How are you using your TODAY?

My great uncle died one morning last week. That afternoon they buried him. Jewish tradition has you bury the deceased as soon as possible after they pass. They don’t dilly-dally. Chick-chock.

This uncle was the brother of the grandfather I mentioned here, and the son of the great-grandmother I mentioned here. (Who apparently, was totally obsessed with sparkly clothing. Go figure.) My grandfather is one of nine siblings and this was the youngest. He was just a baby when his family was brought to the concentration camps in Nazi Germany and it’s a true miracle that he, or any of them, survived.

I remember being a little kid and going to his house. There was a pool and a lake where some of my cousins would go fishing, but I never did that because the worms were so gross. I was heartbroken to hear he’d died, He was a funny, big hearted guy who loved to smile. One of my first thoughts after hearing he’d passed was “He knew about the twins so now they’ve got yet another amazing person to look out for them.” (How I manage to make this about me might be a little disturbing, or at the very least self-indulgent, I know, but I’m just being honest- that thought crossed my mind.) 

Anyway, we were at the cemetery early and I found myself wandering through a section with really, really old headstones. Some of them were 200 years old. 200 years!! It’s amazing that somehow we have found enough land upon which to bury all the bodies of all the people that want to be buried and that there are not graves like, everywhere you step. I mean, logistically, how does that work? When do they run out of space to put these people? It boggles my mind.

But back to my point. I was looking at the headstones from 150 / 200 years ago and I was surprised to see how many of them wrote out how long the person lived for.

You might be confused by that sentence, after all, basically every headstone shares the dates of the person’s birth and death, right? Why would I be surprised by that?

But that’s not what the oldest headstones said. They actually shared the number of years, months and days that the person lived. Look:

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.56.34 PM

John Cooper died on March 6th, 1883. He walked this earth for 67 years, 10 months and 6 days.

Peter Foushay died on February 25th, 1815. He walked this earth for 45 years and 2 days.

Peter Foushay died on February 25th, 1815. He walked this earth for 45 years and 2 days.

There will come a day when each of us has had our fill of days when we are blessed to walk this earth. When you see it, like that, engraved in stone- stone that has sat in it’s place for 200 years it really hits home.

Every day is a gift. Every day is an opportunity. Every day is one day closer to our last day. When my day comes I want to know that I LIVED those days. 

There is something about marking time on the gravestone in that way that I really do love. Defining our time in the number of years and months and days spent here, on this earth, in this body, somehow it makes it feel like it’s just part of a longer, infinite, beautiful journey. A life, not defined by the dates on a calendar but defined by the time spent living it. 

When your time comes, will you want to look back on the amount of time you lived, or look back on how you lived in the amount of time you had?

Do you ask permission to be you?

At the local pool recently, a young girl of about 9 or 10 started chatting with my five year old daughter, Molly. They were both wearing cornrows in their hair and the girl mentioned it excitedly to her mom.

Then she set her sights on me and said “I like your pink hair.”

“Thank You!” I replied. I get that compliment a lot…. usually at daycare and around other random people’s children. :)

The mom turned to me and said “She has a friend who is always talking about wanting to dye her hair pink.” and then the daughter interjected “yeah, but her mom won’t let her.”

So I said “Yup, well, being able to dye your hair pink is just one of the perks of being a mom!”

and the mom looked at me funny…so I continued “…without having to ask permission.”

And she still looked at me funny, and we parted ways.

And then I started thinking about it. Seriously, as adults, we (generally) shouldn’t have to ask permission to do the stuff that we may have wanted to do as kids, but suddenly we feel like we have to ask some unknown, non-existent entity permission. WHY?

For months before I dyed my hair I talked about dying my hair. I wanted to gauge people’s reactions…. and everyone had one.

I was told it was childish. I was told it was a cry for attention. I was told that people would think I was ‘sleazy” or judge me harshly. I was looked at sideways and with concern by people who cared about me. I was asked would I keep it pink if I dyed it and my husband truly hated it.

