Enlightenment

It’s time to write something! LOL I’ve had the flu AND pneumonia for the last 2 weeks and my friend asked me, “oh!! So you’ve had lots of time to write in your blog!!” To which I responded, “I WISH!!! It’s kind of hard to write when you’re curled up in a fetal position with a fever between 103 and 104 for four days straight!!” I’m on my second round of antibiotics with a new ailment–a terrible sinus infection, and my pneumonia wasn’t gotten rid of with the first round of antibiotics.

I don’t know about you, but when I get sick, I get spiritual. And fortunately, I really don’t get sick often. Which means I really don’t get spiritual often. I don’t get colds. I get sinus infections seasonally, but I’ve been a pretty healthy person my whole life.

Laying on the couch shivering, crying for relief, seeing the daylight outside and realizing how much I’m missing out on. I missed seeing both my adult kids last week; we had to cancel a gig, and I am supposed to be in beautiful sunny Southern California right now visiting my father and family and friends. But I’m not. I’m here. On the couch. And I’m super annoyed being sick and immobile.

I go inward. I realize I couldn’t do cancer. It’s given me such an appreciation for those who’ve suffered through cancer or any other chronic illness. I’m too much of a wimp. Because I actually felt like I was dying that first trip to urgent care. I gave up. I was too sick to care. I just wanted it all to end. Of course I just wanted to feel better but the mind goes to scary places with such high fevers. I hallucinated all sorts of strange things and places I can’t really remember now, but as I’m finally feeling better, I feel like I’ve been on a spiritual journey.

I believe the mind and the body are connected, and we don’t just get sick from “germs”. The immune system becomes compromised, and something’s gotta give. In my case, I think I was not only just having too much fun (what can I say? It makes life worth living!!) but also, stuffing down some feelings I didn’t want to feel.

So my body said, “hahaha Lauren, I’m going to MAKE you feel and think the things you don’t want to think and feel. You will do nothing but feel and think for two weeks.”

And it did.

Suddenly, I found myself crying a LOT. It was almost like I was pregnant again! Crying over every little thing, and coffee smelled and tasted horrible. And this is someone who drinks coffee all day long. What the fuck was happening to me??? Everything felt more profound than it ever had.

What I realized was, I hadn’t grieved enough over becoming an empty nester. I had tears, sure, when both my kids moved out, but the daytime silence must’ve been getting to me more than I realized, as I made sure I was home less often. Busy, busy, busy is the way I like to be, and I’m never bored. I have a full life–I love my band–I have a great group of friends and family and I’m never at a loss for something fun to do or someone fun to do it with. Spontaneous trips out of town, dinner out, a hike, a bike ride or just an impromptu trip to the mall, I’m always up for something fun to do.

But having been a stay-at-home-mom for 22 years, I hadn’t realized that I was directionless, as happy as I claimed to be. And we had decided to sell our home and move to the big city in a cute little condo, and I hadn’t let myself feel how sad saying goodbye to our home was really going to be. So the Universe directed me where I needed to go, and that’s where I’ve been for almost 2 weeks now.

Prior to becoming sick, I started doing a lot of cleaning and un-cluttering. There’s so much that goes into preparing a house for sale, and without realizing it, a lot of feelings had welled up that I kept down like holding a beach ball under water. Certainly they were destined to pop up. I started to think about how much I missed the simple days when my kids were little and I didn’t even know how much money was in the bank because we didn’t need any. We had so much fun anyways. Walks with little kids is miraculous and can take hours as they stop to notice every bug and leaf on the way. I used to take them to Pet Smart and we’d be there for hours watching all the birds and guinea pigs and mice and fish. And it was free.

And in realizing they were never moving back home I believe was the precipitous moment that caused that first domino to fall.

