SPIN

Worried your child isn’t turning out to be the superstar you had planned for him to be? Recently scored “yes” on the “Is My Kid An Asshole” quiz? Fear not. Success is all in the eye of the beholder. There’s a silver lining in every cloud, an Elmo in every Oscar, and room for vodka in every receptacle filled to mid capacity. So drop that mom guilt by the side of the road, grab a set of rose colored glasses (definition of “glasses” open to interpretation) and get to work on reframing that whole deal, stat.

For example,

If your child:

Then:

Speaks fluent sass.

You should have her tested for GATE. Sarcasm is lost on the un-witty and unintellegent folk. Based on this premise and her current skill level you might just have a genius on your hands. Watch out world.

Suffers from chronic item loss and an inoperable search function.

He’s not disorganized and helpless. He is an individual! A free spirit. He isn’t going to let people tell HIM to stay in any stupid box. As proof of this creative energy, and since you can’t find a matched pair,  “let” him wear one each of two different shoes.  Preface it with a pep talk on being a nonconformist trend setter. Practice this speech a few times, just in case you want to uh, use it one someone else. Like the school secretary. And your child’s teacher.

Is a runner. Not, unfortunately, just on a track.

Congratulations! She is an explorer. A pioneer. An adventurer. A future in leading great expeditions is in her near and prosperous grasp. Assuming, that is, that you don’t actually lose her first.

Is a picky eater.

That kid has discriminating taste, in a good way. Just think of all the bad dates she’ll pass up because they a) smell funny, b) look strange, c) aren’t part of a very narrow range of acceptable, albeit arbitrary, criteria.

Has terrible table manners.

Cha-ching. Thing of all the money you are going to save by never eating out. Like, never ever. For at least the next decade.

Can’t sit still. Not even for ten seconds. Hell, not even for two seconds.

Sweet. Meet the newest member of The Wiggles. I hear they’re worth millions. Or, if that doesn’t work out, you’ve got a front runner for a shake weights ad. Leverage your resources and put that bounce to work. Literally.

Is a Pack Rat. All his toys are his favorite. He cannot give any of them away. Ever.

Someday that kid will be a millionaire by selling his vintage Iron Man 3 toy, NIB, to some other sad sad soul. Enjoy the mini-mansion he’s obliged to buy you as reparation for storage space with the profit.

Suffers from loss of floor space. She can’t remember what color the carpet is in her room because it’s been that long since she’s been able to see it.

Excellent. I read that Hoarders is looking for volunteers for their show. No work for you and you’ll be on t.v.! Win-win.

Interrupts you, regularly, incessantly and at a volume that makes you wonder if she has a mic on.

She obviously has a future career as a game or talk show host. Kanye West will be her first guest. Mike Posner will make a musical appearance and the YouTube video will go viral within 24 hours.

Cannot follow simple directions. The 100 steps for building a lego airplane? No Problem. The three tasks to do before leaving the house? He forgot #2 already.

Breathe a sigh of relief and cross one thing off your to-do list. Finally, someone who can read the instruction manual that came with your new e-reader. Let him have at it. Just be sure to tune in now and then so you know how to like, turn it on and off and stuff since he probably won’t be able to recap the instructions in your language.

See? Your child really is perfect; it’s all in how you spin it, sister.
Problem.Solved.

 

 

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TALK (DIRTY) TO ME

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Well, then. Check me into the asylum friends, because um, I think this might be my parenting life, like, all of it.

These are things that were actually uttered in my house this morning:

“You are not excused from your timeout until you list ten things you are grateful that others have done for you.”
“Get into child’s pose and stay there until your attitude improves. Breathe the cranky (internal speech- “shittatude”) out, breathe the happy in,”

and, the ultimate:

“The fact that you had to flush your brother’s poop down the toilet does NOT excuse you from flushing your own. It doesn’t work like that, actually (this is not a competition for Most Helpless Child- it’s way too early for that nonsense).”

Sigh. The battle of wills has begun, and the odds are not, currently, in my favor.

Life with kids is a life on repeat. I say the same things, over and over and over. Okay, well maybe not that last one, that I only say like once a week, or so . . . But really,  not a whole lot changes other than the tone and volume of my voice by the fourth effort in the same ten minute span- “put your shoes on please. Please put your shoes on. Put your SHOES on please. PUT YOUR SHOES ON. please.”

Clearly, I am an effective communicator. Obviously.

Now I know our brains are a pattern seeking device. I also know kids are constantly testing their boundaries. And by testing, I mean pushing them, all.the.damn.time.  Actually, adults do it too. We want to see if the imaginary constraints someone has set on our behavior are still live and in effect and/or, if they are, will we really get caught jumping the fence.

We usually do. It usually hurts. We usually do it again anyway.  This seems to contradict the pattern seeking behavior a bit, no?

Well, ringing bells and salivation aside, conditioning our responses, in a healthy way, is no small task. If science is right and it really does it takes about 27 experiences with something to form a habit then one would expect that I would have mastered at least the following by now: 1) jedi mind power, 2) ninja stealth skills, 3) dance moves other than the “tall girl can’t shake it” and “hands in the air.”

Sadly, none of these have manifested themselves fully, yet. #fail.

The closest I’ve got to getting down like yoda is my killer teacher/mom look. You know- THE look. The “get your shit together, stat, or be prepared to face my fury” glance of admonition. It’s actually fairly effective on other people’s children (you should see them scatter when I hit the pavement on a Elementary School campus, it’s hysterical) but mine have called my bluff.

