14: Every Day

Tonight, I hit a wall. I’ve been staring at the open computer screen for two hours, on and off. My best friend and I simultaneously played “What did the fox say” for eachother, while chatting on Facetime. We’re always late to the party, but we go really hard when we get there.

I looked at recipes on the internet then took a bath.

I toweled off and put on my pajamas and sat back down on the couch without so much as a glimmer of inspiration.

“Maybe I shouldn’t write from the couch.”

When I declared my intention to write for thirty days, it felt joyful and exciting. Like it would be beautiful and rewarding and effortless:

It’s daring and challenging and I shiver with excitement when I think about the surge of energy awaiting me at the end of it.

“What an accomplishment.”

When it’s over, I will write a heartfelt victory blog that’s both funny and inspiring. My friends, real and electronic, will undertake thirty day challenges of their own. They will post hilarious videos, or give a stranger a hug, or call their moms, or bake a month’s worth of inventive, cookie recipes.

They will write and sing and live their passion.

And when they feel discouraged, or pressed for time, or turned off by their most recent embrace of an unwitting hug-ee, they will read number fourteen of my thirty for thirty for thirty blogs and recommit to their effort.

I never considered how hard it is to do anything, for thirty days straight.

Make it to yoga and eat enough vegetables and be patient with people in traffic. Respond mindfully to irritating situations and apologize immediately when you don’t. Drink plenty of water and get out in the sunshine and tell the people you love, you love them. Walk the dog and practice gratitude and don’t take any moment of this extraordinary life for granted.

Floss, at least once a day.

In my life, I’ve wanted to give up on everything I didn’t do perfectly, the first time.

And most of the time, I have.

Tonight, I’m reminded that everything I want to do, I can, even if I don’t do it, moment to moment.

In the next breath, the next opportunity, I can begin again.

So tomorrow, just maybe, I’ll write something beautiful and moving and well punctuated.

Or I won’t.

And maybe I’ll let that be o.k., too.

13: What I already know

I took the first phone call the night my brother crashed his motorcycle. The friend he was riding with couldn’t get a hold of my mom. Or my dad. Or my brother’s girlfriend.

So he called me instead.

I remember everything about that night. What I was wearing and how my hair looked and the smell of the North Sacramento teen center where I was hosting an event for my summer camp. The shape of my bent knees and the way my right ankle landed in the arch of my left foot, like a ballerina in third position. I stand that way whenever I’m having an important conversation.

It’s instinct, automatic.

On the other line, an unfamiliar voice tells me there’s been an accident. My brother crashed a motorcycle on garden highway. He hurt his ankle and his shoulder and he’s in the ER.

“My brother has a motorcyle?”

There’s a sickness in my stomach when I admit, at first, I rolled my eyes.

The guy sounds calm and centered and his tone feels reassuring.

“But he’s awfully desperate to get a hold of my mom.”

The conversation ends and I get swept back up in the energy of what was happening before my phone rang. It’s noisy and my kids are demanding and minutes later, my racing heartbeat, starts to calm down. Within an hour, I’m laughing and talking over ice cream and grilled cheese sandwiches. Then, I’m three spoonfuls into my extra thick chocolate milkshake when I’m overcome by nausea, and dread. Out of nowhere, and without explanation. That deep, aching, immobilizing sensation, originating in my belly and radiating out.

“I have to leave.”

I throw cash on the table and get in my car. I’m out of the parking lot and on the road and I don’t even know where I’m going.

Somehow, I get there anyway.

At the hospital, my brother is in the ICU.

“I thought he sprained his ankle.”

They let me see him right away and sometimes,  I wish they hadn’t. He’s mumbling and delirious and as I make my way to the side of his bed, I see his whole body is bloody. It looks like Law and Order SVU when they first discover the victim. It’s gruesome like I didn’t know was possible in real-life.

I was up every, single hour of that, the worst night of my life.

In the morning, I cry. A lot. I cry driving to camp and for six hours after. I cry into my sweet dog’s fur as we’re both lying in my mom’s bed. I try to sleep, but just keep crying.

The night of my brother’s accident changed everything, for all of us. And in the months that followed, filled with “what could have beens?” and “is this really happening?”, I couldn’t shake the feeling that came over me and my milkshake. The why and the how of it, haunted me.

Six and a half years later it makes a little more sense. I have more experience tuning in to my intuition, my truth, and my authentic self. The places in my body that tell the stories my mind tries to ignore. I’m learning to pay attention. To quiet down and listen. To trust that what comes up as a sensation, has meaning in actions, and decisions and words.

