Near-Misses

“Something is going to happen to him today.”

The thought flashed through my mind so quickly that I let out a tiny gasp.

I was pulling out of the before-care parking lot, he was walking with his teacher toward the bus stop, we locked eyes as I waved to him, and ZAP- there it was.

“Something is going to happen to him today.”

In a moment of panic I thought about scooping him up, putting him back into the car and bringing him to work with me. Then I realized how absolutely insane that call would be- “My son won’t be in today because I had a weird feeling”- and I reluctantly continued driving.

I pulled onto the highway and listened to my daughter belt out Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer a few times; I asked her for her famous renditions of The Wheels on the Bus and 5 Little Ducks to keep myself occupied…but I couldn’t shake it.

Something wasn’t right.

And then, right in the middle of “The Mommies on the Bus go SHH SHH SHH” there it was- the school’s phone number on my cell phone.

So I SHH SHH SHH’ed my one-woman show in the backseat and braced myself.

“This is the school nurse. Vince had an accident as he was getting on the bus. He has a gash on his eyelid, it’s bleeding a lot…”

Damnit! I should have listened to the ZAP moment!

“I’m on my way; it might take me about an hour to get there, I have to turn around in rush hour traffic…”

“What’s wrong with my Vincie? Don’t bring me to school, he needs me! I want to go to the hospital!!!!!”

Should have listened to the ZAP…

Three hours, one ER visit, and a few repetitions of “Mommy, there was blood everywhere! And all my friends were like OOOOHHHH!” later, Vince (with both eyes intact) was happily settling into Grandma’s lap and I was on my way to work for the second time this morning.

So now that I had calmly handled everything and made sure everyone was settled, I had a 45-minute car-ride to relive the whole thing in full-on Mommy panic mode.

He had been lucky that he hadn’t fallen into that bus window latch any harder, or at a slightly different angle, or the gash on his eyelid could have been a gash on his eyeball.

He had been lucky…again.

How many times had we gone through this? These near-misses? How many times had I had the ZAP moment?

Well, let’s see.

There was that afternoon in November of 2013…Vince was napping off a daycare bug in his crib; I was folding laundry and watching Lincoln. Somewhere in the middle of the movie I felt it- the urge to get upstairs to him RIGHT NOW. I ran to his nursery, freaking out just enough to be willing to wake a sleeping baby- and I could feel the heat pouring off his tiny body before I even touched him.

That was the beginning of the 6-day, 106-degree mystery fever, 2-hospital tour.

Then there was that night in May of 2014…he was playing in the backyard, happy as a clam (from what I hear they’re pretty happy), and I felt that unmistakable piercing feeling in my gut.

“Take his temperature.”

That was the beginning of the 5-month, nighttime-only fever.

We saw 13 specialists. We visited the blood lab so many times that he, at 21 months old, would just stroll in, get in the seat, and put his arm out for the techs. We heard so many possible diagnoses that I wanted to vomit every time the doctor called.

I remember one afternoon in particular when I was sitting at my desk and felt the zap.

“They’re going to say it might be cancer.”

On cue, my phone rang. It was the pediatrician.

“Cathy, I’ve consulted with 2 pediatric oncologists…”

Then of course there was later that day when “If I Die Young” came on the radio and I almost had to pull the car over because I was sobbing so heavily. That wasn’t a zap moment- it was more of an “I’m going to lose my goddamn mind” moment.

Good news- fever disappeared, I didn’t lose my mind, and we’ve somehow made it to today (and so did both his eyes).

But these moments, they are always right on target.

I sit up in bed in the middle of the night, seconds before he randomly vomits.

I run into his bedroom seconds before he flips off the bed.

I throw my hand out to pull him back when we’re in a store, seconds before someone comes flying around a corner with a shopping cart that would have knocked him to the ground.

No one told me that this whole parenting gig came with psychic abilities! And why are they only creepy, sad, foreboding ones? Why can’t I zap lottery numbers?

Why did parenthood make me the Knower of All The Bad That Is About To Happen?

Why don’t I ever sit bolt upright at 3am and think, “He’s about to have a really great dream,” or stop in the middle of a meeting and declare, “He’s going to finally like broccoli tonight!!!!”

Why don’t I ever get a ZAP moment that sings, “In 20 years he’ll be a veterinarian and pay off your mooooortgaaaaaaage…..”

Ugh, it’s such a heavy load to carry around. This is why I keep so much chocolate in my desk.

So basically, whoever said that “your child is just a piece of your heart walking around outside your body” wasn’t 100% right.

Your child walks around with sizable chunks of every part of you, and they’re all apparently connected to you by some invisible string that tugs on your subconscious and yells, “DANGER!” every time something is about to go sideways.

