A list of 20 things I am grateful for from the hell that was 2016

2016 WENT LOW BUT WE WILL GO HIGH!

Yesterday I started a list lessons from the little bastard teacher that was 2016.

Numbers #1-10 were posted yesterday.(My spirited child hindered efforts to finish this in one fell swoop.)

And now, I present #11 – #20.16, Lessons, gifts, and gratitudes (is that a word?) from 2016:

#11. SWEATY PALMS. Lot’s of sweaty palm moments. I’m not talking about gratitude for my generalized anxiety (though I do have lot’s of love for Paxil….) No, I’m grateful for all the SWEATY PALM moments that seemed to culminate in Summer-Fall 2016. Those scary but good moments when I pushed a lil’ bit outside my comfort zone with people I trust to support me. That’s right, I decided to share my writing publicly not just with strangers but with people who know me. (!!!) I started by sharing  a piece I wrote about my grief and healing journey. It discusses fun topics like the loss of my mother and miscarriage!  The reception I got from family and friends was incredible. This paved the way for me to write and share some other pieces – see item #20.16.

#12. A greater appreciation for family in all shapes and forms. I miss my mom. I miss my extended family that lives 1200 miles away. But it makes me savor the moments I do share with them that much more.

#13.Peppa Pig— because without her I could not be writing right now. As my husband says, turn on the child pacification device!

#14. Loving my kick-ass body. The year started off really crummy – I had a miscarriage. And what I did not expect about this experience was how hard it would be on my body image. Every ounce of extra fat reminded me of the fact that my body had been pregnant…and lost a pregnancy. I wanted all reminders gone (as though that would magically make it all better). Well, I finally decided to change the script. I’m not saying it was always sunshine and roses but little by little I have morphed the ways that I view my body. I started swimming and found myself in a flow experience a lot of the time. And now that pool temps have dropped I have started running. I used to hate running. Now I love – and I mean love- the feel of my thick muscular legs, my strong arms pumping, the wind in my hair. I don’t look remotely like I did at the start of 2015 but dare I say I am in awe of this bigger, stronger body?

#15. It’s getting a little serious on this list. I am grateful for ambient music even though it won’t put my kid to sleep. I am grateful for dark chocolate even though it kept my kid up very, very late. My child’s refusal to sleep came up again and again and again. BUT GUESS WHAT. We have instituted new routines and last night my child was down, in bed and left to her own devices to sleep in 20 minutes flat. <—- CoNTACT the PONTIFF cuz THAT THERE IS A MIRACLE!

#16. Sharing my healing journey with Sound of Music gifs.Because if you can laugh instead of crying, or heck, even while you are crying, it makes it all a little bit better.

# 17. Slinkies.Apparently the cheaper and simpler the toy the more it keeps my kid entertained. (And the plastic kind doesn’t bend and warp like those old metal ones we had did! Brilliant. And it comes in rainbow colors. Hoo-ya!)

# 18. Blogging friends. Which are simply friends in my book. Thank you, dear readers and fellow bloggers, who have supported my writing and my journey. I am beyond thankful. (Also, you need to read these blogs asap: One Blue Sail, Plainmama, Dana Schwartz-Writing at the Table , Kimberly Harding Soul Healing Art, 20-20 Spiritual Vision and more I’m sure I’m forgetting. 

# 19. Coffee. I stopped drinking it for a cleanse and I subsequently wrote about it nearly every. single. day. that i was without it. Coffee, my dear friend, I love you. And clearly I cannot live without you.

# 20. Peppa pig playing in one continuous loop in Amazon video streaming. Bless Peppa for still keeping my kid entertained so I can write.( Also, factoid, did you know the Brits pronounce “Zebra” as “Zeh-bra”?!)

and. . .because I am a dork who wanted 20.16 items, here is 

item # .16!

