Gotta Get a Goal.

The start of 2017 was epic. I was so ready to leave the past of 2016 and focus fully on the potential and promise of a new year, I set my sights on the year and made it my bitch. Within the first few weeks, I landed my first ever big publication on Scary Mommy which was quickly followed up by two more on that site. I was picked up by Red Tricycle and then Post40Bloggers. Sammiches & Psych Meds soon followed. Other bloggers scheduled and shared my articles and posts. I was networking within the writer/publisher sphere of the interwebs. I was on a writer’s high for three solid months. Then, life got busy and I got comfortable.

You know how it goes, work commitments ramp up, the calendar gets cramped, we were juggling two soccer teams, one baseball team, scouts, and all things related to the end of the school year. I hadn’t written anything new except to lament my current inability to eat bread. I hadn’t had anything new published in several weeks and I was unsettled by how comfortable I was about it. So is this it? Are you done?

Hell no.

I said to myself, somewhat out loud, that I wanted to write something totally new – we’re talking just an idea and a blank Word document – and get it published. Brand new, baby. In the past, I have submitted work that I had already written and published here on my blog. Writing something new is important for two reasons – one, you can get paid for new, unpublished content, and two, it’s risky. Although I’m working on monetizing my writing, right now that’s not the top priority, but the risk is. Posting things here gives time for exposure and feedback. I can get an idea of what people think about my writing on a small-scale. It’s safe. Going straight to the general public, well, the thought truly takes my breath away, and yet I could not stop thinking about it.

Like, literally, I did not stop thinking about it and it was a total and complete pain in the ass. Like a small rock in my shoe, it was there, day in and day out, reminding me that I set this damn goal and now I have to work to achieve it. As long as there was a rock in my shoe, I could not get comfortable. This was problematic because I was suddenly faced with the worst case of writer’s block.

I thought of everything.

Maybe I need to write about the impossible set of expectations society sets for women. I was waiting in the doctor’s office recently and saw a blurb about quick and easy ways to make my Easter better. “For an extra special touch, fashion little containers out of bendable balsa wood, then personalize the outside with ribbon, homemade tags, and faux flowers!”  This is neither helpful, nor reasonable as I see zero place in my life for bendable balsa wood. Things like this do not help women in any way. It only has the potential to make us crazy.

Then I thought, maybe I need to write about how sometimes when we are miserable, it’s our own damn fault. Yes, you heard me, the truth is we are responsible for our own happiness. While I know this is true, the only things I could come up with were to get rid of all the bendable balsa wood in your life, have more sex, and go out with your friends more. It sputtered along then died a slow, painful death.

I could not rid my shoe of the rock.

Then one day, while pulling a blob of wet clothes out of the washer, it hit me. Yes! Yes! Of course! That’s it!

I did what I always do – started my writing process of organizing my thoughts in my head, mentally editing and arranging. Side notes, anecdotes, reflections, all maintained by the threads of my neurons. I hold it all in until I have the time to sit at my computer and dump it all out like a hamster emptying her food pouches.

I’m happy to report that my new, never-published-anywhere-before article has been accepted and will be published on national platform this Sunday. (By the way, family and friends, please don’t collectively lose your shit. I’m fully aware of my son’s birthday.) If I had not set that goal, if I had not made myself uncomfortable, I would not have reached this milestone.

While the rock in my shoe was a total pain in the ass, living in a state of discomfort had its benefits. I was certainly more aware, as I was always thinking and processing things in ways I normally wouldn’t. I thought about things more critically and dug deeper into my own personal reflections. It also kept the fire lit. It was oddly energizing. Living in a state of discomfort actually kept me going. Knowing that the only thing to rid me of this rock would be to finish the article and submit it is what kept me moving forward. I wasn’t comfortable, but I was moving.

I know that if I get too comfortable, I get stagnant. Believe me, I love nothing more than predictability and being comfortable. Just look in my underwear drawer. But there is nothing better than achieving your goals.

So remember, having a rock in your shoe may actually prove to be a good thing. A very good thing.

 

Bread is My Mortal Enemy.

“If you are going to have cancer, this is the one you want to have.”

If I could, I’d roll my eyeballs right out of my skull. Yes, of course I know the statement is true, because more likely than not this will not kill me, but it doesn’t mean it won’t suck a million times over. I wish, in general people would stop saying this because it’s not quite the neat little package that it’s made out to be. While initially, the diagnosis, surgery and treatment were acute – lots of big, scary things happening all at once and in a small period of time; now, it’s chronic. My salivary glands no longer work. Yes, you heard me correctly. I won’t die, but now I can’t spit. Bread is my mortal enemy.