I know in my head that I’m so lucky to have raised two kids who are ambitious, smart, and love their independence. And when I’d get sad for them I would tell myself, “Hey Lauren, you could still have them here, smoking pot and playing video games.” So yeah, I’m SO proud of both my kids and know they’re just like me–there’s no way they’d ever move back. I never did and I know they wouldn’t either. And that’s a good reflection on my parenting that I did something right.

But I still miss them.

And it’s funny, when you’re in the thick of raising little kids, people tell you to “treasure these times because they grow up so fast” but your head is spinning because you haven’t had enough sleep for years, you need to go to the bathroom but you can’t, and if you do you always have someone with you. You neglect yourself for so long it becomes a habit. I remember those years quite well. I loved every minute of it and don’t feel like I gave up anything. I got to be their mom, every single day. It was me that drove them to school and it was me that picked them up. When they got sick it was me that took care of them. My husband and I agreed before we started our family that we’d never put them in daycare. And we never did. And I know we made mistakes and looking back, daycare wouldn’t have killed them. I should’ve made time for myself and not martyred myself like I did, but I didn’t know any better.

So now I’ve got all this free time and this big house to myself, and it’s a double-edged sword. I love and value my independence and feel extremely lucky that I don’t “have” to work. I have the time now to work on my writing, which is what I’ve always wanted to do. But there’s this huge void in the silence as I accept that this chapter of mommying is over. I’m sure it’s not unlike retiring from a career you loved. Your identity is wrapped up in that job and when it ends, you have to redefine yourself.  Suddenly, a new purpose needs to fill that void.

So that’s what I needed to grieve, the loss of my 22 year career being somebody’s mommy. And I know that I’m still their mom, and they still need me, just not the way they did, and that’s the whole point. I raised them to NOT need me in their daily life anymore. They’re successful, independent people with their own lives now.  In the words of my daughter, we now get to be “best friends”. It’s wonderful. Seeing them so happy allows me to live my own life. I’m so grateful.

So I’ve sweated and sobbed and felt the pain of closing the happiest chapter of my life these last 2 weeks, and I’ve come out of it sober, caffeine-free, and seven pounds lighter. As the meds kick in, and the fevers have finally stopped, I am looking around me seeing the beauty of my life and the wonderful chance I have now to redefine myself and this next chapter.

Time to re-visit my bucket list–I’ve realized that I want to travel more. I want to go everywhere and do everything. I want to see animals and other cultures. I want to learn a new language and learn about Eastern religions. I want to live minimally and shed the things that no longer suit me.

We’ve decided to wait on selling the house. My husband admitted he had similar feelings of sadness cleaning his office. So many happy memories; were we really ready to let go? We will do the necessary repairs we’ve put off and enjoy a quiet home with nothing broken for the first time in decades, and when Christmas comes, there will be room for everyone. The condo will have to wait.

Thank you illness, for the spiritual path you led me on. I will pay closer attention to my feelings are try to feel them as they come up, however painful they may be.

 

I Resolve to………

I’ve always been one of those people who makes new year’s resolutions. I know, I know, you don’t, and most people stop making them after a lifetime of failing at keeping the ones they’ve made. But for me, there’s something about a fresh new year that fills me with hope and energy and the motivation to change things in my life that aren’t working for me.

From the word “resolutions” is the root word “to resolve”. Dictionary.com defines resolve as “1. to find a solution to a problem and 2. to decide firmly on a course of action.” Since resolutions tend to be little more than empty promises we make to ourselves, I take the definition to heart. But before a solution can be found and before a course of action can take place, the first thing that has to happen is a long hard look at oneself.

One year, I made a resolution to answer my phone every single time it rang. It’s crazy to think that the girl who had to have her own pink Princess phone at age 16 and got yelled at by her mother to “get off the phone!” more times than I can count hates to talk on the phone now. I had a really bad habit of looking at my phone and thinking, “UGH I’ll call them back later” and of course, never call them back. Unless it was a family member or my BFF, I would always let it go to voicemail. Or, in the olden days, the answering machine. And I would say now, years later, it’s still a challenge to me to just answer and deal with the person I don’t want to talk to. It gets it over with instead of churning inside me all day that “I need to call X back.” Procrastination is a whole other subject.

