Out of Our Control

Do we miss the things that are out of our control?

If you’ve always wanted to be a grandparent, do you miss phantom grandchildren because your offspring didn’t want to offspring?

Do you miss your daughter walking down the grand staircase of your home that you bought specifically for photo moments, just because she chooses not to go to prom?

Do you miss the flat tummy that you will never get back again because a few c sections and menopause have made that an unobtainable goal?

I know people who fall into every one of these categories- they spend much of their time talking about, whining about and complaining about the things that didn’t go the exact way that they pictured things didn’t pan out. I know someone who works out hours a day, watches every crumb that is ingested and has a wonderful, healthy physique. Yet…that person still complains that they don’t look like they did at 22. I know people who have boxes in attics and basements of things they intended to pass down to grandchildren, only to have those boxes collect dust and their hearts harden a little.

How much of your day do you spend thinking about the things that you can’t have because you are not the one who is determining the outcome or the event?

Is it mentally healthy to obsess about things that are out of your control, and will most likely, never be in your control? Is there a point that you have to accept the limits that are just there, whether or not you like them?

I try not to worry about things out of my control. Frankly, I already try way to hard to control things: I don’t need any additional to do’s on my list. I try to accept that some things are just going to be a certain way, no matter what I do. Mind you, I said try: my no means am I chill and relaxed about stuff…

But what about you? What journeys does your mind take when things do not go how you pictured them? Do you lose sleep over them? Do you keep trying to make things go your way?

Discuss:

Pick Up The Trash

My daughter spent part of a High School summer doing community service work in Costa Rica. This is the norm for middle class kids in our area, whether you go to public school like my daughter, or private school like my Teen X. Teens show how community minded they are, and put it on their college application. My understanding is that colleges almost expect kids to have some glaring public service announcement that they pull out as needed.

When my daughter went to Costa Rica she worked in two areas: Housing and day camp. She poured a concrete floor for a family that previously only had dirt. I don’t know exactly what goes into making a concrete floor, but my daughter said it was hard and exacting. She literally saw the woman and the family that she was helping to provide with a new floor. She knew that if she screwed up, this family would be the ones to suffer. There was a literal face to the cause. She left her days exhausted but feeling good about what she was doing.

The other part of her trip revolved around working in a day care center. She lead the kids in games and crafts and spoke to them in English so that they practice their language skills. Her biggest takeaway was that these kids, though they didn’t enjoy the luxuries that her and her NYC friends have, still showed such a sense of joy and wonder. They were not jaded or sad or mean like some of her NYC classmates who had considerably “more” than they did. She loved this experience so much that it was one of the reasons that she is pursuing a minor in Education and Social Justice. No, she does not want to be a teacher, but she would love the ability to work on educational policy reform.

We also can’t forget about my daughter and water. When in Costa Rica, my daughter saw in real time just how precious a commodity potable water is. On her short list of causes she believes in, water is right there front and center.

My daughter chose to look past her upbringing to see what other parts of the world, what other people face. She is by no means a Saint, nor is she perfect, and sometimes she forgets that she has things come easily to her, but this experience really made her see and feel things she did not know about.

But does every child take away the same experience?

We know someone who did a service trip this summer, in America, and this was based on working with sea life and oceans. Teen X is very environmentally friendly.

I saw the parent of Teen X while Teen X was still on the trip.

Me: How does X like the trip?

Parent of X: Well, X hates the group leader. X has been arguing with the group leader since the beginning of the trip

Me: What does she argue about?

Parent of X: X doesn’t like the rules.

Me: Like what?

Parent of X: X didn’t realize how much cleaning up of garbage there would be. She thought they’d be helping the environment

At this point I mumbled my way out of the conversation because really, if you don’t see what is right in front of your face, my pointing it out isn’t going to help much.

So what’s the point of this? Was it just to humble brag about my daughter? Partially, sure. My daughter has managed to defy her spotty parenting to become a decent human. But it’s also to highlight why colleges kinda sorta want to see community service on a middle to upper middle class kids resume. The goal is to make the kids see what the world is really like, even if it’s just for three weeks during the summer between sophomore and junior years.

