Posted in Word Therapy

Is it Too Early? Is it?!

Around the end of August, when it is 100+ degrees outside, I start planning my Halloween décor.  I’ve tired of the heat by this time in summer.  The kids are back in school and the waterparks will all be closed in a couple of weeks.  As I am somebody that can’t just be in the moment, I start to daydream of fires in the fireplace, knee high boots, and that one time during a Southern California winter where I can wear one of my large collection of beanies.  And by Labor Day, my Hello Kitty Witch and Jack Skellington inflatables will be waving around on our front lawn, my freak flag out for all to see.

Last year this time I was all set to listen to Christmas music.  I had my Waitresses Pandora station queued up so I can listen to favorites such as “Do They Know it’s Christmas” by Band Aid, “Last Christmas” by Wham!, and “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” by David Bowie and Bing Crosby.  But the week before that the apocalypse had been ushered in by the 2016 election.  I was still devastated.  Getting up was a chore.  Rather than taking it day by day, I was focusing on minute by minute.  Music, which usually lifted me up, only reminded me of a time when I looked forward to the future.  For Christmas of 2016, I didn’t listen to holiday tunes.  I directed my attention on my kids and what could I do to show them to still believe in Santa Claus and what was good in the world.

With Thanksgiving a week away, I have hope again.  Indictments are being made.  Mueller is playing a game of chess with the White House while Dumb Ass in Chief is being a school yard bully with the leader of North Korea.  Instead of the news being on all the time, Bob Marley, Maroon 5, and even videogame music is being danced to.

So if you are that person that rolls their eyes at Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving, it’s all good.  But I’m going all in this year and blaring my “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for all to hear.  Because it makes me happy DAMNIT.  And don’t we all deserve a little bit after this (all the bad words in all the languages) of a year?

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Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Anxiety, Panic, and Pessimism: Take A Seat

Back at home.  A house, while smaller, has character and a tranquil backyard (my kids are so tired of hearing about the character of Fullerton houses but I am in serious architectural hog heaven).  There are so many places we want to visit in the OC that I have to keep reminding myself that those places aren’t going anywhere and neither are we.  And for the first time in I don’t know how long, I’m not stressed about bills.  That is when the voices start to close in and try to sabotage my brain.

I have had a good life.  I grew up in a nice home, have loving parents, and was never really told no.  In adulthood I met the love of my life and we have two great kids.  But I also grew up feeling less than, was bullied relentlessly, and never felt pretty.  My husband and I have survived hard times but they have left their mark.  They put me in the lowest place I have ever been.  Those times made me stronger, weaker, and made me appreciate what I have.  But it also introduced me to my greatest fear: a feeling I never want to revisit.

These days I am the manager of our household, making sure everybody is taken care of and is getting what they need from their life.  That ranges from making sure hubby is getting the time to study calculus after work, to the kids having an after school activity to work out their energy, to Oscar getting his daily walks to stretch his old legs.  I exercise, write, clean, and read.  I of course always want more time to write but how can I complain?  I know how lucky I am.

Then I start to hear, “This can’t last.  Happiness doesn’t stay.  The happier you get, the harder you will have to fall.  Before Prozac those thoughts would make me believe I was alone in this feeling.  I now know that isn’t true.  But Prozac hasn’t chased away the “happiness is fleeting” thoughts.

I’ve never considered trying to calm or manage those destructive thoughts before.  Being rational wasn’t an option and all I did was let the panic take over.  I know I can only control so much and the rest is life telling me who is in charge.  Deep breaths, being responsible, and continuing to work hard is my new way of combating the negativity.  And try not to be so hard on myself because I have recently learned a lesson: Being nice to myself is not only good for me, it is also good for the ones I love.  Such a hard lesson to learn and continue to believe.  I feel like I have to train my brain like writing it on a chalkboard over and over again.

