Archive for May, 2010

unsure, unhappy, unwell? act “as if” everything is ok

May 24th, 2010
There are worse places to be sick than overlooking Vancouver's harbor

There are worse places to be sick than Vancouver

Act “as if.” This is great advice for working women, which I first heard from Jo Miller, a crackerjack executive leadership coach. For instance, if you act as if you’re a leader and see yourself in that role, in turn, colleagues will treat you accordingly.

The ubiquitous “how to be happy” articles always offer a variation of this strategy: Act happy, even if you don’t feel happy, and soon you will be happy.

The Friday before we left for vacation, Carter came home sniffling a little. A four-hour nap on Saturday cured him. Only five kids made it to daycare that Monday, the same day my throat started to get sore. Tuesday, I was home sick. Wednesday, we left for six days in Vancouver.

My strategy: Act as if I weren’t miserably sick.

It’s day 5 in Vancouver, and I wish I could report that I psyched myself into feeling better. I didn’t. I’ve gotten sicker every day. But I’d like to think that I complained less than usual. And despite being sick, I’ve had a great time away with my boys. (I don’t have to act as if I were happy, because I am—except about being sick.) Now, I’ll just have to act as if I’m not guilty of giving the daycare virus back to Carter as I dole out some more children’s ibuprofen.

my mother’s day: trauma! drama! and lack thereof, so do you care?

May 15th, 2010

cardsagainOutside of school assignments decades ago, I rarely wrote about my own life until I took a personal essay class from Adair Lara back in 2001. The biggest “aha!”—realizing that readers get bored if everything is going well. Conflict keeps their attention. You also have to show how your experience illustrates some universal truth without it being a cliché. It’s way harder to do than I imagined. I didn’t even attempt it again for years.

Now, I’m writing a blog, where the whole point is to share something personal that I hope will be of value and interest to other people. While I’ve been microblogging on Twitter (bakingwithc) lately, this is the longest I’ve gone without updating the blog. Part of it is I’m a perfectionist when it comes to writing. I just can’t dash out a blog and hit “publish.” To me, blogs are personal essays, so I hesitate to write unless I can deliver a fully-formed essay. (I’ve also been trading writing time for sleeping, but that’s a different day’s topic.)

Which is a very long way to get around to talking about Mothers’ Day, because mine was so nice.

Carter, who was supposedly going to let me sleep in, woke me up around 6 am, because he couldn’t wait to give me my cards. The only problem was he wanted to know where they were. I realize I’m his early-morning go-to guy, but this was one question I could not answer. Jeff got a rare wake-up call, followed by whispering.

The card that Carter made for me at daycare had his handprint on one side and flowers he drew on the other side. He also got me a baby pink Hallmark card pink decorated with chiffon ribbons and a gold seal. “Mommy, I know the bad guys took your jewelry and made you sad, so I got you this card that has jewelry on it to help you feel better.” Put that together with hand-drawn hearts and a signature with both his first and last name on the inside and who wouldn’t melt? (See it’s just not tension-filled essay material.)

Then miracle of miracles, Carter let me sleep some until Jeff brought me breakfast in bed: Mickey Mouse pancakes, grapefruit, cheesy scrambled eggs, and Whitman’s dark chocolate sampler. No complaints there.

And that’s not all! I went to yoga, and my shoulder didn’t hurt! (Thank you, thank you, Dr. George Thabit for ending my year and a half of pain with one shot.)

That’s still not all. I went to hear Anna Quindlen speak. I’m so in love, that’s whole other blog topic.

And to top it off, Carter insisted we go to Dave and Busters because that’s where we went last year. Not my scene, but after dinner, we stopped by Forever 21, a new store to me. Carter picked out an adorable, albeit short, blue polka-dot dress for me. I wore it with skinny jeans to work on Monday and got an unusual number of compliments. (This reminded me of Anna’s comment about how this is the first generation of mothers to dress so much like their daughters.)

So no drama, just a really nice day.

If stuck with me this far, despite the lack of conflict, thank you. I owe you a pithy wrap-up that ties my Mother’s Day to a universally understood experience. But I’m not coming up with it. So, instead, I’ll simply sign off by sending my best wishes to all mothers out there. I hope you, too, had a wonderful day.