Category Archives: mom-sanity

I’m writing this in my sleep

I told my kids I was going to bed a few hours ago, and I did, I swear. I was up early and it was time for my body to rest. They tried to make me stay awake, but I needed to lay down.

Times like this make me so glad that I know I can just go to bed instead of forcing myself to stay awake while tending to the house or the kids. I can not imagine what it would have felt like to stay awake and try to be nice while reading bedtime stories or otherwise ignoring my body’s needs.

We live in a very old house and unless it’s locked, my bedroom door pops open spontaneously. The light and noise rush in and I lay there patiently. If I get up, they’ll see that I’m “awake” and have something important to tell me. If the light or noise bothers me, I can throw a blanket over the top half of my head. Without me having to ask, eventually one of the kids will come shut the door for me. Sometimes they’ll tell eachother go do it. Someone else always volunteers if they disagree. But I know that eventually someone will come and slam the door shut. It won’t shut at all if it isn’t slammed.

So I’m not catching any deep REM sleep, but it feels good to “check out” even though I can still hear their little-voice conversations and I love that they’re “taking care of me” by shutting the door and yelling at each other periodically to “Be quiet, Moms sleeping.”
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Can we grill them?

Grace loved her little brown turkey

I just found 5 dead baby hens and a turkey on my living room floor.

I woke up this morning and thought I saw the dog laying by a rather large mouse. We get teeny little field mice in the house and she loves to catch them, but this was HUGE.  When I got closer, I realized it was a little black chick. In my 4am mind-fog, it took me a while to look around the room and see that the floor was covered in lifeless little chicks. I was sad for the birds but mostly sad for my girls. I wanted to wake them up and tell them.  I wanted them to sleep all day so I didn’t have to tell them.

Chicks like crushed corn

They took the news rather well, and started arranging the funeral right away.  A hole was dug. Flowers were picked. Chairs were arranged in rows around the grave. We had to wear black (luckily my pajamas were black). At the service, there was a solemn procession of dead baby chicks, each laid in the ground gently and called by name. There was debate about which song should be played, but in the end Maddy sang a little song of tribute to all the pets we’ve lost over the years (2 dead rabbits, 1 dead duck, 2 dead turkeys, 3 dead dogs, 5 dead chickens, a parakeet, some fish and now…. all these dead chicks….). Evelyn said a few words “I love you and I miss you,” which the kids tell me is her standard funeral speech) and Grace chose not to speak, she just cried and said “I loved my turkey.” I apologized to the birds for not making sure the dog was locked away last night. None of the kids turned to me and said “So it’s your fault.” Continue reading

Room for Two

So 17 years without spending the night away from home (sans Russell Sprouts) Can you believe it? It was the first time my husband and I have EVER EVER EVER in the course of our marriage spent the night in a hotel without our children. Ever. Imagine that, after being married over 17 years.

Something had to change.

An important part of Plan C is the fact that he and I need to get to know each other. We’re supposed to be filling our recent memories with happy things; making daily deposits to the love bank (which is not a* euphamism, it’s a Dr Phil thing, I think). Over the years, We’ve grown up together, we’ve learned how to be parents, learned how to be grown-ups, learned how to be a family and now it’s time for us to learn how to be a couple. And we both have a habit of doing things on our own timeline, so this is perfect. Perfect timing for a weekend away.

We drove all of 45 minutes, to get to the Tri Cities area (Kennewick, Pasco & Richland) . I know it’s not an exotic location, it might qualify as a staycation, but to us it might as well have been a second honeymoon. The drive was nice, I crocheted a baby blanket for a friend, we chatted about the landscape, argued about life a little, shared our very different memories of the same situations and relished the lack of interruptions.
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Plan C, I guess

I went from being a kid in my parent’s house, to being a wife & mother within a year, I was 18. It never bothered me while I was growing babies, I was THRILLED to set aside myself (whoever that was) to provide warmth, space and love for a baby. My body is yours, sweet little one. I know I’ll get it back later. Plan A said “my mind belongs to you, who enjoys Barney and sleeps erratically. My personality is… a result of my mood and whatever entertains you, sweet little monkey of mine… There will be time for me later.” Now I wonder sometimes, if putting their needs ahead of my own was a bit of self-defense. Having never BEEN a woman alone, to sort out my own identity, it was easier to just be a mom. There were books about being a mom.

Perhaps I should have predicted that the decision to stop making babies would result in some kind of identity crisis, right?

