Sunday, July 31, 2011

Top 10 Things to Do Rather Than Finish Your Manuscript

10. Clean the garage that hasn't been cleaned in almost 8 years.

9. While you're in there, sweep.

8. Once you've swept, time to hose everything down.

7. Don't actually remove anything, just hose it all - it'll eventually dry.

6. Take all the things that are now wet, that you've decided you don't need, and immediately load them into your car to go to Goodwill.

5. Ditto with the recycling.

4. Stop what you're doing and drive to both Goodwill and the recycling center.

3. Come home and not really be in the mood to finish anymore.

2. Finish anyway.

1. Start in on the outdoor toy box.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Definition of Insanity

Wasn't it Einstein that said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Yea. About that. After 30+ years of being told by experts and having physical proof that I am dairy intolerant, I am going to make a concerted effort to kick the habit. I am sure I would feel better kicking gluten, processed foods, caffeine, alcohol, etc, also, HOWEVER, I am going to start with the obvious culprit and just see what happens when I try to remove it from my diet.

Here's the deal. I had my one and only "cup" (read: giant mug) of coffee this morning, black. Tasted just find. Liked it, in fact, just didn't scratch the itch, though, you know? Like a whole different drink. Not a bad one, just not the one I've come to rely on. And, I fully expected to feel like a whole new woman five minutes after skipping the cream. I don't know where people got the idea that I am patient, I am simply not. That's why it's just one big cosmic joke that I was given one of the most annoying people on the planet to spend my days/months/years/lifetimes with.

Took all my Starbucks Double Shots that lined the pantry and fridge, put them in a used shopping bag and dumped them off at Nancy's house this morning before I could change my mind. They are just one more example of something I crave, fantasize about, look at my watch to see if it's too late in the day to have, basically go nuts over, and then feel crummy for hours after consuming. Then the next day I go through the same torment all over again.

"You've got to break the loop," STM said. "One day at a time it. Don't think about never having another one again, just don't have one today."

The (annoying) voice of reason.

Woohoo woke up this morning, first words out of her mouth (after lying and saying, "I'm up, I'm UP!" when clearly she was not), was, "How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?"

"I don't know, " I said.

"Zero. First the lightbulb has to want to change."

This ol "lightbulb" is ready to make one change.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Eating Like a Caveman

I'm not a dieter, and by the grace of God have not had to "diet" for the sake of weight loss. However, seems like everyone I know is changing theirs, changing their kids', changing their spouses, trying to get healthy. Some seem extreme: no gluten, no dairy, no soy, no egg, no sugar, no to most nuts, no, no, no.

I've been thinking about seeing an acupuncturist for a chronic health issue. Thought I'd get stuck with a few needles, perhaps a few different times, and be cured. "She's going to put you on the Paleo Diet probably," said my friend that recommended one to me.

"No! I want needles! Maybe some herbs! Not a diet! I already know I'd feel better if I ate better, but I simply do not have the energy (or desire) to radically change the way we eat!"

"Carrie, I am telling you, I had 17 symptoms and within 30 days 15 were gone and two were managed. I'm not hungry, it feels like someone finally pulled the cotton from my head, I'm going to the grocery store without a list, I have energy, I'm pain-free..." on and on she went.

I believe her 100%. Yet, I still want no part of it.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Must Read

My friend, Michelle O'Neil, is an indie publisher, check it out: Daughter of the Drunk at the Bar. I had the pleasure of being a super early reader, as well as a recent reader. The book rocks, quite frankly. You will love it. You will laugh. You will gasp. You will cry. You will rage. You will cheer. You will have more empathy and compassion. You will not be sorry.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Yes, Yes and More Yes

Yes, Rojo had the same two friends stop by yesterday, unexpectedly, that came by a few weeks ago.

Yes, he was a jerk to them, again.

Yes, it was because he had money in his pocket and was planning on waiting outside for the ice cream truck, and their arrival threw a wrench into his plans.

Yes, I have tried to teach him to behave appropriately, despite frustrations and changes of plans.

Yes, he could have easily hung out with them while waiting for the ice cream truck.

Yes, I pointed that out.

Yes, he remained jerk-like.

Yes, I sent him to his room.

Yes, he went, but not before throwing his bike on the ground and his helmet across the driveway.

Yes, I took his cell phone.

Yes, I told him Flicka could not hang out with him while he spent 35 minutes in his room.

Yes, I told him if the ice cream truck did come, he would not be buying any.

Yes, that was what broke him.

