Plan Be: What It Really Means to Be Strong

Crossfit Training Lifting Kettlebell Front

Ever since my divorce in 2014, I’ve thought about getting another tattoo.¬†But I couldn’t think of anything that really “nailed” what I wanted to convey permanently in art on my skin. Something I could look at every day and say – Yes. That.

Maybe I’m over thinking it. One of my strengths is that I’m good at thinking things through, but the flip side is I think too much. ūüôā But as I approach another birthday, I find myself pensive, as usual. Taking stock, looking back, peeking forward.

And then my friend Joe posed a link to this article/love letter/online dating profile for her husband by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a writer and fellow Chicagoan I adore: You Might Want to Marry My Husband. (Special thanks to my friend Susan for recommending her to me years ago.) I remember reading her witty books when my kids were babies and was heartbroken to learn of her illness. I am in awe of her grace, humility, prose, and beauty. Her strength, even in the midst of a dark time, is touching beyond any words I could muster.

This got me thinking about strength and what it really means to be “strong.” I used to want to be “strong” so badly. Continue reading “Plan Be: What It Really Means to Be Strong”

What Does Creativity Feel Like?

1898-copy
View from the writing nook in a castle. Dublin, Ireland. © Christy Miles

It always amuses me when researchers try to pin down the “science” of creativity. Like this¬†Fast Company¬†review of a new book,¬†7 Surprising Facts About Creativity, According to Science. There’s nothing earth shattering here –¬†72% of people have creative insights in the shower? Okay. What else you got?

Call me naive or childish, but…why can’t we just let creativity be magical? Can’t we just let it happen and be? Do we have to analyze it to death? I am reminded of my days at Purdue, the starry-eyed writer surrounded by logical, scientific, linear-thinking engineers. One day, sitting outside at twilight on a hot¬†summer day between classes with an engineer friend, a huge plane flew overhead. We sat in silence, watching it pass by. I couldn’t contain myself and said,¬†“Wow, isn’t it amazing that a huge, heavy plane can just…fly??” My engineer friend immediately began to explain aerodynamics to me in pain-staking, exacting, excruciating detail. It’s how he was wired. I get it. ūüôā

But I’m not wired that way. I’m wired for wonderment. Amazement. Appreciation. Observing. Synthesizing seemingly random data, words and visuals¬†into¬†new and different ideas. Detecting patterns and playing with new ways of constructing and organizing them.¬†I don’t want to understand the science of creativity. I just want to feel it. Every damn day that I’m lucky enough to be here.

So what does creativity feel like?
Here is my feeble attempt to use words to describe it. I wish I was an artist so I could show you, but even my stick figures suck. So here goes: Continue reading “What Does Creativity Feel Like?”

Dear Bullies, Victims and Everyone Who Bears Witness

Elementary school pupil being bullied

All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse
All my friends are heathens, take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse

Heathens |  21 Pilots

Dear Bullies:

I see you.

I know exactly who and what you are. I know you better than you know yourself. You may lack the social skills to interact with others. You may lack empathy. You may have been bullied yourself. And for whatever happened to you, I am truly sorry. But I will not tolerate what you are doing now to someone else.

I understand¬†that underneath your ugly behavior is a sad, lonely, insecure, hurt person who is now lashing out at someone else because you don’t know or see any other way. Maybe you don’t know any better. Maybe you don’t care. You are so miserable with yourself and in more pain than you can even face or acknowledge that you feel the need to inflict that pain onto others.¬†This is sad and pathetic. I see that. We ALL¬†see that.

And we will not tolerate it anymore.

Continue reading “Dear Bullies, Victims and Everyone Who Bears Witness”

Enter “Happiness” into Google Maps: Where Will You End Up?

Sunset landscape

 

There is something about
Watching an orange sherbet sunset
framed by weeping willows
Sink quietly into darkness
that soothes the soul
(despite the weeping)

There is something about
Walking on eggshells
that changes you
Cheats you
Damages you
Shames you
Silences you
(did you know you could live your whole life like that?)

Being told
Don’t tell
Don’t cry
Don’t question
Don’t feel
Don’t be you
(how long exactly does it take for a heart¬†to die?) Continue reading “Enter “Happiness” into Google Maps: Where Will You End Up?”

Goodbye Macaroni: A Different Spin on Mother’s Day

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July 2013 in Chinatown, Chicago IL on a water taxi just hanging out. Crappy lighting but I love this picture. My kids still talk about this day. No special occasion. Just a regular day in the life. I love this memory. I love their smiles most of all.

Mother’s Day has always been a¬†conflicting one¬†for me. I wish so many things had been different between my mom and me, but she died when I was 25, so I never got to see what might have been. My birth mom and I don’t speak anymore – my choice – another story and another layer of complexity. I myself am a mom to two teens, so I am smack dab in the middle of the¬†“child to adult” transition phase¬†x 2. And I’m friends with lots of moms and non-moms who all have different perspectives, opinions, kids, situations, etc.

In other words, I’m a regular mom with all the regular baggage. ūüôā

Then comes¬†Mother’s Day, with the¬†commercial pressure to make¬†the day¬†“special.” I hate that.¬†This brings¬†all sorts of expectations that can’t possibly be met. Well, maybe.¬†Sometimes. Sometimes you end up happy but a little sad for what used to be. What could be. What never will be – ever or again. I¬†am learning¬†to live with this ambiguity. That’s why this year I have a new goal. Continue reading “Goodbye Macaroni: A Different Spin on Mother’s Day”

Why I Quit Online Dating

Hearts On Mobile Phone Shows Love And Online Dating

No, it is not because my knight in shining armor came galloping in, stage left, on his white horse, sweeping me off my feet and up onto the back of the horse with one chiseled, romance-novel strong arm, and then off we rode on a sandy beach as the sun set to live happily ever after.

No. This is not that.

Let’s start at the beginning of my entry into the world of online dating.¬†It started with a phone call from my father in November 2014. It was one¬†year post-divorce for me and almost two years since his second wife passed away. It went like this:

“Hey kid! How’s your love life?” Dad says, unusually chipper.

“My what?? Ha ha, oh, yeah, that.¬†It’s dead,” I say, deadpanning as I always do with him. Not expecting much, I say,¬†“Why, how’s yours, Dad?”

“It’s GREAT!” he says with more enthusiasm than I’ve heard in his voice in months. “I have a date this weekend, another next weekend – and we’re going out on Christmas Eve AND New Year’s Eve!” he says, beaming. (I can hear someone beaming over the phone, can’t you?)

“Wow! Dad, good for you!”¬†I meant it. Seriously. I did.

Continue reading “Why I Quit Online Dating”

Engaging Our Teens: Keep Trying

IMG_8572-1291.jpgI don’t know about you, but as a mom of two teenagers (boy and girl), I am always trying to figure out the best way to engage with them and, in marketing terms, ‘stay relevant.’ ūüôā I feel this pressure now more than ever to try to communicate all the last drops of wisdom and guidance that I can as they begin their journeys into high school and beyond.

But I’m old and they are young and of course I have no idea what I am talking about.

I’m not a parenting expert. I’m just a mom who wants to stay connected to my children. I have always tried to parent¬†with purpose and that will never change no matter how old they are. Yet I feel the very nature of our relationship changing every day – I am still the parent, they are still the children. But my son is Continue reading “Engaging Our Teens: Keep Trying”