Crisis is the wrong word, it sounds like a bad thing. I don’t feel like I’m in crisis. I feel like I’m an explorer, with a map in my hand, looking out at a great expanse of wilderness, knowing that wherever I step, a path will unfold in front of me and it will be MINE and it will take me somewhere amazing, because the world is filled with amazing and dammit, I want some.
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Old Fart

So I’m here at my Grandfather’s funeral and my world is a bit rocked. Funerals often make people resolve to change something. “The thing that hurts the most is________.” I have several ways to end that sentence and each of them ends with a personal commitment to not ever feel that way again.

The thing that hurts the most is that I can never make things right again.

My PopPop and Grandma in the 70's, I think

Before I left, I told my husband “I don’t know why I’m so upset about this, I haven’t seen my PopPop for years, it’s not like his death is going to affect my day-to-day life, 3000 miles away, I can just pretend he’s still there… far away and alive. The same way I can pretend they still live in the same house they had when I was little. They lived in that house for over 50 years. My Dad and my aunts and uncles grew up there, it was like a family historic museum. The place was saturated with memories; every wall, window and doorway witnessed generations of King family’s milestones, setback, celebrations and struggles. That house knew my parents when they were dating. It’s ancient and my childhood memories all take place in that house. They call it “The House on The Hill” and it’s now a freeway onramp. Even the hill it stood on is gone. Fill dirt. It was a magical land of Christmas decorations, summertime swimming and Grandma’s love. In my mind, that house is as real as my back porch. Just because I’m not standing in it, doesn’t mean that it’s gone. It can’t be gone, it’s always been here.
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Relax: Your Identity Cannot be Stolen

No one can steal your identity. It isn’t possible.

Definitions of Identity
1- the distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity
2- the individual characteristics by which a thing or person is recognized or known

Definitions of Identity Theft
1- the co-option of another person’s personal information (e.g., name, Social Security number, credit card number, passport) without that person’s knowledge and the fraudulent use of such knowledge
2- Identity theft is a term used that is to refer to fraud that involves someone pretending to be someone else in order to steal money or get other benefits.
3- The deliberate assumption of another person’s identity, usually to gain access to that person’s finances or to frame a person for a crime

Is this making any sense yet?

Your identity is what makes you YOU. It’s what makes you special. It’s your distinct personality, not your credit report. It’s why your friends love you. It’s why your enemies hate you. It’s the tiny things you say and do that you won’t even realize until you hear your kids copying you. It’s everything amazing and wonderful about you… just you.

No one can take that away.

How silly is it that so much money and stress is spent over the grossly and dramatically mis-named crime of “Identity theft?”

It’s a result of our society that believes that “who you are” can be summed up by your assets.

This is a culture that tells you to NEVER reveal your social security number or your pin#, but it’s OK to put your child on a school bus with a driver you’ve never met.

When we lived in California, an undocumented farm worker gave my social security number to the boss. Apparently, Mrs Gutierrez (or Mr?) brought in round $1400 that I ended up being taxed for. I might have ended up having it waived… I don’t remember…but who cares? That’s not identity theft. That person was never really me and I’ve lost nothing of myself.

My mother in law had an experience where someone got a hold of her credit card information and purchased a surf board and other random items. But it wasn’t REALLY identity theft. They didn’t call us up asking for pictures of the Grandkids, they didn’t go out for ice cream at midnight, they didn’t start making jewelry or smacking gum bubbles or play MahJong on Tuesdays with the Red Hat Ladies. SHE LOST NOTHING.

SHE was not the “victim of identity theft” her bank was the victim because THEY paid for the surfboard. Or maybe it was their insurance company. Or maybe it’s all just bullshit. We all end up paying for it because eventually it ALL FALLS BACK on consumers.

Insurance rates go up, interest rates go up… corporations need to recoup the costs and consumers pay the price.

The only way to avoid it is to opt out. If it’s a big deal to you, opt out. Instead of throwing your money into the collective pot, opt out. Take care of your own. First. Always. But don’t believe – even for  minute- that your financial records are your identity.

How do people not SEE that the “Identity theft” fallacy is that YOU ARE NOT YOUR CREDIT. The value of YOU extends far beyond your potential for securing a loan to spend outside your means. Your identity can not be stolen.

