Monday, January 24, 2011

The further adventures of Missy and Sherri

Friday my friends Missy and Ally decided to come to our house for a spur of the moment slumber party. Missy packed up the twins and headed out. Friday traffic on the 91 is a beast, but she got there. Ally had to finish work so she started out a couple hours later. She called to tell Missy where she was and as she was talking to her the car died. In rush hour traffic, no one would let her over of course, this being California and all, the land of selfish and idiotic drivers. Finally she was able to move it over. I grabbed my keys and took off to meet her (Missy stayed with the kids and put in a call to AAA, while Sara made us all dinner).

So eventually I get to where the tow truck had towed her off the side of the road in the McDonald's parking lot. I filled it up with water and we limped it almost to my house and it died again. So we parked it and headed home. We decided to just put it out of our minds and continue our fun-filled slumber party. We ate, we talked, we played games. I made the most awesome Gluten-free peanut butter cookies EVER. No kidding, those things were actually good. We just enjoyed each other. Saturday came around and we just couldn't part. So the over-nighter became a weekend getaway for a family who really just needed to be around people who cared about them.

Because they hadn't planned on staying an extra day Missy didn't have enough medication so we decided to head over to the OC and pick them up while the girls headed to the park with the kids, planning to meet up for pizza in an hour and a half. Yeah, SURE.....

Well first there was of course a big ole traffic jam, this being California and all, the land of selfish and idiotic drivers, oh wait I think we covered that part. So anyway after about 2 or more hours in THAT we made it past the jam and cruised on, chatting the whole time. Eventually Missy looked up and realized she didn't recognize where we were. "Are you on the 405?", she asked. Um, no was I supposed to be? Ooops. Ended up in Costa Mesa. No problem I lived in Newport Beach so I knew right where we were, flipped around and headed back up the 55 to the 405. We finally made it to their pad, gathered up our supplies and took off for the IE.

Fast forward to about 35 minutes later when I notice nothing looks familiar. Yep, you guessed it, I missed the freeway interchange again. This time we really had NO idea where I took us. So we just kept going while Missy frantically tapped on her iPhone hoping Google maps could locate us. "Get off the next exit and turn around or we are going to end up in San Diego", she declared. Ooops, guess the 5 South isn't where I was supposed to be. But I did get to see me some Aliso Viejo. In the dark. For one exit. Then we headed back frantically searching to see if between the two of us we had enough cash to take the toll road and cut across the mountain. We did. So crisis averted. We did eventually make it back home. 4 or 5 hours later. But we just laughed about it and enjoyed the time we spent together getting to know each other. I gotta say I've always thought my friend Jocelyn lived an interesting life full of adventure, but Missy is running a close 2nd. She's really lived. I don't really envy that, I'm not a wanderer. I'm too small-town. But I respect her tremendously. Like my sister Audrey, I live vicariously through their world travels and life-experiences. 

So Sunday rolls around, we all had good intentions of getting up and going to church, but Ally isn't feeling good, the kids are tired. Well, we kind of all are. Me and Missy go grocery shopping and pick up breakfast for the gang. We all chill and watch TV with the kids and visit. Then me and Miss head out to take care of the car situation. Once that is done we pull up to the house and Ally is rollerskating in the driveway, the sidewalk are all sporting sidewalk chalk artwork that Sara and the kids worked on. Looks like they all had fun.

Ally asks me to take her for a ride on my motorcycle. So of course I oblige. Anyone surprised that I kinda got lost? But no harm, no foul an hour or so later we pull back in. The kids are in a huge cardboard box in the garage they made into their very own house. And everyone is chill and happy. Time for lunch, some Scooby Doo, then movies for the kids and football for Sherri. Everyone kinda heads off around the house to do their own thing, laptops and iPhones come out and we just BE. Eventually, it's time to pack up and say goodbye to our friends, who for the weekend became a part of our family. And Le Chateau Paxton becomes very quiet. Too quiet. We missed our friends and the life we had created though the weekend. So Missy, Ally and kids. Please come back and do that again sometime. And this time I think someone else should drive.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I can see clearly now. Sorta.

Ever have one of those moments of complete clarity? You know the kind where your vision is so crystal clear and suddenly everything makes sense? Yeah, this isn't one of those moments.