However, I have noticed some behavior patterns are taking hold. Some things, I am doing an OUTSTANDING job teaching my kids. They are picking up what I’m throwing down after all.

Hooray, right? Um, well, actually, no. Nope. Negative. Not the kind I was hoping for.

Take these snippets of conversational exchanges between my Dear Daughter and me, for example:

Me: “Do you hear yourself right now?”
DD: “No. Because my ears are plugged”
 
Me: “I don’t hear you when you speak to me like that.”
DD: “Then how do you know what I said?”
 
Me: “Where did you put it?”
DD: “Somewhere. . .  over the rainbow”
 
Me: “You may not speak to people in that tone of voice”
DD: “Well he was making his cute eyes at me and that’s just not going to work on me today.”
 

Gee, I wonder what behavior those remarks illustrate? Couldn’t possibly be sarcasm, could it?

On the bright side- my kids are kinda sharp after all, phew. Using sarcasm requires quick wit, a large vocabulary and a smarter than average train of thought so it’s not all bad. But ahem, um, I wonder who taught them to talk like that? I don’t know anybody who engages in that kind of discourse, on a regular basis or anything. . .

And the award for Most Hypocritical goes to. . . . ME!

Yep. My bad. All me. I take full responsibility for this. High five me. It appears the lesson in respectful dialogue is going over like a lead balloon. I can tell them how to talk, I can tell them what they should be saying, but unless I am modeling it myself, the point is moot. “Do as I say not as I do” is a supersize load of bullshit, and I know it.

This is a problem, cuz’, without anybody backing me up, I’m kind of, um, totally screwed. Unless. . . unless, I change my habits, perspective and response.

So, since I love to list things, here’s my plan of attack:

  1. Reserve sarcasm for appropriate moments. Use a different outlet to get all that clever satirical word play out.  Maintain the art form, to be sure, but overall with the kids- give love, be love, receive love.
  2. Go slow. Move slowly, speak slowly, respond slowly. Acknowledge where the kids are at in their development- emotionally and physically. Consider what is going on in their lives, the antecedent for the behavior and what might best offer them support in redirection, rather than straight up correction for one act.  Put myself in their shoes for the moment, and then consciously respond. See the moment as well as the repercussions and respond with the total picture in mind. Put that giant Educational Institution paper trail to work all ready dammit.
  3. Continue using time-outs a way to create a short term safety solution as needed (like when the kids start going all kung-fu panda on each other and need to be separated) as well as an opportunity to reset. Time-outs are not a consequence- they exist to CTFD before the consequence.

And, since I have no backup here in my house, do me a favor, will you please? Send me a message now and then and ask me how I’m doing. Remind me, nicely, of what I committed to changing. Call me out when you see me fail (in private, and preferably while handing me a glass [or bottle] of wine with the bad news). If you do this in front of my children, however, we may never speak again. Fair warning. If this also comes off as being scolded or reprimanded, the same outcome applies. Just gently and kindly keep me accountable for my actions, pretty please.

In theory, it’ll only take about 27 times so I should be good by like . . . tomorrow.

Want to join me in this effort? Make an accountability pact? Hit me up; I’ve been known to help people stay on track with goals before. Once or twice. Self not always included.

Want to laugh at me instead? Please do. Go for it. Either way, we’re both going to end up smiling blankly into space somewhere wondering what just happened and whose kids those are.

Here’s to insanity. Bring.it.on.

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NOT AFRAID

I’m not afraid. 

“What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

I asked my classes that question this week during my lectures. Answers, not surprisingly, varied in egocentricity and depth. Some students wanted to marry celebrities, others to become rappers (to which I wished them the best of luck, really), but as a whole, their responses referenced legitimate accomplishments. And, most notably, they were acts which the individual had not done yet almost entirely because because they were afraid they wouldn’t succeed. The only reason they hadn’t tried, then, was fear.

Fear of being wrong. Fear of being hurt. Fear of not being the best, the winner, the most accomplished.

Ouch. Familiar territory, no?

Fear, and a scarcity mentality, are perhaps the biggest hurdles we face in our progression of self. There is an entire body of research emerging on just this premise, actually, and it has profound implications on how we raise our children and train them to respond to failure.

The key word in that statement, however, is train. The good news is, that just like an actual hurdling event, fortunately, we can train for this.

We have control over our own thoughts, habits, attitudes and beliefs. What we think, we become. The limits we place on our own success are our own cognitive creations; the boundaries of which can be stretched, if we choose to do so.

So, remember that comfort zone? That e-x-p-a-n-d-i-n-g your comfort zone discussion?  How’s that going? Try anything new? Do anything you’re afraid of, yet?

The teachers at my yoga studio are often quoted as saying some variation of the following:

“If it scares you a little bit, you should consider it. If it scares you a lot, then you should absolutely do it.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I read this, from zenhabits:

Joy is an awesome thing to have, but joyfear is present in the powerful moments in life where joy and fear mix, where we’re taking chances and doing something outside of our comfort zone that both excites us and makes us face the possibility of failure.”

What are you doing today to bring a little joyfear into your life?   What’s on your list? Why aren’t you doing it? Click here for a refresher guide.

Not ready to dive into the big stuff? That’s okay, start small. Baby steps, uh, baby. Make subtle changes in your routine and your day.  Try starting grocery shopping at the opposite end of the store. So scary, I know. You might, like, forget bananas if you don’t start in the produce aisle and then you’re just totally screwed, right? Or not.

