It has felt like a rough few weeks. A few days ago our water heater burst in our basement, ruining the floor, baseboards and some of the walls, and they found asbestos. Luckily we were home and not traveling, as the water heater was continuously refilling and emptying, it started in the middle of the night and we found it the next morning. We took this week off to recharge a bit, so starting Sunday morning using the wet vac to suck out the water, call plumbers for new water heaters, and the insurance company was not how I wanted to start a week of vacation. Additionally, most of Nico’s toys are downstairs and it is where we spend the most time with him.
I am not going to lie. I’ve been extremely frustrated and short. I had a plan for how we were going to spend the week. Day dates with Chris, sleeping in as much as Nico would let us, and definitely not waiting for contractors to come or sitting on the phone to find out the insurance process is extremely slow and frustrating.
And then…we take a moment and realize that the insurance company is slow and frustrating because they have been on the phone with families in California who have lost their homes. My heart goes out to those that have lost their homes and it is a startling reminder that the flooding in our basement while annoying and disruptive is not nearly as big of a deal when I think of all the families that may not have a home. Interesting how quickly things can be put in perspective.
A few weeks ago a good friend was attacked in the face by a stranger and may need to undergo reconstructive surgery to his face. It took me almost a week to process that this happened. My friend is extremely fit and definitely capable of taking care of himself and hearing about the experience made me realize how vulnerable we all are – which can be scary. As a woman I am always aware of when I am safe or not, and when I am alone at night how freaky it can be. To learn that someone I care about was hurt, and probably did not have a moment to react, makes me fearful, but also aware that we never really know what is going to happen next. If we live in fear then we are never really living. A group of friends that love him started this Go Fund Me to raise money for his recovery. Feel free to contribute if your heart desires. He is one of the really good ones, and always takes care of others.
Like I said it has been a rough few weeks (other things in addition to the water heater and my friend) but I will not bore you with the details. Instead I am hopeful that I am reminding you to look up and squeeze the hand of someone you love, give them a hug, tell your kid how much you appreciate and love them, or maybe it is a coworker that could use a little lift. We always have more than we realize even when the world throws curveballs our way. Just take a moment to see and be grateful for the little things even when they may be hardest to see.
As I think about the things I want Nico to know and truly understand deep inside, it is to see and be seen. I believe it encapsulates most of what everyone really wants. I have an idea for a tattoo on my wrist and I just might one day get off my ass and get it. Is it possible to do without needles? It would say: listen. It is a reminder for me to truly listen to others (undistracted) and for me to demand that others do the same for me.
I am currently reading an interesting book, called “The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker. It has given me so much inspiration in my corporate and personal life about how we approach time together, how we respect and appreciate others’ time, and how to pull off the best of gatherings. Less Martha Stewart style that errs on the side of the perfect place setting and more pondering the lead up to the event, how do you connect with your guests before hand, and how do you truly pull off a successful time by planning an experience and not just a conference, meeting, dinner, etc.
A page I read over the weekend said:
“A good life is about seeing and being seen.” page 199
It sent my mind wandering to how many times I have felt that. How often do you go to someone’s house and feel odd because the hosts do not really find a way to weave together why they are having people over, and why they have selected those they have brought into their home? It also brings fresh memories of wonky corporate gatherings where individuals are disconnected, uncomfortable, and uninterested to mingle but required to hang together.
I have not finished the book, but am inspired to bring the ideas Parker shares to fruition in my life. To create a meeting that has purpose and desired outcome and the attendees know why they are there and leave inspired with a plan and next steps. To think about my dinner parties and how the individuals that come into our home feel the energy of what we want to share with them. I encourage you to pick up her book. There are some slow spots, but all in all I have some new ideas of how I will engage differently with others I meet with — more aware of the outcomes I want, and more focused on the individual. If we each remember that just as we want to be seen, we remember to see others.
It has been a while since I have written a blog post. I have started and stopped writing over the past year. I write one and then it doesn’t feel like me, so I never publish it. In the past few weeks/months I have been doing a lot of exploring, reading, and questioning. What does motherhood look like for me? What do I want out of life? Am I in the right job? Do I enjoy my life? What is missing? How am I not pushing myself to grow to my life’s potential?
