#Onelittleword 2017

A little reflection first…My one little word for 2016 was gap, no not the store, though when I thought about getting that word engraved on a piece of jewelry, I worried people would think I was a big fan of their jeans or shirts or something. (Major flashback to being dropped off at the mall at age 14 and hitting the Gap but never actually buying a single thing.)

 Okay, I’m back. 

So gap…I chose that word because I wanted to increase the gap between things that happened and my reaction to those things. 

 I thought this would be helpful in my mindfulness practice, in the way that I parent my children, at work. 

 I also wanted to increase the space between finishing a writing piece and thinking it was done before immediately sending it off for feedback. 

 I was able to put space between some things in my life before reacting and could have done better in other areas. I am a work in progress and that is how I think about my writing now–a work in progress.  

 Now, I am ready for my new #onelittleword.

 For 2017, my word is: Oxygen

 A friend reminded me a few weeks ago that there’s a reason why the oxygen masks come down and the adult is supposed to take care of their own needs first before assisting the children. She suggested that you have to give yourself the oxygen first so you can be your best. Well, did I need that reminder!

Oxygen is about breathing in. It is the reminder that I must breathe in, be present, and practice mindfulness.

Oxygen gives life. It runs through our blood and the air we breathe. It is everything. In so many ways, I am the Oxygen in my house–intertwined so closely with the lives of the four other people in my house. I must remember this. When I am at my best, the family seems to be at their best. However, I must remind myself that I am not responsible for their Oxygen all the time. They’ve got to breathe it in on their own.

 Creativity and my writing are part of my survival. Like Oxygen, without it, I am lost. I have to remember that.

I am not making Tuesday SOL a resolution, but I am going to try to breathe life back into my blog once in a while.  Today is a good start.

Be well, friends.

-Dana

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A Preposition Poem About the Last Seven Days

Out of the car

Into the house

Through the messy kitchen with dishes stacked high and

Through the family room (which is surprisingly clean!)

Up the stairs I plod

Into my germ infested bedroom

Onto the bed I flop

Under the covers, so cold

Above the covers, so hot

Inside the covers, if feels like a furnace – Yay!

Outside the covers, the sweat is pouring off me

To the bathroom for Tamiflu

Out of the bathroom to go back to sleep

 

 

I will spare you from having to read the other preposition poems I could share…

“From Fine to Fever” (Thursday/Friday)

“Through the Doors of Urgent Care” (Saturday)

“Among the Slicer Living, Look I Managed to Write!” (Saturday)

“Beyond the Sickness, I Creep Away” (Sunday)

“Into Circus Mirandus, Thank You for Writing This Cassie Beasely!” (Sunday)

“After the Sickness, I Still Feel Like I Was Just Hit by a Truck” (Monday)

“After the Sickness, I Feel Just Like I Did on Monday, How is that POSSIBLE?” (Tuesday)

“Out of My Mind Because My Face is Oddly Numb” (Tuesday)

“Into the Emergency Room” (Still Tuesday)

“Since My Husband MADE ME Stay Home Today I Will Watch Copious Amounts of Television. Again. I Mean Seriously, How Much More TV Could One Person Watch?” (Wednesday)

“Before I Knew It, March Was Over, as Was Slice of Life 2016 in Which I Wrote 24 of 31 Days, in Which I am Very Proud of!” (Thursday)

 

Thank you to all the amazingness of the group of ladies that ARE Two Writing Teachers. Thank you for providing this outlet for us. I am so, so grateful.

Also grateful for the comments on my writing that have each moved me and shaped me as a writer and person.

See you all on Tuesdays!

Firsts.

 

My five year old  has been walking around for two weeks with four loose teeth.  When I tell you that these “toofers” have been grotesquely hanging, I am not kidding.

As Saturday’s pick up time was approaching quickly, I had done some prep work with myself.  After all, what were the odds that my son would lose his first tooth before bedtime on Friday?  I had coaxed myself into accepting the fact that it probably would not happen and I was going to be okay. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

In the final hour, mere moments before tuck in, my Chasey came running into the baby’s room spazzing out, wide-eyed and grinning. I shooed him out as I placed Gabby’s blanket on.

“What’s wrong?” I asked him as I rushed out of her room.  By then, Ryan had walked up behind him and Chase was pointing to the gap in his mouth.

I looked up, whispered, “thank you” then rushed to squeeze that boy, my little boy, as blood pooled on his lip and inside his mouth.

When you share your children, there are many missed moments. You rationalize some by telling yourself things like, “The date on the calendar doesn’t matter, it is the celebration that counts.” But sometimes it does matter and missing holidays, birthdays, and especially the firsts can be a heart breaking side of divorce.

This time I was lucky and I am grateful and if the cards are played right, maybe Chase’s father will get to experience the second tooth falling out.

I just hope his Tooth Fairy pays the same as mine.

