Friday, December 31, 2010


I'm lying in a hammock that's strung between 2 palm trees, coconuts ripening overhead, sunlight breaking through the heavy fronds. Waves are breaking onshore, the water varying shades of turquoise, cobalt, teal. The sky is dappled with marshmallow clouds. Peacocks, with their own range of brilliant blues and greens, are wandering so close by I could reach out and touch one (not that I ever would).

The sand is white. The shells are plentiful.

There's a sense of relative emptiness compared to the overcrowding we've found on other places.

After days of not getting into our groove today more than makes up for it.

I will go home warm with Mexican beaches and sun and the raw beauty of shells adorning trees mired in the surf.

I am happy.



Thursday, December 30, 2010


As Jack and I were heading back from the beach we had this pretty remarkable chat about expectations.

A little background: this was our 4th cruise day, 3rd trip off the ship, first completely sunny, blue-skied, white sanded, turquoise watered Caribbean day. Unlike our usual adventurous selves, needing to discover the unbeaten path wherever we are, we stayed close to the ship and headed to a beach just past the tourist shops. So, it seemed, did just about everyone else from the 2 shipped in port. At 10:30am there wasn't a beach chair to be found, with only minute patches of sand to claim as our own.

But, the water was delicious, the view of the mountains, clouds lightly dipping down, was delightful. A breeze occasionally blew through, cooling us off as we lazed in the sun.

Jack had been looking for more - more fun, more adventure, more options. And I told him that expectations get you into trouble every time. When you hope, wish, wait for something spectacular, or even better than what is, most likely you'll be disappointed. On the other hand, if you take time to appreciate where you are, it can often be better than you realize.

We walked back to the ship, along the sparkling water, magenta and orange flowers dotting the path, skin pink from the sun, heads drowsy from the heat. Me and my boy. Me relishing the beauty of the moment, him dreaming of ice cream.

It took me years to learn to live in a moment. I'm hoping he got a glimpse of that today.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Right before heading out to sea I had a super strange, turn-me-on-my-head experience. We were in Florida, out to dinner with relatives we hadn't seen in some time. I was shocked, truly shocked to find that not only do they read what I write, but that they're interested and empathetic. As if that wasn't enough, they think I'm a terrific writer.

I was speechless. Touched. Through my writing they've gotten to know me in a way that never seemed possible in the real world.

What's even more fascinating is that other people in my life have taken the same thing, my writing, and judged me as a loser, a time waster, a narcissist for thinking anyone might possibly have interest in what have to say.

Someone to admire. Someone to admonish. Someone to be proud of. Someone to look down on. Opposite ends of the spectrum points of view based on exactly the same thing.

The thing is, I'm being myself. As much as one can be in a sterile, faceless environment. I write my truth, or, more likely, I figure out my truth by writing. This has been my therapy, my solace, my place to explore and find comfort. And often, a way to vent when I need to be have no other place or time.

That people share this journey with me is gratifying. Strange. Different. I'm always a bit taken aback when someone knows details of my life I know we never discussed. But I'm also honored that they took the time.

The world and how we share is changing. I'm figuring it out as I go along. For those who need to judge, what can I say. For those who've changed how they think about me, wow. For those who share, thank you.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

what I can't live without

I was thinking this morning, as I wandered around my mom's house repacking all that we unpacked since last night plus the many things we accumulated at Target this morning, what were the things I couldn't live without. I thought this because the last minute shopping trip was to get a fuzzy pillow for one of my children who neglected to bring hers but can't sleep without one.

In the craziness, the stuffing, the organizing, I discovered what I can't live without.

My sunglasses were missing.


I took them off when I came into the house, put them on top of my bag and when I went back later to put them on, they were gone.



I can't handle sun. I often wear sunglasses in my apartment when it gets too bright. The thought of spending a week in the sun, in the carribean, on a boat, at the BEACH with no shaded?

I lost it. After frantically tearing apart every bag I'd just repacked, I burst into tears, shaking, and curled up in the corner of a bedroom, incapable of pulling myself together.

It wasn't pretty. In fact, it was embarrassing. Everyone in my family now knows, as I shouted it over and over, that the last time I lost a pair of glasses was sophomore year of college.

There wasn't time to stop anywhere and have a quick pair made. Iz offered me her faux Coach pair which make me look like a Real Housewives reject. A quick stop at Walgreens found me a clip on shade that doesn't quite fit but creates turquoise and blue verticle stripes wherever I look. A quick real time note: Jack just looked at me and smiled a pity smile at how ridiculous I look.

And so, I've confronted and dealt with what I can't live without. And found that I can survive. Not fashionably, but I can still function.

Trip photos won't be featuring me.

And I'm going to think first, before thinking.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

the end of year recap begins

At the close of most years I take time to ponder. To look back at what happened. How I grew. Or stayed stuck. What worked. What didn't. I'm generally amazed at how much has taken place but this year more than most. It doesn't seem possible that 2010 could possibly have been so much, in so many ways.

And so . . .

Biggest life changer: we found our puppy and she changed me in such great ways

Thing I thought might be a life changer but wasn't: speaking on national tv in front of millions of people

Most thrilling moment: watching Jack "get" column addition

Most challenging juggle: having my brother and sister in the hospital at the same time

Most unexpected decision: cutting my hair off

Biggest decision that was unexpectedly a no-brainer: going for kidney match testing

Thing I never imagined happening: taking Lexapro

Thing that I always imagined would happen but dreaded like hell: having a mini breakdown

Thing that threw me the most: falling off my bike and the crazy long recovery

Thing I'm most proud of: taking a month off from yoga to heal and handling it

Thing I'm most surprised about: that my body stayed just about the same

Biggest thing I gave up: sugar

Biggest thing I've taken on: PTA presidency

Thing I couldn't possibly imagine: that I'd be happy not being in the midst of a project

Most spur of the moment moment: getting my nose pierced

Best vacation ever: the end of August on the Jersey shore

Most grateful for: Jon, Iz, Jack and Gracie

Monday, December 20, 2010

a mini gratitude shout out

My kids are in bed, not sleeping, but not out here.

There was not a single argument between them or with me.

Jon's making a delicious dinner.

My puppy is sitting in my lap.

I finished knitting two gifts today.

