I’m in Los Angeles this week. Traveling solo — my family, routines, knowable comforts, regular life all left at home — it can be a little disorienting, especially those first few days and perhaps more specifically, during the first couple of mornings.
But nothing this week has left me feeling more disoriented than waking up today to the sad news of Dr. Maya Angelou‘s passing. Although I knew it wasn’t possible, I kind of expected this wise, extraordinary powerhouse of a woman to live forever.
Like so many of you, I’ve read her books repeatedly, devoured her poems in one gulp and went back again for more — more insight, more meaning, more magic — of her words. I’ve quoted her. I’ve thought deeply about the many pieces of exquisite and explicit advice she’s shared on life and love and the courage to be about both of those things. This phenomenal woman will be truly missed by all of us, but her words — those we are so fortunate to keep forever.
When Dr. Angelou was interviewed on Oprah’s Master Class at the start of 2011, she handed out chunks of gold. I watched this segment, “Love Liberates,” again this morning and held my heart. Dr. Angelou talks about her own mother and the urgent lessons she inherited from the enlightened woman.
For example, when Maya Angelou had her son at 17, she went to her mother and said she and the child were moving out. Her mother told her:
“All right, remember this: When you step over my door sill you’ve been raised. You know the difference between right and wrong; do right. Don’t let anybody raise and make you change. And remember, you can always come home.”
Spend the 5:30 minutes and watch this clip, friends. You will walk away warmed and encouraged.
Love liberates, it doesn’t bind.
Rest in peace, Dr. Maya Angelou.
We parents who are not fortunate to have built-in babysitters (‘sup, grandparents!) tend to do a little victory dance once we’ve land a great sitter. Sometimes in our giddiness we gloss over the costs of this most valuable service. A new survey checked into this to find “the most expensive place to hire a babysitter.” Can you guess where that city is?
*This vlog was shot using my new Samsung NX mini camera. Disclosure: I am a Samsung USA #Imagelogger, which means I’m an unpaid spokesperson and Samsung gave me the camera to participate in the program.
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Oh dear. My kid’s pet fish — a pretty blue Betta that he named Venti — is no longer. We came home from a weekend away to find the fish flat at the bottom of his bowl. I was getting The Youngster ready for bed when I noticed and said it — surprised and not really thinking — “Oh, no! Venti died.”
It took my son a few moments for it to register. He was surprised too, I guess. Then I saw his wide eyes welling up. “Mom, I’m a little sad about Venti right now.”
[Full disclosure: Venti is actually Venti II. The original fish died shortly after we bought him. A case of being overfed. But that's between you and me. Deal?]
I hugged The Youngster and try to soothe him. It was sinking in, and he was clearly broken up about it. There were questions.
Why did Venti have to die?
How can we make sure the next fish doesn’t die?
When we get old, will we die too?
What’s going to happen to Venti now?
He asked for more hugs and wanted me to cuddle with him for a little while after storytime. “Mom, I’m crying a little bit — because of Venti.”
He was also breaking his parents’ hearts. We felt for our little guy.
We removed the bowl from his dresser, unsure of what to do with it. (Update: It’s still sitting on my dresser.) I low-key mentioned the flushing down the toilet idea, but my son was not having that. When my husband mentioned maybe burying Venti in the backyard, The Youngster’s reaction was as if he was just told, “We’re going to strap the fish to a rocket and launch it into space.” So, yeah … no.
When The Youngster woke up this morning, he didn’t mention Venti at all. Neither did I. A nice MMM reader suggested this Mr. Roger’s book. An oldie, but goodie — as is all thing things from our forever-friendly Neighbor. I might pick it up before heading out with The Youngster to buy a new fish today. We’ll see where this new lesson on real life leads.
Have you faced the sad eyes of a child who has lost their pet? What did you do? Leave a comment below. Always good to hear your take.
It’s been said — often — that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
I’d like to add something new to the Grand Book of Definitions. It’s something that came up yesterday while talking about manuscripts with my wise friend and fellow writer-mom Colleen Oakley. We were chatting about time management, and I was yet again saying that I’m doing too much, trying to squeeze 14 things into a space that only allows for four or five, max. The crazier part is that I’m well aware that this pace I’m working at isn’t helpful or all that healthy in the long run, and it’s simply not sustainable. (Sidenote: I was having this phone conversation while trying to politely chug down a smoothie because I had missed breakfast … and lunch. I know. Do better, Blades.)
Colleen raised the great point about the importance of leisure time for creatives and artists. It’s during this “down” or leisure time that innovation, ideas, and general creative juices start bubbling up. This was one of many golden nuggets Colleen had gathered from reading Brigid Schulte’s new book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has Time.
It was at that point that I said, “I still haven’t finished reading this book. I really want to, but I can’t find the time,”
– and here comes the new definition part –
“Basically, I’m too overwhelmed to read a book about being overwhelmed.”
That, my friends, is the definition of ridiculous. And it must end here, on the near-eve of Mother’s Day. So, I am re-committing to Project Self Care. Leisure time will be mine! Good sleep, I’m coming for you! Lunch, you will be eaten seated and at a respectable hour. And Realistic To-Do lists? You’re about to be owned, pa’nuh. It all leads to me being a better me — writer, mom, wife, human being — and I support that all the way through.
What about you? Have you found your leisure time? What are you doing differently? Do tell. Leave a comment below.