A FOOT INTO A NEW WORLD... for BOTH of us.

Today is a poignant day.  It's 20 year mark of when I went into labor to deliver Girl.  Something about 20 hits a little differently than one, or 10 or 13, or sweet 16, 18.

I've empty-nested for a little over a year now.  It was less of a nest situation than it was a ship I was tossed overboard from, tumbling in the water and finding which way is up.  The saying goes that the only thing that is constant in any situation is one's self, so I clung to what I knew and that was my creativity. At the same time I opened up to applying that to new scenarios to grow with.  It's been a year of incubating. 

A dear art licensing friend is escaping to Florence, Italy for 2 months (see FiftyJewels.com blog - Kimberly is grabbing the next 50 years by the jewels and living intentionally beautifully and she wants you to as well!)  She made the mistake of inviting me to visit during that time - if you follow my Instagram or FB you know I say YES to travel! The creative inspiration will be off the charts.

When booking my trip and zeroing in on dates, today, this 20 year anniversary of going into labor seemed like the appropriate way to mark my own 'rebirth' if you will.  I will be 'laboring' on the plane tonight, and will land on February 22, my wonderful daughter's birthday, marking my own rebirth-day into the next stage after Stark Raving Motherhood (with a svelter body than my 9 month preggers.)

Like a new baby, I don't know exactly what the journey will be like but I know she will look like me and she will be creative in her approach to life.  She will take whatever is in front of her and make it work, she will create something from nothing and from all of the inspiration that is in her path. She will share it with the world with the end goal of making the journey better for everyone.

By the end of the trip she may look 9 months pregnant again from all of the Italian eating she is about to do...

Once a mother, always a mother, but the Stark Raving part seems to have graduated. (The Stark Raving Motherly Worrying remains a permanent fixture as all mothers will attest to.) So it seems appropriate to conclude this blog with this post, which will also be the first post of my next blog reflecting the next phase of life. I'm ready to call it that and embrace it, thanks in large part to Kimberly, who really walks the 50 Jewel walk and is showing that it's a "buona cosa", a good thing! 

It's not like I didn't know it was coming... I BIRTHED the girl!

When Girl's 7th birthday arrived, we threw a little birthday bash.  I worried about getting my hellhole of a house ready for guests and preparing some nibbles and making a grand cake.

So it was time for presents and ... OHHH MYYY GODDDD... they were still in the trunk of the car where I'd been hiding them for weeks. TOTALLY forgot other than the fleeting "oh yeh, I need to get those things wrapped."

You can freak or you can get creative and improvise. Winging it seems to be a theme, I realize. This is a blessing and a curse of creative types, because you can 'recalculate' at any given moment and find another route, so you may not fret about stuff like a normal person and your kids do not get gifts like normal kids.

Enter THE MAGIC BIRTHDAY TRUNK!   With Dad manning the garage disco-like flickering of the lights and a super-enthusiastic "mekka lekka hi mekka hiney ho" (thank you Pee Wee Herman), Girl watched with wide-eyed excitement as I reached wayyy in and yanked out one gift at a time from the Magic Birthday Trunk!  Miss Birthdayface was thrilled.  I don't suppose it really matters if it's a trunk from a pirate ship or a car trunk, or an elephant trunk for that matter as long as the goods are pouring out! But.. an elephant would never have forgotten to wrap the gifts.

WINGING IT



Today we are earning your "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" badge.


 Getting your pilot's license to fly by the seat of your Spanx is an invaluable mothering skill! 
I'll share some of my more pathetic yet also valiant attempts at winging it. 

I grew up in an athletic family, not a dancing family.  I know nothing about dance or the ballet recital underworld and protocol. When I arrived home from a business trip, I had to immediately go into "Dance Mom" mode for my 6 year old's ballet recital dress rehearsal that evening. 

To a "never-danced-in-my-life" Mom,  dress rehearsal = wear the dress so you know you can move in it. To a "danced-your-entire-life" Mom, it's a whole other story.

Here goes:
NO-DANCE MOM can't find a scrunchie to pull back Girl's hair, so I huddle in the corner gnawing at the elastic from my badge-holder I wore on her business trip to fashion into a hair tie. A real "Momguyver" moment.