Yes we have a shortage of water.

Yes, some people live in huts with no windows and no electricity and dirt floors.

Yes, some kids are happy without the latest tech gadgets.

Yes, the oceans and beaches and whatever are filled with human waste products that must be cleaned up.

But sometimes you need to see these things up close and personal in order to understand them. The problem is, some people can be exposed to something and still not understand the issues. How often are we blind to what is right there in front of us? How many willfully choose not to look deeper at an issue? How many people choose to see things that way that they want to see them?

You can choose to look at the world the way you think it is, or the way it actually is. Which way will actually start solving the issues that we face?

The Air Fryer

Early in pandemic, with everyone in the house 24/7, I had to make new rules for the new world order. One rule was that I would be willing to cook dinner, but everyone was on their own for breakfast and lunch. I was not about to become a short order cook and spend my day flipping meals for everyone.

After I made this decree, my Husband and Daughter bought themselves an air fryer. They put everything in the air fryer. My daughter was watching videos about things that can be fried. My Husband invested in about every frozen appetizer that Trader Joe’s makes.

They were happy- they easily prepared their meals. I was happy. I didn’t have to prepare their meals. They shopped for these things and cleaned up after themselves.

Win. Win. Win.

About the first week of August 2021, we noticed that the air fryer shorted out the fuse. Three times I had to flip the switch. After three times I knew enough to know that the air fryer had fried its last meal.

I asked my family if they wanted to replace it.

My daughter shook her head no. I’m going back to college in a few weeks she said. I’m not going to need it anymore.

My Husband thought about it and agreed with my daughter. No. I’m in the office three days a week now. I can figure out something else for lunch when I’m home.

We didn’t need an air fryer anymore.

So in some weird way, it was like the air fryer was telling us that it’s time to move on- Sometimes you need something for a period of your life. They are extremely important until one day they aren’t. But you think fondly about whatever it was that filled a much needed hole in your life.

Not everything is permanent.

It’s OK to let go of anything that you don’t need anymore, whether it’s people, ideas, clothes or a small kitchen appliance.

Sometimes we just need to move on. Moving on doesn’t mean that something wasn’t important or valuable: moving on simply means we are at a different place in our lives, and we need different things to get us through.

Try no to hold on to anything that has lost it’s usefulness or purpose.

Try to find what you really need.

Inspiration Begins Here…

I have a thing for upbeat self help books.

Sometimes they’re about organizing, sometimes about making my life cozier, or sometimes just how to see the good in every situation. I realize that not everyone likes or appreciates these sorts of books, but in a world where you can accidentally drop a piece of your dog’s poop into your purse (true story), I need a cheerleader. My personal cheer section comes in the form of these books.

One such book that I read in “The Lemonade Life” by Zack Friedman. And one section of the book that I found interesting/helpful focused on the Seven Wonders. Now, while the author did talk about the Seven Wonders of the World, what the author refers to in the book is YOUR personal seven wonders…

What are the things that inspire you?

I recently changed the name of my Sunday posts to “What Inspired me This Week”. I began to think about the things in my world that make me get out of bed in the morning, the things that make my heart race, the things that make my life worth living. It’s another form of gratitude to acknowledge that there are things in your life that make you happy…

I present you my Seven Wonders- the things that inspire me:

  1. Art- street art, old masters, my daughters school work framed on my wall- doesn’t matter. I love to look at sculptures, paintings, installations…whatever. If it falls under the category of art I’m in
  2. Music-All music inspires me- just depends on my mood. My playlist is eclectic….classical, jazz, hip hop, ROCK…if it has a beat of some sort, I’ll listen to it
  3. Food– I love to try food that is different and new to me. If I go out to eat I try to find food that I’ve never eaten or can’t/won’t try at home
  4. Flowers– can’t grow them but love to look at them. I could sit at the Botanic Garden and just look at the blooms
  5. The Written Word– come on- you know I love to read. As evidenced from this post, I get inspired by what I read in books- all books. I have rarely found a book that doesn’t move me
  6. Walking– I love to take walks- I love to stumble upon things I’ve never seen. I love to just move my legs, no real destination in mind. It’s about the journey
  7. Planner– when I look at my planner I feel hopeful. I can look at yesterday and appreciate the memories of what I did. I can look at today and see the things that I did to move my life along, and I can look at tomorrow and tomorrow and see what life has in store for me. And also, that a blank page is a page filled with possibility…

What are the things that inspire you?

