murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: Parenting

The annual “stirrup and well” visit.

A friend recently asked me if in contemplating the first half of my life, could I name three regrets?  Candidly, it is a tough question, as I don’t think of myself as having regret, just silly choices with misadventure, joy, love, loss and consequence.

But one thing DID come to mind, additional children. Life didn’t work out that way, and I was gifted a fabulous teenager years before but hope for bonus children to love some day still lives in my heart…….however, his question perpetuated my recent thinking to republish an old and important post…..please share the following piece with women friends you know have experienced miscarriage and those who keep private from even you- all need healing.

For me, miscarriage initiated a trajectory of heartbreak far worse than a cancer diagnosis.  (yes, you read that correctly.  Cancer was a blur in comparison to these private and unbearable losses.)

(The following was originally published July 7, 2012)

“Scoot down, scoot down, more, ok almost there…..STOP, now relax those knees” (feels slightly like waiting for the car wash light to flash red so I know I haven’t gone too far)….then small talk, breathe, nervous laugh, more small talk……

Ladies, sound familiar? yep, THE annual “women’s well” visit.

Really needs a different name. Something that combines stirrups with vulnerability and cold all in one pleasant tag line.  I’m going with the annual “stirrup and well” visit.  Think?

When I was pregnant with my daughter, her dad came with me the first time, and lol, there is no way to prepare a man for another man- a qualified physician- evaluating his wife in stirrups, wearing gloves covered in lubricant. Her dad did well, but when the doc, in his thick Hispanic accent referred to my “booobaas” as normal because swollen”, I thought he might pass out.

It isn’t the easiest of visits, is it ladies? We are vulnerable, my fellow marketers haven’t yet discovered that the ceiling would be an ideal medium for advertising…and we are always cold under that thin white paper sheet they call a gown. Where is my long gone beautiful, plush Westin robe to make the “experience” of the “stirrup and well” visit a brand success?

I used to blackberry while naked and gowned to pass time, because as you know, the OB/GYN visit is notoriously behind. (Those having babies don’t wait. I get it.) Just don’t tell the friends on the other end of the email or phone where you are while in conversation or working on the BB.

What isn’t so easy for me today is sitting here in the same room with healthy moms awaiting a healthy birth. We don’t know what others in the room have faced, and now that I have lived the pain and statistics of two miscarriages in such a short time and clearly still struggle, I wonder if perhaps we could have a two-wall waiting area. (I’d pick the four wall padded one and preferably a pink glittery color.)

The very, very young mama yelling at her young kids next to me and very pregnant with another makes me sad. I’m sure it’s a moment of patience and lack of sleep (I’ve been there), but she can’t know how many others in this room want but can’t have what she has been gifted.

In other parts of my life, I would start conversation with the smiling lady with twins who just walked in, or the young new-to-be mama across from me, clearly anxious and rubbing her wonderfully growing tummy.

I feel jealousy and frustration and sadness. That little cry that needs their mama is a fantastic sound. I feel their joy and similarly, feel selfishly sad. I have a thriving, smart, beautiful daughter, but together we both believed there would be a sibling.

So, I sit and wait while the game channel- an OB/GYN favorite- inquires “what an artist uses” on the $25K Pyramid Game Show with Nipsy Russell giving input. Really, is this where I am on a much needed day of vacation from work?

Did you know that 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies will end in miscarriage. And how few women come forward to tell even their families? Why is something so prevalent kept private, and the wound that comes with this loss a secret, as if others before haven’t walked the same path or been allowed to feel loss? It’s not shameful. We don’t choose. And spouses, interaction is critical. We need you to feel with us and be our rock.

And our grandparents’ generation? How in secrecy did they endure the loss (so many losses), with lack of Vicadin to numb, numerous complications and lack of technology to protect their own health? I guess lack of birth control was a big issue……That and no Internet.

Cheers to all mamas that are gifted a child, and cheers to those who are gifted being an auntie, cousin, sister and daughter. We all make a difference in our small way. If anything, at least some help when Nipsy gives the wrong answer on the GYN waiting room tv.

I pray for good health and healthy tests for all of us.  Cheers to the annual “stirrup and well visit”.

Mel

George was curious. So too am I.

Many of us grew up with Curious George.  Learning, discovery, adventure, and observation through wide eyes and creative wonder.

So why not me too?

  • The U.S. is one of the most obese countries in the world, and we proudly brand drive-thru “fast” food.  NOTE: We are sitting while we order AND drive with food in our laps. How about a running path around the nearest Taco Bell?
  • Why do they tell me to print my photos for safekeeping after years of floppy discs, zip drives, DVD’s/CD’s, external hard drives, jump drives and now ‘Clouds’ of all shapes and service?
  • Why when you sell a home must it look ‘lived in’ but not as if YOU live there?
  • Ever notice how easy it is to mimic a friend’s linguist tendencies? For example, an uptick at the end of sentence instantly trying to sell you a statement as a question? (NOTE: Same approach works with adding, “right?” at the end of the same phrase.)  And worse, we nod in agreement, as the approach works.
  • Is it just me, or is the premium retail outlet’s name, “White House, Black Market (WHBM)” slightly, well, awkward?  I have some gorgeous suits from WHBM, but sitting down to approve that brand name certainly should have raised some eyebrows, right?  Even an acronym with BM offers the marketer in me pause.
  • How did my clothes become cool ONLY during high school homecoming spirit week? I am not old enough for my sweet girl to go through MY closet for old school, ’90’s theme’ day.
  • Why do 14-year-old teenagers insist on only yelling or texting to have a conversation from a different room? Normal decibel or same room is rarely a first choice.
  • Our sweet adopted (and former puppy mill mama), Lou, has heart-breaking separation anxiety.  Amazingly, lying under my feet plus this pheromone collar stop the shakes. She can also sleep sitting up and instantly wake running for the food bowl not seen yet heard.  She ironically doesn’t require a text or megaphone to know dinner is ready.
  • Why do college textbook writers insist on creating definitions for lingo that will NEVER be used in the real world? What marketer is ever going to be the Board of Director’s rock star by reciting three paragraphs that essentially means, Be the Brand.
  • Why do socks disappear?  We all know they do and still no one knows the answer.
  • How can there be so many television shows themed with wives…sister wives, retro wives, wife swap, basketball wives, angry birds, oops- wrong medium, similar concept.
  • Isn’t an antique store a fancy way to say “the next home for my leftover and/or mismatched purchases?”
  • Is Snoop Doggy Dog a real name, and if so, why doesn’t American Express show me that on the card in its promo efforts?  Just to see the staffer take that application would make their past advertising campaign “Priceless” once again.

