insights: the church laugh

Last night in class our professor started reading aloud from an article. As he started reading about a true, bizarre, tragic story that just got worse and worse (like a sad country song from the 50's--and then his wife left and the dog ran away. . .), I started to feel the heat rise in my face and the laugh that was starting in my toes. It wasn't an obviously funny story by any means and this was a serious class.

(Don't you just love a laugh with your best friend? 
Me (right) and my best friend Mimi  
at my surprise sweet 16th birthday party)

I looked down at my laptop and bit my lip. But it didn't help. I started to shake with laughter. I looked across the table and I saw my classmates Benn and Cassie start to laugh as well and they were clearly trying as hard as I was to fight it.

It was that kind of laughter that you experienced when you were a little kid in church or school and the more you knew you couldn't laugh, the more it's uncontrollable. It was wrong to laugh. I knew that but as he read aloud, it was too much. Tears started rolling down my cheeks and I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. I snorted. I couldn't stop. Benn leaned back and almost kicked over the table. He actually had to leave the room to get a glass of water.

That laugh. It was the laughter that it so primal, it reaches down into every fiber of your body. It felt so good to have that laugh after so much sadness.

There is something about laughing, about that release when the tension of a moment is too much. When my grandfather died, my mother and grandmother and I were driving back from making arrangements. It was late on a January evening and my mother was driving. My elderly grandmother was in the front seat and I was sitting behind my mother. The car was quiet and the sadness of losing my grandfather sucked all the life from the car.

As we were driving in silence, exhausted from the trauma of the past 24 hours my very religious grandmother said "Well, now Paul is in heaven. The lucky stiff." She had no idea what she just said was funny.

I saw my mother's eyes in the rear view mirror. Once it registered with her what my grandmother had said (Yes, at that point in time, my grandfather was indeed a lucky stiff), she caught my eye and her eyes got very wide. I knew she was about to crack up. I shook my head  and mouthed "No, do NOT laugh. DO NOT LAUGH." But you know when someone tells you not to laugh, it makes it harder to keep it in? Well, mom did great until she saw me head down, body shaking with laughter and she started laughing. My grandmother looked at both us and thought we were clearly disturbed. My mom actually had to pull over to the side of the Mass Pike because she was laughing so hard she couldn't drive. My grandmother looked at my mom and I and said "What is WRONG with the two of you?"

My mother: "Mom, you just said something funny. I'm sorry, I know Dad's gone but it was funny."

My grandmother with a straight face, not getting it: "It's not funny. What? What did I say?"

My mother: "You called Dad a lucky stiff. You know, he is kinda by now."

My grandmother: "Oh, well he's a lucky stiff in heaven." Gotta love that woman.

Sometimes a laugh like this, one that is so inappropriate is better than any drug. (Let me clarify: a laugh that takes your breath away is NOT funny if you are making fun of someone or hurting someone's feelings.) This kind of laugh shared with someone releases endorphins which flood through your body down to your fingertips. I can't remember the last time I laughed that hard. I had no idea how much I needed a laugh like this.

And our professor? Well, I think he got a kick out of us, in his deadpan serious way. In fact, he waved the sheets of paper at Benn as he left the room to get that drink of water and said "Have the secretary make copies. You  all clearly enjoy this."

There is something healing in true laughter shared with someone, a laugh that comes from your core and one that you can't control. It's a shame that you can't will that feeling to happen but sometimes you just have to let go and enjoy the ride.

entertainme video: "i gotta feeling"

Every time I see this video it makes me happy.

charming things: kinda smells like marijuana, i know

This morning I had a moxa session at my acupuncturist's. Moxa is a combination of acupuncture needles and burning Mugwort (Yes, I realize how Harry Potter-ish this sounds.)

There are several ways to perform Moxa. One is to burn a stick of Mugwort close to the top of an inserted acupuncture needle. Another is to burn Mugwort that is formed into what looks like a thick dark crayon. You burn the pointed end like a cigar and then hold it over certain acupressure points on the body.  The second version is the one my acupuncturist, Casey, did today. It felt good. I closed my eyes and could feel the heat close to my skin, almost touching but not burning. It was like when you swing your finger quickly through a flame.

