Friday, January 28, 2011


My body is screaming at me.
For the past few nights I've had trouble sleeping, my legs are cramping up, and I'm cranky.
I've been eating pretty well lately, getting lots o' good stuff in the ol' system, keeping my energy levels up.
But my workouts have been harder to do.  Even the less intense ones.  My first inclination has been to grit my teeth and push through.
Yes, sometimes I'm not the brightest bulb in the chandelier.
My body is telling me to CUT IT OUT!!!!!! Ease up, dude!  Dial it back, buddy!
This morning I'm teaching a reformer class.  Luckily it is a beginners' class and I can teach mostly off the reformer.  I've also decided NOT to ride my bike to work.
Because my legs hurt!
I've been showing CLASSIC signs of workout burnout, and ignoring it.
The same way I was oblivious to my post-partum depression after LG was born.
I am ignorant of my own pain.  And that is NOT helpful, at all!

Why is it OK for others to need support, but not me?  I realized recently that I have never felt protected.  I have always felt like the protecTOR.  I haven't put my faith in anyone enough to LET them protect me when I needed it.  Until very recently.  Like a month ago, with Hubby.  The night he told me we may lose our home, and he let me sob into his chest while he held me, for as long as I needed.

Let's face it; life ain't easy.  Unless you are a coddled princess living in luxury with servants seeing to your every need, but really, how many people live THAT life?  But I've always felt guilty complaining about things because there are so many who are worse off: we have a home, and food to put on the table, and amazing kids, and people who love and support them (and us).  We have family all around us and we ARE truly blessed.
But that doesn't mean it's easy.
I think I wrote in a recent post that someone pointed out how much I torture myself.  And it's true.  I am my own worst tormentor.
But I also learned very early on that complaining was a no-no.  Even venting was not allowed.  For others, yes, but not for me.  So I'd go along, fervently hoping that SOMEONE would notice me and offer a shoulder.  But no one did, because I wasn't the squeaky wheel.  It's been a hard lesson to learn; if I need help, I have to ASK for it, because I'm VERY good at hiding turmoil beneath a calm surface, and people are not mind readers.
I was always so amazed when others remarked about how calm and zen I was.  Because I'm one of the least zen-like people I know, lol!  It was all an act, one I have perpetrated, unknowingly, for almost my entire life.

So now,\ with your indulgence, I'm going to vent a bit:

It really sucks having to live month-to-month, paycheck-to-paycheck, never being able to save anything. It's hard getting paid by the hour, having to CONSTANTLY find more time during the week to work more hours when I am already so over-extended and exhausted. I hate feeling as if I HAVE to accept every sub assignment offered to me because we need the money, and that I can never, ever take time off.
At the same time, I can't accept every job because that means paying for childcare.  If I'm paying more for childcare than I'm getting paid, it hardly makes sense to work!
While I appreciate people who tell me they empathize with us because they thought maybe one of their kids had Autism but it turns out they did not,  I cannot help but think that they REALLY DON'T UNDERSTAND:  Yes, I'm GLAD your child is not Autistic, but having a scare and living with the reality of it every day are two entirely different things!  Pacing the floor while holding a screaming child night after night after night, not knowing if your child will EVER say a word, knowing that kids with special needs are even more vulnerable to predators than other kids, the therapies and meetings and picture schedules and special classes and dirty looks from other parents when your child has a meltdown because s/he is simply overwhelmed, and the parents who don't want your kids near theirs because, what, they might catch it?  (Autism is NOT contagious, people!), and the simple exhaustion of it all, as it goes on for years and years, is HARD!

But then, there is the flip-side.  The celebrations of the little victories.  Like when your child speaks spontaneously, without prompting.  Or when your non-verbal child learns to communicate.  The moments when they climb into the bed and cuddle up with you, or lay their heads on your chest. Or smile when you walk into the room.  Knowing that you have their full trust and unconditional love, and that you have earned it, because the love you feel for them is bigger and brighter and scarier and more wonderful than anything else in the universe.
Because that is what it means to be a parent, of any child.  All the worries you previously had for yourself are transferred to them.
I used to be afraid to die.  Now I would gladly give my life for them.  If someone has to get sick, I hope it's me, not them.  But not TOO sick, because I don't want to leave them.  THAT'S the scary part about death now: what would happen to my kids?
I also have to take a good look at my behaviors; how do they affect my children?  Because kids learn more from what their parents do than what we say.  If I continue to abuse myself, will my kids learn that behavior?  If I don't see myself as worthy of being loved and taken care of, will my kids believe the same thing about themselves?
And that is unacceptable.

