Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Monday, March 13, 2017

In 2017, I give myself permission to...

For some, the New Year is all about resolutions.  I've quietly set a few for myself in the past, and usually, they have just as quietly slipped away.  No big fanfare to them, nothing too crazy that I was looking to do for (or to) myself.  I'm sure the ones I've thought of in the past were of the typical style - lose weight, eat better, swear less.  This year, I decided that instead of setting resolutions for myself (which were bound for failure anyway), I would give myself permission to do (or not do) some things.  Of course, since it is now halfway through March, I am going to start off by giving myself permission to miss deadlines - whether they are arbitrarily set by me or by society.  (I can't miss filing deadlines, my clients and the courts would not be happy.)  But elsewhere, we'll see what happens.

In that vein, here are a few more.

In 2017, I give myself permission to...

Ignore the mess in the girls' rooms.  I've tried everything.  I've yelled, I've begged, I've cajoled.  Nothing seems to crack the shell of their indifference to (or ignorance of) the mess that is their bedrooms.  It does not matter how I ask or bribe, they cannot seem to keep their rooms clean.  I have even helped clean things up once or twice (or twenty times), but inevitably, those piles creep back onto the floor and in a day or two, we are back to tripping over things.  Not this year.  I have decided that life is short and before I know it, they will be packing boxes and moving away to college.  So the time I have with them before that is too precious to spend worrying about what is on the floor of their bedrooms.  The rooms have doors, so I will shut them if it gets too bad.  And I won't think about what happens when they want to have friends stay over.  (But maybe, in the meantime, if you could just pick up that...)

Do less.  Over the years, I have set impossible standards for myself.  I am the mom that volunteered for Parent Council at the Preschool and PTA at the elementary school, I was room parent and baked cookies, I took pictures and made scrapbooks, all while working full time.  This year, I'm doing less.  Perhaps not less with the girls, but less.  I'm slowly realizing that my expectations for myself are way more than what anyone else expects from me.  And while it is nice to hear the praise and the "I don't know how you get it done" comments, it is also nice to spend an evening just sitting on the couch reading, as opposed to frosting cookies or cutting photos to fit pages.  I doubt I will completely step away from volunteering (says the room parent of both girls' classes who is gearing up for Book Fair in a few months), but in the back of my head, I'm working on my ability to just say no.

To accept.  Compared to the order of my world, my older daughter's space is a mess.  Her back-pack full of crumpled papers makes me cringe, and when she talks about being able to find something in her desk, I want to cry.  (Right after I dump it out and reorganize it, of course.)  In my own world, my Type A personality is often at war with my creative side (which makes for interesting organizing), but I generally prefer organization.  In her world, chaos reigns supreme and her creative and active mind is often ten or fifteen steps ahead of where her feet are taking her.  When she does register the minutiae of everyday stuff around her, she often gets distracted before things get put away.  So this year, I'm giving myself permission to accept her as she is and to try to accept her disorganization.  I know that she is not (and never will be) exactly like me and while the need to organize may come to her later in life, she doesn't have it now.  So I will wait.  And gently remind her from time to time that things could be neater, and try to accept when they are not.

To fail miserably at something.  I must admit, I'm intensely competitive.  I don't like trying things that I know I do not do well.  I tried tennis once or twice and was not very good at it.  So I don't like to play it now.  I have a violin sitting in a case in my guest room.  It belonged to my grandfather and I had it restored a few years ago, with the idea that I would learn to play it.  But I have put off taking lessons, possibly because I worry subconsciously that I will not be able to do it and do it well.  So this year, I'm going to take the plunge and do something, knowing I might fail.

To succeed.  Just as I don't take things on if I know I might be bad at it, I tend to also stay in the mediocre range for other things.  Maybe it is because I don't know how to handle the praise and compliments, or maybe it is because I feel like I already have enough, but I sometimes catch myself pulling a Dash Paar (from the Incredibles), easing back just enough to come in 2nd and make it interesting.  This year, success is mine.  At what, I'm not sure yet.  I'll keep you posted.