I’m also a chronically late person. I absolutely abhor this about myself, and for many years, felt completely unable to change until I was diagnosed with Adult ADHD last year. Suddenly, my whole life made sense to me. I realized that my concept of time really WAS different from most people’s. I joke that if I say I’ll be ready to go somewhere in 10 minutes, I’ll add, “ten minutes in football time” which gives me an out. Being on time is one of the hardest things for me to do, and it’s something I struggle with daily. I can get so wrapped up in an activity and forget completely anything else going on around me. I never once forgot to pick up my kids from school, but just ask them, and they’ll tell you how more than once they were the last kid still standing waiting for their parent to pick them up. Humbling.

There’s a misconception that resolutions are like watering your houseplants–tend to them once or twice a week and you’re golden. Au contrare my friend, resolutions are more like walking around with a paper cut that never heals. It’s constantly there to annoy you and remind you you’re a bit of a wanker.

I think through my resolution thoroughly, and I don’t always start exactly on January 1st. I get myself mentally prepared before I make any physical changes.
In trying to be on time, I walked myself mentally through how that may feel. Last year I let everyone know my resolution was to stop being late. I apologized to those who were affected most by it, and let them know I was going to take responsibility and accountability for my lateness. I was shocked to see how much it affected my loved ones. And here I thought it was a victim-less crime to show up 5-10 minutes late all the time.

I asked myself tough questions. “How does being late affect the people around me? Do they even notice??” (Um, yep). “How would being on time be an improvement for ME?” And “how does being late affect my life negatively?” And then further, “WHY am I always late?” and “What steps do I need to take to be on time?” And lastly, “What does being on time feel like?” vs. being late? These are hard questions that all had to get answered in my head before I could even embark on making any physical changes.

I didn’t realize when I vowed to “stop being late” that I honestly did not know when I was really supposed to show up!!I went too far at first and was chronically early. That was a mistake! Because it gave credence to my lateness. If I showed up to tennis early, the courts were still being played on, and I just sat there and waited for them to finish. To me, this was a colossal waste of time. I hated feeling self-conscious getting to a restaurant 15 minutes early and sitting alone. I couldn’t see any benefit to being early.

But I learned that there are degrees of “on-time-ness.” I watched the people around me for clues. It seemed that a five-minute window of earliness is most acceptable. Any earlier than that, well, you’re just a goody-two-shoes. Same with the five-minute late window. Any later than that, you’re just an inconsiderate louse.

I wish I could say I’m “fixed” and I’m now never late. Far from the truth, I’m disappointed to admit. It’s an on-going challenge. I would say that at least I’m more aware of why I behave the way I do, even if I have difficulty changing. I understand how my ADHD affects my thinking and actions and overcoming those mental challenges are difficult but I won’t allow myself to make excuses. If you are one of those people whose been irritated with me for showing up late, please know I’ve already beaten myself up over it.

The thing is, people do what works. Most of the time I’m only a few minutes late, and nobody really notices(I tell myself). There’s a payoff with everything that we do. So, how does being late benefit me?? THAT’S a hard one to answer. Since I honestly can’t find a single reason that being late is a good thing, why do I keep doing it??? Dr. Phil says people that are late are rude and attention-seeking, as in, “the party don’t start til I get there.” Could that really be ME?? That’s a hard truth to face. Am I acting out subconsciously?? ME???!! RUDE??!!! BRING ME A KNIFE WITH WHICH TO STAB MYSELF IN THE EYE!!!!

And that’s what keeping resolutions feels like. It’s facing the darkest parts of ourselves, the unlovable parts of ourselves. It’s seeing ourselves from a distance, and not liking what we see, and having the courage to admit our less-than attractive qualities out loud, and not just saying, “Love me or leave me, it’s just who I am” but saying, “Yikes, you love me despite this annoying thing about me?? Thank you! I will work to change it!!!!”

