Too Much is Too Much

I can be a little obsessive about planning things, an

d in turn carrying them out. While I find it easy to turn off responsibility sometimes (it might be a day or three before I clean the toilet) when it comes to certain things I can be quite rigid. And with this rigidity comes things that are supposed to be fun…

I had spent a few days in DC with my Daughter. These days were full of fun and camaraderie and such. But as I was in DC, things didn’t get done back in NYC. So when I got home I really did have to play catch up on all things practical.

But there were all those self care rituals in place…

And vows of doing certain things every week…

And I found myself drowning in my rituals and plans and the things I was supposed to be doing for relaxation were starting to stress me out because I was doing them out of a sense of obligation instead of a sense of being kind to myself.

By trying to fit all these things in, I ended up being unkind to myself… I ended up more stressed than if I hadn’t practiced any self care…

Too much of a good thing can end up being bad… When something goes from a hobby to an obsession you can end up in trouble.

In my case, making sure I got to the Met and did an at home facial three times a week wasn’t going to break me…but are there things in your life that start out as good but lead you down a very bad road? Are there things that begin to overwhelm you and lead you to start to spiral?

Know yourself. Know when you have to scale back. To riff on Coco Chanel, before you leave the house, take one thing off your plate. Sometimes less is more.

I’m Planning on It

Newsflash: I plan things.

I plan meals. I plan blogs. I plan outings. I usually know pretty much the order of the things that I need to accomplish in a day. Earlier this week I gave you a glimpse into how I run my mornings, and I’m sure you know that the rest of my day runs this way too.

I build in time to get to and fro. I give myself extra time just in case I see something that I want to look at for an extra minute. For example, On Sunday I was meeting a friend for lunch at 1. I knew that if I walked, which I was going to, it would take about 35 minutes. I gave myself an hour- As I walked there, I looked around, stopped at an outdoor art installation that I passed, people watched a little, and got to the restaurant fifteen minutes early. This gave me fifteen minutes of “free” time where I just sort of stood and daydreamed.

When you plan things out, clearly, things can still go wrong. But there’s a possibility that things go right, and that’s when I get my time to breathe. Deb said this week that people who think a lot sometimes need to shut it down. Times like this are when I shut my thinking down. I am not stressed about being late. I don’t have anything that I need to read or to think about. I have these little pockets of time that are just me and nothing else. I look at what’s in front of me, I hear the different sounds around me, I smell what’s wafting in the air…

Planning things gives me time to breathe because it affords me moments when I don’t have to do anything.

But what about spontaneity?

What’s the upside to spontaneity?

I guess with spontaneity there’s always a sense of adventure, a sense of expectation about what’s around the corner- there’s something sexy about not knowing what is about to happen…for some people…

I have a relation who claims they like to “go with the flow”. I love the attitude. In reality though, I see someone who struggles to get even mundane tasks accomplished because they tend to do things in panic mode. They decide to spontaneously make a cake. They measure out two ingredients to find that they need softened butter and baking powder, neither of which they have on hand. So they go to the store and buy the things and wait for the butter to soften and meanwhile three hours have gone by and homework has not been done, nor the pile of laundry and they went to the store but didn’t bring anything back for dinner and the cake is finally in the oven but it’s seven and oops guess we have to order pizza again and everyone starts to get a little cranky because child A still has to do their homework and now child A is sugar high and tired and everyone starts to fight…

And the litter box is really starting to smell…and oh shoot forgot to pay the electric bill as the lights go out…

I have another relation- my husband will ask Adult B if they want to come over for dinner on Sunday- six days in the future. Adult B will say “Let’s see.” For the record, Adult B has absolutely nothing going on ever, but doesn’t want to be “tied down”.

Adult B will MAYBE call on Sunday morning and say they can’t come (at this point we’ve assumed they are not coming and made other plans). Adult B has also shown up at our house without telling us, and of course, as we assumed they weren’t coming we are out and about and no where close to being home or preparing dinner.

See- that’s the face of spontaneity that I see. In my life, I don’t personally know anyone who is successfully spontaneous. I know planners and I know people who always seem to be lagging just a little, all of the time.

Now, one could argue that my Friday posts are spontaneous- I normally write them 100% on the fly and I have no idea what I’m going to say as I write them.

