Saturday, July 28, 2012

Inner Monologues

I have been narrating my life in my mind for as long as I can remember. As a kid I would get lost in my head due to all the commentary happening in there. At times I would even refer to myself in third person, that took a little extra effort but I felt it was worth it. I have always been a writer even if it wasn't on paper. I didn't realize that life itself would be the story I wanted to tell. I always thought I would write fiction because that is what I read almost exclusively my whole life.  When I graduated college I had to get three jobs to compensate for the whole, I have no interest in following my major thing. And life got a lot harder so I escaped with fiction. Harry Potter books made all the stress disappear and quickly became my go-to for when I needed an escape. But when I attempted fiction writing on my own it fizzled out. Writing dialogue for characters was incredibly difficult because the narrator in my head only spoke in my regular old voice and when I tried to apply other voices it just sounded awkward. Plus, nothing cracks me up more than...myself? So there's that.

I never thought my life would be anything anyone would want to read about. I just get up every day and do stuff. But I do have a lot of mental garbage floating around and I have to say, it feels pretty good to write about it. It also means I am putting my money where my mouth is. I am constantly annoying and harassing my clients to write. It's tremendously therapeutic as it forces you to put your experiences into words and onto paper. This makes them real yet removed from you emotionally. When you put words on a page you are then able to sit back and look at them objectively. You are mentally and physically processing when you write. Both sides of the brain light up. It's one stop shopping for working through whatever life has thrown at you.

As a kid literally narrating in my head whatever was happening at any given moment, "She pours the cereal in the bowl and prepares to eat it like a hungry wolverine" was a pretty standard thought process. I don't know if everyone has this. I just know that my brain has always been like this and it used to annoy me as a kid because at times it was almost compulsive. Inner monologue and hair twirling are my own special OCD-type quirks. The combination of inner narration and hair twirling are kind of my signature moves. So if you see me twisting my hair around my finger and staring off into space rest assured that there is probably something totally awesome happening up in my head.

I am providing this adorable kitten pic purely for your enjoyment.
You're welcome. 

As I write this I've had to stop several times to twirl my hair. I would be an absolute disaster as a poker player. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Focus Schmokus

I have trouble concentrating sometimes. Like, when I'm not alone or if the TV is on or if I'm thinking about sandwiches or when I'm sleepy. You might say, "But Erin, aren't those things happening all the time?" And you'd be right. My circle of life basically goes hungry, sleepy, hungry, sleepy, repeat as needed. Over the past few days a lot has been going on in the world. I want to pay attention and give them all the proper attention, however, that's a lot easier said than done.

Here are some bullet points I'd like to call, Crap That's In My Brain.

* Regarding the Penn State/Joe Paterno/Jerry Sandusky debacle: HELL YES they did the right thing taking that statue down. And hell yes the NCAA was completely right in their massive, $60,000,000 fine. AND they were right to take away Paterno's wins and to ban the football team from any bowl game activity for the next four years. They gave the student athletes immunity and are allowing them to transfer or to stay, without penalty. Don't cry to me about how unfair it is to the athletes who won over 100 games. The athletes get to keep that experience and any athlete who leaves the program or has come out of the program will still get "credit" for those wins but the program does not. Because the program? Was run by a monster and aided and abetted by another monster. You don't get to destroy lives and still be a hero. Doesn't happen. The athletes who won those 100+ games probably understand that they won them under a lie and as decent human beings, I suspect they support the decision as well because they understand, it's not about them. The victims of the heinous acts committed against them deserve to see this program washed clean and rid of the scourge of the Sandusky/Paterno era. Just another example of how things can look amazing from the outside but if you scratch the surface there is a world of bubbling sickness underneath the facade.

* If you haven't heard about Savannah Dietrich yet you need to.  In a nutshell, Savannah is a 17-year old girl from Texas who was sexually assaulted by two 17 year-old boys while she was passed out. They raped her while she was unconscious folks. And the best part is - the judge gave them a slap on the wrist and Savannah Dietrich said NO. That is not enough. She, as many of us do, turned to the internet to share her experience and try to understand what happened to her not just when she was attacked but after, when she put her faith in our legal system. She tweeted what happened to her and who the perpetrators were. She refused to remain anonymous as is the tradition with victims of sexual assault. But now? She may be going to jail for releasing the names of her attackers before the court case was completely closed.
JAIL. For the rape victim. For outing her rapists. For refusing to sit back and watch them get community service or some shit while she remains traumatized and forced to carry this with her for life. Yet another example of the shame and guilt our judicial system puts on the victims of sexual assault. Another example of how women are to be kept under wraps and silent lest we upset the fragile, fragile, boys.

For an awesome blog reaction to this see

So you see why I'm having trouble concentrating. My brain is overwhelmed with this shit. It makes me angry and want to do something about it. I'm a fixer. That's what I do, it's who I am. Having to sit by and watch things...I think we all know that's not my strong suit.

Maybe later today I'll be able to concentrate creatively. For the moment, I'm working on digesting this stuff.