I’ve seen people laugh at hearing someone say they’ve made resolutions. I beg you to have compassion, and instead offer your encouragement. We all know how it feels to fail at something, which is why most of you scoff at making resolutions. It’s a fact that gyms fill up in January and empty out sooner than June. We’ve all been there, so don’t kick a friend when he’s down. Applaud him when he’s successful and hold his hand when he falls. It takes courage and hard work to change. Keeping resolutions is two-steps forward, three-steps back much of the time until the new habits settle in.

I know you’re dying to know what my resolution for 2017 is, but I haven’t nailed it down yet. I’m trying to distinguish goals from resolutions, because to me they’re very different. I have a goal to write more often and actually finish a book, but to me, that’s not a resolution. Also, I have a continuous goal to “get more organized” but to call it a resolution is inaccurate. I delve into my character, who I am vs. who I want to be, and that’s where I find it.

I’ll get back to you on that.

Use your voice and make a choice

Never in a million years did I think I’d find myself standing in line on a breezy evening to see Donald Trump, but alas, there I was. Tickets were free, and like the game shows I used to work on at CBS Studios in Hollywood, admission was first-come-first-served and more tickets than available space had been given out.

We arrived two hours early assuming that was plenty enough time. We were quite surprised to see the line was at least 500+ people ahead of us, and snaked around the parking lot into a muddy field my heels later sunk into. There were helicopters hovering above us–one a news copter covering the story and the other were police. There were armed guards peering out of every window of the facility watching us, and many more bullet-proof vested officers surrounding the entrances. A half-dozen protestors were calmly waving signs and were cordoned off away from the rest of the crowd. As we drove into the parking lot initially, I told my teenage daughter that I would’ve felt more comfortable if she’d let me out right there so I could join them!

I felt traitorous standing among such a large group of people I vehemently disagreed with, most of whom were wearing various Trump-supported T-shirts, ball caps and pins. There was a smattering of opportunists who walked up and down the seemingly never-ending line peddling homemade pins and T-shirts, my favorite of which were the ones that said simply, “I’m Deplorable”, in reference to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Cinton’s verbal attack on half of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables.” I liked their sense of humor about it.  I had to chuckle.

Being at the Trump rally felt a lot like an out-of-body experience. I was incognito; definitely #NotAFan. I was accompanying my teenage daughter whom I presume must be in her rebellion phase. Not old enough to vote yet, but extremely passionate in her support for the Republican candidate. When she expressed her desire to attend the rally, I jumped at the chance to go with her, mostly because I feared for her safety. And seeing all the armed guards surrounding us, my worries seemed justified.

My daughter and I have had hours and hours of in-depth and lively discussions regarding this presidential campaign, and let me tell you, this 17-year-old is incredibly informed. Encouraged by curiousity and a global events class in school, she’s spent hours thoroughly reading all the candidates websites (how many of us have done so??) and contrasting and comparing them.  She is well-versed in the origins of ISIS and even I didn’t know what the acronym ISIS and its counterpart ISIL (used by Obama) stood for until she told me.  (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic State of Irag and the Levant). Do you know what the Levant is?? I did not. She explained to me “the whole group of countries ISIS occupies including Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Isarel and Jordan.”

She and I have sat together and watched both the presidential debate and the vice-presidential debate, grabbing the remote constantly to stop and pause it so we could both defend our candidate and simultaneously grab our phones to fact-check as they slugged it out against one another. Thankfully, she and I are much more civil to one another!