The weather warmed up to not frigid.

My PTA work was super appreciated this morning.

My hand doesn't hurt anymore. My shoulder is so much better.

My anxiety's been controllable.

I didn't hear a single Christmas song anywhere today.

My apartment is toasty and pretty neat.

Not a drop of drama has crossed my path and I'm going to bed soon.

I'm content, appreciative, mellow and happy at the moment.

This is one to savor.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

yay life!

I had a couple of things I had been thinking about writing today:

fat me: peeking in on feeling fat when stress gets too intense and how that negativity's been creeping back in lately

being dumped is hard to do: thoughts about letting go when you're not the one who wanted out of something

But, this morning, as I was chatting in the elevator with a woman I'd never seen before and her dog (I wasn't talking to the dog, just admiring him), about the exuberance of puppyhood, she said puppies are all: yay life.

Yay life.

I love that. LOVE.

Puppies are so yay life - at least mine is. Gracie radiates enthusiasm. She sees me and her tail starts wagging, whether it's the energetic almost wiggling out of her skin when I come home or the sleeping under the chair, just waking up flutter back and forth. She loves nothing more than sitting on my lap, chewing furiously on a toy. In fact, she's here right now which makes typing on my laptop ultra challenging. But, I wouldn't change it for the world.

She's been with us for 5 months and I can barely remember life without her. She brings a sweetness to sitting still. A warmth to doing nothing because being together in that nothing is love and comfort and ease.

She melts me. And yet her presence is a powerful force, not just for me but for all of us.

For someone who never really wanted a dog I fell hard. Puppy love is a delicious thing.

Friday, December 17, 2010

the practice

So far this week I went to 3 yoga classes. 3 days in a row.

I'm sore. Aching in some spots. But, it's been the first time in the 3 months since I fell off my bike that my body is getting close to what it used to be able to do. My knee is still wonky - child's pose is still more uncomfortable than relaxing. My handle can only handle so many planks and then I'm done. And my shoulder still is unhappy twisting in certain ways. Having said that, I can move. Pain isn't present all the time. I'm having moments of getting lost in the moment. Moving. Grooving. Flowing.

And so, I've been thinking about what yoga means to me. It's been almost 6 years since I found my studio and quit the gym the next day, after years of countless reps and miles logged on the stairmaster. I didn't know that I was looking. I had no expectations of what yoga would do for me, how it would shape me, change me.

I wasn't looking for a path.

Or maybe I was.

This week, in every class, teachers talked about coming to the mat. Coming to the mat is a commitment. To me. To my body. To my mind. It's a place to make space. To put everything else aside, as much as is possible, and be present. To twist, to balance, to be challenged. To move, to be still, to laugh which I do in every class.

Some days I can let go. Most of the time I can't. At least that'd what I think when I'm there but the truth is I'm letting go by letting myself be there.



Thursday, December 16, 2010

medicated me

It's been 7 plus months since I started taking Lexapro. I actually had to wait to complete that sentence so I could check my calendar - I wasn't quite sure. Yesterday, after writing about being frozen and stuck, complacent and ambivalent, I realized it could be the meds.

When I first started in them a friend, a successful writer, said she'd known plenty of creative types who lost their creativity to meds.

I'm thinking I could be one.

Which leads me to this:

anxiety = productivity

+ chemicals = stability - creativity

Anxiety has always been my fuel, my drive, my gasoline. Even while frozen by anorexia for all those years I knew, as just about the deepest truth there is, that should I be able to channel all that energy into something constructive, I could accomplish great things. It took years to thaw but, that thought came true. I have accomplished some truly great things.

But it got to be too much.

My soul needed a time out. Maybe, and here's a thought, this particular respite is the first chance in I can't think of how long for me to get to know me. Not driven me, frenetic me, accomplishing me, busy me. The me that's underneath all that.

Now I have to figure out if I want to leave here and plunge back into freneticism. I could stop taking meds and see what happens. It all could be fine - I'm taking a very low dose. But, the teeth-gritting, soul-haunting, reality-shifting anxiety could flood back and that terrifies me.

I just answered my own question.

I'm not ready.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

frozen, stuck and scared. oh my.


Maybe not creating, not being smack in the middle of an all-encompassing project, not juggling far too much isn't really that I'm ok with it.

Maybe I'm scared.

Maybe, after FLOW, after putting myself more out there than I ever have, of hitting heights I'd never dreamed of, of being profoundly proud, thrilled, anxious, disappointed, hurt, overwhelmed, even lost at times, I'm afraid of jumping back in.

Or even getting my feet wet at this point.

Maybe I'm afraid I can't do it again.

Maybe I'm feeling that no one will say yes this time.

I had a remarkable run. But nothing I did caught on fire. Even when I believed deep in my heart they would. It would. FLOW would.

In the end, it's heartbreaking, when I let myself think about it. What a conversation I got to start. What a message I put into the world. What important, relevant topics I had people talking about.

But not enough. And I got to the point where I couldn't swim upstream anymore.

It was so fucking hard for so long.

I'm trying to be ok with where I am. But deep inside, hidden so far down at this point I can pretend it's not there, I'm missing it. I miss meetings, phone calls, due dates. Learning, researching, exploring. Searching for art. Making sense of the mess it all starts out as. The anticipation. Excitement.

The crafting of something from a vague idea into a tangible reality.

Having an end result. A book on my shelf.

Something to talk about.

But missing it isn't enough to make me start again.

I've never been in this place before—complacent. Ambivalent. Unable to get myself going.

It's usually been the opposite. I couldn't stop.

Now I can't start.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Knitting is the new nothing

She who must not be named (the family member who recently cut me out of her life) was actually right.

I do nothing.

Yup, right now I do nothing.

Well, not quite nothing. I raise 2 kids, run a PTA, take care of a puppy. I make dinner, make beds, do laundry and multiplication tables. I go to physical therapy and yoga. Doctor's appointments for the potential kidney thing. Alternate side parking.

I shop for holiday gifts, for the right kind of pasta, for flowers for my mom's birthday/hospital visit. I plan school dances, weekend play dates, middle school merchandise lines.

But I don't have a "job" job and there are no money making related ventures in my future.

I've been here before. Many times. The last office job I had was in 1995. As a freelancer there are times I'm overwhelmed with work and times when I can barely pay my bills.