Who signed up for that?!

I most certainly did not.

But I did sign up for the big, sticky, lemon scone-flavored kiss I got when I dropped him off by Grandma.

I signed up for the picture he drew for me while he was waiting in the nurse’s office.

I signed up for the uncontrollable giggles he dissolved into when I said, “Geez, Vince, if you wanted a day off you could have just asked- you didn’t have to throw yourself into a window. Dramatic much?”

I signed up for the way my heart jumps a little bit every night when I walk through the door and he comes careening through the house like a puppy to greet me.

So I guess you take the good with the bad, thank Whoever is up there for all the near-misses, and, in my case, come to terms with the fact that, like his mother, my child has very little coordination and I should be prepared for many, many more phone calls from the school nurse.

And now if you’ll excuse me….chocolate.

Life & Words- Part III

This question of Angela’s was my favorite- just answering it forced me to recite that mantra so many times that I couldn’t get it out of my head the rest of the day.

What did you need to learn or unlearn to overcome the circumstances that life throws at you? 

Cathy: This one is easy to answer because I’m only now beginning to let it in- I deserve to fight for myself. I spend the majority of my time making sure that everyone I love is given plenty of food, warmth, love, happiness, hugs, bedtime stories, and new shoes every 2 months because their feet grow freakishly quickly. I worry about my husband remembering to bring sunscreen to the job site in the summer and a warm enough hat in the winter. I worry about my coworkers. I check in with my friends once a week so that they know they are loved. I check in and worry and make sure everything is just right for everyone else….and it leaves me completely empty.

My friend, who is also a therapist (and who took on the task of being my therapist, poor girl…) looked at me a few weeks ago and said, “You deserve to fight for yourself.”

I sat and stared at her for a second because this thought, in the 35 ½ years I’ve been here, has NEVER occurred to me. Not once.

I deserve to fight for myself.

I played it over and over in my head, during the appointment, as I was driving back to work, that night while I was getting the kids ready for bed.

I deserve to fight for myself.

I told my husband about it and he gave me the, “You’ve got to be kidding me, I’ve been telling you this for years,” look.

No one makes me do all these things- my husband is a partner in every sense of the word. He cooks, cleans, does the laundry, loads the dishwasher, bathes the kids, does the homework….and he constantly insists that he should take on more so that I can devote more time to writing. I always laugh and dismiss him. I am a mother and a wife and I can’t be selfish.

But….is wanting fulfillment for yourself selfish? Is wanting to show that husband that his encouragement and support aren’t falling on deaf ears, and giving him the opportunity to cheer your success like you’ve cheered his, selfish? Is wanting to show those kids that living a satisfied life is an obtainable goal, selfish?

Sounds crazy, right? But I’m betting that a number of you (if not most of you) are reading this and thinking, “You know, I never thought of it that way…”

So in case you need to hear it…

You Deserve To Fight For Yourself.

Angela: This sounds corny but it’s all about compassion and self-love for me. Being coached, I was able to distinguish that what I wanted to bring to the world was compassion and interestingly enough, it’s the thing that I rarely give to myself. I hold space for people and what I bring to people is this sense that however they show up, I’ve got them. And I don’t do that for myself. In my head, it’s all harsh criticism. It’s doubt about my ability to make a difference.

What I am in the process of learning is that I genuinely have everything I need. I don’t NEED to go add a bunch of letters to my name to make a difference. I don’t need to be 20 years older. I don’t need to have all the answers. I’ve got the training, I’ve got the burning desire to light a fire under people’s asses, I’ve got the desire to learn and grow. It’s all I need. And I’ve already made a massive impact. If I just loved myself and accepted myself as I am, there wouldn’t be a cap on it.

 

That’s it, the big secret- you deserve to chase your dreams; you deserve to be a priority; and you already have the tools you need to take the first step. I hope you enjoyed this little experiment as much as we did- we’ll see what we can come up with this summer at our next chips/guac/veggies/beer committee meeting.

Life & Words- Part II

Ok so we left off with “Ahh, I can’t do it!” Today we’ll discuss how we kick ourselves in the ass to get rid of that mentality.

How life has gotten in the way and what my experience has been either succumbing to it or breaking up the usual pattern?

Cathy: A few years ago I began watching my life as a spectator. It didn’t happen consciously- it just kind of…happened. I altered my plans a little bit here, a little bit there. I left a decade-long career to be more present for my newborn son. I dropped out of graduate school when my husband graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering and almost $100,000 in debt. I left the tiny country town we had moved to with the determination to build a life….and unpacked in the very place I’d sworn never to return to, because it was closer to the dead-end job I had accepted. I took the first apartment I saw and gave up my dream of owning a home. I gave up writing short stories and letters to my kids. I gave up dreaming about publishing a book.

