Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When the Blogger hits the road...

I'm Going to BlogHer '14!
Tomorrow I set out for BlogHer14. One amongst over three thousand other women (and men) who have a passion for writing on a blogging platform, I will soon feel the hum and energy of creative minds at work. Having been to two BlogHer conferences in past years, it is something to experience. This year marks BlogHer's 10th anniversary. Created and launched by three women to be reckoned with: Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page and Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer has become an online platform enabling women's voices to be heard around the world.

When I started blogging in 2007, I was a stay-at-home mom. Often feeling isolated and alone, blogging enabled me to unleash my words upon the page and connect with other women. Some in similar life paths, some vastly different...yet all unique. Their words, and friendships, nourished and inspired me -both as a writer and as a mother.

Today I am on a different path - working full-time, always a mother and a sometimes blogger. I'm hoping to reignite my writing mojo and immerse myself in a community who share the love of sending words out in the world, because they've found nothing like it. Hello...JCK...welcome back!  Because blogging is like riding a bicycle, you never forget...

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

from hot mama to chilled babe

JCK, do you know where your children are?! Yes, she does. JCK is full of glory. JCK is throwing all caution to the winds and letting her children watch a decadent hour of nonsensical cartoons. Now, in all fairness these cartoons are not nonsensical to JCK's children. But...then, children are children. Why are JCK's children planted in front of a large screen TV, eyes rolling around in their heads and brains on ...maintenance mode? Do, TELL JCK! Oh, what's that...a giggle and murmur from the duo? Hark! A conversation between them. This is the best they have gotten along in eons. Days. Hours. Weeks...

Meanwhile, JCK is stashed between piles of papers on her desk, a fan for her hot flashes and a heater for the recent cool temperatures descending upon S. California. JCK's not complaining. Her Modus operandi for the last 2 - 3 years has been dramatic swings of body temperature from hot mama to chilled babe. JCK can work up a sweat without running or walking or even...moving. Hot flashes, yeah! JCK will pause while you count your blessings.  ....pause, pause, pause...

And, then there are the recent conversations with mes enfants on agING.

Le Garçon : Mom, how old were you when you got married?

JCK: 34

Le Garçon : How old were you when I was born?

JCK: 42

Le Garçon : Wow! Wow! Wow! You were... OLD.

JCK smiling through her pain: Yep.

And then there was yesterday:

La Jeune Fille:There's this girl in Kindergarten. When you picked me up she asked if you were my grandmother. I said, 'No, she just has gray hair.'

JCK: So...she thought I was your grandmother? JCK has a slight COUGH...COUGH! 

La Jeune Fille nodding: Because you had gray hair.

JCK and La Jeune Fille both shaking their heads in WONDER at the naivety of a Kindergartner: tisk...tisk... 

Did JCK mention that Le Garçon spent several hours in the Principal's office last Friday? For drawing penises on figures in a copy of a friend's book...Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  There is nothing wimpy about penises, n'cest pas? Are they BORN penis focused?

Right when JCK was answering the call from the Principal... JCK's boss was emailing her multiple messages because she could not remember what her password was for the conference call. JCK is truly talented at multi-tasking. And, drinking caffeine. Whoosh...there goes another HOT FLASH. Just thinking about the last week has JCK flashing on and off like a traffic light in front of a ...liquor store. Hello, Jack Daniels...

On Monday, JCK's children didn't have school. That evening while JCK's brother and nieces stopped by for a visit, La Jeune Fille made a dramatic exit after dinner and emerged from her room bearing a pan of perfectly baked pumpkin bread that she and Le Garçon had baked ...themselves. In fact, while JCK's Mancake was out trimming a massive olive tree in the front yard, La Jeune Fille and Le Garçon had craftilly followed the directions on a boxed mix of pumpkin bread and baked a perfectly moist, delectable Pièce de résistance...even throwing in a few chocolate chips for inspiration.

Ooh la la...JCK is counting her blessings. She may be called to task on drawings of penises and blunt questions on aging, but JCK... she's a lucky gal. She's got children who question the world, bake on their own, and a MANcake that's calorie free. Red light. GREEN light. All night long...YO! YO! YO!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I didn't imagine this as me...