This is one of the latter.

To add to the mix, I'm not out there trying to sell anything and that's new too. It's not that I don't have viable ideas I believe in - I do - but at least for right now, doing nothing seems to what I'm supposed to be doing.

Last night I had a long talk with a dear old friend whose life is literally shape shifting in real time. It must be terrifying to live but it's beautiful to watch. This person, in a very short span of time, is discovering who he is, not just being who he thinks he's supposed to be.


Perhaps this relative emptiness in my life right now is so that I can do the same. Maybe letting go of (although I did not choose to) all the busyness is making space for me to grow into what's next.

I have NO idea what that could be. Hopefully something fabulous. Hoping even more it's helping my kidney get to a new home.

But in the meantime, many I know are getting lovely hand knit gifts.

Knitting is the new nothing until I find my new something.

Monday, December 13, 2010


I'm still holding tight to my 40 day commitment.

Only today I'm not writing here—I'm working on a Huffington Post piece about bullying, about how impossible it's going to be to change things when kids so often learn unacceptable behavior at home.

At the moment though, I'm stuck. I have no solutions, no ideas, not even an inkling of what can be done.

And so, perhaps, knitting will clear my head for a bit.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lock down

It's been a week. The kidney tests. The family drama. The winter chill outside. Scrambling to pull together a Hanukkah that didn't suck.

And then yesterday, on her birthday, someone I love dearly ended up in the hospital. All will be fine but it was more than I could handle.

And so I didn't.

I didn't process it think about it deal with it.

I made it through the day, and then had a night filled with nightmares of knitting projects I screwed up, of dinner parties I was hosting that I hadn't prepared dinner for, of my period not ending long after it should have.

Today I woke up, but not really. I dragged myself through a yoga class, came home and fell asleep. I think this is one day thay will be over without my ever really being fully in it.

Sleep seems to be my new coping strategy. And I'm ok with that for now.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Yesterday, while having coffee with one of my dearest friends, I finally got to talk about all that's been going on lately. She observed that compartmentalizing is a powerful coping strategy for me.

Yes it is.

I don't know how I'd survive the many situations and emotions pulling me in such diverse directions if I couldn't lock things behind doors and not be constantly overwhelmed.

It's been like this for as long as I can remember.

My brother has been ill since a tumor was discovered in his 9 month old kidney. I was just over two—that's too young to remember but I've been told of out of state treatments, of my mother staying in the hospital with him for days on end, of having her parents keep me up late at night so we could spend time together when she finally got a break. In the ensuing years we never talked about what he'd had, all that had and was going on, but there was always an undercurrent of something tragic and huge below the surface.

There was my sister's stroke, when I was a freshman in college. 3 months maybe after my father left. He'd told me the previous December, two weeks before he told my mom. And then he moved out the day after my high school graduation. I think my mom might have gone into the hospital for surgery that day too. Memories get fuzzy sometimes. From that point on, he's disappeared from my life for significant stretches. Years would go with no contact. His wife? Let's just last week and they both told me never to contact them again.

This latest blow out as my brother and I face major surgery. He's living with a catheter in his chest for dialysis, at best a short term solution until something better comes along. We're all hoping my kidney is his good news. But, should we be matches, and I pass all the testing, they won't know until he's on the operating table and open whether his scarred body can fit a new organ.

Yet another box I have to manage.

I write here often (and I've been called out for incessant whining) about the many struggles I face. Most are things many of us deal with: aging, body, parents, kids, school, work, relationships—it's a long list. There are some that are more specific to me: anxiety, fear of breaking down, living a creative life and the inherent ups and downs that go with it. The precarious balance of being a mother who works, at other things, at home.

What to make for dinner.

How to read the knitting pattern I'm struggling with.


Holiday gifts.

Multiplication tables.


And so, for me, if I didn't have all my boxes, my closets, the ability to shut out, close off, turn the volume down on the above, I'd never make it through the day. A day. Any day.

Perhaps assimilating it all, processing, dealing, talking, working through would be healthier.

But the thought of that terrifies me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

double duty

Today I had wanted to write about family. About volunteering to have myself cut open to help my brother while, at the same time, people in my family have cut me out of their lives, forever so they say.

The disparity is almost too overwhelming to comprehend.

Stress and fear can bring people together. Or tear them apart.

I'm smack in the middle of both situations. And all I can do at the moment is shut down. Not completely - I'm knitting my very first dog sweater and it's taking serious concentration to figure out this pattern. But I can't process any of the rest of it.

And so, I'm sharing my kidney post here.

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be back to working my way through.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

something old, something new

Yesterday, I started a new blog (yes, she-who-must-not-be-named, another blog).

This one will chronicle my journey as a potential kidney donor.

I've never done anything like this before. It's a road of nothing but unknowns.

There's far more involved than I would have thought. But, should all the many puzzle pieces fit together, my brother could end up in a far better place than he is now.

I hope you'll follow me here:

adventures of my kidney

Monday, December 6, 2010

Being me again

For the past week or so I've been waking up earlier than I need to. The sun hasn't come up yet. Aside from the garbage truck outside the streets are remarkably quiet. I could still be in bed, wrapped up in fuzzy blankets, my hot water bottle holding on to its last bit or warmth keeping my toes from freezing.

At 7 it'll get crazy. Kids need to get to school. Lunches has to be made. The dog needs to be walked. Things will be missing. People will be cranky, especially on a Monday morning. This calm will disappear like a balloon floating silently away against the blue sky until it'll be hard to remember if it was real or I imagined it.

Back to my point . . .

I'm waking up early to write. I don't plan this. No alarms are set. I'd really rather be in my cozy bed. But it's time. I've been shut down for so long. Too long. I've been grappling with life changing issues and situations. I shut myself in a box and for all this time that was ok.

I've learned that I can survive without being lost I'm a project. How to be me instead of what I'm working on. That I can handle extraordinary stress and still be relatively ok.

That I can take care of myself and that often means with compassion and kindness. I've never been very good at giving myself a break. Guilt and berating were the two usual standbys.

I'm learning. I'm growing.

And I'm writing again. Before the sun comes up. Before thoughts are fully formed. Before the day gets away from me and excuses take over.