So, enough.

It's time to take care of me.
So that I can take care of them.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

But What Does It MEAN?!?!?!?!

I am the type of person who lies (lays?) awake at night worrying about Everything.  Once, when I was 23 and had co-directed my first show (for a high school theater festival), I was settling in to bed the night before the big performance and just as I was falling asleep, my treacherous brain thought "What if the buses don't show up tomorrow morning?"  These buses were to take us (the directors) and the kids to the community college where the show was to be performed.  I lay awake ALL NIGHT worrying about it.
True story!
Of course, if I'd bothered to use logic I would have realized that A) there was no reason for the buses NOT to show up and B) even if they HADN'T shown up, all the kids lived nearby, and they could have either driven themselves OR had their parents drive them! It was a Saturday, and all their parents were coming to the performance anyway!
But logic has never been my strong suit, and that was even more true then.
(I would have made a horrible Vulcan.)

Yesterday I was asked a question: Why do I let all the political mishugas get to me so much?  WHY am I awake for hours worrying about whether the republicans will actually manage to get rid of NPR this time, or if the democrats will EVER get their act together? The other day I actually googled "living in Vancouver," anticipating the day when all my kids' special ed programs are cut and we have to move to Canada, thinking about how much I will miss San Francisco  because, I mean, it's January and we're walking around in shorts!
And then I start thinking that maybe I'm too mean to the republicans.  After all, many of my family members are republicans and I love them dearly.  Why am I demonizing people?  Why am I doing the EXACT thing I accuse others of doing?
And how likely is it that all my nightmare scenarios are going to come true?  'Cause I have a VERY active imagination, and I can picture some pretty amazingly bad things.

I read somewhere recently that the things we judge others most on are the things we dislike most about ourselves.  Which, of course, makes sense.
It also means that *sigh* I have to look at myself AGAIN and try to figure out what it is about ME that the politicos represent.

I've said it before, I'll say it again.  This becoming self-aware crap is HARD!!!!!!

In other news...
Huh.  There isn't any other news, really.
I just have to go drop my son's backpack off at school, since I forgot to bring it with us this morning.  Also found out that there is a weekly karate class nearby for kids with special needs, and it's FREE!!!!!
Gonna look into that.

Have a great day!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Good Day

Yesterday my F-I-L came home from the hospital.  He's had 2 surgeries, one in his heart and one in his leg.  At some point he'll have to have another surgery, to clear an artery in his neck.  But he's home, his color is good, and he's watching as many basketball and football games as he can stand.  And that is quite a few!
Yesterday we dropped by the house just to give them some soup I'd made.  My poor M-I-L is exhausted, having spent 3 days in the hospital watching over him and catching catnaps in a chair. The rest of us were visiting in shifts.

Yesterday morning I woke up tired, cranky, and sore, in no mood to teach my mat class.  But after a shower, a smoothie, and some coffee, off I went.  I wasn't able to teach this class last week, as I had to get re-certified in CPR/AED, so it was nice to see everyone.  And once the class started, I was happy as a clam.  Which is how it always works: I have days where I grump and grouse, whining that "I don't wanna teach today, wah!" and as soon as we get started, it's all good.
I KNOW we ALL have those days!
Later we took the kids to the Potrero again to walk around.  There's a really nice playground there, so we stayed for a bit, then went to Whole Foods to use the bathroom and ended up staying for a snack.  It was late afternoon as we headed back to the car and the sun was just beginning to think about setting.  It had been such a beautiful day, and everyone was out with their kids and their dogs.  A perfect Saturday in San Francisco!
But the best part was when we walked past a Catholic church and standing outside was a monk.  A REAL monk, wearing the robes, and he even had a bald spot!  He looked just how I always imagined Friar Tuck would look!  He said hello and we chatted for a moment about how beautiful the day was.  It was so cool!!!!
And, if I could get a bit spiritual here for a moment, seeing him enjoying the moment so simply and contentedly made me want to do the same.  Just stand, or sit, and enjoy the little things that usually rush by.  It reminded me of a time, 11 years ago (?!?!?!?!) when I made a solo visit to Ghiradelli Square and got some ice cream.  I was seated next to a table of nuns, and when their ice cream came, they squealed like a bunch of 12 year-olds at a Justin Bieber concert.  It was GREAT!  (BTW, if you ever get to San Francisco, you MUST get a sundae at Ghiradelli Square.  Hopefully you can share it with 6 or 7 of your best friends, 'cause those suckers are HUGE!  There's a Ghiradelli in Pasadena, as well, but it's not quite the same experience.)

