Archives

Motherhood, Menopause and the Time Succubus

by Shannon Penrod

Okay, I admit it, I’m crabby today.  And don’t tell me it’s hormonal, that just makes me crabbier.  Is it just me?  I know I got an extra hour handed to me over the weekend because of Daylight Savings, but does anyone else feel like it came at the cost of ten or so other hours?  It reminds of when I go to big sale at a department store, 50% off of everything, only everything was marked up 75% to begin with.  Did I mention I’m crabby?

Where does the time go?  On Friday there was the trip to the Pumpkin Patch, on Saturday the trip to the Fall Carnival100_8846 and trick or treating afterward.  Yesterday there was a birthday party.  Sure I gained an hour, but it was spent on the Halloween treadmill.  

Don’t get me wrong I love the holidays, all of them.  I love anything that interupts the monotony and gives us a reason to celebrate and create memories.  I love it, but I am always glad to get back to normalcy.  Today was supposed to be normalcy.  I scheduled it.  It’s in my plannner.  Which apparently no one else bothered to check. Noooooo.

Instead the powers that be decided to change school picture retake day to today!  Except in my planner it is clearly written that the picture retake is tomorrow.  Today is taking my son to get a haircut, to fix the hack job I did on it so he could be Spock for Halloween.  Today is the day I am going to wash and iron his blue shirt for the picture.  It’s in my planner! Today is not the day that we are taking pictures!  Except it is.  So now I am home finding another shirt, muttering, grabbing scissors and running back up to school to give my precious bug at least a trim so he doesn’t have the life long horror of a first grade picture that looks like his mother was drunk when she cut his hair. 

I get to school just in time to hear one of my son’s classmates say that his head is itching again.  This is the little boy that has had lice outbreaks twice this year already.  So far we have remained louse free, but really how long do we think my luck can hold out at this rate? Heavy sigh.  Lice is definately not in the planner for today.

I know that in the realm of things these are small problems.  I know that my frustration and inability to go with the flow has to do with the estrogen that is leaving my body like rats abandoning a sinking ship.  It all comes down to time.  Time is passing.  I’m getting older by the minute, more importantly my child is getting older by the minute.  There’s so much I want to teach him, so much I want to do with him. There is never enough time.  The time succubus marches on.  My job is to learn to release my expectations, relinquish my control issues and enjoy the moment.  Yeah…..well wish me luck with that.  Maybe if I schedule it in my planner…..

Advertisements

Life After Obsessed

By Shannon Penrod

I love it when Oprah asks people, “What do you know for sure?”   Here is what I know for sure today : There is help if you are willing to ask for it, and willing to embrace it.  I agreed to be on the A&E show Obsessed  because I wanted and needed help. I got it! 

Today I am overwhelmed (in a really good way) with people offering me their well wishes, their love, their support and their congratulations.  I want to thank everyone for their messages and encouragement, they have meant so much to me and my family.  I also want to let everyone know that I am doing wonderfully and so are my husband and my son.  Life has returned to normal.  It is amazing and miraculous to have had this “return to myself” in what seems like such a quick period of time.

For those of you have written to me to let me know that you are suffering, as I was – I want you to know that there is hope and there is help.  I won’t tell you that it is easy, but it is easier than not living fully.   I know what it’s like to be in that dark place.  I am no longer there.  I hope you will find your help and join me on the other side.  I don’t know if Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works for everyone but it certainly worked for me.  Thank you A&E!

"Thursdays This Summer" The Skirball Adventure

By Shannon Penrod

100_7385Thursdays this Summer” (my plan to entertain and educate my child on a budget) began today with a trip to The Skirball Cultural Center.  What a great way to start the summer!  The two exhibits on Comic Book Super Heroes  were really fun for the kids.  They got to dress up in Super Hero costumes, draw their own comic book character and check out a lot of vintage artwork. 

The real hit of the day was the amazing Noah’s Ark exhibit!  The entire exhibit was hands on and interactive.  I love it when a docent says, “Make sure you touch everything!” 

All of the animals are sculpted from reclaimed materials in the exhibit 100_7438so there are layers to the enjoyment.  While the kids were pulling levers to create lightning, wind and rain the adults got to stare in wonder at an alligator fashioned out of a tire, a glove and a violin neck. Amazing!  The entire exhibit was ingenious, captivating and deliciously educational.  Yippee for Thursdays this summer!  And did I mention it was FREE!  Yes, Free!  Every Thursday the museum is open for free  – there wasn’t even a parking charge.  Thank you, Skirball Center for a wonderful day!

