Baby and Business as Usual

Photo Baby Business

A newborn baby, two business professionals, and one how-to book. Luckily, Big A* weighed in at 10 pounds, 1- ½ ounces at birth, so there was more to work with and less of a feeling that he was breakable. As we were getting ready to leave the hospital, the nurse could sense my uneasiness and repeated his care instructions twice while I frantically took notes.

I told myself then and there that if I was able to soothe the temperament of an irritate Bloomingdale’s buyer throwing a tantrum over pricing, I certainly would be able to care for a baby. Yes, the best approach for me would be to stick to what I knew (business) and adapt those principles to being a mom:

Organizational Skills
Much to his grandmothers’ dismay, Big A traveled with us starting at four weeks old. After figuring the number of travel days, diapers and formula would be packed into a carton and checked on to the flight. This would alleviate having to shop in an unfamiliar city.

Hotels seemed only too happy to accommodate my request to remove items from the minibar refrigerator in order to make room for formula and would wash and sterilize the baby bottles for me each morning.

Groundwork
There was always a new toy in his restaurant bag to keep him busy. To keep him entertained in a museum, he’d pick out a postcard of a painting in the gift shop when we’d first enter, then happily spend his time there trying to match the paintings on the wall to his postcard.

Meetings
As he got older, we would share our schedules and upcoming events during dinner. When a family meeting was called, we knew that one of us was requesting time to focus on a subject, discuss it and make any necessary decisions together.

Record-keeping
Keeping a journal as he grew up did not take all that much time and is so special to me now. Photo albums! – need I say more?

Research
When important decisions came up (such as curfews), it was hard for us, as the parents of an only child, to be well-informed. At his school, I would seek out moms with a big family and ask for their input.

We weren’t surprised when, at age seven, Big A asked Santa for a briefcase. It was necessary to house his ever-growing business card collection. When Mr. Wiz* became a member of our building’s condominium board, 9-year old Big A would accompany him to every meeting with a pad and pen.

What made us realize that we had a professional on our hands was when, at age 10, Big A called a family meeting to discuss an allowance increase. He came to breakfast that Saturday wearing a shirt and tie along with his pajama bottoms, passed out typed copies of his presentation and spoke eloquently of how, now in fourth grade, his popularity was based on the number of Pokemon cards he was able to purchase and how an allowance increase combined with a slight increase in chores would change his world. The Board met in closed session and accepted his proposal unanimously.

Now, Big A is an accountant for an international company, loves to travel, still is always ready to wear a jacket and tie to dinner and continues to be the joy of our lives. I can honestly say that motherhood was the best job I have ever had.

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

 

 

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When Your Birthday is Not a Mirth Day

Photo Birthday Mirth Day

The loud crash startled us. By the time I lifted my eye mask off one eye, looked around, noticed nothing broken in my immediate area and tried to wake up, Mr. Wiz* had jumped up, figured out what had happened and already cleaned it up. Known for his supersonic hearing capabilities (he says it makes up for his poor eyesight), it seemed to me that he was already sitting up in bed, having heard the sound of a change in air velocity before the actual crash.

It was a freak accident. One of the pitchers from my collection that I have displayed along the top of the kitchen cabinets fell off the hidden, upside-down plastic container that I had it sitting on (to give it some height). This led to an abrupt change of display tactics, as all were removed from their precarious perches until we would be able to come up with a better plan. Better that then a major head injury caused by flying pottery. I should have known right then and there that my birthday was destined to be the stuff that humorous articles are made of.

No longer feeling that I needed to wear a bicycle helmet to do the dishes, I washed a bowl and instinctively turned on the garbage disposal. It was the loud grating sound that gave me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I quickly shut it off, but the damage was done. I looked down and could see a twisted demitasse spoon lodged in its inner workings. When Mr. Wiz dashed over to survey the damage (damn, those ears!), I stood behind him and softly hummed “Happy Birthday To Me”, so as to try to diffuse the situation. He assured me that accidents happen, but was kind enough not to mention that they seem to happen to me at a disproportionate level. One quick call to a plumber and we were on our way.

The plan was to head over to Austin’s Lake Travis for the afternoon. I called JC* and told her we were on our way to pick her up. Mr. Wiz and I were singing to the car radio and just when we hit the high notes, we felt blasts of hot air coming out of the air conditioning vents. While I realize that covered wagons traversed Texas with not as much as a fan, nowadays when it’s summer in Austin, you need your AC. Our new destination was now the car dealership and soon after, we were able to secure a loaner car. On our way again, we both agreed that it was too late for our original plan.

