It has taken me years to accept a societal truth that it is okay for me to take time for myself instead of giving every little bit of me, squeezed out and wrung dry, to my children and everyone else who’s asking. It’s only been recently, however, that I no longer feel guilty (mostly) taking that time, and so it was with zero guilt a couple of nights ago that I skipped out on making dinner, taking the opportunity instead to read a book on our porch swing. My gosh, it was glorious. And uplifting. It was uplifting!
It was the first cool evening we have had in weeks. The air held just enough moisture to conjure up feelings of being surrounded by ancient giant redwood trees, though in reality I was surrounded by commuters (aka my neighbors) pulling into their driveways. Most significantly, although my children were running around the neighborhood with their friends, I did not feel anxious or worried or stressed; I only felt peaceful. A rare all-encompassing feeling as a 2019 parent!
I read my book, but I also lazily swung on the swing with my eyes closed, inhaling and feeling the outdoors in my very bones. I was cognizant of taking the moment in because I find that as a grownup, these moments are too few and far between. One of my goals as an experienced adult is to tilt the balance of this scale so that my experiences of inner peace become more frequent than the anxious ones.
PSA: Fret not. I ordered pizza for dinner so no appetites were harmed during the making of my peace.
PSA: I ordered pizza for dinner so no appetites were harmed in the making of my peace.
Thirteen months ago, I began an affair with the Frenchman down the street. Unfortunately, not only does his wife not know about it, he does not know about it! You see, quite a while ago I gave up Starbucks. It just wasn’t giving me the warm fuzzies that I think it was meant to give. Additionally, after performing multiple scientifically inauthentic tests, I feel quite certain that all that fake syrup flavoring was making my skin break out! As a 40+-year-old woman who fancies herself a MILF but is really more of a Cougar who probably is really only viewed as a Tired Mom, I had to give it up! With all the other madness at this stage of life, who wants to deal with acne?!
The Frenchman, on the other hand — he mixes his coffee with homemade chocolate ganache that fills my heart with Parisian joy. Yet still, he does not know how I love thee. Or is it thou? It might just be him. Oh, how I love him and his chocolate ganache. And so it was that one day, while sipping my Mocha, I commented to my husband that I felt the Frenchman should know my name for all of the money I spend in his café on a weekly basis. It was a comment borne of my ego and then forgotten. Seven days later, I stood in his crowded shop waiting for that silky, dark chocolatey, bittersweet mocha, when Monsieur Ganache looked at me from across the room and was very quickly standing in front of me. “Are you waiting for something?” he asked in his very intoxicating French ox-cent. Yes. “What did you order? I will get it for you.” Thank you. I only ordered a Mocha. I come here almost every day for my Mocha (subtle, right?). And then! “Ah, if you are here every day, then I should know your name!” YES YOU SHOULD! I wanted to exclaim, but did not. I politely gave him my name; we shook hands; I praised his lovely drink; we parted as lifelong friends.
Since then, I have been in at least a million times. It is clear he has no recollection of my name and I am fairly certain he also does not recognize me. But his ox-cent is beautiful and his Mochas are amazing so the affair continues. Ahhh, c’est la vie in Suburbia.
“Angel, you have so much potential,” said everyone I ever met before I was thirty years old. Words that once lifted my spirits and made me think to myself yes! you are right! I am destined for greatness, and you, great giver of self-esteem, you see it! Through the years, however, those same words would cause me to hang my head in shame; discomfort; embarrassment at my own lack of awesomeness.
I had troubled relationships and rarely felt like I belonged anywhere. I got by, but I always felt unfulfilled. It was following the birth of my first son that things really started to deteriorate. I was heartbreakingly unhappy. At a time when I should have felt joy and gratefulness, I often only felt stuck. Worse than that, I felt trapped – like a wild animal locked in a cage, roaring for the great wonders that I knew lay beyond my domestic confinement.
Thankfully, my husband begged me to go to counseling with him. It wasn’t easy for me to do. Along with pride, I was also in full-blown, feet-planted, onmywayoutthedoor, just-another-wrong-relationship mode. What helped me move my feet to his wishes was simple: I remembered that I had loved him dearly. I remembered that what led to our marriage was that we liked each other so very much. We were truly friends and we had a baby together. I knew better than to just walk away from that.
This next moment is pivotal: during our second visit with the counselor, she interrupted my speaking and asked me if anyone had ever suggested that I had ADD. I laughed out loud and so did my husband. Obviously, but not reeeeallly! “Seriously,” she said and recommended that I read Driven to Distraction by Edward Hallowell. Reading it the next day, I cried as I realized I wasn’t quirky, but apparently just another diagnosis. Genetically or environmentally or experience induced, I may never know, but I’ve been working through that discovery for almost thirteen years.
Frustrating, yes, but also incredibly helpful. Understanding the root of my shortcomings was discouraging at first, but it has since become liberating. I have adopted a phrase that I heard Oprah Winfrey repeat multiple times during one of her SuperSoul podcasts: “When you know better, you do better.”It also helps that I have a compassionate husband. The friendship and mutual respect that we started with, followed by our desire to put in the effort to retain our relationship has served to bring us closer. I feel emotionally safe with him, so about once a year, when I feel unable to sort through the clutter of my mind, I tell him. He kindly dismantles the teetering piles I have somehow built around the house and we move on.
