This is how my bad day turned good:
I ran into the grocery store in the midst of a sh-t storm I was dealing with on the homefront. You know, one of those awful, horrible days. My friend Delia Ephron had told me she had written an article in MORE Magazine this month (the May 2013 issue) and had mentioned me. She said it had to do with being fearless.
Naturally curious, and wanting to support her, I grabbed a copy in the check out line. Back in the car I had 4.33 minutes to get home for my sitter. I quickly opened up the magazine. The “Jill” she is referring to is ME! I read her article and burst into tears. You know when you just really need to know someone believes in you?
So here is to being fearless. Or at least trying!
The Art of Fearlessness, by Delia Ephron
Published in MORE Magazine
I DON’T DO THERAPY.
I used to do therapy. I had a psychotherapist in my twenties when I was unhappily married. I don’t even remember the shrink’s name, although I do remember the names of all my bad boyfriends. How ironic is that? ow that I am veering out of middle age, I don’t have time for a talking cure. I’d be in a nursing home by the time I solved the problem.
Instead, I work from the outside in. In the lifelong battle of empowerment versus insecurity, calm versus anxiety, positive versus negative, I swear by these tricks:
BOOTS. When my sister Nora and I wrote a play, Love, Loss, and What I Wore, we asked our friends to tell us about their favorite clothes. Tales of boots poured in. Boots matter, I realized. They make a woman feel brave, strong and grounded and, I almost forgot, hot. I invested in a pair, blue-gray suede, kick-ass. I want to tell you that when I wear these boots, I feel fearless, like Carrie in Homeland, but she is out of her mind, or assured, like Alicia Florrick in The Good Wife, but she has given up sex with Will Gardner, so who wants to be her? Nevertheless.
A BLOW-DRY. Nothing gives a girl more confidence. Woody Allen has written that he would never have wanted to live in a time before antibiotics were invented. For me it’s the blow-dry. Without one, I look like a woolly lamb.
SILVER HOOP EARRINGS. Recently I was booked on Morning Joe. No pressure, just three minutes to say something wonderful that would make viewers rush to read my book. “Do I look OK?” I asked the makeup woman. She considered my face and hair and said, “Silver hoop earrings.” Then she said, “Power,” as if that were the definition of silver hoop earrings. She took off hers and lent them to me. I don’t know whether it was her kindness-the sisterhood of that-or if she’s right, that silver hoops have power, but those earrings gave me an extra charge. A few days later, I bought a pair of my own.
JILL. We all have a girlfriend more daring than we are. Mine is Jill. She climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. She trekked through Mali and slept on roofs. Until I met Jill, my idea of a hike was the one block uphill from the subway to my doctor’s office. So last year, when I had to travel to several cities to give talk , I decided to be Jill. I would arrive at the airport pumped, as if embarking on a great adventure. I would make eye contact with seatmates on airplanes. I would be O-P-E-N.
I got on a plane to Nashville and found myself talking to a woman named Laura Heatherly, who runs a music-industry charity. Would I like to come to a benefit? I was Jill, so I said yes.
But you never know when your timid old self will resurface. In my hotel room, I was seized with a desire to dive into bed and order up a Law & Order marathon. Instead, I called Jill.
“Go for 15 minutes,” she said. “If it’s awful, leave.”
I did go and it wasn’t. Culinary legend Lidia Bastianich did the food. I sat at a table with Steve Cropper, who cowrote “(Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay,” not that we spoke, but hey. And my hosts, Laura and her husband, Bob, epitomized Southern hospitality.
On the way home, my flight was delayed. I was Jill, so I chilled.*
On Friday I was thinking that sitting in a corner taking Xanax might be the perfect Mother’s Day for me. This, after Emmett peed on my leg like I was a fire hydrant (he was naked as I was about to put him in the bath). Then giggled.
The day only got better.
I had to take Wayne to the vet. And Emmett. And Fia. As I was being told Wayne once again is obese, and no longer my Biggest Loser, Emmett took a pack of crayons and threw them at the cat. Of course this spooked Wayne and fur went flying. Once again, Em laughs. Fia starts screaming “Emmett, don’t do that.” The vet looked at me and said, “Let me get the receptionist to start working on your bill so we can get you out of here quickly.” Clearly I’m their favorite client. I bribed Fia with a lolipop and Em with his pacifier to just sit the f-ck still.
