Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blog the Twenty-First

On the
Day of Christmas

You could do this: Refuse to enjoy life

But do this instead: Put your computer speakers up to ten, click the link below, and get ready for three and a half minutes of awesome living!

Click here for 3 1/2 Minutes of Awesome Living!

On the
11th Day of Christmas

You could do this: See only doom and gloom and the sad grayness of life

But do this instead: Grab some crayons and color

Some things from my childhood did not stand the test of time: I'm not a voracious reader of Fangoria Magazine anymore. I don't want to tumble rocks. I don't wear five watches on one arm. But some things from my childhood have never left. One of those things is coloring.

I have all sorts of colored pens and pencils, markers, pastels, paints. And I have boxes of Crayola Crayons at home and at work with a jumbo coloring book accompanying each. My co-workers have caught me many a time at my desk or outside in the sun coloring away. At home, when I'm bummed out, a little coloring helps to turn my mood right around.

I am an "off-colorist" - rose petals turn green and the stems are purple. Puppy dogs are orange with silver polka dots. And while I do stay in the lines, there are no rules on the coloring page. Being able to do whatever you like, however you like, when everything else may be out of your hands, and even if it's just for coloring, feels really great.

On the
and Really Freakin' Last Day of Christmas

You could do this: Bottle everything up and never let the world in

But do this instead: Blog

Blog long. Blog hard. Blog wide. Blog with passion. Blog with humor. Blog with anger. Blog with pictures or just your writings.

We're out here reading. We know what it's like. We're sharing. We're connecting. And in Bloggerland, we are not alone - which is one of the best gifts a Motherless Daughter can have.

So Merry Christmas Motherless Daughters! Now, what did ya'll get me? :)


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Blog the Twentieth

Three this time :)

On the
7th Day
of Christmas

You could do this: Hit something

But do this instead: Hit something really hard! But at your local batting cage or bowling alley

When it's been a tough day at work, or in life, and I need to rage against the machine, I hit up my local batting cage, plug up the iPod and have it.

For 15 to 20 minutes, I swing for the tree tops. I swing for deep right field. I swing to smash that flippin' ball across the universe, and as it flies away it takes with it all the crap of the bad day.

I suck at bowling, so you're just going to have to figure that one out for yourself ;p

On the
Day of Christmas

You could do this: Freak out and spin your own wheels

But do this instead: Read one entire book from cover to cover

I will be the first to admit, I can't sit still to save my life. I talk fast, I move fast, I work fast. But sometimes when things get a bit too overwhelming, I find a good way to sort through it all is to focus on one thing at time.

Taking the time to read a book, cover to cover, is a bit like meditating. Singleminded, still - and probably not very easy to do at first crack.

Get comfortable then with a blanket and your favorite cup of coffee or tea (I love Chai!). You will enter another world (Motherless Daughters could so use a healthy escape once in awhile), and force yourself to pay attention to only one task at a time. If you're like me - aka Speed Racer - you can cheat a little and pick a book with only a couple hundred pages. You can graduate to a tome later.

On the
9th Day of Christmas

You could do this: Hide away the memories

But do this instead: Celebrate the memories!

While it doesn't happen as much anymore, the images of my dying Mother do still seep into my head. For nearly five years I watched her waste away, deflated to skin and bones. Those images I'm sad to say, are most likely permanently seared into my brain. In the early days, I didn't want to close my eyes at night, because I couldn't bear to see those images. They still make me cry.

But if you could have seen my Mother in 1986, or for New Years in '89 - you would smile and laugh. In order for you to see that however, I have to celebrate the good memories I do have and share them, let them out, let them breathe in the world.

I have very few of my Mother's trinkets, and very few of her photographs, so it's hard for me to celebrate with tangible things. If you have trinkets, perhaps creating a shrine is right up your alley. But if you're like blogger Michigan Holly - and you do have a plethora of fabulous photographs - then a photoblog may be just for you.

Check out Holly's blog Diary of a Motherless Daughter. It's the most amazing way I've seen a Motherless Daughter celebrate her own Mother's memories.

Or you could give this a whirl - grab a group of your friends, head out to your Mom's favorite places and celebrate her there.

A few months ago, on my Mother's 51st birthday, my friend Kzam, in the middle of breakfast out, decided we were going to celebrate by hitting up the casino. So we did, but not before cruising all over Altadena in search of a liquor store that was open before 10 a.m. To my naive surprise, we found one!

The whole adventure hysterical. And we had a blast. I lost every penny I went with, and my friend hit on the slots. We cracked up the entire drive back. My Mother, without a doubt, would have a approved.

The home stretch is coming up! Look out for the last three verses to be published on Christmas Eve (I hope!).


Friday, December 22, 2006

Blog the Nineteenth

Two more!
On the
5th Day of Christmas

You could do this: Bemoan your miserable fate! - till even you get bored of hearing yourself

But do this instead: Be an Agent of Change for one day and take matters into your own hands

No matter how many times you've heard it, I'm gonna say it again here once more: VOLUNTEERING is one of the best things a human being can do for others, for the community, for the world and for their karma.

So many things may seem, and very well may be, out of the hands of a Motherless Daughter, but choosing to VOLUNTEER is one simple act that can - help put things in persepective, help get you active, help get you reconnecting with others, and help you see what Motherless Daughthers sometimes forget to see - that there is still life out there (and sometimes that life needs you).

Here are some suggestions to get your VOLUNTEER imagination fired up:
Local - help prepare meals for families living at a Domestic Violence Shelter
National - participate in a letter writing campagin to you state's Senator based around some issue signifacnt to you
Global: start a Christmas Clean Up Day - and pick up trash at park or a beach then... RECYCLE!

On the
6th Day of Christmas

You could do this: Ask, ask, ask for peace, for the pain to go away, to hit the lotto

But do this instead: Give, give, give blood

Motherless Daughters spend a lot of time in their lives asking. They ask their Gods, spiritual adviors, therapists, families, best friends, strangers. They ask for things they can't have anymore. They ask for things they get and then realize don't actually matter. They ask questions others can't answer.

So let's spend some time not asking, let's spend some time being okay with the answers we already have, and instead let's take that time to give.
Giving blood literally means you are helping to save someone's life. It seems to me, one of the best balancing acts of the universe that you can be a part of. And if you're hardcore enough, like my friend Kelley of Don't Know How Ya Do It, you can donate platelets as well.

I've just signed up to donate blood on December 26th! When will you donate? To find out where to donate in your 'hood check here - GiveLife.Org

And if you can't donate blood yourself, then recruit one of your friends (or even a few of them) and make an afternoon out of it!

Eat a good breakfast together, take the drive to the donation center together, hold her hand (or his hand) during the process, slap the "I Donated Blood" sticker on your foreheads and then go eat a yummy lunch!

I hate needles, so I may recruit a friend to just to hold my hand anyway ;p


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Blog the Eighteenth

Two more verses for you gluttons of punishment :)

On the
3rd Day of Christmas

You could do this: Hide away from the world underneath all your blankets

But do this instead: Take those blankets out to the living room and watch a Favorite Movie Triple Feature - add some microwaveable butter (or kettle!) popcorn for that fine theater touch.

