with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: adulthood

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.


2016: The year that was…sucky…and great…and a good set-up for something better

by SweetMidlife
Keep on rocking in the new year!

Keep on rocking in the new year!

This is Leslie, who does not write nearly as much as she should on this blog. My previous excuse has been that I write full-time as a newspaper columnist so I don’t always want to sit down and write some more, but time is money, and as a single mother I can tell you that making money is worth my time. So even though we don’t really make any money on this labor of love because we don’t write enough, we certainly won’t make any if we don’t write. Synergy and stuff.

So this is why I’m up at 1-ish a.m. on the last day of 2016, briefly writing about how even though this year sucked for so many reasons, it was OK or even transcendent in some cases. Yes, yes, I’m talking about the same year that killed Prince, David Bowie, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds, Glenn Frey and George Michael, among others. (Hide, Betty White!) And then there’s the fact of some major nastiness, racism and ugliness that seems to be bolder about showing itself. It was always there,  but now it’s just braver and not hiding (and if you’re attempting to blame racism on people who note that there is racism, this blog is not for you and you can go now, seriously. Get out of here with that mess.)

But bad and good things happen in every year – 2015 was the year I lost my husband, and 2016 was the year that the adoption of our son became final. So I’m a bigger fan of 2016. I am sure that in all of your lives, there are highs and lows in any 12-month period. I can’t speak for you, but here is a list of the reasons that 2017 might be better than 2016:

1) If 2016 did not kill you, you can make 2017 better.

Yep, that’s it. That’s my list. If you are still breathing, you have the opportunity to find something about 2017 to like. I am not attempting to downplay the very real pain that you may have about politics, or that rise in nastiness and sharp drop in courtesy and civility. It sucks. It’s real. And it might get worse before it gets better. (Again, go hide somewhere, Betty White, until the smoke clears.)

But let me lay something real on you – in 2015 I got the wind kicked out of me. In an instant I was a widow, a single mom, the primary breadwinner and a matriarch. Stuff got real. I was doubled over. And then I crawled to my feet and kept moving. I am not a hero. I am not special. I am not Beyonce. I’m a person who had to keep breathing, broken heart and all. For a while, I was just treading water. But now I’m doing something approximating thriving. It’s not the way I would have defined that before, but I now have some joy. And a new beginning. 2016 was a new beginning for my family – actually, everything that came after my husband’s death in July 2015 was a new beginning. And this year represents another one.

It is another year to fight the injustice we see, to slap down ignorance and buffalo racism, sexism, homophobia and other isms and phobias till they run screaming. It’s another year to lick our wounds, to regroup, It’s another year to hug your babies, to kiss your partner, to fall in love. To love on your mama and your grandma, or, if you don’t have one of those, to hold close whoever you have. It is a year to be better.

Because we are still here. Which is better than the alternative. Happy 2017, guys. It might not be the most awesome new year, but it’s awesome because it’s a new year we have.


Things a mom thinks about at 2:25 a.m., five hours before she’s supposed to work out

by SweetMidlife
bed

Scene of the 2:30-something mind crime.

 

This is Leslie. It is 2:25 a.m. As the great Wanda Sykes once said, women’s brains are so full of tasks and thoughts and things we have to do that we can’t get to sleep because even the minute stuff like not being able to remember the name of a teacher we haven’t seen in 30 years just won’t leave us alone. This is happening to me right now. Here is the dumb, deep and sleep-depriving stuff in my head right now. I wish it was not in my brain, because I would like to go to bed now.

You certainly don’t want them in your head, too. But here you are – I have too much on the brain to be charitable at this point,. You understand, of course. You’re awake, too. Shouldn’t you be sleeping?

THINGS I AM THINKING ABOUT AT 2:25 a.m. INSTEAD OF SLEEPING

– “Why am I awake?

– “It has taken me four hours to get through this two-hour finale of ‘Secrets and Lies.’ I wonder if anyone watches this but me, Michael Ealy is fine. I’ve almost grown attached to Juliette Lewis’ character, and she’s kind of awful. i hope they don’t cancel this. They always cancel the shows I get attached to. Dang. Now I’m worried about ‘Blackish.’ Please don’t cancel ‘Blackish,’ Jesus.”

“Jesus doesn’t cancel TV shows, right? He’s busy, right?”

“I finally finished that assignment for work I should have done before I feel asleep. Win for me? Does procrastination count as a win? Whatever. Taking it. TAKING THIS WIN.”

“I am super hungry. I didn’t eat enough last night,. Didn’t I leave some veggie chili in the bowl? I wonder if it;’s in the fridge. Did I put it in the fridge? I wonder if it’s still good if I didn’t put it in the fridge? Or did I leave it on the counter? It’s got light sour cream on it. Is that real dairy? I wouldn’t get that sick, right?”