And now I have 20 more minutes to hop back in bed before the insanity starts.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

mothers who don't work

I was accused the other day of not working. It was intended as a scathing insult. The accuser? Let's just leave it as she-who-must-not-be-named, the family member who's now officially cut me out of her life completely.

This particular missive spent much time comparing us, with, of course, her being far more favorably represented. We're both mothers, she said, but an intrinsic difference is that she's
always worked while I stay at home doing nothing.

In my book though, being a full time stay-at-home mom is just about the most challenging job that exists on this planet. You're on call 24/7. At any moment the nurse could call, an argument breaks out, someone throws up and boom - you have to drop whatever you might have been doing on move yourself to the bottom of the priority list. You soothe after nightmares. You mediate fights, you spend hours cutting 1/2 inch cubes out of styrofoam for an igloo project.

You listen. You nurture. You discipline. You are the CEO of an company that doesn't give sick days. You can't roll over vacation time. There is no vacation time.

Sometimes, when motherhood particularly overwhelms me, I fantasize about getting a conventional job. Just the thought of sitting on the bus and commuting sounds like heaven. Being in a meeting and not being able to take a call? Heaven. Arriving home with dinner and homework and baths and walking te dog and cleaning up a thing of the past? Bliss.

While I know my fantasy isn't quite true - it's more a grass is greener outlook I would never slam mothers who have a job outside the home. I can't imagine the juggle and stress that must go along with that particular double duty.

If I'm not wearig those shoes, I don't judge. Which makes the denigration of stay at home moms all the more infuriating. I chose this life. I am grateful I can be here. It's the most demanding job I've ever had. And yet to many, motherhood doesn't count as work.

To raise compassionate, thoughtful, motivated, well-rounded, grounded kids is just about the most valuable job I can think of. They are our future. They will make an impact in the world. They could save the planet. Cure cancer. Invent new synthetic gemstones or develop gaming systems that will revolutionize the way we play (the current aspirations of my two).

More importantly, if I do my job well, they will be there for each other, no matter what. They will treat others with repect and kindness. They will find their individual roads and move through their lives with hopefully not overwhelming stress or pain.

At this point in my life I am many things. I am a public school PTA president. A graphic designer. A writer. A hoster of every family holiday. A class parent. A potential kidney donor. A partner. A daughter. A sister. A friend.

A stay at home mother.

That's not an insult. It's a gift.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

letting go of toxic

We all have things in our lives that aren't good for us: habits, relationships, situations. And they can be close to impossible to let go of.

Right now, in my life, it's time to let go. This week, in particular, the conversation keeps appearing—with friends, in yoga, in what I'm reading, talking, thinking about.

There are small things, like relying on chocolate in moments of frustration or spending money at etsy for things I really don't need. I've actually been doing far too much shopping lately. It's an old old habit that resurfaces when life gets to be a bit much. At this point my goal is to get rid of more than I take in, yet I've got enough yarn for at least 5 more projects and did I really need to order two more of the exact same umbrella?

That's not toxic though.

Toxic is when these things make you doubt yourself, make you hate yourself, make you feel so badly you're not sure exactly who you are anymore.

That's what I'm trying to let go of.

This week I went back to yoga. In spite of the pain and the healing that's still going on. I had to let go of being angry at myself—angry at what I can't do. Frustration at needing to take it easy. Embarrassment and discomfort at people watching me not participate. Most likely they barely notice but I feel (felt) like a loser for standing instead of moving. It was almost impossible to be there and be ok. Every class though is getting easier. I can do what I do and I'm learning to accept and be grateful for that. It's more than I could do 2 months ago, or even last week.

I'm letting go.

This week I also let go of relationships that caused pain and disappointment for years. By the end of a day or increasingly insulting and hurtful emails in which I was called, along with many other things, a has-been-want-to-be-who-never-was crazy bitch (those are actually from 2 different emails but I'm using creative license here), I finally was able to open my eyes and see the truth. Not what I hoped would happen. Not what used to be. What is.

The what is, the truth, is so often hard to accept. It's not what you want. It's not what you deserve. It's not what you'd wish for your worst enemy. But, sitting with reality and coming to terms with it is far healthier than holding on to illusions that are just that. Yearning for the past or the different or somewhare else than wherever you are.

And in those moments of clarity, sometimes there's acceptance. And letting go is far easier than you think it would be.

I feel freer right now. Lighter. Less burdened. Reality may not be what I wanted, but it's better than living where I was.

Friday, December 3, 2010

why do I write

Yesterday, in the midst of an increasingly heated email exchange, someone asked me why I write. Here. Actually, it was more an accusation that I crave attention, that I'm having an emotional crisis, that I'm insecure and need people to pay attention to me but why would anyone be interested in the problems of a want-to-be-who-never-was. It ended with the suggestion that I double my medication or figure out what dire things are truly wrong with me.

But that's another story.

In that fragile, painful, charged moment I wasn't sure. Why did I write here? Was she right? Was it all because I'm needy, need to bring other people down to build myself up, am a loser who does nothing so I need to share my angst with the world? So, I mentioned the slam on twitter last night and got this response:

because you touch my heart, teach me new things, & allow me to see the world differently

And I realized I knew the answer all along. I write because I'm a writer.

I am a writer.

And how can one write without baring their souls, even a bit?

To have a creative soul isn't easy. The ups and downs are dramatic, at times exhilarating, others terrifying. It can be lonely. It can be scary. Sometimes you (I) can teeter on the edge wondering if what you do/who you are is worthy, worthwhile, sane. But to write is to frame things, to explore, to express.

Do I share too much? Sometimes. Do I regret things I've written? Occasionally. But where would I be if I bottled this up and locked my soul in a box. I know people like that. People who are so shut down, closed off, tightly wound that everything needs to remain a deeply hidden secret. I lived that life for too long. It almost killed me.

But—and this took years and years—I found my voice.

And I will never, ever let it get shut down again.

Should someone not want to share my journey, no worries. Should others want to judge me, ok. I can take it. Should anyone need to bring me down to make themselves feel better, it's your life and you have to live with yourself. I will never know the suffering inside you that makes you inflict pain.

I can only be myself, live my life, and share the way that works for me.

I am a writer.

I write.

