Last night I was attempting to explain to my 10-year-old daughter that anxiety can come from believing something that’s not true.
“Our brains don’t know the difference between what’s real and what’s not real,” I said. I was about to launch into a sure-to-be-cumbersome definition of perception and reality, when she said:
“Right, because the mind and the brain are two separate things. The brain is physical and the mind is spiritual. If your mind thinks that something is real, then your brain and your body will act according to what you think.”
Whoa. I just got schooled.
It all begins with some stinky, stained carpet.
After years of living with an elderly dog and then a puppy, the carpet in my small sunroom is trashed. This is the room where I write, and the smell is distracting. (For the record, nearly anything has the power to distract me from writing, but still…) Something has to be done.
So I go to Home Depot to price carpet, then come home and start dragging furniture out of my daughter’s room. That makes sense, right?
So my new hobby is social dancing. I had been to several open dance nights when I decided it was time to step it up, so to speak, and take some lessons. I couldn’t decide between West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Country Two-Step, or Hustle, and the registration deadline was fast approaching. Then, as I was talking to a friend, he began telling a story about life lessons he had learned in his 20s.
“I had to learn to hustle,” he said.
I can honestly say that I’ve never been a helicopter mom. I’ve never stayed up later than my kid to put a few “finishing touches” on her science project. I don’t schedule meetings with teachers or principals or send carefully worded “concerned” texts to mothers of my kids’ friends. I don’t have tracking devices on their phones.
For years I’ve been cool. I’ve been laid back. Except when one of my kids puts a piece of writing in front of me. Before I know what I’m doing, I’m reaching for a red pen. The itch to edit or tease something sublime from each sentence is simply too great to resist. I MUST put my mark on it.
The title of my first book, ‘Hello Loved Ones,’ comes from an “endearment “ used casually by the father of the narrator when he comes home drunk after long unexplained absences. He tosses these words at his children, who are starved for his attention, before leaving them. The novel looks at the importance of love in action and questions whether love is determined by blood or by choice.
My suitcase was open on the bed, half full. My best friend was in the room with me, telling me to stop packing. I wanted her to shut up. I was becoming angry, and it was that particular anger that comes when someone tells you something you already know.
We were both juniors at Indiana University and I was soon to catch a flight for London to do a semester abroad. It was my dream, I’d lined up a program, and I had the student loan to pay for it.
British author David Mitchell says, “Travel far enough, you meet yourself.” These words came to me as I was about to embark on a dream vacation to Paris, the city of light and love, with some of my favorite people in the world: my daughter and two dear family friends.
While I was excited to share the adventure with them, I knew the beauty of the trip would be in the various and unique ways we each find enchantment. Of course I wanted to pose in front of the Eiffel Tower and float along the Seine, but more than that, I wanted to discover: How would my heart be changed?
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
My flight from Los Angeles to Chicago touched down just before rush hour, making the trip home last a solid eight hours (ten including the time change). It marked the end of a busy two days spent sharing one room with three 17-year-olds, navigating LA freeways while listening to hip-hop, taking college tours, visiting friends, and wedged next to a stranger devoted to friendly chit-chat. It was a wonderful trip, but it reminded me that there is one personal item essential to me (even when I don’t have time to unpack it):
Boys, boys, boys… They’ve been a recurring theme this week. Just before my two teenage boys returned from a long vacation, I was at a party where two little boys were jumping and running and entertaining all of us with paper airplanes. We started talking about the unique exuberance of boys, reminiscing on everything from wrestling matches between brothers to the obsession that unites all boys: trucks.
I shared that my one of my oldest son’s first words was backhoe.