Instead it's like I've been in a fog for the last couple years. Unable to find my way out, a little lost. I've just kind of coasted along with no purpose or direction. After a combination of bad luck and bad decisions I found myself having to start over and the task just seemed too hard, too impossible. Personal crisis after personal crisis just kept piling up on me until I thought I couldn't possibly take one more thing. I was like Eeyore, morose and pitiful. Always seeing things from the why me? side. I thought I wanted to be more Tigger-like. Bouncy and exuberant, but now I know what I truly want to be is Piglet. Yes, brave little Piglet.

"It is hard to be brave," said Piglet, sniffing slightly, "when you're only a very small animal." Yet Piglet -- with his keen eye for every pitfall -- is asked to be brave again and again. When it comes to problems or facing any Major Danger, one can always count on Piglet. Which brings us to the wisdom of the Taoist masters as revealed in the The Te of Piglet: The Virtue of the Small
I was diagnosed this year with a mental health disorder (or two but who's counting?). I've spent my whole life scared of that day. Scared that I would become my mom. My schizophrenic, alcoholic, drug addicted mother. I was scared to lose my mental capacity, which in my mind equaled my intelligence, something I've always been so proud of. I took it kind of hard, but at the same time I was relieved. I finally had an answer to what was wrong with me and Thank God it wasn't schizophrenia, my worst fear. I've spent this year dealing with my illness with a combination of drug therapy and psychotherapy. I'm a big fan of both. I think we have a handle on this, the fog may not have cleared totally but you know when you are driving in it and it starts getting thinner and thinner until you can see the road ahead, with just little wisps here and there obscuring your view? That's where I am now.

So now, I've decided that I'm tired of just getting swept along by bad luck, bad decisions, bad friends. I'm standing back up on my own two feet and taking my life back. This is MY year. I may decide to share, if you think you are up to it.

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast? said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.

This is how I am going to live my life this year. As if everyday is going to bring something exciting. As if a great discovery is just around the next bend. I am Piglet. Hear me squeek!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Where are you?

Where are you right now? Are you appreciating the fact that you are there? Or, like me do you usually have your face buried in facebook, or wikipedia or some other entertainment on your "smart phone"?

I'm resolving to take more time to look around once in a while and truly experience the places I am. To see the different people around me and enjoy the diversity of the cultures I am surrounded with in Southern California.

I want to be a part of this world, not just walk aimlessly through it with my head down, oblivious to the fact that life is being lived right now, in front of me in the interaction between a mother and her daughter. In the old couple across the room, who are so comfortable with each other that as he rises and reaches out his hand to her, she reaches out with hers without looking, knowing his will be there to meet hers. The couple having the spat in the corner, her with arms crossed over her chest in defiance as he glares angrily at her and the man, standing of by himself alone, dressed in a business suit, with his eyes glued to the screen of his Blackberry, not noticing where he IS.

The sounds of cars, the smell of cut grass that always reminds me of my grandpa, the feel of the wind gently caressing your cheek as it passes by. Do you really want to miss that? I don't. So where ARE you right now?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Where's Superwoman?

So yesterday I'm getting ready for church and I put on my Superman underwear and I'm dancing around striking Superman poses. Hands on hips, feet planted firmly, looking off into the distance. My wife is watching me and laughing. She's all "what else does he do besides stand there?" So I proceed to show off my Up, Up and Away skills. She had the nerve to say to me "Superman is lame. He doesn't have real powers" WHAT?? Superman is NOT lame. "Well what can he do?", she asks. Um HELLO, he's faster than a speeding bullet and he can leap tall buildings in a single bound. "What else?" He melts things with his EYES! Like bzzzzzzztttt. Yes I was making the sound effects. She looked unimpressed.

"What about Superwoman?" There is no Superwoman. "Why not?" because there is Supergirl. And Wonder Woman. "Oh yeah, Wonder Woman. What's her deal?" She's like an Amazon princess from a hidden island and she came to America to help us do something. Uh, in the government. "What does she do?", she asks, clearly amused at my geekiness and righteous indignation. She had bracelets, that bounce bullets, I tell her as I proceed to demonstrate reflecting said bullets off my wrists. Oh! and the lasso of truth! Ok, by now she is really laughing. "Oh and the invisible plane, right?" I kinda flinch, 'cuz yah, that's kinda silly in the TV show how the plane is all invisible but she's sitting there flying along. Yah I say, there is that. "Ok, go get ready for church my cute little geek", she says and I go up, up and away to finish getting ready.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pink? Really?

