Today has been a funny day. The weather is finally acting
properly- nice and foggy this morning, stayed cool all day, and now it’s a bit
overcast as the evening rolls in. Work was cancelled about halfway through
today because the software program we use kept crashing. So…kinda left me at
I grabbed some take-out Japanese on my way home from picking
Cam up, and just passed the afternoon picking at my bento box and diving into a
good book. I’m sleepy, but in the best possible way.
There’s plenty of stuff that needs to be done around here,
but it can wait a little longer. My plans for the evening involve nothing but
fuzzy pajamas, my book, my bed, and maybe my TV. I worked very hard this week,
and I think I shall reward myself with a long, luxurious, indulgent break. For
now, I think I will see if Cam wants to read some of her book with me before
she leaves for her Dad’s for the night. I just want to do cozy things tonight.
It seems like the perfect night for it.
Wherever you are, I hope that you get the chance to have exactly the kind of night you want tonight- be it going out and dancing until dawn, having a romantic dinner with someone you adore, or just curling up on the couch with a blanket, your cat, and a great book. I’ve made it clear which option is most appealing to me. And with that, I am signing off for today. See you tomorrow!
Most days, if I am lucky, I get a few moments of stillness-
perhaps a perfect breath or two during my meditation, sometimes not even that.
The rest of my hours are spent with my brain leaping wildly from one thought to
the next- so fast, sometimes, that I have to gently remind myself to stop. Just
stop. Take a breath, dude.
Lately, it’s been even more that way than usual. With my
daily posts here, my participation in NaNoWriMo, my full-time job, my writer’s
group, my children and my social media consumption…oh, and the stack of books I’m
reading. Then there’s homework and dinners, shopping and planning for Cam’s
upcoming birthday. My plate is full. And my head is even fuller.
Add to that the obsessing I am doing over this move…sweet
baby Jesus, I’m making myself crazy. It’s almost as if I’m not really even
here, on the West Coast, anymore. A part of me is already trying to be there,
two thousand plus miles away.
I was walking Lucy earlier today, out strolling my normal
path in the finally crisp Autumn air, and I had to remind myself that I
am here. I am here now. I can’t be two places at one time. The time to be there
will come, but for now, I am here. I pulled myself right back to the present,
because this is where all the good stuff happens.
Today, despite this full plate, I have been blessed with peace
and stillness. I don’t take this state for granted because it’s not a frequent
visitor here. But my goodness, it sure is nice.
For you, I wish the same peace and stillness. I hope that, when your thoughts pull you miles away, you can come back to the present, where your life is unfolding. Today, may you remember that this day will never come again, and it is precious. Come back. Be here. Take a breath, dude.
We had a bit of a bad night here last night. I’m not going
to go into it, really, I’m just going to say this: I am not proud of my
parenting. Also, I hate homework. Also, I really need to work on my patience…as
I know I am not alone. Every parent who exists has moments
where they wonder if they are capable of the job they are trying to do. Almost
every parent I know will admit that they’ve lost their shit over homework once
or twice themselves. It’s the end of the day, we’re worn out, and no one wants
to be doing schoolwork after dark- not the kid, and not the parent.
I went to bed feeling like a jackass and I woke up this
morning feeling bad, too. I was still dwelling on it on my way into the office
this morning, as my car crawled along at a snail’s pace on the backed-up
Out of nowhere I thought “What about all the stuff you get
right, though?” and I was like “Huh?”, because when your head just starts
talking to you like that, you have to take notice, right? So, my inner voice,
the one that pops in when I really need help, goes “Why don’t you ever obsess
over all the stuff you get right?” And I’m all “Well, I’m supposed to get
things right, that’s why.” My inner voice rolled her eyes at me. I couldn’t see
it, but I could feel it. “All I’m saying is, you get a lot more right these
days than you screw up. Maybe you should give yourself a little credit.”
And that’s where the silent exchange ended, but I haven’t
stopped thinking about that. I’m really good at beating myself up for times
when I feel I have come up short. But when I get things right…and honestly,
most of the time I do get things right, I don’t acknowledge it at all. Because
that’s what I’m supposed to be doing, so I don’t get a gold star for that. When
I really think it over, it’s almost like I’ve set it up so that I can’t win. I’m
like the world’s worse boss- happy to ream my own ass when I misstep, but never
saying thank you to myself for all the work I do.