Or, get really brave, and try a new place to drop half your paycheck on consumables. Calm the fuck down, I see your palms sweating and I gotta tell ya- panic over a grocery store swap is just silly. The checkers at Whole Foods won’t judge you if you shop at the Safeway down the street this week. Okay, that’s a lie, they totally will, but only because they miss you and your visa card so much.

Try a new restaurant. Try a new food. Eat a vegetable with a name you can’t pronounce. Talk to someone in line at Starbucks. Stop traffic for a pedestrian waiting in the crosswalk. Run an extra mile. Try a new class at the gym. Apply for a new job. Sign up for a seminar or workshop to learn something new (or hear information you already knew, in a different way) and meet new people. Read out of your genre (permission to skip Teen Lit granted, unless you’re looking for a quick mind numbing read, then by all means, let the trilogy addiction commence).

Watch a Ted Talk instead of cruising through the queue on your DVR. Listen to an audiobook instead of music on your way to work. Go on a date, gulp. Even if you are married, go out with your spouse, on a weeknight, after 7pm, you wild things, you. Wear brightly colored pants (do this soon, before the trend is over and then you’ll reaaaalllllyyyyy be getting out of your comfort zone to try it).

Whatever you choose, do something that scares you. Stop making excuses. Stop saying no. If you never take any risks, it will be difficult to grow.

In my classes, post discussion, I went a step further. I asked my students to look at what they had written again and consider this- “other than fear, what is stopping you from doing that right now?” I asked them to write down three reasons preventing them from achieving that reality. That was the easy part. Next, I asked them what they were going to do about that. The final component to the lesson was to reflect on what they could do, today, right now, right there, to change that. What they could do to make progress toward that happening, starting this moment.

Well, there’s no moment like the present. Go move some mountains and shit.
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READY OR NOT

What’s next Mom?” “Where are we going now?” “Who are we going to see?” “What are we going to do noooooowwwwww?”

Sigh.

These hourly interrogations, although exhausting, also make me a little bit proud.  My children are learning that life with their mom is a life on the go and full of adventure (high five me). But seriously kids, enough with the hand raising already.  I’m not a tour guide, I don’t have a brochure for you to reference and can you please please please not ask me a question again for at least another hour (happy hour maybe?).

My kids, being uh, mine, like a little structure in their day. They like to hear the daily Hot Ticket list every morning. They like to know what we are doing, where we are going, who we are going to see, and what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner (just kidding about that last part, kind of). In response, I try to provide an outline as I think that preparation for the day helps to create a structure more likely to encourage positive behaviors and scaffolds our energy levels accordingly.

However, I keep it somewhat vague because like most young children, they don’t love it so much when things do go as anticipated and most of the time we don’t get to half the things on the “agenda” anyway. This means that I hear lots of “but you SAID” and “but we are SUPPOSED TO” and well, generally too much of the word “but” in general, to be honest (especially since it is a homophone for “butt,” which is hysterical when you are eight. Or five. Or thirty something. . . ).

Yep. I did say that. Yes, we were going to do that. But- newsflash. We didn’t. It’s called a “pivot,” people; let’s get our “om” on and be flexible, shall we?

This is harder than one might expect. It seems that the less I tightly plan, the more open I am to interrupting our regularly programmed schedule, the more they cling to a schedule.

Thanks karma. I got your message. Can you call back later please? I might have an opening in my day somewhere between eliminating old bullshit and the delivery of fresh manure; let me just check my uh, calendar.

This stubborn and persistent attachment to predictability, routines and expectations reinforces a few generalizations for me: 1) People don’t naturally like change. This is of course why the business of change management is alive and thriving. We aren’t easily inclined to deal well with shifts, and it takes experience, training and support to learn how; 2) I did a bang up job teaching my progeny how to stick to an itinerary in our previous life; this will 3) lead to some interesting challenges in training them to chill.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (a lot actually. Like, maybe I’ll start selling t-shirts and bumper stickers) –

CTFD already people.

Schedules are beneficial, calendar templates- lovely. But do you know what the best function of calendar template is?

The “edit” button.

Learn to adjust easily. Make plans, but be open to change. Be flexible when things don’t go your way. Accomodate new experiences as they present themselves. Say yes to movement- lateral, vertical, whatever, just be willing to at least consider a modification in direction.

In moving ever forward, keep on keeping on. The more practice and experience we have with change, the easier and more comfortable we will get with it. The more frequently our comfort zone is deliberately expanded, the wider those boundaries will grow.

Rather than teaching my children how to live a life that is for all intents and purposes a bit militant (and boring) I can teach them to enjoy their day, whatever it brings.  As I model being open and spontaneous (or spontaneous-ish) and by articulating my failures and how I am dealing with them, I can lead by example.

Identifying what I had anticipated happening, what actually happened, and how I am reacting to that brings clarity and learning. It reframes and refocuses the moment for for me, and for my kids. It changes an ordeal into an adventure, an obstacle into a challenge, a disruption into a possibility.

Speaking of perceptions and the Game of Life, it’s my turn again. The kids are up, I have some questions to answer and decisions to make (like, um, what’s for breakfast, since the pancake fairy skipped our house again today . . .). Catch ya on the flip side

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I’VE GOT TO KEEP ON MOVING

“Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. Just keep swimming. . .”

Remember that? Best advice the world ever got from a Blue Tang. Thanks Dory.

