My March Madness

The other night Thing 2 was discussing teachers. He said, "You know, some like to capitalize on your weakensses. You go up to their desk, ask them a question, and then in a booming voice he or she announces to the entire class that you don't get something. Now why would I ever ask another question?"

Hmm....

So Thing 2 says that maybe, just maybe, that teacher is simply a loud person and maybe, just maybe, he or she is trying to teach the whole class. Hasn't that ever happened? she wonders to Thing 2. Teachers are looking for moments to teach. Maybe he or she is just trying to help the entire class.

This gets debated back and forth. They carry on so pleasantly that I keep sneaking glances to remind myself that these are MY kids.  This feels like a record exchange.....kind, conversational, thoughful.

I look around. Where am I?

I see the familiar piles and dust bunnies so this is most certainly my home.

In another stunning moment, they move on to homework and if I understood the situation correctly, it appears like Thing 2 asked help from Thing 1 and she gave it WILLINGLY. WITH A SMILE.

I have a rosy glow. I am so gobsmacked I can't talk. There is hope, I think. My kids like each other. They can talk to each other. I quickly take a picture because this is a day of days.

Here, take a look!


Suddenly the mature and forward thinking teen is bellowing like a stuck pig because Thing 2's stinky sock TOUCHED her pant leg and WHAT WAS HE THINKING?

My glow instantly fades because I know what is coming. Two gigantic steps forward, three hundred back.

Thing 2 is now pinching Thing 1 and her bellow now sounds like a mewl.

Seriously, after crying babies, I just didn't understand how loud kids could be. Maybe it's just mine, but the noises they emit are not only effing weird. They are loud.

"STOP IT!" roars Thing 2. As much as he just has to pinch, he hates loud noises. Sadly, the connection between those two things has never been made.

Thing 1 has decided retaliation is in order. She is flicking his ear as she tries to walk past him. He snaps his old blanket in her face and instantly the crocodile tears swell to dramatic (are there any other kind?) proportions.

I want to bellow because I am a stuck pig. Instead, I slink to my room and lock the door.

I have never smoked. The wine is in the fridge. Those littel fiends found and ate all of my chocolate and someone (me) has not been charging their phone. The walls aren't thick enough so I can still hear even without my hearing aids because OF COURSE I took them out. I decide to take a shower. It is in a room within a room. Maybe I can get far enough away.

Eventually I come out. I can't hear anything. It seems the dust has settled. I tiptoe back into the wreckage but all appears calm if not exactly bright.

The homework is done. They are both drawing and talkng.

I feel like I have survived some sort of emotional whiplash. I wonder how they feel?

I don't really want to know so I don't ask. Instead, I check the softener salt in preparation for my certain future. It's full and we have reserves.

Game on, as they say. My March Madness has clearly begun.






My First World Problems


I was discussing a problem with a friend the other day, something that on the surface seems pretty minor when you put it into perspective. I have never really loved the house we live in, and yet I am grateful for what I have because I have so much. 

Eventually I shrugged it off and said, "You know, it's a first world problem."

She responded in a way that took me by surprise. 

"Look," she said, "it's still your problem. I hate when people say that because you still have to figure out how to live with your feelings and thoughts about whatever it is you are living with-first world or not. You still have to make decisions and take actions and figure out stuff. It's your stuff. It's your life."

So I have been thinking about this a lot. I have been thinking about how to ride that space between being grateful for what you have and going for what you desire. I was talking to a different friend about why it feels really hard for me to take actions on things- especially when it comes to actions regarding my own self and she suggested Al-anon. I grew up with a brother who is an alcholic (He's recovered now. Three years! Go Kelley!) and this apparently, has left it's mark though I am only now piecing it together.

I wanted to blame my reticence on really taking action regarding my home to just not being grateful for what I have when I see now that it is a pattern developed at a really young age. 

A-ha!

I say all of this because it's mind boggling to me how it all fits together and how long it has taken me to see it.

I guess the best part of all of this is that I see because I am willing to look. 

And this makes me wonder about people who are unwilling to look- those of us who keep riding through life sort of blindly not willing to really look closely at our stuff. 

I know you might be sick of me now, always bringing up The Red Boot Coaltion like it's some sort of therapy. It's not. It's just that if you are willing to claim certain things about your own experience, you can't help but start to question how you have been living and how that comes out in all aspects of your life.

I find this sort of personal inquisition really wild and I can't help but think of how we might interact with each other differently if people were willing to pull a chair up to a table and get real about who they are. 

Neither of these conversations with friends occured within the parameters of my Red Boot meetings, but I have wondered if I would have had them were it not for what was going on inside of me because of the meetings.

So after a tumultuous 2014, I have to say 2015 feels, still, sort of crazy. I have a new job that I am still figuring out. I have kids who need me in much different way as teens/tweens. I don't have to dress them or hold their hands to cross the street, but taking their emotional temperature seems to never end.  I have a new mission in sharing more about The Red Boot Coaltion and how I think it can make our lives richer.

