Of Course

Of course, now that I’m finally out with a friend to work, my internet on the laptop blitzes. It always blitzes at this particular place I’m at, but it’s so close to my house, it’s really hard to resist. Everything on the internet works except access to my blog. Talk about the OPPOSITE of what I want to happen.

I fixed it once. But then promptly forgot it because WHY WOULD I EVER NEED THIS INFORMATION AGAIN?

Oh, Life. You betch.

And of course, now that I finally have resigned myself to the reality of lame interwebs, I open up Word and HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO WRITE.

Keep in mind that during the regular day, I have so many thoughts rushing through my perforated brain that I want to chase down and think about more but if I do, I know I will forget it all when it comes down to write. (Not that I haven’t forgotten it all even without chasing those thoughts down, so I guess it doesn’t really matter which option I choose.)

Sigh.

I swear, I used to be a smart, capable, and competent person. With interesting thoughts and ideas. And nice hair and pretty (or at least, less boring) clothes.

In fact, I used to be an extrovert. And night owl.

Alright, I still am both these things. But even with every child I have, I become more and more introverted. By the end of the day, I just want to crawl and hide and read or watch TV or NOT TALK TO SMALL CHILDREN and then stay up all night doing the things I want to do.

Ok, I lied again. I have no problem leaving my house and chatting with my friends all night. I do some version of this with my late night group texting.

But this night owl business – it’s hard on a body.

And since I have a 5 month old who I apparently forgot to teach how to self-soothe because his hands are always stuck in mittens due to his constant scratching of his eczema face and because he is huge and strong he always breaks his swaddle to scratch and I have to perpetually nurse him so that he calms down enough to go back to sleep and OMG you know those babies who suck on a pacifier and are totally awesome sleeping while they have a pacifier in their mouths but as soon as the pacifier falls out they wake up?

MY NIPPLE IS THAT PACIFIER.

That last paragraph is just one huge run-on sentence that I swear had a point somewhere in the beginning but I forgot and am now too lazy to go back and edit.

Also? I often talk in run-on sentences so just be happy you’re getting the real me.

Oh, right.

This being a pacifier for my baby prevents me from unbroken sleep so when I stay up late, it always bites me in the ass and the next day, I’m exhausted and awake but I have FOUR children to keep alive (however minimally) and though Cookie Monster and Gamera are pretty self-sufficient (and therefore, can also take care of Glow Worm), I don’t really want to make it habit of consistently checking out and leaving the child-rearing heavy lifting to my seven year old.

Ooooh. TWO run-on sentence paragraphs in one post! Maybe this can be my new thing.

The benefit of all this rambling, however, has been that I now remembered all the posts I was supposed to be writing in the first place. So, your loss; my gain!

Let that be a lesson to you aspiring writers – just start writing whatever random thing pops into your head and eventually, you will think of what you wanted to write about and voila! You’re already writing so you can start writing that.

Other things that help include: going to the bathroom; cleaning something; folding laundry; taking a shower; going on a walk; doing something mindless.

In fact, that helps for any type of mental block. Do something that doesn’t require a lot of brain power (except reading/watching TV) and allows your mind to wander. Eventually, your mind will wander back to what you wanted to write about in the first place. In fact, your mind has been working in the background this entire time.

Look! I have now repaid you for your reading my blatherings with this gem of a mind hack.

YOU’RE WELCOME.

I’m going to leave now and go write posts about my undying love for the Instant Pot that you will consume and read and find brilliant on a later date.

Thank you and have a wonderful day. (Or barring that high bar, have a reasonably unsucky day.)

Psssst… I’m Also at LYTM SF’s Blog Today


You GUYS!! I’m at the Listen to Your Mother San Francisco blog today talking about the process for writing your submission to LTYM.

One thing I noticed last year while participating in LTYM SF was that though there was diversity in the age and type of story performed, there weren’t really that many people of color, people who were NOT mothers, or LGBTQ in the mix.

Since meeting the producers, I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t a conscious decision on their part – and they have actively asked us to reach out to POC, WOC, and LGBTQ in the Bay Area to submit their pieces.

Gather up your courage and dust off your keyboards. Let’s flood them with submissions!

S0, if you have ever had a mother, wanted a mother, didn’t have a mother, wanted to be a mother, are a mother, or anything related to having, not having, being, not being a mother, LTYMSF is having open casting calls.

