MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: EPISODE FOUR

Holy fuck you guys. It’s fucking Christmas time all fucking ready.

Can you fucking believe that?

OH MY GOD IT FEELS GOOD TO SAY FUCK so much again.

If you kindly follow my blog you may have noticed I haven’t written anything since… June-ish or so. I promise you it’s not because I didn’t have anything to say. I have ALL THE THINGS TO SAY. It’s because I’ve been up to my MOTHER FUCKING EYEBALLS in parenting, work, other work, some other work, and some more work after that.

Sigh. More on that later. Continue reading

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GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Before this fuck-up of a year is over, I wanna talk about the “E” word You know, the E word. The one that gets you hurt, in trouble, puts your foot in your mouth, the stick up your ass, and your cart in front of your horse.

THE, E word.

Expectations. No, not the great ones…

I want to talk about this so we can all get clear together about the not so small truth that expectations are getting in the way of progress, and happiness, and well, life, really. Not just mine, not just yours, ours. All of ours, and often.

You see, when we expect we create a storyline in our head that must be carried out in order to feel good.

When we expect an event to go a certain way and it does we are mostly satisfied and feel right or successful. When it doesn’t, we can feel a sense of failure, of loss, of disappointment, of dissatisfaction.

Sometimes we even pout about it. For reals. Even us adults. It just looks a lot more like passive aggressive snark than it does foot stomping and bottom lip quivering, usually. Continue reading

STORIES

The holidays come with a lot of stories each year.

No, not Santa stories. Not Hanukkah stories. Not even family blooper stories, although all of those do get shared as well.

Instead, it’s the stories I tell myself — I’m not giving my kids enough. I’m giving the kids too much. I don’t give the kids enough consequences. I give them too many consequences. If my kids love their stepmother, it means they love me less, and that I am insufficient and inadequate. If they miss their dad, it means I’m not doing my job well enough. I can’t fully forgive him for the hurt he caused me because he doesn’t forgive me either. He doesn’t deserve to be happy, but I do.

I’m not doing enough, there is more for me to do here, and there, and there, and also there. I am only of value if I am doing something. Nothing I do is ever enough to be excellent.  

I’m too different for the rest of my family to like me. They just don’t get me, and they don’t want to. I’ll never be the kind of normal required to be loved fully by my parents.

Yes. Those stories. Those scripts. Those tapes. Those records.

Continue reading

THE THING

When I was 16, this girl at a leadership camp we both attended said at the end of our week about me “There’s just something about Michelle. You can tell just by being around her that she’s going to do something really great.

Every day since that day, I’ve been wondering— BUT WHAT?  

So I went into teaching. Because I loved kids, and I loved working in a place where my work made a difference in real time and in the future. I went to college, and got all the degrees, and all the credentials and all the labels that said “Teacher.”

Being a teacher seemed like it was going to be a really great thing. Probably THE Thing. Except it wasn’t. Not then, for me, anyway.

I put in a solid and commendable effort too. Eleven years in Elementary Education including a three year stint in School Administration, and then five semesters as a College Professor. And I was a good teacher. I made a difference. I know I did great work.

But instead of lighting me on fire, it was burning me out.

Continue reading

Dark Side Of The Moon

Last week I wrote about hitting the Wall. Or rather, hitting walls, plural. About what it looks like when my body draws a #Nope card.

But there’s a wall I didn’t talk about. It’s a wall I don’t want to acknowledge. A wall that, quite frankly, isn’t supposed to be there.

It’s a wall I unintentionally built myself.

I have a charmed life. My husband is amazing. My kids are thriving. I’m getting along with my ex-husband, and his wife. I live in a cool city, I get to go do epic shit with kickass people. My friends are supportive ,and funny, and kind, and all the things I could want my friends to be.  I have more events to attend and opportunities for culture and learning and fun than time to do them all.

I am surrounded by love and laughter and play and light.

And yet, there are still shadows. Big ones. The kind that wake me up at night in a cold sweat, the kind that start arguments where arguments weren’t expected. The kind that attract mistakes. The kind that undercut my self esteem, that prevent me from showing up, and the kind that invite me to spend a Saturday in bed, under the covers, sleeping my reality away. Continue reading

Be Kind (Or Be Quiet)

Be kind or be quiet!”

