You're all feeling it — the stress of multitasking, the rush of going from one place to the other, the disconnect of trying to juggle too many balls at once. The rush doesn't make you feel competent or in control. It just leaves you feeling drained and as if you're living several identities, all of them short-changed and strung-out on coffee.

All the magazines say you need to be centered, peaceful, and take your time to live in the moment. But that's pretty darned hard to remember when you're grabbing your bag to run out the door, if you even get the right bag. Multitasking itself is hard enough, but juggling our multiple identities as well — chauffer, cook, spouse, parent — makes it awul hard even to know which present to be in. It's not as easy as taking a few breaths or squeezing a meditation in between running errands. If we had the time to do that, we wouldn't need to do it.

Now, Clark Kent never had this problem. He stepped into his grusty phone booth, and simply took on a new identity. Batman had his bat cave.

Why not have yours? I'm not saying to don a cap or buld a full-fledged changing area. But why not help yourself make your own traditions by gettin gyour silly on? Get some masking tape, or designate your own special room: just make sure it's a convenient place. If you're using tape, make a box on the floor, or if you're artsy a star shape. *

Then, let the fun begin. Working on your bills when it's time to drive your kids to music lessons? Jump into your “changing space” and take a deep breath, then turn into “driving person.” Come home late and only have half an hour to cook? You guessed it. You'll need to change into Food Person for this one.

The point is, take some time to breathe, and gift yourself with a moment of transition. A little silliness can help.

* In retrospect, it's probably not a good idea to make something that really looks like you're creating a satanic ritual, especially when the rest of your family has been away and you and your daughter may not be home when they get back, because who knows what they'll think? “Mommy's been watching a little too much Supernatural, kids.” “Daddy, where are the cats?”

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glpQbNU1tz94iHvu.jpgIn my coaching studies, I’ve been fortunate to come across Byron Katie, a wise, kind and patient woman who’s written great books such as “Loving What Is.” Her gig is that if you argue with reality, you always lose. In short, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.

Pain itself is hard, but it’s our thoughts about it and what we make it mean that creates significants amount of suffering on top of that. What she says is that all suffering is caused by untrue thoughts, such as “Everyone is smarter than I am,” “I’m such a loser,” and “I’ll die if I fart in yoga class.” And so we live in a continuous torment of our own making.

Katie has you methodically work with each thought, writing it down and doing what’s called “The Work.” This is definitely worth doing, but it’s heady stuff, and takes a lot of introspection and, well, work. I’ve done it with a few thoughts, but tend not to sit down a lot to do it formally. Instead, I’ve come up with a quick technique keeps me “warmed up” and constantly wiggling at those false thoughts from the beginning. Why not nip things at the bud?

I call it the “Byron Katie Bitchslap.” Basically, I  go about my life playing the “is it true?” game. “Someone else should unload these dishes.” Really? “I need to write this blog post right now.” Really?

Because I have kids, they are more than happy to help me with this and throw my misconceptions right down the shithole. Here’s a few examples of how it goes:

#1: I carry a basket load of clean clothes into #3’s room. He takes the entire contents in one armful and shoves it in a drawer. fI twitch and start to hyperventilate. “You can’t do that!”

Boy smiles. “Yes I can. I just did.”


#2: “You can’t just sit there all day playing Minecraft!”


Which goes to prove, there’s no greater Zen Master than a 10-year old boy.

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A vision board is a poster of cut-out illustrations of things you’d like to bring in your life or places you’d like to go. It’s easy to think that you need hours to make one of these, along with stacks of magazines to pore through, specially purchased supplies, and a clear kitchen table.

The last time I made one of THOSE was when I shipped my entire family off to India for two weeks. This was years ago, and that one ended up being more of an anal-retentive board, full of precisely glued words and pictures, but not, well, messy visions.

So here’s an easy, down-and-dirty, no-excuses way to make a vision board:

Forget the magazines, glue stick, and board. Think up a handful of wildly improbable goals (WIGs) and do a Google search on each one. Select “Images” and find one that best represents what you have in mind, or makes your heart sing, and print it. Cut out your pictures, tape them to each other, and tape the whole mess up on the wall. Done.

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On Happiness

I just read an article in Brain/Child called “Never Wish Happiness For Your Children” which basically said “you can’t guarantee your kids’ happiness, so you should teach skills instead.” Like, presumably, using scissors, accounting, turning tricks, you know.