Obsessed

By Shannon Penrod

I have a confession to make.  I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).  There are a very few people who know me extremely well who are thinking right now, “Yeah, what else is new?”  While the vast majority of people who know me are probably thinking, “Gee, n111621489664_8802shouldn’t her house be a lot cleaner?”  As luck would have it my particular brand of  OCD doesn’t lend itself to obsessive cleaning. 

There is a great new show on A&E called Obsessed that follows OCD sufferers as they go through a process of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  It’s a ground breaking show that airs on Monday nights at 10/9c, right after Intervention. Obsessed shows how debilitating OCD can be for some people.  It’s an important show that is gritty, real and aspires to be helpful to those with OCD.  Which is why I agreed to participate in the show as a patient. 

I can hear my friend Millie saying “Boy, you really are putting your business on the streets!”  Yes, Millie, I did and I am, and if anyone is interested they can tune in to A&E on June 22nd to watch the entire story.  If nothing else it should be interesting, and may even answer a few questions about some my “quirks”.

It's in the Celebrations

By Shannon Penrod

Last week my son turned 6 years old.  We decided to throw him a dance party.  It didn’t seem at all odd to me, he loves to dance and I wanted to do something that wouldn’t revolve around food and wouldn’t cost a small fortune.  Solution: Dance Party!  IMG00270-20090605-2059We found a great warehouse space that comes with a trampoline, a bouncy house, a Wii and an Xbox 360 (both hooked up to big screen TVs) – the rent was ridiculously cheap and I bartered the services of a great DJ. 

I did this for a little boy who has worked so hard to overcome autism.  My mom and my husband and I watched him at the party, which my friend Therese called a six year old rave, and we couldn’t believe how social he was.

Just three and a half years ago we realized there was a problem when we went to a friend’s birthday party and our son sat in the corner by himself, humming as he played with a Buzz Lightyear toy, he never even noticed there were other children at the party.  Last week he was the belle of the ball, laughing and running from activity to activity, talking to his friends, answering when his friends called him, even cracking jokes.  It was a great night, and it was filled with family and friends who had shown up to celebrate with us.

Towards the end of the party I had a moment.  You know one of those rushes of feeling and clarity that kind of takes your breath away.  I looked at my mom and my son and was acutely aware of how quickly time passes and how precious every moment is.  There were several moments when I considered not having a birthday party for my son this year – In this economy…aren’t we all carefully considering every expenditure? 

But as I looked around that warehouse room and saw all the faces of people we love and that love us, I knew that this would be a night my family would always remember.  In ten years we aren’t going to remember all of the daily struggles to pay bills and buy biomeds and secure therapy hours, we’re going to remember the celebrations.  I thought about the last ten years and the weddings, graduations, births and home comings we’ve enjoyed, there have been hard times too and even a few funerals, but when all is said and done, it’s the celebrations we remember the most.  I’m awfully glad that we took the time to find the joy in life, now I know…it’s in the celebrations

The Self Care Equation for Busy Moms

By Shannon Penrod

Okay, so here’s the deal.  When was the last time you skipped a meal?  Or stayed up too late?  Or even put off going to the bathroom until a more convenient time?  Guilty as charged?  Me too.  And from the sounds of it most of my friends who are Moms are equally guilty.  Here’s the $64,000 question: When was the last time you allowed your child(ren) to skip a meal, stay up to 2 am or asked them to wait an hour to go to the bathroom?  If you’re like me it never happens.  Sometimes a meal is delayed, sure…but I beat myself up about it.  Sometimes I let my son stay up too late (by an hour!) When I do he and I pay for it the next day and I remind myself that we are never doing that again.  middle-endIf my child tells me he has to go to the bathroom I never, ever ask him to wait longer than it takes for me to drop everything and locate the nearest restroom.  So how come I don’t do that for myself?

What would my life look like if I took care of myself the way I take care of my child?  What would happen if I had a ritual of stopping everything a full two hours before my set bedtime (snort!) and devoted that time to taking a leisurely bath, reading wonderful stories, getting a full body massage with lotion and in general preparing myself for a good night sleep?  I think I might actually be asleep before midnight, I might actually sleep better and as a result I might be a happier more productive person.  Hmmmmm.  What if I made sure that I had food and drink on a regular basis, to the point of carrying a snack with me when leaving home?  Maybe I wouldn’t be so cranky when the doctor’s appointment goes long or traffic is heavy.  Hmmmmm.  What would happen if I considered the major food groups and the colors of the rainbow when I plan my own meals like I plan my sons – wait, that would require planning my meals…hmmmm.

