with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: adulthood

Leslie’s “Yoga Every Day” Challenge: I can watch “This is Us” during yoga, right?

by SweetMidlife

I may have been watching a beloved fictional man die a heroic death while doing this yoga video. Or not. But probably.

Mondays always seem like a good time to start a challenge or a new thing, at least to me. There are theories for and against this logic, and of every diet or new habit I ever started on a Monday stuck, I’d have a body like Serena Williams, my room would be amazingly clean and I wouldn’t be stepping around shoes flung carelessly in a pile in the middle of the night.

I am still making my bed. Of course, I started that on a Saturday, so who knows?

Anyway, one of the things I have long tried to do in my life is a daily yoga practice. I’m not rich, nor do I have a nanny or an infinite amount of time, so I can’t go to either of the beloved studios within walking distance of my house every day, or even more than once in a blue moon. This is where Gaia.com, an online community chock full of yoga, lifestyle, spiritual and other videos, comes in (and no, this is not a paid post. There is no financial renumeration for what I’m writing, and I pay for my membership like everyone else.

There are offerings from beginner to advanced, and I’d say I’m a semi-advanced beginner. Perhaps not an absolute beginner, as David Bowie might say, but absolutely in the beginner-I-might-need-a-block-and-yes-this-is-as-far-as-I-bend zone. The Gaia people make it easy for us block-users, however, with some series that are geared to put you in the practice of having a practice. My favorite is “Yoga Every Day,” of which there are currently 358 episodes that run just 15-20 minutes. The site selects one of these for me a day, and since I keep forgetting to do it, I haven’t yet had the same one twice. This is a problem I’d like to have, honestly.

So since it’s Monday, and again, that seemed like a good time to do this, I am challenging myself to do one of these videos everyday for the next 30 days. They aren’t long, I can do them from my brand new yoga mat (also, incidentally, made by Gaia, and I bought that with my own cash, too) and they start my day in a good way because they make me do SOMETHING.

This morning’s was titled “Santosha,” the Sanskrit word for contentment, which at this point of great potential change in my life seems really appropriate. For me, it means that I hope that big things are coming for me, but that I am praying for contentment in my current state and appreciation and contentment in whatever those changes are. The teacher is Steph Schwartz, who I like because she has a calm voice and plays the accordion to start the class. It’s cool. I like her words about intent and peace, and know that she probably didn’t mean me to be playing last night’s “This Is Us” On Demand as I did this practice. But my DVR cut off the end and I only have so much time before my kid wakes up, so…Sorry, Steph.

I’m gonna be better. I have 30 days!

I made my bed today. Is my life going to change forever now?

by SweetMidlife

Just call me angel, on a made bed, angel!

Leslie here! I write you today from my hippie mommy grotto, lying on my scarf and twinkle light-strewn bed, which I made about a half hour ago.  You’re probably wondering why I’m making such a big deal out of making my bed, which I am, because it was cool that I did that and I rock. Because I am an adult person who learned the skill of bed-making roughly 40 years ago, one would assume it’s one I’d mastered.

And I have. I’m serious. I just never do it.

But there’s a train of thought, espoused by presumably put-together people like “The Power of Habit” author Charles Duhigg, that it’s worth it to take the time to tuck in my sheets, straighten up the comforter and even add some of these stuffed animals living around here doing nothing but being cute. Not only will it make my whole room look better, but it could be the first steps toward a great day, and even a great life.

Not convinced. But I’m listening.

Anyone who’s ever lived or gone on vacation with me knows that making my bed is not usually part of my morning routine (neither is neatly folding and putting away my clothes, but that’s a whole other situation.) It’s not intentional – I just don’t usually take the time to do it, because I feel super-busy from the moment I get up. I could blame it on being a mom, but I didn’t make my bed when I was childless, either. It’s not that I don’t know that doing so makes your room look prettier, and makes the bed a lot more inviting when you crawl into it at the end of the day.

I just don’t do it.

