Category Archives: obsess much?

who cares

This year I’m going for a “good-enough” New Year’s resolution. Clearly, because we’re near the end of January and I am only now coming up with a resolution. No lofty goals or profound words for me this year. I simply want to care less because I often care too much.

I am who I am and I am pretty happy with me, flaws and all. I’m fairly certain I have an awkward 13 year old girl living inside a 39 year old woman who compensates with chocolate and Netflix. I’ll never be rid of insecurities, but as I’m getting older and becoming more of a grown-up, I want to let go once in a while and be less afraid. To be less obsessive. Less at war with myself. Just less. In a world where it is mostly about more, I’m aiming low.

Last year Ben struggled with anxiety around pick-up time at school, birthday parties, activities – every pick-up time. If I wasn’t in his eye line he panicked, “Mommy! Mommy?” He grew louder; his body twisting, running to find me. And I was there, in the shadow of a tree, on a bench, talking to someone, never far. “Ben, Ben. I’m right here.” Calm and smiling, I comforted him. Sometimes there were phone calls from mothers, good friends letting me know Ben is upset. He wants you. Do you want to come? I did. He hadn’t always been like this. This was new. When I arrived, his cheeks were red and tear-stained. Shoulders straight, he was quick to recover. “I thought maybe you weren’t coming. I’m okay.” I pried, asking him why he felt this way, but I never learned the root of his fear. We’d strategize about what to do if plans changed. I reassured him over and over. “Remember to breathe. I’m here. It will be okay.”

I feel like Ben some days; my insides twisting, heart racing over something that may or may not happen. These past few months I have discovered there is nothing quite like putting your memoir out there to rattle your bones and remind you of your vulnerability. Asking for help, hassled by guilt, wondering if I’m too much, then not enough – I’m an old clock wound up tight and tick-tick-ticking until it’s all I can hear.

So? Today? As part of my quest for less, I’m going to watch an episode of Call the Midwife. See my daughter dance and not be in knots about the costume that isn’t ready yet or her upcoming competition. Hope that inspiration finds me instead of striving to find it. Remember to breathe, I will be okay. Maybe in less, I will feel air and sky and room will be made for more.

swept up
in dark chocolate & peppermint pretzel crisps
I’m having issues with posting images, so you’ll just have to click to see all of the goodness that are these crisps. Sadly, they are only available during the holiday season. They were on sale and I bought 10 bags – need I say more?

where I’m at

I’m tap, tap, tapping into a small space inside me marked crash. It doesn’t take up as much room as it used to, but it’s a room that holds remarkable power. Once you step inside, it’s bigger than it appears, stuffed with old emotion and the unexplored under a thick layer of dust. When your editor tells you to let the reader in, that I need to dig deep; I have to open the door wide, shed my armor, and dust off emotion I haven’t touched in 12 years.

When you do something crazy like write a memoir everything is fair game, up for grabs. I understand the advice now to make sure there is enough distance between you and the subject you’re tackling, so one has perspective and prevents further harm. I couldn’t have written this manuscript ten years ago because it would have been too soon. I wouldn’t have been ready. Memoir is about honesty. Not just telling the truth, but being naked, exposing you to the reader. Here are my darkest thoughts. This is what devastation looks like. This is how heartbreak tastes. And then you have to craft it, find a creative way to say it. You don’t get to cover up with facts, lessons, and a smiley face.

Along the writer way I failed in some of the details, in the ‘going there’. I didn’t explain why I felt this way or I made statements about pain with little to back it up. So I’m at it again with the notes and sound advice of my editor, a wonderful woman who knows her stuff. This week I am writing about the driver. The driver of the vehicle that broadsided us. You know. That guy. I’ve been devoted to not discussing him, armor on, so he can’t creep in. Because he’s done enough. I forgave him long ago and I don’t want to give him more of my life. But, he’s a part of the story, a significant character. I can’t skim over the details, over him. The reader doesn’t know the story. You don’t know how I reached my conclusions and why I made my choices. The short answer is survival, but the long answer is what belongs in the book. I need to let the reader in. My job as author is not to guide you through the story, but to bring you in through all the senses and for you to feel what I felt. It means in order to let you in, I need to let the driver in.