I'm not sure how I arrived at this juncture in my work life. I find myself dining alone in my hotel reflecting upon a day of work, and how much my life has changed over the last 3 months. I am digesting more, much more, than my dinner. I didn't imagine this as me...

I have entered the world of business travelers -not something I am familiar with. It is odd to dine alone after so many years of marriage and a decade of children. I wonder if I appear as furtive as the other two solo diners here, checking their cell phones, faces illuminated in blue light, assuaged by their electronic dinner partners.

As I savor my glass of wine and dig into my steak, I am conscious of the table across the room. Two men with rounded bellies and loud guffaws, arms casually flung across the back of the booth, leaning in toward two women plump with laughter in girly, exaggerated pitch. Some things change, and some things remain the same. This scene has played out before.

It is pleasurable to sink back into my leather booth, watching the drama unfold outside, as the winter storm whips the trees and flings raindrops at the windows above the bar. It's been a long day and my brain is done. I will go back upstairs, dive into the comforts of a good mattress, and give myself the gift of sleep. Tomorrow I need sharpness and agility of mind to decipher this new job and all that it entails...

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Friday, February 14, 2014

to declare one's love... and to receive that love

I sit by myself on this Valentine's night sipping on a glass of wine and eating a dinner of buttered toast with raspberry jam, a full moon bathing the trees in wondrous light out my home office window. I am content, more than content, bordering have this time to myself to write and contemplate the bounty that is my life in the here and now.

Tonight, my husband is engaged in a gift of volunteerism, partaking in a scripted play of Where the Wild Things Are for our church's Parish Camp. I can imagine him fully engaged to the awe and amusement of both children and parents, as he helps in a capacity for love and giving that he excels at. I'm not sure he knows the gift he has given me... to allow me the space to be here at home, alone, thinking of him and rejoicing in who he is after these 18+ years of marriage. If there is anything I have no doubt of, it is that he loves me deeply.

This morning my son, Slade, rushed into our bedroom urging me to come to the dining room post haste. A bit bleary eyed, and with gray hair sticking up in all directions, I made my way there to see a vision of boxes of chocolates and cards at each of our places at the table. My son declared that life is good, and I agreed. What better way to awaken than to find chocolates and a card at my place at the table. My daughter, Eleanor, awakened by the sounds of joy, made her way out into the fray taking in the surprise at her place, reveling in her Daddy...the Bestower of Chocolate.

Valentine's Day has become a Hallmark card, but perhaps it is good to stop and mark a day to declare one's love... and to receive that love. In this time of life when my body is moving to the side of aged over young, I am incredibly blessed to have a husband who takes aging in stride and believes it is a natural passage. It feels especially good on mornings when I look in the mirror and can't see past the shock of my own ripening senescence.

My age is as a lusty winter, frosty but kindWilliam Shakespeare

I have known many kinds of love in my life. Certainly the love I feel for my children is all consuming and constant, stretching me to depths I couldn't have imagined.  Yet, there is something to be said for the love between long term partners. Love ebbs and flows and grows stagnant, but if you're fortunate, a fresh snowfall can bring a rush of clean water to feed your soul...

Photo credit: Illustration by Maurice Sendak, from his book "Where the Wild Things Are".

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Sunday, February 2, 2014

...because sometimes this is enough

There are days when I yearn for a bigger house, for more money, for more stuff... for just more. And, there are days like this one, where I am content to be in my tiny corner of our sun porch in which I've carved out my own space - sharpened pencil next to my lap top, the bank of windows to my right where I look out and watch the clouds scuttling across the sky, hinting of much needed rain.

It is that yearning for more that sits like a slavering dog on one shoulder and duels with the other side, the lovely, contented plump Buddha. The viral discontent roils with fierce dissatisfaction, while the blissful contentedness of loving and being loved lies so quietly it can be overlooked.

It is on days such as this, when I hear of the death of the immensely talented Phillip Seymour Hoffman, that I question how I could ever be dissatisfied...because, I am a living, breathing soul still walking the earth, tackled by my son, adored by my daughter and loved by my husband.