But this morning, after doing a yoga video and hanging up the clothes that have been looped over the footboard for a week, I changed my sheets that had child-deposited crumbs on them, replacing them with spiffy fresh-out-the-laundry ones, and then actually fluffed the pillows. I even moved the mail off and put it on my desk instead of just chucking it on a chair or something.

Why is this supposed to be important? Duhigg calls making the bed a “keystone habit,” that sets the tone for the rest of the day. He writes that “making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.”

He’s not the only one. According to the Huffington Post, there’s a whole mess of evidence that making the bed is important because it not only gives you a sense of pride (because you’re not a Messy Leslie) but because it sets an intention. I know about intention from yoga, the idea that everything in your life, from your yoga practice to what you eat to how you dress, is done thoughtfully and with purpose. And that makes so much sense – For instance, I am much more likely to stick to my healthy diet if I plan my meals. Ditto for my workouts – saying “I’ll probably fit it in at some point sometime today most likely yeah that’s the ticket” never works for me. I do better when I either do it first thing in the morning or plan some activity where there’s accountability, like meeting my trainer at the gym or walking my son to school with my mom. Even stronger than my messiness is my aversion to letting anyone down.

So this is where making the bed comes in – If I can take the time to do the most basic thing, just putting back together the bed I just got out of, that sets that intention – there’s that word again – to then make sure I do other things that should be habits, like flossing, or putting my shoes back neatly on the rack, or putting my son’s lunch bag on the doorknob so I don’t forget it. And that’s all before I left the house.

I am not expecting my life to change overnight – I’ve been loose-goosey with the organization and such for 46 years, so these bad habits aren’t going to be changed overnight. But the only way to see a change is to start one. Even a little one. Be the change you want to see in the world, they say.

My bed’s that first change. And it’s super pretty, too!

It’s 2018! Doing my part to make it less of a dumpster fire than 2017!

by SweetMidlife

We wish you a Happy New Year!


Happy 2018, ya’ll! This is Leslie, who is sitting at Lynne’s kitchen table with a cup of coffee and a whole lot of grandiose plans about what I’m definitely going to and not going to do over the next 12 months.

This is largely speculative nonsense.

There is no way that we can say exactly what we’re gonna do in the future because we don’t control it. Stuff happens – death, hurricanes, job losses, illness – that throw the most monkiest of wrenches into the best laid plans of mice and men (and yes I mixed some metaphors and references that don’t belong to together. Have now made them a thing. They’re a thing now.) Elections go drastically differently than we expected. Friends and family members don’t show up the way we expected. Everything, as Dog’s Eye View once said, falls apart.

So should we just pack it in and go back to bed until 2019? Of course not. That’s unrealistic and unless you’re independently wealthy you probably have to work, as you have found that American Express doesn’t accept “fear-based inertia” as payment. There’s a lot happening in my life that is uncertain – my newspaper is being sold and I have no idea what that means for my job and my future . I’m trying to sell a book. My lease is up soon. My kid insists on getting older and needs stuff.

I mean, we can plan. Plans are good. Will and self-control are good. I plan to work out every day and hit my 10,000 steps on ye old Fitbit. This is something I am resolved to do. However, if my kid gets sick and I have to schedule a doctor’s appointment during my appointed workout time, or if it rains and I can’t go running, or if work just rears its unpredictable head and completely throws my schedule for a loop, that might not happen every single day. I could maybe try to go to the gym instead and get 8000. Or do some sort of video when my kid goes to bed and not just sit in my room and catch up on “The Bachelor.” Plans can change. Our intention for those plans can remain steadfast. Maybe I have to get 15,000 tomorrow.