The biggest change to come out of this week is our food.  You know I try to eat healthy stuff (and often even succeed), but Hubby has now jumped on the bandwagon.  He's been very worried about his dad, obviously, and doesn't want to face the same issues in 20 years.  He said to me the other night that he's willing to change his preferences.  See, he's always liked healthier fare in theory, but sometimes, when faced with the reality of it, it doesn't live up to his expectations, taste-wise.  He's learning that he needs time to learn to appreciate some of these new flavors.  Don't get me wrong, he's no junk food junkie, but  he usually prefers a Double Double from In-N-Out Burger to one of my extra-lean turkey burgers.  Plus, he's got a lightening-fast metabolism, so he never gains an ounce.  But, as we get older, we're both learning that health issues come in all shapes and sizes.
And we can lead by example: last night LG ate a bit of corn-on-the-cob for the first time in a long time!  Both kids snarfed down their turkey burgers: I guess if you get 'em hungry enough, kids'll eat anything, lol!
And all this may just be the impetus I've needed to get us out of our food rut.  The past few days I've actually enjoyed food shopping and preparation.  For far too long it has been drudgery.  But now I need to get creative, and that gets the ol' juices flowing!  I'm seeing things in a new light: the color and variety of our wonderful California produce, the possibilities in the meat section, all the different kinds of cheese, and the pastas, and fish, and on and on!
And it's forced me to be much more aware, to pay attention, to think about what I eat before I shove it into my pie hole.
It's also made me feel lighter, somehow.  Maybe it's all the fiber and all the water I'm drinking, but that's only part of it (hee!).  I think, because I feel like I'm taking better care of my family, that more of the weight is lifting off of my shoulders.  There's also, of course, relief that my f-i-l is doing better.  Cautious relief; I am still, after all, a Jewish mom, so the worry will never completely go away, lol!
Finally, I feel a deepening relationship with my in-laws.  In a very small way, I've been able to take care of them.  Just a wee bit. And that feels REALLY good, as they've been taking care of us for years!
(Plus, they loved my soup!)

It has been an eventful few months.  And, yes, things have happened that are not-so-great, but, as usual, they have happened for a reason.  I just gotta have faith-a-faith-a-faith, I gotta have faith.

Couldn't resist.
And now that song is stuck in all our heads, along with images of George Michaels' denim-clad butt.

You're welcome.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


This morning, for breakfast, I ate a Morningstar Farms veggie bacon, egg & cheese biscuit.
And it was GOOD!!!!!!
You wouldn't necessarily think so.  It came out of the freezer and went into the microwave.  You'd think it'd be soggy or too crumbly or just not RIGHT somehow, but it was PERFECT!
I washed it down with a little bit of pear juice and some coffee.
With creamer.
And I enjoyed every bit of it! The sugar, the white flour, all of it.

Last night I made veggie burgers in whole-wheat sandwich rounds, with oven fries and veggies.  We have lots of fruit in the house, and the kids love their salads.  I think we're doing OK, food-wise.  Not perfect, but perfection, I've learned, leads to a crash. Or a binge.  Or, at the very least, to my banging my head repeatedly against the table and crying.
Not pretty.

We also went into the city to take the kids for a walk around the hills of the Potrero for about an hour.  So we all got some fresh air (it was a BEAUTIFUL night) and some exercise.

Today I might make some chicken soup.  Good for the soul, y'know.  And with my F-I-L going in for surgery tomorrow, I think we could all use a bit of comfort, even in the form of broth with fresh veggies.

