Trusting The Chaos

When my daughters were little I remember feeling slightly sick to my stomach when we would visit large, outdoor playgrounds.

Wiltshire Park in Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania

Their chubby legs would teeter up the steps of the slide and climb, fall, reach, miss, fall, reach again, fall again, etc. while they gained their footing.  I realized that they had to learn how to navigate around other kids that were pushing, shoving, running, teetering and just as uncoordinated as they were.  Tripping and falling was part of the package and like it or not, I had to allow that to happen if I wanted them to grow physically, psychologically as well as socially.

So I did what any conscientious parent would do in this situation.  To keep myself from freaking out, I frequently  turned my back on them.  I would get lost in a conversation with a friend and let my kids play instead of shrieking, reaching, grabbing and otherwise choreographing their every move.  I tried to alternate between being close with a helping hand and giving them the freedom to create a muscle memory and explore.

When we moved to an urban area they were forced to spend all of their play time on even more complex equipment involving higher slides and older kids that would teach them cool tricks like how to sway through the monkey bars or worst yet, climb on top of them.  Again, my stomach was in knots.  My kids that used to play with a few children on a backyard play set were now one of 50 kids of various ages trying to stake their claim on a metal jungle gym.  It was chaotic, frankly but instead of nervously anticipating that my kids would fall, I tried my damnedest to anticipate success.  I decided to assume the best and keep the entire experience in perspective because although my kids appeared to be seconds away from a head injury, in actuality, every kid there was moments away from serious injury.  And yet in all my years of public park visiting, never once has an ambulance been summoned.

This chaos continued when I returned to my apartment.  From my 10th floor window I would watch cars commuting north on 1st Avenue as they barely missed side swiping, clipping and crashing into each other.

Photo by Beggs

I wondered how the traffic below would change if the pedestrians realized how close they were to harm or if drivers knew that they were mere inches away from paying towards their $1000 deductible?

This memory is helping me now as my husband and I teach our daughter to drive.  I keep reminding myself that like the playground and 1st Avenue, although danger is lurking – closely – it somehow keeps it’s distance.

And even though chaos theory,  (the butterfly effect) tells me otherwise…that initial conditions are so sensitive that small changes in a nonlinear system can and may result in vastly different outcomes, i.e., the presence or absence of a butterfly flapping its wings could lead to creation or absence of a hurricane…I’m surprisingly calm.  Not because I’m trying to control the chaos. That would be futile because as controlled chaos theory tells us, even if you can successfully stabilize a system, the change you insert must be small, as in extremely small, so as to only affect one outcome and not derail the entire system all together.  

In other words, calmly telling my daughter to “slow down a little” will help her avoid a crash.  But if I scream “SLOW THE FUCK DOWN!” while stomping on her foot to slam on the brakes – sure we’ll avoid crashing, but I risk derailing the entire system, i.e., scarring her for life, making all driving situations stressful rather than exciting, fracturing her foot,  and putting us both at risk to be rear-ended by the car behind us.

Thus my only option is to follow my own theory which I like to call, trusting chaos  while remembering that like all of the combined worst case scenarios involving kids from the playground and cars from the city  - in the end, everything worked out fine.  I simply remind myself that we’re in a non-linear system which means that even though the idiot next to us is texting, a lot of things have to happen before he’ll actually wreck into us.  

Likewise, I’m finding that this new found calmness, is carrying over into other areas of my psyche.  For example:

  • Even though I enjoyed a deliciously, fattening salted caramel cupcake from Angelcakes last Tuesday (and a Snickerdoodle flavored one, last Saturday), my entire metabolic system will not be derailed overnight and force me out of every pair of pants that I own.  Quite a few things must happen before I need to go up a size, so I’m not going to sweat celebrating my birthday with baked goods.
  • Although the economy is in the shitter, a very specific sequence of events must happen in order for me to find myself living under a bridge. Considering that I’ve always had enough and have never been homeless, I highly doubt that will change any time soon. 