This is the last year for LTYM so PLEASE submit! (Although they are coming back in different incarnations in 2018 – but SUBMIT ANYWAY.)

This could be your year!

AAAH! So Excite!

You guys!! My article is featured on Post Partum Progress today! So excite! And thank you, Miranda Wicker, for asking me to try for it!

You can find my article here: How to Get the Most Out of Your Therapist

Longing For Grace

For those of you who know me in Real Life, you know that I freak the fuck out and go from 0 to 60 in a eye blink. One second, my MIL is asking Gamera if she has a boyfriend (FFS, she is three years old) and the next thing I know, Gamera will be a stripper who needs men for attention and will be a strung-out junkie with a pimp.

Totally within the realm of plausibility, folks. Totally.

It is possible, perhaps, that my reaction was not in keeping with reality. That my MIL’s one off-hand comment will not forever alter the course of Gamera’s life. But that’s the way my brain works, people. I never said it was pretty.

I blame this all on a sermon I heard once (I think, anyway) about how all the choices we make in life can either keep us on the path of righteousness or diverge and take us away from that same path. Minor bad choices are actually slippery slopes. Like how an acute angle in geometry starts off at a minor angle, with the lines minutely apart, but if we go further out in time, at some point, the lines will be infinitely apart. I am plagued by the idea our choices in life are like these two lines, and if we make the wrong choice, no matter how small in degree, at some point further in time, the distance between the Path of Righteousness and the Path of Ruin will be infinite and they will NEVER MEET AGAIN. One misstep and you will NEVER get back to the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Imagine Time = r, Theta = minor misstep, and s = the space between diverging life paths.

Imagine Time = r, Theta = minor misstep, and s = the space between diverging life paths.

After all, the way of the Lord is narrow. And Hard. And difficult. And the way to Hell is broad and easy.

But what a terrifying way to live. What a stifling and constraining and graceless way to live.

I feel like this is my life. Graceless. Constant self-condemnation and judging. And fear. OMG, THE FEAR.

But the truth is, life is not an immutable straight line. There are infinite chances and opportunities. Infinite opportunities for “course correction.” And who is to say that there is only ONE correct way to live? I mean, just given the evidence based on 7 billion lives on this planet, and the 7 billion unique-ish situations these people find themselves in, I know that is not true.

Stated in a positive way, the idea that there is only ONE way to live, that it is the One Path to Rule Them All, is FALSE. A horrible, pernicious lie. (A lie that I hear often in churches, but let’s face it, comes in any and all directions. Just take your pick: organic, liberal, conservative, you name it, it’s got it.)

True love drives out fear. And if I truly believed that God offered perfect love, the kind of love that drives out fear and offers freedom, why do I buy into this pack of lies? (And it is a worthless pack of lies; a twist of the Truth to pervert and poison and obfuscate who God is.)

I long for freedom. I long for grace. I long to live a life as if it were okay to fail and to fail spectacularly.

I long for my kids to experience true freedom.

My heart breaks that even though Cookie Monster is so small and so young, (too small and too young, to be honest), he is already hampered by fear. He is already so afraid to fail. To look foolish. To be rejected.

I see it in the way he doesn’t want to try new things at preschool (mostly physical activities). I see it in the way he hovers on the edge of groups, the desire and yearning to join in on whatever activity the group is doing so painfully etched on his face, but him being too afraid to ask to play with the kids because they may say, “No.” I see it when he refuses to ask me for something he wants and instead makes a negative statement like, “I can’t play Halo” so that he has already rejected himself before I can dash his hopes.

I see it in the way Gamera will lie just to get my approval. And the way she cries and clings to me when she thinks that I disapprove of her.

It breaks my cold, dark heart.

I am devastated.

If only I could live my life the way I live my writing.

When I was in high school, I used to resent having to write first and second and final drafts. I found it the height of stupidity and a fucking waste of my time. I would literally have to “fake” a rough draft so that my final drafts looked sufficiently different and altered from the original. I mean, what was the point of writing a first draft? My first drafts were perfect. I would edit as I wrote so there really was no need to go back and change things. I mean, isn’t that what computers were for?

Then, in my twenties, I decided to write a book and that is where my perfect first drafts became my downfall. I would write a section and then edit. And then edit some more. And then edit some more. Then read my perfect words. Then edit some more. Which is great and all, to have a perfect set of 1,000 words, but 1,000 words does not a book make. Most books have about 65,000 words (a little more than your typical NaNoWriMo at 50,000 words), but either way, I was 64,000 words short.

