Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Here Lies Megali. She Was Happy.

For the record, I started this post months and months ago, which is why I make reference to an October 2012 article on Jezebel by Erin Gloria Ryan called 'Rick Santorum Hates Happiness'.

Imagine a tombstone.  My tombstone.  What if it were to read:

Here lies Megali.  She was happy.

Jan Kotěra [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Obviously I'm not dead.  The post title comes from something Rick Santorum wrote in his book American Patriots.  I wholeheartedly disagree with his statement and it has nothing to do with his politics.  I'm coming at what he said as a woman who has been so depressed at times that I couldn't even remember what happiness felt like, let alone believe I deserved to experience it.
Did God give us the right to pursue a good time? Don't get me wrong-happiness is a wonderful emotion and a state to be desired. But is that what our founders really intended to be the pursuit of our country and its people-to be happy? Let's put it this way: How would you like your tombstone to read, ‘Here lies [your name]. He/she was happy'? Count me out! Isn't life supposed to be more significant than that? Let's face it-many of life's pleasures are not even good for us, as my waistline constantly reminds me.
As one of the commenters, cassibearRAWR, notes at the end of the Jezebel article, one of our founding fathers did actually have something to say about God and his interest in our happiness:
Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine, a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.
-Ben Franklin
Um, also, "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."  So, yeah.  Look, of course not all things that make people happy are legal, nor should they be.  And I can easily see how one might argue Santorum's position, even though I vehemently disagree.  PolitiFact clearly argues why I see it as a "mostly false" notion.
T[hree historians] agreed Santorum was right in the sense that " ‘pursuit of happiness’ is the pursuit of fulfillment in a wider sense than immediate gratification," said Jan Lewis, a history professor at Rutgers University at Newark who wrote the encyclopedia entry.

That’s relatively consistent with Santorum’s claim that happiness "was not doing what you want to do." But Santorum’s claim that to the founders it instead meant "doing what you ought to do" lands him on the wrong side of history, experts said.

That’s a puritanical definition out of line with the world of Jefferson.

"It wasn't a sense of obligation. It wasn't a sense of oughtness. Rather, it was a more expansive sense of property," Lewis said. "... I guess the closest we could say is ‘well-being,’ being well-situated, being fulfilled."

And Jefferson may not have been referring to individual happiness at all, she said — a point of debate among scholars. He may have been writing about a general sense of social well-being, a good standard of living — not about individual desire or duty.

"It wasn't an individualist, libertine happiness or individualist pleasure-seeking," she said. "But it wasn't a sense of duty."
My greatest hope for my sons, above success in whatever way they define the word, above even kindness and thoughtfulness, is that they facilitate a sense of happiness in themselves and others most of their lives (with what is an obvious caveat to me - they can't hurt people, animals, or things to achieve happiness.)  And I don't see anything wrong with that.  We get this one life on Earth. Why shouldn't we enjoy it (in a legal and moral way)?

A little while ago, I watched a movie that illustrates what life looks like when enjoying life isn't possible, and it isn't exactly pretty.  Well, that's not entirely true - it is cinematically stunning and the.  Melancholia was directed by controversial director Lars von Trier.  It's haunting.  The characters are terribly unlikeable.  When their vulnerability is so bluntly laid open, it grows exhausting to care about their fate.  What a rather apt depiction of being the loved one of someone suffering from depression or other mental illness.  It is the realistic, pessimistic portrayal of how depression sucks the spirit out of the depressed and their family that is un-pretty.

Kirsten Dunst's character tries to explain her emotional struggle to Charlotte Gainsbourg, the woman playing her sister, “I’m trudging through this gray wooly yarn, it's clinging to my legs. It’s really heavy to drag along.” < THAT!  Yes!  That, in one sentence, is nearly a perfect description of what my depression can be like.  Just add that I grow apathetic about the yarn, that I no longer want to have to trudge along, and that I imagine ceasing existence (not dying, just not being, and there is a distinction for me) to be the preferable course of action.

As Will Leitch puts it in his review, Melancholia documents "how she destroys everything around her and feels nothing ... and hates herself for it."  It's not just me that depression destroys, it is my husband, my sons, it was and is my parents, and my sister, and my brothers.  I don't want that; I've never wanted to hurt them.
Is it any wonder then, that I would love to die having experienced happiness frequently enough to warrant listing on my grave marker?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On the Docket

Here are some of the things I'm working on or have written and need to post:

- At the end of June, I set a goal of visiting one new park (to the boys, anyway) a week.  This means I'm also going to start The Playground Series up again!

- Finally highlight Curly's birthday party and show how all my Pinterest party planning ideas came to fruition.

- A really real look into depression from my perspective.