Suddenly, and maybe for the first time ever, I’m finding comfort in the chaos and wondering if my lack of acceptance and complete avoidance of pandemonium has been the problem all along?  Has my inner control freak been secretly wanting to chaotically wave her freak flag all this time?  Could it be that, flying by the seat of my pants and embracing the commotion around me, has been the answer all along.  I’m not 100% convinced of this – but for whatever reason, all the signs are pointing in this direction right now so it’s certainly worth exploring.

Yesterday, during the big East Coast Earthquake, I was outside with my youngest and therefore didn’t feel a thing.  Apparently you had to be inside your 4 walls here in Frederick to experience it.  So when I returned home, I asked my daughter, the new driver of the family, what the Earthquake felt like.

“I didn’t notice it,” she replied.

“How could you miss it?  Our neighbors on each side of us and across the street felt the rumbling and heard/saw things shaking in their houses,”  I said.

“Well, honestly, I blast the music when you’re not here.  I had the volume up to 10 on the stereo.  The house had been shaking pretty much since you left, so I didn’t feel a thing,” she admitted.

So basically her self-created chaos, camouflaged the natural disaster chaos which allowed her to avoid any internal, fear-based feelings of chaos…Interesting.

Oh Canada…

Spent a wonderful week in Canada.  It was my second visit, but my first in the summer.  A few random thoughts:

  • Canadian money is colorful and thus more functional, however, one and two dollar coins are a little annoying.  My purse got heavier and heavier as each day went by.
  • 86 degrees, oops I mean 30 degrees in August is what I call a beautiful summer’s day.
  • I forgot how much I enjoyed constantly hearing other languages and accents when you’re in a big city (Toronto). Here in Frederick, MD I only hear English, Spanish and see Sign Language.
  • I’m always surprised at how much folks from other countries are tuned into our news.
  • Talking politics with Canadians was interesting as well.  Apparently they don’t mix their social issues with fiscal ones.  They would never waste time debating gay marriage when fiscal problems need to be solved.  They think we’re insane for constantly allowing our differing dogmas to distract from what needs to get done.  They’re right.
  • They say, “pop” not “soda” which is not only awesome but correct, damn it!
  • I found a grocery store called Longos which is my Mom’s maiden name so I not only shopped there, but we also had dinner there which was delicious.  It was like the Wegman’s of Toronto.
  • A small coffee is actually “small” as in 1/2 the size of a kid’s drink in the states.  Kudos to them for portion control.  Paying the American price for a small, however, kind of sucked.

Seeing my gorgeous friend Michelle, her husband Steve and their daughter’s Alex and Josie after 10 years was the highlight of our trip.   Having lunch made by Michelle who’s a fabulous cook was delicious.  The fact that the kids got along after a decade long break was wonderful.

Friends Again!

  • Michelle tried and failed to open a bottle of wine via the trunk of a tree.  This is how it’s supposed to work:

  • But Michelle’s can-do attitude along with a pen knife and ink-pen, got the job done.  Kudos to her for her tenacity.

See how happy we look after splitting a bottle of wine on a beautiful summer's day?

Our trip consisted of visiting Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.

It’s definitely worth the passport hassle to see Niagra Falls from the Canadian side.  The views were amazing.  Looking back toward the US and not seeing a bunch of commercial shit behind the falls was a relief.  Imagine this picture with golden arches, casino lights and giant hotel marquees in the background?  That would’ve been awful.  Kudos for the people of Niagra Falls, New York for allowing nature to remain the star.

I was surprised at how much cheesiness was just beyond the beauty on the Canadian side.  It was a cross between the Ocean City, Maryland boardwalk and the bright lights of Times Square.

Commercialism at it's best!

On a side note: Sadly, it appears that visitors to the Falls like to urinate from a distance.  Thus along with taking a ride on The Maid of The Mist, my husband came dangerously close to becoming “The Man of The Mist” on quite a few occasions. Luckily he has quick reflexes.

We then explored, Niagra On The Lake, an adorable and picturesque town 30 minutes north of the falls.  You can hang out on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Niagara On The Lake

Or explore the Ma and Pa type shops while enjoying the flowers in town.

