Saturday, November 30, 2013


Writing every day isn't as easy as I thought it was going to be. 

In fact, it's not easy or automatic at all. 

Climbing up stairs? Check. 

No hot chocolate? Surprising not hard even though it's freezing out. 

No gluten? Apparently I are less of it than I realized. 

But writing. Sigh. Not part of my regular practice. 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

giving thanks

I am thankful.



For all the my life is.

For all that it was and how it brought me to where I am today.

For the adventures and changes that are ahead (honestly, less excited about those).

For my family - the center of my universe.

For my puppies who continually fill me with love.

For getting to talk to my mom every day and my stepfather who is so good to me.

For my brother and sister who are both heroes.

For the many wonderful people I've gotten to know and share with.

For living in NYC. 

For getting to design and write. 

For meditating and yoga. 

For Abba. For old Rolling Stones. For the blues. 

For chick flicks and rom coms. 

For continually figuring myself out. 

For still growing. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

celebrating silliness

Hanukkah starts tonight and I'm finding, the older my kids get, the lower their expectations are. 

I mean that in the most positive of ways. 

When they were little I used to feel such pressure to find perfect presents, to create the most memorable memories, to     make sure their holidays lived up to all the seasonal hype. 

Now it's more about being together. 

Spending time.

Getting silly. 

Laughing hard. 

Presents, things, are secondary. Which is the way it should be. 

It's not the stuff that matters. And I'm grateful that they already knows this. 

Saves a lot of wrapping paper. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

not in the groove

Most of my 40 day challenges are going well, mostly because there's a fixed space and time for them. I meditate at 5:50am. Am hiking up stairs by 6:15. But writing every day is eluding me. 

Perhaps that's because it's the more that requires the most effort and the most thoughtfulness. 

And it's the one I most need. 

Monday, November 25, 2013

someone else's wait

Waiting is hard. At least for me. It sets up time to let the stories and scenarios in my head spin more then occasionally out of control. Having a vivid imagination that borders on panic isn't where you'd want to spend those moments that can last eternity.

But, what's even harder than waiting for something for myself, is waiting for my kids. Not waiting as in when they're coming home from school, but waiting to find out whether they got a part in the play, a spot on the flag football team, passed the test they'd studied so hard for.

Knowing that those results aren't my results. I'm here to celebrate or support. To listen or be shut off and shut up. To scream with glee or hug through tears.

To be there.

To not be there.

My feelings about these outcomes are vast but in the end are secondary.

And that's almost as hard as the waiting itself.

There is nothing more in life that I want than to make sure my kids are safe. Happy. Ok.

I wish I could prevent disappointment. Deflect heartache. Take away the sting, the pain, the crash that comes from putting yourself out there.

But, I can't.

And, in the end, those are some of life's most important lessons. Play parts aren't guaranteed. Making the team isn't a given. Romantic feelings aren't always mutual. Favorite schools don't have room for every person who wants to attend. Friends often can't be counted on.

You can't always get what you want.

Me neither. I can't stop the hurt.

But I can share the wallow. And then help move on.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

40 day commitments

Years ago, in a yoga class, my teacher mentioned she was making a sadhana, a 40 commitment. That by the end of 40 days what she was undertaking would be so much a part of her daily routine it would be almost automatic.

Her sadhana was flossing.

Tooth care isn't hard for me. I water pick  every day which really helps. That and an electric toothbrush keep my gums in pretty good shape.

But, there are other things out there it's not so easy to commit too.

Like writing. Every day. Especially when nothing significant is going on.

But, maybe that's the practice. Finding extraordinary in the ordinary. Honestly, as I'm finally discovering, life doesn't have to be major drama and experiences at every moment.

And so, I'm struggling to write right now.

Part of the practice.

I've got other sadhanas going on:

day 85 of meditating (that's going great)

day 7 of climbing up 10 flights of stairs every day (no noticeable change in heart pumping and heavy breathing yet)

day 1 of no hot chocolate (I'm inside - not so bad at the moment)

Just finished 40 days of gluten free which ended abruptly when I found out Ray's pizza across the street is closing after 40 or so years. Their white pizza is my favorite so I'll be eating it every day until their doors shut for the final time.

This is also day 7 of writing. Not getting easier.

But not getting harder.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

off the beaten path

After Midnight. Broadway. I only wish I'd tried set design in high school when I had the opportunity. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

not parenting like my parents

When I was a girl I was always making things. Looking back at that myriad of menus and certificates and posters, I was happiest with paper, markers, pictures - piecing information and images together. I was designing but back then had no idea what design even was.

I'll never forget, particularly proud of a project, running to show my father when got him from the office. I heard the garage door open and was waiting at the front door as he came in. He looked at my work and said: you can't make money doing that. You should be concentrating on homework. 

My parents were the first generation in their families to go to college. My father continued on to medical school, my mother was a chemist. Making things wasn't a career option; being a doctor, lawyer, or accountant was. 

I took that to heart and shut down that part of me. Instead of exploring and researching what roads might be out there, I went the conventional route and never succeeded. I wasn't meant for straight up academia and my twisting path finally led me back to art school in my mid twenties. 2 weeks before my 30th birthday I graduated with a bachelor's of fine art. 

