Thursday, July 24, 2008

Celtic Woman

This is singing. It is this to which I aspire. It is this that I work toward every day. Sometimes I get close, usually I'm frustrated. I never give up, because the results are worth the effort.

I have raved about Celtic Woman in this forum before. I hope you will watch this. And I hope you will follow the links to some of their other videos. But more importantly, I hope you will set aside your notions about what "good music" is or is not, about what "cool" is or is not.

And... just listen. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and allow yourself to feel this.

This a capella number is sheer bliss.

The one luscious chord at the end of this one is worth the anticipation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I am a slave to hair. There was this line from a movie in which a young Amish girl tells her "English" guest that a woman's hair is her crowning glory. I grabbed hold of that line and never let go.

I wear my hair long. Longer than the fashionistas say women my age should wear it. I don't listen to fashionistas. My hair falls between my shoulder blades, although I have worn it much longer, and I miss it. I do not color it. I keep it trimmed, or rather Stacey-the-Incredible keeps it trimmed.

On the days that I choose to sleep in a bit, I shampoo (twice), condition, mousse, blow dry with a diffuser, and wear it naturally curly. On the days that I feel industrious, however, there is much more work involved. Shampoo (twice), condition, blow it straight, section it off, spritz it, iron it straighter, and apply hair wax to fend off the humidity. Humidity is my enemy.

Then there's the hair on the rest of my body. Shaving, plucking, trimming... one simply cannot be too smooth. I heard Oprah say once that she believed the little hairs on her chin were spring-loaded - hiding beneath the skin's surface until some time during the day, when they burst forth in all their glory. And you never have a pair of tweezers handy at that time.

I have two daughters. They have hair, too, of course. As dancers, they must wear a variety of hairstyles for performances. They still need help with this. I happen to know how to fix hair. The Little One's hair falls to her fanny. That is a lot of hair to twist into a ballet bun.

The Not-So-Little One is hypersensitive (see previous post). Every morning she brandishes the hair brush and entreats me to brush her shoulder-length hair. I comply because it is just faster than fighting with her (can I hear an "amen" from all you parents out there?). It wasn't until her recent visit to the occupational therapist that I learned she has weakness in her hands. That would further explain why she prefers not to brush it herself. Every morning she cries real tears and shouts and stomps her feet as I tease out the tangles as gently as humanly possible.

Hair has an annoying habit of falling out. I lose a ton of hair with every shampooing and brushing. So do my girls. I constantly sweep long brown hair off the bathroom floor and do my best to keep it from clogging up the drains.

I have two dogs and four cats. You guessed it - more hair. The vacuum and swiffer stand at the ready. We all take part in the battle against pet hair. The losing battle.

You may ask why I allow myself to be controlled by something that could easily be overcome with a pair of scissors. The truth is that hair is a big part of our human identity. I know very few people who really don't give a rat's patootie what their hair looks like. Most of us care quite a bit.

Is this obsession with hair pathological? According to the DSM-IV, a condition is only considered a disorder if it causes distress. Okay, okay, I admit it - I do occasionally experience hair-induced distress. I guess I'm just not ready to let go. Excuse me while I take the dog to the groomer.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I have this kid. I call her the Not-So-Little One. She is terrific - smart, funny, sensitive, caring, talented. She is terrific, that is, until she gets overwhelmed. In those moments when she is bombarded by the everyday stimuli that all of us allow to roll off our backs, the Not-So-Little One loses it.

I'm not talking about temper tantrums. I am not talking about behavior problems that can be resolved by time outs. I am talking about responses that are off the charts, out-of-this-world, inappropriately out of proportion to the situation. And they can happen quickly, with no warning. She can go from a lovable, affectionate, cooperative child to one who is screaming, kicking, and berating herself upon a moment's notice. Have you ever heard your elementary school aged child say she hates herself and that she wishes she were never born? It sucks.

My instincts told me when she was an infant that something was amiss. She would get hungry, but rather than eat she would cry for three hours, escalating the whole time, pushing me and her food source away. As a toddler we watched her hang onto the side of her high chair, screaming and begging to be fed - we could hardly get her in the chair quickly enough. Within seconds of putting food in her mouth, she was fine.

We had her blood sugar tested. Both of her grandmothers were diabetic. No blood sugar problem. We had sonograms taken of her abdomen. All normal.

Teachers began to wonder aloud if she was having petit mal seizures because she would "zone out" while performing a task at school. Tests revealed nothing abnormal.

There were other behaviors, too. Behaviors that just didn't seem to fit. Incongruence. Doctors told me I was overreacting. They told me it was a parenting problem. They blamed me. I blamed me, too.

After 11 years, we finally got a physician to refer us to an occupational therapist that specializes in children. We took the Not-So-Little One for assessment. The therapist did not tell me I was overreacting. She did not tell me it was a parenting problem. She listened. She validated both of us.

We are waiting for the official diagnosis, but it appears that my amazing kid has a sensory processing problem. In simple terms, her brain has trouble sorting out all of the sensations that she experiences. It's too much, overwhelming. She short-circuits, if you will.

I've been reading up. And my friends and colleagues have been tremendous help to me. They are a plethora of information and support. I am just so relieved to be heard! There is definitely healing in the telling of your story, let me tell you.

And... I am worried. And scared. And sad. And guilty. And angry.