To write.  I have so many plot lines jotted down in notebooks, character outlines, scene set ups, but no book.  I have a series of children's books partially written, but no publishing deal.  I struggle to allow myself time to sit down and write. (Seriously, it is March and I'm finally sitting down to finish this blog that is essentially about New Year's resolutions.)  I'm pretty sure this one is because some twisted part of my mind is stuck on the "you chose to be an attorney, so that is what you have to be.  For the rest of your life" thought and the idea that I can only have 1 career or 1 dream.  I've decided that I don't like that idea and it is o.k. to have more than 1 dream.  So I choose to write, as well as be an attorney. We'll see how that goes.

To let things (and people) go.  This last election cycle took a lot out of me.  I have struggled to reconcile the people that I thought I knew with the people I was seeing on social media.  I have struggled to imagine how things will look moving forward and have decided that my sphere of influence has to be smaller.  I'm letting go of the bigger things that I have no hope of changing (like people's minds) and focusing on the smaller things that I can control.  I'm also letting people go.  They might be classmates from grad school that I thought were friends, or even people from my hometown that were friends in high school or siblings of friends.  I probably became friends with them on social media out of some sense of duty, or a belief that I "had" to be friends with them.  For college and grad school classmates, we probably suffered through things that made us believe we had a closeness.  Unfortunately, the current political climate has shown me that I never really knew some of these people and we have absolutely nothing in common.  Even their ability to debate current issues (which I like to do) is so lacking in common courtesy and social graces that I can't handle it.  Consider them, gone.

Finally, I give myself permission to be late.  I started this blog in that vein, admitting to finishing this January-intended message in March.  But I also tend to be early for things and plan ahead to avoid traffic and will oftentimes end up sitting in my car.  Not that I mind the extra time to read, but in doing so, I sometimes push the girls out the door too fast, or miss what is going on at home.  So where I can, I'm going to relax a bit and let things wait.  If the girls want an extra story, or a few more hugs and kisses before I go, and it makes me 10 minutes late, so be it.  If I'm a few minutes late for a party or dinner because the girls had a dance they wanted to show me, great.  I'm choosing to focus  more on the moments that mean more, and less on the other stuff.  (With the legal disclaimer, of course, that court mandated filing and response deadlines must be met.)

Now I must go decide whether or not to read more of the book I'm engrossed in, or try my hand at writing a few chapters.  Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Yesterday I marched. Now what?

Yesterday, January 21, 2017, I was part of a massive, historic event.  Part of an estimated 750,000 people filling the streets of downtown Los Angeles, I marched in the Women's March, LA.  (Although, to be completely honest, we didn't march so much as we shuffled along, pressed together with men and women of all shapes and sizes, sometimes so smashed together we could barely move.)

Crowds at the Santa Clarita station waiting for the train.

In the aftermath on my social media, I saw a few things - posts of solidarity and pride, photos of women, men and families who marched, and detractors - some asking questions and some challenging the effort or those making the effort.

I came home from the March filled with pride, and also wondering.  What now?

First, I want to address the detractors, those who are questioning or even challenging the effort.  I have seen several variations of questions - some asking what we hoped to gain, some asking "why bother".  I've seen those saying things like "he's only been in office 1 day, give him a chance," and some saying "I don't get it, what is the cause?"

Here's my answer:  Do you close the gate before the cows get out, or after?

President Trump filled his campaign speeches with promises to defund Planned Parenthood, repeal Obamacare, to build a wall between the US and Mexico and to put Muslim immigrants in camps.  How do we, as Americans, sit idly by and allow any of those things to come to pass?  Worse, in the days after the election, Trump surrounded himself with transition team members who eagerly spoke out as supporting his various positions and in some cases, took those positions further.  He also included members on his team that have gone on the record denying climate change, have argued for shock therapy to "cure" homosexuality (VP Pence), and one that is a Neo-Nazi.  I ask again - should we close the gate before the cows get out, or after?

