Zen and the Art of Inclusion: How to Show Gratitude to the Parent Who Excluded Your Kid


To the mom who (repeatedly) didn’t invite my kid to her kid’s parties, I want to start off by saying two, little words to you. Thank you. No, seriously! I’m not being facetious. Thank YOU. I have spent my whole life trying to understand what you have just taught my child in one, unfair swoop.

When you chose, for whatever reason (frugality, early onset dementia, or a massive brain fart) to exclude my child (and only my child – magically everyone else was there!) from your child’s special activities – and therefore taught your child that it was okay to continue such exclusion during the school day – you were offering a very important treatise on life. Namely that there are assholes in this world. And they are everywhere, even where they are least expected to be.

Trust me – following the amount of tears that those actions have caused, it was an invaluable lesson that won’t be easily forgotten. By either of us. But here’s why that’s important and why I’m thanking you now. Because life is full of people like you. And your child. People who are callous, unempathetic and just plain rude.

People like you will someday fill the spots in her life as teachers, bosses, frenemies and maybe even in-laws. But that’s just how it goes. And we can’t make it better by wishing or trying or pleading with the higher reasoning of the unwaveringly cruel. Some people just don’t care about others. And they never will, no matter how many smiles are flashed their way or kind acts are offered in their direction.

So, now, thanks to you, my kid knows the truth about the big, bad world. Life isn’t fair. People are mean. Even people that we think of as friends. I expected a big, scowling bully to teach her that. Or a nun with a ruler in hand. Or maybe even a street thug – you know, the kind that they always show on T.V. But, I absolutely didn’t expect it would come from your direction.

Needless to say, though it happened earlier than I thought it would, it’s over and done now. The innocence of childhood utopia is finished for my daughter and now it’s off to the starting gates of adolescence. So, again, I say thank you for stripping her of this cumbersome youthful happiness and showing her what it really means to be human.

Thank you, also, for teaching her, through example, exactly what I have been trying to teach all along. How NOT to act and how NOT to treat others. As a parent, I have always taught the “Golden Rule” to my child. Tried with every effort to plaster it into all layers of her conscious and unconscious mind. Sometimes, though, as with all verbal lessons, I have felt that it has fallen on deaf ears. But, not now. I think she gets it. Finally and completely. Knowing firsthand what the pain of rejection and exclusion feels like, I am certain she will never do that to someone else. At least, I hope not.

Believe me when I tell you it hasn’t always been a picnic for us to extend birthday invitations to the entire class. The expense has often been A LOT and I’ve had to work hard to restrain my cheapo instincts from using the line “sorry, your invitation must have gotten lost in the mail.” Like it or not, we’ve always sucked it up and included everyone in our parties. Everyone! From the whiny kid that always tattles on others to the infectious kid who likes to smear cake icing with their booger-y fingers. It hasn’t always been pleasant, but it has always been the right thing to do.

You see, in our household, the feelings of others matter. They factor into our decision-making process almost always because we realize that none of us is a universe unto ourselves. How we treat other people is important since our actions are like a ripple in a pond. Our life is a silly chain of dominos, endlessly clinking one against the next. We can pretend to live in a bubble, untouched by others, unable to bring about change, but inevitably we are all linked. And our actions are the very creations of tomorrow’s new horizons. For better or worse.

All of that aside – regardless of what you do or have done, regardless of the way my daughter found out about your kid’s awesome parties that she was never invited to attend (for whatever reason, it was never clear), regardless of the ripple effect that has since ensued on the playground (since kids are so easily swayed to act like their favorite alpha-kid), and regardless of the rage I felt towards you as her tears grazed my shoulder when she came home a sad mess – we would still invite your child to her party. Because that’s just who we are. And what you are, whatever you choose to teach your family, will NOT be allowed to shape what we do. The “Golden Rule” still lives strong under our roof and even your thoughtlessness won’t change that.

