Sick-lic Supercell Storms

Cyclic SupercellA thunderstorm that undergoes cycles of intensification and weakening (pulses) while maintaining its individuality. Cyclic supercells are capable of producing multiple tornadoes (i.e., a tornado family) and/or several bursts of severe weather.

Sick-lic Supercell: A storm that undergoes cycles of intensification and weakening (pulses) while not caring about individuality. Sick-lic supercells are capable of producing depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, PTSD, bursts of mania, overeating, undereating, recovery, tentative single-parenting, severe guilt, financial stresses, perfectionism, people-pleasing and a buncha other stuff.


In 2019, one of my daughters seemed really down about something. Like most moms, I worked hard to help her get to the bottom of it. After incessant (and “very annoying”) prodding on my part, my daughter finally shared that she was devastated to realize I wasn’t the pretty princess heroine of a mother she once thought I was. The jig was up — She knew the real skinny; I was actually just a human being with all sorts of imperfections, quirks and challenges. She was most obviously disappointed to learn of this truth. My other daughter was also grieving “the old me,” and I was grieving my daughters’ idyllic perception of me. All of this inspired a blog post titled, “The Practice for the Panicky Parent.”

After the dust of this harsh news settled, I assumed we’d all get on with our lives per usual. It never dawned on me that we might remain in a storm that at times, became increasingly more unpredictable and severe.

I could rattle off a whole slew of reasons as to why our family has been in a cyclic/sick-lic, perfect/imperfect storm. I’m not going to do that here. Instead, I’d rather focus on how, as a family, we are learning to take shelter. What really matters is getting okay around co-existing with and accepting a sometimes brutal storm system that will likely hover and surge in perpetuity. On occasion, it may pelt us with thunder, heavy rain, and hail damage, for good.

Even still, I am grateful for the peace, love and hearty laughter that occurs when we find ourselves in the calm eye of the storm. Sometimes, we can even hang in the eye for a good chunk of time. When there are signs that the wind is shifting and precipitation may increase, my daughters have learned to take care of themselves. They must. Oftentimes, this means leaving me to contend with my own storm surge, without them. Then, it is up to me to reach out to the meteorological masters who know best how to help me brave the harsh elements.

I’m not going to lie. As someone who has been coined, “Supermom,” (even though I have NEVER thought of myself that way,) I have walked through an almost unbearable amount of shame and self-judgement. On the upside, I have learned a whole new level of forgiveness of self, the understanding of and forgiveness of others and effective methods of course adjustment. Naturally, all of this wavers. I am, however, deeply grateful for my commitment to daily practice. I do not always succeed and I will never always succeed. The acceptance of this fact is a welcome gift for this perfectionist.

Through practice and A LOT of practice, I am starting to figure out ways to make it through inclement weather, erosion, sinkholes and other unforeseen circumstances.

For some time, (which felt like an eternity), there were no breaks in the cloud cover. I was nearly sure I’d never see the sun again and while I want to write an inspiring blog post about how I rose from the darkness and emerged into the light, the truth is, sometimes I do and sometimes, I don’t. I never stop trying and practicing and I can’t do it by myself no matter my level of tenacity and will.

Some good news is that I do understand a bit more about how my cloud patterns move and where the breaks might be. This may not sound like much, but it’s improving my personal weather forecast and in turn, benefits my beautiful family, friends and colleagues.

Several years ago, I was taking a walk with someone and she said, “Pam, It’s like you have a dark cloud over you or something!” While I was taken aback and couldn’t believe anyone would ever say this to someone, I responded, “No I don’t have a dark cloud over my head and I don’t ask why certain things happen. I mean, we can’t REALLY know why, right? Asking “why?” doesn’t help.”

Today, my response wouldn’t be that different except that sometimes, I really do have a dark cloud over my head and even inside of me. I still don’t ask why it is. I just do what I can to remember that I am enough in any kind of weather and may my kids know they’re enough no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT.

Through action and a commitment to practice, I find myself capable of believing there will eventually be a break in the clouds. In absolutely any kind of weather, the sun is above and bigger than the clouds.

Also, the sun is patient.

It’s just waiting there, excited to shine once again.

Pam or “Ma’am?”

Today’s crankiness could be attributed to the fact that it’s Monday and some Mondays are extra Monday-ish, (like this one.) It’s also a million degrees outside with 150% humidity and I may or may not be menopausal, but whoa… I’ve really disliked being called, “Ma’am” on this particular day.

Argh.

I visited just two places and at both locations, I was addressed multiple times by the moniker that sometimes, makes me shudder;

  • MA’AM, your prescription can’t be filled today.” (Pharmacy staff)
  • “Polly’s prescription is ready for you, MA’AM.” (Vet staff)
  • MA’AM, do you want to put your rewards number in?” (Cashier)
  • “Pardon me, MA’AM… (Customer sharing the aisle with me)
  • “MA’AM? MA’AM? MA’AM?!” (Pharmacy staff trying to get my attention)

Sometimes, I really don’t mind being addressed this way. Today, it was different. It happened so many times in a period of about 60 minutes.

