Thursday, October 30, 2008

Gratitude 10

- Being healthy after battling the stomach flu
- Seeing a beautiful sky full of stars while walking the dogs
- Running into a scared (it was dark) neighbor walking and having her take one of my dogs to help her feel safe
- Being able to send one of my books to a man diagnosed with cancer so he could show his children what he did for work and his impact on the profession
- Meeting with a prospective candidate and really liking him
- Having 2 dates planned with my husband this weekend
- Being able to volunteer once in a while at my kids' school, including tomorrow's Halloween party
- Jogging with my dog this morning and his improved behavior on lease
- Learning that he's even better when he's on the "casual walk" command

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


When I stopped seeing my mother with the eyes of a child, I saw the woman who helped me give birth to myself.”
-Nancy Friday

Maybe it is not that I need to understand my mother's weaknesses as much as it is that I need to understand and overcome my own.

Two Way Streets

Lately I've been thinking a lot about relationships and the importance of having a two way street in each of our relationships.

This mostly comes about as I deal with some unresolved issues surrounding my mother, but as I examine my tendencies, I see how I coped with my mom has seeped into other areas of my life.

My mom was never really there for me. I don't mean to sound like an ungrateful or overcritical daughter, but it is true. As a child, she tried to be a peer, often talking to me about topics I truly wasn't mature enough to deal with. At the time I took it as a compliment and was grateful to be treated like an adult, now I know she was ignoring her resonsibilities as a parent and not respecting boundaries. During the divorce, she was completely absent as a parental figure, swallowed up in her own grief and upset. Even after I moved, our relationship revolved around her:

- When I had a lump removed from my breast, my mom was upset with me for not telling her. Her upset was the main emotion, followed later by empathy.

- When I didn't seem to call her enough when I was a grown woman in college, she took matters into her own hands and called the dean, who then called me into her office. Of course, my mom was not my guardian and was not contributing a cent to my education, but she felt the right to ask my dean to correct me.

As an adult, I find myself making every single phone call and every single visit. I used to explain it away and go along with her excuses. She doesn't like to fly, she doesn't have money, etc. But then I realized that it wasn't just the money she wasn't contributing to the relationship, it was everything else you expect from a mom. An interest in me, an interest in my children, a willingness to reach out instead of being reached, a willingness to express excitement over birthdays, holidays and milestones. I'm tired of making excuses for her and trying to pretend our relationship isn't damaged. I'm tired of doing all of the heavy lifting and doing so out of fear of guilt, both from her and from me.

So, as this happens, I find myself examining other relationships in my life, and realizing that I haven't been requiring two-way streets.

Here are some tag-lines I've tried to live by, which unfortunatley have fed this coedependency inside of me:

"You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want." Zig Ziglar

"Go along to get along."

I'm finding these don't work for me anymore as I can't do them and hold onto my needs and wants. I can't follow this and ensure that I am doing for me too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gratitude 9

I am grateful for:

- toilet paper - my yoga teacher reminded me to be thankful for the everyday things, like toilet paper
- an upcoming camp weekend with moms and kids
- a weekend affair with Double Stuff Oreos
- being in nature
- my dogs both doing great sit-stays when I have to clean up their poop
- daily morning walks with dogs
- getting back into my running routine after taking some time off for dog training and a cold/flu
- learning to set better boundaries in my relationship with my mom
- my brother's upcoming visit
- the flowers an employee gave me for bosses day
- getting to go out to lunch tomorrow with another employee as a bosses day treat
- being able to share the pesto I made with basil from my garden
- using my first bin of worm compost
- how relaxing it actually was to sort through the compost and remove the remaining worms
- fish tacos

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ollie is a Keeper!!

The husband finally agreed that we are keeping Ollie!!!

He's doing great on leash and getting better around other dogs!


I want the Magic Pill!

What stories do you tell yourself to keep you from making real change in your life?
I can have a normal life with a normal mom and normal grandma to my children. The past is the past and I can forgive and make my own future.

What beliefs or blockages prevent you from experiencing new ways of doing things?
One should never shut anyone out of their life, and parents deserve respect.

Do you constantly beat yourself up?
Yes, I can't do enough for my mom - there is more that I could/should be doing to make her life more comfortable.

Do you constantly label yourself as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’ or ‘not good enough’ in some way?
I need to be strong. Being sensitive or putting my needs above others is wrong. I am a rock and I can provide for everyone.

Would you allow your friends and colleagues to speak to you in the way your ego—your Inner Judge and Critic—speaks to you?