She and I may disagree on the candidates’ stances, but one thing I can say about her is she does her research. She is well aware of the media bias, and takes everything the talking heads on TV say at face value. She is a master fact-checker. She knows the Constitution inside and out, and understands how the government works. She is highly frustrated with her friends that have turned eighteen and are apathetic and don’t plan on voting because they “don’t like either of them.” She preaches how important it is to have a voice and make a choice, as whomever is elected will make decisions that will affect our lives in many ways for many years, namely, as I pointed out to her, as they will most importantly be nominating justices to our Supreme Court. She cannot fathom someone having an opportunity to affect the outcome and not giving a damn.

We were about a hundred or so people back from the front of the line when we saw the crowd start to turn around and come back towards us. Their disappointed faces expressed what we feared, and that was that the venue had reached capacity and we weren’t going to be getting in. There was no big announcement, no “Thank you for coming and we are sorry we can’t accommodate you all. We hope you’ll remember to vote for Mr. Trump and here’s a free pin for your time” on a bullhorn as I’d have thought would be nice, considering we’d been there over 2-1/2 hours in the cold. But nope. Nothing. And thankfully, as calmly as we’d all stood there, we’d begun to turn around and head back for our cars. It was at this point that I realized there must’ve been at least 600-700 people still behind us in line! I later heard on the news there were actually over a thousand of us turned away.

I heard yesterday that Trump was so pleased with the turn-out of supporters for him that he is returning for another rally somewhere in Wisconsin. My daughter explained to me how Wisconsin is a “swing” state, and typically votes Democratic, but if Trump can get the ten electoral votes here, it would be the first time since 1984 thanks to Ronald Reagan. And it’s no coincidence I told her, that Trump and his VP running mate Pence blurt out Reagan’s name at every opportunity.

If Hillary had come to Wisconsin, my daughter said she’d “absolutely go” with me. And actually, the day after the Trump rally, Anne Holton, wife of VP nominee Tim Kaine, was in Milwaukee at a Clinton supporter event. I signed us both up, but we decided not to go because it just didn’t sound interesting to hear the VP nominee’s wife talk, and my daughter would’ve missed an entire day of school.  I admire my daughter for her open-mindedness and willingness to learn as much as she can about both sides.

Truth is, one of these two nominees WILL become our next President, regardless of how we grunt and groan about the two choices it’s boiled down to now. Four years will come and go, and what about the next election? If you feel disenfranchised, I urge you to get behind a political party or candidate you believe in, or work to change the system. You have more power than you think.

Will I got to the next rally with her if it’s nearby?

You betcha.

 

 

 

You can’t make me!

Growing up the only Jewish girl in my neighborhood, certain times of the year were always very upsetting for me. Back then, it was “Christmas vacation” not “Winter Break” as it’s called now (thankfully!) and it was “Easter break” not “Spring Break”. So when my friends begged me to go to church with them and “be saved”, I enthusicastically went along. Of course, there was a cute boy involved.

I was about fifteen years old, awkward and uncomfortable in my own skin and unfortunately, not very versed in Judaism. My parents raised us “just Jewish enough” to make it extremely difficult to go from “Jesus was a carpenter and that’s all” to “Jesus is the son of God”, but not Jewish enough to be able to defend those beliefs. We never went to synagogue, even though my grandfather spoke fluent Hebrew. We did however celebrate all the Jewish holidays, and I loved Passover because I got to drink Manischewitz Concord Grape wine. I never had a Christmas tree, never dyed eggs at Easter nor believed in Santa Claus.

I don’t remember how I got to the church that night because we were all too young to drive.  NO WAY would my mom have let me go to church! It was a weeknight, so I’m sure I told her I was going to a school-related function. This was when the “born again” Christian movement had quite a stronghold, and again, I felt left out. I was very excited to become “saved” and knew if I could just believe, I’d finally fit in somewhere.

I felt like I was cheating on my religion just sitting there. I was so uncomfortable. It’s like I had a crush on a new boy but hadn’t yet broken up with the current one. What if someone saw me? My secret would be out. What was a good Jewish girl doing in an evangelical Christian church??? It was a risk I was willing to take. My friends all had shiny happy faces, eager to see their friend “saved”. I had no idea what I needed to do to get there, but I was very willing.