And I tried to answer all those questions. I tried to debate them, negate them, consider them. I took it all very much to heart.

And as long as my brain was moving through those thoughts, thoughts that were conceived in other people’s brains and implanted in mine, I didn’t dye my hair.

Until, one random day, I just said to myself ‘Eff it.- I wanna look in the mirror and see myself with pink hair.” And ya know what I did? I dyed my hair.

And the heavens fell to the earth.

NO.

Absolutely nothing happened. My five year old told me it was pretty. My two year old reached out to touch it like it was a foreign object, told me she didn’t like it and promptly forgot it was ever anything other than pink. And everyone else? They all just concluded I was an immature, insecure hussy. Maybe.

Or maybe they really didn’t care.

Maybe their opinions only existed when they were based on the idea that they were entitled to have an opinion. Once I stopped caring about their opinions, I dyed my hair pink. And once my hair was pink and I liked it, their opinions suddenly became invalid, and they knew it.

 

Don't tell me the color of my hair is what determines what kind of human being I am. Thank You Very Much!

Don’t look at this picture and  tell me the color of my hair is what determines what kind of human being I am. Thank You Very Much!

What’s my point?

Don’t let other people’s voices inundate your brain. If you’re currently trying to process something that has to do with YOU and YOU alone, don’t let other people decide it has to do with them. Those voices only have any volume when we allow them to. You are an adult (presumably. If not, you’re in the wrong place, kiddo). You don’t need others’ permission to do things- certainly not things that your 14 year old self would have loved to do.

I recently caught a glimpse of my jdate profile from the era when I snagged my hubby. (Yes- we are an internet dating success story) In it I’d written that I like to dye my hair different colors, but that it had only been “socially acceptable” colors for the last few years.

WTF was I thinking?  Reading that made me kinda wanna gag at the muchlessness of it. Socially acceptable…. whatever.

…I was, however, very proud to read this gem that I’d written about my ideal man: “He should worship the ground I walk on, but only after I’ve proven myself worthy.”

I’ll give myself an A+ in that department, Thank You Very Much….

Go out and be Muchtastic people!!!!

 

How tightly bound is your heart?

 

A few weeks back I had the incredible opportunity to attend SHE Summit in NYC. SHE stands for She Helps Empower and it was two days of women, from all walks of life, getting together to teach, learn, share support and encourage each other on our various paths to career and personal success and fulfillment, whatever that may look like for each of us as individuals.

I have a little self-diagnosed ADD. That means that while everyone sat and listened to the talks and speeches, I paced. While everyone sat and took notes, I fidgeted. Don’t get me wrong. The speakers were amazing, but unless something or someone engages ALL my senses in some way, I need to move.

And then Agapi Stassinopolous took the stage. I was sitting waaay in the back (for pacing purposes) but when she started talking, I was riveted. She got up there like a lightning bolt and spoke with such exuberance and humor and heart that I couldn’t look away and just tried to pay close enough attention that I could drink in every word.

She spoke about being yourself. Owning your voice. Asking for help when you need it. And embracing life in all it’s beauty and its pain. She wrote a book, Unbinding The Heart. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it.

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to wait as there were passing out complimentary copies as she spoke. At the next break I stood on line for an hour to meet her. An hour.When I got to the front of the line she danced with me. :) IMG_4273

And then I told her about you, my readers, and Muchness and she generously invited me to contact her because she gets it. She gets The Muchness. I was jumping-out-of-my-platforms excited. 😀

I’ve read the book. It’s amazing. Agapi’s outlook on life is beautiful and contagiously positive. I want to sit down with her and eat olives and cheese and ask her everything she knows about life. (Full disclosure- I don’t even like olives or cheese, yet I’d be willing to devour them for that opportunity.)

In her book, Agapi shares 32 stories of her life, including when her mom and dad passed away, only 3 months apart from one another. Her outlook on these moments- these life events that have the power to shape and guide our future in amazing ways, is tremendously empowering.