What makes you, YOU?

Gratitude Saturday June 12

The other day the Doctor’s office called to reschedule my appointment. I said to the scheduler, “let me check my calendar.”

I’m grateful that I once again have a calendar that needs checking.

I’m grateful that the little boxes in my planner are no longer a home for stickers, but contain actual things to do and places to go and people to see

I’m grateful that my tea society meets in person today

I’m grateful that I saw live music yesterday

I’m grateful for life

Anything Can Happen Friday: Mother’s Day Edition

Rule of thirds: we talked about this yesterday. When you are trying to achieve a goal, you will be great 1/3 of the time, Okay a third, and crappy a third. (Alexi Pappas- Bravey) We debated if we thought this was a good ratio of good times to bad.

Somewhere in the discussion with Deb, I thought about Motherhood. (FYI- Deb has probably motivated more blogs than anyone else) As Deb and I were talking, I realized that motherhood is clearly part of the rule of thirds.

The great part? Well, that’s easy. Think about all those pictures on your phone, or in an album somewhere. Looking in my house is like a highlight reel of the great moments: artwork framed on my wall, pictures in cap and gown, certificates and trophies. These are all those moments that we think about when we decide to make Motherhood our goal.

I smile at the picture of “My first Haircut” where my daughter sits in the high chair and I clip her bangs. Who doesn’t love a “first” of something…it’s the beginning of the milestone. First day of school pics that my daughter stood patiently for every single year. Firsts, beginnings holding so much promise. I look on her window ledge and see a lifetime of trophies from things she has excelled at: Chess and and tennis and debate and law team. I remember cheering and crying when her little league softball team won the championship. I remember cheering and crying as she accepted the Pinstripe Bowl Scholar Athlete award at Yankee Stadium. The college acceptance letter. These are the moments you think about as you are carrying or adopting your child before they are even born. You can’t help but imagine the wonderful experiences that your child will have as they figure out who they are.

The quiet moments of reading “Goodnight Moon as their eyes get heavy. The tea parties on the living room floor. The times they add the chips into the cookie dough. Walking hand in hand with them as they skip a little bit. These are probably the greatest of the great moments- just you and your child and everyone is happy and you are just in the moment.

But on the road there, we have a lot of ennui. Sitting at the practices waiting for your kid to finish up. Rereading their opening statement for the Mock Trial competition a thousand and one times. Hearing them try to play “Smoke on the Water” first on recorder, and then on the clarinet, and then on the guitar….unless your child is a musical prodigy, there is no way you do not want to cut off your ears when they practice.

There’s the boredom that comes with the day to day, the rote of getting them out of bed, dressed, breakfast, make sure they have all their stuff, get them to school, come home and do homework, brush the teeth…rinse…repeat…how fondly do you remember reminding them if they have their gym uniform?

OF course…we have those moments that make you question why you became a parent. Colic….the dreaded hours between 4 and 6pm when they might just cry. Or the waking up in the middle of the night. The look of the new parent is a clever mix at awe in what they created, and shock at surviving on as little sleep as they do.

The toddler years. Who doesn’t love bolting down furniture and locking everything that opens. Ever try one of those toilet locks at 3am?

The years when your kid is struggling to find their place in the world?

When they lose a game or a competition or a friend?

When they hurt so bad that you feel like you are empty because you don’t want to see your child hurt so much?

The tween years….yeah…who doesn’t love the onset of puberty?

