Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Golden Slumber!

I am not sleeping as much as I should be, and I don't exactly have a good excuse. There was a meme that I saw once of an exhausted looking woman and it said “Mombie — when everyone else is asleep but you because this is your only time alone.”

I so related at the time. I love those evening hours when the kids have gone to bed, and I can accomplish a task without interruption. During the day I am so interrupted by schedule, picks ups, drop offs, play dates, homework, and dinner — when it is all done it seems like it truly becomes my time. The problem is though, I don't want that time to end either so I often find it hard to stop what I am doing and go to bed.

Last year I only had two and a half hours a day to myself and three of those was spent teaching, so really five hours of alone time a week. I was always rushing around and life felt very chaotic. This year, I have three whole days to myself when both my children are in school, so clearly time shouldn't be an issue anymore, but somehow it it still is. Naturally, more time on my hands means I should take on more. So, I am working on a book, running several programs, creating a show, and the list goes on. I am never bored but I am always tired.

I love mostly everything I am doing, and I don't want to take anything off the table. I just want to stop taking on another project unless it is directly with my kids, or is going to pay. I simply cannot hot glue any more after 11pm, or I will get burned. It's daunting enough for me everyday to clean my kids lunch boxes and re-fill them with something other than what they ate the day before. Last week my husband gently demanded that I dumb down weeknight dinners since roasting squash for goat cheese and thyme crostinis is not time efficient, or appreciated by our children. The next night I made crescent roll dough wrapped hot dogs which also were sadly uneaten. Fortunately, I also made spiraled zucchini noodles with pesto (I can't help myself) which surprisingly my kids did like. I am not sure that they will ever be happy with foodwise, so I feel it's crucial to give them real food and then once in every seventeen tries they might just like it. I don't know what the right dinner is, but I am sure going to exhaust myself trying to figure it out.

Every day, I have my plan for what I want accomplish in the day. I give myself a little time before I have to pick up my kids. About an hour before I have it in my head that I will read and relax a bit before I get them. I actually plan for that time and keep planning for that time, and keep not taking that time every single day. I really want to read more, but I think of all these other things I need to get done before I get the kids that there is never any more time left to read. I then get into bed at night and think I will read then. Again, I am mocked for my efforts when the book hits me in the face when I fall asleep mid sentence. My husband is very entertained by the frequency of this nightly occurrence.

The time change doesn't help me, because all I do for a week following is think I have more time than I do again. Yesterday, I was out with my kids when I ran into a mom from school. She was alone with her two school aged daughters and her third newborn baby girl. I said hello and asked her how she was. Her reply was that she was tired. Now, she has every legitimate reason to be. I on the other hand, need to set an alarm to go to bed and then another one to wake up. Perhaps there is a sleep training class I could take. I am sure I could squeeze it into my day somewhere.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mostly A Mom

Back in the day when I was working as an actress (some of the time), I had a boyfriend who had a few married friends. He was a couple of years older than me and as his friends approached their thirties, they began getting married and starting families. At that moment in time, marriage and kids weren't even on my radar. I knew I wanted a family, but I was focused on my career and didn't feel I was ready to lose any focus. He was also an actor (the last I would date) and he said that he felt like all of his friends get married, have kids, and then give up their careers. I couldn't understand why anyone would do that. He looked down on their decisions, and saw them as giving up on themselves. At the time, I kind of agreed with him.

A few years later we both got married to other people. Soon after I had my daughter, and thought I could maintain my already challenging career. I brought my newborn with me to an audition and it seemed instantly apparent that I wasn't comfortable with multitasking motherhood and the entertainment industry. I was sensitive to having her around such a dismissive culture, so much of which is based on looks. I felt this impulse to protect her and keep her away. I chose to put my career on hold. If I said I never looked back, it would be a lie. I still work in fitness and have maintained part time work in that field, but I do miss acting. I just don't miss the industry.

Presently, I am trying to figure out what my next steps are. I am toying with the idea of going back into acting, but I also love being a full time parent, and have gotten very comfortable not dealing with the kind of rejection that comes with being an actor. Not to mention how terrifying it is to put yourself out there after years away. I used to be so confident, but my confidence is shaken and covered in dust. I've never let fear get in the way of anything I have done in the past, but I am resisting jumping in.

There are many things that I could do besides acting. I have never felt a shortage of ideas to reinvent myself. I am writing, I am teaching, I am volunteering my heart out at my kid's school, but I still feel like a non-practicing artist. I also feel like I could find a lot of careers that would be less self-serving, but I am mother raising two humans, and that has felt pretty selfless for the last nine years. When I think about not returning to acting, I hear that snide comment my ex-boyfriend made and it makes me mad. He was so wrong. There is so much meaning in raising children, and for some people it's hard to juggle it all. I am one of those people. I may still hold a torch to my old career, but I never regret focusing on being a parent. I just think I feel a slight fire starting under me now. I might put it out, but I might just make it burn higher.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Look Up!

