In Which I Forgot to Buy My Blog a Birthday Present

2015

Back in 2009, I woke up with an idea and a URL I had to get and buy RIGHT THIS MINUTE. It was 2 a.m and I had my credit card in hand and my desktop fired up. My chosen URL? www.aspiringmama.com. I'm pretty sure I posted a photo of Eliana sitting on a bench at Trail Dust Town in Tucson Arizona. She was two. In the realm of motherhood, I was a total rookie. 

But I wasn't tired now that I had excitement building up inside me; the good shivery and buzz like feeling you get from one too many shots of espresso in your Starbucks coffee. No was I was going back to sleep, so I opened up a word doc, stared the cursor down, and began typing the first words of the first draft of #BabyFat: Adventures in Motherhood, Muffin Tops, & Trying to Remain Sane. Today, celebrating my launch of that very same book in just a few days on September 28, I'm looking back on a tiny sliver of the yesterdays that serve as memory. 

   2011

2011

If I was a man and my blog was my woman she would totally be mad at me right now.

See, I've been using This Little Blog O' Mine as a sounding board for the past two years.  Bottom line? Blogarina deserves Shiny and Pretty and New and instead? I totally forgot her two-year anniversary. The only thing I could have done to make it worse was Remembered and brought home an iron.

My dad did that for mom once. He's dead and she's still bitching about it.

It's okay though. I can guarantee he's sitting up on a cloud, drinking a Miller Lite and chuckling about that time Mom got pissed off at him for buying What She Said She Needed.

And round and round...

The World...

She spins...

 

2013

I have blogger’s block.

Or rather, the blogger in me isn’t sure what she is doing right now.

For years, decades even, I have been talking about how I was going to grow up to become a novelist.

An Author.

A writer.

I was eight when I made that decision, and 18 when I realized I was going to need something that paid the bills. So rationally, I signed up as a Communications major in college and specialized in Journalism. This was a smart move, I figured. I’d hone my craft, impress my editors, get my name out there, and publish the novel I’d write into the wee hours of each morning in no time. But then…

I was too tired to write when I got home.

I got married.

Dealt with infertility.

Had a baby.

Hated my job.

Quit my job.

Lost my father.

Moved 2,000 miles to start a brand new life.

And then I woke up one day and decided I wanted to try and make that dream come true again.

So here I am. And I’m not sure where to start.

 

 2015 (again)

2015 (again)

I'm still here. And I'm still moving forward. Thank you all for reading my finding my words and coming back for more.

Remembering When: A New Day

This post was originally published on Janyary 17, 2013. Two years later and I'm still working on my new beginning. And I'm okay with this because it means I haven't stopped trying.  

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A strange thing happened today. I didn’t notice it right away, of course. There was no dramatic realization. No being struck by a figurative lightning bolt. It was more like the rising of the sun…

Slow. Steady. And something that, when you stop to think about it, shouldn’t really come as a surprise.

Sleep has been fitful and restless and mostly non-existent. I was lucky to wake up in time to get Buttercup to her morning pre-ballet/tap class. I didn’t bother bringing a book to read. She upgraded me, you see. A few weeks ago, when she first started, I was timidly asked to remain downstairs in the waiting room while she danced. I’m embarrassed, Mama. Instead of allowing herself to fully relax and enjoy herself with her fellow dancers, I think she had been too focused on my opinion of her performance.

So I waited. And eventually, she asked me to leave my book at home.

I sat in the dance studio with the other mothers while the dancers sues-sused and tapped their happy little hearts out. We smiled and laughed as our daughters delighted in the movement their bodies allow and reveled in their own conspiratorial giggles. We clapped, as a proper audience should at the end of a worthy performance, when the teacher announced the end of the class. Then we helped our happy girls change out of their dance attire and into their street clothes and made our way across the studio to go on with the rest of our days.

That’s when I saw my reflection in the studio mirror. I barely registered what I was looking at….there were too many things to do and think about to concentrate on the size of my ass or what my hips looked like. Hear that? Taking the time to criticize myself would have been a luxury. Buttercup was asking questions and we needed to go to Target and The Husband needed me to pick up a few things at the grocery store before we headed back home and I was trying to remember what they were and…hell. If I don’t have time to read a book or watch trashy T.V. or sleep, do I really have the time to stand in front of a mirror and pick myself apart?

And more importantly, is that how I want to spend the few precious moments I do find for myself? Self-criticism and self-directed body hatred as LUXURY like fine velvets and expensive champagnes and rare jewels and days like tomorrow when I can stay home all day in my pajamas and don’t have to bother with a bra?

I met my own eyes in the mirror once more before leaving the studio and that’s when I saw myself through the light of the new day and realized I had sat in front of a mirror for an hour and only concentrated on my daughter, her happiness, and how I hope she grows up stronger than me.

The woman looking back at me in the mirror was smiling now. Maybe because she realized feelings weigh so much less when shared with others who understand.

Am I fixed yet? No. But it’s a new day.

And that’s a start.

 

Catching in the Rye (in Spanglish)

If The Catcher in the Rye had a sequel based on a Spanglish-speaking Mexican-American homeschooling, allergic to everything, eating-disordered writer mama of one, I’d be a happy girl. Because then, at least, I could just hand people a copy of the book when they ask how I’m doing.

‘Fine?” That’s usually a lie.

“My cat just got ran over, thanks for asking,” could possibly be the truth, but when people ask other people how they are doing, no one really expects an honest answer if honesty means replying with anything other than “fine.” Except  I don’t have a cat. I do have three dogs, though. And a kid. And two websites and an agent and a manuscript sitting in a file because I don’t have a platform big enough to stand on and wonder if I ever will.

This isn’t a Poor Me post. Don’t get your violins out, folks. This is a Truth post; one in which I step out behind the bullshit and tell you that fine is a lie and that I miss my nonexistent cat because I am, in short, a fraud. Not the Push Up Bra and Spanx Coming Off On the Third Date kind of fraud, mind you, but the Holden Caulfield kind in which I find myself standing in the middle of the high school cafeteria, holding my lunch tray, not sure where to sit because I have no idea where I really belong.

I preach body pride and self-acceptance because for some of us, we can't do the work required to care for ourselves if we don't value ourselves. I encourage you to find your inner chingona, redefine your path on your own terms and to celebrate the hell out of her because no one else is going to do it for you. I say thing like Love Yourself As You Are NOW and Our Daughters are Counting on Us to Get (and Keep) Our Shit Together (And I mean them...for you). I want to mean them for me, too, and I figured that if I shouted it long enough and often enough from my soapbox that I’d start to buy my own bullshit, but that hasn’t happened yet.

That, my friends, pisses me off.

I want to connect and inspire and feel validated for what I say and what I do and what I am hoping to become and I see so many others doing exactly that while I sit back and cheer them on, not sure what I’m doing wrong to keep missing the boat or if the boat’s going to bother coming back to the dock again to give me another chance. I want to speak to women on the same journey and let them know it’s okay to be where we are right now as long as we keep trying because that’s what matters. I want to organize inspiring workshops and a regular conference for women to focus on fixing the mess inside of our own heads because our kids aren’t going to believe in their own self worth if they constantly see us tear ourselves down.

It’s the old airplane analogy: No point in passing out from oxygen deprivation while trying to get our kid’s mask on first if the cabin depressurizes. The only way we can truly be effective role models is if we fight every maternal instinct and put ourselves first for fucking once. Once our heads are clearing from the oxygen-deprived fog can we be there to ensure our children are breathing, safe, and secure in the knowledge that Mommy has her shit together. And this Mommy is busy focusing on raising a future self-respecting bitch who (I hope I hope I hope) will never second guess putting her happiness before society's complex.

Maybe, I think, the boat is on to me. The boat knows I’m a fraud and frauds are not allowed on board. Only passengers who are truly at ease in their own skin who don’t look for and rely on approval and validation outside of themselves are allowed on this boat. I’m not there yet. I used to be. I will be again. But right here, right now, I’m a self-destructive mess who’s best bet it is to just let it all hang out because it’s the truth and it needs to be said.

