Date night: missing an arm

Dean and I had an impromptu date night this evening. Imagine that.

My assistant, Jamie, needed to break up her usual afternoon hours, so we thought, hey, let’s have her come back in the evening and sit with Aidan for a bit. Now, there’s an idea.

It was the original vision when I hired Jamie. One night a week, we were going to have her stay with Aidan while Dean and I saw movies and friends and, well, each other. But we haven’t been doing that. Jamie’s been with us for three months now but, somehow, we’ve just not gotten organized to have her work one evening.

Part of the problem is that Aidan doesn’t do very well with sitters. He LOVES Jamie, actually. If Dean or I is around. But without us, he just cries.

I was hoping that Aidan would get more used to being left with Jamie after a week on the road together. I took Jamie back east with us for my speaking engagements in SUNY/Delhi and Northeast State Community College. Aidan was with her a lot that week, both with and without me. And though he improved over the week, and there was definitely some fun play time and even successful napping, Aidan still resists rather fiercely.

Well, tonight, we decided to just go for it. Dean put Aidan down for his last nap just as Jamie was arriving, in the hopes that he’d sleep for the bulk of her stay. And as soon as he was out, we, quick like bunnies on the loose, threw on shoes and sweaters and bolted out the door. Was my hair dirty? Yes. Did I put on any make-up? No. The time felt much too precious to waste on such inconsequential details. The sooner we left, the sooner we’d get home and maybe, just maybe, Aidan and Jamie might have an easy time of it. So beauty be damned. We were off!

We went out to dinner at a local Argentinean place that serves killer steaks and bread dipped in parsley and garlic oil. We sat in the back of the restaurant, just the two of us, close enough to hold hands and snuggle between waitress visits. We talked about my work, brainstormed a bit about next steps. It was…

…weird.

Not the restaurant. Surely not the company. Just being out at all. It felt like I’d left my arm at home.

What’s really strange about it is that we’ve been out before since Aidan was born and though I felt sprung each time, I didn’t feel what I felt tonight. I didn’t feel like an essential and customary part of me was missing. It made me a little anxious and distracted all evening.

But it was absolutely delightful to spend some time with Dean. It took no time at all to start remembering our life before Aidan (yes, there was a “before Aidan”) and, though I couldn’t exactly sink into that place on account of my missing arm, it was great even to dip a toe in the pool. Really great. I really love my husband.

When we got home, we were greeted by something unexpected at our front door: silence. As in, no screaming baby. No crying, no plaintive wailing, not even a bit of fussing. We opened the door and there was our boy, playing happily with Jamie. He’d only slept 30 minutes (so much for sleeping through our absence) but his upset on finding us gone was minimal. He was consolable, if a bit clingy, and together, he and Jamie managed just fine. Such an improvement from previous attempts. And not just a little relief.

So maybe we can start doing this a little more often. It will definitely be new for Dean and I to shift some of our priority to our relationship but it’s probably past time. And I know it will feel great. If I can just get used to missing an arm.

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My supersuits

If only I had a superhero outfit to don…

When I was writing this post, it occurred to me that one of the ways Elastigirl reminds herself who she is, is by putting on her superhero uniform. I mean, how could she not feel differently when she exchanges her bathrobe and slippers for the ultra fashionable, infinitely elastic supersuit Edna has created uniquely for her? It’s just got to help, having such a tangible, concrete symbol of your identity and abilities.

Now, I’m not considering having a supersuit made (because, really, once you’ve seen Edna’s work, nothing else will do, and I don’t think Edna’s available), but I am considering the impact of what I wear on how I feel about myself.

I first started thinking about this thanks to a business coach named Elizabeth Purvis (no relation to Dean, unfortunately). In a tele-seminar she produced, she suggested that one key to appropriately valuing your services (and therefore charging appropriately for them) is to practice valuing yourself, to live in what she calls a Goddess state of mind. And toward that end, she recommends taking a look at certain things, like what you’re wearing and the state of your home, for clues about how much (or little) value you place on yourself. She gave the example of haircuts, that she was in the habit of never spending enough to get a good haircut.

