Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Messy Middle

Yesterday, I was reading Buddha's Brain by Rick Hanssen, and I was struck by his description of the stages of learning. He defined them as unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence.

It reminded me of Harry Wong's stages of classroom management that I wrote about in my posts on surviving and experiencing mastery as a parent. But, as usually happens with ideas, I spiralled deeper into it this time.

Unconscious incompetence. It's the worst. It's when we're most likely to quit something, including mindful meditation, because we realize we suck, and IT SUCKS to suck.  I get it. With my deepest core.

Then, today, i was reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown (Yes, I'm reading both at the same time. Shut up. I'm also reading Rick Riordan's The Red Pyramid, but so far that one is less relevant to the story).

And the chapter that I turned to was about how you can't skip Day 2.

Day 2, the point of no return, it sucks. It's when you feel the most vulnerable because you know you can't go back to how things were, but you don't have the skills yet to do things right.

Damn it, universe.

I want to quit writing.  I have for a while. I had a taste of success, a taste of being seen, of saying things that were important and mattered. Of creating something which made me feel proud.

But now, here I am in the middle. The doubt that Brene talks about when she discusses her meeting at Pixar, it's so real and so universal. What if the NEXT thing I write isn't good? What if I never write anything good again? I don't want to be here, I don't want to be vulnerable. I don't want to suck at this, to feel helpless and incompetent.

Guys. I could spend years in the middle, knowing that I needed to do something and not knowing how to do it. I don't want to be here anymore.

So maybe the only way out is forward.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Why isn't radical acceptance fixing me?" and other silly thoughts about self care

So lately, the universe seems to be throwing mindfulness in my face from all directions. And I am doing my best to catch it, but sometimes I instead get hit in the face.

I've been watching the free online mindfulness summit this month and it's fantastic. In one of the talks, though- okay, in a lot of them - the speaker said, But you can't be mindful of a thought and be trying to get rid of it. That won't work.

Dammit. Why not?

I know this. What we resist persists. The point is to see and acknowledge the thoughts, but see them as separate. Watch them travel by. Wave at them.

And beat them with a bloody stick and then stomp my foot when they haven't gone away yet.

Wait. No. That's not right.

I want to take better care of myself. I've been in shut down mode lately. My skin is breaking out in a rash. My shoulders constantly ache. My mind is constantly running and jumping and screaming in my face. I''m snapping at my kids. I'm not getting my work done. I'm a disappointment.

So. I need to take better care of myself.

So I get out that stick again and start beating myself until I feel better.

Great plan.

I love to write. I love to learn. I love to meditate. I love to run. I love to do yoga. I love to read. I love to sleep.

But for goodness sakes, if I try to do it all in one day I'm just going to melt down more.

So here's my message for all my sisters out there who are beating themselves with the same stick.

It's enough. Take a breath. It's enough. You're enough. You are loved. Thanks for sitting with me and taking that breath.

It's enough.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I'm not a huge fan of socks. Or shoes for that matter. If I could go straight from flip flop season to Ugg season, I would be content.

But fall insists on happening every year.

Since I am an adult, I can suck it up and put on some socks and shoes every day for a few months each year. My children have not yet reached that point.

"My Crocs!" They cry every day when it's time to leave the house.

"It's fifty degrees out."


After much sweet talking, finagling, bribing, and wrestling, I can usually get their feet covered and get them out the door.  But as soon as we get home again, the shoes come off (which is encouraged) and so do the socks.

And they disappear into the abyss.

We bought BG a 12 pack of socks a month ago. Two nights ago, we were headed out to a dinner party, and the socks she had worn that morning were gone, so I ran upstairs to grab a new pair.

No socks in her drawer. 20 different socks in the clean laundry basket, but no matches. No dirty socks on the hamper.

I let out a blood curdling roar. My husband called up the stairs, asking if I was okay and pointing out that perhaps my reaction was a bit irrational.

I exhaled. Grabbed two almost matching socks. Added kid socks to my shopping list.

Fist bump, Sisyphus. I'll trade you that rock for some socks.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Anne Lamott told me to write about school lunches and this is what happened.

The lunches my mom packed always had a treat along with the sandwich and fruit. At school, I liked different things from time to time, but that one summer at YMCA daycamp, it had to be chips.