And I am grateful, beyond grateful, for that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The potential adventures of my kidney

Neither of my kidneys actually has a story. Yet. But one of them might embark on a life changing journey which we're at the very beginning of.

Monday, I go for blood tests to see if my kidney could be a potential match for my brother. If blood and tissue types are compatible, we move to the next step.

Now that I'm writing I realize this isn't really the beginning of the story. I've known for my whole life I might be in this place. And I've always graciously offered up an organ should it be needed, in a light-hearted, breaking difficult conversation sort of way. There was never any real thought behind the bequest.

Now it's really on the table. And still, there's not any thought behind the decision. It's not a decision. If my brother can use my kidney, it's his. End of story.

And beginning of story.

The transplant coordinator told me yesterday that should things move forward I'll have the most thorough physical of my life. That's both cool and scary. I'm sure this 46 year old body has all sorts of issues I don't know about that might not ever garner attention. But, I could soon be minutely scrutinized.

I'll have to deal with my subway anxiety, as the hospital is way uptown. My surgery fears. I'm not a fan of losing control and the thought of being knocked out fills me with dread. The reality of living with one kidney instead of two.

But, and this feels crazy and right at the same time - I'm excited. That maybe this will help. That all the years of eating well and exercising has kept my body in good shape to handle this. Maybe, on some level, it was even for this. To know there's something I might be able to do, instead of merely observing, is a gift.

And my gift when it's done? A tattoo of Japanese cherry blossoms around my left ankle. A true symbol for me of life and beauty and rebirth (sorry mom - I know the nose piercing was hard - hope you can handle this).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I started 4 or 5 posts today. Here. On my phone. In my head.

One was about being stuck.

Another was the death of my hot pink and orange umbrella—a long time fave—in a huge wind gust on the way to yoga.

There's the initial blood tests on Monday for possible kidney donation that I set up this morning.

Life after perfect hair.

The fallback of what do I want to be when I grow up.

A variation of colors and moods based on my class today.

But I can't stick with any of them. In fact, I can't stick with any one thing at the moment. I'm floating aimlessly, or being thrown around in rough seas, without something to moor me. Not that I don't have wonderful stability in my life. I do. But at the moment I've lost the stability, the drive, the centering in me.

That's been ok for the past few months. I've learned to live without being lost in a project. How to be just me instead of what I do (that's another topic that glimmered for a moment or two). I am smack in the middle of so many other people's struggles, my own just aren't very important and that's ok.

But, writing every day will help focus me. It's good to have a goal. Annoying too. There's something freeing in having lowered expectations of myself.

But I'm more than this. And it will come back. I just have to stand up and fight instead of lie on the couch and play word games on my phone.

Day 2 is shifting.

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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

46 versus 45

45 was a particularly banner year. My dream book was published. Whoopi Goldberg and Dr. Oz both thanked me for what we put out into the world. I was on national TV, did countless interviews, successfully navigated social media, had an amazing book launch party, was written about in the New Yorker. I  did my first film projects, built websites and blogs, had thoughts and words flowing through me all the time.

46? My brother is struggling with dialysis. My sister's struggling with a bipolar diagnosis and getting the right meds to get her back to comfortable. Almost 2 months out I'm still struggling with injuries from my bike fall. It's shocking how slowly I'm healing. I can't practice yoga anymore. I've lost almost all my design clients. I've been dealing with school issues and growing up issues and more family stuff than I thought I could handle. I started taking meds when I couldn't cope anymore.

My creativity's gone missing.

The things I've identified myself as for so long have disappeared, been taken away, are on hiatus.

What's basically impossible to comprehend is that I'm happier now. More grounded. Better able to handle all that's thrown at me.

I got a puppy who's changed all of us. I'm a PTA president and, with the most amazing people, have accomplished great things just since September.

I'm a more open friend. I'm a more involved parent. I'm a better partner.

Most of all, I'm nicer to myself.

I'm accepting where I am instead of beating myself up about where I'm not. I gave up exercising in pain and am giving my body time to heal. I've learned to recognize when it all gets to be too much and not to push past that.

I take naps when I need to.

I stare off into space when I'm too exhausted to do anything else.

I eat chocolate (organic dark) when I have the urge.

I got my hair cut off, my nose pierced. I'm thinking about tattoos.

I'm indulging in retail therapy. Apparently this is the fall of grey and ruffles, both things I've never even considered before.

I'm changing. I'm growing. I'm learning to let go and find strength in weakness.

The wisdom that comes with getting older is priceless. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I am strong.


I am strong.

Stronger than I ever imagined I could be. Stronger I'd bet than most people gave or give me credit for.

I can handle all that's going on around me and not fall to pieces.

That's not to say I don't crack sometimes.

But in the midst of insanity I'm still grateful, still having fun, still loving, still finding silver linings and bright spots and hope.

This is sounding embarrassingly like a Hallmark card but even that's ok. I guess I'm sending an I'm-proud-of-you card to myself right now.

Someone today called me a strong woman and said I'm not a kid, that I've lived and survived. Age is my badge of honor, the wisdom I've acquired, the common sense and grounded-ness, that helps me hold it all together. I wouldn't trade this age for any other in my past.

Damn. What an amazing thing to feel.

And to own.

46. Who'd have thought I'd be here so remarkably proud of how far I've come and how excited about how far I still have to go?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

today is hard

That's it.

Today is hard.

I'm having trouble putting on a happy face, acting like all is/will be fine, being a cheerleader.

I want to crawl into a corner and fall asleep until tomorrow.

I want a guarantee that all will work out so I can muster up energy to go on.

But, there's no such thing.

Maybe things will get better. Maybe they won't.

I hate (HATE) not knowing. I hate things being out of my control. I hate waiting and trying so hard not to spin, not to wonder, not to live in what ifs.

But, that's what today is.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

my tipping point

Today was a breaking the camel's back kind of day. I found out what too much was. I stared it down and then shut it out.

One thing I've learned is to recognize how much I can handle and to refuse to take on more when I can't.

Today I couldn't. And it was big. Life changing. It had/has the potential to change much of the foundation of my life. It's something that isn't mine but indirectly affects me profoundly. Everything could change drastically, dramatically, permanently.

And that's all I can say.