“Maybe I shouldn’t eat counter chili.”

“I love ‘The Affair’ even if I don’t like any of these horrible people. They’re awful. But they have great apartments. Great kitchens. I like my kitchen. It has chili on the counter.”

“I really ought to get off the stick and get a hotel for Disney this weekend. I canceled the one I had because I am convinced there is a cheaper one out there. Hotwire is an addiction and I need to get help. But…the…deals! There are deals out there and I shall find them. They are the Precious and I am Black Smeagol.”

“I am still so hungry. If I eat right now I can’t weigh myself this morning because it won’t be the real weight. Then again I had hash browns and bourbon for lunch so I probably tanked that thing already. I should eat.”

“I have to sleep, man. I have to work out at 7:15, and if I don’t leave on time the kid will wake up and I’ll have to take him, too, and that running stroller and him together weigh like 70 pounds and he’s a weight wearing an Afro, At least he holds the phone up so I can hear the Andy Grammar song he’s playing. He’s a little DJ.”

“I need to figure out how to make more money. Like, now. I should read that book my friend Kim had me buy about platforms, that I never read, thus I am sitting here at…what…2:47 a.m. now wondering how to get a platform to make money. She’s always right. And she’s got a platform. I bet she’s not asleep either.”

“Maybe I’ll write on that blog I never write on. That’s a platform.”

‘I wonder if that chili’s still down there.”


It’s Not Your Puppy, or Being Happy For Other People When They Have the Thing You Wanted

by SweetMidlife

Hi!! It’s Lynne! Ir’s been a long time since I have written, mostly because I have been busy with the the theater I founded and run, Building Better People. We do professional theater for a kid audience, as well as classes for kids, and everything that we do is based around themes of kindness and respect and forgiveness. We had a show yesterday, and one of the lines of the play stuck out in my head, not only because I wrote it, but because I realized that I needed to hear that message preached to myself. Oh yes.

The play is called ‘We Got It!”, and it’s about empathy, and the second scene of the show is a game show called “How Would You Feel If Someone Said That To You?”, where an actor is pitted against the audience. Another actor, playing the host, asks the players questions that bring up the golden rule in doing or saying to people what you would want them to say to you, and in one of the scenarios, the contestants are asked what they would do if a friend of theirs got a puppy, even though the contestant wanted one as well but doesn’t have one. The kids in the audience usually answer things like “I would ask if I could play with their puppy!”, or “I would be happy for them.”, which is a good contrast to the actor, who says, “I would say, ‘Who cares about your puppy? I don’t!” , to which the host says later, “But it’s not your puppy!” And every time I hear that line (or say it, since I am in the play at times), I laugh at how bratty it is to not wish people well just because you are jealous. Even though that’s hard.

Well, dang, I have had several moments lately where I had to be reminded that other people’s puppies were not mine, and that it was the right thing to be happy for them and their canine-having selves. I recently applied for 2 things that I didn’t get, the first being a grant for my theater, and the second, a chance to speak at a local event. I get rejection stuff all of the time, because life, but both of these “Thanks for applying and you’re awesome but sorry, not this time” emails were different because both asked for my support for the people who WERE chosen for the things that I applied for by either voting for the finalists for the grant I didn’t get, or my attendance at the event I didn’t get selected to speak at. And I have to be completely honest that my initial reaction to both, even though I was convicted in about 90 seconds, was “Ain’t nobody got time to be helping people who got what I wanted. LATER!” And if I was a character in my show, I would be the example of what NOT to be.

I need to get over it. And I did.

Because if I had gotten those honors, I would have wanted people to show up or vote. Because we can’t, won’t, and probably shouldn’t get every single thing we pursue, and that’s good, because everything isn’t for us. It’s not. Say that out loud. Everything isn’t yours because it is not statistically possible, but because we learn from the things we DON’T get just as much, if not more, than the things that we do. Years ago, there was an actor/businessperson whose career I greatly admired, as they were doing many of the things that I had always wanted to do, and I said, to myself (Myself always hears the petty things first), “They have my career.” But no. They had their career. The career they worked for, and sacrificed for, and had successes with and failures with, and learned from all of those. What I had was gazing into someone else’s life while not taking the steps to get MY career. So that’s what I am doing., and it is a roller coaster, complete with loops, but the ride is worth it, y’all. And part of that is supporting other people in the goodness that is their life, and hope that I get theirs, and I am gonna vote for the people up for that grant, and I will try really hard to attend that speaking event, and I will put out all of the goodness that I want to come back to me.

Me as the person who can't be happy for someone else's puppy.

Me as the person who can’t be happy for someone else’s puppy. Picture by Bellephont Photography.