The room started to smell a little like church incense which is what I said to Casey. She said that some clients tell her it smells like marijuana. "Yeah, kinda," I thought. "It does."

I felt particularly groovy when I left the office and headed to get some orange blossom iced tea. The guy who made it for me handed me the cup, smiled and said "You're having a goooood day." I thought, "Yeah, I am. I guess the acupuncture has put a skip in my step."

When I got in my car I realized what he was talking about. It was a cold, damp morning and I was wearing a heavy Irish wool sweater and in the confines of my car I smelled like I had been smoking some major marijuana. I rolled down the windows on the rainy drive home. I don't think the airing out worked very well though. When I walked in the house, the air purifier immediately kicked on or as we like to refer to the air purifier when the red light comes on "It is angry."

So Moxa = good, very good. I would definitely do it again. If you try it, be prepared to say "I swear to God, it was acupuncture. Really."

charming things: chocolate shakes and lollipops

Not that long ago I called my friend Todd in L.A. to say hi. I hadn't seen most of my L.A. friends in over a year since things went sideways. So, on the way to class one afternoon I called him and apologized for being such a sucky friend. I explained that I had been consumed by one awful year and I told him about this experiment--that I was searching for ways to get my happy back and I wondered if it was going to be through therapy or drugs or eastern medicine or what?

And Todd said "You know sometimes I think it's just about a chocolate shake."

I laughed. "You're absolutely right," I said.  Sometimes it is just about a chocolate shake. It isn't just the big, grand events or gestures or therapies that make a difference. Sometimes it's just enjoying the little happy moments.

I thought of this yesterday when I went to the bank. I was in the drive-through lane on the way to school and I dropped my transaction in the little bullet tube. The cashier was stoic, very matter of fact. I said "How is YOUR day?" She responded "Fine." Allrighty. I sat and watched the spider build a web on the pillar. When she sent my transaction back she said "Goodbye." I thought. OK, she's one very matter of fact banker.

As I was pulling away I looked inside the envelope and there it was. A red lollipop. It made my day.

insights: when the universe has bigger plans

Sometimes coincidences in life baffle me.

Last May 5 when my Dream Job was eliminated, we also lost Our Dream Home that we were buying the same day. Being from the east coast we always said we wanted to someday live in a home that looked like a small version of a cottage Jackie Kennedy might summer in, with a little pool where we would teach our children to swim and eat corn on the cob and toast marshmallows at night.

We worked hard, put our money away and saved up for The House. So when we found it, we called our realtor and said  "It's the one."  It was perfect. The front door was even the color of a pool. When we got to the house I stood in the backyard and started to cry. L. looked at me and said "DO NOT cry. They will know how much we like this house." With quivering lip I said "But we DO like this house!" The house was The One.

So we put the plans in motion, talked with our financial people and got our home ready to go on the market.  And every night after we finished working on getting our home ready to sell, we took the dog with us as we drove by our new home. We couldn't believe we had finally found our dream home where we decided we would live the rest of our lives. We felt like we had won the jackpot.

Then May 5 10 a.m. I found out my job was gone, and it barely sunk in when I thought "Oh my God, the house? What do we do about the house?" It was the hardest decision to make to not follow our dream of getting this house. Oh, to have been devil may care. What if we said "The hell with it?! We'll eat ramen noodles every night!" But we did the right thing and didn't buy the house.

The aftermath was sad. A couple times a week I drove by the house. I shopped at the local market and thought "This is where I would have shopped." I drove by the horses in the fields on the way to the house and thought "These are the horses who would get to know the sound of my car."

The grey shingled cottage is where our happy life was supposed to be.

I don't know why I drove by. It didn't help. Maybe I was hoping that one time I would drive by and think "It's not that great." That never happened though. The house became bigger and bigger in my life.

