Thursday, June 25, 2009

Everyday FUN


Recently we took the children to see “Night at the Museum, Battle of the Smithsonian”. It was a very good movie, I laughed as much as the kids, but I think the real story line of this kid’s movie was meant for the parents. The plot: Larry Daley enjoyed his job at the museum, but when a better money offer came along he naturally took it as any parent would. Amelia Earhart finally tells him that life is about going on adventures and having fun. It’s a hard concept for Larry to swallow.

I walked away from that movie really thinking about my life. Am I having fun? Or am I just drudging along? Have I taken my responsibilities too far? Why do I expect so much from myself as a mother and wife? What exactly am I teaching my children (since we all know they learn from what we do and not what we say)?

Just to see if it was only me in this state, I asked some of my friends what fun they (not their kids or their family, but they specifically as women) had recently. Most of them didn’t have an answer and frankly didn’t understand the question. Blank looks all the way around. But when I asked, “What fun did you have before you were married or had kids?” the smiles broke out and the stories started rolling off their tongues. When I asked why there’s such a huge discrepancy they replied, “Well, I’m a mom.” Or “I’m married now.” As if those answers should just explain everything and I was stupid for even asking.

Do you think there is a connection to our country’s high divorce rate, depression among mothers, and the answers I received to my questions? Hell yes!!! Today’s pressure felt by women to keep a beautiful home, prepare healthy meals, spend quality time with our children, bring home a paycheck, manage our careers, emotionally support and encourage our husbands to be all they can be, deliver great and regular sex, and if your children have special needs you can add in 180 thousand more items to your checklist of tasks and worries, is astronomical. Mama Gena (Regena Thomashauer) is right when she says “The horror is that we think we can do it all.”

Well, the responsibilities are not going to end, but the fun shouldn’t either. I can hear you screaming “And when exactly am I supposed to squeeze that into my over-packed schedule?” Here’s the ugly truth: We made our prison, so we are responsible for tearing it down. You are the only one who controls your life. Go against the norm and ask for help!

We need to start having some fun every single day. We need a village to rely on. We need a community of friends to brag how great we are to, to celebrate what is good in our lives, to go out with, to help us see the potential and positive in the situations that arise, to trade services with. We need to make ourselves the top priority without us wearing the “selfish” label like a scarlet letter. We need to worship ourselves for how fabulous we are!

Fun is serious stuff. Let’s get down to business. Here are 4 fun projects for the week:
1. Start gathering your friends. They won’t all be living next door to you, but I’m guessing you have a phone, a computer, or a way to write a letter on paper (remember that forgotten art?). Important note: Not everyone you know gets to be in your cherished group. There will be some who are just negative souls (glass is always ½ empty) or some who are jealous that you are having so much fun. Our culture doesn’t think too highly of truly happy women so be courageous and only keep those in your group that are truly supportive.
2. Pursue pleasure. If it’s not fun don’t do it. If it has to be done then make a game of it. Stop solving problems. Use your wonderful gift of creativity and communication within your group of friends to find the fun…solutions will arise when your mind is relaxed.
3. Give up your right to be angry. So what if you are right, is that making you feel better? Being right just means you fail to see the situation from any other point of view. Keeping your anger simmering on the burner will scorch and kill your inner soul. That’s quite a price to pay to be self-righteous.
4. Look at yourself in the mirror each day and tell yourself how much you love you. Find specific things you can complement yourself on. I personally love my feet. I think they are beautiful so I make sure they are decorated with pretty polish. Tell yourself aloud how sexy you are. Do something out of your usual routine that brightens your look – wear a bright shirt, dye your hair, wear heels, throw on some lingerie. Let your sexiness ooze out of you! And by golly, SMILE!!

I understand that it will be very hard for many of us to do those 4 tasks. We are so ingrained to downplay and sacrifice ourselves that we don’t even recognize it’s being done. We live with a constant low vibration of depression that fun will have to be consciously thought of, scheduled, and acted upon until we get used to it again. It’s going to take practice. And some days will be harder. But I know you can do it! You are smart, sexy, and extremely capable. The whole world is yours if you step out of your box. Amelia is right that life is an adventure and we should be having fun.

Here’s to your pleasure week!!!

