Wednesday, November 15, 2006
One unique characteristic about Wolfie was his nightly patrol of the hallway. Every evening without fail, he would skulk up and down the hall of our home and meow a sound that came out as “Hello”. This always scared the daylights out of unsuspecting overnight guests and I’d have to explain to them that is was just the cat doing his nightly rounds. Last night, Wolfie roamed the hallways conducting his final aria of “Hello’s”. My heart broke as I realized that it would be a matter of hours before we’d both say our final farewell.
As morning came, my heart was heavy with the impending, painful event ahead. At the vet’s, I made the decision to stay with Wolfie. I only felt it was the right thing to do. This was his deepest hour of need and I couldn’t abandon him for my own emotional welfare. Much to my surprise and comfort, he purred to the very end. An overwhelming grief stuck at the core of me the second he was gone. I was quickly comforted by knowing that he’d led a full, carefree, wonderful life. The pain he had been enduring for the past several months had ceased and he was at peace.
When I returned home with my empty cat box, but a heart filled with precious memories, I took a quiet moment to grieve my loss. While doing so, my remaining pets (1 dog and 3 cats) started to gather round. It was as if we were collectively mourning our loss. There was unspoken hurt and consoling taking place. It was truly touching.
So, farewell my furry friend. Thank you for 16 years of friendship, silly moments, love, loyalty and undeniable sweetness. You will surely be missed.
Friday, September 15, 2006
After several calls to known animal groups and researching the care of baby squirrels on the internet, my son and I placed our new house guest in a deep, open box with towels and a few almonds. The poor little creature was terrified out of his mind, but after a few hours of allowing him to acclimate to his state of the art cardbox box house, he became a little more trusting of us. We were instructed to feed him (oh, yes, it's a boy and a proud one at that) a puppy formula called Esbilac. It's been the cutest thing watching him nurse from the bottle and then wash his little face afterward. I broke down and bought him a moderate cage and some fun treats. We also decided to name him Oliver Twist, given he was technically an orphan. He's been a delight to care for this past week. According to our sources, when Oliver is about eight weeks old, we can release him back into the wild. "The Wild" being our lovely suburban street with high end homes and an ample supply of gorgeous trees to run up and down. Poor little guy.
We're enjoying our temporary house guest. He's been an absolute delight and I can now add caring for a squirrel to my list of accomplishments.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
In tending to our friendship garden we first need to understand the nature of each friend we are privileged to have. Like flowers, our friends come in varying varieties. Once we understand the individual nature of our friends, the better equipped we are to be the kind of friend they need in return.
Our perennial friends are always in full bloom, bringing a continued robust beauty and charm to our lives. They exist through self-renewal. Through thick and thin we can count on our perennial friends to be available, day after day. They are delightful, and bountiful by nature. Because of their loyalty and steadfastness, we place our trust and devotion in our perennial friends and they us. We admire and are endeared to our perennial friendships and value greatly their influence on our lives.
Our annual friends are those with whom we see primarily during life events (i.e. holidays, weddings, birth of a child, etc.). Our annual friends bring a vigorous beauty when they are present in our lives. We savor their presence and appeal during the narrow window of time we have with them. They add value to our lives, but in small snippets. We love them and look forward to their next blooming in our lives.
Our exotic friends are those who bring a unique diversity to our lives. They are bold and exquisitely gorgeous. They teach us to look beyond the ordinary. We see the world through different eyes due to the impact of our exotic friends. Whether they’re of a different culture, sexual preference or mindset, we embrace them wholly. We delight in their ability to provide us with a new paradigm.
Our desert flower friends are those who bring a harsh and sometimes barren element to our lives. Our desert flower friends have many redeeming qualities, which is why we put up with their coarse nature, but they are clearly a challenge to maintain. They may have a prickly exterior, can be excruciatingly judgmental or opinionated. They have a harsh exterior due to painful life circumstances, yet they are survivors because they have weathered such incredibly harsh conditions. You admire them for their strength to survive and search diligently to find the tenderness amongst the thorns. Our interaction with our desert friends tends to be limited due to the protective barriers they put up. Yet, we acknowledge that despite their tough exterior that eventually a beautiful desert flower will emerge and we hold steadfast to share in that day.
We all have weed friends. These are the friends we politely need to weed from our lives. They are toxic, time consuming in non-productive ways, and highly annoying, altering the overall beauty of our friendship garden. Our weed friends serve no purpose and add zero value to our lives. Weed friends will continually make themselves known in our live, but the sooner we weed them out, the better and more plentiful our friendship gardens will grow.
Our network of friends is vital. For some they are our lifeline. For many they are our families. The types of friends we have in our friendship garden will speak volumes to the nurturing and care we invest in these relationships. What kind of flower would you consider yourself to be in your friends’ gardens? Are you loyal, dependable, and add value and beauty to your relationships or are you toxic, harsh and require meticulous understanding? How we conduct ourselves in our friendships will determine the overall beauty of the relationship. That reminds me, it's time to trim the rose bushes.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
As a recruiter, I have the unique opportunity to speak with scary smart, creative, cutting edge individuals who are shaping the future of our businesses. I love the intellectual stimulus my craft affords me. I get a high of sorts speaking with hard working, innovative candidates and hiring managers, and when I'm able to match the right candidate with the right job opportunity. It's intensely satisfying to know you had a hand in defining someone's career path as well as the future of your client's company.
There is one particular recruiting story that I've always held dear. I was working for a utilities client and had been tasked with hiring about 35 armed guards. These are the dudes with the AK47's. The recruiting process is grueling for the candidates with written and shoot tests to be performed to the highest of standards. The job itself isn't that sexy. The main focus is to stand guard. No laptops, no corporate in-house environment, no desk or cubical space or fancy office; just standing hour after hour, with weapon in hand, guarding the facility.
Several of the candidate's I hired were from the local marine base. These were soldiers who were rolling off their tour of duty. Soldiers who had seen battle, soldiers who put their lives on the line, soldiers who were not afraid of hard work.
One evening I called one of the candidate's to give him an offer. We were paying a whopping $16.00 an hour. Again, this was a former Marine of the United States who had endured battle. When I gave him the offer, he started to cry and it took him a moment to pull himself together. I thought it was due to the low salary, but I was wrong. He cried because he had been praying for a new job. His wife had just had a baby and he wasn't sure how they were going to make ends meet now that he was no longer with the military. He promised me that he would be the hardest working armed guard I’d ever hired and that I would not be disappointed that I hired him. I was humbled and moved by his gratitude. He made such an indelible impression on me that I've never forgotten it to this day. I've made offers in the several hundreds of thousands, with equity, stock options, benefits galore and every kind of perk you can imagine and not seen as much sincere gratitude as I did from this man. Additionally, he provoked me to be a better recruiter and to always keep my work ethic in check.