Honestly, that's all I can feel. I can't absorb it, think about it, process it. I can only detach and watch, with my eyes squeezed tight, just peeking furtive glances when a lull flows by.

This is when my anorexic past comes in super handy. I'm can compartmentalize so efficiently, so effectively, that in spite of the chaos and confusion I'm surrounded by, I'm functioning. I'm holding on. I'm dealing.

But, at the moment, I'm not feeling. And for now that's ok.

Monday, October 25, 2010

what to write

I'm finding right now that I'm drawing many blanks. I stare down things on my to-do list and just can't do them.

It's not that I'm not getting lots done. I am. I'm always busy. I never stop working. It's 8:40, I haven't eaten dinner yet and it's the first moment I've had to write—it's been a day of nonstop stuff.

None of it for me.

Writing is for me but I can't seem to do that lately. An errant thought floats by but I lose it before it turns into something. I'm planning meetings well into November but can't think of what to do in the next 5 minutes.

I've got a middle school party to plan decorations for and I've got nothing.

I know I have a whole list of these but I'm too lost to even get them out of my head and onto the keyboard.

Right now the Giants are on, Gracie's sitting on my lap with the squeakiest football ever produced, Jack' obsessing about spy cameras and I can't think.

But that's ok.

Perhaps I'll try having thoughts tomorrow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

culture clash

We had relatives visiting from out of town this weekend. In the middle of all the absurdity and chaos.

It could have been overwhelming. It could have been a disaster. It could have been the extra piece that put me over the edge. Instead, it was lovely. They were delightful. It was nothing short of therapeutic to look at our lives from a different point of view and appreciate all that we have, when it's so easy to take it all for granted.

Things like having 2 bagel shops within a block to choose from. That should we need gluten free food, funky clothes in atypical sizes, fresh fruit, crepes, a farmer's market, a happening park, japanese, thai, mexican, middle eastern, korean, chinese, italian food, it's all within walking distance. That there are almost more people on the streets late at night than during the day. How lovely it is to have a doorman to open doors for you. The thrill you get when you snag a cab when too many other people are trying to do the same thing. Pushing elevator buttons every time you come home. Seeing the Empire State Building looming north when you're out for a stroll.

The beauty of the city at dusk.

The joy of people watching.

How lovely it is to crash after a long day wandering through neighborhood after neighborhood.

Their amazement made stop for a moment and be amazed too.

There was still craziness. Getting Iz to a movie with friends while Jack was at a Halloween party that I volunteered for clean up duty on, while feeding and walking the dog and overseeing countless loads of laundry being done for my sister. I logged in hours of extra-curricular cleaning, spent more time in excel hell, played tour guide and shopping companion and plan organizer.

But having people around who aren't usually here shined a light on remarkable things in my life that too easily get forgotten in the every day crush.

Right now Jon and Jack are playing ping pong on our makeshift ping pong table. Iz is reading (as always). Gracie is happily chewing a bone. And I'm about to take a nap, full of gratitude for the little things in my life.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

saving someone

I've sort of hit the wall. At least I felt that way at 8:06 after an iffy night's sleep, horrendous dreams, and both a shoulder and knee that ached no matter which way I turned.

But, at 9:06 my energy's flooding back. Today I've got to make an impromptu costume for a dog parade which is happening this afternoon. It's the big halloween bash for Jack at his school. I volunteered for clean up duty after that. We've got guests in town who've never been to NYC before. Oh, and I have an apartment cleaning (not mine) to mastermind. Someone's coming in less than an hour to do loads and loads of laundry.

That's not what I want to write about though. I want to write about saving someone. Someone I know, a good friend, is about to lose his apartment. $4000 would fix everything. In the general scheme of things it's not that much money to some, it's astronomical to others, to him it's the difference between having a home and being out on the streets.

He's a music teacher and when the recession hit half his students disappeared. Lessons didn't rank up there as a necessity when money got tight and jobs were lost. It's been more than a year of struggling, hard, to keep up but this is basically the end of the line.

I want to help.

I need to help.

I'm compelled in a crazy way to do something.

I think, actually I know, it's because I'm surrounded by people I can't help, not in a life-changing way. I can be supportive, but I can't fix things. Can't.

This week my brother is having surgery. Again. My sister's coming home from the hospital. Again. I'll be there for both. I'll be a support system, a cheerleader, a snack-bringer. An advocate, a chauffeur, an annoying extra jewish mother. I'll do everything I can which will probably help in the moment. Not life changing stuff though.

And so, back to my friend who's teetering on the edge. That's a situation that can be fixed. FIXED. Rectified. Improved.

And I can feel powerful instead of powerless by helping.

Ah. That's it.

I don't want to feel powerless to the people I love. I wish I could make things better.

And so, when I can, I think I have no choice but to do it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

responsibility in chaos

Yesterday I met a twitter friend of mine for breakfast. It's the second time we've seen each other in person but I feel like I've known her for far longer—a very kindred spirit. She told me the last time we'd met something I'd said stayed with her. And I have to say, I was thrilled she mentioned it because it's a wise thought I have no memory of having uttered. And it's the common thread running through my life at the moment:

responsibility in chaos

I have no idea to what I was referring. When we first met my life was in a completely different place than it is now. I don't know that on a significant level, I was taking that much responsibility for things. Or that all that much chaos was going on.

But here I am. Responsible for too much in full-scale, hard to believe it's really happening chaos.

People wonder how I'm functioning. How I'm holding it together. How I'm making it through every day.

I think it's by being responsible and taking charge of the things I can and letting go of the very many things I can't. It's not easy. I've had a couple of major meltdowns of my own. I've been paralyzed by fear, by anger, by frustration. I'm overwhelmed and scared. But doing something, anything helps. And accomplishments, no matter how small, in the face of all this insanity, feels huge.

Having said that, some things (many things I'm sure) are slipping through the cracks. I still haven't made a halloween costume for Gracie and the dog parade is tomorrow. We're having people come stay with us for the weekend and I'm sure my apartment could be much cleaner. I've got a parking ticket to pay, paperwork to take care of, an endless database of 1000 families plod through. I've got a line of middle school merchandise to design. An apartment, not my own, to clean and countless loads of laundry to get done. Homework issues to buckle down and contend with. Doctor appointments and tests to schedule. Iz needs to be checked for glasses. She's been needing an orthodontist follow up visit for so long it's embarrassing. Oh, I need to schedule dentist appointments. A mammogram. My teeth need cleaning.