Our government, the banks, insurance companies and retailers work very hard to keep their files straight. They want your money, plus interest, fees, taxes and whatever else they put in the contract.  The most effective way they’ve found to keep track of things is to have YOU do it for them. “Monitor your credit report, at your own expense and time, so we can be sure to loan you the maximum amount we can justify (so we can get our fees)”

Here’s where I start inventing John Lennon lyrics; “Imagine there’s no credit… and no debt counseling, too.” or how about “Imagine all the people… spending within their means…”

One thing that particularly gets my goat right now are the radio ads I’m hearing for “Holiday loans.”

If you haven’t heard these… basically, they’re selling you money to go Christmas Shopping with.

I’d like to sit down and talk to someone who has secured one of these loans and ask them “What the hell is wrong with you?” I’d listen intently to the answer before grabbing them by the shoulders and shaking them senseless while shouting “You’re a f—ing idiot.” OK- I may not actually use the F word, I tend to do that in writing, but not in conversation. Still, there are other expletives… And I probably wouldn’t shake them either. But I’ll talk smack… a lot. But I won’t yell it.

Let me disclose here that I am not religious. If I’ve ever mentioned going to Church, it should be known that I enjoy going to the UU Church for the purpose of stimulating conversation, and not because I believe any God has declared UU to be his or her preferred people. My belief is that God (as creator of the Universe), if (s)he exists, probably has no opinion on religion.   So maybe I’m not qualified to discuss the religious aspects of Christmas. But I’m about to do so anyway.

And if you don’t listen to me, listen to Dave Ramsay because he agrees about this “holiday loan” business.

Isn’t it a bit sinful to get into debt in order to put on a false display of wealth and bravado in the form of gifts you can’t afford?

Didn’t the bible say that debt was a curse and children are a blessing?

Isn’t this supposed to be “The season of giving?”

I have to be honest. I’ve spent a small fortune on our Christmas this year. But I’m not in debt over it. I’ve probably spent more than is wise… I’ve probably exceeded good judgment. I’ve probably spent more than twice as much as I ever have before. And I know that in 2 months I may wish I hadn’t done so. But I won’t be making PAYMENTS on it, and I sure as hell won’t be paying INTEREST on it. My regret will come in the form of wanting to spend it again, on different things.

I wonder if some of the “holiday loan” phenomena is due to the cultural perpetuation of Santa Clause. Perhaps families who were in the habit of overspending before the “economy crash” simply don’t want to face their kids on Christmas without magical, unexplainable, extravagant gifts. Reality has changed for them, and they don’t want to admit it. Perhaps ‘scaling down” is too difficult for them. But it has to happen, eventually. Lies (like Santa and consumer credit) aren’t sustainable.

And what kind of culture supports a “holiday loan?” What adult.. with dignity… can walk in and ask for a holiday loan? At least with a home loan, you get a house. At least with an auto loan, you get a car. But with a holiday loan, you get… presents. To give away. That’s not generous.. to give beyond your means, that’s PRIDEFUL.

I’m all for a healthy level of pride regarding your own accomplishments. Like I said, I’m not religious. When we sit down to eat, we thank the person who cooked it, not the God that created the world that created the person that invented the oven or created the seeds that created the food that created the meal… I think pride can be a good thing and that when we kick ass, we should give ourselves credit for it. Especially if we worked out butts off to get the job done.

But if you’re down… and not feeling proud of what you have to give… it’s not the time to LIE and BORROW in order to keep up appearances. Appearances of what? We appeared to be badass business owners a few years ago, but a friend of mine knew better. We paid our staff before we paid ourselves and Christmas was looking skinny.

I went out to my car one snowy morning and discovered a few hefty sacks filled with presents. I sat there and cried… and cried… and cried. I was humbled, grateful, ashamed, grateful and so very very very happy to be able to surprise my kids a little better on Christmas morning.

The following year, we were struggling again and I opened my front door to find more wrapped presents.

I suspect it was the doings of the same generous friend both years. She’s never admitted it. Collectively, those gifts were the greatest thing I’ve ever received.

I was caught up in trying to give.  It was painful.  I didn’t have much to give, but I wanted to.  What I realized was that in order for there to be givers, there must also be receivers.  As an adult, empty (spare the desire to give more than I could), the presents filled me.  Suddenly, I had something to give. And the fact that I didn’t know exactly who they were from really fueled the desire to spread gratitude everywhere.

Suddenly, everyone in my life was a suspect.  Without much in the way of recourse, I just suddenly looked at everyone in my life a little differently.  I wondered if my employees had pitched in… how would they know?  I began to look at everyone in my life as if they’d given me an amazing gift. Suddenly, I had a debt to the entire world.

