Saturday, October 12, 2019

Top 10 things I wish I had known In High School.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of high school students at one of our local schools. I was invited by a teacher/friend of mine. Somehow she thought I might have something relevant to say to the African/American History Club that she sponsors. She asked me to speak about my "career," which I did. Mother, Wife, Caregiver, Autism Advocate, Writer, Creator of an online autism support group.

A good part of the time, my self-esteem is in the toilet. It's like I know I'm a badass, but only kinda, sorta. We all have some insecurities. I guess a part of mine is because I haven't reached all of my goals.  Been a little busy.

Anyway, I didn't want to make it all about me. Because, who cares? So I added this list to my presentation. I hope the students got something out of it, other than the donuts I brought. Ha ha!

Top 10 Things I Wish I had Known in High School 


  1. Find your passion and follow it!  Don’t worry about what other people think. What do you love doing that you would do for free if no one paid you? I always had a passion for writing and telling stories. From YearBook Editor in high school to English Composition which was my favorite class because it allowed me to be creative. 
    I enjoyed high school English so much I wanted to teach it. But No...I listened to my mother and studied business in college. I got into Property Management, Real Estate and the mortgage industry, which was a great learning experience.  However, years later I found myself back to my passion for writing. 


  1. The best love affair you can have is with yourself. Learn to love yourself and listen to your inner voice. In your teens and twenties, relationships are something, but they are not everything. You will have the time of your life. You will meet a couple of jerks. You may even meet the love of your life and still end up heartbroken. It won't feel like it at first, but your heart will heal. Each relationship is an experience that teaches you something about yourself, so it’s worth it. I don't regret one, single relationship I had. I do regret how much power I gave them.

    Never settle for less than you deserve just to be with someone. You can be happy. You don’t need a relationship to validate that. 


  1. Freedom is everything!  The ability to choose your own path, your career choices, where you will live,  without thinking about what other people think, need, or want from you is priceless. 


  1. Take every chance you can to see the world. -Acquiring things, and wealth is great. But you will always treasure your experiences more than your things.  -Take the trip. Go to the concert. Instead of buying the things that you may not even like next year. Get your passport and acquire as many stamps from other countries that you can. Put your toes into as many bodies of water as you possibly can. They're all healing.


  1. Mistakes are okay. Don’t beat yourself up when you make them. Failures and mistakes teach us the most important lessons. Make sure you pay attention to the lesson and don’t keep following a pattern that doesn’t work. 


  1. Friendship -You do not have to chase TRUE friends. You don’t have to always make the plans. Always make the call. You will mutually reach out to each other. You will offer each other comfort and advice. True friends will not make you feel less or unworthy. 

    With a true friend, time can pass without seeing each other and you still pick right up where you left off. 

    Also, become friends with people who don’t look or think just like you. You will learn from each other.


  1. As a minority ...you will have to work harder than your peers in Corporate America and many other areas of life.  It may not be fair, but it’s a reality of life. Always work hard and do your very best. Even when no one else is looking, someone else is always looking. Let the results of your work speak for itself. If your results are good, eventually you will win the game. 


  1. Helping others is good for the soul.  It helps you to get outside of yourself and to bless someone else. My son had the biggest struggles in high school. It was when he worked with other students with special needs that he felt the best. Those kids were always genuinely happy to see him when others rejected him.

    The support group and this blog that I created is probably my favorite accomplishment because I reach so many people all over the world and help them feel less alone.

  1. Marriage and children are a huge responsibility! It can limit your choices. The two sons I gave birth to, are on the autism spectrum. Meeting their needs was really a full-time job.  Marriage is hard and long. You definitely start compromising your own wants and needs for your family. 

    My niece (is my hero) because she is following her passion and not a guy. She just graduated from AFI (film school)  and has already traveled all over the world and has already worked on a major television show. “How to Get Away with Murder.” I always told all of my nieces to enjoy life as much as possible before settling down. So far, they are listening.

