued to speak, looking to see if I was being watched, and that’s when I realized why my key code wasn’t working. This was not my car. My car was three cars over. Not another car between. I wasn’t locked out of my car, I was BREAKING INTO someone ELSE’S car. I was the madman!
I won’t speak for life on other planets, who knows maybe there is an even more (or at least equally) foolish creature wandering around confused and stumbling like me out there in space with their creature friends watching them fall into open manholes, face-plant into glass doors, try valiantly and vainly to push things that are supposed to be pulled wondering if they will survive until dinner. All I know is that today marks another day I managed to defy the odds and make it home to my own house and that’s science, baby.
This will give you a laugh. I get guys from the Middle East sending me friend requests every day because of the blog I write which is hugely popular in India and Egypt with men ages 21-65. Go figure. It’s a blog about an emotionally messy middle aged mother of five (me) and her tendency to be rash, impulsive, and to get into high-jinx.
Generally speaking, men ages 21-65 aren’t really what I expected my demographic to be. Clearly there are lots and lots of male fans of pleasingly plump, emotionally messy middle aged moms out there so let’s all take a moment to recognize that we now have irrefutable proof that there is a God and he does exist and middle aged, pleasingly plump moms are like, clearly the top of his game. Has your mind just been blown? I’m still taking it in too, so don’t feel bad.
Here’s the problem though; most of the guys are total wackadoodles who believe they’ve cleverly disguised their true identities behind a super spy, deep undercover fake as hell name and bio. It’s pretty easy to pick the posers out at this point, partially because I’ve unwittingly mastered (mistressed??!) the art of sleuthing out the phonies, and partially because these guys names and bios aren’t exactly the ones they come up with at MENSA meetings. Or so I would imagine. For example, this one arrived tonight:
Now I’m not straight up saying that Francis Ford (Coppola) wouldn’t be intrigued by my awesome ability to tell a good story about falling out of trees, breastfeeding, and wiping wee bottoms, but I AM a touch skeptical that he is reading my stuff, loving it so much that he just HAS to “friend” me at 3:28am.
Just saying. It seems like a request that might excitedly slip through an over tired, under-medicated “me”s clumsy hands. But awake all night, aggravated because my left shoulder, right ribs, and two colorfully bruised legs are killing and keeping me from sleeping “me” is having non of it. Denied.
Who could have predicted that the years most sought after trend would be plump, middle aged and messy mammas? I don’t know about the rest of you ladies, but I think we all need to celebrate. Grab your stretchiest yoga pants, your least stained sweatshirt, a bag of donuts and a bottle of wine and head for a couch. Our time has finally come!
Life truth: No one, and I mean NO ONE has all their crap together.
On and given day, people everywhere are losing that last marble, the thin and thready attachment to their wit and sanity is unraveling. There are dishes being thrown, shockingly delightful symphonies of curse words being hurled full bellied at dropped balls, people shopping for groceries in nightgowns and mismatched flip flops in winter because damnit that’s how it’s going down today. There are clusters of strangers drawn together to stare gape mouthed at some version of me pumping gas wearing only a tarp for reasons I refuse to supply you all with.
Let’s just say some days it’s all you can do to stay righteous with the lord. Being human is an awesome thing, but it’s also very hard. We may clean up nicely for out-of-towners, and going to work, church, synagogue, temple, mosque, play dates and most public outings, but not always.
I’ve hidden in the back row with a nest of squirrels in my un-coiffed and terrifying early morning straight outta bed hair for Mass while feeding a toddler annentire jumbo pack of gum one stick at a time to keep her quiet, and close enough to grab before she could slide on her belly under pews towards the front of the congregation. I’ll very likely do it again. She’s a teenager now and still attempting escapes that impress me with their creativity. Gum still works with her though so I have a sporting chance.
The victory in life is in the actual living of it, the compassionate self love you show yourself when you accept that perfect isn’t a word ever intended to apply to any of us. It’s meant to describe moments. Imperfect, catastrophically and disastrously messy and gorgeous moments. And possibly donuts. I love donuts.
I’m a mom five times over which means that at this stage of the game I have only so much put-togetherness I can pull together to pass as a functional adult. I have little to no control over what life throws at me.
I prefer pies to the face, but fate chose a tree to plant in the engine of my car a week ago. Bruised ribs, broken clavicle, a totaled vehicle. That was the party favor bag of surprises that day. I let myself be as sloppy as I needed to be at first, and then I turned my attention to my healing, and figuring out a new strategy for moving forward since the original plan is clearly scrapped. Fare thee well Ruby my dear (my beloved minivan), our time here apparently was meant to be brief. Think fondly of me in your next life as a toaster or garden rake.
It’s messy in my body right now, and it’s messy in my life but it’s mine and it has beauty and poetry I never noticed until my plan fell away. So take a long breath with me and pause a bit before charging on. This is as together as it gets folks, and I’m so glad we’re all in it together. Now stand real close for the group picture. It’s the one they’ll be using for our commitment hearings some day, so let’s make it count!