About her father’s death she wrote “I’ve often reflected on the words I heard when my father’s life was coming to an end—It is done—and on the power of that concept. Whether it be the end of a relationship, the end of a job, or the end of a certain phase in our lives—and of course the biggest of all phases is our time of passing—these transitions can bring a tremendous peace if we are willing to surrender.”

Heartbreaking but also, ultimately, true.

Agapi was generous enough to send me an entire two chapters of her book to share with you, dear MuchnessSeekers. I’ve attached the first below. It is the moving story of her mother’s death.

Agapi - Blue Shirt - Cropped

Unbinding_the_Heart_cover USA

 

 

CHAPTER 31

DON’T MISS THE MOMENT

     My mother died on August 24, 2000, exactly three and a half months after my father’s passing. Their bond was so tight that when my father died, she was bereft, a woman who had lost the man she had so loved even after all she had been through with him.
     While he was still alive, her heart was already weakening. We didn’t know how serious it was until one night, nine months before she died, when she was sitting in our kitchen and began having intense pains in her limbs. We were terribly worried, but she didn’t want us to call a doctor. She just kept putting on homeopathic ointments and taking aspirin for the pain. I was getting ready to go out to do a performance at the Getty Center to promote my new book, and my mother had planned to come, but she couldn’t—the pain was too strong. Normally she wouldn’t miss anything that her daughters were a part of, so I knew she must really be suffering. Still, she was refusing to see a doctor; she wouldn’t admit there was something serious going on.
     A few days later, my book tour took me to Washington, where I performed at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. That night, at 4 A.M., I got a call from my sister. “Mummy is in the hospital,” she said. “She has a staph infection that’s gone into her bloodstream. We don’t know if she’ll make it.”
     I was terrified. I remember thinking, I can’t imagine a world without my mother. She had been such a big part of my life that a world without her loving, her nurturing, her eccentricity, her originality, seemed a world that would be bereft of joy.
     I took the next flight back to L.A. When I arrived at the hospital, my mother was in surgery as they tried to treat the infection. Two weeks before, she had cut her elbow; it became infected, but she wouldn’t go on antibiotics. She kept trying to heal it in her own way. Now the infection had gotten into the blood and it was threatening her life. She stayed in the hospital for four weeks on heavy doses of antibiotics and sedatives. I never prayed so hard in my life. All our friends, all the people who loved her, were praying ceaselessly, too. It was so painful to watch her suffer, and I felt helpless to do anything about it.
     During her stay in the hospital, while my father was still alive in Greece, he called her on the phone. They talked for an hour and a half. As she described it later, my father stepped in with his deep love for her and infused her with a sense of her own strength, conveying to her how she could overcome this, as she had so many other things in her life. That was a very significant call for her to receive, and it helped her get well enough to leave the hospital.
     She came home, but she wasn’t the same. She was fighting depression, sleeping a lot, and waking up without her bearings. In the hospital she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. It’s so hard for the soul to reside in a body that is fighting a disease; it requires a tremendous amount of loving and care. We were fortunate and could have nurses for my mother around the clock so that she would take her medicines, eat her special foods, and be looked after with great care. But she didn’t like being dependent on anyone for anything, even while her body was trying to heal. She still wanted to do things her way.
     Over the spring and summer, she did regain some of her old energy. We were able to do things she loved, like walking on the beach. But I had the sense that she was wrapping up her time here on earth. In August she began to weaken, and we begged her to see her doctor, but she wouldn’t go; she wanted him to come see her. “Come on your day off,” she told him. “I’ll cook for you.” But this was not Greece, where doctors made house calls and visited their patients for dinner!
     Finally we got her to the doctor, and she was quickly admitted to the UCLA hospital. Early the next morning, she suffered a minor stroke and they put her in the ICU. When we saw her, she looked like she was in a coma. The specialists told us that her brain had been damaged and she might not wake up.
     We spent hours at her bedside, trying to figure out if there was anything more we could do. Arianna would hold our mother’s hand and tell her that she loved her. My nieces’ caretaker, Maricela, who had looked after the girls since they were born and had become part of our family, came and massaged her feet and hands. She put a lemon in her hand, because my mother always loved lemons; she would boil them to make the house smell fresh, and she put them in everything she cooked. Then Maricela bent down close to my mother and said, “Miss Elli, if you wake up, I will take you to Ross: Dress for Less.” My mother loved to go to Ross, the discount store, and stock up on presents so she’d have something to give whenever the opportunity arose. It gave her tremendous happiness to give unexpected presents to people. Would you believe it, at that she cracked a tiny smile. To the relief of all of us around her, a little ray of hope came in.