I am not new at this game. There are millions and millions of mothers out there that work or stay at home. We all ponder if we are enough, if we have enough, if we are giving and loving enough. Nothing I am telling you is new. I keep wondering if I should let go of the corporate world and do something different, if I should change careers, and after talking to someone a few weeks ago, they said something so simple:
“Do you have to give up anything? Can you do it all?”
There are days when I can do it all, and there are days when my brain is so thoroughly wrung out, fried, and everything is taken from me that I feel I have nothing to give. Usually the universe is laughing at me because those are the days when Nico wakes up in the middle of the night with a night terror about pizza (yes, that happened a few nights ago).
What I am learning right now is that I do not have to have it figured all out. The more I live in the moment, the faster things work out. Whether it be that urge to go get a coffee (when really I do not want one) only to run into someone I really needed to talk to that day. Or, to be listening and clear and the thought comes to me that I do not need to be in the meeting that is full of mansplainers that are driving me crazy — repeating just what I and other women in the room already said. So I can make a choice. I can get up and leave, call them out, or mentally check out of the meeting and ponder more important things. Or, maybe it is that moment when you know you need to text a friend and you are not sure why, but you do and find out they needed some extra TLC from you that day.
So take a deep breath, know that you do not have to figure it all out, and you might actually be able to do it all. Oh, and those mansplainers? Just breathe in and out and decide if they are worth any of your energy.
The holiday season has begun and yet again this year I find myself struggling to find where I fit in. My mom got sick when I was 12 and I have such a short window of ever remembering a good Christmas. I remember the ones that were sad, lonely, and devoid of much joy. My mom was sick or we did not have money for food and bills so gifts, Christmas, and Santa were not top on the list.
Somehow my dad loved Christmas and yet what I saw of that was the love of decorating, the ambience that made it seem that all was well when really it was not. I am torn by my ghost of Christmas past, and how I really have never gotten into the Christmas spirit since I was 12. It has always felt forced and fake to me. I have been at other Christmas’ as an adult where the kids involved ripped their gifts open and only asked for more. It rubbed me the wrong way and I vowed to never breed that in my family. I either do not want to celebrate it the way the rest of the world does, or I want to create a different story. Chris agrees.
Added to my ghost of Christmas past — is that Nico’s birthday is on Christmas. Due to my past I would rather spend the day celebrating him and his birthday than Christmas. Yet, how do we do that when others in our life might not understand where we are coming from? I have long had the opinion (and have shared in other blogs) that I do not want to lie to Nico about Santa. I think there is a way to keep the world magical and real and not lie to our children. How do we ever expect them to trust us if we lie to them? Magic can happen with honesty. Did we all just get sucked into the story of Christmas? The one that circles back to Black Friday, retail, and consumerism? Or is it about spending time together, shared experiences, and giving to others? How many of us actually do that during the holiday season?
Gratefully, Nico will not know the difference this year, but next year will be different. This year (whether his birthday, or if we decide to do an actual Christmas) he is delighted to just have us open a box from Amazon Prime — even if the box contains batteries. Even better when it has a toy truck or school bus.
Call me extreme, but this momma is torn on what to do and how to bring the true spirit of Christmas into Nico’s life.
We all just want to be loved. I think of it often — when I feel I am acting out, when I see a colleague lose it, a friend struggle, or loved one unhappy. At the heart of everything love is the core of why we do so many things. We want it. We want it all the time. This idea from Mark Nepo in “The Book of Awakening” says it all for me:
“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.
When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.
It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”
I was thinking about it in relation to Thanksgiving Day. Think about how loved you are and share that with others this week. Even if you might not feel loved – you are. Someone said in a meeting recently “You get what you give.” I love that. It is so true. As we go into a day of gratitude and thanks, remember to take off your gloves and get rid of your layer of protection. Be the raw and real you.
Make sure the doorknob feels cold, and the car handle feels wet, and maybe you will get more kisses goodbye, or maybe you should give them more often.