boom, boom, boom, even brighter than the moon, ‘murica and all that sh!t


I really don’t care what you all might think but I hate the 4th of July.

Sorry.

No, not sorry.

I miss my brother. Today is his birthday. He should be here. But he’s not. Yeah, it’s been ten years, I know.

Whatever.

Grief is weird like that. It changes shape, but it never ends. Birthdays are hard. Birthdays are real hard. You bury your brother much too young then maybe you’ll understand. On second thought, I hope that you never do understand.

Thank goodness for my circus. They might not totally get the tears, the melancholy I feel when everyone else is waving the flags at the parades or boating and drinking or barbeque-ing or the blowing up fireworks because it’s ‘murica. But they do love me. They do care. That’s for real. We all should be so lucky to be surrounded like I was today…even when I was alone, sitting in my car at the car wash crying. I had this to come home to.

‘murica!

When I look to the sky something tells me you’re here with me
And you make everything alright
And when I feel like I’m lost something tells me you’re here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here

 

this time on my own terms


I have to confess that as much as I LOVE holidays, I kind of hate them too. They almost never fail to disappoint. Such is the life of a survivor I guess. No matter how scary, no matter how toxic, I have always held out hope that Christmas, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Independence Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Arbor Day, ‘Any” Day would be warm and love-filled and absolutely, most definitely toxic drama free. That hope beat with my heart through my childhood and went on limping into my adult life. Yeah, but “hope in reality is the worst of evils because it prolongs the torments of man”. Thank you Nietzsche! You so totally rock…and suck just a little bit.

Still I remained ever the optimist with hope in my stomped upon heart because I am what I am and I continue to be so in spite every single drama-trauma that is often holidays in my life.

You gotta have hope, right?

But as Mother’s Day approached bitterness seeped in. Why hope for all the things everyone brags about every holiday on Facebook: being surrounded by the kids and their spouses and all the grand babies, showered with gifts galore which must all be shared on Instagram, the blowing of the bubbles, the kite flyings, the brunches on the beach, the surprise parties, the barbecues and on and on and on. Why wish for these things? Why hope that you would be invited and included when you know it won’t happen?

Fucking Nietzsche!

Reading Annie Lamott’s essay again certainly helped to add to the bitterness.

Dang!

Right?!

I can see some of the points Lamott makes. I mean, for me at least, it seems that holidays that are important to me have become a chore for others; as in oh geez, we better do something for mom or the wife here or she’ll be mad and when mom ain’t happy, ain’t no one happy…The last couple important holidays to me have felt exactly like that. Maybe that’s how they really were or maybe they were but a part of my own imagination. Still the last thing I wanted was a forced celebration because we have to kind of thing.

Then Bill’s grandmother passed away. And Mother’s Day was but two days away. And all I could think about was Bill’s mom, Hazel’s daughter, without her mother for the first time. And Mother’s Day was coming. And I was soured by the whole idea of this is my day. And…and… Saturday night I insisted Bill go be with his mother.

Sunday morning there were roses, waffles and mimosas and bacon…yes, bacon…a lovely hand-made card from my beautiful son, small gifts that are so me from some of my girls, bear hugs and sloppy kisses from my grandbabies, FaceTime from my daughter living in LA followed by an afternoon of mimosas and chick flicks while my darling husband was in Santa Cruz with his mother. There was even a text from my brother, yes, that brother, with Mother’s Day wishes and gratitude for me taking care of him when we were little. Dinner came later than usual after Bill came home with a delicious salad, roasted rosemary potatoes and a dirty martini prepared by me and a perfect medium-rare steak grilled to perfection by my darling husband.

Mother’s Day celebrated, celebrated mostly on my terms. No tears. No pain. No suffering. No drama. No trauma.

Mother’s Day on my terms.

 

using the semicolon


When one becomes a person of a certain age, one sees their doctor more regularly…unless one is my darling husband who would rather hide from what the good doctor is recommending for him these days. He’ll wait until he’s bothered by his daily hacking-up-a-lung cough that becomes even worse than it already is or until his wife’s nagging becomes unbearable. Me, on the other hand, I do try to see my doctor annually and not just when I am sick. Just trying to walk the nurse talk of the importance of maintaining one’s good health, building trust with a good doctor-patient relationship and stuff like that there. So today was the day. The good doctor sits down with me going over the results of the physical exam and ordered tests. The physical exam…perfect. Cardiac function…perfect. Lab work…in his words his 30-something patients should have labs like these.