I don’t have The Answers. I’m not standing at the Finish Line waving the Official Flag of Self-Acceptance because I haven’t run my own race yet. What I do have is a burning desire to share the crazy idea that it’s okay to be a fucking mess. It’s okay to have bad days and worse days and throw a party on the good days because they are so very worthy of celebrating. It’s okay to not love yourself (but want to) yet and it’s okay to talk about the bad in public because if we don’t then no one else will and the world will just continue to assume that “Fine” is the only acceptable answer to be given when they ask how we’re doing and that’s really just a giant disservice for those of us who need to know it’s okay to celebrate The Journey because The Destination is just a little too far away right now.

I’m not fine. In fact, I’m a royal fucking mess. My ADHD and anxiety are triggering my seven-year-old’s anxiety into fodder for her therapy appointments which happens to fall under the Mexicans Don’t Talk About That Sort of Thing category because it’s uncomfortable and much easier to sweep under the rug with the rest of our emotional baggage (like  the whispers about how pregnant the bride really was at the last wedding we went to while we collectively pretended to believe she wasn’t because it matters even though it really shouldn’t). It’s why I told The Husband I wanted yellow gold when he asked what kind of ring I would like when he was fishing for engagement ring hints because that’s what my family wore. It took me ten years to admit I hated yellow gold and really wanted platinum because that shit doesn’t work for me anymore, either.

Away with the rug. Let the dirt fly. And when the dust settles, I’ll still be standing here holding my lunch tray because I’m not sure where to sit because no matter where I choose, I feel like everyone else will judge me for my choice even though none of that should matter. But it does.

And I hate that.

I most decidedly do NOT have my shit together. You need to know that. It’s okay to be a royal fucking mess. You need to know that, too.  I miss my imaginary cat and I have very real cellulite and I have a sweet tooth and a closet eating habit. I don't sleep enough and I am never on time unless a deadline and a paycheck is involved (or someone else is driving the bus.) My yoga mat is my zen place and I'm working my way back to being brave enough to step into the raging quiet inside my head (I'm almost there). I make sad things funny and funny things funnier because that’s how I deal.

I'm almost 37 years old and sans The Husband and the child, the words you see and the words you hear could be the same words I wrote when I was seven, 17, and 27.

All of this is today’s truth.

Now tell me…

How are you doing?

Old Words Made New: And Then There was One

I think it goes without saying that I'm a bit behind. Life can get in the way sometimes and when that happens, all bet are off. These are the times when the words I write for a paycheck take precedence over the ones I write in the name of building a fucking platform without a solid set of directions because subjectivity is A Thing to clear my head so I can sleep. A lot has happened since I posted last. No book deals. No agents fighting over me and my mad writing skillz. But I have launched two etsy shops, a podcast, and can now officially cross Be Mentioned in a Tweet with Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez by Rick Najera off of my bucket list. I'll fill you in on the specifics about the etsy shops and the podcast on Wednesday. For now, I'll just remind you about the Me & Robert Rodriguez in the same 140.

 

 

See? It did sound just as badass the second time around. I kinda figure it would.

For now, though, I'm going to focus on I'm concentrating on waiting out an allergic reaction and passing the time by creating a Pinterest board for my writing clips. So much as changed and so much has stayed the same. And Then There was One was written in December of 2012.

 

***

I’m selling baby clothes. I guess I didn’t think writing up ads for cloth diapers and Gymboree jumpers was going to be as depressing as it’s turning out to be, but it is. I’m not just selling clothes. I’m putting prices on memories and letting go of hope. I’m the oldest of five. The Husband is the youngest of four.

Eliana wasn’t supposed to be an only.

For Sale
* Honest baby tee 12-18 mths
* George newborn white dress worn 1x after baptism 0-3 mth, plain white diaper cover included. 
* Old navy blue striped skirt 18-24 mth 
* Gender neutral newborn sleeper (baby) 0-3 mth
* Pink striped hooded dress 18-24 mth (plain pink diaper cover incuded)
* Old navy burgundy dress pink collar 18-24 mth 
* Pink tutu up to 12 mth (used once for 6 mth photo session & Halloween) 
* Vincent size pink frog shoe sz 16 euro 
* U of m lined windbreaker 18 mths – $6
I start with the basics. Photograph each piece. List the size and write a brief description. Calculate a fair price that allows for people to talk me down a bit and feel like they got a deal. I try to ignore the images in my mind with each item I put in the box marked “baby items for sale.” I remember almost all of it. And my mind took more photos than I realized.
This sleeper she wore when I was hospitalized the third time for severe mastitis in her first six weeks. I’ve got a photo of her on my chest, head held up, nurses stunned she could already do that. I list it for $2.
* Dress my Godmother brought back from one of her trips to Puerto Escondido in Mexico. Not for sale.
 * Children’s place adjustable waist 18 mth ruffle jeans – $5
* Brown old navy winter baby boots 6-12 mths
* Matching Hawaiian  hat and onsie set (worn once for an island themed wedding right after she was born) $5
* Carter white spring sweater 9 mths (used for Easter & other special occasions, no stains) -$3
* Pink sweater, newborn, knitted for me by my grandmother who never learned to speak English & wanted my mother to name me Erika because the woman on the soap opera she couldn’t understand was glamorous & feisty, not for sale
* The yellow one she made me, not for sale
* 6-9 mth jeans with white dog embroidery. Not sure of brand. Perfect condition $2
* See Kai run black sandals sz 8-$10
* Open back summer dress top & ruffled diaper cover, white, no stains. Sz 3-6 mth (I should know when she wore this but maybe I shouldn’t. Dad died when she was 5 mths old. I’ll set this one in the maybe pile) Oh wait…never mind. We sold that one this afternoon.
* 1 Carter’s white newborn onsie. Still white. I promise this means we forgot to put this one on her and not that I bubble wrapped her through babyhood. 50 cents
* Make that 2 Carter’s unstained white newborn onsies for 50 cents each. 
* More handmade baby clothes. One for me by Guela. A few for baby by my sisters ex-mother-in-law. One outfit worn for hospital pics. None is for sale.
 * Newborn tee, super tiny, no sz, maybe hospital issued. Free with anything else you buy
* Gerber onsie, 0-3 mths, still white. I’m starting to wonder what small miracle allowed this to happen. She wore this one. I know she did. And yet I can’t keep a white t shirt stain free for longer than it takes me to cut the store tag off. I now have a complex.
* Random but not random pink flowered newborn summer romper & diaper cover. I don’t know when she wore this & that bothers me. But I need to put this one away for her with that little pile of memories to pass down one day
* 3-6 mth  cotton pants & matching hat. We’re keeping the shirt on the dog stuffed animal we made as a keepsake. Her name’s on it. I’m making myself be practical. Daffy never wore pants so I’m not allowing myself to keep those. See? Progress.
* Pink sweater for me by Guela. I see the photos of me wearing this in my mind. I see the ones of my child in the frames. Not for sale.
* 0-3 mth gender neutral sleeveless onsie. White. Stain free. I should maybe start going to church regularly again.
* 3 mth gender neutral white sleeper. I know I won’t get up in time for the Sunday morning mass. But Saturday at 5 pm is totally doable. Maybe. Fine. We all know I’m not going and spending the entire mass explaining to Buttercup that church and Easter egg hunts are not synonymous or the explicit difference between being Catholic and Mexican-Catholic…because there is.
* Gender neutral onsies of various sizing & hospital issued baby tee. All as a package. Now questioning why white is such a popular color for clothing meant for adorable little beings who live to eat, sleep, poop, & spit up.
* Pink frog face pre walkers (not in original packaging) sz 17 (euro)
* My baptismal bonnet. Wow.
* 12 mth turquoise tee. My dog Walks all over me.
You’ll buy it from us for your firstborn, still convinced your friends with older kids are all heartless bastards. *Your* dog will not get demoted. There will be 2 walks per day, trips to the dog park to socialize, & that Christmas stocking Will Get filled. The walk…right…. After you find something you can wear out of the house that doesn’t have spit up on it, the baby has woken from her nap, and you change because she spit up on you again. You give up & barely register the dog didn’t even get excited when you jingled the collar while there was still hope. But you tried. And your dog still loves you. I promise.
* Robeez pink pre walkers sz 0-6 mths. Loved this brand. You totally will too. You’re welcome.
There.
All listed and pretty on the private Facebook group saving me the headache of dealing with a garage sale.
And then The Husband comes home from work with news. We are being transferred to Maine for his job and it’s going to happen pretty quickly. It’s time to repack. And maybe I can buy enough gas to get us from Arizona to Maine after I sell the last seven bins full of the dreams.

