Repurposing

I began blogging on WordPress about four and a half years ago. My first post was on my first rule. See, during a champagne dinner with my friend Lindsay, we had come up with seven guidelines to help us cope with work and family.

In fact, just this summer, Lindsay and I toiled again over a champagne dinner and many-coffee brunch the next day, to update our seven rules and come up with seven BRAND SPANKING NEW rules. And I will share them, in time, my friends.

But among our old rules, the first was Pile on the People.

# 1 Pile on People (P.O.P.)

There is no problem that can’t be bettered by adding a lot more people to it.

If two parents are good, then three are even better still. Four or five? Excellent! After all, it does take a village to raise a child. Or fight a war. Even George Bush employed this concept — he called it a surge.

In my life, I have employed a surge. Especially in the last few years I have piled on the people by employing housekeepers and babysitters. And it’s really worked well. (Heck, half of my facebook friends are the kids’ babysitters.)

One note: it does cost you. So, be prepared to DTE (damn the expense!) and pile the money on as you pile the people on! Or barter! Or get family members on board.

I was just chatting with Josie, former babysitter, the other night. I was dissing marriage to her. Saying Let’s face it, married couple love is way overrated. That relationship is so fetishized by, oh, I don’t know, diamond companies, candymakers, Valentine’s revelers, Catholic priests. If we are going to celebrate love, let’s expand our concept of love a wee bit.

Let’s celebrate a love of a single mother for her kids, a sister for her brother, two dear old friends, a son for his dad, an aunt for her nephew, a student for his teacher, a pastor for her flock, a babysitter for her kids. I dunno. I’m just sick of all the brouhaha over marriage.

My point is — it’s wrong to send love like a garden hose in just one direction. That won’t water the garden. Hook it up to a sprinkler and let love be more like a fountain — spraying in many directions and watering a wider land.

I’m digressing.

I want to tweak my P.O.P. concept. Make it P.O.U.P. — Pile on Useful People. Because just a pile of people gets unwieldy. And given that I’m a real people pleaser, when you have to please unwieldy people, it’s a real drag. So try to see that the people in your life add, not take away.

A Garden hose.
A Garden hose. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I started on WordPress in July 2009, I had four blogs. This blog appeared on the first.

  • To offer advice on staying happy – My 7 Rules
  • To document my beautiful NYC – My Beautiful New York
  • To run a 5k – Running Aground
  • To get my kids off technology – The Connected Life

***

Looking this first post over, I realized that the topic is still relevant as last night at book club, while discussing Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women, we got into this same conversation about marriage again.

I contend that it is not right or fair or realistic to expect one person to be everything to you. Shouldn’t we pile on the the people? The more, the merrier.

Take a Moment Each Day

Yesterday, I went to L’s bridal shower. I wrote this for her bridal book of advice for the newly married with children. 

at the ladies' luncheon.
at the ladies’ luncheon.

The little things slip my mind. I want to take a moment each day to notice that I love my life.

I know L. loves hers too. She’s been through a lot, as have we all. She’s divorced and such. I’m divorced, married for almost 18 years now, and concerned about my husband’s health and such. (I love adding ‘and such’ to sentences. It’s a cozy phrase and such coziness can incorporate a lot of water under the bridge!)

But noticing that you love your life does not mean that you love every little thing. Sometimes you have to notice the big picture. Like I have big gratitude for my health, my kids, and my beautiful NYC.

Sometimes you have to notice the little pleasing things that don’t slip through the cracks of awareness in the rush/rush of family life New York City.

I like to notice things like:

  • Red flowers in green window boxes
  • White wine on book club nights
  • Snuggly up with daughters to read a good book out loud
  • Feet up, watching television
  • The smell of lilacs or lilac soap – or any scented candles or flowers — that cross your path

When I first met L., I was blown away by how beautiful and capable she was – a single mother with a law career, three kids, and a dog. (I don’t know why but the dog really pushed me over the edge — a dog too? — How does she do it!)

L. made me feel that anything was possible and that we, women, and in particular, the women in my book club, could overcome any hurdle set before us.

Now that L. is entering into the foray of married love again, I see that, too, is an admirable and beautiful and capable not-so-small thing.

And I only wish her (and us all) more love and more little happy things.

-I wrote this for L’s bridal shower book, a book about finding fun and quick things to do in NYC with kids. Our book club is going to Long Beach Island on the Jersey Shore this weekend. I’m super excited for a girls’ get-away weekend. 

I added this, ‘Take a moment each day to notice that I love my life,’ as one of my goals at 43things.com. Today I notice I love my life because I love my kids, my book club, my friends, and my gift for noticing the little things.

Want to Run Away?

One day last year I took out the garbage and wanted to just keep going. I thought I was not made for this mountain of housework and life with a chronically ill husband. How can a unicorn be expected to work like a mule? (to paraphrase a folk song.)

I wanted to run away, because my life was more than I bargained for. (Yes, I know, there are many people, perhaps the majority of the world, with problems far worse than mine, so if you’re thinking, why should she complain? You’re right. Most days I have gratitude up the wazoo. But this is my blog and others can chronicle their challenges and joys on their blogs. And I will read them and like them and understand. So, do not judge.)

What saves me from flying away and keeps me tethered to the homefront is my three awesome teen kids and my unbelievable network of friends. I don’t know how people have a chronically ill spouse without energetic kids and lovely friends to distract them from the loss and grief in this shifting sand marriage. Here are other things that keep me going:

  • Art: making art and appreciating art
  • Travel
  • Having parties
  • My biz, Boot Camp For Writers
  • My church community
  • Working out
Anne Tyler’s novels are so good!

I imagine every mother and wife has these days when she wants to run away. A while ago, I read this novel, Ladder of Years by the genius Anne Tyler. A middle-aged mom disappears from the beach and starts a new life in a little town as a secretary. I think of that character and how lonely (yet delicious) she found her life alone.

When my friend, J. and I went running this morning, we talked about this — how happiness requires work. It is not easy. It is not a given. But we are compelled to find happiness, despite life’s challenges. Among reasons to find joy, I find happiness in contemporary literature.

Novels save me. They allow me to escape. I can run away, but still be back in time to take out the garbage. Joy!