A Vacation in My Own Home: Why I Unplugged

A Vacation in My Own Home: Why I Unplugged

I was on deadline Friday night. I stayed up until 2AM writing for a client to push to get it all done. I had already extended the deadline far too many times, and I knew if I didn’t get all the writing done before bed, it would spill into the next week. Why? My daughter’s first birthday party was the next day and my whole family was coming to stay for two days. And this is why I forced myself to finally get all my backlogged work done, and after that, why I unplugged: I wanted to take a vacation in my own home.

Vacation From What?

I am starting my own business; it is messy; it is busy; it is organized chaos. My days typically consist of morning writing, a quick motivational piece for my Facebook group for empowered women, then catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, and my own website. All of this takes about an hour, involved finding a quote I love that relates to the empowerment theme of the day, writing my response to said quote, posting on social media, and responding to others’ comments from the night before.

Often, amid this work my children wake up, jump on me, and require breakfast, and, you know, attention. Continue reading…    

Always Be Compassionate: Let Me Persuade You

Always Be Compassionate: Let Me Persuade You

Because I write for clients and I have a million things going on in my head at once, I typically have no problem hitting a 500 word a day limit without addressing the prompts given in my Facebook group, so I don’t always address them. But today’s prompt kept nagging me. “What would you write to persuade someone of something?” Finally, I realized why. I do in fact want to influence every single person I meet to always be compassionate.

Always Be Compassionate

The ABCs of life, right? There are so many opportunities to be kind to others, and you will find, once you try it, that it becomes infectious. It is like a drug. You want more – more opportunities to make people smile, to make people feel good about themselves.

Smile at someone. I am sure you have heard this before. It is really hard not to smile at someone who is smiling at you, especially one of those big, wide, Julia Roberts smiles. You just have to smile back. Try to be the one who initiates the smile. Go around grinning. Why the hell not?

Image: Getty Images North America

Yes, I know Americans are joked about. Why do we insist on smiling all the time? And I’ve heard the feminist argument: “stop telling women to smile!”

But so what? Just freaking smile. It is amazing the effect a smile can have on others as well as on yourself.

Don’t Forget Yourself

In fact, start with yourself. Yes, you count here. Why, why, why do we forget in all of our acts of kindness to also be kind to ourselves?Continue reading…    

The Thing About Advice: You Have to Be Ready

The Thing About Advice: You Have to Be Ready

I typically don’t look for writing prompts. I find inspiration throughout the day, through reading others’ essays, blogs, books, through conversation or an experience. But I am part of this writing group, 500 Words a Day, and a recent prompt asks what advice you would give yourself 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or 1 year ago. I thought about it for a few hours. What advice would I give my past self? But here’s the thing about advice: you have to be ready for it.

Ready For It

In fact, that’s the thing about everything. You could meet the love of your life on the subway 15 years before you are actually ready to connect to him, and you will walk right past each other, uninterested, if you are not ready.

Your dream job will remain completely unavailable to you until you are ready for it, and then you will kill the interview and shoot for the stars in your new position.

I tell my students this all the time. If that college doesn’t accept you, another one will, and you will do well in college when you are ready to. Period. The colleges that don’t accept you aren’t ready for someone like you, and your performance will be based on what you are ready for.Continue reading…    

The Most Important Day of My Life: I Lost Everything

The Most Important Day of My Life: I Lost Everything

I am involved in a 500 words a day challenge with a group led by a writer I admire, Jeff Goins. He recently wrote a book I am listening to called Real Artists Don’t Starve. I am a firm believer in this concept, so I bought the book, and so far, so good. So when the opportunity to join his Facebook group “500 Words a Day” came up, I jumped. Yesterday, I was supposed to write about the most important day of my life.

No Brainer

I thought I had it all figured out. Duh, the day I ran away from home.

I was all set to write about it, until I was talking with my mother this morning.

“I’m at rock bottom.” She sobbed into the phone. “Rock bottom.”

Now, let me say, my mother tends toward the dramatic. She is most certainly not at rock bottom. She is actually at one of the greatest moments of her life. But my mother’s blessing and curse is that she is very childlike. She lives in the moment, like an innocent child does.

This is a truly beautiful thing in many ways.

She gulps down happiness in great waves. She reaches highs like few people I’ve seen.

The downside to this is that the slightest thing can send her spiraling downward.

“Good.” I said calmly into the phone. “Good.”Continue reading…    

Adolescent Freedom: Giving My Children What I Never Had

Adolescent Freedom: Giving My Children What I Never Had

“Ugh, I know, I know.” My mother sighs, on her recent trip here for the New Year. “I was a horrible mother, and I didn’t protect you. I think I’m ready for some tequila now.”

She was, kind of, being dramatic.

And also kind of not.