Enough curious observations for this George today.

Mel

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 6.11.49 PM

Most likely to be in the Journal of Mass Spectrometry.

Wait, that was my brilliant brother, not me. 

I’m more likely heading for a display ad in Working Mother that reads, “Advice appreciated. My teenager has entered the fifth dimension, and it isn’t a movie, it is being months from navigating the terrifying, wonderful, ‘friends over family’ landscape called being 15.”

I reference my sweet brother, as he is parenting a five-year old dollie who eats humus, broccoli, tofu and avocado for snacks. I’m the fast-moving, fast talking, single mama who begs my teenage girl to eat an apple with caramel, a carrot with Ranch – something in a food group that isn’t candy to compliment the microwaved corn dog.  And to make it more ridiculous, I can barely spell broccoli without spell check, yet speak proper context for esoteric, voracious and/or cathexis.

Where is the handbook? (A parenting handbook not one on mass spectrometry.)

How many times must I say “no, you can not drive my car?” And how long can they stay in their room without coming out for air? Will thumb dysfunction due to texting be covered by ACA? No wonder vision tests are required in high school these days, and the human attention span is shorter than a goldfish**

Psychology teaches us this is normalcy, functional, early beginnings of independence, and pushing us as parents (which btw- works to test the patience of both). And I do get it. I am certain I did the same thing, but that was a long, long time ago, and the phrase, “because I am the parent” sounded ludicrous in the 80s.  In 2015, I really like the phrase. This week, my smart girl even pulled the Socratic method on me. Seriously? Is this law school? Did I miss where Litigation 101 came after Physical Education in middle school?

It’s a little lonely to be on the inside back cover of Working Mother without answers.  And more bittersweet, without her presence in the way she was at five….half my height, pigtails, contagious belly laughter, a princess cape and holding my hand tucked into bed reading together or working a Mad Lib.

(Now, THERE is a marketing opportunity Mad Libs (appropriately named) that facilitate parent-teenager communication.)

This is teenage-hood. My role is to give her space, cheer on risk (within reason), allow her to choose and face her own consequences, lead by example, encourage newly developing talents and nurture the road less traveled.  My job is to love her and rally in her corner, no matter where and how she lands. (I find a closed-door and deep breathing techniques also help.)

Her job; however, is simply to be.

Someday they will all return to our dimension and with them, they will bring extra love, wisdom and learnings and the great power of finding adventure while seeking their truth.

We will no longer need Working Mother for advice or guilt over the occasional corn dog, rather we as parents of teens are also learning a new landscape – through adult reading glasses and wisely picked battles that truly matter.

Metta,

Mel

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** http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/

Just because:

http://www.workingmother.com/best-companies/2014-working-mother-100-best-companies

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_spectrometry / Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical chemistry technique that helps identify the amount and type of chemicals present in a sample by measuring the mass-to-charge ratio and abundance of gas-phase ions.

Be very clear, ALS, we have Pocket Larry’s back.

A short acronym. A difficult enunciation. A devastating disease.

And today there is no cure.

Thing is, ALS, Larry’s friends and family are not ok with this disease. We want you stopped. And so an energetic and intense support network is in place to see that Larry’s impact on the world of ALS is not just a fight. It is a growing campaign that in fact mirrors Larry’s own uniqueness.  Love, spirit, prayer, kindness, generosity, silliness, strength, a dad’s wisdom, and some bad-ass marketing, public relations and merchandising talent!

Get ready, ALS, as Larry’s squad of support….throws the chair at you (http://webstl.alsa.org/goto/walk4larry), outruns you 12 times over (half-marathons, no less)**, and ensures folks across all social media platforms know we have his back.

I was lucky enough to have Larry as a senior supervisor roughly five years ago. He smiled at me in that first week, and I knew I had wisdom awaiting me. He called us “Mishpocha”, meaning family in Yiddish, and I would venture I wasn’t the only one who knew his sincerity in that word. He could be overtly stern or even powerfully silent, but I do not recall a time when there wasn’t a follow-up about what lesson could be learned. He was always however quick to compliment and praise when he saw hard work and dedication, and he never missed a teaching moment.

Wisdom simply follows this wonderful man.  And as such, people choose to follow him.

When my cancer diagnosis came as a surprise one year after knowing Larry, I started this blog. Initially, it was just easier to tell the story one time to 100+ people, rather than 1:1, 100 times. In week one; however, Larry signed on to join my journey via the blog, and sent me private notes, prayers and love along the way….it’s been four years, and we no longer work in the same place, but I am pretty certain there are NO more than 10 people in this whole world that have read every single one of my 65+ posts.  I suspect Larry is one of those 10.

I am one person in a sea of people he has touched. I can’t imagine a finer mentor and adopted grandpa and/or dad than Larry is to many like me. Likely, many of us not even knowing he was mentoring so many of us at the same time. Likely, he not knowing how many of us saw him as such.

You are a gift, my friend. Taking a pocket-size version of you on a journey these last 10 days has been an honor. Cheers to raising awareness, funds and a cure.