When I went to bed that evening I was proud to have had a hand in helping this man know that he and his family were going to make it. Yes, I had a part in the process, but he would never have been selected if it weren't for his hard work ethic and stellar military record. He's crossed my mind several times over the years. Usually when I'm on the phone with an MBA candidate who wants $150K base salary with only one year of relevant work experience. I can't help but shake my head in disbelief.
I'm thankful for the examples of hard work I grew up with and continue to come in contact with day to day. As my pastor repeatedly said this past Sunday, hard work is not a curse, but a blessing. I'm thankful I'm in a profession that allows me to witness this on a daily basis. A profession that also keeps me challenged to work hard and give it my all. I have a son who watches everything I do and my work ethic is part of the legacy I'm handing down to him. How I work today will determine how hard he works in the future. In a way, my work today will affect the future. Now that's a great benefit!
Sunday, September 03, 2006
We boarded our Amtrak sleeper car at 6:00 p.m. By 6:04 p.m., my son had already unpacked and was giddy with excitement in his bunk. It was endearing to watch his exhilaration. As our train pulled out of the station, Stephen was completely charged-up and exclaiming repeatedly, “We’re moving! Mommy, we’re moving!”
The train ride to William’s Junction was about 12 hours. Stephen slept about 13 minutes and was diligent about waking me every 20 minutes to show me a passing train or grazing cow. I had considered Benedryl, or perhaps slipping a rufy in his apple juice, but forewent the thought hoping that eventually he’d wear his little buns out on the sheer bliss of the evening. NOT. We arrived in William’s Junction around 6:00 a.m., exhausted, hungry and in serious need of a shower. Once we arrived at our hotel Stephen and I immediately passed out in our respective beds. Once we awoke, six hours later, we spent the remainder of the day, swimming, walking, shopping and enjoying the sites.
The following morning we were off to The Grand Canyon. We boarded this quaint, old steamer train. Along the way we saw cows, elk and the local sheriff. He went through each car and regaled everyone in western sing-along’s. It truly brought out the red-neck in all of us. About an hour into the ride we were accosted by train robbers which led to a bloodless shoot-out with the sheriff.
FINALLY, after two days of train rides, a Mitch Miller sing-a-long, and a train robbery, we had reached our intended destination. The Grand Canyon! We were instructed to carefully climb a small flight of stairs that would eventually lead us right to the Canyon’s edge. With cameras and water bottles in tow, we sprinted like puma up the stairs to the top and then there, … there she was. In all of her beauty, color, and splendor! We had come face to face with one of the modern seven wonders of the world. I held Stephen close as we simultaneously embraced the majestic canvas before us. I believe we both uttered something profound like, “Whoa”. The moment was both surreal and humbling. You can’t help but be enraptured by the colors, magnitude and grandeur of the canyon’s landscape. Stephen and I stood for what seemed like hours just taking in the exquisite creation before us. It’s astounding how inspiring nature can become. She does nothing but BE and we are in awe.
My son and I spent two day exploring this great chasm, making new friends, and learning about how the canyon came into being. It is said that the canyon does not need man, but that man needs the canyon. It's true. My son and I needed this time together, exploring, bonding, and slowing our lives down enough to appreciate the beauty around us. There were countless “Wow” moments where I encouraged Stephen to drink them in and keep a mental snapshot.
One such moment, which was by far my most special of the entire trip, was during our train ride back to LA. It was around 3:00 a.m. Stephen was snuggled with me in my (very, very tiny) bunk. We were gazing out at the celestial night sky. Thousand upon thousands of stars sparkled and danced in the heavens. The moment was magical. We were in absolute awe at the beauty before us. Stephen grabbed my hand and said “Mom, I’ll never forget this night.” I was touched by my son’s genuine appreciation for “The Moment”. I too will never forget that night. It was special in so many ways. During the entirety of our trip we saw many wonderful sites and came away with a deeper affection for nature and, more importantly, each other. They say that life should not be counted by how many breathes you take per moment, but by how many moments take your breath away. These four days with my son were saturated with “take your breath away moments”. Moments that will forever be etched in my heart. Moments that have become tender memories of our special time together; moments that were truly, well… Grand!
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island.He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect himself from the elements, and to store his few possessions.
One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost.He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, "God! How could you do this to me?"
Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island!It had come to rescue him! "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.
The Moral of This Story: It's easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Remember, that the next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground. It just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.
You may want to consider passing this on, because you never know who feels as if their hut is on fire today
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
The Alchemist by: Paulo Coelho
Review by Amazon.com
Like the one-time bestseller Jonathan Livingston Seagull, The Alchemist presents a simple fable, based on simple truths and places it in a highly unique situation. And though we may sniff a bestselling formula, it is certainly not a new one: even the ancient tribal storytellers knew that this is the most successful method of entertaining an audience while slipping in a lesson or two. Brazilian storyteller Paulo Coehlo introduces Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who one night dreams of a distant treasure in the Egyptian pyramids. And so he's off: leaving Spain to literally follow his dream.
Along the way he meets many spiritual messengers, who come in unassuming forms such as a camel driver and a well-read Englishman. In one of the Englishman's books, Santiago first learns about the alchemists--men who believed that if a metal were heated for many years, it would free itself of all its individual properties, and what was left would be the "Soul of the World." Of course he does eventually meet an alchemist, and the ensuing student-teacher relationship clarifies much of the boy's misguided agenda, while also emboldening him to stay true to his dreams. "My heart is afraid that it will have to suffer," the boy confides to the alchemist one night as they look up at a moonless night.
"Tell your heart that the fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself," the alchemist replies. "And that no heart has ever suffered when it goes in search of its dreams, because every second of the search is a second's encounter with God and with eternity."
The Kite Runner by: Khaled Hosseini
Review by Amazon.com
An epic tale of fathers and sons, of friendship and betrayal, that takes you from the final days of Afghanistan’s monarchy to the atrocities of the present.
Amazon.comIn his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try.
The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. ("...I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded, not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.")
Some of the plot's turns and twists may be somewhat implausible, but Hosseini has created characters that seem so real that one almost forgets that The Kite Runner is a novel and not a memoir. At a time when Afghanistan has been thrust into the forefront of America's collective consciousness ("people sipping lattes at Starbucks were talking about the battle for Kunduz"), Hosseini offers an honest, sometimes tragic, sometimes funny, but always heartfelt view of a fascinating land. Perhaps the only true flaw in this extraordinary novel is that it ends all too soon.
Thursday, June 15, 2006
With regard to my son, this past year has been one of transitions. Transitions I wasn’t quite prepared for; transitions that taught us both very important life lessons.
My son and I had some time to reflect on this past year. We talked about what we collectively learned. What we enjoyed. What we’re looking forward to.
Here’s what we came up with.
- I learned about the California Gold Rush and that earning my allowance is far easier than panning for gold
- I learned about the great explorer and environmentalist, John Muir, and how we all need to do our part in preserving our planet.