The teen years…rebels who think they have a cause?

Yup.

1/3 great

1/3 okay

1/3 crappy

But…

Wow…

It’s worth it.

Congratulations to everyone, whether or not they are a Mother, who has parented a child. It is not the goal of everyone, but to those who choose it, I salute you.

Gratitude Saturday April 24

As you know, I have been trying to find out the cause of my Vertigo episode from last month.

My vestibular therapist ruled out BPPV, so she sent me to an ENT.

The ENT ruled out problems with my inner ear from out to in, I guess you say, so he gave me referrals for a hearing test and a vestibular neurologist.

I had my hearing test this week, and she ruled out any hearing related issue as my issue, and said, I quote, ” Hearing- Excellent”

I wait for my appointment with what I guess is a sub sub specialist.

I watch as we rule out horses.

Next up we will begin to rule out zebras.

Just hoping that we don’t start looking for unicorns…

But for now:

I am grateful that my hearing is AOK.

I am grateful that my life as an eavesdropper can continue as soon as the world opens up again…

They Were Better

I’ve talked about my daughter before, but I’m going to give you a few relevant facts so that everyone is up to speed.

  1. Very hard working and strong work ethic
  2. Wants to be a lawyer
  3. Co-Captain of her high school law team
  4. Very competetive

In the winter/spring, the law team competes in mock trial.  The teams are assigned a case, and the students research the case and act as lawyers and witnesses and compete against other teams.  There is a great deal of work involved in being on a team such as this: she probably puts in a minimum of 20 hours a week when they are prepping. (on top of the other responsibilities she has) So this is a fairly large commitment.

So, a few weeks ago they competed.  And while their defense team won, their prosecution lost.  I knew how much she wanted to win, so I told her that I was sorry that they lost.  And her response was simple:  “It’s Ok.  They were just better than us.”

She didn’t blame her teammates.  She didn’t say the judge was biased.  She didn’t complain about their mentor law firm (who really did let the team down- but that’s a whole other story) She just said that the other team was better.  She said that her team was well prepared, that everyone really performed above expectations, that they gave it their all.  They just weren’t good enough.  She said it didn’t reflect badly on her teammates because they left nothing on the table, but sometimes in life you can do all the right things and still lose.

Now, I’m going to go with nurture again, because I’ll take all the credit because I’m ultra competitive.  So seriously, I don’t take losing lightly- how did I end up with a child so mature about losing?

Here’s the thing:  I have some rules in the house.

  1. If she wanted to join something or take lessons, she must finish out stated commitment- go to all lessons, go to all games and practices
  2. These commitments come first- she wasn’t allowed to not go to something, especially in a team situation, because I stressed that it is a team, and teammates show up
  3. You always give 100% of your effort.  The end result doesn’t matter, but the effort and work do
  4. I made it very clear that sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose, and that’s life
  5. Life is not fair
  6. You can’t win something if you don’t try it (this isn’t really a rule, more of a saying, but I preached it a lot, so I’m including it)

My daughter has a room full of trophies and plaques and certificates.  She has had her fair share of wins.  But she has also had losses.  She has been losing things since she was young.  But I have shown her that if you lose, you get to be sad, or mad or whatever emotion you want.  But then you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get on with it.  Because sulking is not a lifestyle choice that winners have.  Winners keep going- even when they lose.  Winners are always in the game.

So what’s the lesson?  I’m the greatest parent in the world?  Not even close.  But you need to think about the lessons you’re teaching your kids.  Someday they are going to make all their own decisions: they need to be prepared for that.  Make sure you’re stressing the important things.

