Wednesday, April 27, 2011

no rules

I think it's crazy how I somehow consider myself exempt from most rules when I travel...well, at least all the healthy ones.  Travel makes me nutty. There may be slight differences between business and personal travel, since the former has someone else footing the bill, but for the sake of argument, let's lump them together.

For me, it starts almost the minute I'm out the door. When I arrive at the airport, all of a sudden I have to have a snack.  Nevermind that I probably ate before I left the house.  Who knows when I'll eat again? It's travel!  That snack has about a 25% chance of being healthy.  All of a sudden, those seem like good odds.

Next, there is the "mentos phenomenon".  For yet another inexplicable reason, I always buy peppermint, and only peppermint, mentos before I fly. I NEVER buy them at home. Ever.  Wouldn't even consider it.  I don't know why, but it's firmly ingrained as part of my pre-flight checklist.  Water? Check. Reading material? Check. Mentos? Check.  Ok, time to board the plane.

I also eat things on a plane I would typically never choose, or like.  Those who know me know I'm not a fan of cheese.  What did I order on a flight once? A cheese plate!  Eat a whole bag of chips at home? Rarely. On a plane? You bet!  Doesn't matter what the meal is, I'm eating it. Who knows when I'll eat again? It's travel!

At home, I love to workout - yoga, running, weights, you name it.  I enjoy it and it makes me feel good. When I'm in a hotel, hmmm, not so much.  I'm a little tired.  I shouldn't over do it.  Gotta take it's travel! 

However, the opposite applies to sleeping.  For no apparent reason, I find it impossible to go to bed at a reasonable hour in a hotel.  When I'm home I'm begging for sleep, but I'm far too busy. Just have to wrap up one more thing, then I'll sleep. At a hotel I've got nothin' going on, but do I sleep? Nope.  What the heck's wrong with me?  Rules out the window!

Of course, meals are all in restaurants, and I'm reasonable with ordering healthy there (again, inexplicable, given everything else I've said. I know), but who doesn't want to be just a little decadent and get dessert? I do! It's travel!  It's not like I eat like that every day...right?  Since I'm traveling more and more I really need to find a way to manage's becoming an every day thing.  Out of control.

I reached my 'no rules' peak (or rock bottom, depending how you look at it) during the break at my training class today.  There were cookies and brownies.  My typical rule would be no cookie and no brownie at home at 3:00 on a regular day.  But it's not a regular's travel!  Guess what I ate? A cookie AND a brownie.  No kidding. 

Going to hell in a handbasket, I tell ya...but hey, it's travel!

Saturday, April 23, 2011


For the 20 years I've been going on business travel I've had a fantasy about happy homecomings.  My family meeting me at the airport...the kids all excited to see me. Joy all around.  It's never happened.  For many practical reasons, I typically drive myself to the airport and trudge back to the parking garage when I get off the plane.  But you have to walk through the throngs of people, all happy, with expectant smiles as they wait for their loved ones to appear.  I walk through them, aggravated.  Pardon me, excuse me, I've got trudging to do...

So I've started modifying that fantasy somewhat to the family just being happy to see me when I drive up.  Now THAT I get. Occasionally.  If it's convenient for them, the time's right and nothing better is going on, the kids will come running...Mommy! You're home! Hugs all around.  Happiness.

Unfortunately, I'm typically only allotted about a minute or two of this happiness before the backlash.  I've seen video of tsunamis coming, when the ocean recedes drastically before the big wave comes.  Yeah, that's how it goes with the kids.  ALL of the issues they have been saving for me while I was gone (the receding) comes all at once (tsunami)...and overwhelms me.  Every crisis, every unresolved fight, every lost item, maybe a couple of highlights...all comes barreling at me at once.  Welcome home.

Now granted, when I've been gone for a while, I miss things, but they barely want to talk to me while I'm gone.  Guess it's more fun to handle the week in "batch mode".  I understand they have stuff to talk to me about, but they were with their father, not some stranger all week. He's qualified. It's like they need a second opinion on their drama.  To add to the mix, I'm typically hearing this on the heels of a LONG day of travel.  Regardless of where you've traveled from, or for how long, travel is a long day.  Not the best preparation for the "Judge Judy" meets "Jerry Springer" sideshow that meets me at the door.