- I learned about sex education and that my body is an amazing creation. (Which by the way; garnered some very interesting dinner time conversations.)
- I learned to appreciate the convenience of my own bathroom after a rustic, primative camping trip in the Los Angeles Forest. Running water and flushing toilets RULE!
- I learned how to do algebra, but that I appreciate geometry more. (I’m just thrilled I still had enough brain cells to help him with his math homework this year.)
- I learned about the complexities of friendship and positive conflict resolution.
- I learned that it was John Kerry who ran against President Bush, and not Jim Carey. But oh, what fun that would have been.
- I learned that I like to dance.
- I learned, after a recent field trip to Alcatraz, that having to do a time-out punishment isn't so bad. Twenty minutes is way better than twenty years to life.
- I learned that organic foods are good for you.
- I learned that I’ve outgrown my size 8 underwear. (Note to self – get to Target to buy new underwear.)
- I learned that my friends totally ROCK!
- I’ve learned that raising a man is a wonderful responsibility; and one that should not be taken lightly.
- I’ve learned how much I love our family time in the evenings.
- I’ve learned to not feel guilty when I’ve been beyond exhausted and couldn’t read a bed-time story.
- I’ve learned that my son has an amazing sense of humor.
- I’ve learned that I still hate algebra.
- I’ve learned that my son loves to dance.
- I’ve learned how to console my son when he’s been deeply hurt and disappointed by his friends.
- I’ve learned that I hurt just as deeply when he hurts.
- I’ve learned that my son can hold up to 30lbs in his backpack before he topples over with arms flailing.
- I’ve learned that the snuggly, cuddly, lovable, affectionate young boy that stills crawls up on my lap, isn’t going to last forever, and to hold close each moment he does.
- I’m learning to let go of the little boy and embrace the young man. This is a tough one, but I’m evolving.
As I put my son to bed this evening, I was hit with the fact that he woke up a 4th grader, but is going to bed a 5th grader. Another great milestone reached! Next year holds new adventures, more milestones, triumphs, and lessons to be learned. For now, I’ll tuck in my little man, treasure the moment, and whisper up my prayers of gratitude. Gratitude for the little boy he’s been and for all the joy that that has encompassed; and gratitude for the young man he’s becoming, and the joy that is yet to come.
Monday, May 29, 2006
My sojourn to the east encompassed many purposes. My son was on spring break and very overdue for a visit with his eastern residing family members. Additionally, my grandmother had suffered a stroke at Christmas, my former father-in-law was undergoing chemo for colon cancer, my aunt had been going through severe set-backs from her advanced arthritis, my son’s great grandfather was diagnosed with throat cancer, and I longed to see and be with everybody. Interestingly enough, my father was also on the east coast during my visit, which made getting together with everyone, that much more enjoyable.
I spent the first two days of my visit with my former-in-laws, Lon and Sandy. Despite being divorced, we have all remained close and continue to intersect nicely in each others’ lives. They are amazing grandparents to my son and were delighted to have some special grandson time. In spite of having undergone several chemo sessions, Lon looked fairly well, and made an effort to remain in good spirits during my son’s visit. Sandy was the doting grandmother, tending to all of Stephen’s needs -- Dunkin Donuts, chocolate, grilled cheese sandwiches, chocolate, ice cream, chocolate, visits with Great Grandma and Pa Poofatah (an affectionate nickname), lots of games, fun activities and, did I mention chocolate! Our visit was restful, enjoyable, and, as always, too short.
The last few days of my visit were spent with my father’s side of the family. Both my father and mother grew up in Fall River, MA. Most would say the city’s claim to fame is the Lizzie Borden trial. I beg to differ. There is a rich, old world history about the city. Many call Fall River, Little Portugal, as the occupants are predominately Portuguese. My family and I are no exception. An outsider driving through Fall River would probably consider the city run down and depressed. When I drive through Fall River, I see my past and a culture rich in family, friends, and faith. A culture I had the good fortune to grow up in. There’s a special reminiscence that comes over me whenever I return to the city.
One of the special highlights of my visit was the delicious clam bake my Aunt Maureen put on. Disregarding the pain she was in, due to her arthritis, she worked tirelessly to ensure we all had a wonderful time. During dinner, old stories were brought to the surface again, jokes were exchanged, we caught each other up on the current events in our respective lives, and Uncle Brooksie ate… A LOT. Uncle Brooksie is almost 90 years-old, smart as a whip and could rival any established comedian. My grandmother, also nearly 90, busied herself with cooking, cleaning and making sure everyone was eating seconds and thirds. My brother David was able to join us, and I was thrilled to see him. It’s hard to believe he’s going to be 40 this year. I remember pushing him around in his mini fire truck during his third birthday and now we’re making grimaces at the thought of us both being in our forties.
As I looked around the table at the sight of my gathered family, I was filled with magnificent warmth. I was beyond thankful for each member present. This moment alone was worth the 3,000 mile flight across the country. I was in the moment and I loved every second of it. It’s a mental snapshot that will stay with me forever. Family, enjoying each other’s company, filled with love, fellowship, and a genuine care for each other. The conversations flowed and I hung on every word. Despite having heard some of the same stories a hundred times, I learned something new because I listened not only with my ears, but with my heart as well. We’ve gathered around the table as family so many times in the past, but for some reason, today was special. I don’t know if it’s because I’m now at a point in my life where I know that time is short and we need to truly seize the day or if I’m just becoming another sentimental, old fool. Either way, I walked away from my trip to the east coast transformed. When I hugged everyone goodbye, I embraced a little longer. I held dear the faces of my aunt and grandmother as they waved goodbye. I treasured my brother’s giant bear hug and tender words “I love you, sis”. I’ll never forget the smile on Uncle Brooksie’s face when I said goodbye and he squeezed my cheek and said, “Stay beautiful”.
As my father drove my son and me through the streets of Fall River that night, my heart was content and yet, ached at the same time. I wanted the day to last forever. I didn’t want to say goodbye. I’m hoping that despite the age and health of some, we’ll gather together again and share in the collective joy of each other; of family. Until then, I have my memories of that day, which I’ve reflected on often since my trip. There’s a gentle smile that instantly comes across my face when it crosses my mind. Even now as I write this post :)
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Having read the book a few years ago, I was anxious to see Ron Howard’s adaptation of Dan Brown’s best selling novel. I have to admit, I found a lot of the pre-movie hype interesting. Any movie that has overtones of attacking a specific denomination is guaranteed to undergo public repercussion. The Da Vinci Code is no exception.
Despite lackluster reviews, I quite enjoyed the movie. I found it captivating, enlightening, and rather true to the book. For a two and a half hour movie, it held my attention to the end. I applaud both the movie, and the book, for the hard to miss undercurrent of celebrating the TRUE impact of women on history. The Da Vinci Code’s theories are filled with murder, mystery, sabotage, treasure hunts, (sounds like your last family reunion for some of you readers), history lessons, and in the end, gives the reader the choice to take literally what they’ve read or applaud Dan Brown for such an intriguing novel.