I have to say that lately I've been feeling MUCH less stressed out.  And lighter, literally!  I guess that stress really was a heavy weight around my shoulders!

I AM going to miss living here, whenever we decide to move.  I will miss it dearly:  the lagoons, the bike trail, the bunnies, geese, ducks, pelicans (yes, we have PELICANS now!) and all the other water fowl who hang out here, and, of course, the pool!  But we have some time left.  And it's not as if we're moving into a one-bedroom apartment in a basement, lol!  We'll be living in a big, gorgeous house with a yard! In a lovely town, with great walking/cycling trails and, oh, that's right, FREE BABYSITTING!!!!!!
Plus, the kids can use the pool at the gym where I work.  It'll be crowded, yes, but that's OK.

Anyway, I can feel the shift.  Away from all-consuming stress and worry about the future; away from using food as company, comfort, and avoidance; away from over-exercising (one hour, or LESS, a day is QUITE enough, thank you!); away from looking for that magic bullet to make my life perfect (it doesn't exist) and TOWARD patience, kindness, and finding what works for ME and for MY FAMILY.

Apparently, one of the things that works for me is WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS, FOLLOWED BY LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!!!!


I'm gonna go now.

Have a good night!

Monday, January 17, 2011


My SELF.  The SELF.  Inner SELF.  "SELF magazine.  SELF-ish.

As women we learn that taking care of ourselves is selfish.  If we don't put everyone else's needs and wants above our own, we are awful people.  We don't teach this to our boys.  Most men seem to have no problem taking time for themselves when they need it.  But us?  Fahgedaboudit!  If we're not doing SOMETHING productive every minute of every day, we experience crippling guilt.

I know, in my head, that if I go for many weeks without a moment to myself (as I just did until yesterday), eventually I will erupt.  Especially during times of heightened stress.  Like, say, when you find out your mortgage has gone up, immediately followed by your father-in-law having to go in for a high-risk angioplasty and stent  surgery (coming up this Thusrday, and THANK YOU for your prayers and good wishes, btw, they are HUGELY appreciated!!!!!!!  MWAH!!!) and your kids have been on vacation and as soon as they go back you have job interviews because you need more money even though there aren't enough hours in the day as it is and you will have to drive between 1-2 hours to teach for ONE hour before heading home in rush-hour traffic AND pay a $6 toll for the bridge as well as for childcare so maybe these new jobs aren't really worth it AND you've been told by one boss that, basically, you're not working hard enough even though you just directed the BULK of the production the kids just did (as well as running the light and sound cues) and was, oh by the way, a huge hit with everyone who saw it!  And just because YOU don't screech and yell at people the way SOME others do doesn't mean you aren't WORKING!!!!!!  ESPECIALLY when you have busted your patootie to get childcare for not only the class and rehearsal times, but for all these pesky little meetings that come up suddenly and where everyone else's schedule is somehow more important than yours even though you are the only one with kids!


Yesterday I had to get out.  Get out of the house! Like that chick from "When a Stranger Calls"  (the original one with Carol Kane, not the lame-o remake).  Except I was the one who was "in the house!"  I wasn't the hapless (um, dumb?), half-naked chick investigating strange clanking noises in the dark basement, I was the axe-wielding psycho.  (OK, the axe was figurative.   Because Me + Axe = ACCIDENTAL loss of limb.  Probably my own.  Or the 6th grade production of "The Wizard of Oz in which I played the Tin Man.)
I was at the point where Every. Single. Thing. was just GRATING on my nerves.  Things that normally don't even register.  It got to the point where I shot out from my chair (where I'd been sitting in front of the computer) and said "Honey, I HAVE to go out!"  And Hubby, being the smart fella that he is (and having lived with me for almost 16 years) said "Go.  I'll watch the kids.  Take as long as you need."
And I did.
Because if I hadn't, if I'd stayed home or gone home too early, something bad would have happened.  I don't know what, exactly, but it probably would have included many tears (mine) and the dog hiding under the coffee table.