As I enter a new phase of my life (more about that later), I intend to continue to grow and learn and live the life that I have always imagined – without the baggage of guilt and resentment that ADD often fosters. Make no mistake, I do get distracted and I can be inconsistent. I am sharing this because I recognize that I am not the only person in this world who feels this way: sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes SO CREATIVE, sometimes so incapable of stringing two thoughts together in a cohesive manner. I am hopeful that as I make my way on my continued journey toward personal inner peace, you will find comfort and inspiration as you venture forth on yours as well.
Good luck! And hey, remember that having ADD has its up sides. This page took me hours to write, but only because I’ve been successfully multitasking. Yay! It’s one of those days!
Check out this interview on another blog I write for, Graceful-Grit.com, regarding one woman’s experiences and lessons she has learned on her journey. If you enjoy reading women’s stories, check out the other posts there as well. We currently have five authors sharing incredible experiences!
I am currently involved with an additional blog for a class project. My classmates and I are writing personal narratives about different aspects of life. I hope you’ll take a look!
Just click on my ponytail under Authors at the very bottom of the footer to be taken to my current articles. I will be posting something there every week. Please take a minute to view the other writers’ articles as well. There are some amazing experiences being shared!
My last post was an update on why I suddenly stopped writing. Then I stopped writing again. Since May 14, I have not written. Not because of emotional stress, but because I had a summer writing course that involved reading eight novels in eight weeks, posting with classmates each week, and writing. Although I honestly don’t remember what we had to write. A portion of an original novel? An essay? My life seems to be moving along at warp speed so that I simply do not remember the details of any given day. My spring semester ended with my mother’s third cancer diagnosis and one week after my summer semester ended, my three children were down and out with “mild” cases of pneumonia. That would not be the case one week later when my husband was also diagnosed with pneumonia. Six days after that, he would be admitted to the hospital via ER and spend almost three days on oxygen because pneumonia does not care how fit you are – if it can take you down, it will. He returned home to recover and it was late that night, as I finally exhaled the entire previous three weeks, that I wondered if my completely forgotten Fall semester was about to start? Yep, four days after my husband returned home, I started the Fall semester and it has been the most challenging semester yet. Which is no easy feat considering the grey cloud that’s been hanging over me!
For twenty-five years, she mumbles quietly to herself.
Yes, you read that right. Twenty-five years. Has there really been a grey cloud hanging over me this entire time? It certainly feels that way. But in fact, No. It is more about how easily (or not), I have been able to recover from setbacks. One setback in particular, I am guessing. *Jack Canfield writes that E + R = O (Events + Responses = Outcome) [jack]. My husband shared that formula with me last night and I immediately thought back to the moment in time where my path changed. Where my spirit got knocked sideways and where a quarter of a century later, I would still be working to finish an unfinished task. There is a reason I am attending college at the age of forty-five with three cutie-patootie boys to raise and a husband who really loves it when I cook nice, balanced dinners, but who is also so understanding when I chaotically throw hot dogs on the table, exclaim that I have fed the family, and rush back to my desk to continue the grind of completing homework in my forties.
I have always known that I would write this story, but try as I might, the right words have failed to appear on paper. I am not convinced that I have the right words now, but I do feel that now is the time to write; to share whatever it is that clamors to get out. Like most experiences in life, The Cancer Experience is not a single experience, and maybe that has been the problem with the narrative. Do I write my story? That seems incredibly selfish. Do I write her story? How can I do that without my story? Do I write our story? What about Dad’s story?! It occurred to me today that I cannot tell the story without telling everyone’s story, so that is what I will try to do. I will not, however, tell my brother’s story. I haven’t asked for his permission and regardless, I do not feel that his story is mine to tell.
*Canfield has a specific requirement for referencing the article I took his formula from, so here it is:
Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul®and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you’re ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com
Sometimes it is wide-open laughter; sometimes it is tears streaming relentlessly down my cheeks. Sometimes, my vision becomes laser-focused and blood-red in color as I weigh my options in an unpleasant situation. Sometimes, even when I feel joyful, I can feel my emotions churn in a way that disrupts my love of being alive. I take a step back; a long breath, or twelve; I recite positive words and phrases to myself and tell the darkness it is not welcome here. Eventually, the churning pulls back to low tide and after taking in one more long inhale of air, I watch my peaceful exhale dissipate back into the universe.
A baby is born. It’s a girl! She is doted on; cherished and protected. Her intelligence is encouraged. Her stubbornness is admired. Until one day, her body begins to change. Then she is awkward: losing weight here, gaining weight there. Body parts stretch, fill in, and fill out. Until one day, although she is still just a child, the world looks at her differently.
She is faceless.
But faceless has a name. She has a purpose. She exists and has worth in this life. She will not be resigned to the corner as just another pretty face. And you — you who think she is here only for your viewing pleasure — you are in for a surprise! Her intelligence; her strength; her ambition; and yes, wonderfully, her feminine beauty, is taking this world by storm. She is a queen; a princess; a teacher; a friend. She is more than the sum of her body parts. Take note, for she will not go quietly into the sunset. Those days are behind her, and we are better for it.
And a splash of Crème de Menthe. Yum. I went to the doctor today and discovered that for the first time in maybe eight years, I gained extra weight (extra because I have to add that to the weight I haven’t lost, but I’ve talked about losing, for maybe eight years)! SEVEN pounds. I can’t write right now — I’m headed to the store to get some ice cream so I can sit and contemplate how the heck this happened. Cheers ;D
This is my first podcast of many to come. Please forgive all of the “ums,” but I didn’t want to edit because it’s imperfect, just like me. I’ll work on the “ums” as I progress! I hope you take a few minutes to listen and equally importantly, I hope you comment because my ultimate goal is connection and conversation. Cheers!
“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”