It is true that she didn’t protect me from my stepfather. He came into my life when I was seven years old. I was willful, strong, confident, and sure of what I wanted. My mother was young and lost in love, stars in her eyes over the high school sweetheart that had returned to her.

He was macho, all bluster and ball swinging.

“You want me to take care of it?” He turned to my mother and asked one night. I was fighting bedtime again, as I always did. He had just moved in with us. I was eight.

And she let him. Continue reading…    

A Mother’s Task: Life Through the Eyes of My Child

A Mother’s Task: Life Through the Eyes of My Child

Easily one of the most important jobs I take on as a mother is to see life through the eyes of my child. I don’t know that I ever tried to walk in anyone else’s shoes before I met my husband. I’m not saying I was a bad person per se; I did a lot of good for a lot of people. I just didn’t spend a lot of time looking at things from other people’s perspectives. My idea of what was right and what was wrong was clear. I didn’t need to see through someone else’s eyes.

When I met Carlos, he was always soothing my self righteousness.

“I can’t believe she would do that!” I would say about some coworker or family member.

“Well,” he would begin calmly. “Imagine if you were her.”

And he would walk me down a road of deep empathy, the like I had never seen.Continue reading…    

What the Health? The Emotional Labor of Motherhood

What the Health? The Emotional Labor of Motherhood

A writer friend of mine has been talking a lot on social media about the emotional labor of motherhood. Recently, she added an essay to her website as a culmination of her ideas and how she plans to tackle this heavy burden. I mostly agree with her points, and on a few points I disagree.

Amanda makes an excellent case: motherhood is mentally demanding. We mothers are in charge of not only a clearly uneven amount of household chores, many of us also work outside the home in various forms, and then we carry the mental load of worrying, planning, prepping, and just knowing.

Just Knowing

I know when my daughters’ checkups are; I know when they need to have their teeth cleaned; I know what we’re out of in the kitchen; I know what we need to cook each week; I know what needs to be bought both food wise and supply wise; I know what bills need to be paid and when; and so on and so on ad nauseum.

My husband knows to do what I tell him.

No joke.Continue reading…    

The Real Lesson of Christmas: Wishes Come True

The Real Lesson of Christmas: Wishes Come True

What I love about Christmas, what I have always seen as the real lesson of Christmas, is that wishes come true. Christmas allows us to hope for something, sometimes it’s rollerblades or a Playstation (I was twelve okay?) and other times it’s peace and joy. Christmas, for me, has always been about possibilities. I could get anything when I opened all those wrapped presents.

I almost always got the big thing I asked for, no matter how broke we were or how long my mom had to put stuff on layaway at Kmart. Our PG&E could get shut off the next day, but damn it we were going to get our hearts’ desire.

Transition

As we got older and moved out my mom just kept buying shit and shoving it under the tree. She bought me a five dollar blouse from Amazon last year. It buttons up in the front. I haven’t worn a button up blouse since the nineties. And even then it was a bad look on me.

Thanks Mom. Continue reading…    

And a Tear Fell: A Father Daughter Story

And a Tear Fell: A Father Daughter Story

We went into San Francisco today, watched a play at the Children’s Creativity Museum, had lunch at the Metreon, took a picture with Santa and bought some ornaments in Santa Land inside the Macy’s on Union Square, and finished our night off watching ice skaters in Union Square. I want to talk more in depth about trips into the city, but I’m tired. It’s been a long week, so I want to tell you a quick father daughter story and then take my ass to bed.

After a long day, Celaya was emotional from all the excitement, and we were headed over to watch ice skaters.

We came across a regular in this area at this time of year, a giant metallic rainbow colored angel. I have seen this guy dressed like this several times over the past few years, Carlos has chatted him up a few times, but Celaya has always been shy around this imposing figure.

Not This Year

This year, as she and Carlos began to walk past him, Celaya turned and walked right up to him. Continue reading…    

Personal, Professional, and Political Perspective

Personal, Professional, and Political Perspective

When things get really hard, at home because I am overwhelmed, at work because I feel disenchanted, or politically because I feel absolutely hopeless, I remember to put things into perspective. Personal, professional, and political perspective gives me hope. I remember that if I feel this way, someone else must. I am not, after all, a unicorn. I am not the only liberal feminist, the only part time working stay at home mom, the only teacher fighting to actually educate the leaders of tomorrow. Perspective. There are others like me, and even better, we are legion.

Motherhood

It is hard. Being a mom is a hard job. I would say that it is thankless, but because I am not only mostly stay at home but also homeschooling, I think I get a lot more thanks than most other hardworking moms. My kid is with me almost all of the time, so she is constantly reminding me how much she loves me and wants to be with me (I think if she could crawl back inside me, she would).

But of course being with your children all the time comes with its own challenges.

“Honey, can you just sit next to me? Do you have to sit on me?” I say this to Celaya as she squirms her way into my lap while I sit on the floor this morning chatting with Carlos. Continue reading…