This is going to be a learning year for me. I hope every year will be a learning year, but if I don't learn about time management and boundaries this year then I don't know if I ever will. My friend pulled me away from a conversation and reminded me that I asked her how I could extricate myself from conversations when I needed to go. I'm pretty sure she won't be there to help me out next time though.  I have a hard time transitioning from one thing to the next. I enjoy losing track of time, but I don't have the luxury of doing so very often. That's why Saturday mornings you are not likely to find me on the soccer field. I am trying to stay away from weekend sports activities as long as possible.

Leaving on time for everything is my goal. I don't like that running late feeling at all, but I also love squeezing as much life into my day as possible. I only get one go at this, and it is already going too fast.  I hear "slow down" and "hurry up" in my head all day long. I am supposed to take my time, but also be time efficient. It's very confusing and I don't remember learning it at school.  The one quote I remember though is"Failure to prepare is preparing to fail." That one stuck with me. I just didn't really get the tools down for the preparation part, but I managed to not fail somehow, at least where grades are concerned. 

Interruptions are much more frequent now then when I was a kid. I didn't have a phone, or a computer to send me texts, emails or anything else that signals me to stop what I am doing and respond. These dings and dongs have triggered some serious addictive habits in me and I don't like how dependent I have become on communication this way. As I sit here and try to write this I keep stopping to pick up my phone to see the texts come in. It's hard to ignore it, but it's on my list of goals to at least not look at it every five minutes. Of course that to do list, is on my phone so there is that, but if I can remember how to use a pen and paper I should transfer it. I did learn how to write in school. 

I am the first to admit that I have taken on a bit too much. I need to practice saying "no" and clearing my plate more than I have been. I carve out quiet time every day, but not enough. I spend a lot of time with my kids, but a lot of that time is spent planning for them instead of being with them her and now. I need to stop ignoring my kids because my head is in a screen, and instead ignore my time sucking light box and look at my kids. After all, they are not going to be standing there waiting for me much longer if I keep looking down. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

The Future Is Female

Yesterday was Oscar Sunday, and we got to attend an award show. We love watching award shows on TV, we have snacks cuddle up and vote on who we think will win. We taped it yesterday, and when we sat down to watch my son didn't get the memo that you don't talk through the whole thing. He asked us questions, blocked our view, and interrupted punchlines. We eventually paused it and after he went to sleep we let our daughter stay up and watch the rest with us. She was really interested in why there was only one woman nominated for best director, especially because in her world there are no gender boundaries yet. The award ceremony we had been to earlier was for her where she received a medal for a film she made.

Only five women have ever been nominated for an Oscar in directing. Out of those five only one, Kathryn Bigelow, won. For ninety years of these awards occurring, that number is shockingly low. Greta Gerwig was nominated for Lady Bird this year, and although my daughter hasn't seen the movie, she is fascinated by the director. A few summers ago when we were back east visiting my parents, my daughter discovered iMovie on my phone, and she hasn't stopped making little shorts since. This fall, when our school had an arts contest through the PTA, she wanted to enter. She could have done any kind of submission, art, music, dance, or photography but she chose to enter for film. The theme was “Within Reach…", so she made a short about kids being able to be whatever they want when they grow up. She cast all of us, directed it and shot it on her own. She won for the City, then the district and got second place at the council level. 

At the ceremony yesterday, there were over 80 kids being honored for all of their hard work and talents. Out of that group there was one little girl who won a third place medal, a second place and a first, for three different categories. She was the only person there who had entered multiple categories, let alone win. The fact that she was a girl too made it all the more impressive to me. Nothing stood in her way. My daughter looked at me and said she didn't know you could enter more than one category. I could see her head planning for next year already. 

For all the limitations we feel as women, and for the inequality and unequal pay, we are paving the way for our daughters to demand more. I know the drop in female self-confidence doesn't really start to happen until closer to adolescence, but from what I see in the peers of my daughter, we are doing our best to offset that lack of confidence. I don't know if my daughter will continue making films, and follow Greta Gerwig's footsteps, but I do think she and her friends will do so much more than women have done before them. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Talk

My daughter is nine and we had "the talk” — the conversation that mothers plan for, and wonder how they will approach with their daughters. The same conversation Claire Huxtable had when she popped into an episode of "Blossom." Mrs. Huxtable, the ultimate mom, used a cake to draw explain baby making and cake decorating simultaneously. I vividly remember the conversation I had with my mother after watching a fourth grade film about our bodies at school.

My mom was pretty awesome when it came to talking about sex. She was approachable, and explained that two people when they have each other's consent, can have a give and take that will result in both people feeling good. She gently explained respecting my body, privacy, and the appropriate times to share it. That first conversation about what sex is, or how a baby is made, was nothing like Claire Huxtable though. I had heard in the school movie the words "egg, sperm, inseminate, and napkin" and since the film did a pretty amazing job of keeping it vague, I was seriously confused. A few days later when I was home eating a hard boiled egg that I held with a napkin, I asked my parents "how babies start."