The past few weeks have been a roller coaster trying to figure out what the hell is going on. When lumps appear in your neck after a cancer diagnosis the alarm sounds quickly and loudly. I cried hysterically to my ENT reliving the very rare, very fast death of Al Copeland who died of salivary gland cancer. “He lasted a minute! I can not go down like this!”

I am beyond grateful for supportive and non-judgemental doctors.

I don’t have salivary gland cancer but I likely do have radiation damage. So there’s been lots of blood work, several physical exams, an upcoming CT scan, and an upcoming appointment with my very first rheumatologist. (I actually know her, and she’s one of my favorite people so I’m pretty confident that if I fall apart in her office it will be totally cool.)

Having junk for salivary glands is totally cramping my style. Forget chips, crackers, dry cereal, granola, dried fruit, or anything that doesn’t require a liquid in order to consume it. Earlier this week I almost choked to death on the second bite of my turkey sandwich. All is not lost, however, because right after I dumped the deli meat dish of death, I replaced it with a large strawberry shake from Sonic.

Look, I am fully aware that I have very little, if nothing at all to complain about but I still find myself asking ‘why?’ What the hell is the universe trying to tell me? It’s confusing because it’s as though the universe came in and decided to fuck with me just enough to turn things on its head. Not enough to kill me, just enough to get me thinking.

Someone, anyone, please help me figure out, WHAT IS MY LESSON?

Is it my children? Yes, I agree that I sometimes make them wait and don’t treat them like they are the center of my universe. Well guess what, I am a complete human with a life, a career, a hot husband, interests, and friends. Sometimes they need to wait. I readily admit that there are times when I don’t look up to see exactly how they have twisted their fingers into a cool knot, drew an astronaut space lizard or can roll their tongue. (So can I. It’s really not that big if a deal, junior.) Sometimes Mommy has to respond to an email. Sometimes Mommy has to answer her girlfriends in a group text after a field trip to Farm Day about cow clothes and the lingering smell of death because That. Shit. Is. Funny. Making them wait, I believe, will also teach them the ever important life lesson that this big, beautiful world does not, in fact, revolve around them.

Is it vanity? Sorry, I’m not budging. I will not stop putting on actual clothes on a daily basis nor will I stop putting on make-up every day. I now face the world with the scarred neck of an 85 year-old chicken. So, I’m putting on the damn mascara. Besides, I am the female prototype for both of my children which, to me, is a pretty important responsibility. Taking care of myself, and actually caring for myself is a pretty powerful message to send to them. Not to mention, when out in public, a little lip gloss goes a long way when pushing a shopping cart full of giggles and fart noises.

Is it balance? I have made the very conscious decision to make 2017 my bitch. I think I’ve done a terrific job so far. I’ve exceeded my initial goal of one publication on a ‘big site.’ Right at this very moment, I’ve lost exact count, but I’m ever humbled and grateful for each and every one of them. If something doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t do it. I say ‘no’ when I need to. I cry when I need to and ask for help when we need that, too. I feel more at peace and more balanced today then I have in years.

So what the ever-loving hell?

In the meantime, while I’m trying to figure it all out, I’ll continue to focus on gratitude. In the midst of uncertainty, it’s really the only thing that grounds me. No matter what, I really do have so much to be thankful for. Sure, not being able to eat sucks, but at least the bread didn’t kill me. I refuse to let whole grains take me down. Death by food would only be acceptable if it was something good enough to drool over, and well, since I can’t do that anyway…

xoxo

The Year of The Try.

With so much of 2016 that made it the year that couldn’t end fast enough; I am grateful to have had the year to live through. I have said over and over that 2017 will be my year; hell, it will be the year for all of us. I can happily report that so far so good! For a second time THIS MONTH, I have been published by Scary Mommy!

I have plans for this year. Big plans.

2017, I suggest you buckle up.

I am committed to a year of trying. The key, I have found, is in the try. The outcome doesn’t always matter. Whether I succeed or fail isn’t important. I want to be able to tell my children that I tried things; scary things, fun things, weird things and no matter the outcomes, I tried.

I am submitting my work like crazy. Trying weekly, daily, monthly, to get published again. I am trying out new things like joining blogger groups and actually participating; not just quietly reading other people’s comments. I am trying to speak up regularly and say things that might make me feel slightly uncomfortable. I am trying to limit my life’s activities to only those that bring me joy. I am trying to say ‘no’ when I really want to (and should) say it. I’m trying to wear the clothes I already have in my closet and paying less attention to fashion rules, because really, why should those rules even apply? I’m trying to focus my family time to more of the want-to’s and not so much of the have-to’s. I’m trying to remember that I don’t have to apologize for being me and I will raise my kids to feel the same way. I’m trying to remember that it’s OK to take breaks.