So again, I repeat.  Be clear, ALS!  Pocket Larry is indeed an original, and we have his back.

love and light,

Mel

On June 27, 2015 the St. Louis Walk to Defeat ALS is being held in Forest Park. Please join the team to support our friend, Larry Tyler.

#PocketLarry #outrunningALS #ALSWalkSTL

https://www.facebook.com/groups/walk4larry/

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neuro-degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment-“No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.*

* http://www.alsa.org/about-als/what-is-als.html

** https://www.facebook.com/outrunningALS?fref=ts, outrunningals.com

“I was daydreaming in Mass and decided you shouldn’t talk in the car.” – daughter

thank goodness we have silliness to offset our vulnerable days.

And yes, we all have our own curious observations, but I feel drawn to pen/paper to share, 1. so my aging brain doesn’t forget, and 2. to validate we are all one in silliness….

– What is the new attraction to emoticons at the end of every text or Instagram post?  I recently found myself downloading very sassy ones (and actually paying $).  Seems like I’ve crossed into addiction.

–  One probably shouldn’t decide MID-tattoo that tipping up-front makes more sense than once the one hour, under the knife experience is complete.

– Why do I repeatedly have to tell my 14-year-old that “leggings are not pants”?  (And don’t judge me as a helicopter mom, my not so baby girl is 5’7″ blonde, blue-eyed, full-lipped, slender and looks about 21!  You too would make her change.)

– Ever notice we put food in a fridge that is magnetic, but we don’t use old style thermometers, because of mercury? (Again, it becomes clear why I’m not the sibling with the PhD in radio-chemistry.)

–  Why is it that those days when you feel a little cloudy or words don’t come as smoothly are always the wrong days?  Teaching last week, I was high on the flaky dial. Words weren’t coming, concepts didn’t land as I like, and I left my phone at home. As I finally had to admit to my class that I was not 100% “on”, one of the students noted my shirt read “Find your center”.

–  Why is it we all just feel smarter in a book store? Don’t even have to read, just drink a coffee and the magic happens.

–  Is it wrong for a mom- in advance of an early “hang out with the new boyfriend”, to give advice on how to french kiss?  No one told me in 8th grade, and Bobby Brown scared the hell out of me with that tongue.  I didn’t want her to be “Bobby Browned”, so I explained the technique, complete with use of the word “retreat” and “engage”.  Sounds a little creepy on paper now that I type this note.

– When my baby was little, I knew I had limited chances to coach a team that required real knowledge, so I signed up to be an asst. coach for 1st and 2nd grade girls soccer.  So, with a “how to” book in hand, work colleagues drawing me drills on cocktail napkins, and a positive attitude, I coached the 1-7 “Pee Wee Fireflies”.  No, we weren’t the winningest team, but I’m confident I received more hugs than EVERY other team with a dad coach.  Moms, go for it!

– What’s up with this bizarre magnetic connection to our phones?  Remember those strings grandma tied on your mittens through your coat sleeves?  Last night, my daughter came home to tell me she lost $20 in change from dinner at the mall, so when I asked if she had her phone, she said, “of course”.  Magnetic connection to a phone but not money?

–  Why is a pile of completed books on my nightstand an accomplishment, but I never once took a photo of the 30+ bags of leaves I raked every year for years when I owned my last home?

– Holy Thursday Mass: “I was daydreaming in Mass and decided you shouldn’t talk in the car when we pick up (boyfriend).”  Next Day:  “I’ve changed my mind and think you should talk. Here is what you can say….He plays hockey and…….his mom does yoga.”  Day after “date”, “Why did you say that?  If it isn’t on the approved list, please do not say it at all.”

And so my friends, I now know why chauffeurs have a plexiglass shield between themselves and their passengers.

Cheers to moments so curious they can’t help but make you smile….

Mel

“never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves” – mom

lol, my brave, psychotherapist, mom said that to me months ago, and I am watching my own 14-year-old…. well, NOT always do that which she can for herself….unless there is a consequence from me.

I suppose I too was the same at that age. I’ve blocked a lot, as of course, I only recall cleaning my room without being asked, playing classical (yeah, right) music softly while doing homework immediately upon return from school, cleaning the dishes without being asked and making gourmet dinners for the entire family after walking all the neighborhood dogs and babysitting for free.  lol!

The 60s.  The 80s.  And today.  Girls will be girls.  Trips to the mall with no money and small figures to try on clothes we couldn’t afford but giggling and following the cute boys who appeared more interested in the video arcade than our awkwardness.  Fashion trends that used to be magazine cutouts from Teen Beat are now iPhone apps or Instagram polls to determine the best dress or shoes or nail trends with immediate inputs from our girl ‘squad’. I remember roller skating parties with hard rock hair, lip gloss and the hope of a cute boy to ask me to slow skate to Rick Springfield or Loverboy, or the school or regional teen nights where again we waited our moment to slow dance with cute boys to the same Rick Springfield or Journey favorites.  Girls will be girls.  The motive is the same, the approach very different.

We rode our bicycles all over town and to the pool day in and day out, only coming home for meals and darkness. Wore t-shirts over our bikini’s because of feeling self-conscious. We called one another on our princess phones to chat up who liked whom, and whom should ask who to the Sadie Hawkins dance.  Today, they text directly without a face to face reality of body language, speak in group chats (and forget who is included), forward information behind one another’s back, create fake identities, “borrow” WIFI, and try leaving the house in outfits a dad wouldn’t approve, watch the “like” frequency grow on their Instagram and Twitter accounts, flirt in a much more overt approach than sneaking notes in class with alter ego’s (i.e. the Soda Pop gang of my own elementary days), and have to delete the photos mom watches online (because well, I pay for the phone, and that is the deal)……but when we as parents really evaluate our teens of today…...the outcome our own kids seek today remains exactly the same as we sought at their same age.