But, I ran a really successful PTA meeting this week. We're making a difference and both parents and the administration have been nothing but grateful and supportive. I'm setting up a communication system from nothing and reached 718 email addresses yesterday. That's huge. My 4 loads of laundry from yesterday is already folded and put away (I'm terrible at that part). My apartment is actually pretty neat. I replaced the jacket Jack lost last week this morning, got a new hoodie for Iz and long sleeved shirts for me.

I put all my shoes away.

The pup's been walked. Twice.

I'm eating and that alone is super positive when I'm stressed. Not only that, I haven't been to yoga in more than a week. Not going is far better for me right now than practicing in pain.

I found a pretty fabulous new old coat on ebay this week. 1960s grey wool, double breasted, patch pockets, sort of slouchy and comfy while being obviously retro.

I've got next week organized with stuff both for me and everyone else. At the moment, it seems almost manageable.

I'm doing what I can to keep me in a place that's sort of sane and reasonable, able to cope when everything else isn't.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

dipping back into the gratitude pool

In the midst of all this craziness, this pressure and uncertainty and endless juggling (I cracked, badly, last night), I am grateful.

Seriously, deeply grateful.

I am so ridiculously thankful that I'm married to someone who is still my rock after all these years, who knows me so well he can help me get back on track when I lose my way, who I'm still happy to see every day. And if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have time to do all the things I want to/need to/have to do.

I appreciate my family tremendously. My mom and stepfather, who are always there, who love me and support me and make things easier in whatever ways they can. They have so much on their collective plate and yet always have time for me.

I am grateful for my brother and sister who are both struggling with lifelong issues. I would do anything for either one of them and know, if the situation reversed, they'd be there for me.

I'm finding that as I open up more in the real world, my friends have caring, thoughtful, honest, there. And I'm learning that talking it out instead of keeping it in really does help.

And then there's Gracie, who bubbles with glee every time she sees me. And the love and happiness that bubbles back is keeping me sane these days.

Love and gratitude go a long, long way when life feels bleaker than it should.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

right now

I was in the middle of a lovely post about how wonderful it is to have my delicious, happy, enthusiastic puppy to come home to in the middle of all this craziness. About how she's helping me to stay sane in the insanity. About how much I appreciate being in those moments with her as my days slip away from me.

But, I can't right now.

It's been a day that still has hours to go, that started hours before the sun came up.

Jack woke me with a bad dream at 4 after which we both had trouble falling asleep.

I got up late. Late to get ready and head out for a meeting with the District 2 chancellor for a quality review of Izzy's middle school.

After that was an impromptu PTA meeting.

A hike through the east village looking for fabric for a dog Halloween costume.

A meeting with a cleaning specialist about an apartment job that's too big for me.

An appointment at the orthopedist with a result of 3 MRIs to have instead of one.

Scream-fests about homework.

And still I have:

dinner to make, a mattress to order, a bat-mitzvah paper I have to oversee revisions on, a nightmare excel project I have hours more of, more phone calls with more relatives, more fights between more children, 3 design projects, writing that was due last week, more laundry to tackle than I can bare to think about.

There are still people screaming at me.

Phone calls to return.

Guilt to try to shrug off but I can't.

I can't.

Monday, October 18, 2010

is there hope?

It seems like I'm spending so much time and energy these days on hope. Giving hope. Sharing hope. Supporting hope.


Hoping beyond hope that everything will be ok.

But it won't be. It can't be. There is no place we get to, take a deep breath and sigh that we've arrive.

It's all a journey filled with joy and pain, love and fear.

I get so scared sometimes that I'll be swept away by the negatives parts. I'm terrified of not just of what will go wrong but will I be able to cope.

And here I am. Coping but teetering on the edge.

I started to panic before my MRI even started yesterday. Bathed in sweat, blood rushing to my face, I apologized politely and went home. I couldn't handle it.

Today, visiting my sister, I had glimmers of coming undone, of not being able to handle the present.

I'm pretty lost at the moment.

And feeling like I have no right to be.

This has always been my place in my family. I'm the healthy one, the care-taker, the go-to person to get things done. I've always done it because I'm so grateful not to be the one in crisis. I'm so guilty that people I love have to suffer so intensely.

There's no other way that I can help.

And so I do what I can until I can't anymore and my own fraying starts.

My edges are ungluing.

I have an endless list of all I need to do, much/most for other people. And I can't get my head or heart or energy around any of it.

I don't know how to get me out of this place.

It's getting harder to help everyone else when I can't help myself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I am not healing

There's almost never a moment I'm pain free. And I feel terrible even saying that because the pain I'm in is nothing compared to what people around me are going through.

But it makes it hard getting through the day.

I had a dream last night that I was trying to get up into firefly (a super challenging yoga arm balance) which I can sort of kind of do for a second or two and in my dream I would have been flying only pain was shooting through my hand. I woke up wondering if I had actually tried the pose in my sleep my palm was throbbing so tenderly.

I figured something out, lying there one of the many times I woke up last night, my head throbbing, my back aching, my arm immobilized, my knee frozen, unable to find a sliver of space that I was comfortable in, that perhaps I'm not healing as my subconscious way of dealing with all that I have to deal with.

One of the worst parts of all this is my way of dealing is yoga and I can't do it anymore. I keep trying. I keep injuring myself. I pulled something in my shoulder blade last week because of all the extra weight I was putting on my right side because my left hand can't handle pressure.

Anxiety is coming back. Slowly creeping in. I'm getting nervous in elevators. I don't want to go anywhere, be social, put myself out into the world. I'm barely getting through every day doing the barest of essentials.

I want to curl up in a ball, find a relatively pain free position, and stare off into space for awhile.

But, instead, I have to deal with 2 kids who have too much homework to do. An apartment that needs some serious straightening. Tons of PTA paperwork I took on when I shouldn't have. Halloween costumes to figure out. Breakfasts to make. I have to find a writer's notebook, stamps, envelopes, all for other people, nothing for me.

My head is still pounding.

My shoulder is still aching.

My knee is getting worse every day.

I want today to be over and it hasn't even started yet.

