1. You are not old. Your eggs are not rotting. You will get married and have children, and you’re not “almost 40.” Just wait till you’re 40. Or, worse yet, 47…
2. Stop being so wistful and hopeful and get a career that actually is lucrative. It may be all fun to be an artist now, but if you’re one of the very few who “make it,” even if you’re truly talented, it won’t be fun when you have to reinvent yourself in ten years and wonder why all your friends have people who report to them, and you’re entry level.
3. This follows #2: Money matters. Yeah, I know; I know. “Happiness is what’s important; money isn’t.” Giiiiirl, I used to think that, too, when it was cool to live in a fifth floor walk up studio in NYC. Not so cool when you have two children to support, a mortgage, a car payment, and bills. Get a real job. And, sadly, money makes the world go round. This was a hard lesson for me.
4. Divorce totally sucks. So, be very mindful of red flags and any other issues before you get married. The choice to marry someone is actually huge. And, even if you’re 30, panicked, and want to be like all your friends and get married, don’t just insert groom/just add water with whomever you’re with at that age. Be picky. Wait. Be prudent. Be wise. Listen to your instincts.
5. Following #4, don’t have kids if you’re not in a happy marriage, because they are not a bandaid, and it will make divorce all the more complicated, as you will forever be joined with the father of your children. And, if that happens, then be nice. It’s more important that you coparent well than hate your ex. Your kids need both of you, and they want to love both of you.
6. Don’t begrudge having to go to another wedding at age 28. You know why? The invites will stop soon, and then you’ll miss the free booze, dance floor, and revelry of weddings! They are so fun! Later on, they are far and few between. Worse yet, you are no longer at the “single’s table;” you are the overweight aunt in the corner, who is dancing to Brick House. #justsaying
7.Start botox by age 40. If you catch the wrinkles early, it’s easier to fix than later when you have indents in your forehead and wonder why you look extra terrestrial.
8. Following #7, wear sunscreen. I know it’s fun to get tan, and you look better, but either go get some Jergens Glow or spray tan, instead. Getting sunburnt will age you, create wrinkles, and can cause skin cancer. It’s real.
9. Most problems at 30, in my experience, are not as bad as problems at 40. So, be conscious of that and chill a bit. You’ll wish you didn’t waste the youthful time agonizing. Go out with friends, or on a hike, instead, and have a good time.
10. I mean, maybe don’t listen to other people (like me- ha!) Follow your gut and “the whispers,” #oprah. You will land on your feet. It will be okay.
“Was I better today than yesterday?” This is something to ask yourself. And, if you answer “no” today, then you will most likely answer “yes” tomorrow. Or, so this what I heard on an Oprah podcast on Fulfillment. I am not so sure that I can always answer “yes” the next day, though. The idea behind this notion is that we, as people, don’t repeat negative behaviors twice, and we work on making our situations better, not worse. We move forward, not back.
I don’t know about you, but I repeat my mistakes all the time. It’s like I’m sometimes this albino rat in a science experiment, who is missing a receptor firing and can’t learn well. I’m the broken rat in the Skinner Box experiment, who fails to learn that if you press the lever, you may get a food pellet.
Did I just liken myself to a rat? I did. Actually, I feel like that was in my subconscious, because someone once called me an “old rat.” I will leave that story for another day…. but, yes, it hurt my feelings.
Anyway, so, I am going to try to be better today than yesterday. I mean, it’s already 5:00 p.m., so I don’t have too many hours left before the day is over. I am going to grill some chicken on my new broiler, since my grill outside is still broken. Cooking a meal? That’s better than the ordering I did yesterday. Then, I’m going to try to get some writing done. Ha! That is so not happening. I’ll probably just have time to help my kids with their homework, play American Girl dolls, and zone out with some TV show. I mean, honestly? That’s kind of better than my day was yesterday, in the end. Oh, wait, but was I better…hm…that’s another question.
Tomorrow, I have HUGE plans to be better! I am going to work! Yay! Oh, but the morning will be better, because today I put my travel mug of coffee in my purse, and when I bent over to get the bags in the backseat, the coffee top flew off and spilled coffee all over my brand new car, my clothes, and the bags. I legit started to tear up in the parking lot, and a very nice, compassionate woman asked if she could make me another coffee. I told her, “no, thank you,” but she did bring me a new bag to put my stuff in, which was not covered with coffee. My faith in humanity is restored.