Triple feature recommendations:
Horror - The Shining, Cabin Fever, The Blob (original version please)
SciFi - Starship Troopers, Aliens, iRobot
Comedy - Shaun of the Dead, Dodgeball, Duck Soup (or any Marx Brothers film in existence)
Romance - Love Actually, French Kiss, Moulin Rouge
Action - Casino Royale, Braveheart, Gladiator
Fantasy - Harry Potter, Labyrinth, Mirrormask

Mix 'n' match for an afternoon of good cries, hearty laughs, ignited imagination and adrenaline rushes.

On the
4th Day of Christmas

You could do this: Not eat

But do this instead: Eat out for breakfast, lunch AND dinner!

Yes that means you will have to get up and get dressed. Yes you may even have to shower and put on some makeup. But you don't have to necessarily eat somewhere new. Tired and true Mickey D's works just fine. If you're going to go through all the trouble to live for a second though, you may as well try something different :)

If you live in LA, my IRL friend Fightin' Mad Mary, reviews may eateries in her blog - The Customer is Always Right

For ya'll outside of the City of Angels, try this website CitySearch. Type in your city name, click off what you're looking for (a yummy Thai perhaps?) and wahlah! A list of fabulous restaurants all in your backyard.

Stay tuned for more verses! How long is this damn song anyway ;p


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Blog the Seventeenth

Hello Motherless Daughters! And Happy Flippin' Holidays!

I wanted to start this post yesterday, for the official start of the 12 Days of Christmas, but I got busy and forgot. So here it is - a day late but just as good promise.

I could post to you guys about how difficult it could be around the holidays for us motherless ones. But all of you are already hip to that shit. All of the Motherless Daughters, in all of the world, already know this time of year sucks.

So for the 12 Days of Christmas this year, I've decided to do something a little different. Instead of expounding on the knowledge ya'll already know about Motherless Daughters and how well they do on Holidays, I'm gonna learn ya something maybe you don't know but really, really should. For those of us Motherless Daughters who also have the distinction of being fabulously solo, I think a lot of this info is mightily important.

We're gonna do two sections this time around since I missed one yesterday. Ready, set, read!

The 12 Days of Christmas - You Could do This But do This Instead Version (sung in the verse of absolutely no figgin' holiday song in existence, 'cause I can't sing and this doesn't rhyme anyway.)

On the
1st Day of

You could do this: Sulk

But do this instead: Take a few hours to do a Year End Portfolio Checkup

1. Check on your 401k - review retirement plan contributions
2. Check on your IRA accounts
3. Review your entire portfolio to see if it still meets your goals
4. Rebalance if necessary
5. Track your gains and losses since purchase date
6. Find ways to cut expenses
7. Make additional contributions
8. Review your company's benefit plans

On the
2nd Day of Christmas

You could do this: Cry your eyes out till you're sucking up your own snot

But do this instead: If you don't have a portfolio to checkup on - build one!

Retail discount invest brokers like Sharebuilder (love them!) allow you to buy individual stocks, exchange traded funds and index funds, for a very low commission (4 bucks a pop) and no minimums. If you're not stock market savvy, start with investing $10 a week (heck a month even, just start with something!) in an index fund that matches what benchmarks, like the S&P, are returning. That way you'll at least be making some money back on your hard earned dough.

Index Fund Super Crash Course from Wikipedia - Click and Learn Baby!

Check back in tomorrow...ish, for the next verse of this new holiday song!


Sunday, November 26, 2006

Blog the Sixteenth Act the Last

There's nothing quite like being in the ocean, zipped up in a constricting wetsuit, and spinning around and around in tight, frightened circles to help you realize this probably isn't going to be the summer you dreamed about.

Working through one long held fear (planes are sooo not my friends) and discovering another (sharks are sooo not my friends either), lead to many days and nights of fielding terrible anxiety and battling major panic attacks. And I must say, from experience, having a panic attack in the open water is not a very good idea.

I always thought I was a brave person. I remember being younger and heading off into unknown adventures. Bounding out the apartment door early on a weekend morning to discover new things. To go exploring, as I called it. Nothing quite like getting lost in the massive acreage of a country farm, but one does what one can in New York City.

In these last few months however, since the planes and the sharks, the flying and the swimming - I have concluded something about myself I think I'd rather not have known.

I'm scared. I am really very freakin' afraid!

I am much more scared in life, much more scared than I thought I'd ever be, since my Mother's death. I am much more frightened to do things outside my protective circle - but with good reason I had convinced myself. When it all lands on you to take care of - your life, your safety, your survival - at the gloriously young and completely unprepared age of 18 - you really don't want to fuck it up. If I make big mistakes, if I get it really wrong, I concluded, there isn't anyone else to fall back on, or anyplace else to fall back to. Your security, your support, your home, your Mother are gone - so you'd better make it work and make it work right.

I'm thinking maybe that would have scared the bejebus out of anyone.

It should come as no surprise then, that I don't do well with things that are out of my control. Oceans and planes, rollercoasters, boyfriends, the freaking World Series - all much too much out of my hands. Did you know I bit all my fingernails off while watching the movie Open Water because I couldn't deal with not knowing what was going to happen? Did you know that my job is in production scheduling? My world. My order.

The summer, I've realized, had other plans.

The challenge to participate in a triathlon and raise money for children living with AIDS -
The recurring daydream about being stuck in a cave -
The strange visions about what to do with my Mother's ashes -
The return to my home place -
The freaking out in the ocean -
The not freaking out in the plane (both ways! woo hoo!) -

So many seemingly unrelated things and all culminated in an utterly fantastic family road trip, a moment with wild dolphins, a spectacular open water swim in the Pacific, and one recently initiated and accepted challenge - the challenge to not be so afraid.

I don't think I could ever be a "fly by the seat of my pants" kind of gal - the need to make sure I have security in life unabashedly comes first - it's too ingrained in me, that need to be secure. But I am thinking that perhaps the good spirits have paved the way for a future of adventure for me. And I get to use the last few months as proof to myself that being scared, but doing it anyway, can result in some pretty amazing things.



Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Photo Post #1 - Favorite Halloween Photo

I don't know who this person is, but I love them. Photo snapped at the West Hollywood Halloween Carnivale in Los Angeles.

I posted this picture, and didn't think to leave any writings behind. But one commentor asked if the wings were itty bitty fairy wings - which would make anyone stop and ask... uhhhh what's up with that demon dude - itty bitty fairy wings?

But in fact those aren't itty bitty fairy wings at all - they are a set of tortured and broken wings.

The back of the costume looked as if the skin had melted like wax, dripping and bubbling down, and the wings appeared to have been savagely ripped off - and just stumps were left. I got the feeling that someone, or something, or some set of terrible, terrible circusmtances - took hold of his wings with sharp claws, with awful deadly talons. They gripped the feathers with a harsh and heartless cruetly, and then... tore them off. Could have been feather by feather, could have been all at once.

I love this costume, this creature, because sometimes, lots of times, I feel like it looks. Sometimes I feel that savagely ravaged on the inside, torn apart, torn asunder, and still asked to walk along displaying what I have, the tattered remains of what I am left with. It was a very brutal looking costume from the back, and a scary one from the front (which is what ya'll can see). But to me it was beautiful. A tortured misery still walking amongst us. Ahhh yes... definitely a tortured misery.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Blog the Sixteenth Act II

I was wrong.

Back in July I wrote to you all about a recurring day dream I had been having.