I gave up.

I remember the breaking of the pattern so clearly- mostly because it was so painful. It’s never easy breaking through a shell that you’ve built, especially when it’s become so thick the light can no longer get in.

“Do you remember when you decided to give up your career, and I said I didn’t think it was what you were meant to do anyway? And when you dropped out of grad school so we could stop the bleeding with our debt? And I promised that one day, when it was your turn, I would do the same for you?”

I was lying in bed watching sirens whizzing past our apartment, as often happened at all hours, wondering if everyone was ok, if it would wake the kids, if I would get any sleep that night. My husband’s voice broke into my thoughts and I turned slowly to look at him.

“Yes…I remember.”

“Ok…it’s time. It’s your turn. You’ve let your whole life go, and that’s not fair, and it’s hurting you and me and our kids. We need you back- we need you to relight that fire that used to be in there. I’m here, and I’ll do whatever I can to support you and cheer you on- but you need to come back. Stop putting yourself aside. You can do this and you will.”

“No. I’m done. This is my life. I clean up messes and fax things and read bedtime stories. You’re the success. I’m just…this.”

Then he cracked through the shell, shattered it.

“I need you to go talk to someone. I need you to get yourself back. And I need you to do it now. Please.”

I was angry- furious, actually. I had given up my whole life for him, and my kids, and now he was pissed off because I wasn’t thrilled about it?!

But for whatever reason, I went. I saw someone. And I learned something.

I gave up everything because I decided it was best for us. It was my decision to put the necessities in front of my dreams.

It was my decision to give up.

And you know what? I needed to break that cycle.

I needed to turn my dreams into necessities.

So I did.

I forced myself to write every day. I pushed for more challenging work at the dead-end job. I stopped dismissing the house listings that my husband emailed to me. I dug deep, and when I started to falter I looked at my kids learning from every move I made. And I looked at my husband cheering me on like I had always done for him. And I dug deeper.

Breaking a pattern is such a powerful action- I never DREAMED that setting my energy on a more positive, determined path would yield so much in such a short time.

We found our dream house. A few months later, I sat in our dining room and pushed “publish” on my first blog post while my husband sat next to me, holding my hand and cheering me on.

I had completely given up on happiness. But a little bit here, a little bit there…and the pattern was broken.

Sometimes you can do it yourself; other times you need someone to help you crack the shell.

Angela: This is a very interesting question to answer from a 24 year old perspective. I can’t really say that there is much life to get in my way. I don’t have kids, I work as a substitute teacher where I pick and choose my assignments, I don’t pay any bills, I live with my parents. And actually, that’s what is PERFECT. Because I don’t have life to blame, I can see the root of what gets in the way of what I want…myself. It is one hundred percent fear and self-doubt for me that gets in the way. When I graduated college, I decided that I was going to make life work without getting a Master’s degree. I was pretty spent after over a decade of schooling and was relieved to be out. Then I found that getting anywhere that I truly wanted to go wasn’t quite possible without a Master’s. Then I found coaching.

It gave my access to making an impact for people in the way that I wanted to and the training was unlike any school experience…or any experience for the matter, that I’ve had before. The conversations were uncommon and cut through all the bullshit. It was INCREDIBLY uncomfortable to be seen in that way. I now understand that whatever the first thing is that we say is getting in the way, the real answer is always several degrees deeper.

So the question for me is how have I gotten in the way and how have I overcome that?

I’ve gotten in the way by hiding. I get really stingy about the impact that I make. I play small and I don’t speak about the work that I do and I don’t invite people to sample sessions and I don’t ask for referrals because I get to avoid heartbreak. The heartbreak of someone saying no to the life they want, the heartbreak of seeing something for someone that they aren’t seeing, the heartbreak of not being able to do the work that I love.

I adopt the belief that I’m not ___ enough to attain the life and level of success that I want. I’m not old enough, I’m not experienced enough, I’m not good enough at business, I’m not ballsy enough to say the thing that would likely get me fired but that I know will make the most difference.

I buy into the belief that everything is hard. Basically, I just trust my feelings more than I trust my brilliance.

Have I overcome that? Hmm, I’m in the thick of it. As you can see, I am blatantly aware of what is holding me back. I have a coach that points it out once a week for an hour and my clients mirror it all back to me. The simple answer is that I’m choosing to practice something different so that I can adopt different beliefs, so that I can create different results in my life. Literally, doing ANYTHING differently can be the catalyst to breaking the cycle.

Through coaching, I’ve been introduced to acknowledgement. Basically, people acknowledge you for what you bring to the world by just existing (Joy, Generosity, Power, Spirit)…outside of achievements and the doing.