 

My Commandments

I have one of those Page A Day calendars on my desk, particularly, The Gretchen Rubin A Happier 2018.  It contains inspirational quotes, tip and just things that help my day get off to a good start.  A few weeks ago, the calendar talked about having a list of personal commandments to live life by.  So, it got me to thinking about what are the rules I want to live by.  So, here goes:

  1. Respect others
  2. Listen to what people are saying instead of spinning my interpretation on it
  3. Don’t hold grudges
  4. When in doubt, forgive
  5. If my instinct says that something doesn’t smell right, listen to that instinct
  6. Be a parent, not a friend
  7. Don’t worry about pleasing others, because someone is always going to have a problem with what I do
  8. The past is a nice place to visit, but I don’t want to live there
  9. Take personal responsibility for my actions (ie don’t blame others)
  10. Prepare for the future, but live in the present
  11. Try not to overthink things
  12. Talk to people, not at them
  13. Accept criticism gracefully
  14. Remember that some people are not as smart as me in some ways, nor as dumb as me in others
  15. Be open minded to new ideas
  16. Don’t worry about what others think of me
  17. Always know both sides of an argument before taking a stand
  18. Always check the weather before I leave the house
  19. If a subway car is empty, there’s probably a good reason
  20. Write things down- memory will only get you so far

There are probably others, but these are the things I really try to do, sometimes with more success than others.  I think it’s a good idea to have some sort of internal code of conduct.  Sometimes we reach a crossroads, and it’s nice to have a little roadmap as to what we value: it helps us choose the next path.

So, it’s homework day:  Think about your personal commandments.  What’s the code you live by?

Regrets, I’ve Had A Few……

I had a friend who wanted to be a professional musician.  He was quite a good guitarist, and focused on getting better.  Along with 3 of his friends he formed a band.  They wrote their own songs and had a decent local following.  They put out a modest album and toured the country.  Not big name locales, but colleges and bars.  This went on for about 8 years, this life on the road.  Another album, some rock festivals.  He had achieved his dream.

Sort of.

He wasn’t sure if he made the right decision.  He went for his dream instead of going to college.

“But” I said to him, “you did it.  You lived your dream.  You were a musician.  You had actual albums and actual fans.  You supported yourself with your music for years.  You were a success.”

“Ahh”  he responded.  “I guess I really wanted to be a rock star.  I wanted all the trappings.  And I didn’t get that.  I wasn’t a rock star.  I went for it and I failed.  I think I would have preferred the ‘what if’.  At least I could still be a rock star in my dreams.  Now my dreams are how I didn’t make it.”

Now, I thought he was crazy.  I thought he was awesome cause he went for it.  He gave it his all.  I couldn’t imagine why he was upset with his decision.  I have always been a firm believer in just go for it.  The only decisions you regret are the ones you don’t follow through on.  That’s my mantra.

Yet….

Last month I talked about contacting an old friend I’d had a falling out with.  I debated whether or not it was worth it, opening up the old wound.  And I reached out to this person.  And I got no response.  Nothing.

Well, on one side, I know that this friendship is definitely over.

On the other side I was a jumble of emotions.  Pissed, hurt, annoyed, sad.

I regretted reaching out.  I thought that maybe I would rather have the thought of not knowing.

I thought that my friend had been right.  Not knowing is better.  (Now I know- his situation was much greater than my situation.  But you know, when you’re in the middle of something you think it is the greatest dilemma ever)

But them after some soul searching, I realized that it was better knowing that our friendship couldn’t be revived.

I was back on the “Just go for it” train.

Now this brings me to last weeks post about my daughter prepping for the SAT.  Most of you thought I was a bit crazy and over analytical about the situation.  But, here’s the thing:  I want my daughter to know she did everything possible to get into the school(s) she wants.  I want her to know that she left nothing on the table, that she did what was needed to achieve her goal/dream.  My job as her parent is to help her reach her goal, whatever that is.  That’s what we do for the people we love.  We help them on their journey.

I supported my Husband when he went back to school.  My Husband and Daughter support me in my dream of writing a novel.  We support her on her quest of the green, leafy walls.

No regrets.

Go for it.

If you fail, you know you tried.

Because if you fail at one thing, you get the opportunity to find another dream.

If you never try, you spend your whole life wondering “What if”.

And “what if” ends up giving you nightmares.  Because you realize you never tried.

So…

Go For It

No regrets.