Chase tooth

A Pet Retrospective

Smokey – This was a gray cat that I only remember because of what I have been told. Apparently, Smokey remained in our house for a very short time due to the terrible allergic reactions that both my brother and dad experienced.  Smokey was sent to “the farm.”

Gerbils – There were two of them and the only memory I have is from being four. My brother and I made a maze of books in his bedroom for the gerbils to run through.  They didn’t last long because by the time we moved to our new house when I was five, they were not present. My only guess is that, they too, landed at “the farm.”

Hamster – This was the first pet I was able to have live in my bedroom.  I must have been about age 7. One Saturday night he was there and on Sunday morning he was gone.  I vaguely remember seeing him in the corner between his wheel and the glass, standing on his head.  Looking back on that now, he was probably dead.

Guinea pig – I remember the smell and it was bad.  I have no recollection of it dying and I do not remember it leaving.

Whiskey – Our miniature “whiskey colored” poodle was a great dog that took to doing her inappropriate private business on my leg or back.  She played hockey with ice cubes and would paw at them until they eventually flew under the refrigerator.  When my family moved out of my childhood home, there was disgusting black mold from years of forgotten melting ice cubes.  When I was a senior in high school, my brother showed up at my lunch break off campus to tell me that my parents had to put her down.  I cried in the parking lot.  One day, years later, I was getting something out of my parent’s trunk. I lifted a square tin can up, turned to my Dad and said, “What is this?” He literally laughed out loud and said, “That’s Whiskey.” I replied, “How long as she been living in this trunk?” On that day, she made it to the mantle of the house.

Sam – I am not sure that Sam, a black miniature poodle, actually counted as one of my pets.  He was in fact the purchase my parents made when I left for college.  He was my replacement and I resented the affections my parents gave to him in my absence.  He had one blue eye which made him interesting to my Mom when she chose him from the litter box from some shady house in Philadelphia. Little did she know that the blue eye was a giant cataract.  That dog couldn’t see, had seizures, and a whole litany of other ailments.  When I was home from school, I tolerated him. He was actually quite cute.  When he had to be put down, my parents were devastated.

Gizmo – This was a chocolate lab puppy that lasted in our apartment for 36 hours due to his intestinal issues.  I was 22 and in a situation/relationship that was not conducive to having a dog.  Right or wrong, we brought that pup back to the store we bought him from and he was sold to another family a couple days later.  I am sure he made that family very happy and lived a good life. (At least that’s what I tell myself.)

Dobby – Dobby was named for Harry Potter’s house elf friend, both loyal and lovable. She was a Rhodesian Ridgeback and the best dog one could ever hope for in this life.  I still miss her shenanigans. The memories of her being sick at the end and me in a room by myself having to say goodbye are just too much to touch with a ten foot pole so I won’t.  Last year, during Slice of Life, I shared this piece about her here: https://wordpress.com/post/lettersfromcoachk.wordpress.com/35

Sasha’s frog – 4th grade’s study of frogs was awesome. When it was done in the 4th grade classroom.  We were “lucky” to be chosen to take one frog home.  It died of natural causes one day (I swear) and we had a funeral in the back yard.

Aside from assorted carnival fish, that I am just leaving out, because well, you know…carnival fish, that about wraps it up.  What can we learn here?  Well my biggest take away is that as a child, some of our pets mysteriously disappeared. Thanks Mom and Dad. I get it. I have three kids. I get it.

Oh, and having a dog in your life, when you are ready for one is one of the most rewarding things in the world, even if they only live on this earth for a short time.

When it Is Time, Say Goodbye

I threw out my old hair dryer. It was around a long time.  Each time I used it I would think about how badly it worked. I don’t know why I held onto it for so long, why anyone would keep something around that never lived up to the promises it had made (on the box) when it was shiny and new.

It would take an extra-long time to dry my hair.  In fact, it took so long that I would be envious of the dryers in hotels that worked so well. I would think how much better it would be to dump my old one but something always held me back.

Was it the money? Was it the comfort of something familiar? Was it the fact that it had just become part of my life and I had accepted it for what it was?

Perhaps it would have been better if I had received an electric shock to my hand or if the blasted thing had lit fire to my hair.  Then I surely would have let it go in a second. With finality, I would have kicked that thing to the curb and never looked back.

There is something satisfying about throwing the past away into a white plastic bathroom trash can.

I replaced it with a purple dryer with attachments and high power. I used it for the first time and felt free, liberated, like a new woman who had been living with a terrible dryer for too many years and never realized how much she was missing.

Sometimes, letting go is best.  It should never be the case that a woman waits for anything to give electric shocks to her hand or for it to set fire to her hair to get rid of a dryer.

A dryer can do a terrible job and that is enough.  A dryer can make terrible sounds in your ear and when it does, say goodbye. A dryer can be a real jerk and that is enough reason to get rid of it.   Never wait. You deserve more.  You deserve better.

Truthfully, I let go of the old “dryer” over five years ago and have had my new “dryer” for four.  He, er… I mean, IT, is a good one and is there for me when I need it.

