Archive for March, 2011

26 Mar 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

33 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

Sometimes I want to sit down at my laptop, type “Flawless Saturday Question” in the title box, and have this be the post:

What’s your favorite color?

I mean, you’d have an answer, right? You’d either say, “Blue” or “Red” or my personal favorite… “Orange”. Yes, I really like orange. And it’d be an actual question. But it wouldn’t really get you thinking. It wouldn’t inspire you or make you smile. It might make you laugh and say, “Oh, Lisa. You’re so silly!” Which in some ways is good enough. But I like making you think.

So how about this instead:

What’s your favorite recent purchase?

Oooh, yeah baby! That’ll get you thinking!! I mean that is INSPIRING!!  Well, it’s a question. So shut it.

Yesterday I took G to the toy store at the mall after school because he had Christmas money left over from Grandma Farm. He’s been fantastic at keeping his side of our deals lately, so I thought he deserved a new toy (that was technically already paid for by someone else, if you see where I’m going.)

We spent over an hour at the store. He checked out every single item. Every wind-up toy. Every sticker book. Every dinosaur and shark. Every puzzle. Every instrument. I was excited when he was leaning toward the cat-piano-thingy. But then he kept looking.

He ended up in the super-hero aisle and he laid his eyes on the one bit of Iron Man paraphernalia he didn’t yet own. It’s a giant helmet that lights-up and talks. He wanted it.

“Garrett, come on! You have so much Iron Man stuff!”

“I want this.”

“What about the piano?”

“I want this.”

I asked him about thirty more times. His mind was made up. We were spending his money, not mine. He got it. (And I had a coupon!)

Well, he loves it. And he’s excited about it. And I’m very happy for him. I haven’t bought myself anything in a helluva long time, so I thought this story was the most apropos.  So let me live vicariously through YOU, dear Reader, as you tell me what you’ve bought yourself recently that you just absolutely love. And talk slowly. I want every detail.

25 Mar 2011

Therapy

13 Comments Personal Crap

I started seeing a therapist almost 20 years ago when I was having some issues with friends, boyfriends, my parents, my brother and just trying to enter my 20’s. I went for a few months, figured some shit out, and moved on with my life with a new set of tools, a little more confidence, and a greater understanding of myself.

About seven years later, I found myself back with the same therapist, trying to get over my idiotic jealousy issues and learning how to live with someone I knew I’d be with for the rest of my life. After six months, I had new tools, new confidence and a whole new outlook.

As you can see, I look at therapy as a way to work through things, learn some ways of coping, and move on. I’m not one of those lifers who can talk about myself weekly for years. (Not that there’s ANYTHING wrong with that!)  I want to learn and leave.

A little over a year ago, I called this therapist again. I was dealing with a very sick father, a two-year-old, career issues and a feeling that I was lost. This time I felt pretty torn apart and I knew I truly needed help.  I almost immediately felt like I was being rescued. I felt like Allison (That’s what we’ll call her) was in a helicopter and she was beginning to drop down a rope for me to grab on to, to pull me out of the muck that I was wading in. I knew I had to do a lot of wading before I could actually grab on to the rope to be pulled up, but I was willing to do any and all of the work I had to do to be saved.

This time therapy was sticky and painful and hard. In the past I had dealt with more ego-related issues and wounds, and they were mostly on the surface. What I had to deal with now was far more serious. These wounds had already created scars and I had so much digging to do. Almost every week I cried, and every week it was a surprise to me. Sometimes the tears were cathartic and felt like a gift. Other times I was crying from a place I hadn’t wanted to ever visit, and maybe even didn’t know existed.

I thank God I don’t have the kind of pain that results from real tragedy. I’ve had a pretty freaking good time of it. But, just by the virtue of being alive, we all have pain. And we all deserve to try to heal that pain. I was dealing with the inevitable death of my father, finding out about my childhood (which even in doing so, I found to be cliche’ but completely eye-opening and NECESSARY), and my struggles as a sometimes-working-actress and happily permanent mommy.  I was learning, growing, filling my toolbox to overflowing, and starting to feel a little more sane.

Then my dad died and everything became murky again. The rope I had begun ascending slipped from my hands and I once again dropped into the muck, this time fearing an even more difficult climb up. For those of you who know me, or know me through my blog, you know that my father was a driving force in my life. He was a rock for me, and someone I spoke to or saw daily. His positive attitude influenced me every day, and he had been ill since I had been pregnant. His death is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with and I felt beyond lost and shattered.

I took a short break from therapy, just to get things in order and get my bearings. And then I began again. Through the profound sadness, I learned I had strength greater than I knew and that the pain I felt would never go away, but would change. I found out for the first time how I wanted to represent myself in certain situations that were both old and new to me. I became different and, in my opinion, better. I had a new-found faith in myself and those I love. I was doing all of the work I needed to do, and I was climbing the rope again. This time, I found myself near the top, almost boarding that helicopter.