This picture makes me sad. At first when I look at it I think "Awe, look how stinking cute I was. Wow I woulda made cute babies."  But then the more I looked at it, and looked at it and looked at it, I started to get an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I kept returning to it. I recognize my great grandparent Jenkins' backyard off the Avenue in Ventura. I have good memories of that place. I remember the avocado tree and the sound the avocados would make as they fell off the tree, hitting and rolling from the roof. My Grandpa Jenkins would tell me to go get it and I would scurry off to find my prize. Then Grandpa would cut it in half, put salt and pepper on it, sit me down at the kitchen table and hand me a spoon. "Eat it up", he'd say. And we would share that avocado together. It was our thing.

So it's not the location in the picture that bothers me, it's not the fact that my little top doesn't cover much of anything so why even bother? It's not the pudgy fat rolls or the fact that I was wearing pink. PINK!! or that I never knew I was a blond. No, what I think made me so uncomfortable looking at this picture is that happy little face and those bright, sparkly fun-filled eyes. You see, I don't have many pictures of me as a kid, and very few from my earliest years, but what I do know is that if you look back at all my pictures, my eyes were never that alive, never that happy, never that carefree and definitely never so innocent again.

When a lie isn't really a lie

I had a group meeting today with parents who have or are in the process of adopting children from the foster care system.

The theme of the day was lying and what to do about it. As I listened to these parents talk about the frustration of dealing with children who lie so often I came to realize that none of them seemed to fully understand why these children lie so much. "to push your buttons, test their boundaries, push you away" these were all reasoning's by the parents. And not for the first time I looked around at them all and thought, "you just don't get it. None of you know what it feels like to be this kid" But I do. I was that kid.

When an abused child lies it's not a conscious decision, an act of defiance as an adoptive parent may believe. When a damaged child lies, it's instinctual, automatic, a way of protecting themselves. Because in the truth often lies the punishment: a child will lie to ward off retribution.

You can't expect a child who has been hurt in the past to come into an adoptive home and lose all instincts. And lying is an instinct. When an adult tells a lie it's a calculated decision - because we have learned that lying is wrong and therefore has consequences. A child doesn't have the mental capacity to reason that through and so an instinctual response is to lie. To protect themselves the only way they know how; by avoiding punishment. In a hurt child's mind they think "if they get mad I get hurt, if I admit I did something wrong they will hurt me" so the lies come out.

What adoptive parents often don't understand is that an automatic split second lie isn't a mark of a good liar. It's the mark of pure instinct. Deception takes thought, reasoning, time. If you ask your child, "did you do this?" and you get a split second lie, "no". That's not a child trying to be deceitful or "pushing your boundaries". That's survival instinct. And it can be something so basic as "did you brush your teeth?" Instantly they may say yes. But it's so fast as to be just an automatic response. More often than not they may be as surprised they lied as you are. So if you ask them "why did you lie?" and the answer is "I don't know". That's not just a way to make you angrier or to be obstinate. They really may just not know.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gosh I'm proud of my underwear

So apparently facebook  allows websites to show users who "like" their business page. I already knew this because I have that function on my own website for Sherri Paxton Photography. I didn't really give it much thought until my cousin texted me saying the Cool Running website had my facebook picture on the front page. And that she was "LMAO". Huh? That's weird, I told her, but why is she cracking up? Then it dawned on me. And I thought "OH HELL NO!" so I texted her back "Is it my profile pic with my underwear?" I'm guessing she was still laughing her ass off when she replied back "yes". Crap! I immediately logged on fb and changed my profile pic with a quickness. But I wonder how many people got to see me holding up my new boi shorts so proudly. And I was mortified.

It's one thing for my friends and family to see me make a fool of myself. As a matter of fact I think they kind of expect it of me. But for the rest of the world and random strangers to witness it? No, that's just embarassing. But then I started thinking, well I am proud to be totally transparent and honest. I mean that's kinda why I have this blog, right? So yah, I wear boy's Spiderman undies and I am proud of it. Plus they are totally cool, 'cuz HELLO, Marvel Comics!

I did mention I'm a big dork, right?

Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds

Last week my brother-in-law was nice enough to take my garbage cans out to the curb in the rain for me. I noticed he parked one in front of the mailbox. I figured the mailman would be a little pissed. Oh well.

The next day, sure enough, I get home and there is a notice in my mail box saying he wouldn't deliver the mail because the garbage can was blocking it. Ok, whatever, I figured I would get it the next day, after all, who's that excited to get bills?