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

50 Shades of Shamus: Shade 8

While I like to believe Shamus is perfect in every way, I must confess, sometimes he totally grosses me out with his "food" choices.
 Here we have a litter box.
Note - X marks the spot. For there be treasure in them thar hills and Shamus wants to find it. And eat it. And...make me gag.

Oh Shamus, such tiny teeth.
I want to brush them and detoxify your dirty mouth.
But you totally won't let me.
Le sigh.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

50 Shades of Shamus: Shade 7

Paulie - So. Much. Love.
 It needs to be explained that Shamus has human parents but he also has the equivalent of doggie parents who double as friends to torture with a near non-stop need to chew their faces. This dreamboat here is Paulie. Paulie is a rescue dog from West Virginia. I found him on Petfinder (Is there a pattern to my behavior? I think we both know the answer to that.) Anyway, Paulie has been my bff since 2007 when I got him at 4 months old. So cute. He hadn't grown into his ears yet, it was glorious. He is a little more reserved than the other dogs. I say he follows in my footsteps. (We're both adorable but a bit stand-offish at first.)Initially he wasn't interested in sitting on laps and such. Then Jacob came along and pulled him out of his shell. He's kind of a super mush now and it's awesome. These days, he goes to work with me part-time and spends the rest of his time doing whatever the hell he pleases. Although he initially gave Shamus a chilly reception he has since warmed up and decided to be a role model and snuggle buddy to our small friend.
Remy - Even. More. Love.

Remy was originally Jacob's dog and she remains fully infatuated with him to the point of refusing to sit anywhere but on top of him whenever possible even when directly ordered to stay down! Down! Dammit Remy!
She will simply ignore the orders or, sit on the floor and stare openly and unabashedly at him for minutes upon minutes of time.
If you think Remy is going to share her main squeeze with little punk-ass, are delusional. Remy's nickname is Jelly Jelerson. She does not share the daddy. Remy loves me too. She has a lot of love to go around. She was a pound puppy Jacob rescued from the shelter in his town in 2007 (our dogs so happen to be the same age btw, just a fun fact!) They told him she was "anti-social". Um, this dog will make out with you right now. Remy has so much love in her little pitbull body when she wags her tail her entire back-end wiggles madly to keep up. She has been much warmer to Shamus from the get-go. Except for the sharing of the daddy thing. That's not gonna happen.

Friday, July 20, 2012

50 Shades of Shamus: Shade 6

Ah Shamus. How you love to ride in the car with mommy.
At times you even make strangers yell at her by standing on her lap to look out the window.
To hear that special story see above link.

Thank you for barking, howling, whining, and generally Arrrooooooh-ing today as though you were being murdered whilst I got some coffee ground. Not only did you make a man stop and openly stare at you, then at me, then at you...then at me again and shake his head at me as if to say "Your dog is an asshole and so are you",  you did it with 100% full commitment. 

This is how I roll. Like a boss.
Thank you Shamus. For always putting 110% into all your endeavors.


It's hard to take in the breadth and scope of a tragedy like what we are witnessing today in Aurora, CO. I don't turn the television on right when I get up in the morning and I'm kind of relieved that my morning routine saved me from the shock of seeing it without warning. My husband is usually the one who turns the tv on because he likes background noise so as I was in the kitchen feeding the dogs I was able to hear the tone of voice of the commentators and quickly able to glean something awful had happened. Even with warning, however, watching a teenage boy who could not have been over 18 tell about his experience in the theater was jarring to say the least. So was the woman who'd had a gun pointed at her but somehow managed to escape and don't even get me started on the 3-month old baby who was reportedly in the theater as well. Not only is that awful beyond belief but it makes me angry. So angry I want to lash out at those parents for being selfish idiots. Who takes a 3-month old INFANT to a midnight showing of an incredibly violent movie? Are they even remotely aware of the acuity of an infants hearing? Did they think at all about how terrifying the movie alone would be to this tiny baby? I want to scream at them and shake them for being so selfish and stupid and shallow that they would put a baby in that position at all.

But I have to let go of that. Because they did NOT get what they deserved. Nobody in that theater deserves what happened to them. No human being deserves to be shot at like fish in a barrel. It's sickening. It's vile. It's sociopathic.
Also terrifying to me is that his own mother wasn't surprised to hear what her son had done. "You have the right guy" she said. No mother deserves to fear her own child but clearly, she knows her son is a monster.

President Obama's speech this morning showed class and integrity. What frustrates me, however, is it doesn't feel like anyone heard him. He said there will be another day for politics. And he is right. Unfortunately, this country is so divided and blame-happy that all over message boards as I write this, thousands of people are arguing over gun control, Obama, and bullying. Towards those individuals I have such anger and disappointment. Get off the fear wheel and be a human for God's sake. Stop arguing and take a minute to actually FEEL.
Feel anything - shock, horror, sadness, grief, anger, fear, sickness - stop talking and open up your humanity. Stop hiding behind your politics and opinions for five minutes. The Constitution isn't going anywhere and by the way, President Obama isn't either. (Not if there's a God up in Heaven at least.)(I get it, leaving politics out is insanely hard. I recognize my own irony in being unable to refrain myself.) Point being - recognize that this is a tragedy and should not be treated as another reason to get up on your soapbox.

