Tuesday, November 30, 2010

40 more days

I haven't been writing lately. I haven't been doing much of anything lately. At least nothing creative. My day to day has left me empty at this point.

That's not ok. Not anymore.

And so, I'm dedicating myself, again, to 40 straight days of writing.

Part of my problem is that there's been so much I've been grappling with it's been easier to shut down and not think. Not feel. But the anxiety is coming back and I know, I KNOW, that it's my inner self's way of saying why the fuck are you doing?! Not dealing is not helping. And writing has been, for the past year, a constructive way to process all that's swirling around me - both inside and out.

So. Here I go. For those not interested in the struggle and angst and occasional whine, consider yourselves forewarned.

For the rest of you, not to mention me, I've got Hannukah starting tomorrow. A call in to a transplant coordinator about donating my kidney. A line of middle school merchandise to get produced. Work to find in a market where people are desperate and there's no work to be found. There's the continued lack of a creative project - those constructive distractions kept me sane during insane times. The ever present what's next. The challenge of knitting my first dog sweater, contemplating my first tattoo, fighting off my underlying fear that I won't be able to handle things and will break down. Relatives who aren't well. Kids who are growing and grappling to find their paths. Hurting and healing from my own stuff both physical and in the head drama.

Redefining who I want to be.

Curious to see what te next 39 days bring.

Monday, November 29, 2010

bullying where you least expect it

As a general rule I don't write about people without their permission. I am respectful of privacy, of other's stories and situations. I never mean to hurt, to expose, to cause pain or concern. I write openly and honestly about myself - my experiences. My joy. My pain. My life. And should I write about anyone else, I clear it with them first.

Today though, I'm breaking, or at least bending, my rule. Someone in my life has been needlessly cruel to me for over 25 years and I've had enough. I realized yesterday that I've been bullied since my early 20s and the intensity and venom hasn't eased up since then. There have been respites, periods I'd thought we'd moved past the enmity only to find myself body slammed by hate. Again.

It started with this person calling me at work, at my first job at Fred the Furrier, telling me that someone in my life, someone I adored more than anyone, actually hated me and asked her to let me know he wanted to sever all contact. Forever.

This came out of the blue. From a person I'd known for a long time and liked.

It was a shock. And it was a lie.

I've lived with that intense hatred, sometimes simmering below the surface, at others spewing all over me, for my entire adult life.

I've never done anything to this person except be. But it seems like that's excuse enough for decades of appalling behavior.

And yet, with every attack, every slam, every poisonous barb launched at me, I was expected to let it role off and move on. This was just a bad temper, stress, hormones. It wasn't really about me per se, I just was the unfortunate target. She didn't really mean it. She was just blowing off steam and all would be fine eventually.

And so, I let it go. I welcomed her into my family, into my home. I listened, I supported. I forgave.

Over and over and over.

And yet, it hurt every time. For someone who spends so much time and energy on relationships and family, the fact that my own was so often ripped apart has been brutal.

I've been threatened in person. Over the phone. Through email and facebook messages. I've been forbidden to call certain people, certain locations. For as long as I can remember, hearing her voice unexpectedly started my heart racing, terrified I'd be reamed or screamed at.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving. On one hand, I don't know that I've ever been so grateful for the people sitting at our table. My brother and sister were here, both of whom had summers and falls that pushed them to the edges of what people should ever have to handle. And yet, both are fighting, hard, to get to better, healthier places. My own little family? Ever challenging but I am thankful beyond words that this is my life. But, for the first time ever, I didn't invite everyone I usually do. The internal battle over that, the guilt I felt, shredded my insides. Life at the moment though, is so extraordinarily challenging I couldn't bear the thought of adding any drama to the mix.

This last rift has been going on for almost a year. It started, as far as I know, last January. Huge blow outs. Accusations. Blames. Finger pointing at I'm not sure what. One strained visit since then that left me shaking my head with confusion.