In a nutshell, the daydream went as such: TL in the corridor of a dark cave, trying to break free of thick and sticky cobwebs that grabbed at her face and hands and wouldn't give her freedom.

It seemed particularly obvious that this daydream was about trying to break free, trying to get out, trying to leave behind all the bad stuff.
But it wasn't.

This daydream was about not letting myself runaway from the past. What this daydream was trying to tell me, was that it was time for me to face all the crap (or at least some of the crap - baby steps ya know) I had left behind, or more honestly, that I had run away from - eleven years ago.

It was time to face one of the biggest storms in my life.

It was time to face all that, and the cobwebs wouldn't let me go until that job was done. I wouldn't be allowed to runaway anymore and blame something else. I would be forced to stay, to turn around and look at what was at the original place, to look backward with my new eyes. To turn around and look at that scary place. Look at that place where I had come from.

It was no use anymore... denying. My insides were telling me. It's not that you're afraid to fly or that you have "issues" with your family. It's not that you don't have a place to stay, or not enough money this time around. It's not that you just don't have enough vacation time or couldn't possibly take another day off because you're just so busy. It's not any of that that makes you not want to go back to the city.

It's not any of that that makes you say you hate the city with such venom, with such gut fire. Say you hate to fly. Say you hate taking the time or you don't want to deal with your family. Lie, lie, lie...

What it is is that your heart was broken in that place. What it is is that your life was ended in that place. Your Mother died in that town. She was eaten by The City.

For eleven years, my home, the place I had grown up in, the place I had had everything in, was this big, black, bleak hole that had taken my Mother's life. It stole the innocent look of my childhood envisioned future. It had taken everything. And I just... I just didn't want to go back there.

I made up a lot of excuses, gave myself a fear of flying complex (validated by one bad flight I had 14 years ago), missed out on seeing my family, my best friend's kids, my godchildren growing up - all because I could hardly bear to spend any amount of time in the place I should call home. But home is not supposed to eat Moms. Home is not supposed to have all these bad memories...

I live 3,000 miles away from New York because of this. This was as far as I could get without swimming, and as much as I could afford with $350 in my pocket and five bags of hope on the train. Please, I kept thinking while I was on my way across the vast lands of this country, please let it better in this new place.


Monday, October 16, 2006

A Blip

I thought I'd wait till October 22nd to post again - and make it an even two months since I wrote last, but I just couldn't wait any longer. So here I am!

Welcome back to me!

I'll so have to catch you all up :)


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

The Mission
To create a future of hope for children and families worldwide by eradicating pediatric AIDS, providing care and treatment to people with HIV/AIDS, and accelerating the discovery of new treatments for other serious and life-threatening pediatric illnesses.

The Foundation
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is the leading worldwide nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying, funding and conducting pediatric HIV/AIDS research, preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and promoting global education, awareness and compassion about HIV/AIDS in children.

Building upon the successful model it created with HIV/AIDS, the Foundation is addressing other serious and life-threatening diseases facing children through the Glaser Pediatric Research Network. The Network brings together five of the nation’s pre-eminent academic medical centers in an unprecedented collaboration that will accelerate better treatments for seriously ill children, help train the next generation of pediatric clinical investigators, and serve as a united voice to advocate policies that improve children’s health worldwide.

The Donations
Over the past eight years, particpants of the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, and Triathlon sponsonrs, have raised $1.3 million for The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. With your help, we can continue to keep that tradition alive. Sponsor me as an athlete and make a donation online at the Nautica Malibu Tri Page. Click the "sponsor an athlete" link at the left and type in my first name - Taralyn.

I lost my Mother to AIDS in 1995. I could not imagine losing a child to this disease. Let's use bloggerland for the greatest good and help create "a future of hope for children and families worldwide by eradicating pediatric AIDS."

Pass it along.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Blog the Sixteenth Act I

I recommend spreading her ashes. And I recommend doing it in a way that is most meaningful to you and your family - no matter how wild it may seem.

For 11 years, my Mother's ashes have been resting in the closet of my Aunt's house in North Carolina. That's it. Just sitting there.

I did find it odd that none of us, no one from my Mother's immediate family, had wanted to do anything special with the ashes. But as it turned out, we didn't feel particularly connected to them one way or the other, so it wasn't such a bad thing letting them collect dust where they were.

Over the years, we threw out a lot of random ideas anytime we broached the subject, but nothing ever gave us that "Aha!" feeling that we wanted. Nothing seemed particularly right. For instance, one family member suggested spreading my Mother's ashes in the mountains, which quickly elicited a response from me of, "The Mountains!? When the heck did you ever know my Mother to hike or even exercise?! If we spread her in the mountains, she's gonna slap me in the head the next time she sees me!" And while we spoke quite a bit about spreading her somewhere with lots of flowers, it still didn't seem like enough. For a robust woman like my Mother, who led a very loud life sometimes, leaving her in a colorful yet quite bed of roses didn't seem like it was going to cut it...

Nearly 8 weeks ago, (PS: This will ALL tie in I promise) and coincidentally around the same time I kept having those recurring day dreams, something scary and magnificent happened.

I was sitting at my desk when my co-worker tossed out a random challenge. "Why don't you sign up for the triathlon?" he asked. "You can do it, you've got the balls dog." Initially I laughed, until he mentioned that the money raised benefited some foundation to help sick kids. With some savvy intranet surfing, I found that the triathlon benefits the Elizabeth Glasser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. A Pediatric AIDS foundation. Take that in for a minute... Go ahead and cry if you need to...

In that moment, I felt very warm inside, very peaceful. I wish every time I needed to make a decision I felt like that - that's when my insides know exactly what needs to get done, and how I need to do it, no questions asked.

I found all the info, and within minutes I was looking around to form a team. Thank goodness that this race lets participants form Relay Teams - as I would not have had the wherewithal to complete a triathlon all by myself the first time I participated in one.

I decided that I would do the swim. I didn't realize just then, that I had also apparently decided to face a few more of my life's most challenging fears.

To be continued...


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Blog the Fifteenth

Clearly by now you will have noticed, Dear Reader, that I am not the most consistent blogger. I wish I could say this lack of consistency was something that only occurred in BloggerLand, but alas, I would be so lucky.

No, my lack of consistency, my lack of routine, my lack of follow through, spreads into nearly every facet of my life. I literally am the Queen of Procrastination - it is a bad thing. And there are a few reasons why.

What does it matter any more? Really. What does it matter?

Clean the house for whom? Mom's not coming over. Wash the dishes for what? Friends and family don't visit. Tidy the living room why? It's only me here in the dark little hole and I don't care enough to make it any better.

What happened to me? I used to have a reason. Even after Mom passed, I used to get up and attack life. An early bird who bounded out of bed, happy to see the sun and eat a great breakfast. I had plenty of exciting jobs, though barely just enough money, but for all intents and purposes, I was okay. I was plugging along. Keeping my head down and hustling, hustling, hustling.

Then one day I looked up - and I asked what is it all for? And then, I stopped moving.

Lately, and at least the last three years, the lack of reason just seems to get worse and worse. I am a single, Motherless Daughter, with no children. What am I fighting for in life? Apparently nothing, if I can't even get my ass in gear enough to take care of the dishes.

I've been asking myself lately - aren't I enough to fight for? Aren't I enough to do the dishes for, to clean for, to workout for? Aren't I enough of a reason to live life, and not merely exist in a space?