We headed to JC’s to reconnoiter and come up with a plan B. Just as we were trying to decide what to do next, the deafening shrill of the building’s fire alarm sounded. From her terrace, we could see four fire engines pulling up. The alarms silenced and it turned out that we didn’t have to evacuate the building. A word to the wise: if you live in a high-rise and there is smoke in your apartment, remember to open your patio/terrace door and not the main door to your home. One of her neighbors with a breadcrumb filled toaster was probably feeling very embarrassed.

Our dinner reservation was in 20 minutes. We were disappointed that JC was feeling a bit under the weather and would not be joining us. We had originally brought clothes to change into, but at this point it seemed as if we should just get going before any other mishaps occurred. We did a walk/run to our destination and were so happy to arrive, crisis free.

We ate slowly, enjoying every bite of the delicious meal and every sip of the perfectly paired wine. Mr. Wiz laughingly commented as to how impressed he was that I was able to go with the flow. That reminded me of a past birthday of mine.

When I was 4 years old, JC and my grandmother took me to an amusement park on my special day. Not in agreement with their departure time, I threw myself on the ground, screaming, and made myself stiff as a board, resulting in each of them grabbing my arms and legs in order to get me back on the New York City bus. With her black eyes shining (which sparkled when she was happy and burned a hole into you when she was not), my grandmother recited a poem to me that day (in a combination of English and Spanish) that I never forgot:

There was a little girl
And she had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
And when she was good, she was very, very good
But, when she was bad, she was horrid

I announced that a toast was in order. I may still have that curl, but as I grow older, I strive to find the lighter, more humorous side of life. So, here’s to going with the flow, leaping over those mud puddles and heading wherever its current takes you.

 

*Who’s who? See “Cast of Characters” on the “About” page.

 

Regrets

Photo Regret

I picture them as microscopic annoyances with arms and legs. Their sardonic grin and facial features make you wonder if they are any relation to the Grinch. In military formation, they strive to locate access to any route possible in order to achieve their goal; to get under your skin. You’d be better off having thousands of these invaders with endless time on their hands tackle you on pogo sticks than what you are feeling right now. It’s an endless loop of what ifs, how comes and whys that relentlessly keep poking at you.

Now that they have you where they want you, they regroup and continue their campaign. This is the clandestine location that you do not want them to invade at any cost; inside your head. Once they make camp there, you are prisoner to a persistent voice that repeats a mantra that is able to continue regardless of time and location. If you’ve ever pressed your tongue against a sore tooth repeatedly, even though you know it will be hurt, you know that feeling of not being able to let go. This is it.

According to Psychology Today: “…Studies have shown that regret is the most common emotion people mention as part of their daily lives. Fortunately, rewriting history in our heads, rather than playing the cards in our hands can also have some positive aspects to it. Using past mistakes as a growth opportunity, analyzing whether or not it was our fault and consoling ourselves that it could have been worse will train us to regret less and better…”

In time, you realize that you are your own Commander and you begin to feel a sense of power. You can rise up and counterattack, casting out all those regrets the same way they came in. Now engaged, your mind has outmaneuvered your remorse.

As Henry David Thoreau advised: “…Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” To live afresh is to be morally born again…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Cleaning: Body, Mind and Closet

Photo Spring Cleaning

Every year, we would fall back into the same poorly orchestrated routine. Excited to “spring ahead,” each of the four of us teens would turn the clock ahead one hour on our arrival home late Saturday night. This would result in chaos for the next couple of days. Someone would wind up at church either a few hours too early or too late and we were never sure if we were eating Sunday brunch or Sunday dinner. Usually by Tuesday our lives would return back from Somoan Standard Time. No one seemed to want to change this practice, so we chalked it up to organized confusion (another family tradition) and life went on.

To me, spring has always meant a new beginning and I celebrate its brightness, its warmer weather and the coming of Easter by planning to start fresh. As it did back then, the first daffodils remind me that it’s time to get started. I know that, once a year, I need to venture where no man has gone before; into the dark recesses of the place that houses the wardrobe from where my style initiates: my closet.

It always begins with me asking myself “…Who am I?..” This is the point in the process where I look deep down into myself and question what I want my new image to be. All those visions of fashion, style and design in my head overwhelm me and I have to sit down on my closet floor to ward off dizziness (note to self: next year, remember to bring some sustenance). Cross legged and looking up at the clothing sorted by Item, then color on their perfectly aligned hangers, I tell myself that I will not let its well-organized arrangement intimidate me.

I’m feeling stronger now and make the decision that I want to up my game and go for an edgier style this time around. Coming from someone who, for years, wore hose every day of the summer, handbags that matched her shoes and white only after Memorial Day, I realize that edgier is a relative term and that this will be my personal version of the jazzy, new me.