Not just because I want extra goodness, but because that’s the way the world works. And I want to be a part of that.

Have any of you ever been in the place where you had to be happy for people who got the thing you wanted? What did you do?

 


“This Is Us” and the importance of rituals, even if they seem weird

by SweetMidlife
Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that's weird that you think it's weird.

Perhaps taking a Purple People Eater to a sports bar every week seems weird to you. But that’s weird that you think it’s weird.

SPOILER ALERT FOR A VERY POPULAR TV SHOW!

Leslie here! Lynne and I don’t live close to each other, so our Monday-morning quarterbacking of TV shows is part of our enduring togetherness (We also like talking, and seem to like talking about the same things, so we’ve found maybe the only other person who will endure in-depth 20-minute dissections of one episode of “Survivor.”) “This Is Us,” NBC’s next-level “Parenthood”-like exploration into emotional manipulation, is not one of those things that no one likes but us. EVERYBODY likes it, and cries about it, and then goes on Twitter and cries so more. Fans like us all seem to agree that it’s one of the best new shows this season.

But there’s something a lot of us can’t agree on, and that’s Toby, the too-enthusiastic love interest of Kate, a gorgeous, talented but insecure young woman who lets her lifelong struggle with her weight (and the baggage of her mother’s apparently early disapproval of it) make her hide her considerable light under a basket. Toby, who she met at a weight support group, initially seems like an encouraging factor in Kate’s life, pushing her out of her comfort zone to, say, use that gorgeous voice to sing to the folks at his aunt’s retirement home, or be chauffered around LA and be a star, like her sweet, pretty, famous twin brother.

But increasingly, Dude’s behavior has bordered, at best, on overbearing and at worst completely and insufferably creepy. He’s right that she throws herself into her brother Kevin’s life at expense of her own, but he seems to be mad that she doesn’t choose the whims of him, a guy she’s known for a week at that point, over her twin brother who also happens to be her employer. (He is, however, right that stalking and then accepting a job with his ex-wife is cray.)

On Tuesday night’s episode, Toby steps up the overbearing behavior to a disrespectful level, by ignoring something sacred to sports fans – the game day ritual. Honestly, it’s rude to ignore someone’s gentle but emphatic refusal to change the way they do something that means more to them than to you, no matter what it is. But when it’s about sports, whose personal importance is usually tied to deeply-seated details like national and regional identity and family tradition, you need to step off. I have a friend who broke up with a guy once for that same thing, and honestly, Toby deserves the same.

I feel strongly about this because I am related to, by blood and marriage, people with very strong sports rituals, that seemed quirky and inconvenient until they let you inside of them. My Granddaddy Streeter would retreat down the hall to his bedroom after dinner and lie in the dark to silently listen to Baltimore Orioles games on the radio. If we were very quiet, we were allowed to sit there with him, quietly bonding over strike-outs and home runs and the sparkling crack of the bat. It seemed like an inheritance. And anyone who ever met my late husband Scott knew that he had as many sports-related rituals as he did Ravens Jerseys, including buying football magazines before the NFL draft to study the upcoming picks, and then before the season to do his fantasy draft. He also brought a dancing Purple People Eater doll we called Purpie to every Ravens game he watched at Kirby’s, our local Ravens bar, and made it dance at every Ravens touchdown. It was fun, it didn’t hurt anyone and it was cool to have a thing.

Kate’s thing, apparently, is watching football by herself. That should be enough explanation, and she doesn’t owe anyone else more than that. But Toby decides that if he doesn’t get her motivations it must be sad, because Toby seems to need to worm his way into every part of her life in some supposed attempt to break her out of her shell. So he won’t accept “No” for an answer when she declines his invitation to watch a game together. Because Toby’s appointed himself Kate’s personal confidence guru, he can’t give her credit for choosing to do things he doesn’t get, because he doesn’t allow her the autonomy to know the difference between stuff she does to hide and stuff she does because she just wants to. She’s a person, not a project, loser.

Anyway, because he’s a pushy bastard, Toby does his usual public declaration thing that’s seeming less and less spontaneous and more and more like bullying, when he makes a homemade invitation to a supposed football party at his place, and passes it to Kate across their weight loss meeting. Nothing says “I respect your boundaries:” like involving a bunch of other people in it, particular because he assumes correctly that she’s easier to coerce when other people are watching. So she shows up, reluctantly, to his house, and he and the random friend he’s also invited yap through the whole thing and actually pause the game to keep yapping, so that Kate almost misses a touchdown.