Even with that I've never truly owned what I do. I've never been particullarly successful and have often felt like perhaps a law degree or a more traditional career path would have upped my confidence and self worth. 

Which leads me to the next generation. My kids both have strong, incredibly deep passions that aren't academic. 

I revel in that. 

I encourage them to explore and express and delve into what deeply moves them. I cherish their focus, their commitment, their energy and enthusiasm. At least most of the time. 

I want them to own that how they feel and what they love to do are important. Vital. 

And I will continue to work on that for myself. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

being (un)conventional

Back in my drama queen days I used to think I was the epitome of unconventional. As I forged my own path and made my own rules I was living an outside the box existence that no one else could even begin to imitate. 

Boy was I wrong. 

From here I am the icon of conventional. Married for 25 years. 2 kids. 2 dogs. I drive a station wagon. I'm a stay at home mom which in previous generations was known as a housewife. I live in jeans. I bake a lot. My middle has embraced the obligatory middle aged spread I was so sure I'd never succumb to. I knit and I'm even president of a PTA. At this point I'm actually both laughing and cringing while I write this. 

And yet, I don't completely fit in that by the numbers box. I got my nose pierced and my first tattoo somewhat recently. Not everyone donates a kidney or publishes books or wears outlandish vintage coats every day. I've lived in NYC for more than half my life, mostly in the west village. I've never stopped working, whether on big or small projects. 

The reality I'm settling into is 
what is convention? Why put judgmental labels on what is? We all follow and break rules in our own ways. Every person on this planet has their their own path no matter how different or similar it is to everyone else's. 

Perhaps the secret is not judging myself based on what other people do. It's cherishing both the mundane and the amazing. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

my writing challenge

At other points in my life when I'd make a commitment to write every day there'd be something specific to write about. The first time I did this I was establishing a writing practice for the very first time - staring down the release of my biggest book and not writing regularly made me feel like a fraud. My second foray into scheduled writing was a way of keeping myself sane while waiting to donate a kidney. Having a place to get (most of) my thoughts and fears into the open was vital.

Right now though life is life. No major projects or initiatives to contemplate. And I'm grateful for that. Learning to live in the grey, as my former therapist said, was an important lesson for me to learn. So here I am, middle school flag football enthusiast, craft store chauffeur, dog walker, muffin baker, freelance designer, unclutterer of drawers, PTA president, yogi. I occasionally write for my local newspaper. I talk to my mom just about every day. I'm generally home when my kids get back from school. I go to bed at a reasonable hour. I meditate every day.

I have ideas for potential projects, great ideas sometimes that my former self would've been researching and writing, sending out proposals, making things happen. Now I acknowledge them and let them go. 

I wonder if I'll ever been driven again to way I used to be. But I'm realizing it's not the accomplishments, it's the being that matters. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This year we have nothing to do for Thanksgiving. 

Nowhere to go. No invitations to accept. Nothing. 

While I've been feeling rather sad and at times tearful, my kids are thankful. 

Thankful we don't have to travel. 

Thankful we don't have to leave the pups alone. 

Thankful we don't have to super shop, cook like mad, clean like crazy. 

Thankful we get to be just us for a holiday. 

And I am thankful beyond words for that. Thankful these kids want to spend time with their parents. That a day hanging out  is something to cherish. That they're happy being together. 

And that, as my wise children reminded me is what Thanksgiving should be about. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

be the wall

While having coffee (hot chocolate) with a friend this morning an idea popped into my head. 

Be the wall. 

At points in my life that happened all the time. A book name or project idea would appear and I'd know exactly what it should be, would look like, could sound like. Sometimes I'd write it down, say it out loud. Talk about it with people, brainstorm it through. Sometimes I'd work through a book proposal, putting together logos, chapters, selling points. Sometimes I'd get to write the book and very often my original idea was remarkably close to the finished product. 

Be the wall. 

It's been awhile since that happened. At least the proposal/publishing part. Even the unbidden idea flashing through me happens far less than it used to. I think in some way my calmer mind doesn't need to be engaged as much which is healthy, although less productive. So when it happens perhaps I should pay more attention. 

Be the wall. 

We were talking about life with teenagers, how emotionally challenging it can be. How difficult, how exhausting, how frustrating at times. That when their emotions and hormones are directed at you how it can be next to impossible to stay calm and unflustered. 

In those moments I try my best (and I'm not always successful) to maintain calm and say: if you can't speak to me with respect, don't speak. Or something along those reasonable, mature lines. And then, this popped into my head:

Be the wall. 

Smooth. Calm. Unmoving. 

Solid. Substantial. Grounding. 

A blank surface. A clean slate. An object that won't, can't react. 

What a great book for parents that could be. Ways to keep your sanity, your calm, your cool when dealing with overwhelming emotions. Information about what to expect, what's normal, what to look out for, how to cope, where and when to find support. 

Everyone I know could use something like this at time. Including me. 

Be the wall. 

I recognize I'm not going to write this one. But I'm going to adopt it as my parenting mantra for awhile.