When I read about one of the victims, Jessica Ghawi, a sports blogger who worked under the name of Jessica Redfield I was awe-struck. She was killed by this madman's sickness today. What shocks me about her story is she was a witness to a mass shooting in Toronto, Canada this past June at the Eaton Center.

Does this mean she was unluckiest woman on earth or are these shootings becoming more common? Also, how did I miss news about this Toronto shooting? Toronto is not that far from where I live. In high school we took a bus to Toronto for some choir related event. It is literally a bus ride away from me but somehow, that news story didn't make it into my awareness. Because if it doesn't happen in America it doesn't count? One dead, seven injured. Maybe that's not enough violent deaths to make it into American news? Jessica Ghawi missed the Toronto shooter opening fire by three minutes. She was not so lucky this time and for that, I have no words.

Ghawi had been in Toronto to visit her hockey player boyfriend, Jay Meloff. In the last post on her blog, dated June 5, she wrote of having been on a mission at the Eaton Centre to shop and eat sushi. But for some reason, she decided at the last minute to eat a burger instead.
She wrote that her receipt showed 6:20 p.m. as the time, at which point something led her to go outside in the rain, rather than pursue her shopping expedition. The first shots rang out at 6:23 p.m.
It was only later she would find out that she was eating in the same spot where the shooter would open fire and that, had she gone for sushi, she would have been in the same place where one of the victims had been.
“I was reminded that we don’t know when or where our time on Earth will end. When or where we will breathe our last breath,” she wrote. “I wish I could shake this odd feeling from my chest . . . The feeling that may have potentially saved my life.” (Via

Thursday, July 19, 2012

50 Shades of Shamus: Shades 2-5

Oh yes, I'm serious about the 50 Shades project. Call it an homage to my love of the trilogy. Despite its so-so writing and high cheese factor, I still approve of lady porn in all its shapes and sizes. And let's face it, cute puppy pictures are their own special brand of porn - not just for the ladies! Come on gentlemen - you know you get all squishy when you see cute puppies!

Here we have the Shamus in his natural habitat of, um, the couch. Note he has captured the trophy of trophies, mommy's hair tie.

 Shamus says, "You want the hair tie? Why don't you make me an offer? I noticed you got a new bag of Beggin' Strips and they really do taste like real bacon...why don't we start there hmmm?"

"No Beggin' Strips? No deal."

Shamus is an evil genius.  But I still wanna cuddle him. All the time.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

50 Shades of Shamus

Because I am a little in love with my dogs this bit of self-indulgence makes my day! Shamus is a rescue corgi/papillion  mix from Tennessee. He was in a high kill shelter until he was rescued by an animal rescue group who put his adorable mug on Petfinder. Petfinder is an amazing, awesome thing. It facilitates dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens in getting out of the wildly overpopulated South and finding homes up in the Northeast where we don't have a massive pet population problem. The issue down in the Southern states is that there is a completely different mentality about animals and they don't do diddly squat about spaying/neutering. It makes me crazy thinking about it so I'm not going to preach about how disturbing I find that in 2012 this is an issue in our first world country. Whatever.

What I WILL do is showcase the many moods and attitudes of Shamus along with my other pets who are forced to put up with this tiny tornado.

Shade #1
Note - the toy is bigger than the puppy. This will not stop Shamus! In this pic, he is only about 12 weeks old, we got him at 10 weeks. I call this his "I'm not dropping the toy, I will figure this out or die trying" face.
Stay tuned for further Shamus Shades!

Feel the love

Yup. No more complaining. At least for a little while. I had my rant yesterday and it was kind of nice. But I feel it's time to focus on the good things. We all could use a little of that and seriously, I have so much more to be grateful for than I have ever had before, complaining just doesn't seem important right now.

I'm on a quest to see beauty and find joy in unexpected places as well as in places that are well known and possibly even viewed on a hugely public scale. Today I am recognizing why I love competition/reality shows like The Voice, America's Got Talent, and X Factor. (I don't do American Idol, I have to draw the line somewhere.)

I love that on these shows regular people get their moment in the sun. Becoming hugely famous or finding financial success beyond their wildest dreams is only a part of why people participate in these shows. The other part (in my humble opinion at least) is for the sheer joy their art brings them. These shows are typically aired live. So what I'm seeing is exactly what the audience in attendance is experiencing and although being home and separate from that piece requires a bit of adjustment on my part, I still get that thrill of awe when someone does something amazing. There are some hugely talented people out there and the TV gods have figured that out. Dancers, singers, magicians, contortionists, puppetry, comics, dogs, extreme sports,  you name it - they have made their way into my living room and into my consciousness. Seeing is believing. The belief that beauty is everywhere if you look for it is embedded in my soul. You don't even have to look all that hard. But these shows bring it to me on a platter and I soak up the joy and the adrenaline like a thirsty sponge.