So she bails, as you do when you aren’t having any fun at an event you got badgered into in the first place. Toby shows up at her house demanding an explanation, because how dare she not find his pushiness charming! So she explains that football, particularly Steelers games, was her family thing (she and her twin were conceived in a sloppy bar bathroom during the Super Bowl), and that they always watched together. Then she explains that they still do, in a way – her father Jack (whose absence in the show’s present-day scenes was, until now, a mystery) has passed away, and she sits with his urn and watches the games.

There are writers who think this is a sad cry for help, which seems awfully judgey. Everyone’s rituals are not yours. Everyone’s life is not yours. People keep their loved one’s ashes for a reason, and as long as they aren’t smoking, eating, or having untoward relations with them, I don;t know what is weird about silently enjoying an activity they would still be enjoying were both still alive. I was sometimes annoyed by his insistence on always having to watch Ravens games, even if we were traveling and it was a pain in the butt to find somewhere broadcasting them. Sometimes it seemed selfish. But he asked for one afternoon, once a week, for like four months, to be in his element, and it was OK with me, because he gave so much of himself to everyone else.

The people who love you should respect, if not completely understand, the things that are important to you. If they don’t, they don’t deserve you. Sorry Toby.


Being Early To Things Is Awesome

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne!!

My door that I am entering early because I got to where i needed early and now I can scroll Facebook without feeling I need to be somewhere else. Because I have time.

My door that I am entering early because I got to where i needed early and now I can scroll Facebook without feeling I need to be somewhere else. Because I have time.

I am still in the middle of reading this book about organization in all levels of your life called “It’s Hard To Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys” by Marilyn Oaul, and it is a very long “in the middle”, because I read it, then get all excited about it, then I forget to read it, and my life gets crazy, and my husband says, “Are you still reading that book?”, and I say “Oh. Yeah.” Then I read the book again.

Before I continue I say this to you and me: don’t beat yourself up for things like this. Realize that you have to get on track, and get back on track. Don’t waste valuable time flagellating yourself with your regrets because you still haven’t done the thing and now your arms are tired from all the self-beating.

So, anyhoo, I have so many things that I am learning that it gets overwhelming, so I am taking it bit by bit so it actually resonates and settles in to usable pieces,  and I wanted to share a bunch of stuff from it with you all in one post, but I will actually just share the one major thing that it blowing my mind lately. To those of you who knew this already, your minds won’t be blown or even slightly shaken. Because you know this. But for those of us who are constantly flying out of the door and herding kids into the car quickly and yelling and trying not to speed and either end up being right on time on the dot or 4 minutes late, this is for you.

Being early is awesome.

This is a mind shift for me, big time, because even though I have gotten better at doing things on time, if on time is with 2 seconds to spare, then it takes you 4 seconds to unhook your seat belt, you are now late. And I am lying. It never takes 4 seconds to unhook a seat belt and actually get out of the car without jumping out and spilling your crap and walk into the building and sit down and be ready to do the thing you are there to do. No. It takes at least 5 minutes. You know it does. Well, maybe you don’t. So pick an instance and actually time how long it takes you to do the thing, without car-jumping and crap-spilling (this is wisdom from the book, although she doesn’t say “crap”. I summarized.) and when you know it takes that long, give yourself that much time to do it. And give yourself buffer time for traffic and forgetting things. And if you did all of this right, you might be pulling up to where you need to be early.

This frightens me. I don’t know what to do with early on a regular basis. Do you talk to people in the waiting room?What is this feeling of calm? It’s freaking me out.

Give yourself over to it.

It makes you feel better. It gives you a better reputation as someone who can get to things and be ready to go and not waste other people’s time.

And guess who else’s time you aren’t wasting? Huh? Huh?

Yours, Dude.

Because calm should not be scary. It’s a good, peaceful thing. The adrenaline of lateness might seem exciting. But it ain’t cute. It ain’t.

So this brings me to the last few days, when I had errands and appointments, and I scheduled wiggle room. We got to my son’s dentist appointment about 20 minutes early, so he had time to actually play with the toys in the waiting room, which to him, is more of a destination than the actual appointment.

And today, we left the house 20 minutes before he had to be at school when it only takes 9 minutes, but this took traffic into account, and we weren’t the last people in drop-off line, and today I didn’t have to walk him in because the ladies who walk the kids in had gone inside. Nope. Not today. I was early, which gives him time to have circle play before class starts. And it gave me time to check Facebook and have a phone call conversation with one of my dearest friends AND still write this post. Because I wasn’t rushing. Rushing takes awhile to recover from because you are so addled, yo might be where you are supposed to be, but you are not ready to focused because you are thinking, “Dang, that was close. And I skinned my knee falling in the parking lot getting in here.”

So yeah. Early is awesome. I know I might not be able to do this every day. Bit goal by goal, this will be my goal.

How about you?Do any of you struggle with the weird unfamiliar-ness of being early?


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