{repost} And For My Next Trick … Work-Life Balance

Life As Mom Sunday, August 23, 2015

It starts at 6 a.m. Every morning, no matter what time I went to sleep the night before, weekday or weekend, it begins.

My brain starts up, my eyes pop open, and I’m awake. More than awake, I’m on. It’s a persistent stream of ideas; To-Do lists; reminders; goals; aspirations; turns of phrase, working titles, dialogue, and deadlines; appointments; house errands; if the weather will be kind to me on my run; random thoughts about the world and how I’m moving through it; and also how I’m guiding the way for my son to do the same.

Sunset See-saw | Photo by Nicole Blades

Sometimes the mental calisthenics kick in a full hour earlier. I’m talking well before the sun unfurls over the dim skies, my mind, it’s flooded with all of this … stuff.

Over the last year, I’ve made a very specific effort to quiet that mad spill of thought and chatter in the morning before I even open my eyes. I take deep breaths. I speak my gratitude for waking up to a new day, for my health, for my family. I send out good wishes to those who I know need them. And I try to set my intention for the day, plus name three things that I want to get done.

(I know. This might sound a little woo-woo. And that’s okay. It’s been working for me.)

My three things are almost always about writing and work, so they will shift and change daily as my deadlines do. But often my intention for the day is the same: find balance.

I say it and mean it. I do. Still, there’s a side of me — a snarky, eye-rolling version tucked away behind my nerve — that snorts each time I say it. Find balance. Heh. Yeah, right. Good luck with allll that, homey. (See what I mean? Just shady as hell, that one.)

My chuckles and skepticism come from the fact that I’m a writer and a mother. Both of these things are so stitched into the fabric of who I am; they gobble up a lot of space and time and attention. The notion of balance feels elusive to me. Hell, real talk? Balance sounds like some sort of fiction that a halfway convincing snake oil salesman talked me into.

But I keep the faith, keep believing that finding balance is a real thing. In fact, I’ve been looking, in earnest, for ways that I might actually brush up against something that feels like it. I’ve made adjustments to my routines: reading a book in bed first thing in the morning instead of checking my iPhone; shutting down all tech everything by 10 p.m.; swearing off running errands before lunchtime; and even writing items down on my To-Do list that I’ve already done just so I can have the thrill of literally crossing it off the agenda.

Most of these changes have helped me, acting as a sort of course correction, allowing me to feel more mindful and calm throughout the day. Steady, but not necessarily balanced.

The thing is, despite any gains that I’ve made with these upgraded systems and routines, there are two conflicting memes that are at the core of my imbalance:

  1. Work Hard. That’s the only way to put a hand on success. Or as Alec Baldwin’s balls-of-steel character in the classic Glengarry Glen Ross said, “A-B-C. Always be closing.”
  1. Smell the Roses. Make time for self-care and living this life because, as we’ve often been told, you’ll never hear anyone on their deathbed say that they wished they worked more. Or, as the iconic Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Trying to find the line between Work Hard and Making Time to Live, that’s the challenge. It will always be a challenge. Maybe the secret sauce is knowing this, and accepting that some days you’ll teeter and even lean more to one side, but if you keep your eyes fixed on forward, you won’t fall.

Author of THE THUNDER BENEATH US. Journalist. Runner. Mother. Creator of Ms. Mary Mack. Living this life the best way I know how.

Originally posted on BlogHer.

On This Morning’s Run … a Chat With a Friend

Good News Showcase Tuesday, August 18, 2015

As many of you know, I run nearly every morning. And for the last few years, I’ve listened to podcasts while out on those runs. Everything from “This American Life” and “Fresh Air” to “Hollywood Prospectus” and “The Treatment.” I usually come back from the run and post a link to the podcast, or some article that bubbled up out of listening to it, on my writer Facebook page.

I start with, “On this morning’s run, I listened to…

But on Monday, there was a little fun twist. It went:

On this morning’s run, I listened to… ME! haha! Pardon the weird meta moment (and braggin-telling™), but I had the honor of being a guest on the fab Lucrecer Braxton’s fun podcast, “Hello Friend.” She sent me the link this AM just as I was lacing up. Had a blast on the pod. We talked about writing, parenting, using your voice, dream vacations, and, of course, we laughed a lot! Here’s the link. It runs about an hour. Give it a listen. Thanks!

NicoleBlades_HelloFriend

So, here’s the link to that podcast. Hope you check it out! And be sure to click on through the other episodes of Lu’s weekly pod.

Another Week Like This, Please? (Or, Good News Alert!)

Good News Showcase Thursday, August 13, 2015

So very excited to share a bit of news! I’ve been invited to join Twigtale’s inaugural Parent Advisory Council. The company is about creating personalized parenting tools and children’s books to help our little ones process the bigger transitions happening in their young lives.