I won't deny that at times all of these shows have had a distinct Hunger Games feel to them. Watching contestants being eliminated can be painful. But again, I am absolutely blown away by the heart and class these people show. Even when they have had their hearts broken by making a mistake in their performance, they are truly, deeply, grateful for the experience. It's a wild ride. I don't know if I would have the chops for it. And I'm sure they're coached on what to say but it is their authentic humanity that blows me away. They mean it. They are grateful. They are humble. They shed their tears and nurse hurt feelings but they do so from a place of integrity.
Shockingly, Howard Stern seems to be the most considerate and intelligent judge on America's Got Talent. He was the reason I tuned into the show for the first time and it is largely because of him and Sharon Osbourne and Howie Mandel that I will continue to watch. They actually seem invested in giving helpful notes to performers and in being honest and compassionate when they know someone will not be making it through to the next round.

I love finding compassion in places least expected. I send out the challenge to all of you who read this blog - make the effort to find the good. Your results will be immediate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


What I find happening to me lately is that I'll be feeling a strong love or appreciation for someone or something and before I know it, that person or thing decides to take a shit all over my lovey feeling. This makes me want to punch people in the face. I get so angry with people in my "real" life who want more from me or who I don't feel appreciate me. I feel like I take care of the whole world. The job of therapist boiled down to its simplest form is you are re-parenting you clients so they can have the life skills their own parents couldn't or wouldn't teach them. Because parents can't teach their kids something they, themselves, have never been taught.

So being mother to 30 people a week? Is fucking exhausting. And all I want at the end of the day is somebody to take care of me. My husband, however, wants the same thing. Because that is a human instinct. The need for care and connection is ancient. We're not going to get over it anytime soon but what can I do in the meantime so I don't completely freak out? There is a lot to be said for taking care of other people. Besides being exhausting it's deeply rewarding. I don't want anyone to think I'm a therapist because it's fancy or that I don't get anything out of it. My job gives me deep joy and satisfaction most of the time, the other part of the time...not so much. But I think that's most jobs right?

I am frustrated today largely because I have been let down by someone close to me. (Not Jacob. I'm not telling who. Stop pressuring me.) And I can't write about it because that person will hear about it. I don't believe they they care enough to look at this page ever, but I can't be sure. And if talking about anyone via blog you may as well just assume 1) They're going to read it and 2) They will pitch a fit. Unless they're related to me. My family tends to avoid confrontation like it's going out of business. This is yet another reason for my deep love of Zantac and Prilosec.

So my entire drive to work was consumed by my feeling hurt and upset and basically going to my "I'm not good enough" place. Because sometimes, that's the truth. I'm not important enough to everyone in the world or even everyone in my inner circle (it's not as glamorous as it sounds), to be made a priority. Everyone grows up and their priorities shift to new people, places, and things. But when I look back at certain relationships I can see what my former therapist meant when she said, "Your relationships with people have been all about them. About you being available whenever they wanted for whatever they needed. When you  try to change that dynamic and make a one-sided relationship into something else, it will fail every time because the other person will only see that you are not at their beck-and-call so they better find someone or something else to fill that spot."

That is not a great way to feel by the way. Hearing the truth doesn't make it easier to change or break away. Even knowing that's the truth doesn't make anything easier because at the end of the day, I still have to have relationships with people. I have to see them, they are in my life and nothing will change that. I don't want to sit and quietly resent anyone because that's a guaranteed acid re-flux nightmare but I also don't want to confront anyone who 1) Doesn't know I'm upset and 2) Will probably just tell me to get over it.

Because seriously? What is the point of confronting someone who has sent a clear message of "I don't have time for you and you don't really matter." What can I reasonably expect from someone with that mindset? I'm not saying they're aware that this is the message they're sending. I'm sure they've told themselves that they have to do the other million things they've signed up to do and that I am simply too demanding. That I should know and accept that their commitments are first and foremost and that they have tried to make that clear. And, my personal favorite, that I shouldn't take things so personally. That they simply have too much in their incredibly overfull calendar and they would surely  love to have the time to see me or talk to me or text me. But, alas, they are powerless over such things. And so, I have nothing to be upset about because, really, they're the victim.

And this is what makes me want to kick people. I'm not going to pretend like I am always great at everything friendship wise. I'm not. I hate the phone, and if you're not on Facebook I will probably go weeks and weeks without talking to you because email is a pain in the balls. And even if you're on Facebook, I may not see you very often. If you live far away up until recently my anxiety was too bad for me to make the trip successfully and now that I'm not so anxious, I am doing all the things I couldn't do before. But if you invite my ass somewhere, I will be there with bells on.

I feel marginally better. Thank you for listening to me rant.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sneaky Sneaky Anxiety

I've talked before about my journey on the Anxiety Train and how it's been a long, horrible road, often strewn with disappointment (mine and other peoples), self recrimination and a general sense of hopelessness. I've also talked about overcoming it and taking charge of my life and my fear. Since last February things have been amazing. I have gone to a baseball game in my most feared and dreaded city - Boston - as well as attended concerts, parties, and just plain old lunches with friends and family members out in public that weren't cut short because I was spending the majority of the time in the bathroom hoping for the Angel of Death to swoop in and make the panic stop while providing me with an acceptable excuse for why I wasn't socializing.