 

Learning to Shout: In Which We Discuss The Triggers

I need to stop you before you start because if I don't, I'm leading you into a landmine without warning. What you are about to read (or quietly click away from should you decide that is best) is written in response to a news story about two kindergartners caught "having sex" in a school bathroom. If that sentence alone was triggering for you, please be kind to yourself and don't read any further. What I share was difficult to write if I stop to take into consideration the years it took to get to the point where just writing it seemed normal. I'm sure it's as difficult to read.

Just do me a favor, will ya? If we meet at a conference or speaking engagement and you want to thank me for the words you see, please know that my 6-year-old travels with me. We can talk and hug and sing Kumbaya, but just make sure it's just me first, okay?

 

I’m five. At last I think I am. A little boy I know is my hide-and-seek partner and we run off for one of our usual hiding spots. Our families are close, but it's the kind of closeness that makes grown-ups realize that it's our friends we get to choose. So we rationalize that the lack of actual blood relation makes it less bad to touch each other just because it feels good. We’re too young to feel guilty about it and we never talk about the fact that we both somehow know it’s supposed to be a secret because I’m not sure we understand why.

Sometimes I wonder how we learned this game. Today I just wonder how we are supposed to explain where are hands are when we are caught. Later I wonder only briefly about the twin bed being pushed against the wall, eliminating the hiding place. Much later, I wonder how much may have been avoided had therapy been an accepted part of dealing with obviously oversexed children who couldn’t explain how they got that way.

I'm terrified. I want nothing more than to fix the misstep before this one and the one before that until I can breathe again after having wiped the slate clean of any reason to be ashamed. I want to feel the relief I felt knowing that nothing more would come of the moment my mother and doctor stopped whispering about why I had jumped on to the exam table, laid on my back and spread my legs wide open for a rash he needed to look at on my bottom. I wasn't supposed to have done that, you know. I don't remember why but I do remember the slowing of my heartbeat and the sudden ability to breathe normally after overcompensating on the kindergarten antics to distract the doctor as I flipped onto my tummy. I giggled. I made jokes. I felt the doctor let the question in his mind sweep itself away.

And then I felt safe.

I never ask if my parents were told and they never bring it up if they were. I don’t connect the less frequent joint weekends because I'm a kid and I'm not ready to give up my presents from Santa yet. We see each other at birthday parties for friends and cousins and cousins of friends and here we are at another one.

I am wearing a blue dress that I love but itches my skin on the inside and white tights and a pair of shiny, black Mary Janes. My kinky hair, which falls midway down my back when wet, has been arranged into two braids, each hanging down from above my ears. There are balloons to sit on and pop for a prize and piñatas and cake and an the boy I now and and older boy I don't. We walk to an upstairs bedroom where I somehow understand I am to lie back on a table and let them do things I can’t remember exactly except for the older boy being on top of me because my mind learned to disconnect from my body long before I learned my ABC’s.

Magically, we are downstairs again and no one asks any of us where we were or what we were doing because there is no reason to. Nor is there any reason to blame any of the adults present for missing what isn't obvious at all no matter how so it may seem to the opinionated outsider. Every adult and every child present was on familiar territory and no one ever had to ask where the bathroom was because we already knew. Another day. Another boy. A cousin, I think, maybe just a bit older than I am. It's hot outside so we are inside, playing in the cool dark of the basement while my mother does housework upstairs and plays with my little sisters. My memory is choppy and I only recall the cold feeling of the concrete floor on my back and him on top and just as quickly, we are pulling up our shorts and my mother is calling our names and it's time for peanut butter sandwiches. He never comes over to play with me again. 

My daughter -- she's six -- and she's the Because to my Why. When she was born I was reviewing car seats and blinged-out pacifiers on a blog I don't bother including on my resume. The words I share for me I share because of her. Because she thinks horses have to get married to have babies together and because she thinks little boys and girls used to be wishes sitting on stars until their moms and dads wished them true. When a little boy she is friends with was kicked in the crotch by his sister, she told me with all the certainty in the world that her friend -- the boy -- had just been kicked in the vagina. It's because of my daughter and her innocence that I came to realize how truly fucked up my own childhood was. I simply should not have known the things I did at her age. And neither should the boys I was with. But we did, and we aren't the only ones.

It's not a pretty topic, is it? Hypersexual children and peer sexual abuse  are words laced with implied guilt on the part of the adult who was supposed to be in charge. They point the finger away from the problem instead of directing us to it. There's shame for the children and shame for the adults and sometimes it's just easier to hope the kids forget and sweep that nasty little set of memories under the rug. It's easy enough when these things happen amongst family and friends.

But what happens if two five-year-olds are caught "having sex" in the class bathroom by their kindergarten teacher? And what happens if the teacher, Kathy Mascio, reports it, not stopping to think of how doing so will reflect on her own abilities as a teacher? It's easier and more comfortable for us to point the blame and shift the focus than it is to think about a little boy and a little girl with at least a general understanding of how sex actually works.

None of us know exactly what the children were doing at the time their teacher found them, but we do know that the teacher immediately went to her principal who then contacted authorities because we all know that was the right thing to do. Now she's in danger of losing her job and that seems to be the focus of almost every news story I've read since yesterday  (and that includes the comments). It's all What she didn't do and should have done are what the media focuses on because we are not emotionally ready to think about our children as sexual beings because they shouldn't be  -- not yet.

While experts are weighing in on the situation with their thoughts, no one can provide anything more educated than a guess about what actually happened in that bathroom. All anyone knows for sure is that the naked kindergartners told their teacher they had been having sex when they were discovered. Whether that means they simply looked at each other or if physical contact occurred, we don't know, but we'd sure as hell like to know what exactly in these children's' lives that sparked the classroom incident. Somewhere, somehow, these children were exposed. Why isn't that the focus?

Information is not going to move quickly. The two children involved are very obviously minors and are most likely in individual therapy to figure out what did happen, and how to help them heal. Hyper-sexual children and peer sexual abuse are not topics we often see in the headlines, and uncomfortable or not, it's time we stop whispering when we should be shouting.

Memories, wishes, & assholes

 

We've lived in this house since May of 2013. We aren't even close to being  completely organized. Our basement is a mess of boxes and garbage bags full of out of season clothing and stuffed animals Eliana has outgrown. If we're missing anything from our last move (the fifth in four years), we wouldn't know it.

Our old landlord called yesterday to let us know we had left a box behind and was kind enough to meet The Husband to hand it off yesterday. Inside, we found memories we didn't realize were missing.

There's one of me at 21. The  Boyfriend that eventually became The Husband had whisked me away for our first romantic weekend getaway to Mackinac Island. Truth? Yes, it was a weave and no, he didn't know it yet. When the truth eventually came out, he was visibly relieved. Turns out the tracks connecting the weave to my scalp had left a lot of unanswered questions in those wild with abandon moments during which he ran his fingers through my hair.

Monkey toes.

She was so tiny when she was born. Long little limbs. The longest fingers and toes I have ever seen on a newborn attached to the daintiest pudge-free baby feet ever to have existed. She was six pounds and 21 inches with a perfectly round head that made everyone who saw her assume she was a c-section (she wasn't).

I remember looking at this picture when I first saw the proof. It took a minute to realize that my baby's ankle was positioned just above my arm and her toes stretched far below.

"We've given birth to a monkey, I think."

And the nickname stuck.

 

My mother's parents were killed in a car accident on their way back from a trip to Mexico when I was 10-months-old. My grandfather had been a native of Guadalajara (which, I guess, explains my hair), and my grandmother had been American-born but raised, for part of her childhood, in northern Mexico. My mother  was supposed to have gone on that trip with her parents but had decided at the last minute to stay home. I was just baby; too young to leave with family.

At 19, my mother buried her parents.