I rev myself up and become a lean, mean, methodical machine. Music helps the process; chances are good that I will not be hypnotized by the rhythmic sound of the hangers gliding across the closet rod and bypass some business outfits that should have been retired years ago while I am rocking my signature dance moves and singing at the top of my lungs.

The range of emotions that evolve as I try on every item always startles me. Some get torn back off immediately while I mumble “…What was I thinking?..” Some are accessorized with jewelry and shoes and then torn off (same mumble). Out of respect, some get their last moment in the limelight, as I gaze in the mirror and reminisce about a special event before tearing them off too. I take a moment to pay homage to those articles that have withstood the test of time. I can depend on them to always give me the classic look I am going for.

I’ve lost track of time. I look around and I’m awe-struck to see all the shopping bags around me stuffed with the clothing that once held a prominent position as part of my wardrobe. At this point, I need to proceed with caution. This scenario can play out in two ways: I can either run the bags to the trunk of my car and drive directly to my choice of donation centers or I can decide that I might have missed some great Halloween costume options and decide to peruse each bag’s contents.

Seeking fortitude from closet lessons of the past, a light and airy sensation comes to mind. This leads to a feeling of confidence that I will now leave my home always feeling like a “ten”, having just delivered all my “1-9’s” to a better place. I rationalize that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Someone else’s personal statement might be made up of my fashion faux pas mixed with just the right amount of their panache.

My stomach is growling and I notice that it’s almost nightfall. I exit my closet a different person from when I entered it earlier that day. This yearly cathartic exercise in re-evaluating and letting go gets me off to another terrific start. It serves to remind me that it’s a beneficial practice to maintain, whether it involves apparel or any other parts of my life that may need a little tailoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dos and Don’ts of a To-Don’t List

Photo To Dont List

Creative example of a single mom’s to-do list

It was the perfect hostess gift; an artfully designed to-do list. If you want to make me smile, present me paper in any form; a pad, a journal, a notebook. There is something about a blank page that is so enticing. It invites me into myself. There, in my own quiet world of thoughts and emotions, I find joy by intermingling words into just the right form of personal expression.

It will probably come as no surprise that my Mondays always start out with a well-crafted to-do list. Under the headings of “Call,” “Do” and “Go,” are the tasks that I will look forward to checking off as they are accomplished. No more than a week’s worth of undertakings are addressed and can easily be accomplished. There is always a master list lurking in the background which provides material for the future, to be allocated into manageable segments.

So, it was with reckless abandon that I considered thinking outside the box and creating a to- don’t list. This single list would provide a handy way to remember all those things that I continually promise myself not to do and could be updated as needed. It would prompt me to keep close those comments and ideas from others that had sparked such enthusiasm in me the first time I heard them. A brief peek would keep me on the right path, progressing forward:

  • Don’t look back
  • Don’t procrastinate; just do it (thanks, Nike)
  • Don’t overthink
  • Participate, don’t anticipate (sage words from a new friend)
  • Don’t waste time
  • Don’t let perfection control me
  • Don’t stop learning
  • Don’t let expectations define me
  • Don’t put my head up when swallowing pills (kudos to Kim for that one)

By year’s end, I may be subjected to a few extra paper cuts, but I am content with what I have accomplished. What’s on your to-don’t list?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lindita Light

Photo Lindita Light

I don’t even drink diet soda, so I was surprised that it would provide me with so much inspiration.

I am very aware that I have a tendency to go overboard. In every aspect of my life, I am able to overwhelm myself by mixing perfectionism with determination, then adding a dash of rumination. I can ruminate the heck out of any situation, replaying and rehashing every aspect of the issue at hand. The black sheep of the problem-solving family, rumination only serves to overcomplicate matters and leave a bad taste in your mouth.

It was time for me to take it down a notch and become a lean, mean, less minutiae-oriented machine. I would try to create a lighter version of myself; same sweetness and effervescence, but tastefully more carefree. I giggled to myself and called the project “Lindita Light”; “Lindita” after the name that my Spanish grandmother called me (adding ‘ita” after a name indicates affection) and “light” after soda performing with a sugar stand in.

So, it was with great confidence that I began my daily practice of paying more attention to becoming a lighter version of myself. I found that there was no magic potion, no elixir that would instantly transform me. On the contrary, it was a day-to-day struggle to remain steadfast to the promise that I had made myself.

Little by little, I seem to be making progress. Now, when I become transfixed on a subject, I am able to distract myself by doing something that requires focus. I tell myself that I can be determined and the best I can be without overdoing it. Though, at first, it was hard to swallow that I might be a bit of a micromanager, I work at holding my tongue and try not to impart my opinions to anyone at any time, whether they want them or not.