If you want to know more about Regena Thomashauer “Mama Gena” and her school of Womanly Arts in NYC, you can look at her website Her classes are for women to find the pleasure in themselves and she also has a class “Giving it Up to Men” for the men in your life. She has books you can buy or check out from the library if you can’t make it up to New York.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I have found that one of the hardest things for me to do is listen. Listen to myself. Listen to others. I hear loads of things, but listening requires full attention, and being a wife and mother to 2 special needs children, my ear is rarely focused in one spot. I am constantly multi-tasking, as all mothers do, and sometimes get bitterly jealous of men who can be simply solely focused on one task. It’s not fair, but true.
We are no longer living in a simple family community world. The TV, internet, and easy air travel give us so many more options that the number of decisions and opinions flooding us is overwhelming. Because we have so many more possibilities, we feel that we need to have more direction, more purpose, and more meaning to our lives. We want adventure and peace at the same time because it’s available and the marketing experts are getting very good at their jobs of influencing our society’s opinions of what life “should” be like. Most of our prejudices and values are absorbed from our culture. Why are we listening to them? Why do we doubt our own thoughts? Why do we follow?
Honestly, because I’m tired and it’s easier to follow. Listening to myself takes a lot of energy when I have to be the one to then do the action, follow through, and be responsible. And, listening to our culture helps to find jobs and friends within my community. So is there a fine balance between listening to our culture and my own thoughts? This is my struggle and I know it’s a hard burden many moms like me face each day.
The consequences if we don’t face it well is that depression sets in, so that who we are listening to becomes a life or death situation each day. We know main-stream society doesn’t fit our special needs life, but we doubt ourselves and worry about our children and marriages constantly. Can a depressed mom listen and trust herself?
Ariel and Shya Kane say in their book Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work, that if you pay attention, you will see that there are many times when you have an internal commentary on what is being said rather than just listening. I call this “the Shoulds”. My soul is telling me what is best for myself, and while I’m listening to it, my brain is rapidly talking over and above of what I should be doing, so I stop listening to heart.
This just isn’t working. When listening to others, you need to be in the moment, hearing their words for what they are, not agreeing or disagreeing with them, just taking in their point of view. Same rules apply for listening to yourself. UGH! Can this get any harder? I have a hard time being able brush my teeth or to sleep through the night, let alone find the quite time to listen to my own thoughts and feelings. But it’s necessary. And I know that now. Learning to listen the hard way isn’t fun.
We all have a child in us who wants to be right and wants things our way, stubbornly not listening. Even if you are correct about another being wrong, something alive in you dies. Listening means we need to observe without judgment or comparison. Feel your feelings, listen to your bodies for desires and health, be in the moment for others and step into their side. The more you are willing to be here and let go of your history and your story, the more life can unfold in this moment.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Female Brain

The Female Brain
My notes from reading “The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine, MD

Here are a few facts about the difference in female and male brains. Yes, there is a huge difference! I know it’s such a shock to everyone.
1. Men and women have the same number of brain cells but men’s brains are larger, so there is more room.
2. Women have 2 ½ times more brain cells devoted to communication and social orientation. Men have 2 ½ times more cells devoted to sexual drive and aggression. To me this answers many problems women and men have in relationships. Stop asking each other to provide what you need if they don’t have the brain capacity to do so. He can’t read your clues. It takes him longer to process emotions so typically he just skips it. It’s just not there, so be it, deal with it. And there is nothing wrong with you if your sex drive lags after kids. He needs to get that flat out.
3. Reading emotions is equal to reading reality. Baby girls look for every reaction (look, touch, tone) to see whether they are loved or rejected. Imagine if mom is depressed or a little too Botox’d = the lack of facial expressions confuses girls and they naturally turn to someone more expressive.
4. Women have emotional memories that men do not. We use both sides of our brain to respond to emotional experiences where men only use one side = nine of our brain areas light up to his only two. This can explain why men’s worlds are so black and white and concrete. They can’t read the rest of it as well as women can.
5. Girls develop confidence when you intently listen to them. Don’t break eye contact; don’t let your mind wander. Yes, this takes great amounts of patience for you, but you are helping her develop her sense of a successful self.
6. Girls inherit a “nervous system environment” that mimics her mother’s and becomes her view of reality. A nervous mom = a nervous girl, calm mom = calm girl. Boys are not as affected by mom’s nervous system as girls. This stress factor is absorbed by the cellular micro circuitry at the neurological level.
7. Boys don’t care if they cause conflict. Play is not about relationships, but about the game/toy, social rank, power, and territory. Girls take turns 20 times more often. Their play is about nurturing. They use language to get consensus without giving orders (aka “Let’s do this…..”).
8. If you want your daughter to be strong, don’t let her sense your fear or disapproval in your facial expression or tone of voice when she is trying something new, courageous, or daring.
9. Connecting through talking activates the pleasure centers in a female brain. Sharing secrets that have romantic or sexual implications activates those centers even more. It’s a major dopamine and oxytocin rush – the biggest, fattest neurochemical reward outside of an orgasm. This is the pleasure of bonding, even with other females.
10. The male brain uses mostly vasopressin for social bonding and parenting, whereas the female brain uses oxytocin and estrogen. Males need to be touched 2-3 times more frequently than females to maintain dopamine levels. Women can get their oxytocin rush from bonding with their kids and other females.

