It's a Good Thing

picktherightthing

this girl.

Yesterday. Ahhhhh, yesterday. Do you ever look back on your yesterday and think,

Well, that was a &*%#storm.

No? Probably only because your inside your head language is more elevated than my inside my head language. I bet when you look back on your bad yesterday's you think,

My goodness. That could have ended up much lovelier than it did, couldn't it? Oh, bobbins.

Which is really just "nice" for &*%#storm.

Honestly, without hyperbole? Most of the day was pretty standard. There was even the brief high point where I figured out how to make a chicken curry salad that is supposed to make me skinny. (As long as I only eat it, drink water, and exercise three times a day.)

And then we went to Target.

Zuzu has been saving her money and had two dollars to spend in Target's Dollar Spot. She'd been looking forward to it all day and we headed over there as soon as she was out of school. Here's the thing about my lovely, helpful, smart, imaginative Zuzu. Choice is something she takes very seriously. The thought of somehow choosing wrong - of getting the pulled pork when maybe the chicken tenders are better, selecting just one bedtime story when there are hundreds of book covers calling, picking the $2 art kit when the $2 sticker book might have truly been the one path to transcendence - is completely paralyzing for her. So when I told her she could pick something out with her money, I knew what I was signing up for - 25 minutes of debate, fretting and finally, fearful but resolute decision making.

Only, that wasn't what I got.

We were in those three aisles for nearly an hour. Hemming and hawing and worrying.  You know, this wasn't a matter of her wanting more than her due. She was happy to stick to what she could afford. It was, rather, a moment of her feeling the fear of a wrong choice and the discontent of a lack of the perfect option.I talked kindly, I gently suggested, I calmly reminded her we needed to leave in just a moment over and over and over again. Until it really was time to leave and she still had not been able to settle on any one item.  She cried as we checked out, her sister paying for the $1 treat she had picked within the first two minutes of searching the store. She cried in the parking lot. And she cried on the car ride home. And then she cried in her bedroom. Because,

"You didn't give me enough time! I just need one more last chance! It isn't fair! It was so easy for Viola to choose! Vi is so lucky. I just want to go back! I want to choose again! I'll be faster! MOM! It was just so hard."

I stayed calm in the face of her very real upset and tried to teach through her tears.

"Zuzu, listen. When you're faced with treats you don't like, just keep saving your money for the future. If there are too many things that you like, that's a blessing! Don't feel worried about missing out on the right thing, just pick a good thing and enjoy it! It doesn't become less good because other goodness exists. You can spend your life worried about what you should have done, should have chosen, or you can spend your life engaged in what you're actually doing. And listen, sometimes, your last chance really is your last chance. We get to go back and try this again tomorrow. But that isn't always the case.  I need you to learn to have confidence in your ability to choose and your ability to act. You deserve that."

And, as is so often the case, somewhere between the "Zuzu, listen" and dinner that night, I realized that everything I said to my little girl was something I could say to myself.

Don't worry about missing out on the right thing, pick a good thing and enjoy it.

Your choice doesn't become less good because other goodness exists.

Do not worry about what you could have done. Get engaged in what you are actually doing.

There are not limitless chances for our hopes, our dreams, our obligations. Sometimes, opportunities really do run out. But, on those priceless occasions when you are given another shot - take it and run with it and only look back long enough to wave to us from the places you are going.

We each deserve to have the confidence to act.

After dinner, I pulled Zuzu onto my lap.

"You know that lesson you learned today? Mommy is learning it, too. Wanna work on it together?"

She did. So we will.

Choice. It's a concept that is often on my mind. Other thoughts on its role in female life, here.

Three Crazy Things You Should Do Every Day

crazy lady

She's crazy.

Three Crazy Things You Should Do Every Day

1. Voice your most critical thoughts.

Listen, we’ve all been there. It’s 10:05 in the morning. You still haven’t showered. Your kids are on their fourth episode of Curious George. The house is a mess. And the monologue in your head starts,

“Well. Today’s a bust. I guess I’ll just try again tomorrow. I bet every mom in the world is making organic crafts with their kids - their kids that are all potty trained and know how to read and write to the president about social issues and never fight with each other and always wear clothes from swedish catalogues without ever spilling on them ever. I should have been a mom like that, not a mom like this. Maybe if I shower, it will help. Of course, I don’t know what I’ll wear after the shower. Nothing fits. I used to be so cute, Maybe I’ll just have potato chips and ice cream for breakfast. Yeah, let’s start with that and see if it helps.”

And then you do, and you’re surprised when it doesn’t.

Here’s an idea. When you are thinking all that utter nonsense...close your eyes and say it outloud. If you overheard someone saying all that bleep about themselves or someone else what would you do? You’d be sympathetic or indignant, but you wouldn’t think it had merit. Me?? I’d probably laugh, tell them to get over themselves, take a shower and get going. Listen, most of our inner criticism is too ridiculous to survive reality. So make it real. Take a look at it’s malformed inaccuracies and then toss it over your shoulder in the garbage heap where it belongs. You deserve to move about unencumbered by your own untruths. Own that and then get up and get going.

2. Work towards a far-fetched dream.

Adulthood doesn’t do away with our most fantastic and hopeful selves. It just buries that person below the mortgage and the stretch marks and the cynicism we all pack on like so much armor. Well, you know, it might be time to get over adulthood. Pick a big or little dream that seems beyond your circumstance and take one tiny step toward it a day. In this season in my life, there are days when my most far fetched dream is a clean house - and I get as close to that as clean counters above a toy strewn floor. Other days I can feel beyond my walls and I write a page of that book I hope to see on a shelf some day. As I grow older, I am realizing that the type of dream doesn’t matter as much as our willingness to devote time to it. When I dedicate my resources, minutes, and a sense of validity to even the simplest of my heart strung hopes, I am acknowledging my personal worth and ability to contribute. And I am discovering that mere acknowledgement is the catalyst of more forward movement than any actual dream I’ve ever actually dreamt.

3. Act with Love

Acting with love in a world motivated by so many unloving things is really, really crazy. But it is also my most moving act of insanity for my most immoveable days. I can’t control the world outside my door. Hell, I can barely control the world INSIDE my door. I have no hand in whether I’m invited to THAT playgroup, or THAT book club, or THAT party. I can’t make people read my writing. I can’t force the world into the shape I think it should assume. What can I do? I can decide get rid of reaction as a means of survival or supremacy. I can replace it with deliberation, with empathy, with a decision to think the best, and a commitment to not be hurt by others inadvertent actions. I can reach out. I can bring in. I can circle round.  I can act out of love. Especially when it comes to forgiving and believing in my most imperfect, ever reaching self.

Here’s to more crazy days.