Don’t Be Beige

Don’t be beige.

I scribbled the words excitedly in my journal like a 15 year old writing about her new crush.  So profound.  Or was it?  I can never tell with these thoughts that occur to me in the shower, or while driving around town, or while I’m half-watching Law & Order: SVU and half-making an imaginary grocery list.  (Does anyone else do that? I’d imagine it’s a normal part of life as a mom/household manager/toddler wrangler.)

Anyway… beige.  The walls in our apartment are beige. I don’t mind it.  It’s not particularly exciting, but it’s fine.  Beige is a neutral – one of the blending colors.  It’s a color that allows all the other decor to be seen. Beige is a good background because it isn’t memorable or noticeable. It does not stand out.

Don’t be beige is my new motto.  So what exactly do I mean when I say, “don’t be beige”?

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I mean show yourself.  Reveal who you are.  Don’t be afraid to live your life at full volume because you think someone else won’t like your song. In order to live a fulfilled life, you need to in full glory and magnificence, without any care for what anyone else thinks.

I think that people are comfortable being beige. Beige isn’t scary. I get that.  They feel beige is safe. It’s polite. It doesn’t offend. I tried to be beige, I tried to please people, tried to blend, tried to step back so others could have the attention.  While blending in and being beige may make others comfortable, ultimately living life this way ends in disappointment and regret.

Two major things I noticed while I was consciously camouflaging myself:

  • There is no benefit to me. – I gained nothing from stepping back, dimming my own light or quieting my passion.  Literally nothing good comes from silencing my voice so that someone else can speak.  I get no life experience, meet no new people, and receive no praise because no one sees me.  And ironically trying to please others didn’t make them like me more ore less.
  • There is no benefit to others. – The people who shine do that because of who they are. Colorful, magnetic, fun, talented. My beige-ness didn’t accentuate them. It only hid me. Worse, being beige causes me to miss out on contributing to the world in a way that only I can.

When I realized I wasn’t being my authentic self, I made a choice to be more colorful. I spoke up when I felt passionate.  I accepted invitations to parties.  I wore the sexy dress without worrying what someone else might think. Creatively, I have so much to give, and expressing that through writing, podcasting, and other venues allows me to contribute something tangible to the world.  My kids see me being silly and it shows them that they can be silly too.  I follow my own rules and beat my own drum and in the same way, peers and friends hear me telling my story and they are emboldened to tell their own.  It’s a beautiful domino effect.

These days, I have renovated my soul. There is no beige. I am memorable. I stand out. I am not a neutral, because I have a voice and I’m not afraid to be seen, and my home – and my whole world – is so much more colorful.

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Let’s Kick It

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There can be only one.

Eats:  Fluids!  No, it’s not a new diet.  It’s the stomach flu!  No kidding, everyone in the house was sick this week so I indulged in such delicacies as Lemon Lime Gatorade, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, and Fruit Punch Gatorade.

Pandora:  Celtic music is my jam.  This week I’ve been listening to a lot of it.  This is possibly because I watched Braveheart a few times while I was sick (as one does), but I’ve always had an affinity for the fiddles and bawdy lyrics.  If you haven’t before, search “Celtic” in Pandora, choose “Station” and give it a listen. I bet you’ll be doing an Irish jig in no time.

Michael Flatley – Irish Jigger Extraordinaire

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Wanderlust:  Nothing new to report, sadly.  It’s a dream of mine to go to a film festival, though, and I might be close to making that happen.  Fingers crossed!

Workouts:  Because of the sickness, all I managed were Gatorade curls and sleep.  I will say, though, that the sleep was glorious.  Also, my older son is a blue belt in karate right now and I get a “kick” out of watching him practice!

Spiritual: Lots of talk about magic going on in our house this week, thanks to the Harry Potter books and Hogwarts at Universal Studios.  My son and I had an interesting discussion about magic, in which he stated he didn’t realize that “real” magic existed.  “Of course it does!”, I told him, hand to chest in faux dramatic fashion.  I let him know the secret, as I understand it:  The less a person believes in magic, the less one sees it.  The more a person believes in magic, the more he or she will be able to recognize it in the world around him.  He was delighted in this truth, and I was delighted to share it with him.

Dreams:  Animals!  I’ve had dreams about baby pandas and an avalanche of black sheep this week.  I am SURE they mean something but also sure that I probably don’t want to know.

Photographing:  Lots of screen shots of quotes this week.  I’ve been kinda grumpy and stressed, so I keep things to help me remember nice thoughts and encouraging words.

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Movies and TV: I’ve been waiting to write this portion of the blog all week!  Rumor has it (and rumor actually confirmed by Vanity Fair ) that the original cast of The Karate Kid will be reuniting for a TV special!  Words cannot express (at least, not any words in my limited vocabulary) the elation I experienced when I heard his news.  For many reasons these films (ahem, the originals only) hold a special place in my heart.  Of course, there will be a gigantic Pat Morita – sized hole in the special, but I’m hopeful that his character will be treated with honor and respect.  Ralph Macchio is by all accounts quite a nice guy, and I hope this is a hit for him and Billy Zabka.  I will definitely be watching!

Library:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  Seriously, I’m only 2 pages in.  This week I’m taking sabbatical from work (don’t worry, they know about it) so I will try and sink my teeth in and share with you guys if I catch feelings.  Or start speaking Parseltongue.