DANCE-ALLSTAR MOM has a tackle box she slams on the table and "whump! whump! whump!" flips open 3 tiers to unveil eyeshadow, mascara, lip gloss, glitter, eyeliner, glue on jewel dots, hair bows, ribbons, snottiness, and judgement.  YES, I swallowed my pride and took the damn hair tie she thrust at me with a sneer.


On recital night:
DANCE-ALLSTAR comes prepared with a dozen sacrificial congratulatory roses.
NO-DANCE realizes you are supposed to do this so I frantically call NO-DANCE DAD to grab some sort of foliage on the way but none is to be found.

"Winging It":
Flowers are not an option.  I remember Girl was madly in love with a rubber chicken at the costume store so when she returns backstage after dancing her little toes off, I tell her to look around at all of the pretty flowers the other girls are getting.  Explaining that while they are lovely, they will eventually die and (ok, maybe I didn't need to be that dramatic but MY POINT IS) I know one thing she REALLY REALLY wants and it's The Rubber Chicken and we will pick it up on our way home to congratulate her success. Girl can not be more thrilled.  

While the Celebratory Dead Chicken will never become a tradition in the ballet world,  it remains one of the most memorable happy moments of Girl's life, so it's going in the win column! 


BE HAPPY. THE ALTERNATIVE JUST ISN'T SEXY.  Happy 2013. I've always loved the number 13 because I like to stare down superstitions (unless they are positive like rain on your wedding day.)  It was my jersey number in high school volleyball and I've owned a few black cats therefore am exempt from anyone or anything telling me "bad" or "can't".   I choose to live in the "GOOD" and "CAN" zone.  A terminal optimist. 2012 had some really good highs and some challenging changes - so I'm picking out the fruits of all of it and moving ahead into 2013 with an excited sense of anticipation. 

WHO'S STARING BACK AT YOU? Girl is getting older and I'm getting more of my own time back and I feel like I'm climbing out of the mother trenches and dusting off with an "OK, where was I?" feeling... and I'm no where NEAR where I was when I dove into the trenches almost 17 years ago.    No where is this clearer than at the gym! (I think of the scene in beginning of Titanic where she finds her bejeweled mirror that hasn't changed a bit and turns it over to see her reflection has changed quite a bit!)

WHO, ME? The pledge of doing my duty for "my home" and "my family" will now include "for myself." I just completed a vision board workshop with Rosie Molinary and loved the experience. She's loaded with great tips about being gentle on yourself, gentle about when to say no, gentle about forward motion toward your highest self and finding your driving force for the year ahead and working everything toward that. 


I have a couple of mantras for the year that work for me:
1: NOW. Be in the now, do it now.
2.  Find the Funny

FUNNY FEELS GOOD. The second mantra I attribute to comedian Tammy Pescatelli.  I live this way (survival tool and you just couldn't script some of the stuff real life throws down) and I love that she summed it up. I've jumped into the world of stand up comedy recently on a dare and because I needed a new mountain to climb since I can no longer do marathons with an old lady hip.  Whatever happens on stage, I love that my sensors are on high alert for collecting life observations to laugh about. It just feels good and brings levity and is consistent with my personal motto: 

"When you feel good you do good."

So blabbity bla bla on with the show, it's going to be a great year because we are going to MAKE it that way! 

FOOD, LOVE & SHELTER, THERE'S AN APP FOR THAT!


It's new territory.

I originally meant the whole electronics thing, but really every sunrise is new territory in MotherLand.

My newborn humanoid once looked at me for every clue of information, food, care, love, shelter.

At age three, the electronic music from the ice cream truck played and she said "is that your phone?" it cracked open the concept that we were in a different era.

We thought it was cute when at four years old, while visiting Grandma's house, Girl said, "I just want an E-dot to lay down with me for a little bit." We figured out she meant A-dult and reveled in how the electronic age is part of their life right from the start.

Today, getting ready for school, Miss 15 asked, "what's the weather supposed to be today...OH never mind... I have an APP for that!"

Motherhood... there's an APP for that. APParently I am not essential personnel anymore!


KIDS AS GLITTERY ACCESSORIES


NOT!