The preacher, or whatever he was called, got up and spoke. I don’t have any recollection of what he said beyond calling those of us who had not yet accepted Jesus into our hearts to come forward and kneel, and ask forgiveness for our sins. Do WHAT???!! Get up and stumble across a dozen knees saying “excuse me” like I was in a ballpark to get a hotdog? Go up in front of hundreds of people and be noticed?! And have my sins on display for everyone to cluck their tongues at?? And as I sat there, starting to feel nauseated and embarrassed, my friends nodding and elbowing me to “go on, go up and get saved!!” I realized I didn’t have any sins I needed to be forgiven for, except maybe lying to my mom where I was. I felt ridiculous and frightened.

They were the tensest moments of my young life. I was trying SO hard to feel something. I didn’t. I didn’t feel Jesus, I didn’t feel like I needed saving. I was so frustrated with myself. What was wrong with me??? I couldn’t do anything right.

I froze in my seat, and despite the elbowings and encouraging faces of the cute boy and my friends, I couldn’t move. I stayed in my seat, and fought the impulse to just go with it to fit in. I just couldn’t do it, no matter how badly I thought I wanted it. My feet wouldn’t budge. It would’ve been disingenuous, and even at the ripe old age of 15, I couldn’t pretend to be something I wasn’t. It was a long ride home, my friends disappointed and worried about me because they wouldn’t see me in heaven after all. I just shrugged my shoulders.

I don’t think I ever confessed to my parents about that night, but if I had, I’m sure they’d have been proud of me for standing up for myself, especially in the face of peer disapproval. For a teenager, fitting in is paramount, and we are all biologically designed to seek connection.

But we shouldn’t have to abandon ourselves to be accepted.  Those “friends” weren’t friends–I soon learned they were sent by their church to proselytize and get new members. I saw how they left me alone after that and went after other kids instead.

And I realized that being different was okay. I tried to change, I tried to drink the Kool-Aid. I had the cup in my hand–it was up to my lips, but I just couldn’t do it.

To thine own self be true.

 

 

Dislike and don’t share

We all know that the more we try to convert someone who doesn’t want to be converted, the more that person is likely to dig their proverbial heels in tighter. Whether we are trying to talk someone into eating healthier, changing religions, or choosing a particular presidential candidate, it’s just futile to try. It’s like receiving unsolicited advice. It’s icky, rude, and unwelcomed.

With this in mind, I have refrained from posting my political beliefs on my Facebook not because I worry what people might think of me (those of your that know me know that I don’t really care what others think of me! I’ve outgrown that thank God). I have refrained mostly because when I see others’ political posts, I just keep scrolling. Just like when I see posts about religion and “like and share if you love Jesus” or “like and share if you love tacos”.  Even “If you love your daughter like and share.” Well my daughter already knows I love her, does it mean I stopped if I don’t “like and share?” Who cares??! No one cares. And if I don’t like Jesus or tacos and don’t “like and share”,  does anyone notice I’ve ignored your suggestions? Of course not, because we all just keep going along our merry way.

I learned my lesson about posting my beliefs after one of the many tragic shootings. I realized nothing I said was going to change anyone’s minds. I only incited hatred and vitriol, not open-mindedness.

I think that’s what prompted me to start this blog. There is a time and a place for everything, and maybe Facebook isn’t the place for rants and raves. Sometimes they’re fun to read–sometimes they’re witty, sometimes, they’re snarky and mean, but I’ve seen posts that go back and forth endlessly without accomplishing anything, but for some reason, you keep reading them.  It’s kind of like passing a car wreck and hoping you don’t see any blood, but secretly hoping you do so it makes being stuck in traffic more exciting.

Like all of you, I have loads of opinions on things and I expect many of you to disagree with me. How boring it would be if we all thought alike??

Hope you enjoy my next post.