Yes, it’s that kind of day. Pixar film, advice from fictional (and forgetful) fish kind of day. Don’t be a hater; I get my inspiration from all kinds of sources, CTFD and deal with it.

Yesterday I did three workouts again. Yes, again. I am maybe not taking my advice to slow down. But …. (to ROB), I joined a Crossfit gym and I “had” to go. Yep, in addition to going to power vinyassa yoga and running I am now going to find time to do Crossfit, for the following (ridiculous) reasons: 1) there was a Groupon, 2) my friends are doing it, 3) I “need” to train differently for my Spartan races, 4) there are HOT men there, and uh, 5) see #1 and #4, hellllllloooooo – enough said.

So you know,  in addition to the four miles I squeezed in between lecturing I “had” to go to Crossfit. I mean, I paid for it and everything. . . and those abs are not going to crunch themselves.  I maybe didn’t have to do two WOD’s while there but, um, I did. I might be a little sore today. Little bit. Not going to let that slow me down though. Advil, coffee, B vitamins, water and BAM, I’m back at it baby. Next workout starts in an hour. Bring it.

So, what’s the deal here, exactly? I take the same approach to manage my three jobs (wait, is it four? Five maybe? I lost count two roles ago). I’m not a superhero, although if that option arises I totally call dibs on Wonder Woman, her boots rock. I don’t have any special talents or mass reserves of energy that the rest of the world doesn’t have.  So given my apparent (growing) addiction to exercise related endorphins and unwillingness to say “no” to any new employment related venture, what kind of crack am I taking?

Drive. That’s what. Motivation. Refusal to quit. Challenge to myself to be better than I was yesterday, all day, every day.

Speaking of drive, I’m using the book with said title (“Drive,” just in case you haven’t picked up on that latent clue yet) by Daniel Pink in my courses this semester. It’s an amazing book about human motivation and how and why we do what we do.

In the introduction Pink uses the experiments of Harry Harlow and Edward Deci to illustrate how scientists have identified three main kinds of drive- 1- biological, 2- reward based, and, more recently, 3- intrinsic.

It is the last one, that which is sparked by curiosity, enjoyment and interest, that he spends the rest of the book explaining, highlighting and encouraging readers to tap into. Now I’m not writing this to sell more books for Daniel Pink. He’s kind of got that shit handled all on his own. I’m writing it as a point of interest and to begin a dialogue about getting out of your comfort zone, expanding your interests and commencing your own journey to total world domination.

What motivates you? What drives your passion? What fuels your purpose? What best increases your capacity for growth? Why? Are you more likely to do something for financial gain or personal well-being? For a promotion or for increasing your knowledge base, strength or skillset? Because it would please someone else, or because it would please you?

In attempting to inspire others, what works better- the “carrots and sticks” method or reaching a deep level of inspiration? Empowering others through modeling, support and encouragement, or by bribing them? By getting people to do things to please you, or to please themselves (which will in turn please others)?

For me, I can identify two strong motivators that work for me and have, in my experience, worked for others- my desire to grow personally, and my desire to help others do the same.

I don’t workout for others, I workout for me. I don’t compete in events for the medals and bragging rights (seriously, what the hell am I supposed to do with those medals anyway? Wear them to the grocery store and yell “I AM A SPARTAN” down every aisle? Tempting, but I think I’ll pass).  I compete to challenge myself to get the best outcome possible that day. To push myself to my maximum physical limits right then, in that moment, given the body that showed up that day.

True, in turn, being a better me helps me to be a better mother, friend, teacher etc. . . , and it increases my confidence and thereby my happiness. Those are absolutely related. No question.  But, what propels me through those long miles, those extra sets, those 75 minute vinyassa flows is not the direct desire to make someone else happy. It’s my attitude, my commitment, my ambition, my quest for self actualization that keeps me moving forward.

On the contrary, through my work I am seeking quite the opposite. I don’t do what I do because it explicitly makes me happy. Well, it does, but I do it because it helps others. Everything I do I do it for you.   Just kidding. Kind of. Early 90’s song references aside,  what motivates me to teach, to write, to consult, to train, to assist, to do what I do, is my intense and burning fascination with personal growth and my enormous appetite to support others in their own advancement.

It is not money. It is not the lucrative working hours or the perks of being (mostly) self employed. Those help, no doubt, but those are not enough. Knowing I make a difference is enough. Getting emails like this: “Professor Sweezey. . . thank you for making me understand what I haven’t understood in a long time,” is enough. That, is my work drive. That gets me up at 5am every morning and helps me work well into the twilight hours every night. Personal fulfillment experienced through facilitation and service. How awesome is that?

Every day I make mistakes. Every day I fail somehow. Every day I do something stupid (probably safe to make that a plural statement. . .). That doesn’t stop me from trying anyway. If anything, it makes me try harder.

Every day I also grow. Every day I also succeed. Every day I make progress, somehow, somewhere and in some small way. Even if I take two steps back, I know I’ll not only make up for them tomorrow, I will probably find something I missed along the way the first time. It’s my own will and determination that keeps me doing this cha-cha over and over again.

Have you heard the expression “the diet that works best is the one you stick to?” Well duh, right? Of course it works if you stay with it, that’s the point. But, what motivates you to stick to it for the long term? If it’s something tangible it is likely to fade with time, right? How many diets and exercise regimes have you failed to maintain? How many big projects have you abandoned? Balls you have dropped simply because they weren’t worth juggling anymore?