Her raven hair spilled over her bare shoulders. Her lips glistened red. She was undeniably glamorous, luscious. She caught her own eye passing by the hall mirror and struck a pose, marveling at her transformation into an unabashed vixen. Yes, she still possesed "it." Her sleek black velvet gown hugged her Rubinesque volupte with a gripping intensity only her passionate lover had ever wrapped her in. Tonight she would sparkle at the black tie affair in the nation's capital, where she would mingle with who's who of Washington in support of a worthy cause. She would be the envy of every man and woman in the packed ballroom, rendered breathless from her astounding beauty and heaving breasts....until...

"MOM...I think I'm gonna be siiiiiick!"

Snapping out of her self-admiration trance, she quickly turned her focus to the three year old standing in the middle of the kitchen, little lip aquiver.

"Do you feel bad?" she asked.
"I think I'm gonna 'throw uuuup!"
"NOW??"
"YES"

Rivaling Wonderwoman's speed and authority, she snapped into action, grabbing up the time-bomb tot and aiming her, AWAY FROM THE VELVET DRESS, and toward the kitchen sink. Her charmed evening spiraled down the sink drain as well.

Never had the dichotomy of glamour and motherhood been so poignant.

Sitter sent home, velvet dress flung on the bed, her cool evening of looking hot had suddenly and unceremoniously morphed into cool washcloths and hot wash cycles. Rather than 4 hours of scintillating social butterflying it was 4 rounds of changed bedding and 4 hours of head petting and motherly loving.

In her ratty t-shirt and sweats, hair hastily yanked back and smudged mascara, she could think of no more beautiful way to spend an evening than tending to her little one "making it all better." Her most worthy cause to be sure. Motherhood is a come as you are party that can spring up at any time!

(This is a true story although recount of elegance may have been subject to artistic license.)

THE ROAD TO THE DOG BED IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS.


Husband on travel, daughter at away camp, animals doing their usual 23/7 snoozefest. All I can hear is the whirr of the refrigerator, the occasional muffled clunk of the ice-maker, a 17-year locust outside that is either early or late by 8 years....

AHHH, my chance to live the life of a single gal with nothing but time. I had an imaginary list of how I would spend my day playing, floating on the wind, wherever it wanted to take me. Isn't it what we all fondly reminisce about....

In reality, my big plan was to attack all of the things I can never get to while I am on task when everyone is in my face (and I say that with all the love in the world.)

Tidying a room is not like painting a room that will stay painted for 3 years. It's good for 15 minutes if you are lucky. I was relishing in the concept of cleaning up the house, and then watching it keep acting clean each day until the Category 5 storm returns.

I was going to rip everything out of Madison's closets and reorganize .... I've gotten as far as plunking a laundry basket in front of her closed door. It now feels like there is a drooling, fire-breathing, pointy prickly scaled, bloodshot-eyed gurgling growling monster on the other side of that closed door. I can tell you now, I've already given up.

I was going to wash & fold every stitch of errant dirty laundry in this house. I've gotten as far as making three piles on my bedroom floor. The thought of carrying a load down, finding a holding pen for what's been napping in the dryer for 4 days until I am in FOLD-ALL-IN-FRONT-OF-TV mode.....it just makes me TIRED.

I was going to clean out my closet, declare things 'graduated' that I know I will never fit back into, and if I did, do I REALLY want to be wearing a yellow leather mini skirt at this stage in my life? I did have the distraction of gabbing with my friend on speaker phone while I tossed and sorted & rehung. I found a total of $23 wadded into various jacket pockets, which was magical. Manicure pennies from heaven, I say.

I was going to clean out the garage, go to Goodwill every day with a new load of things I know I will never use, acknowledge that their Garage-Purgatory days have concluded and be rid of the clutter finally. EUchh...maybe another time. God forbid I ruin the manicure.

I was going to wash & shine the kitchen floor. Full of fresh gusto, I cleared out the table, chairs & stools into the family room, mopped like I was getting paid by the stroke....and... then... while admiring the 'ballroom effect' of a cleared out room and appreciating the vast uncluttered tidiness... I lost my spell of motivation.

So here I sit, on the dog bed that I've tossed into the corner, on a pristine floor that I don't want to cover up, OR shine, OR think about any more...I'd much rather be writing because so much ELSE that needs to be done!

Productive procrastination at its best!

MAJOR LEAGUE MOTHERING


Get your sashes out and "stitch witch" on your Force Feeding badge.

