Toughen Up

I’m not one to travel anymore. I’m not one to take a risk. I’m not one to leave my family and be ok with it, like many other people I know. For a long time I thought this is what separated me from the rest of the world and I was perfectly happy to be different.

But here I am…alone in a hotel, at a new job, away from my family on work…but still not ok with it. At 32 I really feel like I’m finally growing up, meaning I’m doing what I don’t want to do but putting a smile on my face for the bigger picture, my career.

The last time I had to fly on a plane with short notice I was kicked off. It was a very last minute trip due to a tragic family emergency and I could not get myself together. A full-blown panic attack lead me to running off the plane, crying, leaving a disappointed family and terrified passengers who thought I had some kind of crashing premonition.

As unnatural and uncomfortable that flying is to me I don’t want that to be my experience every time…so let’s try this:

What happens when you are 40,000 feet in the air, in a crowded cabin and can’t find the motion sickness bag in the pocket in front of you? Your body is sweating and you’re anxious. On top of you head being punctured with a pounding headache, your stomach says wants in on the fun and says, “Nope!”

Vomit. Flys. Into. The. Aisle.

Across the aisle to my left, the poor passenger’s eyes grow wide as he consciously avoids looking at me. The body builder to my right, who is squished between a barfing, crying woman and a business man is doing everything he can to pretend he is somewhere else. I don’t blame him. This work trip is not fun and I’m debating on quitting as soon as I land.

After the flight attendant brings me a vomit bag and we begin our descent, I continue to throw up 9 more times. Quietly crying, I’m embarrassed and hating my life choices but there is nothing else I can do other than avoid eye contact.

Again, I find myself racing off the plane in tears. Darting towards the bathroom I hunker down in a stall to gather myself and figure out how to tell Jolly I can’t do this. Tell my new boss I’m not the girl for the job. Tell this airport I need to leave, but not through my connecting flight, in a car.

A few minutes and few breaths pass as my crying slows. My mind slows down while the self-doubt is pushed to the back of my head.

One thing at a time. One thing at a time. Step one: put something in your stomach and take Dramamine. Then you can figure out the rest. 

I pull myself together and leave the restroom. After finding my connecting flight I grab some crackers and motion sickness pills, I sit down and think about getting on the next flight to my final destination, Kansas City. The drowsy side-effect of the pills set in and all I begin to think about is a nap.

Oh Dramamine. You are a life saver. You make the next flight vomit free as I snooze away and arrive in no time. All is better once I’m on the ground to rent a car and drive 40 miles to my hotel.

A week away from my family and anyone I know is tough when I love being at home. I’ve created a beautiful family and little utopia that I CAN NOT let go of…and there in lies the problem.

I’ve been told the true path to a happy life is to stop worrying about things you cannot control, because then you are free to live.

I can control the outcome of an event about as much as I can control the weather. Of course I can watch the predicted forecast and do the best I can but whatever happens will happen regardless of all my fretting.

So in the scheme of things I guess it doesn’t matter if I’m at home crying about my fears or toughening up and owning my career…but I may learn more from getting on the plane, so I think I’ll try the latter.

 

 

 

 

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What Will Monday Bring?

Sitting in my office, looking down at the floor, tears begin to well up in my tired eyes.

“I can’t do this anymore,” I whisper to myself.

There are many people in this world who can work at a job they don’t like. Instead of pursuing their dreams, they continue the daily grind out of necessity, fear, complacency or maybe they just don’t have a dream. I am not one of those people.

The month of January has thrown me for a loop. Something has cracked open inside of me that I have to let out in order to blossom into the person I am supposed to be. Whatever has spilled out of my mind has not been easy to face…emotions of fear, sadness and anxiety coupled with revelations of hope, dreams and tremendous love. One of the staple feelings I’ve had, that I’ve pleaded with God, the Universe and the people close to me is that I can’t work in the job I am doing anymore. It has made my mind stagnant and me unhappy.

On my lunch break I browse the job ads for wanted writers, where I see maybe 7 jobs in the entire city. A new posting catches my interest and since I have to keep trying for my own sanity, I apply. I am 100% sure nothing will come of it, but at least I’m not just sitting still.

An hour later I receive a phone call for an interview and I have a sneaking feeling that everything is about to change…and I’m right! Two days later I am offered the dream career I’ve always wanted…to be a writer.

The position is a Copy Editor/ Writer at a community newspaper. The position pays less than what I make now and offers no benefits. The position is new, scary, thrilling, surreal and outside of my comfort zone, everything that life should be about. Risk.

After 10+ years of working at a job where I knew exactly what my day would be like, I now have no idea what Monday will bring. However, today, right now, that is the best feeling in the world.

 

A Difference in Generations

“He’ll be in jail in 10 years,” the older woman voiced to me.
“No, he’ll be smarter in 10 years,” I counter.

The Home Depot clerk quickly says yes and throws on a fake smile while I stand there looking at her, not quite believing what she just told me. I am shocked. A woman selling bathroom upgrades just told me my son will be in jail in 10 years because he knows how to navigate a cell phone.

