When the Going Gets Tough

I watched my daughter halfway attempt to do a cartwheel at her gymnastics class the other day.  It’s a skill that she mastered months ago, but has now suddenly “forgotten” how to execute.   My frustration started to boil as I realized that this was the third class in a row that she’d acted nonchalant.

Like she doesn’t care.  Like she doesn’t want to be there.  If she had “Fuck this shit” in her arsenal of vocabulary, she would use it.

And I had no idea how to handle things.


She just seemed bored in her class.  I don’t know how or when or why things changed.  She used to be the kid that needed very little guidance.  The kid who listened and followed directions, who acquired new skills quickly, who didn’t need to be summoned off of the trampoline when all of the other kids were working on the beam.

And it wasn’t just gymnastics.  She was bailing out of skiing lessons as well, opting to display extreme separation anxiety meltdowns than have fun on the slope and work on her “pizza” and “french fry” positions.

I grappled with two opposing thoughts:  Pull her out of class, or make her tough it out.

What do you do when your children want to give up?

My first thought was “That’s it.  We’re done.  This is our last class.”  Because classes aren’t cheap, and if she didn’t want to be there, then it was a waste of time for everyone involved.

But then I argued, “Shouldn’t I make her stick things out?”  Perhaps this as an opportunity to teach perseverance and discipline?

Because I know this lesson all too well.  And not just from my career as a professional dancer.

Take Exhibit A:

When I was a senior in high school, I enrolled in AP Calculus.  Not because I was a genius, but because the trajectory of my previous school’s curriculum forced it.  It was either AP Calculus or Physics, and since I can’t seem to even line up my cue ball to hit a clear shot in to a corner pocket, I figured my chances were better at calculus than physics.

But that calculus crap is HARD.

I did okay at it, but about halfway through the semester, I felt overwhelmed.  It was a lot of homework.  Homework that made my head swirl.  And I had come down with a horrible case of Senioritis.

Calculus wasn’t effortless, and therefore, I wanted to drop out.  So I made a proposal to my parents to drop the class.  And when they respectfully declined my request, I did what any mature high school senior would do.

I threw myself on the floor and had a Grade A, Tasmanian Devilish, Supreme Toddler tantrum.

I’m talking pounding the floor, kicking my feet, crying and screaming about how unfair my parents were.  And no matter how much I protested, they didn’t back down on their stance.  I wasn’t quitting and that was that.

It was a hard lesson to swallow.  In the end, I finished the course with a pretty decent grade.  And in my freshman year in college, I tested out of math classes because of my AP Calculus test result.

Thinking back to this experience made me realize something about my daughter.  She may very well be my carbon-copy perfectionist.  If it doesn’t come easy to her, then she doesn’t want to do it.

I get that.  I relate to that.  I have lived that.

Realizing that you’re not an instant natural at something can be eye-opening and humbling.  Some folks rise to the occasion and tackle that head on.  And some decide to give up.

Because giving up is the easier thing to do.

But I wouldn’t be doing my job as a parent if I let my daughter quit because the going got tough.

So, yes, I am keeping my daughter in gymnastics.  I am having the hard discussions with her about what it means to work hard, to keep trying when things aren’t a piece of cake, to find something new in the mundane because it will make you stronger.  I’m trying to convince her that with a little dedication and effort, she will see the rewards of her perseverance.

Like being able to take a Power Walking class in college while all your other friends are stuck crunching numbers in Calculus 101.

Hanging up my blogging stocking

T’is the season.  For parties, family gatherings and good tidings.  For joy, good will, and hot chocolate.  For panicked shopping, cookie-induced bloating, and lame elf-rearranging.

And all of it makes me sweaty with stress.

Tack the task of helping out a former employee part-time on to this month, and I’m feeling over-scheduled and under-motivated.

The solution, I think, is to take a break.

From blogging.

blogging hiatus

Not that it’s why I started writing, but I’ve been at this blog over for two years now, and it appears to be going nowhere.

Sure, I’ve had a few things published here and there that I’m proud of.  But I’m not one of those famously popular bloggers who wrote a post that went viral overnight, received a shit-ton of followers, and the rest just fell in to place.

It’s easy to compare my small number of followers and readers to others success and think, “What’s the freaking point?