“You’re a perfect patient!”, he concludes.

“Yes, except for the depression, anxiety and panic attacks.”, I answer back.

“Yes, there’s that.”

And that is why I use a semicolon all the time.

A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to. Every single day of my life I choose to use a semicolon.

No, not usually with my writing. I know my use of punctuation could easily be criticized…and sometimes is. Have you seen how often I over-use an ellipsis?

No, the semicolon here represents the fact that my story isn’t over yet. Far from it. I am my author and the sentence is my life and as long as I choose to live this life I will choose to use the semicolon…every day.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Some days it is a struggle. Some days it can be almost a knock down, drag out fight. The fight to choose the semicolon, to keep myself grounded in the love others have for me instead of the hate I feel for myself, remains a struggle…and one I don’t always share for so many reasons. I hate being viewed as weak or less than or even just as someone who struggles. I hate being compared to the parent who far too many times in my lifetime tried to put a period at the end of her sentence. I can imagine her pain and her struggle. I lived survived a lot of it with her. It was so hard for her. So very hard. Still, no child should ever be the one to call for help because mommy won’t wake up…again. No child should ever have to try and get her younger siblings out of the house before the ambulance comes to protect them from seeing mommy this way. No child should have to run down the hill that was Davis Lane to flag down the ambulance because you can’t see that gravel road very well in the dark of night. Add that to the many reasons why I, every day, consciously choose to use a semicolon.

I should be stronger than this.

I should be braver than this.

I will always have anxiety. I will struggle from time to time with debilitating depression. I will sometimes become frozen in panic for no rational reason whatsoever. I will, at times, choose poor coping mechanisms. But I will always choose the semicolon.

My story isn’t over yet.

The Semicolon Project 416

with love to the people we practice on


So apparently today is Siblings Day.

Yes, I know some of you are rolling your eyes, shaking your head and muttering under your breath…as you some of you sometimes do over things like this that you might find silly.

Whatever.

The day was created by Claudia Evart, who lost both of her siblings earlier on in life. She chose the date to honor her late sister, Lisette. After losing her two siblings to separate accidents early in life, Claudia realized the importance of remembering our siblings, both living and no longer with us. She has dedicated herself to ensuring the bond of brother and sister is forever recognized as the special gift it is.

Like many, I have these pictures of my brother and sister, who are both gone, but remain with me daily, not just in these pictures, but in my daily thoughts and in my heart. I lost both of them in tragic accidents, making me understand the everlasting bond we have with our siblings.

Yes, I am sentimental, and sometimes very emotional when I remember my late brother, Randy and think of where the consequences of life, our choices and others’ choices brought Randy, Billy, Valerie and me.

Sigh!

So many memories…good, bad, ugly and even WTF parents?! But they are/were ours and as Randy once told me, they are the one thing that we share and share only with each other. No one will ever get any of it and that is okay. Memories like that romper Billy is wearing…that haircut of mine which would be in the WTF parents? column. But ultimately the good is what I think of looking at this picture and other pictures of the four of us. Anything else would likely have destroyed me as it crushed my younger brothers and sister. And so I focus on the magic we created together, the four of us and I give thanks.

Then I celebrate some more because, yes, I have more siblngs!

Sisters…so awesome are they! So much younger than me, so much more smarter than me, more amazing than me and even taller than me now. Our memories are different, still they are good and always make me smile. I’m pretty lucky to have you, Angela and Elana both, as sisters.

But not to be left out, my own clowns began to share today celebrating their siblings.

Nobody tell those kids of mine that this is a dream come true especially when I recall the knock-down-drag-out fights that always ended up in tears, blood drawn and a broken nose or two in the past and maybe even last month.

Honestly, kids!

Zoë shared

And because only siblings are great in that way, Hollie declared this to be probably the worst picture to share.

Oh kids!

So I offer perhaps a better picture.

I have more…lots more…Hollie found some.