The good news is that some of the guilt I mentioned earlier is starting to dissipate, replaced by common sense.   Some.  A bit. A teeny-tiny, oonsy-woonsy, wibbly-wobbly bit.
Hey, it's a process!
Because I USED to believe I didn't DESERVE time off.  I wasn't making enough money, therefore I was unworthy.  I certainly didn't deserve a vacation, especially if it was out of the kindness of someone else's heart (my in-laws earn A LOT of free vacays in Tahoe and Vegas, and they often bring us along.  Why I should feel guilty about sharing a FREE room I don't know, except that, well. I'm an Irish Jew.)  So even when we DID go on vacation, I always took care of the kids.  It was never even a question, until recently.  Like, why is it OK for Hubby to go off on his own for a day while we're in Tahoe or Hawaii but not for me?

It boils down to this: for many years I have let guilt and shame force me into a corner.  I have made myself into the poor relation, the one who takes the scraps and is sickeningly grateful for every crumb.  The leech.  The one everyone invites along because they HAVE to, not because they want to.
But I am NOT that person!  I'm not a leech.  I'm not hapless or helpless.  In fact, I think I'm doing a pretty kick-a** job in a very difficult situation!
Do I deserve a break every now and then?  HELL, YEAH!  Do I work hard?  HELL YEAH!  Is my family well taken care of, BY ME?  HELL YEAH!  Do I pay the bills?  HELL YEAH!
So WHY?!?!?!?!  Why do I do this to my SELF?  Why do I treat me so badly?!?!?!

Especially knowing that, after taking a break, I will come back refreshed and able to take care of everyone again.
Without going Vesuvius on anyone's a**.

In some religions there is talk of the Self.  A universal Self, the one we are ALL connected to.  Hence the practice of Ahimsa, or non-violence.  Because when you do violence to someone else, you do it to yourself, as well.   I just sorta skipped the part where I did violence to others, and went straight to me.
Convenient, yes.  But not very useful.

So here's another resolution:  I will do my best to harm none, INCLUDING ME!

OK, and just after I typed that, I tickled LG and he banged his head on the desk!!!!!!!
Well, emphasis on "TRY!"

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Request For More Prayers/Good Thoughts

As you probably know, my F-I-L had a triple bypass in September.  Recently he'd been having some pain, so he went in for a stress test and, yesterday, and angiogram.  It turns out that only one of the three arteries they transplanted is actually working.  We're supposed to find out today what the plan is moving forward, but would you mind keeping a good thought for him?  And for my M-I-L?

(And to the radiologist who told my M-I-L that "there may be nothing more that we can do?" Yeah.  You're an a**hole!  Stick to reading x-rays and either learn how to talk to patients and their families or get another job, Jerk!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Time to Handle the Truth

So for a few years now I've been in denial.  First it was about my weight: I knew I was gaining, but fooled myself that I could camouflage it enough so that not only would no one else notice, I could convince myself it wasn't really happening.
30 pounds later, here I am.

Then it was my anxiety: I told myself I had conquered it, that it was done, gone, kaput.  And while that may be true for my panic attacks, the anxiety itself is still VERY present.

Financially?  Well, I wouldn't say I was in denial.  I just had blinders on and tried to stay optimistic, even as our funds were dwindling rapidly and Hubby was out of work for well over a year.

Lately?  It's been my overall fitness level.  Yes, I'm fat, but I also teach, 4 (or more) Pilates classes a week, walk the hills of San Francisco, swim, and lift weights, along with yoga and riding my bike.  But not as much as I used to.
Just now I tried a workout DVD that I hadn't done since my son was a toddler.  So we're talking about 7 or 8 years.  Granted, I was in my early 30's then, and had been in very good shape before getting pregnant, so it was easier for me.  I'm 41 and, I'm realizing, in pretty bad shape.  Yes I can walk up a steep hill without getting winded, but a few of those and I'm pretty tired the next day.
I couldn't even finish this DVD.  It's 45 minutes of circuit training, switching between low-impact cardio and strength training. I did about 25 minutes, and it was rather humbling.

But at least now I KNOW.  No more denying it.  I have GOT to get myself back in shape!  Early this morning, as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I started thinking about stress and disease.  My dad was a worrywart, and he got cancer.  I'm not saying stress is the ONLY cause (he had melanoma, so being outside without sunscreen had quite a bit to do with it!), but it certainly doesn't help.  