I am Forced to Feed.

The whole "feed the family" thing scares me with the same amount of nerve wrack as "they're going to bite my hand off" in a petting zoo.

It's entirely up to me. The nutrition and health or lack-thereof of my family rests on my itty bitty shoulders. I have to make sure everyone gets their 16 vitamins and minerals and doesn't go hungry whether in home or on the run. I have to nag calcium into Girl's bones and see that her diet is more than a parade of after-school-snacks and that the Baconator I married gets some roughage now and then.

In the delivery room I transformed from my previous "happy eating a bowl of cereal for dinner on the couch in front of the TV" to a skilled and trained nutritionist. But I don't remember going to class for it, so I'm making it up as I go.

My basic raw mothering instincts tell me: "too much sugar is bad, three squares a day, get some greens in there, protein & calcium are musts."

I learned on the battlfield (and I'm not saying this with pride) that:
eating something before leaving the house staves off low sugar tantrums, a pizza in the freezer can save the day, pancakes are a good vehicle for sneaking in nutrients, no one really likes Tuna Supreez, there's no fighting halloween candy, oranges have calcium for someone who turns her nose up at milk, chocolate in the evening brings on the nightmare monster and ramen noodles are an embarrassing 'just keep the kids alive' secret in my pantry.

The non-stop merry-go-round of meals is a ride I am strapped onto with handcuffs. Somedays it's a hit, most days it's just tolerable but everyone is still alive and still asking "what's for dinner" so it can't be all that bad... can it?

IT'S NOT ME - IT'S JUST THURSDAY


TODAY WE ARE EARNING:
"PRETEND YOU ARE SKINNY & BEAUTIFUL" BADGE.

This Sunday we leave for our Annual Thanksgiving in Sarasota trip. Family is together, cousins, aunts, uncles. There's a beach there. Ordinarily I love the beach but this year I am terrified. I've been MEANING to lose some of the weight I've been steadily gaining. You get busy shuttling, emergency shopping for something your kids "just forgot!!! I neeed it tomorrrow!" and the likes. All mothers, I don't care who you are, will do what needs to be done and pay less attention to self and one day be trying on clothes in a 3-way mirror and be gripped by the terrifying notion "Mom Butt!!"

Today I am in that classic school nightmare where you realize you have a test that day and you haven't even cracked open the book. I leave in 3 days. It's unlikely I will lose 30 lbs. or even three by Sunday.

I'M NOT A HAG, I JUST PLAY ONE ON TV.
Remember I do not glamorize for the morning routine of getting girl to school and dog walked. As my porky, unkept self is driving past the grocery store on my way home, a brain balloon floats up reminding me of 5 things I need. It's 7am on a wednesday. I'll be perfectly invisible.

Evidently I am not and there must've been a recent "love your customer" training session because every chirpy stock dude makes a special point to say "GOOD MORNING MA'AM! FINDING EVERYTHING YOU NEED?" I get haggier & heavier with every greeting.

IT'S AS BAD AS BRA SHOPPING.
The best I can do at this point is not GAIN any more weight before sunday, thus flavored zero cal waters might be a useful tool. Do I want vitamins? Minerals? Strawberry? Açai..with anti oxidents? Kiwi Lemonaide with memory fiber? Blueberry with vitamins but not minerals? Wild Cherry with an underwire? 36 C Rasberry that will cross your heart? Front snap with cleavage booster watermelon with aspartame and back fat control? "GOOD MORNING MA'AM! FINDING EVERYTHING YOU NEED?"

IF ONLY I WAS AS THIN AS THE SKELETONS IN MY CLOSET.
Scurrying past the magazine aisle another brain balloon ... airplane reading. I grab a "BE GAUNT IN 4 HOURS!" magazine about motivating to work out and diet. Clearly reading it ON the plane on the way to the beach will not get me thin... but those who can't, read about those who can and did.

MAY THE FORCE FIELD BE WITH YOU.
My route takes me in the direction of the donut case. I am playing with fire if I get within 2 aisles of it so I make a sharp right so as to avoid the gravitational pull. My hair is reacting with a static electricity-like reach in that direction. I manage to escape one temptation at a time walking past the bread and muffins by using the "Dionne Warwick Method" of diet control ... sing it with me now: "WALK ON BYYYYY." Just when I thought it was safe, I come face to face with Mega Monster Truck Rally 'Family's Visiting!" 46 Croissant Superpower Pack... Two for One. "WALK ON BYYYYY."

