Monday, August 18, 2014

The end of Ponsahwannatime....

Where has the time gone? I am, like so many of my friends, am looking towards the first day of kindergarten with a mixture of pride and trepidation unlike anything I have felt before.

This particular 5 year old who bears the name Max Archer, and answers to George for Curious George, and has glorious blue eyes and a reptile fascination and a constantly running mind and mouth is heading into Big Boy School.

So many others are as well. But, this one is mine. He has occupied the core of my being for more than 5 years, since the very early days when he actually occupied the core of my being, as a matter of fact.

And oddly, though he has attended daycare and preschool, this feels like a very big step away…
I keep saying, “He won’t be all MINE anymore. I won’t be able to just pick him up early, take a day off with him, and get the teachers in his tiny, loving, brilliant preschool to change things, tweak things a bit for him.”

(My husband reminds me that I rarely am able to just pick him up early or keep him home now, BUT I could, and that’s the difference.) (It’s that whole, “But we won’t be able to just up and go to Paris for the weekend” thing Redux)

Thank God there is no uniform. Not being able to dress him in cozy, soft fabrics with images of the things that he loves might push me over the edge.

I feel like I work to be conscious and present and experience every moment, knowing that they are ephemeral. However, so many last times have passed without notice, until, of course, you notice that they are gone.

I am far from the first mother, writer, or observer of life to notice this… By far…

But that in no way lessens the power and impact the realization has had on me.

Max Archer nursed for a very long time. And yet, I cannot remember that final time, even as I sit here weeping over the loss.

I cannot remember the final time that I wrapped him to my body, or to my hip in a sling, or to my back. I can carry him for shirt distances now, but even that is glimmering its final moments.

For a long while now, we tell stories in the car, Max and me, especially in the mornings on the way to school.

“Max, tell me a story…”
“OK……Ponsahwannatime there was a little boy….” And off we go. There are oceans, and snakes, and sharks, and all them interact and battle and thrive within the mind of the boy in my back seat.

Ponsahwannatime is his own interpretation of the far too complex “Once upon a time” that began so many of the stories I read to him and told to him as he grew.

And in all honesty, I never, ever heard the first words of any story he told after that phrase, so overwhelmed with love was I by that mispronunciation that betrayed his innocence and youth, even as the dramatis personae got bigger and stronger and, yes,  more violent….

Ponsahwannatime was my reassurance that my little boy was still…. Little…

However, a few weeks ago, Max started to tell me in a story in the car. And it began: “Once upon a time”.

My heart stopped… Not literally, but it definitely clenched and hurt for a big moment.

Ponsahwannatime was gone. Gone. The story that followed this new beginning was, as always, fascinating and funny, though one is not allowed to laugh, as the humor is almost never intentional, as with the recent addition of a recurring character with a helmet that is called, “Mr. Horny”.

And when the story was over, he said, “The End.”

And it was.

And I am really going to miss Ponsahwannatime stories. And I cannot for the life of me remember when that last time I heard one was. Because there was no announcement, “this is the last time…” Because there almost never is.

Saturday morning, as we drove downtown, Max told me a story inspired by Shark Week. It had adventure, science, and lots of danger. It began with “Once Upon a Time” and it was great.

I am sad about the ending of so many things that I associate with this boy’s babyhood. And I reserve the right to miss them. I will be the mommy weeping at the kindergarten drop off on the first day. And the first date…. And the first dance…

However, I am trying to remind myself that all the best stories I have ever known have begun with “Once Upon A Time”.

And that “Once Upon a Time”  is the first line of every single story I've ever heard that ends with, “and they lived happily ever after….”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How are you? how you answer actually means something.....

(warning, this is a preachy blog post... I wrote it to get it all on paper, and I am sharing it because there maybe a nugget that might help someone else on the journey.. however, you've been warned.)
I’m overwhelmed

I’m so stressed

I’m tired

I’m crazed

I’m at wits end

I’m angry at, with, about, because….

I am going to be honest here. And this is not about any one person, interaction, or situation. I neet up with a lot of people who either need to really change the way they are living their life or really change the way they are perceiving their life.

I am extraordinarily happy and blessed. Yes, I have my off hours, even days, but over the past 3 years I have been on a mission to dramatically increase the amount of time I spend being happy. I realized about then that I was living my life in a state of discontent… AND I HAD VERY LITTLE TO BE DISCONTENT ABOUT. Sorry for shouting, but it was truly a life altering moment when I realized how much of my time I spent:

  • worrying about things that never happened
  • worrying about things that I had no control over or that I had already impacted as much as I could
  • worrying about things that I could impact but had not done so
  • worrying about people who had managed to live without me until that point and did not seem all that interested in my help
  • being hurt by, upset by, or angry at people who either A. did not care if I was hurt, upset, or angry or B. had not meant to hurt, upset, or anger me, or C. did not know that I was hurt, upset, or angered
  • living in the past
  • living in the future
  • etc. etc. etc.

I love being alive. I love interacting with humans, I freaking adore my child and husband, and I am blessed with skills and talents that I use every day to help others and myself. I have enough money for my needs and many of my wants, I am healthy and have the power to get healthier, I am surrounded by people who love me, who care about me, who would help me in times of need or sorrow without question or expectation of return of service (although I am also blessed to be able to serve them in return).

Blessed… I used that work recently and someone emailed me to say that they were not aware that I had become religious. I do not use it in a religious sense… I use it in the sense that of being

3. divinely or supremely favored; fortunate:  to be blessed with a strong, healthy body; blessed with an ability to find friends.



blissfully happy or contented.