Lately I look in the mirror and see someone who has aged about 10 years in the last 5.  My skin is dull.  There are circles under my eyes.  My hair has taken on a life of its own and may soon take over my entire head. I am ALWAYS tired, and I rarely get enough sleep.  I am constantly worried about something or someone, and sometimes feel so much responsibility weighing down on me it's a wonder I can stand up straight.
I know this move will solve a lot of our financial issues, and it will be great to have help with the kids!  I'm hoping I will have a bit more free time (right now I have basically NONE, so anything is an improvement, lol!) and can maybe even take a few days off now and then.
And, I just have to say this: as much as I ADORE my kids, and am SO BLESSED, being a parent, especially a mom, of 2 autistic kids does sometimes take its toll.
(The other night WG had a sleepover at her aunt's for the first time.  I took LG for a walk, just me and him, and remembered how much FUN being a mom can be!  Lately there have been so many ISSUES to deal with that I haven't taken the time to just enjoy being with my kids. I'd like to spend more one-on-one time with each of them.  I think it's so important!)

But there are also concerns about the move, naturally.  It is not OUR house.  Don't get me wrong, my in-laws are incredibly generous, very tolerant folks, but it's going to take me a while to not feel like a guest in their home.
Also, the house needs A LOT of childproofing.  There are 3 floors and screen-less windows everywhere.  The yard is not completely safe, and LG frequently escapes out there without us noticing right away.  The house is filled with tall shelves and knick-knacks that have to be stored away.   And there are plenty of nooks and crannies for the kids to climb into.
So there's a lot to be done.

I realize, more than ever, that I need to get a handle on my stress.  Along with exercising and eating good, healthy food, stress management is what will keep me healthy.

I really, REALLY don't want to worry myself into an early grave!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Decision Made. Sort Of.

So this is the plan: we will continue to live in our townhouse until the end of the school year, which includes summer school.  The we will re-evaluate where we are/how we feel.  If we feel OK, we stay for one more (school) year, then try to do a short sell of our home.  By then we will have lived here for 6 good years, and HOPEFULLY the economy will have improved enough that we can sell at a decent price.  Then we will move in with Hubby's folks.  We went over there today to spend some time.  Have I mentioned that they have a HUGE house with a yard?  And it's just the two of them living there right now.  Plus, my F-I-L is still recovering from his triple bypass.  From talking with them (and also my S-I-L) I get the feeling they're a bit lonely, and would really LIKE it if we moved in!
So I'm looking at the positives: aside from the massive amount of money we'd save (and be able to put into our anemic savings account), the kids would each have their own room, and we'd have a master bedroom with a bath.  About 8 years ago they did a major remodel on the house, adding a 3rs floor with a bedroom, sitting room, and a bathroom, which is theirs.  So we'd have their old room, which is very nice!
The house is in a quiet neighborhood which, nonetheless, is in walking distance to the downtown area.  We can walk to the bank, post office, grocery store, Starbucks AND Peet's, as well as little shops and restaurants.  And a farmer's market every weekend.  It is also just blocks from BART and CalTrain, as well as 2 major freeways. There's a reservoir nearby where we often go for walks, and the schools are terrific.

Ah yes, the schools:  I spoke to my son's teacher, who reminded me that LG only has 18 months of elementary school left.  Starting in the fall of 2012, he'll be in MIDDLE SCHOOL!!!!!!!!  How did THAT happen!  I feel like he's barely out of preschool!
However, her point was that at that juncture he'll have to move into a new school with a new teacher anyway, so that might be a good time to make the transition.
I also spoke with my daughter's school, and they told me they deal with this ALL the time: parents move from one district to another, and the kids are able to stay at the school!!!!!!  This was such a HUGE relief, I cannot even put it into words!

So, we're definitely moving.  The only question is when.  And now that the decision has been made, I have to say I'm not only relieved, I'm also quite excited.  Because the town we're moving to is a great one, and the kids will have not only stability, but will be surrounded by family.  We won't have the pool, but we also won't have a $400/month homeowner's fee or astronomical mortgage payments or property tax payments.  We'll pay rent to my in-laws, and that will help them, and it will be MUCH more manageable for everyone. We can help them with all the care of the house and errands and such.  Plus, we won't have to worry about them being all alone in that big house.  AND, the kids LOVE it there!

And maybe, finally, I'll learn to cook all that yummy Filipino food.