But…..my sweet girl is approaching teen-hood with different tools in the toolbox.  We both wanted the same things at 14:  To be liked. To be kissed. To fit in.  Somewhere. Anywhere. To feel safe. To feel confident. To have our parents trust and respect our choices and privacy.  To not get in trouble or be grounded or frankly, caught when we did cross a line.

It is the right of passage to push boundaries at this age.  It is a healthy part of development that they do seek the edge, and it is our place as parents to teach coloring inside the lines.  We are both doing our part, but it isn’t easy.  Sometimes, it is damn hard.  And still no one offers me the handbook?  So I do the best I can.  Sometimes I get it right.  Other times, not so much.

So as parents, how do we keep them safe, instill confidence, ensure the toolbox stays within the lines and doesn’t place them in a social bullying situation that appears easier today with a click of the button in a world WE created?  I’ve often joked that my use of Breck hairspray likely contributed to global warming; but the internet offering opportunity for endless wonderful resources also offers endless new areas of temptation;  processed foods make life faster and easier, but perhaps not healthier (and Celiac disease more prevalent).  Friends of my generation, we created this world, and so as parents and consumers, we must face the darker side.  Our tool box has changed too.

There are no easy answers, but I do have to give my sweet girl the trust I wanted from my parents, and the resources and knowledge to feel confident, remain safe, and know she is unconditionally loved.  I trust her to make good choices.  And when we do not agree, there are, in fact, consequences. In our house, there are rights, and there are privileges.  They are very different.  No, we don’t always agree on the difference.

That however is the fun and balance and journey of this parent-teen relationship….seeking what works for us in 2015 with the toolbox we have today.

Cheers to our own children repeating the same phrase, “never do for a teenager that which they can do for themselves.’  The world will be different at that time, and so too their toolbox.

White lights,

Mel

The only place the head bob is acceptable.

I am currently sitting between flights in Atlanta- as I have done dozens of times before- and I must smile to myself at this silly, unpredictable, loud, over-stimulating, professional, traveling life I purposely chose to leave behind. 🙂

The bald man to my left is doing a full-out head bob asleep in a sunny corner as he awaits his flight. They just called for Nashville. Do I wake him up with sunscreen or the possibility he just missed TN? (And no, I can’t judge the head-bob, as anyone who has flown with me knows I too have placed my sleepy head on many a shoulder, stranger or not. Something about walking on a plane says, Melissa, no one needs you, the phone won’t ring, emails can wait and that darn 4:30am wake up call to get your arse to the airport at all, deserves a catnap.)

The young girl across from me is on the phone and clearly panicked about weather on the East Coast. What about travel misadventure requires her voice to soar an octave higher, quicken and may require a decibel meter reading? Apparently, they are expecting 6-12″. Lol, I still smile. My days of panic are long gone.

Folks are clinging to limited USB ports with wires draped over each other and talking as if old friends while sharing the ports (ironically) to text (not talk) to the people they actually know and love at home.

And is it just me, but is it an addiction when we need the communication medium charged at 100%? Anything less feels like we might lose our connection to the real world.

Even me….using my iPhone to craft this while listening to an old school iTouch with an iPad in my carry bag.

And the people watching in any airport (!!!!), fantabulous! You know what I mean, right? To be fair, I’m here in my fav skinny jeans, a pink shirt, black shortie combat (but cuuuute) boots with hot pink socks, a darling banana republic briefcase and my yoga bag, so while not a fashionista, I have makeup, comfort and weather-appropriate fashion and function for East Coast fun. It is great however to watch the breadth of fashion fun in airports.

Looking around right now…a less than attractive dog attached to a man with gold bracelets, the dog has attracted two young kids (unrelated to the dog or man) and they are petting him backwards (against the grain), the mom (unrelated to both the dog and gold chain man) is well, representative of all moms who bravely travel with small ones….hair frazzled, face slightly contorted, past exhausted and just tired enough to wear silly socks with flip flops and convince herself she can manage two kids, three carry-on bags and a car seat. Man, that is parenting. (And another validation why drugs during childbirth are key- traveling isn’t listed in the “what to expect when you are expecting” book.)

Cheers to parents traveling alone with small ones. I’ve been there, and it is always, always, always harder on the parents than either the kids or the people seated around the kids. Shame on you, professional snooty traveler who scoffs when a baby is near you. Get that parent a cocktail, and I promise the trip will be better for everyone. When my daughter was young, I used to offer to trade with business travelers to be near kids just because the mom needed to know it was ok to fall apart in peace. Thank goodness for computers on planes these days! Crayons, fruit snacks and a teddy bear aren’t the answer. And a shot of Jack, well, that is illegal.

Additionally observations on today’s ATL Concourse T:
– women over 40 should not wear turquoise nail polish or mimic the middle school fourth finger shade change
– how many coffee and bagels can people consume?
– before phones, did we let people know we were safely at the mid stop? (Oh wait, direct flights existed.)
– remember pay phones with sit down booths? And funnier still, the Ethernet line to get internet off the pay phone?
– we went from large ear phones in the 80s to buds to now, these huge Beats? Seriously, is Bieber going to market a boom box over-the-shoulder option soon?
– no one follows the “your carry-on must fit in this display”. Why bother?
– the “herding of cattle” movement toward the door as boarding begins. Enough said.
– is there a speed limit or again, noise limit, on those internal airport motor vehicles? In 25+ years of travel, I have never seen an actual emergency.
– Why is the large electronic sign of departure listings just outside the exit doors causing a jam of frantic, silly travelers trying to find their next gate?
– And finally, no matter how many times I’ve traveled or checked my gate or departure time, I still check it multiple times as if the number has changed in my hand. (Not unlike your number in a fast food restaurant, right? You are 22. Always going to be 22.)

High waters, high heels, cowboy boots, ball caps, backpacks, golf bags, paperbacks and jewelry galore…they do say “life is a journey, not just a destination.”

