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Archive for September, 2008

Discovering My 'Personal Legend'

September 23rd, 2008

So, I am re-reading one of the most influential books of my life, The Alchemist by Paul Coehlo.  As a side note, I find it strangely comforting that such a deep, meaningful book was written by someone who has spent his fair share of time in an asylum.  That gives me hope.

Anyway, one of the basic premises of the book is that we each have our own unique personal legend and our lives will always have a small nagging emptiness if we do not seek out and live ours.  I’ve thought for a long time that my personal legend had some vague connection to fame and fortune – as an actress or a writer perhaps.  This reading, however, has produced a surprisingly different train of thought for me.

My ‘personal legend’ is to discover how to be a mom.  Please know that this is very different than making my child my personal legend.  I know women who have turned their child into their reason for living and holy cow they are a scary bunch.

What I mean is actually learning to be a good, present, mom.  May sound easy enough for some of you, but you have to understand that I am of the selfish, self-centered ilk and learning how to take the needs and interests of a demanding, unpredictable, wholly his own self child into account is not an easy thing.  I’ve actually struggled against it for six years. Why?

Because I am Very Important and I have Very Important Things to accomplish and fitting mothering into my Very Important Schedule feels like shoving a round peg into a square hole.  It’s not that I’ve been a bad mom.  On the whole, I think I’ve done pretty well.  But it has always felt rather ‘inconvenient’ to be interrupted by mothering kinds of tasks like playing catch, or getting ready for bed or reading a book.  Don’t get me wrong – I did these things, but not with a ton of enthusiasm.

And before anyone jumps my case, please know that I LOVE my son.  Anyone who knows me well says that my love for him is palpable – even when he is not around.  This is not about him and my emotional neglect of him.  This is about me and what I’ve believed to be important lo these many years.

So how are things different since getting smacked over the head with this new personal legend I feel compelled to live out?  Well, I wish I could say that suddenly peace and harmony reigned at my house and that I suddenly find myself channeling June Cleaver.  Sadly I am a much slower learner than that.  And trying to figure out just what a “good mom” is is going to take some time.  I am not willing to abandon all the other things that interest me and make me who I am in the world.  So I’ve got to figure out how it all comes together.

But, I will say, that since deciding that my personal legend is about learning how to be a mom, the pieces of my life seem to line up more easily.  My priorities are easier to determine.  I don’t feel as pulled.  “Beginner’s Luck” The Alchemist calls it and perhaps it is.  I just know that it feels better than anything I’ve felt in a long, long time.

~M.

A Short Course in Southern Grieving

September 12th, 2008

My aunt died this week.  She was older, but still it was unexpected.  And complicated.  As most Southern things are. 

The first thing I did when I got the call was to start thinking about food.  Not eating it, cooking it.  All of my childhood memories of funerals are centered around food.  Huge, groaning tables of fried chicken, deviled eggs, potato salad, tuna salad, congeled salad, biscuits, rolls, cakes, cookies….each lovingly homemade and delivered on plates with the owners name written on masking tape underneath. 

Now that I am older and have been through the grieving process more times than I care to count, I really understand the connection between preparing food and emotional comfort that it brings. 

First, there is an emotional steadying that happens when I cook.  It is hard to think about much else if I am going to make Miss P.’s sour cream pound cake from scratch and not ruin it.  I have to pay attention to the small details.  ” 3 ‘scant’ cups of sugar” for example is very different than “3 c. sugar”.  Whipping egg whites into stiff peaks requires concentration and patience.  Folding them into the cake batter forces me into a soft, gentle place.

And delivering a homemade something to a heartbroken daughter says more to here about my love and concern than any words I could possibly think up to offer.  Feeding the body with food lovingly prepared often winds up feeding the spirit – of the cook and the recipient.  These are the times I am grateful for my southern lessons in grieving.

~M.

7 Simple Kindergarten Rules For Living

September 10th, 2008

These came home with my child so that we could review them at home.  After reading them I realized that if everyone could abide by these 7 simple rules, our world would be a MUCH happier place.

So here they are:

7 Simple Kindergarten Rules For Living

1. I listen when someone else is talking.

2. I keep my hands and my feet to myself.

3. I walk and talk softly inside.

4. I raise my hand to speak.

5. I leave other people’s things alone.

6. I follow directions.

7. I am kind to others.

I especially like #7:)

~M.

A Monday Maverick Meditation

September 8th, 2008

So, all of my plans for today are out the window.  My child is home sick AND we’ve had an unexpected death in the family, so everything I thought I was going to have time to do today – POOF! up in smoke.

