Here is what being a solo parent has taught me about life:

  • 20637948_1755855194454694_3782557840075500292_nDon’t feel sorry for yourself.
  • Make time for yourself because, if you don’t, you will get resentful.
  • They’re only this young and adorable for so long: savor it as much as you can.
  • Dogs are better substitute cuddling buddies than cats but cats are more fun to kiss (on the forehead people – on the forehead!!!)
  • If you listen to too many other people’s opinions about anything (e. g., parenting, relationships, love, sex, dating, career, money), you will never know what works for you (and…I guess that means you shouldn’t listen to me, either?). But if you don’t listen to anyone, you will become an arrogant prick. So find someplace in-between and go for it.
  • Get off your gadgets and talk. It is the best medicine for any/all misunderstandings.
  • If that doesn’t work, then go be alone with nature. That will heal you, too.
  • And if that still doesn’t work, then go read the newspaper and realize that the world has a lot more to deal with than you really do.
  • And if that doesn’t work, well… I don’t know but watching stand-up comedy usually helps me recalibrate my brain (before going back to parenting, or simply adulting).
  • Above all, spend enough time alone to get your priorities straight. I just sat in a car driving up and down the coast of Washington, Oregon, and California, and I learned a lot. I learned that I’ve been chasing this dream of a two-parent family for too long. I’ve learned that it’s distracted me from being a whole parent. And I’ve learned that I want to be all there for my children. Not halfway or ¾ of the way but all the way. Finding a significant other is not a waste of time but it’s a secondary deal for me now. I’d rather be there for myself and my kids first. If/when the right person comes along, ideally, they will also know how to be there for themselves first. And if/when we ever connect it will be because we enhance each other’s lives rather than fill a void. I don’t want to live in a void. Been there, done that. I’m ready to be happy just as I am.
Advertisements

Pomodoro? You’re ador-able!

Pomodoro-TimerI was listening to a YouTube channel: ‘Big Think,’ and this woman was talking about the Pomodoro Effect. Basically, if you remove all distractions, turn off all notifications in your life, and sequester yourself for 25 minutes you will get past the point of no return. Meaning you will have worked past your brain’s natural tendency to avoid pain and seek pleasure (meaning: the tendency to rely on distractions, procrastination, etcetera).

For the Pomodoro to work, you need a 20-minute time period apparently. Scientists don’t know why but 25 seems to be the magic number to get into the groove on whatever project you’re working on. So right now, I am writing and I’m going to do this for 25 minutes.

I’m sitting on a log on a dry hill leading down to a ravine. Old Scrub oak trees everywhere remind me of my mom again. I’m staying at KOA. Beautiful but the most overpriced 4′ by 4′ plot of dirt and a picnic table I’ve ever paid for ($58), but I don’t care. I’m not driving. I’m not staying at an overpriced Motel 6 ($120 last night in Arcata!) and I’ve learned my lesson. Get up early. Drive early. Find a place to camp early before all the spots are taken.

I miss California, having grown up here. I miss the sun. I miss the easy-going nature of most people. But I also appreciate where I live now even more. Pluses and minuses to everything. Much of California is gorgeous but so expensive and so crowded. It’s why I left. If you can find a remote, quiet place more power to ya but it’s tricky. Maybe someday I will find the right town in California. I don’t know. I like the sun though.

I like Oregon maybe even more. Less crowded. Simpler. Unspoiled for the most part. Undiscovered (well… compared to California). The coast is unreal. It’s a spiritual experience. You realize how beautiful this world is and it makes you want to protect it. (I’ve got 15 more minutes to go on this Pomodoro Effect).

I realized on this trip how much time I need to do my thang. Never enough. I like to create. You can’t create when you’ve got too much to do. I need to have less on my plate. Minimize. That’s the key. I think that’s why I know I could never live in LA. It would be very hard to live a minimal lifestyle there.

But that’s ok. I can visit and enjoy. All I know is someday I will only have a laptop, pen, paper, some money, clothes, a camper, and friends. And I will be happy. Oh, and food too. And healthcare. And a cat or dog or both.

Fig, Bruce, Oso, Toruk, and Candace: animals that you can’t help but love

20622028_1750723021634578_689788499202032443_nSo yesterday we got to visit a lot of animals… and family! Haha but some people (and maybe some animals) may not want to be written about so… I’m still going to just write about animals.

We got to visit ‘Fig,’ the very large, voluptuous and heaving purring cat. It was very hard to stop petting Fig. He sat in his room waiting for his owner and he had the biggest yellow eyes and calico fur (that almost looked yellow in patches). Very hard to put down.

And then there was Bruce. Bruce is so big! When he wants you to pet him, he drags his claws gently but heavily across your knee, thigh, shin, arm, or anything. Then, if you rub the top of his tush, he really loves it and if you stop then he starts moving his tush back and forth, pushing his butt against your leg until you keep your hand moving.

