Playing Possum

When threatened, a possum will pretend to be either asleep or unconscious.  It will not run away.  It will NOT move.  I’ve heard this expression a million times over the course of my life.  Last night, I learned the truth. 

At 5:45 I parked my car in the garage.  I entered the house after a long day at the office, said hello to my fellas.  The Hubs asked, “Was the garage door open when you pulled up?”  I replied, “No, why?”  Ominously he said, “I thought I saw something in there earlier.”  Of course, neither of us did anything about that.  We just shrugged, like maybe someone else will figure it out, as if we aren’t the heads of the household. 

Forty five minutes later, as I sat editing an email at my office desk, a clamoring came from the garage.  “I thought I saw something in there” floated through mind; I quickly ignored it, and returned to editing.  I checked my watch and noticed it was time to leave to pick up The Goose from volleyball and drop Mister at basketball.  I hollered, “MISTER!  GET READY FOR BASKETBALL!”  I heard him busy about upstairs, no doubt styling his hair and looking for his shoes.  He came down to the office and said, “I’m going to grab a Gatorade and my ball.”  He opened the door, stomped up the garage stairs, and then bellowed, “OHHH MYYY GAAAHHHHH”.  Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Door. Slam.

I jumped up from the desk as he huffed and puffed his way back into the house, white as a ghost, trying to catch his breath.  I said, “Buddy – what’s wrong?" He replied, “There’s….there’s…there’s somethin’ in the garage.” I said, “Oh,” as if this was new information, “what do you think you saw?”  He said, “It was like furry, white and black, spiky fur.”  I said, “Oh no! You think it was a skunk?”  He said, “No, yes, I don’t know mom.” 

We charged upstairs to talk to Dad.  As we walked he talked me through each step as he entered the garage and saw the critter.  “It was behind the wood pile and it darted out across over by the toys or fridge or somewhere.”  He shared his experience with his father and noted, “It had a tail like a hairless cat – a long, hairless tail.”  Possum. 

It’s important to note here that The Hubs was in bed because he was preparing for a long night of work ahead.   He planned to get out of bed around 10:30 pm to be at work by 11:30 pm; he did not want to get out of bed a moment sooner.  The possum’s entrance in the evening was not on the schedule; I didn’t even have the heart to ask him to look for the possum, I rushed the boy’s coats on, headed out the door, and into the car.  But, because he is a good dad, he followed us out the door. He grabbed a broom and started poking it around the million places a critter could happily find warmth in our garage: woodpile, ball box, toy shelves, under the four wheeler, behind the fridge, within the mountain of bikes.  We sat safely in the car, watching him thrash about the place, wildly like only an angry dad can.  Nothing ever happened.  No critter emerged. 

We went about our evening schedule.  Dad returned to bed, leaving the garage door open. I did the drop at basketball, pick up at volleyball, drop friend from volleyball, drop daughter from volleyball, return to pick up basketball player, and back to the blasted garage.  We had hoped, upon our return, we would see tracks in the snow indicating the welcome departure of the possum.  No such luck. Mister said, “We gotta get this guy outta here.” 

We went in the house and he formulated his plan of attack, while I reiterated my “let’s leave the garage door open long enough for him to see himself out” theory.  “No, Mom, I’ll put on boots so if he attacks he can’t get to my skin as easy.”  He opened the door, grabbed the broom as he’d seen The Dad do, and started poking around the garage.  “I SEE HIM!”

GULP.  Unenthusiastically, I asked, “where?”  He said, “Right there – behind the red box.”  He poked and poked at that possum and guess what it did?  NADA.  Heart racing, I snuck around to the front of the garage, and peeked at the possums suggested location.  There it was.  A white, frightened (or frightening depending on which camp you’re in) face just stared at me. 

Then, one good poke and Mister yelped, “HOLY SHIIIIIIII – it’s tail is so strong!” He poked the tail, and it poked back and that was the end of our adventure in the garage (hallelujah).  Decidedly he announced, “Yeah, let’s just leave the garage open for a while.”  Of course I locked the door to the house because I’ve seen Over the Hedge, so I know those little monsters have nimble thumbs. 

This morning, our possum hunt continued before school.  It did not help with our morning timeline and we cannot confirm if there is or is not a possum in our garage.  But we can confirm, the expression “playing possum” closely aligns with the actual behavior of a real possum. 

To be continued – or maybe not; we can’t be sure. 


The Search for Wholeness

the search for wholenessYou remember Feris Bueller's saying: "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."  That is how I feel today.  It is like in a blink another year has come and gone and I'm left wondering, did I miss it?  

