Wednesday, December 11, 2013

daily writing

I challenged myself to a forty day commitment to write every day and have been feeling unsuccessful because I have by been writing here on a regular basis. 

But. I've been writing. 

Every day. 

A new book proposal. 

A couple of undraising initiatives. 

Copy for various projects. 

I use words all the time and never consider that writing. 

This morning in yoga my teacher said to try to embrace the positive instead of hold on to the negative (or something along those lines - it was 7:30 in the morning). I realized I never take what I do seriously and that in setting up a writing challenge I was negating the writing I already do. 

Lightbulb moment. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013


I'm not a fan of things

Of stuff. 

Of clutter. 

I'm constantly throwing away, weeding out, paring down. 

For a former shopaholic I've come a long way. 

Part of it is living in a NYC apartment with 3 other people and 2 dogs. Not much extra room to amass collections. 

Another part is the knowledge that things don't make me happy. At least most things. I'm content and happy not accumulating more. 

Except for sometimes. 

Sometimes something speaks to me. It's meant to be mine. And then I do whatever I have to to make it happen. 

It doesn't happen often. 

But it did this week. 

A mirrored mosaic Ganesha that lights up from within had my name on it. Or I had it's name, Disco Ganesh, on me. I've yearned for it through 2 holiday seasons and this year managed to act quickly and get the very last one. 

Which is now sitting in my living room, making me happy every time I look at it. 

We were meant to be. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013


Some days napping is far more important than writing. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

mornings these days


I'm ready to crash but my day has only just begun. 

Just realized I forgot to send my daughter with a lunch. 

It's 7:15. AM. I'm sitting in the lobby of a middle school, waiting to answer questions at a tour of very nervous 5th grade parents. 

Was here extra early to drop my son off for basketball practice. 

Got class gift money packed up. 

Changed outfits. 

Answered more emails. 

Sent my daughter out the door with no drama. 

Got dressed. 

Played with a puppy.

Took a shower. 

Made French toast for one kid, banana chocolate chip muffins for the other (those were already made). 

Straightened my hair. 

Walked down and then up 10 flights of stairs. 

Stretched for a moment or 2. 


Checked emails and Facebook. 

For out of bed at 5:45. 

Woke up at 4:50 to make sure I wouldn't sleep late. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

oh god writing!

Today I'm working on a piece about the closing of our neighborhood pizza shop. After 40 years. I'm counting that for today. 

Of course I haven't actually started yet. 

oh god writing!

Today I'm working on a piece about the closing of our neighborhood pizza shop. After 40 years. I'm counting that for today. 

Of course I haven't actually started yet. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

managing the unexpected

I don't like surprises. I don't like change. I don't like unexpected situations popping up that take precedence over everything. 

But that's life.

Much as I like life to be orderly, organized, schedule - very often it isn't. 

A thought out day turns to mayhem. Plans made well in advance pushed to the side. 

Today is one of those days. 

In the midst is regular chaos something completely different has been thrown into my mix. 


But, very g
rateful though that things could turn out better than they started. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013


I walked into a store this afternoon, to pick up a small Hannukah gift for tomorrow, and promptly walked back out after seeing the line.


But, I had to have a present for tomorrow so I headed back later in the day and, as I waited in line, checked out what other people were waiting in line for:

a Santa dog sweater

chunky colored pencils made from real branches

Hello Kitty headphones

a book on napkin folding

coordinated wash clothes tied with ribbon

chocolate drizzled potato chips

velveteen covered hangers

seasonally scented candles

a glitter encrusted wallet

I thought about making a list of all the impulse purchases you could act on while standing on line. But, with 20 cashiers open there wasn't time to take it all in.

So I bought my leggings and my Bliss bar soap (a steal at 8.99 instead of 18 dollars - I bought 2) and was grateful that I'm a less is more kind of person who has less is more kind of holidays. At least in terms of stuff.

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. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

not whispering about menopause

My last piece here was about breastfeeding. Interesting to look back and find new clarity and appreciation for what was, at the time, often frustrating and overwhelming.

But now I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. Although smack in the middle of another hormonal shift.

Menopause. Or at least the time leading up to it.

My emotions have been shifting, my middle's been thickening, my boobs have been drooping. There are finally grey hairs on my head. The lines between my eyes never entirely go away. I see my mother's hands when I look at mine.

But, until this week, my period has been like clockwork. Perhaps a clock that runs a bit fast as for years now it arrives every 22/23 days. First day slow then bam: monster cramps and ridiculous flow for a day or so, then it tapers off for another two. Beforehand I feel swollen, sad, flirting at the edges of depression and despair at times. And then, everything lightens. That hormone shift, to me, is a bright light. A sense of relief. Comfort. Good will. I welcome my period and am grateful for the concrete sign that my body is working the way it should be.

This week, as I squeezed into pants and bemoaned the spotlight sized zit on my chin I realized it was just about that time. And then my period started, just a drip as if a faucet had been turned on but the water wasn't coming out full force yet.

This time though, the full flow never showed up. The cramps never hit. The relief and calm I invariably feel didn't happen. And so, days later, I'm sitting here still waiting. Knowing that this is it for now but still holding out hope that it was just a mistake, a glitch, that the blood will show up and I'll be back in my familiar cycle.


Trying to find stability in these changes is unsettling. Reminds me of those early days of motherhood, when my body felt like it was betraying me and I didn't know that all would be fine in the end.

Monday, October 7, 2013

not whispering about breast feeding

Yesterday I found myself in the middle of a conversation about breast feeding. It's been a long time since I was an active participant. 10 plus years since the last time my younger one, with great disinterest, turned away from my left breast. He'd given up the right a month before which left me uncomfortably lopsided, forced to wear men's large sweaters to cover the imbalance.

