Sunday, May 30, 2010

I can do anything good!

Click on the link. Watch. Then read:

A friend posted this link on her facebook page. Cute? Incredibly. Really great to see a happy child who firmly believes everything in her little world is fantastic. She'll catch on soon enough, right? School bullies will beat her down. Teachers will be mean and unfair. Even her best friends will disappoint her, and many of the relationships in her life turn out to be a lot less than she'd hoped. Ah, children and their fantasy worlds. Catch a clue, little girl. You're really not so hot, and things in your life are probably already beginning to crumble.

I don't believe most of what I just wrote — but I used to. Knowing what I know now, I think it's the very best thing a girl her age could be doing. Why is it that, from an early age and on into our adult lives, we take all of the bad things everyone has ever said about us, and make them our realities? We get so good at it, the negativity doesn't even have to be directed toward us. "This just falls in line with everything else everybody's said about me, so it must be true," we think. We go from one bad relationship to another, and the similarities are uncanny. Our therapists help us realize it all traces back to our  our relationships with our parents/families starting from our very early years. If that's true — and I firmly believe it is — then little Jessica's got an incredible head start. She's learning to love herself. EXACTLY the way she is!

One of my favorite books is Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life. A friend recommended it to me when I was at about the lowest point in my life. There's so much wisdom in that book, but the resounding theme is that everything in our lives, good or bad, revolves around how we think about ourSELVES. And if there are any negative thoughts in there, they will play out in ALL of the decisions we make in our lives. Whatever it is: "I'm overweight," "I don't handle money well," "I'm not smart enough" — they all stop us from achieving our goals, expressing ourselves creatively, and living out our deepest dreams and desires. They'll also play out physically and are likely to become the primary sources of our ailments and illnesses. Hey, with all that bad karma going on inside us, something's gotta give.

But, she proclaims, we have the power to change our thoughts, and literally turn the negatives into positives. And it begins with something she calls "daily affirmations" — exactly what little Jessica was doing in front of the mirror. For example, the belief: "I hate my job" will get you nowhere. But "I now accept a wonderful new job," opens the channels for you to actually create that. In the video, one of Jessica's affirmations is "I like my sister." She says this at the very moment a baby — likely the little sister she's talking about — is wailing in the background! Take that! One of the exercises Louise Hay has you do is look into the mirror and say, "I approve of myself." Over and over again. For days, weeks, months, years. Until it becomes your belief. Try it. It's super hard to do! But extremely effective if you hang in there. (I've been at it five years and have made significant progress, though I'm certainly not "there" yet — by a longshot!)

I believe that what you know about yourself from a young age IS your reality. At my home preschool, I could tell from the minute a child walked into the door on the first day if he was given positive affirmation at home — and it was confirmed as I came to know the child and his parents. Very simple: The parents most involved in their kids' lives generally had the happier children. (Not to be confused with spoiling — it takes a much more involved parent to discipline a child than to let him run around with no boundaries at all.) I don't know if Jessica's just a really wise little girl, or if her parents have made it part of her routine to practice these affirmations, but how much better would we be — dare I day the world would be — if it was a requirement for every child to look in the mirror and give himself positive affirmations every day? (At the very least it would significantly lower the crime rate!) And why aren't all of the parenting books recommending we do this with our children?

I wasn't educated on the whole "positive affirmation" thing when my kids were little — or I certainly would've made it prominent on their list of childhood routines. But I have tried to instill in them the belief that they are completely loved and accepted — exactly as they are. On Mothers Day I asked my kids what they thought I rated highest at in my job as a mom. Melissa's response: "You make great lunches!" She's right … I really do! Cliffie's surprised me though: "You support me and believe in me — whatever I choose to do." Or something like that. Best Moms Day gift ever. I must be doing something right. And I make a hellofa tuna salad sandwich!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Manic Monday

Only yesterday I made a big deal about counting blessings — even posted a sugary sweet blog about it. But tonight my many failures, or should I say, disappointments, are taking center stage. It usually starts with a small disaster. Like doing the dishes when a half-drunk glass of milk flies out of my hand and on to the edge of the sink, drenching my Kitchen Aid mixer, blender, and pretty much the entire right side of the countertop. I'd reached my limit. The tears came. And I counted:

1. That damn speeding ticket needs to be taken care of.
2. I really thought I had more money in the bank.
3. Work is completely uninspiring lately. And they don't pay me close to what I'm worth.
4. Cliffie's making an issue out of not wanting to go to the awards ceremony tomorrow. I keep telling him it's disrespectful not to go, but he "doesn't see the point." The point is it's disrespectful not to go.
5. I spent much of the weekend housecleaning and it took less than a full day for it to become a cluttered mess once again.
6. I miss my brother.
7. I don't get this thermostat. It's either too cold or too hot in this house.
8. My energy level is zero and I have three b-day/graduation presents to wrap, package, and mail.
9. Melissa's leaving for San Francisco w/the eighth grade class tomorrow. I'll really miss her. I should have chaperoned.
10. Villianous bugs are munching at the sunflower seedlings I just planted. And some of the veggies I planted aren't coming up at all.
11.  A particular teacher threatened Melissa w/not going to San Francisco even though she is getting much higher than a passing grade in the class.
12. How will I ever manage to put these two deserving children through college?
13. I told my sister I'd call. She is in the beginning stages of going through a divorce from hell. Are the women in my family completely cursed when it comes to choosing men?
14. Two recently purchased pairs of pants shrunk in the length after I washed them. Why didn't I buy "tall"? They also shrunk in other areas, incidentally.
15. I may never see Paris.
16. Broke my sunglasses. Again.

I'll stop there. Crying over spilt milk? How cliché! Believe it or not, these are the kinds of things that used to send me spiraling into deep depression. But through the years I've learned to see them as merely annoying realities. Let's face it, I've been through much worse. I'll feel better in the morning when once again all will be well in my world. Well, almost. I'll be squinting in the sunlight sans sunglasses. Then again, aren't they forecasting rain?

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Sure, there could be impending disaster just around the corner. But I awoke today keenly aware that — at least on this particular Sunday morning — all is very well in my little corner of the world. Then I took a little hike. Glimpses of beauty and perfection are all around me — I can scarcely take it in!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Why is your bed in the kitchen?

Came home tonight after a demanding workday to find my son studying with a friend in the family room. Which is also my bedroom. Shoot. So much for my detox half hour featuring/glass of white wine and poor but entertaining TV programming. I go upstairs and temporarily inhabit his room while they're downstairs. Just about fell asleep on the bed when he came up at around 6:30. "We're done," he says. Well, it was nice while it lasted.

So we live in a two bedroom house and there are three of us — not so bad, is it? When I chose this place, I decided that, considering my post-divorce financial situation, I'd rather have a really nice two-bedroom than a crappy three-bedroom. Somehow, I'd make a comfortable bedroom area in the downstairs space I now (lovingly?) call my studio apartment. My friend's four-year-old daughter came for a visit and asked, "Why is your bed in the kitchen?" God, I love four-year-olds! It was a really good question — one that tens of visitors to my home have probably wanted to ask themselves. I guess the best answer is that I'm continuing to make sacrifices for my two favorite people on the planet. Hope they'll appreciate it someday. I think they already do — but not fully. They won't until they have offspring of their own — and are denied the basic comforts they now take for granted. I mean, let's face it — babies are little Hitlers, really. You're at their beck and call 24/7, and if you slip up, the wrath of a Nazi baby could very well be upon you. Yeah, you're pissed off. But it's your job, and you don't take it lightly. At least I don't. My babies are now teenagers, and my new challenges are no less demanding. Don't know what it is inside me that's made these human beings my No. 1 priority, but they are — often at my expense. Best decision I ever made.

But my bed's not supposed to be in the kitchen. I'm 46 and a graduate of USC, for godsakes. I grew up in an upscale area and followed my mom's advice to the T: Go to college, get your degree, get married, wait a few years, then start a family. Unfortunately she left out the part about finding a GOOD man. She also neglected to mention not to give up your goals or ambitions to follow a man you think you're in love with. Oh well. Not bitter. Great kids. And this amazing two-bedroom house happens to be smack dab in the middle of the loveliest spot on earth. I'm convinced it's God's vacation destination. Which is why all of the roads, twists, and turns have led us to this spot, this house, this situation. He's so obviously right here with us. And if I want a snack in the middle of the night, it's just a few short steps to the pantry. How cool is that?