Quietly sitting in the bright orange Home Depot basket, Boo is playing with my iPhone while I look for a new bathroom sink faucet. He is calm for the time being, but I need to make a decision quickly before he gets restless. As we are power shopping, the fascinated clerk approaches us in awe that a toddler knows how to work a phone. Stupidly thinking she is impressed with his technical abilities, I gush over his intelligence with electronics.

“I’m glad I didn’t raise my kids in this era,” the woman says to me. I then realize she isn’t impressed at all, but thinks for some reason children with cell phones are juvenile delinquents. Then she says it. She tells me my son certainly go to jail because he knows how to use a cell phone, and I am in disbelief.

Generations previous to mine believe that children’s use of technology is a crutch that has grown out of hand. Whatever happened to old-fashioned playgrounds and sunshine?  I completely agree that kids need to play outside, get dirty and let their imaginations run free. There is no substitute for that. However, you cannot ignore the age we live in and value of technology in our everyday lives. Children are curious. Children are smart. Children will absorb everything they come into contact with like a sponge, and they are wiser for knowing how to work computers and phones. This absolutely doesn’t mean my son will play with a cell phone instead of playing outside because he loves doing both. What it does mean is that Mommy can peacefully shop while he is entertained and engaging his mind.

I guarantee if older generations had cell phones for their kids to play with while they went shopping, they would use it too.

After insulting my son and my parenting, she then asks me if I want a bathroom upgrade! Seriously? I quickly tell her no and turn to ignore her. I am so furious that I can no longer focus on the task at hand. I go to the checkout counter to purchase the few items in my cart, ask to speak with a manager and explain the interaction… as gracefully as possible.

“You don’t talk about my son. I will fucking kill you if you talk about my son,” I snap and leave the store.

Perhaps the Momma Bear in me is being dramatic, but as a parent it’s truly how I feel. Regardless from which generation you hail, from one mother to another, insulting another’s child is taboo and disheartening. Besides, does Home Depot really expect to sell bathroom upgrades that way?

Up and Down

Looking back I would not change a thing. The end of the year is a huge time of reflection for myself, not only because of New Years, but also because today is my birthday. It’s impossible not to think back of this past year but also of the year ahead and of the presents (literally) of today.

“Up and down and up and down,” my son playfully shouts as he walks around the house cleaning the floor. He is referring to a Sesame Street episode where he learns what it means to go up and to fall down. It’s so adorable listening to his tiny voice but he’s also exactly right, summing up how this year has transpired. Here’s a prime example:

Last night I went out to eat with my family for an early birthday dinner after spending a long, taxing day at my Grandmother’s funeral. We were all tired and mentally exhausted not only from the day but the past week filled with Christmas giving and family grieving. Yet, my troops were good sports about it as they gifted me with presents and very meaningful cards. Each card flawlessly fit the person whom gave it to me.

My wonderfully sarcastic sister gave me a card that read:

just because (on the front)

my birthday is coming up too. happy birthday. (inside)

What a brat! But I loved it! It’s that banter we have, that I can’t live without, and that I go to when I need some hysterical bullshit thrown my way. She keeps it real and I find it refreshing.

Then, my adoring parents gave me a card that perfectly wrapped up my year:

Stand tall and proud of where you are on life’s journey. 

Celebrate the many ways you’ve grown wiser, deeper, stronger in spirit.

Know that your life has special meaning and that the purpose of your birthday is to honor the unique person you’ve become.

Happy Birthday Daughter.

Usually I am not moved by my parent’s words, but this hit a nerve. This is where I’m supposed to be right now in life and it’s unmistakably amazeballs.

Then of course, my doting husband gave me a playful yet significant card this morning:

You are the Peanut Butter to my Jelly 

In other words, you’re stuck with me. But we make one heck of a sandwich!

 

Complete with added sentiments that I won’t share because they are mine, his card like everyone else was spot on.

I am left sitting here in my pjs, with a sincere appreciation for the few but rooted relationships we have built. I could gush over them all day but Boo and I have to finish cleaning our castle on the beginning of my 32nd year, and there’s no other place I’d rather be.

 

 

 

Santa’s Spirit

Buy a house. Buy a car. Pay off your car. Get a better job so you can earn more money to pay more bills. Don’t forget to buy, buy, buy, more, more, more, stuff, stuff, stuff that we don’t need. Enter the holiday season and as much as I love my family, I don’t have the want or energy to buy anyone gifts. Does my son really need another toy? Does my mother really need more candles or clothes from Chicos?

I may sound like Scrooge, but thinking about what it takes to be Santa these days is exhausting. The expectations of being an adult are already high but of being a parent higher, and I don’t want to let anyone down. So, I make a list, check it twice and venture into the nightmare that is holiday traffic.

Sitting smack dab in the middle of a backed up shopping center, I scroll through my list of what to get who, and with each name I scratch off I feel myself inching closer towards holiday freedom. The freedom of not having to worry if a price tag is equated to how much someone means to me; which, I know isn’t actually valid but feels true nonetheless.