As an unprofessionaly trained, but trial by fire caretaker, I want to literally take care of everything, fix everything, make everything great... just for you. I'm getting the feeling, that when a caretaker has no one to take care of outside of themselves, they stop functioning, like a machine that no longer has a purpose, and they don't know what to do with themselves.

This is the worst it's ever been, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it is because it's been a year since I've had a boyfriend (a great reincarnated Sick Mother), I am getting older, Mom's anniversary is getting farther and farther away, and my life is actually great. My life is actually great but it has nothing to do with taking care of anyone else and I am freaking out.

I feel like I am pulling away. I feel like I am pulling away from an old way of life that I am scared to let go of. I feel like I am pulling away from an old way of life that is scared to let go of me.

Imagine this if you will. It's a waking dream that has started to recur recently. I have been doing some very different things as of late (like driving to Vegas by myself to visit family or swimming a race in the ocean...) If I could draw this waking dream, it'd be exactly what my fears would look like ---

I have nearly broken through an entire corridor of cob-webs. I am pushing through at the end. I am reaching out, so desperately and with all my strength, because I can feel the fresh air, because I can feel my hands and my arms not surrounded by cob-webs. I can feel the free. My head is through and I can breathe the air! I can see that past the cob-webs, things are clear, not fantastically great because I'm still in a cave, but at least clear. These goddamn webs are like thick strings of glue. They are taut and relentless. Awful. They will not let me be. Every time I bound forward, I am dragged back. That does not stop me reaching, agonizingly reaching forward, stretching out with every inch of my fingertips. They cannot have me, I am thinking with my teeth gritted. They cannot have me. I don't want to be in there anymore. I want to be out here. Let me take care of me.


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Blog the Fourteenth

While waiting in my neighborhood post office Tuesday morning, I pulled out my May 2006 copy of "Women's Health" magazine and flipped to the back. Generally I read magazines from back to front, especially if I started at the front once and didn't get all the way through. Switching it up for my brain keeps me frosty, I think. Sort of like running backwards - but I digress.

The last page of the magazine (p. 124) called "The Average Woman" lists statistics I presume are about the average, everyday American Woman (YAY Lenny Kravitz!). In this case the statistics revolved around Mothers, how fitting. So I thought I'd share a few interesting ones here.

Did you know:

1. Nearly 1 in 2: Number of women who say Mom is their best friend
(Before my Mother got very sick, she and I used to be great partners in crime. We were most definitely the best of teams.)

2. Secrets the Average Woman is most likely to keep from Mom: when she lost her virginity and that she dabbled in drugs
(I never dabbled in drugs, but Mom was already gone by the time I lost my virginity. I think she would have laughed at me since it took me so long. She was very much a party type of gal.)

3. Number of women who see or talk with Mom every day: Nearly 1 in 2
(During the week when Mom was around we talked all the time. During the weekends, when it was "her" time, I'd not hear from her for a day or so. Is she were alive today, I think we'd be on the phone all the time.)

4. Percentage of women who address Mom by her first name: 1
(I didn't know my Mom's first name till I was 10!)

5. Best thing Mom ever taught the AW: unconditional love

6. Worst thing: to be a control freak
(Actually that's more of my Grandmother, which may explain why my Mom was a bit of a wild child.)

7. Percentage of women who say becoming a mom improved their relationship with their own: 56
(Way to go ladies! I guess sometimes it is all about walking a mile in their shoes.)

8. Number of women who wish they felt closer to Mom: 1 in 2
(This I didn't and still don't have to worry about. My Mom and I were awfully close when she was alive. I didn't get to experience closeness with her as an adult, so I wasn't privvy to her deep, dark secrets. But I think we might have gotten there if we had more time. And, though she is gone these many years, I do feel close to her even now. I feel our connection is still there.)

9. The AW's favorite dish prepared by Mom: Cookies
(The worst: My Mom's omletes. They tasted like sponges! I used to tell her they could soak up the East River! She'd hiss at me, "Then you can starve!" She was a bit of a drama queen sometimes.)

10. If your mom has heart disease depression: chances you'll get it are 40%, with a lifetime risk of 20% - 25%
(Take care of yourselves ladies.)


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Blog the Thirteenth

The Vortex of Pain is over! Weee Hoo!!!

One good thing about having a set time for major grieving is, whether I use it or not, when it's over, it's done.

Psychologically, the end of the Vortex of Pain is like New Years for me. You anticipate it, you're anxious about it, it comes, it's crazy, it's over and BANG! it's a brand new day and all the bad stuff is left in the past.

Also, because I allow myself to be a bit of a mess for three weeks of the year (I inform my boss, I don't do dishes, I runaway, I cry lots, I don't write in my blog, heck I might not even take a bath), I'm less inclined to allow myself to be a wreck the other parts of the year. That's not to say that I don't have bad days. But I try to keep them to bad hours, or to just a day. I am not allowed to carry on and on and on ad infinitum - not after having three weeks.

I couldn't imagine being a wreck on a regular basis. As a single person, being "non-functional" is not an option. Allowing myself a set point to be alright with not being alright, is such a help.

Even if you don't have the coincidental layout that I have (Mother's Day, Mom's Birthday, Mom's Anniversary) I'd say allow yourself a few days before your Big Trigger Day or perhaps a few days after (I find I'm fine after but not before). Tell your family, for the next few days if you're not feeling well, you are not doing the dishes or the laundry - they're just going to have to get along without you. Ask your partner to make the meals or just eat out. Tell your friends thanks for the invite but you don't feel like going out tonight and reschedule for another time. Turn off your phone. Skip the blog. Book a hotel somewhere and stay there - free housekeeping and continental breakfast included.

There are any number of things you can do to give yourself the time you need, especially around those Big Trigger Days. Maybe you don't need to go anywhere and can instead sit home and color. The point is give yourself that time. Please don't feel bad about giving yourself those days, but please do try to keep yourself from going overboard - a wee bit of discipline goes a long way when you need to rein yourself in - after all, at some point, those damn dishes do need to get done.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Blog the Twelfth

Last Friday, while driving home, I made the left turn onto Lake Ave. and something odd caught my eye. Lake Ave. crosses over the freeway, and looking out over the freeway were two people doing some sort of funky dance.

As I got closer I made out that the two people were actually a lady with a summer hat on and a little boy in a baseball cap (most likely her son or nephew). As I got even closer, I realized they were not dancing a funky dance at all, but gesturing excitedly to the trucks traveling on the freeway below to blow their horns.

And apparently they got a horn blow. Just as I pulled up even with them, they started jumping up and down and turned to each other with big smiles on their faces. Success! Then they promptly went back to getting the trucks to blow their horns again.

That moment was so hilarious, that I couldn't help but crack up aloud as I drove by. All the way up the hill to my home, I could not stop smiling, thinking of those guys enjoying one silly moment in life.

Inspired by that, here is TL's Silly Moment In Life #1.

I don't know what started it, but at some point my Mother and I decided that at random times and on random days and in random places, we'd play little games. Games we mostly made up, but which were fun nonetheless.

One Saturday morning, I was lying on one couch in the living room and my Mother was lying on the other. We were watching some cartoon, I can't remember which, as my Mother ate Cocoa Puffs right out of the box.