You could say that my stopping to look at something I’ve never seen is spontaneous, and it is- I see something and I stop to look at it and explore it. I’ve bought cream puffs just because I walked by a shop window and the product looked so good I had to buy one. I’ve walked into galleries that have intrigued me. I took a tour of an old freighter recently simply because I saw the sign that said FREE TOURS TODAY. But I can only experience these things because the rest of my life is so ordered that I have the time and ability to see something new. I’m not fretting about laundry or the litter box or what’s for dinner. My mind is free because I’ve ticked off those boxes. I can often spend fifteen minutes just experiencing something…

For me- planning allows me to be spontaneous. And I’m Ok with this particular oxymoron.

One Rule

I came across this quote:

There’s only one rule. Follow the line of your own desires.”

Malcolm Bradberry

While I think that this has merit, I have problems with some of the intent. Should you always follow your path? What if a parent really wants to leave their family and join the circus. Do they really just wake up in the middle of the night, fill their bandana with worldly possessions, toss it on a stick, flip it on their back and just jump on the next freight train to the town with the tightrope and three rings?

Or do responsibly think about all the people that your life intersects with?

What is the line between personal growth and personal responsibility?

In my mind I want to tell people to “Go For It”…but there’s also this little part of me that thinks- “well…maybe you have to think how that’s going to effect __________. I guess much of my thinking would be persons who have others depend on them: If a single. childless 20 year old wants to move someplace and make woven belts, I’d be pushing them out the door with an order for a belt. If my best friend mother of three who brings in income and also helps out her parents decided to go weave belts, I’d probably sit them down and talk to them… I know it might not be fair, but when is life fair?

So, what do you think about this quote?

Do we follow our desires without regard? Or do we weigh all the exponents?


What’s More Important

You all know that my daughter is in the process of applying to college. And some of you may know that college marketing is huge.  Many colleges hold recruiting events in NYC and the immediate suburbs, and my daughter has been attending them when she is interested.

Recently, my Daughter received an invite to a school that is high on her list.  The event was scheduled for a Monday at 630 in midtown Manhattan.  My daughter had a tennis match that same day, which ended at 6pm.  Her tennis match was in another borough, and quite possibly as far from midtown Manhattan as possible.

My daughter doesn’t miss anything.  She hasn’t had a sick day from school since 3rd grade. She is also never late to anything. She asked me- “Should I miss the tennis match? Or should I be late to the event?” I told her that her first responsibility was to the team.  She is both a starter and Co Captain.

She listened to me, won her match, and made it to the event about 15 minutes late.  She was there for the lion share of the presentation and got to chat with alumnae.


When I related this story to someone else, they said she should have blown off the match, because the college thing was more important. They thought of it as a make or break moment for the college admission process.  I thought that if they don’t want my daughter because she’s 15 minutes late for a dog and pony show because she was honoring her commitment to her team, then it probably wasn’t the right school for her.

So I ask of you today, how do you assess a priority?  If you have two things at the same time, what factors go into your decision making process? How do you determine what is more important?

One of my Momism’s is “90% of success is showing up.” I have always stressed the importance of not letting people down, that when you sign up for something, you commit.  But are there times when it’s OK to bail?

So, what are your thoughts? How do handle the double/triple commitment thing?



Lost and Found

My daughter lost her wallet yesterday.  She got on the city bus in front of our building, so she knew she had her wallet then, because she used her Metrocard (what we use in NYC to board public transportation) to get on the bus.  When she got to school, she went to get her ID, and realized the wallet was missing.  To belabor the point, she lost between getting on bus and getting to school.

When she realized she lost her wallet, she called me.  I could hear agony in her voice, it was low and as soon as she started to talk, she began to cry.  She didn’t understand how she could lose it.  When you’re an ultra responsible kid who has never lost anything other than a water bottle (which she does lose a lot for some reason) this was devastating.

And while I tried to console her, I knew that practicality had to come out.  “What was in your wallet?”  I knew she had a credit card and a debit card. I snapped my fingers to get my Husbands attention.  “Daughter lost her wallet.  Cancel the Visa, I’ll do the debit card.”  I got off the phone with my daughter, telling her she had to go to the main office and tell them she lost her school id.  Why I needed to explain to a reasonably smart person that someone could use her ID to enter the school fraudulently is beyond me.  She didn’t want to do this- she kept saying that someone would surely find her wallet.  I said it would be great if they did, but everything had to be canceled and places had to be notified that her ID might be compromised.  This went on by text way too long, till I told her it had to be done.