THAT is what Christmas giving is about. I could have borrowed money, I guess… to buy them presents. But I never would have felt such a deep and helpless gratitude. I struggle to explain the feeling, of being gifted that way. In the end, all I can do is continue to spread the generosity and gratitude.

Receiving is powerful.  Giving is powerful. Offsetting the balance between givers and receivers by borrowing money and creating a debt is like putting a curse on yourself. It changes the dynamics of “giving.”

We find ways throughout the year, and during the holidays, to help in any little way that we can. That deep feeling of gratitude has inspired me to want to share it. I wish I could leave a bag of presents outside the door of every family in need. Instead, we send casseroles when people have babies. We bake cookies to share. We give from our garden. We knit hats and scarves for friends. We give what we can, when we can. But we’ll never BORROW money to give outside our means. And we’ll try our best to not be too proud (phony) to accept gifts.

Why isn’t “being a phony” something our culture frowns upon?

Maybe because people don’t know what it’s like to really “need.” So maybe the good feeling that comes from giving gifts is a bit distorted because the feeling of gratitude is just.not.there.

Maybe because we teach our kids to be phonies. Instead of open, honest, authentic communication with children, we teach them to “say thank you” by default before they’ve even had chance to experience natural, honest gratitude. Gratitude is more than just “saying thank-you” It’s about FEELING grateful. Deep down inside… crying in the snow… With no one to thank directly, just a mental list of people who “might have done this.”

Why is it Ok to give gifts that you’ll end up feeling bitter over. I wonder how many of these presents will outlast the terms of the loan. I bet all the loans are 11 months long, so people can get one next year, too. I bet people who get holiday loans will end up carrying that debt for years because they’ll be in the habit of overspending and just rolling it over into another loan every year.

I wonder if “holiday loans” will become as common as credit cards.

What do people do with all the crap?

I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but our government has a long-term plan for our nation to become the inventors and the primary consumers of EVERYTHING IN THE world. Our government’s vision of a healthy and sustainable future for the US involves enlisting the labor forces of third world countries for making more crap that we invent, and sell back to our fellow Americans.

It’s true- Check out the document Tough Choices or Tough Times by the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, which inspired my article Reclaim Personal Freedom in the US by Ending Compulsory Schooling.

THIS is the document that most states are using to guide their school reform efforts. THIS is why your credit report matters. But it’s still not your identity. It’s a way for you to be cataloged, monitored, measured, assessed and manipulated. But it’s not WHO YOU ARE.

And you don’t need to play that game.

I don’t care what your income is, you can live on it. And you can have a Christmas on it. It may require the generosity of friends and family. And it might not be a huge, sparkling Christmas that puts the neighbors to shame. But that’s OK. It’s just Christmas. And even if it is huge and sparkling, it’s still not on your mind in June (unless your summer vacation is ruined because of those Christmas Loan payments)

So if “identity theft” is a big deal for you, just OPT OUT

Opt out of overspending
Opt out of stupid loans
Opt out of systems that index you (I dare you- And I’ll be so impressed if you succeed)
Opt out of holiday celebrations that only go skin deep

If you’re going to celebrate Christmas, it’s OK to give all you can give. but don’t do it at the expense of your future.

GIVE GIVE GIVE to your children, but do it all year long. Not just on holidays. Make generosity a way of life. We happened to get a nice fat unexpected check that made our Christmas a little brighter this year. If the check had come in June, I may have indulged my children’s fantasies then, instead. Again- our indulgence isn’t because of a holiday, it’s because I love them and want to see their dreams come true. I want them to know that the world is their Oyster. I want them to know that I am not the one standing in between them & their dreams. I want them to know that I am on their side, that I will use whatever resources I have to help them build the life they want.

Make generosity part of your identity.

My husband and I have played the “credit game.” We were never much into consumer debt. Very early in our marriage, we charged things like… a VCR, some clothes, some furniture… and it didn’t take much calculation to see that in the long run, it was a stupid thing to do. We filed bankruptcy and lost our house after we closed our business down in 2007 and the attorney was just amazed that we had no consumer debt. Truthfully, at that moment, I was wishing we had… I mean… who DOESN’T want a bunch of cool new stuff that they don’t have to pay for, right? All we had were 6 hungry kids, bad publicity for our business and a 15 year black mark on our credit report.

But it’s not WHO WE ARE.