Then we headed to Toronto which was a blast.  Loved the Hockey Hall of Fame:

We love you Mario…

And Crosby..

And Malkin.

But Stanley, you're our favorite!

Right outside our hotel was the ferry to the Toronto Islands.

You get a great view of Toronto from the ferry.

We spent the afternoon on Centre Island, opting not to explore the “clothing optional” beach at Hanlan’s Point.  Instead we enjoyed walking around

as well as hanging out at the beach.  This was the first time I have ever relaxed on a beach, under a tree, which is now officially my favorite kind of sun bathing.  If all beaches had shade trees, I’d probably go more often.

The view from my beach towel - sweet!

We saw Billy Elliot. Great show.  Piss off! is my new go-to cuss word when yelling at the kids.  It’s fun and communicates that I mean business without being personally degrading in any way as opposed to Fuck Off! which is too harsh and raunchy to use as a parenting device if you ask me.  Leave it to the British to come up with a more civil way of cursing at each other.

And of course, no trip to Toronto would be complete without a visit to the CN Tower.  One of the world’s tallest towers and a great example of how you can take something a city needs (i.e., better radio communication) and turn it into a money making attraction as well.

I don’t like heights.  Well, I don’t mind being up high, if I’m going fast, like on a roller coaster, but looking off the side of a giant building, really doesn’t do it for me.  Standing on a plexiglass floor 360-some meters above the ground, also seems like a bad idea.

Paige was the brave Pruce that took these pictures, not me.

And if you asked me to go OUTSIDE this tower and walk around?

Not like this. I can handle being outside and looking out through a metal, safety grate.

I’m talking about this craziness…

Who thinks this shit up?

From inside the tower, you can watch via a live cam all of the adrenaline junkies that pay $150 to walk on the outside edge of the CN Tower.  These fellas were enjoying the view from the outside, while I was getting a little sick to my stomach on the inside.

When we were safe on the ground, we decided to sit a spell before heading back to the hotel.   Before leaving, I took one last look up at the tower, only to see 5 asses staring down at me…

Are they mooning us?

This was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Canada was great and even though Gary and Jarin didn’t get to enjoy a traditional beach like they wanted, we got time in and around water while Paige and I got to explore a big city.  I will say that being in Canada both during the winter and now the summer, I remember a lot more from this trip.  Not freezing our asses off, we meandered more, walked everywhere, opting often to simply sit and people watch.  We spent a ton of time outside as opposed to spending all of it in their underground PATH system that allows you to explore the city without having to brave the elements.

My kids loved Canada.  My youngest wants to move there.  In all fairness, she would move anywhere, but still, I told her she might want to come back in say, February and then decide if Toronto is the place for her.  Being on the water when it’s 30 below, just might have her saying, Piss Off! or worse!

If Only There Were A Yogic Reality Show…

Dare to dream.

I love me some trashy, reality TV.  I do have limits, but I’ll admit, I find Billy The Exterminator, sweet, Toddlers and Tiara’s mind-boggling and a Hoarder’s marathon?  Don’t even think about interrupting me.  But my all time favorite is Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise.  And even though each season more and more of these ladies get divorced, lose their fortunes and dignity for their 15 minutes, I keep watching, rooting, discussing and most of all, judging the shit out of these ladies.

So when I heard that there was some drama brewing in New York City yoga circles – like a car accident, I couldn’t turn away.  If you too like some asinine with your asana,  head over to Shine to read my post.

Your Saturday Morning Chuckle

We returned from our week up north, yesterday.  Sometime this weekend I’ll blog about how much I loved Canada and if they didn’t have that nasty season called winter I’d probably move there.

In the mean time, thanks to my Uncle Paul for hooking me up with a funny post for all the married folks out there…

It involves cuss words, metallic lawn decorations and how at the end of the day, the lady of the house knows best.   Need I say more?

Digital Dieting

I sat my daughter down yesterday and as difficult as it was, told her the truth.  She needed to go on a diet.  A Facebook diet.  She’s gaining some serious informational girth.