I knew it wasn't helping me, doing this drive-by of the life I was supposed to have. What was I hoping I would find? It seems to be our human nature to want what we can't have.

In college I had a friend who didn't get into Boston College. Our school was a very nice Catholic liberal arts school in the hills of New Hampshire but IT WAS NOT BC. On certain weekends she would let us know that this was a BC football game weekend and how different her life would be at BC. She could hardly enjoy her life at our school because she was so busy thinking of what her life SHOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE.

In high school I had a friend who was crazy in love with her boyfriend and they broke up, as it happens in high school. Every night she drove by his house. Every day she walked up an extra floor at school just to walk by his locker. I remember we asked her at the time "Doesn't that make you feel worse seeing him in his baby blue cords?" And she said "I just need to feel like I am breathing the same air he is."

When I was growing up, there lived a couple across the street, the Umbrianas. They had two giant grey and white biting cats and no children. What they did have in their dining room was a high chair at the table. Mrs. U. had had a miscarriage 20+ years prior and they never went on to have another child. At the time I thought it was creepy that they had a high chair for a ghost baby but I wonder now would Mrs. U look at this high chair when she was enjoying Chicken Piccata and think "This was supposed to be my life, with a baby in a high chair"?

When you stalk the life you had or the life you could have had, it makes it impossible to move on. If you absorb yourself in your past, it's impossible to move forward.  One of my girlfriends has a friend who is divorced and she still has her ex's clothes in her closet and she goes to the gym at the same time he does just to see him. It's been 3 years. She is wearing these blinders all for HIM. Yet, she can't see that there is a great guy who always gets on the treadmill next to hers in the hopes of asking her out but she is so consumed with watching her ex-husband that she isn't even aware that there is someone on the treadmill beside her.

You can't open a new door if you are busy
staring down the old door of the room you didn't want to leave

If you think that you can't let go of what you had, you have to. And you have to do it cold turkey. This is what I did. One day I decided that driving by the street I could have lived on and the Starbucks I would have stopped into left me feeling sad. This was not helping to propel me forward.

If you have a parent that has died (I'm sorry for your loss) it's time to release them, to let their things go. Your spouse left and left her stuff and isn't coming back? Hello, Goodwill. Going to a grave every day or to the site of an accident or driving by an ex's house or where you should have gone to school or gotten a job, none of that helps. It holds you back. What matters is the now. Imagine feeling your palm on the cool handle of a new door and turn. Face a new wonderful. Think about this--it HAS to be better than the purgatory you are keeping yourself in now.

As for me, it's been a few months since I drove by Where My Life Was Supposed To Be and on that last drive by I noticed they painted the front door a different color. And it was just as it should be.

insights: the trailer park girl

courtesy of istock photo

When you look at someone what do you see? A man in a shiny red Mercedes convertible is an arrogant executive. A young tattooed guy in a hoodie buying cigarettes at 7-11 is trouble. A girl standing by the pool at a posh hotel with a diamond studded left hand grew up as daddy's little rich girl.

Here's a lesson in things aren't always what you think.

One early morning I was standing by the pool with one of my friends at the Four Seasons L.A. drinking a double shot iced espresso. It was one of those perfect bright blue only-in-Hollywood-movies kind of mornings as the palm trees swayed in the breeze, cooling us after our early morning workout in the rooftop gym. It was idyllic. My friend turned to me and said "Seriously, we are the luckiest girls."

Absolutely. It would be easy to assume that this was my life. That I grew up being pushed in a pram by a nanny, and played lacrosse and went abroad for summers. If you looked at me that day by the pool, a successful celebrity interviewer working for a Fortune 500 company, you would never guess that this was not the way things started out.

I grew up in a trailer park with my teenage mom and her parents.

When L. and I are driving and we pass by a trailer park I will point to it and say "I lived in a trailer park." L. always shakes his head at me and says "Could you please stop doing that?" But I did. I grew up in a trailer park in Western Massachusetts just outside Westover Air Force Base.