During the commercial break, I turned to look at my Mother, and she threw a Cocoa Puff right at my face. It hit me square in the forehead - bonk! - and bounced off onto the floor. I stared at her for one second before I busted out into uncontrollable laughter. I found the Cocoa Puff and threw it back. She caught it and ate it cracking up the whole time. The game was on.

My Mother grabbed Cocoa Puffs one by one and lobbed them my way. My goal was to catch them in my mouth, no hands. I don't know how many we threw back and forth, but I can tell you while many of them landed on my face, hardly any of them landed in my mouth. There were Cocoa Puffs everywhere!

Then after a few failed rounds, my Mother says, "Don't Move. Just leave your mouth open." So I lay back on the couch, my head tilted up and kind of off to the side so I could see her throw. She tossed the tiny Puff into the air, it arced from her couch to mine and landed... right on my tongue. I couldn't believe it! We started laughing so hard, one of us fell off their couch (I think it was me!).

I don't remember us playing the Cocoa Puff Game again after that day. But, we didn't have to. It's a memory I'll have for all time.


Thursday, June 01, 2006

And Now For Something Completely Different

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogram to bring you an Exercise in Collaborative Blogging.

I decided to give something new a shot and participate in a Blog Exchange. It's a collborative blogging experiment where you are paired up with a buddy, assigned a topic, write your take on the topic at hand, and post each others views on each others blogs with a link back to the other person's blog. Sound confusing? It was for me. And I think I kind of got yelled at because I didn't submit my work, or post my buddies work... well... till now (slackerific!). My apologies to K Chase and J's Mommy for dropping the ball.

J's Mommy wrote her post and then stopped by Cheap Chocolate only to realize, gasp!, Cheap Chocolate is a blog for Motherless Daughters and her post is about the struggles of being a Mother. After reading her post, I have to say BRAVO Stacy! BRAVO!

There is indeed a reality to being a Mother that is not as Stacy says, "all sugar and no spice." My Mother (perhaps not yours, but mine) wasn't always Suzie Homemaker, and I know she must have cursed my name more than once, as I tested every one of her seemingly last nerves.

I found early on I had to walk a fine line between remembering my Mother rightfully and making her into some flawless fantasy. My Mother wasn't some storybook character. She was a real live, flawed, hard-working, beautiful, trying her best and fucking up sometimes woman... and Mother.

Put your hands together for Guest Blogger J's Mommy (aka Stacy) and her wonderfully written post on the topic - What's in a Name?


What’s in a name? Funny you should ask that. I’m not feeling too find of my name right now.


I hear it all day long. “Mommy, can you get me some chocolate milk?” “Mommy, can I watch a video?” “Mommy, can we go outside?” “Mommy, I don’t want to go to bed.”

It’s a constant reminder of who I’ve become. A mother, a role model, a healer of all things. It’s a huge responsibility and I had no idea what to expect when I found out I was pregnant. What I read about in books and learned from friends was nothing like what I experienced. What I am STILL experiencing.

I’m afraid that if I say what I really feel, I’ll be admitting defeat. If I tell the truth, the whole world will find out I’m a fake. Heck, what’s the difference? I’m already consumed by guilt. Here it goes …

Sometimes, I don’t like being a mommy.

There I said it. My world didn’t shatter. And yet it’s a sentence I would never say in the real world, outside of the blogosphere. Not even under my breath. Doing that would make me an outcast. All of the mommies out there madly in love with their children would hunt me down and scold me for saying such a thing.

You have to know that my daughter is everything to me. She is smart and funny and totally fearless. But, she’s also willful and stubborn and just plain difficult. Don’t believe me? On her one year checkup at the pediatrician, he recommended this book.

It’s because of her behavior that I feel like there’s nothing left of me. The me that used to enjoy life and laugh a lot. The me that was patient and understanding. The me that was creative and driven. The old me.

The name ‘mommy’ has a lot of meanings for me ~ some good, some bad. There are times when I feel proud and times when I feel just plain pitiful. I wish there were more mommies out there like me. More mommies who feel like they’ve been duped into believing motherhood is all sugar and no spice.

Tomorrow I may feel different, but for today I’d like to be called Stacy.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Blog the Eleventh : Part the Second

A lesson in vortexes (or is it vortici?) wasn't quite the point of the first half of Blog the Eleventh. I just got curious and a bit carried away, which, for those of you who know me, is something I am very prone to do.

I'm sure it comes from a lesson learned early on, from my Mother as it turns out, when I kept asking her questions about various and random things and to define words I didn't know. She turned to me finally and said, "Look it up."

I have a sneaking suspicion she said that because she actually didn't know the answers to what I was looking for. Tricky, tricky. But it was probably more that she wanted to make sure I didn't get too comfortable always asking for help, always having someone else tell me the answer. In that one instant, after hearing those three little words, I distincly remember thinking - fine, I'll go figure it out for myself. That sort of attitude has definitely played a significant role in shaping my life.

I digress yet again dear reader. The point of Blog the Eleventh was to share something very special with you. I have listed the songs that get me through the bad times - but during the Vortex of Pain, probably the hardest time in my life, there is something I "read" rather than "listen to" that helps me along.

It is a poem.

One whose words envelope me in a blanket of sureity, that I sometimes repeat it again and again to myself, hoping to continually absord the utter confidence it speaks of in making it through the rough times. One day, I hope to get the whole thing tattooed somewhere on my body, if not at least just the title. For now, it is displayed at my desk at work and at home.

If you decide this poem speaks to your heart as well, I encourge you to print it out, fold it up and carry it with you, in your wallet, your shoe, even your bra. It will serve as a reminder of the resolve that is in all of us everyday or even just when we need it the most.

And now, I proudly present...


OUT of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.


*many thanks to my friend Terrence Hendrix for passing this poem, this strength on to me.

*Invictus was written by British Poet William Ernest Henley

Blog the Eleventh

The 3 1/2 weeks between Mother's Day and June 9th are what I have so affectionately referred to over the past 11 years as the Vortex of Pain.

Ah yes, the Vortex of Pain - Mother's Day , Mom's Birthday, Mom's Anniversary - all in less than a month. While some Motherless Daughters dread the traditional holidays, I dread the Vortex of Pain. Some years are better than others. This is not one of those years.

I actually don't know, off the top of my head, what the word "vortex" really means, so I am going to look it up right now...

Excerpt from Wikipedia: A vortex is a spinning, often turbulent, flow (or any spiral motion) with closed streamlines. A good example of a vortex is the atmospheric phenomenon of a whirlwind or a tornado or dust devil. On a much smaller scale, a vortex is usually formed as water goes down a drain, as in a sink or a toilet.

spinning, out of control - check

turbulent, emotional, angry - check

tornado, destructive - check

down a drain... or a toilet - double check

Excerpt from Thinkquest's Forces of Nature Section: A vortex is a rapidly whirling spiral. Forces of Nature can bring both blessings and devastation. No human can control them. Natural disasters can happen at any time or place. They can bring sorrow, but they can also teach important lessons about who we are, what is important to us, and what joys life can hold for every human being. Because natural disasters are such an essential, and often overlooked, part of our lives, it’s important to know how they function and how to prepare for them.