When we got home I gave Wayne a treat in his bowl. I turned my back for a second. Emmett came running out of the room with the ceramic bowl, threw it across the room where it shattered, then began laughing. He may actually be insane. But insanely happy too. This all happened before 11 a.m.
Do I deserve Xanax? Yes. Maybe 5.
Regardless of how I celebrate my day, I figured posting pictures would help calm me down. And it does. So here goes. I’m taking the rest of the weekend off.
Happy Mother’s Day, Everyone!
Okay, so maybe he looks a little like a barking seal in this picture. After all, we were at the zoo. But I just love how happy he looks. Man, did I get a good one (except that he is WILD)! Pure joy, this boy.
Emmett’s first carousel ride. Clearly he hates it.
Fia on her favorite giraffe!
Both of my babies.
At friend Lazlo’s birthday party
Alone on the high beam–and giving me a heart attack!
I know I’ve posted this before, but I can’t help but do it again: my beautiful boy!
I’ve told you guys about the Mom 2.0 Summit I went to last week. While I was off socializing, sleeping, relaxing, and meeting some amazing women, Phil was at home dealing with snot and sh-t. Both kids had colds, and while I was only 63 miles away, I of course didn’t offer to come home early. He wouldn’t have let me anyway.
However, after 3 restful nights of sleep at the lovely Ritz in Laguna Niguel, I was ready to go. Hearing Fia’s voice through her stuffy nose made my heart ache. And Emmett is finally saying “Mama” which kills me. So I drove home and got out of the car, dying to hug my kids. They bounded up to me and I embraced them tightly. Phil is there and looks like he’s been hit by a nuclear bomb. All he says is, “I could never be a stay-at-home dad.” Half an hour later he was in bed taking a 3-hour nap.
In that moment the entire conference became worth it all over again. I felt smug, but in a loving way. I think he realized how hard it can be. Not that he doesn’t already, and he is always encouraging me to get more help if I want it. But it felt good–really good to hear him say that. Granted the kids weren’t at their best and one night he said they were up every hour. But you know what? Sometimes it’s good to do these things for me, not just because it gives me a break, but it also gives my spouse a little dose of what I do as a mom. Everyday. And I say that as the wife of a very hands-on dad. He does more than most. We are true partners.
Anyway, he napped, I cleaned up our house. It too, looked like a train wreck. I snuggled with the kids and even pet the cat. I felt the love–of women supporting women at the conference and of course the love from my own family. Even Wayne seemed to have missed me. Sometimes it’s great to getaway. But it’s also always great to come home.
Categories: Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips | Tags: Dove, Dove sketch ads, Girls Unstoppable, Laguna Niguel, Lisa Ling, Mom 2.0 summit, mommy blogger conference, mommy bloggers, Ritz
I had such a carefree, fun time at Mom2.0Summit. I have been entwined in a real estate issue (if anyone has bought or sold a house, you know what I’m going through) that is testing my absolute limit of what I can handle. So when Parents asked me to go on their behalf a few weeks ago, I jumped on it.
I realized how important it was for me to connect with other moms and to recharge my batteries. The conference is for mom bloggers, but what is cool is it’s such a supportive bunch of women. We all want readers and we all have something to say. Or at least we think we do. Ha! It could make for a competitive situation. Instead, it’s the opposite. It’s about women supporting women and encouraging each other. Which was appropriate considering who the main sponsor was…
Now you know I don’t endorse or do much commercial stuff on my blog. But I was able to attend the conference thanks to Dove. I gotta say the company has an amazing campaign. It’s all about empowering girls. Lisa Ling has joined on with their new initiative “Make Girls Unstoppable” (see my interview with her here). Did you know 6 out of 10 girls give up what they love to do–be it gymnastics, art, raising their hand in class, etc, because they don’t like the way they look? The company is making a commitment to reach 15 million girls by 2015 with self-esteem programming. I think that’s pretty damn cool.
While at the conference I sat down with Jess Weiner, a social media strategist. She’s also Dove’s global self-esteem ambassador. Her focus is on women and girls. I wanted to know in this day and age if it’s even harder for girls to have a positive image of themselves than when we were growing up.