- Tracking my fitness and weight loss progress as I prepare for my second half marathon.  Accountability, people!

- One of the things I questioned was getting involved in product reviews again.  I decided that I wanted to do book reviews of some of the great children's books we take out at the library (purely for selfish reasons, so that I can remember them!) and other reviews of products I choose that I like, recommend and really use.

- More Curly and Slim fun and funny moments that I want to document. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013


My mom is a storyteller. She likes to tell stories of our lives over and over again. Occasionally it gets frustrating as she gets stuck on a minor detail - was it a Tuesday or a Thursday - and my siblings, my Dad, or I will blurt, "it doesn't matter. Get to the point!" But usually I enjoy her stories because I find that new details might be revealed in each telling.

One story involves a request three year old me had of the move from the state in which I was born to the state in which I grew up. I demanded a yellow bedroom. Admittedly, my parents could have painted my new room to appease me but our new house came with a yellow bedroom already. Fortuitous. Eventually that room became my brothers' as it was the biggest and made the most sense for sharing.

Yellow makes me happy.

I had hoped to find a bright, lemon yellow dress for my 8th grade dance but had no luck. Maybe it wasn't a color designers were using, maybe a dress that color just wasn't in the stores we were checking, who knows? Instead I wound up with a sleeveless dress in cobalt.

Blue is, and has been for nearly two decades, my favorite color.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I've previously shared my affinity for Spring and the memories the season brings.  Bold, bright forsythia blooms in our backyard.  It may not be here next year or may just be cut back.  We have new rear neighbors who have sons about the same age as ours and we'll need a better path between backyards.

I am always discovering new ways in which I grow more and more like my mother.  I think I might be described as a roundabout storyteller too.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Nobody's Perfect, Not Even My Mother


A few years ago, when dealing with antepartum depression, my therapist gave me a book called Nobody's Perfect, Not Even My Mother in which "a young child learns that nobody's perfect, yet people can be wonderful just the same." because part of my struggle was perfectionism and not being who I thought I should be, particularly as a mom.  The illustrations and moreso the storyline feel old; the book is from the 80s.  Yet, when reading aloud to a child, it helps temper the parental hero worship that lasts for such a short time in their young life, and reminds the reader that nobody's perfect, not even me.  In the words of Stuart Smalley, "...and that's...okay."

My imperfections are not few, but I think some of the worst ones are evident when I'm in such a hurry I forego minor laws and basic human courtesy. Nothing good comes from rushing.  Case in point, several weeks ago we were thisclose to running late to an obligation and I chose to, just this once, turn right at the stoplight closest to our house, despite the prominent "No Turn on Red" sign.  Sure enough, there was a police officer in the vicinity who witnessed my mistake and pulled me over.  It was my first time ever getting pulled over and I didn't cry like I always assumed I would, even though the boys were asking me if I was going to jail.  Instead, the first thing I said to the officer was, "I know exactly what I did wrong and I'm sorry."  Fortunately, he was in a forgiving mood and I got off with a warning.

It's funny because, as R will be sure to tell you, I ordinarily won't even jaywalk because it's against the law.  And, as R will also attest, I tend towards what he calls overly-PC and what I consider walking a mile in someone else's shoes.  Kurt Vonnegut succinctly stated my life's goal, "God damn it, you've got to be kind."


When I fail in that regard, I want to cry and I get an empty hurt in the pit of my stomach.  I had such an encounter today and it was all my fault.

We had a busy morning.  We went to a playdate, then a toy store to get gift ideas as we have a birthday party every Saturday for the next four weekends.  Last stop was the library.  I park and let the kids out through Curly's side of the car.  While making sure he's safe, Slim pushes the door hard to get out.  It hits the car next to us.  I register that the car is running; the driver is in the car.  I reprimand Slim, insisting he needs to pay better attention to his surroundings.  I'm mortified.  But I'm also single-minded in my purpose - we have to get in and out of the library fast, make it home to eat lunch, load up the backpack with snack, note, and folder, then meet the pm kindergarten bus.  The car that was hit by our door has its reverse lights on; the driver is leaving.  Ok then, my brain's focused on the to-do list.  We need to hurry.

Walking now, we're five cars away when I hear a loud, "What do you think you're doing?"  I know who it is.  I know they are talking to me.  But the tone of voice raises my hackles and I turn around and defensively respond, "Excuse me?"  A blonde woman, about my age, looks at me disdainfully.  She says something else caustically.  I walk towards her and ask her to please cut the sarcasm in front of my kids.  She does. She points out the mark on her door that matches the color of mine.  I hadn't noticed.  I want to melt from embarrassment.  She dresses me down calmly, deservedly. 

