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Archive for the month “March, 2012”

A Weekend With a View (Day 65 of Lose The Temper)

Oh hello,

So all is well with the temper this weekend, and to that end, I would like to give credit to the 1986 Merchant Ivory film, “A Room With a View.” If you have not seen this movie for any reason, please stop reading this and get on it. If you can’t do it now, then tonight —  just please watch it.

Friday nights are tricky. There is a lot that has gone on during the week, there is transition, there is the weekend ahead (no matter how many people say that weekends are relaxing, I find that they can go very wrong. You have to plan a lot, there is no structure, many meals to cook — daunting). So I find that on Fridays there can be potential for tempers to flair. Not always, but there is potential. So this Friday night (I could kind of feel a threadbare vibe around 9 p.m.) I decided to preemptively do something that I KNOW puts me in a good mental space. After the kids were in bed, instead of talking with my husband — which I would normally do because I have a weird idealistic idea about marriage that in any free moment you should be sitting around in love and in deep conversation — or watching something together, I left him with March Madness and took the iPad into bed and sunk into E.M. Forster’s world of Italy, England, The Honeychurches, love and good manners. I really dig English people.

What this did was not only avoid any potential temper losing for whatever reason, but also set me up for a really good weekend. That movie makes me want to be a better person. It makes me want to dress well, be a loving mother like Mrs. Honeychurch, be amusing like Freddy the brother, and even if I do feel a little temper coming on, like Lucy Honeychurch (played by the marvelous Helena Bonham Carter), I am inspired to handle it like she does, which is very classily and charmingly.

I made soup (Irish soup) this weekend,  baked a cake from scratch with the children (first cake I ever made from scratch that tasted good). We strolled around downtown, had good conversations — whatever. I just think that movie set the tone for domestic success.

That being said, we are having a bit of a swearing issue in the house with our 10 and under set that is making me feel like I am going to lose my temper.

One more thing, this new song — “We are Young” by Fun. IS HOOKING ME UP! It is reaching every good part of me. I danced in the kitchen to it last night. Listen to that song, everything about it is right.

Gotta go, still more Sunday to go.



Am I Doing it Right? (Day 60 of Lose the Temper)

Oh hello!

So for the last three weeks I have been very neglectful of this blog, not because I’m not working on it in the personal project way, but because I am writing and guess what —  It’s NOT SO EASY!!! Yeah, the novel is an entirely different beast than the memoir and I am trying to figure it out and it’s taking up all of my writing mojo. I’m even slacking on tweeting!

I took a few days off my score if you noticed because this weekend I wasn’t at my best for four hours (I can’t tell you how fun this is admitting all of this TO THE PUBLIC AND MY MOTHER-IN-LAW!!). This project has pretty much stopped any yelling that might have happened pre-blog, but it hasn’t taken away a very big question for me: Am I doing it right? By “it” I mean all of it. Being a mother, a wife, a writer, a friend, a citizen. Am I getting it right? At the end of my life (at age 100, next to my husband and children and grand children please oh please) will I have felt like I did this life right????

I am asking myself that question all the time. Constantly. I don’t know if that is good or bad (maybe it’s because I’m writing??)  but I do know that if I fall on the, “I DON’T think you are doing it right Isabel” side, I feel frightened, helpless and then — angry. So this weekend I felt helpless in a mothering moment and it took me FOUR hours to get out of it. First I was frightened, then angry and THEN sad/ helpless/ dark. Something grabs on to me and I can’t get out of it’s jaws. No bueno I am afraid. (I think I need Cher to slap me across the face and yell, “SNAP OUT OF IT.” Like she did in Moonstruck.) It doesn’t feel very helpful to anyone.

I have been spending an ungodly amount of time at the APPLE store in the last four days (a place I feel rather calm because of all the geniuses.) And looking around I had the feeling that maybe people were asking themselves, “Am I doing this right?” And they were coming up with the answer, no. Helplessness resulting in anger. I asked an EXPERT about it (they actually have “experts” there, it says it on their name tag), I asked if people lost their tempers a lot and he looked at me like I had just asked if there was a presidential election going on.

Expert: “Oh YEAH. Like, all day long

Me: Badly?

Expert: “Oh yeah.”

Those poor apple people. They are so smart and they have dumb-bells losing their tempers all day long at them because they don’t know if they are doing any of it right.

To help clear all this up a bit, I HAD a power shrink appointment set for tomorrow am (first on in three months), but in an ironic twist, he JUST emailed that he had the flu and would have to reschedule. RATS!!  So, I think I will bring this existential “Am I doing it right” question to my mother. I think she asks it too.

Lastlt, it’s more than likely am going to be writing an article for a magazine about women and anger soon, so I am going to call some big time brain doctors and ask them about anger and the brain. I want to know if there are physical reasons why people lose it. Should be wicked interesting – I’ll keep you posted. And I think I should also look into anxiety because I think a lot of the losing it feeling stems from that… Fear, Helplessness, anxiety, stress. Good times!!

But what if we figure it out? 

Until soon, deep breaths.


Sorry!! (Day 51 of Lose the Temper)

Oh hello!

Whoa! I haven’t blogged since Valentines Day! Sorry, and now we are on Day 51? Is my math right? Well, I have really dug into the novel I am writing and I knew the blog would suffer — but the project does not!! I still have not totally lost my temper. But I have gotten mad. I spoke to a shrink (not genius shrink, another shrink) and told him I was doing this and his first reaction was, “Why would you do that to yourself??” It took a minute to explain that I wasn’t not getting mad, I was just not throwing things and screaming hateful bile at anyone. “Oh, oh, okay.” he said, “Yeah, good idea.”

So the getting mad. Well, the way I have only gotten mad and not lost my temper lately (I’ve advanced a smidge from just counting to ten) is to harken back to when I was getting divorced. I had this, “I’d rather light a candle than curse the darkness” thing going on that my father layed on me and when I applied it, it worked.

I am a bit controlling, as we know, and sometimes I think that my way is the (only) right way. However, when you are in a “family in a different shape” i.e., a divorced family, there are SO MANY more moving parts that it is very hard to control, and there is NEVER only one right way.

Last weekend, my ex-husband had the boys. When he leaves it is a very hard transition naturally, and I thought that it would go easier for the boys if they were outside A LOT before it happened. So that is what I instructed him to do. “Please take the boys out before you have to leave. I think it will be better.”

The first whiff there was that you can’t tell the other parent what to do on their weekend. No bueno.

So of course when we come back and the weekend ends, the three of them are playing the board game “Sorry!” I feel my blood start to boil. How come they are not panting from just running around outside in the pretty winter day for the last three hours!?! Were they watching TV? No. Were they playing Wii? No. Do I ever play Sorry! with them or even know how to play? No. But because it wasn’t what was in my plan for how things should be, I internally (and a tiny bit externally) flipped out — second whiff.

The transition from father to mother and back again is one of the worst transitions I know of. I can’t figure it out how to make it better for them. Anyone who has – give a shout. But getting mad doesn’t help.

I ended up taking the kids outside and throwing around a football. (I know, please.) And while I was doing that I started feeling myself cool down. I stopped composing the angry email in my head. I started having a ball playing ball. Maybe it was me who needed a little fresh air. And I thought: Notice that this is fun. Don’t be mad. He was doing his best. Don’t micromanage. Don’t think you know everything. Light a candle instead of curse the darkness.

We continued having a nice time until the sun went down. And then I went inside, plugged the kids into the Wii and wrote an apology email to my ex, thanking him for playing a board game and saying Sorry! for getting mad.

You just have to work though it. Some people do it by going outside, some do it by playing Sorry! Who’s to say what is right.


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