Yes, I felt terrible.

Yes, he is eating out of the palm of my hand, today.

Yes, everyone that asks me how my summer is going gets to hear this story in excruciating detail.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Scarcity Mentality

The same (rebel) priest that recently held the Mary Magdalene retreat, has done many other amazing things in his career. He has done a lot in education, been a principal, started a school for kids with learning differences, on and on the impressive list goes.

Actually, he was once a principal in the Catholic school where I started teaching, several years before I got there. He created a set of five rules by which the school would operate. Kids. Teachers. Staff. Parents. Everyone. I learned them almost 25 years ago, but of course, fail to use them most days. I'm convinced they are the keys to happiness. I did blog about these on my old blog, but I realize that was many moons ago, so here they are in summary:

1) No Scarcity: "I agree to act on my belief that there is enough of what we all need if we cooperate."

2) Equal Rights: "I agree to respect your rights as a person, as equal to mine." Everyone has an equal responsibility to cooperate.

3) No Power Plays: "I agree not to use power plays to get what I want." Power plays - hitting, yelling withdrawing, slamming doors, threatening, staying angry, refusing to talk, refusing to cooperate, etc.

4) No Rescues: "I will not do for you anything that makes me angry."

5) No Secrets: "I will tell you what I am feeling, especially when I am feeling angry or afraid."

For whatever reason, the one that trips me up the most is No Scarcity. I do have a real fear that there is simply not enough. Not enough time. Not enough energy. Not enough of anything, really, simply put, everything is scarce. I know that's not true, but I believe it's true.

When I am all in a tizzy (too many times to count), if I slow myself down enough to get at what's under the tizzy, it's a belief in scarcity. I need to hurry because there isn't enough time. I need to do it because there aren't enough people to do it. I need to do it today because tomorrow there won't be enough time/energy/etc.

I am going "back in" with these rules, and while I don't pretend I'll ever master them, I'm going to spend some time with each one until I am at least thinking that way more often than not. Good thing there's no scarcity of time!

* Sanskrit for abundance

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


We've had the weirdest summer, only a handful of days over 80 (and none over 85) and many in the 60's. Sunday it rained so hard you would have thought it was January. Even knocked the power out for a couple of hours.

Just when the power went out STM was getting ready to take Rojo over to visit his parents, and give me a break. I was going to go to the grocery store(s), get started on dinner, do laundry, catch up on e-mail, and about 100 other things I planned to pack into the 2-hours they'd be gone.

They left, and I went to open my garage to get my car out, and of course, could not. Couldn't do the laundry. Couldn't cook the dinner. Couldn't get on the Internet. Couldn't vacuum. Couldn't iron. Couldn't do anything on the list.

Walked around aimlessly for a few minutes before deciding the outage was a huge gift. The gift of not being able to do anything except rest. Crawled into bed and had a great a nap. When I woke up the power was back on. I pretended it wasn't and went back to bed.

 Note to self: Don't wait for the power to go out to restore mine.

* Photo from Wikipedia

Friday, July 15, 2011

Only Way Out

I am one of the very worst when it comes to asking for help. I loved this post for that reason. I would have definitely been the one that walked aimlessly forever because I refused to believe I needed help and/or it was simply impossible. Rojo would have raised his hand in 2 seconds and said, "That's it for me."

* Photo from

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Our boy is fifteen today. Fifteen. Don't know how that happened. The days go by slowly, yet somehow the years fly by.

Could he have been any cuter? I remember holding him in my arms for the very first time just after he was born and thinking, He's handsome. And at fifteen he's a pure lady killer. Dimples to die for, nice teeth, twinkly blue eyes, sandy blond hair with natural blond highlights, gorgeous hands, tall, slender (alright, skiiiiiinnny).

The boy that couldn't, then wouldn't, converse, is Mr. Social now. He is my dad at his best, all over again. It's got to be pure DNA or some encounter in the In Between, because they never met, but Rojo has many of the same mannerisms as my dad did, and it makes me smile every time I see or hear them.

Now Rojo rides his bike over to the neighborhood school just down the street from our house (you can actually see it from our house), all by himself. It started with me telling him to ride on down and I'd follow with Flicka. He would beat us by five minutes, and that would be all the time he'd need to find or make a friend. By the time I got there he had the full 411. "Mom, I just met a boy named Garrett. He is five. He.... " blah, blah, blah.