“Well, I wasn’t documenting myself with Instagram when I was a girl but if I was, would I feel the same anxiety girls have about their beauty? Probably. I had it anyway but I didn’t have Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to feed me everyone else’s reaction to it. Now with technology and the click of a mouse girls are completely viral and global and while that is amazing on so many levels, it adds to the pressure of the images they have everyday. So I’m not sure if it’s gotten worse, but it’s gotten different.”
Separately, Dove recently did these sketch ads where an artist asks women to describe themselves. The artist sits behind a canvas and never physically sees them. Instead, he asks them to describe themselves and he sketches from that. It’s incredible (and frankly depressing) to see how women view themselves. It’s not pretty. But it should be. We need to feel better about ourselves and our looks. Be less critical. More confident. And pass that on to our girls.
So I guess in thinking about it, Mom2.0Summit didn’t only give me a break from my regular mom world, but it also inspired me. Even on a micro level for the kind of girl I want Fia to be and the issues to be aware of. Plus, it was good to get out of my comfort zone. Not to mention 3 straight nights of uninterrupted sleep. I can’t wait for the next one.
Me with Jess Weiner
She has traveled the world reporting on social injustices–with an emphasis on the plight of women and girls. She has brought awareness to the underground world of human sex trafficking. She has been a fierce advocate to toughen the laws and prosecute those who prey on the weak and vulnerable. For more than two decades, Lisa Ling has been a fighter for those who don’t have a voice. She is journalism at its best.
Now this life-changing woman has given life–to a baby girl, Jett Ling Song. How has that impacted her world? Her perspective? Her career as host of Our America with Lisa Ling on OWN–The Oprah Winfrey Network?
I sat down with her at Mom2Summit, where we had a mom-to-mom conversation.
Me: I ran marathons, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and motherhood, more than anything, totally kicked my ass. You’re only 8 weeks in, so you’re still in the fog a bit. But you have done so many things and traveled the world. How has the adjustment to motherhood been for you?
Lisa: I’m just going to say this: So far, it’s easy because we’ve had a really easy baby. She only cries when she’s hungry and has a dirty diaper. But every single person keeps saying, “Just wait, it will change.” And it’s just changed. She now, for the last couple of days, has been almost inconsolable, just crying all the time, hungry all the time, so I’ve definitely been deprived of sleep. I’m definitely someone who doesn’t need a lot of sleep…but that part, lack of sleep, has been really really difficult. And just to figure out what the needs are of this little life. On the one hand it’s been hugely gratifying but it’s definitely not an easy process.
Me: We’ve all been there. How are you handling work right now? Are you taking some time off?
Lisa: I gave birth in March, I’m not traveling until June. But I already started to work again. Two weeks after, my mind got really numb and I just really needed adult engagement. I got an opportunity to work on a show in LA, to shoot part of a documentary, and I just had to go for it (laughs).”
Me: Wow, 2 weeks out, that’s pretty amazing!
Lisa: Well, it started at 2 weeks but I didn’t actually start shooting until about 4 weeks out. And I had to pump in people’s homes…but we are lucky in that we have had someone helping us. And I think that’s something people need to convey because you see all these celebrity moms out there and the perception is they can do it all, but they have sooo much help. And it’s kind of an unfair image to project for many women, because it is really hard and if you have help, you should indicate you have help. Because it’s not fair to put all these false thoughts in people’s heads.
Me: Yeah, I get it. I had a night nurse for 3 weeks and kept her for 7 months. I had to have sleep to function with baby #2.
Lisa: For me, having help is the benefit of waiting. Fifteen yeas ago I would not have been able to afford help.
Me: So she is 8 weeks, which means what? She’s rolling over?
Lisa: Not quite even rolling. Just starting to smile and laugh out loud. But there’s something miraculous that I have to brag about. On her first day of life she was laying on my chest and her head popped up and she looked at me. The nurse said, “I can’t believe what I just saw. That this baby held her head up.” And from that day on, she has been holding her head up.
Me: I saw your ultrasound on Anderson Cooper. Is she living up to her reputation as an active baby?
Lisa: Not really. She sleeps nonstop, but she is obviously very strong.
Me: How has your husband Paul adjusted?
Lisa: Paul has been wonderful in that there is not much that he can do. But he really does make an effort. As soon as he comes home from work he is the first to volunteer to change the diapers for the rest of the night. I have to acknowledge him for that, but the truth of the matter is there is not a whole lot he can do.