I lived in my paternal grandparents' home in Detroit for the first three years of my life with my own mother and father. My mom likes to tell the stories like how my Guelo was feeding me beans and rice at six-months-old and how I called my Guela "Mom" and called my mother "Dorothy." I remember going to Bingo with Guela and I remember translating an entire conversation between my grandmother and a postal worker dropping off a package while home alone with her one afternoon.

My grandmother died when I was six, leaving my sisters and me with one grandparent. He was  just over  five-feet-tall and was a big, round belly. In my entire memory, he is retired, always balding, with sharp, hazel-green eyes. His voice is gruff, his English choppy and so heavily accented it's impossible to understand. He commands respect and once drove an old station wagon and had a dog he called Come Cuando Hay which literally means "Eats When There Is." Every Sunday we ate dinner at Tia and Tio's house and every Sunday, Guelo left with a bag of bones and meat scraps and leftover beans and arroz. That's when Come Cuando Hay could eat because there was.

Guelo called us his cabronas. His little assholes. To me, that's just proof that anything in Spanish can be made into a term of endearment if said with love and a smile.

Andale, mis hermosas cabronitas.

Come on over here, my beautiful little assholes.

And there it was.

Love and a smile.

From Nothing

 

I tried planning ahead this year. Working from home while homeschooling and trying to keep up with the laundry usually means everything is last minute and so many things get pushed off until tomorrow. Or the next day. And then the day after that. I had planned to met my deadlines a week early and enjoy this week with my little family and some close friends. The house was going to be clean and the Christmas menu set and the food prepared so all I had to worry about was what to do with the leftovers.

We never got to that part.

I got the flu. The kind that came out of nowhere and hit my like a frat party hangover. Suddenly the world was spinning and my head was too heavy for my neck to lift. I sat there breathing slow and shallow breaths like the kind usually reserved for labor pains. The column I had started working on was put on hold as The Husband silently took away the Macbook and I shuffled off to bed. Tomorrow, I told myself. One day wouldn't change anything.

Three days later I was still sleeping more than I was conscious, burning up even when the thermometer didn't register a temp. Every breath felt like fire in my lungs. My body ached. The Husband took to sleeping in Eliana's room on her tiny little twin bed, hoping ti avoid the plague, while my little shadow crawled into our big queen and snuggled up next to me every evening. "I'm taking care of you," she told me. "Don't worry. I'll hug you all night so you feel better."

By focusing on me, she was letting herself forget the suitcase she had packed in her room. The one full of randomly selected clothing and toys and even her toothbrush and toothpaste for her "trip" to see her Guela in Detroit. My mom had moved with us to Tucson when Eliana was 18 months old and lived with us for three years. When she moved out, Eliana was lost, but the presence of a very close-knit friendship circle did wonders for soothing her anxieties. Then we moved again and this time, Eliana was old enough to miss those we left behind and want so very badly to wave a magic wand and instantly recreate something out of nothing in our new home. Northern Maine is beautiful. We love it. But it can also be a little lonely when it's time to explain to a child that making friends takes time. Making friends that become family takes even longer.

So she packed her suitcase and pretended she was taking a magic airplane to see her grandma and would be back on Christmas morning in time to open gifts. I was the flight attendant. Her daddy was the cab driver. And then for the entire day before I got sick, I was my mother and our home became her home and I wished so very badly for Santa to fit a new friend-family under our tree. And then I couldn't move without the world spinning and her make-believe was forgotten because Mama had the flu and Daddy was either working or trying to help out when he got home and she dealt with it by comforting herself by comforting me and I love her for it.

Day four was better. I was able to get out of bed. The world was still again. My body ached and I moved slowly, but I was out of the woods and still planned to get those fucking deadlines met and out of the way. We were going to make cookies, dammit. And drive around to see Christmas lights. And play board games and listen to Christmas music and drink hot chocolate. And then on my birthday, we were going to drive the two hours to Bangor for the sales and a movie and a birthday dinner. That was the plan. Then the plan changed again.

Both Eliana and The Husband got knocked senseless by the same flu I had just weathered. My laptop sat open and waiting as the laundry piled up and the sink over-filled with mugs from tea with honey and hot toddies and broth. I didn't shower because I was too busy shoveling snow, carrying more logs inside to keep both woodstoves piping hot for heat, and making sure my husband and daughter stayed hydrated. I took their temperatures and grabbed my keys to drive to Walmart for Nyquil for The Husband and more albuterol for Eliana's nebulizer and learned I wasn't going anywhere until I shoveled away the snow the plow driver had piled four feet high against the garage door.

Christmas did happen, though. They opened their gifts from the sofa bed. Santa was nice this year, even if he didn't get a chance to tackle that last request from me. Eliana was well enough to get out of bed and play with her new toys but the suitcase stayed packed because she's not done imagining her grandmother closer.  And The Husband apologized for not being able to take me out for my birthday. I told him to shut up and just feel better.

Today was my birthday. I spent it taking care of my patients and picking up more prescriptions. We ate leftovers and the sink is still full and the laundry untouched. Then I made homemade pumpkin ice cream floats and they sang Happy Birthday to me before our ice-cream melted and we watched Mary Poppins and my laptop sat, waiting just a while longer, while plans were ditched in favor of The Moment that was right there for us to grab on to.

"I'm sorry about your birthday," The Husband told me before he dragged himself back to bed.

"Don't be," I told him. "We're together."

Waffles for Breakfast

It’s impossible to always put yourself first…

but poisonous to always put yourself last.

Those words are by my friend, Jenni Chiu. I found them tonight and I'm sharing them with you now, partly because they need to be shared.

Mostly because I needed the reminder myself.

I'm in a weird place right now. I'm not even sure of the words to use to describe it, which doesn't happen very often. All I know is I keep hoping that tomorrow the veil I can't shake will have lifted. I want to see the sun again and feel it on my face.

I want to stop being the reason The Husband worries.

I want to stop being tired all the time and remember what it feels like to revel in my once-regular workout routine because I know it makes me feel good.

What I don't want is for Christmas to be a giant farce wrapped in pretty paper, because right now, that's what it's turning out to be. The Christmas cards went out. The gifts are under the tree. Santa's ready. I know Christmas morning will be magical for her. Her magic is my own.  But I want my own groove back.

When I wake up to find my daughter quietly playing in her room, her breakfast dishes in the sink, and the opened cereal box on the kitchen counter because she knows Mama needed sleep, I vow to sleep like normal people do and wake (like normal people do) with (or even before) my child. I'll start tomorrow. Then I'll start the next day. And then it's 3:30 a.m. and I've accomplished nothing. I climb into bed, drawing myself close to the warmth of my husband's body, and fall asleep before I can worry about everything I still have left to do.

She asked for waffles the other day. I made them for lunch. But I know it's not the same.

I'm going to be 36 soon. The new year is almost upon us. There's a promise in every tomorrow. I know all of these things. I just don't feel them right now. Maybe it's something in the water. Or maybe I'm seeing so many friends writing about how they are pulling themselves through this holiday season just barely because so many of my friends are writers now and this is just how we process. I'm not sure. What I do know is I see myself in their words. Maybe you see yourself in mine.

We're mothers. We're women. We're tired but don't want to be.

We're doing what needs to be done for others. We're wishing we didn't feel guilty for even considering that we must also do what we want for ourselves.

We push ourselves relentlessly because we've learned to balance the weight of the world on our shoulders and don't know how to deal with the sense of lightness that comes when anyone else tries to lift it because that is what we would do for those that we love. The problem is that we don't know how to handle taking the time we need for ourselves to just breathe and do for ourselves before we find ourselves running on empty.

The Stupid Sister

Can I call your sister stupid? No? Does that bother you? I'm not sure why, seeing as how you don't even like your her. You tell anyone who will listen and rarely go home for holidays. What? What was that? Oh, so you think your sister is stupid? So what's the problem? Why is it that, even if you agree wholeheartedly with my sentiments, that it seems somehow inappropriate for anyone other than yourself to comment on the obvious lack of intellect with which your loved ones were gifted?

You're mumbling. I didn't quite catch that? Oh, you don't know why? That's just the way it is? You don't take too kindly to others doing the name calling? She's your family, not mine? I can think it but I'd better not say it?