Sometimes this is okay. Knowing your limits and when to call it is a good thing. The universe is going to provide nicely for you, if you let it, but it’s wise not to continue with something when the cost to benefit analysis yields an outcome heavily in favor of the costs. That’s working smarter, not harder. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about when the benefits clearly outweigh the costs, but the work to get there is hard- really hard.

Well, nothing worth having comes easy, and that’s the damn truth. Whether it’s through painful lessons along the way, sweat on the mat or struggles that seemed once unbearable, your ability to take a blow and get back up is the difference between success and failure. Between dynamic or stagnant growth. You are the only thing standing in your own way. Let go of your fear and your excuses and get out of your way already. Find your motivator, hold on tight, and darling, enjoy the ride.

 

 

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GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN

Oh happy sigh. Happy, tired, sigh.

This past weekend I had the most lovely time with two of my dear girlfriends, women whom I’ve known since well before I knew who I was, and before any of us became mothers. We spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday traipsing around Union Square in San Francisco, one the GREATEST cities in the world (IMNSHO), enjoying every rainy minute of our much anticipated, much welcomed, and greatly appreciated escapade.

None of us being a person lacking in conversation or people skills, particulalrly parsimonious, nor inclined to spend the weekend parked in the hotel lounge complaining about the weather, we grabbed our umbrellas, purses, a cocktail (or two…ish) and hit the concrete jungle.  And let me tell you, time we did not waste and stationary we were not. We got our fun IN, no question.

We smiled ourselves into new wrinkle lines, laughed until it hurt, supported and encouraged each other as we discarded our stress, and took full advantage of every minute we had. Hell, we even exercised, uh, sort of. Like, if we compiled our cinematic documentation into a workout guide it would warrant a title such as “24 Hour Abs: The Girls Weekend Edition,” “Stretching: You and Your Wallet,” “Return to Me: How to Turn a Three Block Walk into Thirteen” or, my personal favorite, “Drinkilates: Protecting Your Core (And Your Vodka) In Crowded Spaces.”

Now in the eleven plus years we’ve known each other, we have taken trips together and with our families, spent many weekends in festive fun as a group and been out “on the town” en masse our fair share of times. But, while this was not our first trip, it was entirely different.

This trip, we let go.

We let go of planning. No agenda, no schedule, no timelines, reservations or “musts.” Just fun. Just open. Spontaneity as our drive and the Universe as our guide. We ate when we were hungry, drank when we we thirsty and went wherever the wind carried us. If the energy was off, we bounced. If the vibe was right, we stayed. Simple as that.

We let go of fear of the perception of us by others. We did what we wanted to do because we wanted to do it. We ate what we wanted to eat because we wanted to eat it. We wore what we wanted to wear because we liked it. We played dress up in H&M because we could (not because we should, mind you, because we COULD).

We let go of things we can’t control. We all have stress in our lives. We all have shit to deal with that we don’t know what to do about, yet. We each have big decisions to make that could weigh heavy on our hearts and could easily have overtaken the weekend. But instead, we shared them. We got them out and then let them go, choosing the mindset that time will provide wisdom and the universe will provide as it sees fit.

We let go of “later” and “before.” Our daily lives laid in wait across the bridge back in the land of reality and on the docket for Monday. Not that day. Not right then. We enjoyed the here and now, saw the beauty in the moment, were present in the present.

We let go of negative mindsets, attitudes or other querulous behavior. Sunday morning when I had the urge to jump out of bed and go running after just two hours of sleep I did. When the drizzle turned to a downpour 20 minutes in instead of pouting about it I ran into a CVS, smiled my way into a free plastic bag from the clerk to cover up my phone and spent the next hour pounding the pavement from the from one hilly end of peninsula to the other, grinning ear to ear and loving every soggy moment.  When I chose to view the experience as fun – it was.

We let go of expectations, of ourselves, of each other, of others of us. Yes, we have families depending on us. Yes, we have jobs requiring our dedication and devoted attention. Yes, there are more “productive” ways to spend a weekend in regards to those obligations. For this weekend, we followed a different guideline. A “you can’t take care of others until you take care of yourself” decree. We took accountability for our own happiness, regardless of the actions of others. Instead of seeing things as we thought they “should” be, we simply saw them for what they were and appreciated them. We were open to letting happiness in, seeking nothing other than fun without allowing fear, worry or a scarcity mentality to rob us of joy in the moment.

Oh happy day.

Maybe it’s because we are in our thirties and we are finally reaching that point in our lives where we are able to own who we are. Maybe we are finally catching on to all those lessons the universe has been providing for us. Maybe it was just great timing. Maybe, in letting go we are finally able to receive that which we have so sought for so long and with such fortitude. Our strength is in our grace, our contentment found by surrender of the quest to hold life so tightly.

Whatever the case, it was awesome. I left feeling grounded, supported and confident in the reminder that wherever I’m headed, whatever destinations lie in wait, and regardless of the track changes that are coming, I know I’ve chosen the right people to bring on the journey.

To my friends, all of you, far and wide, those who were with me this weekend in person and those I carried in my heart, thanks for joining me on the ride.

girls weekend2

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SLOW RIDE

So. . . this just happened. I fell asleep in yoga yesterday. Three times. Three. During three different poses across about ten minutes. Not kind of asleep. Not dozing. ASLEEP. Hmmm. Universe dropping a little lesson on me, perhaps? Maybe. Potentially. Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that I actually pulled an all nighter the night before, then taught five classes back to back starting at 8am and ending at 4:20 spending my only “break” driving from one college campus to the next,  assisted the 4:30 class at yoga and then was crazy enough to attempt my own practice following that.