Oh the secrets, promises, laughter and tears these four have shared…and the fighting…with blood and a broken nose too that these sisters have shared!

Hollie shared: “Hey Daniel, thanks for being our brother. You kind of didn’t have choice in the matter (does any sibling ever have a choice, I wonder?). But you are literally the best thing to happen to this family. You’re crazy, and awesome, and weird in the best way. You’re brilliant and inquisitive, and so much like the four of us. You’re going to drive mom and dad crazy when you’re a teen (next year, OMG!). You were meant for us. And I love you so much. Happy Sibling Day!”

My heart just exploded with glitter and rainbows and unicorns.

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way. – Pamela Dugdale

 

 

 

selfie love


As if this blog wasn’t self-indulgent enough, I have been participating in a 365 day photo project: the #365feministselfie project.

The what?

Why?

Go ahead and roll your eyes. I know you want to.

You feel better now?

Good.

Talking about one’s sense of self love and self worth, Tamryn Hall recently shared, “It was not a magazine that formed my opinion of myself, it was what my mother told me…“. Ms Hall’s statement struck a very loud chord with me. How true this is. Children learn what they live. She went on recalling all the positive words her mother, her father, her extended family have always said to her about her and how that has always been with her with every success and setback in her life.

When I started writing in this blog, I began because I needed a safe place to put my thoughts, my fears and frustration. My plate was overloaded raising my five children including a very angry teen pushing hard and breaking through as many boundaries as possible and a medically fragile toddler whose weekdays were busy with appointments with specialists, physical therapy, occupational therapy, feeding therapy. My brother had recently died and honestly, it seemed like I was the only member of my family who was mourning him. So much was rattling around in my head that I had to have a place to put it and here is where most of it went. Through the years this has been a place where I could write about what ever I wanted to write about…my thoughts, my fears, my tears, my joys, my opinions…and they all mattered here.

Pretty much my entire life, even now, I have been told what is wrong with me…how I talk, how I walk, the colors in my wardrobe, I’m too skinny, I’m getting fat, my career choice, my parenting choices, my opinions, my beliefs, what I read, what I watch, what I listen to, my thoughts…and on and on and on and on….and it STILL goes on because as I approach my 52nd birthday I still need the correction criticism like I am still a child. It’s hard, very hard to recall ever hearing “I’m proud of you for being you”.

Children learn what they live.

But as this blog grew through the years into more than 3,500 entries, I have evolved and have grown to like me a lot. I like the parent that I am. I like the NICU RN that I am and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. My thoughts, my beliefs and my opinions are indeed my own and they are most definitely just as important as anyone’s…maybe more so to me because they are mine. Ten years of navel-gazing writing has exorcised a lot of demons and damage. Of course, it is a work in progress.

Which brings me to my own #365feministselfie. Pretty indulgent and narcissistic of me, isn’t it? Oh, and definitely attention seeking too.

Enough!

Attention is power.

Of course, the self-portrait is an easy target for charges of self-involvement, but, in a visual culture, the selfie quickly and easily shows, not tells, how you’re feeling, where you are, what you’re doing.

In our age of social networking, the selfie is the new way to look someone right in the eye and say, “Hello, this is me.”

Hello, this is me.

I’m discovering that in this exercise.

I’ve never liked nor respected too much the image that reflected back in the mirror at me. I’ve never really seen what my darling husband has seen and still sees…I recently overheard him say that he has a hot wife. I don’t know if I will ever see what he sees or what my kids see; but I am starting to see things in these selfies that I do like…my curves, my edges and my perfect imperfections.

Self-indulgent.

Of course.

Still it is a very important part of my exercise in self-love.

Self-love is about taking care of yourself inside and out. It’s about reminding yourself that even on your worst hair day with a red zit glowing at  the top of your nose, your heart deserves to smile. A smiling heart and a passionate life will create a beauty within that transcends the standards of most. Only the weak and superficial among us will be unable to see the smile that shines from within because they haven’t earned the privilege to see into our souls.

Added bonus is the kids will have a few pictures of me for my memorial someday.

And if the daily blog ruminations and selfies aren’t enough to cluck one’s tongue over…

It’s my birthday month!