Safe travels. I have a flight to catch.
Mel

I dance at red lights.

I recently overhead two men reconnecting after some time apart.  While I was actually trying to study my anatomy lesson, I found myself caught up in their delightful and joyful discussion of friendship, relationships, “stuff”, travel, etc.  “I dance at red lights” being my favorite takeaway statement from my, yes, eavesdropping.

I too realize I am a sort of living caricature.  “Dancing at red lights” is fun and real and freeing.  Like the Six Flags caricature that made you appear bigger than life – with thoughtful color and much intensity. Don’t we all have moments of joy so intense we too, want to (or do), dance at a stop light?

My friends and family – many of crazy aunt delilah’s own followers- have enjoyed many of my dating, parenting, professional and travel misadventures, and my own daughter calls me odd but secretly likes me holding court at the popular table for the career day events.

But that is the beauty of caricature. We laugh. We look silly in the moment. We smile on through a voice of humility and authentic, heartfelt joy. It doesn’t come every day, or even every week, but the moments when that feeling of profound intense joy are truly inhaled, they are priceless.

My daughter was honored with an individual award for showmanship at a recent dance competition. Of hundreds of girls, only seven were selected. That moment when her name was called, she grinned her “million dollar smile” and looked up to me in the stands. A priceless mama moment not because she won, but because I could see inside her heart at that very moment. She earned this honor based on grace and hard work to a craft she adores. She was “dancing at her own red light” and confidently so. We both inhaled the experience in her honor.

Dancing at red lights states a profound reality of both age and confidence. We are who we are. And regardless of what others’ judge, we make our own choices. The poet, Jenny Joseph, inspired a red hat phenomenon based on her prose, “When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple”.

So, crank up the tunes at the next red light, dance a little jig, and the push off the gas pedal when green.

Om shanti,
Mel

Mamas and their prima dancing baby girls.

And so tonight my baby girl embraces ballet in new pink tights and ballet shoes. The next phase in her dance life.

At her side, nine other girls with much more dance experience and the same excitement to win the teacher’s eye stand in line- dressed out of a ballet scene and with energy only a teenager can have after a full day of work or school. They see only what they can be in the moment. They do not fret about tomorrow or yesterday. Just the moment.

Like a breath, they focus on the music and movement. One graceful moment a time.

My sweet girl stands shyly near the bar as girls in pointe shoes surround her. She is a natural. Her grace and form so eye catching…. and for me, heartwarming. Sure, all mothers see only a beautiful, natural dancer. Mine really is….

Parental love is so difficult to put into words. We love unconditionally. We see with eyes only a mother can see. What I see, she doesn’t see in herself. What my own mother sees in me, I too can’t see.

We are intensely attached even when frustrated. Yet, we are sometimes frustrated for exactly this profound and adoring love we all embrace as a gift. We hear one way. They hear another. What I say, and she hears do not always mirror one another, and unless we each verbalize the disconnect, the challenge continues its cyclical path.

Love is like that- two people, two different ways to listen, two different ways to learn.

Cheers to all of us putting on a new pair of ballet shoes and dancing in the moment. True love is unconditional and doesn’t need to stretch first.

Mel

Note: yes, I am sitting here a sort of dance mom, but as you would guess, I am in a suit. My girl wouldn’t have it any other way. She knows.

The Junior Mint of Cancer.

Somehow, this feels weirdly connected to those appendectomy -shaped cookies my daughter and I made as a care package for my brother years ago.  She was roughly three or four, and I failed to look up the shape of the appendix prior to the promise.  She liked the pink icing.  I was mortified of my ridiculous shaping of the cookie cutter.

Thyroid Cancer is indeed the Junior Mint of cancers, but a year ago, all I could hear was that awful word.  It’s scary and unknown.  It’s new and I’m too young and busy.  I was newly alone, frightened and unsure of the next pop in the nose coming my way.  But, it’s a year later, and my lens on life is incredibly different.

So this is a Mel or Murphy way to share my news.

(and yes, the appendix is quite phallic shaped, but I had already made the “let’s make pink cookies with mama” promise to my small girl.  At least my brother must have had a good laugh over my good intention yet incredibly inappropriate family gesture.  Personally, I was horrified and didn’t realize the sex ed lesson I was giving early.  Wait, that makes me progressive.  Now, I just tell her It’s ok to kick him in the walnuts.  (OMG, another cookie reference.)

No worries, as my FB posts state, I did not hit the mark yesterday after-all, and another full dose treatment was issued yesterday afternoon.  Like prostate or optical, thyroid is treated with radio iodine, and therefore is a lot less chaotic and messy than other cancer treatments.  There is no 30+ week radiation, instead, it’s a lead filled canister with cold, aluminum tasting water and let’s just say it- RADIATION- which you drink with a straw THEY hold for you and folks wait outside a locked door.  The Geiger Counter is real, and folks DO back away when you exit the room.

It’s the junior mint of cancers.  But, illness just like a broken arm or heart, must be addressed. We must ‘refute, respond or fix’ (ok, yes, the legal side just came out too- this is what isolation does!)

I really had prayed for the D, meaning the 60-70% of people who do not need the repeat dose, but the damn high achiever in me couldn’t help herself and had to work the curve, so, off to lunch, a glass of wine to calm my already high-strung nerves and more waiting while the Hazmat lady and the expensive and yes, radioactive material, is brought into Siteman Cancer Center.  (Still floors me that you sign advance paperwork that says, “yes, I will be back to drink radiation.”) But of course, we agree eagerly and look for the nearest sandwich place to pass time.  Let’s face it, it is being held at an offsite facility, because it is too dangerous to keep near people!  But for you, Melissa, we would like to offer a pink straw and a dental coverup”.  The price is just right.