So yesterday, we added a little twist.  They left immediately after the happiness and didn't get to the onslaught until after they returned.  Yeah, that wasn't much better.  Within minutes of THEIR homecoming, I'm screaming at the kids to stop fighting.  Nice.  Mom's home.

To add to the fun,  the kids did have a moment when they were getting along...and they knocked my wine glass off the table and broke it.  (It was empty already.  Of course I went straight to drinking...Did you read those previous paragraphs?)  They were actually playing ball in the house! (Mom said no ball in the house!) I ran out of yelling by then.  Welcome home.

I guess I should be happy about  the fact that nothing changes when I'm gone.  This is my life and there is comfort in its consistency. They miss me.  I miss them.  They drive me nuts.  I love them.  But it's really hard to not hope for the magical homecoming.  I fantasize about how it could be EVERY time.

Well, I'm leaving again Tuesday. We'll get another shot at this.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

mess tolerance

Fundamental rule of housekeeping: first one to crack has to clean it. 

I don't know how on earth it happened, but it turns out I'm now a big loser in the mess tolerance department.  Don't get me wrong...when it comes to living with clutter, I've practiced with the best of them.  I used to be at the top of my game. As a child, I shared a room with my "neat freak" sister.  Yes, I said it.  She was a neat freak.  I, on the other hand, was not.  Ok, I was very messy.  I was perfectly happy leaving my clothes on the floor, never making my bed or putting anything back where it belonged.  I'm pretty sure I gave my sister an ulcer forcing her to live under those conditions.  The Odd Couple had nothing on us. 

We moved when I was a teenager and I got a double bonus: my own room AND it was completely out of the path of anyone going upstairs.  I was all alone at the end of the couldn't see my room unless you walked up to the door.  And let me tell you, my slovenly ways flourished under those circumstances. You couldn't even see the floor of my room through the mess...and I loved the freedom.  Eventually, even the slobbiest will crack.... it will be too messy but you are the only one left to clean it. The double-edged sword of having your own "space".  I think I hit rock bottom and the recovery began.  Little by little I realized I like things neat.  More importantly, I like them CLEAN. I became a "recovering"'s still there, and always will be, but now I take it one day at a time. I have my moments, but all-in-all, I'm highly functioning.

Living with others, it is a well-known fact: that if no one "sees" it, it doesn't need cleaning.  Somehow, I'm always the one that sees it now.  This can be a problem.  You see, I have a new job...with a disgusting "community" refrigerator.  The new person can't start the precedent of cleaning out the refrigerator.. it's just  bad practice.  Days passed...months passed...doesn't anyone smell that? What's wrong with these people?  Wait it out, someone else will clean it.  C''re strong.. OMG, my lunch just stuck to the shelf.  Talking to myself: do NOT do it.  If you clean it now, it will be your job forever....You get the idea.  Know what happened?  Yeah, I cleaned it when no one was looking.  I cracked. I'm weak.

I don't know why, but I keep thinking I can wait out my family too....if I don't clean it, surely they'll get disgusted...right? If I don't do the laundry, they'll have to...right? If the dishes stay in the sink, they'll eventually have to clean up...right? It's a battle of wills (of course, I'm the only one that appears to know we're battling), and let me tell you...they're winning.  They are at the top of their game. 

But there is a ray of light... Tonight, my daughter asked if she could wash the floor before bed because it was "disgusting"...sweet music to my ears...She cracked! I won a battle! There's hope!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


There are moments in time when we are ageless...pure joy that isn't tied to your place and time in this world. The kind of physical fun you have when it doesn't matter how old you are, how achy your bones may be, or how you may appear to others.  I'll admit, sometimes those moments are know, when doing the limbo at a party seems like a good idea. ("I don't know why my back is killing me...must have slept on it wrong.") Other times it's just going with the crowd for fun...spontaneous baseball game even though I haven't thrown a baseball in forever? Sure.  I'll worry about that arm pain tomorrow.  And sometimes it's just perfect fun... being like a kid again, without consequences.