That does not solve my love of potato chips. It doesn’t change racism, or sexism, or nuclear war. It doesn’t guarantee my job. But here’s what it does do – it makes me healthier and more alert. It gives me meditation time that is all my own to talk to God or to myself or sing Night Ranger songs real loud, because Night Ranger workouts are a thing and if you don’t know this you are missing out. It gives me more energy to write better at my job and to pitch this book, which is good and you should buy it when it’s out. It makes me more likely to be prepared to make my lunch before my son wakes, ensuring more control over the healthiness of it and that I’m not spending more money than I should on lunches out. It gives me preparation for the rest of the day, physically and emotionally and makes all the other stuff coming at me easier to manage. I can’t control that stuff. But I can at least try to walk around my room a couple of times and give some thanks and hum Night Ranger’s “The Secret of My Success” to myself as encouragement while dodging that stuff. (And as the song says, that secret is that I’m living 25 hours a day. 22 of which involve avocado products.)

This doesn’t mean that no one I love will be sick or die, or that I can’t lose my job, or that I will sell my book. It just means that I can control one little part of it, the part that is mine. I can try to be a better friend, a better mother and daughter and sister. I can be neater and on time and write things down in my calendar. I can be a better listener and put my phone away. That doesn’t stop everyone’s chaos but it can at least lighten mine.

We don’t know what 2018 has in store for us – as I wrote earlier, 2017 sucked in a lot of ways but that’s relative to what happened to you in 2016 or 2015. It’s going to be big – I know that big changes are coming for me and that hopefully they’re really good. And if they’re not, I hope I can learn from them. That’s all I can do. Besides finish this coffee and go dance to “Sister Christian” in the corner till my kid comes back downstairs.


2017 was really awful. Taylor Swift personally had a good year. So did I. Fight me.

by SweetMidlife




We were happy in 2017, happier than in 2015. And that’s true.

This is Leslie! In 2015, I lost my husband Scott, making 2015 the worst year in my life so far. It handily beat 2012, the previous title holder and the year my father died. 2012 was also the year that Barack Obama won a second term and the year that my nephew Alex, a human so unspeakably cute that he may not be human (shhh!), was born. So good things happened that year – some wonderful things, but the overall mood, for me, was crappy, because my daddy died. Does that make sense? It was a bad year for me, but that doesn’t negate the good things that happened.

2017, in general, has been a dumpster fire for much of the world. As a newspaper reporter I’m not supposed to get into the political nitty-gritty (hello ethics!) but it’s not political to say that neo-Nazis are bad, murder is bad, racism is bad and not supporting health care for needy kids and old people is evil. 2017 is also the year that Roy Moore, a man who thinks that life was peaches when my ancestors were slaves, got defeated, that monsters like Harvey Weinstein got called out and some heads that needed toppling got toppled. Personally, it was the year that I became vegan, lost 10 pounds, continued to have a great relationship with my mom, who moved in with me to raise my son, got some health stuff under control, celebrated the first anniversary of my child’s adoption, rekindled my relationship with my father-in-law, who got to meet his grandson, and finished my first book.

That  is a good year. It does not negate the dumpster fire, but it does shine a nice light in the distance. Apparently Taylor Swift, a woman of whom I am not a fan but whose success and hard work are undeniable, had a good year, too. She released a hit album. She successfully sued a radio host for groping her, gave strong testimony and took her place in the pantheon of women who said #metoo, when she didn’t have to. She also just had a birthday, and wrote on Instagram that she could not have had a better year. She didn’t say that everything was great. She didn’t say “Screw you people.”

She said she had a good year. And people freaked out on her. They called her tone deaf and privileged. And maybe she is. But she’s also a person who’s made buckets of cash for writing about the crap in her personal life. So y’all gonna drag her when something goes right? She wasn’t talking about y’all. She wasn’t saying everything was awesome. She dared to have a great day. Let her live, OK?

2017 has been the worst for a lot of people that I love, with personal illnesses and scary uncertainty for jobs and livelihoods. The overall scope of this year might be a dumpster fire. But there are victories. There are good days. And if one of those people said “This amazing thing happened to me today” and some stranger said “You’re evil to be happy at all because polar bears are dying” I would fight them. We can be aware and vigilant in this fight against evil. But we can also celebrate the good days. Because we have them. I did. So did Taylor Swift.