After all of these victories I think I may have gotten a bit lax in my practice of taking note of life as it's happening. My plan to stay present and keep in touch with people who make me better, who make me remember I am in charge, has gotten a little lost in the shuffle. I have noticed twice now in the past couple of weeks the sensation of anxiety creeping in. This past Saturday is an excellent example. There was a memorial picnic planned to celebrate our friend who passed away very suddenly a few weeks ago. Initially I had thought I wouldn't be able to attend but as the week passed by it became apparent that my work commitment would be over in plenty of time. For the first time in a long time I felt myself having mixed feelings about an event. I was happy to go and see friends, enjoy a day outside, and show love and respect for someone who has left us. But then there was this, rather unexpected visitor in my head. The voice of Anxiety started to talk to me again. Shocking, because I haven't heard from it since February.

Anxiety started to tell me that it was going to be hot out, that I would get sunburn, I wouldn't know anyone, nobody would like me, I have nothing in common with anyone there and it would be awkward. I wasn't part of his inner circle, I didn't belong there, I didn't deserve to grieve with the people who were closest to him and my presence would  be an insult to their pain. Anxiety started telling me about how much I needed to stay home and get some rest, I'd had a headache for three days, clearly I was too weak to survive a picnic in July. It told me about how I would probably do or say something wrong then Jacob would be mad at me. It most likely contributed to my running late thus completing my self-fulfilling prophecy of Jacob getting mad at me.

Well played, Fear. Well played.

I tried to talk to it, remind myself that I deserve to be there and to have and see friends and meet new people and oh, by the way, Matt was an awesome human and today is really not about me. At all. So shut up and stop making it about that. And I must say, it worked. Well, that along with remembering to breathe - I tend to forget to breathe when anxiety starts to kick up. Yeah, that is not recommended. By anyone. Ever.

But even having succeeded in my struggle to keep it together, I still felt the need to take an as-needed anxiety tranquilizer. This made me a little more sleepy and quiet than I normally am. And seeing as how I'm quiet in general, that's saying something. After taking it, I did feel the last vestiges of anxiety drain away. And I think it helped in the area going to the bathroom because, for me, this has always been the biggest, baddest trigger. Pooping has literally paralyzed me with terror over the past 14 years. Well, pooping when I didn't feel it was timely or appropriate. Having my insides clench up into a stomach fist of fury, historically was the deal breaker. That would be the grand finale. As in, "Hmm...I feel anxious..." would end in "That's it! I can't take this anymore! I have now pooped in public AGAIN. I'm going home. I need to lie down."

Happily, even though it was 90 degrees in the lady's room, everything came up roses and I delivered my doody package safely and without meltdown of the physical or emotional self.  But even today I am still wondering, was taking that medication a cop out? Was it a wussy pants move and just proves I am still broken or wrong somehow? Either way, I have to live with that decision. And beating myself up about it gets me nowhere. I simply need to focus on the fact that I went. Fear lost this battle. It will continue to lose time after time after time because I refuse to live any other way.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Ooh Baby Baby

A question I get asked almost daily is if I have children. I pretty much always make a joke out of it and explain that I am the mother of 8 furry children and quite frankly, that's plenty of maternal experiences in my life. I'm not entirely sure why this matters to people but I must say, I'm feeling outnumbered and annoyed that the world doesn't take the child free very seriously. Promising me I'm going to change my mind and desperately want a baby when I'm 40 does nothing to strengthen the argument. Because I've got time before I turn 40 and to be honest, I have a ton of things to do and none of them include a toddler running around my house waking me up at 4 a.m. because they have peed or shat upon themselves. No thank you.

I realize that may sound harsh but the mommies of the world, the ones we never heard from or really thought about because they were stay at home mothers and virtually invisible, they're here now. They're loud. The internet has brought these women out of the shadows and now they are speaking their truth and sharing their lives and I think it's awesome. One of the hardest things about being a stay at home parent is the isolation, the lack of adult contact, not to mention the lack of respect given to what is considered to be the hardest job in the world. These women deserve to be heard and I follow several of their blogs because they are incredibly smart, funny, and often heartwarming/heartbreaking. From what I can see, having children is like stitching your heart to your arm and doing everything you can to keep it from getting broken while simultaneously battling ignorant school systems, dealing with bullshit from other parents, bullying, video games, the early sexualization of children thanks to media nightmares such as Toddlers and Tiaras, and a constant fear that you're not doing enough, you're doing it wrong, and your child is going to be a serial killer or, worse, never move out of your house.

I appreciate the honesty mommy bloggers have brought to the world, to my world in particular, because I really don't think I'm meant to be one of them. When I was a kid I hated baby dolls. One Christmas in particular I got one of those dolls that you can feed and then they peed all over the place. I hated that bitch. She not only pissed herself, but cried about it! So annoying! And gross! I much preferred my Pound Puppies and Popples (yes, I said Popples!) to keep me entertained and happy. 