I’ve got to say, I’m probably not their ideal reader, even though I’m sure they think I am (“The magazine for thinking mothers”). Their Facebook Page header says “Don’t Just Read it. Think About it.” My immediate response to that was “Fuck you, don’t tell me what to do.”

But, if I’m reading this correctly, I’m not supposed to tell myself “I just want them to be happy.”

Ok, I get it. I really do. How can you not get it if you’re living through sibling warfare, teenage drama, or the nuclear-level catastrophe caused by a pair of itchy socks or “dangerous” pants. Clearly happiness is elusive, otherwise I’d never leave my house even to buy paper products (note, one of my children was exceedingly happy today to find out that toilet paper, in Britain, is called “asswipe” — which I’m pretty sure was never a checklist item in any pubescent happiness studies). But I digress. Because it makes me fucking happy.

“Just let go,” the article says.

Of course! Now I can heave a sigh and not worry at all, because it’s all about me. Last I checked, love was all about wanting someone to be happy, regardless of whether this was in the cards or not. But, heck, if reality won’t comply with my desire for guaranteed product, then I guess I’m supposed to take it back and not bother. And pat myself on the back.

So why is this article being written? I always wonder those things. What’s the hook that caused an editor to bite? It’s somehow news, I presume, more grist in the mill of endless parenting articles describing how we’re messing up our kids by being involved, engaged, and part of their messy lives. Because we can’t deal with the grey area between intrusion and abandonment. Or, at least, that’s work — not news, and nobody wants to read articles that say “we’re all fucking up all the time, but it doesn’t matter, just love each other.”

Last time I said something like that at home, one of my kids said “God, mom, you sound like Jesus.” Which, if you know me AT ALL, is probably hilarious, and hey, kids, IT’S NOT LIKE I MADE THIS SHIT UP RIGHT NOW. HE POSTED IT ON FACEBOOK.

What’s the point, I guess, of wanting your kids to be happy if if they could end up on drugs, alcoholic, codependent, anemic, or rendered less perfect than any of the ills that befall oh…HUMANS. Instead, let’s downgrade our desperate, heartfelt wishes for them to some kind of vocational enrichment. Because that’s measurable, and we can take credit for it: “Yeah, Johnny wishes he was dead every day he comes home from the office, but boy can he do long division fast!”

Pulling back the general rant a bit, another thing that irks me is this: by “happy,” this article means eventually, as adults — as if happiness doesn’t matter or even exist in the meantime. Not only do we push off the concept of happiness to a later date, but we don’t even talk about it — like being happy now is a self-indulgence on the craziness order of hoarding cats or eating human flesh.

I have a feeling that if you asked most parents “is your child happy now,” their heads would explode. Similarly, if you asked them if they themselves are happy. This is not in our current vocabulary. Happiness, maybe, is what we might have if we weren’t so busy doing all the things we’re doing to be successful or socially acceptable, always looking toward the future.

The dictionary defines happiness as “a state of well-being or contentment.” I’d argue that basically this means having your vital needs met and getting to be yourself. It doesn’t mean getting all the jellybeans or the most pizza, or having a perfect life. When you look at it this way, happiness looks a lot like mediocrity with a side of self-awareness.

But how many of us live that way? And are my kids happy? At any one moment, sometimes yes, sometimes no. Will they be happy in the future? I sure hope so. But my biggest wish for them right now is that that they get to know who they are and what makes them feel like they’re in a good place.

That would make me happy.

Here’s a link to the article:

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If you’ve been to Life Alive in Lowell, you’ll know they put this sauce on their Goddess bowls that I swear is liquid crack. It’s so good, it could make shoe leather taste good. Maybe.

Anyway, I scoured the internet for a recipe, and recreated the Goddess Bowl at home, with the “Special Sauce.” Here it is:

2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 inches of fresh peeled ginger, chopped
1 tablespoon of Tamari Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons of lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
2 tablespoons of Tahini
1 tablespoon of olive oil
2 tablespoons of water

I cut up some carrots, beets, and broccoli florets, and sauteed some tofu in tamari, then put all of this over some brown rice and drizzled the sauce over it. Oh my gosh, it was good. Without it, it’s just, well, a bunch of veggies in a bowl.

So this made me think — because I’m a writer; I love a good metaphor, and I need a blog post — what other areas in my life could be made better by a “special sauce?” What if I brought something just a little bit special to what otherwise might be underwhelming and ordinary?

And even better — what if it doesn’t even have to be that hard? What if we already do this, but just don’t realize it? What if you entered every interaction with the knowledge that you have magic to bring, you really do? What would happen?

Try it.

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