 

Twigtale-announcement-Twitter

 

As the announcement blog post says, Twigtale aims to connect children and parents through storytelling.

“You see, we believe that everyone has a story. There are plot twists and obstacles, but the magic will always remain in how we make meaning of the journey.” 

And, if you know how I move through this life, they kind of had me at “storytelling.” Actually, it was one of my earlier blog posts here on MMM — about talking the tiny human about big things — that really sold them on me! Always makes you feel good to know that something your wrote resonated.

I’m honored to be working with Twigtale, and look forward to the journey with this fine group of writers, creatives, thinkers, and parents.

More goodness to share …

My wise litter sister Nailah and I put together a global good panel that we’ve pitched for SXSW next year. And we’re so fortunate to have the superb Chrysula Winegar and Heather Barmore join us as speakers on the panel.

The pitch looks at how to use social media to turn compassion into ACTION. This feels timely and important — urgent, even — especially in this current climate in the U.S. and other parts of the globe. Hashtags can only go so far. It’s time to move beyond words and DO something.

TAKEACTION | Compassion to Action | SXSW 2016

But we need your VOTE. If you go to our panel link here, you’ll first be asked to sign in. Don’t let that be a turn-away thing. It’s easy; you can even sign in using your Facebook account. Once you do, you can vote (thumbs-up) for our panel.

Thank you for your support, friends!

One last piece of news … but this has to remain under the cloak for now. But I’ve been invited to speak at a major conference later this year, and I. am. hyped! Can’t wait to share this fun update with you soon.

That’s it, folks. Feeling pretty good. Although I’m still shaking my head about the fact that we’re already mid-August. *insert angry cat profile emoji*

Until soon, you can catch me on Twitter and Facebook (and here on FB too).

{repost} How Charles Schultz Almost Quit Over His First Black ‘Peanuts’ Character

Real Talk Friday, August 7, 2015

When I read the fantastic story in the Washington Post about how Franklin — the first character of color — in the Peanuts strip changed comics history nearly 50 years ago, I felt heartened, hopeful, for the first time in a long while.

Peanuts movie | Fox Animation

(Photo Credit: Fox Animation; Blue Sky Studios)

These last 18 months in this county have been hard to swallow: the back-to-back killings of unarmed black men, women, and children; the egregious racial injustices jabbed into our ribs; the raw and relentless hate and violence bestowed on black bodies; and the excruciating pain of watching (often on video) as the very breath is choked from Black Lives. Hope is buried deep under horror and heartbreak.

And so when I read this WaPo story, one that delved into this country’s history of racism, feeling something far removed from outrage or despair was refreshing, a relief.

What made the story so outstanding is layered. First, it pulled back the curtain on an important piece of behind-the-scenes history that most folks had no idea about. Second, it added more value to a cultural icon . And lastly, perhaps most important , it showed what it means to use your voice — in whatever capacity — to speak out against injustice and speak up for truth.

Both Peanuts creator Charles Schultz and Harriet Glickman — the white, retired teacher who sent Schultz the letter that effectively birthed Franklin — decided to stand up for what they believed in, stand up for what their hearts knew was right. It took courage for Glickman, so troubled by assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the stifling climate of racist violence, to move beyond sentiment and actually do something. She wrote a letter.

And Schultz, who could have rested back on it is what is convenience, instead used his reputation and immense influence to effect change. When faced with objections from the higher-ups about his strip introducing Franklin’s character, Schultz said it with his chest: “Either you run it the way I drew it, or I quit.”

“There is an awareness that nearly a half-century after Franklin was created, thereby integrating America’s beloved comic strip, he still resonates as not just a character, but also as a symbol of cultural illumination.”

What’s funny (not ha-ha) is how I grew up reading Peanuts comics and happily watching the Charlie Brown specials on TV, and simply thinking nothing about Franklin. Of course Franklin is there, he exists, he’s in the mix. But I saw him as just another kid in the group. He just happened to look like me.

In my world, having a Franklin in Charlie Brown’s crew was small and subtle, but ultimately major and important. Through him I saw a brown kid living a regular life and having adventures with his friends. He was folded into the full picture, not pushed to margins or — worse — erased altogether.

Now, as a mother raising a brown boy in America, I’m seeing Franklin with fresh eyes. He’s come into finer focus, showing up as more than extra color on the page. Now, knowing what I know and what I’ve seen played out in real life, the fact that Franklin existed in the Peanuts universe represents the change that I hope we’re moving toward: not a colorblind world, but a rich, colorful, reflective one.

———–

Author of THE THUNDER BENEATH US. Journalist. Runner. Mother. Creator of Ms. Mary Mack. Living this life the best way I know how.

Originally posted on BlogHer.com

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