I realized, as I stared down the invitation decision, that I'm not angry. I'm not vindictive. I'm not harboring resentment. But I'm not a victim anymore.

I treat people with kindness and respect. And I expect the same in return.

That's my story. And I'm honoring myself by sticking to it this time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

a thank you to my body

Today I feel pretty good. My shoulder aches a bit. My hand is a little sore. Manageable sensations that aren't quite pain, more just something that something isn't quite right. The cool part is that this is after 3 days of yoga. In a row. Granted, it was abbreviated yoga - no planks, down or up dogs. No poses perching on my palms as my legs careen out to the side. But still, yesterday was 3 eagles per side (while standing, wrapping one leg over and then behind the other, squatting down on one foot whole bending forward). Lots of balances, twists, moving.

My body held on. Kept up. The familiar poses took over and I moved. Stretched. Expanded.


That, in itself, was amazing.

But what truly blew me away was how I feel today.

Fine. A little tired. The backs of my legs are slightly sore. After a month of no yoga at all.

My body, my home, my casing, didn't give up on me even when I did. It didn't fall apart, turn to mush, let flab in the front door with a big hello. It kept the candles burning until I was ready to come back.

And here I am. Thankful.


It's getting to the end of the day and I never found the chance to write. I meant to. I had a class parent meeting first thing. Worked on my fiction project, met a friend for coffee, got caught in the rain which made my bad hair even worse. That prompted a hair cut appointment during which much of my hair ended up on the floor. I'm still telling myself it's only hair. We'll see how tomorrow goes. I then went to yoga to take my mind off my modified head but couldn't do at least a third of the poses. Then it was a houseful of people for GLEE after dinner and homework.

I still haven't eaten.

I'm troubleshooting a new Lego video game.

My hair still doesn't look or feel like me.

We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Monday, November 22, 2010

After getting kicked in the head

Today, for a moment, I flowed.

I was graceful. Strong. Powerful.

It's been months since I felt that way. Injuries, both chronic and sudden, brought me to a place where I was practicing in tears. Not from pain, but from frustration at my body not doing what I wanted it to.

A month ago I gave up. I stopped going to class, as every pose I couldn't do, every twinge, every spasm made me feel more and more like a failure. I knew I shouldn't have been pushing myself but I kept trying. And hurting.

I took meds, rested, and got smaller and smaller, more and more lost.

But, once I knew what I was recovering from (a fracture in my hand, torn cartilage in my wrist and knee, plus a torn rotator cuff and labrum), something clicked and I took healing back into my own hands. I'm taking three different homeopathic remedies. I went to an accupuncturist. The anti-inflammatories I'm on are herbal. I'm icing my shoulder while holding hot chunks of ginger in my aching palm. Tomorrow I start physical therapy.

Saturday I went back to yoga. It was ok. Yesterday was better. Today, I was smack in the middle of it for that glimmering shimmering moment.

I still can't do much. No weight on my palm wipes out down dogs and planks and all arm balances. My sore shoulder changes how I get from pose to pose. Someone kicked me in the head when I wasn't doing what the rest of the class was. I felt that negative spiral grab me. I started sinking into failure.

But this time I fought it off. And I got it. The profound, enlightened difference between then and now. This is my practice. My way. My path. It doesn't matter what anyone else is doing. It doesn't matter what I can't do.

I'm doing what I can. I'm honoring where I am. I'm accepting limitations and parameters.

And I'm grateful for what is possible.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

letting go of pain

I don't know about you, but I find it's easier to live in the negative. Feeling bad about myself, doubting other people, regretting where I'm not, groaning about where I am. I hold on to negative relationships, behaviors that hurt in the end, I find comfort in that familiar discomfort.

I've gotten much better. I used to live deep in a dark tunnel and would get spooked by the occasional glimpses of light that would flash by, choosing to hide in the blackness rather than let go and see what might take its place.

