Friday, November 30, 2007
From the time my kids were old enough to crawl, I've taught them to be careful. It's for their safety; their protection. I gave them plastic utensils with rounded edges. I "kid-proofed" my house. I was there to catch them when they fell taking their first steps. I taught them not to touch a hot stove, and to be careful not to shut their fingers in the door. I taught them just like my mom taught me and her mom taught her. No matter how careful a parent is, accidents happen. Bones get broken. Eyes get poked. Knees get scraped. Hands get burned, and fingers get smashed. It's a part of life that all parents try to protect their kids from for as long as they possibly can, but in the end, all kids get hurt and feel pain.
By the time we're adults, it's an accepted fact of life. We know that we will get hurt and feel physical pain somehow...somewhere...sometime, but we are programmed from an early age to avoid pain...at all costs...just like I programmed my children when they were babies. We are taught that pain is bad. Pain is scary. When we feel pain, we do everything we can to numb it...bandaids...ice packs...medicine. We want the pain to go away...fast, and we are careful never to repeat the action that caused the pain in the first place.
My body is sore and tired today and my heart hurts. Today, I feel pain, but I guess that's not so unusual for me. I workout...hard..and everyday I feel pain because of this. Sometimes, it's my back. Sometimes, my legs...my butt...my arms. Sometimes, it's my heart; my soul. Sometimes it's hard to tell where it hurts. I just know I feel pain. It hasn't been until recently that I learned to appreciate pain...to like pain. No, I'm not some kinky masochistic freak. I'm someone that has learned to respect pain...to understand it...to work through it...to live in it...to use it for my own benefit rather than fighting against it.
Pain teaches me. It refines me. Sometimes when my muscles ache, and I scramble for the Advil and ice packs, I stop and take a step back. My body is sore...hurting...because today I used it. I worked hard to make myself the best I can be. When it hurt, I didn't stop...I pressed on and grew stronger. When it was hard...I rose to the challenge and built endurance; confidence. The pain, the hurt is an affirmation that I did the best I could. When my heart breaks and my soul is battered, it is because I have been hurt..somehow...by someone...maybe an unkind word or a disagreement...maybe loneliness or disappointment...maybe unrequited love or even betrayal. This pain is much harder for me to embrace. It is very tempting to do whatever I can to ignore this pain...to find a way...any way that I can...to keep from feeling this pain...to stuff it down...to build a wall and shut myself off from the possibility. I've learned that it is important not to push this pain down but to feel it...to acknowledge it...to learn from it, because this pain also teaches me...even makes me better...stronger too. I am learning that it is better to risk this pain than it is to be alone and sacrifice happiness...love...friendship. It may be harder for me to accept the pain of heartache than it is to accept physical pain, but surviving heartache helps me appreciate those that truly love me...that handle my heart and soul with care. It reminds me that the way I treat others really does matter.
Pain is a part of life. It comes whether we invite it or not...embrace it or reject it...work with it or against it. Everyone has experienced the strange phenomenon where pain actually feels good physically. An example being the fact that massaging a sore muscle can hurt so bad and feel so good at the same time. It only takes a moment, but if we jump up at the first touch, afraid to feel the pain, we cheat ourselves out of the pleasure that follows. I will continue to see pain as a positive force in my life; a catalyst for change. I will use it as a gage for progress. I will be patient and brave and wait until the misery subsides and allow the pain to "hurt so good"...again...and again...and again.
Posted by MC at 12:48 PM
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Making beds...washing dishes...doing laundry...taking kids to school...to swim...to soccer...these are just a few of the repetitive tasks that I do almost everyday. They never end. Even if I make beds and do laundry everyday...I'm never really finished, because more clothes get dirtied everyday and those beds get unmade again every night. Many days it is mind numbing. I feel like a hamster on a wheel...feverishly running as fast as I can...around and around and around...not sure where I'm going...never getting any further than I was before...just keeping up.