So that's that.  Now we have to get to work on getting rid of some of this STUFF!!!!!!

Anyone want a not-so-clean sofa/easy chair set in a few months?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Things That Matter (More Politics!)

This has been a recurring theme lately.  This morning, with LG's teacher, and yesterday in my drama class.  We had a guest speaker (she works at the synagogue) who is originally from St. Petersburg.  She grew up in the Soviet Union, then came to the U.S. with her family when she was 37, back in 1993.  There is a large Russian community in the area, and she helps them get acclimated to living in the U.S.
She spoke about what it was like to be Jewish in the U.S.S.R. It was a cultural thing, rather than religious, as religion was banned.  If you had any Jewish blood in you, you were considered a Jew.  And that was NOT a good thing.  It was put on your school record, and only 3 Jews were allowed per classroom.  You were not allowed to associate with non-Jews.  It sounds like early Nazi Germany, but this was in the 80's!
Of course, it wasn't just Jews who were singled out.  Anyone who didn't tow the Party line suffered.  Most of us have heard horror stories about communist regimes, but I think it's easy to forget and take our freedom for granted.
This may be controversial, but I think a big problem in our culture right now is that we are spoiled.  We want things the way we want them, and we want it NOW!!!!! And not just for ourselves, but everyone else has to want the same things, as well, and anyone who is different should be not only shunned, but punished. We take our rights for granted.  Look at how many of us DON'T vote, when in other parts of the world people literally die for that right.
We believe we have come a long way, and we have, but then someone running for office, or a Supreme Court justice, points out that certain freedoms are NOT guaranteed to certain groups under the Constitution.  Pretty scary, actually!  The idea that the rights we fought long and hard for can be taken away in the blink of an eye.
Or worse, eroded over a period of time.

I guess it's pretty obvious that I was not a fan of the Bush administration.  But when some people on the left started comparing him to Hitler, I got mad.  Then when people started drawing mustaches and swastikas on pictures of President Obama because he wanted to give us health care, I got REALLY angry!!!!!  Especially because a lot of the people making these Nazi references had NO IDEA WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT!!!!!!!!!   ( And some of them were even Holocaust deniers!)
Listening to this woman speak yesterday, I realized how ignorant we have become.  We call people socialists, communists, Marxists, Nazis, etc. But we have NO IDEA what those labels really mean!  As far as I know, no president in the past 40 years has ordered concentration camps be built. No one in this country has been put into an oven.  Religion is still legal, and we are free to practice or not as we choose.  The separation of Church and Sate may not be written literally into the Constitution, but it has been part of the foundation of this country since the beginning.  And it is a two-way street: religious organizations cannot interfere in government, but then the government cannot tell you how (or even if) to practice your religion.  Do we REALLY want to throw that away?
Yes, it's true, there are no literal protections of womens' rights in the Constitution.  We NEED and Equal Rights Amendment, because anything could happen.  And all those women (and men) who sacrificed to get us to the point we're at today will have made those sacrifices in vain.

I think we are at a crossroads right now: we can either continue to break away from each other and fight one another, or we can regain our senses and remember that a democracy needs ALL of its citizens, and all our various beliefs, in order to stand.  Being an American isn't about being a Christian or a Jew, Black or White or Asian or Latin, democrat or republican or independent, it is ALL of these things! We are interdependent, and we NEED each other!
We are the Original Melting Pot.  No other country had done what we did 200 years ago.  If we forget that, we are in serious trouble.
Are we perfect?  Hardly!  Do we have a ways to go?  Definitely!  But we CANNOT forget who we are, what we have fought for, and the Things That Really Matter.

