Walking on ants

It started with a simple request.

“Sweetie, please put on your shoes and socks. It’s almost time to go.”

I tended to a few other odds and ends before returning to my older son, Li’l D. He was busy painting Transformers in a coloring book. His feet? Totally bare.

“Sweetie. Stop your painting and get on your socks and shoes. Now!” He appeared to be gravitating toward his nearby socks, so I ran to take care of another almost forgotten errand in the kitchen.

His feet were still bare when I returned a minute or two later. “I’m going to have to take away your coloring book,” I warned. The warning spurred him into action. Victory! I knelt to put his baby brother in his car seat.

When I rose, Li’l D was still sockless. He’d turned his socks into puppets. Read more…

My new favorite show

“We’ve all gotta start somewhere,” a bartender told my husband on Friday evening.

My husband had just named the show he’s assistant directing. It took him a moment to realize the bartender didn’t think working on a kids TV show–even an Emmy nominated one–was real directing work.

I’ve gotten the same comment from a couple of friends, who’ve said things like, “He went from The Big Bang Theory to that? Ouch!” Read more…

Your belief is irrelevant.

I believe in goodness and light. I like to live these things as often as I am able.

Sometimes, these things are not effective in light of the circumstances. Sometimes, a different set of tools need be laid out on the table for the world to see.

If, for example, you are a woman walking alone and being stalked one night, you might not deter your stalker by singing Disney songs to remind him of all the sweetness in the world. If, on the other hand, you turn around, methodically pull out your pony tail holder so your hair is no longer an easily manipulated handle, and then openly analyze his every feature for later police identification, you might be lucky enough to have him stop and turn tail.

It worked for me.

Every couple of runs for most of the time I’ve been a runner, I’ve encountered a stranger who felt it important to call me “fatty,” “tubby,” “lard-bucket,” or some other variant of “fat.” I’ve never bothered responding, for reasons in the title: Your belief is irrelevant.

The friends of these words’ speakers have by and large been silent. Twice, though, I’ve given a thumbs-up over my shoulder. Once, a buddy said, “At least she be working out!” Another time, a woman said to her probably-partner, “I have never been more ashamed of you than I am right now.”

Good on you guys for speaking up!

Two weeks ago, I got prettied up for a rare evening out. Beaming as I strolled toward beer and Fright Night, I was startled when a boy of roughly seventeen years said, “Look at that fatty, fat rolls all hanging down over her belt!” Read more…

No bad boys

“I’m a bad boy,” my older son mumbled when I snapped at him the dozenth time yesterday morning.

I stopped what I was doing. “Oh, sweetie,” I said, cupping his chin in my hand. “Do you think that because I’m always telling you no, and stop it, and don’t do that to your brother?”

“Yeah,” he whispered, nestling his head into my waist. I stroked his hair, and wondered briefly how I could explain in a way a five-year-old would understand with head and heart why he’s nowhere near being a bad boy.

“I don’t believe in bad boys,” I explained. “There are … actions that aren’t great, sure, but the actions are the problem, not the person. And it’s not even that the actions are bad, usually. They’re more like … unskillful.”

Like me when my words have you believing you’re a bad boy.

Does this look like a bad boy?

I don’t see any bad boys here. None.

We talked about house fires maybe a month ago. A single light-hearted comment opened his eyes to the possibility that entire houses could burn down with everything still inside.

As when we talked about death some months ago, he was deeply concerned for his “babies.” He told me tearfully that he didn’t want to leave any of his toys behind.

“I understand you’re worried, sweetie,” I told him then. “But the thing is, we can replace every single toy in this room. We can just go down to Toys-R-Us and buy new ones. But there’s no Li’l-Ds-R-Us or Littler-Js-R-Us. If there’s a fire, we have to keep the people safe. We can’t replace people.” Read more…

A mirror worth looking through

My eyes are swollen. Deep purple crescent moons prop them up.

So bruised do they look, one woman asks if I am safe at home. Others have hinted concern.

But I am safe at home, and it is more than my eyes. My tongue is so thick I stumble over words I’ve spoken confidently since I was two.

“Ugh. I hate how I look,” I whisper to my reflection in the mirror.

“What?” pipes up my five-year-old. “Why?” He drops his toys and joins me next to the mirror. Read more…

I kicked a dog, and I DIDN’T like it

A little blur of brown shot out between two fenceposts a foot or two away. He was aimed directly at my 50-pound collie mix, Sai.

I wasn’t too fazed initially. Lots of small dogs come up running around here, but almost all are 100% more bark than bite. They shy away the first time I shout.

This pug came growling and latched onto my dog’s legs. I yanked Sai back so he couldn’t get the pug in his jaws, a situation so much more difficult to resolve. I shouted at the pug as I pulled my dog’s leash. I prayed I could deter the pug from its attack.

It was undeterred.

The next time it lunged, I kicked. I’ve had to try dislodging dogs from other dogs’ mouths, and it’s something I never want to do again.

Read more…

The trouble with willpower

mightyMy life changed two years ago today.

The change started small, but became bigger and scarier over the days and months that followed.

I didn’t accept it. I was invincible! I could do anything I wanted, if I only wanted it enough. Anything. It was only a matter of willpower.

Then Reality interjected herself. I remember clearly the moment I saw Reality unadorned by my own desires for her. My sister sounded so anxious talking with me and dropped off our phone call so abruptly, I saw that my perseverance wasn’t changing external circumstance. It was destroying my body in ways that were devastating my mind.

There, wrapped up in Reality’s too-tight embrace, I saw what had to change: me. I had to stop believing I could do or be anything. I had to stop nurturing the delusion that every single problem I faced could be overcome by my will alone. Read more…

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