We are… a million different things. We’re human. We have wonderful traits and terrible faults all rolled into one. We can’t be defined by a number. And neither can you. We can’t be identified on paper, and neither can you. Even a photo doesn’t tell the whole story.

No one can walk into your house and start BEING you. No one can steal your identity.

Fuck any organized system that attempts to equate your DATA with your IDENTITY. Your identity includes your thoughts, your unspoken dreams and potential, your nightmares, your memories, your preferences, your beliefs and things YOU don’t even know about yourself. Your data is just the measurable numbers surrounding your SHOPPING HABITS and INCOME. THAT is what matters to the banks. Not you. They don’t really care about your identity. They care about your credit report. They only convince you that it’s important so you’ll do their bidding and play their game.

When they say  ”Protect your credit so you’re not a victim of identity theft,” what they’re really saying is “We want to be sure we can victimize you as much as possible in the form of fees, interest and other contractual obligations because we are banks and it’s our business to have all the money. ”  and they can’t do that if someone else is using your identifying information for their OWN crime.  Your information, if it’s safe and secure, can be used to SCREW YOU in favor of the banking industry. That’s all they want.  So go protect your credit, at your expense, so the banking industry wins instead of the average street criminal. This is the USA and the thief with the most paperwork wins.

Just like academic test scores don’t reveal the true intellect or intelligence of any child, your credit score doesn’t reveal the true accountability or value of YOU.

Opt out.

Nothing Much

Remember when you were a kid and your parents would ask how school was “Fine” might have been the answer. You probably weren’t trying to be evasive, but life, whether you’re at school, at home or at work, changes by the minute. One moment, it could be too warm in the room, the next minute, you’re enjoying a funny joke and ten minutes later, you’re waiting for someone to finish talking to you so you can use the bathroom. That’s just how life is. So when someone asks “How’s life” or “How was school,” most people will just say “fine” and let it rest there, because overall, everything probably is fine.

The other day someone said “I wanted to check out your blog & see how your family was doing, but I couldn’t access it.” The truth is, there were ten thousand things I’d rather be doing than hacking away at my database and de-bugging my website. We were busy with so many fun activities, plus I have schoolwork that I’m trying to keep up with and a bunch of new clients I’m trying to keep straight. So I’ve been working probably 4-5 hours a day, plus schoolwork for around 2 hours a day AND playing playing playing with my munchkins.

So when someone recently asked me “How is life” my answer was “Just fine.” And in order to avoid specific details, I quickly ask “Is your daughter enjoying dance this year?” because I know specific questions will elicit a longer response that gets me off the hook so I can get back to what’s REALLY important in life, and that’s my kids.

Here’s a few pictures we took this week while I wasn’t blogging: (screenshot links to facebook photo album- must be logged into facebook- sorry, that’s how lazy I am this week. And while you’re there, be sure to follow me on Networked Blogs)

A mom’s gotta have friends :)

Lack of sleep… hormones… nutrition.. who knows? My mind is exhausted. I underestimated how emotionally taxing it would be to do 3-4 hours of schoolwork a day, continue working, chauffer my two oldest back and forth to school (ovr an hour round trip each day) and still manage the house (although not very well) and the 4 little kids all day. On top of that, my two older girls are bringing home homework that needs attention; even though only one of them is turning in her homework (lesson learned, she says)

Anyhow. I’ve been finding it difficult to set aside time for myself, to do the things I like to do. I noticed my painting project went untouched for about 2 weeks, my hula hoop was collecting dust, I hadn’t finished any pleasure reading and the shelves on my fridge really needed a wipedown. Thank goodness my husband can cook or we’d all starve to death. (Don’t complain about the clean-up, at least he’s cooking)

I did something crazy a few months ago and signed up for this Visionary Mom’s Team. It’s not something I’d normally do, all that life-coachy, blabbidy blah .. whatever. The idea of not getting paid for my time was kinda weird. Anyway, I signed up on a whim, impulsively. I think the words that caught my eye gave me the impression that I’d be focusing on a work-related goal. I have a website that I’ve been fantasizing about building for months now and planned to use the VMT as a forum for getting input from other moms and getting feedback along the way.