Hmmm. Can we say “overdoing it?” Just a little.

I have been running past my standard gear of fast, blazed right past ridiculous and straight on through morning to ludicrous speed. Well, I got three reminders to slow the fuck down this week. Most likely more than three, actually, but three that were really right there in my face. My little zen naps, a darling love note from my daughter (see end of post) and a big hint from my yoga teacher last night to stop rushing through the poses in a hurry to get to the next thing and just appreciate this moment (timely, no?).

I’ve been working in some capacity more or less from 5am until 11pm every day for several months now. While some things are time constrained, such as when I lecture, for the most part the rest of the days I arrange my schedule with considerable flexibility and can take frequent breaks to exercise, meet with friends or get a grip on the rest of my life. The problem is, in addition to straight up overscheduling myself, I’m not taking breaks to take a break, I’m taking breaks like I’m going to conquer the damn world.

During these “un-break” breaks, I have been doing things like exercising a minimum of twice a day. This is partly because I’m training for events, partly of my endorphin habit and partly because if I’m exercising I theoretically can’t be doing anything else. As in, no laundry, no chauffeuring children places, no conversation, no dealing with real life. However, fortunately but unfortunately, I’m still thinking. Lots of thinking. Can’t seem to get away from that. . .

So, despite my intention to take a little pause in my day, I haven’t even been able to single task anything, whatsoever. I can’t even just exercise. I am not turning it “off” and solely focusing on my breath or my movements or my running. Instead, I’m using these moments of prolonged procrastination to process shit, to plan, to think, to get inspired, to map out next steps for different work projects. This is neither entirely good nor totally bad; but it certainly isn’t mindful behavior, that’s for sure.

I kind of can’t believe I’m still standing. Which, speaking of, seems to be another hint from the universe to CTFD. I have braindump blog post file where I unload my inspiration whenever I have a minute or two. When I opened it today I found this, something I wrote a few weeks ago but could just as easily have been written today:

“It’s 9:10 p.m. and I have sat down exactly four times in the last 12 hours- holding chair pose for 10 breaths at yoga, while having breakfast with a friend this morning, while I worked during the kids 30 minute kids dentist appointment and while driving. Yikes. I didn’t even eat my other meals in a seated position.”

Um. Cough, cough. Ahem. So. Yep. That’s pretty much been how every single day has been. Weekdays are combinations of work and exercise (at least I sit down when I write) and those two tiny days in between are used, Weekend Warrior style, to hit the adventuring road with my little peeps or my girls. Which- sidenote- I just want to give a shoutout to my girlfriends, because I have THE BEST FRIENDS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. They take care of me like no one else does and I just love them to pieces. From big things like the weekend forever known as “Project Keep Michelle Distracted” (also referenced as “don’t let her sober up or she’ll start crying again”) to funny posts and quotes thrown my way, those ladies have got my back. Well ditto girlies, right back atcha.

In any case, back to the point. I am over.doing.it. And it’s showing. My energy stores are dipping, my attitude is getting affected and as we as a family adjust to a changes in our schedule, the tone has gotten a bit brusque as of late, for all three of us. No bueno.  FIX IT!

Well now what? There is one of me and two of them. 100 (million) things to get done around the house and just this adult right here to project manage that nonsense. 24 hours in a day with 30 hours of work. Speaking of work, it’s is going well. Really, really, really well. Rather abundant, actually. This is fabulous. This is also why I’m working 18 hour days. One might say that the forest is having a war with the trees in my life right now, and those chuckers are supposed to get along.

So, given the facts that I either can’t easily give the majority of that up, the best I can do is to keep moving forward. One step at a time, literally.  I can exercise maybe just once a day. I can choose to put fewer things on my schedule by saying “no” now and then- this is not easy for a “yes girl” like me but it’s worth trying.

And the rest, like the obligations, Time Management 101 time. Prioritize, stat.  Laundry? Meh. As long as we have clean clothes somewhere who cares how much is left to do. Dusting? Please, why bother? Tidy is good, clutter-no thank you, but sparking clean? Nah. Clean “enough” works for me. Instead of vacuuming the couch, I can sit my ass down on it and chill for thirty minutes. Maybe read the magazines in the stack dated back to October that I haven’t even cracked open the cover of yet (not kidding) or zone out to my favorite show, without also holding my phone, and my computer.

I can check my own tone. I can read the beautiful note from my daughter and focus on the last line. Big love. Big, big, love. Do all things with and from love. Love for them. Love for me. Love for others. If it’s not serving me, my children, or the people in my life, I’m letting it go. Gone. Done.  If I don’t, I’m going to get a bigger lesson than a snooze on a manduka mat, and it might not be something I can repair so easily. This, I can do.  Stress, negativity, muscle tension, sleep deprivation- ain’t nobody got time for that, me included.

photo (15)

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I CRY

In case you didn’t notice, it’s almost commercial holiday season again. Oh boy.I went into CVS yesterday and saw the shelves laden with heart shaped merchandise (taaaaacccckkkkkyyyy) and enough pink and red crap to decorate the walls of a Victoria’s Secret superstore. To this rosy scene I had a threefold (and rather visceral, I may add) reaction: 1- “Damn, Christmas wasn’t even a month ago and my wallet still hasn’t recovered;” 2- “Do people still eat that shit? Really?” And 3- Sigh. “Thanks universe, for the friendly daily reminder. I know. I am still alone. I am still thinking about it and I still haven’t truly let that go. I hear you. I just um, am ignoring you.”