I’m going to work on being better today now. Tell me about your day!
I grind my teeth. And, I clench my jaw. I was reminded of this at the dentist last week. But how do I stop from clenching when I feel overwhelmed? I feel overwhelmed this week…and often. As my editor just remarked, “You’re doing too much. Try to take a break from the book, because you’re rushing it.” I was trying to wrap up writing my book, but it isn’t ready to wrap up. That’s the thing about writing a book: it evolves, changes, and you, yourself, can’t predict the turns it takes and even how it ends. It’s not ready, and I can’t force it, even though I need a break. I wanted to check off the box: book complete. Check. Done. But I can’t. I can’t check off many things. The to-do list just continues to grow, or one thing is added as another is completed. I’ve got to stop clenching my teeth about this before I have none left!
So what are things we can take away from our to-do list to simplify? Here are some constants in my life that will never be “done:”
Take care of the kids. I do this six nights a week alone one week, and four nights a week alone the other. There is no getting around it, as they are still in elementary school. I could work on letting them be more independent. For example, I still cut their food and give them baths. Shh, I know. Don’t chastise me! But, I sort of like that they need me. I bring them snacks, clean their rooms, play with them all the time. In short, I create some of this “stress” there. Maybe I can work on that.
Go to work. I can’t change this. We all need a paycheck. And I like my job. But, yeah, it takes up a lot of time and headspace. I think about it when I’m not there, and I check my emails at all hours. I can work on that too.
Walk my dogs: I could hire a dog walker, but why even have the dogs? I LIKE walking them, but it also stresses me out when I haven’t, or when I’m rushing to work, and getting the kids out the door, and they are imploring me to take them on some long walk with their sad, little eyes! I guess I could get up earlier. Oy.
Writing: I want to finish my book. I have 300 pages. I need to finish it. I want to continue to write my blog. I love writing it, and I love reading blogs. I need to make the time, or the quality suffers.
Well, okay. OMG, you know what I left off that constant list? Take care of MYSELF! I just realized that! Self-care. This is something we often forget, right? It takes a back seat, and then I go to the dentist and find my teeth are worn down. Or I cry for no reason when I listen to Piano Lounge music on Spotify while driving. I’m like bawling to some Kate Bush song and thinking, “Wait, why am I crying right now??” This happened yesterday. Then, I realized I think I’m just to freaking busy and overwhelmed.
Sorry to vent. I know we all have a lot of must-dos and should-dos.
Have you spent more time worrying about your–and your child’s–social life since the pandemic hit? If so, you could be suffering from Pandemic Pod Panic, aka “P3” (I just made this up). I read this interesting piece in the Boston Globe that detailed how many of us have been gripping about how we and our families are left out of social activities during this time of social distancing and isolation. Is this you? I have been guilty of it, I must admit.
First off, let me define a Pandemic Pod, for those of you not in-the-know. It’s essentially a small cohort of families who have stayed together and played together throughout the pandemic. The Pod subscribes to the same level of concern about COVID and, for the most part, interacts socially with an equal level of discretion and safety. Some pods may have more stringent policies when it comes to traveling by airplane, riding the school bus, or dining indoors. Others may be a little less rigid and feel those activities are okay. Typically, what one pod member believes, so does the other. This is why there is not much cross-pollination of pods! And there can be apparent judgment of pods that do not think–and most importantly ACT-alike. This is sounding like a cult..
Let me be clear: I am not judging anyone here. And no one’s beliefs are wrong. Unless they are not mine. Wait, joking! No, I mean, be safe, people. Obviously.
Anyway, back to the topic at-hand: Pandemic Pod Panic. I have noticed that I don’t see or talk to some of the friends that I used to since last March, the onset of COVID. This has caused me to wonder if it’s because of something I’ve done, or how I choose to live during Covid, or if it’s just something about them wanting to isolate. Some of it, too, is because we don’t run into each other at soccer, for example, or during school activities.