Soon enough, it will be time for another birthday party. Ours, not yours. I will be addressing envelopes and stuffing cards, tucking them in neatly and with great care. Even though a large, maternal part of me wants to tell you that your kid’s invitation just got lost in the mail, I won’t. Because it won’t. Unless, of course, it does. But, if so, it won’t be my fault. Rather, it would be the fault of the US Postal Service. And, if that day should come, I will only offer you one last word to go with my previous two. Karma!

An Open Letter to Trump Voters


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 Dear Trump Voters,

You won. You achieved your victory. Congratulations. But, do you know what else you just did? You have handed over our country’s dignity to a man of little value. You have added him to our history books FOREVER so that the future can look at us with shame. You have given this man with the eloquence of a bratty toddler a voice to speak for all of us on the world’s stage. You have given him access to the nuclear codes and ALL of our secrets.

In essence, you just fucked up the work and sacrifice and bloodshed that so many people gave to make this country great. And you ruined the hopes and dreams we all shared for our collective futures.

YOU DID THIS. And, for what?! To make America a reality show with no credence?! To set us back four hundred years?! To tell our ancestors to fuck off?! To tell our children that we never cared, anyway?!

You thought this was a message of resistance. One of fighting back. Waging war with the establishment. Instead, it’s a war on decency, common sense and valor. And it’s a war on the American dream.

You are not patriots. You are the very reason we will slide lower on the rungs of credibility. You are the reason our society will further degrade itself to a point of no recognition. You are the reason we will fail. YOU! Because you placed the power of our nation into the tiny hands of an orange buffoon.

If you are truly proud of this moment, if you woke up this morning feeling good about your choices and didn’t feel remotely ashamed of your decision, then I wish you well as you ride this delusional high. But, know this – you have just thrust the rest of us into a four-year nightmare. And America will have a darn near impossible time ever being great again.

How to Throw an Awesome Pity Party


I’ve been feeling down lately. I mean, really down. Like so far down into the turnpike of the blues that all I want to do is cry, sleep and zone out with mindless TV. I know I’m not alone. I mean, I feel alone. I feel like no one cares and that my purpose in life is questionable. But, I know that I’m not special in this feeling. Others have felt this way a billion times over. It’s not a condition unique to me.

But it’s dumb. It’s not like I have a real reason. No one in our family is dying. We aren’t refugees forced to flee our home. No one has been indicted for a crime they didn’t commit. Heck, at the moment, I don’t even have a hang-nail, a paper cut or a neck spasm (which is rare for me, truly). But even though times seem fortuitous and everyone in my house is clothed, sheltered, fed and in good health, I just can’t get out of this funk.

So, despite all of this, in the thick of such deep emotions, I have felt it necessary to have a party. A pity party, no less. And, since I’m throwing one on a semi-daily basis, I thought it would be helpful to put together a “how-to” guide for all of those awesome people who have never indulged.

 ***

Step One: Make a mountain out of a molehill 

Now, for those who don’t already know, molehills are small and mountains are big. So, your goal is to take something really tiny and make it the size of the sun. But, make sure there aren’t any cracks in it or the mountain won’t maintain its height. And, you’re going to need that height in order to scale the madness like a martyr and make a non-issue into an issue.

Step Two: Read between the lines

So, there are things that people say. And then there are the words, hidden between parsed lips, that hold the real meanings to what they have said. Learn to differentiate between the two. For example, when one of the insanely involved PTA moms says, “What have you been up to lately?” she is really asking, “Why haven’t you volunteered more, you lazy cow!?” Understanding the subtleties of hidden language and learning how to decode it is key to the pity party process.

Step Three: Make connections where none exist

Remember last Tuesday? Some of your friends were talking about a yoga class they all attended en masse. And they didn’t even think to invite you! Clearly, it can only mean one thing – they hate you. But that’s just the beginning.

The book you’ve been trying to get published has been rejected, again – so, you are a talentless twit. A thoughtful meme you posted on Facebook didn’t get a single “like” – you have no friends. Your house has been on the market for five months and hasn’t sold – the universe must hate you, too. Your kid didn’t get a part in that school play – you failed them on every level. Be sure to notice how one thing has a cross-connection with something else. Always. And, even though, in a court of law, your opinion could not be backed with any traceable form of proof, you feel like it’s right. So, golly, it must be!

