Like a “bug”

We catch things from our parents like a “bug.” But unlike a cold, I believe those things we catch never go away. I know I caught claustrophobia from my mother. In my child recollection it was either in the stuck elevator going up to the top floor of my orthodontist or when they had to back up the submarine ride at Disneyland. Not sure which–maybe both.

Patient and calm is an understatement of my mom who was the second mother of 10 children (her sibs), a mother of six, and grandmother of 27. Feeling stuck and out of control made her a crazed animal. She was my rock, so I became one too. When we finally got air, we both were bonded with the “bug.”

Drapes or blinds closed, tight clothing, an escape route, locked doors, summer heat…  flying in a closed up tin can called an airplane, and of course elevators and submarines; to name a few…

But, the good thing about claustrophobia is appreciating how nice it feels letting the sun shine on you as  you awake in the morning with those little dust sparkles floating in the beams; letting the cool earth air in through the window to freshen a room and make it feel alive; feel the gentle presence of the tree as it offers us shade and stability of the earth; comfortable clothing to make you feel exactly that–comfortable; sitting by “the door” gets you to the bathroom quicker, and who really likes planes, elevators, and submarines anyway! No one or you lie.

What we catch we endure.

But we do catch things…

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It was Halloween night. We were making our way around the neighborhoods standing back as self appointed flash light holders while our two children, four and six years old, were filling their pillow cases with more candy than they could ever dream of. Most houses welcomed children with that “happy spirit” of Halloween with silly-faced pumpkins, orange lanterns, a few hairy spiders, and mild scary ghosts. You could hear giggling and “trick or treat” and doors closing and opening as dressed up fairy’s, firemen, ninjas, or princesses scurried ahead, behind, and across the street, each with their own designated grown-up flash light holders, carrying out the happy ritual of the best children’s holiday besides their birthday. Then there are the fright fest houses whose intent is to give heart attacks by the thrill of terror; smoke machines, creepy music, hanging or hiding demons and devils and people dressed up to jump. These places are gruesome on purpose and do not care what it takes to give that fright.  It is their goal to terrorize. But for the sake of a free Twix Bar, Dum-Dum, or Tootsy Roll parents push their little children inside these domains, thinking it is funny, or silly. Most adults would wet their own pants if someone pushed them inside. We skip those.

Our children were only noticing, like children do, what was directly in front of them as they now understand what this amazing holiday means. They were picking up speed now; more porches more candy. My husband and I could see, and hear up ahead that people were running from a dark eerie property. It was the place the teenagers rushed past to get to, talking quickly, explaining about someone who had lived through it.

In our family we do not promote scary, ever! It is one thing in our parenting points of view that my husband and I are completely in-sync with. (The rest is a toss up). We were already planning the U-Turn, when our son, who was the youngest of the two dashed across the lawn towards the house of doom. He did not even make it to the front of the property when a woman slithered out of nowhere, dressed like the most horrifying witch, and grabbed our little boy by the arm leaning down into his face. I am not sure what she said but Halloween was over.

I would consider myself a peaceful soul. In fact I run from conflict. But my mother lion was about to transform into a very large evil serpent and crush this person into dust after I bit her in two and ripped her black heart out! No one messes with an angry mother of any type of animal!!

We ran to our son and knew in a sense, his spirit had been wounded– forever. That is the piece about scary that people do not understand. It never leaves your memory but sits dormant waiting to leak out of your sub conscience through imagination and nightmares.

He was inconsolable with fear and practically climbed on top of my head when I reached him, candy thrown on the pavement. My husband began yelling at her as she kept in character, smiling the most evil smile as she looked back over her shoulder and slunk back into the darkness of the bushes ready for the next kill. What kind of evil adult would do such a thing to a four year old child.

My husband had to carry him the whole two blocks to our house while he shook and cried the entire way with his eyes tightly closed so nothing would pop out at him. We did everything we could to calm him down, giving him his candies to eat, diverting him with singing, his favorite toy, etc. Nothing would console him. He closed his eyes and hid.

The only thing I felt would get this child to calm down was a dose of reality so we would go back and look, in a safe way without any surprises. I hoped it was the right thing but I was not sure. Somehow I had to show him this was not real and that the people were only pretending for silly Halloween. But what I did not fully understand at that time is that it IS real to him as a four year old! All of it is real!