Sometimes I fantasize about how my life would have been different had I chosen to stay in college...if I had chosen an exciting career path...stayed single...possibly even traveled the world. I try to imagine how different things would be had I chosen this cosmopolitan lifestyle. I imagine a very clean, modern, expensive apartment...with a view...I don't know what the view would include or where it would be...but there would be a view. I envision shiny stainless steel appliances...a fridge with no calendars or hand drawn pictures. I imagine peace and quiet...time to read books uninterrupted...and restful nights of sleep...no nightmares or monsters in closets. I imagine myself in expensive high heels and designer "power suits". I imagine gourmet dinners and lots of parties...glamorous parties full of important people.
Before I know it, my fantasies are interrupted by the cries or demands or giggles of my three children...and I reenter MY world...the one where traveling includes kids that whine and can't carry their own carry on baggage, a beach right here in the US, and days spent doing nothing but lying in the sun reading novels, building sand castles, and breaking up arguments...not hiking the Inca trail or sailing the Mediterranean on a yacht...the one with a comfortable home rather than a modern apartment...the one with a view of the elementary school from my back porch rather than a cityscape...the one that includes jeans and the occasional high heel bought on sale at Macy's rather than Manolo Blahniks and Armani suits...the one that includes McDonald's Happy Meals and Subway sandwiches, not gourmet meals...the one that includes parties, but not glamorous parties...these parties include jump houses, balloons, birthday cakes and squealing children that have had way too much sugar...no fancy hors d'oeuvres or important people. I wonder what I've missed all these years that I've been living as a suburban housewife...and then I realize that I'm looking at my life all wrong.
I have missed out on the glamour and excitement. I have missed out on exotic travel and gourmet meals because of the choices I made...the choice to leave college...to get a minimum wage job and help support my husband while he finished his degrees and accomplished his goals...the choice to have children...to quit my job and stay at home...the choice to spend my days in parks on picnics...in museums...at water parks...and on field trips, not in a board room...or an expensive restaurant for a lunch date...or the first class cabin of an airplane on my way to a business trip. I try to turn my thinking in another direction...I wonder what would I have missed had I chosen the other life I sometimes dream about???
I would have missed out on the miracle of hearing the heartbeat of the life growing inside me for the first time...the surprise of the first kick inside my belly...and the overwhelming feeling of love that washed over me the first time I held my newborn baby in my arms and counted their ten perfect fingers and toes. I would have missed the sweet smell of a baby's neck after a bath...the ability to stop a cry with one kiss...and the feeling of two small hands wrapping around my neck to hug me tight. I would've missed out on the excitement of the Easter Bunny...the thrill of the Tooth Fairy...and the magic of Santa and his elves. I would have missed out the on pictures drawn with crayons that say "I love you, Mom! XOXO" that hang on my white fridge...the one I keep hoping will grow up to be stainless steel someday. I would have missed out on the comfort of my leather couch...the one that I chose, because it was distressed and I knew it wouldn't show the scratches and spills that come with having kids. I would have missed some of the most precious moments of my life...ones worth far more than a pair of Manolos or an apartment with a view.
So, while I still daydream about what could have been...and while I still hate the mundane, repetitive tasks I perform everyday...I am grateful for the choices I have made. What I have is priceless...more valuable than gold. So, I'll continue to get up everyday and wash and clean and do the same tasks that I did the day before, but now maybe I'll stop and be grateful rather than resentful. I'll continue to make the same beds and I'll calm familiar cries. I'll cook out of obligation...not desire...and I'll drive a minivan (the one thing I adamantly said I would NEVER do) to swim and soccer practice...even when I don't want to. I'll be a hamster on a wheel, because the laughter and the hugs and the kisses that come with the job, make it all worthwhile.