Two weeks ago, Allison told me she was moving out of state and that I only had one session left. I felt like someone slapped me in the face, and I sobbed. I was truly surprised and freaked out by my reaction, and I apologized profusely. Of course I knew there was no reason to be sorry. But I was blown away by the amount of tears that were streaming down my face. And I wasn’t even sure at that moment why I was so completely sad.

After talking about those “feelings” for a little while, we moved on to other things. We wanted to get the most out of this hour and the next, which would be my last with her. In the week that followed I realized why I had so many “feelings” about her leaving, not the least of which was that she had gotten me through so much and had been there for me in my darkest days. She had helped me to be a better person and to find my inner strength. She helped me to mourn and to celebrate and to be a better mom and wife through it all. She had also been an objective voice at a time when I needed that the most.  My last session was mostly spent figuring out how to not feel guilty about going on a quick trip away with my husband. She gave me 100 great ways to make Garrett feel happy and comfortable that I know I will use for years.

She encouraged me with this blog and my career, she cheered me on when I chose to stop working for a while, she guided me to find a place to be, physically and emotionally, when I needed to sob or to sit in quiet. She got me to walk daily and to stand up for myself.

She got me up the rope.

I’m not quite on the helicopter yet, but I’m almost there. I know I can get there myself and with the help of those that love me. I can even throw myself a little more rope if I need it, because I have that in my toolbox.

I am grateful for Allison and for therapy. (And for the recommendations she gave me in case I need someone in the future!) I am truly better for it. And it only took 20 years.

19 Mar 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

23 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

What is your happiest recent moment?

There’s a whole lot of nasty crap going on in the world right now, isn’t there? It’s honestly hard to be optimistic or joyful about things at this point in time.  That’s why I thought it would be good to reflect on a moment, a short burst of happiness that you’ve had in the last few days, that maybe you could call on when you’re feeling like times are too dark.

Thursday night I had one of those moments. I decided that day to cook a meal of entirely new recipes I hadn’t tried. I logged on to Weelicious.com, where I always seem to get inspiration for meals my husband and son would enjoy.  I decided to make crepes, which had always intimidated me in the past. I also made hummus and waldorf salad. The crepes were a blast to make, and very easy to flip over. I made 12 of them and stuffed some with salami and cheddar cheese, sort of a pizza-crepe-calzone. I stuffed the others with chicken and feta cheese. I served them with the salad and hummus and we had such a good time eating it all.

At one point I looked over and my son and my husband enjoying the food I had just made, and I felt joyful down to my bones. Garrett said several times how much he liked the pizza crepes and Russ said how much he liked all of it. I liked it all, too!

I used to have daydreams about feeding my husband and kid, laughing around the dinner table, and being asked for seconds and thirds. So, I guess you could say that night was a dream come true. It’s one of those moments I can pull up into my mind whenever I need a smile.

I think in times like these, it’s the little things that matter most: family, friends, laughter, a good meal, hugs, kisses and silliness. (Wait, those are actually the BIG things, aren’t they?)

I want to hear about a happy moment from you. And if you don’t have one, please try to create one soon. It’s good for what ails you. 🙂

13 Mar 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

28 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

What is something that, no matter what, brings you back to your childhood? A taste? A smell? A place? What makes you immediately feel 10 years old?


Two things converged tonight to bring me back to my childhood. First, the weather. Day Light Savings Time is here and the San Fernando Valley couldn’t be more perfect in my eyes. Every year at this time I whoosh back to when I was a kid. Longer days, sunshine, and just a feeling of well being. I love this time of year so much, and there’s something about it that makes me feel like a kid again.

The other thing was unexpected. It was my friend’s birthday dinner and we had chocolate cupcakes with her favorite frosting, which I learned (from her best friend) is Rainbow Chip Frosting. I THOUGHT I had never had it before, but one bite brought me back to slumber parties in elementary school. It’s such a wild feeling to have that recognition with something you weren’t expecting to know at all!

So, what brings you back? And if it’s something easy to get that makes you feel young again… Go out and get it. Now!

One last thing. I’m thinking about the people in Japan, and I’m sure you are too. You can text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10.

07 Mar 2011

Date Night, 13 years in.

9 Comments Personal Crap

Russ and I had a date Friday night. Dinner, Bed Bath & Beyond, and coffee & dessert. Yes, I squeezed in an errand. I made up for it with afternoon sex. It’s okay, Mom. We’re married!!

We had a great time together, as usual. Although not quite as exciting and sexy as it could have been. I blame that on the errand.