We sat in a circle. We ate outside, in the grass, under a tree.  We must have been the older kids because we sat outside the fence of the playground.

Someone would empty out a paper lunch bag and we would pass it around, everyone emptying the contents of whatever snack our parents had packed into the bag. Chips, popcorn, crackers, pretzels. Even broken pieces of chocolate chip cookies.  Then the bag would go in the middle and we'd all help ourselves to snack mix that tasted like belonging.

Except that one day, my mom skipped the chips and gave me Tastykakes instead. I don't know if she'd run out or just thought I might like a change, but there it was, cream filled chocolate cupcakes. A twin pack. Utterly snack mix able.

I was mortified. I had nothing to add to the bag. I still sat in the circle, but that day I was outside and went home and yelled at my mother. She was so confused. The bag wasn't the kind of thing you told your mother about.

Friday, July 17, 2015


I have a scrolling problem.

I wake up in the morning and I start scrolling. I scroll through Facebook then Instagram, sometimes a deal blog or two, then usually open Facebook again. I stare at it absent mindedly for a second, trying to figure out what's wrong before realizing I've already read it all.

I'm not writing, I'm not connecting, I'm not even really reading. I'm just scrolling.

I'm not sure what I'm looking for. Well, that's not completely true. I'm pretty sure I do know. I'm lonely. I'm bored. I'm hoping that by scrolling I can make myself feel better, can somehow fill up the parts of me that feel empty.

But it doesn't work. It never works. Scrolling is never going to be the thing that saves me. I need to do something else.

I'm not sure what to do.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I am curled up on my couch in my pajamas with both of my kids lying on top of me and a stuffed Piglet on my chest. We are watching sesame street and I am mindlessly scrolling my fb feed.

I'm not okay.

It's probably confusing to a lot of people because it's pretty much the same way I look when I am okay. Because I'm sure there are a lot of people who think it sounds divine. And really, I'm sure there's a lot about it that is. I'm grateful. I am. And I'm sad.

A lot of my friends are doing big things. Running and attending conferences. Running for city council. Writing books.

Getting together in small groups and posting pictures.

Yeah that kind of feels like a big thing today too.

I decreased my meds a few weeks ago. I was sure it was the right choice. And maybe it was. Maybe these are real feelings that needed to come through and be listened to. I kind of feel like I've didn't the past year in a daze. But now I'm sad and lonely and I don't wanna be.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Are bad guys real?

"Mommy," says BG  from the back seat of my car, "mermaids can hold their breath underwater for a long time, even when they're talking."

"Yup, they sure can." I pause for a second. "I mean, you know mermaids aren't real, right?"


"Oh. Yeah. Mermaids are just in stories, honey, like dragons."

"Oh. Okay. What about bad guys?"

"...You want to know if bad guys are real?"


There's a long silence.

What would be the easy answer here? "Nope, they just exist in fairy tales. Villains are just in stories." "Yup, there's lots of bad guys in the world."

Neither seems right.

"That's a really good question honey. People do bad things sometimes."

"So that makes them bad guys?"

And then I know it, the truth.

"No. It doesn't. It doesn't make  them bad guys. It just makes them people who do bad things. And you really can't know which people are going to do bad things just by looking at them, which is why you have to be careful with strangers. But I guess the answer is, no. There are no bad guys in the world. People just do bad things sometimes. Does that make sense?"

"Sure! I get it."

Which is funny because you're four. And I'm pretty sure I didn't get it until just now.

Friday, February 6, 2015


It's a trait I see and admire so, in other people.

Your grace, your courage, your vulnerability.

But I'm just a mess, they say. I'm just muddling through.

I have yet to figure out how to explain that that's the part that's amazing, that the willingness to be imperfect and out in the world, to play it strong and wrong if they have to (like my band director used to say), is what I admire, what I envy.

How much I wish I was the kind of person who could do anything at all, right or wrong, without thinking about it for 12 hours first and regretting it for 48 hours after.

I messed up, guys. I didn't finish NaBloPoMo, and I was so embarrassed I shut down for three months.

 I'm so embarrassed of how embarrassed I was.

Showing up here after all this time scares me, maybe more than it should. I'm afraid that no one will care, that it doesn't matter. I'm so afraid.

But the only way to get courage is by practicing it.

Which is a sucky way for that to work if you ask me.