Spring

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch, March 2018

Here in Los Angeles, we don’t have seasons the same way other parts of the country have seasons.  But when I asked my ten-year-old son to name his favorite season, he told me it was spring.  When I asked him why, he said, “Because it’s my birthday.  And because it’s the best weather.  Not too anything.”

I knew what he meant.  Generally, spring is the “not-too-hot and not-too-cold” season.  And my son’s birthday (which is the same day as my mom’s birthday) lands in the  spring.

This year, though, was different.  This year, my son turned 10!  And while his birthday was a great spring day, there were plenty of dreary winter-like thoughts invading my mind.  It prompted me to write “When Dismay About My Illness Keeps Me Stuck in a ‘Winter-Like’ Mindset” which you can read on The Mighty by clicking here.  (And please don’t forget to share it on social media).

Eat Cake

I wanted a guaranteed feel-good type of book to read so I turned to my bookcase and selected Jeanne Ray’s Eat Cake.  I vaguely remembered the storyline, so I knew I would enjoy re-visiting these characters.  What I hadn’t anticipated was just how much I enjoyed the book, and how much I learned from it.

Here are a few passages that really resonated with me:

Cakes have gotten a bad rap.  People equate virtue with turning down dessert.  There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake.  But that isn’t a person with discipline, that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy.  A slice of cake never made anybody fat.  You don’t eat the whole cake.  You don’t eat a cake every day of your life.  You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious.  You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress.  A cake is a party, a birthday, a wedding.  A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life.

My mother was a teacher, and when I say that, I don’t simply mean it was the way she made her living.  She was a teacher in her soul and found that inside every action there was the opportunity for instruction.”

Nobody likes to think they need to be rescued and everybody is grateful when it happens.”

It was worth everything, that moment, that song.  It did the very thing that music can do when it is at its best:  It elevated us and healed us and showed us how to be our better selves.”

I never knew that people could be afraid of good news too.  I realized that good news took you places you didn’t know anything about.  It changed everything as much as bad news did.” 

Everything changes.  Sometimes when your life has been going along the same way for a long time you can forget that.  You think that every day is going to be the same, that everyone will come home for dinner, that we will be safe, that life will roll along.  Sometimes the changes are the kind you can’t do anything about: Someone gets sick, someone dies, and you look back on the past and think, Those were the days of my happy life.  But other times things change and all you have to do is find a way to change with them.  It’s when you stay in exactly the same spot when everything around you is moving that you really get into trouble.  You still have a chance if you’re willing to run fast enough, if you’re willing to forget everything that you were absolutely positive was true and learn to see the world in a different way.

A Little Self-Promotion

I’m not all that good at self-promotion, but for writers, it’s important.  It’s important to let readers know what you’ve written.  And why they should read it.  So on that note:

Friday, April 6th is Fresh Tomato Day.  And I thought I’d use that unique holiday to spread the word about Tomato Slices — An Anthology of Tomato Stories, Poetry, Art, and Recipes.  I don’t like tomatoes, have never liked tomatoes (even though I like ketchup and pasta sauce), so I originally didn’t think I’d have an essay to write about tomatoes.  But, it turns out I did, and it is included in this anthology.

Additionally, The Mighty recently published a personal essay of mine about what my life is like as an “undercover disabled woman.”  Please, help me get the word out and help share it on social media.  Hopefully after reading my essay, you’ll find yourself behaving a bit more patiently when waiting for someone who looks “fine” to slowly cross the street.

A Love Letter To Books

I recently finished reading Dear Fahrenheit 451 — Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence.  The book is “a librarian’s love letters and breakup notes to the books in her life.”

The collection of letters is a clever and unique idea.  Here are just a few of the book’s gems I’d like to share with you:

 

When addressing The Giving Tree, Ms. Spence has this snarky bit to say:

“It started out so sweet with you.  I thought you were about being, you know, giving, and how generosity fills us all up with happiness.  This tree you talk about keeps giving and giving and GIVING and you say she’s happy, but I don’t know. Tree was not happy.  My girl was suffering.  First off, she is the only tree in that goddamn forest.”

 

A short paragraph about the long-lasting effect of Charlotte’s Web:

“I don’t exactly remember, but I think this is the first book I cried over, and I still never kill spiders in my shower.  That’s how you know a book has stuck with you.”

 

In a letter to The Fledgling, Ms. Spence reminds us of the power of reading the right book at the right time:

“You comforted me in a way that no one else’s words could have managed, reminding me of my own natural soul.  Of the person I am when I don’t have to be anything else.”

