Monday, April 14, 2014

Good Intentions...

OK, so I haven't posted in nearly a week.  In my defense, your honor, my kids are home on spring break, and LG had 1/2 days of school most of last week.  Plus, I've been REALLY exhausted lately, more so than usual.  Like, to the point where it's hard to stay awake during the day, even if I get a full night's sleep.

Onto a completely different subject: I've been getting Messages From The Universe lately.  (Is it weird that, as I typed that, I heard it in the Announcer Voice from The Muppets?  The guy who introduced "Pigs In Space"?)
Ever since I was a kid I've often heard songs on the radio that speak to whatever I've been thinking about.  It could be coincidence, but I choose to believe otherwise.  I think it's one of my ancestors doing the cosmic equivalent of hitting me on the head with a spatula and yelling "Pay attention!"
Probably one of my grandparents.  Maybe my Nana: She was a deft hand with kitchen utensils...

Last night, as I was falling asleep, I was, as usual, Worrying About Something. This time it was, I think, Russia and the Ukraine.  And the song "Safe and Sound" by Capital Cities popped into my head.
This afternoon I was listening to the news on the radio & started feeling anxious again.  I changed the station and Corinne Bailey Rae was singing about 3 little birds telling her not to worry.  (BTW, Bob Marley has OFTEN appeared on my radio, telling me that "every little thing is gonna be alright" just when I needed to hear it!  Thanks, Bob!)
Later, as I was having another pity party, thinking about how I "always" come up short, that I'll never achieve anything ever again, yada yada yada (cue, once more, Don Music from "Sesame Street."  "I'll never get it, never!"  Yes, the Muppets play a significant role in my life.  And?), Sara Bereilles came to the rescue, telling me to "Say what you wanna say" and to be brave.  Which had me sobbing in the car.  (Luckily the kids are used to it. Or, at least, resigned to it.)
And there are other examples, which I won't get into.

I'm not a huge believer in the whole Law of Attraction thing.  I don't think people necessarily bring bad stuff down on themselves (unless it's karmic).  I highly doubt that all the folks in Chile who have been killed or left homeless by the wildfires there "attracted" it.  (And, if you can, hold good thoughts for them!)

However, I do believe that what we put our mind to is also where we put our energy and effort.  Like that joke about the old man who goes to church every day and prays to one of the saints to let him win the lottery.  Finally, one day, the statue comes to life and says "My son, please buy a ticket!"
If I put my focus on what I DO want, rather than what I'm trying to avoid, I'll, GUESS WHAT? probably be more proactive in making it happen!  There's another quote I love: "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid."  Goethe, I believe?
Basically, ya gotta ask for what you want, and then work toward getting it.

Again, cosmic DUH! (or possibly Nana) hits me right in the noggin.

So, here we are.  Time for some optimism, some positive reinforcement, and good ol' hard work.

Oh, and one more thing: Remember that fan letter I wrote?  Well, that person's assistant sent me an autographed photo with a little note.  I wasn't expecting anything, and that was really lovely of them.  :) :) :)

Mighty forces, indeed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rebel, Rebel

When our kids were very young and first diagnosed with their autism, I listened to every piece of advice I was given.  By their doctors, their teachers, their therapists, online forums, other parents, the Guy Who Dressed Like Jesus in Burbank and rolled a 6-foot cross up & down the road, all day every day (yes, the cross had wheels on the bottom.  But I digress...)
After a few years of this, I stopped driving myself insane and started listening to my instincts.  After all, I was the one who was with them 98% of the time, who took care of them, fed them, cuddled them, gave time-outs when necessary, all of it.

And it made me realize that some folks, even if they have a whole lot of experience, are full of it.

At least as far as my kids are concerned.

Yesterday I had another meeting with the potty training lady.  OK, she's a Behavioral Therapist, but, to me, she's PTL.  And she was chock-full of not only advice, but disapproval of some of the ways we do things around here.  Fine.  She's entitled to her opinion, she knows what has worked for her and many of her clients, and she has a great track record.
However...that doesn't necessarily mean she knows what's best for US.