And apparently I have more discoveries to make about who I am and how I live in this first world life of mine.   




Let's talk about what we are too afraid to talk about.

Here is a list of what most people don't want to talk about and, of course, this is based only on my personal experience:


  • How we can feel lonely in the middle of a crowded room.
  • How we can love and hate, with equal measure, the same person.
  • That we don't ever really forget what it feels like to be 12 and insecure. (By the way, did you know that being 12 is such a big deal that the city of New York has a dedicated an entire PROJECT to helping kids through it? To them I say Booyah!)
  • A person who is CLEARLY struggling, ignoring a fact the rest of the world can see. Pick a famouse person, pick a nonfamous person. We have all watched this at some time or another. Rather than speak out, question, or even just grab their hand, we watch and wait.
  • How your body, a great resource and constant companion, can fight against your truest self.
  • Politics. People never want to discuss politics unless, of course, they are already certain you are in agreement.
  • Fear. My assumption is the list is long and wide and varied of what scares us. Once I tried to discuss this with someone. They professed to have no fears and so the conversation was short and I was shut down.
  • How much we love the friends who save us. The women (sorry dad and Jim and Big Man and maybe Jeff, if he still reads), who bear our words. I love women who shout from the mountain tops-- I love you girl!I love you woman friend! I love you savior of mine! You keep me here! Thank you! Some of us do this, some of us don't, but the bottom line is we all know it's true and there is nothing to fear about that truth.
  • How any marrige is hard.
  • How we fail our children and our spouses and how we fail ourselves. These are only perceptions and the right listener will set you straight.See above shout-out to women who save us. The right listener lets you talk through all this until you get to the truer side of yourself- the side which is the one that says you are doing the very best that you can.
  • What/Who God is to them.
  • How communication, even in the best set of circumstances, is hard.
  • How really, we all just want to be seen and heard.
  • Atrocities. Certain news stories catch me and I get stuck in them. School shootings, the lost girls, lying public figures (too many to name). What do we do with all this bad news? 
  • How the moods we experience can be mystifying to us.


I think I have figured out that many people don't find that it helps to discuss such things. But for me, it is key to my well-being. I was carrying something that was really just sort of niggling me. It wasn't huge, but it was there and I could feel it. I kept it there for a couple of days and then an opportunity to share presented itself. I decided to be brave and I shared what was on my mind. Immediately I felt better. I let it out and this thing lost it's power over me.

And yet as often as not, even trying to talk can feel lonely. For those who dare to take a stab at just naming and calling out all this stuff, it is scary. Sometimes when a question is asked and no one replies, it feels like you have not been heard or that what you are wondering about does not matter. I cannot tell you how many times someone has shared a story with me and it always goes something like this.

Friend: "So I said to _______I just don't understand blah blah blah.."

Me:  "Well, did you ask _______to explain blah blah blah?"

Friend:  "I did."

Me:  "Well, what did _______ say?"

Friend:  "Nothing._______ just looked at me."

Silence can speak volumes, but the problem is no one really knows exactly what that silence is saying and all we are left with is our own wonky interpretation. In my Red Boot Coaltion meeting, silence is a safe and calm place because it is set up to be that way. In interpersonal day-to-day interactions like work and friends and family, silence is nerve-wracking, uncertain, tense.

Or maybe that is just my life. Will some poor reader will chime in here to re-assure me? Please? 

And so I get why people stop with the questions. I get why they just sort of LET GO of whatever it is and this is not at all like Disney's Elsa. When that happens, you really have to work hard to keep your own head in a good space.

So I am wondering how life might be if we weren't always so quiet and we just spoke our truthiest truths (not my line- see Glennon from Momastery). What if we asked the questions everyone has on their minds? What if we just said those things that we can't stop wondering?

Maybe not much. But maybe, just maybe, a conversation would ensue and then who knows what?

You know how kids wonder about things? You know how they will ask you out of true and innocent curiosity--why would someone kill someone because they are a woman or black or Jewish or fill-in-the-blank? Why doesn't everyone want to save the earth? Why, mom, are people so mean?

My best answer is because they didn't know any better. I say it's because they were afraid to talk about what they were feeling. They were afraid to ask questions. They were afraid. And while this seems simplistic, I believe fear, left unchecked, shuts us all down.
And I believe what we don't know is because we don't take the time to find out and to listen and to bear witness to all that stuff we just keep bottled up inside.

So that's where I am today.

I am with all of you who want to speak out about your sadness, your sorrow, your fears, your questions about why, your own truth full of uncertainty and fear and also of love and goodwill.

It is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO messy out there! 

But I believe we can ease each other's burden just a bit with a sincere question and words of ecouragment to speak up when we are scared and uncertain. I believe this. I really do.