Monday, October 31, 2011

All Souls

Running last minute errands this morning before we take off tomorrow morning for Hawaii, and had the radio on KBVM (K-Blessed Virgin Mary), which I've listened to on and off for years. Love the music. Like some of the discussions. Do NOT like some of the discussions. You can take the girl out of the Protestant religion, but you can't take the Protestant religion out of the girl.

Topic turned to Halloween, which precedes All Saints' Day, and then All Souls' Day. The woman on the radio urged us to be praying for all the souls in purgatory. I snapped that radio off so fast it would have made your head spin - did not want to hear one WORD about purgatory, a concept I have always struggled with.

Got to thinking, anything that made me react with that amount of energy, probably needed to be looked at a little more closely. Clicked it back on. Because there are no accidents, the whole conversation was about people's struggle to understand purgatory.

I'm not pretending I understand it any better, but it did get my wheels turning. I, personally, don't believe there is a heaven "up there," or a hell "down there," I believe that they are states of mind, and there are those who have figured out how to achieve heaven on earth, and those for whom this alludes. It then stands to reason that there is an in between, too, a place of purification, a place of struggle, and mental anguish. Doesn't that sound a lot like life? Or at least periods in our life? Is it possible that we experience heaven, hell and purgatory over and over and over again, sometimes concurrently?

The Buddhists believe in Samsara - a cycle of birth and rebirth, until one finally breaks free through enlightenment and transcends the cycle to a state of Nirvana. I like this concept, or maybe just the words sit better with me. I like the notion of "transcending," of breaking free from a cycle, be it lifetime after lifetime or just what feels like it, the issues we have that seem to haunt us and feel so old and ingrained we grow weary and doubtful we will ever transcend them.

On this All Souls; Day (Wednesday), I will light a candle for just that - all souls. May we all transcend. May we all move from a place of mental anguish and struggle. May we all "find" heaven.


 * Photo from

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Top 10 Signs I Need a Vacation

10. I am virtually incapable of speaking intelligibly - even STM says, "Never mind, I know what you mean."

9. I needed to return something, put it in a box, closed it up, realized I had not put the paper work inside, opened it up. Closed it. Realized I had not put the paper work inside. Opened it. Closed it. THREE times!

8. Started packing two weeks ago.

7. Finding new ways to drive my loved ones crazy by micro-managing their lives.

6. Got super annoyed when someone took a bite of something that was "mine" in the fridge.

5. Can't be bothered letting Flicka sniff on our walks, must be marching forward at all times!

4. Until this moment, totally "blogstipated."

3. Totally becoming a hypochondriac.

2. Looking for things to worry about.

1. Forgetting to be grateful.

 * Photo from

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Didn't intend to start my blogcation until next week, when I will be sunning myself with STM on the beaches of MAUI, but I guess my fingers knew I needed a little extra time off. Just not a whole lot going on to report on, and that is a good thing. My resolution for 2011 was: boredom. While 2011 has been anything but, I am enjoying a nice little lull now, and let me tell you, it feels good.

Can't get enough of this:

And can't stop reading this:

And every now and then I pop up to use one of these babies, on a light fixture that hasn't seen the likes of it for oh, say, five to six years:

Did have an IEP meeting for Rojo at his new school, and this time he had to go, too. Just going into the basement and pulling out that box set off a PTSD episode, and I was dreading the whole thing something fierce. Here's the thing: it was great. They've found a way to tap into services through the school district this school is in (different district than we've dealt with for 15 years), and they will come to HIM, during school, and teach social skills! They are calling it "social cognition," which I am too busy drinking tea and reading my good book to Google and learn more about, but they both sound like good words, and coupled, they must be twice as good, right?

My tea is getting cold and this book isn't going to finish itself, so until later, TTFN!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Helicopter Parents

I don't know if I'd be a helicopter parent if I weren't a parent to a child that requires I be so (probably), but I do know I am, and I do know the minute I turn down the vigilance, things fall apart. Meds are not taken. Things are not brought to school that need to be, glasses are not worn, underwear is not changed, etc.

We have been highly involved in Woohoo and Rojo's schools, always. Auction chairs, coached sports, sat on numerous boards, organized/pushed for new programs, blah, blah, blah, so naturally, I was at the open house the high school held on Sunday, to help answer questions prospective parents might have about the program Rojo is in.