So, when I am not working on Annie’s ballet costume (if you know me you know how funny that is) and terrified I’m becoming a Dance Mom, or catching up on laundry because my son is walking around naked in search of clean underwear, you’ll find me at the computer, hunched over, trying to shine a light on the dark places.

swept up

in a compelling story and beautiful writing. I read The Secret Keeper over the holidays and just fell in love with it.

those people

I meet Scott at our back gate. “There are signs up on the mailboxes by our house.”

“What?”

“The neighbors. They put up signs saying the land is,” and I air quote at him, “starving for water.”

I whisper, “You know it’s about us.”

It got hot this summer and we let our grass go brown, although we prefer ‘golden’. It was mowed, just not watered. We live in a neighborhood where most people tend to their lawns and shrubs like it’s an extension of them, watering and pruning to perfection. While I appreciate lush green grass I also appreciate conserving water and not spending my summer creating the ideal lawn.

I overheard our neighbors talking about us. Retrieving their mail, shaking their heads. Tsk. Tsk. They need to water it every day. It’s the summer. What are they thinking? They will never get that back. Cluck. Cluck. Hose in hand, I watered our cedars (yes, there was some watering going on. I’m not completely cold. I even pruned the roses) as my face burned with shame and my head filled with everything I couldn’t say. I’m sorry I let the heather go. I know they’re kindling now, but we have plans. Big plans! We’re going to tear them out and put down rock. River rock. We are nice people! Also, grass is a weed. It will grow back. It rains here 80% of the year!

After my mental tirade I slunk back to the house. I was upset at being upset. I thought I was stronger, way past caring about what people thought of me or, rather, the state of the yard. It wasn’t personal, yet I felt attacked. Much to my dismay, I was 15 again. I still want people to like me. I want to fit in. I’m not a boat-rocker. We’re fairly new to the neighborhood and now our brown grass invited judgment. We were those people. Waving my hands at Scott, I said, “We have to fix it. People hate us.”

He said, “No. We’re going to make our own sign.”

On an 8×11 sheet of paper we crafted and typed our reasons. We placed our sign about the importance of conserving water in between the pleas about our starving land. Go golden to stay green. We took a small stand.

It was silly. My overreacting. All riled up over a yard, a few signs and some nosy neighbors. I get that I’m crazy. I need to let things go and I’m terrible at letting things go. I could use more so what and who cares. Sometimes it’s the little things that are the greatest illustrations. The lawn became a lesson. I don’t have to conform. I’m allowed to be different. And, at 37,  I still need to stick up for myself.

I’m linking up with the speakeasy at yeah write – a place where you can just be yourself.

swept up
in Homeland
I am hooked on this show I’ve been watching on DVD. Is anyone else out there watching?

uptight

I’m a starfish on my bed. The fan hanging from my ceiling spins mercilessly. Music loud in my ears, it is all I hear, all I feel. I need to put my head down for a while. I get so stuck inside it. My thoughts match the fan. Round and round.

Reign it in. Reign it in. Reign it in.

Sometimes I forget who I am. I’m so immersed in schedule, in the day-to-day I can’t see I’m at war. Frustrated, I want to keep the bad at bay. To be calm and cool and collected. I picture a happy place – I hear this works. An uninterrupted shower. Sun. Rows and rows of clothes. Nope. Not working.

The fan spins. To be. To be. To be.

I used to not allow myself to feel. Poker-faced, I kept everything in check. You can’t let yourself run wild. You shouldn’t be this upset, this mad. I want to feel fine. But, I’ve learned in order to arrive at peace I have to get through.

I’m holding myself hostage with ‘shoulds’ and ‘ought to be’s’. Old habits die hard and perfectionism runs deep. I need to let my feelings in, let fear and angst swirl and mix until my insides are muddy. To be human. It’s okay. As much as I want to, and, oh, how I want to, I can’t control everything.