Now, I can get all tripped up by that Divinely or Supremely Favored thing… (I typed “flavored” there at first, LOL) However, I am completely aware that I have had privileges and advantages that others have not. And I am grateful. Very, Very, Very grateful.  Accidents of birth, of fate, of time and place have all combined to lead me to where and who I am. And I have already made pretty clear that I am happy with that.  I even used to spend time being so sad that others had not had the advantages I had… Or had not been able to use them as well for whatever reason.

A few years ago now,  I got very, very sad… for a long time… for day after day, I was just angry and unhappy, and stopped communicating with the people around me, and stopped moving forward in my career, in my marriage, in my life.  it was an internal struggle, but one that exhausted me daily. And, bear with me, this is where it gets odd, then I heard a voice… Not like a voice from the outside but one from the inside. And it asked, “Is this how you want to feel for the Rest of your Life?”

Rest of my Life? Every single day like this? No… God no…. Fuck no….

So, and I want to say right here that I was not clinically depressed, I had the capacity to make these changes in a way that someone who is dealing with clinical depression may not, likely will not, be able to make without expert help and support, I made plan to change.

The beginning of that plan was to acknowledge that the genetics that gave me a fabulous singing voice, the gift of witty repartee, and very little need for sleep also gave me a predisposition to anxiety and depression that is amenable to treatment with some miraculous medications.

So, I found a great doctor, and I explained to her that I did not feel like I needed therapy, that I had done a lot of that hard work in the past and was deeply aware of how important it was in allowing me to get to the point where I was. I needed to alter the chemical imbalance in my brain that was impacting my ability to deal with anxiety appropriately. And we tried a few things…

The first one was not a winner… I will never, ever, ever forget the moment when I thought, “Oh, this must be what they mean when they warn, ‘may cause suicidal thoughts’” and then thought, “OH. Crap. I should probably call the doctor.” The next one was a winner.

And I felt better.

Then, I started exercising.  And made bets, promised myself rewards, and got excited about progress to get myself to the gym on a regular basis…

And I felt better…

And I started consciously working at being grateful. As I fell asleep each night, I listed three things that I had been grateful for that day.

And I felt better.

I bought a bracelet that vibrated every 45 minutes at (I’d love to design one that we could set the time frame according to our needs, but no luck yet) and it reminded me to check in with myself, to assess my mood and my activities, and  everytime I started stressing, ruminating, or worrying about something, I forced myself to ask three questions:

-Is this a real issue or concern? What are the chances you will actually have to face and deal with it?

-Is there anything you can do right now to positively impact this situation?

-Are you actively making plans for positively impacting this situation or just picking at it like a scab?

Almost every time, I was able to tell myself to let it go. (before that evil song came out)

And I felt better.

Then I decided to Look Back only for Courage, Knowledge, or Joy. Anytime I started thinking about the past, I stopped myself and made certain that I was gaining something from doing so. Courage: I did not have an easy childhood. My mother was mentally ill and addicted, and sad and angry. She was also the funniest and most loving person I have ever known. My mother adored my sister and I and we knew it. However, many people who grew up as I did do not become happy, healthy adults. SO, I look back for courage and to rejoice in how far I have come. For knowledge, to see if I can learn from the past, to make the future better, and for joy… There were many, many moments of joy in my youth. Those I had onstage and off with my dear friends from chorus, and those with my mother, whose crazy sometimes took on a frenetic and exciting edge that made life very… interesting.

And I felt better.

Then I gave myself permission to be enough…. I am enough. I am doing enough, I am giving enough, I am trying enough. I am enough. Oh My Goodness… That one was Life Altering. Capital L. and A.  Try it…. You are Enough. Whatever you got done today was enough. You are Enough.

And I felt better.

Then I reminded myself that, according to many rumors, we only go around this time, in this body, with these people, ONCE. And my goodness, you guys are AMAZEBALLS. (Thank you Jen Starr, who is herself amazeballs, for the term). I so want to spend time with you, enjoy you, learn from and with you. I am not wasting any more time. Max Archer, Bill Lewitt, Faith Small, Jacob. And all of the other wonderous and awesome people in my life, I am so grateful for you.

And I felt better.

So, do I feel perfect all the time? Do I never feel sad, never feel anxious, never feel hurt, angry, betrayed? Of course not… I am still human… (Though Max’s fascination with DNA does not make that a given forever)

However, I am in control of how I feel, how I respond, how I interpret, perceive, and impact LIFE and the world around me….

I am incredibly Powerful. And that, my dear friends, is what I guess I am trying to share… You are so amazing and powerful. You decide how you go through this Life. Yes, there will be obstacles, and sorrows, and losses almost too large to bear. But, you will bear them.

And if you are reading this, if you are on facebook, or google, or a computer, if you are not in a hospital, not in a war, if you have reason to believe that tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow you will be given another chance to do good, for yourself and others, than you too are blessed…

Because until we die, we are alive… together…

So, if someone asks you how you are, by all means, if you are tired, stressed, whatever, take a moment to own that. But if you are always stressed, tired angry, overwhelmed, disappointed in yourself or others, maybe it is time to reframe. To rethink. To change the way you are living your life or the way you are perceiving it.

I am so incredibly grateful that I am on this journey, that I can honestly say that the majority of the time when someone asks me how I am I can honestly say, "happy."

I am blessed…..

You are blessed…

We are blessed…..