So, I read about writing (because when writing, nothing is more useful and productive than reading about writing) and all the blogs and books I’ve read since then universally agree: you have to write. Just write. It doesn’t matter if it’s good, bad, utter shite. Nothing is harder than a blank page. You can’t do anything with it. Just write. Accept as a truism: You will write crap. A lot of crap. It doesn’t matter; that’s what editing is for. But you can’t edit what you don’t have, so you have to write.

That’s the beauty of writing: once you have stuff written down, you can delete it, you can write more stuff that is good/bad/meh, you can move entire paragraphs, you can do whatever you want when editing. Whole worlds are created and obliterated during editing. And then you can edit some more. But at some point, you will have to stop and move on. At some point, your writing will be good enough (or, sadly, as good as it will ever be).

Move on.

Accept that there may never be the perfect sentence. Just a bunch of good enough sentences.

And that, I find, is my perfect analogy for life. (If only I could buy into this theory in practice – and not just believe it only of my writing.)

You are never done until it’s done. (Even then, who is to say that is a permanent state of being – well, I suppose, for the sake of this argument, you are done in this plane of life.) There are few permanent mistakes (the laws of physics not withstanding) from which we cannot recover.

Most of life is a rough draft. We can edit and delete, but ultimately, we move on. We accept grace and forgiveness and try our best and we move on until we Move On.

So this morning, I wish you grace upon grace upon grace. Grace enough for parenting fails, for work fails, for life fails. Grace enough to cover a lifetime of sins, real and imagined.

Impressions of My First Type-A Parent Blogging Conference

Okokok. It’s been a month and a half since I got back from my first Type-A Parent Blogging Conference in Atlanta and I am only NOW getting to writing about it. And only because Kelby Carr, the awesome organizer and woman extraordinaire, is having a final call for Type-A Conference posts. Hey, what can I say? Nothing moves me like a deadline.

So, in the interest of time and me getting this done, instead of an in-depth write up, we’ll just do this Mandarin Mama Style. (You know, with a bunch of indeterminate bullets detailing my impressions and thoughts. It ends up being cohesive. Don’t worry.)

The tl;dr version? I had a fantastic time. So much so that I’ve already signed up for Type-A Con 2015. Special thanks, again, to Lizz Porter, my junior high and high school buddy, who brought me into the fold with her recap of last year’s conference.

1) Not only did I miss my flight to Atlanta due to bad math, rain, multi-big rig accidents, and general lameness on my part, I also almost missed my flight back to SFO. REALLY?? I managed three kids by myself in Taiwan for five weeks but left to my own devices, I couldn’t make it to the airport? REALLY? I am still in shock at my utter incompetence.

2) SO IMPRESSED that there were so many people of color here! Ok, perhaps it is because we were in Atlanta, but hey! There were black folks here. And not just one or two – I want to say there were at least twenty to thirty.

I am always under the impression that The Blogosphere is white (even though I know that must not be the case). So, when I see evidence that it is not, and emphatically not, I am always chuffed.

Oddly enough, I only saw two other Asian women. Maybe it’s because we were in the South. Are there Asian people in the South? There must be, right? I thought the ATL was FULL of Asians?

3) Although I was a bit nervous in terms of what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Type-A Con was like all the conferences I’ve attended in the past. I quickly donned my old identity as a productive member of society (with a job) and sank into a life I thought I’d left behind.

4) The speakers were dynamic and engaging, the attendees were lovely and 90% women (as a former member of the financial industry, that was definitely different and incredibly refreshing), the food good, and in general, very enjoyable.

5) Mostly, what I found invaluable at the conference was twofold:

a) I am pleased to note that the information and content is nothing new to me. The theories and concepts are the same; the tools with which to apply them are merely different. My previous life working with and being mentored by marketing genius Mark Joyner has proven handy once again.

I don’t know why I’m constantly surprised. Hapa Papa thinks I’m a dork for forgetting that our internet marketing training far exceeds the average internet marketer. This sounds really arrogant, I know. But if you have never checked out Joyner’s stuff (affiliate link), you are not doing yourself any favors.

b) I realized what I don’t want and most importantly, what I do want from my blog. Honing my vision and then executing it will be my main challenges ahead. But clarity is super useful!

6) I found the SEO session by Nicole Bullock to be most useful in terms of practical, every day usage. SEO is now my friend (however much I am bumbling through it).