     What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. She woke up as Lazarus had done in the Bible, as if she were raised from the dead, bright and filled with light, and we took her home. The day she came home, she sat on the patio in her little hospital gown, eating blueberries and offering them to all the people who came to see her. We felt as if the heavens had given us the gift of our mother back. It was a gift that would last only one week.
     When my mother finally walked into her bedroom that first day, she looked around and said, “This is so strange. Where am I?” She was between two worlds—the physical world that was fading and the spiritual world that was opening. She had already been in that world, it was obvious. Looking after her that last week felt sacred, because I knew she could go at any moment. I massaged her, I held her, but I didn’t want to say goodbye. I think when we love someone so much, we don’t ever want to say goodbye. We don’t want to be the ones to initiate that ending, so we wait until life thrusts it upon us and says, “It is done.”
     One morning near the end of the week, my mother said to me, “I want to go to the international food market in Santa Monica.” That was like Disneyland for her; she’d leave with baskets full of food, fruit, and goodies for everyone. So I took her there. My mother in her fragile little body, still filled with a zest for life, bought salamis and cheese, olives, halvah, Viennese chocolate and Greek chocolate, and nuts, and by the end, we had bags and bags of food to bring back home. It was surreal taking her out into the world; there she was, like an apparition, buying food, and there I was, trying to hold the two realities together. I wanted to say to the checkout clerk, “You don’t seem to understand what is happening here. This is my mother! And she’s going! Can you please take care of her? Can you please take care of me?” But instead, I kept pretending that it was just like any other day. Deep down, I knew that we were shopping for the last supper, but I was holding it together so I wouldn’t fall apart.
     We went home, and my mother spread out the most amazing lunch in the kitchen, saying to me and our housekeeper and Arianna’s office staff and whoever was in the house, “Sit now and let us enjoy our food!” It was a feast. I couldn’t help thinking, Look at her appetite for food and love and sharing! This is not a woman who is going to die! 
     Early that evening, I came into her room and found her sitting at a little table, shelling shrimp and eating them. “Sit and eat some shrimp!” she said to me. She had her hair in little pigtails and she was playing beautiful Greek music. She was like a happy child. Now I know why she was so happy—because her spirit was calling her back and she was ready. There was no struggle, there was no suffering, there was simply grace.
     Later on, I went out for a while, and Arianna and the girls stayed with her. When I got home, Arianna met me at the door. She said to me, “Mummy has just fallen. She’s in the bathroom. She doesn’t want us to call the paramedics. Should we call them anyway?”
     I ran into the bathroom—really a large dressing room between the bath and the bedroom—and saw my mother on the floor, putting lavender oil on her feet. She said in a strong voice, “Do not call the paramedics. I’m fine.” I felt so torn. One voice said, She doesn’t want you to call them, and the other said, If you don’t call them she will certainly die, back and forth, back and forth, reaching for the phone with one hand and putting it down with the other. So, instead of the ambulance, I called my mother’s nurse, and she came right away. We all sat in the dressing room with my mother, her young granddaughters riding their scooters up and down the hallway, making happy noises, unaware of what was happening, because my mother was trying to keep everything and everyone calm. The nurse kept taking her pulse, but her pulse was fine. And even though I kept urging her to get up, she wouldn’t. Instead, she asked me to open a bottle of red wine and pour glasses for everyone.
     We all sat there, chatting and telling stories, for an hour or more, waiting for her to get up. There she was on the floor with a beautiful turquoise sarong wrapped around her, making sure we were all having a good time. It sounds surreal now, and it was surreal even then. I had the sense that something larger was moving all of us, keeping us from taking any action, so that my mother would have the chance to pass the way she wanted to pass. When I look back, it’s as if Spirit was saying, Relax—there’s nothing you need to do. We’ve got her now. Then suddenly her head fell forward and she was gone.
     Later, I found out my mother had confided to the housekeeper that she knew she had suffered a stroke and her time had come. She asked her not to tell us, and the housekeeper, who had known and loved my mother for years, understood why and honored her wishes. My mother knew that we would insist on getting her to the hospital, and she didn’t want to die in the hospital. She wanted to be at home, with her daughters and her precious granddaughters around her, in the warmth of those she loved and who loved her. She didn’t want to miss the moment.
We scattered my mother’s ashes in the sea with rose petals, as she had asked. And we gave her the most beautiful memorial, with music, friends, poetry, gardenias, and lots of food: a memorial that truly honored her life and her spirit. Everyone felt her presence there, taking part, looking down on us and shining her light on us. In our garden, we planted a lemon tree in her honor that has been producing juicy lemons ever since. And we installed a bench engraved with one of her favorite sayings that embodied the philosophy of her life: Don’t Miss the Moment.