Tightness and illness and fatigue and deprivation tell me something I’m doing isn’t working.

Lightness and inspiration and smiles and laughter and enthusiasm inspire me to do more of everything that fires me up.

When I keep running and stay busy and allow myself to get wrapped up in the energy of what’s already happening, I lose the connection to the message, that’s already in there. My knowing voice is silenced, before ever being heard.

When I take a deep breath, and let myself be still, and let go of the idea that something is wrong or bad or fixable, I connect to the knowledge, the wisdom, that’s already in there.

What I already know emerges, takes over, and shows me the way.

12: Be Love

Lawyer. Talk Show Host. Broadcast Journalist. Elementary School Teacher. Author. Professional Football Coach. Filmmaker. Famous Person. Summer Camp Counselor. Senator. President. Supreme ruler of the new empire.

My first conversations about my future career took place before Kindergarten. At the dinner table. In preschool. On play dates with my friends. The story of my life could be retold as a series of vignettes during which I am pursuing my latest new profession. My earliest memory is that I wanted to be a lawyer. In fifth grade I wrote a letter to myself at age 30. In it, I’m the San Francisco District Attorney. I am wildly accomplished, especially for my age. I went to law school straight out of college and quickly became a northern California lawyering sensation, the youngest woman ever to be a D.A.

As a sixth grader, presiding over student government meetings as our school’s President, I envisioned my life on capitol hill. I am a young, sassy senator with an edgy image and a sophisticated wardrobe. I wear Chanel suits accented with glittery lapel pens and chair the governmental affairs committee. I travel across the country speaking to young girls, at elementary schools, about empowering themselves. Be brave, be heard, be seen, be successful.

In junior high, I have a brief desire to be the next Katie Couric, or Diane Sawyer. I feel comfortable and natural sitting in a big, leather chair in a dimly lit room, firing the tough questions at a recently fallen, pop-culture hero. It’s hard-hitting journalism and I’m the best in the business. It’s analytical, and literary, and likely to make me famous some day. I check off my list of important job attributes and decide this is the one.

High school comes and goes and I care more about keeping my 4.0 and getting a date to homecoming than considering what I want to be when I grow up.

During college it’s clear I was put on the planet to do something revolutionary. I have a passion for serving “underserved” populations and now that I’ve discovered it, the possibilities are endless. I wonder if I should be their lawyer, or their teacher or make a documentary film about them.

Maybe I bring them on my talk show and give them money for college.

My whole life I’ve wanted to be a professional football coach. I’d be like Bill Walsh, but smaller and feistier. I’d stand in the middle of the huddle before games and lead the part where the players jump up and down and yell at each other. I’d hold my clipboard over my face when I’m calling the plays, and mouth the f-word when the refs misses a call. The network camera people will show my mom pacing in a luxury box, appearing completely stressed out, even when we’re winning by ten points.

For all the things I wanted to be, I never considered how I was already being. How I treated people and what it felt like to be around me. Because I didn’t have a value for being kind and compassionate, sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn’t. Being nice to strangers, and even harder, people I knew, wasn’t going to add to my prestige or power or further my climb of the fame ladder toward permanent infamy, so it didn’t matter much, to me.

It’s weird because my mom is the nicest, most compassionate, most loving person on earth.

Three years ago, I was being a yoga teacher and being a law student and being the smart, successful person I always knew I would be. For each new endeavor, I imagined my achievement of its pinnacle as the wonder-drug that would suddenly make me happy.

If everything I already am isn’t enough, there has to be more I can be.

I decided to be different. Everywhere in my life. I dedicated energy and intention to cultivating kindness like it was going to land me my dream job. I decided to be nice first and judge later and treat everyone like they were my best friend, already. I gave more hugs and said more “I love yous” and tried to be more like my mom. It mattered to me how I left a first impression, and how people felt, when they were around me.

The mantras I’d always known: be smart, be rich, be powerful, be perfect- gave way to the only one I needed.

Be love.

Be open. Show compassion. Share your lunch. Give a hug and look into people’s eyes and say hello when you see a stranger. Hold the door open and pick up something someone else dropped. On their birthday, write a long note to the people you love and tell them what they mean to you. When you feel angry and frustrated, breathe in gratitude for the experience of being alive. Remember that everyone has a story, and a reason, they act the way they do. Don’t force people to earn your affection, give freely without expectation.