Both my parents chuckled, but not enough at me that I was discouraged to press on. This is where I kind of remember my dad going into the kitchen and only coming in and out of the conversation. I am not sure if he was embarrassed or if it was just a conversation that was "supposed" to be had between mother and daughter. My mom began to explain to me the real way babies come to be. She recalls that my faced dropped and then I put down the egg I was eating. I asked if she and daddy did that, and when she said yes, I proceeded to go down the list of every couple I could think of. I was trying to visualize and process how so many people (even my grandparents) could do such a thing. It blew my mind and I didn't want to eat eggs for a long time after that.

Despite some bumps in the road between my late teens and well my late 20's, I have a pretty healthy comfort level when it comes to sex. It is my hope that when my daughter gets old enough, that she will as well. At the end of last year when she was 8, I found out from a few mom's that I know that they had already had the "talk" with reason girls. I thought about waiting until my daughter came to me to discuss this topic, but I was concerned that if I waited some of her friends might get to her first. One day after school when she and I had some time alone, I asked her what she knew about how babies begin. She thought that they were grown from love and that she remembered my husband and I explaining to her once that daddy has "seeds" and mommy has little eggs and when they get together they can begin to grow a baby. Then I asked her how she thought they got together. When I explained how her face looked like what I imagine mine did when I put down that egg. 

She didn't go down the list of people like I did, but she did ask if my husband and I had done this more than once (since she has a brother). She asked if people like it, and I said yes. She took a moment and said “Well, this is very interesting and kind of strange." I agreed that it was. She hasn't spoke much about it since, but she read a bit more in a book meant to help girls learn about such things. She asked more about what a period is and when will she get breasts. I think she is right where she should be with these questions. The best news of all though is that she asks them, and not only to me. She asked my husband yesterday what it means when a woman thinks she might be pregnant. She wanted to know how a woman could just think she was pregnant instead of just being pregnant. I am not sure how she even got to that thought process, but thankfully he navigated his way through that successfully. She even asked him if when she is over eighteen and misses her period will that mean she is pregnant. He explained that there are different reasons why a woman could miss her period -- as far as more details, there is plenty of time for that. For now we are both happy that she still liked eggs and that she can come to us with questions.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sweet Valentines

Valentines Day is not my favorite holiday. It feels like an excuse for big box stores to charge us extra for items with pink hearts on them. It also feels like another day where kids get to eat extra candy, just because, and more work for parents to make enough cards to give to the whole class. Other than that, it is a lovely day to show people we love them.

Today felt a little bit different though. I chaperoned my son's Kindergarten class to the senior center where the kids sang the seniors a Valentines Day song. The children made cards and handed them out randomly to the seniors. If there was ever a way to show love in your heart, this was it. It was so special to see the seniors fawn over the little kids. The whole thing took about 15 minutes, but I wished we could have stayed there all day.

I am quite certain that not every senior and not every child understood exactly what was going on, but it was pretty beautiful nonetheless. There were also plenty who did understand and they were smitten. Especially seeing the children walk up to hand them a card. The adult on the recieving end of the card was so pleased. Our school only does this walking field trip with the kindergartners so I am so glad I went today. A lot of hearts were warmed today, including mine.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018


There are few feelings better than feeling inspired. It's like a heat wave rising up in me when I hear someone speak wise words, see a beautiful film, or read an encouraging story. There is so much right now to be inspired by. As a woman, there is more deserved justice and respect being claimed in this moment in history than ever before. In entertainment, politics, sports, and business, there are more and more women in leadership. We have a long way to go, but we have also come so far.

This morning as I sat down to write, I asked myself what is in my heart in this moment right now. So many of us are trying so hard to live in the present moment. Being present with our loved ones, our co-workers and with ourselves is a goal worth striving for. It is a goal though that sometimes is like swimming against a current. Technology is a total distraction. I, for one, have sensory overload. There are screens everywhere, and keeping up in social media is a job in and of itself. My text alerts interrupt me constantly — I’m sure I can turn it off, but there is that collective urgent feeling we all feel that something important could be missed, and I need to be available.

I have written so many times that I feel like balance is a myth, yet I don't feel one should stop striving for it. The most inspiring woman to me is Oprah and following her Golden Globe speech I know I am not alone in my awe of her. She has five rules she follows for a better life, and so I dutifully take note of her  skills. With any luck I can attempt to start 2018 by following her lead. I have already forgotten 3 out of 5 of them, but one is to start the day with gratitude. Find something to be grateful for when you first open your eyes in the morning. Another is to take some time for yourself every single day. She meditates for twenty minutes in the morning and sometimes twenty in the evening. She doesn't have kids and probably doesn't do her own cooking and cleaning, but she still works her ass off, so there is that. The third I remember is to be present. So right here and right now, I am sitting with that. Without interruption, at least of the technical kind.

Inspiration shows up in so many forms. I can see it daily. Oprah is an obvious one since she speaks on behalf of so many and connects with even more. I can see inspiration in so many more ways though, when I look for it. I took a new class at the gym this morning and the kindness of the class regulars inspired me, the student's strength inspired me. My children innocence and hope inspires me. Public radio inspires me. Other's creativity inspires me to be more creative. The energy is everywhere and so along with my new goals of being patient and present, I am adding being inspired to the list, for if my eyes are open, it shouldn't hard to find.