Listen, I am imperfect. Sometimes I lose my temper and I don’t
like that- I’m trying so hard to change. But other times, lots of times, I work
weekends so that I can take time off for doctor’s appointments that aren’t for
me. I make special trips to bakeries to buy macaron’s because Cam wants to try
them, and I am affectionate and thoughtful, open and giving with my kids. I say
“I love you” more times in a day than I can count. Our house might be messy,
but it’s truly filled with love, and my kids know that this will be their home
no matter how far away they go or how old they are. They know they can come to
me for anything, at any time. And that matters a lot. I need to make sure to
take pride in that.
Today, if you find that you are being very hard on yourself, I hope that you can pause and think about all the things you get right. I hope you can see how far you’ve come, no matter how far you might feel you have to go. Just the fact that you want to do better says an awful lot about the kind of person you are. No one is all bad or all good- we’re just these fumbling, imperfect little humans, trying our best to be okay, and to love others, and to be loved in return. We are all imperfect. But the things we get right are many, and those things matter the most. I hope you can see that today and be kind to yourself.
I’m going to tell you about a weird little personal quirk of
mine (What else is new? I hear you thinking that!): Okay…I buy myself
really pretty underwear, and then I never want to wear them. I want to “save
them” for…something. Some far-off day, perhaps, when my lady bits have earned
the distinctive panty award. Oh, right…that’s not a thing, is it? Well, maybe
it’s…no, you know what? It just doesn’t make any sense at all, no matter which
way I try to rationalize it.
It is, however, a good analogy for the way I live my life lots of times. And I bet, since we have established at this point that I am not nearly as unique and eccentric as I would like to pretend, that you are guilty of the same offense- waiting and waiting and waiting for the “right time” to do all of the things you want to do most.
We like to pretend that somewhere down the road we will be
better prepared, more established, more capable of pursuing our dreams. Well
guess what? I’m 44. Half my life, at least, is probably behind me at this
point. To be honest with you, I don’t feel anymore prepared for anything than I
did ten years ago. The main difference is that I’m just a bit more cynical, my
body hurts if I sit in the same position for too long, and I like naps more.
Just kidding, I couldn’t possibly like naps more. I’ve always loved naps. Seriously,
though- on the inside, I’m not much different.
I’m still scared to death that I’m going to mess things up. This
move, for instance- I lay in bed at night and I have moments where I’m like ‘I
can still just stay. My life is fine here, why am I doing this?’ and the icy
feeling in the pit of my stomach is a fearsome thing. But you can’t believe
everything you think when you’re alone in bed in the middle of the night. So,
every day, I check in with myself- do I still want this? And the answer is
always exactly the same- a resounding yes.
Because it might not work out. It might end up being less
than spectacular. I might have regrets. But the thing is, those regrets will be
nothing compared to the ones I will have if I don’t try. Not someday, not when
the time is right, but now. Well, not right now, next summer, but you know what
I mean. My life is fine the way it is, that’s true. But man, that’s not really
what I want on my headstone. “Here lies Courtney. Her life was… fine.”
Unless you are actively making plans, your “goals” aren’t
goals at all, they’re just wishes. And wishes are nice, but they don’t
generally amount to much, do they?
Today, I want you to stop saving your good underwear. You deserve to wear the fanciest, laciest, prettiest ones right NOW. And by that, of course, I mean- stop relegating your dearest desires to an uncertain future. Right now is the perfect time to begin laying down the foundation of your dreams. Once you begin, even if it is just in the smallest way, that action has significance. Don’t wait for the perfect time, because the perfect time doesn’t exist. Just start right now, right where you are.
It’s not a big secret that I am an exceptionally moody person. It took me most of my life to understand that not everyone is ruled by their emotions. Some people- get this- can have feelings about something and still make sound judgement based on reasons that have nothing to do with that feeling. I know, it sounds crazy to me, too, but…it’s a real thing.
As I’ve grown older, even I have had moments where I realized
that, while my emotions were certainly real, the decisions I felt compelled to
make because of them were not what you might call…sound. I have what my therapist
calls “Big Feelings”. I tend to be reactive, and highly susceptible to the moods
and emotions of other people, too. I take shit personally. I have to be careful
how much news I listen to, what kind of things I watch on TV, and even who I
can be around for more than short periods of time. Certain people just drain
me. Sometimes I drain myself. Me, I have a harder time getting away from.