Here's the thing though - I love kids! They are awesome and cute and funny and all the wonderful things parents talk about being worth the trade-off of their comfortable lives and sanity. Children and teens are, and always have been, the heart of my therapy practice. It is an amazing and humbling experience to help a child in pain. I love and appreciate this opportunity and am grateful for it daily . I will go to the wall for any kid who comes my way to keep them safe, make them feel heard, and help them understand that they are innocent bystanders in the lives of adults and therefore have done nothing to deserve whatever situation they find themselves in. I have huge respect and empathy for parents because after I've spent an hour with their child, I am ready to get the hell outta there. Seriously, that's long enough, I'm all set.

What really drives people nuts is they see me with their kids and see how good I am with them and how easy it is for me to hang out with them and get them to open up. Do you know why I can do that? Because I'm NOT a parent. That's why. I don't have to deal with the fears and insecurities and emotional devastation children can and do bring. I am safe from all that baggage and anything that kid has to say to me isn't going to bring down my whole world. Being the messenger isn't always a hoot but it sure beats the hell out of being the recipient of said message.

I have struggled with this whole baby thing for years and years. I keep waiting for some biological clock in my uterus to start beeping at me but so far, nothing. It's crickets up in this womb you guys. Sometimes I wish I wanted a baby. I wish to hear that clock ticking or to feel my ovaries doing the cha-cha. That would make me "normal" right? I wish I wanted to make a tiny human and be a part of that world. Babies R' Us is a really cute store and I totally love shopping there for my friends with babies! OMG tiny shoes are always cute! But...they belong at somebody else's house. And I do wonder about the intensity of love parents feel for their children but honestly, I don't think I'm made for that. I'm way too emotional and I have seen myself dealing with my dogs when something goes wrong. I'm a freaking mess. I seriously doubt I would handle human issues with any more grace or aplomb. And God help the kid or adult who messes with my kid. If people approach my cats or dogs the wrong way they hear about it immediately. There is no biting of the tongue. I will straight up yell at a stranger (or non-stranger) if I don't like the way they're treating my furry babies.

I will cut a bitch.

So thanks to the parents out there who allow me know and enjoy their children. Who allow me to spoil them or swoon over their cuteness then go home to my peaceful, quiet home where the only one allowed to have a tantrum is me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Firing My Excuses

In the past 24 hours two people I know and love have told me the same thing. Basically that I am totally capable of making the changes I need to make and that I need to stop complaining about how hard losing weight is. Annoyingly, they are both right. The reason I know they're right is because they said out loud what I have been thinking underneath all the talk of cake and cannoli. I have been attempting to rationalize something that doesn't need or deserve rationalization. It has totally been the voice of fear sneaking in and selling me all of the logical, rational reasons I shouldn't worry so much about going to the gym or what I eat. It has been allowing me to outsource my frustration and blame onto others who don't really deserve it. I am just as vulnerable as anyone else to the easy way out blaming others provides. My husband was upset about my previous post. He felt I blamed him for my weight gain as well as for my difficulty losing it. While he is a big guy who definitely needs to make food/exercise changes as well, I can't blame him for my own poor choices and lack of coping skills. He's not the one complaining about being overweight and weak and squishy. I can't make my self image problems his problem. That isn't fair and it also sets me up to get right back on my old, well-worn pathway of resentment, fear, and defensiveness.

Despite having been through many of life's trials and tribulations, upon looking back I have to acknowledge that many things have come easily to me. Maybe too easily. I never had to study to pass my classes and I have always loved reading and writing so school was never a scary, challenging place intellectually. I have always set goals for myself that I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, I could meet. Beginning in college and onto grad school I never doubted that I would graduate on time and with a solid GPA. Oddly, however, I have never been the type of student who gets caught up in grades. I never felt the need to get straight A's or seek external validation in the form of parent or teacher's praise. I have always gone to school and learned for myself, often forgetting about the approval of others. In fact, at times, I could be downright dismissive of what professors said because they simply didn't matter to me. I didn't see them as experts on pedestals, they were just people I had to work with because that's part of the deal.

Body-focused, physical goals terrify me. I played soccer, softball, basketball, and skied as a kid. I'm not sure what happened between then and now but all of my athletic prowess has disappeared. When I find myself attempting to work out on my own I am unfocused and self conscious. Even when at the gym I hesitate to do much other than treadmill or elliptical machines because I don't want people to look at me and wonder what I'm doing. I fear I will be exposed as a fraud, someone who looks capable from the outside but is really clueless and awkward. And, ultimately, not good enough.

I have been struggling so hard against something I have imposed on myself. There is no big bad wolf here, just me and my pal, Fear. So I've had to re-think some things. An excellent conversation with someone this week held a powerful truth for me about fear and failure. We essentially agreed that the only way to stop fearing failure is, in fact, to fail. To take risks in life that you know have failure inherently built into them therefore forcing you to first, experience failure and then learn to let go of it and keep going. Photography is one example - you know that if you are serious about photography, you are going to take a million pictures at any given time. You also know that out of those million pictures, 999,990 are going to be crap. As a photographer, you have to accept this probability and be okay with the notion that great things come from tremendous amounts of shit. Does that mean you are going to quit photography? Hell no. You're just going to keep on pointing and shooting until eventually, out of the million, 999,900 will be crap. Yay for baby steps!