I had one of those moments today.

I got new running shoes.  They've been sitting in the box, taunting me every time I walked by the box.  Anticipation building...couldn't wait to try them out.  Every day there was a reason I couldn't run.  Then it struck me.  Wait a minute...I can CHOOSE to run!  So I canceled my plans, laced up, and headed out.  Within about a minute I was a kid again.  Running in the summer with a gang of real reason, just because we could.  Why walk when you can run?  Hot as hell, but running full tilt downhill...feeling like you're flying.  The new shoes gave me a spring in my step that lifted my heart.  I felt that perfect combination of smooth strides and speed.  No pain, no discomfort, just...going.  Skimming the surface... barely touching down.  I was completely immersed in the moment, yet I was consciously trying to appreciate it too.  You never know when you're going to get another moment like that...and you can't plan it.

I've often said it's difficult to experience a moment and document it at the same time.  It's one of the reasons I'm horrible at taking pictures.  By the time I realize I should capture the moment, it's passed.  So I'm documenting it now.  Unfortunately, my writing skill is completely inadequate to fully describe the feeling, but I'm hoping writing it down will remind me of the sensation .  The pure joy.  Ultimate freedom...Flying.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Missing ... I've been doing my fair share of it lately. Some of my missing is for those who are gone forever, some for friends whom I haven't seen in a long time, some for people I may not see again.  Missing is funny like that.  It sort of adjusts to fit the situation. The missing I feel in all of those instances is real, but different.  It's a lot like water.  It fills in the available space.  When I'm busier or my brain is preoccupied, there's less room for the missing.  When my mind or heart is wide open, the missing fills it.  There's an ebb and flow to it, but it's always there.  Sometimes memories hit you unexpectedly, like a splash of cold water.  A gasp of intense missing. Sometimes you just sort of float along with it... 

Today would have been my grandmother's 90th birthday. I remember the moment I realized she was going to die and the missing started. It feels like what I imagine drowning must feel like...overwhelming, can't breathe, disbelief.  She's been gone several months, but the missing is still ever-present.

In the case of my mother-in-law, the missing started while she was still with Alzheimer's took her memory and her spirit, bit-by-bit, I missed her for years.  You can miss someone even when you're sitting right next to her.  Now that she's gone I miss her differently, but completely.

Like swimming against the tide, I'm thinking missing is something you can't fight.  Maybe you just have to go with it...allow it to wash over you.  Let your memories hold you afloat...

Friday, April 1, 2011

learning to be

"If I can just get through the (week, meeting, proposal, party, summer camp - you name it.), I'll be fine."  Every time I say it, I hate it.  I don't remember where the phrase originated, but I feel like I'm "wishing my life away."  Life is short enough without trying to rush it along! I don't want my life to go by any faster...Like so many of my friends, I feel like I'm always waiting for the next thing. Waiting for the next calm period.  Waiting for the easier time. Waiting for more. No mas.

Lately I've been thinking...what if life is really all about how you handled the waiting?  Not the great accomplishments, just the baby steps.   A phrase that came up often during my cancer treatment was "handling it with grace"... it is such a fantastic aspiration.  To just accept where you are and find whatever good you can in it.  Find what matters. I've often used this question as a test: "Will I remember this when I'm 85?" Will it matter then? The answer is almost always no...It's a really good way to bring what feels like a huge crisis right down to size and put your attention to the important things. 

What if the key to happiness is figuring out how to just BE? Learning how to simply live, finding the good where you are now and rolling with the changes. I'm not saying we shouldn't dream, want something more, or look forward to the goals we're working to reach.  Hardly. I have no doubt that there will be good times in my future, but you know what? There are good times happening now too, and I want to make sure I don't miss them.   Seems like a worthwhile goal. Sounds all kinds of preachy, I know, like a country song. "You're Gonna Miss This", and all that.  But it's true. And I know I'm not alone here.  I don't actually know how to make this all happen, but it's good to have a plan.  I'm sure as hell going to try.  I'll keep you posted.