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Entries in personal growth (9)

Tuesday
May102016

This One is Out of the Way.

There are just going to be those days when you simply get through it. I know you know this, but I think one of us needs to say this out loud. A lot of days are just going to be holding one's head above water and hoping that the people who don't matter don't notice. Because, you know, the people that matter don't mind that you're holding your head slightly above water. It's those pesky people who don't matter, right? They're always over there not mattering and ruining everyone's self perception.

Anyway. Some days are just going to end with a long sigh that says, "Well, this one is out of the way." I'd like to think that I'm doing a-okay if the number of days that are "out of the way" are less in number than the days that end with "Ahh, today was a good one."

I don't really have much more else to say than that.

Except. Maybe.

This one is out of the way.

Wednesday
Apr132016

Creativity, Usefulness and Moving to Selfish

I read an interesting article yesterday about the effect of family life on creativity. Here. Go read it.

Back? 

You didn't really read it, did you? 

Anyway, this article is by a writer and she talks of how her artistic life has been impacted by family in what seems like a negative way, but, then, in the end, there's a semblance of bittersweet conclusion about how things are really just different now and not necessarily worse. Or something.

Don't like that summary? Well, that's what you get when you don't read shit for yourself. They're called consequences, Beav.

As my children get older and as my vocation is increasingly child centered (teaching, running a school - which is not the same as family centered, but still relies on this idea of maintaining order not disrupting it), I find myself less and less able to be truly creative. Like, in an artistic way.

Now, it we're talking about "I have a piece of pita bread, some sketchy looking turkey and a third of a tub of cream cheese and it's 7:20a.m. and I have to be at work in fifteen minutes and I need to make two lunches -- TURKEY-PITA-CREAM-CHEESE-SURPRISE-VOILA," then I'm freaking Picasso. This kind of creativity is not enough. This is really problem solving. This is an outflow situation. It doesn't renew. It takes.

I really just want... Just to be alone in a space for a while where I can disrupt the normal cadence of life and think about things in a new way. I want that fire and passion of looking at reality, saying "this is not the only way things are -- they can be like this, too! Aren't we all uncomfortably energized and ready to live it all in this new way?" 

But I have Life stuff. Stuff that has to happen so that we can, you know, eat and maybe wear clothes that don't smell. And, then, there's the stuff going on inside my head. This brings to another point and by "point" I mean "tedious human struggle." I have this horrible thing of believing that worth equals usefulness to others. Well, wait, this is true thing -- to a degree. It is important to be useful, but it's equally important to be self serving.

When I was growing up, I had a parent that told me I was selfish, a lot. It damaged me. Not in a terrible way that's unrecoverable, but in an innocuous way that shows up when you're forty and you're like, "well, isn't this some fresh hell I thought I had dealt with already?" I've got to tackle this demon that clutches at my throat every time I think of doing anything that doesn't directly benefit someone besides myself.

I'm not selfish. I've proven that to myself. I am now the opposite of selfish. I'm specifically a martyr like that other parent who didn't call me selfish. Isn't that something. You know, the only time I'm not benefitting someone else is when I lay down in my bed to sleep or watch TV. I think I even rationalize using the bathroom as a general public service. Backed up people with urinary tract infections are not good for the planet. Just saying.

The problem with working to the point of exhaustion is that you end up in bed watching a Netflix/Hulu marathon. Although, I did change it up this week by diverting to a Serial marathon.

(Oh, Adnan, BRO, why did you smoke the pot that day? You can't remember where you were because you were too HIGH, dawg.) 

I have to work on this whole being creative, taking care of myself, redefining self worth stuff. Who else is annoyed by the prospect of having to figure something out when when you've reached midlife? That is some serious CRAP. I really thought that forty was taking the red pill and realizing that we're all in the Matrix so we can all just chill. Or maybe it was the blue pill. Or, damn, maybe I took the blue pill and that's why we're having this conversation.

I have plans of attack, though. Maybe I'll share them with you. Maybe. I am planning to start listening to Season 2 of Serial now, so best laid plans and all that.

P.S. I just typed and retyped the word "download" three times. It went down like this:

Downloud.

Downlowd. 

Download.

I thought you'd enjoy that.

Hey! Mike Scheinberg and I have started producing Hey! That's My Hummus! again. New episodes to download. Check it out on our website. Or you can download from iTunes.

 

Wednesday
Nov052014

Compulsory "Here's Why I Left, And Now I'm Back."