I’m tied up, too wrapped up in me. Even chasing perspective is too demanding. While I can’t always command my circumstances, I can choose how I’ll respond. There is power in choice. I could use a little power. And right now… Right now I don’t want to care for a while.

Robyn’s Dancing on my Own fills my head. Loud (which is the way you listen to this song). It makes me feel free. It makes me feel like dancing.

Let go. Let go. Let go.

Swept up
in Hometown Heroes Lottery
I was in our newspapers, the Vancouver Sun and the Vancouver Province this weekend, supporting burn survivors and the burn unit at Vancouver General Hospital where I spent 7 months. The prizes are amazing and tickets save lives. As promised to a few of you who couldn’t get the paper, this is the article on my story. Home Town Heroes Ad

Hanging out at the yeah write hangout grid today. It’s exactly where I need to be. No pressure and with friends.

surrender

When you come from a long line of women who move with bravery and backbone, you’re destined to do the same. Perseverance is your crown. And like the women before me I wear it well. I was born a fighter. My dad said so.

I close my eyes and I breathe. In and out.

Under obligation, through worry and over the unknown I search for that spot inside me where peace resides. The place that tells me I’m going to be fine. No matter the outcome I am here – whole and healthy. My life is good.

While my body rests my mind races. It is dark, the house is still. Outside and over my children is a blanket of stars. The night isn’t enough to quiet me; there is always one more thing. While determination is in my bloodstream rest is foreign to me, to the women before me. If one learns by example then my example is to never stop.

I am crowded, too full to sleep. Thoughts zig-zagging through my brain. Longing for more, always for more, I wonder where I will go, where life will lead. What can I do? Change is everywhere.

I’m on my side, pillow scrunched under my head, hands curled under my chin. I remember holding my babies when they cried; gently patting their small soft backs as I sang lullabies into virgin ears. Soon, soon with long slow blinks, their mouths forming an ‘o’ they surrendered to sleep.

There is a time to fight and this is not the time. I breathe. In and out. I give in to the night. I surrender. To peace. To rest.

Swept up

In this ballet girl!

Annie is part of a ballet character duo this year and here she is on stage mid-performance as one of the two Dueling Maestros!

in faith and fancy

Melancholy. That’s how I began December. With melancholy and a whisper of Anne from Anne of Green Gables. With sighs and many words for introspection and flair for drama. I’ve been going for walks along the river and melancholia settles on my shoulders like the morning mist over the water…I’m not kidding. It’s enough to make you shiver or gag, right?  I’ve lost my ability, a honed skill really, to shop. The other day I picked up a pair of ridiculously cute shoes on sale (half price!) and my eyes glazed over as they dangled in front of me. I dropped the shoes in defeat, shuffled out of the store and mumbled a goodbye to the earnest salesgirl. I let down both of us that day. This could be a sign of the end of days, or I’m in trouble and I need to snap out of it.

Consumed. I’ve been consumed this past year with writing, revising, and making this book happen. Truthfully, I’m still consumed. Now I’m just consumed with waiting and insecurity. I’ve sent out material and I’m at the mercy of others. When asked about the book, I want to tell people there is progress, there is news! There has been some progress, a trickle of potential, but I’m still waiting. I should feel satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment at the writing of it all, the work of it all. But all I feel is what now, what’s next? While people start their new year off with fireworks and resolutions I start mine with emptiness, with need. (I told you I’m melancholy.)

I’m empty and rather than look at it as depressing I can look at this gaping hole as beginning anew. I get to build. I get to add. I get to fulfill need.

New year, new goals. I can’t bring myself to resolutions, but I thought I could pick a word for this year. Something to live up to or live by. A star to beckon me. While I like plans I don’t like to be too restricted or contained. And a plan for the entire year is too lofty and unattainable for me. I like options and I like to change my mind. So, a word.

Last year hinted at redemption. Maybe it will continue. Scott and I selling our house so fast and moving into something new, dredging up the past to write a memoir…maybe there will be more deliverance.  It could be a year for waiting. I want something more, though. I need a word with substance and traction. Something I can sink into.

Belief. Meaning: acceptance, assurance, conclusion, confidence, faith, and fancy. I’m a little in love with all of those words.