I realized something on the way home. The entire evening was spent talking about projects we’re currently working on, or would like to start, people in our family, some friends, Garrett (of course) sprinkled in every five or ten minutes, and then stuff about what’s going on in the world, pop culture, and Steve Jobs.

The beginning of our relationship, namely the first two years, were spent with us sharing the stories of who we were, where we came from, and how we got here. We talked about our childhoods, our families, the friends we had growing up. We talked about our elementary school teachers, how we got our scars (physical and emotional), and what our first kisses were like. We revealed things about ourselves with great excitement and learned things about each other with great interest.

We doled out juicy bits of information like they were jelly beans given for doing a good job on the potty. We had great sex followed my more conversation about whether or not we wore designer clothes to school or enjoyed history class. We shared stories about the drunkest we had ever been and the drunkest our friends had ever been. We caught up on each other’s lives up unti the time we met.

Now we’re all caught up and so we talk about… Everything else. It’s nice that we know each other’s stuff. And I love that we have interesting conversations about other stuff now. But every so often I miss those first months and years, when I found out all about his Pre-Lisa life and he found out about my life Before Russ.

One time, about two-and-a-half-years ago on a road trip to Oregon, Russ and I quizzed each other about our lives while Garrett slept in his car seat. It was a blast and a great way to make the time go faster. He knew the answer to EVERY SINGLE QUESTION I asked him about myself, no matter how obscure,  and proved that he’s a great listener and has a much larger brain capacity than I do. I got about 50% right about him. But remember, I gave birth. And it’s a scientific fact that half of your brain comes out with the placenta.

The truth is, we do still have things to learn about each other, and I even enjoy hearing and telling stories we already know. He’s my best friend. And now we have a story we’ve created together with an incredible child who is not only a part of, but proof of that story. I can talk about almost anything with my husband and enjoy it. But for our next date I might consider pretending it’s those first two years, and thinking of questions I want to ask the new guy in my life. Maybe I’ll learn something I didn’t know. Like what his favorite section is at Bed Bath & Beyond.

05 Mar 2011

Flawless Saturday Question

19 Comments Flawless Saturday Question

What’s your favorite way to pamper yourself?

We all have those times when we just need to get away, whether it’s for an hour or a weekend.  Last week I was lucky enough to spend two hours at a spa for a massage and a cat nap. That was pretty dang great. But on a daily, more realistic basis, I tend to steal a moment here and there to recharge.

Sometimes I’ll come home for a second (or third) cup of coffee after dropping G off to school. The ten minutes I take to sit, have some joe, and relax are often just the thing I need to start my official day.

I find lately that my most favorite “me-time” is when I take a half hour to exercise. Whether it’s running with our dog, Bogie or boxing and hula-hooping on Wii Fit, or doing Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred DVD… Taking that time for myself has become an almost imperative part of my day. Since I’ve been doing it, I’ve gotten more done during the day than I ever have before. It’s made me far mor productive, less tired, and a lot more motivated to get things done. I’m even waking up more refreshed.

I never thought I’d be one of those people who “need” to exercise, but I am now. And the gift of giving myself that time, and all that extra energy, has been priceless.

And one more favorite way I have to take a little time to pamper myself is something I used to do ALL the time, but now it’s very rare: take myself out to lunch. It’s such a luxury to sit with a book or  magazine, order what you want, sip some tea or coffee and eat. And breathe. I’d like to do it a little more often, but I’ll take it when I can get it.

So.. What is your favorite and most effective way to recharge your batteries? (You might be giving others a great idea, so please share!!!!)

04 Mar 2011

Good to Give

4 Comments Toddler

Back in December, I posted about how we were trying to get Garrett to get rid of some things to make room for the toys that Santa was bringing. At the time I wasn’t sure how to get him to part with things, and asking him to do it wasn’t working.

Last night G-Man had the opportunity to give some of his baby things to a one-year-old in my sis-in-law’s family. I showed him the bag of clothing I had already assembled, and sent him back to his room with his dad to see what he could come up with. Five minutes later, they emerged with an activity table, talking robot and grocery cart. I was so happy!!  I knew it was a better idea for Russ to try to convince him, because he takes all of the drama out of the things I tend to inject drama into.

Garrett couldn’t have been more pleased as he handed over his things to Baby Alex and his parents. He didn’t even ask if he was going to see the stuff again. I told him how incredibly proud of him we were, and that giving things to people is a wonderful and important part of life. And, as a reward, I let him watch one Word Girl episode even though it was way past his bedtime by the time we got home.

It’s only been three months since the initial begging-fest that went on when I was asking him to get rid of those things. But in those three months a lot has changed. G’s grown about an inch, grown his hair about three inches, gotten out of his crib, found out he loves the alphabet, and has learned that giving feels pretty good.