The after movie discussion was like a spectator sport for me. I love how people who have nothing of substance to say will use any forum possible to ramble on, pontificate, or shamelessly promote their cause. There was everything from insightful commentary, to one woman trying to endorse the role of lesbianism in the Catholic Church. The overall question of the morning was, Did Jesus have a relationship with Mary Magdalene? The debate that unfolded was rich material for a doctoral sociologist’s thesis. What struck me was how factual everyone was taking this movie.
I was about to stand up and speak my mind on what I had observed. Unfortunately, we had run out of time… Dang!!! Had I stood up, my comments would have been something to the following… We need to keep in mind that this book was written by Dan Brown, not God. Just because the book has a religious connotation to it doesn’t mean it should be taken as bible. Granted it’s good to see so much discussion around biblical history, but we need to ensure our discussions are productive. Throughout history, religion has been tested and defended. This will continue to the end of time. The important thing to remember is that when all is said and done, we shouldn’t consume ourselves with the question of Did Jesus have a romantic relationship with Mary Magdalene, but rather, Do I have a personal relationship with Jesus?
For what it’s worth, I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years. I’m a Bible College graduate and have studied the bible from cover to cover several times. Despite having said this, I was able to read The Da Vinci Code, see the movie, and not take it literally or feel as if I had to defend my faith or beliefs. What I walked away with, both from the book and the movie, is that the essential intent behind The Da Vinci code is to drop you off at the crossroad of faith and legend. Whether you believe Dan Brown’s theories or not is up to the individual reader and/or movie goer. For me, it was a great book. That’s all.
Let’s face it, after reading Harry Potter, no one truly believed that there’s an actual Hogwart’s Castle, flying broomsticks and an evil wizard named Voldermort -- now, do they?
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Remember, the game is never over until the last out is made. As long as you can continue to step up to the plate you have a chance of scoring a home run. Kick the dust off your shoes and take another swing.
I have season tickets, so I'll always be at the game.
Hugs and Kisses
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Our first order of business was to extend the hand of friendship. We invited Bully Boy to our home for a play date. My thought was that this would allow both boys to play in a safe, but controlled, environment. Additionally, I could witness firsthand Bully Boy's social skills with my son. The first play date went fairly well. Bully Boy was slightly controlling, but given most of the children at my son's school are born leaders and academically off the charts, I can understand the whole alpha male dance. Several other play dates, including sleep-over's took place. The boys seemed to play well; however, Bully Boy's control issues became stronger. Additionally, my son became increasingly disturbed at how disrespectful Bully Boy was to his parents. On one particular occasion, Stephen witnessed Bully Boy telling his mother to go to hell. I was starting to understand Bully Boy's behavior. Not only was he trying to control my son, but he was also controlling and manipulating his parents. Inappropriate behavior was going unpunished. On at least three occasions, I had to stop Bully Boy from yelling at, or aggressively belittling Stephen. The more these incidents took place, the more my son was concerned about spending time with Bully Boy. Oddly enough, despite the weekend play dates, Bully Boy would still taunt Stephen in school.
After several weeks of attempting to extend the hand of friendship, only to have Bully Boy still going after Stephen in school, I decided a new course of action was necessary. I contacted Bully Boy's mother to discuss several of the issues that were taking place in an effort to bring them to her attention, with the hope she would take action. On one particular call I suggested getting the boys together, with the parents, in an effort to resolve the tension. I was taken aback when Bully Boy's mother informed me that Bully Boy had elected to pass on such a meeting. I'm sorry, but who's the parent here? God gives children parents to guide them and correct them in situations like this; not to have the child direct the parents on how to handle to circumstance. After I picked myself up off the floor, I had two options. Call in the marines or devise, yet, another plan.
Unfortunately, the situation was getting worse. My son came home in tears two weeks ago, indicating that Bully Boy had made a death threat toward him. He also told Stephen that because his father was an attorney, he had the capability to call the police and have him arrested and taken away in the middle of the night to juvenile hall. And, because his father is an attorney, he apparently doesn't need to give the police a reason to have him arrested. Apparently, it's a perk that comes with the job. Having dated several attorney's myself; I know this is clearly not part of the bonus package. At this point, I had reached an all time high on my frustration scale. I marched into my son's school and demanded serious action be taken. The school was reluctant to expel Bully Boy for his antagonistic behavior and death threats (which the details involved using a gun). Stephen's father and I were furious at what we perceived to be a passive attitude on the school's behalf. In their defense, this was due to a lack of knowledge on their part, from not having the adequate misbehavior history on Bully Boy. The school conducted interviews with various students, teachers, and parents, and came to the conclusion that indeed Bully Boy was causing an upset among the school community. A school community that prides itself on a warm, loving and gentle culture. However, despite being armed with their new data on Bully Boy, the school was reluctant to expel him. The approach they took was to put Bully Boy on serious probation. Basically, if the child antagonizes any other child, he's lost his privilege to attend this particular school. Bully Boy's parents were firmly informed of the school's position as well.
Despite all of the torment my son went through, name calling, belittling, nightmares about being murdered at school, etc., he still had empathy toward Bully Boy. So much so, that during his prayers one night, all he did was ask God to help Bully Boy behave and learn about being a friend. When my son prayed that night, I was moved and humbled at the same time. His heart and intentions were pure and genuine. Here I was taking all of the tactical steps I thought were necessary, and my son showed me that all that was needed was a simple act of kindness.... he prayed for Bully Boy. Of course! That was the answer. I was embarrassed to realize that I hadn't once stopped to pray for Bully Boy? God has handled bullies before. How could I have been so blind to not see the obvious solution? I'm a firm believer that God uses children to drive home grown-up lessons to adults, and this was no exception.
It's been two weeks since my son, and subsequently I, prayed for Bully Boy, and have done so every night since. I'm proud to say that Bully Boy has been kind, non-threatening, is playing fairly, and making strides toward building positive friendships. I recently approached Bully Boy and praised him for his efforts. His face lit up as he eked out a faint "Thank you. I'm really trying hard". Maybe Bully Boy just needed some praise and to know someone cares. At the moment, I'm pleased with the outcome. An outcome that dervied from the genuine, sincere heart and prayers of a true friend. My son showed me, through his example of compassion, how to truly deal with a bully.
Monday, May 08, 2006
The phone rang at 7:16 a.m. on Saturday morning. Before I checked the caller ID, I could have bet an entire year's salary that it was my notorious early rising, mother on the other end. It doesn't matter if it's the weekend, holiday or vacation, my mother is up at 6:00 a.m. and firmly believes the rest of the world should follow suit. I answered the phone, annoyed that my dream of strolling down the Malibu beaches hand in hand with George Clooney came to an abrupt end. Through the cobwebs in my throat I managed to eek out a faint "hello". To which my mother enthusiastically responded, "We're having a baby today". I went from zero to one hundred in 2.6 seconds. "Oh my God," I exclaimed. "Alba's in labor?" I inquired. Alba is my sister-in-law. "Yep. Her water broke at 5:00 this morning. Your father and I are on our way to the hospital," explained my mother. I told my mom I needed to get a few things in order and that I'd be at the hospital as quickly as possible. I live two hours away, so it would be around noon before I met up with everyone.