Ran into one of Woohoo's favorite teachers and was chatting it up. Learned Woohoo is pushing it a little on the dress code. Nothing major, hasn't been written up, but still, pushing it. All totally within the realms of normal teenage behavior, and we are not concerned, however, we did mention it to her. Her boyfriend happened to be over at the time. (What were the chances? Answer: high!) She wanted to know how we knew and when we answered, "Our spies told us," he said, "I'm so glad my parents aren't involved."

He wasn't been funny or ironic, wasn't going for a laugh, totally 100% serious. You could see the genuine gratitude he had for the way his parents have parented.

I am definitely less helicopter-y with Woohoo, but I do my fair share of hovering over her, too. It's a chicken/egg kind of thing - I'll never know which came first, the tendency or the need. Guess I don't even need to know - just touch it all with gentle awareness and see from where it all comes - love.

Photo from

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Spirit Week

It's homecoming week at Woohoo and Rojo's school, and that means another spirit week. Rojo lives for spirit week(s), and fortunately for him, they are a plenty in his high school. This is already the second "round."

Monday was OSU/UO day, which was a no brainer for him (I actually hate that expression, don't know why I used it). He has a surplus of both OSU and UO T-shirts. The only bet was on which team he'd represent, since truly he's a "platypus" as we call them around here, half and half with parents from each of the rival colleges, and a fan of both, enemy of neither. He picked UO. No telling what pushed him in that direction.

Tuesday was Celebrity Day. I don't think he knows the meaning of the word "celebrity," and certainly is not impressed by anyone that calls themselves a celebrity. I suggested we skip the day, as they are optional, anyway. "No, he said, I know who I'll be. I'll be Wayne Newton."

You could have knocked me over with a feather. WAYNE NEWTON? Where in the world did he come up with THAT one??? I refused to kill myself trying to come up with a Wayne Newton costume in less than 12 hours, so I blew the whole thing off and thought it would just go away. Tuesday morning he came at me with a Sharpie and Scotch tape and wanted me to write, "Hi, I'm Wayne Newton" on the tape and put it on his T-shirt. Naturally, I did. Naturally, that made him Wayne Newton. Naturally, it worked for everyone else, too.

Today is Red and Blue Day (school colors). Rojo is also "singing" with the choir at the Homecoming Mass, so he'll be wearing a red polo shirt with his black choir pants. I will be probably the only parent at the school Mass because I probably have the only high schooler that begged his mother to come and "watch" him sing. If he moves his lips even a little, it will be well worth it.

Thursday is Twin Day and he has worked it all out with one of his peer tutors to be twins. I think they are just wearing their T-shirts that have their high school's name on them. (Nothing could be more made than (most) boys and their lack of effort/attention/freak out they put into what they wear.)

Friday is Color Day - each class has a color, freshman are orange. He'll be wearing... yes, that's right, an orange T-shirt!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's the 18th of the month, and you know what that means, it means I'm at Hopeful Parents today. See you over there!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Right Arm

There have been times in my life when all I wanted or needed to be happy, was to have my children be happy. As a friend of mine always says, "You're only as happy as your unhappiest child." So true. Right now I have two happy children. I am happy. And so, so grateful. Our village is vast and powerful, and I give it much of the credit for our collective happiness.

When Anxiety tries to get me to worry about what's "next" for Rojo after high school, I only need to look around at his ever-expanding village, and realize, it's not all up to me. In fact, "next" is already under construction. I don't know how it will look, but I know that something good is coming!

We took Rojo to the football game on Thursday night (no school Friday). We've been taking him to all the home games since Woohoo was a freshman. He likes to "direct" the band. The band has come to count on it, and some of the horn players are even able to continue playing through their smiling mouths. On Thursday we told Rojo he needed to stop hanging out with us, and go see his friends in the student section. He did. It was awkward. It was painful. It wasn't all that successful, but he did it. We watched as he tried to enter existing circles of conversation and one group after another patiently at worst, and delightedly, at best, spoke to him until he moved on to the next circle.

On the way home in the car he piped up with, "I love my life. I love my friends. I love my school. I just love my life."

I can think of at least ten moms I know that would give their right arm to hear their kid(s) say that.

That's so much more than "enough," that's everything.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chinese Medicine

So, went to the acupuncturist and got the very abbreviated background on the rudiments of Chinese medicine. Learned a little about the way wood, fire, earth, water and metal are represented in our bodies, and how Chinese medicine is a way to bring harmony to the flow between them (not even sure I have that right, but something like that).