TRUE CONFESSIONS IN THE CHECK-OUT AISLE.
As I evaluate my 'obviously you are trying to lose weight' purchases, I opt for the Non-Judgemental Self-Scan because I just don't feel like being sized up by a check out clerk. If I was a check out clerk, without a doubt I would be analyzing the combinations people are buying and trying to piece together what they are about to do. God help the clerk that would comment on today's purchases. I could not be responsible for my actions so I Self-Scan. Plus it's fun to see if you can scan like a professional - and I'm fascinated by the infrared light ray mechanism that can read lines waved in front of it.

Sidenote - leaning to put an item in the farthest bag does not qualify as a workout.

WOULD YOU LIKE PAPER OR PLASTIC SURGERY?
When I'm ready to pay, the infrared magic light ray machine asks "do you qualify for a senior citizen discount?" DOES THE SCANNER READ WRINKLE LINES?? WHY DID IT JUST ASK ME THAT?? I must've yelled that out in a blind panic because the attendant pipes in "it's Thursday. Every Thursday is senior discount day and it automatically asks that." It's a milestone when you stop getting carded and I thought I'd skidded in to the next stop on the road to ruin. Whewh!

I'm already swimming in the surf of self consciousness over my burgeoning "beach ready" body, at least I can still pretend the wrinkles aren't calling the shots yet... it's just thursday!

Morning Bus Stop Beauty Pageant


Today, ladies, it's our MORNING GLORIOUS badge we are earning.

My school day routine is to do a "wake up" sort of behavior and stumble downstairs.

I feed the two sets of whiskers and tails staring me down, do a little glassy-eyed laundry change-out-type motions, pour that cup of life then run through studio stuff to set up my day.

Then I get Girl situated for school and when she leaves for the bus, Dean Martin (Mr. Handsomepants black lab) and I join her for the start of his walk. Notice I did not mention beautify or primp anywhere in that routine.

I am sometimes aware that other humans will be witnessing me, but because it's my neighborhood, I somehow feel it's an extension of my home and I wouldn't even feel bad, really, walking the dog in pajamas. I have.

I can get as fancy as work-out capris and a sweatshirt, and a running hat to hide my Medusa hair. Taking cues from the Big Book of Hollywood Glamour, I don big black sunglasses to hide the big dark circles under my eyes. I am the first to confess...it is not pretty. In fact, it's impressively not pretty!

I then shuffle my way up the street to greet the other contestants competing for this semester's crown and sash of
Ms. Morning School Bus Stop
(Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)

First up is Heather, having a particularly aggressive bedhead day, who is forever in flip flops she's had since before she met her husband, chewed up by the dog she had since before she had her flip flops. She gazes confidently at the crowd and judges in her untucked tshirt with stains from the cup of coffee she carries to the bus stop.

Next we have Amy parading up the culdesac runway in baggy tshirt, sweatpants with one sleeve yanked up past her elbow and the other splattered with pancake batter, baby on hip. You won't find rhinestones or a sequins on Amy, but you will see leftover glitter in her hair and a three day old ponytail.

Then there is Sally. (There's always a Sally.) Stopping short of concrete hair, Sally is always prim and proper, gorgeous and stylishly dressed for work, to everyone else's dismay. She makes up for her perfect looks by being always great to chat with, so we forgive her, though she will never win the crown in this pristine condition.

It's our pleasure to introduce Marian in white ankle socks and garden tennies, all-purpose baggy khaki shorts, one leg shaved, and whatever shirt or jacket is closest within reach. Her hair is urgently clipped back, well, most of it, no makeup and a serious amount of energy for the 7am hour. She will surely win the Most Caffeinated title.

Finally we have Rob, stay-at-home dad on the block, who just doesn't count. He's a dude and dudes can look however they want in the morning. It looks the same in the afternoon and evening and they always look good. But because he shows up for the pageant every day, he gets an honorable mention.

We count on each other to keep up the competition for this coveted crown because it's a silent language of liberation for all of us to not have to be ON that early in the morning. Sally is secretly envious.