7) Also, even though I couldn’t get a slot for his Technology One on Ones at the conference, Peter Pollock, author of Web Hosting for Dummies (affiliate link), was sitting in front of me on the flight home. Not only did Peter give me a very informative session on the plane ride back despite him being exhausted and slightly nauseated from the flight (not from me, I hope!), he also gave me a free copy of his book!

8) Lastly, my post, Can You Get PTSD From Taking Your Kid To The Dentist, was nominated for the 2014 We Still Blog Awards(video below) I didn’t win but still got to read it at the ceremony among the eleven other nominees.

I have to say, I felt kinda awkward at first because my post was the only one that had more than its fair share of F bombs (surprising, I know). Every one else’s post was beautiful and moving and had NO swears. Ah well. At least mine was the only reading to have zero weeping!

Here are the other nominees. Please give them a read. I was proud to be in their company.

The winning post: Invisible by Desiree Miller of Stress-free, Baby!

The Field Trip by Carter Gaddis of DadScribe

Failing as Mother by Genelle Billings of The Third Boob

A Sky Full of Paper Lanterns by Deborah Cruz of The TRUTH about Motherhood

My Personal Favorite: At My Mother’s Knee by Janice Wilberg of Red’s Wrap

Bright Lights and Brothels by Roo Ciambriello of Semiproper

Because Life Isn’t Fair, Amanda by Amanda Henson of It’s Me, Amanda

Death, Organ and Tissue Donation, and Grief by Heather Solos of Home Ec 101

Motherless Children by Michael Wickey of A Bug and a Bee (for some reason, the link is not working)

Fat Girl on a Hot Day by AJ Feuerman of Confessions of a Fat Girl

And here is my reading of my post:

Sometimes Showing Up Is All You Can Do

Lately I have been having a hard time writing posts. It’s not that I am out of things to say (although that certainly is a minor worry of mine), it is more that I do not feel inspired nor inclined to put in the mental effort of crafting thoughts into a coherent and interesting piece.

A tiny and ever increasing little voice in my head seduces with words like, “Why don’t you take a break? This isn’t work or anything important. Who gets hurt if you don’t post? What’s the big deal? It’s just for fun. Just skip today. Or a few days until you get back in the mood to post.”

I want to listen to this voice.

Currently, another, louder, more insistent voice is holding a slight edge. “Get up,” she urges. “If you give in now, it will be easier to give in the next day and the next. Pretty soon, you’ll blink and it will be months from now – maybe even years! Then it will be even HARDER to continue writing. And you want to write, don’t you? So get your ass up and write something. Anything. Even if it’s crap.”

So here I am. There is a post for today.

Writing on this blog three days a week is part of my goals for the year – one small goal in a series of goals I’ve set for myself. True, nothing bad will happen if I don’t do it. But that’s like most things we want or work towards in life, right? But then again, if I do nothing, nothing I WANT will happen, either.

I used to believe many lies about art and creating art. Shoot, it doesn’t have to be art – it could be anything (like getting in shape, studying, a career). I erroneously thought that art required inspiration and without inspiration, it would be hack work. That anything that was “forced” and didn’t come in a flurry or an immediate “in the zone” effect was worthless because it required effort – and True Art was supposed to be effortless. Furthermore, not only was art supposed to be effortless, it was supposed to come out perfect right out the gate. (While we’re talking about stupid art myths, how about we add the “tortured artist” to the list?)

What a load of tripe. (Mmmm… tripe.)

Most art and anything worth attaining is acquired by hard work. Yes, talent has some say in the matter, but talent can only get a person so far. (A post for another day.) And sometimes, the hardest part is overcoming inertia and just showing up and hacking away until you press pass a block. Maybe the block will last a minute. Maybe it will last years. But unless you show up, putting in the time, pounding out words (in my case), IF and WHEN inspiration strikes, you might not be in the place (talent or expertise-wise) to take advantage.

I highly recommend reading Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles (Amazon affiliate link). Here’s a sample:

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance…Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what Resistance is.

This book wormed its way into my brain and I am glad. It helps add fuel to the voice which urges me on, pushing me past the dreaded blank page. “Want to be a writer? Then write.”

So here is my exhortation for you this Monday: Want to be a writer/programmer/analyst/consultant/parent/musician/runner/etc.? Then write/program/analyze/consult/parent/compose/run.

Somehow, it always comes back to this for me: Fake it til you make it.