Step Four: Hold unreal expectations

This is a great step because it is really the key to having an epic pity party. Maybe you always dreamed of being a CEO by the time you were 40, but instead you’re 38, pregnant and folding your family’s towels for the 9,077th time. Maybe you feel like there is some unspoken rule about iPhone etiquette in the presence of company that your friend just doesn’t follow to your liking. Or perhaps you think your husband should finally, after 20 years of marriage, know where the Lysol resides in the cabinet. But he doesn’t. And he never will. Holding on to unreal expectations, in any setting, can bring about the biggest disappointments in life (read: the best fodder for the blues).

Step Five: Dwell on the negative

This is the final step, and without it the party would not be complete. Hold on, with vigor, to all things morose and grim. When something good happens, wait for something bad to take its place. When something bad happens, wait for things to get worse. And if they don’t get worse, keep waiting. But, while you’re waiting, reflect on all of the other bad things that have happened to you. Ever. And try to go back to step three, just to see if there are any new, negative connections you can make that haven’t already been visited before.

 ***

After having done all of these things, let me assure you, a pity party will be epic and unavoidable. Probably the best one of your life. And, by best, I mean ABSO-effing-LUTELY worst. Party. EVER! So, go solo. Bring a box of tissues. Hang out in your comfiest pajamas. And cry until you’ve gotten it all out of your system. And then, when you snap out of it, maybe you can throw a party. For real.

Life (A Poem)


I’m not usually one for poems, but I dug this out of a drawer – something I had written while in the depths of despair and loss years ago. I hope to send it along the channels for those who have been touched by loss in Orlando and beyond. Life isn’t fair, it’s true. But, when we find the goodness in our communities, there can still be much for which we can be grateful.

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Life isn’t fair
and it never will be,
but it continues on
like the old oak tree.
Its branches swing
in the cool, crisp air.
Its leaves grow anew
without any care.
Its roots grow strong
in the deep brown soil.
And it always carries on
regardless of turmoil.

 
Life isn’t fair
though we wish it were.
We weep and cry,
console and confer.
When times get hard
it’s difficult to see
that there is a reason
for this life, for you and for me.
We sometimes drown
in an ocean of despair,
for a time so endless
it seems without repair.

 
Life isn’t fair
though we try to make it so.
We do our best to live
until it’s time to go.
We try to rise up happy
and grateful for each day.
We aim to make a better place
for those along the way.
Often despite our efforts
we come upon a wall
and find that our best actions
are no help when others fall.

 
Life isn’t fair,
no complaint will change this fact.
It’s a truth, inconsolable,
not hypothetical or abstract.
Life has no senses,
it cannot see or hear.
It doesn’t worry over things
or cower under fear.
Life is just a progression,
the growth of everything.
It moves with an even ebb and flow,
but it pauses for no one, for nothing.

 
Life isn’t fair
and it never will be
but it continues on.
Watch and you will see.
A place is made for all
though temporary it will last.
What is here today will
someday be the past.
What will come tomorrow
will be a question mark.
A riddle with no answer,
a shot in the dark.

 
Life isn’t fair
but it reveals this –
when our dreams are lost,
when our best intentions miss,
when we come up short
and lose along the way,
when we fall apart
and wish not to stay,
when it gets too big,
too much for us to hold,
when our greatest senses
are left out in the cold –

 
Life isn’t fair
we shouldn’t expect as much,
but life can still be worthy
of our gentle, human touch.

 

 

 

Troubled People: Part 1 (Pushing Buttons)


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If you’re a parent, and you’ve seen Despicable Me, you may remember that scene in the beginning of the movie when Gru makes a balloon animal for a little boy, only to pop it a few seconds later. Yeah. Well, something similar happened to my son. And naturally, I was furious! Beyond furious, in fact. So livid that I had visions of flattening tires, keying sedan doors, and punching (yes, punching) testicles of the guy who was responsible. All very mature responses, no?