…I will say my husband in 8 weeks is a different person. He’s never been an overtly affectionate person. But the way he is, the way he just looks at her…he will kneel next to her crib for an hour just staring at her. The look in his eyes is something I’ve never seen before.
Me: I know my husband found parenthood just as profound as I did.
You have an eco-friendly home. How eco-friendly are you as a mom?
Lisa: I wish I could say I was doing cloth diapers, but she just sh-ts too much. Let’s put it this way: you know the first day after you have a baby, they want you to have one poop and one pee in one feeding? My daughter had five poops. She was quite the overachiever. With the amount of diapers I go through there is no way I could do cloth. We have converted to all eco-friendly products, so we’re making an effort but we’re not overzealous about it.
Me: I think the first day with Fia we went through 23 diapers. I also found that I was pretty crazy about not using too many paper towels before my kids came, but I swear that has gone out the window. I use so many. You will probably find the same thing when she starts eating. Because then they can really start to make a mess.
Lisa: This is going to be the best thing for me because I am notoriously OCD. Notorious. In some ways it is helping to make me heal (laughs), so to speak.
Me: Are you a clean freak?
Lisa: I am. We have a lot of glass in our house and when my niece runs towards the windows, I am like “Noooo! Stop!”
[pause--here is where I tell her about how my hypnotherapy helped cure my cleaning obsession.]
Me: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve had so far?
Lisa: Sleep when your baby is sleeping.
Me: Are you following it?
Lisa: I’m trying to. I’ve never been a huge napper but now I find I need it. Especially because I’m running on fumes.
Me: Any bad advice? (she thinks for a bit…)
Lisa: Chinese people like to bundle their babies up (into like four layers). My baby is sweating like a beast. But I find my baby stops crying when I take off some of the layers. So that is the bad advice I got from the Chinese aunties.
Me: How was your birth? Did you go into labor?
Lisa: I had a planned C-section and I cried the entire day before I had the baby.
Me: How come?
Lisa: I was just terrified. Because life as I knew it was going to be different forever. I have always been kind of a control freak and this was something that was so completely out of my control. I was inconsolable.
Sidenote: I get it. I had 9 months of therapy because I was so worried I’d love Wayne Sanchez more than my kid. But as we moms know, it just doesn’t happen that way.
Me: I found that in the beginning, as much as I loved my baby, there was this major adjustment to the mundane and tediousness of the day. I remember just trying to hang in there with it but not sure where my purpose was. How was the adjustment for you? You mentioned wanting to work a little bit after 2 weeks.
Lisa: I felt very cloistered in my home and needed to flex my mind and get engaged and have a little more adult conversation. I felt like I was getting a little numb. I love being with my baby, I absolutely love it. But I also love to have adult stimulation and that’s really important to me. I think I’m a better mom as a result because I have enriched myself. And that’s not for everyone. Not everyone needs that.
Me: Did you feel guilty leaving?
Lisa: No, not really because I really do feel like I’ll be better for her.
Me: What made you decide to have a baby?
Lisa: Being together with my husband. I hadn’t wanted to have a kid until I met my partner. We’ve had a couple miscarriages, but I’d always felt if we weren’t successful biologically, we’d adopt. Certainly life has changed in such a positive way. But for those women who are struggling [with whether to have a kid] an important message needs to be conveyed that if you decide that having kids isn’t for you, that’s okay too.
Me: Tell me about your involvement with Dove.
Lisa: I’ve always been a huge proponent and fan of their campaigns. I would love to see more brands follow suit.
The idea of trying to make girls feel unstoppable is a message that needs to be projected and promoted. Too often girls feel insecure about their looks. I mean 6 out of 10 girls stop doing what they love most because of what they look like. And if you think of the images that are so pervasive and the kinds of women girls are growing up revering, it’s a little daunting.
And now, as a mother of a daughter, it does scare me. I applaud Dove for wanting to instill a sense of self esteem in girls across this country and to actually put their money where their mouth is, and to give it numbers…to try and inject self esteem in 15 million girls by 2015. When they asked me to be part of it I was so in.
Me: Great. It does have a powerful message. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk. Now go home and kiss that baby.