I think as mothers we're often consumed by the little details so much that we miss the big picture.  We are so busy doing everything that we don't enjoy it.  Can we be in the thick of it and participate fully or can we be present.

I dug into MaverickRx in 2019 at the expense of The Mama Bird.  Now when I sit and look back on the moments that really busted me up in 2019, I feel remiss for not writing them down.  It is disappointing; I have to acknowledge and accept my own limitations in my personal, creative spaces.  Who likes to accept their own limitations?  Um.... no one.  Zero people want to talk about the shit they didn't get around to doing.  The thing is MaverickRx did distract me from writing; but it also gave me a wild goal wrought with challenges and littered with dreams.  

Every year I have LOFTY goals.  Thanks for that, Dad.  I want so badly to reach each goal.  I try and try and keep trying.  But in the midst of all that trying, something gets left undone.  I cannot be an exceptional mother, with a spotless house, laundry folded and put away, teach fitness, build a YouTube channel, write a blog, see my friends and family, read books, date my husband, maintain a lovely yard, and have a full-time job. Or can I?  

Someone recently asked, "how do you do it all?"  Super simple.  This is one you'll need to write down: I don't do it all.  

Acknowledging my limitations and fessing up to what I'm not going to get done is how I don't do it all.  Things that truly matter are the only things I'm giving brain space to in the twenties - the things that make me feel entirely WHOLE. For example, how clean my house is or if my yard is pretty have nothing to do with what makes me feel whole; and the laundry can jump off a bridge for all I care.  Let's not even go there.  These are not unique aspects of what make a life.  These are universal "have-to's".  Disinfect, clean, mow, fold... everyone has to do this stuff.  It cannot, therefore, consume any brain space or plague us with stress.  

Before I was a mother there were a few things that made me, well me.  I lived to read and write.  I spent hour upon hour listening to music.  I hung around people who refueled me with laughter.  We talked about books, music, and culture. Those are non-negotiables for me to be me.  Creating, feeding my brain, and connecting with the most valuable people in my life, even for a quick coffee or phone call, give me a boost.  

I fell in love before I was "Mom!"  I fell in love with a man who makes me laugh and snort and who puts up with my countless lists and dreams.  He supports almost all of my ideas and when he doesn't he says so.  Although, I can't think of a time he said so exactly.  He might have made fun of an idea a time or two or screamed at me, "You and your ideas!"  But for the most part, 98% of the time, he is all in.  

Once I became a mother, I also fell in love with my kids and fitness.  I didn't teach fitness until I had my first daughter.  Over the course of the past thirteen years, fitness has become engrained in my being.  It is my sanity saver.  Motivating other humans to move, picking them up when workouts get really hard, and making them smile through the challenges really lights my fire.  

My kids are my favorite people, hands down.  They each have an energy all their own, unique quirks and personality traits that sometimes resemble me or their dad, but are most definitely their own spin on existence.  Most of the time we get along well, until someone breaks an XBox controller, the tv, or drags around in the morning and makes mom late to work which forces mom to come unglued.  But my mom friends assure me, that's normal.

Brain space is limited.  What we allow into our brain space - what we allow into our lives is absolutely within our control.  To feel like a complete, whole human we get to select where, what, and who we want to put energy into.  My goal for 2020 is to allow my brain space to be filled with three essential aspects of my life that make me feel whole: human connection, creativity, and movement.  

I invite you to take a minute and assess what will fill your brain space in 2020.  What makes you whole and uniquely you?  What doesn't actually matter in your life that you are allowing to fill your brain space with and, in so doing, creating stress?  Let go of the non-essentials and focus on the aspects of life that fill you with energy and excite you every day.  


Can You "Censor" Rude?

I went to dinner with my parents and children in the city on Monday.  As we were walking toward the restaurant I could hear a rowdy group of people sitting in front of the restaurant.  They were LOUD and cussing like truck drivers.  Which, let's be honest, I've been known to do myself.  My friend Brooke will testify to it.  I have a potty mouth.  But when I had kids, I had the decency to clean my act up and not speak with such colorful language around them.

It seems LOGICAL to me.  If I want my children to speak without profanity, I have to speak without profanity.  Am I perfect?  Absolutely not.  There are times when oops the F word sneaks out.  Like the day I got attacked by a swarm of earwigs.  Or when I scraped a dead mouse out of my dryer with my bare hands.  Things happen.

But on the daily, nope.  We keep it clean.  As we neared the group of boisterous, margarita sipping fools I made a mental note "sit inside."  I ordered for myself and the children, which took a decade.  My parents ordered and were outside setting up a table before I could suggest we just wait for a table inside.  I get it, no one likes waiting, but for my own sanity in that situation, I would have waited.  