I’m going to believe in good. In good news. In the dream I had a few nights ago where I held my book in my hands. In not submitting to the inevitable – to the worst case scenario – to the pessimist. Belief in more for my family and me, in plans and dreams working out after all.

Swept up

This is my eight year old daughter, Annie. This is how I want my heart to be.

Photo taken by my friend, the lovely and gifted Anastasia Chomlack

my summer of bugs, books, and risky behavior – part 1

I slide along the bench to get closer to the music, to the chorus of this song. It’s Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons. It’s what I want – for my soul to be awake.

I’m watching Ben swim and he’s getting it this time. His swimming teacher isn’t far behind. Kick your legs, face in the water, blow your bubbles.

“I did it! I did it!” Jumping into the deep end, floating on his back, and doing a front glide everyone has to hear about it. Benjamin’s enthusiasm is contagious, his smile so broad I smile and wave. “Good job, Ben!” He turns to the teacher. “My mom is watching me. Look! She’s watching me.” The teacher nods and smiles. Ben puffs out his small chest and stretches his hand out of the water to give me a thumbs-up.

I love days like this. Sunny and hazy, sentimental songs, beach towels strewn about, dark glasses, kids dripping with water and pride, the scent of chlorine and coconut in the air. Summer is part nostalgia and part spotlight. I’m in the sun and all its glory past and present. My favorite part of summer is that it keeps me present.

And this summer has definitely kept me in the here-and-now. We were given lice, a new house and Scott pursued his dream of becoming a professional skydiver. Okay, I can’t blame it on summer. It’s just what happened this summer.

On our way to art camp one chilly overcast (did I mention that July was this year’s winter?) day Annie was scratching her head, digging her nails in until her hair resembled Einstein’s and said, “It feels like I have lice.” I was in denial for 5 seconds (not my child) until I peered closely at her hair, saw the critters clinging to her hair and scalp, and began to go through all the stages of grief in 10 seconds. Outrage. Acceptance. Sad. Grim determination.

In crisis I have a pretty good head on my shoulders. I can be calm and level-headed crossing that bridge when I come to it. But lice had me panicking, my face moving back and forth between alarmed – eyebrows up – and mad – eyebrows furrowed. The bugs in my daughter’s hair, my hair, and Ben’s hair did me in. Yup. All of us had lice. I’ll bet right now you’re all scratching your heads wondering if it can jump off the screen and on to you. Well, I learned lice can’t jump and I am pleased to say we are all lice free, thank God, but I still find myself picking through my kids’ hair outside where the light is best, in line-ups, and while they’re eating breakfast. I continue to comb through their hair even as they whine and swat my hands away, “Stop it. I don’t have lice. People are looking. Geez.”

While our house was zoned to battle lice it was also up for sale. So, I had to have the house ready at all times for prospective buyers to troop through and decide if this was the home for them. We had our eye on a house just five minutes away and thought we’d risk the blah, nearly dead market. Our attitude was if it worked out…great. If not, we’d be okay. We like where we live. We just need more space.

Do you know what happens when you don’t really care? Your house sells. It’s like when you’ve sworn off men you suddenly acquire a boyfriend. That’s how I got Scott. Don’t care and poof! Boyfriend! House! I’m going to apply the same wisdom to a lottery ticket. Poof! A million dollars! Thanks to the new house I will be getting a basement, walk-in closet and actual office/writing space instead off a small desk just off my kitchen with the most obnoxious eyesore of a printer beside it. We love our neighbors and are sad to leave them, so it’s with mixed up feelings that we move.

This is part 1 of 2. I’m sure I’ve left you with bated breath with that last sentence. Where could she go from here?? Really, it’s just too long of a post. In Part 2, coming soon, you’ll find out how books factor in to the title and how I became a skydiving widow (not literally. Scott isn’t dead. His parachute didn’t fail him.) this summer.

50,000 words!!

52, 238 words to be exact.