Okay then. I'll play nice. But turnabout is fair play, my friend. I'll respect your right and your family and keep my jokes to myself if you can stop being an idiot about a teensy weensy little issue I happen to be dealing with, myself. I have to admit that I'm even embarrassed to be bringing it up, but I guess it's better to get it all out in the open, right?

I'm not trying to be overly sensitive. But you know about the bulimia and the body image issues and the whole body image cheer-leading train I've jumped on, right? I'm not here just to blow sunshine up other people's asses, my friend. I'm here to help me by helping others because that, in that Circle of Life Kind of Way, helps me continue to help because that's usually how this shit works; Yin & Yang and all that jazz.

So when I see careless social media updates making light of eating disorders, even if they aren't meant to hurt my feelings because you'd never dream of doing that, I get a bit pissy. And then I get pissy that your words got under my skin because if I'd never stuck my fingers down my throat to let the feelings I couldn't deal with just fucking escape already, I'd probably be laughing with you and everyone else who doesn't get it. I'm jealous that you don't understand and can laugh.

I'm mad that I do and I can't.

I'm not 'bulimic'. I'm a 'conscientious recycler of edible organic material.' -- says Nobody In Particular.

I had to read that twice to make sure I understood it. Then I got mad. And even madder still when I realized I wanted to ask you if you ever actually had been bulimic because if you are or were or were planning on starting tonight, then, in a darkly comedic and self-deprecating kind of way, your joke would be funny. It would be...

...acceptable.

Can you maybe follow up with a disclaimer? No...actually it's probably better that you don't. I'm not sure how either answer would make me feel. If you made the joke because Bulimia is your stupid sister, I will smile and laugh with you.

Secret Hand Shake In The Club.

If Bulimia isn't even a distant cousin, I'm happy for you for not ever having dealt with the emotional hell that comes with internalizing everything to the point of food and self becoming the enemy. But I'm also pissed because that means you called my stupid sister stupid.

Even if she is.

 

Cantando con Orgullo: Singing with Pride

I know....I speak Spanish kind-of-sort-of-fluently and the Spanish word for Pride has always thrown me for a loop. But that's not why I'm here today.

I'm here to sing. Sing badly and with pride.

You see, there's been a lot of flack being thrown at Latinos singing a pretty little song called God Bless America. I wrote about that here in my weekly online Dimelo column on Latina magazine's website. One company, Bebe Lanugo, has decided to make some noise by encouraging American Latinos and their families to join in on their Cantando con Orgullo initiative and I happen to love the idea. I wrote about that one here, too.

Now, it seems I may have missed the boat on submitting my contribution to Bebe Lanugo for inclusion in the final video so I'm going with plan B and embarrassing myself (proudly, thank you very much) right here.

Eliana loved learning the words to God Bless America. And I'll explain to her a little later why being Patriotic with a Tan caused a public uproar to begin with. For now, we focus on being proud to be American because that's all that really matters.

Choose Your Word

I recently had the chance to hang out with Holly Fulger and friends (and fellow Speaking of Beauty contributing writers) in Holly's home in L.A. Don't freak out if you happen to be aware of The Cali Curse and the Me Being Banned from Ever Stepping Foot NEAR Cthe State of California thing. At least, not yet. I may eventually need to have a shaman clear me for seeing Holly in person, but right now it's all Google Hangout, but you're safe for now.

The purpose of our chat was to discuss the focus of our writing for Speaking of Beauty as Holly moves forward in her vision and her mission to grow the conversation of beauty, perception, and self-acceptance. That sounds a lot like Girl Body Pride, with my own personal flavor, of course, and I think it's why Holly and I were naturally drawn to each other. This, people, is one of the reasons I love social media. Pretty sure there's no way in hell there's any other way Regular Me would end up anywhere on Hollywood Actress Holly's radar without my iPhone in my bra, twitter, and 140 characters. And here I was helping Holly lead a group discussion focused on writing, inspiration, and sharing ourselves and our stories with the women looking to see themselves in our words.

Our conversation was incredible, the group is amazing, and even Eliana had a chance to sit on my lap and say hello to Holly, as she will soon be joining the ranks as an official contributor to the site. I just need to remember to drink an espresso before the next time we get together, and perhaps write up a few bullet points to stay on track, because I'm pretty sure I gave the impression that I like sniffing glue.

Other than that, I learned I'm inspiring.

It's my word.

Speaking of Beauty features a Style Profile Test designed by Holly and business partner Melissa McNamara. The idea is pretty simple: Choose your word and find your essence. Holly and Melissa plan to launch a makeup line in the near future and the style profile is meant to help women realize that beauty truly is an inside job by first defining themselves before defining their style.

Choose your word and find yourself. Are you an Inpsirer? A Seeker? A Dreamer? a Leader? or a Thinker?

 

GROUP 1                                                                                                                               Visionary, Inventive, Original, Authentic, Spontaneous, Unconventional, Sexy, Outgoing, Idealistic, Inspiring, Stylish, Motivating, Exciting, Influential    YOUR WORD___________

GROUP 2                                                                                                                                 Curious, Funny, Natural, Musical, Entertaining, Joyous, Playful,Whimsical, Eccentric, Vibrant, Artistic, Blithe, Vivacious, Creative                                                                    YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 3                                                                                                                      Caring, Gentle, Peaceful, Graceful, Spiritual, Deep, Source, Ageless, Classic, Serene, Balanced, Soulful, Ethereal, Still                                                                                                         YOUR WORD ____________

GROUP 4                                                                                                                          Passionate, Powerful, Independent, Commanding, Adventurous, Fearless, Bold, Athletic, Brave, Risk-Taking, Heroic, Confident, Indomitable, Forceful                                           YOUR WORD____________

GROUP 5                                                                                                                        Strong, Rational, Wise, Centered, Honest, Elegant, Prosperous, Logical, Focused, Loyal, Determined, Organized, Striking, Driven                                                                            YOUR WORD____________

WHAT ARE YOUR 5 WORDS?   __________,  _________,  ________, _________,   ___________

NOW CHOOSE 3 __________,   ___________,    ___________

NOW CHOOSE 1 __________

 

My 5: Inspiring, Creative, Deep, Bold, Driven

My 3: Inspiring, Creative, Driven

 

My Word: Inspiring

 

 

According to the Style Test on Speaking of Beauty, Inspirers are visionaries, idealistic, and spontaneous.

 

Inspirers stand out from the rest. Others follow you and the influence that you embody is very compelling. Your look has been designed to accentuate the aspects of your visionary nature. Since you are unafraid to take chances, a bold palette has been created. The Inspirer’s strength and sense of purpose can be conveyed by strong colors, a distinctive eye, and a defined lip. -- Speaking of Beauty

 

That sounds about right.

Me? I like my red lipstick.

You? What's your word?

Find it. Then go out and live it.

 

 

 

Does the Media Get the Blame for Eating Disorders?

A friend recently sent me a link to an article on Ed Bites regarding the author’s thoughts on the media and eating disorders. The article, to be published in Emirates Woman magazine, is well-written, thought-provoking, and importantly (to me, anyway) written from personal experience.

The author, Carrie Arnold, recounts her own experience as an anorexic in treatment. When handed a sheet of stickers and a stack of magazines as a project for a body image group. The stickers were to be used by the patients to label the images of models and celebrities either with a smiley face promoting a healthy body image or a frowny face pointing the finger of blame at the image (and by default, the media as a whole), for promoting eating disorders.

Says Arnold on her blog, Ed Bites: {the latest tasty tidbits in eating disorder science}:

“I was no stranger to advertising. No one really is. But I knew that most ads were digitally altered and that bodies – real bodies – didn’t look a thing like what was portrayed on the pages of glossy magazines. Weighing roughly half of what I currently do, what I did know was that I was terrified of food and eating. Consuming more than the bare minimum of calories left me feeling dirty, and I felt oddly compelled to purge the extra calories via exercise or other methods. 

“Although I couldn’t see it in the mirror, I knew, on some level, that I had long since passed even the most whacked-out culture’s definition of ‘thin’. I didn’t want to look like a model – I’m a geek, not a fashionista. I wasn’t attractive, all sallow-skinned and bony, and I didn’t care. Starving myself was the only way that I could turn down the cacophony in my head. The less I ate and the less I weighed, the quieter my anxious thoughts got. Fashion never crossed my mind.”