It’s time to quit being an ostrich and lay it out on the table. I talk a whole lot about being honest and transparent, about how to be happy and let things go. I’m getting a lot better at it, I really am. 95% of my life is fucking awesome- bad.ass.dotcom. Five percent, however- notsogreat.

I don’t spend much time or energy thinking about that tiny percentage of sucky-ness because if I do it starts to bring down my A grade down the alphabet a little, like near the letter F, if the scale is based on percentages. That five percent holds some pretty weighty issues, no doubt. Some of those aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, unfortunately. One in particular, actually, will be around for say. . . 12 years and 2 months longer, at the very least. . . but, others, like the one formerly (vaguely) referenced- I can do something about, more or less. I can let it go. I can. Really. Gulp.

I read a great post that was reposted by another writer, Stephanie St.Clair, on the subject of heartbreak. What I loved about it was both the recognition and validation of feelings and also a realistic suggestion for how to work with it. Todd, the author, suggested taking your pain, your memories, your image of the love lost, and creating something with it. This, he suggests, will allow you to let it go, to release it, to move forward.

As I have been carrying this heavy heart a bit too long for my liking at this point, I think it’s time to take a crack at it. So, thinking back to item #17 from my list I’m calling myself out on the mat. Here goes nothin’:

Heartbreak is overrated

WRONG. Getting your heart “broken” actually physically causes bodily pain.

I am pro, btw, at finding either the right guy, OR creating the right time, but so far not both. I have also chosen both the wrong man and the wrong time. Best decision(s) ever. This has made for some distinctly impactful experiences of being the heartbrekER, and, recently, the heartbrokEN.

I managed to make it through a divorce from my high school sweetheart with tears dry well before the ink on our judgement was. Later I ended a two year relationship that, with me being confident and composed in my decision to end a relationship that had run about one year and 11 months too long already, resulted in considerably limited tissue consumption.

And then, oh, and then, it came. I fell, hard, really hard, and for the “right” guy. THE guy. Our relationship was a cinematic summer romance. We met in May and I was toast by July. TOAST. Suddenly the lyrics to every stupid love song I’d ever heard seemed like they were written just for me. My head was down, my heels were up, my universe was forever altered. And I wouldn’t change a thing, it was fantastic.

It was hands down, the best summer of my lifetime. I had more new experiences, more fun, more “oh, this is how it’s supposed to work/feel/be” moments in five months than I did in the entire summation of my previous relationships or dating career. It was borderline ridiculous good. This was “IT.” I knew it. And I also knew something else – the timing was off- I was playing with fire and I was going to get burned. So, being me, I put on my oven mitts and played anyway.

This is never a good plan. So far my gut instincts have been spot on, every time. I don’t always listen, but they’ve always been right, at least as related to avoiding injury. When I knowingly risked that much, when the stakes got that high, the cost to all that benefit resulted in pain that intense, a wound that gaping, an effect that great.

When our lovely courtship ended, much to my surprise I was, for the very first time, actually heartbroken, the kind from which I don’t think I will ever quite recover, not really. Things like that don’t just happen (to me anyway) and a person doesn’t just pick up and move on in the aftermath. Like, I found my “Mr.Big,” and I don’t see myself ever getting over this guy. Oh.Shit.

As an entirely novel experience, beginning about ten minutes post break-up, I started crying. A lot, and for at least 24 hours, straight. I cried the kind of tears I didn’t know I had in me. The fall down on the floor because your legs don’t work, cry all day in public, even at a soccer game, at a restaurant, through yoga, in the car, and then still more at the grocery store, then cry so hard and so much you throw-up kind of sobbing. I have cried at least a little bit every day for the last three months, actually, which is way out of my tough girl norm, like, way, way, waaaaaaay out.

You should know- I.don’t.like.crying. At all. Especially from my kids; it drives me nuts. It’s rather ineffective, obnoxious to listen to and makes the people around you uncomfortable. And let’s not even get into the ugly cry face discussion. There is no pretty crying, simple fact of life.

I have, like every other person out there, dealt with some pretty serious shit. A failed marriage barely hits the register on that list. I’ve taken some big blows, weathered some massive storms and held it down in the ring more times than at the age of 33, I’d like to acknowledge. No biggie. This is life. It’s designed to kick your ass.

I only point that out as related to the severity in my recent response. It really is unusual behavior for me both to belabor the point and to react so powerfully. I always felt that I was weak if I cried. That it meant I couldn’t deal; an indicator that I wasn’t strong enough. This is particularly frustrating, and ironic, since my two default responses to intense emotion typically have been to either a) cry, or b) throw up (and sometimes c) both). This bothered me. A LOT.

Until now. Until this. Until I finally gave myself permission to fully feel. Until I really really loved and then really really hurt. Until I decided that telling myself to “suck it up” wasn’t actually the best plan of attack and that maybe to get through my breaking point, I had to let myself fall a little. Time for She-Who-Does-Like-To-Shed-Saltwater to well, let it rain.

Through these recent downpours, I have started sincerely tuning into and noticing my emotions. I have been becoming aware of them and watching how my body is responding. Noticing where I tighten up, how my heart feels like it’s being squeezed with a pair of vice grips, how my breath gets short, how I sweat a little. It’s weird, unfamiliar, strange territory.

