My List of Failures…

sail

Here’s what I’ve decided…my list of failures isn’t nearly long enough. Not because I’m greater than Cheese Whiz, but mostly because I haven’t been brave. We polish ourselves to a high glossy sheen on social media, but I love it when people are fearless enough to admit their face plants, their failures, their stumbles. Buckle up, here’s a few of mine.

  1. I can’t do a cart wheel. As a 7 year old, this was a big deal for me. My parents threw me a bone eventually and said I could do “a monkey-wheel”. Guess what, darlin’? You can’t do a cart wheel if you’re too scared to throw your legs all the way up in the air. Scaredy-cat.
  2. I was in figure skating for many, many years and pretty much sucked at it. I could spin like a devil, but was too afraid to jump more than three inches off the ground. I dutifully dressed up in outfits bedazzled and sequined up the ying-yang to try and pull off routines that never involved jumping. Ever.
  3. I didn’t go to my first college choice. I was accepted, but too scared.
  4. I talked my college roommates into joining ballet with me for the first time when we were 19. All the little dancers lined up to watch us at class, because they thought we were the real deal. We weren’t. They let us know. Loudly.
  5. I went to the Grand Canyon and didn’t hike it. Not once, but three times.
  6. I built a house that was stupid expensive and nearly resulted in divorce. This failure stings every month.
  7. I have applied for a handful of jobs that I didn’t get. Yes, I’ve kept track. What an obnoxious narcissist…
  8. I have taken up cake decorating, yoga, photography, running, French, and EMT classes with short lived runs of enthusiasm. This has lead to years of teasing from my friends with miscellaneous detritus of cake decorating supplies, dark room materials, airway tubes and epi-pens lying around my house.
  9. I started this blog, which will likely never be very successful because I don’t promote it much. Also, because it’s sloppy, written off the cuff, and (oooooh harsh) mainly centered around my pedestrian life.
  10. I took sailing lessons this week and was the worst in my class. It turns out that I am good crew material. Captain? Not so much. Why? Because I want the boat to go in the direction I want, whether the wind is blowing that way or not. “Tack, tack, tack. This isn’t a motorboat!”. Probably a good metaphor for life. Change your sails a bit you bloody, stubborn fool.

Hands down though, my biggest regret is that this list isn’t longer. I could toss a few more in here, but you get the idea. I wish my failures were bigger, because that means I wasn’t too scared to try. I wish that I had reached a bit higher, even if that meant landing harder: in cartwheels, in skating, at work, at play.

Personally, sometimes I’m a real jackwagon, too, but I consider my behavior to be a daily work in progress. I don’t wake up wanting to be a jackwagon, I don’t think anyone does. Some days we just derail a lot faster than others, but we try, right?

So, here’s to embracing our failures, our missteps. Let’s try to not be too glossy, and reveal our warts a bit. What’s your biggest failure? Let’s reframe that, what has been your greatest attempt? I’ll keep adding to mine and let you know. I really hope skydiving works out though, because some things have more of a margin for error than others.

Keep sharing moxie!

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The Lake: good for the soul

sunset

People, I’ve found, are passionate about their lakes. I mean that quite literally, “their lakes”. Once you’ve grown up somewhere, had a magical experience there, or worked hard to spend your retirement years at a certain dream location it becomes “your lake”. The possession doesn’t end there, because “your lake” becomes the lake by which all others are measured. I’ve been to algae laden rivers, lakes overrun with party cruises, and oversized ponds just to watch people puffed up with pride as they shared their bit of paradise with me. I smile politely, as one does when someone is looking at a hairless dog named “baby”, because you know what you have is better, bless their heart.

Being by a lake is good for the soul. I don’t put much stock into astrology, with people being a water sign or some thing, but I do believe that some people need a lake (or an ocean or a river) to reset themselves. I am one of such people. I’m fairly simple in this regard. If I’m intolerably bitchy I either need a nap, a snack, to go off and read, or to go in the water. Snack, sleep, read, rinse and repeat.