So my daughter was embarrassed to have lost her id.  I get that, but I also know that people are human and mistakes are made.  I also told her she could have been pickpocketed.  I wanted to race up the 52 blocks to her school and hug her, but a Mom can’t always be right there to physically comfort a child.  Sometimes the kid has to learn how to self sooth.

I then received a whole bunch of texts asking me to contact the MTA at 11 when the lost and found opened.  She was positive that her wallet would be found and turned in, all contents still inside.  She gave me the bus route, the time she got it- I’m surprised she didn’t have the driver and bus id.  Her optimism was impressive.  My pessimism was equally impressive.  I explained to her that the wallet was small, and would probably not be found.  Also, the Metropolitan Transport Association is not really known for its blazingly good customer service.  Just ask anyone who has been stuck on a train for 45 minutes.

At 11 I called.  After 25 minutes of trying to find the right department, it turned out I had to fill out an online form to document the loss.  Which I did.  Oh, the detail and general backasswardness of this report.   They asked for brand of wallet- they had no choice for piece of shit wallet she bought at TJ Maxx for 3.99. You have to list every item that was in the wallet.  Credit card.  Debit card. NYC Parks tennis pass.  School id.  Brandi Melville gift card.  American Eagle gift card.  Regular metrocard.  School issue metrocard.  Sticker from Brandi Melville.  (to tell you the truth- I was really impressed that she knew exactly what was in her wallet- not really surprised, but impressed none the less)  All this, when she wasn’t getting her wallet back.

Now of course, because I had spent 45 minutes of my life that I would never get back filling out a lost property claim, her wallet was found.  Husband got a call.  Wallet was  dropped off at a branch of the bank which issued the credit card inside.  Great.

Texted daughter.  Everyone is happy.

Here’s the thing.  My daughter just assumed the wallet would be found and turned in.  This girl has grown up a few blocks from a methadone clinic, and has seen people at the bottom of their luck, trying to quell an addiction that has destroyed their life.  She has seen people lying on the streets, passed out from drink.  She was seen people sleeping in the vestibule of the bank, homeless people showering in the sprinkler at the playground.  She knew a girl who died trying to jump from one building to another.  She knew a girl in her 7th grade class that got pregnant.  She has had friends who knew kids who committed suicide.  She has seen on a daily and routine basis how crappy life can be for others.  Yet- she has hope.

Why?  How?

Well, she has spent the past 3 years as a volunteer tennis coach at a program for inner city youth.  Shas spent the past 3 years as a tutor at a program for kids with no resources for extra help.  She tries to make life a little better for others.  One Saturday morning a month she gets up at 630 on a Saturday, and chops vegetables and sets out cutlery at a soup kitchen.  When she exits the church basement after prep is done,   I know it still shocks her how many people are lined up for that one meal.  She has sat next to children who are wearing coats and gloves and hats, and carrying backpacks that me, and other parents have given the school to distribute to families that need just a little help.  This is what gives her a little bit of optimism- she sees people trying to do the right thing.  She tries to do the right thing.

Will she always think that the good nature of people will prevail?  I hope so.  But it’s hard- because as stated, sometimes life sucks.

Now, my daughter is happy that wallet was turned in, most things still there.  Someone did swipe her two metrocards, and she was annoyed that the equivalent of 20$ was lost/stolen.  She wants to recreate how she actually lost her wallet, to the point she asked me how she could access the security cameras on the streets.  Seriously.

I told her that between her 40 pound backpack, purse, and big tote bag she had to lug around yesterday, it’s easy to get distracted.  She tries to fit a thousand things into a little tiny purse, and I explained that when you have so much stuff it’s real easy for something to fall out while retrieving something else. She has this delusion that she is perfect and completely aware of everything at all times.  Maybe this will teach her a lesson that she is indeed fallible.

So what’s the moral of this story?  People are generally good.  There is a cause for some optimism.  But we must always be pragmatic.

How’s that?