Friday, September 30, 2011

Peace-Out. Right Now!

Do you worry?

Freak out?

Constantly stress over mistakes you made in the past? Like that time when you ordered salsa on your Mexican-ish-but-not-authentic-pulled-pork-salad-with-black-beans but you really meant to order pico? Or when you forgot to file your taxes?

Do you worry about the future when you might not get accepted into law school, or your kid might qualify to attend the University of Walmart, or you might not survive child-birth, or the economy might go kerblooey just when you open your new underwater BB-stacking business?

Does the present give you hives because you can't do anything about the past or the future, and both of them are slapping you upside your psyche?

Me to. And the thing is, it's exhausting worrying about all the stuff I can't change. I always do it, and it works out exactly the same way every time: I can't sleep, I lose hair, can't write anything creative because all of my synapses are exhausted from worrying about the past and the future, and my friends are all mysteriously busy and can't do lunch, which I suspect is because I talk constantly about the past and the future.

In all honesty, this is me. Has been me. But I don't want it to be me. I remember as a kid when I became aware that the world wasn't a warm fuzzy and perfectly safe place like I'd believed it was. It was about the time Hurricane Agnes hit Maryland and our basement flooded. I had always said my bedtime prayers, and suddenly they morphed from saying "Thank you for the sunshine and flowers and lightening bugs, and make Eric-who-always-wins-the-spelling-bee-and-is-really-smart-in-math like me back," to this: "Please keep fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and anything that makes us bleed away from us." Every. Night.

But I'm tired of it now. So I've been thinking that I am going to dump the past, forget the future (except for reasonable goals and planning), and just live in the moment. This moment. (This one *. Yep, that little * right over there. That moment.) And I'm really really serious. It's too much for me to carry around my past mistakes and all the bad, sad, or scary things that ever happened to me, along with everything that might happen in the future. I can't take it. I'm just going to focus on right now. Diving into the pool of now if you will, and swimming with the current. Looking with magnifying lenses at each moment (*) and what there is to enjoy and/or learn from it.

Like right this minute, I am typing on a really cool MacBook. And I am writing on a blog with two other writers with whom I am lucky to be associating, because if you haven't noticed, they're quite lovely.

Right now, I am writing for you - someone kind enough to stop by and read our wandering, rambling, spazzy musings on life with a bit of writing-angst on the side. Someone who often leaves insightful comments. Or doesn't, and we get the positive vibes anyway. Someone who is really cool and valuable to a lot of people in this world.

This very minute I am writing because I am blessed to live in a country where I am free to learn how to do it. Free to write what I think. And free to feel what I feel.

Finally, I am writing at this precise moment in an unusual bit of quiet, because my husband has my, er, more vociferous dudes with him doing guy stuff, and my girls are otherwise occupied. So, here I sit. I blissfully quiet. Writing with friends, to you, our other cyber friends.

I like this moment. And that's all I'm going to think about right now.

Peace like a river, baby.

(Bugs in Irish Sunset. Ain't they purty?)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Navy EOD-what can you learn from these brave warriors?

One of my fave shows is Surviving the Cut on Discovery Channel. They delve into what it takes to make it in the military elite. This week they focused on the Navy's Explosive Ordnance Disposal crew. They are highly trained technicians who analyze and handle explosives.

I bet you're thinking, "Great, what does this have to do with me?"

You want your dream? You gotta learn from the finest go-getter's ever. Every day they give 100% because they know if they slack there are no do-overs. Navy EOD's are relentless- they continue on despite physical exhaustion. The key to their success is to shift their mental focus. Having a bad day? Clear your mind. Forget about your tiredness, hurt muscles or etc.

Stretch yourself as hard as you can- the end result will be worth it.

PS- If you want a more in depth look at the Navy EOD crew, watch The Hurt Locker. Please note the movie is pretty intense and not for everyone.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Run For Fun! Kill Me Now!

I hate running.
And not just a little bit.
I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate running.

Dancing. That's what I like. I could dance and dance until the moon turned blue. Even at my age. I used to dance six hours a day. It was like breathing to me. And I was in wicked-awesome shape, too. I could run up hundreds of stairs without the slightest gasp. Had quadruceps on my quadruceps. And I almost had a 6-pack (Okay, fine. It was a four-pack. But I wasn't on a food-free diet, and I wasn't doing steroids. So, you know, I kind of think it was legit.)