A Lame Slice of Life

A lame slice of life would be the moment you decide you are going to write this one long sentence then watch Grey’s Anatomy because you spent the day at your nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and the kids were a wreck by the time you got home and you threw down some pizza and got them to bed finally even though it was too dark in his room and there was a scary noise and the arrangement of pillows, stuffed animals, and blankets took extra long and you just feel done inside and out.

Almost

She is almost 11

and as she opened the garage door to go play tonight,

she closed it quick and walked

into the bathroom.

I knew why.

There was a boy outside.

I peeked in to find her

checking her hair.

I grinned and she laughed saying, “What?!?!”

“Your hair looks nice!” I replied.

“Thanks!” she said

then trotted out the door.

She is almost 11

and she put on her bike helmet

without caring about the uncoolness of it all

with her two just-showered braids

dangling below her shoulders.

She is almost 11

and she rode her bike

past the boy playing basketball

and just as she reached his vicinity

she stood up on the pedals,

riding with a little more speed and a little more confidence.

She is almost 11

and I am not ready

for her to be 11

for the need to impress

for the grown up independence

for any of it.

Think I will hold onto 10 for a little while longer

The Me I Dream To Be…

(Inspired by Kathleen Sokolowski’s post: http://couragedoesnotroar.blogspot.com/2016/03/sol16-day-9-me-i-dream-to-be.html )

 

The me I dream to be is unafraid of putting her writing out there, not the slice of life writing, but the picture book manuscripts she has been working on, for others to read without feeling like everyone will think she can’t actually write.

The me I dream to be is confident all the time about what she knows and what she helps others learn without doubting she is smart enough.

The me I dream to be says yes to taking on new things ONLY when saying yes means no unnecessary stress.

The me I dream to be is less hard on herself and more forgiving. She is less about personal guilt-tripping and more about reflective up-lifting.

This Blank Screen

This blank screen overwhelms me today. The cursor blinks – write – write – write – write

My list of numbered ideas is uninspiring.

Some days are like this.

The brain runs through possibilities and the writer shoots each one down.

The kids? No.

Yesterday’s work in third grade? Nope.

The halfway point of March Slicing? Nah.

Ugh.

And now I feel silly for doing the “I don’t know what to write about” slice.

Is it too early to be out of ideas?

No, it’s not.

It’s just that no small moments will come to my mind, none seem worthy.

Today needs to be about paying attention, being more mindful, slowing down.

Today needs to be about having my writer’s notebook by my side.

And if the blank screen is too much, I will fill a single post-it note.

The Difference a Half Year Makes

When my daughter Sasha visited the dentist six months ago, she had a complete melt down. As a recently turned ten year old with a bad gag reflex and high anxiety about the dentist office, it did not go well. There was crying, her actually physically swatting the dental hygienist AND dentist’s hands away from her mouth, and there was of course, sweating.  That was all me.

No part of her meltdown was to be intentionally difficult but a long standing worry of gagging and throwing up had her a complete wreck. The dentist actually told her she had to come back three days later when she was more calm to let her count her teeth. And she did. And it was okay.

When the appointment reminder e-mail arrived two weeks ago, I tried to get out of taking her.  Multiple ideas came to my head…ask her father to take her, ask my husband – her step-dad, ask my dad, ask my friend with no kids, ask a random stranger, play sick.  I really didn’t care who took her, as long as it wasn’t me.

You see, I felt like a lost and tortured soul six months ago at that appointment.  I must have failed as a mother in some way that my daughter was such a disaster.  She was in tears and I was fighting back tears.  She begged for me to make it stop and I begged her to sit in the chair so the dentist could do her job. So Sasha’s teeth didn’t rot. And fall out.

One week ago, I told her about yesterday’s appointment. I timed it just right.  One week away meant time to practice desensitizing her to the dentist’s tools.  Like I did after the dentist invited us back, I would use Q-tips to practice touching her teeth as I held her mouth open with the end of a toothbrush or anything that would resemble the feel of the mirror tugging at her cheek.

But I didn’t get the reaction I had expected.  She was excited.  She told me that she had been practicing brushing her back teeth.  She was ready.  Who was this child/tween/girl/young lady?

I was not ready.  I had been filled with dread for days. I was worried about her, worried for me.  It was stressful for both of us and I didn’t want a repeat experience.

Yesterday was the big day.  The hygienist took her back by herself.  I could see Sasha in the room, from the waiting area.  There was no screaming or crying to be heard and when I finally did catch Sasha’s eye, she mouthed the words, “I did the x-ray already” I bulged my eyes out of my head and gave her a questioning thumbs up, as if to say, “Really?!?!”  She responded with a giant smile and returned with her own double thumbs up and head nodding.

I was invited back just before Dr. Dave came in.  Sasha was beaming.  I was not sweating. It was a glorious moment.

I am reminded that sometimes the best surprises are the ones when you assume the worst and the best happens.

It was a good day.