Posted in Word Therapy

Coming Home

It has been two weeks since we have moved back to the OC and we have almost found our groove.  The kids are a little less mad at us today for taking them from their friends and school, hubby is tackling his new job, and I am starting to find bits and pieces of my sanity around the house.  My brain has been on overdrive since we exited Chapman Avenue off the 57 freeway.  When I first arrived here in August of ’93, I was a hopeful 18 year old who couldn’t wait to start her freshman year as a theater arts major at Cal State Fullerton.  Today I am a 42 year old mother of two who is trying to define herself as a writer.  Memories of the former keep playing bumper cars with my present and I am trying to process it.

At 7 am my Iphone alarm goes off so I can get up and feed my pups.  Their tiny nails echo down the hall as the three of us walk outside to get their breakfast.  Within a few minutes I wake up Oscar and Duke’s human sister and brother to get ready for school.  At 815 am the kids and I head out the door to drop them off at school.  Once I greet Scarlet’s teacher at drop off I leave their school and head home.  Several CSUF students line the streets as they head to class on their longboards, scooters, or on foot.  They listen to music with their earbuds and backpacks secured.  I think of the 7 am Political Science class in the Ruby Gerontology Center that I should have known better to sign up for and barely managed to pass.

Once I am home and running shoes are on, I head out for a jog around the city.  I pass more students as I near the school and envy them.  I still have nightmares about missing classes and showing up on the day of a test.  But damn if I don’t miss learning and interacting with other students.  I can’t learn enough these days, as if I am trying to make up for the time I wasted back then.

When I run errands around the city I pass the Bank of America where I used to deposit my $6/hour job checks from Express.  I pass where Off Campus Pub used to be and I would spend my Thursday nights drinking, dancing with my girlfriends, and judging the shoes of all the males (My rule: Don’t wear your nasty kicks or flip flops if you plan on asking a girl for her number).  The apartment complex where I lived in no less than 3 apartments has been repainted gaudy fall colors (mustard, olive green, etc.) and houses a lot more students.

The Brea mall hasn’t changed much except that my favorite French restaurant is gone (I miss you chicken and garlic sandwich with bruschetta!) and I can’t eat a sun dried tomato bagel with a large ice blended coffee for breakfast from the Nordstrom Espresso bar like I used to.  The pet store where I would peer in the window and gush over the puppies on my break will now only be able to sell puppies from rescues and Wesley and I gush over the animals together.  It’s more fun to clothes shop for the kids then it is for me and watching their eyes light up when I buy them nitro candy makes me smile.

Every week I write up the dinner menu for the following week so I can make my grocery list.  In my twenties eating at home was unheard of and rolled tacos with guacamole and shredded cheese with a diet coke (oh the irony) from Alberto’s on Placentia Avenue was what’s for dinner.  These days it’s chicken, rice, and vegetables (otherwise known as “Yuck” according to my kids).

Weekends are spent going to the movies and dinner, laundry, and recouping from the week.  The bars of Newport Beach aren’t missed and neither are the feelings of inadequacy as I looked around/danced in the late 90s.

Do I miss the freedom of my youth?  Who doesn’t?  I wished I had finished my college degree sooner.  But today I feel a wholeness that comes with having a family that I adore and love spending time with.  Gray keeps trying to stage a coup on my dyed hair, the crow’s feet and wrinkles are a part of the landscape of my face and I suspect the waddle is coming:

I will continue to struggle with growing older and hopefully find peace with it.  But instead of obsessing about it today I will show my kids why the OC feels like home.  And maybe give the kids a tour of the Fullerton Arboretum that I used to break into at night with my dorm roommates…

 

Posted in Calming the Voices, Word Therapy

Sometimes Joey McIntyre is Who it Takes

Hurricanes. Earthquakes. Ethnic cleansing. The White House. Is there anything in the news today that doesn’t stress us out? When the Oklahoma City bombing occurred I remember bawling while watching the television coverage and my boyfriend asking me, “Why do you care so much? You don’t know them”-he exited not long after. With anxiety and depression I have learned to identify when I’m feeling bad as a result of them. The next step has been learning to get through it and how. I have had to develop a certain set of skills for this.