And then there was Oso.  OH SO beautiful a dog! With a permanent look of shock on his face. Oso is oh so smart. He likes to dance and play. When our friend started to dance near him, he – being a Border Collie – started to jump up and bow down on his front legs and then jump as high as he could to herd his owner into place.

And then Toruk. The most gentle, beautiful princess of a queen that ever was. So quiet and meek. She notices everything and she goes wherever she is told to go. Faster than a puma, sleek as a jaguar, and her lithe, tan little body is dipped in chocolate brown sauce on her nose and eyelids.

And Candace. Big, muscular, calico cow-colored Candace. She has a pointy snout and big eyes and is very strong. She likes to walk by you and tempt you to pick her up. It doesn’t take much to make you pick her up. Candy Candace.

a public service announcement (i’m announcing something publicly that will hopefully be of service to others in some weird, unforeseen way)

I am setting myself the following achievable tasks:

  1. each week I will post at least something on my blog.
  2. i’m going to aim for it appearing on Mondays but I can’t always promise that (i’m a mom and that’s my excuse and i’m sticking to it)
  3. i’m going to try to edit things before I post them. this doesn’t mean I care a jot about capitalization and punctuation though. I still believe in the virtue of undecorated, dressed down prose (because i’m lazy but also because it encourages other people to let their hair down and write rather than thinking everything has to be picture perfect all the time) but yes sometimes I will clean it up as well.
  4. this is my reward to myself for having done something I didn’t want to do (like grading – sorry but I just don’t – I know some people love it, but I simply detest it even though, yes, often the things I am grading are pretty dang exciting and good in their own right).
  5. i’m rewarding myself by writing and posting stuff because if left to my own devices I will only do things I want to do and never do anything that actually pays the bills. one day maybe writing will pay the bills but it’s not right now so there ya go.
  6. thanks for listening. they say that making vows or setting goals is more useful if you don’t tell anyone well… oh well! fuck it! it feels good and i’m doing it.

speed is banned in bandon, oregon

20429575_1744495032257377_1134268286206761382_ni’m sitting at possibly the slowest restaurant in oregon – i’m not going to name names but let’s just say that it’s in bandon and it has the words ‘pacific’ and ‘blue’ in the title. but…. and this is a big but…. i love it because the guy leaves me alone and i can sit here and write on their sidewalk area and nobody bothers me or makes me feel like i gotta go and eventually i will saunter in and ask for something to eat or drink but right now i am just left in peace and i love this hippie place for it.

The morning speaks to me

messy-bed-xlI want to know what other people’s morning rituals are, so as an invitation to share yours, here’s mine:

[I should clarify: this only happens when it’s summertime and neither my kids nor I have any real responsibilities (because I’m a teacher and they’re out of school). So, in other words, our true nature is coming out.]

I like to stay up late which means I get out of bed late… although I tend to wake up early. Like 5am but then I put my eyepatches (eyesleep mask? There is no good word for this thing that is so helpful in the early morning after a late night partying with friends) on so I can sleep longer. I sleep maybe another hour and then – sorry, but it’s true – I check my facebook and then go back to sleep. And I do that a few times before actually getting up. Sleeping, facebook, sleeping, facebook. Annnnnnnddddd eventually I’m up.

Then? I really want a cup of coffee in bed but alas there is no one to make it for me but me, but I also don’t want to get up and disturb this Zen state of mind I have so I just give up wanting coffee and get back into bed. I read various things but eventually I pick up my favorite book (now by Amy Krause Rosenthal) and after a few pages of her inimitable writing (that is like reading my own mind at play), I have to write too. And I write and write and get crazy ideas about social experiments or digging up my past for other people’s entertainment and then…. I get up, make coffee and see if my kids need anything.

While I’m making coffee – which lately just involves a pour-over where I have to stand there and wait for the water to sift through the grains —  I do my kegels because making coffee is the only totally predictable part of my day and so since it’s inevitable I figure I should include the kegel ritual for good measure. (I know – that was probably TMI but it gave me a laugh so I figured maybe you’d laugh, too. Plus maybe you’ll start doing your kegels in the morning. Come to think of it, shouldn’t men be doing kegels, too? Why the hell not, right?).

And then after some more writing and coffee drinking on an empty stomach – well, sometimes I grab a potato chip or some nuts but I don’t want to spend time cooking anything – I’m sitting at the kitchen table writing more. The morning is my most creative time. I reserve other parts of the day for random, sporadic meaningless jokes and observations that hit me but I reserve the morning for what my unconscious, inner life beckons me to write down. There. That’s it. What’s yours?

Loneliness vs. Aloneness

Loneliness versus Aloneness

I’ve been obsessed with remembering my childhood from the age of 7 – 10. I think it’s because I was the most content at that age. I hadn’t yet gone through puberty, that time when suddenly everyone else’s voice is louder than your own. Once that happened, my equilibrium was thrown off.