Hopefully we will have more of them soon.

Coleslaw, Loss, and Perspective

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne! We haven’t written all summer, so I hope it was a good one. I am writing this gingerly because I had surgery on my left index finger last week, and I am writing with it sticking up in the air. This will be short :).

Today marks 20 years since the death of Britain’s Princess Diana, and seeing all of the specials and articles that have been commemorating the day, I remember where Leslie and I were when we found out about the Princess’ death. We were dealing with an overabundance of prepared salads and disappointment.

Our dad, Ed, was about to turn 50 years old, and Leslie, my mom, and I had planned a surprise birthday party for him that weekend. It was actually about 3 weeks before his actual birthday, but because my parents were living in Charleston, SC at the time and were planning on coming north that weekend, it seemed like a wonderful time to get our MD family together. We planned the shindig for a Sunday, in the backyard of the house in York, PA, where Leslie had an upstairs apartment that she called “The Hallway”because it was really narrow. It was a great hangout, and we were really looking forward to celebrating our dad with people who loved him so much. Leslie had even ordered like gallons of potato salad, macaroni salad, coleslaw and tuna salad from a caterer, and we were feeling very accomplished, and we were all ready to pick them up on Sunday morning, and get our salad and our party on at the same time.

So, on Saturday, I was headed up the Baltimore Washington Parkway, headed to Leslie’s, when I got a call from Mommy, who said the thing that you don’t want the people you have planned a surprise party for to say, and that was this : “Lynne, we’re not coming.”

Say who now?

I pulled over at a gas station, because I knew that this was going to be something I needed to be still for to hear.

My dad spent most of his professional career in transportation management, and at that point, was managing the school bus contract between the company he worked for, and the Charleston school system. This was right before school was to start for the year, and things weren’t going smoothly, and since he had no idea that we were planning a party, he decided that they couldn’t leave, and that they could just come home the next weekend.


So, she had to tell him about the party, but his duty was still to his job, so we had to call everyone and tell them that the party wasn’t happening that weekend. And we still had to take possession of all that prepared salad, because the lady had already made it. And we were bummed. We wanted the party now, darn it, because we had planned, and because we missed our parents, and because this isn’t how it was supposed to go, and we had a lot of tuna salad to eat now. Between my mom and us, we let everyone know, and we went to Leslie’s room, and fell asleep with the TV on, feeling sorry for ourselves.

I woke up in the middle of the night, and the news was on, and it was talking about what had happened in Paris. I woke Leslie up.

“Leslie, the Princess died.”

And we were snapped out of our sleep and mostly our disappointment over missed parties. Because two young boys had suffered more than the loss of plans. They had lost their mom. And the whole world was seeing it. I have no idea how long we stayed up, crying in disbelief, but I know that our attitudes changed, because we would see our parents next week. And after we went back to sleep, we got up and picked up the salads, and Leslie had friends come over, and we ate. And the next week, my parents came, and we had the party, and it was glorious. The picture at the top of this post was taken there. And you see happiness and relief at being together.

And this is what’s important. Well, parties are important, because they celebrate life, and life is precious. My dad died 15 years later, at 64, 3 months before his 65th, breaking our hearts, and also missing out on the really good senior-citizen discounts, a thing he was really looking forward to. I write this not to make you sad, but to implore you to make the memories that make the pictures, and enjoy your lives, and roll with the changes and the plethora of mayo-based foods. Enjoy your people. They are what is important.

Playdate Junction in Elkridge, Maryland Takes Care of Kids AND Their Parents

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne! I have been planning on writing this post for about a month, but it got delayed because of job and family stuff. And for that, I apologize, because I really want to share with you the awesomeness that is Play Date Junction, a fantastic place owned and birthed by my friend Portia Bates. There are a million ways in which she is fab, but if you don’t read any further than this, I want you to see this: If you are a parent of little kids and you are anywhere near Elkridge, MD, you should check out Play Date Junction, the play space that she owns whose slogan is “Where We Serive Children While Shamelessly Catering to Their Parents”. If you don’t read anymore, I hope it’s because you are grabbing your keys and also your kid and skedaddling to 6020 Meadowridge Drive, Elkridge, MD 20175.