Read Another FREE chapter from AGAPI’s book HERE. 

 

Muchness in The Prison Yard….

Sometimes, something happens that just NEEDS to be shared.

Remember the guy at the grayest job on earth who said he felt like he was “rotting from the inside out”? Remember how I wrote that I decided to make it my mission to help him tap into his Muchness?

The truth is, he was already tapping into his Muchness, he just wasn’t giving it the “honor” it deserved… (i.e. owning it & declaring it to be his Muchness.)

See, this guy would light up when talking about his garden. He said he worked on it every weekend with his three daughters and it was one of his favorite things to do. I thought to myself “ok- he mows the lawn and maybe plants some stuff.”

…little did I know…

In the weeks that followed, I heard a bit more about the garden in the small talk co-workers make. “What did you do this weekend?” “Hung out with my family and worked in the garden.”

Sounded lovely.

Then we started joking about planting a vegetable garden in the concrete “prison yard” where we ate our lunch. It was the kind of conversation thick with the sarcasm of an idea that would never happen.

Shortly before my last day there, they asked permission to build a veggie garden. I NEVER, in a million years, imagined that two weeks later I’d be seeing this:

5277367_orig

“At the same time I believe that with a little bit of positive energy and effort, the garden at “The Yard” will prove that you can grow food anywhere and better yet give people hope.” -Arnulfo Toro

 

I was so happy to see it. I felt a little blush of pride knowing that my jumping around that place in my sparkly skirts and colorful shoes had, in some small way, contributed to the birth of a bit of Muchness in what was formerly the Grayest Place on earth.

I hope that garden blooms boatloads of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and all sorts of goodies that make lunchtime for everyone there much muchier.

And then, yesterday, BONUS! 

I saw on Facebook the most awesome-sauce thing.

He started a blog.

1374197410

And a business. And I got to see pictures of his garden. And this is nothing like a “mow the lawn and plant some stuff on the weekends” garden. It is incredible! Behold:

3602877_orig

 

Am I right???

And here’s the thing: He is sharing his Muchness with people and building “GardenBox Farms” for other people so they can grow healthy, hormone and drug free foods in their own gardens, wherever they are!

He’d said this was a “work in progress” for a year and a half- and I believe him.

How often do you get an idea in our head that we know is awesome or empowering or will feel fulfilling on a completely different level than the one we are used to vibrating at…. and then don’t do it?

I know I am so guilty of that, many times over.

It becomes some big, insurmountable concept or we talk ourselves out of it for any number of reasons- and there are many. Eventually, we beat ourselves up over it and then get back into default mode of not even allowing ourselves to have big ideas anymore… lest we fail to follow through.

