Friday, August 3, 2018

Permission to be

Tonight is the last night of my vacation. I'm sitting in a dark wood paneled room on a sunken, too-soft mattress with purple pedicured toes tilted toward the ceiling. Outside, the kids, who are nearly adults now, are soaking in a hot-tub under the stars. I've spent most of the week laying around, cutting into my rituals of relaxation for an occasional and quick jump in the frothy ocean water or a couple of laps in the pool. We went out to dinner once and out for ice cream twice. The kids took turns cooking and cleaning. I believe I may have made a peanut butter sandwich one day and a tuna sandwich the next.

I expected to get tons of writing done, but instead I read historical romances with Dukes and young women debuting for a season in society. I watched a couple of movies. I played a bunch of board games with the kids and my husband. I really honed my skills at Scrabble and Uno. I didn't think about my job that much, though I did check email. I obsessed a little about PTA, but not as much as I probably should have.

And I refuse to feel bad about it. I needed this break. Sometimes we need to just check-out and relax. Sometimes we just need permission to be.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Exploring my Tourette's through the lens of neurodiversity

I recently learned about a concept called neurodiversity. The idea is that a lot of public attention and effort has gone into searching for ways to cure folks with autism, ADHD, Tourette's syndrome or other neurological anomalies. Yet, having one of these can also come with positive things. For example, one article I read claimed that people with Tourette's tended to have a strong capacity for memory, a stronger than average ability with grammar and the ability to hyper-focus on tasks.

While I'm sure more studies are needed, its interesting to me because I do have Tourette's and several of these positive traits (for the most part, I still can never remember where I left my keys). It's really gotten me thinking about how I've been conditioned to think about my tics as something that I should desperately want to cure. Living with even the mild form of this condition takes energy to manage. I liken it to an anti-virus program that is always whirring in the background taking computing power but not showing results on your screen. My mind is always reserving some part of it's energy in the background to manage my tics-- either to suppress them, to ignore them or to move them to a more acceptable outlet than the way they want to express.

I love the idea of thinking about what my condition has potentially brought to me and my personality versus what it takes away. What am I getting in return for all that spent energy? If I were able to take the available drugs that treat Tourette's, which I can't because of my particular constitution for the side effects, what would I be giving up? Would I be able to make the connections my mind makes as quickly as it does? Would I still remember the specific ending of a movie I saw twenty years ago or the directions for making chocolate chip cookies with a recipe I've never written down? Who would I be on medication versus who I have always been?

The concept of neurodiversity is something to really think about. Should we be focusing on finding cures, helping people appreciate and live more fully as who they are or some combination of both as we tackle the realities of living with these neurological differences? It's a big question and one I don't think I've taken enough time to sort through in my own mind yet.

And, of course, as an author it has me thinking about how we represent these differences in our stories. I haven't written a character with Tourette's yet. Each time I imagine doing that I shirk away. It feels so personal. Maybe it's time to take that jump. If it can help someone else see the total complex package of appreciating their own condition maybe it would be worth it. My Tourette's hasn't slowed down my life or my career. I'm happily married, a mother, a college graduate, a successful executive and an aspiring author. What could embracing my own neurodiversity and sharing that with the world translate into for someone else?

I think it might be time to find out.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

March for Our Lives

Today young people across the country stood up, marched together and demanded action. For too long their voices have been obscured. Their lives have been lost, marred or forever changed by the proliferation of guns in our country. Unchecked political power in the hands of the National Rifle Association has eclipsed common sense gun regulation and our children have paid the price.

Today I was proud to stand in Columbus, Ohio and hear these young people speak in their own voices about the friends and family members they have lost, about their insistence that gun violence cease and about their determination to be drivers of change.

Lawmakers take note: change is coming. Be on the right side of this one or this generation will render you obsolete.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Beyond Netflix: Remembering to Live Our Own Stories

Some weeks I watch too much Netflix. It's so easy to slip into an episode of some show and binge watch my way to not caring. Lately, I've been thinking about this kind of distraction and whether I can afford it quite so often in my life.

Sometimes, it seems like the fate of the entire country is up in the air. While I inhale television, living someone else's story, people are suffering. Guns are proliferating. Racial inequity is infusing institutions and hunkering down. Sexism and harassment is toppling a woman's life. Children are dying of hunger, being sold as slaves or working in sweat shops. The world spins on its access while I sit in warmth, a bowl of ice cream in front me, shoveling stories into my mind. It's sobering.

I love living a story-- through a television show, a movie, a book, but I can't help but wonder if the never-ending, addictive quality of Netflix episodes are making me less active, muting my energy to use my voice to bring about meaningful change in the world. I could be writing my own story instead of watching, obviously. I could also be writing to Congress, showing up to protest more, organizing with others to change or simply learning more about issues through meaningful questions and fact-based research.

The responsibility to balance the stories I live in my own life with the ones I consume through media is something I want to be more mindful about in the future. And I want the stories I write to have some meaningful connection to the conversations going on in the world, as well as being fun and entertaining.

Balancing my time between consuming stories, writing them and living them out by making a difference in the world is something I'm thinking about a lot these days. This picture reminds me to get out there and make something happen. 

A super hero unicorn is a great symbol for getting out there and making something happen!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why keep trying

Today was one of those days. Not the kind of terrible, tragic day that shatters you. More the kind of hollow, not going my way kind of affair. I worked. I gave it my all. I sacrificed for a long time.

And in the end it came to nothing.

Piles of rejections paper my ten years at this writing dream. The reason I haven't been writing much hasn't gone the way I'd hoped, recently.  Even still, I don't think of quitting the writing or the work. I keep my mind focused on the future. If I have to get that much better to get that much further than that's what I will do.

Why I keep trying is because I believe someday this crazy dream is going to become something real and viable. Just like I believe one day, one week, one year can't and won't ever define one lifetime.