In fact, the trailer park was so close to Westover that when the behemoth C5 jets took off over our trailer, the vibrations would cause objects to fall off shelves and tables. My smart grandfather knew just how to fix this and had you visited us during the trailer park years you would have found just about everything duct-taped down. Even my crib. Apparently the vibrations would even cause my crib to inch across the floor which completely flummoxed my grandparents when they would come check on me after my mid-day nap and my crib would be in the middle of the room. I learned much later that my very religious grandmother thought it was the angels who were protecting me that moved my crib away from the drafty windows. It wasn't until my grandmother was diapering me one afternoon and felt us gravitating away from the wall that they realized that this was not something supernatural.

Growing up in a small town trailer park, on welfare, wearing a borrowed Catholic school uniform for my scholarship-provided Catholic school education, my life path looked something like this:
  • Hopefully, God-willing I would graduate from high school
  • Get a job at Tastee-Freez or better yet the fancy ice cream restaurant, Friendly's
  • Have a baby then another and God-willing I would have married the father before I started showing
  • Spend Saturdays going tag-saling to outfit my hand-me-down trailer
That was the plan. Didn't happen.

My mom got her nursing degree, met a great guy and got married. I got a shiny new dad who adopted me and we moved out of the trailer park. I graduated from high school (not pregnant!), graduated from college (not pregnant!), more education (not pregnant!), met an amazing guy, L., got married (not pregnant!), worked crazy hours as an intern (11 p.m.-7 a.m.) in a hospital so I could work 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. at a television station as an intern (I have no idea how I did that for so long), got a job working for the most famous software company in the world working alongside the smartest people on the planet. Then one day I found myself sitting across from Brad Pitt and George Clooney at the Hotel du Cap in Antibes, in the South of France.

I was definitely not in a trailer park anymore. I know living in a trailer park is something people don't aspire to, but it wasn't so bad. It was a small friendly community and as an only child I was free to spend my summer days roaming the trailer park and invariably someone would be available to play with me or feed me lunch. I remember sitting on a neighbor's front step and eating a Fluffer-nutter sandwich and thinking what a lucky little girl I was. Two of my earliest best friends were the gay couple who lived two trailers down from us. My grandfather used to call them 'Those Happy Boys' which was definitely a form of endearment from such a gruff man as my grandfather was. It was home. My grandparents and mom felt safe. The most important thing is that I was loved and I knew that.

I think back now and I was embarrassed for so many years about my trailer park past. But suddenly one day I revealed my past on-camera. During my interview with Hilary Swank for "The Reaper", we actually talked about our shared trailer park past. We even high-fived with Hilary declaring "Trailer Park girl unite!" It was a little scary to reveal on-camera but also freeing.

Watch our interview here: Hilary Swank and The Happy Girl - Trailer Park Girls

It's easy to label others because as humans it makes us feel comfortable to put people in boxes, to know what to expect. But the thing is--people don't fit well in boxes. Things are fluid. You can't tell by looking at someone what their story is. They may have grown up summering at the Hamptons or in a refugee camp or even a trailer park. What matters though is who they are now. What they survived is their story and you may never knew exactly what makes someone behave as they do.

Bonus lesson #3a: You are not your past. Whatever your childhood was like, that is not you. You have the moment you are in right now. You can rise above anything. Whatever defined you as a kid does not define you now. Move on.

So if you see me duct-taping a plant holder to the trellis outside, you'll understand why. And wave as you go by. We're a friendly lot around here, even if it isn't a trailer park.

entertainme music: "put your records on"

I look outside today and it is 48 degrees and "white out" (completely overcast)  here in Seattle and a great time for a nap. But here's a song that I just turned on and will make you feel like the summer's rays are just touching the tips of your pretty little eyelashes.

"Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae.

charming things: three good things

In my quest to get my happy back, I am discovering that sometimes little things can bring you joy.

Here are three:

1.)  Buy the lemonade.