Now I've got him riding his bike down there without me. He rides in circles around the black top and chats people up if they're there, or just sings and raises his arms in praise if they aren't. If he's still there after fifteen minutes I walk on down and check it out. Sometimes it's painful to watch, not that he's doing anything wrong or that anyone is being less than kind - the opposite. People are exceedingly kind and patient, and some seem to actually be enjoying themselves. I forget that in small doses he can be delightful. He is just so not 15 when I observe, and as long as I've been at this, that still sweeps me at the knees at unexpected times.

We told him for his birthday we'd get him a cell phone and teach him to text. "No, I do not want a cell phone," he protested, as expected. That's why we started the soft sell months ago, warming him up to the idea. We want him to have a phone for safety reasons, and for my convenience when I pick him up from school in the fall, since it's not as cut and dried as it's been for the past nine years. We also want him to be able to ask for help from his tribe, should the need arise.

Got the phone a few days ago - walked into Verizon and explained the situation. Got the perfect sales person that didn't try to sell me a bunch of stuff I didn't need, but did get me sold on the need for insurance and an extra hard carrying case to withstand dropping. The phone has pretty big keys and "flips," which was all that Rojo insisted upon. "Mom, make sure my phone flips. I want a flip phone. Make sure it does not slide, like yours, make sure you turn it this way (horizontally) and it just boom, flips right up." Got him just the perfect one - way nicer than the cheap-o one I have, but what are you going to do?

Knew he'd be obsessed about getting the phone all day if we didn't give it to him 2 seconds after he woke up, so that's just what we did. Doesn't everyone have their family birthday parties at 6:15 AM? Woohoo had to be up any way to go to work, so it was perfect. By 6:30 I'd received four texts from him. By 8:15 I'd received over 20. He is an awesome texter. Remembers to say, "please" and "thank you." Remembers to say, "goodbye." Remembers to say, "I love you." I do realize that 2 hours do not a trend make, but I'm very encouraged.

I had pre-programmed all his tribe into the phone before he opened it, and before wrapping it I'd sent everyone a text letting them know what his number is and warning them they'd be hearing from him on Thursday. He did not disappoint.

Then the nicest thing evolved organically this morning, his three favorite tribe members: Kathleen, Nancy and her husband, Tom, all let me know they'd like to come by after he gets done at work. As it turns out they are all free at the same time and so we are all going to get frozen yogurt and celebrate our favorite boy.

It's cliche to say it takes a village to raise a child, but that doesn't make it any less true.

Here's to Rojo's village, which happens to be mine.

Here's to texting.

Here's to Rojo.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It All Boils Down To These

I went to a mini-retreat on Mary Magdalene - one of the most misunderstood women in history, if you ask me. The information was fascinating, various myths were debunked (of course she was not a prostitute), and it was just overall enlightening. The retreat was led by a Catholic priest - but a rebel one. He encouraged all of the women in the room to challenge the church, to make history, to go ahead and speak the truth without any hope of being honored, in fact, content knowing the opposite would most likely be true.

All that was utterly compelling and invigorating to me, however, what he said about Jesus' teachings being universal, was the coolest. He once did a conference with every different faith represented, Wiccans, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Protestants, Catholics, Baptists, Buddhists, you-name-it. He asked each person to list all the tenants of their faith. What do they believe in? What are the teachings? What are they about? People scribbled and scribbled, filling their notebook paper up on both sides, and some asking for another sheet.

"Now circle the top six things - the six things that everything else on the list boils down to." They, without exception, circled the same six things: Peace, Justice, Compassion, Forgiveness, Healing and.... Love.


Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Not enough has been made about Rojo's summer "job," working in a preschool four blocks from our house. He rides his bike there, I just text the teacher, Sandy, and say, "He's on his way," and she texts me, "He's here." Then for four lovely hours each of us does what we do best: he works with kids three to five-years-old, and I do anything other than talk about the ice cream truck.

We have been dragging my friend Nancy along with us for frozen yogurt each day. Nancy is the one with the swing in her backyard, and the husband that brings me beer. I finally turned to Nancy one day and said, "People must think I exaggerate about how much he talks about the ice cream truck. Do I?" She, in her soft-spoken Nancy way just said, "Not so much." She is way too kind to say, "He never *&^%$#@ shuts up about it!"

So, for four hours each day, M-F, Rojo gets to spread his wings, be the one in charge, be the one that is kind, patient and thoughtful, be the one that is helpful, be THE guy. He is relishing it, and he's already telling me that that's what he wants to do for his job when he finishes high school in four (frighteningly short) years. Of course, I don't have to tell you, those wheels are already fully in motion.