Let me tell you…. when you get a glimpse of where your Muchness lives inside you- whether it’s gardening, or sparkles, or cooking or art or reading or writing – WHATEVER it is — the biggest crime you can commit is NOT paying attention to it. That stuff is the fuel that guides your spirit to the places and things you are put on this earth for. The second biggest crime is keeping it to yourself because sharing YOUR Muchness is also the fuel that sparks others’ to look inside themselves and find their Muchness.

Could you imagine what this world would be like if everyone was In Touch With Their Much?

Guided by their Muchness, instead of their fear, insecurity and feelings of being a being a victim of circumstance? Could you picture what that would look like? The world would feel colorful, alive and optimistic! People would be sharing their gifts, their joys and feeling empowered to express themselves because they’d know that in expressing their truest, muchiest selves they can achieve anything.

When I write posts like this, they are as much a message to myself as they are to you, my cherished reader. (I want to hate the sappiness of that term , but I can’t, because it’s true.) 

It’s been a challenging and scary few weeks here at Casa dé Gold. Let’s all keep our Muchness Magic flowing together.

loveandmuchness

 

 

What I learned from the job I hated

So, after posting on FB that I got fired from my job, someone (my cousin) wrote “I don’t understand why you even started there when you hated it on sight – good you didn’t waste that much time.”

My instinctive response to this was (obviously) defensiveness. Maybe because she is a cousin, and family go by a different set of rules than most people, or maybe because… well, you’re reading it. You know

So, I started to reply… saying that some people have to take jobs they hate forreasons like, um, feeding your kids. But then I deleted it and didn’t respond because that just seemed simplistic and only about 37% like the real answer. So now, the answer gets a whole blog post instead of a FB answer. Way to spend a sunday night, Tova.

I took the job because I needed to take the job. *I* needed to walk that path and test that reality just one more time, to see if that life could or would ever suit me again.

Now I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the answer is no.

My previous job was a lot more like a dysfunctional family than a regular job and my decision to leave there was based on a whole assortment of reasons, some relating to the work, some relating to the atmosphere, some relating to people and some relating to me. It was hard to know what proportion was what.

This job, we’ll call it “the Gray Job”- well, I knew it was far from ideal.And, if you recall, I struggled mightily with what to do, if I should take it or not. I have never in my life asked so many people what decision they thought I should make. In fact, I’ve almost never asked any one ever what decision I should make. I decide what’s best for me and act. But somehow, this decision was a lot harder to make.  It was only when I released myself to the energy and feelings in and around me, (the woo-woo people call that “your higher self”), when I released myself from the pressure of being responsible for this decision which felt so monumental, that I could reconnect with a sense of peace and calm. (sidebar: a psychic told me that taking the job was the right step to move me forward with The Muchness…. yes, a psychic. Via Facebook. Did I mention I asked EVERYBODY? For the record, I believe she was right. For the other record, please don’t spread that— it’ll totally ruin my I’m-not-a-member-of-the-woo-woo-crew reputation. Or something like that.)

But back to the point. My grandmother actually said it the best. She said “This job was like a vacation for you!” and she was right. I’d wrapped my brain so tightly around my fears about how to make money doing what I love that I’d lost my connection to what I love. It’s really a tricky little balancing act- this “live your dream” ideal lifestyle concept, because it’s really easy for a dream to lose it’s luster when it becomes your prison. A stable, dull job was like a vacation from the chaos in my head.

I realized a few things. I’ll list them so we can discuss them together:

1- I’d become so self absorbed. Fear made me wrap myself up in a little cocoon thinking that the more I worked and less I played the closer I’d be to figuring it all out. That totally never works. Plus, it made me kinda annoying to hang out with. (Just ask my hubby…. :( ) This is about helping people and I wasn’t even sharing my voice or blogging my struggles or triumphs. I was just…. bleh. So, FAIL. This job, which put me face-to-face with new people who were utterly lacking in Muchness for many reasons (some self-proclaimed, others in denial) made me realize how important it is to get out of my comfort zone and connect with real people to share the message of MUCHNESS!!!