Ladies, you need to know your monthly cycle! Know when and how to make decisions. Get your serotonin, estrogen, and progesterone checked regularly. These chemicals affect your whole life!

There are so many more facts that fill the pages of this book! It really helps explain those frustrating and annoying things the other sex is doing/not doing. It also helps us to see that each side is not right or wrong, just programmed differently with each needing their own special desires fulfilled in a certain way to function happily. I think this is a great book for men and women to read. Knowledge is power.

Until next week!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Vacation Everyday

Dream Factory – LegoLand!
We just returned from a fabulous trip to LegoLand in Carlsbad, CA (half way between LA and San Diego). This trip was provided to us by The Dream Factory. I cannot tell you how wonderful that organization is – there just aren’t enough great words to describe it!!! Things like this really make me appreciate the volunteers and companies that donate their time and money to help kids who really have a rough life.

And I will easily admit that the vacation was just as good for me as it was for my children. I didn’t have to worry about money, chores, issues at work, cleaning, cooking, laundry, school, or being the “mean cop”. I could say “yes” to all kinds of treats I normally wouldn’t. I could play all day! Of course I didn’t jump off the responsible end completely. Schedules still needed to be attended to, and food somewhat watched (who wants constipated kids on vacation?) but the rules felt relaxed even if they were still mostly followed.

What was most different was my attitude. I was mentally and emotionally on vacation. And I’m wondering now why can’t I do a little of that every day? I can hear you wryly saying “somebody has to be in charge and responsible” and I couldn’t agree more, but I was in charge while on vacation and yet I enjoyed every minute.

There has to be ways to incorporate the buoyant feeling of a holiday retreat into daily living! This will be the focus of my blogs over the summer.
Summer is a time of longer days and fresh produce. For me it’s a time to procrastinate – which is VERY unlike me – in lieu of running around like a deranged lunatic before the sun sets. I like to take long walks with the kids in the evenings. Summer is a great time to refresh ourselves from the inside out. To do that you may need a break from your family and sending the tykes to camp might be a perfect jumpstart solution.

Speaking of camps…as if you needed any more motivation….here is a little something just for you that I found in southern California. Since you are the best of the best women walking the planet you deserve a camp you can call your own!! Camp Get Away is a resort for ladies only! You can participate in the scheduled activities or not; your call as the mood strikes. You can go alone or take some friends. You know those pictures of the kids you keep taking and saying, “One of these days I’ll put them in a book”, you can here. Hiking, yoga, facials and massages, karaoke, or curling up in front of the fireplace with a book. You make it YOUR retreat.

Whether you decide to book your Camp Get Away vacation now, or are inspired to make your own get-away vacation to another destination, that’s what Martyrdom Sucks is all about! Realizing who you are, accepting the whole you, and promoting you as the greatest woman you can be! In order to do that you need rest and relaxation, you need fun and laughter, along with the responsibilities of the title Mom.
If you know of any other “camps” or vacations for ladies only around our great nation, let me know! I’d love to pass the word on.