In the midst of my undertaking and while researching for this post, I stumbled onto something that inspired me to persist. In the early 1900s, a carbonated beverage called “Moxie” was trademarked and was the first mass produced soft drink in the United States. Coincidence or a sign to continue to drink in all I can, in order to become the best me I can be?

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Op

Photo Photo Op

Late again! She ran through the house, grabbing her coffee and her car keys. Her arms were full, so she held her breakfast, a whole piece of toast, in her teeth. She gave her mom a thumbs-up and barely paid attention to her comments, only hearing that her mom and her beau were going out again (this time to the opera), so she was on her own for dinner.

Meredith took a deep breath and started her car. Even though she hated the commute from her mom’s suburban home into the city each day, it was the only time she had any peace. Her mom meant well, but she was tired of her eye rolling every time Meredith ate junk food. Her suggestions that Meredith get a haircut or try some new makeup or lose a little weight were not inspiring her to act on any of them in the near future.

She knew she would have to stay late again to make up the time. At first, she had thought herself lucky to be able to come and go unnoticed and set her own hours, but later realized that it was a measure of her insignificance to the hospital department that she was a part of.

On this particular day, she watched her copies run through the copy machine and, for a few minutes, lost herself in thought. How did her life become so mundane? Her growling stomach brought her back to reality. Walking to the cafeteria, she almost tripped on a frame that lay in the middle of the hall. She picked it up and was quite taken with the picture of the handsome man smiling back at her, even though it was the one that came with the frame. She stuck it in her purse and continued on.

The usual long line greeted her at the cafeteria door. With a big sigh, she prepared herself for the wait, when she heard a man’s voice behind her say “…Anything good here? I noticed your employee badge, so thought you might have some recommendations…” Meredith was speechless. Was she hallucinating or did this man look a little like the photo in the frame? She finally sputtered a few words and before she knew it, they were sharing a table and dining together.

Everything about him was charming. She hung on his every word and almost forgot to eat. He said he was a new volunteer, still trying to figure out what his calling would be. He seemed so interested in what she had to say. She cared little about what time it was when she finally returned to work and spent the rest of the afternoon daydreaming.

She surprised herself and her mom by being up early the next morning. She left right on time and couldn’t help but smile at her mom’s comments about her appearance. She had made sure to take extra time choosing an outfit, styling her hair and actually applying makeup. Maybe this weekend she would take her mom up on her offer to treat her to a new haircut.

Lunch couldn’t come quickly enough each day. All the next week, she found her handsome stranger on the cafeteria line. They’d trade smiles and sit together at the same table. She noticed that her lunch choices were now not only healthy, but half the size of what they used to be. From their conversations about her goals in life and how she could pursue them, she walked with a new-found confidence.

She purposefully kept the framed picture in her car’s glove compartment, away from her mom’s intrusive prying, so it was with surprise that she noticed it was gone that Saturday afternoon. She ran back into the house and, out of breath, asked her mom if she knew of its whereabouts. Nonchalantly, her mom responded “…I threw the picture away that came with the frame, cleaned it up and put it in your room, so you could make use of it…”

The words stung Meredith and as her mind raced through the past couple of days, she realized that yesterday, she had left her mom alone in her car when she ran into the drugstore to pick up a prescription for her. At that moment, she made up her mind that it was time for her to move to a place of her own.

Mondays were usually the worst day of her week, but Meredith rushed to the cafeteria with a spring in her step. She didn’t see her stranger, so waited at the entrance for a while. When he didn’t show up, she decided to sit and eat alone at their favorite table. Disappointed, she decided to walk over to the volunteer department to see if he was working today.

She realized that she only knew his first name and was startled when Sister Jean, the nun who sat at the front desk, stated that there was no Theodore listed as a volunteer. Determined to find him, Meredith took the time to describe her stranger and mention what little she knew about him. Sister Jean could only listen and nod, but felt as if she had to respond in some way to this agitated young woman. “…Did you know that the meaning of the name Theodore is God’s present?..,” she said softly.

Meredith smiled and thanked the nun for her time. She felt a wave of happiness wash over her and she walked back to her office with determination and wrote the resignation letter that she would send as soon as she was accepted into college. She called her sister and said she would take her up on her offer to live in her guesthouse if she took on some nanny duties for her nieces. It would be good practice for the teaching degree that she planned to receive.

She smiled, put her hands through her newly coifed hair, and said  “…Thank you…” out loud. She placed the frame on her desk and gazed at its cardboard backing. There was no need to replace the original photo with any other. In that way, she could picture just what she wanted to, as she made her way back into the world.