I now ask for it, I now welcome it and I acknowledge others. It’s a way for me to disrupt the story that I don’t bring value. I ASK for support, something that made me highly uncomfortable previously. I also just speak more. Being seen and heard breaks up my pattern quit nicely and it’s super simple. Simple is good for a person like me who overcomplicates as a way to self sabotage. Ahhh, I love inner work.

Hopefully we’re reaching someone who needs a kick in the ass themselves- and if not, we’re having fun together so it’s a win either way. See you Monday!

Life & Words: Part I

Sixty-three.

That’s the number of pieces I’ve put out into the Scrambled Eggs world.

All sixty-three times, I’ve been queasy as I forced myself to hit “Publish.”

Probably another 75 times, I’ve been so queasy that I hit “delete” instead.

I was discussing this with a friend at a bbq last summer- we mused about how strange it is that people are so afraid to do what they love. We pondered at why people freeze at the mere mention of sharing their creativity with anyone besides maybe their mom and their dog. We talked, we laughed, we ate vegan bbq.

And then, because this friend is also a life coach and a writer, we got all geeky and interviewed each other.

And now, without further ado, here is our 3-part blog series, which we titled “Life and Words” but really should have titled, “Get the F*ck Out of Your Own Head and Just Do It Already.” Or maybe something less severe…you get my point.

Anyway, here’s Part I- hope you enjoy!

 

What’s the thing that ALWAYS derails us?

Cathy: I can say it’s the day-to-day.  I can say that I have 2 young kids who love to be inexplicably covered in peanut butter and boogers whenever we need to leave the house; a full-time job that comes with a bonus 90-minute commute; an elderly dog who needs extra care and a 70lb puppy that needs constant attention, lest she completely destroy my house; and a husband who wants to spend time alone with me, like we did before we created this circus. I can say that I’m so exhausted by the time I step through the front door each night that it takes all of my energy reserves just to give my family a few hours of my attention before I collapse.

I can say all of this, and it’s absolutely true. But it’s only 98% of what ALWAYS derails me. It’s the very comfortable, very socially-acceptable mask for the other 2%: self-doubt. I always let my day-to-day take the blame, when it’s really the crippling fear of failure that stops me.

Angela: My feelings. They are the biggest blocks in my life. I don’t feel like calling people, I don’t feel like making people uncomfortable, I don’t feel like putting myself out there. So I distract myself with other things like substitute teaching, youtube videos, and podcasts.

 What’s comfortable about letting life get in the way? What are the pros and the cons of that?

Cathy: Life is crazy for everyone. If you read my blog, you get a glimpse into my own particular brand of crazy- there’s never a dull moment. Hell, there’s never a moment at all. And that’s something that becomes very cozy, in a weird way. “I can’t write today, I need to make lunches/call my mom/wrestle that toilet paper roll out of the dog’s mouth/clean up that mess/help Vince find his lost Lego ninja (spoiler alert: the dog ate it)/convince Grace that 2 tortilla chips dipped in ketchup aren’t an acceptable dinner.” And all of that is true- except that last one. If 2 tortilla chips dipped in ketchup is what they’ll eat, then 2 tortilla chips dipped in ketchup it is.

My point is, it’s so nice to hide behind all of that, instead of saying, “I have all this stuff to do, but I’m still going to carve out 30 minutes of writing time on my lunch hour, or once they’re all asleep, or while I’m hiding in the bathroom (I never do that…ok I hardly ever do that).” Saying, “I am going to make time” and actually doing it…well, that means you’ve committed. And once you’ve committed there’s no turning back. Then you meet your fate- do you succeed or do you fail? You don’t know if you don’t even try- and that’s why it’s more comfortable to not try. “Life just got in the way,” is a lot more palatable than “I tried and the whole thing tanked.” So we let life take the fall.

Angela: Blaming life is easy. Victimhood is easy. It’s far more challenging to admit to ourselves that we actually take ownership and responsibility for how our lives go. Because at that point, it’s just you and who you CHOOSE to be in the face of circumstances. I think comfort breeds ignorance and ignorance is bliss until someone smacks you in the face with the fact that you created your life and when you say so, things will go differently.

We know about the pros.

The con is that, at best, you live a 7/10 life. Life is neither terrible nor amazing. You live your life in the land of fine, knowing that deeply, you’re not where you want to be and you’re not living the life you know would be most fulfilling to you. You end up wondering What if? And that kinda sorta royally sucks.

 

That’s all for today, girls and boys. Stay tuned for Part II, where we discuss how to overcome the crazy “I’m going to fail” fear. And maybe throw out some bbq recipes.