And just this week, reports are coming out that Trump is looking to cut funding to the arts, cuts to Medicare and medicaid, and massive cuts to domestic violence programs. While I have not vetted those stories on my own, the threat of those cuts should scare everyone.  (And for those that might argue "but Trump can't do those things on his own", should we sit back and wait for Congress to tow his line?)

People want us to sit back and wait to see what happens.  If that is not giving tacit permission, I don't know what is.  We are standing up to tell Washington that we will not sit idly by and watch them whittle away our quality of life.  And if you feel that those things don't apply to you, how long do you think it will take before they get to something you do care about?

Second, I have seen several articles decrying the March (mostly in connection with the D.C. March), as having excluded pro-life proponents.  I have also seen posts and articles claiming that those stories are either false, or put out there in an attempt to cast the March in a bad light.  I have not done any research, and do not know what truth there is to those stories.  I do know that I did not see anything in LA yesterday that would lead me to believe that anyone was excluded.  I even saw pro-Trump signs. For that point, I can only tell people what I saw, and that was a peaceful, inclusive crowd, open to all shapes, sizes and stripes of humanity.  I will also say that for me, personally, I think we need to include people of both camps in any discussion.  There is nothing written anywhere in stone that says just because someone is pro-life, they cannot be in favor of protecting women's rights.  There is also nothing saying that pro-life and pro-choice proponents can't champion the same other causes.  So we all need to keep an open mind.

Third, to those who have been asking what our "cause" is in marching, I say this.  All you have to do is read a few of the signs to see what the cause is - or in fact, causes are.   Some were marching to protest the proposed repeal of the ACA.  Some were marching to protect women's rights (the threat against Roe v. Wade is very real, with legislatures in several states working on bills to limit a woman's rights and the make-up of the Supreme Court an open issue).  Some were marching to support the LGBT community and protest the dangers they face.  Some are marching to protest Trump's appointees to various cabinet positions, appointments that appear to be without reason.

There are several very real threats to various groups of people, threats that have been foretold in campaign speeches of the very man elected President.  And while some might argue that the marches were merely "anti-Trump" rallies, I don't think anything is that simple.  Instead of dismissing the marches so easily, perhaps you need to take a closer look at the signs and ask yourselves - why so many people (not just women), and what are they saying?  Stop, look, and listen.

Finally, what now.  We came, we saw, we marched.  At the end of a long day, we stood in massive lines for bathrooms and snacks, and then we packed ourselves onto crowded trains and subways to make our ways home.  We watched the news, we watched the administration (Trump) call us out and we waited.  So what now?

As my supportive husband asked - what do "we" (the collective we) do with this energy?  How do we keep things moving forward?  Someone else asked - was there anyone there signing people up to vote?  Was there anyone there taking down names or email addresses so that people could volunteer or donate?  From where I was, unfortunately no.  There was such a huge crush of people, I'm not sure that was possible.  I would like to think that there is someone, somewhere trying to organize things and keep this movement going.

For those of you reading this wondering what you can do, I have a few thoughts.  Donate to Planned Parenthood, donate to the Jewish Defense League, donate to your local arts programs, donate to a battered woman's shelter or domestic violence program.  Change the word "donate" in the last sentence to "VOLUNTEER" and read it again.  Get out there and help in your community.

Let your voices be heard.  Call your representatives and tell them not to repeal the ACA.  Tell them to protect your rights.  Organize at the local level.  If you feel so moved, run for office.  We have become complacent, believing that those in government have our best interests at heart.  Many don't.  Many are motivated by the lobbyists' dollars and have forgotten that they work for us.

While some see this as a largely "democratic" issue, it is not.  This is an American issue.  As I mentioned above, just because there aren't currently any threats to the things you hold dear doesn't mean those threats aren't coming. (Recall that famous poem about not speaking up when they came for other groups, until finally they come for you and there is no no one left to speak up for you.)  I have had many friends say that they didn't vote for Trump - either because they supported another Republican candidate, or because they didn't like Hillary.  If that's the case and there are things that Trump is doing or saying that you don't agree with, speak out.  Let Washington know that we - all voices - want to be heard.