That was then. This is now. Now I have four kids and no six hours a day to dance. But I've gotta move, or my back freezes up like teenage boy on his first date, and my ribs go out and leave me to spend the evening by myself.

So I run. And I do it every day. And it bores the living shortcake out of me because there are no leaps, no battements, no voltas, no botafogos, and definitely no heel-turn-spins. Also no buck-rhythm time steps. My four-pack is a one-pack, my quads look like my hams (which look like the honey-baked ham we had for dinner), and I wheeze jumping up from the couch to answer the phone. But I run.

So, this last weekend I was whining to my husband about it as I went out the door to drag myself through a few miles of not dancing and not having fun while not dancing. And he said "Why do you hate running?"

After looking at him like, duh, I said, "Because I don't have fun doing it."

Then he said, "Why? Why don't you have fun doing it?" (this from the man who just finished a 100-mile foot race through the Rocky Mountains. Yeah. We'll discuss his mental fitness later.)

So I said, " . . . . . . . . "

And he just looked at me right back.

Finally I realized he was telling me that if I wasn't having fun running, it was my own fault. I could have fun running, if I decided running was a fun thing to do. Like, fun because it was time spent by myself; me time, if you will. Fun because I do it in the morning and mornings are peaceful. Fun because my legs are moving and my lungs are moving and this tells me I'm alive, and at my age that's a good thing. Fun because my blood pumps and my muscles hurt the next day, which means they're getting strong. And above all, I grow a butt and it fits into my jeans instead of hanging out somewhere around the backs of my knees.

OH! *insert sound effect that accompanies epiphanies here* So like, whether or not I enjoy what I am doing has to do with the attitude I bring to it. I decide whether I hate, loathe, despise, and abominate it or not. And if I do, I shouldn't be surprised that it isn't fun.

Huh. Well. I think life should be fun. So, rather than waiting for someone else to make it fun, I'm going to make it fun. I'll start by grinning at the gym tomorrow. I hope it fools my legs into thinking they're doing a wicked Samba on the treadmill. Because that would be fun!

(Now, if you feel like it, tell me what you do to make odious tasks more enjoyable. I'd love to learn!)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A lil pep talk just for you

Is it possible to get tweeked on Green Tea? I ask that with a smile because I, unknowingly, ingested the equivalent of 4 tea bags of green tea. At the moment, I am more spastic than a squirrel on speed.

Anyways, today I'm wondering why we, as dreamers, are so hard on ourselves? While sitting in a gorgeous sitting room at a fancy schmancy hotel I felt horribly out of place. Most of the ladies in this room are dressed in flouncy floral skirts with velvet shoes. Me? I am garbed in my usual plaid chucks with my brand spanking new leather headband.

I can't help but overhear random strangers bag on themselves. Even my sister babbles on and on about how horrid she is at everything. After a while, I began to wonder why we (myself included) only see the faults in ourselves. Why don't we see how awesome we are?

Maybe you haven't heard a compliment in a while or maybe you are depleted from the demands of life. Well, never fear, Russo is here. And lemme tell you that you are freaking incredible.

The fact that you are chasing your dream is rather remarkable. Never forget that your efforts are making a difference. You are fighting for your dream-no matter what is thrown in your path-keep fighting. And never forget-you're freaking incredible.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Open Your Mouth Wider, I Can't Hear You

This is my kid going a little crazy on the webcam. He sort of looks like he was painted by Edvard Munch, don't you think?

Yeah. This is pretty much how my child lives. He speaks in ALL CAPS, ALL THE TIME, and eats hyperbole for breakfast. He is hilarious and exhausting. And I wonder how he can live like that. 

Here, for instance, is an interchange we had right after he biffed it in a major way on his scooter as he was going to school. A Very Large Puddle was involved, as well as Some Rocks:

"Are you okay, honey?"
"Wellll, it's not too bad."
"Er, What happened?"
"Oh, sweetie, I'm sure its--"
"I know. We can dry them. What hap--"
"You need to ride it, or you'll be too afraid to get back on and then you won't have that joy anymore." (Notice the outstanding parenting technique here, where I ignore his pain and regale him with parenting 101 tenets.)
"Hmmm. All right. Let's get you home and put some hydrogen peroxide on--"
*giggle* "Um. Okay. It'll be fine, sweetie, promise. It will only sting a little. Probably not at all."