After a quick shower, packing toothbrushes, getting the dog boarded and filling up the car with gas (which required a meeting with my loan officer to fund), my son and I were Palm Springs bound to meet the newest member of our family. With bagels, coffee and a DVD for my son to watch on the way, I sped through the 210, 15 and 10 freeways making it to the hospital in a record hour and a half. My father was beaming as he met my son and me at the front of the hospital. The excitement of the day was just beginning. Despite my parents having three other grandchildren, this was the first grandchild where they would actually be at the hospital for the birth. The other grandchildren were born either too quickly or on the opposite coast for my parents to attend. This birth would be different.
When I arrived at my sister-in-law's birthing suite, she looked in great spirits. No stress, no pain and radiating. She just turned 40 and this was her first child. She had a wonderful pregnancy and we could only hope and pray that the birth would be the same. After having endured a 34 hour labor myself, only to end up having a c-section, I wanted nothing but the best experience for Alba. She is one of the sweetest sister-in-law's you could ask for. She adores my brother, loves and respects my parents, is bright, sweet, hard working, and always putting other's first. When she and my brother got married, I told my brother that we loved Alba so much that if things didn't work out between them, we were keep her and getting rid of him. They are such soul mates that I'm certain they'll be together for all time.
As Alba's contractions increased in time and heightened in pain, she pleaded with me to find the anesthesiologist and have him quickly administer an epidural. (Or, as the nurses called it "The Special Cocktail".) If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's to follow through on the firm directive of a mother in labor. The nurses quickly produced the anesthesiologist who served up the much needed special cocktail. Alba was now in drug heaven. Life was good again and pain was non-existent.
Labor endured throughout the late afternoon and early evening. Finally around 7:00 p.m. the nurses announced she was fully effaced and dilated. It was time to push. Now here's where it becomes funny. Alba thought maybe six good pushes would get the baby out. My mom and I thought perhaps nine. We were only off by two hours and about 40 pushes.
Alba asked my mom and me to be with her during the delivery. I was touched and honored that she wanted us there. Here we were, the three girls, bonded together in the greatest experience ever; watching a new life come into the world. With each push, we pushed with her. With each deep breath, we breathed with her. With each exciting turn, we experienced them together, hand in hand. Women, brought together by family, now on the ultimate journey. Finally, after all of the waiting, Alba's amazing efforts throughout her delivery, and the work of a stellar medical team, Loren Craig took his first breath of life. He weighed in at a whopping 8 lbs. 6 oz., and stretched out to 20 inches long. The collective amount of joy at the sight of this new, beautiful, precious soul was boundless. Tears, hugs, and admiration filled the room. The moment was transcending. I've never felt closer to the women in my family as I did at that moment.
When the nurses put Loren in his mother's waiting arms, I was filled with so much emotion. This was the first time he had opened his eyes. His first sight was his mother's smiling face. He recognized her. He was listening to her soft sweet voice. The immediate bond taking place was priceless and moving. I was reminded of the moment my son was first place in my arms. There was this instantaneous warmth that covered me. A liquid love, if you will. I was filled with a love so fierce and so empowering. This beautiful baby I had longed for was now here. He was healthy and adorable. He was mine. And, thus began an unbreakable bond.
I will never forget watching my nephew come into the world. I'll forever be thankful to my sister-in-law for the giving me the gift of watching a new life begin. This is that will be forever etched in my memory (and heart). This was a day we had a baby!
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
The beginning of April brought a wonderful yellow sheet of paper home from my son's school, informing parents that the students had been exposed to head lice. I don't know how many of you have encountered these nasty little buggers, but they have the power to bring a well decorated soldier to his/her knees. For something smaller than a sesame seed, they can produce a colossal amount of frustration. Thankfully, we were able to get my son's lice under control with the help of my good friend Kathy, who purchased an arsenal of lice ridding products from The Hair Fairies in Los Angeles. Apparently, they are the Mecca for head lice obliteration. After countless treatments and hours of literal nit picking, I'm proud to say, we have conquer the little vermin.
The middle of April took my son and me to the East Coast for some much needed time with our extended families. I'll share more detail regarding my visit in another blog; however, I will say that this particular visit was wonderful on so many levels. Of course, I nearly put my son and me on the government's watch list when I inadvertently took the wrong flight back to California. We were technically stow away's enjoying a free flight to Las Vegas, all the while, savoring the lovely inflight fare of peanuts, warm soft drinks, and an odd form of cheesy cracker bites. Are crackers supposed to be neon orange? We eventually got to our destination after being rerouted through Orange County, having to pick up our luggage in San Bernadino County, and finally making it back home, three hours after the fact, to LA County.
The end of April brought my 41st birthday. My friend Christine sent me a birthday email saying "Now you're really sexy". I love how women my age embrace our bodies, our sexuality, and own who we are. She's right, I am really sexy now. I've come into my own and am very excited about what the next 41 years of my life (and then some) have to hold. I think the most special moment of my birthday was hearing a voice message from my mother singing happy birthday to me. That was sweeter than any gift I could have wished for.
May is already turning out to be an interesting month and we're only three days into it. I promise to kick up the anti on my blog entries. It's good to know there are those of you out there who care and enjoying reading my posts.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I awoke early last Saturday morning, with my Garage Project Plan in hand. I had a preliminary checklist – (i.e. purchase three steel, 5-tiered shelves, large plastic containers, organizing supplies, and call a family member and let them know I was “going in” .. just in case they hadn’t heard from me in a few days, they’d know where to look, etc.) I even engaged in a healthy breakfast of strawberries and cold Kung Pao Chicken. That’s right, the garage breakfast of champions. Had you seen the disastrous state of my garage, one might have argued that I also double check my health and life insurance policies in the event I was seriously injured or worse. I was confident I would emerge from my garage overhaul at least semi-conscience and with all of my appendages in tack, that I chose to forgo checking my insurances. However, I may have recited The 23rd Psalm, as well as a few poems by Sri Chinmoy on courage, during my first few grueling hours in the garage.
As my garage cleaning expedition continued, I uncovered several boxes containing relics from my past. Trophies, trinkets, old writings, school pictures revealing a horrible sense of fashion, letters from old friends and a wooden squirrel knickknack, with a clock in its stomach. (A really bad wedding gift, from 15 years ago, that I never had the heart to throw away… until this past weekend.) I’m almost certain I may have also found Jimmy Hoffa behind my tool cabinet. It’s always exhilarating to see what treasures one might unearth when tackling the arduous task of a good garage cleaning; which, by the way, took three solid days to complete.