I profusely apologize.  I explain that my focus isn't where it should be.  I offer my insurance information.  I want to prove that I'm actually a very nice person.  She won't take it, any of it.  All she wants is something impossible.  For me to go back in time and say I'm sorry without prompting.  That it was bad enough when people walk away from things like that when the driver isn't there, but it is worse when they are.

It is too late.  The damage is done.  Literally and figuratively.  She is right and I darn well know it.  She doesn't take anything from me, but imparts a final message. Her point sounds like something you'd hear in a horror movie, "Just don't let yourself do this again."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's So Relaxing About a Murder-by-Treetop Ballad?

Philosotoddler has a point.  Source:

This past weekend, my boys wanted to play "baby."  I had such a woah-time-is-going-way-too-fast moment strike as I cradled them in my arms.  It especially resonated with my older son, my first baby, as all four feet plus of him and his long, lean limbs stretched far beyond my lap.

A friend and I recently discussed that while we may be picky about what movies we play in our home, we're unlikely to ever censor their book choices.  Yet when they were itty bitty, I did occasionally employ creative editing of some morbid lullabies and nursery rhymes.

If, like me, you've wondered why anyone would write lyrics about a child falling to their presumed death, let alone sing it to put children to sleep, perhaps you'd like my reworked Rock-a-Bye Baby!

Rock-a-bye baby
In mommy's arms
While you are here, you'll come to no harm
You know that I love you
And you know that daddy does too

Are there any songs or stories that disturbed you enough to change them when sharing with your kids?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Blog Break's Over

Hi there.  I missed you.  I missed writing.  Life, on the other hand, provided an abundance of distractions.  Primarily health issues.  Depression reared its ugly head with me again.  And R and Slim had and have their own things.  But neither are my story to tell, so I won't.  I returned to journaling first, but I like sharing my words too much to give up on blogging.  My blog break's over.  I can't promise I won't disappear again, but I hope not.  Now that I've given thought to what I can write about while still allowing my subjects a respectful level of confidentiality, I have a lot to say!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

World Breastfeeding Week: Celebrating Nursing in Public

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!  Twenty years ago, World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) was born!  As it states on their Facebook page it was "Launched by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) to focus and facilitate actions to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, [WBW] is officially celebrated annually from Aug 1-7."

In honor of WBW, I will be doing some breastfeeding themed posts on the blog.

First up, is one that I dredged from my old Myspace account.  I had to reset my password, but yup, mine still exists.  It's like an online time capsule!  Back in 2007, when Slim was six months old, we took a trip (my first! and only) to Disney World.  Really, Slim and I just tagged along during one of R's work conferences, but I couldn't pass up the chance to finally get to go.  I was the recipient of a comment while nursing in the park and follows is my recap of what happened.

In making the commitment to breastfeed, I have also known that I would need to nurse in public. Nursing in public has made the news a lot lately - from the incident on a Delta flight to a mother being accosted by a security guard in the Berkshire Mall to several more cases that I'm sure moms have suffered in silence without going to the media.  Slim's nursed nearly everywhere - restaurants, stores, people's homes, even on a steamboat at Disney and although the fear has never stopped me from feeding him wherever I am, I have to admit, I've always been worried that someone would make a rude comment about it.
Thankfully, my first comment was a positive one. Early into our day at Disney Slim got hungry. I sat down, got comfortable and nursed him. A woman with dyed red hair came up to me and said, "Thank you so much for breastfeeding in public!" I was flustered by someone approaching me while nursing and responded, "Oh my God, of course!" And away she walked. She made me so happy that it brought a tear to my eye. I asked R to take a picture of me nursing Slim right then to capture the moment. It's one I truly cherish.
Over the course of approximately four years of breastfeeding, I never once was on the end of a disparaging comment while my baby/toddler/child was at my breast.  The closest I got was while flying solo with Curly and my seatmate asked if I needed a blanket and she'd press the flight attendant button since my hands were full.  I responded with a polite, "no, thank you - we're good here!" and got a simple, "oh, ok" in turn.  I truly think she was genuinely trying to be helpful, but also felt slightly uncomfortable. The Disney experience was my only encouraging comment from a stranger though. 

In last month's La Leche League meeting, I paraphrased a quote (don't know to whom to attribute, but Google says Eleanor Roosevelt), "Other people aren't thinking about you as much as you think, so don't worry!"  It sounds negative, but I meant it to be freeing and supportive of nursing in public.  It's so easy to think that everyone is staring at you when you're latching your child on, but chances are, they don't notice.  Plus, if someone is looking at you, it may be a woman like me, who is fondly remembering her nursing days!  I've been known to give thank you comments of my own, but occasionally I just smile.