When I am enthusiastic about a subject I’m teaching, my students are too. If I tell the little ones, “You’re going to like this drama game!” They do. It may be a drama game they’ve played before, like the mirror game. (The mirror game is when you stand across from a partner and mirror their movements. And then your partner mirrors yours.)
When my kids get fresh, I tell them, “Hey, your attitude is contagious. Try enthusiasm.”
We live in a snarky culture. For sure, I can be sarcastic. Because I’m witty. But sarcasm seems the opposite of enthusiasm. Sarcasm stands back in judgment. Enthusiasm jumps all-in, without a care for consequence.
Well, there is the consequence that you may be made fun of. As I am by my children. Regularly. (For my bike, zipcar, business, enthusiasm, whatever.) But then, they’re teens. I think sarcasm’s wired in teens.
I tell my kids, Most people are naturally shy. When you meet someone new, if you’re just a little bit out-going, you put people at ease. Enthusiasm is charismatic, fun and entertaining.
Here’s an enthusiastic picture of me. As you can see, I’m enthusiastic about the whole world.
On a side note, I like to think I came up with the hashtag #yellowpants Whenever I see someone wearing yellow pants, I think to myself “hashtag yellow pants.” I’m enthusiastic about my yellow pants. Because they were one of my last purchases at Loehmann’s. But that’s another story.
Happy Halloween! Wait! I’m not ready. Did I celebrate my daughters’ birthday, or even, 4th of July or Easter, well enough?
This is the first of the marching holidays and I’ve hardly finished my last holidays. But they march on, whether I am ready or not. I have to comfort myself that I do them well enough.
I am a do-er and I do the holidays well enough. But sometimes I want to celebrate Easter in November and Thanksgiving in March.
I am a do-er but also an iconoclast or an anarchist (or some big word that means rule-breaker.)
I can change some things, but I can’t change big things like the seasons. Christmas is good in the winter. Maybe it’d be better at the beginning of December? Maybe I should start a campaign to change the date of Christmas. I could start small.
Here’s my idea: Let’s pump up the less celebrated holidays, like Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Let’s make it a big peace and love day — bigger than Christmas. Same with International Women’s Day. Let’s really love on our international sisters that day.
And I can use the money I save buying shit nobody needs at Christmas to throw some really big Pace and Love parties.
I’m not a Scrooge. While I like, and even love, Christmas and other holidays, I reject the disgusting materialism and commercialism that pervades our culture. I don’t want new things. (I want new experiences.) I don’t want my kids — or anyone for that matter — to think the acquisition of goods leads to the acquisition of happiness.
I have been happiest traveling light. The less stuff I have, the happier I am.
I have been happy with friends, having — and going to — parties, being with my kids, my family. Happy Halloween! March on holiday madness!
So, “If bloggers had their own Halloween and could go from blog to blog collecting “treats,” what would your blog hand out?” asked the Daily Prompt today. And I answer: more fun, more love, more peace, and more parties.
I do not like asking for help. At last week’s lecture on teen boys, Rosalind Wiseman said getting help is a lifelong skill, I agreed, intellectually.
I am the driver who does not like asking for directions. In fact, I am the sole long-distance driver in my family. Chris’s Parkinson’s Disease — or his meds — have compromised his ability to drive. My son does not yet have his permit. We don’t own a car any more. But I am the family driver, metaphorically too.
In 2009, on Lindsay’s birthday, we made up 7 rules for living on the back of a paper napkin while drinking champagne at the Yacht Club. This year we did it again, but had to finish up over coffee the next morning at the Inn. Lindsay Pontius and I made up seven new rules for living. And I will blog about these rules in the coming weeks.
In the last round of rules, my number one rule was Pile on the People. Which I then changed to Pile on the Useful People. Because, at some point, I felt that I was helping more than I was helped by helpful babysitters, caregivers, friends.
For example, I remember hiring a professional babysitter when Hayden was a tot. She took Hayden to the playground, while I stayed home and folded laundry. I loved the playground. I hated the laundry.
Luckily, at that time, I had a therapist, April Feldman, who helped me see the error in this equation. Do the fun stuff. Farm out the chores, like the laundry.
Because of Chris’s Parkinson’s, everyone says to me (and I say to myself) “Get help!” But piling on more people (for me) is often piling on more work. I am exceedingly generous, even to the point of bankruptcy.
This may have to do with my white (and wife) guilt for needing to hire caregivers at all. Caregivers are often people of color. I dont’ want anyone to think that I am better or believe I am better than they are. We are all equal.