Anyhoo, my Fire and Metal are not happy. Also, there's the dietary thing. Turns out my main two categories of food, gluten and dairy, are both big no nos for me. As I've said here before, I knew dairy was not working for me, and so have really worked hard to eliminate it. Since it didn't do a lot to clear up my issues, I suspected gluten may also be a problem. It is. She wants me off both completely. Of course I am kicking and screaming and throwing a big pity party - and you're invited! I'll do it, but I'm going to complain for (quite) awhile. It is fair to say that everything I enjoy eating has gluten and/or dairy, and everything I don't, doesn't.

Guess it's time to learn to cook.

What happened when I had the acupuncture treatment, is I did deeply relax and had all kinds of wild visions/dreams in just 15 minutes. Then, what I also experienced but didn't count on, was a much keener focus. I did not ping from thing to thing to thing, task to task to task, I was actually able to calmly complete one thing (like bringing in a car load of groceries and putting them away), before moving on to the next (like emptying the dishwasher and reloading it). May not sound like much, but it felt so different (and good) that I'm a believer.

* Photo from

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Big Day

Yesterday was a big day around here. First of all, I took Rojo into the DMV to get an ID card. He is fifteen, and it's time to have official identification for whatever/whenever he needs it. I just sort of sprung it on him that we were doing this after school, and miraculously, he fully cooperated. I think most people assumed the DMV was closed on Columbus Day, so the crowd was thin and the wait blessedly short. He is fully IDd, now, all 5'6" 92 lbs. of him.

Then, Woohoo submitted her college application that has kept me up nights for months (needlessly, but nonetheless). Any of you wanting to light the Marys for that one, would sure be appreciated. Our hope and prayer is that she's accepted to this school - her first choice and ours, too. We think it is a good fit for her and one in which she can be successful. (The school has a radio station there dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Just sayin'.)

Last, but not least, heard back from my agent last night that she likes all the changes I made to the book, and she's ready to go "out" with it. Again, light the Marys! A bestseller would be nice, but we really just want to the book to "do" whatever it is it is meant to do in the universe. Let it be.


Monday, October 10, 2011


Tomorrow I am seeing an acupuncturist for the very first time. I'm excited. I can't wait to have her place needles wherever it is she places needles, and let them do their thing. I have heard it's very effective in treating anxiety, and that is music to my soon-to-have-needles-all-over-them-ears.

In the meantime, I am trying to be mindful of my breath and saying to myself, "With this breath I calm my body..." that is helpful. So is my favorite anxiety cure: distraction. I have decided that today is the day I need to create a directory for the support group I facilitate. Imagine the possibilities of six or even seven years worth of saved e-mails listing various naturopaths, speech paths, occupational therapists, neuropsychs, psychologists, psychiatrists, play therapists, social skills therapists, you-name-it. I can finally make a comprehensive list of who we have all used and liked and stop re-creating the wheel every time someone asks me, "Do you know someone that...." which is a question I get a lot.

Had a conversation with a fellow anxiety "sufferer" today. There are some pros to having anxiety, most of us "high strung" individuals do get a shit load of stuff done in a day - so hard is it for us to do "nothing." We find things to do that don't always need doing. Sometimes, in fact, they require un-doing because not only did they not need to be done, they shouldn't have been done.

STM is famous for looking at people like me and saying, "You're not watching enough TV." Let's just say he does watch enough. He works like a dog when it's time to work, and he rests (like an old dog) when it's time to rest. A lesson I have failed to learn despite his many attempts.

We do have an awful lot of good bad TV stored on our DVR, perhaps tomorrow after acupuncture... can't talk now, gotta go put that on the To Do list.

* Photo from

Friday, October 7, 2011


It is October 7th and on my desk is a huge pile of stuff for Woohoo's graduation in eight months, and that's not just because I'm neurotic.

By October 18th we need to submit our order for all things graduation related: cap and gown, announcements. There are senior pictures to select for the yearbook, and we need to dig out the baby pictures and pick one of those, too. College Night was last night, and now is the time to get all the recommendations in, finish up that essay, submit applications left and right, visit colleges, etc...

One of my oldest and dearest friends, Ruth, has a daughter just a year older than Woohoo. She said last December to me, and I've thought of this a million times, "Just call me next year and scream - I'll know it's you."