The thing is, he really feels it. And I used to run all over myself trying to calm him down and help him see that things weren't that bad. But now--I realize that if I let him just express all those feelings, even in all-caps, it passes. Relatively quickly. It's when I try to fix his feelings RIGHT NOW that it drags on and gets worse.

Hmmm. So. Maybe there's a message in here. About just relaxing and letting things run their course and then seeing what is left before doing anything. Just . . . living in the moment. Respecting the feelings you (and others) are having. Letting yourself feel them, acknowledge them, and then letting them go. This is what ALL-CAPS-BOY does when I let him. And he always goes skipping out of the room, having forgotten what was wrong, and moving on to the next thing.

Feelings aren't bad. They're just indicators that something is bothering you. Figure that out, and you can move on.

So, I finally did talk the little dude into scootering to school. And I went with him. He spent the entire ride telling me exactly HOW TO RIDE A SCOOTER WITHOUT FALLING DOWN. We got there half an hour late, but we got there. And there are plans to scooter again tomorrow. AND IT'S OKAY, MOM. WE LEARN FROM THESE THINGS.

We DO!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How NOT to wear thigh high leather boots

Do you ever just have one of those day where nothings going right? Today I went to a friend's wedding. Where most people attend an event with zero drama, I have to make a complete idjut out of myself.

The only thing that went in my favor was the fact that the bridesmaid dress was stunning. I know, rare right? Maybe you, yourself, have a horrid bridal fashion memory-I'm dying to know about it. Anyways, the dress was dark blue and beautifully long (And with my long legs a flowing skirt is a miracle. )

Anyways, back to the horrid day. I was just leaving my condo when I slipped and fell on the newly waxed floor. I completely destroyed my crocodile embossed high heels. Great, I thought, that's the second pair of shoes I've broken in one month.

So, I had to make a shoe change in less than 5 minutes. Instead of opting for a simple black shoe like a normal person I had to add some flair. Out came the thigh high leather boots. I figured they were wedding appropriate because the hem of the dress glided along the floor.

How was I to know the line of the boots showed in every picture? Not only was I mortified but I also got cussed out by the bride, who hadn't eaten anything all morning. Oh, she was livid at my sorry-butt. So, I scrambled around in my clutch to find her a granola bar and stat. She calmed down, grateful for the food. Mid her apology for her snipping comment, a bird flew over head and pooed on my hair. Everyone is watching-her mom, who has more class than the Queen, the hott guy who's my date and the bride's teacup poodle.

Somehow, I look more ridiculous than the dog who's wearing a yamaka.

Anyways, the lesson of the story? Roll with the difficult times because they might just bring the best reward ever.

Lemme give you the dirt. At the end of the night, I sat with my legs elevated in regal fainting couch. In walks my super-hott date, who declares that the country club has a vacant pool. We stroll up the little hill and while everyone celebrates the bride and groom leaving for their honeymoon, I gaze at the moon lit water. I can see super-hotties reflection. And on a day filled with drama, bird catastrophe and more, I let go of the stress. Exhale deeply and leap into the pool.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Back and Back and Back to School

Sooooo. The Challenge of the Month for September is--are you ready for it?--Back to School. I know. You've heard that somewhere before.

It's a nice topic and we can all relate to it (presumably), but it gives me a little bit of a problem. I mean, would that be Back to Sandia Base Elementary School, or Back to Panorama Elementary School, or Back to Apple Grove Elementary School, or Back to Ramstein Elementary School? 

Perhaps it means Back to Ramstein Junior High. Or Back To Timpview High School. Possibly Back to Orem High School. Or maybe even Back to Mountain View High School.

And don't even get me started on college.

The problem is, there are so many schools I went back to, I can't keep them straight. The consequence of being an Air Force brat. 

One universal characteristic about all of them, though, was that they started in the Fall. Every Fall, and every school. And that's the perfect time for a brand new fresh beginning, unsullied by last year's mistakes, or silliness, or just tiredness of certain subjects and teachers. There's something invigorating about a crisp new season filled with new goals, new learning, new friends, and most important, new clothes. 

Man, I loved the back to school shopping for new clothes ritual. Not because I got a whole new wardrobe each Autumn, like some people I knew. We didn't have either the money or the lack of practicality for that. But I'd get a few really great pieces with which to revamp my old stuff--a lot of which was hand-me-down from my sisters, and even some stuff I'd raided from my mom's boxes of clothes from the '60's. And most of those Back-to-School pieces? They'd be Fall-weather ready. And those were the best. Clothes just moving away from the heat and into the crisp, with wonderful warm colors, and always a bit of plaid.