And, I gotta say, it is kind of awesome. I have actually thought to myself, while sobbing on the floor, “this is amazing. I am learning so much from this. This is so good for me.”

Who the hell thinks like this? Seriously? Well, me, for one, apparently. Turns out I have learned how to cry like an optimist instead of like a member of the Stoic School of Philosophy. I am learning to appreciate the emotion instead of avoiding it. To embrace the lesson instead of resisting it. I’m learning to lean in to the discomfort.

I’m okay with where I’m at. I don’t think I should “get over it.” The impact it had on my life was too profound to simply blow off and walk away as though nothing happened. Something DID happen. Something amazing; love really is powerful stuff. I learned, I grew and I was strengthened through and by it; all of it. From beginning to end, it was an incredibly raw and humbling experience from which I emerged a new, softer, more vulnerable, more empathetic person.

Whatever happened occurred because it was time. The good and the bad, the lovely and the agonizing, the expected and the total blindsight, those lessons changed me, for the better. They prepared me for what’s next, whatever that is. I am a better version of myself becuase I have learned. What I can share and offer to others has expanded; my lens has widened, my understanding increased, my heart, made bigger.

I don’t need to be fixed, because I’m not broken. I’m simply, altered. Gratefully, reverentially, and with veneration, I am transformed.

Heartbreak then, is hardly overrated, that shit is legit.

 For more related reading, head over here 
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SAY IT AIN’T SO

Remember those things you were “never” going to do? They are on the reverse side of the list of things you were “always” going to do. Not familiar with them? You might have either a) forgotten about them since they written on real paper as opposed to the back of receipt or your child’s math homework, or b) erased them from memory after reality showed up with a heavy dose of sarcastic karmic laughter.

In my experience most of these humble pie fests involve statements or speech. And by speech, I mean things that came out of my mouth that surprised even me when uttered. I like to keep everyone on their toes, me included apparently.

On that note, it’s sharing time. Here for your mockery, relief, and shared enjoyment are my top ten (to date) statements that I was certain as a mother I would “never, ever” declare, exclaim, express or otherwise articulate, until I um, did:

“Ten second rule!”

It’s like the three-second rule, only about seven seconds longer. What? My floor is clean. . . ish.

“No, we are not late. We are tardy, that is not the same thing.”

I swear I lost the ability to be on time with the birth of my second child. Seriously. It’s ridiculous. I am, however, doing a stellar job of teaching my kids how to make a graceful entrance in a crowded room. Go me.

“Keep your tongue in your mouth. We do not lick- counters, sinks, mirrors, walls, grocery cart handles, checkstand countertops or any other smooth surfaced non-food item in the near vicinity.”

For real. I wish I was joking. I’m not.

“You may participate in screen time with the media device called “whatever is closest” under the following conditions: one- no talking. two- talking, don’t do it, three- no puedes hablar.

The other version of this is “Mommy needs a moment.” There is plenty of educational programming out there that can replace the mommyclopedia while said superhero does one (or more) of the following: a) remain stationary in any public place for longer than five minutes, b) gets to speak in complete sentences to other adults or c) locks herself in the bathroom, throws her headphones on rocks out to some old school Hip Hop, explicit lyrics ON, thank you very much.

“The back of my seat is not a napkin. If you can’t find one just use your sleeve.”

Just kidding. Mostly. I swore I was going to have a clean car when I grew up. I did. Did. As in past tense of “do.” It was clean and shiny until, oh, say, August of 2005 and it’s been all downhill from there. You get to pick, you see, either kids eat in the car and are quiet, or, no food in the car and they never.stop.talking. I picked quiet- as evidenced by the contents of my vehicular snack containers formerly known as cup holders, space between the seats, and the floorboards.

“That was not a nice thing to say. It was super funny, grammatically correct and nicely played, but uh, not nice. Please don’t say it again, at least until I get my phone out and record you anyway.”

Well; they are my kids. Nature, nurture, everybody’s on the same team here. Destined for vocabulary of legendary proportions coupled with sarcastic prowess. I’m so screwed.

“Do I say the ‘F’ word? Um. . . do you mean often?”

Yes. Well, everything in moderation right?  Healthy balance, and shit.

“Finish your hot dog so you can eat your milkshake and fries!”

See commentary from #7, above. Ditto. And so you know, it was an organic frankfurter, those by-products were totally hormone and pesticide free. And milkshakes have milk in them. Milk has protein- hello healthy decisions. I could keep going and say they were sweet potato fries and thereby also a “good” choice but that would be a lie, so I won’t. ROB, anyone?

 “Yes, one of mommy’s tattoos does have your birthdates on it. No, you may not get one too. . . until you’re uh, a grown-up, like. . . me.”

So. Yep. That happened. Twice. #3 in the works. I’m all done with the finger pointing on that topic. All. Done.

“I know you are still in your pajamas. Just put on your shoes and get in the car.”

Whatever. I make sure they are seasonally appropriate. Plus, pajamas are technically a category of clothing. Some lessons are just better learned the hard way.

perspective4

And now you know. And I know you know. Now we all know, that I know, that you know, that when it comes to #momfails, I am the champion, so like, “roar” or something.

Have a “I will never” of your own? Sharing is caring. Laughter is the best medicine. I’m running out of weak puns so just comment below if you have a confession you’re just dying to publicize. I promise to laugh with you (not at you, I don’t do that anymore, remember?).

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