Being love, for me, requires my full attention. I’m better than I used to be, but still a work in progress. I am sometimes nasty and judgmental and reactive all at once. I take people for granted and I don’t practice gratitude and I’m mean to the people around me. I talk over people, and about people, behind their back.

But I can always return to who and what and how I want to be. And remind myself why it’s important.

Today would have been my friend Heather’s 55th birthday. She was pure love, every day of her life. She wrapped everyone else in it, and helped us spread it around. She was open and honest and because she was completely human, the first to admit when she was being less than loving. When I knew I was losing her, I felt like the world needed me to fill the void of good vibes and love between strangers and pure joy, she’d be leaving. I wanted to preserve her legacy. I knew we would all be worse off without her, and I wanted to ease the suffering, somehow. Heather left her mark on this life by impacting the people in it. With her laugh and smile and energy and wholeness. With the way she made us feel when we were around her.

In every day, in every moment she loved. With kindness and generosity.

At a time in my life when I have no idea what I want to be someday, I know how I can be, until, and after, I figure it out.

11: Slow Flow

I argued my first legal case when I was nineteen. I got a speeding ticket, the night before Christmas Eve, while driving my friends to look at Christmas lights during our first holiday home from college.

I knew what it felt like to soar past the speed limit, heading east on highway fifty, and was certain I hadn’t been doing it, that night. When I asked to see his radar gun, the cop who pulled me over claimed he used his odometer to track my speed. He wrote “80+” on the ticket, an error of imprecision he might have thought twice about if he’d known I would be a lawyer some day. Nothing about his side of the story made sense and I was confident I could evade the fine by fast talking my way through a more accurate account of the events in court.

And so I did.

The judge told me I made an “impressive argument” and reduced what I owed to the minimum amount. I left the courtroom with a sense of pride and accomplishment, peeled out of the parking lot, and sped home.

In three years I racked up three more speeding tickets. Most memorably, Kern County earned 900 hundred of my dad’s dollars after I was pulled over tearing down the grapevine in my ’93 Honda Civic.

I drive fast, like my dad. But with worse luck and less intimidation. My dad is 62 and still without a moving violation. He told me once that he has an “aura” that people “don’t want to fuck with.” “You can drive as fast as you want, Boney, as long as nobody wants to pull you over.”

That was right after the grapevine debacle, and I haven’t been ticketed since.

I do other stuff fast, too.

I talk fast and walk fast and am a hyper-efficient shopper. I get through crowds and lines at Disneyland like I have a superpower for it. I think fast. I read fast and I cook fast, too.

I like to rev it up and “get ‘er done” and get bored if I’m just sitting. My favorite days end with me in a gelatinous blob of fatigue, on my couch, completely spent from at least eight hours of adventure.

In college, I was famous for racing up “Bruinwalk,” with an arm full of supplies for my mentoring program. Bruinwalk is a steep, narrow path that leads to all the humanities classrooms at UCLA. I was always running late and typically tackling it at full speed. It’s common to see people you know on such a crowded stretch of land, and, whenever I did, they told me “you look so busy,” and “can I help you with that?”

“I got it.”

And I’d scamper off to my next, important destination.

I signed up for a beginner’s yoga series during the last quarter of my senior year. At the end of the first class, I wondered when we would get to the exercise.

“I can’t possibly be getting my money’s worth from two or three lunges and a bunch of flopping around on the floor.”

But as I came to my feet and packed up my stuff, I felt undeniably different.

This isn’t my “fell in love with yoga” story, though. I finished out the series, but didn’t pursue it after that. I couldn’t find an hour in my day to just “stretch a little.” There were too many other things to do.

Four months after I graduated, I found Santa Monica Power Yoga. We moved quickly, through many poses, and spent more time on our feet. I sweat, and struggled and had difficulty finding my breath.

By the time I hit savasana, I was a gelatinous blob of fatigue.

I came back to the studio “to get my ass kicked,” and I’ve been a power yogi ever since. The strong, athletic practice, the sweat on my face and heat in the room and burn in my legs when we’re lunging. The swift, endless vinyasas through fluid sun salutations, and, later, a powerful, aggressive flow.

For the last seven years, it’s brought me back to my mat, six days a week.

And for the first five years, my yoga practice mirrored, but never altered, the pace of my life.