What happened was this: We were making our weekly trip to the library for story time one afternoon. At this library, there are double doors that open outward. Next to those doors, there is also a button that will automatically open them when pushed – either as a helpful service for the disabled, people with arms full of books or toddlers with a serious button fetish. As anyone with a small child can attest, these are the simple pleasures that kids love most. Pushing buttons. Especially little, round, gray buttons with magical door-opening powers! My son is no exception. In fact, whenever we go to this library, it is the one thing he does with such zeal, I would almost believe it to be his sole purpose in life. (Not really, though a doorman’s costume would look cute on him!)

On this particular afternoon, my son made a bee-line to the door exclaiming – “I want to push the button!” That was his usual phrase of delight, as he would run to the door, squealing in the ecstasy of what was to come. However, since he and my daughter have had their turmoil (read: pushing, pinching, and screaming battles) as of late, I thought I would try to teach him a lesson in courtesy and the importance of not always going first. So, I let my daughter have the first turn to push the button (since she never gets the chance) and then I explained to my son that we could wait until the doors closed for him to have his turn. His desire was hampered a bit by the seeming unfairness, but he sucked it up without so much as a whine or whimper and stood patiently by the door waiting for them to close so he could have his turn. Pretty good behavior, I thought, for a three year old!

Since our library is never particularly busy and we weren’t in any particular rush, it wasn’t a big deal to wait another minute and have them take turns in this way. In fact, as a parenting tool, this library’s button door system is a pretty good way to teach my children the virtues of patience and waiting for their time to do a task. In the past, I looked on this need to always press the button as another headache induced by overly curious kids. But more recently I have come to see it as a great tool as well as a treasured (and cheap) means of entertainment.

During the minute that passed from my daughter’s turn before my son’s, none of the patrons had entered or exited. There was no real hustle or bustle at this place. It was as calm as a country road. That is, until it wasn’t. Until “the incident” happened.

As the doors were finally making their close, and the twinkle in my son’s eyes glimmered with a similar excitement as it does on Christmas morning, out of nowhere walked a man. A tall adult man wearing a tank top and flip flops. He held no books in his hands. And he held no sorrow for what he was about to do. Despite seeing a mother and her patient son waiting quietly for a turn at the coveted button, or maybe in spite of it, he walked ever closer to our side of the entrance, reached out his hand, and pushed the button for himself right at the very moment that my son had just lifted his tiny finger.

I looked up at the man as he whizzed right past us, neck redder than a beet, a hint of sweat and noxious cologne swirling in the air around him. All I could hear was the word “sorry” he had verbally flung at us prior to pressing the button. Yeah. Sorry in the same manner that a bully would say it right before giving a wedgie or flinging a lunch tray onto the floor. “Sorry.” Not sorry. Not the least little tiny bit. Premeditated. Purposeful. Hateful. Rude.

What kind of person would do something like that, especially to a child, was all I kept thinking. And by the look on my daughter’s face, who had seen the whole thing from the lobby, she felt the same way. After all, in her eyes only she could be mean to her little brother – who was this guy to take her job?!

Our mouths stood agape for a collective moment. A sense of shock washed over me and a look of sadness washed over my son’s face. Here I was, trying to be a good mom, seeking to teach my kids about taking turns and accepting patience as a natural part of our time sharing this planet with others. And, in one fell finger swoop from a stranger, I now had another lesson to teach: that the world was sometimes a big, bad, mean place.

Before this cruel stranger traipsed too far across the lobby floor, my full-blown attack mom armor formed and I came after him with the only weapon I had: my words. I started by calling him a jerk (believe me, if my kids and our favorite librarian weren’t present, I would have had a few other words to say!). Then I told him that my son had clearly been waiting to press that button. I asked him why he would do that to a small child. And then I called him mean.

Barely giving any notice and certainly showing no remorse, he casually looked back at us, shrugged his bare shoulders and said in the very most arrogant way, “I said sorry.” Sorry. Still not sorry. Not the least little bit.