Yay! You’re still here. So now I can tell you more.

I met Portia about a year ago when I invited members of the local blogging group I belong to to a special performance of my theater company’s first show. Portia was a part of that group, and she brought her kids to the show, and afterwards, told me about her in-the-work plans of opening a play space. It would be that welcoming and inviting to kids, but even more, would be a place for parents to socialize with each other. As a mom who is an entrepreneur, but also one who struggled with feeling isolated as a new parent, I was intrigued by not only her idea and how it could really better the lives of parents, but by her determination to make this a reality. This was April of 2016, and after several buildings falling through, Portia found the perfect spot in the fall, and was open by October.

But let’s backtrack a bit. Portia is the mother of two girls, and while she experienced the wonderfulness that comes with parenting humans, she also went through something not so wonderful, but just as common: the lack of connection with other parents. Finding time to see friends is hard, Portia says, “Because everyone is booked. Your life is so planned, and it is hard to fit (socialization) into that”. And as much as she enjoyed spending time with her kids, she was missing something, because “I really like to do other things, and to have a life” outside of that. This need to care for her kids and grow them, as well as recognizing her own need for friends, conversation, and a change of scenery inspired her to open Play Date Junction. And it’s a wonderful place.

Don’t you want to go there?

It may look like a standard play place, but it is anything but. PDJ is 90% open play: this means that you can pretty much come anytime that they are open. The main room is designed so that a parent can walk around the space with their kid, or, as Portia says, “They can plant themselves and let their kids go” on the inside playground equipment, as well as the fully-equipped dress-up station.
Parents and kids can also sit at a craft table and make things, color, or read together. You don’t even have to leave when you get hungry because you can bring your lunch and eat it there and then get back to the fun.

This is where Playdate Junction does the shameless catering to parents. There is a self-serve complimentary coffee and tea bar, where you can get your caffeine on. There is also a relaxation room, a dimly lit space decorated with candles and a lavender oil diffuser. It is a place for parents to come and sit and chill. It is also a great place to nurse, or bring your child if they get overstimulated outside. It is an oasis in the middle of an oasis.

Playdate Junction really serves the whole family, and the whole community, even offering meet-ups for special groups of folks on certain days, including Grandparents as Caregiver Tuesdays, a Family Date Night on Fridays, and Sensory-Friendly Mondays, with no loud music and no lavender smell in the relaxation suite. They have really considered what a family might need, because strong parents make strong kids. You can drop in for a visit, or buy memberships, which give you big discounts if you are a frequent visitor.

I hope that if you are in the area you can visit Playdate Junction, because both you and your kid need a place where you are both happy. Seriously. You might not hear that enough, tired parent. But it’s true. Take care of your kid and take care of you.

Hair grease, yoga and happy birthdays (plus a giveaway at the end)

by SweetMidlife

Hi!! It’s Lynne! It’s been about a month since Leslie and I have posted on this here blog, first because we kept meaning to get around to it and didn’t, and then because our web host shut down our site for a bit because we were getting too many spam comments! We’ve fixed that, the time and the spam thing, so now we’re back, peeps!

So, there is a bunch of stuff that we want to write about, including an upcoming post about an amazing friend who started a business to take care of other moms (that is coming next week), and a post where Leslie was going to interview me about my theater that does shows for kids, because we have shows coming up this weekend and I really want people to come, and we might still do that. But not now. Because today is about me, and that’s about me too, but it’s about me having me time. Leslie actually just wrote about that, so we Streeter Girls are into that.