After she left, I felt like the Worst Autism Mom In The World.  Then, as the day went on, I moved from guilty to plain ol' pissed off.  And lemmee tell ya, that felt GOOD!
Because she's here once a month for 30 minutes, while the kids are in school.  She's never even MET them, fer cryin' out loud!  I'm glad she's hyper-organized,  thrilled she can run her own facility practically single-handedly while keeping up a private client base of 30.  Terrific, mazel-tov.
I'm not that way.  I will give my kids a schedule and structure, but I REFUSE to schedule every second of their day!  Because you know what happens?  The moment we deviate from said schedule, even just a bit, we hit Meltdown City.
I pride myself on the fact that my kids can go out in public and not freak out.  That we can take a vacation with them and they're excited and curious, not scared.  Is it always sunshine and rainbows?  No.  But we can do it, and I think that's fantastic.

The thing that got me was that she was knit-picking.  We've worked hard to teach our kids things that come naturally to other kids.  If WG wants to bring a snack into her room because it's noisy and chaotic in the kitchen, and her cousin is driving her nuts?  Fine with me!  I'd rather sweep up crumbs than have her become completely overwhelmed.  She now knows ways of calming herself, and one of those ways is to go to her room.  It took YEARS for us all to learn that, and I am SO PROUD of her for doing so!  THAT is more important than keeping her in the kitchen while she eats her snack.
And, sorry, we cannot remodel the entire house.  First of all, it's not OUR house.  Secondly, we cannot afford it.  Lastly, they are very adaptable kids; they learn, and have learned, to make ultimate use of their living space.  Sure, I would LOVE to have a home "gym" for them, with a ball pit and a mini zip line and therapy balls, but who the hell can afford THAT?
Finally, we will make OUR potty training schedule, thankyouverymuch. What worked for you 20 years ago doesn't work for us, now.   And when it happens, and it WILL happen,
 it will happen on HER time, not ours, or yours, or anyone else's.

Once again I am reminded of the quote "No one can make you feel badly without your consent."  Well, I'm done.  I will take the advice that makes sense for us, and leave the rest.

So there.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Keeping Oneself Accountable

I'm going to try and post more frequently here.  Because it will help with all sorts of things, including just being in the habit of writing more frequently.  I've finally convinced myself that not every post has to be...y'know...GOOD.  Or long, or even all that interesting.  As my friend said (and I quote ad nauseum), sometimes "done" is better than "good."

Which is also why I'm going to*gulp* start submitting short stories to publishers.

There I said it.
I actually have to DO it now!

But why not, right?  There are tons of genre publishers these days, especially online.  I'm not writing the next Great Novel, just things that interest me and, I'm guessing, just might strike a chord with others, as well.  And lord knows I have read some CRAP in my day; badly written, derivative hogwash that managed to find a publisher and a market.
So there's hope for me, lol!

So, there we are.  I've put it put there.  I'm gonna do it.

Now, I must go take a nice, calming yoga class.

Namaste.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Write, Write, Write! Right?

We had our last class last night :(. But we're going to continue to meet once a month, to keep ourselves and each other on track. It's such a fantastic group, and the work that has come out of it is amazing!

I also had coffee the other day with a friend from grad school.  He's now the artistic director of a nearby Shakespeare festival (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), which means I may be able to get back to my beloved Bard, PROFESSIONALLY!, at some point.  Plus, it's so nice to get back in touch with people I knew back in the day.
I suppose I'm in the stage of life where friends are In Charge Of Things.  We're all growed up!

Why do I still feel like I'm 12?

My friend said some things that make me (cautiously) optimistic:  Once he decided to be an actor in the Bay Area 5 years ago, he did a mass mailing to all the major (and not-so major) theaters in the area, sending them his headshot, resume, and a cover letter.  He didn't bother trying to get an agent.  And he's been working steadily ever since. Earning his living acting, and not doing anything else, and not even having to audition anymore.  When I talked about my experiences in L.A., about the reaction  to my physical appearance, he said "Look at me: I'm 20 pounds overweight and bald, and I don't have an issue.  It;s different for women, yes, but I don't think you'll have a problem."

HOLY COWBELLS!!!!!!!!!!

And there's one more thing:  I'm pretty damn good!  I forgot that many years ago.  It slipped my mind that I actually have talent.  But the more I wade into the creative waters again, the more it comes back to me.  The more I work those creative muscles, the stronger they get, and the more confident I become.

