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Friday, March 27, 2015

Why Do I Do This?

I'm in limbo at the moment. I sent draft #14 of my proposal, including two sample chapters, off to my agent, and now I’m waiting to hear from her. Which leaves me in limbo. O, there are things I ought to do – get camp medical forms to the pediatrician, buy a new lock for the 7th grader’s locker, and set a regular schedule for blogging outlets, for example – but I am not doing them. I did manage to send off the baby gift to my friend's granddaughter.

So, here are highlights of my thoughts and activities this week. 

Overall, I have spent way too much time 'pon Pinterest, looking at casual fashion.

I spent my birthday, which wasWednesday, in good company. I’m talking ‘bout Sir Elton John, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Gloria Steinem. Speaking for all of us, I can say that we are all glad to be here, and we didn’t need any extra medication to get through it. The family and I went out to dinner and I had a mini-bottle of champagne to myself to celebrate. There was a small contretemps regarding the celebratory cake – as in, someone didn’t order one - but in the end, there was something for me to blow out. A Price Chopper cake with a star candle I saved from the husband’s birthday the other week.

In re: fashion. I have now belted my sweaters twice. That doesn’t mean I put on two belts. I mean that on two different occasions I added a belt OVER my sweater. I accessorized. This is something I never thought I would do in this way. The belted sweater has always seemed too-too. But never say never. Except to culottes, also known as gauchos. Say never to those.  And to jumpsuits. Say never to  any garment you have to remove entirely in order to use the facilities.  

In re: fashion. Due to Pinterest, I have gleaned the following: flared jeans, also known as bell-bottoms are big. Very big. As corroboration, I offer this information. The 13 year old’s school had a career day this week, and she reported on the various careers represented by parent volunteers. Air Force pilot, scrap metal dealer, emergency room doctor, among others. Then, on the way home from my birthday dinner,  she told me that there was a lady at career day wearing flared pants who looked really fashionable. So fashionable, in fact, that she at first thought it might be (from behind) her social studies teacher. But this lady turned out to be a “real estate something” (I quote my child here), and that doesn’t even matter, because the point was that the 13 year old said the flared pants were very flattering and made her legs look really long.

To which the 16 year old said that no one young would "ever ever ever wear flares". To which I said, “never say never” and she said that maybe flares would be popular among the mom crowd, but never in her generation, because HER generation grew up knowing the truth about flared jeans: they are atrocious.

This is a truth I also grew up knowing. Flares, aka bell-bottoms, were feh. As were sweaters with belts. So I remain mum on the flares, aka bell-bottoms question. But not about the gauchos/culottes, or the jumpsuits.

I wish I could tell you that we discussed Kant, or something even more deep. But I cahnt.

In re: success. I had my monthly conference call with my mutual support group, my mini-master minds group a la Napolean Hill, my tiny Junta (Juntita?) a la Benjamin Franklin. An idea and support-sharing group to encourage ourselves to move forward in our lives. Many, many clichés come to mind here. But my point, Readers, was that one of my group members, who is very Type A, told me that after reading my blog about the Pomodoro Method, as well as another article about the same approach, she used it to get through a work deadline. Instead of a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, she used her iPhone’s timer. She set it for fifteen minutes, and every time it sounded, she just hit reset again, until she was done.

Now, I would like to point out that part of the Pomodoro Method is taking short breaks inbetween segments of intense work. Even if you don’t feel like stopping when the timer dings, you are supposed to stop. STOP and recharge. Look at Pinterest, even. I cling to that little break to get me going in the first place. But that is what makes us all so different and interesting, isn’t it? Instead of taking a break, my Type A friend just reboots herself. Pressing the timer seems to be all the break she needs. Gotta love that. I am so not that way.

Other topics: one piece of information I have come up against repeatedly in my success research is this idea that to be really successful, one must engage in meaningful work that benefits others. If you recall, all the way back to Stephen Covey and his 7 Habits of Highly Effective (euphemism) People, he talked about building upon strong values and specified that a goal of making money, say, was really not the right approach. One must approach money sideways- like it’s a skittish horse, perhaps. (That's not what S. Covey says, it's just my interpretation.) Because going after money is going to prove ultimately a false value. Money, after a certain amount, doesn’t increase your happiness. But things that make you happy include blah blah and blah and helping people.

So I have asked myself, Readers, how is my research on success going to help anyone? How does my blog help? Will my book help? Well, in conversation with my support group, as one of us talked about a workshop she had attended about newfangled brand building and self-empowerment and stuff, I suddenly saw how I might help others. Because, it has become apparent, I’m not coming up with a definitive definition of success .

I wrote in my journal, my intention is to “go there” in myself – to be open and honest and (one hopes, funny and entertaining) about things that other people might feel a bit uncomfortable exploring. Because my working hypothesis about me and my thoughts and feelings is that if I think it or feel it, then most people do. I'm not so special. So why not get it out there under the light and take a look at it? Reminds me of one night, when I was a kid, and I checked under my bed for monsters, and I saw a grey spot, and I was terrified that it was a big spider. Eventually, I worked up courage to get my father to come in and take it away. And the spot turned out to be a dust bunny. Kinda like that.

Also reminds me of years ago, when the younger daughter was in preschool. I made a less than Pollyanna-like comment about motherhood, possibly something about wanting to flick my children in the backs of their heads from time to time because they were so irritating; the teacher said it was really refreshing to hear someone talk about the frustrations of parenting. And I thought, really, this is unusual? Doesn’t everyone feel this way?

I think that it’s all that therapy I’ve had. I’ve become quite comfortable with layers of ambivalence underlying the most intimate relationships.

Just yesterday, I caught a snippet of a radio interview with some singer-songwriter, talking about how writing about the regular, daily personal stuff is boring; but writing about the deeply personal stuff is not. The deeply personal taps into the universal, and that’s what makes it resonate. Which is what my painter friend Karen Kaapcke said to me once. We were at the Armory Exhibition at the NYState Historical Society. Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2 was truly spellbinding. That I should just go deep, because that’s where people would meet me.

Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2, M. Duchamp. 1913?

So that’s what I do here. I hope. ON a good day. Which I don’t think today is. But.

And with that in mind, I will tell you that I spent part of my birthday in the office of a physical therapist for my pelvic floor. But I will not bother you with details about that. I simply write it for you so you know that such a type of physical therapy exists, and that if something is funky with your pelvic floor, there is someone out there who can help you. Me.

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