Regardless of what "side" of the issues you are on, don't expect this to stop.  Don't expect these issues to go away or be swept under the rug.  There are those who will continue to organize, who will continue to fight.  Educate yourselves.  Don't take things are face value, and don't accept as truth everything you read on social media.  See past the headlines and find the truth for yourself.  Don't accept something as truth just because someone told you to believe them.  Also, to those who disagree with you - be civil, be human.  You never know when you might need something from them.  Let's do away with the labels - we are not "snowflakes" or "libtards" - and lumping people into large groups does not get anyone anywhere.  (To my Republican friends reading this, do you like being lumped in with Trump supporters if you did not vote for him?  Just as you may not like over-generalization, neither do we.)   Side note - I will continue to call neo-Nazis just that.

Also, don't assume that just because someone disagrees with you on one issue, that they are against you on all issues.  There are so many shades of grey.  And remember to keep an open mind.  I disagree with friends on many issues, but I am willing to sit down and listen, always willing to engage in thoughtful discussion.  The odds of my convincing them that I am right, or vice versa, is small.  But in the course of discussion, we may gain a bit of insight or understanding.  You never know.

Last thought - if there was another March tomorrow, would I go?  Putting logistics of child care and school schedules and work aside, yes.  But I might take the earlier train.  :)

Crowds at City Hall - LA


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"They'll grow out of it eventually,"

With one simple sentence, (and likely without realizing it), my hubby managed to put just a bit of my stress to rest.

I have 2 daughters.  As a result, we have a lot of toys.  More specifically, we have a lot of stuffed animals.  Both girls have cubbies under their beds, which are used to house many of those stuffed "friends."  But things are getting crazy.  Not only are things crowded under the beds, but sometimes there is barely room for the girls to sleep in their beds.

Over the past few years, I have tried several times to cull out some of the less-favorable friends and "hide" them or send them on to better homes.  What makes this effort so difficult, is that I can rarely get through the pile without noting where each specific animal came from and much of time, having a story to go along with it.  The dog that K never plays with that suddenly showed up on her floor last week?  It came from Grandma Trudy's house.  No getting rid of that.  The zebra that suddenly materialized?  Nana gave it to her.  The bunny rabbit that I literally have not seen in 2 years that is suddenly back in the rotation?  Gift with purchase, but came at a time K was throwing a fit in the store and perfectly distracted her.  The same goes in B's room.

Each stuffed animal has a story, and a name, and a reason that they can't move on.  It stresses me out.  Some days, way more than others.  As I'm trying to clean the house and put away the holiday stuff, the sight of the messy pile on K's bedroom floor (a result of cleaning off her bed to change the sheets) and the knowledge that B also has a pile, drives me crazy.  It makes my stomach clench at the thought of all of the clutter and the feeling that I cannot get ahead of it.

Then last night, with one simple comment from my husband, things changed.  My stomach unclenched just a bit and I relaxed.  "They'll grow out of it eventually."  Yes, they will.  At some point, many of those beloved friends will cease being quite so important.  One by one, they might be willingly donated by my girls to new families with little ones in need of some companionship.  (Think "Toy Story" here.)  Bit by bit, the room decor will change and stuffed friends will give over to more nail polish and make-up (or books.  I'm good with books.)  And I'll miss this.  I'll miss this crazy, unorganized and unruly pile of fluff and stuff.

Sadly, there will be a day when my girls won't lay in bed in the mornings giggling because Mommy made Olaf sing and dance and Mr. Bear woke them with tickles; a day when they won't cling to a stuffy friend when they are upset.  I don't want that day to come too soon.  So in the meantime, I'll step over the pile and hope that I don't accidentally "hurt" anyone buried underneath.  (Stuffed boo-boos being so hard to care for.)  I'll continue to put them away in their "house" under the bed and I'll smile when an old friend comes back into the rotation.  I'll wait, and I'll let them have this moment.  Because someday, it will be gone.