In our little neighborhood the kids host lemonade stands. Some get creative. Last summer three little girls from the next street over created a shaved ice stand which featured a myriad of flavors (as long as it wasn't grape, which the girls loved. I watched dozens of cars speed past these little girls sitting in the shade

at their table looking hopefully at each person walking their dog or driving by. I had to stop. Their handmade 25 cent sign was too wonderful. When I pulled up  and asked for a cherry ice, you would have thought I offered them a brand new American Girl doll. The girls were very careful as they made my ice and took my 50 cents (they learned the meaning of a tip in this transaction ).

Be the adult who stops and makes a little girl's day.

2.) Buy the Girl Scout Cookies.

Same kind of thing here. When that time of year arrives and the little uniformed girls stake their post outside the local Safeway and ask if you would like to buy some cookies, buy the cookies. Help them make their goal. Don't be the adult who walks by and says no, or worse, doesn't look at them at all, as if the little cherubs peddling Samoas didn't exist.

Be the adult who is kind and helps a little girl out. If you don't like cookies (What?!) you can give them away to a food pantry (and THAT is a two for one wonderful whammy!) or freeze them for the next time you have little ones over.)

3.)  Support the cheerleaders / soccer / baseball / football players and get your car washed

Yesterday was the first sunny, bright blue, perfect day in Seattle in 2+ months and the local high school baseball team was having a car wash fundraiser. At the gas station by the traffic light, some of the guys held up signs and called out to drivers stopped at the red light. I had the top down and one of the guys said "Hi. I can make your car look real good!" How can you beat that?

Remember being in high school and giving up a Saturday to wash cars to try and raise money for your Senior trip? Remember the exuberance when someone would pull their car in and hand over the keys to you. You would wash that car with enthusiasm and think that this isn't such a bad way to spend a Saturday getting soaking wet and soapy with you friends.

Be the adult that kids look up to. Help them reach their goals.

Be selfish. Buy yourself a lemonade, cookies and a car wash and make a kid's day.

Happy Mother's Day

insights: god reads my blog?

I have a friend who is upset with me.

She thinks my blog post about Breaking Up With God is wrong.

"What if God reads it?" she asked.

I felt a laugh bubble up and couldn't stifle it. What if God reads my blog and is upset with me for posting that I broke up with Him?

Well, if God has to read my blog in order to find out that I was angry at him for sending me a year's worth of 'plagues' then I think we all have to rethink this whole religion thing and God's reach.

Somehow I have a feeling that God heard me when I was standing outside that one night looking up at the heavens and said "God, I've really had enough. You're not listening. You're mean to me. I can't take this anymore. I can't even talk to you anymore. Why should I believe in you? A relationship with you is pointless!"

As I stomped back inside I like to think that God got the point and He realized that this time I meant business. I was through with my relationship with Him.

I've taught Sunday school. I wore a Catholic school uniform long enough to learn how to make it look cool (Roll up the skirt. Black boots.). I've been in a long-term relationship with God and His whole family. I know all about God and I know that God heard me when I was outside under the stars ranting at Him.

However, I believe in a forgiving God. I know that He knows me well enough to just let me get angry about the hell (so to speak) that He kept sending me (or so I thought He was behind the whole thing.)

As my previous post said, I did some soul searching and a lot of thinking about our relationship. I missed Him when I stubbornly decided I would no longer talk to Him and I came to the conclusion that it wasn't Him, it was me. And He was a big enough guy to welcome me back.

But if He's reading my blog then I think I hit the mother lode of visitors. So, God, if you're reading this, thanks for making yesterday OK and if I could ask for one favor? Maybe a little sunshine please? And a baby would be really nice too.

(ps. to my friend who was looking out for God's feelings, I think we're good now and God says "Hi. You're welcome for that great guy you're dating. He's a keeper.")

insights: cinqo de mayo is not my favorite holiday

It's 11:38pm on Cinqo de Mayo "The Day That Changed my World." I made it, I survived it.

From yesterday's post you can see that I had a plan for myself. Yeah, it didn't exactly happen the way I planned it out.