It's difficult to do something without a definite purpose. At least, for me it's difficult. 

I have no idea why I still want to type words into this space. I want someone to read them, but not lots of someones. It's been two years since I wrote in the space where lots of someone's read what I was reading. 

I'm a fan of being vulnerable, but not when I don't know why I'm doing it. From the very start, all I wanted this space to be was a place where you could find some love when you expected to find passionate stands and moral certainty. I surprise people every day with my flexibility. There are walls that tell them that I am otherwise. That I'm tough. When, really, to be misunderstood as condescending, rude or rigid is one of the few things that will actually make me cry. I think, "It's okay if you don't like me, but you have to NOT like me for the RIGHT reasons!! I am not stuck up! I don't think I'm better than you! I have a thousand real flaws and you should pick one of THOSE as your deal breaker!"

A few years ago, a few people on the Internet said some things about me. People who didn't know me or what I was about and it impacted me far more than I thought. It's not being disliked that's eviscerating to my will to write. It's being misunderstood and being judged on qualities which I do not possess. But the waslking away has left me empty. It is not just here that I've stopped writing. It's everywhere. Other than an e-mail updating a friend or a facebook comment, I no longer write.

And this is not okay because writing is part of who I am. It's time to let go of that small moment where I was misunderstood. For someone who doesn't hold grudges, it's unsightly -- dare I say pitiable -- to hold on this long. I don't know who's still here, but thanks. And I'm sorry. I shouldn't have walked away for so long. You mattered to me and I didn't even tell you why because I felt like it was a silly reason. People said mean things! They called me a racist! They said I was condescending! Rude! WAH!

But that's it. And, now, it's not it. And I'm back because I can't really not write here. It's too much of who I am and it's felt very wrong to pretend it's not.

Saturday
Mar162013

Helping

My music is a time machine.

Put the earbuds in.

Turn up the volume.

The world of this moment disintegrates into the infiniteness of the universe. Time goes faster. I’m thrust into the future. I’m me, but maybe more… maybe less. It paints reality with a subjective brush — dark colors or light… it depends on the fuel in the machine today. The notes. The rhythm. The words.

Today, the time machine is set to high speed and forward. Time machines are especially convenient in this way. Propelling you past the moments you couldn't care less for… towards being “done” and past the wisdoms that imply journeys are esteemed over destinations. Case in point, I’m scrubbing the children’s bathroom.

The agenda today was to clean my own bathroom. Uno. One bathroom. Not two.

I was scrubbing the shower and the children were impressed by my fervent commitment to clean. A moment of inspiration hit them and they announced their intentions to clean their bathroom, too, because they wanted to “help.” I smiled to let them know that they are sweet and good and kind to think of their mother. Then, I went back to scrubbing as the music that is now a little older than I feel comfortable with did the task of making time move faster.

And then there was screaming. “My AIIII-YZZZ!!”

I paused my time machine and turned around to find my dear daughter grabbing a hand towel to wipe her eyes down. “MAIIII AIIIYYYYYZZZZZ!!!”

People who are good in emergencies know one thing that people who are not good in emergencies do not know. 

You must keep calm. 

No matter how much despair promises to crash upon you, for God’s sake, keep calm. I’m good at emergencies. My daughter is not. And before we discuss the thirty year age difference, know that I have always been good at emergencies. Even when I was seven. My theory is that every human being needs to express a certain amount of drama in a lifetime. I express mine in little doses all day and my daughter who is an extremely calm person in her every day life expresses them when she gets soap in her eyes.  

 “Am I going to go bliiiind? OWWWW!!”

“Of course not, it’s just soap. Hold still.”

“Do I have to go to the hospital?!!”

“No. Hold still, I have to rinse your eye.”

“BE CAREFUL.”

“I haven’t raised you so far without being careful… now… hold… still… and STOP touching your eyes.”

“I think I need a doctor!!”

“You do not need a doctor. You need to hold still and stop touching your eye.”

And through all this, the three year old is yelling in the background like some sort of narcissist, “Mama, you have to come see the baffroom, I cleaned it so well, we’re helpers.”

So, we take care of the soap in her eyes and when she is moderately calm, I ask her exactly what kind of soap caused her to eyes to burn. Between you and me, I’m worried about the fact that she used the crazy scrub free bathroom cleaner spray that probably has some chemical in it that would, in fact, cause blindness or, even worse, result in a trip to the emergency room that would require me to change out of my bleach stained yoga pants that are reserved for bathroom cleanings. To my surprise, she takes me to the kitchen and hands me dish soap.