Back then, my sister and I would play with these two brothers down the street, W and K. But we only played with them if we needed an occasional diversion. It wasn’t a requirement. We also had two friends who were girls – D and F – each one (respectively) about the same age as my sister and I – and we would see them, too, but even less often. Maybe once every few months.

But somehow I was still content. Content enough with my family, my room, our animals, our house, my imagination, the grass, the clouds, time. I don’t know how I filled my time but somehow (without gadgets except Saturday morning cartoons when chores were done) I was fine.  No after school soccer practice, no constantly revolving stream of extra-curricular activities. Nope. Pretty much nothing except my imagination, a few people, and nature.

And I want that feeling back.

Of course, I can’t totally get it back. I have a house now, kids, a job, bills, but I think it’s possible to get closer to that feeling.

Loneliness is a word with a lot of shame, but the problem is if you can never admit that you’re lonely (just like if you can never admit you’re an alcoholic), it’s hard to change. So I’m admitting it. For the past – I don’t know… 25 years? – I’ve been lonely at least some of the time. Not all the time, but sometimes, and I haven’t always filled that void with the healthiest of options. And the reason I can say this is… I know I’m not the only one. Ok maybe some people have all their shit together 120% of the time, but the reality is we’re all human and that feeling happens sometimes. So what do you do with it? Eat too much? End one relationship and begin another the same day? Become a people pleasing workaholic?

Loneliness is akin to boredom. If you’re bored, you want someone to play with (whether you’re 9 or 49). But the truth is, if you’re bored then you’re probably also kinda boring. You want some new gadget or person to amuse you. Maybe it’s a new boyfriend, maybe it’s switching jobs, or the town that you live in. Sure I can get a new job, a new town, or a new spouse, but can I try out new parts of me? Can I learn Spanish? Can I go square dancing? Can I start delivery pizzas and run into my students who will look shocked when I show up at their house? Can I start talking to strangers in checkout lanes at the grocery store? Can I do a social experiment where I eavesdrop on people in Walmart not because I’m a creeper but because it’s fun to watch people when they don’t think you’re paying attention?

When I was about 25, I was living in Denver and I decided that the reason I wanted to be in a relationship was because I was “bored being alone.” I told myself: “I already know myself really well and the only way to grow as a person is to be in a relationship.” What a crock of shit. Ok, maybe you do grow as a person in a relationship, but seriously. What I’ve learned since then is that if you are going into a relationship because you’re bored, then eventually you’ll get bored again once the novelty wears off. So you might as well learn how to not get bored on your own. Boredom leads to loneliness, but curiosity about you and your world turns loneliness into contented aloneness.

 

 

 

Slowww down and savor the little things, goddammit! (J/k – I thought it would be fun to have ‘goddammit’ in the title)

2374918-coffee-with-cream-and-sugarSo I have a theory. All good friends are really the same friend in a different form.

So this is a story about one friend but she is really all the friends I’ve known.

I had this friend in high school. M. M and I didn’t have a lot in common in many ways but somehow… at some point… something sparked and we always had fun together. It didn’t matter what we were doing. Stuck in LA traffic. Procrastinating doing our homework. Sitting on a bus for hours on end. We always found the fun in it and laughed laughed laughed.

We went to different colleges and over the years saw less and less of each other but whenever we did, it was the same. The same love of little things, the same silliness.

Here is an example of the little things that would make us happy. We would go to a coffee shop in the valley and, to save money, get the cheapest coffee cup size available. And then we would go to the ‘coffee accessories’ area and put in the fixings. And we’d deliberate over whether to include nutmeg and/or cinnamon and/or honey vs. sugar and/or half & half versus soy milk. Or maybe a little of everything? We’d taste test and mix things and sprinkle things to get it just right, taking as long as we felt like because… why? Because it was fun.

I’ve made other friends since M and other people, of course, have other amazing qualities but somehow or another… I always beeline my way to that quality when I see it in people. In my experience, it’s the seed of happiness.

Oldies* can be goodies, too.

39022638-Retro-styled-image-of-an-old-car-radio-inside-a-green-classic-car-Stock-PhotoSo I was telling my friend the other day about how I’ve gone through this long period of time – maybe 5 or 6 years – where all I’ve done is try to keep up with new music. I’m not totally sure why but I think it has something to do with the fact that when I would listen to older songs, I felt as old as the song. If I played a song like ‘Friday I’m in love’ that I listened to like crazy back in 1993, then I felt like I was one of those people who only listened to oldies stations whilst driving in their car and I never wanted to become one of THOSE people. So I figured I better stop listening to old songs and I did.

But now something has changed. When I listen to older songs, I feel my power surge back inside me. I feel like the parts of myself I discarded along the way to keep up with ‘the new’ are coming back and I finally know why those ole fogies listened to their old songs on their car radios. I don’t want to be an old fogie….EVER…. but that doesn’t mean I can’t love the old and the new.

*Disclaimer: I have nothing against people of the older variety. You could be 20 and be old in spirit (i.e. clinging to the past and refusing the present or future).