Outside our table set up doesn't meet managers regulation and we are asked to move next to the table of cussing hoodlums or go inside.  I said to the manager, "well, I wish I could sit outside, but those kids are using a level of profanity known only to truck drivers or Snoop Dogg."  She giggled, apologized and said she'd set us up somehow inside.  

My darling mother, in the meantime, decided to approach the obscenity loving table of idiots.  She politely asked them to tone down their profanity.  At the table sat six men and a single woman.  The men all quickly apologized, "of course...we're sorry...we'll clean it up."  The woman, on the other hand, would not have it.  She loudly exerted her opinion, "I WILL NOT!  I will not censure myself because of YOUR CHILDREN!"  To which I laughed heartily because, really?  I said, "Oh hunny... I hope one day you have your own children then."  And she said, "I won't."  And I replied, "Of course not."  She quickly replied with the classiest of rebuttals, "FUUUUCCCCKKKK YOU."

Now, as I mentioned, I have a mouth of my own and have often been un-censurable.  Usually, like this nit-wit, I've had one too many margaritas or some other tasty cold alcohol rich drink.  I also, while being a very patient and kind person, do have a temper.  Usually, lets be honest, I stuff my anger down real deep in prayer.  

Truly though, I wanted to rip her head off.  She told ME to F OFF in front of my kids?!  I felt frozen.  I felt like if I rip this little girl a new one in front of my children and parents, that's not exactly setting the best example.  Instead, I sat down inside, and quietly raged while eating my dinner.  I dreamed of pouring a margarita over her incredibly ugly hair.  I dreamed of picking her up from the table by her ear and walking her up to my children and forcing her to apologize for her incredibly rude and terribly awful manners.  I dreamed of physically harming her while politely eating my burrito bowl. 

But I also knew that assault is assault no matter how you slice it.    

On my drive home from the city I wondered, what gives people the right to be such assholes?  Why on earth does asking a person to behave like a big girl and be polite in front of small children qualify as censorship?  Isn't it just RESPECTFUL?  Aren't we just talking about using our MANNERS?  

When did respecting other people around you and using your manners become a challenge?  Honestly, I do not understand.  

It will please you to know that really, in the end, I won.  That same night, I had a dream that my family was under attack by a werewolf.  It was a giant beast of a creature, which I can only assume was a subconscious way of representing the rude woman from dinner with the hideous hair.  In the dream, I protected the children but the beast kept coming at me.  Lunging with wild crazy eyes, intolerably bad breath, and a dreadfully frizzy coat of wild unkempt hair.  I called for my husband and he came running at the werewolf with a Ziploc 1 gallon freezer bag.  I held the beasts head down, with my knee in her neck as my husband suffocated her with the freezer bag.  

I also won because I am not an asshole with the audacity to verbally (or really) assaulting other humans.  

The End.


Choose Grit.

Today my children sat in on a seminar [read: school assembly] on a concept that adults often find a struggle: GRIT. 

In her book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Lee Duckworth explores how this aspect of the growth mindset, developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, can impact student beliefs about failure.  Duckworth suggests that "what we eventually accomplish may depend more on our passion and perseverance than on our innate talent." 

Mrs. Duckworth has leveled the playing field, my friends.

Up to now, we're all under this assumption that our innate talent or our IQ sets the standard for success.  Then, in walks Duckworth.  Guess what she's doing - she is calling bullshit.

Is my sister better at math than me?  Yes.  It is because she is smarter than me?  No.  Could it be that when math got tough, I didn't have the grit to persevere and figure that shit out?  A person can be very talented, very intelligent, but in the absence of grit she will not be successful.

The lessons my children have learned within their elementary school about the concepts of having a growth mindset and grit are as valuable as the lessons they have learned about arithmetic and history.  This concept leads me to wonder and explore HOW as parents we can encourage these concepts, teach these life skills, and nurture our children's grit.

I think most of life's challenges can be eliminated with the right perspective.  Of course we each have our own - and we each have to rise to the challenge of creating our own positive perspective in times of struggle.  I find the right perspective in constant communication with God.  There isn't a day that starts without our conversation.  In so doing, I am able to stay the course.  Maintain a positive mind-set and seek personal growth.  I believe I am talented.  I believe I am smart.  But I also believe, I will not be successful with my talents or intelligence without grit.

How many talented, intelligent people do you know that are not particularly successful?  Take a minute and think of them.  Now consider this: is their perception of success the same as yours?  In Shift Happens: How to Live and Inspired Life...Starting Right Now! by Robert Holden I've been exploring this concept of perspective.  I've come to decide that perspective is literally EVERYTHING.  What I perceive as success, how I feel happiness, how I feel worthy, how I feel I contribute to the world, where I see myself heading, the connection and relationships I develop - all entirely of my perspective.