So maybe, 11 years ago, it wasn't about hating performing.  It was about being in the wrong place.  But, again, things happen for a reason.  My kids needed me, and I needed to focus on being a mom.  Now they need me a little bit less (at least, I don't have to ride herd for fear one of them will climb out a window, decorate their bedroom wall in Early-Century Sharpie, grab glassware out of the cabinet for the sole purpose of smashing it on the floor, using the dog as playground equipment, skateboarding naked in the empty bathtub...).  And I'm ready to go back to the creative world.  And now we're in the RIGHT place for it!  A place where talent is appreciated and nurtured.
Hubby was offered that show I mentioned in the last post, and he didn't have to audition for it.  Because they know him, know his work, and respect him and it.  As it SHOULD be, because he's brilliant!

And I'm even starting to really think of myself as a writer.  Something I avoided doing for decades.  When I finally did pick up a pen, I was to insecure to call myself a writer.  Just as, for a long time, I was too embarrassed to call myself an artist until a fantastic teacher convinced me otherwise.

What happens next, I can't say.  Of course.  (If I could do THAT, I'd be buying lottery tickets for everyone I've ever met.) But, despite the mess that the world is getting itself into, I'm kind of...excited!

Guess we're on the uptick of that rollercoaster.


Monday, March 31, 2014

I Don't Like Rollercoasters

When I was a kid we went on a lot of field trips to amusement parks.  Most of the other kids couldn't wait to get on the rollercoaster.  I, however, avoided it like the plague (that researchers are saying was NOT, apparently, spread by rats or their fleas, but by humans.  Figures).
The Tilt-a-Whirl?  Absolutely!  Ferris Wheel?  Bring it ON!  Teacups!  Lets go as fast as is humanly possible (extra points if you vomit at any point).
But I HATED, and still hate, rollercoasters.

I've been on a few in my time.  Have never enjoyed them.  And I think it's because (here it comes! The Metaphor!) I've pretty much been on an EMOTIONAL rollercoaster for as long as I can remember.  (See that?  See what I did there?)
In fact, that should be a ride.  Emotional Rollercoaster. It'd be set up like "It's A Small World" at Disneyland.  Only instead of visiting other cultures, with cute (creepy) little singing animatronic children greeting you at every turn, it would be scenes from your life.  What's around this corner? Oh, hey! It's your parents' dashed hopes for you!  And next, we have the high school crush who asked you to the prom, then reneged at the last minute because s/he and her/his ex, who is WAY hotter than you, got back together!  And here; oh boy, it's your BOSS!

And so on.

What all of this is leading to is a fight Hubby and I had over the weekend.  We rarely fight, so when we do...look out!  We ended up talking through a lot of things, and resolved a whole host of stuff, so it was a productive fight, at least, but it's still left me feeling anxious and depressed.  In ways I haven't felt in a long time.
And worse, it's left me with that feeling of having no control over what happens in my own life. Of being buffeted around by exterior forces.
Which is what made me such a control freak in the first place, all those years ago.  It's been a long, strange, painful trip, prying my fingers off of my life and trying to let things just BE.  Obviously I'm not there yet. I think I still have a pinky and an index finger stuck to it all, like that kid's tongue on the frozen pole in "A Christmas Story."

It hasn't helped that this past month has been pretty whack, as the kids used to say.  (OK, those kids are now in their 30's and working as investment bankers...)  Between my Mom's visit, my father-in-law's going back to the hospital, school meetings and IEPs for the kids, my class, and just now a visit form another family member, it's been a whirlwind, and I've had trouble catching my breath.

I'm hoping April will be calmer.

(And can I just point out that my father-in-law, on THE DAY HE WAS RELEASED from the hospital, went right to work in his garden?!?!?!  Pretty awesome.)

But I hate this feeling.  The shifting sands.  I realize it will come up every now and again, and at least it's not permanent, like it used to feel.  But that's exactly it: It reminds me, quite viscerally, of the Bad Old Days. Which makes me want to hide under the bed until it passes.
Not that that works.  You have to face these things head-on, or they'll just keep comin' at ya!

So.  It's Monday morning.  Time to pull on my big-girl panties and deal.

Have a good one!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Just When You Think It's Hopeless...

You'd think I would have learned by now that everything is temporary.  But ESPECIALLY emotions.