Do your current beliefs bring you happiness (be honest) or pain and suffering (be equally honest)?
Pain and suffering.

If the latter, why do you continue to hold them and allow them to run your life?
I let my mom use me and I wallow in guilt, which I even transfer to my brother. I still feel guilty for going to live with my dad, for picking the stronger parent. Frankly, it is unfair that I ever had to pick. I got dealt a raw hand in life. But if I change my beliefs and my actions now, I can allow myself to be dealt a new hand.

What would it take to heal yourself?
I need to put limits on my relationship with my mother and to contain the damage. I need to put energy into the positive relationships in my life. My husband and children need me and my positive energy, which I will foster.

The average person has 16,000 thoughts a day. Would you characterize the majority of yours as ‘healing’ (love-based) or ‘killing’ (fear-based)?
I'm working on making my thoughts healing.

Did you ever just observe your thoughts without getting caught up in them, or in a ’story’?
Yes, during yoga and when I meditate.

What is it like?
Awesome - it helps me detach from the drama and not get sucked into anything too fast.

What one or two debilitating or limiting beliefs would you like to update right now?
The past is the past and I have a normal two way relationship with my mother.

Can you do it?

Will you?
I will try - I'm scared of change and the guilt trips from my mom when I begin to expect her to meet me halfway.

What one or two baby steps can you take this week or next to make changes in your life by creating new thoughts and beliefs about yourself—and then taking action?
I did one already. I am not dragging my whole family to Washington state for an annual trip. Just me. This saves money and unnecessary drama for my husband and kids - my mom never really offered them anything anyway, she's too self-absorbed.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Thought for the Day

“It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning.”

~ P.D. Ospensky

Homework Cram Session 3

My therapist recommended that I spent time journaling and include a list of traits of my mom. Not dissimilar to the homework to "objectify my boss" last year, this is to help me see her more clearly as an individual instead of what I want from a mom.

Maurine N. P.

Had breast augmentation
Divorced her husband after 18 years together
Lives on social security, paycheck to paycheck
Has brown hair with gray that she does not dye
Lost her two front bottom teeth, but cannot afford to have them replaced
Is epileptic
Hadn't really lived on her own before marrying
Is the middle of three girls
Was a teacher for about 5 years, and this defines much of her
Is self-centered
Is egocentric
Is melodramatic
Belives that yelling at a child and calling them names is not abuse, like hitting a child
Does not talk to her youngest sister
Lost custody of her daughter after the divorce was finalized
Truly believes that she was a great mom to her young children and that she didn't get to finish her work as they got older
Was a size 2/4 most of her life
Took medicine to put on weight as a young girl
Believes that she raised her younger sister
Claims she was raped by a family friend who later played it off as an affair - when I asked my dad, he says she never told him
Cannot drive and has no license
Has no credit cards
Needs to nap most days
Refuses to fly on an airplane
Does not write letters
Rarely, if ever, makes phone calls
Considers herself a feminist
Smokes about 1 1/2 packs of cigarettes a day
Says she would give up eating before giving up smoking
Drinks coffee first thing in the morning
Appear to have the early stages of Parkinson's
Had a flower business when she was married to her second husband
Is on disability due to her epilepsy
Does not get along with her new landlord/owner
Refuses to consider assisted care
Is 5'8" and now more like a size 12/14
Lives in a room in a home of about 10 borders, considers herself the manager
Has lived in this home for more than a decade

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

That Well is Dry

I had a very intense therapy session last night as I read my letter and grappled with my relationship with my mother and my unfulfilled needs.

Not dissimilar to when I was a child in therapy during the divorce, my therapist told me that my mother is unable to be a mother to me, to nurture me. She said "that well is dry and you keep trying to go there for comfort only to find that it is still dry". So, instead of looking for other people to meet my needs, I have repressed them.

I have presented myself, especially to my husband, as someone who doesn't need attention, nurturing, sensitivity, and care. That I am self-sufficient, independent and strong, needing almost nothing to exist and continue on.

This is flawed as I do have needs and I have not allowed myself to acknowledge them. I have stopped myself from getting them met.

Now I need to resort my needs and ask for them to be met. I need to explain that I am evolving from who I was and that I am changing. That I am a needy person and I have a right to seek out having my needs met.

I just hope that my husband's well isn't also dry.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Homework Cram Session 2

Warning: What you are about to read is therapy homework and may sound negative and resentful.

Dear Daughter,

I raised you to the be the opposite of me. I stayed home and volunteered instead of earning money. I was stopped by sexism and majored in English instead of Math as a result.