People often ask me how I am.  Though they say it in a way that leads me to believe they think I am not doing well, they seem to think I am "over-doing it".  Their questions are laden with their perspective that I am too busy to enjoy life.  "You're so busy... how do you do it all?"  "You must be stressed with so much work."  I am busy.  I have a lot of work.  I like it that way.  I prefer busting ass all day and pushing myself to work hard, learn new things, and shine my light into the world in my own way every day.  I prefer it to "down time".  I don't consider the challenges of my days as negative.  I think challenges are opportunities.  Let's see how we can tackle this mountain.  Let's figure out how we can eat this frog.  Is having grit and working toward my goals easy?  No.  But does my perspective allow me to see it as a positive and forward moving experience so that I want to do it.  Yes.  I choose grit.

After the school assembly today my boys came home happy and feeling charged up.  The Happy Critter said, "Today I am ready to take off my training wheels."  He was influenced by the motivational concept of grit.  We took his training wheels off the bike.  We gave it a go.  He chanted several times that he has grit.  We worked at it for thirty minutes.  I suggested we take a break, try again before dinner.  He immediately broke into tears.  He said, "I can't do it!"  Sobbing hysterically.

I calmed him down.  I said, "Wait, I thought you had grit."  He said, "I did for a little bit, but it must be gone because I can't ride the bike."  I said, "Listen, grit doesn't come and go.  Grit tackles the bike riding one lesson at a time until it gets done. Grit is trying again and again, keeping at it."  I asked him, "Will you keep trying?"  He said, "Yes."  I said, "See you do have grit."

Grit can be taught.  But it must be talked about.  My kid's first perception was that grit was a one trick pony.  How can we share how gritty we are with our children?  How can we include perspective and our own growth mindsets with our children?

Talk about it as it happens.  When something needs fixed, bring them along on the journey with you.  I never really learned how to be gritty when it came to math.  But I sure as shit learned to be gritty.  My parents each, in their own ways, modeled pieces of their grittiness with me - I developed it and learned it from their behavior.

In trying to live outside this little comfort zone of mine, I am sharing my grit.  In working until the wee hours trying to understand new software platforms, rules of using YouTube, best practices of this or that within my professional space - my children see my grit.  When my bag is overflowing with notes from my workout, my mornings spent creating Indoor cycle playlists, or my hands callused from weights they see my grit.  When the faucet is clogged and it takes not one but three trips to ACE to get the right materials to fix it, our children see grit.  When the hubs is up at 4 and home at 9, they see grit.  When we share and show our passion for our work, for each other, for our community - we share and show our grit.  We do not have it all figured out.  We are not good at everything, but we will bust our ass until we are.  That is how we Choose Grit in our house.  


For all the books mentioned in this blog post and a few suggestions for encouraging grit in your children click here.  


I Already Miss the Sea

When I was little my grandmothers lived hours from me.  We would travel to visit and every time I left them, I would cry.  My parents would pack my brother, sister, and I back into the car and I would wish desperately that we could stay longer.  Leaving them felt like I was leaving part of me. 

I lived a wonderful childhood.  I come from a loving, kind, fun family and it was not that I was leaving them and heading to some version of torture.  I just really liked being near them. 

As an adult, I feel that way about the sea.  When I am not near it, I wish I was.  I can close my eyes and take a moment to escape back to it in my imagination.  When I am at the doctor and they say, "go to your happy place" before taking my blood pressure, I go to the sea.  The sound of it.  The smell of it.  The sheer expanse and beauty of it.  The depth of colors and textures within.  The feel of the sand and the joy of touching it - all bring me back to a calm that I feel deep in my heart and belly. 

The children and I were fortunate to take a few days for spring vacation with some friends to Destin, Florida.  It was a bright spot in the middle of this dreary, lingering winter.  When it came time to pile back into the cars, I took my boys back to the magical place where the stairs lead to the sand to share with them my tradition of saying goodbye to the sea.  A feeling much like that of leaving my grandmothers as a child, it brings tears to my eyes. 

I longed to be home.  I looked forward to seeing my husband and sleeping in my own bed.  The comforts of our life here in our little bubble are inviting.  But I wish, always, when I leave it that I don't have to.  I wish that I could be closer to it.  I wish that it could be bottled up and moved closer to wear my home is.  I daydream the whole ride home about returning to it and finding my own little piece of home near it.   

Last night, I turned on the sounds of the sea to fall asleep and was filled with the wonderful memories we made with our friends while on vacation.  I felt full, blessed, and thankful to have had my time at the sea again.