2 anecdotes that will change your life*

standard January 30, 2014 6 responses

The other day, as I was bouncing around Facebook, procrastinating on the mound of work I really needed to do, I came across a fun video clip of Mandy Patinkin riding in the back of a cab, reciting his infamous “My name is…” lines with the cab driver.


The magic that is the Facebook algorithm then led me to a NY Times article about Mandy titled “I behaved abominably.” Who wouldn’t click on that? Come on. The extended procrastination was totally justified.

I had to know what this man I have adored for countless years could possibly have done that he qualified as “abominable.” Turns out I’ve been rather busy and preoccupied these last… oh… 8 years and I missed all the drama about him walking off the set of Criminal Minds. Whoops.

In any case, that’s not my point here.

My point is this. At one moment in the NYT article, Mandy says

“I didn’t listen to myself,” Patinkin said. “I listened to all the relatives who said: ‘Yes, you win Tony awards, but how’s the movie career going? Are you a big movie star yet?’ I was in ‘Sunday in the Park,’ I was having this extraordinary life with Joe Papp in the Public Theater, but nothing was O.K., because I wasn’t a big movie star yet.”

This was after doing Princess Bride, after Chicago Hope, after he’d already won the hearts of billions of fans.

And all he heard were the voices in his head that said he wasn’t good enough.

Let that thought settle in your head for a minute. Mandy Patinkin, TV superstar, probably one of the most iconic movie actors of my life, renowned singer, larger than life, so well known that in Hollywood he’s known as “just” Mandy, worries that his career isn’t good enough because he’s not a big movie star.

While you’re mulling that over, let me share another tidbit that occurred this week.

While I was out for drinks with two friends (yes, sheesh girls, get over, it, you say something around me, it might well show up here. I’d apologize, but I’m just not all that sorry. Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas. Hang out with a writer… uh… be written about. Next round is on me.) and one of them mentioned that people often confuse her with another person she used to work with, because they both have dark curly hair.

Different heights. Radically different skin tones. Totally different body types. But hey, curly hair! Not even the same kinds of curls, but dark curly hair. Mind. Blown.

So here’s the moral of my two stories. 

1) It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve accomplished, how great you are, there are still going to be people in your life who make you feel like you’re just not good enough.
No one is ever going to believe in you the way you need to believe in yourself. Stop looking outward to see if you’re on the right track and start looking inward instead. If you’re proud of where you’re going and what you’re doing let that fuel your self-worth.

2) We can spend hours futzing with our clothes, our shoes, our hair, and our make-up and unless we’re doing it because it makes us feel good, it’s all for nothing.
People see you through the lens of their own self-absorption. You might be thinking “Isn’t this a cute skirt? I love how these boots make me taller! I really wish I didn’t have that monster zit growing on my chin, but hey, cute eye shadow today!” and they’ll be thinking “Oh yay! Curls is here.” In short, stop worrying so much, you’re the only one who sees the imperfections.

So there you have it. Deep thoughts for the day. Seriously hoping my next post will not have to be titled “I don’t understand why none of my friends want to hang out with me any more.”

*What, too Buzzfeedy of a title?

Embrace: My one word for 2014

standard January 2, 2014 6 responses

Every Tuesday morning I hike with a friend at a well known nearby trail. It takes us about an hour to hustle around the 3.3 mile loop. We chat about everything under the sun, exercising our bodies and exorcising our petty annoyances at our worlds. At the end we’re sweaty, happy, and feeling ready to face another week.

During one of these walks my friend mentioned that 2014 was going to be the year she gets fit and thin, and 2015 would be the year when she’d fix whatever hadn’t been “fixed” with the help of some plastic surgery.

Now, I’m not averse to plastic surgery. Heck, my father-in-law is a plastic surgeon and I’ve seen first hand how it can truly be a wonderful thing.

But the whole plan, the two year process, just the mere thought of all that time, all that effort, exhausted me. Not the actual effort, the working out, the eating better, etc, just the sheer amount of time that would have to be spent self-analyzing, self-critiquing…. bah. Exhausting.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve spent my whole life seeking out my flaws, physical and behavioral. I’m over it.

So I told her I was skipping straight to the 2016 portion of the plan. The part where we shrug and say “oh well, what you see is what you get” and get on with the business of living our lives.

I’m not going to stop eating as well as I can, or working out as often as I can. But I’m going to stop berating myself for every little perceived failure.

Because that’s what they are, perceived failures. Who sets that bar we all seem to measure ourselves against? Do we? Does society? And why do we allow ourselves to move that bar whenever we feel like it?

Madness I tell you. Or at least it leads to it. And I’m done with that for now.

2014, your word is Embrace. 

This year I vow to embrace who I am. 
All my flaws.
All my shortcomings.
All my failures.
All my successes.
All my quirks.
My looks.
My sense of humor.
My habits, both good and bad.

And it’s going to extend to beyond my personal sphere.

This year I vow to embrace what happens to me. 
The highs.
The lows.
The in-betweens.
The surprises.
The plans.
The changes in plans.
The challenges along the way.
The setbacks.
The opportunities.