We waited until it was later then went. I wish I could say it worked great. Our son stayed in the car as we went in to explain what happened. He was hiding behind the drivers seat in the fetal position with his eyes still closed.

The witch was there. I hated her with a mother’s hate that is fierce. YOU! HURT! MY! BABY’S! SOUL! And I constrained myself. It was difficult to say the least.  We had to right this wrong in a good positive way somehow. Good always wins, right? I wasn’t so sure. It wasn’t working out so well.

They all continued to stay in character (which baffles still to this day) but they were in their lighted garage. There was a little too much blood and gruesome even in the light. We pleaded for them to talk to our little boy and explain they were real people, when he came in so he could see. Needles to say the witch never got out of character but she stayed away and he could see her in light. She still looked creepy. He did not want to see her. But the Frankenstein was nice and a little silly and got him to giggle a tiny bit. We left with a little hope. But Halloween was never the same ever again…

Ask him…

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More cake please!

Mom’s are lucky. They get to have more than one birthdays.

Have you ever watched the series on television called  Long Lost Family? Mothers or Fathers and their grown children are searching for each other, who have been separated at  birth. (Bring your tissues if you are going to watch).

When the mother and child are reunited one of the things the mothers usually always refer to is the child’s birthday, as she holds on to a worn picture she has carried her whole life to tangibly hold on to her baby and remind her of that day. She usually says, paraphrasing,  “I thought of  you every single day but on your birth day was when I celebrated your life.

People do not realize that when they have their birthday, their mother, who also was there that day, gets that birthday for herself, too. The focus for birthday’s is on the gift (baby), but the giver (mamma) sits back quietly–rejoicing. Everyone is celebrating the growing person every year on birthdays. But the mother is celebrating the gift of becoming a mother AND the gift of her precious baby.

I always loved that my dad understood this tenderly. He would send flowers to his mother on HIS birthday every year.

It doesn’t go away mom’s. If you birthed a baby or two…You get to have all those birthdays for your own. Happy Birthday Mammas.

Have another slice of cake for yourself…you deserve to celebrate such a gift!


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Calling and checking

Just two nights ago I was preparing dinner alone in my house when the radio emergency broadcast alarm went off at the same time as my cell phone’s alarm. The broadcaster firmly said for the people in my town to take cover but I was out of ear shot so I only heard take cover. It had been lightening and thundering as Autumn tries to make her debut but summer will not let go. Literally seconds after the announcer spoke my power began to flash then went out and the house got very dark. The trees in my backyard began swirling with a strange wind bending them one way and then another. It became more fierce and it started violently hailing huge stones of ice. I ran to my back door to retrieve my  cat who ran away from me into the storm. I rushed to my basement, opened the door screaming for her to come, now completely drenched, then was blown so hard I used all my might to push the door shut as I watched mother nature spin a furry right in front of me. And then it stopped just like Dorothy when landed in Munchkin land; silent.

I opened the basement slider and walked out into the eery space. Nature was in shock. Tree branches and limbs were strewn everywhere. Pieces of roof and swing set were tucked in random places.  A big branch had been stuck straight down in the grass with the tip in the shape of a big “Y.” Then all of a sudden in the trees began this call down the line. They echoed back and forth calling and calling as if they were all checking to see if everyone was okay in their nests. I could not help my “mother instinct” to call to them; my animal family, and reassure them they were alright. And then the squeaks  stopped  and all was silent.

Ten minutes later human neighbors were doing the same thing as trees had fallen over roads, fences were broken or bent and cars trapped. First responders had already struck flares and closed off roads and some stood out in the rain to help guide people home safely. Only a few mile radius had been affected and so unexpected. We found out later a tornado had touched ground  right where we were without much notice.

In 2001, the mothers on my street congregated at the bus stop to hold one another as the towers near our homes began to fall.

In 1994, my neighbors ran from house to house making sure people were not trapped inside after the Northridge Earthquake violently shook our town.

It is in our animal nature to care for each other.

Why does it take a catastrophe to get us out to check on our neighbors?

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For the sake of science

It was Oscar, the Kindergartner’s diffused look that made me want to go against “policy.”

I pulled out a large bag of Skiddles for the first science experiment and then declared, “Remember, this is not for eating, only for observing.”

