Get it While It’s Hot

I guess I saw this moment coming, I just didn’t realize it would arrive so quickly.

My children are splitting up their inheritance and I’m not dead yet.

As begins most of my plights, I was going along, minding my own business, cleaning stuff. This is my happy place and people should respect it. By people, I mean the quasi-adult humans that I spent many hours and several body parts birthing in a hospital and the rest of my life cleaning up behind. We are hosting actual adults this summer and naturally, this means my feather duster is putting in some overtime.

I cleaned out my bookcase.

Here’s how that looked in my mind: These treasures came from a used book shop for a quarter each. They are ratty because they were loved but no one reads them anymore. I shall return them to the shelves from whence they came and rejoice some stranger’s heart.

Here’s how that looked to my kids: These treasures came from Mom’s bookshelf and they are spun from pure gold. They are ratty because I accidentally left them in the tree fort/floor of my car/washing machine. I shall rescue these irreplaceable tomes and anything else not nailed down before my mother’s dementia progresses to the point where she can’t remember that I wanted that!

Now. As I descend from a long line of women who kept stuff around just for the pleasure of dusting it, I am not emotionally bound to any one item. If it delights the heart of my children, by all means take it now. They can dust it for me and decide whether I get visitation rights.

But. In the back of my aged mind I hear warning bells. Don’t confuse the real things with the fake. I’m not talking about diamonds. I’m discussing relationships. Things are replaceable. Books are dime a dozen. You only have one Mom and her shelf life isn’t quite the same.

Well, depending on who you ask, I suppose.

You may have noticed, no one is ever pronounced “dead” at a funeral. Lots of interesting phrases though – the latest trend being “celebration of life” – because who wants to be a Debbie Downer when someone exits their current house full of loot, never to return?

Most religions subscribe to a “Me, Act 1” and “Me, Act 2” version. There’s a ‘before’ and an ‘after’. It’s uncomfortable to discuss the turning point. No one likes to dwell on that little detail. But you’re not dead.

Buddhists would have me doing re-runs until Netflix is obsolete. Not so exciting, but steady work.

Hindus would put me in a mini-series (starring Angelina Jolie).

But if this life is a one-off, he who dies with the most toys wins. Of course, if you’re the lucky dead dude, you yourself won’t know you won, but everyone left standing around will, and as that’s the whole point, it’s a win-win. That would be cause for celebration, certainly.

They will put my ashes in an urn or my photo in a frame, and set me on the shelf with the books they rescued and dust us all the same. I’m okay with that, because I read a Book that says dead is dead and dust is dust and if I am interested in an Act 2 I should bring it up with the Big Guy and make resurrection arrangements.

Meanwhile, allow me to suggest an excellent book: The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein.

No, you can’t have it. Yet.

I am merely suggesting that if we’re going to go around putting PostIt notes under the big-screen TV and the InstantPot, there had better also be a modicum of manners.

I’m not dead. Yet.

“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten.”
Ecc 9:5

Moms Graduation Speech

As I ponder the idea of no longer being a participant in the public school system, the thought that I am rid of fund raisers, done with dirty basketball jerseys, shed of tracking a textbook assigned ten months ago and never used, and altogether destitute of paperwork to be filled out in triplicate with a blue ink pen…a single tear of pure joy glistens in my eye. My left eye. The one that twitches.

Let freedom ring.

I’d like to thank everyone who made this moment possible.

I could not have worn such a deep trench in the elementary school doorway, had not Hubby insisted that homeschooling was “not an option”. Thank you, Hubby, for challenging me to find a way to homeschool our kids anyway by bringing home sixteen years of creative projects for all 800 of the students I adopted there.

Thank you, Middle School Principal, for welcoming five siblings in a row, children who brought their bicycles with them instead of their mother, children who learned the value of a dollar by hustling duct tape wallets, the value of deodorant after gym class, and the value of functional stall doors in a bathroom. We learned there’s no place like home after all.

Shout out to my firstborn for teaching me that we all learn in our own ways during high school. Some of us learn while sitting in the back row, staring out a window, and doodling on the homework. We learn that teachers are furious when they call you out in front of the class and you actually know the answers.

Second born, thank you for becoming fluent in Spanish so that I don’t need to be. It’s as entertaining as the German, Russian, and whale your siblings pretend to speak. You taught me that there’s no such thing as too many boxes full of awards.