I said the other day, during dinner in response to our key jar question. No hesitation, I just blurted it out the second I read the little strip of paper: “if you could give one piece of advice to the world, what would it be?

My family stared at me for a hot minute. Because, well, typically answering these questions takes at least a moment of consideration. But not this one.

Yes. That’s it. Be kind, or be quiet.

Because you know, it’s the rules. For real though. Of all the things I’ve said and done that ultimately didn’t work or feel good, it was because I didn’t choose to be kind to myself or others.

Yes, really. At the root of each action is kindness, or lack thereof.

Continue reading

TURN THE LIGHTS ON

Colleague:

So, do you like, think that thinking positive things changes your like, energy? And that negative energy changes it too? Like, does it really matter? Do your thoughts actually change your. . . reality?

Me:

YES! EXACTLY YES. YES. YES. YES!

This was about three-quarters of the way through a really great conversation about energy, science, the law of attraction, about responding and not reacting, and why positive thinking matters. Because it does. It changes everything.  And so does negative thinking.

When things are running smoothly it’s easy to stay positive, life is good, and noticing and admitting that comes naturally. But when things get. . . messy, tense, uncomfortable, painful, and awkward, well, you know how it goes—

Alexander and his Terrible Day, Episode VII.

The negative thought pattern is swift, and we can go from a place of light to one that is very, very, very dark in just a half a breath. But, of course, and also, you can choose to turn that light switch back on whenever you want.

You’re controlling the electrical panel of your life, and you can choose which fuse to flip, and when.

Here’s an example, from the same day. Continue reading

TOWARDS THE SUN

It’s finally the Monday After (Christmas). My house is quiet while I work, checking emails, surveying the results of an intense five weeks, identifying what’s now ahead.

My kids are gone to their dad’s for the week, my husband is lost down an NPR rabbit hole and I’ve already put away and deep cleaned my way out of the holiday that threw up on my living room floor so I can focus on things that are new, and clean, and fresh.

 

Like my intentions. And my perspective. And my profound gratitude for my life.

 

Christmas Day was so different this year. Quiet, cozy, still. No loud houseful of people, no noisy dinner with glasses clinking, inappropriate jokes and deep belly laughs. No cousins running up and down the stairwell, and aunts and uncles pretending to scold them. No new bikes being ridden, skates being used, and long cold winter walks in new hats and scarves and mittens, not that I’ve had a Christmas like in that in a long long time anyway.  Continue reading

MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS: THE SECOND EPISODE

It’s that time of year again, uh, again.  You know that one. Where your life’s choices are mocked at the dinner table, your little brother wins the best child award for the 27th year in a row, and you spend a lot of quality time with reinforced lycra.

Or maybe that’s just me. . .

Last year, I wrote the first edition of Merry Fucking Christmas and managed to piss off my own family to the point of social media disownment, and this year, having learned my lesson, I’m going to um, well, to be quite frank,

Give zero fucks and do it again.

Because this is real life people, and telling any other story would be a half-truth. So, in the name of authenticity and good humor, I offer you:  

(STILL) NOT ANOTHER FUCKING CHRISTMAS LETTER

Dear Friends, Family, and People That Don’t Fit In Either Category.

Happy whatever-you’re-celebrating-this-month. Vodka, Gin, Red wine. Whatever floats your. . . spirits. Oh, and Happy all those other real things too. Really. Cheers to celebrating family, blessings, triumphs, heroes, saviors, endurance, and love. Continue reading

Make a Mess

Burned turkey, raw turkey, turkey jerky, turkey in the snow, turkey on the beach, turkey from the store, turkey in Nebraska, and Hawaii.Turkey on a hilltop, turkey in a valley, turkey with my family, and turkey with my fRamily. Turkey for five, turkey for thirty-five, turkey in silence, turkey in jest, turkey served by me, and turkey served to me. Turkey with my ex-husband as he avoided my family, and, tomorrow, turkey with my new husband as he meets them.

So, yeah, I’ve done Thanksgiving a few different ways, in a few different places, with a few different people. It’s very. . . Michelle of me.

However, these three things still hold true— pie, messes, and uh, turkey gratitude. These, I can count on being at the table each year.

And so, in tribute to said symbols of my past, present, and future Novembers, this year, I’d like to focus on the last two, particularly, Continue reading