I was stuck between a rock and a hard place when I signed a contract to adhere to all the rules of  the private school, including no candy or food allowed that was not provided by the school. Yet the company I work for had sent a lesson plan for four science experiments that included so many types of delicious confections your heart would ever desire as a six year old. This was an after school program cleverly nick-named the “Afters.”

We fizzed, crackled, dyed, sunk and floated all sorts of candy with the end of each experiment taking all that sugary goodness and dumping it in the sink where it waited to be thrown away in wet chunks. It was childhood torture for sure.

Oscar was sitting quiet on the last experiment with his back turned away from me. Time was running out and everyone was taking their “experiment” to the sink for clean up. His table was being particularly quiet with two other little boys looking at Oscar. I walked up and put my hand on his shoulder letting him know that he needed to get moving. He turned to look at me with G U I L T written all over his little cherubim face. He was holding an empty cup while the other boys were holding their full ones that had recently dissolved pixie sticks which colored their water green and blue.

“Profether Picklethz,” (my After’s nick-name)  he said, “I drank it. I’m thorry.”

And there it was. The hour of touching and smelling and watching and drawing about the science of candy was too much for his willpower to bear. He did not eat it, as I asked. But no one said anything about not drinking it! He did it quickly and it was done.

Of course I acted disappointed in him like a good teacher would. But when he walked away, I turned and smiled to myself and thought like I have hundreds of times before…


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Frustration Power

Yesterday it took me four and a half hours to get to and from the airport. It is 48 miles away. You would have thought leaving at 6:15 would have been smooth sailing, but I was re-routed several times due to a flood the night before and a whole freeway closed. It is tricky when about 7 trillion other people have been re-routed also and there are local roads and bridges that we are all trying to get to in order to get to our destinations.

If you have ever been stuck in traffic (already three hours in) it is the time you wish you had a monster truck and you would simply drive over the entire line-up of cars until you get to the front of the traffic line when you can push on the gas and gun it leaving everyone in the dust while holding your fist out your window and cranking up the radio.

(yep, that would do)

Monster Truck

It was that very moment that I thought how many people right here around me at this moment feel frustration to the extreme. (Thousands give or take a little) I looked over at the guy next to me who stared into the oblivion of red break lights ahead, neither of us moving with a very long way to go.

Think of all that energy pent up right here all around me! Wouldn’t it be great if we could blow frustration power into a container of sort and use the energy to charge our phone or fuel that monster truck or energize a whole city. (Just like scare and laughing power did for Monsters Inc.)  Frustration would not have to sit inside our gut and churn while we snarl and grind our teeth and white knuckle our steering wheels; and  yell at “those darn” people who cut in from the side when I just did it four seconds behind.

Thankfully frustration in a car is fleeting. The line up starts moving, the speedometer rises, the lanes ahead open up, and once again we are singing the “Happy” song.

But not always does frustration power get released. It stays stuck inside and it churns; sometimes for years. What powerful energy fueling turmoil inside of us. This has got to be transformed into something much more beneficial, right? Think of all that wasted power and energy.

…Just my mind wandering  in traffic so I would not go completely mad.


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It’s nearly here, I can sense it

I was given a 12 minute writing prompt in a writers group today. I would like to share what I wrote.

Prompt: “That’s when I was no longer a stranger…”

I hated the east when I moved here 20 years ago. Strangely, I loved to visit it before then. But the whole challenging package of leaving the place of my origin, my extended family, my “culture,” and my home I loved, all felt too much when I took those first steps into the home I had never seen that my husband had purchased a few weeks earlier. I lived in a fog those first years. Getting up, caring for five children alone as my husband spend his long hours chasing his New York dream. We passed in the night most of the time then. I tried to keep up the brave face but failed miserably and my soul longed for home. My authentic self felt it had been plunked in such a foreign place, I could not embrace it from the inside. That is until Fall arrived. I have never had much of a thrill about Fall. Autumn in California was the end of summer but the days never really changed all that drastically. Fall in New England is an experience. Fall is a living breathing entity of it’s own that some how grabbed the hurting deep inside me and yanked it on the surface to be warmed and soothed by golden light and surrounded by color. Fall brought me into a family I did not know existed. Fall’s family was my senses all celebrating at once…That is when I was no longer a stranger in this place. Fall took me in and included me as one of her own.

It’s nearly here now, I can “sense” it coming. I can’t wait! I am home.

photo 2 (3)

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