First of all, there are the 1,001 details that all need to get done really soon, not to mention the fact we have to figure out how we're even going to pay for college, but how is it possible that I my little girl is going off to college in ten months? HOW? I'm still driving the same car that took her to preschool, doesn't that automatically make her little? Will that car, indeed, drive her off to college? Probably. Where have the years gone?

Between a part-time job, a boyfriend, three AP classes and all this college stuff, she is BUSY. Already we hardly see her, which I guess is part of the natural order of things - by the time she actually leaves, it will be less dramatic, less painful, less upsetting, but nonetheless, just as poignant.

Adding to the poignancy is the fact that we're only doing this once. Rojo will not be taking and retaking the SATs and the ACTs. He will not be filling out applications. He will not need a roommate and a meal plan. We know, as we pass through this milestone year, it will be the only time that we do.

And that is the good news, because my old friend Anxiety, cannot do this twice.

And that is the bad news, because my old friend, Anxiety, is stressing already about What's Next for Rojo Instead.

Had our support group meeting at my house this morning. We talked about how we all struggle to enjoy the highs, fearing the lows. When things are even with our kids, when they are happy, in the right schools, have friends, healthy in all ways, we spend that time worrying about when they aren't, instead of celebrating that they are.

Woohoo is going off to college in less than a year. That is to be celebrated. Although it feels like everyone I know has kids that are in college or college bound, I have to remember that that is not the real world. It is a privilege and an honor to be headed to college, not the norm.

So, instead of screaming, instead of complaining, instead of worrying, instead of every other lower vibrational emotion or reaction, I am going to count my many blessings, not the least of which is I have a daughter that will be ready for college and gets to go.

Photo from

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This One Goes Out to the Ones I Love

Just sent my agent my manuscript. "Just" as in 2 seconds ago. It's off my desk and on its electronic way to being on hers. That makes me happy. That makes me freaked out. That makes me insecure. That makes my IBS and racing heart go nuts (TMI?). That makes me feel accomplished. That makes me feel like a giant fraud - like I think I can pull off writing a book, ha! That makes me excited for everyone in the whole entire world to one day read it. That makes me want to DIE if anyone at ALL ever considers reading it!

Your basic head case.

After YEARS of having this book rattle around in my brain and make me all but pre-occupied and unable to do anything else, I FINALLY decided it just needed to get "out." However "out" turns out to be. If nothing else, it tells the story of our little family and the transformations in all of us as a result of the wisdom born of having Plan A turn into Plan B. At least from my perspective. Someday my grandchildren can dig it out of a box in the basement and argue over who gets stuck with it.

Rosie Thomas' song, "The One I Love," is in my ears and on my brain, both on a loop. This, ultimately, is my greatest wish for the book, my greatest hope, my greatest prayer. "Let this book go out to the one(s) I love. Mary, carry this book and place it into the hands of whomever needs to read it, for whatever reason (perhaps just to feel better about their own abilities as a writer - Shakespeare, it ain't).

Whatever may be, may be - let it be.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Old Friend

My old friend, anxiety, is back. She is making my arms tingle, my heart race, my stomach churn. She taunts me in my sleep, awakening me in a dead panic at least once a night.

Struggled with anxiety my whole life, came to a peak almost ten years ago, exactly. Started doing the math yesterday (anxiety loves to run numbers), realized it was as I approached 39 that she really went nuts. I am fast approaching 49. She's right on time.

About to say goodbye to another decade and hello to the next one. About to launch my oldest off to college. About to see Rojo's years of formal education wind down, not up. About to move into a different stage with our marriage and parenting, while we will still have one at home (and may always), we will no longer be really "raising" kids.

We have three parents in their 80's, it's only a matter of time until their needs become greater and our roles shift in those relationships, too.

STM is concluding a project he's worked for years on. He will be starting "next."

Although I may need to revisit the idea of medication, I am hoping to avoid that. Scheduled an appointment with the naturopath. Going to try to do this "naturally."

Going to spend more time in meditation and less in my car racing from silly errand to silly errand (i.e. three trips to Safeway in 24 hours).

Going to take more slow walks with the dog - let her sniff to her hearts content and let that time be an opportunity for deep breathing, as opposed to utter exasperation.

Going to drink more herbal tea and less coffee.

Going to stop making lists of what I'm going to do, and just...


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...