  1. Life is not a race. You don’t have to conform to anyone else’s timeline. It’s never too late to live your dreams. You are not a failure if you haven’t graduated college by 22 or received your Masters by 26. Or published that memoir by age 54. The only failure is if you stop moving forward.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

"21 Day Self-Love Challenge"


A little over a year ago my friend Becca started making daily self-love/self-care posts on her facebook page Love Becca. I thought she was secretly spying on me. It was as if she was speaking directly to me.

Let me tell you a little bit about my friend...

Love Becca

Becca is a single mama to a teenage girl, living in the greater Los Angeles area.  She has worked as professional organizer for 18+ years, having started out in her career working as  an actress. She is also a certified Feng Shui consultant. Throughout her career, and being a single parent, she discovered the importance of living a happy and well balanced life. She believes you have to treat your mind, body, and soul with love to obtain true happiness...Self Love

Becca was my very first roommate when we were both in our twenties. I can attest to her natural talent of organization. She was then and is now, everything that I'm not with organization and planning.  At the same time we have so much in common. We both ended up back at our passion for writing to support women.

In her daily Facebook posts, she talks about simple things that we should be doing to take care of ourselves as women. During my busiest years with the boys, I have been guilty of ignoring my own basic self-care.  For years I allowed my family to be a priority over taking care of myself.

One day she wrote about making regular doctor appointments. I was like...Hello. How does she know I’m overdue for my annual exam by several months.  Then she wrote about drinking more water (not including the ice cubes in my vodka cocktail.) She wrote about having dates with yourself, doing simple things that you love each day, to spending more time doing something creative.

Her writing speaks directly to me.

I believe that her "21 Day Self Love Journal Challenge" will speak directly to you. Better yet, it will give you the opportunity to have a serious talk with yourself.

I hope that you will click the link above and take the challenge. This challenge changed my life and the way that I look at myself. It got me further down the self-love road.  I hope you will take the time to give back to your self.

Love,

Karen






Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Wine Tastes Better...

I can't believe I ordered the 6 ounces
and not the 9
What does it mean when the glass of wine taste so much better when it's served to you in a restaurant where you're having sushi alone, than it does when you're at home surrounded by your family?

What does it mean when you drive away from home and you feel yourself breathing more deeply? 
You suddenly feel lighter, like a weight has been lifted?  


What does it mean when you’re driving home after a weekend away and the closer you get to home, you’re overcome with a sense of dread? 


What does it mean when leave yoga class feeling renewed and relaxed but when you get in your car, you can’t seem to make yourself drive home? 


When you finally make it home, you sit in your car in the garage, for a few extra minutes in an attempt to extend the peace for just a few moments more. 
You’re feeling all zen and you don’t want it to end. (Notice my cool rhyme? I should be a rapper.)  
You find yourself cowering...hiding, praying that no one comes to open the door to see why you’re just sitting in the car. 
When my son Kendal, lived at home you could best believe he would be in the garage trying to open the car door to start with the talking and the questions.
You don’t go inside where the people are because you don’t want to feel the energy of anyone who doesn’t align with your own sense of peace.  
You don’t want to hear any requests to give up any piece of yourself. 


What does all of this mean? 


Does it mean your body is trying to tell you something? 
Are you listening? 
Is your soul is begging for peace? 

Peace has come to mean solitude. 
People are often equivalent to a drain of energy. 


Maybe it means that your life is whispering,
maybe even screaming…
Something needs to change.  


Things have changed. 
The boys are adults. 
They don’t need me in the same ways. And yet, they still look to me as their biggest resource. 
I am trying to sit in the back seat and just let them drive, but I really want to get out of the car altogether. 
It’s time. And yet, it isn’t. 
They are autistic. 
The average 20 and 23-year-old doesn't have a clue about what they want to do with their lives. 
My boys are still figuring out what they want to be when they grow up. 
They are still figuring out finances, saving, driving, and basic independent living skills.  
As much as I may want them to, they don't operate on my arbitrary timelines. 
I have to constantly navigate between leaving them alone to make their own choices and nudging them forward.