Well, it seems I wasn't too far off the mark with calling my most dreaded weeks the Vortex of Pain (I feel like there should be some melodramatic Dun Dun Dun! music playing every time I say those words hehehe). But I am actually surprised to find out two things:

1. The relevance between forces of nature, what they bring about, and our own grief/healing processes as Motherless Daughters.

2.That the word I used to describe this particular point of time in my life, a vortex, actually defines something natural. I always thought a vortex was a mathematical shape, like a cylinder, and not an occurrence of nature.

*Wikipedia -
*Thinkquest -


Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Blog the Tenth

The hardest part about writing a blog for Motherless Daughters... the hardest part about writing a blog about being a Motherless Daughter... is having to say something about being Motherless.

There is so much to share, the good and the bad, that sometimes I don't even know where to start. And sometimes, when I do start, it's actually too hard to finish. I've shed tears over nearly every post, actually over every post except Blog the Ninth (that one was kind of fun!).

I want to talk about what it's like when you start forgetting things, voices, faces. I want to discuss how you cope with all those Firsts new Motherless Daughters are faced with in the beginning and veteran Motherless Daughters are surprised still affect them years later. I want to say things about the dreams you'll have and the memories, about going back home, about taking care of yourself on your own. I want to write about how you're probably going to feel like you're always going to be screwed up, like there will always be this little bit of drama that keeps you separate, that keeps you different from other people, and how could you possibly connect? I want to say it totally fucking sucks at times to be a Motherless Daughter. It totally fucking sucks. It affects relationships - romantic ones, familial ones. It affects your work, your health, your sanity. I want to talk about that feeling you get, when you sit and review your life, and realize it's not how you planned things at all - good or bad - it's just not how you thought your life would turn out, not in the least, not even close. We'll have to discuss time management, and pain management, and household management and how very often everything, everywhere seems particularly overwhelming all the time. And I want to make sure we discuss how it is we're all getting along, how we all keep on keepin' on, how we all still do the dishes and wash the tub and go to work and love our loved ones and pluck our eyebrows and shave our legs, without our Mothers.

Yeah, I want to talk about all that, and then some. You ready?

"Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night."


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blog the Ninth

I wanted to share something today but I didn't know what to write. Thanks to my friend Kelley @ Don't Know How Ya Do It (and her friend) I didn't have to write anything (for the most part).

This may be floating around the 'net somewhere in it's full form; I've condensed it to share here:

1. My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE
"If you're going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning."

2. My mother taught me RELIGION
"You better pray that will come out of the carpet."

3. My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL
"If you don't straighten up, I'm going to knock you into the middle of next week!"

4. My mother taught me LOGIC
"Because I said so, that's why."

5. My mother taught me FORESIGHT
"Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you're in an accident."

6. My mother taught me IRONY
"Keep crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

7. My mother taught me the about CIRCLE OF LIFE
"I brought you into this world, and I can take you out."

8. My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION
"Just wait until we get home."

9. My mother taught me WISDOM
"When you get to be my age, you'll understand."

10. My mother taught me about JUSTICE
"One day you'll have kids, and I hope they turn out just like you."

I'm sure you guys have your own versions of this. Feel free to share them as comments. I'd love to hear what they are!

My Mother was allllll about #4.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blog the Eighth and a Half

By the way, this year for Mother's Day, I didn't feel up to calling anyone. Even 11 years later, you never know how you're going to feel.


Blog the Eighth

I had to go to my doctor today. An impromptu visit that got me out of work an hour early, but had me sitting in the waiting room as an add-on. Whatever allergic reaction I am having has decided to display itself all over my face. Red, hot and itchy is never fun, so I decided to get it checked out.

Even though I was an add-on, I didn't have to wait too long and I got to watch Oprah on the waiting room's massive plasma screen. While I generally don't watch Oprah (or television much for that matter), I found this episode particularly poignant. It wasn't about Mothers, or Daughters, or Motherless Daughters, or quarreling spouses. It was about (what I think Oprah does best) showcasing influential people. In this case two of the world's most influential people. And both of those people were women.

Both of the women are from countries where women generally don't become influential, let alone globally so, so I was pretty much glued to the television.

There is something about listening to strong women speak. They can empower you to action, or confirm what you already know about yourself - that you are a strong woman too. I have an idea of where a bit of that strength comes from. While many of our Mothers may not have been international diplomats, their lives and their deaths are significantly influential to the people who knew them and the Daughters who loved them.

Here were the two women I got to see while watching the few minutes of Oprah I got to watch:

1. Her Majesty, Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan - she spoke of filling up your Good Will Bank and being down to earth despite being royal. She spreads her philanthropic principles and practices to all her people, especially the women, of Jordan. During her interview on Oprah she says, "In my mind, Poverty is a 'she'."

2. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf - her story is a stunning one. At 67 years old, she is Africa's first woman elected president. She and her cabinet have a long road ahead of them as they work towards brining peace back to the civil war torn country of Liberia.

Even though you have lost, Motherless Daughter, I hope that, like the women listed above, you can find the strength to influence and give.


*You can find further information about Women Changing The World on

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Blog the Seventh

All right Ladies. Let's talk about it. Let's point a finger and look at it. Let's admit it is here. Let's open up the shades a crack and let light fall on the thing in the dark that we may all be hiding...

The 500 pound elephant in the room... Mother's Day.

There, I said it. Mother's Day.

Mother's Day!

Are you still alive? Good. I knew you would be.

Sunday May 14th is Mother's Day, and for those of us without Mothers it could more appropriately be entitled, "Why Don't You Just Take a Sharp Knife and Stab it Though My Already Bleeding Heart Because You Keep Reminding Me that I Don't Have a Mother Anymore Thank You Very Flippin' Much Day."

Dramatic yes. But for many, right on the mark. For us, for Motherless Daughters, this day could be even worse than a holiday. On this day, every Hallmark commercial, every newspaper, every radio station, and every cute little family or lovely young lady gallivanting around with her Mom, is a painful reminder of what we've lost, of what we can't have. Mommy.

No more skipping through the wild flowers hand in hand on Mother's Day. No more Mother/Daughter facials or tea times. No more, "I'll cook the meat, you cook the potatoes," dinners.

That's what Mother's day is for us. It's that one day out of the year that will always bring back the memories and the tears. What luck. You can't run away from Mother's Day.

But I'll let you in on a little secret. You don't have to run away from Mother's Day at all. You can actually embrace it. Embrace it, not fake it (I know a faux smile when I see one). Do the memories have to be sad ones? Do they have to be unhappy tears? I say not. I may not get to celebrate Mother's Day with my Mother, but that doesn't mean the day has to be an inherent disaster and a total loss. I haven't cried sad tears on Mother's Day in years. Why? Because all I have to do is look around and see what and who I have to celebrate in life on this day.

Here a few things I've done over the years to live though (gosh the beginning was so hard!) or have fun enjoying Mother's Day. Maybe one of these ideas can help you out as well.

1. The "What Mother's Day" Approach - lock myself in my room and cry, cry, cry till I couldn't cry any longer. I'd be so tired that I'd instantly fall asleep and bang - the day was over.

2. The "It's Just Another Day" Approach - grab a bunch of romantic comedies, stay in my pajamas, get cookies, lay on the couch and laugh all day long.

3. The "Alone Time" Approach - pack a small lunch and go for a long mountainous hike, or walk along the beach. I'd give myself time to think about my Mother and talk to her. Fill her in on what's happening in life. Whether I'd cry or not, everything stayed with the beach or the mountains and I'd come back home feeling refreshed and reconnected.