So what can I do?
Care about the helpers
Go to the park
Farm out the tasks I don’t like
See that asking for help requires practice.
I wrote this at the 475 Riverside Drive ecumenical library’s first and third Wednesday of every month writing group a couple of weeks ago.
The post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt. The task was to grab any book, open anywhere, go to the 10th word. I grabbed Melissa Gilbert’s Prairie Tale: A Memoir. My word was “wanted.” As in, Wanted: Help.
Another part of me feels like apologizing for my story in the show — it’s a small story about a small moment. It’s nothing big, nothing earth-shattering, nothing out of the ordinary. Sure, I could’ve plumbed the depths of my soul (could I?); instead, I chose a story about taking out the trash with my surly teen.
So I’m inclined to say, “Awww, P’shaw! My story? Me? We’re not that important.”
But wait! I must remember my advice to myself. When I used to do stand up, right before I went on, while nursing a diet coke at the bar, I’d psyche myself up by telling myself these three things:
It is important
These three rules seemed to make a positive difference in my performance. Also, I received precious advice from Eddie Brill who told me, way back when: “Never apologize in your stand up act!” That was great advice! It turns out that audiences don’t trust or appreciate apologists!
The truth is that I love the truth. I love hearing truths about motherhood — good, bad, and indifferent truths. Extraordinary and ordinary truths.
I love that I am someone who loves the truth. Because too much of my mothering and my life is spent putting up a good appearance and trying to keep up with the Joneses 🙂
So the fact that I am invited to tell my truth along with a bunch of other truth-tellers, well, it’s just icing on the cake of my life.
Do I think the other writers have bigger truths? Maybe. But it’s not a competition. It’s a collaboration. And each square of the quilt makes for a beautiful pattern. Some of fabric is flowery, some plaid, some embroidered, some plain. Each story, each piece, makes up this crazy quilt.
When we tell our stories, we make room for even more truth. And, as the saying goes, the truth will set you free.
This Listen To Your Mother show is not a show for or about perfect mothers. It is not about pretty mothers like Stepford wives. If you’re looking for that, look in the Mother’s Day aisle for a Hallmark card. (Although I’m pretty sure Hallmarks’s marketing strategy has turned towards a more honest appraisal of motherhood as well.)
In this show we laugh and cry over our real truths. And in these truths, the writers have made art, found freedom, and even, perhaps, woven together a new kind of patchwork quilt, more beautiful together than we could ever have been on our own.
I am honored to bring my piece to the show.
I am just going to show up; have fun; be myself; and remember, it IS important.
This post was inspired by the the daily post prompt: “We each have many types of love …Is there a single idea or definition that runs through all the varieties of ‘love’?”
Do you feel like you “get” social media, or do you just use it because that’s where all your friends and family are?
I get social media. But to get it, you have to give it.
I am Facebook, Twitter, Instagram girl, but I put myself out there. I’ve seen studies that show the more engaged a social media user is, the happier she is.
Some people complain about social media, “I don’t want to know what you had for lunch.”
I admit I occasionally report what I’m cooking. When I recently updated my FB status, “Making chili, meat and vegetarian,” several cyber friends in several states were also making chili. Coincidence? I dunno. But it was interesting and fun and I felt less alone in my solo chili-making kitchen.
Sometimes I overshare. That’s me. I overshare IRL too.
As a wife of someone with Parkinson’s Disease, I feel connected to friends and family through social media. Apathy is a side effect of my husband’s disease. On social media, I can’t tell if people are apathetic towards me. I try to notice only the thumbs up, the cheers, the interactions that lead to deeper sharing. I affirm people, just like I like being affirmed.
In the last couple of weeks, I’ve connected in person with two different high school friends who were visiting New York. I wouldn’t have stayed in touch with them without Facebook. When we got together, we talked about deep stuff — how we felt different, theater, how we parent, what’s new with our siblings, how we work.
Of course, it’s scary to put yourself out there and swim in the social media community pool. It’s easier and safer, emotionally, to lurk, dangle your feet in the water.
But I was. I was somewhere fab. Making every day fabulous is one of my life goals. (Thanks to my former colleague, Klay Williams!)
Compare and despair. I try to post awesome pictures of me and the kids having a really good time out in the world. (See below!) Because a picture of one of my kids staring at the phone, laptop, or TV is boring. I post about things, people, and events that I want to remember. I don’t want to remember boredom, bickering, apathy, and negativity.
I want to remember doing cartwheels on the beach. I want to remember bike riding. I want to remember making each other smile and laugh.