I schedule play time for my son.  I make sure that his schedule is balanced between work and play, I schedule quiet time, outdoor time and play dates…because I love him and want him to be happy.  But it occurs to me that by not doing these things for myself I am also teaching him that when you grow up, you don’t have to take care of yourself anymore.  Uggggh, that is a punch to stomach.  I thought I was teaching him the opposite, that he is worth caring for.  But you can’t give away what you don’t have.  Ugggggh, another punch to stomach.  I want my son to feel loved and worthy of being taken care of – whether it is self care or care that comes from someone else.  If I am really committed to teaching him this lesson I have to module it. 

So I offer a challenge to all of us, all the moms out there, the self care equation for moms.  For the next month let’s all treat ourselves to the care that we treat our children to.  If we start to put our needs on the bottom of the priority pile, let’s stop and consider if we would ever do that to our children.  If we wouldn’t do it to our children, we can’t do it to ourselves.  If it wouldn’t be good for them – it’s not good for us.  If you aren’t sure, consider “If I let my kid do this how would their behavior change?”  It’s laughable.  I had popcorn for dinner three nights ago.  Imagine feeding your kid popcorn for dinner and then expecting them to behave like a reasonable person!  So for the rest of the month let’s have the same rules apply to us.  Who knows we all might feel better, more rested, happier and more productive.  Keep me posted as to your progress; I need to know if it’s just me!

The Case for Renting AUSTRALIA

By Shannon Penrod

The other night I dreamt I was having lunch with Oprah and some of her friends and family. For me this isn’t all that unusual, two nights ago I dreamt that I borrowed Ellen DeGeneres’ nanny, and as far as I know she and Portia have no children, so go figure!  What was interesting in the dream with Oprah is that I was passionately telling her and everyone that would listen that they needed to rent and watch the movie Australia starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.film-poster

Since the dream, renting the movie keeps coming up in conversation with friends and family as well as total strangers in the check out line.  Apparently I am a lot more passionate on the subject than anyone, including me, even knew.  (Look, when you dream about telling Oprah something, you’re pretty invested in it)

So, here’s the deal, I think EVERYONE needs to rent this movie and make the time to watch it.  I know, the critics panned it.  That’s one of the reasons why you need to see it and make up your own mind.  They were wrong.  This isn’t just a good movie, it’s a great movie.  It is the kind of movie that you see and never forget.  I don’t want to overstate anything, but it’s the kind of movie that has the power to change your life.

And before I wax really poetic about it you need to know that I am neither a Nicole Kidman nor a Baz Luhrmann fan.  She’s okay, but she’s really thin and she gets on my nerves and while I love Luhrmann’s visual sense of things, I usually feel like it takes precedence over the telling of the story.  This is not the case in Australia!  First and foremost this is some great story telling, with amazing visuals that serve the story while taking your breath away.  Kidman is fabulous, yes, I said it, and I meant it.  And honestly I could look at Hugh Jackman all day!

I had an expectation when I sat down in the movie theatre. I had heard the word epic – I assumed it was in reference to visuals, I was wrong.  This film is EPIC, in the tradition of old style film making.  The story is huge, the setting is huge, and the stakes are huge.  Nothing is packaged in a nice little 90 minute template.  The film takes you on a journey that is surprising in its scope.  I had an expectation that I was going to see a film that was largely a love story between a man and a woman.  That was delivered beautifully.  What I didn’t expect were the deeper themes of what it truly means to be a mother, what it means to live by your ideals in a world that cannot support them, what it means to humble yourself to trust in something greater than yourself by letting your children go.

I don’t want to spoil anything but what I can tell you is that I left the theatre someone different than I walked in.  In my opinion that is what a great film can and should do.  There were at least two moments in the movie that I have not been able to stop thinking about.  Moments that have spurred me to have more personal courage, to get off my comfortable polyester clad ass and stand up for what I believe; moments that have inspired me to be a better person. And it was a ripping good yarn!

Don’t listen to the critics, they’re a cynical bunch of movie dorks who have been in dark rooms with stale popcorn for too long.  Australia is worth seeing. It is important to let Hollywood and the world wide film making industry know that these kinds of movies have their place.  If you listen to the critics you will not only miss out on a great film you will send a message that will ensure these types of films are never made again.  Rent it and watch it with fresh eyes.  You won’t be disappointed!