I was not prepared for how deeply I’d be impacted by such a close-knit group of female friends. It’s not something I’ve experienced since the Mothering.com due date club. Damn, it’s nice having mom friends. And we can say all sorts of things that don’t get said very often. Or ever.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that this was something special. Lisa, the lady who runs it, is absolutely amazing. In the first month, we were introducing ourselves and our goals. I’m a total overachiever and totally financially-minded. My day is spent working toward a financial goal. Unfortunately, the reality is that I work BEFORE I am a mom, each day. My kids are self-sufficient, and once they wake up, I stop and make breakfast, play games and do other mom-stuff, but there’s always just a few more things that need to get done and the minute they’re occupied, I’m popping back over to work stuff, willing myself to try not to get distracted by the self-indulgent social aspects of facebook. And then there’s school. I have a 3.4 GPA right now, I think. It hasn’t been difficult, but it’s been time-consuming, all that studying and writing essays…

Anyway- so I stated my goals and she asked “how will you feel when you’re doing all that stuff?” “Who the hell knows,” I answered. I never planned to feel any certain way. Should I? Heck, maybe I should. Should what? Be happy? OK- it seems like there should be more. I’ll try.

It turns out that I worked diligently on my dream website for a solid ten days and met all of my 1st month goals (wondering- should I feel something specific right now?). Then, I crashed. I haven’t added any professional goals, aside from reaching my daily income levels and meeting contractual obligations. Actually, for the first time in a while, I’ve just chilled out.

In fact, last week I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with my sister (and kept the hula hoop up the entire time) We’ve picked apples, baked apples, juiced apples and made cakes and painted pictures and gone to the playground and planned a few field trips, studied the platypus, adopted a dog, (or more) lost and buried a bunny rabbit, watched the chickens grow, eaten fresh tomatoes every day, harvested foods and learned how to prepare them, worked on sewing projects, found an awesome park with the best river-swimming ponds, picked blackberries, talked about hiking a lot, fantasized about a motorhome trip and gotten used to working around the public school schedule.

I know it doesn’t seem much about chilling out, but it is. I’ve skimmed work responsibilities down BELOW a bare minimum and I’m completely overwhelmed. Look at what I’ve set up for myself. I’ve really dug myself into a hole. I didn’t even remember to call my Dad on his birthday, or get a present for my 5 yr old. Luckily she settled for an impromptu trip to McDonalds for soft serve.

Anyway- so here I am: crazy, overwhelmed and over-committed. We just added a rehearsal schedule for a December Musical to the mix and another Girl Scout troop.

Kid-related commitments will likely increase and with them, work-related commitments (because all that driving isn’t cheap)

Instead of adding new professional commitments to my schedule, I think I’m going to relax, finish school and be a mom. I can’t stop working, but I can replace the tasks that produce LESS income with tasks that produce more income. That way, I can still do the things I want to do with my kids, and not feel overwhelmed with work-related tasks.

And I’ll hire a housekeeper (mwahahaha- and convince myself it wouldn’t be a grand waste of money)

Anyhow, I credit Visionary Mom with part of my “good hard look” at how I felt about things. It’s not like I haven’t displayed an abnormal level of introspection before, but there’s something very special about getting heartfelt feedback from women who GET.IT.

If you’re interested in the VMT teams, check out Lisa’s website. Another group is starting soon, each group is small, I think we have ten women. Lisa matches people up intuitively, the people in my group share a lot of the same personality traits (busybodies) and values. Communication occurs on a secure private message board, where we get to know one another, set goals, help each other reach them, share resources, and get professional input from Lisa, who is absolutely amazing. She has a gift for knowing the right thing to say to get you out of your BS and into authentic examination and SOLUTIONS. Also on the message boards are exercises- like introspective journaling things designed to help you understand your own mind better. In addition to the message boards, there’s a weekly conference call, email access to her for direct private concerns and a one-on-one phone coaching session.

Sounds cheesy, I know. Like I said, I signed up on a whim. but I’m so grateful for the amazing women I’ve met. Their friendship during this crazy time in my life has been priceless. Watching them reach their goals and improve their relationships has been very special.

 

The following video was made by Lisa, from the Visionary Mom
 

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Today at school I learned I really AM crazy

“Besides the noble art of getting things done; there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials. Lin Yutang

OK- So you know I’m going to school, right? I’m at National University. My courses are entirely online, they’re accredited and if I happen to choose to transfer to law school in Washington, the credits are transferable. That was my original goal, but who knows… To be honest, I still want to write. I’m not going to school to change my career, I’m going so I can be paid more as a writer. I want whatever credentials I get to add credibility to my work, so one day, if I choose to write a book, people won’t say “Who does she think she is, Ms Nobody from Nowhere?” So basically, since I live in a culture that values education and credentials, I’m getting them.