I still feel that energy, and want to pull out the plaid in the Fall. And it's been fun to watch my kids get all excited as they get their own add-on pieces and I try to talk them into a bit of the tartan--Stewart-red or Black-Watch green.  (We're Scotch-Irish. Our blood is plaid. Stuarts, O'Briens, and McGuires will haunt me if my children don't wear something in our colors for Fall.) And if I can also convince them to buy something in orange and black, with maybe a mini bat or cat or ghost on it--even cooler. Especially the older kids.

Ahhh, back to school. I love it. It just needs to last longer.  Like all the way to Spring.

My oldest kidlets when they were little dudes, decked out for Fall--back in the days of big hair, long zippers, horsey bangs, and pants that made a mother's hips look like she could serve drinks off of them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fight for your dream

September challenge: Back to School

Lets be honest- when chasing your dream you're gonna have to fight for what you want.

For the past two years, I have had nothing but conflict circle around my writing dream. My family wants me to go back to college and focus on social work. And I get their confusion. I'll be the first to admit in high school I used my English class as a personal siesta hour.

I think that's why I am so grateful for my blogging and writing friends. They support and cheer you on like other. A big thank you to ya'll!

So, how do you fight for what you want when others believe its the wrong path. I learned from my writing teacher, you listen but in the end, you have to do what makes you happy. Focus on the love of the game-whether is be writing, painting or sports. The rest will work itself out with hard work.

I think Shaun White (2-time Olympic gold medalist snowboarder) summed it up best. In Vogue Magazine, he said, "It's funny because everybody asks me what I'm thinking about when I'm dropping in. And the thing is, I'm about to do something really focused. You don't hear anything. You don't think about anything. It just naturally happens."

Let your dream naturally happen. There's gonna be conflict but in the end, the struggle will be worth it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I'm Not Panicked. This is a Calm, Cool, Collected Freak Out

This week I was pretty sure my college kid was going to starve to death. She's got her own place with her own kitchen, and the responsibility to buy and cook her own food--for the first time. I took her shopping last weekend to get her started. Bought her the basics. Prayed she remembered how to use them.

Then I got home and realized we hadn't bought salad dressing. Got the lettuce. Forgot the salad dressing. What was my child going to do with the lettuce? I mean, no salad dressing? HOW WAS SHE GOING TO EAT HER SALAD? She was going to shrivel up and die of malnutrition. SHE WAS!

So I texted her. Asked if she wanted me to rush right down there (she's 3 cities away) with a life saving bottle of Ranch. I mean, I could do that! I'm a mother! It's what we do! We sacrifice for our offspring! We bring them salad dressing so they don't have to eat their leafy greens naked! (The greens. Not the child. We assume our children are fully clothed when eating leafy greens. We do. We assume nudity is not involved. At all. AND I DON'T WANT TO HEAR ANY COMMENTS ABOUT YOUR MEMORIES OF PLAYING STRIP-SALAD IN YOUR COLLEGE DAYS! MY KID DOES NOT DO THAT!) *ahem*

She texted me back. Informed me that she does, in fact, prefer her salads, er, au naturel. She had not purchased salad dressing . . . on purpose.

Oh. Okay.

So I went about my business, cleaning the house. Scrubbing toilets. Organizing my child's leftover shoes according to shade and toe-pointyness. And that's when I remembered.


I got a text explaining that she and her roommates hadn't quite worked out the whole cooking-thing yet, and she'd let me know when they did. She would ask any meat-purchasing questions at that time, because remember, she had worked all summer. She had the money to buy her own food. In the meantime, she could eat meat for lunch at the on-campus eatery. Because after all, that is where the elite meet to eat meat.

Ah. I see.

Sooo. She won't die then. That's good.

I mean, I wouldn't want her to worry.

Like my son. The one who was supposed to come home today in time to get the car and pick up his younger sib, because I was going to be at a meeting--in fact would be gone before he ever got there--and take the little dude to his lessons on time. Without my help. Or nagging. I'm pretty sure he worries about stuff like that.

He needn't have. He totally got there on time.

He's more capable than he thinks.

I know that.