– I am ok, though isolation is incredibly boring, and I miss my daughter desperately.  We were allowed an air hug on Tuesday . Today, I must take two showers a day, flush the toilet twice each time, drink juice and more juice, enjoy a swollen jaw line and wonder if nausea will hit.  On the upside, no makeup, and I haven’t blown my hair dry in days.  Small pleasures.

– The only pain I have endured is that of the laxative they made me take Wednesday night in prep for the abdominal scan to ensure there was no spread, even microscopic.  There was not.  Whew!  But damn, the Dulcolax is like trying to pass a colonoscopy by a unknowing participant.

– I learned how to play, “Words with Friends” on my Nook last night.  I was terrible but learned “Zeus” is not a word and “Pee” is.  (Sorry, my MU Journalism peers, I too couldn’t believe I received points and even today have trouble admit accepting those points.  It won’t happen again.)

– I was driving over to the center yesterday at 6:30am, and saw our new outdoor board blank.  We are so close.  It’s ok there is no hazard pay after our drive-by of the prospective board choice caught us in the middle of what must have been “just after gunfire” . My friend, Jim said,  “those four dudes are eating gravel.”  I say, let’s sign a contract!  Prospective board location was validated that day.  Traffic, construction, gunplay…people will slow to see our signage and not forget the beauty of the blue heart and “Off the Chart” art.

– I was driving home at 3:30pm yesterday and saw the new board up.  Faaantafabulous!  It was beautiful and made me cry.  ok, that and the lack of both the organ and thyroid hormone after two weeks are a sentimental combo.  Timing however, couldn’t have been more perfect.

– Prince Harry and that brunette are having a baby, and that pisses me off. (still have anger issues over the miscarriages)

– I can eat whatever is left in the fridge, as I can’t be around anyone for three days, so today, I had cream cheese for breakfast. Tomorrow, it may be candy corn.  I really should have planned ahead.

– There were folks in that waiting room far more ill than me, and for my Junior Mint of cancer, I am grateful it is me, not a child or my own sweet tween.  I have my hair, fine shoes, still not wearing blue velour and a pea coat that makes you think sales rep not patient.  I’m down with that look far more.

– Thank you to so many of you who have texted, called, emailed and loved on me to get me through a blurrish, hellish year.  Much I can’t recall, as I started on this sick couch a year ago not sure how the wind would blow, much less a direction.  I could hear you, I simply couldn’t listen.  It has been a perfect storm of pain.

– It isn’t over, and I have much work ahead, but the gym and bike call me from afar, and my energy WILL return.

– Thank you to the nice lady in the HazMat suit who let me take these photos.  She remembered me from last year, or that’s what they say to all the sophomores of the Junior Mint Society.

– I received more presents last year.  Hey, what’s up?

– My Charter on Demand bill is going to be higher than several dinners out, and I’ve watched all there is on Hulu.  I find Teen Mom quite engaging.  (God, I need out of here!)  btw- Magic Mike is magic.

– Man, I really wish I had a Junior Mint.  Love that cool, wintry taste.

– My twitter feed is full of fun material, but my followers have barely grown.  Apparently, my quirky Murphy self isn’t up to the Ashton Kutcher, Taylor Swift “tape your boobs to their dress”, persona.  Probably should    rename MurphyorMel.  That must be the issue.

– I had my condo cleaned by a professional a day before I went into isolation. ($75 so I could sleep through clean. But no, still no guilt.)

– My therapist encouraged me to buy a rocking chair to soothe myself this year, and here it sits….holding buckets of goodwill clothes.  ok, had it been a Mizzou style chair and actually fit anyone’s decor, rather than the enemy U of I (my dad’s alma mater and laughing his ass off right now), I might use it.  (But I can’t rid myself of it either.  It cost nearly three times the cleaning of the entire condo.)

– Thank you to you for reading about my silliness.  It will not stop.

– Thank you to Temperpedic.

– Thank you to Siteman Cancer Center

– Thank you to my sweet girl.

– Thank you to the makers of Junior Mints and Radio Iodine (and more importantly the delivery person for radio iodine).  A sentence likely never crafted together, and somehow, appropriate today.

I am still not a shrinking violet (which is turns out has very strong roots), but next year, I will come back and finally get the negative result I need.

There is no understanding of how/why this cancer starts, but it is one of the fastest growing and folks don’t typically know until it presents in a large way.  If you or someone you love experiences thyroid issues, please, please, please ask.  I only knew my own fate because of a strange bird with a twisted sense of humor, Crazy Aunt Delilah.

Cheers,

Mel

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Perspective shines on me. And the countdown to glow starts….

Perspective.  Our lives take on varying degrees at different times.  Tonight, as hundreds of mourners stood together in silence, powerful fear and tremendous sadness, the stunning reality of a life taken so young, we each personally awake to what we do have.

Each other.  Today.  The Present.

For me, this silly cancer could go on for two years, six+ years, who knows, but I will work in between, love my daughter, get my life back on track, fall in love again, and pray the end comes at some point.

It will likely not take me from my family except for the annual bear-cave routine, and if it did, I would know life sent me magical moments and gifts beyond anything a blog could express.  I am blessed with beautiful souls who have stood by my side, the courage to wake up and reevaluate an authentic me, unconditional love and friendship when I wasn’t so lovable, what makes me tick on the inside not just the “on”side, what toxic means, and what real perspective is…..

Today, the second parent my age in six months will say goodbye to a child, and there is nothing anyone can say that helps – except to cry with them and let them know we are here – nor can we ever truly know that heartache unless it is us.

Pain is like that.  It can’t be compared.  It shouldn’t be.  

My speed bumps of a silly marriage and divorce, miscarriages that surprised then passed, and now a few trips over the river and through the woods for next week’s again “she’s not a pharma rep but  a patient” radio iodine treatment, seem like nothing when perspective takes a greater meaning like my friend’s family endures today.

God has gifted me a loving, clever, smart, charming, type A, sometimes smarty-pants (as she should be at this age), beautiful, amazing daughter, and for that I am grateful for recognizing what I have.