Posted by MC at 2:14 PM
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I've written alot about my fears...my disappointments...and my regrets. It seems that my mind is always working overtime...I probably over analyze everything in my life. Sometimes I think I'm the weirdest person alive. I do strange funny things all the time. I use to be so overly sensitive that I could never laugh at myself or my mistakes. I would get all embarrassed and mad. In the past year, I've learned to laugh at myself, because as strange as these things may be, they really ARE funny. So, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to write something that isn't sad or thought provoking or cynical. I thought it would be fun to make like David Letterman and make my own "top ten" list. Here are the top ten funniest...quirky...possibly annoying things about me:
1. I do "tests" in every dressing room, EVERY time I try an article of clothing on. I turn around to look at my butt in the mirror. I bend over. I sit down in a chair. I sit and THEN cross my legs. To me, this an essential part of the decision to buy or not to buy the clothing. I mean come on, who wants to walk around looking so good in the front only to learn later that those jeans really do make your butt look big!
2. I qualify every statement I say or suggestion I give...with a LOT of words. An example would be that if I were talking to a friend about a relationship issue, I would say something like this," Now I know, I don't know everything about your relationship, and I'm not trying to speak badly of your girlfriend because you know I really like her. I mean I really do. You know that don"t you?...and I know I'm older and I've been married a long time and I'm a girl and you"re a boy and I'm seriously not trying to get in your business or say I'm an expert, because we both know that's not the case. Oh, and even if you ignore my advice, I'll still respect you, but.....I don't think she's right for you." It takes 5 minutes and hundreds of words to preface a sentence with seven words. Hey! I'm just tryin to be nice!
3. I am awkward. I trip and fall off my wedge shoes all the time. My knees bow in. I've been caught doing jumping jacks wrong...YES there is a wrong way to do them...in case you were wondering. I've been told I jump rope "like I'm in third grade". When asked by a store clerk, "Are you sure you have hold of all those bags, before I let go?" (worried look on his kind face) I reply, "Oh yeah! I got it!", turn to walk away and all the bags fall in the floor. The worst part is my awkwardness rubs off on people. The poor man bent over to help me immediately and got stuck and had to struggle to get up...red in the face. I just giggled and thanked him as I turned to walk away...and tripped.
4. I am not stupid, but I'm such an airhead sometimes. Once when I was at a Cowboy's football game with my husband, sisters, and friends, a man approached me at the bar where I was standing with my sister. Mind you...a few minutes before he walked up, he winked and smiled from afar. He said, "What are you drinking?" I replied,"Oh, I don't drink. My sister is just waiting to pay." He then said, " Well (wink-wink), you must be ready to go then. I can get you outta here real quick!" I was excited because the thought never occurred to me that he was picking me up. I thought he had connections and could, in my own words, "expedite our order". Because of my inability to notice that I was being picked up on, the man walked away scratching his head. My sister smiled and said, "You really need to get out more." Another time...Me and my personal trainer were talking and joking about his superhuman, "beast" like strength and abilities. I giggled and got all wide eyed and said all excited, "Yeah. I saw a guy wearing a shirt that said 'HALF MAN. HALF HORSE. and I immediately thought of YOU!" He gave me a kind smile and a shocked look, and replied, "Uhhhh...I don't think that's what it meant!" I was like "What????" and suddenly, moments...days later, I got it. I was so embarrassed and we couldn't quit laughing. Listen...my mind was not in the gutter, it was an honest mistake!
5. I ask a ridiculous amount of questions and say weird stuff like my dad does. I say things like, "I intellectually know Brad Pitt is good looking but I still don't like him." or "I understand the words you're saying, but I don't know what they mean to me." or "I intellectually understand this workout, but I'm not sure how to really do it." What can I say...I like to be sure, and the saying, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." applies very well here.
6. I am such a fidgety person. Whether I'm going to sleep at night, doing an exercise, or sitting in my car, I fidget until I feel just right. I never just lay down and sleep. I never get on a mat and start working out. I have to adjust my legs, and my butt has to be in the right place, and I have to be in a certain position. It doesn't matter if someone's waiting or trying to sleep...I gotta make sure it feels just right. I rest and work better when I'm comfy...even if it does take hours out of every day to do so.
7. I NEVER go out to my car and leave my house on the first try. It seems that EVERY time I go to get in the car, I've forgotten something. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4 attempts to make it out. Even then, I've been known to make a u turn on my street to go back for my bottle of water or an item I need to return or my cellphone. I am simply trying to multitask with a one task brain!