I repeated that he was a jerk. Not that it did any good. I wished I could have opened the flood gates of obscenities. I had visions of following him into the library. Taking his picture. Posting it to social media. Alerting the world that THIS IS WHAT AN A**HOLE LOOKS LIKE. Taking pleasure in others agreeing that he “looks” like one, indeed. But, that would have only made things worse. I didn’t do any of those things. Instead, I scooped up my son, grabbed the hand of my daughter, and took them into story time as was our intended purpose.

My son was forlorn for a little while afterwards. He later talked about it with me at home. We all talked about it, in fact. We discussed how some people are mean and it makes us angry, but how even still (or despite that) we should never be mean because of it. I told them that we have to be good in order to balance the bad in the world. That was our job!

After the day was done and I had tucked them snugly into their beds at night, I thought more about what would cause a person to be so ugly and cruel for no reason. And it struck me hard that maybe he hadn’t experienced the same patience, conscientiousness, or love from his mother as I was trying to teach my own children. Maybe when he was three, he only received a slap on the head or a pat on the bottom rather than a word or encouragement or direction. In other words, maybe this guy was troubled. Maybe he hadn’t been cared for in the least little tiny bit. And he was doing the same thing little kids do when they can’t express themselves properly: acting out.

Suddenly my anger melted away into a pool of compassion. I felt sorry for him. A true sort of “sorry.” A whole big lot of it. I mean, I still thought he was a jerk, but I felt sad for him. When it’s all said and done, my son will have plenty of chances to push that button. But that course and hostile guy will probably miss out on a lot of the simple joys of life because he is so bent on making the world suffer for whatever it is he has lost.

Instead of wanting to key his car or call him all of the bad words I could remember, what I really wanted to do was hug my children a little more fiercely when they woke up, so they would never be counted among the world’s troubled or unloved.

Who knows?! Maybe it’s not like that at all for that guy. Maybe his backstory wasn’t sad and the cause of his brash behavior was without reason. Maybe his parents were stellar and his upbringing picture perfect. But whatever made him feel compelled to crush the tiny joy of a three year old is beside the point. All that matters, all that we can control, is where we go from here. We choose goodness. Compassion. Kindness. And, you know, maybe next time I will also choose to body-block that button, just in case the world isn’t as kind as we aim to be!

The End?


nursing

The day has finally come. The end is here. And for weeks leading up to this moment, I have been all but clutching on, giving the old addicts’ excuses for why today should not be the day. How maybe tomorrow will be more optimal for our situation. Extending reasons of closure. Or my son’s health. Or convenience. Or even no real reason at all – just “because.”

Unlike most true addictions, though, I am not stopping because I have a medical or psychological necessity. No one is forcing me. And, if I didn’t follow through with it, there wouldn’t be any negative consequences. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m sure I could keep going on with things as they are for years to come – possibly even another decade, if I lived in some random hippie-cult. Yet, as charming as that sounds, I don’t and I won’t. So, I am quitting today. Because it is time. I know it is. And, like it or not, I must do it.

What I’m talking about, of course, is weaning. Ending the breastfeeding relationship with my son. Or, in other words, cutting the milk cord.

There is a bright side to this era of change. In my moments of weakness, I try to focus on these otherwise-missed details. I will rejoice in the notion that my breasts and body will once again be mine. I can now consume caffeine, chocolate and cabbage with wild abandon (but, I probably won’t)! I can scrub my nipples with as much soapy water as I desire (though I doubt there will be a need for this)! My days as a spigot, randomly oozing and leaking on my favorite shirts, will be a thing of the past (yet, unfortunately my bladder will still betray me)! Nursing bras, breast-pumps and feeding schedules will be no more (they will instead be replaced with support bras, mammograms and picky eating)!

Yes, we are turning over a new leaf! But, ever the pessimist, I find it easy to allow uncertainty to set in. What if we won’t be this close ever again?, I wonder. What if my breast milk was the only shield keeping him from getting sick?, I fear. What if I’m making an irreversible mistake that I can’t ever change?, I plead.