The new mom I was talking to, who was just starting the process with her 4 month old, got me thinking about what breastfeeding meant to me. And to my kids.

Did it raise my children's IQ points? Did it boost their immune systems? Did we bond differently then we would have otherwise? I don't have answers to any of the above. But I know what it did for me.

I discovered a bravery I didn't know I had. Breastfeeding in public, at least for me, was a vulnerable experience bordering on terrifying. My child sobbing or screaming, my breasts swollen and aching, the nursing bra invariably getting caught in my shirt, I struggled trying to be discreet and private while trying to get a moving target latched on to my often raw nipple. I'd watch in awe at moms who casually slipped their mellow baby on while not skipping a beat. And then, one day, that was me.

It was at the MoMA, a Jackson Pollack exhibit. My older one was hungry and as I snuck behind a podium to nurse more privately a security guard rushed over to tell me I had to move. When I explained I was feeding my baby he blocked us from passing crowds making sure no one disturbed us.

I'd arrived as a comfortable breast feeder.

Which was a journey that almost didn't happen. My first time out had a rocky start. My daughter, born a month early, spent her first 5 days in the hospital, being pumped full of preventative antibiotics. She couldn't latch on at first - I was devastated they were giving her formula in bottles. Somehow failure at being able to breastfeeding meant failing as a mother. Days after she came home she started wailing uncontrollably, her little belly distended as my breasts burned, knives stabbing deep through my nipples. For three months our pediatrician told me I was just a nervous first time mother. In so much pain I had to pump just to keep the milk flowing.

Turns out she'd developed a yeast infection from all the antibiotics and had passed it to me. While telling my tale to a stranger on the street one morning she said she and her baby went through the same thing and told me what to do. A new pediatrician prescribed meds that afternoon and within two days the screaming and explosive gas stopped while I was able to go back to breastfeeding.

I was learning to trust my gut. And started advocating instead of accepting what the experts told me.

Back then I could barely whisper my breastfeeding concerns. Other mothers I met were incredibly judgmental - the opposite of what I'd expected. Some scoffed at me for abstaining formula while others judged me for not nursing, taking the bottles I had to resort to using as a sign I was incompetent.

In those first months I was often isolated. Frustrated. Lost. I'm sure plenty of other mothers struggled as well but I wasn't comfortable or confident enough to talk about it.

But, my daughter and I eventually settled into a comfortable routine. To know I was sustaining her as she grew and soon flourished helped me make peace with that dark time. And breastfeeding itself was so often sweet and delicious. Me and my baby connected again, sharing moments ours alone.

My first nursed until she was just over a year old. There were a couple of bouts of mastitis thrown in. Lettuce leaves and breast shaped gel packs got us back on track. Our last time was the morning she woke up with her first 4 teeth. We'd been down to once a day and when she bit down I knew we were done.

My son, from the beginning, was far easier and less interested. He only wanted to feed himself from the earliest of ages. There are countless photos of him, banana in his ears, peas splashed across his forehead. Nursing was too restricting, he always was twisting to see what be might be missing. Bottles and sippy cups were his path to freedom.

At one point I was addicted to pumping, producing so much milk the ice cube trays in my freezer were overflowing. I nursed on beaches, in restaurants, at a wedding while the bride and groom stopped by our table to say hello. On airplanes, at highway rest stops, deep in the night, early in the morning. At times I cherished the experience and others I exhaustedly resented that in the end it was all up to me.

And then, it was over.

Ending was bittersweet, as is so much of being a mom. While celebrating my kids' growing independence, that meant they were growing away from me.

Years later though, with a middle and a high schooler, our time together is different. But, it's still time together. My son asked me to watch every Knicks game with him this season. And my daughter can't wait to pass me in the aisles at Comic Con this fall. Entirely different experiences. But delicious nonetheless.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

internal furnace

It's been a hellish week filled with severe anxiety, monstrous cramps, rampant nausea, intense mood swings. Fear. Panic. Scary thoughts. Oh and moments—more like 40 minutes stretches—when my internal temperature cranked up 100 degrees and I couldn't stop sweating. Lying in bed, sitting quietly at my desk, watching TV with the kids. That scared me even more.

And then I realized, I'm smack in the middle of perimenopause. All this time I've been thinking I'd be the person to sail through it with no symptoms, no discomfort, no issues whatsoever. Looking back though, for the past few years there have been more and more signs my body is changing and I just hadn't put the menstrual pieces together.

My period is coming more frequently. Ever 22/23 days. Cramps are getting more intense and last longer. My digestive system's become hijacked and I now lose my appetite for a few days before and during.

I've become remarkably forgetful, which is shocking and difficult as I'm detail oriented to an obsessive fault. I've left water boiling until the pot is empty, held keys in my hand while frantically tearing the apartment apart looking for them, gone to the supermarket and come back with nothing I'd planned to get.

There's been a sense of barely holding it together that's been growing over the past couple of years. This too, for someone who juggles like mad and keeps balls in the air at all times, has been far more than disconcerting.

I haven't said a word to anyone about any of this. I haven't really acknowledged any of it to myself. And it seems much of what I've been experiencing is typical. Average. To be expected.

I'll be 49 next month. And seems that in spite of my denial my body and systems are right on schedule.

Knowing helps. Reading, learning, researching, figuring it out, connecting the dots, researching. I spent yesterday sorting through books, articles, websites, making a list of more to explore.

And write about. Writing always helps. I haven't written, not really, in a long time. This is feeling like it could be my next big subject.

It's my reality. And that's always been my most powerful inspiration