I do know some women who are downright offended by the term AT ABSOLUTELY ALL TIMES, because it somehow makes them feel old; but really, isn’t it a polite term of respect more than age?

Please discuss and do let me know your thoughts. I’m genuinely curious!

Look, I don’t care much about age, so whether or not someone thinks I’m old doesn’t matter to me. What bugged me most about today is that I felt like “ma’am” put a type of formal distance between me and the human beings who were addressing me. I’m a person who really likes to get to know other people.

So, yeah… it’s my problem. If other people feel more comfy calling me, “Ma’am,” (cringe) I’ll have to be okay with it. I can’t envision myself correcting someone when in actuality, they’re pretty correct. I probably am a “ma’am.” I’m a “ma’am” named Pam. Speaking of which…

don’t eeeeeee-ven get me started on how “Ma’am” rhymes with my name. I often think people who know me are calling out my name when in fact, they’re really saying, “ma’am.”

This minor quibble definitely falls into the high-class kvetch category. Also, on a brighter note, it would be even tougher if I was a man named, “Adam” and I thought people were calling me, “Madam.” 🙂

P.S. I haven’t yet made it to “MADAM/MADAME” status unless I’m at a French restaurant which of course, I frequently dine at. I love French doigt de pied-fou.

Le Yum.

Really, no matter what the moniker du jour, One thing I continuously remind myself is that even when I’m cranky over silly things such as this, I’m a very lucky Pam

and sometimes, “Ma’am.”

Pam or “Ma’am?”

Can/Can’t Canteen Can Can

…my smorgasbord of feelings…

It’s fully impossible for me not to notice AND acknowledge that when I reflect on my *smorgasbord of feelings over the past five months, it’s almost always associated with food. (see aforementioned reference to *smorgasbord)

Okay, it’s more than a casual food association. It may not even be “almost” always, but ALWAYS. My moods and feelings are like a vulnerable-loving-forgiving-physically-stagnant, casserole of emotions, covered in crispy french fried onions, located on an all-you-can-eat buffet of mostly unpredictable, hungry/foody/full feelings.

Buffet…Smorgasbord…Canteen…Chow Fest…FEELINGS.

It’s so interesting, because these days, I am generally peaceful. In many ways, I have never actually liked or loved myself (and others) more than while this pandemic has been going on. P. S. I am thinking about food right nowcheddar cheese on an egg bagel with honey mustard

Okay, I’m back.

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ll see that my daughter, Charlotte, has been baking and creating decadent treats on nearly a daily basis. A key fact is, I am not overindulging in her amazing culinary creations.

Bearing witness to Charlotte’s visionary process has helped me understand myself better. My imaginative and often funny thoughts of food – casseroles, carbs, KETO, vintage gelatinous “aspic-tacular” platters, buffets and canteens are all really healthy ways of coping with:

  • Missing people
  • Craving human touch
  • Concerns about money and being able to provide for my kids
  • My worry over other people’s health
  • Wearing pants inside out and backwards
  • Simply wearing pants
  • Wearing pants that, once fit and now feel like medical-grade compression wear
  • Seriously though… I’m not going to list everything. This is the last bullet point. You catch my drift.

Like you and most everyone, I’ve had to sit (long stretches) alone with myself. I never, ever forget that we’re collectively in this trauma together and not being alone, even though I’m physically alone sometimes, is incredibly comforting.

Also, even if I’m a little more than slightly flabby, I’m really not too shabby. I imagine the same is true for you.

So, even though I ate two dinners last night, (and thought of food even more), it’s not the end of the world. I mean, it doesn’t happen every night and in evaluating what transpired in that extra meal, one could say that I just had a really early breakfast. (Three hours after my original dinner.)

On a physical front, I KNOW I have to move my body more. I haven’t been too into “getting physical,” until I decided to start dancing at least 45 minutes per day.

Oh fine. I’ll move my tush.

Today, I danced for 90 minutes. As I moved my body, I thought about the aforementioned, vintage gelatinous “aspic-tacular” platter. I laughed as I danced, because the committee in my head was entertaining. It was hard to breathe, but I just kept going.

I even danced a “Can Can,” that I think seemed more like a “Can’t Can’t.”

But, it’s all okay. I mean, everything I mentioned in this post is okay.

Sure, I hope I eat only one dinner tonight. I pray that I’ll dance as hard tomorrow as I did today.

And all the while, I hope I can continue to laugh at and enjoy all of my food associations, my temporary flab and life on life’s terms in general.

I’m sending you so much love and virtual hugs. Please be gentle with yourself. You are a gift and very brave to be walking through this surreal time.

Stay safe and healthy. I hope we can have dinner together, (just one) soon.

How are you?

So… How am I?

“How are you?”

Most of the time, I have no idea how to answer that question. Do you?