I’m the idiot on the fence. Not ideologically speaking, literally speaking. I mean seriously, I don’t think anyone is on the fence these days if my news feeds are any indication.
This has absolutely nothing to do with politics, fence sitters or world burners alike. This is a little story, a true story, of a girl (that’s me) and an idea (a bad one) and a fence.
I had surgery on my left shoulder less than a month ago. This is no secret. I have in fact detailed my journey for the sake of being a cautionary if humorous and foolish tale. Learn from me or take comfort in my company of bad decisions. The choice is yours.
When my body holds me hostage I try to both care for and challenge it a little each day. I don’t like sitting still and sitting still is something I have to do a lot. At the first signs of healing or strength returning I start pushing myself and napping in turns like those workouts that cycle through various things with increased reps as you build. The challenges are my reps, the naps are my rest periods. Sounds smart and sensible, doesn’t it? What could possibly go wrong?
So many things go wrong. If I am involved, so very MANY things can go wrong. I am impetuous. I am impulsive. I mix recipes before checking to see if I even have all of the ingredients. I start hammering things together without having a blueprint to work from or a list of needed items. In other words, I jump into pools without bothering to check for water.
As soon as I started feeling a little decent that first post surgery week I began talking walks, moving my arm carefully using the printed out therapy exercises the nurse stuffed into my bag when they discharged me in a boozy drugged state packed in ice.
So here we are, almost a month later, Christmas in the air, and lots of unsupervised time on my hands. A dangerous combination if ever there was one.
Hubby and the kids were all out for the afternoon and evening at various meetings and activities. I had distracted myself as much as possible without doing a single dumb thing all day. It was a good stretch. A personal best.
And then I found the Christmas lights. What follows is not for the feint of heart. If you have a low to zero tolerance for jackassery, turn away. Or at least down a shot or two before reading on.
It was 7pm. I like to line the four foot space picket fence that runs around our yard with white lights each year. It’s cheery and welcoming on cold, dark nights. There is a gate that hangs between two tall ten foot high posts with a broad, flat board across both posts, a sign welcoming friends .
When I reached the gate with the string of lights I knew I needed a ladder to go up and across the welcome sign before I could continue along the fence. Who has time for that when a perfectly good peach tree is so close to the fence and your shoes are narrow enough to slide a foot between pickets?
“Not me!” said the fool.
And so I, feeling proud for using only my good arm, swung a leg up into the tree and wedged myself between the two pickets closest to the gate and the first tall post. I was allll up in that peach tree like a one armed village idiot trying to get a better look at the circus. So far, so good. I looped the lights (balled up like a monkey fist for distance throwing) over post number one.
The opening of the gate was too wide to reach the balled lights now dangling from the middle of the sign so naturally I wedged a second sneaker between pickets, moved my good hand to brace myself holding on to the top of the sign, and started to transfer my feet so that one was balanced on top of the gate.
And that’s where everything started to go wrong. FAST.
The gate swung open and away taking my weight bearing foot along with it, and leaving an empty sneaker still stuck between pickets on the fence while I sailed forward with the gate hanging from my one good arm (or rather hand) for a solid six seconds (because I have very little upper body strength and quite a bit of “body”…) before falling to the pavement on my back.
Not my finest hour. I did manage to keep my head from hitting the ground but the rest of my body aches like, well like it fell to the pavement from four feet off the ground. Because, oh yeah, it DID. My husband and children are less than thrilled with me and have placed me on “restriction”, assigning friends to check in to make sure I’m staying grounded or run the risk of being bubble wrapped to the bed. That’s a direct quote from hubby.
My parents are frustrated with me too, but I am my mother’s daughter. She has impetuously climbed wet bulkheads, trees with grandchildren, house painting fences to “touch up the trim”, and all while my long suffering father has begged and implored her to use common sense. What can I say except I learned from the best. She, however maintains she did each of these things in daylight and mostly with a spotter (my long suffering, imploring father) on the ground to catch her.
For the record, you can’t actually see anything at 7pm in New England in November except the error of your ways.
Still, the lights do look awfully pretty….
Baking koosa tonight. A little homegirl cooking with my Sitto (Arabic for grandmother) and mamma beside me in spirit. ❤️
Koosa is a squash with a mild flavor and a very tender skin that is delicious.
I can’t find these at the usual stores so I rely on my parents to supply me when they make runs to Arabic markets. My brother brought this lovely batch to me at Thanksgiving and so he is wrapped in my thoughts as I prepare this dish.
The tool I use to core it is called an “Udah-Ouda”. That’s my best phonetic approximation. It was given to me by my parents and I always hear my father’s voice in my ear making the same bad jokes about proctologists when my mamma or I use it. I will never tire of either my father or his irreverent humor.
positive that my Sittu is rolling in her grave right now at my horrendous and public spelling fail.
My mamma is very generous in her compassionate view of my traditionally poor grammar. History with me and deep fondness has worn her down.
At any rate, I am certain they're each feeling the love that goes out whenever their recipes and stories are shared as much as I feel theirs when my hands begin to work. 😄