So move over Rooster, 2017 will be the Year of The Try!

 

#ICYMI

In case you missed it, I have some very exciting and humbling news! My work was accepted and published by Scary Mommy. You can read Raising Diamonds here.

Without risk, there is no reward. Remember that. Do things that scare you, too. I will.

Special thanks to YOU for following my blog. Be sure to find Is It Just Me? on Facebook and Instagram as well.

Cheers!

xoxo

Sunny Side Up.

I originally sat down to write this post with the opening line, ‘2016 can suck it.’ My plan was to sit and bitch about the ups and downs we faced in 2016. I was going to find humor and delight in skewering the year that was a royal pain in the ass for all who were so fortunate to experience it. That was my plan.

I ran into an acquaintance at church this morning, someone I had not seen in quite some time. Her hair was shorter than mine but not for the same reasons. I hugged her and immediately saw her as a mother, a friend, a wife, a complete person facing uncertainty and I immediately felt a sense of gratitude for the year that was 2016.

As much as 2016 sucked, and by all means it did, the truth is, I had the year. It was mine to bitch about, which in so many ways is something to truly be grateful for. Every minute, every day, every year is truly a blessing. Both the good and bad.

Over the course of this year we have watched our children overcome struggles and blossom into strong, courageous people. I have watched them turn an obstacle into an opportunity. Together, Brian and I have faced the fears and did it anyway. We worried and stressed, hoped and prayed. We watched things work out really well and others, not so much. I was often drained emotionally and physically. We have been doused with the uncertainty and fear that tag along when you face cancer. We have watched our people gather around us and support us in ways we never thought possible. We have seen the greatest of humanity and sadly, the less-than-great as well. We have persisted and prevailed in the face of both. We have laughed. A lot.

So, 2016 can suck it, but I am eternally grateful for having had the opportunity to live, love, and laugh through it. I sit with great anticipation for 2017. Not necessarily for any grand gestures from the universe but maybe to be just a tad lighter on the crappy stuff.

So, 2016, in a few short days I will usher you out the door and happily close that chapter of our lives. I will look back fondly at the good times and memories, and stand in awe at all we overcame. I will welcome 2017 with anticipation and deepest gratitude, in hope that once again I am granted the precious gift of life for each and every day of it.

Happiest of New Year’s to all. xoxo

 

 

 

Mel-A-Phone

“Mom!”                                  “Mommy?!”

                       “Mom?”

“Mommy?”             “Mooooooooom!” 

Don’t judge me, but last Friday night I looked at Brian and confessed, “I’m ignoring them.” I can’t help it, it’s the end of the week for me, too and I just need a break from the countless, seemingly endless string of questions and requests. I truly feel like we are raising good, smart, solidly kind children but I worry about their need for me to intervene in their lives. Brian and I recently heard John Rosemond speak at our school and he assured us that children today or not in any way genetically different from children 50 years ago. If this is true, my 8-year-old daughter is the same, typical third grader that I was in 1982. Thinking back, I was insanely resourceful, especially when it came to bird-dogging my mother.

Here’s the scenario:

“Bon soir, La Cuisine, may I help you?”

“Yes, hello sir. I need to find one of your customers. There’s an issue at home and I need to speak with her.”

“Oui, Madame. Who can I find for you?”

“Her name is Elaine Forstall. She’s tall and thin with straight shoulder-length blonde hair. Tonight she has on a gold and turquoise peacock print dress, it has a jewel neck and drop waist, three-quarter length ruched sleeves. She’s with her husband, Rick. He has salt-and-pepper hair. He has on a white button down shirt, no tie, and a grey suede sport coat. I think they are dinning with two other couples.”

“Oui Madame. I think I see her. I will get her for you.”

**wait**wait**wait**

“Hello?”

“Mom?”

“Melanie, what’s wrong?”

“When are you coming home?”

I had mad skills. With a phone and white pages in hand, I could make just about anything happen. I had the communication skills at 8 to be a CIA operative and yet sometimes my kids get stumped opening a single serving pack of Sweet Tarts. How is this possible? No one taught me how to do this. My mother never sat me down to discuss the finer points of stalking people. I was driven enough and I just did it.