But you have no obstacles and can/should be as successful as you can be. I divorced your dad and am now living near poverty, therefore, I have instilled in you the importance of making your own money and being able to support yourself.

I have spent your life telling you that you will be successful and I expect you too. I have told you that you can have it all and I expect that.

I, on the other hand, am weak and needy. You are strong. Therefore, you need to cater to me. What does this mean, well, it means:

- You should call me, preferably weekly. I am poor and cannot afford long distance, plus I have trouble reading the numbers on those pre-paid calling cards you sent me. It's really best if you just call me. If you miss a week or two, be prepared for a guilt trip as I worry if you don't call, and as I said, I can't be expected to call you.

- You should travel to me. With my epilepsy, you can't expect me to get on a plane, so you should buy 4 tickets and bring your family to me. Oh, and since I am poor and live in a room, I can't put you up or afford to get you a hotel, so please cover that for yourself. Lastly, I can't drive and don't have a car, so don't forget to rent a car. I know this costs a lot, but I've raised you to be successful, so you can afford it.

- Don't plan on me remembering your birthday, your husband's birthday, or my grandchildren's birthday. I know I don't work, but I'm terribly busy and can't drive (to a store or post office) and don't have a credit card (to order on the Internet) and for heaven's sake, you know I don't write letters, so don't even expect a card. If you nag me, I'll remember the kids' birthdays once in a while, but if you don't nag, nothing will happen.

- While you were young I trash talked your dad. When you got older you taught me that you wouldn't hear this. Every now and then I'll ask about him, but don't feel awkward.

- Every now and then I'll get emotional and talk about how I wish I lived closer and could help with the kids. I'll pretend that writing letters and remembering birthdays is not helpful and is not a reasonable request.

Your Mom

Homework Cram Session

Tonight I meet with my therapist and last week she asked me to do some journaling on what she perceives as my attraction/acceptance of selfish and lazy people.

This comes out of discussions about my frustrations with my husband and the commonality with my relationship with my mom.

I hesitate to write this on my blog as I fear it will be very negative, and I don't want to be a downer. So . . .

Warning! What you are about to read is filled with resentment. Please note, however that the writer is working through these emotions with the goal of healing her relationships and preserving and improving her marriage.

Dear Wife,

Please work full time in a job that you can barely tolerate while I work for myself, part-time, when I please and as it fits my schedule. Please do walk the dogs each morning, as you know I won't do anything with them during the day, and don't forget to make the kid's lunches, as I'll just let them buy school lunches even though our daughter should not drink milk and you think school lunches put her asthma at risk, and do this before you leave for your 9-hour work day. I'll get the kids ready for school. Yes, sometimes they wake up before me and I just stay in bed while they do God knows what in the house. And yes, they just have cold cereal on most days. And yes, I seem to forget to make our daughter take her medication, but thanks for the sign you posted above her backpack - we're getting a little better at remembering. Oh, and don't forget to feed the dogs.

After working your 9-hour day and driving at least 30 minutes to get home, we'll all be home waiting for you to make our dinner. Now, you know this is your fault because you don't like my cooking and because you are in charge of shopping, so how would I know what to make? About a year ago, you made those great lists of exactly what I should make (chicken, rice, salad, broccoli), but you stopped, so I stopped making the meals.

Please bring up your concerns and frustrations, but understand that I may simply not respond. Yep, that's right, not say a single word. Because you're emotional and will get over it anyway, why invest my energy, plus it's kind of hard, so I'll just avoid it and you.

Understand that I don't want you to spend a dime. Literally. I will complain about everything you spend that isn't on groceries (that are on sale). Also, I will not buy anything, because that involves spending money. Conveniently, this puts you in the position of buying everything like shoes for the kids and presents for my relatives. Don't expect presents either, those cost money.

After a long week of work, you get to have some quality time with the kids on Saturday. I know you miss them. I'll go off and run with my running club. Sometimes I'll run so far that I'm exhausted the rest of the day, so don't expect me to mow the lawn or do any heavy lifting on these days. Yes, I know I run more than 20 miles a week, but don't expect me to run with that new dog. He was your idea and that's why you get to do all the work. That will teach you a lesson. Even though I came with you to get him and seemed to agree, this is your burden.

You see, the problem is your standards are way higher than mine and you put this on yourself. I'd be happy with no friends, no parties, a messy house, clothes that don't fit, and relatives who don't hear from us at Christmas. You seem to think this is important. What's important to me? My running and my business, don't mess with those. Somewhere after those is where you fall. At least you are before the kids.