I had initially pulled out my Wynona Judd cd’s to play during my cleaning expedition. Wynona and I have tackled many a household projects together. When I plugged in my CD/AM/FM radio player, I was thrilled to find out that KBig105 was sponsoring a “Disco Favorites Weekend”. Having grown up in the Disco era, I was immediately propelled back to a simpler time in my life. As ABBA, Gloria Gaynor, The Bee Gees, Barry White and Donna Summer blared from my radio; I was flooded with countless, fun memories of my junior high and high school days. One could never have had enough headbands, mood rings, Lycra shorts, wrap skirts, Love’s Baby Soft perfume, and big hair. Hair, I might add, that was jacked to the heavens with layer after layer of Aqua Net. Here I was pouring over relics from my youth and KBig was kind enough to set the ambiance with a Disco Favorite’s Weekend Bonanza. For those of you keeping record, no, I did not call in and request Olivia Newton John’s Xanadu; despite the fact that I was the only one in my high school who enjoyed the movie.
Growing up, I admit that I was one of the fortunate kid’s who enjoyed my junior high and high school years. My circle of friends were the best, both male and female alike. I was considered one of the popular kids, thanks to my acting, writing and singing skills and I never fell victim to the usual peer pressure a lot of kids endure. I believe a lot of this had to do with having a strong conscience and being heavily involved in my local church.
Every Friday afternoon, I would walk to the country store and purchase a Coca-Cola, a Hershey bar w/almonds and a Tiger Beat magazine. I had a raging crush on Erik Estrada. I had the most dreamy poster of him, smiling that gorgeous smile of his, on my bedroom ceiling. This was so he would be the first thing I’d see when I awoke each day, and last think I’d see before I fell asleep. God, I’m such a romantic. Life was truly sweet during these years. My dreams were to get married and have several children. My career goals changed as much as my flavored, Bonne Bell lip gloss (watermelon always got rave reviews). I had entertained everything from being an obstetrical nurse to a Pulitzer Prize winning author. I’m not good with blood, so that ruled out a medical career, however, I still have time to potentially achieve the latter. The whole concept of boys was so new and exciting. It was a time for so many firsts. First crush. First date. First kiss. First heartbreak. Wondering if Erik Estrada would wait for me to graduate college, ask me to marry him and be the mother of his six kids, and live happily ever after in his Bel Air mansion. It was a time for so many dreams and immense potential.
As I stood there in my garage, with Billy Joel jamming in the background, I couldn’t help but survey my life and the paths I had taken. Had I reached my dreams? Had I reached my potential? Was I truly happy with where my life was going? Well, I can finally reveal that unfortunately, Erik Estrada and I never did hook up. I did marry a wonderful man, who took me through a lot of firsts, including, and unfortunately, heartbreak. I did become a mom to an amazing little boy, who remains my greatest accomplishment and joy in life. I don’t live in Bel-Air, but I do consider my home a castle. My career, as a recruiter has brought me tremendous success and opportunities with some of the world’s top companies. I still have a wonderful network of friends that I cherish dearly. Due to being divorced, boys have become fun again. Of course, now they’re men, but the firsts are all the same and the excitement is just as fascinating.
Time hasn’t run out on my dream to be a world class writer, and maybe even win a Pulitzer some day. I believe it’s important to dream bigger than we are. And, every Friday, I venture to my local store, pick up a Coca-Cola, a Hershey Bar w/Almonds, and a People Magazine.
All in all, I can honestly say that I am happy with where my life has taken me. There were many unexpected turns along the way, but with each new path that was forged, new life lessons, successes, joys, and in some cases -- sorrows, were encountered, my life became enriched, and I always emerged a more blessed person. Here’s to another fabulous thirty years.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Down by the ocean, down by the sea;
is my haven of peace and my spirit soars free.
As the gentle waves upon the sand arrive;
it is here by the seaside that I feel most alive.
As the tide’s gentle breeze blows mist on my face;
this, my heart’s sanctuary, I fully embrace.
I delight in the sun’s hues as on the horizon she sets;
as I empty my soul of pain and regrets.
Like a new day dawning when the tide rolls in;
it is here, by the ocean that my journeys begin.
Joy, love and happiness are now my life’s quest;
until I have achieved these, my heart knows no rest.
My soul rides the waves of the ocean’s white peaks;
as these precious gifts of life my heart earnestly seeks.
A better being I’ve become as by the seaside I sit;
for it is here that life’s fire in my soul has been lit.
Down by the ocean, down by the sea;
is my haven of peace and my spirit soars free.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I recently underwent another battery of allergy tests to determine what exactly I’m allergic to. I don’t know if any of you have undergone allergy or skin testing, but the process is as follows. In short, you’re injected, with tiny, painless needles, each containing a serum of possible suspects. If your skin reacts to the allergen you were injected with, then it’s determined that you have a low tolerance or allergy to this substance. For me, the verdict was ragweed, pollen, dust, dust mites and pet dander. The latter is tough given I’ve rescued a couple of abused animals and wouldn’t think of parting with them due to my allergy discomfort.
Miriam Webster clarifies an allergy as:
1: altered bodily reactivity (as hypersensitivity) to an antigen in response to a first exposure
2: exaggerated or pathological reaction (as by sneezing, respiratory embarrassment, itching, or skin rashes) to substances, situations, or physical states that are without comparable effect on the average individual
This got me to thinking; how appealing life would be if we had the physical capacity to be allergic to matters that foster negative thoughts and actions. Such as intolerance, hatred, gossip, jealousy, violence, lying, negativity, crime, cheating, abuse, depression, laziness, low self-esteem, disrespect, etc. If we would even entertain a thought in the above mentioned list, our bodies would react fiercely, making us miserable and highly uncomfortable. It wouldn’t take long for us to learn to sway from such toxic living, finding it repugnant, and start practicing some serious acts of love and kindness.
Although this concept can’t take a literal form, we can all strive toward figuratively applying this principle to our lives. We can determine in ourselves that we will steer clear of hurtful and harmful acts toward others and ourselves; and have a zero tolerance policy of hatred, violence, disrespect and the like. Our behaviors would be solely those of thoughtfulness, kindness, unconditional love, selflessness, charity, and understanding. I guarantee that by doing so, you’ll not only feel good about your actions, but you will certainly make the corner of the world you have the opportunity to touch, better than how you found it.
Monday, March 06, 2006
I had been thinking about the Oscars all day. Of course it was hard not to, given red carpet coverage started at around 4 a.m., and, with the exception of The Animal Planet, no matter what station I tuned into, the Oscars were the dominating story.
Imagine if we could stage our own personal Oscar show. Who would the stars in your life be? What was the performance of those in your circle of influence this past year? What award(s) would they qualify for? What award(s) would you qualify for? I’d like to share with you a few people, whose performance this past year are deserving of the following awards. All have touched my heart immensely and have been an astonishing influence in my life this past year.