My first thought is to pat myself on the back for getting that free and clear brand that doesn’t have anything but plain old soap in it. 

My second thought is, “Oh, shit.”

As a dishwashing expert I know this: dish soap means a lot of bubbles. Mounds of bubbles. Dish soap is made for washing dishes as the name cleverly implies. It is not particularly suited to cleaning bathrooms. Speaking of small doses of daily drama, I feel the drama queen within me practicing vocal exercises like an opera diva in a green room. Then, I remember. 

“We’re going to help.” 

They are good, sweet and kind to help their mama. 

I park the girl on the couch with a washcloth over her eye because she insists that her eye still hurts which I know is absolutely untrue. The boy takes me to the bathroom which, my friends, is not clean. Like, at all. It's a mess of dirt and bubbles and reminds me of this party I went to in Cancun back in 1993 where they sprayed foam from the ceilings or something crazy like that. It’s a beautiful shower stall streaked with soapy residue. It’s a floor smattered with water, dust, toilet paper and bubbles. It’s a rug with… is that…what the hell… toothpaste?

A mass of light brown curls fall over his eyes, and he looks up glowing, “See?! Clean! Just like you do.”

I want to tell them both that this isn’t clean. I want to say, "Never, ever do this ever again!"

I feel the strong urge to let them know that they didn’t help me, but instead have created work for me. No, more importantly, they stole the hour I planned on using to finish a book before they’re dad got home. I want to. So very bad.

I don’t.

Because I’ve been here.

I’ve wanted to help someone and made a mess of things. I’ve been all good intentions with toothpaste on the rug and dirt and soap and toilet paper smushed on the floor. I'm not sure what that metaphor is about, but the answer may well still be in Cancun. Today, my children get a pass. One day, I will prepare them better. One day, I’ll teach them how to clean a bathroom. I’ll explain that intention isn’t enough.

Not today. Because while it isn’t enough, intention is necessary. The hope of us all lies in good intentions and in this damned bathroom with dish soap streaked on its stalls and toothpaste smeared on the ceramic tiles, and this mess isn’t just a symbol of all of my children’s love and good intentions — it’s a symbol of all of our good intentions. Yours. Mine. Today, my inner drama queen will have to wait for the moment she steps on a lego or a matchbox car (because that’s clearly evil). Today,  she will bask in intention and process.

No matter how terribly wrong the result.

Wednesday
Jan092013

37!

I am nothing, if not transparent. That's a metaphor. I didn't wake up today invisble or something.

Though that would be a neat super power to get ON YOUR BIRTHDAY!! 

Yes, yes, today is my birthday. As you can see from the title, I have more than a few of those under the proverbial belt now. Each year, the day passes without much internal ado. Today, for some reason, as I got ready, I felt different. Today, I thought about all of the other birthdays and how I felt on those mornings, and I realized something. Today, I am probably more thankful than I have ever been. 

There's hesitation that precedes the pronouncement that I have everything right now that I've ever wanted. One doesn't want to jinx themselves, I guess. If I think about it, though, I don't buy the whole concept of "jinxing" as it applies to me. God has been good to me. Always. It's okay to be thankful. It's okay to acknowledge that in all the years that I have been alive, I look around today and see a great spouse, extraordinary children, a rewarding job, a nice place to live, and a life that unfolds free of any real or dire worries. 

What did I get for my birthday? Perfume, slippers, a bathrobe and lots of other things. But nothing I received filled emptiness, if that makes sense. Because I feel fulfilled today. It hasn't been easy to get to this feeling. If I trace back the moments to right now and try to define a point of origin, I would guess that it started with a celebration. Once upon a time, a few years ago, I decided to do more than just accept myself. I decided to celebrate myself. I thought about who I was and decided that everything should be as it should be. There would be no more struggling or self effacement. There would only be love for myself.

 I tried to explain to someone the other day that in desi culture, it is the person who is having a birthday that gives some kind of token of appreciation to their friends. A party, a dinner, a small treat of some sort. In the spirit of that, I would like to give you a gift today. 

In the comments section of this blog, I'd like you to type four things that you unequivocally celebrate about yourself in the comment section of this post. Tomorrow morning, at this time, I'll randomly pick a commenter and send them a $30 gift card to Amazon. Make sure you fill in your e-mail, so I can contact you.

Winner will be posted on the Native Born Facebook page.