Middle child, my never-in-a-hurry-why-do-you-want-to-rush-stuff one, thank you for waiting until two weeks to graduating to decide that you actually did want to attend college. I think your degree in “Communication” is as authentic as the panic attack I had.

I appreciate the effort it took, oh fourth one, to move to a new high school, forsaking the legacy of our family reputation to create a name for yourself. You played varsity sports as a freshman, losing every single game for a year, and ended your senior year with mono. You taught me gumption. One of us deserves a gold sticker.

And now, the last man standing, he who had to grow a sense of humor at birth, the one who had no idea his vision was bad until twelve tender years of age, the man who can perform quantum physics yet struggles with a pencil and long division, is poised on the platform, prepared to join his siblings in the world of adults, so long as there’s no laundry involved.

Thank you for doing your homework, love. Even if I think it’s cheating to do “research” from your couch instead of fighting classmates over the last three reference books in an actual library a day before the term paper is due. Sorry about that dopamine addiction. We all thought educating through an iPad was a good idea four years ago.

I’m so happy. I’m so blessed. I’m so tired.

I hope I can make it through the ceremony.

In conclusion, an Honorary Mention goes out to my fellow moms. Yes, that award given to our kids at school assemblies, recognizing that they have been showing up and breathing in and out all day. The one that reminds us that we are all winners.

To the girlfriends who stood by me during Common Core Math and the common cold; those who heard my battle cries and administered hot tea and hugs. Thank you for reminding me that the school system with its trappings and traps, is temporary after all. Our educations are priceless. And our possibilities are endless.

Let’s do this.

Mother’s Day Hotline 2019

Good morning and thank you for calling the Mother’s Day Hotline.

Please listen carefully, as our menu has definitely changed.

If you are considering parenthood, you’d better press 1.

If you think that five kids are the perfect number of offspring, press 2.

If you are currently surrounded with toddlers, please press 3.

If you wore actual pajamas and a burp cloth in public yesterday, press 4.

If the words “this is your last warning!” was issued three warnings ago, please press 5.

If you think you are still cool enough to do the same activities as your middle school kid, please press 6.

If you now communicate with your offspring through text, please dial push click tap press 7.

If you no longer recognize your child beneath the teenager disguise, please press 8.

If you have been wondering about your own mother lately, better press 9.

If you, yourself, are a now Grandmothering, please press pound.

If you are parenting fur-babies, please press star.

If you are a MOTHER. If you are a LIFER. If you OWN this. Press here.

Thank you for calling the Mothers Day Hotline. Enjoy your toast and tea. See you again soon.

You’re Fired

It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, it was the morning after. I arrived at my Day Job bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with my lunchbag full of mason jars, my regular bag full of gummy bears and caramel corn, and my heart full of song. Tomorrow was my six month anniversary in my new position and I was, in the words of my supervisor, crushing it. Finally I was going to get a formal Review with a tidy row of boxes and maybe a gold sticker at the top that said so. I had waited over two years for the system to catch up to my presence on the payroll. It was about time I had something stuck to my refrigerator for it.

The first two months in my new cubicle were delightful, the second two were surprising, and although I was the right person for the job, the last two had been filled with a determination to prove that I was the right person for the office, as doubts had been raised. I had been invited to play a game or two and politely declined, knowing my own abilities as an actress would have cost me a daily forfeit. Meanwhile, I checked in regularly with my supervisor to make sure I was on track with my tasks and my letter of resignation was stuck in permanent limbo. I hoped a work Review would override it altogether.

Moral of the Story.

Wow, the whole building was empty. I congratulated myself on arriving a few minutes early as I flipped on my computer and walked my lunch to the break room. From a far corner, my supervisor’s voice asked whether we could have a quick meeting before the day started.

Hmm. I hadn’t seen her there. I also hadn’t seen the senior staff guy who materialized at the far end of the table. Intrigued, I sat down, thinking, “There must be some new procedure or activity to work on. How exciting.”

“Things aren’t going entirely the way we’d expected,” she began, “so I have here two different items.” She slid them across the table, upside down.

“One is your termination paperwork and the other is your letter of resignation. All I really need to know is which one you want to sign.”