The most important thing I, or any one of us really, can do for myself is take control of my life. All that requires is proper footwear and one single action - Show Up. That's it. Just show the fuck up for whatever it is you're trying to do. Don't stay home and write another blog (cough*that'smymove* cough). Get off the couch, out of the house, away from the distractions and reasons not to go or do or be. Show up and keep showing up and watch what happens.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dinner cake

I have had to step back and watch myself over the last couple of days in an attempt to see what I am doing wrong that is holding me back from actual weight loss. After some intense deliberation I have come to the conclusion that I don't need a special diet. I don't need a fancy exercise program (not that it isn't a great idea.) What I need be a grown up. Sigh. I knew this was coming.

It's just that I'm pretty sure grown up people who take their health seriously don't do things quite the way we do them here at Doolittle Manor. I find it seriously hard to believe that anyone with fitness on their mind would eat cake for dinner.

The offender

See that? Jacob made that. With his hands. He baked a cake on Thursday and I had it for dinner along with an apple and some almonds. So the carbs would like, balance out. Yes, that was my rationale. Yes, it was delicious. Delicious, delicious shame...

Yesterday we went to the farmer's market. There are tons of actual farmers there you can talk to and hear about their products from and everything is super fresh and organic. We didn't buy any of that stuff though. Oh no. We went to the cupcake truck, the empanada lady (shepherds pie empanada!) and also a bakery for fresh, hand-filled in front of you, cannoli.  I suspect our avoidance of actual farmers defeats the purpose of going to a farmers market but that's how we roll.

I don't want to throw my husband under the bus or anything but...until I met him I had never bothered with Cold Stone ice cream, fast food, or mass quantities of take out. He has an entirely different attitude towards food than I do. I grew up pretty healthy, my mom made dinner every night and there was always a protein, vegetable, and a starch. And milk. Because it does a body good. Or at least that's what we thought back then. Apparently now milk is suspect.

Anyway, I don't know a lot about how Jacob's family ate when he was a kid but I know his childhood was very different than mine. I also know Jacob prides himself on being a kid at heart and I have a very different outlook. The only problem I have with being a kid at heart is cake for dinner. And ice cream. And candy. And cannoli. I can't get mad about the cupcakes. They were so pretty!

So my new diet plan is to eat like a grown up. Food is not a reward. I am not a dog. My inner child will just have to get her needs met elsewhere.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Weighting around

Yet again, I find myself home when I really should have gone to the gym. It's yoga for God's sake. I love yoga and I'm always happy after I go to a class. I'm not sure what's going on with me about working out. I was doing really well for like, 2 months but now I'm slacking. Today the excuse was: I don't really like that class. The instructor isn't interesting or challenging and last time I went there were only two of us in there. Also, if I don't go to yoga, I will stay home and write something.
Well at least I'm keeping up that end of the deal. Typing burns calories and builds lean muscle right?

I guess I'm just like the rest of the world - I want instant gratification. When I decide to work out and eat right and cut the shit...I don't get immediate results. Logically, I know that is impossible. However, since when am I run by logic? I'm run by emotions most of the time. Unless I'm making an effort to be logic based and to hell with what I'm feeling, I will go with what makes me feel good every time. I think a lot of people are like this actually. Because if we don't FEEL something, it ain't happening. And a lot of what I've felt since undertaking this challenge, is frustrated, fatter, and failure. I've been proud of myself here and there but mostly...not so hot.

Logically, I know that things take time. A lot of time. My friend, Lindy, told me to give it six months so I'm still clinging to that. I'm not overeating or indulging. Diet changes are relatively easy for me. As long as I can have sweet stuff, I don't really care what else I eat. It doesn't matter to me if I eat chocolate or an apple for a late night snack. I know eating then at all is foolish but old habits die hard and how bad is it really to consider an apple an indulgence?

I'm also aware that Fear is at work here. Fear of trying because if I really try, like really for real real, I risk a lot. Failure is something I've felt many times. I don't want to feel it again. So, my old pal Fear whispers in my ear, reminding me of all the failures of the past, how much that sucked, how it felt, and how much safer it is to just stay home, on the couch, maybe take one class per week so I can say I'm trying and nobody will argue with me. Fly below the radar.

Fear also plays dirty. It will straight up lie to keep me safe. It will tell me, being overweight is better because I draw less attention, it helps me fit in. Being overweight is normal but being fit is not. That I look foolish in workout classes, that I'm weak and can't keep up.

Arguing with Fear takes a lot of time. A lot of energy right now that I tell myself I don't have but really? I totally do. I'd just rather invest the energy in writing or reading or watching movies and Reno 911 re-runs. I've been toying with the idea of making a vision board or a few vision boards really, to have around the house and in my car. Something visual to remind me of what I want and what it takes to get there. Something that doesn't lecture or judge. Just sits there looking at me filled with motivation and inspiration. Hmmm...I'll let you know how it goes...

