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Optimism

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How to Make an Ass of Yourself in One Easy Step

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In addition to being the only person I've ever known to use the word "whence" in spoken conversation, my ninth grade english teacher also wins the superlative for Person In Life Most Likely to Tell Me What Happens when You Assume.

[In case you are one of the lucky ones who has never heard this play on words, the answer is:  "You make an 'ass' out of '-u' and '-me.']

I've never much liked that expression, mostly because it is typically said rather asstasticly.  Irony makes me cough.

Nevertheless, apparently this saying is something I should be keeping in mind from time to time always.  Like when I email someone and they don't respond so I assume they have a problem with me.  Or when, hypothetically, I call a producer at Harpo studios to ask whether I am correct in deducing that I have been cut from Oprah's Life Class and I don't hear back so I ASSUME that I my conclusions are correct.

HYPOTHETICALLY, I might make an ass of myself if I were to do THAT, for instance.

My friends:  you can believe people when they tell you that these interwebs are capable of spreading information far and wide.  Because somehow or other, my post titled "Things I Learned about Embarrassment by Being Cut From Oprah's Lifeclass" found its way all the way to Chicago, of all places.  And the good people at Harpo studios were kind enough to call me after they read that post to inform me that in the end, I HAD, in fact, been on Oprah's Lifeclass.  They also very kindly explained the source of my confusion.

I tell you what.  It's a good thing I recently analyzed my thoughts on embarrassment because I am finding myself experiencing new heights of this emotion.

[Sigh.]

[Le sigh again.]

[Lamaze.]

Ah, well!  I have resolved myself to grow from all uncomfortable situations, and this I shall do again!

I am writing today's post because I realize I made a mistake and I want to apologize for unintentionally misrepresenting the facts.  My heart sinks knowing that I may have inadvertently painted someone I admire (Oprah, and her team) in a negative light, when my intentions were only positive and growth-minded.  

Oh, LIFE!!  Thank you for your cockameemee ways of helping me to grow!

Now the question is:  what do I take from this?  How do I use this situation to make myself wiser in the future?

Do I use this as proof that it is dangerous for me to stick my neck out there, and that in the future I should play things safe so as to not risk more public embarrassment?

That's the tempting response, but it's also the cowardly one.  It's the voice of Resistance.

If I were to allow this embarrassing mistake to fuel my self-doubt, thereby smothering my optimism, my courage, or my eagerness to grow, then a piece of my soul would die.

I would not be letting myself shine.

A better response is to see this as proof that despite how f-ing hard I try otherwise, I am GOING to make mistakes.  AND THANK GOODNESS FOR IT, because this is the quickest way for me to grow.

If we handle them right, mistakes are the fast lane towards becoming our best selves.  

Lesson numero dos here is the awareness that I jump to negative conclusions WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT.  There was no doubt in my mind that we had been cut from that Oprah episode; you can bet your booty that, otherwise, I never would have written that post.

If I'm not AWARE of when I'm making assumptions, how often am I basing my emotions on negative speculation?  How much good energy is going up in smoke due to PHANTOM problems??

My guess would be:  a LOT of it.  OFTEN.

I think what went wrong here was that I allowed my desire for growth to outpace my optimism.  I was a bit overzealous about making lemonade from lemons when in fact I did not have lemons at all.

Next time I think I am about to receive a shipment of lemons, I should consider that maybe the fruit truck is actually on its way to deliver APPLES!  And then, wouldn't I feel like a fool when I set up my lemonade stand and the truck delivers APPLES!

I disagree with my english teacher:  making assumptions isn't the problem.  Making NEGATIVE assumptions:  that's the problem.  Jack Canfield had it right when he told us to become inverse paranoids, assuming at every turn that the world is plotting to serve, enrich, and empower us.

A widespread inverse paranoid movement sure would relieve our world of some serious asstasticness.

So perhaps Oprah WILL eventually dub me "the AH-HA Maven" after all.

My wager?

Highly likely.

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Sh*t Just Got Real:  Today is My Favorite Day

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Sh*t Just Got Real: Today is My Favorite Day

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Last week I told you that my favorite post of all time has not been sitting well with me.

While I LOVE the "Raindrops on Roses" post for its emphasis on appreciating the little things, and while I especially love the analogy where I describe playing in the rain as "an experience which is, like the rain, at once grounding and heavenly," what bothers me is that I think the "Today is my favorite day" quote is intended as a healthy perspective during a PROVERBIAL rainstorm.

Not necessarily during an ACTUAL rainstorm.

No matter; I shall give it another whack, Jack.

Today is My Favorite Day:  the New and Improved "Sh*t Just Got Real" Version.

(A true story of an everyday parenting "rainstorm" that took place last week.)

It's 6:30 pm and my patience is growing thin.

It's witching hour a la casa de Light-lovers and Mommy is counting the minutes until her beloved wee ones go nuh-nights.  T minus 2 hours.

Today is my favorite day.

I do not know what my 15-month-old wants.  She started yelling at me at 3AM and has BEEN yelling at me all the ever-loving day.  I pride myself on baby-whispering and yet today, I cannot soothe her.  Could it really still be a teething thing?  Maybe she is just head-strong, like her Momma.  Maybe she feels like an adult trapped in a baby's body, the way her Momma used to feel.  Regardless, I do not know how to satisfy her.  I feel like I am failing her.