That it takes loss, meditation, prayer and silence to remind us is the sad part.

Cheers to a beautiful angel who teaches me a lesson I needed desperately to hear when anyone and everyone has said the same thing for the last 12 months, and I couldn’t hear those closest to me.  Or I chose not to listen, because I wasn’t ready.

Sometimes, lessons come from where and when we least expect.

The countdown to the now annual “glow” begins.  A week from today, I will be given the “dose”, measured with the Geiger counter, body scanned again and given instruction on the next steps toward healing, but you know, it will be a-ok regardless of what they find, as the mack truck in me will shine again.

Now, that is perspective I didn’t own until this week.

White lights,

Mel

Confidence is the new sexy.

Confidence is the new sexy.

At a recent seminar, I heard a panelist use these words.  They stuck. Are we generationally conflicted about confidence, and how it impacts our professional and personal lives, meaning do each of us feel a different sense of confidence in our work craft vs. personal development, spiritual growth and/or family balance?

I do.

If confidence is the new sexy, how we do ensure that the sassy icon and size 14, Marilyn Monroe, is shared with our young people who know how to manipulate Photoshop but STILL see publications with women of size 2?

Years ago, only those of us who live in the Mac cult world like me knew the inner workings of Photoshop and Illustrator to mess with imagery.  Today, anyone with a laptop can upload distortion.  Who are the publishers of these pubs knowing that their twisted imagery is an eating disorder waiting to happen?  They certainly can’t all be size 2′s themselves, and if not, don’t they have daughters of their own? How do they answer that question at the dinner table?  Surely, they don’t serve peas and humus from birth on…..

My own tween is a fit, slender young woman beginning to blossom, and she was disappointed when the physician told her she may not hit 5’8″, when she always imagined a 5’10″. She is slender because of genetics, as she would still prefer sugar be a part of the food pyramid.  (her own words)

Now, as a mom, I am thrilled I didn’t pass on the “oaf” complex I have felt for years as the “tall” girl (and at only 5’7″), but to hear her weeks ago try on my heels and say, “my calf’s look hot”, made me cringe.  And at a birthday party tonight, one of her friends said, “I can’t have cake, I’m too fat already.”  From where did that come?  Is it puberty?  These are smart, amazing, strong, beautiful young women in the making, and while I consistently reinforce what I believe to be the right words, how do we, as parents, ever truly know what they hear v listen to from us v. outside influences?

We don’t.

Letting go as they find independence and their own confidence isn’t easy.  I hear other parents tell me this is what we raised them to do and be- meaning “pull away and find their own place of independence”.  Is that real, or our generation’s way of making ourselves feel better? I fear we tell ourselves this angle to soothe our own parenting fears.

I don’t like her growing up one bit.  And every year I offer to keep her back a grade if she wants to remain my little baby girl.  🙂

Yes, every year she says no.

Cheers to confidence being the new sexy.  Join me in ensuring this means confidence of self-awareness, kindness, generosity and strength. That is sexy indeed!

Namaste’

Mel

  

Mel & Murphy meet again…

so, this is my life.  always full of moments that remind me of two things:

1.  I am human.

2.  God has humor.

–  The very same evening I completed my online Department of Homeland Security Courses in prep for live coursework the following day, a friend and I were robbed in downtown STL after a nice meal.  The guy who jumped our table however, tripped on a chair and dropped my purse, so besides my friend’s sunglasses, we were lucky.  And darn it, if the restaurant and manager didn’t even offer to pick up our meal or provide a free cocktail.  What does it say that I couldn’t be freaked out in light of all I’ve faced on travel misadventure and the recent “life storm”?  All I could do was laugh and be thankful we were safe.  My daughter?  She laughed out loud at the robbers poor coordination.

– Priests should be required to wear their collars to the gym.  Feels slightly awkward to see the six pack of a priest while barely making it through my own run. Enough said.

–  I always make my sweet girl eat her veggies before a post-dinner snack.  We literally negotiate the number of carrots.  What do I do when I cook the green beans, serve them to both of us and realize I cooked them on the burner that wasn’t on?

–  After a lovely Father’s day lunch at a public restaurant, I look down to realize the carpet deodorizer I used just minutes before leaving the house was all over my feet.  Cheers, dad!

–  At the nail salon today (one I love that is cheap and the ladies in there finally recognize me (and I think understand me- think Seinfeld episode), a roach passed by my station.  I chose to ignore in favor of a great manicure.  Is that a bad thing?

– Tomorrow very early in a whole house unit council meeting at the hospital, I will present the patient, Crazy Aunt Delilah and the “goooooiter” that redefines karma, to educate staffers on why the patient-journey is real for all of us….those who wear a boa, those who appear delusional, those with lipstick on their teeth and all of us in between. 🙂  Wish us luck.  (and to think, I was beat by a bat that Halloween costume contest)

My sweet girl said, “Mom, you aren’t weird.  You are limited edition.”  Gotta love the truth we walk each and every day.

Namaste’,

Mel

Mister Rogers had it right.

I’ve lost touch with reality in light of the perfect life storm, and I know I am not alone as I receive countless emails, FB posts and Twitter direct messages confirming what I face is what you face.

At 41, am I simply wiser to life changing, or is it truly being jaded, over-thinking and being an over-the-top pensive thinker?

My music choices seem to favor darker artists these days such as the amazing Brandi Carlisle, Steve Gold or Evanesence, but my heart can be brought out of a funk when I see my daughter pin up photos of One Direction or some other boy band hottie out of Tiger Beat and just smile at me knowing I’ve been her.

Is this where each of us in our early 40s land when life is just that…..life?

We all have our own story.  And no one can live in our backward shoes, randomly tossed and sometimes flaky mind and up/down roller coaster of a heart except us.