To Recap "The Plan"
1.) 8:30am Swing by church and say hi to God. I'm going to sit in a pew and close my eyes and thank Him for letting me survive this traumatic year. And oh yes, thank Him for not striking me down with a lightning bolt when I broke up with Him earlier this year.
2.) 10am. Therapist. Originally I had planned to to talk to her about "Why did this happen? Why me? Why?" (imagine the ugly cry and twisting hands) but instead I want to talk about what my future looks like. I only want joy. I can't take any more crying and feeling pity for myself.
3.) 12pm Tomato soup in the Nordstrom Cafe. Best. Soup. Ever.
5.) 3pm Take Emma the dog to the beach and watch her joy as she rolls in rotting fish.
6.) 5pm a Toast. I will take Corona's advice and toast:
  • The company that I worked for for 15 years. It was an amazing run and I am honored that I had the opportunity to work at such an extraordinary company with the most talented group of people on this planet.
  • The people who made the decision to lay me off. I know it was a hard decision and I know that what you did set me off on a new path that wouldn't have happened without that push.
  • The people who ended up buying our dream home. There is a reason you are in that home. Clearly this is where your joy needs to be. Take a swim for me?
  • To my husband who listened and mopped up tears and bought me flowers and promised me that someday we will live in that dream house.
  • To my friends and family who stayed by me when others didn't. I have never known such great kindness.
  • And to my nine little babies in heaven. Oh, I hope you know how very much I love you and wanted you. You, my children, live in my soul, in my every laugh, in my every joy.
7.) 6-9:30pm Class

8.) 10pm Lay in bed with my husband and our dog and feel their warmth and their breath and their love.

What Really Happened

1.) I never made it to church. I ran downstairs to see L. already doing email in his office and said "Happy Cinqo de Mayo!!!!" He knew how much I was dreading today but I thought "Oh, what the hell, it's 47 degrees, raining and it's May 5. Be happy!"  We fed Emma the dog and I was making myself oatmeal when she walked from the hardwood floor to the carpet and threw up everything she had for breakfast. I'm not good with vomit so I tried to soothe her as she tried to eat the vomit pile, scoop up wet kibble/drool/chicken while holding my shirt over my mouth so I didn't vomit too. Happy Cinqo de Mayo!!!!

2.) I pulled out of the garage and my gas light came on. I knew I had enough to make it to the Shell station across from my therapist's office. I got on the highway and then DONE. On the floating bridge, a car ahead of me caught fire. IT CAUGHT FIRE. Traffic was brought to a standstill. I watched my gauge go past the red line and the warning go from yellow to red. I shut my car off. Everyone did. On the bridge. On the floating bridge. The problem here is my sheer terror of bridges and causeways and this floating bridge literally sits on the water. Ever since we first moved here and my husband told me that the bridge once sunk, I will only drive over the bridge with my top down in case it sinks I can swim right out. (I do realize how ridiculous that sounds.) But there I was, stuck on the bridge with a car on fire and a firetruck in my rearview mirror trying to fit between two cars on a  two lane highway ON A BRIDGE. I thought if I moved to let him through I will hit the Jersey barrier and go into the water. Do you have a fear of getting caught stopped on the top of a Ferris wheel with a person who thinks it hilarious to rock the car? Now imagine that person rocking the Ferris wheel so hard it does a 360. That was my terror on the bridge this morning. Was the universe trying to cure me of my fear of bridges? Perhaps we can schedule that next time, Universe, OK?

One hour we were on that bridge in the rain with the burning car. I was thinking what kind of f**king knucklehead has a car that catches on fire on a floating bridge. I was SO ANGRY. I was an hour late for my therapist's appointment and instead of sitting in my therapist's cozy office at 10am sharp I was panicking that I was running out of gas on a bridge with a burning vehicle. I was so mad I couldn't even get my curses out properly and I ended up cursing the F**KLEHEAD. Which sounded funny and made me laugh and broke the anger I was feeling and was surrounded by with all the other frustrated drivers. F**klehead. Funny. And that's when the tow trucks came to the rescue and I made it to the Shell station on fumes and my therapist who luckily had a patient cancel at noon. Funny how things work out, isn't it? BTW, if you're curious about the driver of the car, he was fine. I saw his charred minivan off the highway as the driver was pulling stuff out of the back of his car with the police and fire teams.