Only recently, the impact of seven years of yoga reveals itself to me as the pleasure of slowing down. The beauty of cuddling with my mom’s dogs, on her floor, for twenty minutes at a time. Waking up early to sip coffee and sit in silence, before the fury of the day takes shape. Meditation, time by myself, reading, reflecting, breathing.

The love of a deep, slow, yin practice, after a long day of work.

This morning, I took a power vinyasa class from the teacher of the fiercest, fastest flow in town.

Today, we move slowly, and deliberately, through a mindful, simple sequence with an emphasis on our breath. There are fewer chattarungas and not as many droplets of sweat. In savasana, my whole body relaxes as the room gets completely dark. A sensation of full surrender comes over me and the transformation that first brought me back to my yoga mat is renewed again.

10: Find Your People

There’s a three year-old at my summer camp whose favorite color is black. Faith is tiny, and fair-skinned, and looks to be the type who insists on wearing a pink, sparkly tutu, every time she leaves the house. The first time I ask her about it, I barely pause to hear the response. I assume it’s “glitter,” because the girls that look like her are saying that, every time.

It’s 2003 and I just finished my first year of college. I’m the second-oldest person on staff, but it’s the first job I’ve had where someone’s mom doesn’t hand me a wad of cash when I’m done with it. Some days, when my insecurity is talking, I wonder if I still don’t have a career at thirty because I got such a late start at nineteen.

Determined to fly under the “first-job” radar, I’m doing my best to fake ease and maturity, especially when other people are watching. Pretty quickly it’s clear that no one is paying attention. The other kids grew up here and have been working together for multiple, consecutive summers. Four weeks have passed and I’m still struggling to shake the outsider persona. Anything even slightly left or right of “center of attention” is far outside my comfort zone and I’m desperate to sneak into the cool group.

This week, I’m assigned a thirteen year-old junior counselor to “help” me out with my kids. So far my relationship to the junior counselors feels like babysitting a gawky, needy adolescent while chasing and entertaining 10 three year olds, all by myself.

I have no hope for this one. He’s short and keeps his curly dark hair poking out under a dirty, navy blue baseball cap. He wears tall, white, socks and long, black shorts and I decide, right away, he’s one of those dark, brooding, angsty boys who listens to punk rock and loves the color black. I already can’t relate to him, and it’s clear he’s out place at a children’s summer camp.

“It’s going to be a long week.”

By Tuesday, I’ve gleefully determined he’s the least annoying and most competent of the junior counselors. I still hope we don’t end up alone in conversation together because I don’t know anything about angry music or what it feels like to be tortured and deep.  Also, I don’t trust what I might say about his pre-pubescent mustache, if we end up face to face.

I step right into the fire of my anxiety when I see him standing alone at the craft table, twenty minutes after our campers were sent to lunch. I approach him with caution, and remind myself to stay focused on his eyeballs to avoid landing my gaze on his upper lip.

I see him carefully pasting grey and black strips of paper on a sturdy, homemade hat. He is intent on creating smooth creases and straight lines. Our craft that day was “Cat in the Hat” Hats, an unthinkably ambitious project for kids who can barely remember their own names.

Peter is finishing the last of our hats for Faith. He tells me, matter-of-factly, “I figured she’d only wear it like this.”

My heart melts and I vow never to judge another person again. I barely keep my promise through the end of the day, but Peter is embedded in my heart, forever.

In the next three days, we laugh and joke and mess with our kids, like we’ve been best friends for three lifetimes. I discover that Peter is smart and hilarious and weirder than anyone I’d ever met who wasn’t related to me. I’ve suddenly lost interest in breaking through the inner circle because I’m preoccupied with spending more time with my new friend.

Peter has a summer birthday and turns fourteen. He’s talking to me about starting high school and I remind him I’m already in college. We talk about school and romance and other kids at the summer camp. We share stories about our parents and siblings, and once in a while, I listen as he educates me about all the music he’s “into” right now.

Peter is my first friend that doesn’t look or act like the rest of them. He’s not the right age or the right image and it’s clear we’ll never go to a concert together. But for seven more summers, we are what we’ve always been to each other.

In 2004, my real-life best friend comes to work with us and is immediately sad and jealous. She’s been my partner in crime since we were thirteen and she’s not settling for someone else interfering. She throws three fits per week until, eventually, she senses the specialness of our bond and surrenders to unexpected truth of it.

In 2005, I decide I’m too old to sing songs and play tag for eight weeks and accept a serious, world-saving internship for the summer. Two and a half weeks later I’m on the bumper boats at Scandia Family Fun Center, taunting Peter about his loss in miniature golf.