The Oscar for Outstanding Leading Lady goes to my mom, who always has the greatest words of encouragement, is one of the strongest women I know, and who earnestly believes that despite the many wonderful accomplishments I’ve achieved in my life, that there are still greater things I’ve yet to reach.
The Oscar for Outstanding Leading Man goes to my dad, who was the first man I fell in love with, is always a gentleman, (he still opens the car door for my mom), and is one of the smartest men I know. He also makes the best popovers on the planet.
The Oscar for Supportive Friend goes to my friend Christine, whose compassion, support and love was unwavering during one of the most difficult times of my life and has continued long since. Along with her friendship, she gave both me and my son the gift of her family, Dave, Katey and Jacob; as well as the honor of being called family when we are all together.
The Oscar for Outstanding Writing goes to my friend Kathy Doughtie, who recently published her phenomenally funny and poignant book, Aphrodite in Jeans. I’ve learned so much from her journey as a writer and applaud her on her amazing success. Be sure to check out her book at www.aphroditeinjeans.com.
The Oscar for Friend With a Beautiful Soul (this is a new category) goes to my friend Tim who never judges me, has been a life saver and inspiration with regard to my health and is one of the sweetest, kindest people I’ve had the blessing of knowing.
The Oscar for Best Original Score goes to my ex-husband, Peter who writes some of the most beautiful, moving and inspiring music I’ve ever heard. He was recently nominated for a Grammy award for his work Ellis Island, The Dream of America. You can hear some of his music at www.propulsivemusic.com. Peter is also a wonderful father to our son, Stephen and one of the best friends an ex-wife could desire.
The Oscar for Outstanding Young Actor in a Lead Role goes to my son Stephen who makes being his mother the greatest joy on earth. His unconditional love, innocence, hilarious sense of humor, brilliance and boundless energy are a supreme delight.
The Oscar for Best Comedy goes to all three of my brothers, David, Jason and Craig; all of whom are hysterically funny and make me laugh until my sides hurt. Additionally, they are the most loving, protective and sweetest brothers (and uncle’s to my son), a girl could ask for.
The Oscar for Best Director goes to my Pastor, Pastor Jim Reeves, whose passion for the direction of the lives of his congregation shines through every Sunday in his moving and uplifting sermons. Through the inspiration of his teachings, I am challenged daily to live my best life possible.
I am truly blessed to have such remarkable Stars walking the red carpet of my life. You all have my admiration, heartfelt gratitude and eternal round of applause.
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
How incredibly convenient it would be if life had a 3,000 mile check-up. We could bring ourselves in to the "Life Station" for servicing. Whatever virtues we were low on; our life mechanic would fill up our empty reservoir, elevating us once again to a higher standard of operation. If our compassion filter was clogged and in need of a replacement, we could easily pick up a new one. If we were low on love, sincerity, honesty, hope, good judgment, and faith, our life mechanic would replenish us, allowing us to operate at our most advantageous level. If our priorities were out of order and in need of rotating, then our life mechanic would again, come to the rescue, realigning our priorities allowing us to stay balanced and focused. It there happens to be negativity inhibiting our system, prohibiting us from running our lives smoothly and effectively, then our life mechanic would simply flush out the unconstructive thoughts and feelings allowing only positive energy to flow though.
We would leave the Life Station renewed and energized, virtues and priorities at full throttle. We would feel well equipped to drive off to the next exciting phase of our life journey.
I’d like to believe that we truly do have Life Stations that we can pull into when we become exhausted and depleted in our journey. We find these Life Stations in our mates, parents, churches, co-workers, family, therapists or friends. Depending on the intensity of your relationship with each, depends on what purpose they fulfill. For some, it could be the encouraging words of a parent that gives you the hope to continue onward. Perhaps it’s the loving embrace of your partner that renews you, body and soul. For others, it could be the kind, constructive words of a friend, that helps you see where certain deficiency lie and where you need to make some adjustments in your life in order to operate effectively. Whatever your Life Station is, don’t take it for granted and be sure to make frequent appointments for maintenance. In return, we will find ourselves operating our lives at our most optimal levels, energized, and in full working order. If we choose not to be diligent in our maintenance, then like a car that has been neglected, we will break down, become useless and end up in the junk yard. The choice is yours. I encourage you to do a quick system check and if necessary, be sure to get yourself to your nearest Life Station for whatever maintenance may be overdue. You’ll be thankful you did.
Friday, February 17, 2006
1) Pay off all of my family members' bills and mortgages, as well as put a little money in each person's savings account as a nest egg.
2) I've always had a dream of running a camp program that catered to under-privileged children, wholly supported through the generosity of local churches and corporations. The goal of the camp would be to provide an amazing camp experience for children who wouldn't normally have the opportunity to attend camp, as well as the chance to have a few of weeks of sheer fun. Additonally, they would foster new friendships, and learn valuable life skills to better equip them for the future.
3) Relocate the remainder of my immediate family to Southern CA. I adore my family, but unfortunately, half are on the East Coast and the other half are here on the West Coast. It would be great to have us all geographically closer.
4) Start an organization that enables homeless people to get off of the streets, into a vocation and provides special housing, for those genuinely working hard to get back on their feet.
5) To fund programs in children's orphanages that helps each child realize that they indeed have a special place in this world, that they are precious beings, and add value to humankind. To instill the hope that no matter what obstacles they may be facing, they can still achieve their greatest dreams.
6) Take all of the teachers that my son has had the good fortune of learning under their tutelage, and treat them to a weekend spa retreat, as a heartfelt thank you for all of the love and training they've poured into my child.
7) Give my gardener a nice, fat bonus, just because!
8) Drive down Colorado Boulevard to find that woman who's walking (because she has no car) with a stroller and three additional children in tow. I'd take her and the kids shopping as well as pay off her bills. You know the woman I'm talking about. She's the one who's exhausted from the kids, housework, giving of herself to everyone but herself and lays awake at night wondering how she's going to make ends meet.
9) Take my son on that tropical vacation we've been talking about the past three years; however, it wouldn't be complete w/out having all of my family with us.
10) I wouldn't be true to myself if I didn't say I'd probably buy a really cool pair of shoes, but only if they're on sale. My mother would kill me if I paid full price, even with a billion dollars in the bank.
It's an interesting question to pose to oneself. Think about it. Write down a list of what you'd do. You may be surprised by your answers. Pose the question to your friends. I have, and it has garnered some very interesting, in some cases, inspiring, answers. The common thread, I noticed, in everyone's list of what they they'd do, was an innate desire to help others in need. I was touched by the genuine, heartfelt nature my circle of friends possesses. My admiration of their generosity and selflessness was once again elevated.
It's interesting to note that even without a billion dollars, how truly rich I am. I am rich in family, rich in friends and utterly rich in love, faith and joy. Happily, these are elements of my life that I consider to be truly priceless.