I've gotten better at letting go. I work hard at not letting myself get bogged down in unworkable situations, I stay away from toxic people whenever I can. '

When I'm in a good place I can pull that off. I can rise above, slough it off, be a light for myself, and even for others sometimes.

I'm not in a good place.

This is trivial, but my hair's a train wreck. I need to get it cut but can't find it in me to book an appointment.

I've lost my voice. I have such interesting, vibrant projects I could be, should be working on, but I don't have anything in me.

I can't practice yoga. I've gone to class for the past 2 days and am sitting here with an ice pack on my shoulder, popping advil every 4 hours.

I have no work. NO WORK. This is the first time in my adult life I'm not earning money and I feel like I'm failing. It's been so long since I've had to go out and find clients I don't even know how to start.

I'm grumpy. Short-tempered. Anxious.

I'm dreading the upcoming 4 day weekend. Hosting yet another holiday. Hannukah looming fast on the horizon.

I don't want to be thoughtful, find presents, entertain. I don't want to be accepting or forgiving or nice.

Man, this has turned into a rant I didn't know I was feeling.

Or maybe I did.

I'm not starving myself—that's one way I'm healthier. I'm not sinking back into the sugar addiction that started last spring. I'm not drinking or doing drugs (not that I ever did either as a means of escape).

What's worse though, more insidious, harder to combat, is I'm hating myself. Well, not hating, but definitely not liking. And from this sad, heavy place it's hard to move anywhere else.

I'm stumped about how to move forward. How to not feel this, be this, live this.

How to let go of the pain I cause myself.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

naming names

In Harry Potter one is never supposed to say Voldemort out loud, as it will give the dark lord more power. In the Lighting Thief books (one of my favorite series ever), same thing—uttering the gods' names is a major no.

There's power in naming. Acknowledging. Identifying.

Fractured hamate bone. Torn rotator cuff.

My injuries have been outed.

And they hurt even more.


Yes. But that's what's going on.

Or, it could be that I stopped taking anti-inflammatories and now am feeling what's been there all along.


The pain isn't major. It doesn't stop me in my tracks, take my breath away, bend me over double.

I know that pain. Childbirth without drugs. A burst ear drum. An exposed nerve in my tooth. That was pain. PAIN. Intense, seeing red, losing sight of reality pain.

This is more annoying. Slightly incapacitating most of the time, more in certain situations. I can't open windows, lift heavy pots or pans, open a jar that's too tight. I can't reach around to the back seat of the car, to the top shelf, carry overloaded bags anymore. I can't practice yoga with freedom.

I'm cautious. Nervous. Afraid I'll make things worse.

Afraid I won't get better.

But, I started 3 homeopathic remedies the day before yesterday. Boiled ginger chunks and held them in my palm until they cooled. Am seeing an acupuncturist along with my orthopedist tomorrow. Next on my to-do list is physical therapy and finding someone who can do serious hand massage.

I'm not giving up without a fight. I'm not signing on for surgery unless nothing else works.

But the fall of being in the best shape of my life has crumbled around me. And with it, optimism has taken a back seat.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kids are not French Fries

This is sort of cheating as I'm not writing this live—I wrote this last Friday and it was posted at HuffPo today, but it's something I feel strongly about that I want to share:


Tomorrow we'll be back to the usual whine and complain show.

Monday, November 15, 2010

my own personal crankfest

I was going to write about yesterday's temper tantrum (mine, and it was big) but Jack discouraged me from posting my negative stuff up for anyone and everyone to read. I assured him that I'd done it plenty of times before and it was ok but for today at least I'm heeding his advice.

I could write about my upcoming appointment with the hand surgeon. How pain's increased in both my wrist and shoulder since I dropped the anti-inflammatories. And about how I'm nervous.

I could write about having seen both my brother and sister this weekend and the tremendous relief in them both seeming better than they have for awhile. And about how I'm ready to be tested to be a kidney donor.

