Favorite Quotes

  • You're not too old, and it's never too late

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Aspiring to: Emulate Oracene Price

See this expression here?

And this one?

As a tennis mom, this is what I'm working on at the moment: my Oracene Price face.

Oracene Price is mother to Venus and Serena Williams, arguably two of the best female tennis players in history. When I watch them play on the world stage, in big tournaments for big money, the camera often pans to their mother who sits stoically, yet supportively, in the stands. She appears calm, cool, collected...unfazed by what's going on with her daughters on the court. She's had years of practice and she must be very strong.

I, on the other hand, feel more like this when watching my daughter play:

Partly, because I played competitive tennis when I was in my teens. I know what it feels like to be down there, gutting it out, playing hard to win. I want my daughter to succeed. She doesn't have to win all of her matches, I'm just saying it's hard for me to sit on the sidelines and...spectate.

When my daughter hits a winner, I want to pump my fist and yell, "Great shot!" But Oracene Price can't do that at Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. It would be uncouth. Just as it is at the high school tennis courts.

When my daughter falls behind or misses a shot, I want to scream, "Come on! You can do it!" But again, it would be unseemly.

So...I sit there, my insides twisting in angst, trying to maintain my composure. It's very difficult, as any other sports mom or dad can attest. Oh, if we could only run down there and play the games for them!!

Tennis season is ramping up for us, as is field hockey season for my younger daughter. It's a bit easier to yell my support at a field hockey game. Other parents will be there yelling support, too. It's played on a bigger field and it's all-around noisier, unlike the staid, polite tennis scene (how it's supposed to be, at least). It's all I can do at times to keep my mouth shut. I just get so excited and into the game! I can't help it!

So this fall, this is who I will summon up: Oracene Price, and her serious, patient, calm demeanor. My daughter hits a winner? Nice. She flubs an overhead? Who cares? Just sit and enjoy the game, I'll tell myself. Like the other parents...seem to be doing.

Hopefully, Oracene can be proud of me...almost as proud as she is of her daughters.

For me, keeping it together will take just as much mental toughness as it does to win Wimbledon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aspiring to Not Be Overwhelmed by Sadness

Here I sit again, writing a humble homage to a great artist who has left us too soon. I wrote on my old blog about Michael Jackson when he died five years ago. Like him or not, he was a magnificent talent, the likes of which we may never see again. I feel the same about Robin Williams.

What is it about great artists that makes them feel so much, too much, then want to escape? I believe we are blessed with the presence of artists so we can learn more about ourselves, gain insight into issues we might not otherwise consider and learn how to be empathetic with those different from us. Artists teach us about beauty, sadness, the plight of the human condition. They make us laugh and cry. They may even irritate us at times, make us feel uncomfortable in our own skin. They teach us. Robin Williams did all of these things for me. What a talent. I've listened to people on TV who knew him and say what a kind soul he was, how down to earth and interested in those around him. Not only was he a gifted comedian and actor. It sounds like he was a great human being as well.

I was in nursing school 22 years ago and the subject of Robin Williams and Bipolar Disorder came up during my psych rotation. I've never forgotten one lecture my nursing psych professor gave in which she said (to paraphrase) that psych professionals believed Robin Williams lived in a constant state of "hypomania" where he was able to be "manic" most of the time and lead a "normal" life. My professor said these professionals (who were published leaders in the field of psychology and psychiatry) were waiting to see what happened when the ball dropped and he fell into a major depressive episode, because no one--not even Robin Williams--could live on such a manic level and maintain their sanity. The ball has dropped, and now we know what happened. 

I realize it has come out in recent years about his depression, manic-depression and substance abuse issues, but this was back in 1992. I don't recall knowing this much about him back then. I'd been interested in his personal journey ever since. I'm so sad to see it end this way. 

On one hand, I (sort of) get it. Depression runs in my family. I've dealt with episodes of depression. I'm on an antidepressant now. I wish I didn't need it, but I do. It helps keep me grounded, on an even keel, and I appreciate that about its effects. When I'm not on it, I'm more sensitive, more irritable, more snarky. I don't pretend to know what Mr. Williams' depression was like for him, and I'm not saying I understand suicide, but I can appreciate feeling things too much. If I allow them, many things in the world can hurt me. If I allowed it, and if I wasn't on medication, I could wallow in sorrow. Sometimes I think my writing is better when I'm not on medication, but the rest of my life would suffer. Relationships would suffer. They're more important to me than my writing, so on the medication I'll stay. But I get it. I get self-medicating and numbing so you don't feel as much. I'm a numb-er (see previous posts re: disordered eating and food issues. ;o)).

My thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children. I hope in some small way they are able to feel the love and positive energy being sent their way, although I'm sure they're devastated. 