My parents fondly named my skill the ‘Mel-A-Phone’ knowing that they could never go too far without me finding them. They really were never safe. While I don’t condone the idea of constant invasion of parental privacy, I give my 8-year-old self kudos for having the drive to get shit done.

So what’s my plan? I’ve decided that I am no longer helping. Nope. No more…everyone can tie their own shoes, so please by all means tie them. Everyone can get dressed on their own, I’m not needed. Look for it. No one in my house has a weight lift restriction which means everyone can pick up their own shit and put it where it belongs. I am not needed for this task. If you can’t open an item on your own, the likelihood is that you don’t really need it. I bet you big bucks that if you were dying of hunger you would figure out a way to get that wrapper open. Look again, look harder, and look one more time. You do not need me.

But you do need me.

Come to me for hugs. Come to me for snuggles. Come to me and ask questions about life and tell me about your day. Come to me when you are scared, happy, lonely, or sad. (Not bored, don’t come to me when you are bored. I cannot help bored.) Come to me with excitement or worry. Lay your fears at my feet and I will always wipe your tears. Come to me to laugh. Ask me to play with you. I will love you ultimately forever. Come to me for encouragement. Come to me for a reminder of the beautiful soul you are and how much you are truly loved.

xoxo

Raising Diamonds.

Almost daily I stop and ask myself the same question, “Is it just me?” and I promptly reassure myself and answer, “Of course not, dear. But it doesn’t matter even if so.” Recently, though I can’t help but question why I don’t feel the same way as seemingly so many others. Picture after picture is captioned, “I miss my babies!” or “Time please stop!” or “I wish I could go back!” I see these pictures, and while I love a quick dose of nostalgia, my first response is usually, “Like, how far back are we talking?”

Sure, I have wonderful memories of when my children were babies but I have no interest in going back there. You want to go back to the endless nights of staring at your newborn daughter for hours on end watching the rise and fall of her chest just to know with certainty that she’s still breathing? No thank you, I actually like to spend my nights sleeping. Back to the time when my son would cry in spits and spurts for no apparent reason and nothing I could do seemed to soothe him? Oh yes, please, sign me up for more of that.

I remember in particular one very long day when my son was about four months old and I just could not get him to settle down. We had enjoyed roughly four hours of an eat, sleep, cry cycle and I had just about had it. I decided to take him to the pediatric after hours clinic and with my three-year-old in tow, I had a plan. My mom had recently come for a visit and she left a crisp hundred-dollar bill on my nightstand. (That’s who she is and what she does.) I was frazzled from the day and was not interested in waiting endlessly to see a doctor. I arrived at the clinic with the cash in hand ready and willing to hand it to whoever was in line ahead of me. I was willing to give money to a stranger just so I could quickly get this baby to stop crying. So do I want to be go back to this place and time? Hardly.

I love that my kids are growing up; is that so wrong? I love the people they are becoming. I love to see them navigate through life and ask me thoughtful questions. I love that they are developing opinions and tastes that may or may not align with mine.

I love the fact that my son can tell me that the medicine burns, or that he feels like he might throw up. I love the fact that when she does throw up, my daughter can aim perfectly into the toilet. I love that they can easily explain to the doctor what ails them. Karaoke is a lot more fun now, too.

I am genuinely excited for my daughter’s third grade year. I honestly wasn’t sad when my son started pre k. His excitement was so infectious, how could I possibly be sad? I see how excited they are about the journey before them and I can’t see any other option but going along for the ride. I don’t find it sad to see my kids grow, blossom, and step into their life’s milestones.

That’s just it. Their life. It’s their life, not mine. I guess I can’t hold too tightly to something that’s not mine to begin with. I read a quote recently:

“To raise a child who is comfortable enough to leave you, means you’ve done your job. They are not ours to keep, but to teach how to soar on their own.”

This was a perfectly fine quote and in many ways it spoke to me. But so does Elizabeth Taylor and I’ve never met a diamond I didn’t like:

“I’ve never thought of my jewelry as trophies. I’m here to take care of them and love them, for we are only temporary custodians of beauty.”

Don’t get me wrong, the thought of my kids leaving and going to college in Idaho makes me very sad; but I still wouldn’t discourage their wanderlust. And full disclosure, each night when I kiss them goodnight, I jiggle them gently to hear them breathe. Old habits die hard.

As much as the thought truly sends shivers up my spine, I am their temporary custodian; my job is to prepare them to soar. They are two of the brightest jewels of my life. Brilliant and dazzling, precious and rare. Expensive. Temporarily mine to protect and nurture until they are ready to shine on their own.

#raisingdiamonds

xoxo