For the last month or so, she’s been photo-loading, binging on comments, and compulsively over-liking the pictures and status updates of others.  Clearly she has some form of an oversharing disease.  I tell her all the time to: Tone it down;   Stay under the radar:  Remember, people like a little mystery.

I’m being ignored.

Some of her FB friends have their own compulsive over-sharing issues as well and yesterday was the last straw for me.  She posted this picture of herself decked out in a Steelers hat and shirt.

No big deal.  Except she tagged 15 people on the photo which lead to  a Steelers VS Ravens FB fight between middle schoolers which ended when I logged in with the following:

Just an FYI – this entire conversation was sent out to everyone tagged in the above photo. Jarin’s parents. Her grandmother in Pittsburgh. Her adult neighbors. Here’s the thing people. Facebook fights/disagreements/talki​ng smack, call it whatever you want, are a bad idea, especially when people that don’t care are watching/listening. Everyone will be untagged as soon as Jarin wakes up.

It is my humble opinion that many FaceBookers are getting a little portly with their info.  And although she didn’t do anything wrong, this time, she along with many people on FB, could benefit from some slimming down secrets.  I’m not out to create a 12-step program or get famous from writing a self-help book, just a mom that needs to teach her daughter a few things.

Also, I’m not here to point fingers.  I’m simply going to describe some character traits that I’ve noticed on FB and if on some intuitive level you feel I might, maybe, possibly be talking about you – feel free to do something about it.

Cryptic Messages:  I’m not a big fan of the cryptic for various reasons.

  1. I’m lazy.  I don’t want to guess at what the hell you’re talking about.  Say what you and mean what you say.
  2. I’m also blunt which I know many find annoying, but I guarantee you, you’ll never walk away from a conversation with me and wonder, “Hmm…what was Linda, really trying to say?”  You’ll know.  Trust me.  I would like the same courtesy.
  3. I (like most people) have to actually hear your voice to understand if you’re kidding or not – especially if we haven’t spoken since high school.  If you post, “I know why people consider suicide…” it freaks me out.  Should I call the cops or not?!  If your day is that bad, call your best friend in lieu of messing with the minds of 297 of your FB friends scattered around the globe.

Liking Everything:  I have no doubt in my mind that you really like all the shit you “like”.  But after a while, if you like everything you see, your stamp of approval loses it’s power.  It gets diluted a little.  Instead consider:

  1. Reposting the link to your wall and sharing it with others in lieu of telling me how great it is.
  2. Maybe only “like it” if you truly “love it”.
  3. Getting an occasional “like” or comment from you , makes you seems discriminating and hence a better judge.  If however, you like everything I say or do, it feels like you’re my mom (who’s sort of required by law to like everything I say or do whether it’s deserving or not.)

Constantly Revealing Your Location:  This one really concerns me.  I’ve threatened my children with a complete end to their FB accounts as well as bathroom clean up duty for a year if they EVER put their location out on Facebook.

Newsflash: This applies to adults as well.  I shouldn’t know that you’re at the Jiffy Lube, or waiting to be seen at your gynecologist’s office or hanging out at a nude beach in France.

First off that’s clearly too much information.  I don’t want or need to know about your yearly pap and pelvic exam.  And unless you enjoy being burglarized, telling me that you’re away from your home is a bad idea.  Do none of you people watch, Criminal Minds?  Did no one see the episode when the unsub tracked down all of his victims via their social networking sites?  Spoiler Alert – HE KILLED THEM!  And posted videos of their killings to his social networking site. Oh and kept their bodies for his own sexual pleasure – ugh.  So to avoid being the victim of a serial killer, consider the following:

  1. Post your vacation pictures AFTER you’ve returned home.
  2. If you must tell me where you’re going, just say, “I’m off to the beach”.  Don’t post,  “Can’t wait to get to the Marriott in Ocean City, Maryland tomorrow!”
  3. If you must tell me the status of your uterus..And truly, I do not need to know, but if you must…tell me after you’re in for the day.
  4. Turn off whatever tracking shit you have set up between your mobile phone and your FB account.  Do you realize that I not only know where you are, but I’m given a map to your exact location in real time!?  I would crack my kids in the skull if that did.