And I get that. I’m a self-described life-long recovering bulimic. I was hiding in my parents’ pantry at the age of seven binge eating long before I knew the term and condition was one recognized by medical professionals and at the age of 15, took a news special on a woman treating teens with eating disorders as a “how to”. I was home alone and had been eating mindlessly all evening. At 5’6”, I was curvy but athletically built, wore a size 10, played varsity tennis, and thought I was fat. Random attempts to “become” anorexic had failed horribly and only proved to my warped sense of thinking that I had no self control. Binging, I learned that night, was what I had been doing most of my life, which only served to stuff down and quiet the chaos in my mind.

The answer I had been looking for

Purging was the release I had been looking for. As a first generation Mexican-American, I grew up observing the fine art of Not Acknowledging the Obvious like brides pregnant months before their wedding dates were to take place and family happily ignoring the fact that the premature baby born healthy and adorably chubby. Alcoholics weren’t alcoholics if they didn’t go to meetings and as long as I remembered to not throw up oranges in the shower, I didn’t have to avoid eye contact with my parents after they found the evidence i had forgotten about on the drain.

As Arnold points out in her article, it is very easy to see how the media and the models and celebrities portrayed take the brunt of the blame for “causing” eating disorders. Everything is photo-shopped. Headlines boast the Secrets to a Perfect Body and tell us How to Lose 20 Pounds by Labor Day in issues released just weeks before the actual holiday. And every Hollywood mom seems to either be under contract to drop the baby weight in six weeks, pose in a bikini, and show us how we can do it, too, or become the newest spokesperson for whichever major weight loss program hands them the biggest contract to sign. The message seems loud and clear: Perfection is at the finish line and you better work your ass off to get there before you have the right to feel good about yourself.
This video on YouTube by Aceygirl17 serves as a perfect example.

 

But is the media at fault?

Yes.

And No.

As Arnold says, compliments from strangers on how skinny she was may have given her a temporary boost, but they didn’t fuel the need to continue with her disordered behavior. I can relate to that, too. I never once looked at a magazine or a celebrity and thought myself less. My mindset was obviously disordered to begin with. If the media did cause eating disorders, every single person watching the same news special I did would suddenly have jumped off the deep end and embraced anorexia and/or bulimia just like I did.

“So what’s the big deal? Why does it matter what causes eating disorders? For one, it affects who we think are at risk and how quickly they are diagnosed… If we think eating disorders are the preserve of vain women, we are less likely to view them as requiring treatment and more likely to blame the victim. No, we can’t just snap out of it and, although normalising nutrition is crucial, eating a cheeseburger won’t cure us.”— Ann Arnold, Ed Bites. 

Changing our focus

No, we can’t snap out of it. Eating a cheeseburger won’t cure an anorexic and learning the definition of self control won’t suddenly help a bulimic figure out how to diet. Similarly, a society hell-bent on proving a market exists for glossy magazine covers of photo-shopped and over-sexed female celebrities and models is doing nothing more than giving the media reason to continue on the current path. If this shit sells, you can bet your ass it’s going to be printed. And while I firmly believe that the media is at least responsible for fueling body image issues in both susceptible children, teens, women and men, I can’t say the media has the power to turn a non-disordered person into an eating disordered mess.

Yes, the media plays a role in how we as a society have come to define beauty in ourselves and others. And as Arnold notes, printing celebrities and their own eating disordered struggles in the “style” section of their publications only trivialize the issue and reinforce the myth that eating disorders are a choice. That, my friends, is complete and utter bullshit.

So who do we blame?

No one, Everyone. Ourselves. Our mothers. The doctor who sent in a nutritionist with a pamphlet on the food pyramid when I was 16 and settled on telling her I couldn’t stick to a diet because I choked on the word “bulimia.”

“The girl thinks she has an eating disorder because she can’t stick to a diet,” I heard her say to the nutritionist in the hallway. “Send her home with this. I’ve got to get back to work.”

Okay, fine. That doctor I actually do blame for choosing to dismiss a cry for help. But is blaming her, or The Biggest Loser, going to help those already suffering? No. It’s not.

Does that mean the media is off the hook?

Not by any means. The media might not be the reason those of us unfortunate enough to have our brains wired in such a way that disordered eating behaviors actually make sense, but there have been plenty of times I have been written about my own good days being ruined by checkout lane headlines telling me I have no right to feel good about myself until I’ve managed to get my ass into the same bikini I wore before I got pregnant almost six years ago.

I’ll give The Powers that Be a pass on my disorder. But I’m holding the media responsible for perpetuating a false ideal of perfection, creating an environment in which our daughters (and sons) are learning to hate their bodies while they should still be playing with their imaginary friends, and reinforcing the belief that self-worth is based on a number on a scale. Eating disordered or not, that line of bullshit is the reason so many of us think happiness isn’t a right we deserve, but one we earn when the scale, the salesgirl, and Other People say we have.

I’m not good with that. I truly believe that until we learn to accept and love ourselves as just the way we are right now, none of us is going to find anything other than a skinner version of ourselves who happens to still hate who we are and what we see in the mirror.

Your job begins now

This is where you take responsibility, my friends.

If you felt good until you picked up that copy of whatever glossy magazine it was that gave you a complex and suddenly had you reaching for a bag of chips out of despair, stop buying, reading, or watching what is obviously a trigger for you. The stories might still sell. The stars might still be selling weight loss programs post-baby because we have turned yesterday’s A-listers into today’s headline just so we can talk about what they’ve gained and how quickly they’ve lost it. Turn your focus inward and focus on changing what you can (how you feel about and perceive your self and body image) and just ignore the rest because it’s not going away anytime soon. We live in a body-conscious time where numbers are given more value than self-perception and worth.

If you need help for an eating disorder or body image issues, seek it out. NOW. If you feel comfortable, share your story and let others know it's okay to do the same. I applaud Arnold for doing so.

So where does that leave us?

Shut out the noise. Fix the mess inside your head. Then let the rest fall into place.

Exercise & the Eating Disordered Mind

 

I just had a 20 minute argument with The Husband about his need to be excited about EXERCISE and GOING PALEO because he just read A BOOK and now he sees the proverbial light. He wants EXERCISE and is full of suggestions for what I NEED TO DO and and it's all in the book (which I have promised to read) and LET'S GO, TEAM!!!

It's probably a good time to point out that I can't eat anything that isn't Paleo anyway and am allergic to most of the Paleo diet. I read the things he is reading now last year and saw the light with regard to how my own body responds to sugars and carbs and grains (not realizing allergic issues played a serious role, also) and then got pissed off when the doctors told me I can't eat eggs because there went most of my meal plan. In any case, I am happy he's now understanding things I have been saying for so long but I'm also not able to explain to Captain Cheerleader that I don't respond well to the RAH RAH RAH when I'm just keeping my head above water. Here's the problem: I am eating disordered.

My Body Image issues are fucked on a level I can't even understand, and I carry an epi pen for the very food allergies which I ignore when my brain is in self sabotage mode. I need to be active without thinking it's EXERCISE because if it's EXERCISE my mind will shut down and I will swan dive into a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

Ice skating is the perfect example of something I can do without feeling like I'm doing anything at all. Just to get an idea, I did plug in my current estimated weight (I don't know the actual number because it's a trigger for me) and figured out that an hour of recreational skating was more than enough to feel good about. I just started and love it. My legs hate me when I'm done, but I can do it and I go back for more. Yoga is the next step back to normal. Once I am one with my Ohm I can breathe in some serenity and move on to Zumba or something else I know I enjoy and can stick to and that isn't just EXERCISE! I love this man, but how do I explain to someone who has no concept of an eating disordered mind trying to claw it's way back to normal that there is absolutely NO FUCKING WAY I am lunging from the kitchen to the living room because it's simple and easy to do because it's not just going to be something I'll stick to. I'd pay lip service. I'd go for the "college try."

And I'd put on a pretty decent show before falling flat on my ass, figuratively speaking, because I'm not going to stick to lunging from one room in my house to another because I didn't want to do it in the first place. It's just an open invite for the next pity party to start before the celebration even got a chance to kick off.