I have more freedom than I’ve had since they were born. And yet, I am still so saturated by the experience of being a mother.
What can I say? 
I got drunk on motherhood.
I overdid it. 
There were too many years of no boundaries.
I literally felt everything they were going through. 
There were no lines between their emotional needs and my own.

Too much of anything is not healthy.  
Now, it's like my body and mind is in a state of rebellion.
I feel it physically in my stomach and in my chest when I hear myself saying yes to something that I absolutely know I don't want to do.
I can't do it anymore.
I don't want to do all of the things and take care of all of the people.
I don't want to cook.
I don't want to go to the grocery store. 
(Well, I never wanted to go to the grocery store.)
I don’t want to be everyone’s everything anymore.

I do a fair amount of beating myself up for these feelings.  
But I keep showing up, doing the work through therapy, reading, journaling, listening to podcasts. 
I am treating my mental health like it's a full-time job. I'm getting a degree in self-care. 
I realize that I am allowed to have these feelings and love my family at the same time. 
I am allowed to love myself and make what I want a priority. 

It’s okay to want to love my family from a distance sometimes.
Like from a small apartment on the beach. 
Absence makes the heart grow fonder. 
I felt so much fonder last weekend when I was in Houston with my girlfriend. And my family was not.

The boys need me less, my mother needs me more. I have all kinds of ambivalent feelings about that. Especially, since her need for me is elective. 


Recently, I heard her say, “My daughter is my everything.”

A lot of people would be thrilled to hear those words come from their mother. 
The words hit me like a ton of bricks.
I have been everything to my children for so long.
I have been her world for the last 10 years during one of the most stressful periods of my life.
For years it was like thinking and decision making for at least three people at a time, four if I include my husband. 
He was busy working. He didn't have time for small things like what we should have for dinner. 

I am energy depleted.
I'm trying to restore myself and at the same time avoid energy drains.

Do all of these feelings that seem to be intertwined with my actual home, mean that I am not happy here? 


Well, home is supposed to be your refuge ...your place of solace. 


Home is my place of work...neverending work. 
Perpetual needs of others to be met.
It’s the place where I worry the most. 
It’s the place where I am constantly figuring out all of the things.
Home might be peaceful.
It might not. 
Things can erupt at any given moment.
That has been the case for years. 
The amygdala of my brain is constantly on alert.
P.T.S.D. is in full effect. 
It’s exhausting constantly being on standby for an explosion or an interruption.  


There are other energies that live here. 
They do not always align together. 
They definitely don’t always align with mine. 


Is this why I like being away from home more and more?

I can control the energy when it’s just me to think about.  


Home is a place where I cringe when I hear my name. 
Someone wants something from me.
I am a creative spirit with focus issues. 
Home is not always the place where I can create. 
I create here when I can, but there are little zaps of resentment when my energy is sidetracked. 
My whole life has been sidetracked. 
I'm ready to get on course. 
To stop living by accident, in a state of reaction to the needs of my family.


I’m a mother, a wife, a caregiver to my mother. 
But I didn’t sign up for this latest shift. 
This is overtime.  
It's like extended, sequestered jury duty. They won't let me go home ...to my place of peace.  

When the boys were children, I literally gave them everything I had without thinking twice. 
Autism and depression made their happiness elusive. 
I tried my best to make up for that anyway that I possibly could.  


I will never forget the day I picked Kendal up from school in the fourth grade. 
He was sad. He was crying because his friends were sitting around together being goofy and laughing together. 
He didn’t understand what was funny. 
He just wanted to laugh like everyone else.
He used to laugh together with his friends in the first grade. 
By the third grade, they were secretly laughing at him because of his constant impersonation of Sonic the Hedgehog (which was very good by the way).
By the fourth grade, he found no reason to laugh. 
All he could feel was difference. 