Digitally documenting EVERY moment of your day:  I don’t need to see every photo you took today.  Just post the highlights or at least, delete the blurry photos or crazy closeups of your nose hairs.  A nice one of you and the family ocean side, is plenty.

Look, I had diarrhea of the mouth at 13.  But 13-year-old Linda had to dial a phone, keep the phone calls within her area code and could only talk to one person at a time.  Since she didn’t have call waiting and was attached to a wall, her talk time was limited in case others in my family were expecting a call or my conversation in the kitchen was interrupting the TV watching in the next room.  I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if I had the ability back then to share my every fucking thought with everyone I knew while roaming the streets with a mobile device.

My daughter’s diet is going to consist of a few levels:

  1. We’ll start via a cold turkey approach.  She’s to go 1 week without posting, liking, or commenting.  She can log on, read and enjoy all the idiotic stuff  that her middle school friends post, but I’m asking her to merely be an observer.
  2. Then will move on to moderate postings where she’ll be asked to think a thought and then wait 15 minutes or so before posting it to see if she even cares enough to post it at all.
  3. She’ll also be barred from posting from her phone.  She’ll have to stop what she’s doing and if she has to post something that badly, post it via the desk top computer.  This distance between thinking the thought and sharing the thought would be the dieting equivalent of wanting a Ho-Ho but forcing yourself to wait to see if you’re still even craving the damn thing or forget all about it completely.

If you’d like to join her feel free.  And if you have any other ways to stay a lean, mean Facebook machine, let me know.  I’d love to hear about them.

Mazel Tov!

At 12:01AM today, gay marriage became legal in New York state.  Andrew Sullivan wrote an amazing piece on The Daily Beast which includes this passage about his own marriage:

I still didn’t think it would ever happen to me. I thought I was too emotionally damaged, my emotions and sexuality severed by all those years of loneliness and arrested emotional development. I thought my heart had too much scar tissue, and I could live my life well enough with just friendship and occasional sexual encounters or dates. But when I first set eyes on my husband, I knew I had lucked out. Some things you simply know. And when we finally got married, a few years later, and our mothers walked us down the makeshift garden aisle, and my sister gave the reading through tears, and one of our beagles howled through the vows, and my father put his arms around me and hugged, I did not hear civilization crumble. I felt a wound being healed. It is a rare privilege to spend your adult life fighting for a right that was first dismissed as a joke, only finally to achieve it in six states and Washington, D.C. But how much rarer to actually stumble upon someone who could make it a reality. And to have it happen to me in my own lifetime! This joy is compounded, deepened, solidified by the knowledge that somewhere, someone just like I was as a kid will be able to look to the future now and not see darkness—but the possibility of love and home. That, I realized, was really what I had been fighting for for two decades: to heal the child I had once been—and the countless children in the present and future whose future deserved, needed, begged for a model of commitment and responsibility and love.

And isn’t that what marriage is about for everyone, gay or straight?  The healing of who you were by two people lovingly joining forces to consciously co-create a new reality?  You take remnants of your old life with you to the new one, but the one created will be very different from the one you left behind.

Why on earth anyone would be against this, I’m unsure.  I don’t understand the anti-gay marriage people whether it’s the haters that are violent or the super religious, loving folks that “tolerate” gays while praying to their God that these gay people see the light and “change”.

Sure the latter ones are nice and non-threatening, but it’s insulting, frankly.  People don’t want to be tolerated.  They want respect and reverence, which is different. Which brings us back to New York state who’s dishing it in droves today.

Congratulations!

Working Smart Not Hard

Those that know me know that I avoid hard work at all costs.  It’s not that I wont work hard – I just prefer to work smart whenever possible and keep my load light.

In honor of that – step on over to Shine, my yoga studio’s blog, and read what I posted there this morning (in lieu of writing 2 separate posts today on two separate blogs).  It’s about my becoming so yogafied that when my experiences aren’t “yogic” enough, I get a little restless and how important it is to give ourselves permission to simply finish, i.e., relax, rest and rejuvenate when we exercise.