It's gotta be one step at a time. My therapist nodded today when I explained to her how if I focus on anything 0ther than how I feel, I'm back at square one and square one tastes like brownies. She's only been seeing me a short time, but she at least pretended to understand with a thoughtful nod and well-timed chuckle. The Husband, however, is at a loss for what to do.

He is excited because he wants to support me. He is excited because he loves me. He is excited because EXERCISE isn't a bad word to him. He's I love him. I love his support. And I understand his concern. I also want to strangle him whenever he gets all Pollyanna on me and starts chirping about EXERCISE and then gets all annoyed when I glare at him for being an asshole.

Okay. No. I get it. He's not being an asshole. He's trying to help me.

But sometimes his idea of help is getting all I CAN FIX THIS and YOU JUST NEED TO STOP THINKING THE WAY YOU DO because he is the kind of person who has the mental strength to make things happen just by thinking them. I love that about him. I also hate that 1) My mind doesn't work like that and 2) I wish it did.

But then, if I saw things the way he did, I wouldn't be referring to myself as a life-long recovering bulimic, would I? And if he did get it, that would mean he saw the word EXERCISE the way I did, for the same reasons I did, and we'd both be a raging mess.

I'm pretty sure he is right and I argued illogical things because that kind of goes par with the course. But the fact remains that I know myself. And right now, it's one step at a time. If I jump into the deep end before I've even gathered the strength to tread water for a sustained period of time, I'm just going to end up letting myself sink. And I don't intend to let that happen anytime soon. So we argue. About the inside of my head. Because I can't explain. Because he loves me. Because I feel like an asshole for not being as excited as he is about EXERCISE because the word leads me down a worm hole of calories burned and weight lost and BMI and self worth and you're a fat ass and here's a brownie and Ben & Jerry's is NOT a single serving food and then I find myself hitting bottom again, wondering how the hell I got there and cursing yo-yos.

And there's that epi pen in my purse to think about. I just fixed my head again. I'm working on the rest of me. I just need time to move out of this fog and into the place where EXERCISE isn't a bad word. I'm not there yet. And it makes him mad because he only sees the woman he married fighting his support and concern. It makes me mad that I can't explain it without turning into a five year old with my arms crossed yelling I DON'T WANNA! But that's where I'm at and that's where it is and he loves me and we argue. And he thinks I'm blocking him and I explain that no, I'm actually not because blocking would be nodding my head like I'm okay with everything he is saying and all for it and then dipping into the Hershey candy bar stash we have in the pantry for his work lunches after he's gone to bed. Me arguing? Me bristling in front of him and telling him to shut up and just listen and let me grab my ice skates and head for the rink for open skate time? Me telling him that I'm not lunging in the house just for the sake of lunging in the house because lean muscle mass matters? Me rolling my eyes and calling him an asshole for not understanding?

People? That's progress. That's communication. That's me not bullshitting and then closet-eating with the chocolate I'm allergic to. Because my body doesn't function well with sugar. Because I am allergic to the world. Because I function best on a strict paelo diet not because it's a diet but because that's how my body needs to be be nourished.

Because I am eating disordered. And because I'm trying to focus on loving myself just the way I am and then starting over every time the sun rises.

So he goes to bed. Not understanding.

And for that, I am grateful because that means he's still going to push and I'll continue to push back.

Every time he pushes, I'll push back.

And become stronger for it.

 

Why I Write NonFiction

My child is driving me batty. The Husband doesn't understand this, of course, but he also didn't understand why I started crying when the ultrasound tech told me I was having a girl, either. The bottom line was, quite frankly, that raising me almost broke my mother and I was feeling preemptively sorry for myself.

I love my girl. With a fierceness that explains all that Mama Bear protecting her cub stuff. Think Merida and Queen Elinor in Brave. Think of your own girl and how you love her and are drove to banging your head into a wall in what probably equates to an even 50/50 split.

Think of all of the parenting milestones that no one ever tells you about. Like how one day your sweet little girl, bedecked in bows and too much pink, will suddenly (and without warning) outgrow crabby into bratty then boom--bratty morphs into bitchy and you're left wondering how in hell you're going to survive when the child who is five realizes she has hormones and starts trying to negotiate for a later curfew and the keys to the car.

The Husband is clueless. The child is pouting and pissy and arguing everything you say for the sake of arguing before she realizes she's totally against no TV for a week, no iPad for two, and has no interest in that pony you were going to buy her tomorrow just because and then you have to try not to laugh because it was funny even if she's now pissed off even more that you are the meanest mom ever because you won't buy her a fucking pony.

So you open up your browser, log into Facebook, and tell perfect strangers who sometimes get it more than those that know you ever will how your day is going. And this is what it looks like.

The End.

Mexican Musings from Maine

 

A text to a friend:

 

"Snow shoed. Finger knitted. Watched the plow truck get plowed out of our driveway by a construction plow, the fed ex guy park behind the plow truck while still stuck and jog through 50 yards of foot deep snow carrying packages under one arm like it was a Sunday jog, and grilled salmon on the deck while my kid played in the snow for an hour after snow shoeing. Just your regular winter night in Maine."

 

Her response:

Let me know when your column launches.

 

Okay.

Challenge accepted.

In Which We Say to Hell with Resolutions

 

 

I don't do resolutions. Not usually, anyway. In my mind, resolution has always been a fancy way of saying "This Explains Aqua Net and The Bangs Wave in Middle School." Yes, a New Year is upon us, but most of us won't notice since check writing went by the wayside when smartphones and banks started going steady and writing the wrong year in the date line isn't a thing anymore.

What we will notice is the sudden influx of newspaper articles and magazine covers telling us How to Lose Those Holiday Pounds and New Year? New You! articles and blog posts that are meant to inspire us into losing the weight we put on between Thanksgiving and Today because we humans like to celebrate with food made up of easily applied labels for convenient headline writing like the Rich Fudge Brownie that morphs into Bad Brownie, BAD and Other Mantras To Repeat While Sweating Our Asses off in Spin Class.

Or Mom's Lasagna becomes Motivation for Sticking to Your Resolutions.

And you look in the mirror and hate what you see and promise to love what you will become and all of it feels right and okay and you don't even think twice about talking about your fat ass and muffin top in front of your children because of the Aqua Net and Bangs Wave in Middle School. Thing is, many of us won't stick to whatever promise we paid lip service to. I'm not judging. I'm not pointing fingers. Remember, I don't do resolutions because I'm the one relating with you, right? Exactly. I'm merely pointing out that you will have long given up on trying to look like everyone else at the exact same time so you can cross that finish line together and high five and then start all over when the Halloween candy hits the shelves in August because that's the cycle so many of us fall into.

Well, screw that.

No. No.

Fuck that.

This year, I'm trowing away the hairspray. I'm kicking my foot through the mirror. I'm dropping my scale in the trash. And I'm giving the middle finger to every media reference to Why I Am Not Good Enough Until because I.Am.Good.Enough.NOW, dammit.

I'm not making resolutions. Instead, I'm making Declarations that do not include an expiration date. I am stating Intentions for Inner Peace and standing on my soap box and speaking my Truth because resolutions are made to be broken and I'm broken enough already. I'd rather work on putting myself back together on my own terms and in my own way.

So here's my List Declarations of Intention and Truth for 2013 and the rest of my life. Let's sit down, read up, and then and sing Kumbaya in rounds while we tell each other how beautiful our spirits are because it's all about being there for each other, y'all.

 

List of Declarations of Intention and Truth for 2013

* Before I start making resolutions to "better" myself, I will change my focus and make one to accept, love, & cherish myself as I am.

* I shall forgo any and all post holiday diets and shirk any health goals directly related to how "bad" I was over the holidays because food only carries the connotations, which we seem to willingly give.

* I shall refocus my health intentions, should I have any in mind, to be centered directly on how I feel physically and emotionally because I treat my body right when I feel good about myself. End.of.Story.

* I will ignore the media and its incessant people watching, paparazzi obsessed culture, which only serves to spread the false and unattainable ideals of perfection, thereby putting undo pressure on women of all ages to conform to a singular idea of how we should look and for which our musculature may not even fit. Unless I'm blogging, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, or in line at the grocery store to buy milk and I see a headline that pisses me off. Then? It' s on, bitches.