Now, I could freak out, stress out and resent the plate life has handed me today.  In fact, that seems to be my natural default position most days.  BUT, since I am on the Maverick Mom journey of being present, flexible and gentle on those who must live with me, I think I will make a different choice today.

The Universe must be stepping up to the plate in hopes that I might stop my griping and complaining because over the weekend, as I was cleaning out my office, I found a mediation that someone sent me ages and ages ago that seems to apply perfectly to this moment, today.  I thought I would share it with you.

Just For Today

Just for today I will try to live thorugh this day only, and not tackle all my problems and once.  I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I felt that I had to keep it up for a lifetime.

Just for today I will be happy.  This assumes to be true what Abraham Lincoln said, that “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Just for today I wll adjust myself to what is, and not try to admust everything to my own desires.  I will take my “luck” as it comes, and fit myself to it.

Just for today I will try to strengthen my mind.  I will study.  I will learn something useful.  I will not be a mental loafer.  I will read something that requires effort, thought and concentration.

Just for today I will exercise my soul in three ways: I will do somebody a good turn, and not get found out; if anybody knows of it, it will not count.  I will do two things I don’t want to do – just for exercise.  I will not show anyone my feelings are hurt.  They may be hurt, but today I will now show it.

Just for today I will be agreeable.  I will look as well as I can, dress becomingly, keep my voice low, be courteous, criticize not one bit.  I won’t find fault with anything, nor try to improve or regulate anybody but myself.

Just for today, I will have a program.  I may not follow it exactly, but I will have it.  I will save myself from two pests: hurry and indecision.

Just for today I will have a quiet half hour all by myslef, and relax.  During this half hour, sometime, I will try to get a better perspective of my life.

Just for today I will be unafraid.  Especially I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me.

Don’t know about you, but if I can just manage to do this much today – or even half this much today, my day – and my Maverick Life – will be called a success.  I’ll let you know how it all works out.

~M.

Jessica Seinfeld Gives Me a Victory

September 4th, 2008

After a dismal day as a mommy yesterday, I decided early this morning that I would make very intentional efforts to be a more present, conscious mom – and then promptly lost control of the morning before 7am.

At 7:25 breakfast wasn’t even started and we must walk out the door at 7:35 to be on time to school. Two choices before me: a) freak out and rush my son to the table, rush him to eat and rush him out the door.  OR b) whip up healthy french toast (thank you Jessica Seinfeld) with a little sweet potato in the batter, toasted it up, cut it into strips and have a “walking picnic” on the way to school. 

I am happy to report that I chose “b”.  May not be a big deal for some other mom, but it is a huge departure from my default, rush rush rush position.  And I am proud of myself.  Our walking picnic was light and fun.  The french toast took me 7 minutes from start to finish, we were out the door a few minutes early, so we could take our time as we walked and ate and talked.  And my son was happy and laughing when I said goodbye at the crosswalk. 

Not a bad way to start my day. 

~M.

An Open Letter to ABC, NBC, CBS

September 2nd, 2008

and NPR for that matter.  I know you don’t care about my opinion – and I really don’t care about yours either.  The only problem is, I am not ramming my opinion down your throat and calling it journalism.  It was bad enough that I had to watch Katie Couric postively moon over Barack Obama and call it a journalistic interview.  Then I had to watch MSNBC post the Breaking News Headline under Sarah Pallin “How many houses does this add to the Repulican ticket” and listen to all of you tell me why a governor of a state is not qualified to be Vice President while a one-term senator is.  I am insulted by the fact that you ask leading, negatively skewed questions and then twist the answers to suite your personal point of view.  And don’t get me started on how you treated Hillary – she was never my candidate but honestly, you are worse than a pack of 13 year old girls in the mean department.  Do I need to remind you that you are the ones who defended the former governor of Arkansas who was, according to you, quite capable of leading our country – even after it became apparent that he could not control his personal physical urges (and lied about it on numerous occassions)?  You are the ones who said over and over again that those issues had nothing to do with his leadership abilities and should be kept seperate.  But somehow you think that because Sarah Pallin’s daughter is unexpectedly pregnant that that reflects poorly on her ability to lead?  Shame on you.  Give me some credit for being able to form my own opinions and for being able to see through your veiled “journalistic” attempts at covering the election. 

We are in the midst of an historic election.  At the end of it, we will either have our first African American president or our first female vice-president.  Now that, at least in my book, is news.  Why don’t you try focusing your energies on that instead of trying to control the outcome.  Last time I checked, we the people got to decide who we wanted to vote for, not you the media.