Tech:  Words With Friends, mis amigos.  I’ve been challenged this week by friends, former English teachers, and total strangers.  I’ve won, I’ve lost, I’ve pitched my fists into the air in frustration.  It’s a great way to keep the mind sharp, or to get upset about how dull your mind is.  It’s one or the other.  Also, check out the Robin Hood App.  It’s a FREE stock trading app, and it is quite user-friendly.  Aptly named after the legendary outlaw who “robbed from the rich to give to the poor”, this app promises to help the “little guy” who isn’t educated on trading to build his portfolio.  Does it work?  I have no idea.  Right now they have a promotion going and if you sign up RIGHT OVER HERE you will receive one free share of mystery stock.  You can also receive free stock for any person who signs up using your link.  Free stock is free money, so go get some!

One last serious note: Rest in Peace, dear Robin Williams. It’s been three years already. Your life touched me.  Your death shook me.  Your legacy inspires me.  **If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or considering suicide, please get help.  You are not alone and you are worth fighting for.  You are unrepeatable.  There is a magic inside you that is all your own. (D.M.Dellinger)

How to be the Best Mom

It’s not a competition.

Wait… is it?  Motherhood is, and should be, a deeply personal and private experience.  How we choose to raise our kids, feed them, discipline them, etc., varies by individual.  We are all different in our beliefs, cultures, and heritage.  So it stands to reason that there is no one “right” way to be a Mom.  In these days of social media and over-sharing, though, it feels much more like a contest.  Those of us “less than” moms – I’ll call us the “non goops” – who don’t always have our shirts neatly pressed or dress our kids in coordinating lobster-print boat shoes for sushi day at the prep school, it can be overwhelming.

There are innumerable blogs, websites, and articles out there on the grand ol’ internet about being a mom.  How to be a better mom.  The things we should be doing, but aren’t.  The things we are doing but stop doing immediately or face ruining our child’s existence forever.  The things we didn’t even know were things, we are so far behind, but we need to buy for our kids, make them by hand or from scratch, avoid doing or our kids might die, continue doing or they might die, things to teach them, tell them, make sure they know, make sure they are aware of, sign them up for, keep them away from, feed them, bathe them in, sing to them, DIY for them, protect them from, and so on…

I have been killing myself the past couple of days trying to keep my son occupied.  He is 5 years old, and not in school yet because he has a late birthday.  So I decided that we would do “projects” every day to learn.  Along with projects, we have meals and snacks and karate (or “ninja school”, he says), lego building and swimming and church activities.  Our routine up to this past week has been more relaxed.  I keep reading articles that make me feel pressured to deliver, so I am trying to step it up.  I don’t want to be the one mom at carpool whose son isn’t already counting in 3 languages and taking Chinese calligraphy lessons from a certified master.  My days have been PACKED.  So much so, that I barely got to eat yesterday, did not work out, and did not nap.  Yes I know naps are not a necessity but I could have really used a nap yesterday.

Today, I took a different approach.  We got up, ate (non gf, non organic, very tasty) breakfast, got dressed, and went to a playground.  The weather was gorgeous.  I sat on a shaded bench, reading a book while he ran around and sang songs to himself.  Do you know what happened??  Nothing.  He did not die.  He did not fall down a black whole of insecurity because I was ignoring him.  Seriously.  He was delighted.  I was at peace.  It was great.

In that moment I was reminded of my own childhood.  I was raised by grandparents, mostly, (mom worked a lot) and I remember thinking that they were the best ever.  Literally.  No kid was as lucky as me and my brother.  We had it all – a house to live in, food to eat, clothes, and on Fridays (grocery day) I got to eat a treat from the grocery store.  WOO HOO!  I was living the high life, and life was GOOD.

The funniest thing about all the best days will those ‘best’ people, is that at no point did they make me feel like I was the center of the universe.  The sun, I was assured, neither rose or set out of my bum.  I did not get brand-new clothes (lots of hand-me downs and hand-sewn dresses), I did not eat fast food, there was not much tv, no video games, no DIY projects to keep me occupied.  It was more like, “go outside until lunchtime.”  So we did.  We are better for it.

After the playground today, I made homemade french fries (method at bottom) and reheated some leftover pork chops and broccoli.  While we ate together, my son  talked about life (5 year olds have deep thoughts!) and then suddenly, out of nowhere, he looked up at me and said “Mommy, you are the BEST Mommy there ever was.”  And you know something?  He meant it.

As adults we don’t remember the outfits we wore (less the tragic, embarrassing ones) but we do remember words of affirmation.  We don’t appreciate eating twinkies as much as we appreciate those days in the sun laughing with people from our own tribe.  Lobster-print boat shoes?  Forget about it.  I had my step-mom’s old high-top Reeboks.  To me, they were beautiful because she was beautiful, and because she loved me.

My point is, competing with other moms is silliness, when we won’t know them in 20 years anyway.  Enriching our kids’ lives has nothing to do with what other moms are doing and EVERYTHING to do with how much of ourselves we pour into them in every moment.  Loving words.  Homemade meals.  Story time.  Making up silly songs.  Praying together (he always spontaneously hugs me).  These are the criteria for “best mom”, and how wonderful that it’s an honor we can all achieve.

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Homemade French Fries (super simple)

prep time: 5 mins cook time: 25 mins  total time: 30 mins

Select 2 medium red potatoes.  Rinse.  Cut into slices or squares.

Place potato pieces in a bowl, drizzle with sesame oil (a little at a time – it goes a long way!)

Add salt as desired (again, a little should do), mix with hands.

Spread out on aluminum foil on baking sheet

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes (depending on how thick the pieces are) or until tender.

Serve plain or with ketchup.  Pat self on back. Receive hugs.