Delights & Shadows

Blog title borrowed from poet Ted Kooser

Hello!

Oct 17
humansofnewyork:

“I think one of the neighbors had beef with my mother. Because one day when my mom went to the store, and left us alone for just a few minutes, child services came and took us away. My sister and I got split up. I got sent to a group home. It was like a prison— everybody there was looking out for themselves. I’d call my mother and cry on the phone but she’d just say she was sorry, and there was nothing she could do, and she was trying. After a few months, my sister and I got moved into a foster home. Our foster mother was this old lady named Ms. Elizabeth. She let our mother come visit us even though she wasn’t supposed to. And she took us to church and prayed with us, and every Sunday she’d cook us a huge dinner and completely deck out the table like it was Thanksgiving. It was like some movie shit. We’d never had anything like that before. Even when we moved back with our mother, we would alway visit Ms. Elizabeth up until the time she passed away.”

humansofnewyork:

“I think one of the neighbors had beef with my mother. Because one day when my mom went to the store, and left us alone for just a few minutes, child services came and took us away. My sister and I got split up. I got sent to a group home. It was like a prison— everybody there was looking out for themselves. I’d call my mother and cry on the phone but she’d just say she was sorry, and there was nothing she could do, and she was trying. After a few months, my sister and I got moved into a foster home. Our foster mother was this old lady named Ms. Elizabeth. She let our mother come visit us even though she wasn’t supposed to. And she took us to church and prayed with us, and every Sunday she’d cook us a huge dinner and completely deck out the table like it was Thanksgiving. It was like some movie shit. We’d never had anything like that before. Even when we moved back with our mother, we would alway visit Ms. Elizabeth up until the time she passed away.”

(via unicornchest)


Oct 16

Oct 14

Oct 12

Diego, or Little (Big) D,

Today you are no longer three.

You are four!

You are a thinker and noticer of details. An empathizer. Lover of school and your best friend, Sean. You are a builder and a book fan, a nighttime snuggler and long-hug giver. You are a rule-follower and master power-struggler. Five-star tantrum thrower. Like your mama you are a green-juice downer, avoider of being on the spot, and fan of rock and roll. Like your papi you are an agile mover, hard worker, and do-the-right-thinger. 

I love our bedtime chats and having conversations about the weird stuff in Beatrix Potter stories. 

Happy Birthday, kid. I love you and your little heart of gold. 


Oct 3

A few notes on Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I feel ambivalent about what many of us “in the club” refer to as Pinktober. I think there are a lot of companies slapping a pink ribbon here, there and everywhere, making huge profits, and donating a small fraction of those profits to breast cancer causes. I also think that The Face of Pinktober, The Komen Foundation, does not spend their money wisely.

I don’t think breast cancer awareness is making a dent where it truly counts. It is important, of course, that more women (and men!) are aware of self-exams and screenings, because catching it early gives you a chance to survive. However, catching it early doesn’t guarantee survival. 40,000 people will die this year from breast cancer having spread to other parts of their bodies (stage IV), and 95% of them caught it early.

Breast cancer can return as stage IV, sometimes decades later, for anyone in remission—regardless of whether it was originally staged I, II or III. I met a woman recently who was in remission for 10 years from stage I breast cancer when it showed up in her liver, and another woman who was in remission for 25 years from stage II breast cancer when it showed up in a lymph node.

Today, stage IV breast cancer is incurable. People with stage IV (affectionately known as ‘metsters’ because the cancer has metastasized) are living longer due to advances in treatment, but what we need is a cure. The only way we will find a cure is if we fund research. Unfortunately, Komen uses the word “cure” as a branding tactic, but compared to the amount of money they spend on other things, I think the amount they give to research is disproportionately low.

Although I am more at peace than ever with uncertainty, there are times that fear knocks me down and I struggle to breathe, because of the tangible possibility of recurrence and my kids losing me.

Here are two organizations that I discovered through a brave metster who knows her shit—both of them putting money where it really counts: 

Stand Up To Cancer

Metavivor

If you’re donating this month, please remember that Komen isn’t the only place to send your dollars. In the end, Komen isn’t all bad. I donated to them this morning for a fundraiser at our kids’ school. But, the majority of our donations this month are going the above organizations, as well as The American Cancer Society, who does a lot of great work. 

Thanks for reading this,

check your boobs (guys too!),

and it’s the weekend—make it a good one.  

Oxx


Shadows

It’s Friday morning. I walk the kids into school. D and I leave Lu at her classroom and begin to head to his. Halfway across the courtyard he stops, drops my hand, and says, I want to walk by myself. I bend down and kiss his head and he walks away and joins a group of classmates. They enter their classroom together, squeezing through the door as a unit. These are the things you know, that one day your child will stop wanting you to walk him all the way, but it’s another thing that happens without warning. I walk to my car, thinking about a friend who has lost her mother, and there are so many things that happen without warning, and there is no preparing, and my heart is heavy and I hear the noise of kids talking and giggling as they make their way into school.