Therapy was great. I was surprised that I actually didn't want to talk about what happened exactly one year ago. Was I getting over The Day That Sucked the Life Out of Me? Wow. We talked about this blog and the positive responses I was getting from people I didn't even know. A little light started to enter my soul.

3.) No time. No lunch and no breakfast.

4.) Acupuncture. Lovely.

5.) No time for the park in the misty rain.  I had homework and Emma was curled up in her bed dreaming puppy dreams.

6.) Yes, I toasted. I thought this was actually the most important part of the day. Not just forgiving but wishing well for the people who I felt were responsible for the bad stuff that happened. I toasted them exactly as I said I would and what was amazing to me is that I actually meant it.

7.) Class was great. I love Professor Sampson and my fellow classmates at the School of Visual Concepts. Cassie, Ben, Collette and Georgia--thanks for a great evening. I wasn't sure I would be in the mood for class tonight but you guys are amazing.

8.) Got home at 10:45pm. Kissed L. and Emma the puppy and sent them off to bed so I could blog about today. They are warming the bed as I type this and I can imagine Emma curled up next to L. falling asleep.

Aside from not having a moment for breakfast, lunch or dinner, today was OK. What is really amazing to me is that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I was dreading that Big Anniversary of The Bad Day That Kick Started the Year From Hell. But I had an A-Ha moment. I realized that if I wasn't laid off from my dream job and if we didn't lose our dream home and our sweet little babies, then I wouldn't be writing this blog here tonight. There is a reason for this. My heart is nowhere near as heavy as I expected it to be.

As I type this I am listening to Comcast's night time Toddler Tunes channel  (The BEST goodnight and sleep tight music) and Disney's "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" is playing. Symbols are everywhere if you look. I am listening to the words and I know that right here, right now is exactly where I am meant to be.

It's OK that things didn't happen exactly as I hoped they would today. It turned out even better than I could have imagined. I feel peace which I think is a precursor to joy

Good night, sleep tight, and to you Mr. Car Fire, I hope your night is going better than your morning did.


insights: cinqo de mayo: the day that ate my life

It's almost one year to the day since "The Day That Changed My Life."

I would imagine that hiding under the blankets is the most popular response when something traumatic happens in your life. This was my answer when I lost it all on May 5, Cinqo de Mayo 2009. Yes, forever I get to 'celebrate' this day and never forget it because it all happened on this "Hey, it's May 5th in Mexico day!" So as I walk through Safeway for weeks prior to May 5 I get hit over the head with 'How are YOU going to Celebrate Cinqo de Mayo?" Thank you, Corona, for reminding me that my life changed dramatically starting on this May day.

So, it has been one year since the day it happened. How do you celebrate that? Do you honor that? Do you forget it? What do I do at 10 am on May 5, the starting point of a year that ate my life and spit it out as something I don't recognize?

I wondered about other people. What do they do when they realize they are coming upon the anniversary of the day their child/husband/mother/father/wife died or the day they lost their job or their dog or their home? Do you acknowledge the pain? What do you do? I feel bereft.

Part of me, a very small part of me is flush with relief.

I made it one year.

I survived.

I didn't wither away and die under my blankets.

I am amazed that I am still here and I am even writing this blog.

This afternoon, I called Vicki Keough, a behavioral health therapist.

I wanted to know when a person gets over grief. When does life resume? When do you stop thinking of "The Bad Thing That Happened"?

Vicki Keough: "A loss remains a loss. The people we love hold a special place in our hearts and the missing of them does not cease to exist.  Nor does another (child,partner, sibling) take that place in our hearts. We honor them and ourselves in allowing ourselves to feel the feelings we have around that loss like grief, anger, denial, pain...etc.