In that very telescopic moment, as I stood in the road watching the monster truck about to hit, I thought:

  1. Hallelujah, I’m free! (joy)
  2. Oh cr*p, I have a lot of work on my desk, who’s going to get it done? (guilt)
  3. Wait, she told me right up to yesterday what a great job I was doing. (betrayal)
  4. Where are all my office friends and why can’t I say goodbye to them? (loss)
  5. Wait, do they all know what’s happening right now? (shame)
  6. How will I explain this one to Hubby? (anxiety)
  7. Why? (rejection)
  8. Oh yeah…(gobsmacked)

…because, until an employee passes the six month mark in a new cubicle, said employee has no rights. Legally, my supervisor didn’t have to tell me anything and could fire me without cause. Personally, she owed me an explanation – unless of course, it was personal. Expressionless, we waited to see who would flinch.

It was one last shell game, forcing me to publicly lie about the circumstances of my departure and keep her hands clean. I glanced at the masculine presence in the room, realizing that he was here to watch the show. When it stalled, he baited us with some mansplaining; he was the opening act for the Femme Hysterics. How cool is that?

I handled myself like the professional I am and I hope everyone took notes. Perhaps she’d forgotten that I was in her exact position, not six months earlier. Basic protocol involves placing your items into a box, turning in your keycard, and being escorted from the building by a burly man. It took me two trips to my car and a Costco sized cart to collect the stuff I had squirreled away at my desk. And the break room. And my gym locker. The orchid I received for Admin Professionals Day perched on top of the pile like a saucy hat.

Then I timed the monster truck, leaped onto the bumper, and took that free ride right out of town.

The pep in my step may have come from the sure knowledge that I had a blog-worthy story.

But it was probably from the fact that I was now free to write it.

And you, my friend, are free to write yours in the Comment box.

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Calling It Quits


(How I want my video to look vs how I really look…hahahaha)

Transcript:

I am about to celebrate the one year anniversary of the last day of my Day Job in a Cubicle. The Day Job taught me many things, both about myself and humanity in general, things I am still processing and folding into the pudding that is my life.

Things like how to decide whether people are looking you right in the face and lying. Things like how to keep your compassion for people who are screaming in your face. Things like accountability within systems designed to serve a greater good and what happens when you involve egos that serve only the personal and immediate good. Things like people who would rather play games than create a vibrant successful team.

Moms, help me out here…it sounds like working with toddlers. Am I right?

Now, how many times a day do the words “I QUIT!” come out of our mom mouths?

It’s like a frustrated fantasy that never comes true, a four letter cuss word that feels so good when we say it even though we know it solved nothing. Because, of course, we don’t quit. We just grab a cookie and keep slogging away. There’s work to do.

I just don’t have enough experience in quitting. I love thinking I am made of tough stuff, and stamina, and thrive with interpersonal adaptations. You can’t raise five kids and be a fluff. I’m good. There is no such thing as throwing in the towel.

As a matter of fact I have a meme that says “You may see me Struggle but you will never see me Quit”. Yeah, whatever.

Today, we’re going to challenge that concept. Which means I am also challenging myself.

Let’s talk about it for a minute.

“Quitting” carries nasty and judgmental connotations, as the worst thing you can possibly do, as the mark of failure and shame, a sign of weakness, and as the last possible option in nearly every situation.

Well, Except for situations that society decides to approve. (And now we have to decide which society we live in because that is constantly shifting around.) It gets tricky.

Who decided what was worth quitting and what was not? Who gets the thumbs up or the thumbs down? For example:

You can quit smoking but not a marriage.

You can quit a job but not college.

You can quit drinking but you don’t quit your sports team.

You can quit Facebook friends but not your family.

You should quit making videos but not quit writing blogs….

Who decided which way my thumb goes?

If I make the decision to quit….anything….if one of my kids comes to me with a conversation about “Quitting”, how am I going to handle the idea of it? What do I advise them? What do I advise myself?

Because, one year ago today, I sat down with a friend and wrote a letter of resignation. I had spent three months with all the signs that I needed to move on from the Day Job, but were ignoring them because I am not a quitter. So, instead of working smarter, I was working harder. Instead of bowing out gracefully, I was stubbornly putting my head down and trying to prove to myself that I was not a failure or weak or unable to “grow up and play with the big boys”.

What a joke.

There are games no one should have to play, just to earn a paycheck.

I’m saving the end of that story for next week, but I’ll leave you with some signs that it’s time to Quit; because Quitting has a place in intelligent decision-making and sometimes staying is the wrong thing to do.