8. I always think people are staring at me. And, I always think it's because they think I'm weird or gross. You might think I'm paranoid, but they ARE I tell you!
9. I never order a sandwich or burger and then pick it up and eat it. I have to open it up and straighten the ingredients out or "fix" it in some way...ALWAYS. Look, a perfectly good sandwich can be ruined if the ingredients are not centered and in the right order!
10. I never just order off the menu. I am so picky and I don't like to be disappointed so I try to get things made the way I want them (only to rearrange them later). I mean what's wrong with asking for double rice, no beans? Or bacon extra crispy, eggs and bacon on a separate plate from pancakes? Or queso on top of my cheese enchilada instead of the regular sauce? Or ordering everything on my baked potato but ON THE SIDE so I can get it on there like I like it? Or a BLT without the L or mayo? Or gravy on the side of my chicken fried steak instead of on top...so I can dip it in there anyway? The list goes on. I'm a girl that KNOWS what she likes and is not afraid to ask for it!
I could feel bad, but what good would it do? I could change, but then I would not really be myself. Soooo.....I may be picky, and neurotic, and weird, but I can say this...whether people love me or hate me, one thing is true...I am definitely UNFORGETTABLE!
Posted by MC at 10:27 PM
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I found out last week that I have shingles. I have three spots on my face and a sore on my eyelid, but if I keep my bangs hanging just so...carefully apply coverup to my face...and apply my eye makeup just right...no one can tell. I just have to control the intensely overwhelming urge to scratch my scalp and leave my itchy eyebrows alone. If I put on a smile and wear a confident expression...I can go out and no one can tell that I have shingles. No one can tell that I feel ugly...that some days I have literally wanted to tear at my head and face until they bleed because they itch so bad. No one knows that I get random shooting pains on different parts of my head...or that when I do give in to the urge to scratch...it doesn't feel better or bring relief...it just hurts. I think it is so interesting that I can walk around suffering and sick and people can think that I am fine...even those closest to me. It is not because they don't care...it is because I only show people what I want them to see...and when I want to be...I am very good at hiding the way I feel.
I recently came across a blog called "POSTSECRET". I think I might be the last person alive to discover this project, but when I did...I was amazed...disturbed...comforted...and fascinated all at the same time. For years, people from all over the country have been mailing anonymous, homemade postcards with their secrets written on them to an address as part of an ongoing "community art project". Some are silly...some are gross...some are thought provoking...some are sad...many are heart breaking. They are not for young viewers...that is for sure. I read and I laugh. I read and I'm scared. I read and I think. I read and I cry...I cry for strangers...and I cry for me...for the person I am...and the girl that I once was.
I think that what has made the "POSTSECRET" project so successful...so engaging...is that we can all relate, because we all have secrets. We have all been sick...in one way or another. We have all been hurt...and created hurt. We've all done things we wished we hadn't or that we don't tell anyone...things that we didn't realize could change us forever. We all have desires...good desires...and desires that we know we shouldn't have. I'm not sure I could muster the courage to mail off my secrets for the world to see. The thought of having my most private dreams...my most painful memories exposed...put on display...is scary. It's scary because it's anonymous to everyone...everyone except me. I would always wonder what if...fear being recognized...feel vulnerable; naked in front of millions...worry that those people that I care the most about would see me differently if they knew how I really feel sometimes...if they knew my secrets. So, I cover them up with a smile...give people the answers they want rather than the real ones...and try my best to keep my secrets hidden.
Reading other people's "secrets" has made me realize that I am not alone. I am not alone in my suffering or in my ability to keep a secret. It has made me think twice about the way I judge people or react to people based on what I see externally, because sometimes a person can be suffering in the worst way and hide it with a smile. I wonder how many people I walk by everyday that might have a secret or be suffering in a way that I will never know...in a way that is hidden...hidden like the itchy, painful spots on my face.
Posted by MC at 9:29 PM