I know I haven’t been here in forever. But, with good reasons. One of them being that March was extraordinarily busy. The other was that I’ve been trying to finish up this book using fake deadlines. I work well under pressure, so I thought I would do everything I could by April 2nd. I would be meeting a friend of mine for lunch then, a friend who can write and who’s opinion I value very much. I wanted to be able to give her as much of this book as I could. I couldn’t sleep. I got anxious. I grew addicted to Reese peanut butter eggs. It was like a real deadline until I realized it wasn’t and then I calmed the eff down.

I gave the book (the book!) to her and to Scott. I needed fresh eyes to stare at this thing for a while. I had become a zombie, a writing zombie, but still a zombie in front of the computer. Scott has already given me suggestions and ideas. Oh, and he gave me the book’s purpose. I have been writing this story with no concrete idea of what this story is about. I figured it would just reveal itself to me as I wrote. Well, I hoped that it would. There are definite themes in the book, but I needed a central theme – something that says, this is what the book is about. So, now I can say it’s about identity. I’ll write more about that another time.

I can’t believe all of this writing actually made its way to a book. Or my almost book. Because I’m looking at the second half and it needs changes and more direction. But, I’ll get there. I’ll create another deadline.

the truth

Here’s the thing. The truth. I hurt after I wrote about Betty. I didn’t expect to hurt so much. I retreated to the far corners of myself and tried hard not to think about that post, about her, about any of it.

I’m finding writing this story of mine difficult which is a polite way of saying that returning to writing about this story has become effing hard. I want to pursue it. I want to write it out and complete it. I want to get to the funny parts. There are funny parts. I want to get to the paragraphs where I’m learning, where inch by inch I’m healing. Where I reach an oasis in the storm, the thunder is rolling and lightning cracks the sky but I know I’m going to be okay. I’m still at the beginning. I’m still at the burn unit. I’m still in surgery. I want to be at the after, but there’s a journey to cover. The after won’t make sense if I don’t write about the before. What I can look forward to is that I know how this story will end.

I am tired. That post was true. I’ve been hitting wall after wall of fatigue and I’m beginning to suspect the cause of it isn’t physical. Which sucks. That means it’s mental. It means I need to dig deeper and get to the bottom of what’s bugging me versus taking a handful of vitamins, getting an anemia diagnosis (that was the easiest and best solution to my problem I could come up with. Better than cancer or some disease that doesn’t have a name yet) and eating everything soy based. I can’t take up residence at a yoga facility and chant my way towards freedom. Or can I?

I’m sighing right now. Loudly.

Somewhere between a week ago and today I’ve realized whatever is going on with me is not going to be as simple (or as hard) as cutting out my deep love of sugar. I don’t know what it is but I’m wondering if writing this story might have a small hand in my unrest.

I know I don’t have to come here and put forth post after post on the car crash, but I also know I’m not done with this yet. I can’t get away from this nagging need to keep going. There is something to writing this that is good for me on some level I can’t see or understand. And I’m learning there are times where it’s going to hurt a little on the way down.

taking a deep breath…

Okay, I deleted that last post because, upon closer inspection, it didn’t come across the way I wanted it to and I was worried about how it would be received. So, it’s gone. Done. Buried in the internet graveyard.

I will quickly say this. I feel a little like shut up and do something about it already. I don’t want to continue to talk about doing more or chasing a dream or what the hell are my dreams and not do anything about it. I have lost my way a bit and I really want to find my way back or start over or something. Or something.

So, I’m figuring it out. Taking steps in a direction. Who knows if it’s the right one, but it’s better than not walking at all.

I think we’re often in such a hurry to get things right. To get it done. It’s always now and not later. I don’t want to put anything off, but I don’t want to rush through my life either for the sake of having a destination. I’m going to do my best. My very best. To find solid ground again.

Swept Up


In aromatherapy
Aromatherapy for my head. I get headaches frequently and rather than swallow a whole lot of ibuprofen which is what I normally do I found an alternative. I found it at Tap in Fort Langley. It’s a teeny, tiny bottle called Forhead. Clever and cute. Just a few drops on the temples or the back of my neck where my muscles are sore and it starts to take effect. Scott tells me I stink like a hippie when I use it. He’s right. I do. But, it works.