And my personal favorite (I use this on Valentine's Day as well),

4. The "Who Says I Can't Celebrate the Day?!" Approach - make a mental list of every woman I know who is an Awesome Mom or Awesome Mom To Be and go out and celebrate her. Grandma, Aunties, Step Moms, Cousins, Best Friends, Close Friends, Work Friends, Friends' Moms, even the stranger on the street who is pushing her baby carriage. When I opened up the day, and it didn't have to revolve solely around "my Mom", I found that there were so many opportunities to share and care.

Mother's Day is not over because we no longer have our Moms here. It doesn't have to be like that. On the contrary, it can become a day where we celebrate all the special women in our lives.

Also, on Mother's day, I like to remember all the amazing qualities that my Mother gave me to help make something out of this life - resolve, tenacity, strength, independence, attitude, confidence. They have also become the things that have helped me get on without her.

Be well on Sunday Ladies. Hang in there and...

Happy 500 Pound Elephant!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Blog the Sixth

One of the first things I do is turn on iTunes. When I get to work in the wee morning hours (or about 6:45 a.m.), and I have the whole office to myself, I love to turn on the music and play it loud. I realized this morning how much music has been a factor in my healing. And not just music, mind you, but many other forms of art (most especially writing).

I have collected over the years, a vast library of songs that I listen to at different moments in my life. I think we all have them - the breakup songs, the love songs, the teenage rage songs. But I have a few songs that I've most definitely found comfort in during my times of grief. These are my Motherless Daughter songs, and I thought I'd share a short list of them here:

1. I Will Never Love Again - The Princess Bride
Sorry to start off sooooo dramatic, but this song from the soundtrack is just so haunting. The longing, the aching. The melody is so enchanting. This song lets me feel my sadness. This song lets me be.

2. Into The West - The Lord of Rings, The Return of the King
This song by Annie Lennox reminds me that someday, my Mom and I will be reunited.

3. Me and Mrs. Jones - Billy Paul
One of my Mother's favorite songs! She had/has really good taste!

4. A Gift of Thistle - Braveheart
More haunting melodies. It gives my mind time to breathe, to stretch out and imagine. Imagine being alone in a space where there is no time and there is no pressure. There is just swirling mist, and quite trees and me.

5. The Show Must Go On - Queen
'nuff said.

And finally, the song. The Ultimate Song that Soothes the Savage Beast...

6. Introduction Et Rondo Capriccioso - Saint-Saens
If you can't find the piece with Tasmin Little go for Itzhak Perlman. A mere description of this piece will not do it justice. You will just have to hear it for yourself.

I'd love to hear what songs you guys use to get through. Leave a comment and tell me about them.


Saturday, May 06, 2006

Blog the Fifth

There is one thing you know instantly about a Motherless Daughter when you meet her - that she is still standing.

Even if she feels like she is one day away from giving up, every step she takes forward is a sign that for today, for this moment, she is still standing. She is still surviving. She is still making it. And she is still trying to keep going despite this most devastating of losses.

That is the strength you have Motherless Daughter. Whether you are two days into your loss or twenty-five years. You may think you won't make it, but when you meet others like you, you cannot deny that you too have a chance to survive. And not just survive, but after awhile live and thrive and smile and be happy again.

I think the key is to make sure you connect. Connect (in a healthy manner) to a person or a pet or even a cause. Connect to something that can remind you everyday (even if it's just opening up the curtain to feel the sun) that you do indeed have a shot at life, even after your Mother's death.

When my Mother died, I died with her that's for certain. The product of a divorced family at the age of two, I grew up predominantly in the presence of my Mother. It was the two of us for the long haul. And I felt, really truly, that she and I were a team. I was a good kid for her. I got A's in school for her. I achieved great things for her. One day I heard her say, "My daughter is the best part of my life."

When I lost her, I lost my own life. And I couldn't conceive of how I was possibly going to make it if she wasn't there. Yet here I am, eleven years later. Eleven long years later. Eleven long and hard years later. Eleven long and hard, and yup, even happy years later.

You may want to end your life to be with your Mother or to leave the pain behind. You may stay in the dark because you can't figure out how to live anymore, especially if you're facing the prospect of what seems like a never-ending sadness looming before you. I know. I've been there. That all too familiar ledge. But every time I chose to go back was another chance I was giving myself to see that I was ACTUALLY still standing.

And that's what you are doing everyday. Every time you come here to read this blog is another few minutes that you are still standing. Every time you finally make it out to the grocery store is another moment you are still standing. And every time you look at your red-faced, teary-eyed, messy-haired self in the mirror is yet another grand moment that YOU ARE STILL STANDING.

So you keep on keepin' on Motherless Daughter. You keep on keepin' on.


*this post is dedicated to my advisor, teacher and friend Professor Pierre Desir who made sure that I always remembered to keep on keepin' on.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Blog the Fourth and a Half

Generally, I practice what I preach.

Recently, life for me has become particularly overwhelming. There are a gaggle of details involved in being a responsible adult that I can't seem to get a handle on. At times like this, I begin to wish my Mother were here or that she'd at least left me some kind of Life Handbook with a specific chapter entitled - Overwhelming Adult Things and How to Handle Them.

But alas, it is not as easy as all that. So instead, to clear my head and get some well needed fresh air (and a bit of a different perspective), I took a drive. Two and a half hours round trip. Take a drive, if you remember dear reader, was advice given in Blog the Third. At some time just after half past 4 p.m. today, I hopped in my car, left my humble home in Altadena and headed for the dramatic bluffs along the coastline of Malibu.

When I need to find my Mother I go to the water. I stand on the edge of a low rising cliff and stare out across the sea. She is out there somewhere, out there past the ocean's infinite horizon. A few minutes in the breeze, letting my heart sing out to her, always helps puts things back in the right place. I leave a few tears behind, and feel much better afterwards.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

Blog the Fourth

I just received word that my friend's father passed away yesterday.

Those of us who have been Motherless Daughters for awhile are seasoned veterans at handling what comes after a death. We've done the memorials, cremations, wakes, funerals, black dresses, dark veils. We've made the arrangements for the flowers, the limos, the family. Many of us probably did all this in a daze. For us, that sort of work is passed, maybe even for many years now. For others, it is a prospect they will have to face tomorrow.

These are the little ones we have to watch out for. Those new to this experience will no doubt find this time completely and utterly overwhelming. Having been through the fire before, you can be a source of comfort to those who have had only mere hours to cope with what you've had years process.

It didn't come right away for me, the strength to help others. It took a very long while. I wasn't able to help a dear friend during a difficult time in her life that landed her in the hospital. I wasn't able to be there for another dear friend who's own Mother had died. My grief was still just too much.

I think veteran Motherless Daughters instinctively know what help to offer when someone they know has suffered a loss. There is a sharp recognition in their hearts, for now you are two of a kind, matched in a way that only grief knows.

If you find in your own family, or in the family of friends, that death has recently touched their lives, and if you find that you are ready to offer help, here are a few simple things you can do:

1. Cook or buy a meal and take it to your loved one's home. Even if they don't partake, they will have an already prepared meal waiting for them. Before you leave, give them a hug.