I’ll see you next week. Bye.

Reasons to consider Quitting:

  1. Negative energy from it consistently overflows into other areas of your life
  2. You say “It’s just a job”, can do it with your eyes closed, are apathetic or complacent
  3. You don’t ever want to go to work, your gut is telling you to stop, you make careless mistakes
  4. Your boss or coworkers make you miserable or create a toxic environment
  5. You feel mentally or physically unwell from the situation
  6. Physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse
  7. You tried talking to the boss/coworkers to no avail
  8. Your pay or benefits are not worth the personal price you are paying
  9. Other jobs look exciting, your talents aren’t being tapped, the career has no future
  10. You don’t share the company vision or values
  11. You’ve been there too long, you’re burning out, there may be downsizing ahead

All of which can be applied to any job, including raising kids, as I found out. There was absolutely going to be downsizing in my company, right?

Okay, just for balance, here are some reasons not to Quit:

  1. You’re angry or sad about someone or frustrated with yourself
  2. You’re burned out and need a vacation
  3. You’re broke and don’t have the next job lined up
  4. You need medical or other benefits and you don’t have a bridge in place
  5. You’re acquiring skills for your next job
  6. Someone else says you should
  7. You don’t have a departure plan prepared
  8. You didn’t take a hard look at the company culture to see whether improvements were incoming

Also, HERE is a fun LINK or TWO if this blog has you thinking…..

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Technology Traps

Transcript:

“Okay. Family story time. We’re gonna start with my dad. A few years ago, we got him a tablet. First piece of technology ever. And he had fun playing with it and he still does, but we tried to set him up with an email address. So I made him a password, showed him how it worked, got him set. Good job Dad, and I’m gonna go home and I’m gonna send you an email….

And I get a phone call a couple days later. He’s super frustrated. “I can’t get this thing to work. I don’t know what it wants, it just keeps asking for my address and I keep typing it in there and it won’t take it and it doesn’t even know who I am.”

“Okay, calm down let me see what’s going on.” And. He had been putting his house address in, over and over and over again. And I had to explain how an email address was different from a house address but it’s still called an address and you still kinda live there and that’s where your mail goes but it’s not real mail, it’s electronic mail. So. Anyway, we’ve come through that. We’re good now. He gets my emails. He gets my blogs. I hope he reads them….maybe not this one? Anyway. Okay.

So, fast forward. My mom gets on technology and she’s gonna start reading my blogs, so I make her the first ever video, right? And it says, right across the top, The Video for Mom…for you, Mom! So she’s getting them, I suppose she is, and I get on the phone with her, “Hey Mom, how did you like the blog?” She’s like, “Oh, honey it was so good. You did so good. I’m so proud of you.” “Oh, thanks mom.” And I said, “But, um, what’d you think of it?” She’s like, “Oh, it’s fine.”

“So you watched the video?” And she’s like, “What video?” “The video. It’s like right at the top of it.” “Well, I read it, I read it.” “But on the top there was a video, right?” And she’s like, “Well, I saw your picture.” “No,” I said, “You have to…that, that wasn’t a picture. That was a video. You just tap it, you just poke it, and then I start talking to you, like this!” Pretty exciting. And yeah, we’re figuring it out.

Which probably explains a lot about Monday. Because I think I’m related. Sorry about that guys. Um, yeah, that was not good.

So my website has been dying a slow, long death since Monday. There were a lot of interesting situations going on in there. Today’s Wednesday, so it’s the third day out, third Monday in a row for me. I spent five hours on the phone today, so far, with my website host trying to get to the bottom of things. Sometimes I think I know more than they do, which is not an optimum situation…in these situations. Okay then. Hopefully it figures itself out.

But first I lost all the photos. If you go back and look at all my blogs on Italy, all my pictures are gone. I can still find them somewhere else but – wow – that was a lot of work that’s just gone.  And then some of my blogs started to leave, all by themselves, they just decided they were gonna go in the trashcan. Um, that’s not okay. When you have a “blog” you should have them still where you put them. So we’ll find out. We’ll get to the bottom of it some day. I don’t know if this is the day. We’ll find out.