Well, this was both revolutionary and a no-brainer for me. I’d never thought about the connection between the level at which I value myself and the level at which I can ask others to value me professionally (the revolutionary part) but once I did, I could see everywhere ways in which I practice devaluing myself (the no-brainer part). (Remember the dreadlocks on my chair?)

If it was haircuts for Elizabeth Purvis, it was underwear for me.

My supply of underwear began to wear out while I was pregnant. It was already old, and my expanding belly was putting significant stress on those worn threads. But it didn’t seem to make sense to buy a bunch of new underwear for a body that was, in a matter of months, going to drastically change shape. So I told myself I’d buy new stuff after the baby was born.

The problem is, I didn’t. Months and months went by. And I was still wearing these tattered shambles of cheap-even-when-new drawers.

But after hearing Ms. Purvis, I decided the time had come. I marched right out and bought a whole slew of nice, new underwear… Not crazy extravagant, but comfortable, well-made, nicely fitting, moderately sexy underwear. And seriously, I felt totally different wearing those underwear. Oddly, I felt more like a grown-up.

But in large part, that’s as far as I took it, at least in terms of clothing. Until I started working with my coach, Christina Morassi.

In preparation for our photo shoot (the one I will eventually post pictures from), she advised me to shop for a few new outfits that embodied the professional I was becoming, things that were maybe a bit outside my comfort zone, a bit dressier, at least one actual dress. And toward that end, I got to work with a professional stylist named Sybil Henry.

That was about 100 times more fun than I ever dreamed. I don’t think of myself as being into fashion, but alongside Sybil, whose eye for style and the way it conveys your essence (or your “brand”) is phenomenal, it took on a whole different meaning. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this kind of dress up. And the shoes! And the jewelry! So, so fun.

But best of all was how different I felt wearing those clothes. They did exactly what Christina said they would. They brought me forward into the professional I am becoming.

I had another powerful experience with this phenomenon just recently. In preparation for speaking at SUNY/Delhi and Northeast State Community College a few weeks ago, I went looking for new outfits. And I found this dress… Slate grey, the same color as the ring around my irises, 3/4 sleeve, rayon knit, with an interesting pattern in the weave… I fell in love with it. I paired it with a mustard scarf and brown boots I already owned, and I couldn’t wait to wear it.

I planned to use it for an informal meeting with students at Northeast State Community College, and the moment I put it on, I felt like a rock star: confident, incredibly competent, in command of my talent and resources. I felt valuable.

And as you know, that informal meeting turned out to be one of the most powerful, satisfying speaking engagements I’ve ever had. I threw out my script and let myself move completely with the moment, riding my intuition like a huntress on her steed. I was utterly me, bringing the very best of myself, letting my essence shine in service to the students, faculty and staff in the audience.

So, in fact, I do have a superhero outfit I can don. These clothes are my supersuits. When I wear them, I’m reminded just exactly who I am, and it’s easier to step into my power. They may not stretch infinitely or withstand 1,000 degree heat, but they do their job impeccably and I look great while doing mine.

I’m willing to bet even Edna would approve.

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First haircut

This weekend, we took Aidan to have his first haircut. Finally.

I wanted to cut it about 11 months ago. He was born with a full head of hair and lost none of it, so by the time he was a month old, it was growing over his ears. But Dean wouldn’t let me. “He’s a baby,” was his reasoning. As if scruffy hair sticking out at weird angles doesn’t look scruffy and weird on a baby. But, OK. Fine.

However, when it started growing over Aidan’s eyes, I could no longer by dissuaded. I mean look at this child…

Dean insists that this is cute (really??) but I just couldn’t take it anymore. So, off we went.

We’d gotten recommendations from friends and finally settled on the Yellow Balloon, a salon for children. I was excited. I’d waited 11 months for this moment! And I liked the idea of going somewhere specifically designed for children. I knew that many kids really dislike having their hair cut and I hoped that Aidan would have fun.

On the drive over, Dean remarked that he hadn’t thought to ask when he made the appointment if the place was accessible. Doh! It hadn’t occurred to me either that it might not be.