Stepping away, once again, form my soap box.  But reserving the right to get back up at a later time.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Cleaning Out

A couple of years ago I decided to stop making New Years' resolutions.  They were made half-heartedly and tended to be vague.  At about 11:58 (back when I could actually stay up until midnight) I'd think to myself "OK, yeah, I'll lose weight, I'll be nicer, blah blah blah."  (Well, the "blah blah blah" was implied.)
Needless to say, nothing much ever became of those resolutions.
I eventually came to realize that I was only making them because, well, that's what one does.  Along with signing up for a brand-new gym membership, going every day for 3 months, then letting that membership card gather lint in one's wallet.
Although when I joined a gym, it was usually because I'd moved away from my old one.  Getting motivated to work out has never been an issue for me.  I'm one of those infomercial-watching suckers; I LOVE fitness infomercials!  I even watch the P90X ones, even though I tried it multiple times, it didn't work for me, and I ended up selling it, I will STILL watch the infomercial!  And "The Firm" ads? Forget it!  They may as well be "Citizen Cane" as far as I'm concerned. And, yes, I have tried many of those as well, and don't particularly like them (seriously, some of those ladies REALLY need to work on their cueing!)
But I love the idea of them. I guess I bought into (sometimes literally) the promise that THIS program is THE ONE!  It will make me thin and strong, give me unending energy, allow me to leap tall buildings in a single bound, make me a perfect mom, and will even do the dishes!
Yeah, not so much.
See, I need variety.  I need to shake up my routine.  I just can't say "I'm gonna do 3 days of Bikram yoga, 2 days of Pilates, and throw in a power walk or 3 this week."  Well, I mean, I can SAY it, but I'm not gonna DO it!
Because I wake up in the morning and feel like doing something else.  Maybe a kickboxing interval workout appeals to me today, or maybe I didn't get much sleep and am feeling anxious, so I'll do some tai chi.
IE folks call it "Intuitive Exercising:" listening to your body and giving it not only the food it needs, but the type of movement and rest, as well.
Back when I was having anxiety attacks, I would force myself to do intense, punishing workouts, even if it was exactly the opposite of what I wanted to do.  Now, sometimes this can work; aggressive exercise can be good for exorcising demons.  But sometimes I just made it worse.  My mind and body needed to slow down, and I wouldn't let them.  I was very much out of touch with my needs.
As I become more in tune with myself, I start to realize what needs to change.  Hubby and I have both decided that we need to get rid of a lot of our stuff.  We have so much STUFF in our house, it's hard to think!  So that's our big project.  Not a New Year's resolution per say, but it does conveniently come at the start of a new year.  (And at the end of a VERY difficult year!)
But I'm also cleaning out, well, ahem, ME.  My insides.  If you get my drift.  Getting more regular, so to speak.  On a new 2-week regimen that is supposed to help with all that AND give me energy.
Cleaner food, cleaner house, cleaner intestinal tract.  Those are 3 of my goals. (Along with a clearer mind [or what's left of my mind], a smaller carbon footprint, and more love and patience for myself, so that I may be more loving and patient with others.  Especially when they start shrieking and pulling my hair. Or coloring in my books or on photos of their sister!)

I am also looking into going back to school to become a drama therapist.  I know, I know; ME, a therapist?!?!?! Isn't that kinda like Lindsey Lohan working at a rehab facility?
But I think I have some skills in that area.  I'm a huge believer in the power of therapy, and also in the power of art to heal.  I'm a good listener, I have a lot of empathy, and I've been through a whole lotta crap, so I can understand where clients are coming from!  Plus, it gives me something useful to do with those degrees I have. As much as I love teaching acting and drama, I feel I can do more.
This is something that has been in the back of my mind for about 16 years now.  The seed was planted at the Shakespeare company I used to work at; one of our directors also directed at a mental health facility in the area, and they LOVED him!  He would say things like "OK, good rehearsal.  That's it for tonight.  Oh, and try not to kill yourselves tonight; I don't want to have to re-cast your role!"  They loved it because they were in so much pain, and having someone willing to joke with them was rare.  They also knew that underneath the gallows humor was a man who cared deeply about them and would do just about anything for them.  When we were rehearsing for our tours, we'd always go perform for them first.  Their feedback was invaluable, and they were wonderful!
Acting came into my life at a time when I desperately needed something. My son draws and sings to express himself.  My daughter can't speak, but she loves music and dancing.  Sometimes the only way a person can express their deepest selves is through some kind of art.  I understand that, and I want to facilitate that.
So, we'll see how it goes.
In the meantime, I have another teaching interview next week, for a Shakespeare festival near Berkeley.  I reallyreallyreallyreallyreallyREALLY want this job, and hope I can work out childcare and scheduling so I can do it.
I also have to remind myself that if it's meant to be, it will happen.

And ain't that true for just about everything?