#20.16 This number is tiny,  which is perfect because I am only .16 grateful for this one. I’m grateful for the awakening that has resulted from Trump’s election. See, I didn’t say I was grateful FOR Trump, that would be going a tad too far. Here’s the deal. Trump’s blatant misogyny–seeing patriarchy laid bare–compelled me to break my own silence of surviving sexual trauma. It has compelled me and so many others, too. I am hopeful that the pain of this election will lead to an awakening and a stirring of voices who have remained silent for too long. Or who have been silenced for too long. Change starts with ME.  

That about sums it up. Tonight, join me in dancing on the ashes of the fire monkey year from hell.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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Self-Control

I am supposed to be working.

And if I am not working, I should at least be finishing the job application that I keep procrastinating on.

And if I am not working on my resume, I should be doing anything other than staring at the sight of three huge, frosted cupcakes at the table next to me.

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“Get in my belly now!” Says everyone but the elderly Zen master.

Get this: the three elderly people sitting in front of three frosted cupcakes in Starbucks of the Barnes and Noble have still not taken a bite of their cupcakes.

They are slowly sipping coffee. While NOT eating the cupcakes. Just sipping and talking and not devouring them like heathens.

TEACH ME YOUR WAYS.

UPDATE #1: I literally just reread my post to check for typos and several minutes have passed. The elderly male has eaten his cupcake. The elderly woman within my line of sight has still not taken a bite. Is she a Zen master disguised as someone’s white haired grandmother?? Omigod. Now she is flipping through a magazine and not consuming the cupcake.

Speaking of self-control . . . I should get back to my paid work. Or the resume. Or something other than this.

UPDATE #2: Elderly woman has peeled the cupcake liner away from the cupcake but has not taken a bite. It is seven minutes and counting.

Thank You for Sitting on My Bench

Can I hug you all? Seriously, consider these words a virtual hug traveling from WordPress to your computer or smartphone or tablet or smartwatch or whatever device connects us. Because THANK YOUS are in order.

I wrote a post yesterday about how crappy things have been lately and how crappy this YEAR has been. I felt better after writing it (writing heals me, always), but I didn’t fully expect what would happen next. Holy macaroni you guys rock. I was flooded with messages of love and support (and some commiseration too—apparently I’m not the only one who had a bad 2016!). It was absolutely beautiful.

It also confirmed what I already knew, which is that sharing our vulnerabilities in a safe way, with people we trust and whom have earned their right to hear our story, can be truly transformative.This blog has shown me how writing is only half of the puzzle. An important piece for sure—writing is powerful and healing in and of itself. But the second piece, sharing that writing with a tribe who loves and supports you, has the capacity to heal in ways I never fully understood until this year.

Writing + Community (virtual and real world) reminds me of those recycling plants that make benches out of old milk jugs. Writing takes the broken pieces and builds something new, and if you are lucky, that something new might end up being a bench. And if you are luckier still, friends and strangers will SIT on that bench, hold your hand and say, it will be ok.

From my heart to yours, thank you for sitting next to me on the bench. And when you need someone on your bench, because we all do from time to time, you know who to reach out to.

Who Killed JR? His toddler who refused to sleep!

Flashback to 1983. My parents are watching Dallas in the basement with their friends. I’m at the top of the stairs, trying not to squeak the steps, hunched in a nightgown with my knees pulled tight. Of course my mom sees me and yep, she is upset. Despite her frustration she lets me sit on the floor  and join them in watching the number one show of 1983.600x600bb-85

My mom had to do this a lot–put up with a kid who was awake until all hours of the night. Usually it was just the two of us. She’d let me watch Love Boat on the tiny black and white TV in our kitchen while she made popcorn. Initially she would be exasperated (Of COURSE she was, adult Sarah gets it now!) but she always softened and lovingly let me join her in her late night routine.

Let me write it out right here in case my prayers haven’t reached my mother: MOM I AM SO SORRY FOR WHAT I PUT YOU THROUGH. MOM HOW DID YOU DO IT. MOM YOU POOR WOMAN YOU NEVER. GOT. A. BREAK!