The next day rolls around and I come home to find no mail. Apparently we didn't get any the day before. I just started laughing on the spot. So the mail man got out of his little car to put a note in my mailbox telling me he wouldn't put mail in my mail box and we didn't have any mail to begin with! Guess he showed me!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

It's my obsession

I have a seriously obsessive personality. When I find something that interests me I don't just casually go about it. Oh no. I delve completely into it. I immerse myself in the knowledge of it, I research, I read everything I can get my hands on. For instance, most of my friends will remember my Marvin the Martian phase. It lasted a very long time. I have the tattoo to prove it. Then there was the Sheryl Crow phase, obsessing about people can in fact be dangerous. There are stalking laws for a reason, people. The VW phase where I went as far as buying a VW bus that broke down days later and I paid storage fees for 2 years before finally giving it away.

Don't mention the Jeep fiasco to my wife. The guitar phase (never did learn to play), the entrepreneur phase (found out I'm really bad at sales), the classic motorcycle phase (I can tell you about every model of Honda built between 1965 and 1975), the woodworking phase, the body repair phase (I pulled all the trim off my beat up Chevy truck, then decided it was too hot to work outside), the marketing phase, which actually led me to a career and my current job as a Marketing Director, the photography phase, still in that one and started Sherri Paxton Photography. Some work out, some fizzle out quickly and I'm on to the next thing. I blame my ADD.

So really, when I decided a year ago that I was going to lose weight and get in shape, it's no surprise that my wife was a little skeptical about how long it was going to last. I was fat. I'd been fat most of my life. I've tried every diet ever made. I'd made the same resolution year after year. This would be my year to lose weight! And every year the lure of donuts and chicken fried steak would bring me back to unhealthy eating habits and more and more weight gain. Then it was excuses. I have degenerative joint disease (which is a fancy term for arthritis). It started in my 20's. So obviously I can't exercise, it hurts. My knees are bad, I can barely walk up a flight of stairs, how can I possibly exercise? My back is full of arthritis. I'm too fat to do anything.

But finally at 40 I decided enough is enough. I got really sick, not sure what is was. Some stomach flu? A bizarre parasite I picked up from eating too many donuts? Who knows. What I do know is that I could barely keep toast down for almost 3 weeks. When it was finally over I had lost 18 pounds and realized, hey I can eat a lot less and survive. And lose weight.  So I decided right then and there to stop making excuses. I started changing the way I ate. I became obsessive about what I put in my mouth - maybe a little too obsessive. I did mention I have that problem right? I started losing weight. And guess what? After the first 20 pounds, my knees stopped hurting so much. So I started walking every day. And I kept losing. I kept researching. I learned what works for my body, what doesn't and I kept losing more and more. I didn't do it the right way, if I knew then what I know now I would have started building muscle sooner. I didn't know that if you lose too quickly, it's a bad thing.

Eventually I worked my way up to lifting weights and walking on the treadmill. I lost 78 pounds in 9 months. I've got about 50 more to go. To most people 78 seems like a lot. But I still feel like I'm 100 lbs overweight. I look in the mirror and I still see a fat person. Granted, I AM still a fat person, but I don't see the weight I've lost. I see the weight I still need to lose.

I had a secret goal when I started. I only told two people. I didn't want to disappoint everyone if I couldn't do it. I wanted to compete in the Warrior Dash with my sisters and brother-in-law. Eventually I mentioned it to them. They were so encouraging but in the back of my head I just didn't think I could do it. Again, I didn't want to disappoint them if I failed. Guess what they gave me for Christmas? They registered me in the Warrior Dash. OH. MY. GAWD.

So now, here I am at the beginning of the new year, I have three months to get ready to do something I probably couldn't even have done in high school. At first I panicked. I texted my cousin, "I can't do this, I'm not ready!" She said to me, "You have more determination than anyone I know". I asked her, "who are we talking about?". It couldn't be me. She said, "It's the 'new you' ".

The new me. Hmmmm. The NEW me. Yeah, maybe I CAN do this. So it's become my new obsession. I started a program called Couch 2 5k that will supposedly help me to be able to run a 5k without stopping or walking in 90 days. That seems so far away from where I am now. But then I think, well you didn't know anything about lifestyle photography a year ago either and now people pay you to take their pictures. So maybe, like my therapist reassures me, sometimes an obsessive personality isn't a bad thing.