I don’t really know. I think we can only assume that it’s that, but who knows!? This reminds me of my recent blog post, Too Many Friends = Too Much Drama, and the feeling of being back in high school. And then, when you find out that friend you don’t see or talk to is actually hanging in her own pod? Then you panic: is it me? Why am I not in that pod? Are we no longer friends?
COVID is killing more than our spirits–it’s killing friendships! (insert scary music)…
Um, that’s a little drastic.
Now, aside from myself, I sometimes wonder about my kids. My son, for example, isn’t as social as my daughter. He basically has lived like a sand mole in the basement and on video games for a year now. Well, that’s not entirely in isolation, though, because he’s on a headset laughing his head off with friends. I’ve wondered if he should go outside and play with our neighbors, but he really has no interest, and I get concerned. Like, is he antisocial? Is he going to have friends when this is all over? We can’t really invite people over who he hasn’t seen or been “podding” with, and hence the P3 begins (Pandemic Pod Panic)
I have been fortunate to have a nice group of friends in my neighborhood, and we have been kind of like our own Pandemic Pod. Our children are the same ages and have played since the pandemic hit. Similarly, we adults have met around the firepit and had some wine and been able to socialize while social distancing. But I have heard others lament that they don’t have those opportunities and feel left out. This sense of isolation is magnified when they see it posted on social media–revelry around a firepit with friends. In the Boston Globe piece, they recommended not posting those types of photos to social media so others don’t feel left out.
Wait. But I only post so others feel less-than, right???? (Insert Mean Girls voice). Just joking.
Anyway, what are your thoughts and experiences with this? Have you felt left out, or judged, or worried about social nonsense during the pandemic? Maybe we are just bored! Perhaps this is self-manufactured stress.
Have you ever noticed that the smaller your world becomes, the easier it is to manage emotionally? I feel that way these days, as I go to work and home, home and work, with very little in between. I see my children, my boyfriend, maybe a couple of friends here or there, and that’s it. I keep it tight. I have, as my sister used to say, “Circled the wagons.”
She told me that circling the wagons was the the best methodology to avoid drama. The more people you interact with, and have in your direct sphere, the more chances there are for drama. While I thought that seemed sort of grim and isolating at the time, I now realize she had a point.It’s a self-preservation thing.
I think back, for example, to when I was the most social I’ve ever been as a parent (we can’t go all the way back…even though, obvi, I wish I could and stay there #ihearthighschool). So it was when I had my first child, and he was 2. I was so busy out and about with girlfriends, meeting at the playground with moms, going to “Mommy and Me” at the library, and chatting for hours on the phone. I remember I even had to get a new data plan on my cell phone, because I was on it too much. Now, I sort of hate talking on the phone, unless it’s Facetime over wine. 🙂
Anyway, at that time, there were all these fights and paranoia and, “Don’t say anything but…,” or, “No offense, but…,” and “Oh, you weren’t invited?” etc.
It drove me INSANE.
Like, I was 40-years-old and legit cried to my partner about a girl fight! I was 40–and in eighth grade! I was so crazed, in fact, about this one fight, that I literally lost my geographical bearings and drove straight over the Bourne Bridge off of Cape Cod, where I live, headed towards Boston. I was, in short, deranged.
Um…now, circling back to my point of circling the wagons (double circle here), I never feel that anxiety anymore with my friends. I never feel that, “Oh my God, is she mad at me,” or that “Wait, what did I not get invited to” feeling. Ya’ know why? ‘Cause I do nothing! Yeah, that’s right. Naturally, the pandemic has something to do with it. But, even before that, I have found that keeping my social interactions to a minimum has made me feel more at peace. This seems counterintuitive, as I am super social and gregarious and I’m not good at being alone. But, keeping it tight and small, that’s the way to go…for me.
That’s the one issue I have with social media. It’s like the tight circle is inevitably larger, because you are seeing what everyone else is doing, which you are not a part of. Suddenly, your small circle is now 800-people wide (well, except the algorithms make is so I see the same 10 people). Sometimes, I’ll see two people I know socializing, and I’ll feel this sense of FOMO, like I’m missing out.
But, then, I get over it.
And I feel okay and am grateful for the peace.
It’s kind of too bad it is that way, but, I mean, for me it was. How about you?