* I shall refrain from using phrases like "I hate my ass" and "Wow, that's a lot of fucking cellulite" when I happen to catch naked glimpses of myself in the mirror, especially when the five-year-old is anywhere withing hearing distance. What I say about myself is just as important as what she think about herself because what she hears shapes what she will think and she's listening whether I know it or not.

* I will and shall reread the previous Declaration again. Because it's that important. From my nose to my toes, I will lie through my teeth if necessary and convince the Littles in my life that Mommy thinks she's gorgeous just the way she is now. Pretty cool, right? Cuz Molly's mom down the street has serious self-esteem issues and hates her ankles. I think Molly is starting to develop a complex because if Mommy hates her ankles then something must be wrong with Molly's. See? Now I'll read it again. My words + her interpretation = Mama Thinks She's Beautiful Just The Way She Is.

* I shall Do (and Believe) as I Say and Do as I Intend to Do. Translation? If I say to you, my readers, that you are beautiful and wonderful and perfect as you are, I will believe the same of myself because one day mind will win over matter. If I say to you, readers, that no matter how today panned out, tomorrow is the Universe's way of giving you a chance to try again when the sun rises? I'm on that train, too.

* I will address The Mess inside of my head and face it head on, feet planted firmly in the ground and hands on my hips. I'll probably even raise an eyebrow for good measure. The Mess might suck. Dealing with it may not be pretty. But the only way around is through. And through it I will go. I'll see you on the other side. That being said, let's move on to the next item because they're totally related.

* Fuck the gym membership. I'm signing up for therapy instead. Why? Because when training a puppy, positive reinforcement is key to success. The dog has to want to learn and believe in itself and it's master's love or ain't nobody learning to roll over and play dead no matter how many Scoobie snacks being tossed its way. Translate that analogy to taking care of me and that means that unless I become my own master and love myself and believe I am worth it now, I'm most likely going to give up before I start because I won't believe myself worthy of the work involved to get to My Version of Healthy later.

* I shall try to do more yoga, start meditating for ten minutes a day, and eat the right foods for my body not because everyone headline says it's time to do so, but because these things are good for me always and make me feel better always.

* I will not beat myself up for missing a yoga session or a yoga week or even if I roll the mat back up and leave it in the closet for a few months. I will celebrate all of the good in my life instead and celebrate more when I find myself in Warrior Pose one day because I missed the feeling.

* I will stop doubting my worth, start believing in the value of my words and the message I share, and make things happen because fairy tales only have happy endings because the princess opened her eyes and walked into her happily ever after fully believing that she deserved it.

* I shall embrace the positive, accept the crazy, and deal with the bullshit as it comes because I believe I am strong enough, smart enough, and perfectly capable of doing so. Just The Way We Are. Right? Right. Rinse. Lather. And Repeat.

 

And there you have it, my friends. Words I can commit to. Intentions I will see myself through in the year to come and the one after that, too.

Who's riding shotgun? We're going for a ride.

***

I have also recorded a reading of this post as a vlog, which you can see here on Girl Body Pride. Happy New Year, my friends. I think 13 is going to be lucky.

Moving to Maine in November: Insominia & Other Stories

 

It's midnight. The grandfather clock tells me so, loudly, and interrupts my five-year-old's current explanation for why she is still awake and will she grounded from that birthday party this weekend because she is?

Yes.

No.

Maybe.

No, I have to. I haven't gotten any work done (or even started ) and I have to keep her from a birthday party on Saturday even if we are moving or become the mom who never follows through on consequences. I know the move is on her brain and its causing anxiety and many mixed emotions so I'm trying to be lenient. But it's midnight and she's just now allowing herself to relax enough to drift off.  Sometimes t all boils down to wishing Benadryl made her tired because I can't keep clocking in at midnight and stay sane.

We drive to Maine in 16 days.
I can't sleep when I'm anxious.
She may never see this little boy again so I have to let her go to the party and I can get firm another time, right???
We drive to Maine in 16 days and I am going to miss my first best friend so much it hurts because being connected via tweets and texts and status updates become different things when time zones hamper communication and plane tickets are required before scheduling joint pedicures.
Buttercup can't wait for snow and white Christmases and spring and running barefoot in the grass. I can't wait for seasons and new adventures and the next chapter. We both understand that we have to go because severe mesquite allergies and Southern border living are not a good combination. It sucks, actually.
We have so much to look forward to.We know we can't stay and we have known for a while and instead of just looking for rentals, we are actually looking into purchasing a home. There's email and post cards and promises to video chat with the friends we love.
There's so much. To look forward to. That we are leaving behind. That we are trying to bring with us.
Doesn't make leaving easier.
I climb out of bed when I know she is asleep, tuck her in, and kiss her cheek and give in to her innocence like she knew I would but promise to be firm when...well...not today. We are going to the party on Saturday. And I'm pretty sure she's going to be up until midnight tomorrow, anyway.
That's okay. I understand because the BFF sent me a text message that simply read ...
Please don't move
...and I won't sleep at all.

Ninja Attack Guppies & Other Funny Moving to Maine Stories

So we booked the moving truck yesterday. I'm also pretty sure the only reason my head didn't explode for the 24 hours between signing on the truck to move the belongings we aren't selling and finally securing a rental home for the next six months is the fact that I'm ADHD and allowed to forget I already took my Xanax. Three times.

Five minutes ago.

 

*ahem*

 

So now we have a house on actual property and shit. Which is cool. And then I looked at a map and about fell off my chair. Maine? You mean THAT Maine? BY THE OCEAN? I may have to put the Xanax away once we arrive just so I can take in all the thisisnotthedesertness that will probably overwhelm me into writing sappy poetry and hugging trees that I am am not allergic to.

When I'm not crying about the Living in Maine and Can't Eat the Lobster Thing, I mean.

Also, and only because I consider it a public service announcement to the world, I just listed this for sale, too.

 

Beautiful 5 gallon fish tank with live plants and added serenity background. $60. As an added bonus you also get the guppy, which I am convinced is a trained government assassin, and the Ghost Shrimp, otherwise known as the "clean up crew". I'd offer you the single little school fish left from the school of five we had yesterday, but I can't promise it will still be alive in the morning. I'd tell you more, but I'm pretty sure I'm being watched.

Today's List

 

To do:

* scare away Internet with emotional brain dump: check

* finish my edits on Strong like Butterfly ebook for Girl Body Pride: check

* take a nap: check

* wake up just in time to realize the child will not be going to bed anytime before midnight: check

* sniff my child's armpits to see if I can skip her bath...again : check

* teach my child how to use deodorant: check

* begin to fill out Listen To Your Mother application: check

* doubt myself because it's what I do: check

* continue to fill out LTYM application anyway: check

* realize child and her stinky pits need a bath: check

* bath, book, bed, blog: check

* read more words by Ariel Gore because she is my word Goddess: check

* decide that I've been a self-righteous ass this whole time waiting for my life to be validated by someone else: check

* reaffirm my convictions to become a famous writer before I'm dead: check

* even if it is on my own fucking terms: check

* look over list of contributors for Strong Like Butterfly again while heart flutters: check

* look over state of my newly-moved-in-home (unpacked boxes stacked as far as the eye can see): check

* shrug, figure it can all wait until tomorrow, go back to writing: check

* ponder branding and monikers and real names and what it is that I have to offer the world: check

* still pondering...

 

Cinnamon

 

 

I want to keep my eyes closed today.

9/11 is the day before 9/12 and just a few months before 11/27.

The first changed us all.

The second would have been my parents' 35th wedding anniversary.

The third is the day my father died 5 years ago and will be my mother's 54th birthday.

***

I'm hormonal.

Started my period today after being 16 days late on a cycle that had us wondering if I sold our jogging stroller too soon.

The first day of my last period was July 16.

I spent equal amounts of time devoted to wanting to be and hating myself for hoping I wasn't.

Now that I'm not, I wish I was.

***

One day I'll have to explain the significance of 9/11 to a little girl who dreams of fairies.

Did you know they smell like cinnamon?

I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to explain to her that nothing smells like cinnamon when the first domino falls.