Anyway- so I’m taking psychology right now. It’s interesting. Interesting enough to steal away my original intention of majoring in law and changing over to psychology… maybe. I have this belief that psychologists are crazy. So for now, I’m resisting the urge to change my major because I don’t really want proof that I’m crazy. Although, having already admitted to a degree of insanity, maybe I should just bite the bullet and switch majors.

But anyway- so one of our assignments was to complete a stress profile. Basically it was a series of quizzes, only we had to score them ourselves, which I felt was a little ridiculous. They could have just sent us the links to online self-scoring quizzes, but I can’t expect everyone to always be on top of technology, right? The script would be so simple to write, really.

OK- so the quizzes, here they are:
1. Stressed Out (how stressful is your life?)
2. Susceptibility to Stress (SUS) (how you handle stress)
3. Response to Stress Scale (physical reactions to stress)
4. Are you a Type A or Type B?
5. Coping with Stress (your mental response to stress- how you handle it)
6. Locus of Control (how much control do you think you have over your life?)
7. Life Orientation Test (how optimistic are you about the future?)

OK- after answering all those quizzes, we’re supposed to write an essay about our results. Of course I thought mine were interesting, probably everyone thinks their results are interesting. But here’s mine..

Stressed Out– apparently, my life is twice as stressful as everyone else who is female, everyone else who is my age and everyone else who is married. According to the results, only separated people even come close to my level of potential stress.

 


My score – 23 points

 

 

AGE GENDER MARITAL STATUS
18-29….14.2 Men 12.1 Widowed 12.6
30-44 13.0 Women 13.7 Married or living with 12.4
45-54 12.6 Single or never wed 14.1
55-64 11.9 Divorced 14.7
65-over 12.0 Separated 16.6

Whatever- honestly that doesn’t even phase me and the next test proves it…

Susceptibility to Stress – Apparently I am completely not susceptible to stress.


My score – 12 points

 

 

Any number over 32 indicates susceptibility to stress. A total score between 52 and 77 suggests serious susceptibility, and over 77 means extreme susceptibility

Physical reactions to stress – this one measured whether or not your stress manifests itself physically, like in headaches, bellyaches, zits, insomnia and other stuff.

 

My Score 12 points
 

scores between 0 and 35 indicate a low level of physical stress symptoms and little danger to long-tem physical health. Scores between 36 and 75 are judged to be average and are associated with an increased likelihood of psychophysiological illness. However, there may be no immediate threat to physical health. Scores between 76 and 140 suggest excessive physical stress symptoms; respondents with such high scores should probably take deliberate action to reduce their level of stress and thus to ward off the possibility of psychophysiological disorder.

Type A or Type B test came up negative. OK- so this quiz had an even number of questions, 40 to be exact. On half of the questions, my answers were indicative of Type A and on the other half, they were indicative of Type B. According to the test’s interpretation, that means I’m a Type B, but I think I’m neither. I’m like Type C- if it hasn’t been defined yet, I’d like to offer up the following:

“Type C personality takes things as they come and reacts with a level of urgency indicative of how much they happen to care about the issue at the time, knowing full well that there’s no reason to dilly-dally or get stressed out about things. A Type C person generally doesn’t give a ____, because things always work out in the end and the form of resolution isn’t nearly as important as how we respond to it. They are astute observers in life. They suck at mailing things and filling out paperwork, waiting until the last possible minute except in cases where a late payment fee would be incurred. Unless they forget, then they curse about it and then move on because honestly, what more can you do, right? A Type C person isn’t likely to beat themselves up about things, or to repeat mistakes unless they still haven’t learned their lesson, which is what life is all about anyway.”

Your mental response to stress– this test measured the way you respond to stress, apparently there are three ways to deal with stress:

Active-cognitive (active efforts to construct thoughts to help cope with the problems)
Active-behavioral (active efforts to change the situation)
Avoidance (trying to keep the problem out of awareness)

I scored 26 points on Active-cognitive, 29 points on Active-behavioral and 5 points on Avoidance.

But in defense of those “Avoidance” points, I have to say that sometimes you need to NOT focus on a problem in order to approach it from a fresh mindset. There’s nothing wrong with strategically avoiding a problem that you A- can not change right away or B- are having trouble working out. I’m totally comfortable with a 5 point level of avoidance. I got those points by “keeping my feelings to myself” (no need to get other people all concerned, right?) and (shamefully) snapping at people & being irritable and also by avoiding social interactions. Honestly, I’m cool with everything but the irritability, although it was “a little” and not “fairly often” but I do have room for improvement.