The spirit of the season feels lost among some of the shoppers around me too. Stressed out people are hurrying to the next store in order to conquer their lists as well. I can feel the chaotic energy as they are honking and cutting each other off in the midst of a jammed pack parking lot. Oh how I don’t want to be here. Christmas is supposed to be about family, celebration and the sincere joy of giving to loved ones. So why doesn’t it feel that way? Is it because we are all shopping and working and partying at once? Will the world implode because we all cannot live this way simultaneously? I can’t pretend to be overcome with gratuity while throwing on a smile when it doesn’t feel genuine, when there’s just too much going on.

So, I think about Santa. What would Santa do? How does Santa spread the joy of giving all over the world in a single night while maintaining his “jolliness”?

I don’t think he does.

I think Santa has a good road trip but there are bumps along the way. He may not have to deal with traffic, but there is the weather and lots of bathroom breaks from all the milk and cookies. Rudolf could be tired and whiny towards to end, something could be stuck on Dasher’s hoof and he has to stop to tend to him. Countless scenarios could and do go wrong for Santa, but there is another quality he possesses that may be overlooked.

Perseverance.

Santa has perseverance for love. He keeps going, he keeps giving and he does not give up, because making others happy is what Christmas is about. I may not want to go shopping through crowds of annoyed people, but to be honest…neither do they. So I guess we’re all in it together.

Santa reminds me that all this shopping and spending and running around is for those most important in my life, and I’m genuinely happy to do it for them.

 

 

Say “Thank You”

The day is always dark when I get up and go to work. My home is quiet in slumber as I rush out the door wishing I didn’t have to leave. Ignoring the slight dread in my heart, I drive with a hopeful outlook on the day ahead, and looking up at the magnificent, crisp sunrise and I say “thank you” out loud. Sometimes I know who I’m saying thank you to…and sometimes I don’t, but I say it anyway because I know it deserves to be said.

Throughout the day I try to remember to say “thank you”, albeit it can be hard to remember while in the thick of it. Yet as soon as I get home I quickly remember what it’s all about.

My little man.

Arriving home to him is the highlight of my day. He runs in circles, excited to have his Mommy back then gives me a huge hug with his tiny arms stretched wide. To me, it’s important to teach him how to have a humble appreciation for life. Even if I can’t fully educate a toddler on such concepts I can start with the basics, like saying “thank you”.

“Cereal bar? Cereal bar?” he begs pulling on the pantry door handle.

“Do you want a cereal bar?” I ask.

“Ok,” he affirms in a tiny voice.

I grab a cereal bar from the pantry while he anxiously waits, because a cereal bar is all he needs to make everything perfectly right in his little world. I love the simplicity.

As I tear off a piece and hand it to him I ask him to say “thank you”, then I find myself anxiously waiting for a response, because to be honest, confirmation that I’m raising a polite, gratuitous son is all I need to make everything perfectly right in my world. So I wait.

“Boo? What do you say?” I ask and wait a second longer.

“Dank-you!”

All is right in the world.

 

The Tamale Twos

Ever been stuck in a rut? It’s a headspace I can’t seem to shake lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that my job is slowly killing me. I’m sure I’m being just a little dramatic but this is the first time I have really felt “stuck” doing something I cannot logically get out of.

As it turns out I’m not very good at eating a “shit sandwich”, as I’ve mentioned before. I will admit to not being as mentally tough or willing as my husband, and at first I assumed there was something wrong with me, but there isn’t. I’m about to be 32 and I don’t want to be a bagger. It’s not about the money and I definetly do not think poorly of anyone who does it to support their family (kudos to them by the way), it’s just not for me. If I’m going to be happy in life (at least for my poor husband’s sake) I have to make a change and not worry about what other people will think. If that means working less and taking care of our son more then so be it!

Boo has so eloquently become fully immersed in the terrible twos, and yesterday I knew spending a full day at my in-laws, making tamales with the entire family would no doubt bring out his beautiful color, he did not disappoint. Every want and need that could not be satisfied instantaneously was the end of the world. Melt downs about yogurt, water, cell phones and the position of his chair encompassed the day, that is if he wasn’t running around, pretending to fall down.

For a toddler every feeling is met with an emotional depth they cannot control, while logic and reason are foreign, unnatural concepts. As an adult I have learned emotions cannot be taken seriously, they are foreign and unreliable so I must always rely on logic to make reasonable decisions. Yet, if everyone lived their lives according to logic no one would take a risk and try something great. I’m not saying working less is smarter, because it surely isn’t logical, but if it is making me so unhappy that I leave work in tears, it is not worth all the reasoning in the world to me.

At times yesterday, my son’s tantrums threw me in a tailspin in the middle of tamale madness. The entireity of the day made me dizzy, from getting up and out the door early, to monitoring Boo, to making tamales, to helping the in-laws, to getting home late; however, I have to admit it was a good day.

There was a point when Boo was happy, playing outside and Jolly was hanging his parents’ Christmas lights for them, when he randomly stopped hanging, walked over and gave me a kiss. Everything in that moment was right and I am certain that’s how everyday should feel. Perhaps if I set aside what I’m supposed to do, and followed what I want to do I could get closer to that feeling.