The truth is, at 14-months, I have done all I need to do. I have given him quite a gift. And nothing can ever take that away. But still, no mother’s list of adventures would be complete without a guilt trip or two. Or three.

As I shed a few small tears, I conveniently forget about the wretched nursing strikes, the times I have been bitten, or the uncomfortable engorgement, let-down, clogged ducts, or wet bed-sheets. Instead, I remember how it felt to hold a small, floppy newborn in the crook of my arm and hear that sweet “chug, chug” sound as he gulped down my colostrum. I cling to the memories of his tiny hands, excelling in their dexterity, reaching and pulling at my shirt while in his favorite position. Or that soft patch of skin behind his ears that I would stroke as he ate. And the way his eyes would look glazed over and languid, so satisfied with my offering that he seemed at perfect peace.

Now, with him walking around, eating people food, and coming up with ideas of his own, he will certainly start to travel in circles further and further from my reach. He will transition from being my baby to being my kid, someday taking that leap from childhood to adulthood, and then from there into the oblivion of old age. I shudder.

The sentimentality of these things is stifling, I admit. But, if I want to be completely earnest, there is still another layer of my pondering that should be noted. Something whose loss will make me sad. So very sad.

As I push the Boppy deeper into the dark recesses of my closet, I sigh. I am all-too-aware that when I quit this breastfeeding journey, I will also have to quit something else I enjoy: reading. Not to say that I can’t still do it. It’s just the matter of practicality. And time. And the fact that there are scant moments during my day that will be calm enough or quiet enough to foster a suitable environment.

As proverbial lemons turn into lemonade, it seems nursing’s greatest challenge turned into a remarkably wonderful situation for me. Because my baby was so picky about his surroundings, he would only be breastfed in a dark, quiet room away from all noise and distractions. As a result, we would lock ourselves away from the world for countless minutes, several times each day, every single day, for as many months. In the beginning, I remember it feeling like an intrusion on my time. An interruption. A partition between us and the rest of the family. However, soon enough (almost as soon as I received a Nook for my birthday) that time started to feel like a mini vacation.

Basking in the words of others, I managed to complete more books in fourteen months than I had in the past decade. I finished the entire collection of musings by David Sedaris. I read about Malala and her struggle for girls’ education in Pakistan. I consumed the silly plots of World War Z and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter like they were candy. I polished off a murder mystery or two, along with some nameless trash novels. And then there was Anne Frank’s diary. And The Canterbury Tales. And that beautiful epitaph Sonali Deraniyagala wrote for those she lost in 2004’s tsunami.

I read so many wonderful books! And they each felt like little friends who kept me sane during times that otherwise would have overwhelmed me. But now they, too, will be gone. Perhaps, not literally. They will still exist on my hard-drive, floating around digitally in the clouds above us. Or on some nondescript server, embedded in a flurry of 1’s and 0’s. But, metaphorically, they will be gone. And with it, all sense of calm that once remained a calculated part of my day.

Suddenly, as this reality sets in, the fears hit me even stronger. Only this time, they are different fears. What if I never get to read another book again?, I wonder. What if I never get another quiet moment to myself?, I fear. What if I could have just one more peaceful day?, I plead. After all, quitting is for sissies. And hippies aren’t so bad! Maybe I will just finish weaning him after this last chapter… Or book…

Nothing Means Anything: Anarchy for the New Year


resolutions
The new year begins with resolutions, self-reflection and an endless cesspool of thoughts relating to the umpteen ways I did not measure up to last year’s goals. And with so many metaphorical bruises I have given to myself, it almost seems unfair to hope for change. After all, how can I even muster the strength to transform myself when I am obviously at an emotional disadvantage?! That’s why this year, a year like every other, when I have already started to nit-pick over a new set of failures, I decided to try this one anti-resolution instead: live life unchecked.