I tell a lot of my friends that life flows along like a river. You can spend a lot of effort and time fighting the current, trying to force your way up stream or even force the river to change direction. Or you can relax and let the river flow, see where it takes you, open yourself to the uncontrolled adventure.

I’m convinced that the destination is the same. The river drops you off where it wants. But if you change the way you approach the journey, you’re the one who’s changed upon arrival.

I’m tired of fighting the river. I want to embrace the journey.

Last year my word was Brave and it served me well as I faced down many a personal demon and triumphed all the way! 

Dirty truths you never wanted to know about lice

standard September 12, 2013 10 responses

So, here’s the deal. If you have kids, I hate to break it to you, but odds are VERY high that at some point or another, you’re going to be introduced to some unwelcome guests.

No, not the pot smoking teen that your daughter is going to think is soooo hot. I have nothing on that yet.

Lice.

Not an actual picture of a louse. I couldn’t bring myself to post one. You can find those here.

I know. Your kid is clean. Your house is clean. You’re not going to ever have to deal.

Except you will. Because lice love clean.

So here are a few truths about lice. Hopefully it’ll help you get through what might have become the worst day of your life.

1) Lice are parasites.
They can only survive on their host’s head. What that means is that someone’s louse will meander (aka “jump”) onto another head, lay an egg (nit) and then die. The egg will hatch in 7 days and will make a happy home on the new head, will lay more eggs, and will populate it’s own colony. Some of those guys will jump off and start a new colony on someone else’s head, etc…

2) Lice need human blood to survive
They’re not hiding behind the couch, so there’s no need to go on a mega cleaning frenzy of the whole house. Just make sure you wash all bedding and place all stuffed animals your kids play with in a big trash bag for 72 hours.

3) Lice can survive with no blood for 2-3 days
– So yes, they can “hop” from jacket to jacket at school when jackets are all lined up on coat hooks.
– Yes, that means you should wash the bedding every day for a couple weeks. Or at least throw it in a hot dryer for 15 minutes. They can’t survive the heat.

4) There are LOTS of treatment options
– You can panic, go to the pharmacy and buy every lice treatment product on the shelf and every comb you see, and treat your kids over the bathroom sink. (I did this at first. It was pricey, stinky, and didn’t work at all.) Note, “super bugs” are very resistant to this option. Read on for something that works better!
– You can, for a hefty sum (money well spent in my opinion), hire a nitpicker to come to your house and treat everyone.
– You can take your brood to a “lice salon” where they will be treated on site.
– OR (and this is the better option) You can get the Nit Free Terminator Lice Comb (trust me, there is no acceptable substitute, order it now so you have it on hand), get a bottle of peppermint extract oil, and a bottle of thick white coconut conditioner, and do the treatments yourself.*

Honeycomb

5) I’m sorry. Your kids can’t go to school with lice.
But that doesn’t mean you have to keep them home forever. You just have to keep them home until they have no live bugs.

6) I know. It’s gross. Get over it. You’re a parent. Gross comes with the territory.

7) Everyone deals with this. Yes, everyone.
Trust me. Even if they haven’t told you about it. It’s less of a stigma than you think.
Rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, private schools, public schools, elementary schools, high schools, college… it happens everywhere.

8) Yes, you have to call people and tell them.
– You must inform the school. It’s a rule. And a kindness. And if you don’t tell, people won’t know to check their kids, and in a month you’ll be reliving this whole nightmare again. It’s like Groundhogs Day the movie, only this time it’s a horror flick.
– You must call the mom of the kids your cherub just had over for a playdate. And the one to whose house he went last week. See a) for reasons why.
– Telling people won’t turn you into a pariah. I promise. People will be awed by your honesty and bravery.
– Making these calls is going to suck. Have a glass of wine or a piece of chocolate handy for your reward.

9) You can protect your kids from future outbreaks… to a certain extent
– If hair is tied back in braids lice have trouble attaching themselves. Nice tight hairstyles are your friend. Loose hair is not.
– Hair ‘Product’ like gel seems to be a deterrent, but it’s not foolproof.
– However, lice hate the smell of peppermint and tea tree oil so consider rubbing a little peppermint essential oil* on your hands and running it through your kids’ hair before styling. (It smells better than the tea tree oil.) I put a few drops in my kids’ detangling spray. They hated the smell at first, but they got used to it… eventually.
– Trader Joes has a great shampoo conditioner line called Tea Tree Tingle which has both tea tree and peppermint in it. It’s a much cheaper alternative to the expensive “lice repellent” products available on the market.
– Teach your kids to be smart: don’t share hats or hair accessories, put jackets in cubbies, lockers, or backpacks.
– Check their heads once a month or so. If you catch that first louse you can save yourself a ton of trouble.

10) It’s not your fault. It’s not their fault. It just happens. 
Lice is a fact of life. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You didn’t do anything to attract them. Did I mention it’s nothing to be ashamed of? So don’t beat yourself up. Deal, clean, and move on. Then buy yourself a really nice purse to reward yourself for getting through it all.