As I’ve dedicated myself more and more to meditation,
mindfulness, and changing the unhealthy patterns in my life, I’ve found that
setting an intention for the day is incredibly helpful. To be honest, I didn’t
even realize that’s what I was doing when I started doing it, but now I see it.
Intention is sort of an anchor that pulls me back to myself when my emotions
start pulling me away. For me, what that means is, early in the morning, before
anyone else is awake, and for sure before I step foot outside my house, I sit
down on my cushion, and I pray. If you don’t pray, that’s not an insurmountable
obstacle really- I think just sitting down, closing your eyes, and getting
still would be sufficient. I always start with gratitude- another day alive and
well, a fresh start, a working body…there are so many things to be grateful
Then I ask for healing, balance, and whatever I feel like I
might need at that particular moment. Lots of times, it’s kindness, the ability
to be the loving mother my children need. By naming these things, I am setting
them right in the front of my mind. At first, it seemed like all that did was
make me notice how far away I was from achieving those goals. Now, I have developed
a knack for spotting opportunities to be exactly the person I want most to be.
There is a space now, between an action and my reaction.
There is a moment when I get to decide who I will show up as next. Sometimes, I
choose the wrong way. But more and more, I am left feeling proud of the choices
that I make.
Today, before you walk out your front door, think about the person you want to show up in the world as today. Do you want to be calm, more friendly, more focused, less stressed? When you lay down in bed at night and think about the day behind you, what would you like that day to look like? This is the time to make that kind of day a reality. Don’t be discouraged if at first all you see is how badly you’re screwing it up- that’s kind of part of the process. Keep setting your intentions, keep pushing forward, and little by little, you’ll see yourself evolving ever closer to the person you are meant to be.
This morning, as I sat down to meditate, my head kept
filling itself with visions of the life that awaits me just down the road.
Moonlight on snow, a sky full of stars, the distinct, salty scent of the
Atlantic Ocean. I would chase the thoughts away, return to my breath, and just
as quickly, more pictures would dance through my head- crackling fires in a
cozy living room, June Saturday’s that are greener than the greenest thing you’ve
ever seen, ferry boats and navy seas, lighthouses and briny air.
In my chest, my heart stirred and swelled with excitement,
anticipation, and…wonder. I know that my breath was supposed to be my anchor,
that I was not really supposed to be delighting quite so much in those
daydreams- not then, anyway, not during meditation…but so what? Maybe today,
that was exactly the meditation that I needed.
How often, as adults, do we get swept away with wonder? Less
and less, it seems, at least for me. Our lives and our routines are not
constructed in such a way to leave much room for moments where we simply marvel
at the deliciousness of life. And even if we did have a few moments to spare, minutes
we didn’t feel obligated to use up folding laundry or pulling up the garbage
cans from the curb, more than likely we’d spend them with our eyes glued to our
Quite frankly, I think that’s just sad. I think we all ought
to work a little bit harder to bring that sense of wonder into our lives. I mean
seriously, what in the hell is the point, even, of a life that is spent simply
trying to survive? And if not trying to survive, then we are trying to get to
the next level, then the next, then…then what? Then we’re old, and we die rich
if we’re lucky?
Pardon my language, but FUCK that. When I think about this
move looming in the future for me, I’m not thinking about work or establishing
a routine or leveling up or checking my Instagram. I’m thinking of the joy of
discovering new places, the memories I might get to make, the adventure I will
have. I am thinking about rainstorms and laughter, new friends I might make and
stories to tell. I am thinking about all of the things that, for me, make a
life worth living. And that…that fills me with wonder.
Today, think about the last time you were filled with wonder. Was it a particularly perfect sunset? A breathtaking full moon? Maybe it was staring at the face of your sleeping child or turning a corner to find a view that just stopped you dead in your tracks. Maybe it was just a shaft of sunlight dancing across the floor. Think about how it made you feel, and how you really ought to have moments like that every single day, at least once. Then ask yourself how. How can you invite that sense of anticipation, awe, and joy to show up? What can you do? The answer will be different for each of us, but for sure it is in there somewhere. When it comes to you, listen.
Do you ever have days where just everything goes wrong?
Of course, you do! what am I saying? You’re human, after all.