2. Grab your cleaning gloves and go to town. While your loved ones are solemnly preparing the details of flights and funerals, you can clean the dishes, wash the laundry, tidy up. Before you leave, give them a hug.

3. If your loved ones have children of any age, take them out. After you drop them off, give everybody a hug.

4. Hang out in your loved one's home. You don't have to say a word. Just be there. If you decide not to stay over, give them a hug before you go.

If the person you know who is suffering a loss is not a close friend or family member, variations on the above are also feasible. For instance, you can buy housekeeping time with a local service and present it to your friends in the form of a gift certificate. Hugs, however, are pretty much universal.


"Fezzik! Fezzik! Listen! Do you hear? That is the sound of ultimate suffering. My heart made that sound..."
-Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blog the Third

As a Motherless Daughter, many of us forget, or have forgotten how, to do the things we need to do in order to take care of ourselves.

Living in Los Angeles (or near enough) I am keenly aware of all the things Angelenos do to pamper themselves on a regular basis. No need for a crisis, Angelenos will go get a massage just because. Manicures, pedicures and leg waxings are activities LA women and men (and they don't have to be gay) indulge in just to get ready for a party filled weekend.

I have been here six years, and while I can certainly do with less plastic boobs, fake tans and shallow personalities, LA uses its powers for good when it shows us that spoiling ourselves once in awhile can be an absolutely fabulous thing.

So here are two tips to spoil yourself like a true Los Angeleno (within reason of course):

1. If you have some extra cash (or save up bit by bit) - get a massage! And preferably at a pretty spa.

The prices vary for Swedish, Deep Tissue, Hot Stone and the like, but an hour long pampering session is worth the splurge. Plus at a full service spa, the price may include time in the steam room, a facial or even a paraffin hand wax. All very delicious.

Because the attention is mainly on you, and I know Motherless Daughters most times would like to melt into the walls as if they never existed, you may feel uncomfortable or even become emotional. Connecting to a person who is touching your body is a very strong thing - especially, if like me, you are hell bent on trying to hide that you even feel anything at all. Feelings lead to lots of crying and for the most part Motherless Daughters would really like to skip all that.

The first massage I got after my Mother passed away, led me to crying my eyes out face down in the massage chair. Apparently, putting pressure in certain places can trigger lots of memories, unfortunately they were not happy ones. If you find you are uncomfortable or become emotional during a massage, let the massage therapist know you need to take a break. Plus it's not easy laying face down with a stuffy nose (you actually really can't breathe!). You don't have to explain, or you can, whatever you wish. Then, when you feel better, go back in and enjoy the rest of the time you have on the clock.

2. Take a drive.

No matter how high the gas prices go, you can't stop a Californian from taking time to cruise around. People get dressed up, grab their friends, hop in the car and only just drive around. Part of that I'm sure is that it costs $15 to park.

Don't stop to run errands while on your drive. This time is not for chores or responsibilities. This time is just for you to be an observer, to see what's going on in the world and with yourself. By taking a drive, you can see what's happening right in your own hood. A little league game, a community pancake breakfast, a yard sale. All things that show that life indeed still happens, whether you feel a part of it or not, somewhere it still happens. Also, you may find that you'd like to attend that upcoming pancake breakfast (who wouldn't!). This is very good. Anything that gets you connecting to the world and lessens your feelings of isolation is a good thing.

Your drive can also be to nowhere. It can be a trek up the longest stretch of road you can find and two hours later you're back home again. These are my favorite kinds of drives. The window open, the radio on (but most times not) a very long drive gives me some time to unravel all thoughts tangled up in my head. Driving lets me feel in control during a time when so many things are out of it. But please be careful, driving a vehicle if you're too emotional to focus can be dangerous. Don't use your car as a get away unless you trust that you can make it around safely.

Engaging in one of these simple activities, even if it's once every six months, will absolutely help you feel better, physically and emotionally, and allow you some breathing room to sort things out. Many of us have been caretakers, and may not be used to focusing on ourselves, may not be used to taking time out. But spending a few extra dollars to have someone focus on you, or you making yourself take time to be with yourself, is priceless. It is worth the few tears that will come because you are worth the time and effort. You are absolutely worth being out there in the world and not melting into walls.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Blog the Second

"If you have ever lost someone very important to you, then you already know how it feels, and if you haven't, you cannot possibly imagine it." -Lemony Snicket, "A Series Of Unfortunate Events"

Motherless Daughters carry around with them a deep internal despair that at times seems as if it will never, ever go away. It hurts in your heart, all the time, especially at the beginning. The pain is so tremendous you cannot fathom how anyone could even understand, let alone offer any solace, or grant your secret wish to take the pain away.

When I was having my moments, and feeling my Mother's loss so intensely, my friends would come to comfort me. And while most of them had not experienced a loss of their own, and honestly admitted they could not possibly imagine it, it was nice just having them there. Wrapped in the arms of my buddies (thank you Sque!) I always, in time, felt better. I learned my most important lessons about grieving from people who could not imagine, and had not experienced, a loss like my own.

So here's lesson 1: Don't let your pain keep you apart from others.

(Some of them really do understand)

While the reason you hurt may be different from most (I wish there weren't more Motherless Daughters than there are), the fact that you hurt is a truth that many can claim as their own. Your friend at work, who cries at night because she was dumped by her boyfriend, might be just the person to offer you the comfort you need, even though it may seem her type of loss could not possibly compare. At that moment, she hurts like you, and you'll come to find it really doesn't matter why.

Opening up to the possibility that anyone can help you, even your neighbor's three-year-old, allows you so many more chances for simply just feeling better, even for a time. For a Motherless Daughter, those small moments, those breaks, are usually exactly what we need.

I encourage you then, to keep your eyes and hearts open for the people (or the pets even!) who are, without a doubt, going to make you feel better. I encourage you to string together a few of those good moments because at some point you may find you've made a whole day out of them. Playdoh is a great way to get a good moment. So are Oreo cookies.

And finally, don't let your pain keep you apart from others, at least not for long, because some of them really do understand.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Blog the First

When you are a Motherless Daughter, the thoughts you think are generally inconceivable to most people around you. Your life is full of answerless questions, what seems like a never ending stream of frustrating conundrums and flash flood emotions.

For instance, since I moved further into my twenty-something years last month, I began to realize:

#1: That someday I will be older than my Mother
#2: That there will come a time when I have lived longer without my Mother than the time I had lived with her
#3: That I had not learned nearly enough from my Mother about how to navigate this life before the ending of her own

These are my own puzzling thoughts (ones that I hope will not remain infinitely unsolved). You, I am sure, have a host of your very own.

This blog then is for you, Motherless Daughter, who thinks the thoughts and lives the life that many probably could not wrap their minds around. And this blog is for the friends of Motherless Daughters, whose shoulders we cried on, and whose care and laughter brought us back many a time from that all too familiar ledge. Most of us would not be as far along as we are without them.

I hope that in these postings you, your loved ones and your friends, will find guideposts and road signs to help in life's daily navigations. It's not easy going it alone.

I hope that in these postings you will find a familiar soul. Yup, I sure know what that's like. And will take a moment to share your stories and advice.

And finally, I hope that at some point, in the midst of all these musings, you will laugh. Because there's nothing worse than trudging through heaps of life crap without smiling at least once in awhile.

Welcome to my blog. Hang out and stay awhile.