I worry that I will not be helpful to my child as we attend to her therapy. I am scared that it will get worse, or that she will resent me. I am sad that she is not perfect (admit it, all you parents out there - we all want our children to be as close to perfect as possible). I feel guilty for all the times that I shouted at her or punished her for rotten behavior.

More than anything, though, I am angry. I am angry that I couldn't get anyone to listen to me. I'm angry that we wasted 11 years, spinning our wheels, when we could have been tackling the problem.

I am feeling overwhelmed as I face the future with her. I suppose you could say that I am experiencing a little sensory overload myself. Maybe I will talk to her about it and ask her what it feels like to her when this happens. Maybe I will just sit in the floor and cry.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


It's wonderful what you can find when you poke around a bit!

My Romance

This is just a lovely little song, isn't it? And it equally lovely to hear Ella sing so sweetly.

Wish I could have found Ella footage rather than this slide show, but this will have to do. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


A few years ago I decided to take the plunge. I applied for graduate school and, shockingly, I was accepted.

On the night of my first class, I met this woman. She was in her early 40s. She sat near the back of the class, avoiding eye contact and pretending to leaf through her textbook while listening to the other students chat. She had this deer-in-the-headlights expression of one who wasn't sure of what she had gotten herself into.

The professor asked everyone to introduce themselves and tell a little about what had brought them there. This new woman said that she was married, had a couple of young children, and had graduated with her bachelors degree 20 years prior. She wasn't the oldest in the class, but she had been out of school the longest. It was no wonder she was nervous.

I got to know this woman as we tackled class after class together. The field of psychology had changed quite a bit since she had last graduated, and the technology we were using didn't even exist when she was an undergraduate. But she seemed pretty good at rolling with it all. She was careful not to say too much, so as not to embarrass herself in front of the younger, savvier students.

I learned that this woman's husband wasn't all too keen on the idea of her going back to school. Something about the expense, the time commitment, all that. It was very important to her that she gain her husband's approval. Her grades were mostly exceptional. The one "B" she earned devastated her.

She told a classmate one day that she did all of her reading, writing, and studying after everyone had gone to bed at night so that she could remain engaged in the family activities. She had also given up her extracurricular activities, which clearly made her sad. She had to do this, she explained, because she was working a full time job and a part time job in order to keep school from affecting the family budget.

During the three years that it took me to finish the program, I watched this woman grow. She started to share her experiences of working with troubled teens at a local psychiatric hospital. She questioned and challenged - herself as well as instructors. She eventually shared some of her own past trauma in an effort to help future counselors understand what it is like to be the one being counseled.

A story circulated around the program that one night a new adjunct professor insulted her in front of the class. She responded with quiet dignity. He left the university shortly after the dean attended a class meeting to monitor him. From what I knew, she had never been the proactive type, but would rather have just "blown off" this sort of offense. He must have crossed a boundary with her.

The woman I met evolved from a shy, insecure follower to an outgoing, confident leader. She unobtrusively inched from the fringe to real camaraderie. Old-fashioned, conservative opinions were replaced with open-mindedness and acceptance of diversity. Fear of the unknown gave way to eager anticipation.

In some ways she is barely recognizable. But if you look deeply enough you can still see traces of her true core. Compassion, empathy, pain and recovery. Yeah, she's still there.

I did something I never considered possible. I... fell in love with this woman. I know her pretty well now, as well as anyone can know someone who continues to change. I am anxious to see what will become of her. Maybe what I should say is that I am anxious to see what will become of me. That woman is me. And I am proud to know her.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Catchin' Up

I went to see Get Smart. I was a huge fan of the TV show, and I eagerly awaited the release of this movie. I was not disappointed. I have never paid much attention to movie critics, although I had heard that they didn't care for this one. Well, phooey on them. That's right, I said phooey. I loved it.

It was all there - the shtick, the slapstick, the well-known quotes, the shoe phone, the Sunbeam. Steve Carrell was a little less bumbling than Don Adams' character, but he still managed to charm the camera. And Anne Hathaway is just, well, HOT! I want to be her in my next life.


The girls have started horseback riding lessons. They are on break from dance this month, and God forbid they just sit back and relax, so they are learning how to groom, tack, and ride. I think they are having a good time. They haven't stopped grinning yet.


Here's a bit of irony - last Saturday while I conducted a stress management workshop, I managed to hurt my back. I was really stiff and sore for several days. That was stressful.

Today it is feeling better. Probably because I lifted boxes, crawled under furniture, and walked about 10 miles while I switched offices with my staff. More irony.

I had this huge space with a view, but I am hiring a new person, and BB's teeny office was too small to accommodate them both. I'm going to turn it into a Woman Cave.

I will miss the pigeon that has raised a brood on my window ledge. I got to witness her and her boyfriend making whoopee on said ledge a couple of weeks ago. She has since tidied up her nest and is sitting there again. I wonder how many eggs she'll lay this time.


Tomorrow is Independence Day. We will be spending the day with my North Texas family. It will be just hot enough to force me to squeeze into a swimsuit and jump in the pool. If I move fast enough, maybe no one will actually see me!


The Not-So-Little One offered to sing a solo on Sunday when she heard me lamenting that I didn't believe the children's choir would be ready to sing their special anthem. I was so happy to hear her say she wanted to sing for the congregation. And I was smart enough to pretend it was no big deal so she wouldn't rescind her offer.


Have a safe and happy holiday, my friends. If you are traveling, come home to those who love you. If you are staying close to home, remember that you are loved always.