My blogging feels like jogging on a treadmill at a crowded gym, where everyone else is running with a smile on their face and logging in miles, while I’m sweating profusely and getting my shoelaces stuck in the track belt.  Dammit if it doesn’t smell like my dance career all over again.  The same insecurity and self-doubt and self-loathing I had to battle with myself as a dancer surfaced again while writing.

I started blogging because I wanted to write and I wanted a creative outlet.   But somehow it morphed in to this thing that doesn’t feel about the writing at all.  It became about the marketing and the tweeting and the pinning and the hand shaking and the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine”.   All of that took a lot of time, exponentially more time, than the writing.

And because I’m so I’m horrible at all of that self-marketing and networking, it’s put a damper on the whole blogging process.

I’ve lost my passion for writing, and instead, have been approaching it half-assed.  It feels more like a chore than a joy.  I’m plagued by a writer’s block of momentous proportions.  I’m tired of feeling like I’m doing a mediocre job.

I need to step away for a bit and reevaluate why I write, who I write for, and what I want to write about, because I veered off path somewhere.

And I need some time away from my computer.  Time to readjust my posture from that slouched one I’ve adopted while stooped over my laptop.  Time to snuggle on the couch, warmed by a blanket and my husband instead of the heat of my MacBook Pro.  Time to work on myself – to work out, take a class or two, find a hobby, catch up on projects, find what fuels me.

I want to feel inspired, motivated and creative again.

So, I’m taking a step back and taking time off to refocus.  How much time?  Until I  can come back to writing and hitting “Publish” with the confidence that I will not measure my self-worth in shares, likes, comments, pageviews or retweets.

I’m not sure when that will be.  Maybe in a couple of weeks.  Maybe longer.  But I’m definitely giving myself a hiatus for the holidays.  I’ll still be present and accounted for on , , and , and if I find some rockin’ kids music you simply must hear, I’ll post it.

But for now, I’m hanging up my blogging stocking for Santa to fill.

Who knows, maybe I’ll get a box of inspiration, wrapped in hilarity with a pretty bow made out of sheer genius.

Or maybe I’ll just get coal.

I hope you’ll find your way back here when I do, and have a very happy holiday season!

Gut feeling…

A few weeks ago, my track pad starting acting all funny and unresponsive, but I thought I’d just tough it out with a wireless mouse. However, after a while, it went completely kaput, and it now resides in the geeky hands of the Apple repair folks until further notice. I’m painstakingly tapping this out on our iPad, so pardon the lack of spell check.

I didn’t set out to have any resolutions this year, but I DID have some goals for myself, first and foremost being to Take Better Care of Myself. In all aspects of that concept, from making sure I slather my hands with lotion whenever I can, to cleaning house emotionally and mentally, to making sure I get all of the pesky annual or bi-annual doctors visits scheduled. Let me tackle the easy one first.

I have been feeling quasi-nauseous for the past few months (and no, I’m not preggers) and finally went to my doc a few weeks ago to get a prescription for a better acid reducer. I was certain the cause was gastritis, which I’d had a decade ago, and I was hoping to just cut to the chase, rather than have to go through the nerve-wracking experience of getting a scope shoved down my throat. My doc gave me some drug samples, but also wanted to rule out the possibility of an infection called H. Pylori so off I went to get a blood test. Simple enough, right?

The results come back a week later, and while the H. Pylori test was negative (yay!) my bilirubin level was elevated (anti-yay!) and they wanted to rule out any funny business with my gall bladder. So, I was ordered to get an abdominal ultrasound, much like the kind you get when you’re pregnant, but far less fun and exciting. Meanwhile, I’m thinking “can’t you just give me that purple light and the cushy shades my son had in the NICU and send me on my way?” Turns out,my gallbladder is fine, but there appears to be a cyst on one of my kidneys that my doctor wants to investigate further. Now I’ve got an abdominal cat scan scheduled for Tuesday morning. While I’ve read that these cysts are pretty common, that they’re usually found in an ultrasound when looking for something else and are relatively harmless, there is always that very small chance that it could be something more. Here’s the thing that scares the shit out of me in all of this: this? This is how people find out they have some funky tumor hanging out somewhere that gets messed around with to a point that it throws their while body out of whack and things turn south. I know, I know. I’m letting my mind and WebMD get the best of me. Tell me to shut up, would ya. So much for taking care of myself…

Speaking of my mind, I’ve made some pretty big leaps in terms of my own mental and emotional health. Huge, scary steps that seem small to everyone else, but feel GINORMOUS to me. In short, I’ve realized that I make assumptions that the people around me know how I’m feeling, both the good and the bad, and then I get frustrated if they aren’t on the same page. So I’ve been trying to be more open with the people I care about. Man, that is sooooo hard. My super ego predicts how things will go and tries to scare me out of being my authentic self, for expressing how I feel, or for asking for what I want or need. Sounds so simple, yet so difficult to execute. Time to put on my big girl pants….

