Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Call me Crazy, But...

For every wonderful, responsible, caring, completely sane woman who has been called "crazy" stupid" "bitch," or all the above by the guy in her life simply because she is really, really upset about something for more than, say, three minutes, some strong, sisterly advice:

Crazy means shut up, I don't want to hear your pain.

Stupid means shut up, you are asking me to be accountable.

Bitch means shut up, you are ruining my fun. 

And some more advice: if things are at the point where someone is calling you these -- or other -- names, it is time to access your inner bitch and really go crazy...for your own good.

Turn into a maniac of self-actualization. Be a lunatic of reinvention. Be a batty advocate for your own happiness.

Girlfriend, a name-calling partner is no partner.

Recognize. And make some decisions.

Here's my professional diagnosis: you haven't been crazy enough.

So go mental.

To do anything less is stupid.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Day after Mother's Day

Last week, in the midst of a phone convo with a super-successful, beautiful and high-spirited friend of mine, I confessed to having fallen into a funk.

My candor acted as a key into an inner chamber where truth resided; in an instant, my friend dropped her upbeat demeanor and shared that she, too, had been depressed as of late.

The thing is, our lives are hardly mirror images, though we are both writers. In fact, we represent two distinct groups: I am a mother of three while my friend is single and childless.

And yet...and yet...we both found ourselves in this age and stage of life feeling sad, out of balance, wondering if it was yet possible to grab hold of our dreams.

Our conversation continued while I took the dogs out for a walk, texted two of my three kids, shopped at a local food market and cooked dinner. She chatted from her couch, where she ate salad. The distinctively different backgrounds of our conversation brought our dissimilar situations into starker relief.

She was responsible to no one and could focus on our call while I was a multi-tasking maniac. I had the family and all that comes with it; she was alone but free to pursue her personal and professional goals in an uncompromised way.

As the lack of family looms large for her and she originally viewed my life as belonging to someone who had the very thing she craved -- i.e. -- as someone who "had it all" -- she was astonished to hear the depths of my sadness.

She hadn't imagined that the very thing I lacked could cause me such pain.

We spoke for nearly two hours, examining how it was both personal choice and factors outside our control that shaped our lives' path. We shared a bracing moment of female rage against the unfair advantage that men had, their ability to grab what they want, whether it was a young wife when they reached middle aged, or an unimpeded path to their own professional success.

Women often are forced to make choices that men do not have to make.

My beautiful loving friend expressed sorrow for the mate and children she did not (yet) have. I mourned work that hadn't yet been published.

Sharing our separate sadness, we realized that we were hardly separated by our external differences.

What we shared was a sense of incompletion. Gazing at it together, it felt less like an abyss and more like an opportunity.

Organically, we began encouraging the other, offering insight and suggestions, analyzing the other's position. We helped each other contextualize the lives we had; we did not deny that the sadness was legitimate but sought a proactive response. We became each other's cheerleaders and project managers. We lifted each other up.

So it is with the best of female friendships.

In this realm, I am truly blessed and hope I have given as well as I have received.

On the day after Mother's Day, I salute the sisterhood that is the source of sustenance for those who hold the world aloft. On this day forward, I toast the power of candor and the bravery it takes to confess our failures to one another so that we might recover the key to our successful transcendence.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Power of the Yenta (Mother's Day Edition)

I have a big mouth, by which I mean that I am prone to sharing, perhaps even over-sharing personal thoughts and experiences with friends and strangers alike.

And over the 50-plus years of my life, I have found that this penchant is valuable...as it opens the door for others to share and share alike.

As a writer, I have been compelled to share my truth. Sometimes loudly.

The reward is that it empowers others to share theirs back.

You see, my hunch is that often, the upsetting thought or experience I am going through is not uniquely my own. The insight I have just gained, or even, the hunch that I have, might just be universal.

So, I put it out there...and reap the results.

This year has been a significant year in the Urban Bungalow. Little Babe left for college, which means that HOBB and I are now officially Empty Nesters.

Aside from one maudlin weekend before we drove him to Muhlenberg College and I could not stop crying thinking that my youngest was now ready for college, I have celebrated this transition as I have loved the immersive, holistic and sometimes overwhelming fact of my motherhood and felt prepared for the next phase.

I have no regrets. I cannot separate the experience of raising my three kids -- now nearly 30, 26 and 19 -- from the person I am today. Becoming a mom at 23, my entire adult life was intertwined with my mommyhood. It was bumpy and it was messy and we did not prepare for this financially, but what an adventure, watching three remarkable people unfold, become themselves, because of me and despite of me, because of us and despite us.

There has been also the promise of the Empty Nest, an opportunity to reclaim that which I have put on hold. There are my deferred dreams, twinkling tantalizingly on the horizon. There has been the delicious prospect of dating HOBB, reclaiming or even discovering anew the power of our partnership. There has been the promise of creative collaboration.

I have had a lot invested in this moment.

So, when I was overwhelmed by feelings of sadness and rage lately, I was surprised.

The year began with such promise. I was soaring. Why did I crash?

So, I put on my Yenta lenses. I began sharing. I began hearing.

I started realizing I was onto something.

I realized I was hardly alone.

Here is my Huffington Post column for Mother's Day, written for every working mother married to a wonderful man who finds herself crashing just about now, at the end of the first "semester" of the Empty Nest.


I think I nailed a nugget of truth for women such as myself.

So, return the Yenta favor. Write and share your feelings.

And if you disagree with what I wrote, let me know as well.

Happy Mother's Day!