* How to effectively treat your kids at home
Slather the oil and the conditioner through the hair. 
Section out the hair into quarters and clip three of the quarters. 
Raking the comb tightly across the scalp, comb through ALL of the hair, section by section.  No, it’s not pleasant. Yes, it’s necessary to ‘rake’ so that you get the nits lying close to the scalp.
Wipe comb on a paper towel after every pass through the hair until you see no more bugs or egg sacs on the paper.
Repeat daily for a week, every two days for the week after that, and every three days the week after that. 
This is a good way to do a “Lice Check” on your kids when you get word that they might have been exposed.)

 

NOTE: While you can run out to Whole Foods to get peppermint essential oil, I highly recommend getting your peppermint essential oil from Young Living, whose Seed-to-Seal promise ensures that the oil you use is the most pure available. If you have any questions about essential oils, please feel free to leave a comment below or to email me at jessica.rosenberg@yahoo.com.

*********

The end of innocence

standard May 31, 2013 Leave a response

I still remember how I felt the day before C was born. I was one day past my due date and feeling really full of myself. (And of baby, but mostly just myself.)

My body and I had aced pregnancy. We’d gotten knocked up almost instantly. We’d managed a healthy, pretty much ideal gestation period, only marred by a testy sciatic nerve. My breasts had plumped up perfectly, ready to take on a new, significantly more useful and important, role. And here we were, my body and I, having fully made it to the point my doctor had warned us we might not reach, the end of work obligations and almost the end of M’s first year of Law School finals.

Pretty darn full of myself and pretty invincible.

It didn’t help that we, my body and I, managed exactly what we’d told the doctor we would do. No labor until M was done with finals completely, two days past our due date.

I still remember sitting on the couch, waiting for him to get home from school, feeling so in control, feeling like everything was happening just the way it was meant to happen. Like nothing would or could go wrong.

24 hours after M put down his pencil I was laying in a hospital bed hearing the doctor tell us that she was going to have to perform a c-section.

I’d lain in that bed all day waxing poetic about the women in the field who simply squatted down and gave birth to their children before getting back to work. This whole labor thing seemed just so… natural… so elemental… so within my grasp, me, who wasn’t in a field, who didn’t have to get right back up to get back to work.

I rambled so much about these poor field women that at one point the doctor threatened to walk out on me if I mentioned them one. more. time.

But I was high on the feeling that I was doing something countless women had done before me. High on the feeling that my body knew exactly what to do and was doing it exactly the way it was supposed to.

You know, until it didn’t. Until the baby’s head didn’t fit through my pelvis. Until labor stopped progressing. Until the doctor told me she’d have to cut  me open to get my baby out. And later, until my breasts refused to do the job they’d prepped for with such unrestrained ardor.

As I held my newborn daughter those first few weeks, I couldn’t help but think back on the generations of women who had also held their infants close to their hearts. How many of these women hadn’t held on too tightly because they knew the risk of losing their babies was so high? How many of them couldn’t hold their babies at all because their bodies, like mine, had failed at labor, but unlike me, hadn’t had access to modern medicine to save the day?

Oh modern medicine. How your mere existence lulled me and soothed me during those first few months. How you helped give me back that feeling of invincibility. In our day and age parents can fall in love with their infants right away, can afford to only have one or two, can rest easy believing that nowadays babies just don’t die the way they used to.

Oh, such sweet irony. 

When C was just a few months old a friend of mine lost her second child, a son, to SIDS. He died in her arms as they both slept.

Two weeks before C turned one, another friend’s daughter died from complications of a seizure disorder. She was just about 18 months old.

So by the time C turned one, I knew, all too well, that the illusion of modern medicine being able to fix all, being able to protect our babies, was just that, an illusion.

Two years ago another friend lost her daughter. This baby was lost to a virus that struck fast and hard leaving her crib empty a mere few days after she got sick.

And this week yet another friend is watching her grandson die, felled by the very thing that was meant to save his life from the Leukemia that had just claimed his little body.

I hear these stories and my heart aches for my friends as my arms wrap themselves protectively around my children.

For a while I pretend that I still have the power to keep my kids safe at home, away from any potential germ, away from insane people with guns, away from runaway cars, away from any harm that can come tear them away from me. Then I remember that hiding from the world isn’t a way of life.

You can’t stop living, can’t stop letting your kids live, because you fear that one day modern medicine won’t be the savior we all expect it to be. You can’t stop going through your days, hoping, loving, living, because maybe, one day, something beyond your control might rip your heart right out of your chest.

You have to keep going out, have to keep engaging with life, have to keep opening the door and stepping outside into the world, even if you no longer can rest easy in the belief that the world is a peaceful protective place where only bad people get hurt. There’s just too much beauty and wonder out there to let fear win. 

Every morning I hug my children close and whisper something encouraging in their ear. I push away terrifying thoughts, shake off any dread that might be creeping up on me, and wish I could be that girl again, the one in her hospital bed who was so sure everything would always be alright, would always be exactly the way it should be.

Out there. Living life. Eating ice cream.