Technology drives me crazy. So I guess what I want to close with is the subject of flip phones for your kids. You know, technology is a good tool, and it’s a fun toy, and a terrible distraction from “real life”, so it’s kind of a love/hate situation for me. All of my kids – all of them – and it really doesn’t matter with my firstborn because there wasn’t this huge desperate need for kids to have their own smartphones, not that long ago. But now, apparently it is, and you’re pretty much nothing if you don’t have a smartphone from toddlerhood on.

Let me show you what I have. My children – my children who, the youngest who is 18 and he’s gonna graduate high school and people, he’s doing it with a flip phone. Flip phone. Pretty beat up. Wait, wait. It can do: that. It can do that, so, you know, texting is super fun and apparently it’s a step up to have a keyboard on here because the phone they had before this “upgrade” you had to like punch the numbers over and over to get to the “s” and then you were texting like that. I figure, they can get on the internet all over the place, whenever they want to and they don’t need to do it with their phones. It does not have to be that easy. That’s the Mom Two Cent Blurb on my part. If they need a smartphone, they can grow up, get a job, and buy their own and get their own plan to go with it.

And also…my mom’s phone just died. My sisters tried to get her a smart phone and she refused and bought a $160.00 flip phone…because they get really mad when you don’t want a smartphone and then they sell you these and make as much as they can for them because – guess what? – their data plan is not gonna get attached to that. So they’re losing money, and they know it. Whatever. Aye yi yi. All right.

Well you guys have a good rest of the week. I’m assuming that I can even post a blog for this weekend, so this is me: optimistic! And um, Happy Monday! Again!

See ya later, bye.”

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

Ooops

Dear Everyone in the Whole Wide World,

Do not panic. This was a test. Of my patience, your fortitude, and the email, WordPress, and Facebook systems.

Actually, due to the fact that today is MONDAY, and also TAX DAY, and probably there’s a full moon on Jupiter, my site decided to take random blogs and throw them into the trashcan. After first, of course, removing my photos. Because who needs pictures, apparently. And also, the big red button that was supposed to fix all of this decided, instead, to send them all to YOU.

My peeps.

Sadness.

Also, apologies.

I promise to stop laughing as soon as the adrenaline wears off.

Meanwhile, I also promise to never touch the big red button again as long as I live and you are safe from this nonsense. You did nothing wrong, except maybe trust me.

My next April video will feature a technology rant that is long overdue. I do hope you join me.

Jolie

The Blues

Like the reds (anger), the greens (nausea), the pinks (embarrassment), or the grays (don’t we all, after we turn 50?), the Blues take us to that unpleasant corner in our brains that is full of thickly padded couches with squooshy pillows and dim lighting. It’s safe to throw things in there. Or give a good holler.

Or crawl down, down, into the cushions until only our nose sticks out, and maybe one hand, so we can reach the Mountain Dew laced with maraschino cherry juice, iced, with a curly straw.

In this room, nothing is black and white. The walls and decor are monochromatic gray, ashen, leaden, a murky place with no edges. We bring the color with us.

Depression is a tricky package. Sometimes we don’t realize when it was delivered or that it’s moved in with us until one day it occurs to you that the butterflies are blue, the flowers are blue, your kids are blue, and your favorite shoes are blue. Puzzled, you continue on with your life, but for inexplicable reasons, you are moving slower. Your legs feel encased in a layer of mud. Your mind is fuzzy. Maybe you need a nap? Maybe you missed your vitamin?

The Blues get interesting. You move lethargically, doing everything you were always doing, but now you are crying in the shower. You are closing the office door so you can focus. You are reaching for a third cup of coffee or a fifth donut in an attempt to perk up, feel better, get some pep in your step. And it’s not working.

“Doctor,” you say, “I have no idea why I feel like a slug trying to cross a line of Gorilla Glue.”

“And also, like it might feel really good to just lie down in the Glue for a nap.”

Always begin with a complete medical exam. Self-care, exercise, diet improvement, and good sleep might tip you back upright if what you are experiencing is a small imbalance in circumstances or chemistry. This is where to begin.

But eventually, you will need to be able to tell the difference between the Blues and Depression. The way I will define it here is: Blues are due to external circumstances and Depression is the medical result of an internal chemical imbalance.

Your gray matter is a neutral palette, and a psychologist will be able to help you tell whether the Blues are carried in with you or were already tinting the walls when you arrived.