Amazing, this. You’d think after nine years, and countless accessibility surprises, we would routinely think to ask. But apparently not. I even chose just recently to stop seeing my hair stylist of many years because she moved to a salon that didn’t have an accessible bathroom. So, it’s really quite surprising that neither one of us thought of this.

Moments after Dean mentioned it in the car, we turned onto Ventura and saw the front entrance. Sure enough… Steps. Brightly colored, beautifully tiled steps, but steps all the same. Oh, for pete’s sake.

We drove around back wondering if there was an accessible entrance there. Nicely, there was. Along with a designated handicap accessible parking space. Of course, the valet (yep, valet parking for a children’s salon) was using it to stack cars, but he hopped to when we arrived and vacated it for us. And there was no trouble getting into the salon.

Wow.

That’s about all I can say about this place. Like Chuck E. Cheese and Willy Wonka got drunk together and decided children shouldn’t have to suffer through a haircut. There were arcade games, toys, candy, a big popcorn machine… Madness. But I was thrilled. This was exactly what I wanted. A place that was created especially for children, a hair salon Aidan could call his own. (OK. I’m exaggerating a tad. Not about the place but about my reaction. But I’m only exaggerating a little. Why exactly this was so important to me, I don’t really know. Except that I want Aidan to have a lot of things he can call his own, that are geared toward him, made for him. Whatever the case, here it was. So, hooray!)

We plunked Aidan into a chair (with a little booster seat!), he got draped, and we were off.

At first, he was just sort of curious. Vic, the stylist, (is “stylist” too chi-chi for a one-year old?) (barber?) (hair dresser?) spritzed Aidan’s hair, which was kind of weird but not awful, and then started cutting.

That’s when it got awful. Aidan didn’t like it at all and started to cry. I had asked Dean to make a video of the haircut in progress but, at some point, it just started feeling wrong to keep video-ing our son crying.

He cried the entire time.

But Vic was great, talking to Aidan kindly, giving him toys, and managing to give him a nice haircut in about 5 minutes flat, while Aidan squirmed. Now that’s some skill.

When it was over, they put Aidan in this toy police car, gave him a yellow balloon, and he perked right up. See for yourself…

 

We actually had Vic trim just a bit more above the ears, so this isn’t the final result, but you can see my happy guy, looking all spiffy.

And he got his very first diploma…

There’s a lock of his hair in the envelope and a picture of him in the police car after his cut. Sweet, no?

One thing, though. The certificate says he graduated from babyhood having received his first haircut. They are mistaken. He graduates from babyhood when I say he graduates from babyhood. Like maybe when he’s 10. Or 15. Or maybe 30.

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Babu’s birthday

We celebrated my mother’s birthday today. Get all dressed up (a rarity for Dean and I), got Aidan dressed up, and went for a wonderful brunch in the Burbank hills. The food was surprisingly good, even excellent in some cases, but the company was the highlight.

Happy Birthday Mamachka/Babushka!! We love you so much.

 

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Planting seeds

Today, in the drizzly rain, in the cold earth, I am planting seeds.

Seeds of forgiveness — I forgive myself for decades of resistance, for resisting my desires, dreams and yearnings. I forgive myself for resisting still. For without forgiveness, it’s impossible to see myself clearly. And without that clarity, it’s impossible to move forward.

Seeds of compassion — I move forward with compassion. There will be times in my journey when I disappoint myself, when I am not brave enough, knowledgable enough, skilled enough. I will hold myself in compassion at those times, and keep moving forward.

Seeds of acceptance — I accept that this journey will sometimes be bumpy, that I will sometimes feel lost and doubtful, that I will sometimes, even often, feel uncomfortable. I also accept that, sometimes, it will be full of inspired grace. I accept, and move forward.

Seeds of gratitude — I am grateful that every moment yields and births the next, and with it, infinite potential. I am grateful that any moment can mark the beginning or the end. Each moment is a seed for the next. My past was the seed of my present. My present, the seed of my future. I am grateful, and I am moving forward.

May all these seeds take deep root, then begin to unfurl tiny, fierce threads that grow, spread and eventually blossom within me.

And you? What seeds will you plant?

Thank you, Michael Molin-Skelton and Spiritweaves, for a deeply nourishing dance experience this morning.

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