Well, today has been kind of like that for me… I mean, not
everything has gone wrong, but it is still early. I’m neck deep in what
I have now coined the “volatile cocktail” phase of my monthly cycle. It’s anyone’s
guess what will set me off, make me cry, or throw me into a panic attack, so…that’s
I dragged out my morning procrastinating, kicked a cat dish
across the room (by accident) and really hurt my toe. I accidentally hit my dog
in the nose with a spoon. I yelled at the same dog because she wouldn’t stop
staring at me. I ran out of hot water for my bath. All relatively minor things
on their own, but when you add it all up…it’s still minor, I guess. But I’m not
feeling particularly centered or spiritual or helpful today.
So, guess what? I’m not going to fight it. I’m not going to
fight with myself or try to force myself to feel anything different. Remember that
post about acceptance? Well, that includes accepting myself on days like today,
when I’m the Medusa version of me, too. I love myself, even today. Even when I’m
a lump of flesh laying in bed at two in the afternoon.
Sometimes you just have to let go of your plans for the day,
let go of expectations, let go of the to-do list, and cut yourself a little
slack. And not give yourself a hard time over it, either.
Today, if you happen to feel a little hormonal, perhaps, or just can’t seem to get things to go your way, I hope you can cut yourself some slack, too. I hope you can love your Medusa self, even when she (or he) is not very lovable. I think we should both just take a nap, what do you think? A little nap, some comfort food, maybe a cup of tea…I bet we’ll feel better by evening.
Last night, I was poised to do what I always do on
Halloween- stay home to wait for the one or two kids that come tripping up my
stairs in their sparkly costumes, shyly whispering “Trick-or-Treat!” as they
hold out their bags. And really, as much as I do enjoy this, it’s more an
excuse to not have to walk the streets for hours at night- after all, I get up
around 3 every morning, so by the time I get off work at 5, I’m tired.
Last night, that was my intention. Let dad take Camryn like
he usually does, and I can sit here on my couch and wait, munching on the candy
that is meant for the trick-or-treaters, and finally getting some time to read
But…something occurred to me while I was helping Cam get
ready last night. Actually, that isn’t right- what happened was, it occurred to
that I wasn’t helping Cam get ready last night. She didn’t need my help. I
offered, and she didn’t even want my help. She had it. She drew on her
own kitty nose, and her own whiskers, put on her own mascara, and her own
lipstick. The only thing she needed help with was her tail, and anyone might
need help with that.
I thought to myself ‘how many more times?’. How many more
Halloweens will she be so excited about the day from the minute she wakes up? How
many more years will she wait, in agony, for it to be the right time to start
knocking on doors? How long before deciding what to be this year is a months-long
dilemma? How long before she doesn’t even want one of her embarrassing parents
to tag along with her, let alone both of us?
And so, just like that, I changed the plan. I lit all seven of the pumpkins we’d carved and left a basket full of candy on the top step, and I tagged along. I’m so glad I did. I spoke with neighbors I’ve never met, and visited with ones I know, people who have seen Camryn grow these past five years. I saw darling little old ladies in Witch hats, and the guy who wears the ape mask every year when he hands out candy. But most importantly of all, I was there to watch my little girl…well, be a little girl.
Here’s the thing- as humans, we have this weird ability to
trick ourselves into thinking that the way things are is the way they will always
be. I think it is probably a coping mechanism that has to do with ignoring our
own mortality or something. Or, I don’t know, maybe it’s just because we don’t
see very well the things that are most often in front of us. But it is
an illusion. Time waits for no one, as the saying goes. We age, our children
grow up and change, time marches on. It happens gradually, sure, but one day-
one Halloween, one birthday, one first day of school…everything is different.
Your role will change, and you find yourself looking back longingly at the very
same things you once grumbled about- or at the very least, silently wished you
could pawn off on someone else.
Today, as we start rolling full force into the holiday season, I hope that you can find a way to engage wholeheartedly, so that there is meaning in it for you. If you have children, be mindful that the atmosphere you create becomes the memories they carry for life. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just warm, loving. If you don’t have children, or if they are grown, or if you are the child and your family is not a safe place to land…remember, you still deserve to slow down, to show up for yourself, and to create beautiful memories. With a little imagination and creativity, there are so many ways to celebrate, to give and receive the abundance of love we all have. Wherever you might be, whoever you are, remember- life is precious and fleeting. Make the most of it.