My son has school in the morning, so I decided to do something fun for me. There is an yoga studio around the corner from me that I have never been too, because I have talked myself out of it when I could go to the gym I used to attend or just do it at home. But this seemed like the day to let that go. So I had my son dressed and ready for school, and he looked extra cute, because it’s picture day at school. And I put on my yoga-iest outfit, and I grabbed the brush to brush his hair….. and I was greeted with an oil slick. Because he decided to put like a half pound of hair grease on himself as a way to help me out. Yeah.

I can’t even.

So I tried to wash it out without giving him a shower, but that didn’t work, so I gave him a shower and washed his hair, and there was still a 1/4 pound of grease left, and then I dressed him, and then he said he wanted to wear his fire fighter outfit in the pictures, and I was like YES because there is a hat involved, and you wouldn’t see the Eddie Munster of it all in his streaked head, and I scraped out more grease, and brushed it, and then we finally got to school, and they said that the pictures would be taken during chapel so he couldn’t wear the hat then but he looked less Munster-ish and maybe like a small skunk. It’s a’ight.

So then I went to yoga, and I didn’t have a mat or towel and they loaned me one and it was so chill, and I could do a lot of the poses, but not all of them, and that was okay, because it didn’t matter, and I wasn’t self-conscious in a bad way but I just focused on me and my breath and my joy and it was awesome. And I thanked the teacher at the end and I said that it was my first time there and she said “But not your first time at yoga?” and I said that no, I had practiced before, and she said she could tell, and that made me feel nice, even though I often felt like I was doing a new yoga pose called “The Waiting Uncoordinated Person”. But that was all good. Because I felt awesome. And I feel awesome. And there are still 12 hours left in my birthday!

Because I’m HAPPY!!

I often have these expectations for special days like birthdays, and Christmas, and I feel like I only have specified times to breathe and take care of me, and that feels like more pressure, and I measure my good time against some target I can’t even explain or quantify. But starting with last Christmas, I decided to not do that. To just enjoy the day, and the birth of Jesus, and the Chinese food and the friends who are family. And it was wonderful. And that is what I am doing today. No expectations that it has to be the best day. Just doing what I can.

And that makes it the best day.

So if you are still reading this, I would love for you to tell me of a time where you just went with it and took care of yourself, and if that hasn;t happened in awhile, tell me how you would LIKE to do that. Write in the comments below, and I will pick a person to give 2 tickets to my theater’s upcoming family shows in Hanover, MD this Saturday. Cool?

It’s all about ME: Jealously guarding your time to yourself, no matter what

by SweetMidlife


Getting to the root of the matter

This is Leslie, and this is a picture of me getting my highlights done. It is not the cutest photo in the world, nor would it ever see the light on my eHarmony or Match.com profiles, if I had not run fleeing from those sites because they have produced not a daggone thing for your girl. But there is something very vital, even beautiful happening here. See that smile under all those ridiculous and lovely foils? It’s the look of a mom who’s getting to sit in a chair for a few hours dedicated only to making her a more gorgeous, happy version of herself.

There was also day wine. But that smile was mostly because of the Me Time.

Me Time is important. I don’t think I really understood that when all of my time was Me Time, when I was single, and even after I got married, before my son. In a weird way, even my job is sometimes Me Time, at least the times when I’m writing first-person columns about my life or opinions. But it’s not really Me Time, because I’m on the clock, with parameters set by someone else on just how much Me I share, and when. Even still, before my little Brooks was in the picture, the time when I wasn’t at the office was mine, focused on what I needed and wanted. I could get up at 5:30 a.m. and go to Boot Camp, and as long as I was done in time for my next interview it was cool. I didn’t have to feed and dress another human being, look for something semi-nutritious to throw in his lunch bag, wipe the syrup off of the tablet I thought I told him not to use while eating waffles but am too tired to walk across the kitchen and take. Picking my battles. Deciding whether to count the calorie or two in the syrup I just licked off the finger I wiped the syrup off the tablet with.