Tuesday was one of THOSE days.  You now, when 8 bazillion little things go wrong.  Nothing catastrophic, nothing earth-shattering, just EVERY. LITTLE. THING.  The kind of day that makes you want to crawl back under the covers and sleep until it's over.  But you can't, because you are (ostensibly) a grown-up, with responsibilities.
I won't get into all the details. That would be dull AND would force me to relive it.  No thank you, very much.
Plus, there were a couple of big disappointments: It turns out that the workshop I was planning on taking in the Berkshires this summer, the one at the theater company where I started, just isn't possible for me this year.  And I'm REALLY bummed!  I'd been planning it for nearly a year, and with one fell swoop...well...down it went.
And then I let Hubby read the play I've been writing.  He REALLY didn't like it.
But...he was also very tired and cranky when he read it. And to be honest, it's not really his kind of thing, what I'm writing.
But I still felt cut off at the knees.
And then HE felt badly for making me feel that way.  It was a perfect circle of emotional wreckage, lol!

However, I had the play read last night in class, and all of the feedback was WONDERFUL!  They really loved it! They had terrific comments for me, extremely helpful.  And I got to be an actress again for a bit, and do the readings for 2 other plays.  It was a GREAT night!  We had food and wine and candles and it was all very lovely. I'm thinking we should all create a writer's group after the class has finished.  It's a terrific collection of folks.

And, again, it's so wonderful to be creative again.  To collaborate with like-minded people, to give and get feedback.  And this particular way of working is especially gratifying: Not just because it emanates from an acting standpoint, but because we've all gotten to see almost the entire process of everyone's play, from its birth to the (nearly) finished product.

So I'm riding a big high right now.  The exact opposite of how I felt 48 hours ago.
To be fair, I was also experiencing some of my whackadoo Post-Menstrual Syndrome depression.  Sunday was another rough day, and it had nothing to do with my play.  I'm starting to wonder if some of this may be perimenopause.  After all, I'm turning 45 this year, and my mom hit menopause at 49.
Zoiks!

Finally, someone said something last night that gives me hope: I've been wondering lately if we're headed into a second Dark Ages.  But they said, what if we're already there?  What if we're IN those Dark Ages, and we're due for a renaissance?

I really, REALLY hope that's the case! I hope we can stop attacking each other (physically, virtually) and remember that we're only here for a short time, so we may as well get along.

And hopefully some great art will come out of it, as well.  :)


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Crickets

Sorry for the absence.  The past couple of weeks have been a bit whack-a-doodle.
My mom was in town, which meant swimming for the kids and some shopping for me (woo-hoo!), but also lots o' busy-ness.  And WAY too much time in the car.
Then my father-in-law had to go back to the hospital.  He's got an infection in his leg where he had the surgery in January, and some fluid in his lungs.  He's still there, and probably will be for a couple more days.  It's worrisome, of course.
Yesterday was Hubby's birthday.  I had my class, but wanted to make him a special dinner before I left.  I'm quite proud of the results.  He's taking LG camping this weekend, and I'm alternating between joy and dread.  It's only 1 night, and I'm sure it'll be fine.  But, well, I'm a Jewish mother, I worry.  It's like oxygen.

I've also had a number of meetings with the kids' teachers and therapists.  There have been a few new behaviors, and their IEPs are coming up. Which means it's nearly spring break, which means it's almost the end of the school year.
And how the heck did THAT happen?!?!?!?!  It seems like the school year just started!

I'm still working on getting LG to camp.  Even if it's only for a week.  He can't spend 3 months not socializing with other kids.  WG's schedule makes it a bit easier for her. And who knows?  Maybe at some point she'll be ready for camp, as well.

As for the workouts and the food, well, it all continues on apace.  Last week was less than stellar, but not horrible.  I bought myself a maxi dress, even though I feared the worst.  But when I put it on, it actually looked pretty good!  It's quite forgiving, hiding many lumps and bumps.  :) I'm sure I'll get A LOT of use out of it this Summer.
And my juicer and blender have been earning their keep.  My new favorite blend (and Hubby's, as well) is carrot, spinach, beet, and pear.  I've been blending up lots of soup, soaking cashews and dates, and generally experimenting.  Well, OK, using recipes that OTHERS have created while experimenting.  With 1 kitchen and 9 people, experimentation isn't always possible.

Speaking of which, there's a new cookbook out called "Oh, She Glows" that is fantastic!  Yesterday I made a roasted potato and asparagus salad with avocado dill dressing.  It was amazing!  So there's an official recommendation , if that's something you're into.

Check it out!  I made it all the way to the end of the post without mentioning either "Sherlock" or "Doctor Who."  A new record!
But there ARE new photos of DW filming in Cardiff, including a new creature, over on tumblr.
Just FYI.

See ya!