I could write about needing to find paying work. All my regular clients don't have design budgets anymore and I need to make money. And how I just don't know how to start over.

I could write about not writing. About having viable projects staring me in the face that I have no interest in working on.

I could write about how much I'm appreciating the quiet of this moment—everyone's out of the house and it's just me and Gracie with no whining or demanding or complaining. And about how challenging it is with 2 kids getting older who seem to enjoy nothing more than making each other crazy.

I could write about how exhausted I am—it's been a fall more intense than most I've experience. Except for last year when FLOW was coming out. Or the couple of years before that when I was in the midst of writing it. But somehow, this has been far more draining.

I could write about taking my first yoga class yesterday in a month and being able to do maybe half of what everyone else did. In a basics class. And about how part of me was ok with that and part of me was utterly pissed off and frustrated.

I could write about my changing period. About how it started days ago with almost nothing and now it's so heavy I just want to curl up in bed.

I could write about needing a haircut. A pedicure. Something to eat.

Or perhaps, I could write tomorrow and just be today.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

broken and torn

Yesterday I was at Iz's school at 8:15 distributing fliers to classrooms.  From there I went to MRI number 3. After that it was straight to the dentist, home to walk the dog, out for a meeting and follow up care on my nose piercing, downtown to pick Jack up at after school and then back to middle school to run a PTA meeting. Long, long day.

I figured the MRIs, which took weeks to have approved, scheduled, get authorization codes and prescriptions for would show that all was fine. That the pain I was still feeling was nothing but that I'm healing slower because I'm not so young anymore. I felt like I needed confirmation of that and then I'd take a deep sigh, knowing eventually all would be ok.

Turns out I'm still in pain because there's a broken bone in my hand. It's actually the hook of the hamate bone that's fractured. There's torn cartilage in there too. And the reason my right shoulder still hurts, after all the icing and anti-inflammatories and the cortisone shot is because rotator cuff and labrum are torn as well.

I'm seeing a hand surgeon on Monday. My orthopedist on Wednesday for next steps on everything. Oh, and I need a crown—bad news at the dentist.

I came home and cried.

I've had so much on my shoulders lately with no breaks and no space and nothing letting up. The kids were off from school today so I didn't have a moment alone. There's just tomorrow and then the weekend when it'll be 2 more days of taking care of other people.

I want someone to take care of me.

Or, at least, I wish I could take care of myself. I wanted to sit and watch TV tonight, but no one could agree on a show. I wanted to eat my pad thai in peace, but apparently I'm the only one who can cook things the way that makes people happy and I couldn't sit down until everyone else was set. I wanted to take a bath but it's 10:42 and if I don't go to bed soon I won't make it through tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the kids are still arguing.

The kitchen still needs to be cleaned.

The dog still needs to be put in bed.

I never even made my bed today.

I'm hoping tomorrow will be better but the way things have been going, that's unlikely.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One year after FLOW

A year ago today FLOW went on sale.

My life changed.

A year ago right now was all about amazon rank, media mentions, interviews, hype. It was anticipation, mind-blowing thrills, bone-crushing disappointment. It was staring into the unknown, teetering on the edge, never knowing if or when the next great thing would happen.

And there were great things. I met Dr. Oz, chatting for almost an hour for his radio show. But that was boiled down to 7 minutes that were never broadcast. We did an entire segment on THe View. Whoopi thanked me for putting this book out into the world. Millions watched. I had high def make up done. My outfit, after much angst, was a big hit. But that translated into less than 300 book sales. There was the mention of the launch party in The New Yorker. But they didn't review the book.

Then there were the straight out disappointments. The NPR interview that was booked, then cancelled due to a snowstorm after which they lost interest. The interest from the NY Times that never panned out. The Marthat Stewart cancellation, the major media interviews that never materialized, the speaking gigs that were impossible to find.

The sales the never happened.