I know I am not telling any of you who are parents, or other sorts of caretakers, anything about the lack of You Time, of really focusing on yourself. And I don’t mean painting your nails while you make lunch, or scarfing down an extra bag of Cheez-its while you wait for your conference call. I’m talking about taking at least an hour to get your own nails done – no returning work emails! – or taking yourself to a lunch and keeping your laptop in the bag. I’m talking about having a conversation that you’re not watching the clock during, or watching an episode of whatever you want without interruption from someone demanding “Paw Patrol.”

And not feeling guilty about it. And not making excuses, or cutting it short for anything less than an emergency. And knowing you deserve it.

You do, you know. I do. Even when I think I don’t. So there’s the story behind that smile, goofy under the foils. It’s the look of someone who was, before this photo, fighting the urge to check my email or do something about my grocery list. And guess what? Work went on without me. Nobody starved. But me? I got to breathe. I got new hair. I got to have a fun talk about pop culture and random conspiracies with my stylist who is also my friend. I spent hundreds of bucks on myself and I didn’t mostly feel bad about it. (I did for a few seconds and then was like ‘Thank you, New Hair!)

I can’t do it all the time, because then no one would eat, or have anywhere to live, and I’d get fired and don’t nobody want that. But in this moment, with all the shiny foils, I was all about Leslie. Because she deserves that.

Happy Isn’t Always the Point, and Disappointment Happens, But That’s Okay!!

by SweetMidlife

HI! It’s Lynne. We haven’t written in a bunch, so hi!

So we have had an exciting few days here at my house. We have been fighting all kinds of sinus grossness, then last week I was diagnosed with bronchitis. In the middle of the ick, though, has been some fun, like the birthday party that our son went to on Saturday, where he did gymnastics stuff, then came home and went with the birthday friends to our local playground, where he jumped and ran, and then back home, where he tripped on a stick in the front yard and fractured his leg. So, our weekend looked different than we planned, with ER and ortho visits, but there was also lots of eating in the living room, which we don’t usually do, and lounging and carryout and eating fun things like Lunchables from the hospital vending machine. Life is like that, especially when you are trying to adult. You make adjustments, and even though you go through lengths to try to make your kids not so disappointed that things are different, you hope that they know in the end that you are doing what you can without passing out.

And sometimes they don’t.

My son’s cast that my husband performed Spider-Man and Sharpie magic on

This morning, the little boy and I were supposed to hang out with friends of ours, another mommy and little boy pair, and it was going to be awesome. Except I woke up this morning feeling sinus-y again, and I already have a work commitment tonight, and our house looks too crazy to have them over here, and a restaurant play place would not work with the cast, so I decided to reschedule. Which made the little boy who lives here unhappy. And my friend (the other mom) and I were on the phone trying to work out all kinds of ways to still see them elsewhere, but that was getting complicated, and we just decided to wait to get together for a few days. And I knew that this wasn’t going to make my son happy, and that made me pause for a second, but I quickly realized, with my dad’s voice echoing in my head (I miss you Daddy!!), that this was okay.

Because my son has not just the necessities like a home and clothing and food and love, but he has perks like the internet and ice cream and several couches and lots of toy trucks. We aren’t trying to toughen him up by making him eat hardened bread crusts and walk 2 miles to preschool. But making other people happy isn’t always the best thing for them if….

…It makes YOU unhappy or sick. We make sacrifices for the peeps we love, but me not getting better helps nobody.
…It teaches them that it is okay if other people are unhappy or sick as long as they have what they want
…It teaches them that momentary happy, which I personally find awesome, is always more important than anything else ever
…They think that they are owed everything that they want like donuts every time you pick them up from school, which is awesome because donuts, but you do eat them a lot and then that time you really just need to go home because it’s late and also there is a limit to donuts, they say that they never get to do ANYTHING, and because they aren’t going now they will NEVER HAVE DONUTS AGAIN EVER and you NEVER do nice things for them.