I’m beaming with pride. And I’m going to see how far we can take this thing. Maybe by next week we’ll have enough room to move his action figures, dinosaurs, and god-knows-what out of the living room and into his ROOM! Not holding my breath. But I’m still beaming.

02 Mar 2011

Tradition

14 Comments Personal Crap

I participated tonight in a tradition I had never heard of, and it was very special.

A few months ago we became friends with neighbors of ours who have a son a bit older than Garrett. I’ll just use their initials, “J”  (the mom) and “B” (the dad). They’re lovely and we enjoy spending time with them. G-Man digs playing with their kids.

Last week, B’s dad passed away. If you’ve read my blog, you know that my father died in July and that it has been the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. When that happened to me, my friends stepped up in a way I never even knew was possible. I felt love and support from everyone in my life. I felt so blessed during such a dark time.

Well, as soon as I heard about B’s dad I wanted him and his family to know we were thinking of them. I know they knew. They asked several of their friends to be a part of a Jewish tradition tonight that I never knew about. You walk around the block, surrounded by friends and family, to signify the end of Shiva (the traditional seven days you spend mourning your loss).  Here’s an explanation of “getting up from Shiva” from aish.com:

“The house that the mourners live in for the week of shiva becomes a house of mourning. It takes on an ambience of solemnity, filled with memory, contemplation, and meditation. But it is a house where people will continue to dwell. The concrete act of physically stepping outside, walking around the block, and coming back in, says that this house and our relationship with this house will now be renewed.”

In all the years I’ve been to funerals and shivas, I’ve never experienced this tradition. I just called my mom to ask if she had, and the answer was, “No”.

I will always remember this night, even though it was completely casual and the people walking were having their own conversations and thoughts, even laughing and being silly. But that’s the point of it, isn’t it? Starting life again. It’s a tradition I will bring to future shivas (of which there will be few, I hope.) It was wonderful. And I feel lucky that I was asked to be a part of it.

It also reminded me why traditions are so important. They tie us to who we are, who our ancestors were, to our friends and our families. Even though I’m not big on organized religion, I’m proud of my Jewish heritage and the traditions that come from it. So many of them are a big part of who I am. I was pleased to learn a new one tonight.

01 Mar 2011

Spa Day Schpla Schplay

7 Comments Uncategorized

I got a very generous gift certificate seven months ago for a relaxation massage at a popular, lovely spa in my area. I finally had a day completely free yesterday, so I figured I’d use it. I made the appointment the night before and was looking forward to getting rubbed for 50 minutes.

I remember a time, not so long ago, when I could spend an entire day at the spa. I’m talking eight hours. And not just because I had the time, which I did. But because I could mentally spend an entire day at the spa.

Those days are gone.

I dropped G off at school and arrived at the spa at 9:30, exactly thirty minutes before my massage appointment. I changed into my robe (Uncomfortably close to the woman at the locker RIGHT NEXT TO MINE who had checked in SECONDS AFTER ME. The spa was not busy at all. They couldn’t separate us a tad??) Where was I? Oh yeah, I changed into my robe and flip flops and placed my phone in my locker. That was big for me. I think that was the first time in months that I’ve been without my phone for even a moment, let alone almost two hours. It felt good to close that locker door.

I walked directly to the quiet room, where women go to, um, be quiet. I covered my legs with a warm and cozy blanket. And I fell fast asleep. I never EVER sleep sitting up, but I fell A S L E E P. About 20 minutes later, my massage therapist quietly called my name, “Lisa?”  I followed her to the treatment room and enjoyed 50 minutes of relaxing, sometimes painful, lotion-filled bliss. I wished I was wealthy enough to rent the room an additional 50 minutes to sleep. It was a great massage.

I poured myself some tea and went back to the quiet room. I sat there, blanket on my legs, for about six minutes. Then I got up, got dressed, and went home. In the past I would’ve used the pool, maybe the sauna, the shower, the free razors and body washes and shampoo. I would’ve brought my makeup and hair gels and used the hair dryers and vanity mirrors. But the hour and 45 minutes I had been there were sufficient.

I seriously could not get out of there fast enough.  I’m not sure of the exact reason, but it seems like now, when I’m at a time in my life when it seems I could really use an entire day at the spa.. I’m just not interested. 20 minutes in the quiet room? Yes please. Massage? Yup, thanks. Tea? Sure! And then I’m done.

And for some stupid reason, I’m happy I don’t want to spend the entire day doing that stuff. The two hours I took for myself were fantastic and they were, more importantly… Enough. I felt rejuvenated and refreshed, ready to face my life. Maybe it’s because I like my life so much, I don’t really need a long break from it. A short breather is healthy, sure! But then I’m ready to get back into the thick of it.

Just so you know, though… I could use one of those massages every month. Heck, I could use one a week! But who couldn’t? For now I’m thankful for one every seven months or so.

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