I asked "Is it better to deal with "The Bad Thing" and think what happened on an anniversary or to not think of it and try and forget it happened?"

Vicki Keough: "The healing process is different for each of us.  Some of us process through our grief by visiting a loved one's grave site; saying a prayer, leaving flowers.  Others walk along the beach choosing the comfort of the ocean to soothe us.  For others, it is easier to immerse ourselves in activity and ease past/ignore the date.  There is no right or wrong.

I believe allowing ourselves to heal, allowing ourselves to embrace love again, giving ourselves permission to fully engage in life eventually honors the memory of our loved one.

Other losses such as losing the 'job of a lifetime' or growing apart from a significant other and ending the relationship can be equally painful.  Once again; feeling those feelings. (Anger, hurt, shame, pain, regret). etc.  is part of the process.  Taking the time.  Honoring the feeling. Then....allowing ourselves to move forward to new adventures, new relationships. It's a 'both/and', as are most things in life---The balance
of being present to our feelings and not spending so much time in those feelings that that we are looking back and not seeing the opportunities that lie in front of us."

Vicki said in terms of  the trauma I experienced last May 5, recognizing that it has been a year I may feel emotions I may not want to feel but it is healthy to address this. It will have less of an impact as I go on. But acknowledging it and knowing that I survived it and looking ahead, I am setting myself up for success.

But I am getting twitchy and nervous because I wonder how I will feel at 10am on Wednesday, one year from the day when I was taken into that airless room and told "Thank you but your job has been eliminated" and then had to make my way back to my office, past my office mates and call my husband to say "You know that dream house you're about to sign the papers on? Don't do it. I failed you and I am sorry."

I am a planner. It is what I do. Even more so in a crisis. I am the girl to call when your house gets flooded or you lose your keys or your kid gets injured. I know how to take charge of a situation, be it a crisis on a jet to Orlando or in a car accident. I am your girl.

So I am planning for Wednesday. I know the worst thing I can do is swirl the past year around in my head. I know the best thing I can do is to keep myself busy.

Here is my plan:

1.) 8:30am Swing by church and say hi to God. I'm going to sit in a pew and close my eyes and thank Him for letting me survive this traumatic year. And oh yes, thank Him for not striking me down with a lightning bolt when I broke up with Him earlier this year.
2.) 10am. Therapist. Originally I had planned to to talk to her about "Why did this happen? Why me? Why?" (imagine the ugly cry and twisting hands) but instead I want to talk about what my future looks like. I only want joy. I can't take any more crying and feeling pity for myself.
3.) 12pm Tomato soup in the Nordstrom Cafe. Best. Soup. Ever.
5.) 3pm Take Emma the dog to the beach and watch her joy as she rolls in rotting fish.

And this one is the one that I thought of this morning. It seems counter-intuitive but I don't know, it seems right somehow to send good karma out there when it's so hard to do so.

6.) 5pm a Toast. I will take Corona's advice and toast:
  • The company that I worked for for 15 years. It was an amazing run and I am honored that I had the opportunity to work at such an extraordinary company with the most talented group of people on this planet.
  • The people who made the decision to lay me off. I know it was a hard decision and I know that what you did set me off on a new path that wouldn't have happened without that push.
  • The people who ended up buying our dream home. There is a reason you are in that home. Clearly this is where your joy needs to be. Take a swim for me?
  • To my husband who listened and mopped up tears and bought me flowers and promised me that someday we will live in that dream house.
  • To my friends and family who stayed by me when others didn't. I have never known such great kindness.
  • And to my nine little babies in heaven. Oh, I hope you know how very much I love you and wanted you. You, my children, live in my soul, in my every laugh, in my every joy.
7.) 6-9:30pm Class

8.) 10pm Lay in bed with my husband and our dog and feel their warmth and their breath and their love.

That's how I will get through the day. And I will get through the day.

Oh, and happy Cinqo de Mayo. Have one for me, will you?!