Thursday, February 25, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
First of all, I don't want to be a good mom. I want to be an excellent mom. I don't have to be perfect to be excellent.
So what makes me an excellent mom?
1. An excellent mom is awake, present, open, and responsive.
2. An excellent mom takes care of herself. She has a self and a life.
3. An excellent mom knows when to lead and when to follow her kids' lead.
4. An excellent mom controls the pace and stress of the house. She knows when to push and when to put on the brakes. She doesn't overschedule herself or her kids! She knows it's important to have time to putter. She knows when it's time for a treat, a break, a bubble bath, or a backrub.
5. An excellent mom is creative. She creates "home," schedule, nourishment, nurturing, learning experiences, and perspective.
6. An excellent mom is centered enough to weather the storms of her kids' feelings without getting sucked in.
7. An excellent mom shares her joys, her struggles, her triumphs...not in a burdensome way, but in an informative way: "this is what life is like...you try things..sometimes it works/feels good, sometimes it doesn't. and you try again."
8. An excellent mom has a network of support. She doesn't try to do it all alone.
As kids, and as adults, who do I want them to be?
1. I want them to like themselves. I want my kids to know who they are and what is right for them. Sure, they can take time to arrive at that place, and they can make mistakes in the process. But I want them to know that they have a place in the world, that they belong, just as they are.
2. I want them to be problem solvers. I want them to develop tools to figure it out and/or ask for help. I want them to be able to take something big and break it down into steps. I want them to be confident to make decisions, to take risks, to try new things, and to learn and move on when/if something doesn't work.
3. I want them to dream big. I want to provide an example to them that shows that dreams are real. I want to help them to find the thing(s) inside of them that thrill them, and to make that into what they contribute to the world and make their livelihood from.
Monday, February 15, 2010
It was around the holidays. I was grocery shopping, with both kids in the cart, around 5 p.m.--the busiest possible time in the very busy store near my house. I was dashing from aisle to aisle, trying to hustle our way out of the building with dinner, before either kid (or both!) melted down. My mind was full of plans, my to-do list, the recording of the Christmas song I co-wrote with my friend Terri Fann, which I had been schlepping around to radio stations.
At first, I didn't notice him: the aisles were so packed with people. But as I walked past him, in this kind of incredulous tone, he said, "Wow! You're really beautiful!" And I must admit, I did look really good that day! I was wearing jeans and boots, and my favorite new orange sweater, which my super-shopping husband had given me for my birthday. But still--it's not every day that someone comments on my appearance in the middle of my grocery store trip.
I was so taken aback, I tried to think of what to say. So I decided to keep it simple: "Thank you." That's when I first really saw him. He was young, probably college-age. I don't know what his particular diagnosis was, but he walked with a walker, so I would guess he had some type of nervous system degeneration--maybe multiple sclerosis? Talking was, for him, a great effort. So this one statement, "Wow! You're really beautiful!" took awhile to get out.
After I thanked him, thinking that was the end of it, he went on: "Are you seeing someone?" And at that point, I really had to start laughing. Good grief, who on Earth did this guy think he was? I was wearing my wedding rings, I had two children in my cart, I was grocery shopping, and he was hitting on me? Huh? I must have looked confused, because he said it again: "Are you seeing someone?" Followed by, "Are you seeing me, right now?" It was then that I saw the twinkle in his eye, and I laughed again and said, "Yes, I am. I'm seeing you, right now."
I don't remember much after that. I was in my hurry, and it was crowded, and the whole thing was just so...weird. He shuffled off, and I finished my shopping. But in the next few minutes, I realized that something truly momentous had just happened to me. Here was someone who must be the subject of so much projection from people in life, just making up his mind to have a good time. He just didn't care, in a way that was completely inspiring. He was gone, but I was suddenly so curious about him--who he was, what was going on with his body, what his parents were like, everything. I wanted to know how a spirit could be so bright, so oblivious of rejection. I wanted to be just like him.
If I see him again, I hope I have time to buy him a coffee, and to hear more about his story. For now, and from then on, he's my guru.
Monday, February 01, 2010
Quincy Jones famously attributed Michael's enormous success to his "ass power":
At one point I asked Q what separated the great stars from the near greats he'd worked with. "Ass power" was his reply. To illustrate his point, Q compared Michael Jackson to another well-known vocalist he'd produced. The other singer, an artist with an immense voice and an insatiable appetite for cocaine, would come to the studio, maybe lay down a scratch vocal, and then wander off for hours. Jackson, in contrast, would come to the studio, record a strong lead vocal, work the stacked harmonies that distinguished his work, and practice where to place those ad-libs that were his trademark.
"His ass power," Q said, "would keep him in the studio until he felt he'd accomplished something that day. That ability to focus, to stay in that chair in the studio, listening to playback and then going back in to record some more -- that's what separates the good from the great."
(From City Kid: A Writer's Memoir of Ghetto Life and Post-Soul Success by Nelson George)