I haven’t written in two weeks (bet you missed me!) because I needed more water and less connectivity. More than that, as a mental health provider, I believe in prescriptions and therapy, but I also believe in the power of being outside. I watch my son pour water in and out of buckets all day and think that he’s probably on to something. Some kind of real life zen garden.

So, dear readers, since I want only good things for you… I hope you are packing up soon, unplugging in the near future, and heading out on the lake. Any lake. Your lake.

Keep sharing moxie.

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Getting kids outdoors: Camp is magic

This is why our future is in better hands than you might think, because of kids like these… Here’s a group of young adults sitting down and watching a sunset last night. They weren’t talking, just watching and taking in this truly magnificent sky. They weren’t told to sit down, they just collectively stopped in their tracks, sat down, and said “wow”. These are some outdoor kids. The lake, the sunset, it’s all part of their employment package. They’ve eschewed higher paid summer jobs for this perk you can’t put a price on.

I was asked to conduct a Mental Health staff training at wilderness based camp this week and was privileged to meet these young adults. They will guide teenagers on canoe trips all summer long, thereby unplugging themselves and the hundreds of kids that show up on this secluded island for a wilderness adventure. These young adults may take have grown up with iphones, but have taken more pictures with fish than their own pouty duck faces. They know how to use a compass, pitch a tent, and cook over a fire that they have built themselves. They’ll teach kids how to paddle, how to portage, fishing, and tell them that “yes, you can do this” even when the campers don’t believe they can. They will be silly and ridiculous and encourage others to be crazy and sing. Just sing. Loudly and off key works just fine.

“I wake up on my own at camp, with the sun. If I looked at my phone at home, I would roll over and go back to sleep, like every single time. Here, the sun is brighter and the dark is, like, black. You can’t see a thing unless the moon is shining. I feel better at camp than any place in the world.”

Did you have a camp? A place where you packed your bags and stayed in a old cabin with a group of kids and a counselor that was the coolest grown-up you had ever met? Man, I hope you did.

I’m old and I just went to camp and met some of the coolest counselors ever. Camp is magic. That part never changes whether you are 10 or 4X10. Camp is magic.

Keep sharing moxie.

 

 

Teenage Years: Love through a lens

Dear Daughter…By the end of the week I will have a teenager in the house. You. Sigh. I know my love will have to come at a distance most days, perhaps through a telephoto lens. I can watch you, but not too closely. I can encourage you, but not directly. Any attempts at being too questioning, will result in a sigh, or worse, the dreaded eye roll.

Truth is, you got the eye roll from me. Anything that sends me through the roof, is something, on a good day, that I own and recognize within myself. On a bad day, clearly those things came from your father.

You are pulling away, which I knew would happen, but I miss you. Some days I want you to remain little, and on others I wish you would hurry up so I can like you again. Your dad looks at you like you have grown three heads when asking about unloading the dishwasher results in tears. He doesn’t deal with tears. I get it. You don’t think I do, but I really, really do.

I was once a sassy, silent, loud, artistic, anguished, angry teenager. I felt things from the tips of my toes, through every fiber of my being. Beethoven made me cry. Bryan Adams songs were poetic, and my friends were the best and worst on any given day. No one understood me and never, ever would. I was special. I was ugly. I was so many things at once, it made me want to vomit. I know you look at me and see a tired, middle-aged mom, but I didn’t start out this way.

For now, I will watch you from a distance and then I will swoop in on a days when I have chance. You are so lovely and don’t even know it. I love that. You take pictures of your brother and I will take pictures of you watching him. I see you playing with his toys after he has wandered away. Don’t stop playing. Ever. Don’t hide your intelligence. Own it. Please don’t dumb down. Nerd up. Love fiercely.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”         e. e. cummings 

It takes courage and a hell of a lot of moxie to be you, bravely, and let the rest of you emerge, as time goes on. I know you’re up for the challenge. This mom will be waiting on the other side, but don’t worry, I won’t be far away. I’ll try to give you enough space to grow into the person you’re supposed to be. I can’t wait.

Love, Mom

Keep sharing moxie.

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