Your husband of 10 years.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I got tagged by Sierra so here goes:)

7 things I can do:
1. Make a project come in on time and on budget
2. Make a dog sit
3. Organize parties
4. Find the silver lining in most situations
5. Earn enough to support my family
6. A headstand . . . or at least I could a few weeks ago . . .
7. Bake a lasagne from scratch without a recipe

7 things I can't do
1. Go more than one week without a Diet Coke or glass of wine
2. Find patience when it is within one hour of my own bedtime
3. Seem to get over my jealousy of part-time or stay at home moms who get to meet for coffee or volunteer during the day
4. Carry a tune
5. Manage up
6. Sleep in
7. Seem to bake a cake or make frosting from scratch

7 things that attracted me to Tom
1. his patience
2. his dimples
3. his dry sense of humor
4. his easy going nature
5. his ability to remain calm
6. his aloofness
7. his quiet nature

7 things I say most often
1. NOW!!
2. Good boy/good girl - dog training seems to consume me
3. How about that
4. Too bad
5. Whatever
6. Honeybunch
7. Do what your daddy says

7 Celebrity admirations
1. Madonna - amazing businesswoman
2. Peter Drucker - management guru
3. Oprah - overcoming adversity and making a difference, amazing empathy
4. Bono - passion for peace
5. Ellen - amazing success, humor and role model
6. Warren Buffett - even though I can't agree with his family life (he's married but lives with a mistress), he's made billions in this down market and is a financial genius
7. Gloria Steinem - likely wouldn't be where I am today without her

7 favorite foods
1. chocolate
2. french fries
3. wine
4. Diet Coke
5. Double Stuff Oreos
6. spice drops
7. burritos

3 days, 3 parties, and lowered expectations

This past weekend was the perfect storm. I was sick all week with a cold that moved to my chest and I had a PTA function to throw on Friday night, a birthday party to throw on Saturday night, and breakfast to host Sunday morning. It was ripe for pushing myself to the edge and burning out . . . but I didn't.

I mused with my husband about why and we came up with the following:

- good planning - thinking things, events, needs through ahead of time
- good coordination - knowing who was doing what and being able to ask him to do things
- lowered expectations - kids were old enough not to need activities planned for them, Costco pizza was fine, generic root beer was fine, minimal decorations were fine, purchaased bagels instead of homemade coffee cake was fine, etc.

I must admit that volunteering with the PTA was especially frustrating as a working mom not able to make their meetings or visit the school during the day. It made me feel a little outcast.

All in all a great weekend with some good take-away lessons!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What Do I Want for the Holidays

I have an extended family that is very spread out, making holidays and visits a challenge.

Once a year I make the obligatory trip to my mom with my husband and children. I feel bad calling it obligatory, but it is for me. I take this trip for my kids to know my mom and to acknowledge her role in my life. It's not always easy or pleasant, but it feels like the right thing to do.

My dad and stepmom live a couple hours away and we see them several times a year, trading off who drives to see whom.

My brother moved away from the west coast and lives in Ohio. He came out last year to visit while dad was battling cancer. He is divorced with a 3-year-old daughter whom my mom has never met.

We talked about doing a shared trip to visit my mom and it has become a shared trip with dad, stepmom, then mom. It's become so much more than I initially imagined and it is being proposed for right before Christmas, one of the busiest and most intimate times of the year.

I'm finding myself trying to manage a family reunion among family that doesn't even seem to want to meet halfway. I'm losing myself in what is right and trying to meet other people's needs.

Homework - What I Would Need to Feel Loved

Affection without the expectation of sex
Gifts on my birthday and holidays, even if they are low in cost
Doors opened for me on dates
Having the manly things done around the house, instead of having to do them myself
To have things/chores done without having to be asked
To be appreciated
To be told I look pretty every now and then
To be listened to
To be thanked for what I do to support the marriage and family
Date nights a couple times a month
Support on joint activitiesEncouragement and empathy
Kind gestures and a feeling that my husband is taking care of/looking out for me
Calls when my husband is away

Monday, October 6, 2008

Flight - Man vs. Nature

This weekend I had the joy of watching the Blue Angels, and I marveled at their grace and aeronautics.

That was until two hummingbirds buzzed by me. One was chasing the other out of my yard, which is ripe with tubular flowers, and the first was dodging the other to the right, left, up and down. They stole the show from the wonderful Blue Angels, mostly for their natural beauty, skill, and speed. As much as I marvel at projects which take a lot of time, money and skill, I truly admire what is around us and appreciate the opportunity to be reminded of it by two little hummingbirds whizzing by.