The next morning I call my supervisor to tell her I’m moving home for “personal reasons.”

Peter graduated from high school and went away to college and things never changed between us. He was still my soulmate and my best friend and the boundary of age and experience continued to not matter to either of us. He grew up and confessed how awesome it was to have the attention of a nineteen year old woman when he was barely a high school freshman. I felt humiliated and naive as I admitted it was something I never considered.

It’s been over a decade since I met Peter, and three years since I left Camp Have a lot of Fun. In the time between, there have been other, unconventional friendships. Most of them were born out of the unique and beautiful family at summer camp, but some of them blossomed organically at the yoga studio or the high school where I used to work.

My friendship with Peter opened me to the possibility that “my people” could be something other than who they’d always been. It taught me that the people we belong to, and belong with, are out there for us to find and connect to. Our job is to seek them. Our “tribe”, our “community”, “our people”, are the ones who were always meant for us.  The ones with whom we never had to fake it. The people who see us, and get us, and accept us as we are, no matter what. The people we spark with, and the ones who make us feel safe. The people we show our weirdest and deepest and ugliest to, right away.

I cherish the thirteen year-old boy who loved me unconditionally, because I’ve been able to spot the ones who were capable of it, ever since.

9: Learning to Cook

“Something’s wrong.”

Forty five minutes into my first night-time baby sitting gig and I’m already seeking help from my mom. The cordless phone is cradled between my left ear and the top of my left shoulder and I’m hovering over a suspicious-looking pot of macaroni and cheese.

My simmering concoction is soupier than the version I’ve eaten more than 200 times in my life, signaling me to consult an expert. While we’re talking through it, I pick up the pace of my wooden-spoon stir stroke, trying to blend away the extra liquid. When my wrist fatigues, I wonder what it is about this process that seems easy enough to leave a fourteen year-old babysitter alone to execute. I describe what I see to my mom, and she’s convinced my failure is not for my lack of effort, but “maybe something else.”

She asks me to repeat back to her what I’ve done.

When I get to the part about the four cups of milk, she identifies the root cause of my disaster.

Apparently I have a rare learning disability that presents as mathematical dyslexia, but only when I’m reading recipes, to make food, to feed to starving kids.

Now the kids are hungry and  fresh out of fun things to do without me and my mom is resisting my request to come over. I feel panicky and inadequate and like my whole life has led up to this moment and with the game on the line I fumble in the end zone.

I decide to stop cooking forever.

And for fourteen years, it’s easy to keep my word.

My mom gets hopeful during my last year of high school when I pick up her addiction to Food Network. Back then the programming was mostly “how-tos” performed by young cooks who are now aging stars, with considerably more fame, and just a little extra weight. I learn how to season both sides of a steak and avoid over-mixing brownie batter. I learn about searing and roasting and the balancing flavors. I could whip cream and food process and create a white-wine reduction.

If only I hadn’t vowed I never would.

In college, I didn’t have time for Food Network and lived in such a frenzy of activity, I forgot I ever did. I spent countless days on campus where eight or ten hours would pass with only the consumption of a Wetzel’s pretzel, and a diet coke. I ate strawberry sour straws to stay awake in class and returned home every night to find my area of the refrigerator empty, again.

I stashed sleeves of Oreos in our freezer for nights when I hadn’t eaten anything at all.

When my best friend Alice became my roommate, she insisted on making me plates and plates of potstickers because “if I don’t feed you, I know you’ll only eat M&Ms.”

Post-college life looked essentially the same except I moved back to my home town where my mom could make me dinner, at least once a week.

On my twenty-fifth birthday, I still didn’t own my own set of plates, or a single pot or pan.

I don’t remember how everything shifted, or when it was exactly. But sometime during my third year of law school, I decided to learn to cook. It felt like a new, hip hobby. Something I could talk to people about in public when they looked bored with, or disinterested in yoga. I thought it might be fun and was certain it was a more valuable use of the internet than my current, less-hip hobby: trolling Facebook.

I mostly cooked vegetables and experimented with wholesome baked goodies. Vegetables were tasty but less-than-challenging and wholesome baked goodies never tasted as delicious as the not-wholesome ones. I stayed on it, though, allowing myself to grow in small spurts, if never long strides. I got hooked on food blogs and reunited with my friends from the Food Network. With a ball of knotty anxiety in my stomach, I started to share my food with the friends I’d made in real life.