You will get the Blues after something in your world blows up. The Blues are when you are in a situation where there is no hope that it will change and no one else can help you. In a divorce, for example, you don’t have a hope that it won’t be exactly what it is and no one else can change it for you, either. If enough time and space from the circumstance goes by, eventually, the Blues will soften and allow you to see the other colors again.

Depression is what happens when you are taking that rollercoaster ride that feels like you don’t know how you got here and you don’t know where you’re going, and without a seatbelt or a parachute or even a crossbar to hold on to. The Blues make you cry. Depression makes you scream and go numb by turns. The Blues lighten when you are with people who are comforting and cheering you up. Depression hates company, and that includes yourself.

The phone will ring, and “Self,” you will think from your wedge in the blue-gray sofa, “We just don’t have that kind of energy.” You will let it go to a voicemail that you won’t retrieve.

Your family, friends, and fur-babies will know when you are Blue. They will not know you are Depressed. Not for a long time. Because you will hide it from them the way you hid it from yourself, and what everyone will notice is that you don’t leave the house any more. You have excuses for missing the PTA meetings you used to organize and the fridge gets emptier and emptier because grabbing your keys and going to the grocery store feels absolutely impossible.

You feel guilty and insecure for feeling the way you feel, getting angry at everyone telling you to ‘snap out of it’ and ‘stop being selfish’ and ‘just shake it off’ and asking “What’s wrong with you? You look fine.” And this is how Anxiety enters the rollercoaster ride.

Things people would never say to someone experiencing a heart attack or a migraine.

And because your logical self knows none of this makes sense, you eventually stop arguing about it, talking about it, whining about it, waiting for it to go away. You settle in with an alone-ness that drops the Blue down into a Gray and then into a vacuum-sealed void.

Hours of watching TV from your blue-gray sofa later, you know you need help. But what if they prescribe medication? What if you’re not you once you take it? Are you, you now? What if you become dependent on it and then there’s an earthquake and you can’t get more and you run out and suddenly you are even WORSE than you started out today? What if your therapist tells you – and this is the lie Depression tells you – it’s all in my head and to snap out of it?!

This is only one flavor of Depression and those of you who know what I’m talking about are nodding your head and filling in with your own particular version. Hormones, genetics, medications, situations…we are such delicately balanced organisms.

When someone you love has Depression, they need – here it comes – a safe space. A safe head space. They need that place a psychologist uses. Or a mom uses. Or your bestie uses. Or God uses. My sister needs to know that I am educated and understand the disease, that I will not overreact when she reaches out to me, that I will advocate for her health if she cannot, in a way that she needs. That when she sends me a little text, “I’m Blue. But I don’t want to talk about it”…we won’t.

But she trusts that I got her message and stopped my planet to shoot a lightning bolt of love and support in her specific direction. She knows that I am standing by. And I trust her to let me know if she needs more.

In the meantime, here’s my video of the week: a gentle, breezy April moment with the flowers. I hope that you can see all of the colors.

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!

The Video for Mom

Transcript

Hi everybody! Don’t freak out – this is not my average blog. This is the month of April, so we’re trying new things, okay? This is a really big year for fun stuff, so…videos for April! And I want to start by saying I did try and do the podcast thing. I can’t get any girlfriends to go in there and do it with me because – talking to myself? – not so fun.

“Now taking auditions for a podcast in the future. Accepting resumes!”

In the meantime, while we’re holding our breath for that, this is the first one, so we’re gonna play ‘Youtube Channel’. We’re just gonna figure it out. Something new.

This one is called “The Video for Mom”. That’s very specifically my mom I’m talking about because I got a call last week, and we’re chatting, and she says, “Okay, what’s really happening in your life? What’s going on?”

I said, “What are you talking about?”

She says, “I’m finally on technology and I can read your blogs now.”

Just so you know, it’s been five years mom, and you have a lot of catching up to do. Have fun.

But she’s reading my ones from right now. She’s like, “Okay, so there’s alcoholism, vaping, bullies…shark tank? What’s going on? I thought you wrote funny stuff?” She’s like, “Should I worry? Do we need to talk?” She’s all, “Did you find something in the boys’ room? What’s going on?”

Yay!

Mom just totally validated my whole life. No, not really. It is different, this year.

I needed to try some new things and it all came from a conversation I was having with (actually more than one) girlfriend at the end of last year. Everybody’s struggling with something and that’s kind of normal. And I try to be a good ear for that and it occurred to me that I also have a voice that I’m really not using in maybe the best possible way.