That’s right! Live life. Unchecked! In other words, fuck that little voice in my head that says “Don’t eat that piece of chocolate, you fat cow!” Fuck that shiny quarter who believes itself to be intended for the “swear jar” just because of a momentary fit of road rage. Fuck the PTA and HOA who constantly make me feel like I’m not being a good (enough) citizen. Fuck Dr. Oz, Deepak Chopra, “Hands Free Mama” and any other person who claims to have all of the answers (for a mere $24.99). Fuck pretentious friends and presumptuous people. Fuck the Joneses – fuck their manicured lawns, their shiny new cars, and their vacation pictures. Fuck Facebook and those who feel a constant need to post on it. Fuck Pinterest and all those crafty bitches who can’t stop making shit. Fuck scales and numbers, fads and fashion, comparison shopping and coupon clipping. Fuck everything. Why? Because I have come to realize that none of it means anything. That’s right. Nothing! As the Buddhists would concur, it’s all just an illusion.

Case in point, I have one friend who is Vegan. She chooses not to eat any animal products because of the ethical issues surrounding their treatment. And while that is all fine and good, she does love to peruse the world on her iPad – which, ironically, is one of the most cruel devices known to man. On the surface it wouldn’t seem so; but, taking a closer look, the poor laborers who assemble them make roughly 10 cents a week, live in a studio-apartment-sized dormitory with seven other people and have “suicide” nets surrounding their prison/office. Cruelty-free life?! Not quite. Oh, and another interesting note about this person: she likes to shoplift. A lot.

And then there is another person I know, one who presents her surface life as fictionally grand though in truth it is earnestly vacant. She is always busy doing endless crafts to adorn her home, making all of the other moms stand in shame because they didn’t think to make more of a celebration of Arbor Day or Independence Day, just like she did, by making children’s handprints into trees or cakes look like flags. Picture perfect to a tee. We all know this type. And yet her kids are total and complete assholes. Period. And while we shouldn’t judge a child any more than we should judge an unfinished painting….let’s just say, it’s clear that some forms of coddling and catering can’t be cured by time. They will be, without a doubt, people who have greatly inflated ideas of their own worth to the detriment of all others. CEO’s in the making!

Even further on the rungs of examples are the myriad of people I know in therapy. Paying people to “fix” their flaws, work through their “issues” and being charged hefty sums…for years…with no end in sight. And how much more sane or content are these folks? Probably less than the homeless guy on the corner! And he ate a day-old moldy burger out of the trash. Yeah.

So, then what are the answers?? Heck if I know. That’s not what this is about. But if I were to guess, I would say that no one knows. Not your sister, your pastor, your lawyer or your lover. We are all just groping in the dark. Without any answers. Without any guidance. People walk around in a state of belief that they are somehow different; but, no one is. We are all, unquestionably, failing in some way or another. And none of it means anything. It doesn’t make us any less important. Or special. It doesn’t mean we don’t deserve happiness or respect. It’s just the truth that we all try to ignore. Especially during the beginning of a new year.

With that in mind, one may wonder what it would mean to live a life unchecked. Does it mean there’s no conscience? No responsibilities? A free-for-all? Anarchy?! Ha! I wish. Simply, it means this year, for once, I will no longer compare myself to others. I will end the need to aim for other people’s unattainable goals. I will stop focusing on illusions and cease using the phrase “If they could do it, so can I.” I will close my Facebook account. And my Pinterest account. And will never, ever go to an Old Navy changing room again.

I will eat when I’m hungry, rest when I’m tired, work out when I’m motivated and do all of the things I need to do to sustain life, forsaking the rest unless desiring them in truth. In other words, I will do what makes me and my family happy. I will put my heart and soul into the things I care about. And I will be okay with the fact that I will sometimes fail. And the fact that sometimes those failures will make me sad or mad. But I will not let lofty dreams of unattainable quests (for self, for family, for creative or personal goals) set me up for upset. I will not buy into fantasies. I will live, not for tomorrow, but for right now. Today. The only thing I truly have of value. And I will not center my life around those holograms (of perfect weight, of perfect families, of perfect lives) that are meant to only torture souls.

This year my resolution is simple: I will live. And, I don’t know for sure, but I think that’s the whole point.