People were openly accepting and universally supportive, no matter the quality of food I delivered. One afternoon, I poisoned my friend Parker with a faulty batch of questionable deviled eggs, and later that night he requested something else home-made from my kitchen.

There were mediocre outcomes and outright failures. Sometimes the catastrophe was equal to my inaugural episode, and occasionally it was even worse.

Sometimes I’d make something I was so proud of, I’d send my mom pictures, and the recipe, to prove it.

When I’d get really deep in it, I’d call my mom three or four times to clarify tricks and tips and memories I’d internalized over so many years of watching, but not cooking.

For me, learning to cook is a practice of patience, and courage and vulnerability. It is the only thing I’ve ever loved, that I’m not particularly good at. Cooking is where my ego surrenders to my heart, and where I live in the pure joy and spirit of the experience. Cooking is how I tell people I care for them and where I go for meditation.

It is hard, and frustrating and rewarding and changing, and awesome and peaceful, every time I do it.

8: Sometimes it’s o.k. if

My parents separated when I was in high school. One morning, I think it was July,  my mom and I woke up in the house we’d lived in for over a decade, and went to bed in our new apartment, two miles away. There was little fanfare, or warning or justification. When my friend Molly came home from her trip to Israel, she drove to visit me at the wrong house. I didn’t provide a direct explanation, but, by then, my friends knew better than to ask me for one.

For two years before I left for college my mom and I lived together with our dog, in our new home. It was a loosened up lifestyle, mostly missing the consistency and predictability I’d always known. Everything before that had been governed by strict routines and non-negotiable timelines: There were three, square meals per day and age-appropriate bedtimes. Carpools planned three months in advance and homework neatly organized in brightly colored folders, then the pages of crisp, white planners, for every day of the week.

A combination of my mom’s pure, emotional, exhaustion, my dad’s absence, and the freedom afforded me by a driver’s license and a (new) car created a perfect storm for a revolution in the character and patterns of our daily life. I can look back now and name the experience of those two years as a hybrid of my first year in an apartment in college, and my first year in an apartment on my own.

The rigid structure of my childhood gave way to the fluidity that evolves from chaos. My relationship with my mom permanently shifted and it was during this period that I first called her my best friend. And, after so many years of devotedly following them, I learned to break the rules.

A little at a time.

My mom taught me that sometimes it’s o.k. to buy a bag of Mother’s chocolate chip cookies, and split it between two people, for dinner. That sometimes it’s o.k. if we eat Samoas ice cream, straight out of the carton, as long as we don’t do it every night. That sometimes it’s o.k. if my drunk friends sleep on our living room couch or in the back of my SUV to avoid facing their own parents who have yet to lighten up.

I didn’t have a curfew and never had to tell my mom where I was going or when I was coming back. My friends blasted music, sat on the countertops in the kitchen and talked to my mom openly about how they smoked pot.

One time, before I graduated, I threw a party while I was home alone. Because sometimes it’s o.k. to let twenty of your friends and fifty random strangers trash your mom’s condo on a Friday night.

When I talk to her now, my mom denies most of this. She claims she had strict boundaries and concrete rules and I couldn’t have possibly thrown a party without her permission.

What she does admit, though, is by the time I was old enough to drive, the rules and control and prescriptions had failed her. My brother was raised on scheduled bedtimes and regimented after school hours and high standards for homework and test performance. He had a curfew and driving restrictions and all the responsible parenting impositions suggested for teenagers in books.

None of it worked.

He broke his curfew and disregarded his homework and cut school and failed all of his tests. He drove my parents cars when they let him and stole them when they didn’t. He got drunk, all day long. He threatened my mom and he lied to my dad and there was nothing either of them could do to stop it.

So, by the time her marriage is over, and our house in the suburbs is just a place she used to live, and her oldest child is an alcoholic, my mom, is ready to let the rules slide.

A little at a time.

And it’s a powerful lesson, for both of us.

About letting go and giving in and occasionally eating ice cream for dinner. About acknowledging the importance of structure, but allowing it to bend, and change, once in a while.

Tonight, I’m reminded that sometimes it’s o.k. if I skip yoga to make brownies and hang out with my friends. To eat cupcakes and drink wine on a work night and stay out too late for how much I have to do when I get home.

To publish a blog without re-reading it, or remembering in the morning what it says.

Sometimes it’s o.k. to be messy and unedited and all-over the place.

As long as you don’t do it every night.