So. We aren’t going to see our friends today and that is fine. We will see them in a few days. And we might go around the corner and get a treat later that’s closer because I am still into fun and happiness. Because it’s cool. But so are other things. Treats among the other things are good.

We’ll be okay.


Pamela Smart, TV murder and who’s writing your story in the New Year

by SweetMidlife
Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Bang your own drum, or be content with someone else doing it for you. And that means they get to pick the tune.

Leslie here! One of my New Year’s resolutions – yeah, they’re mostly poppycock, but hear me out – is to spend less time reading other people’s writing and actually writing myself. I’m a writer after all. Says so on my business card and my tax returns. It’s almost embarrassing how not proactive I’ve been, particularly when you consider that I always thought I was. But if you don’t take careful possession of who you actually appear to be, and who is telling your truth, you are doomed. Like, “doomed” if you were reading it in Vincent Price’s voice. Like you’re screwed.

I was reminded of this on New Year’s Day, watching “Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart,” a 2014 HBO documentary that’s not so much about the murder of a young husband by his wife’s teen lover and his friends that she’s accused of setting up, but why we think we know what we know about it. Smart, a former school New England school media coordinator who is serving life without parole for engineering the plot, still maintains her innocence, and director Jeremiah Zagar seems to think that’s possible. But that’s not what his movie is about. It’s about how Smart herself was set up as the unfortunate subject of a “ripped-from-the-headlines” culture in the early ’90s, before myriad studies on how media coverage effects both juries and public opinion. There were several books, a widely-scene TV movie starring Helen Hunt and even a wickedly excellent Gus Van Zandt movie, “To Die For” that was loosely based on the case. Even though the movies came after the verdict, there is evidence that they have tainted any chance Smart has of getting a new trial. Person after person involved in the case, from co-conspirators to reporters to even the filmmakers and writers who recorded it as history, admit that they have a hard time separating fact from fiction. They sometimes forget which details were in evidence and which were lines spouted by Helen Hunt on a TV set.

It’s eerie to imagine that a real woman could be sitting in jail for the rest of her life – she’s spent more than half of it there already – because she had the dumb luck of falling into a salacious situation of her own making. It possessed all sorts of nasty little made-for-Geraldo details like the seduction of a teen boy,  old found bikini photos made to look like they were taken explicitly to seduce the kid, a secret, damning tape and the like. Smart’s defense team, who decided that they didn’t want to try the case in the press, didn’t insist that she tell her own story. What they didn’t appreciate is that this story was going to be told for her, in so many televised testimonies and talk show punditry. Watching the court of public opinion bury Smart two decades later, in glorious early-90s big hair and shoulder pads, is claustrophobic, because of what we know now about how media can bury or salvage you depending on its whims. The case predated the present Casey Anthonys and even the Dalia Dippolitos – troubled women with a whiff of sexual inappropriateness and big doe eyes that make people either want to save them or smack them. Maybe they’re all guilty. But if they weren’t – like if there was video of someone else committing their crimes – some people would still refuse to believe it because we’ve all discussed it and decided that they did it.

So what I’m saying is this – whether you’re the First Lady or the lunch lady, you are a public person to someone. There are people who are curious about you, who are forming opinions about you based on your Facebook profile or your last ten Tweets, or your Pinterest boards or even what they saw you buy at the Winn-Dixie last week. They probably don’t even realize that these opinions are being formed, but they are being formed, all the same. I respect the right of everyone to have their own lives, to curate the details of those lives accordingly and to not have to justify anything they do to a bunch of strangers. But “Captivated” reminded me that if you don’t take an active role in telling your own story, it’s still being told. I will take that lesson this year as a person who posts about working out but doesn’t lose weight because I keep eating things you don’t see, as a writer who sometimes spends too much time watching TV someone else wrote and not writing herself. Stuff like that. I can say I’m one thing, in all the Pinterest and Facebook and Twitter I want, but if I don’t actively inhabit those things, I am not them. I am telling a different story. Be aware of who you are and how your life tells that story. It might be speaking louder than your words.

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