Knock it outta the park…

Things are starting to settle in to a routine, now that school is back in session. And with full-day Kindergarten starting a week from now, I feel as if I’m getting a little break. Summer can be Oh So Fun, but Oh So Exhausting. The constant planning of play dates, activities and camps makes the long days with two kids go down a little easier but I find myself getting a little maxed out.  For instance, the playground?  Yeah, I could use a hiatus from that.  Except that it’s free and close by.   Can’t we just spend a day in our jammies, playing with the thousand toys we have here, instead of having something on the itinerary?  I know those little minds and bodies get bored quickly, but since I’m keeping Mr. B occupied during Miss P’s naps, I feel as if I’ve hit my limit with LEGO construction.  Yet, now that our weekdays are taken care of with school, I’m finding I will miss having my little guy around. 

I also feel as if I’m driving out of the tunnel of whatever funk I was in.  Not completely clear of it, but seeing the exit signs.  I’m getting less irritable.  I think.  My husband would probably disagree.  It also helps that my son has been an absolute angel this past week.  I’m not sure why, perhaps it is being back in school (and the new teacher he has, who seems like a woman that don’t take no shit from nobody, yet can still offer a hug), but he’s been a great listener, a very sweet and loving kid, nice to Miss P, and has been controlling his temper better (especially around his little sister).  Man, do I need to take a lesson from him and practice what I preach.  Perhaps he’s getting all of his anger and aggression out during our nightly t-ball sessions.  Maybe I should do the same?  I go through times where I feel like I need an anger cleanse.  Or an exorcism.  Something.  Do you experience that?  A sudden and explosive sense of anger and frustration?  It’s a horrible feeling.  When you’re IN IT, boy is it hard to remind yourself to breathe, count to ten, go to your Happy Place, etc.  I’m getting better, I think.  But I still have a long ways to go before I feel like my old, silly self again. 

Excuse me while I go whack some whiffle balls…

Back to basics…

Expansion and positive change on the outer level is much more likely to come into your life if you can enjoy what you are doing already, instead of waiting for some change so that you can start enjoying what you do. 
–Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
I know I started in on this whole Mid-Career Crisis thing a while back, and then I sort of dropped it like a hot potato.  It never really went away.  But my attitude towards what I’m currently doing is shifting.  Like Mr. Tolle has painfully pointed out to me again and again, I love being miserable and will seek out those situations that can feed that need to pity myself.  What good does that do?  To me?  To those around me?  
So, my dancing.  Is it better?  Probably not.  Especially since I’ve apparently swallowed a small animal with the pounds I’ve been quickly packing away.  (This is where I’d ask you to slap me out of the negativity.  A good hard smack.)  Am I getting more recognition?  Truth be told, I am probably getting just as much, but I’m just listening more.  And comparing less.  My success or failure really shouldn’t depend on what is said to me or to others, and the more I can repeat this mantra under my breath during class and rehearsal, the better off I am. 
What I AM trying to do is get back to the basics.  The pure and simple enjoyment of feeling my body move through space.  The power that comes with feeling strong, the rush of energy that comes from getting my heart rate up and breaking a sweat.   The humor in a shaky leg as it creeps up to an extension.   The breath that comes from those around me as they navigate the space with me.  
Don’t get me wrong.  I still pine for something else.  But maybe something as startling as a sudden career change is the wrong thing right now.  I think I need to take it slow.  Baby steps à la Bill Murray.  Singing with my kids this afternoon, albeit to the Tangled soundtrack, made me long for a voice lesson.  On the docket for today:  sniff out a voice teacher and/or acting classes.  Low commitment stuff for the time being, but something.  
And while I’m at it, can I look around for a cooking class?  Something that lets me bring home a few leftovers?  Who’s with me?