 

And this thoughtful bit is a love letter to the Public Library Children’s Section:

“You make it look easy, like fun even.  But what you do is hard work.  Important work.  And you’re the only one that can do it.  Kids come to you for lots of different reasons.  These kids have got to fall in love with you.  They need to learn to read, so they can love to read, so they can understand how many different lives they are capable of.  It’s VERY important.  Be a place of peaceful comfort and rowdy imagination and encourage lots of plan making for the future.”

 

 

On the Road to Double Digits

For Ryan’s 3rd birthday, we gave him this tricycle!

In a little more than a week, my son is turning 10.

That sentence, in and of itself, is enough to stop me from writing more.  But I can’t stop writing, because I can’t stop thinking that my son is forever leaving the age of single digits. 

10 is momentous, and my husband and I have been struggling with trying to come up with the “perfect” gift for our son.  I’m not yet telling you what we’ve decided on, but you can click here to read my personal essay “Entering the Age of Double Digits” that explains our predicament.

Waiting

Waiting isn’t always easy. 

And if you don’t believe me, watch this adorable commercial featuring Cookie Monster waiting for cookies to bake.

But waiting for cookies is entirely different than waiting in a doctor’s office.  How do you pass the time? 

Click here to read my personal essay, “The ‘Waiting Game’: How My Husband and I Pass the Time in Doctor’s Offices” on The Mighty.

On the Road to Middle School

This photo was taken in 2012, during the first few days of Ryan’s preschool experience. He is almost 4 1/2 in this photo.

My son is already halfway through his fourth grade year.  That means he has one more year at his elementary school, and then he’ll move on to middle school.

And that’s where it gets tricky, because there’s a lot of talk out there about “good” and “not-so-good” middle schools, about finding the “best” middle school for your child. 

We’re trying to figure it out.  And as I tend to do with matters that are concerning or confusing, I wrote about it.  Click here to be re-directed to MomsLA.com to read my personal essay, “Navigating the Road to Middle School.”

From the Heart

Some months ago, I wrote about my reaction upon reading Everybody’s Got Something by Robin Roberts.  (In case you missed it, you can click here to read it).  After reading my blog post, a good friend of mine let me borrow her copy of From the Heart – Eight Rules to Live By, also by Robin Roberts. 

Because this was a borrowed book, I couldn’t mark it up with a highlighter and Post-its, which is what I would have done had I owned this copy.  (As a result, this book has now made its way to my “want to own” list).  However, I did make note of passages that touched me, and so this week, I’d like to share some of what has stayed with me since finishing From the Heart – Eight Rules to Live By:

— “Fear is what keeps people in the comfort zone … There is no comfort zone.  Life comes at us in ways we can’t predict or control.”  Oh, how very, very true. 

“You can have sorrowful grief or you can have happy grief.”  “… the idea that you can choose the kind of grief you have.”  That was huge for me.  I had to stop reading and think about that one, because up until then, I had always thought grief was grief.

“Now that I’ve given you my rules, I want you to go out and break them.  Then write your own.” “… there is no playbook for your own unique, wonderful life.”

These last words of wisdom come from “Team Beauty” – the individuals that help get Robin Roberts camera-ready.  “You have to change the way you think in order to change the way you feel.”

This last one is hard for me.  It’s hard for me not to put myself down when the pain is intense, when something relatively simple like grocery shopping is difficult, when I’m out taking a walk with my husband, and I’m looking ahead trying to find a bench so I can rest.

But I’m trying.  I’m trying to remember to tell myself that just because my legs hurt doesn’t mean I’m weak.  It doesn’t mean I’m less than I was before I became ill.  It just means my legs hurt.

 

Love and Dating

Paris — a city of love and romance. This photo was taken on our trip there back in 2005.

Last week was Valentine’s Day — a day of romance and love.  But like most holidays, I don’t think romance and love should be limited to one day’s celebration.  It’s like Earth Day — we need to protect our planet every day, not just on April 22nd.

After 19 years of marriage, my husband and I continue to make an effort to go on “dates.”  We use this word loosely.  Dates, for us, does not mean dinner out.  Dates, for us, does not mean a babysitter for our son.  Dates, for us, are fit in while our son is at school.

But no matter how old we get, or how long we’re together, dating still isn’t easy.  Though now the reasons have changed.

And on that note, I’d like to share that my personal essay, “How Dating My Husband Has Changed Since Becoming Chronically Ill” has recently been published on The Mighty.  You can click here to read it.

Loving Day, Every Day

A few years ago, I wrote a personal essay for MomsLA about Loving Day.  You can read it by clicking here.

A few days ago, my husband and I finally watched the 2016, Oscar-nominated film Loving.  The movie is based on the real life story of Richard and Mildred Loving whose own interracial marriage and legal battles ultimately made it possible for my husband and I to marry.

And on this day, Valentine’s Day, I’m thinking of Mr. and Mrs. Loving with gratitude.