I thought FLOW would change me. I thought I'd become a go-to person, an expert in the field, a fixture for interviews and quotes. I thought publishers would be interested in what I had to say next, that agents would seek me out, that publications would want my words.

That I would be a name, an entity, that I'd having staying power.


Not in the least.

Here I am, a year later, no agent, no publisher, back to square one.

In terms of publishing the changes were minimal.

But in terms of me?

I now introduce myself as a writer. I believe in my words. I honor my thoughts. I explore my opinions and share then with whomever cares to listen. I don't make excuses for what I do anymore. I don't denigrate my projects.

I found my voice. My confidence. I have a comfort in my skin I've never had before. I can stand up in front of a room full of people with ease. I can be ok about not being in the middle of a project. Being myself is enough for me now when it used to be my projects that defined me.

I made my dream project a reality. The process was excruciating. The sales were disappointing. The recognition negligible.

But because of FLOW I know what I can accomplish. What I'm capable of.

Who I am. And who I can be.

Monday, November 8, 2010

lunch with my dentist

Last week, while browsing in Barnes and Noble with Jack, I got a phone call from my dentist. I assumed it was the office confirming my cleaning appointment for this Wednesday. But no, it was my dentist, inviting me to lunch. Actually, she invited me to Lunch. A lunch cooked by chefs from Tabla, the Danny Meyer restaurant her son works at. He'd be the sommelier for the event. She was inviting 9 women she found inspirational, creative, interesting. I was honored to be part of her list and said of course I would come.

She emailed me the next day with specifics, asking for a short bio.

I was sorry I said yes. I'm not feeling very inspirational lately. I haven't been creative in months, not the way I usually am. I couldn't imagine what I'd have to contribute to a gathering about  mentoring and staying connected and vital as we get older.

I wavered. I didn't want to go but, in the end, I threw on slightly dressier clothes than I usually wear and headed to her apartment downtown.

Turns out it wasn't a Lunch. It was a LUNCH. 5 courses, each inspired by a famous woman from history. Eve, Joan of Arc, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Bette Davis. Each course was paired with at least 2 wines, sometimes 3. Three chefs spent days preparing. There were flambees, reductions, chutneys and sauces, foods and flavors I'd never experienced before. I'm not a foodie. I'm not a wine expert. I often felt like I was on Iron Chef America, throwing out words like "sublime" and "delectable" and my favorite of the day "extraordinary."

We spent 6 hours at different tables, talking and toasting, drinking and thinking.

By the end, I was thrilled to have gone. But it took me a long time to feel like I should have been there.

Until the end of the second course I was trying to figure out how to leave. Each of these other women had a career. Degrees. Fields of expertise. Worked in the corporate world. As they touched on literature, politics, film, education, mentoring, each had a wealth of experience and knowledge. They talked about how important it was to have women who inspired them and women they nurtured.

I've never had that.

I've been doing this, by myself, for as long as I can remember. And I feel funny even using the word career to describe myself—my path has been circuitous, murky, changeable. There's been no roadmap, no guideposts, no road to follow. I don't have any benchmarks, any awards I can win, any achievements that would acknowledge what I've done.

I felt like an imposter, wondering how long it would be until they all realized my invitation was a mistake.

Man, internally I was an insecure mess. But, as we settled in it turns out I had plenty to contribute. Just because my experiences aren't conventional, it doesn't make them less valid. And perhaps, important even. People sought me out to talk to, marveling at how I've accomplished all I have.

I have trouble acknowledging all I've done. Feeling like it's been important. That what I do and put out into the world means anything.

The purpose of this get together was exploring ways to make a difference, to inspire, to be relevant.

They did just that for me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

my personal death of publishing

I walked into Barnes and Noble Tuesday afternoon, on a fruitless yoga mat quest, and for the first time in longer than I can remember, I had no emotional reaction. No frustration that none of my books were there, that none were successful enough to be a perennial shelf selection. No anticipation about something I'm working on being on display one day. No glimmers of new ideas. No interest in what was there. No appreciation of cover designs, of innovation, of intrepid authors breaking new ground.