Friday, October 15, 2010

ranking struggle

Right now, people near and dear to me are struggling with very different issues.

One's got a physical body that's failing.

Another's got psychological challenges that aren't under control yet.

A third is in complete financial crisis, with basically no way out of all the debt.

I can't help any of them, not really, no matter how much I want to.

When things are that intense, at that level, my chatter and ability to distract doesn't really help. I have no solutions. I have no answers. I can't guarantee that things will get better. I can believe with all my heart they will but in the scheme of things, that isn't anything but me trying to find a way to cope with it all.

And so, all I can do is be here. To listen. To love. To hope.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

body fail

When I was in high school I inherited my mom's old Plymouth Valiant. A 1972 olive car I dubbed The Green Machine. It was a well-constructed steel tank that could withstand just about everything.

Until it died. Or at least stopped starting.

I sat in my driveway, turning the key, listing that that awful grinding noise, waiting for the engine to catch but it didn't.

Turns out I was supposed to have the oil checked on a regular basis and have it refilled when it was running low.

I didn't know.

My poor car was literally running on empty until its last gasp.

Bodies are like that too. Unless we maintain them, Care for them, take care of them, eventually something will go wrong

Yes, I know that even when you take fantastic care of yourself it's no guarantee, but giving your body all the support you can, can only help.

Or so I'd like to believe.

My brother's body is failing right now. It can't be fixed. It'll never be better. At best it'll get to a manageable place where there aren't ER visits and infections and dizziness and a host of other unexpected problems.

It's scaring the shit out of me.

There are no absolutes. No guarantees. No assurances that you'll avoid pain and suffering and illness along with basic wear and tear.

But you can take responsibility as much as possible.

Maybe that's sort of pie in the sky.

But it's helping me get through my day to day.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


It's fall. The air is cool and crisp. The light has a sharp edge. Deep breaths both chill and tickle going down.

And I don't know what to wear.

I stand, stumped, in front of my overpacked closet, overwhelmed by options.

There is such a thing as too many choices.

I tend to find a favorite each season - my go to coat and scarf combo that always works.

Last year's isn't working anymore. The 1970s faux suede, whip stitched, chunky half-belt with brass buttons. I lived in this jacket last spring. But today it didn't feel right.

I paired it with this möbius loop scarf I knit in shades of pinks and browns with some oranges thrown in. I'm not sure I really like the look - the scarf itself is lovely but it all doesn't feel like it's working together.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm different. Maybe I'm trying to fit into who I was not who I am.

Whew. That's something to think about.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I don't have much to say today. The past week has pretty much wiped me out.

But . . .

I'm grateful to be alone.

I'm grateful there's not an emergency to deal with, phone calls to make, information to relay.

I'm grateful that it's cool and cloudy and I don't have anywhere I have to be.

I'm grateful my apartment is cozy and warm and relatively neat. That I did all the laundry yesterday. That there's enough food keep me out of the supermarket for a couple of days.

I'm grateful that I'm healing, slowly, but it's happening little by little, every day.

I'm grateful I didn't have a breakdown in the middle of everyone else's stress (although I did almost faint during my brother's crisis which he'll never let me forget).

I'm grateful to have the time and space to sit still. That's a luxury I'm seriously appreciating right now.

It's important to remember life is good even when chaos threatens to overtake you.

Monday, October 11, 2010

This is me complaining

I'm tired. Fucking tired.


At wit's end.


Wiped out.


My brother and sister are in different hospitals and there's not much I can do for either one. My own family is showing ever deepening cracks. They're scared too and perhaps my full disclosure stance is too much for everyone. 

There are hurt feelings. People not talking. Crazy behavior. Miscommunication. As if the illnesses weren't enough. 

I've taken on more than I can handle but I can't imagine handling it any differently. 

Having said all that, it's a beautiful day. I'm taking a break from it all and stopped off for a pedicure. Sitting still with someone draping hot towels across my sore legs is delightful. My kids are upstairs, exploring a new game together. My nose is starting to heal from the piercing. And GLEE is on tomorrow. 

Sent from my iPhone

Sunday, October 10, 2010

reality list

The other day I wrote out my whine list - an effective technique I use to get all my complaining out in one sweeping gesture.

It helped.

Today I'm trying something along the same lines although I'm not whining. I'm stating. It's a reality list and I hope by getting it out instead of holding it in, somehow I'll feel not quite so overwhelmed and helpless and lost.

I am the oldest of 3. At the moment my 2 siblings are in 2 different hospitals on opposite ends of Manhattan for 2 completely different kinds of things. Neither situation is curable. Both are manageable and at the moment teams of people are working around the clock trying to figure out how to best manage. There are bright moments and times it all feels bleak. For a person who desperately needs to make people feel better and fix whatever possible, there's just about nothing I can do for either one.

Other people in my family aren't handling this well at all and I could expect nothing less to be perfectly honest. But, sadly, I can't take on that too. I'm learning there's a limit to how much drama and disaster I can handle at any given moment. I've had to shut it off at times, to maintain my sanity.

My kids are having a hard time with me being so distracted. I don't blame them in the least. This is scary for them too and I'm often not entirely present, or even here, to help.

My body itself is a mess. My MRI for today got cancelled last night as my doctor's office neglected to send in a referral. I can't lift my right arm. My left leg is still bruised and swollen. My left palm can't support any weight. Such small things compared to what I'm watching others go through, but it makes getting through the day all the more difficult.

My apartment is bordering on disaster. I have more laundry to do than I can possibly carry. And I volunteered to take on my sister's apartment as well. I feel like if I had a trained team of 10 I might be able to pull it off. But, it's just me and I need to whip things into shape by the time she gets home.

There's still the puppy, the PTA, the 4 projects I'm supposed to be working on. The day to day homework, cooking, kid juggle. Science projects. Family history paper. Halloween costumes (which are never taken lightly in my house).

But last night, as I struggled through a yoga class, the teacher said something that resonated deeply. There's nothing you can do but be. Ride it out. Let it crash over you or carry you to the tops of powerful waves. You can't control things. You can't change them. But you can breathe through them and know it won't stay this was forever.

When I was in labor with Jack—no drugs whatsoever—my mantra was "it's only temporary." I'm holding on to that today.