Why the mea culpas? Because now I’m in her shoes. My almost-four-year-old is having what I jokingly refer to as the “four-year sleep regression.” She is awake approximately 99.98% of our waking hours. No break from the kid. No down time. And let me tell you, as an introvert this is so hard.

How am I responding to it all? I’m trying to model my mom’s love. (She still teaches me. When people say love never dies, that it extends forever, this is what they mean.) Lately I’m following her lead as much as I can. Like her, I’m surrendering to the fact that my kiddo won’t sleep and there isn’t much I can do about that fact. I might as well make some popcorn for her while she sits on the floor to join in watching Jane the Virgin.

I have a feeling she may someday look back fondly on these moments. I have a hunch I just might, too.


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I am called to listen to the sound of my own heart

“I am called to listen to the sound of my own heart—to write the story within myself that demands to be told at that particular point in my life. And if I do this faithfully, clothing that idea in the flesh of human experience and setting it in a true place, the sound from my heart will resound in the reader’s heart.”

Katherine Paterson 

And the universe laughed!

So about all those posts this weekabout the kid. The coffee. The coffee again. And again.

I’ve Just had a reminder from the universe to not to take everything so seriously. Or to rush to judgement. Not that I ever do any of that!

We’ll start with my daughter. She has been acting out like crazy and not sleeping and it was basically melt-down city (me, not her). I wrote a post about it. I questioned my parenting skills. There was wringing of hands, inner turmoil, the whole nine yards. I tried regrouping and facing it with love. Mostly compassion for myself because I really needed to cut myself a break.

Well. It turns out she was having a reaction to an inhaler medicine she was taking for her cough. She is really, really sensitive to any amount of steroid, even the small doses. Side effects: hyperactivity, extreme thirst. (So that explains her constant whines for water and then potty breaks. Nope, not entirely stall tactics this time.)

Hahahaha. Good thing I didn’t overthink all that and make sweeping conclusions about my parenting skills and my child’s sanity!

And about that lemon with water. The other day I literally wrote a love story about coffee. I mocked the idea that anyone in their right mind would never leap from bed for water with lemon!

Funny thing about this detox cleanse thing…I am discovering I kinda need to hydrate more. Especially first thing in the morning. You know, before I drink my coffee.

Ahem. Ladies and gentlemen, I am sitting here writing with hot water and lemon. Pre-coffee. I am not sure if there was leaping from bed, but still. Slightly funny.

OH, and my child is not a (1000%) hell-raising three-year-old.

(But seriously, the decaf coffee IS brewing. I haven’t totally lost my marbles. I mean have you noticed how much I love coffee??)

Meet it with love

I thought I was through the worst of the “threenager” behaviors with my daughter. I was wrong.

My sweet, almost-four-year-old child has been pushing my buttons lately. A LOT. Especially at nighttime. No, scratch that. Pretty much all the time. Standing on furniture. Jumping on the bed. The naughtier the behavior the giddier she gets.

Yesterday she managed to raise my ire. It rattled me. I don’t lose my cool that often. Except for last night. Oh it was bad. At one point I was yelling and she was hiding under the coffee table, cackling at me. Mommy can’t fit under the table! OH SHE GOT ME GOOD.

I woke up today and was able to laugh about it. I had given my child exactly what she wanted–a reaction! Today I was determined to stay calm and cool.

Tonight she stood on the chair. I calmly stated, please stop standing on the chair. She stopped! Then later, she jumped on the bed. Please stop jumping on the bed. SHE STOPPED.

Tonight when I was giving her a bath, I said “you know I love you even when I get mad at you, right?” She smiled shyly and said yes.

The answer is always the same isn’t it? Meet it with love.  Love that doesn’t get its feathers ruffled. Love that stays steady in the face of the storm. Have a misstep? That is ok. Meet it with love, too.