I didn't care.

And I wondered why. Have I become so jaded I've given up a significant part of me? I truly believed FLOW would change things for me. It's not that the experience didn't. I never worked harder in more adverse circumstances. I never fought so bitterly with people, was so misunderstood. I never poured every ounce of who I am into a project. And, except for bein a parent, I've never grown so much.

Or maybe it's this: I used to define myself by my projects. I was them. They described me.

Now I'm me. A me that doesn't need the crutch of an outside entity for confidence, for a sense of self-worth. I do what I do, I who I am, from the inside. My comfort, my confidence, my ease in my skin are all pretty new. But they're powerful.

I don't need that outside thing anymore, at least not in the same way. So, basically, being less productive is the direct result of growing into myself.

I think that's remarkably healthy. But perhaps I'll get to a place where I can balance me and be constructive at the same time.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


I'm a home-body. I love being home. I love being in my space, surrounded by my stuff. Even when the chaos gets too much it's still manageable when I set my mind to it.

But, I don't have anything that's just mine: a room, a chair, a corner. A comfortable place to read. A door to close. Every inch of space is shared by everyone else. Sometimes, just to talk on the phone I hide in my bathroom or up on one of the kid's beds. I wish that I could find that space that was only for me sometimes - the thought of it dangles in front of me as if somehow having it would make everything better.

But what I do have, most of the time, is me. I'm my space, my haven, my escape. That's why this never-ending injury is harder than it should be. My body can't help me disappear right now. That's why too much anxiety was unbearable - I wasn't safe for myself anymore.

Right now I'm feeling too on edge. Too tired yet wired. Too overwrought with no coping mechanisms. I lie in bed exhausted but can't sleep. My muscles are cramped and aching but I can't stretch. My mind is starting to spin again and I dread being back in that place.

I keep thinking if I had time alone with no responsibilities, if I had a place to escape to, if I could just get out of all I'm in right now, even for a little while, it would only get better.

The old escape fantasy. It's a lovely place to visit. I know better though.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I've been indulging in some retail therapy lately. It's helping while things are so stressful. While my family is struggling. While my body is aching. While I can't practice yoga.

I realized this morning, as I threw on the shapeless overcoat that arrived last week from ebay, that everything I'm buying is grey. I have never been drawn to grey as a fashion option and yet that's what I'm drawn to right now.

There's this shapeless new coat, 1970s wool, double breasted, chunky silver buttons that swims on me. I can't think of the last time I knowingly went out onto the street looking this drab. There's the boiled wool cardigan, the ruffled tank top, the large hounds tooth jacket, the satin trimmed long sleeved t-shirt. All grey.

So I have to wonder . . . what is it I'm hiding from?

Why, after so many years of outrageous, colorful fashion options, am I digging myself into this grey abyss? Bland, boring, lost, empty, living in shadow, hiding from the light.

Whew. This is more intense than I thought it would be.

I want my magenta back.

Monday, November 1, 2010


This morning?


I don't really have anything I have to do. I have many things I could do/should do, but nothing so immediate that I can't just sit for a bit and recuperate from that craziness that's been.

I could wade through the mounds of paperwork that's piled up on my desk and bring order to the chaos.

I could finish cleaning my sister's apartment. We painted it this weekend and everything's starting to come together.

I could put together a merchandise line for Iz's school, get files to the printer, and start a school store.

I could call my orthopedist and straighten out the nightmare that's scheduling multiple MRI's.

I could fold everything neatly in my drawers.

I could go to the supermarket and restock our empty fridge.

What I really want to do is wrap myself in a fuzzy blanket, read a good book and escape for awhile. That's what Iz does when things get too much and I have to say, she's a wise child. I'm thinking that and a cup of hot chocolate to combat the chill of the day could make a huge difference.