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Because this was my first day at Prozac Central, I was allowed to stay in bed for a few extra hours. Given I hadn’t checked in until four in the morning, I was thankful for the opportunity to cacoon in my bed. I slept on and off, but with one eye open, because I was scared beyond belief about my new environment. There were patients roaming about, moaning, crying and some were talking to themselves. My roommate spent the morning pacing up and down the hallway, screaming obscenities at the nurses. She clearly had some anger issues. At one point, when I had awoken, I found her standing over me, staring deeply and quizically at me. God help me, I thought. During lunch, I met some of the other patients who, like me, felt as if we were suddenly re-enacting One Who Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The first question everyone asks you is "what are you in for". The reasons for each person I encountered ranged from people like myself who had just taken on way more than we could handle, to those who were in such immense pain that they felt suicide was the only answer. I noticed that several members of my new community of friends were wearing what I thought were wrist bands. When I inquired what the wrist bands were for, I was informed that they were bandages due to those particular patients having slashed their wrists wide open. One woman who had befriended me had been admitted for overdosing on Lithium and Xanax. During group discussion a frail African American woman, in her 50’s, and walking with a cane, came up to me and introduced herself as Myra. She bent slightly toward me, looked me straight in the eye, and announced, in a thick southern dialect, that she was both homicidal and suicidal. I immediately fled to my room and hid in my bed, crying and wondering how someone like me, who had everything life had to offer, had ended up here.
In short, I had hit the wall. I was exhausted beyond belief and had been going through my days like a zombie from Dawn of the Living Dead. I was the mother of a beautiful, healthy 18 month old baby boy. I had a large, three bedroom home in a nice neighborhood, on a cul-de-sac. My health was great and for all intends and purposes, my marriage, at the time, was doing well. I was a successful recruiting manager at a major Big 5 firm. The hours were long and the expectations high, but I met each challenge with my usual energy and enthusiasm for a job well done. My husband and I had money in the bank and we were experiencing one exciting achievement after another. However, the need to do all and be all, for everyone, to the utmost of my abilities, truly got the best of me. It knocked me flat on my back in a mental health facility; giving me nothing but time to reflect on my life and the choices I had made. From all outward appearances I was living the American dream; yet here I was living a terrible nightmare.
I was released after three days of group therapy, graduating to minimum security (where I got my clothes and shoe laces back), spent countless hours with a therapist trying to convince him that I was not a child of sexual abuse (I truly wasn't and it annoyed me that they tried to convince me that maybe that was why I was there) and attended an art class where I made a to-die-for beaded bracelet (apparently, my parting gift). I felt as if the time I spent in the hospital caused me more anxiety than what I originally had checked myself in for. I’m of the firm belief that people who completely hit the wall from being overworked, overextended and overtired should be sent to a retreat facility rather than locked up in a high security mental health ward. The retreat facility would provide a comfortable, tranquil environment with yoga and meditation classes, and counselors trained to teach you how to keep your life in balance. Being locked up in mental health facility just doesn’t seem to be the right antidote.
My mother was living on the East Coast at the time of my “breakdown” of sorts. She flew out to California to help my husband take care of me. I was so riddled with anxiety and pumped full of antidepressants and medication that I was incapable of taking care of my son. My mother-in-law flew out to California to take my son back to the East Coast for a few weeks, until I got back on my feet. Here I was, a fiercely independent woman, now needing to be completely dependent on everyone around me. My anxiety attacks were so frequent that I had to take life one hour at a time. My mother, who is one of the strongest women I know, kept me busy with exercise, gardening, shopping, talking, reading and re-engineering my life and responsibilities to a more achievable level, sans the exhaustion and anxiety. As the weeks passed, I found myself becoming stronger and more capable of enjoying life again. The dark, haunting thoughts were no longer plaguing my mind, and my zest for life was slowly returning. My heart ached because I missed my son immensely; however, I knew I was doing what was best for him by concentrating on getting myself well. After four weeks I felt strong enough to take care of my son again. My husband and I flew to the East Coast to bring him back home. We arrived around midnight, so he was soundly asleep when we got to my mother-in-law’s. He looked so angelic and beautiful. I wept uncontrollably looking at him asleep. I felt a twinge of guilt for not having been with him during the past four weeks. I had to combat these thoughts with the comfort in knowing that I was emerging from my ordeal a stronger, healthier mother who now knew all too well the importance of striking a proper balance in my life. My reunion with my son was the highpoint of my healing. He brought, and continues to bring, immense joy to my life. In some ways, he was the elixir my soul needed to take the next important steps in taking back my life.
When my husband and I took count of how many people stepped in to take care of my responsibilities during my “down time”, we were astounded to find the number was 14. Clearly I was doing way too much. It’s now been eight years since that dark, painful, frightening night. For years I questioned why I had to go through such a tumultuous trial; however, it wasn’t until I stopped questioning my ordeal that I finally found my answers.
My life is completely different now. I left my big corporate job with the big corporate pay check. I live in a smaller house with less upkeep. I work from a home office (and on many days in my pajamas – major business casual attire) and I’m one hundred percent meshed in my son’s life. For reasons that are private, my husband and I divorced two years ago. We’ve remained the best of friends, but the pain I had endured during the end of my marriage is completely gone from my life. I’ve downsized my life in so many ways, yet I feel as if I have more than I ever have. Since my ordeal, my mother, father and one of my brothers moved to southern California. I have family time with my son, EVERY day. I have occasional ME time. I have time to nurture my friendships versus catching up with each other every six months. I have more time to write and even started this blog. I have a strong sense of peace that is unshakable. I have the strength that only comes from enduring such a circumstance, and I have the unending joy of knowing I emerged from my battle victorious. I’ve developed a tremendous empathy for anyone who goes through what I did. No one understands the anguish unless you’ve been through it yourself. I’ve learned to be less of a perfectionist and more of a realist on what I’m capable of effectively accomplishing without jeopardizing my health or time with my son. And, yes, I do take time to stop and smell the roses. I hesitated sharing such a deep, personal part of my life, however, I strongly believe that the lessons I’ve learned and the messages imbedded here are priceless. I wake up every day and say to myself “Today, I’m making a choice to live an extraordinary life”. By doing so, my life takes care of itself, and my life truly is extraordinary.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
One of the goals I set for myself in 2006 was to start my own blog. After a great deal of research and reading countless other blogs, I decided to finally take the plunge and get this puppy started. This is my first, official post in my first, official blog. I'm thrilled about already accomplishing this particular goal for 2006. Let’s hear it for my fellow "Type A’s" who LOVE to cross a task off of our “To Do” Lists. I’m excited about sharing experiences, quotes, photos, encouragement, advice and inspiration with my wonderful community of friends and blog audience. I've always been a writer at heart, so hopefully this new blog adventure will continue to propel me down the road to further developing my writing skills and maybe, just maybe, complete that book I’ve been writing for … well, let’s just say a very long time. Welcome!