How come no one says : “Go outside and play in the street”, like my funny grandpa? At least we knew he meant go play, be free, embrace life and innocence, give him some time for a nice cocktail, and keep yourself out of the police station.

Carefree and a summer of no shoes and catching fireflies.  Mr. Rogers really was right.  “the child is in me….and sometimes not so still.”.

Those days rocked. 🙂

maybe tomorrow I will wear yellow shoes, and prove to myself I still can be that young girl with the world in front of her.  I am grateful for a grandpa who knew catching a firefly was indeed a monumental moment to a kindergartener.  He believed in me and knew I would catch whatever I set my heart to catch.

Cheers on this Dad’s Day to my late grandpa’s and my own dad who cheer me on beyond the fireflies.

Mel

My mom. My superhero.

She always believes in me. The real me. The authentic me.

My mom, my superhero. She just knows.

She loves who I am. At two. At 10. During puberty. At 17 and taking me to Mizzou J-school for the first time. In my early 20s when I married my daughter’s dad not knowing what marriage and parenting truly entailed. As my career evolved, and I called home from all over the world.

She embraced every adventure as if she was next to me on the plane, and closed her eyes and sent me white lights when I made choices that a mom can endure but can’t stop……(parasailing in a foreign country, being the passenger on the back of a motorcycle in cities far away from home, working a trade show with a shooting, being ill in Tokyo, Vegas, Mexico and other distanced cities all alone, living away in Summers in college with strangers on Long Island and loving NYC on weekends with other adventurous and underage 19 year olds, enjoying my share of New Orleans and many a trip with the college girls- even when missing the state lines. Lol.)

She gave me the courage to be who I am, and the guts to rock some adventures most folks wouldn’t consider.

She has empowered me to speak my mind in light of conflict and challenge, and be the person I am meant to be. She taught me to be strong, speak up and laugh along the way.

It is because of her I am able to take on anything and know – with my whole heart- I will not just survive ….. but own.

It is because of her I am not afraid.

It is because of her that I want to be stronger, better as a friend and mom and a new me. A healthy me- both in body and mind, heart and soul.

When my daughter was born, mom held her for the first time and looked at her as if that single loving moment could never be enough or more powerful. When divorce followed, she held my hand and cried with and for me. When the wild side of being single and newly divorced hit, she laughed along with girlfriends at my misadventures. When dating the wrong boys went on and on, she kept laughing, only now, she was sharing with her own circle of women friends. They laughed too. When the cancer came, she held it together, but I know privately she grieved for me.

She always believes in me.

Most folks don’t know she has a bachelor’s in political science and a minor in Russian from the University of Illinois. She taught school in inner city Chicago during the riots while dad was in law school. And when her own world faced challenge, she followed her own life’s path change and worked full time concurrent to achieving a master’s in social work to start her own FT private practice in psychotherapy. She rode her bike across Ireland in her 40s, started a band (the aging hippie band) and climbed the Grand Canyon in her 50s.

She embraces friendship and love as most people never fully appreciate. And as her own wise circle of women friends would concur, she is lovable, artsy, quirky, incredibly bright, cultured, polished and an amazing feminist woman to adore and idolize.

She is my superhero.

I am grateful, blessed, honored and only hope, I too can give my own sweet girl the same gift some day.

Om shanti…..
M

Microscope or Kaleidoscope…know your teen talk & let the colors bloom.

A good friend told me this week that his son, Levi, articulated the difference in how people use their lens on life; meaning, a microscope, a telescope, or in his case, a kaleidoscope.  I love what this says about how we each perceive the world differently. Cheers to a young man with this type of thinking.  Let the colors bloom!

My own world has entered tweendom (i.e. the edge of puberty), so our “lens on life” changes moment to moment.  It happened in a flash.  Just two years ago we were dressing American Girl dolls and holding hands in public.  Public!  Today, not so much.  Brand name clothes, texting, anxiety over the boys and fashionista challenges.

She always knows in hindsight when one has hit, but in the moment it is occurring, the rolling the eyes or stomping down the hall doesn’t make sense to either of us.  Just moments before, she has asked for ice cream or a Webkinz.

Moms and dads everywhere, how and when did that happen? No one asked me if I was ready for the transition 🙂

I’M NOT.

So, together my daughter and I have created a list of tweendom thoughts for adults.…no differently than Mr. Rogers told us in grade school (when putting on those blue sneakers with that big smile and great soundtrack), the same thoughts and approach to communication apply to all of us….young, tween, teen and old(er).  

Consider the following and apply to your own partner, sibling, parent, child or friend.  And be present.  It’s not easy, and I see myself do the same things, but hearing my own girl call me out makes it much more real.

– “I need space that is my own and alone time.”

– “I can’t do more than one thing at a time.  And if I am to do multiple things, tell me what to do first (i.e. prioritize).”

– “Don’t talk to me when I am doing something else.  What do you really want me to do?”

– “Don’t assume I understand.”

– “Don’t interrupt.  It hurts my feelings.”

– “I don’t actually know (even when you want me to) WHY I feel the way I do. Sometimes I’m just sad.” (Hormones and/or physiological balance are part of being human.)

– “Don’t leave me in the dark without information.  I jump to conclusions ” that may/may not be more harmful than you trying to protect me. (If you are upset, fragile, angry or scared, tell me why. Don’t make me guess. I don’t read minds.)

– “I don’t want to talk right now, and it’s not because of you.”

– “IDK means I Don’t Know.”  Tweens may use language differently than an adult perceives.  Ensure you are speaking the same language- both live and in text.

Good luck to all of us.  Attention span, technology, teendom, generational differences……they are ever-changing and without a handbook.  But the greatest gift of all. 🙂

Let the colors of our “lens on life” bloom!

Melissa

p.s.  In a college course I taught last Fall, they told all of the instructors that how we taught years ago doesn’t work today.  Kids’ attention span is 10-15 minutes.

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