So I was having a good time, laughing, you know, that’s my favorite – is comedians, you know, they’re laughing so you can just take a break from the drudge – what’s going on. But you know, if I have a blog and I have a voice, why not use it for something constructive? At least, you know, for now?

So I wanted to open specifically some conversations that families really should be having, with topics that we’re all kind of avoiding. (Me too.) And I told you in some of the stories my personal – you know – what was going on, why that would connect to me in my life in what’s happening. But I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re the only ones struggling in it.  Even though you probably know intellectually that’s true, you need to feel that, that emotional support that I’m trying to float out there, and give you something practical.

You know. It’s not enough for me to say, “I love you, you’re gonna get through it, here’s a hug,” but not give you some tools, some ideas, some other things. Parenting is the hardest job in the whole world, hands down. So literally everything that I can offer…and then I’ll just keep looking for more things to help out that are happening out there, that can maybe help you out.

Parenting is the hardest job in the whole world, hands down. So literally everything that I can offer…and then I’ll just keep looking for more things to help out.

I’ll probably go back to laughing about it really, in a little while, but some of the things were pretty close to me and I wanted to get them out there and I wanted to say something about that.

So, actually, thank you mom for reading my stuff and picking up the phone and calling me, saying, “Okay, I feel like there’s something going on in your world. We need to talk.”

And she made that place available for me, her kid, to chat about something that really wasn’t going on at the moment but that was the whole point of the blogs – so far.

And I want to – what else? Hold on, hold on. I guess I want to suggest that there are a lot of other things going on out there. And I’ve always been available on the “Contact Me” page, if you guys have something specific you’d like to see me address, either with humor or just practical, I’m wide open for that because this is not just my blog, this is every single one of you who’s been reading – bless you – thank you for listening when I yammer.

I don’t know how to do videos so this is going to be an interesting thing. I’m doing this one right here in my kitchen. I think next week I might go outside somewhere but it turns out that other sounds come in. So maybe we’ll be listening to a lot of birds or maybe traffic. I don’t really know.

Anyway. Thanks for listening. I hope you guys have a fabulous week. I’m going to try to get the next one out to come out on Sunday morning. But literally I spent all weekend trying to do this and there was always a kid coming in the door at the wrong time or the laundry was done and beeping at me or…it was always something. So anyways. Fun chatting with you guys and I will be in touch. Bye.

(This video was six minutes long. I said “um” 38 times and “you know” 8 times. You do not begin a sentence with “And” “But” or “So”. Counting them is as far as I allowed my perfectionism to go. Except for the multiple times I tried to shoot the film, of course. That hurt a little.)

The 12 Steps

“Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.”   asam.org

I think you already knew from today’s title that “The 12 Steps” refers to the Alcoholics Anonymous program for overcoming alcohol addiction. Many recovery organizations are modeled after it, and there are other programs that use alternative strategies to support people who are struggling to control their drinking instead of their drinking controlling them.

Talk. They hear you. Most parents have already discussed drinking, drugs, sex, smoking and other things that people use and abuse to help cope with their internal and external struggles.  It’s even more important to speak up if addiction runs in the family. It certainly does in mine. You might want to remember that perfectionism, bulimia, multi-tasking workaholic behaviors, gaming, and other actions are also our attempt to curb or numb things that hurt, scare us, or feel out of control.

What’s strange is that sometimes, the very thing we turn to can quickly make us feel…hurt, scared, or out of control. Making healthy alternatives available to ourselves and our family can help circumvent this cycle with better ways to cope with these feelings. I’m sure you can think of a great list, including what we learned last week at the end of our Stress Test questions.

If you are at Step One with alcohol, click here and begin the first day of the rest of your life. If you are unsure, click here and do some self-investigation. Alcohol abuse is not the same thing as being an alcoholic. Using prescription medication post-surgery is not the same as abusing it because of addiction to opioids. I’m by no means a “tea”totaller, but understanding what you do and why you do it is important for us and our families.

As addicts or alcoholics,

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Proverbs 20:1
“Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whoever is deceived by it is not wise.”

The Forgetful Files is a safe, supportive space exploring different life challenges and big questions with courage, kindness, humor, and practicality. Please join the conversation by offering your unique perspective!