Today is my favorite day.

I need these children to eat.  If they do not eat, they will not sleep, and I have a teleconference at 9pm.  They cannot be screaming during my conference call.  Why are they so hard to feed?  Do they not experience hunger, these children?

They nibble on scrambled eggs, peaches, toast, cheese, blue berries, watermelon, and three varieties of crackers while I choke on the words of the younger me: "MY children will eat vegetables whether they like it or not," said I.  WHAT DID YOU KNOW, YOUNGER ME??  NOTHING.  YOU DID NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT CHILDREN, YOUNGER ME WHO SAID THAT.

The parenting books do not agree on much, but they DO all draw a line in the sand when it comes to being a short-order chef for your kids.  "Do not do that," they say.  I am short-ordering the sh*t out of tonight's dinner and telling myself this makes me a bad and selfish mom.

Today is my favorite day.

One pain-staking hour of short-ordering and two-bite-meal-samplings later, I conclude that their bellies MUST have enough food to sustain them through the night--or at LEAST through my conference call.  I sigh relief and start cleaning the dinner mess while glancing at the clock: one hour remaining and three hours worth of tasks to complete.  I am no mathematician, but I know that equation doesn't work.

The muscles around my spine start twitching, which is always my flashing warning light that if I do not seek stress-relief quickly, my internal fuses shall blow.

Today is my favorite day.

I take some deep breaths while I clean the buffet of food from beneath my children's seats.  In my haste, I neglect to notice that my 15-month-old daughter is trying to make herself throw up, which is what she does when she wants my attention.

Today is my favorite day.

I catch her a minute too late, and as I plea with her to stop, I get splashed in the face with her projectile vomit.  She retches and retches and retches.  Where is this food even coming from?  She did not eat this much food.  She retches everything she has eaten over the last three days, at least.  She throws up so many times that my son starts dry-heaving.  I tell him to go into the other room so that she doesn't throw up on him.

My daughter laughs; she has my attention now.

Today is my favorite day.

T minus 45 minutes.  I still have work to complete, the kids are not ready for bed, and now there is a thick blanket of vomit covering our dinner mess.  I scoop up my daughter, strip her to her diaper, and press her vomit-ridden body to mine.  I love this strong-willed baby.

I breathe.

Today is my favorite day.

I run--literally--RUN to the basement to get a towel for her and as I descend the stairs I wish my husband were home.  While I'm lost in thought wondering whether he got his new tires tightened like the mechanic instructed, I forget that I have already armed our security system tonight.

Today is my favorite day.

One step into our messy-assed basement, happy-vomit-baby and I trip the motion detectors and an ear-shattering noise that is intended to piss off intruders and all humans and animals within a conservative three-mile radius echoes from every wall of our house.

Today is my favorite day.

I whip around and SPRINT back upstairs.  My son is screaming bloody murder.  When I had told him to go in the other room, he had climbed to the tip-top of the couch, and his head was directly next to the siren when it sounded.

My heart rips in half knowing that I caused his fear.

Today is my favorite day.

My daughter cries whenever she sees my son cry, so both children are now screaming.  In my desperation, I try to turn on the TV to calm them with Sesame Street while I take care of the police but the batteries on the remote have died and WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED TO BUTTONS ON TV SETS?  WHERE DID THEY GO????

The alarm company calls and, through the childrens' screams, they cannot hear me say that everything is okay.

My cellphone drops the call.

Today is my favorite day.

My phone beeps and I look to see if it's the alarm company but it's three texts from random family members--all somewhat-urgently requesting information.  One text is from a beloved family member who is letting me know she is on her way to come get something from me that I had promised her but have not yet prepared for her.

Today is my favorite day.

My back twitches.  I look at the clock, the dinner mess, the vomit, my phone, my work pile, my kids.  "FMP ['f*ck my plans']," I say; my task deadline was self-imposed anyway.

I breathe.

Today is my favorite day.

With a giant surrendering breath, I crumble to the floor and nestle my screaming kids into my vomit-ridden body.  One child curls into a ball between my criss-crossed legs, like a kangaroo in my "pouch," he says, and dries his tears on my pants.  My other baby lovingly slaps my face as she licks my cheek and lovingly coohs, "aaaaaaaahhhh," which I have come to know as her way of saying "I love you."

Today is my favorite day.

I am right where I need to be.  My children are comforted by my love, so all is right with the world.  I made the right decision by forgoing the other things that "needed" attention.  I have brought my heart to the right place.

I think this means I am a good mommy even though I am a short-order chef.

Today is my favorite day.

I inhale their love and am instantly transcended to a higher, calmer place.  I am grateful.  Grateful for my babies.  Grateful for my husband's job, even though it means he is away from us tonight.  I'm grateful to have a variety of food to offer my kids, even though they don't eat any of it.  I'm grateful to our alarm company and local police officers for making me feel safe.  I'm grateful for my flexible work schedule, and for my close relationships with my extended family members who are always willing to lend a hand if only I ask.

Today is my favorite day.

I'm especially grateful to be in a place in life where I don't give a damn about the fact that I am covered in puke as long as my kids are happy.

I wipe a happy tear from my eye.  Tonight has been, like the rain, at once grounding and heavenly.

Today.  OH, today.

TODAY is my favorite day.

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