Which brings me back to The List, as in, The List of What I Do Well. Everywhere I look my friends are doing all kinds of things I couldn't begin to do, and part of my most recent funk, was the inferiority complex I had going, because the things they do well, it just seems like I should be able to do well, too, but the fact of the matter is, I don't.

Had a little pow-wow with Mary recently, and she said, "I've asked you to do one extraordinary thing. That's all you need to do. You could do 100 ordinary things well (and you suck at all of them), but I'm not asking you to do any of them."

Terrry (Toeless) called the other day. Everyone needs at least one Terry in their life - the Truth Teller. One who can show you your dark side while you belly laugh the entire time. She dared to utter all the ugly things running through my mind about all kinds of things. One by one she gave voice to them and I could hear how utterly ridiculous they sounded, while also hearing the true wounds that created the less than optimal reactions in the first place. I gave her an inch and she took a mile, in the best way possible. I complained that Kathleen had rightfully been offered the job of her dreams, and Terry said wonderful things like, "How DARE she?" "You wouldn't have done that to her!" and my favorite, "Nobody would even hire you!" All things at some level I believed to be true, but once brought into the light, saw to be only tiny truths, with much larger (healthier) truths underneath them.

"Nobody's telling me to get a job. I don't even want a job, but I don't want to be unemployable!" I complained. "I cannot get settled with that. Why can't I just complete the processing of that, and move ON?" knowing instantly what the real answer to that is. I have a job. I have a 24/7 job, fifteen years in the exact same job, as a matter of fact, with no raise, very little change in responsibilities, no end in sight. No hope of retirement.

However, there are great benefits. I get to spend hours on my front porch each day rocking in a cute white double rocker, with the beverage of my choice. I sit there while people walk by all day, point, smile, and say things like, "What a great place to sit!" and even this, "You look like you're at such peace." Rojo rides his "ice cream truck" back and forth singing the same song over and over, but I'm getting him to go all the way around the block now, and yesterday, he made a several block loop giving me a full 5:05 period of peace (yes, my task includes timing him on the stopwatch feature of my phone). This is progress. Rome wasn't built in a day, and Rojo will not be independent tomorrow, but we are moving in the right direction.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

One World

I am in one of my Poor Carrie moods, and no good can really come from blogging when I'm in this mood, because it will pass, and you've all heard it before anyway, and so, instead, I bring you a "new" blog. It's not new, it's a year old, but I'm late in bringing it to your attention, and I'm sorry about that, because it is absolutely 100% fab.

Michaela is my friend Kathleen's daughter, a 21-year-old almost senior in college. This summer she is the activities director at a camp for seriously ill children, The Painted Turtle.

She recently posted a beautiful piece called One World that did much to help me recover from the Poor Carrie Syndrome.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Checking the Box

Going to my 30th high school reunion in August. Thirty years. Sounds like a big number. Been doing the math since the 20th and knew that 2011 would mark thirty, and kept my ear to the ground for details of the reunion as they emerged - knew I'd want to go and see everyone.

Only kept in close touch with two friends, and we'll be staying together in a hotel for the weekend, which in and of itself will be worth the trip. We are three very different people that might not ever find each other now, but because we found each other when we were 14 (actually, one was only 13), we are forever found.

Had to write a check for $40 for the night of the actual reunion, there is an unofficial come-who-may night beforehand, too. Undoubtedly that one will be more fun - the more thrown together the better, if you ask me.

Got new checks - first time I've had those 2-parters and I'm left with the copies underneath. Not sure just what I'll do with them, never had a need for them before and now I know I'll feel compelled to somehow store them (in plastic totes in my basement), like all the other junk I don't know what to do with. On each duplicate is a little "Track Your Expenses" portion, with neat and tidy categories from which to choose. Kind of having fun doing that, just to see where my money actually goes. Feel super noble when I get to mark "Charities," feel responsible when marking "Education" or "Utilities," and feel lazy when marking "Other."

When it came time to mark the check for $40, I decided on "Entertainment." Could have called it "Travel," could have called it any number of things, but really, I'm going there to laugh about old times, learn about everyone since the last time we gathered, maybe cry a little, too. I'm going there to have an experience I cannot have by staying home. I'm going to have fun. I'm going because it's time to form union. Again. Re-union.

Sorry Not Sorry

I'm sorry I keep pointing you towards BrenĂ© Brown's podcast,  Unlocking Us , but I'm not that  sorry.* I've appreciated ever...