Sep 29

Just googled ‘is it safe to use seventh generation dish soap as bubble bath for my kids’, while sitting beside the tub, while they played in the best bubble bath ever.


A note to Lu ~ One day, without warning, your brother was too heavy to hold with one arm. This. Your arm thrown over my shoulder. Your face in my neck. This is what I want to remember.

A note to Lu ~ One day, without warning, your brother was too heavy to hold with one arm. This. Your arm thrown over my shoulder. Your face in my neck. This is what I want to remember.


Sep 28
nomadsoul, we have a dot in Africa as of 9:50 a.m. EST ;-)

nomadsoul, we have a dot in Africa as of 9:50 a.m. EST ;-)


Mean Girls

The parents at D and Lu’s school are really involved. Like everything, there are two sides to the coin. We are in the classroom at regular intervals, observing our kids, checking in with the teacher, throwing fun parties, going in to read multicultural books with themes like patience and compassion and teamwork. There is another side, though, from which I am recoiling, just two months into the school year. It’s the side where mothers gang up on another mother who is trying to organize something, a window decoration, for example, because she isn’t doing it the way it was done last year. A thread of passive-aggressive emails begins, and they are replying to all, so we’re all witnessing it, and Luis and I are reading them together, on the couch, between episodes of Parenthood, in disbelief. I think about parents encouraging programs like the one with the diverse, themed books, and I wonder how we can teach our kids to be patient, compassionate team players when we are engaging in mean girl behavior. One could argue that our kids aren’t reading the emails, that they’re oblivious to our tiffs. But they aren’t. They will, eventually, overhear us talking to another parent about another parent. They will pick up on unkind tones. They will sense our attitudes towards everything, and they will mimic them. I am thinking a lot these days about being conscious. It’s so valuable to pause, I think—to respond rather than react, and to do so from a place that is in line with the values you hope your kids will embody.


An app that dings every hour (or however I set the intervals) to remind me to pause and re-ground. And it has this feature that shows where it’s being used around the world in real time. It’s so smart to have that feature, from a psychological perspective, because we tend to be more motivated in groups. I love knowing that all of these people are actively focusing on being present in their lives.

An app that dings every hour (or however I set the intervals) to remind me to pause and re-ground. And it has this feature that shows where it’s being used around the world in real time. It’s so smart to have that feature, from a psychological perspective, because we tend to be more motivated in groups. I love knowing that all of these people are actively focusing on being present in their lives.


Sep 24

It’s a rainy Wednesday. The house is quiet, even though there’s so much noise. Traffic. Horns. The fish tank filter bubbling away. I just finished a piece about breast cancer—it will be a busy writing month, you know, October, or Pinktober, or Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am finally focusing on other things after 14 months of intensive treatment, and there was a time that I longed for the day I would grab my certificate of completion and walk away from this ordeal. I didn’t want it to consume me, my writing, my future career choices. I don’t think it will. But I realize that it will be part of all of that. I am a psychotherapist and a writer and a breast cancer survivor; the triangle just makes sense. Besides, breast cancer is everywhere, it seems. My close group of girlfriends met for dinner recently and three of us talked at one end of the table about our breast cancer. Yes. Our. Two of them were diagnosed within a year of me. It’s one of those times when you say If someone had told us ten years ago that we’d be in a restaurant bathroom comparing scars and we laugh because it is funny, sometimes, cancer. I remember when Luis and I were in pre-op before my double mastectomy, and we were laughing about everything. The weird suit that plugged into the wall and blew up like a baloon to keep me warm. The anesthesiologist with whom I cracked jokes about vodka being a clear liquid. My plastic surgeon came in to mark my chest with lines for the temporary implants, and he was surprised and said Wow, you’re really having a good time. We can’t always laugh, of course, but thank god we do when we can. Because breast cancer isn’t going anywhere. Not yet. There’s so much we need to pay attention to before it does: Chemicals in our environment. Drugs that actually cure. So, it’s almost October. I feel quiet and thoughtful and motivated, and I’m also laughing. Always laughing. When I can. 


Sep 22

Binge-watching Parenthood on Netflix. So good. Anyone else a fan?


“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things (via creatingaquietmind)

Well isn’t that the truth.

(via caliazuk)


Sep 21
Yesterday we moved our acrobatic two year-old out of her crib, so that she wouldn’t get hurt climbing in and out. After much (much) wiggling and getting in and out (and in and out), she finally fell asleep. Our little girl in a big girl bed.

Yesterday we moved our acrobatic two year-old out of her crib, so that she wouldn’t get hurt climbing in and out. After much (much) wiggling and getting in and out (and in and out), she finally fell asleep. Our little girl in a big girl bed.


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