Monday, July 2, 2012

Girl power

Ladies, ladies, ladies, I must say, bravo for brazen sexuality! Maybe it's always been there and I've just been clueless but I have to admit, 50 Shades of Grey combined with Magic Mike sure look to me like the world is finally getting it. Women are just as sexual, if not more so, as our male counterparts. Shocker! Yes, this is something we females have always insisted to be true but our actions thus far have not matched our words on a global scale. 50 Shades of Grey has topped book sales not only in the US and UK but around the world, selling more than 10 million copies with book rights being sold to 37 countries. And that's just the first book of the trilogy. It set the record in the UK of being the fastest paperback ever sold, surpassing even my beloved Harry Potter. (Wikipedia! Woot!)
Magic Mike stars some of the hottest, most sought-after male leads we've got. And reviews all indicate that not only does this film have lots to look at, it even has decent writing and a plot. David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called the film "a beefcake bonanza with heart as well as muscle." (Thanks again Wikipedia!) This means, somebody out there in Hollywood land has gotten a clue. Women like looking at hot bodies just as much as men do! We just so happen to require some semblance of personality, humor, and heart to really get the motor running. 


I'm not going to rant about why it's taken so long for Hollywood to wake up and realize women buy movie tickets. That's not my concern. What I am concerned about is while I am 110% for the sexual revolution and women actually owning and loving the sexuality, we still don't seem to have each others backs. We will go see Magic Mike and read 50 Shades until our eyelids literally droop closed in sleepy surrender but God forbid we see a woman who's prettier or thinner, or better accessorized that we are. (Don't even roll those eyes at me, I can see the Coach bag and Pandora bracelet from here hot stuff.)

I have always seen teenagers as a fairly large percentage of my practice. Over the years I have heard many things either through direct conversation, reading articles and books, or through conversations with other therapists. I have heard stories about domestic violence in teenage relationships. This is an actual problem that is rarely noticed or talked about. I think it's because we don't see teenagers for what they are - fledgling adults who are just starting to form what can and will become their go-to reactions to emotional stimuli for  quite possibly the rest of their lives. I try not, in any way, shape, or form to kid myself about what the teens I see are capable of. Teens are capable of the same response to every good and every bad situation any of us could ever face. They may come up with something even better than we could if it's on the bad side because they haven't fully developed their capacity for empathy yet. It's no help to them if I try to downplay their reality to them. And it's not my job to judge them and put them down. I have to build them up and teach them that they are better humans than the behaviors they're displaying and indulging in. 
This, however, is sticky stuff. Discussing domestic violence with grown adults is one thing but teenagers feels like another planet. It is so taboo to discuss it that it must be treated with absolute calm and even forgiveness/acceptance of things that are scary or hard to grasp.

One girls wish was simply to go unnoticed by her ex boyfriend. A first love gone sour that, unlike adult relationships never got the opportunity to heal because they had to see each other every day in school. Adults don't have to face their newly-ended relationships every day unless they are married or live together and can't financially avoid sharing living space. In our world of Adult Perks, we date someone, we break-up, we get sad, but we don't see that person. They're out of our lives. The ones least ready to deal with intense emotions get that job. I'm not sure why we expect them to handle it appropriately and then get mad at them when they screw up what we, ourselves, likely would have screwed up at their age and our age because that shit is messy no matter how old you are.

Denial is a powerful force. It can and will keep parents and families from seeing things that are disturbing or upsetting which is the only way I can make sense out of a lot of things that cross my path. Hearing of a girl who wanted to be invisible to hide from an ex-boyfriend is sad, but nowhere near as sad as hearing about girls actively destroying other girls. The words "Bitch, Slut, Whore" can and will shred even the most confident girl. And hearing those words from other girls - girls who they may have considered friends - is abhorrent especially when they are doing so in defense of the perpetrator of violence against said girl.

So maybe pay a little more attention to your girls relationships. Get to know who they talk about, try to actively participate in your teens and pre-teens (drama in elementary school is totally intense) social lives by being open and interested. Be interested, not overbearing. Use their boundaries as a guide and don't start off with a comment that will immediately put them at odds with you. Show them you do pay attention to what they say and that it matters which is why you're able to have this conversation in the first place. 
Ask them questions about themselves then ask what advice their friends gave them and do not tear it apart no matter how awful it is. Be kind when you hear something you didn't expect always - towards your kids and their friends. Shredding their friends to pieces guarantees they will tune you out and be too busy hating you to hear anything helpful or positive you impart. Don't shoot yourself in the foot. You can do this.

It is in small conversations all kids receive life messages about love, violence, heartbreak, the world. You have the capacity and the opportunity to spot an array of issues if you are open to seeing it. You have the power to impart beliefs about human value, and how to treat others and themselves with self-control and compassion. 

Pay attention to the way you treat yourself and other women, it will be seen and documented by your daughters.  Tread carefully to ensure you don't punish the victim when you hear tales of their or their friends relationships with boys or other girls. Give them values to rise up to when they're faced with difficult situations. They can only use what they have been taught.