Taken GIF

From ’07 to ’12 we moved a total of seven times. I had moving down pat. I didn’t get rid of moving boxes. I became obsessed with purging stuff so we could have less stuff to move. I even had a moving checklist on my hard drive. With our next move coming upon us, I can feel the pressure looming over me. I am in full coping mode: taking deep breaths, taking it one day at a time, and making ALL THE LISTS. To do lists broken down by day and week, address change notification list, what to purge, donate, and sell list, and my favorite-but-gives-my-husband-heart-palpitations list: What to buy for the new house.

As a child I used reading to deal with being bullied. When I would have a bad day I would daydream about a NKOTB member (preferably Joey) taking me to the Oscars where I would win for best actress and look perfect on the red carpet with my perfectly straight hair and fabulous formal gown. As an adult I still use reading to cope while my hubby takes me on dates that no red carpet or fabulous gown could measure up to. I would prefer to lose myself in a Stephen King novel than watch Sarah Huckabee Sanders be rude to the press during her daily bullshit briefings. If I want to be relaxed and focused, I meditate. Running stimulates my mind and helps me be creative. And all music makes me happy.

We all need coping skills, depressed or not. I am proud to say that my daughter will go to her room to color or read while listening to music if she gets annoyed with her brother or overwhelmed. This is in contrast from last year when she used to yell at anybody within shouting distance. Wesley chews his fingernails (he is a work in progress). Setting her and her brother up for success at a young age on how to deal with life’s obstacles is a gift I hope I can give them.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. If you are sad or feel alone, you aren’t. Here is the link to NAMI for you or anybody that you know is struggling:

https://www.nami.org/

I would like to leave you with a performance of “You Will Be Found” by the cast of Dear Evan Hansen. The show deals with teen suicide and the song makes me feel less alone every time I hear it.

Posted in Word Therapy

Stepping Down

 

Having it all: A good job that is fulfilling and decent paying, a happy family, and just being satisfied with life in general. Ever since my daughter was born 10 years ago, I can honestly say that even though we have had our troubles, our family life has been a good one. I adore my husband. He is my best friend, my love, and still makes me laugh 18 years in. My kids are great. Hubby hasn’t been out of work since we left Arizona and even though we don’t live an extravagant life style, we don’t want for much. My current role is being head of the household. I plan all meals and shop for them. I clean the house, daily and weekly. I volunteer for the kids’ school and make sure homework is done and signed for. If they seem to be having trouble in any aspect of their life, I’m all over it. Talks with them and/or no electronics are punishment when necessary. I exercise five days/week to be healthy for them and myself. I love being a wife and a mom. But with medication, exercise, and meditation comes clarity. I want more.

I have been writing on and off for 10+ years. I start and then stop. I let life get in the way. I tell myself household and family responsibilities can only be done by me, which translates to I want it done my way. I worry that if I don’t spend more quality time with my significant other, he will leave me (anxiety is a bitch that way). I fear my kids will fall behind in school if I’m not on top of them to get their stuff done. I stress that my house will be a total mess if I don’t follow the schedule I have set for every day. As I am writing this I realize how tight I have the reins. And in order for me to finish that book I have been writing in my head for years, something else has to give.

Official Notice to the Wilson Household: It has been brought to my attention that I do a lot of work around our home. I clean, cook, shop, and make sure everybody is living a comfortable life. Your needs are my needs. You want something specific for your lunch? I will buy it. You want a particular deodorant? Got it. You need help with a homework assignment? Done. I love you all. Some days I live for you. But mom/wife needs time to be Stephanie. It is time to fulfill a part of me that is ambitious, creative, and hard working. I suck at asking for help. But if you will assist me, I can get better at it. And in turn, you can feel good about helping somebody you love achieve a life goal.

Do I think it is possible to “have it all”? Hell no. I’m always going to put my family first, even as I let go. But bringing myself closer to the front will fulfill me and bring me happiness and pride.

Posted in Word Therapy

My Not So Little Man

The day after you turned 1, you cut your chin on the TV stand. At 2 ½, you gave yourself an Indiana Jones style scar when you landed on your chin in the bathtub and split it open, warranting a trip to the ER. A few months later, you were potty trained in 3 days. My favorite part was your excitement at going in the portable potty, picking it up to show me, and getting a splash back of pee in the face. A year later you were riding your bike with no training wheels and chanting, “I can do this!” You did all of these things with your sweet chubby cheeks, golden brown eyes, and a handful of freckles. Today you are 8. Gone are the squirrel like cheeks and in its place is a tall, handsome kid.