Locus of Control– this one was in two parts. The first one was related to your health. They wanted to know whether you feel like you’re in control of your health. Apparently some people feel absolutely no control over their own health, placing everything in the hands of professionals, or luck. Others, like me, feel a personal level of control over their own health.

Scores between 23 and 30 on any subscale indicate strong support of that dimension. Scores between 15 and 22 reflect moderate support; scores between 6 and 14 suggest low support.

 

Powerful self – 35 points
Powerful Others – 10 points
Powerful luck – 11 points
 

So Apparently I have scored off-the-charts in thinking I have control over my own health.

The second part was measuring how much control you think you have over your personal achievements

The average for college males on this scale = 51.8 and for females = 52.2. The higher the score, the greater the sense of an internal locus of control.

 

I scored 54

So apparently I’m more confident than a college boy about how much control I have over my own personal achievements.

The Life Orientation Test“assesses a person’s optimism, or more specifically, a person’s expectations regarding the favorability of future outcomes.”

Scores can range from 0 to 32, with higher scores reflecting greater optimism. The mean score is approximately 21

 

I scored 29 points

So apparently I am very optimistic.

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All of this sounds very nice, right… But the fact of the matter is, I think that I am completely neurotic. Honestly, I have these OCD symptoms (I count stuff obsessively) and then there was that big depression following my dog’s death a few months ago and the fact that my lifestyle deviates from so many cultural norms has made me question my sanity a thousand times. Seriously- I considered getting mental health attention in 2003 when I was pregnant with Madelyn but the voice in my head said “You’re working 60 hours a week, you’re homeschooling three kids, you’re pregnant and trying to start an online business… obviously you’re crazy…” Imagine if I were to go in now, they’d say “You’re waking up at 5am and driving 90 minutes a day (total-round trip) so your teenagers can go to school in the next town, you’re homeschooling 3 kids, you’re working full time from home and you’re a full time student… obviously you’re crazy.”And that doesn’t even consider my food obsessions, (speaking of, did you know Orthorexia Nervosa is an eating disorder for people who are obsessed with healthy food?)

So… apparently I’m a control-freaking lunatic and I’m really good at it. Except when I crash. Looking at the test results, it would appear that I am completely balanced and have superior stress-handling skills. But the reality is that I’m completely nuts in ways that these stress charts don’t even account for. I’m not affected by conventional stressors, and my stress doesn’t manifest itself in conventional ways. You can tell how stressed I am by whether or not I’m wearing makeup, how much work I put into the house, whether my kids have their hair brushed, or if we showed up on time. But stress won’t give me an ulcer, dry skin or asthma, it will just make my bathroom sparkly.

So- leave me a comment and tell me how crazy you are, so I can think thoughts like “At least I’m not that bad.”

Interruptions fit for a rockstar

Last night my 2 yr old came over to me with a broom and a small chair. I remember seeing her approach out of the corner of my eye. She set up the chair to face me while I was cleaning the kitchen and handed me the broom. Seeing the broom in my own hand (because that’s how much I zone out when I’m cleaning) I leaned it into the corner because that’s where it goes and she SCREAMED loud enough to snap me out of my cleaning zone. I looked down to see that she was clearly very angry with me and I squatted down to her to find out why. “You ‘sposed to Lzzy Hale from Halestorm‘tend the broom is a guitar and sing me ‘you are my sunshine” Boy was that a surprise. No one has ever ASKED me to pretend the broom was a guitar. It’s not even something I’ve ever done, I can air guitar without props. But I can deal with that, improv is an important life skill. So I picked up the broom as she took her position in the “audience,” I grabbed a pair of sunglasses from the top of the fridge and in my best air-guitar impression of Lzzy Hale, with my hair flying around everywhere, I sang her the song. By the end, we were both laughing so hard. I had tears in my eyes and she felt very special. What a wonderful gift that was, Kids ROCK.

And I can’t help but compare it to when my oldest was the same age. She wasn’t allowed in the kitchen while I cleaned because I thought “it was too hard to do both.” I’d trained her to stay away by yelling “OUT.” It breaks my heart now to think about those days. I’m so glad I’m who I am now, and I’m able to treasure the interruptions, and that I haven’t trained her to stop interrupting me.

Now, I need to work on that stage dive…

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