I have many fond memories of Robin Williams, but I'm posting this one because I'm an avid golfer and I find this very funny. I apologize ahead of time for his language. He uses the F-bomb like 200 hundred times. I hope you can get past that and appreciate the humor of the piece. He said on Inside the Actor's Studio that he hopes there's a lot of laughter up in Heaven. 

There is now.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Aspiring to: Not Be So Hard on Myself!

(This is how I feel if brunette me beats up blonde me)

I’m reminded of this fairly often by friends, my mom, my therapist. “You are one of the hardest people on yourself I’ve ever met!”

Isn’t everyone? Aren’t we all hard on ourselves? From my biased perspective, that’s what I believe. There’s a tiny bit of me that thinks everyone thinks like I do when it comes to self-loathing. But then someone says something like this to me, and I realize I’m probably more alone than I realize.

I’ve spent a few years on a few therapists’ couches coming to understand why I am the way I am, and I’m not going to bore you with those reasons. Suffice it to say, the belief that I’m not good enough or don’t measure up is deeply rooted in my early childhood and I’ve forgiven everyone and anyone who nourished these beliefs. 

That being said…

These beliefs still rattle around my head. They’re something I fight against every day. They usually revolve around my weight and food issues, but the incident that prompted this blog post came from my writing life. I had a deadline to meet last Friday. I had to have two pieces of writing (15 pages each) submitted by Friday in order to be critiqued by an agent at a conference in September. These past several weeks have been crazy busy for me. I’ve had no time to sit and write and be creative, but the pieces I submitted had already been worked on and read by my writing group. Still, I wanted to tweak them and strengthen the prose. I could strengthen and tweak and revise until, well, forever. Yep, I could do it forever.

Anyway…I lamented the fact that I’d just submitted the pieces without much revision to one of the members of my writing group. “I’m concerned, because I don’t feel I submitted my best work,” I said in an email. 

She promptly replied that what I’d sent in was just fine. She’s the latest person to utter that, “You’re one of the hardest people” sentences from above.

Two weeks ago it’d come from my therapist, and this was far from the first time she’d said it to me. That time it was due to my lamenting, (yes, more lamenting…) the fact that I’d snapped at my youngest daughter in a restaurant and made her feel bad. Tears commenced, apologies followed and forgiveness was granted, yet I could not shake how horrible I felt. When I worked through it with my therapist we concluded that yes, I made a mistake, but I’m a human mother and we all make mistakes.

This being hard on myself also has to do with the fact that I’m a first born who likes to please other adults and who doesn’t like to make mistakes. But who does? No one chooses to make mistakes, right? 

So then I saw this quip from one of my favorite sites, Just Eat Real Food, and it reminded me of what I need to be reminded of almost every day:

So I'm working on it...today as I did yesterday as I did the day before that. I hope it gets easier, because being hard on yourself is exhausting!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Aspiring to: be Creative!

I’ll admit, as a struggling writer it’s hard to be creative all the time. Especially when you’re a wife and mother. Mostly what I do these days is chauffeur my girls around. I’m trying not to complain about this too much as my oldest is taking her last driving lesson at this very moment. In twelve short months, she’ll be driving everywhere on her own. I will be less needed, and I know I will miss that.

But these past few weeks have just been crazy here in the Simonson household. I’ve had no time to sit and work on my novel or my memoir. I’ve had no time to sit and meditate, something I’ve come to love and something I find I really need to center myself.

Maybe a better title for this post is Aspiring to find more time for myself! It’s something I struggle with, along with my food issues and getting more activity in. How do we moms do it? How do we carve out moments for ourselves in order to maintain our sanity and be better for everyone else in our lives?

I also admit that sometimes creativity hits me at the worst moments. Like, for instance, when I'm sitting in a cooking class and the woman lecturing on wine is a character herself and she says a number of things I want to use in my writing somewhere. But do I have my trusty little notebook where I jot down ideas when they appear on the spur of the moment? No. And how rude would that be, to start compiling notes about the woman when she's standing right in front of me, giving of her time and herself in order to expand my knowledge of wine? Ok, to be honest, I wouldn't care if it'd been rude or not, but I didn't have my notebook. This wanna-be writer knows, when creativity hits, take advantage of it. That's the only honest bit of creativity I've had this past week--in the cooking class I took with my husband last Friday. Here are some pics of us preparing scallops:

Next week I'll have more time to myself and hopefully, more time to be creative and get some writing done. Both girls will be working at our church's Vacation Bible School from 8-1 every day. There is light at the end of this tunnel. I envision hours at my desk, words and ideas flowing freely, and perhaps one or two more creative blog posts.