But, I am fallible and weak, hungry for what I don't have, battling with an ego and a wanting that rages through me. Someday I hope to have more moments of knowing a peace in my being, taking time to breathe in the gifts that I do have and to let go of the putrid breath of fear that stalks me in the light of day. For today I will step outside the door, tilt my face up to the wind and breathe...because sometimes this is enough.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Now YOU are part of the magic of Santa

"Mommy, tell me the you fill the stockings and leave out presents?"

I had anticipated its arrival, had managed to skirt around it over Christmas. But, this time, the flight of my ten year old's question flew through still air, in the quiet room, landing... a direct hit... eye to eye, child to mother.

"Do you really want to know?" I asked. My son nodded, eyes pinning mine for a second then looking away. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. And, so I told him, as my mother told me all those years ago, when I asked her. "Yes, sweetie, it IS us."

Emotions washed across his face in quick succession...relief, surprise, and something that looked like...regret.

" Does that make you sad?" I asked softy.

"Maybe...a little. But, I STILL believe in Santa," said my son, King of Magical Thinking.

"We all believe in the magic of Santa," I said.  "Did kids tell you at school?"

He nodded. 

"I remember when a kid told me at school and I came home and asked Ma'Mai if it was true. She told me and I cried." He nodded in sympathy, his big blue eyes round as marbles.

"You mean you bought that keyboard?" he asked.

"Dad did."

"Are we BROKE?! he exclaimed. "Because, that cost A LOT of money!"

Then... not quite ready to acknowledge the inevitability, he said "But, what about the hand print on the letter that Santa left?"

 I whispered... "It's the magic. Think about all of the people for generations who have believed in Santa. Now you are part of the magic of Santa. You are entrusted with this spirit of Santa and must not reveal the magic to other children." A tall order for a child with impulse control, yet I think he is ready.

"Did you know that when Daddy was a little boy, he came downstairs on Christmas morning and there were foot prints coming out of the fireplace?" I asked.

Reflecting aloud he said, "Well, they probably stepped in there and stomped around."

I smiled and raised my eyebrows.

"I STILL believe in Santa. There really IS a Santa," he said with earnestness. And we moved on...

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Having a better life is not necessarily... an easier life

On the evening of the 30th, as I was out walking with my daughter and looked up, I saw a shooting star streak across the night sky. It was my first experience, and it was breathtaking. It was an invitation to be present.  It happened so fast, if I hadn't been looking up in that moment...I would have missed it. The New Year has brought hope with it - for a more creatively productive year, prioritizing quality time with family, and a desire to be healthy in mind, body and spirit.

I started walking a few months ago. Inspired by my sister-n-law, who has been walking for a few years, it has become time carved out for me. Whether listening to NPR's The Ted Radio Hour or The Story or This American Life, the stories inspire and energize me, and I traverse for greater distances than I first imagined. With my headphones on, I am in my own insular, intellectually stimulating bubble...without interruptions. For a mother, this IS sacred space. What started as a "should do," has evolved into a "have to do" for my own personal sanity. It has become much more than a routine, but a way of being that is necessary and natural. I love the feel of my muscles connecting- the rhythm and cadence of moving my own body forward ...heel to toe, heel to toe.

I don't remember a time in recent past where I've been so ready to shed the previous year and all the baggage it contained. I still struggle with the concept that life is challenging, that this is normal, and that it will continue to be so for the rest of my life. I have spent much of my life longing for some kind of end to witnessing and feeling pain. The rigors and whip lash effects of daily life have made me yearn for  life to go down a little easier, like butter on toast- often looking ahead or back with a repetitive WHAT IF???...That if my life was more together, it would morph into a steady happiness. But, that kind of life would be mind numbing and ruinous. Wouldn't it?

Having a better life is not necessarily an easier life. More choices, more unknowns - more knowns and more expectations. To use walking as an analogy, I debate within myself whether having a destination is essential to our being. As I learn and grow on this path called life, I believe it is vital to have a destination that leads to another and another. The act of walking has opened me up in ways I had not imagined. And, with it has come the realization that the end goal can be to circle back home...

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