“Let’s go get some ice cream,” I would say, as he cried in my arms.  
“Tonight we will have whatever you want for dinner.” 
Just an ounce of happiness. 
Is that too much to ask for a nine-year-old child? 
I am a mother, still. 
I am a caregiver. 
I give care to others.
I am an empath.
I feel all things deeply.
My family has watched me give and give and give, over so many years. 
They have come to expect it.
It’s a shock to them that suddenly I realize that I can no longer live without boundaries.


Saying yes all time wasn't healthy for any of us.
Saying yes makes people in your care have more expectations and entitlement.
Saying yes without thinking left me empty. 
I forgot how to say yes to myself. 
I forgot that I am a self.
  
When you are a giver, people are naturally inclined to take what you offer.  
They don’t concern themselves with what you have leftover to give to yourself.
That my dear love is up to you.
There will be no elaborate ceremony where you will be given permission to take care of you. 
This is a gift you give to yourself.

I make the choice to take care of me every day.
I chose to listen to my voice and not allow it to be drowned out by others.  
My happiness is not a destination. 
It is a journey…
and I have a closet full of the most comfortable shoes.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Brain Shut-down



My brain shut down for a week. I mean like, out-of-order, out-to-lunch. Restart button is not going to cut it. There would be no figuring, calculating, writing, thinking or fixing of anyone’s anything for seven complete days. 

The summer virus from hell, or maybe it was heaven-sent, showed up out of nowhere. The first symptoms were chills, then a low-grade fever, along with a dry cough. Headaches, body aches, and general brain-numbness. A basic lack of ability to think clearly or with any degree of complexity.

The wonderful side-effect of all of that non-thinking was the inability to worry and constantly problem-solve as my brain always does, even when I’m trying to sleep. My brain doesn't shut off. That button is defective. You push the button at bedtime. It may work. It might not. It may work for a while and then suddenly turn back on at three o'clock in the morning. 

I was constantly hungry, but couldn’t think of anything healthy to eat. There was no energy or awareness to call and coordinate doctors, attorney’s and elder-care agencies to work on the current situation with my mom. Her lack of mobility and inability to climb the stairs to take a shower would simply have to wait. 

As a writer, I feel the incessant need to write. Especially, if there is some quiet time available. Nope! My brain wasn’t having it. Thoughts would come and then go before I could get them down on paper. 

I tried my normal witty banter on social media. Every status was dumb and more boring than the last. I found myself whining about the details of being sick. And then I realized how much I hate when people do that. No one really gives a shit about your coughing fit and the fact that you can’t seem to wake up. No one needs an announcement about your naps and headaches. 

So, I would find myself posting and then when the fever would break and I got some nutrition into my body, I would come to my senses and delete the posts. I did this over and over again. 

I discovered that I don't simply love social media, I love my own narcissistic banter on social media. I love the parts I control. I love my clever friends and fellow-positive thinkers, people who are honest and funny. I pretty much hate the parts I can't control. Like all of the political posts and posts about criminals. Can't scroll past that crap fast enough.

I am so generous, I spared all of my friends the selfies I took of myself looking pathetic, in bed with an unwashed face and hair that hadn’t been washed or combed in days. There were many thoughts of shaving my head during this seven-day period. Thankfully, I didn't have enough energy to follow through.

The point is that my body and mind took a break to get the rest that it needed. It didn’t wait for me to agree to the deal. It just bogarted! 

bogart -according to google...
bo·gart
/ˈbōɡärt/

verb INFORMAL•US
  1. selfishly appropriate or keep (something, especially a lit marijuana cigarette).
    "don't bogart that joint, my friend"

Not that I know anything about marijuana. That's all Google.

My body took what it wanted, stopped and looked at me like, 
'Yeah. What you gonna do? Nothing! Lay your ass back down and go to sleep! These people and their problems will still be here ready to suck your blood next week when I’ve had enough rest. Thank you very much.'