In some respects, this collective trauma has left me feeling less alone than any other time I can recall. I’ve also found myself growing quieter and maybe a little more peaceful. I can’t really explain why but I’m not too into exploring or even asking, “why?”

Some key things I have noted in the past several months:

  • A lot of things are less funny, including me. I’m okay with that.
  • I notice little wonderful things in my daily life and I’m on the lookout for them.
  • I do a gratitude list every single day, even (especially) when I feel crappy.
  • I have become much smaller and I don’t mean in the physical sense, but my emotional investment in things that once appeared to matter, really don’t. I’m grateful for this too.
  • I forgive my sloppy eating but not in a way where I’m giving myself permission to eat five dinners. I’m just kinder to myself and I think, others.
  • I pay far more attention to how I use my own physical, mental, emotional and financial resources – I’m more discerning.
  • I don’t think I’m ugly even though I am physically not even close to my best.
  • I am sometimes incredibly sad, but rarely depressed.
  • I am shocked by other people’s behavior and especially meanness. I have learned in the past several months that I’m actually more naive than I ever thought possible.
  • I’m not becoming cynical.
  • I have a new appreciation for my previous trauma. The silver lining is that this is just another trauma and this time, I’m not alone in it.
  • I miss human touch.
  • Some of my favorite family moments have happened during this time period.
  • I generally think more in “we” and not “me.”
  • I’ve grown less judgmental.
  • I have fallen more deeply in love with fundraising and nonprofit management since the pandemic began.
  • I am very impressed by my (and other people’s) children and their ability to cope, hope, adapt and act for positive change.
  • I’m inspired to and must help the arts community.
  • I’m devoted to learning how to be an antiracist and I have a lot to learn and do.
  • I am sure I’m not destined for greatness but am good enough. What a relief.

So…

How am I?

I am okay with not knowing what’s coming down the pike and when I’m uncomfortable, I just sort of sit in my uncomfortableness. It always passes, comes back, passes again and so on…

How are you?

When Thanksgiving sucks…again

I’m posting this again, not because the post below is so great, but because I hope anyone who feels sad, lonely, pissed off and/or fearful on Thanksgiving, to be reminded that:

  1. You’re not alone
  2. It will pass
  3. Holidays come with stress, often veiled in “should-ing,” pressure and lots of carbs, sometimes topped with crispy fried onions.

I hope that if you do feel crappy on Thanksgiving, you don’t beat yourself up for feeling the way you do.

I’m sending you love and acceptance of wherever you are, exactly as you are.


When Thanksgiving Sucks…

Continue reading “When Thanksgiving sucks…again”

The Practice for the Panicky Parent

So now, with my daughters, the jig is up. The jig is totally up.

I recently learned that my kids see all that I am. They’ve known about my flaws for some time now, but I am just starting to someday, maybe, sorta, etc., get okay with this fact. My hope is that I can use their truths about me as a learning tool for personal, parental and professional growth. Continue reading “The Practice for the Panicky Parent”

Lightening up about mistakes

Tonight, for some unknown reason, I suddenly thought of a beauty product I tried a few weeks before my wedding in 2002… Epil-Stop.

Please see below for happy customers.

Like most brides, I wanted to feel and be as lovely as I possibly could.

Continue reading “Lightening up about mistakes”

Grateful for Art.

And mindful reflection.

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Evanston Canal, by the hospital

And quiet.

And breath.

And tears.

And laughter.

And color.

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J and C in Chinatown

And sound.

And eyes that see.

And ears that hear.

And the willingness to work through what I cannot see or hear,

yet,

or maybe ever.

cagey
Safe doesn’t always mean pretty

Instagram post 11-13-18
Strength from all over the place. Some boundaries too.

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No such thing as trapped. Not really.

Grateful for all that has led me here, right now.

Grateful for you and others on my path who may have caused wounds,

And scabs.

And scars.

And joy.

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My busy head. I have learned to like my head and its committee.

And grateful for my voice and for yours.

mountain3
One scar, of many.

This is my heart.

And this is my art.

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When I couldn’t sleep last night, this happened.

And we all have stuff with which to make art.

So grateful.

 

A Love Letter Redux to Juliette

The original letter I wrote to Juliette four years ago can be found here – “For Juliette: A Love Letter You’ll Hate (For Now)”. I write my daughters fairly often, but this one stands out and serves as a sort of unspoken grading tool for how I am doing as a mother. I give myself a “C” grade as a mother, but the important lesson here is that I don’t accept my own “C” grade. I trust the trustworthy people in my life instead. Continue reading “A Love Letter Redux to Juliette”

The trickiest of all technical difficulties

Over the past several weeks, I haven’t published any blog posts, but have authored at least 200 articles in my head. The reviews have been mixed, according to the reviewers who reside in my head.

Continue reading “The trickiest of all technical difficulties”

Jake Lawler

Writer | Director | Motivational Speaker | Storyteller

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