You’ve grown so much this year. You want a meal and dessert to yourself when we go out for dinner and the hell fire will rain down if you are forced to share:

You love tacos, tacos, and more tacos. You have become more adventurous with what you will eat. You would eat yogurt with every meal if we allowed it (preferably strawberries and cream flavor). You still love your video games, especially Minecraft and Mario Kart. You will sit and watch Minecraft videos on Youtube and yell, “Mom! You have to watch this! It’s so cool!” You binged Lego Ninjago over the summer and want to be one of them for Halloween. You like to read the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and anything that says Minecraft and Adventure on it.

This year brought out a sullen side of you that I expected but not so soon. You don’t take kindly to the word No and are the king of muttering under your breath. These are growing pains that we will get through together because I know my Wesley is still in there (somewhere).

You get along with everybody you know because of your easygoing and confident personality. Your mind is always moving and if you aren’t playing video games on the Wii U, you are drawing, creating with Legos, or making obstacle courses in the play room, American Ninja Warrior style. You still operate at a volume of 11+ and can shake your booty like no one else. You found your love of performing by participating in choir, making me cry with that sweet voice.  And you are the biggest giver of hugs, kisses, and compliments.

Wesley Hamilton

No matter how big you get, you are still my little boy. You hold my hand wherever we go. I can tell when you aren’t getting enough rest because you are GRUMPY. You try to convince me that Slenderman is real (nope) and that you aren’t afraid of him but you will be damned if I turn off the hall light at night.

Wesley Knotts

Happy 8th birthday, my sunshine of freckles.

 

 

Posted in Word Therapy

The Cool Girl

Harry Potter. Percy Jackson. Star Wars comic books. This was the year you became a nerdy badass. You found joy in books, movies, and television shows like Stranger Things. I am always afraid of pushing what I love on you but watching you grab onto these things and discovering a passion you didn’t have before has thrilled me down to my toes. You read Percy Jackson in fourth grade and you love it so much we have been informed that you want to learn Greek. You talk a mile a minute whether it is about why Professor McGonagall’s first name is Minerva (Roman counterpart to the Greek goddess Athena), why you need a Yankees hat for your Annabeth costume for Halloween, or who Luke is married to in the Star Wars comics. You don’t let anybody tell you that you shouldn’t like these things because you are a girl. Your closest friends are boys. You like to skateboard, ride your bike, and talk about Anne of Green Gables. You’ve already decided at 10 that drama is not for you and you walk away from it as opposed to engaging.

Scarlet Birthday 2

You are becoming more beautiful every day but could care less as it is even a fight to get you to comb your hair or wear a shirt that isn’t dirty, especially if you love said shirt. You have priorities and that is listening to music (Maroon 5 and Fallout Boy are new favorites), going to the library and leaving with no less than 5 books at a time, Minecraft, and Musicly. You fight with your brother 98.2% of the time but have endless patience with the little ones in our neighborhood. Macaroni and cheese still has your heart and Red Robin is your favorite restaurant. You started collecting Pop Funkos this year and have them arranged in alphabetical order on your dresser if there was ever a doubt that you are my daughter.

Scarlet birthday 1

There is no doubt that you are growing up. You want your independence and do not like being told what to do. I understand that need. You are capable of doing so many things on your own. But as your mom I want to protect you and hopefully make sure you don’t grow up too fast. This is a new chapter in our relationship and I hope that we will remain a team of not just mom and daughter but friends that love and understand each other even when we don’t agree.

Scarlet birthday 3

Scarlet, you are whip smart, enthusiastic, hot tempered, messy, determined, and sweet when you want to be. And when you are older I will whisk you off to a girls’ weekend at Comic-Con instead of a spa. It will be perfect, just like you.

Scarlet birthday 4

Happy 10th birthday my girl. Love you more than Eggos.