2- When I was working on my own on The Muchness, I wasn’t actually working. I was thinking about working. talking about working. Trying to work. But Not achieving anything because I would spend about 6.7 minutes on one thing before convincing myself I should be doing something else. This job made me realize I really appreciate being given a task and being expected to complete it. It helps me focus on the task. I also like delegating tasks and expecting others’ to complete them. I didn’t get much opportunity to do that at this mid-level job, But it made me realize I miss it and that’s important too.

3- I realized that I have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge and connections within the online business community over the last few years. I didn’t realize how much I knew until I started realizing how little the general public knows…. That led me to the realization that a job I’d love would be helping to grow someone else’s online business. I love building things…. the job I left was a company I helped build from practically day 1. So I envisioned an ideal online biz situation that I’d want to work in and a crazy thing happened…. I realized I already knew someone who fit my ideal situation. And it was my hubby.

for real.

I’m not gonna get into the deets right now, but the fact is, he’s been asking me to join him in growing his biz for a year or more and I have had no interest. I NEEDED this job to make me come around full circle to discover what I’d really love to do, in order to realize he was the one offering it to me all along.

…sometimes the very thing you’re looking for is the one thing you can’t see. …

Thank You Vanessa Williams… and Thank you to the job I stayed at even though I hated it on site.

Sometimes you just need to lean in to the lesson in order to find the message it brings with it. I thought I’d learned that. But i like to learn things lots of times before I actually, ya know, learn them.

OH!! OH!!!  One more thing!! The most bestest thing about this company!!! The thing I will miss more than anything!! In their warehouse, for two hours a day, this little “company” shop pops open with the most muchiest kids clothes on planet earth, and NOTHING costs more than $3!! Most is 1 or 2 and the bestest of the best part??? I fit into the larger sizes. Look at this creepiness:

IMG_4248

See there? At the end of the long deserted warehouse? A beacon of Muchness!!!

Who would possibly imagine that This Muchness lives there? For less than a cheap cup of coffee??

IMG_4217

oh, perfect little kids store full of tacky, sparkly mini skirts…. you will truly be missed…

…and then, I got fired.

So, the morning after posting about My Panic Attacks, I was fired. (I don’t know why I wrote that in Title Case- as though it is the name of a memoir I’m not writing -it isn’t- but I guess in my head it warrants The Importance Of Title Case. So I’m leaving it.

Anyhooo, I’ve never, ever been fired before. Except once, when I refused to wear the horrible gray trucker cap at my high school job flipping kosher burgers. But I just came in the next day anyway and lo & behold, still had my job….

…I’m really in a tangent kinda mood today, I guess.

Let’s try again.

I’ve never really been fired. I’m not even sure this could count, since technically, I totally planned to quit that day. In fact, on the way up to my cubicle I saw one of the three people there who (I know of that) know about my alter ego as The Queen Of Muchness, (Title case entirely intentional) and I said to him “I’m quitting today.” and he said “Really?” and I said “Yeah, I can’t take it anymore.” and then he grabbed my ankle and begged and pleaded for me to stay because that place is so damn gray….

…Except that last part totally didn’t happen.

I just said I couldn’t take it anymore and headed up the staircase to my cubicle hell.

I got there and my boss popped her head in and asked if she could speak to me, and though I’ve never been fired, I knew that tone, because I’ve used it before when firing people. Except I’ve never actually fired peopl

e because the people I’ve always hired have been awesome. Except once, but then I was too chicken shit to fire her myself so my boss did it on my day off. But in my head I’ve had that conversation plenty of times about firing people I didn’t hire, so when I heard it out loud I knew what it meant.

So I followed her from my cubicle into a cubicle 2 feet away from my cubicle with a round table instead of a desk and she said “I don’t think it’s working out.” and I said “Oh my gawd, I totally agree.” 

Though I said it very loudly, I don’t think her brain let her hear me because she started telling me about the mistakes I’d made, so I agreed with her and told her that the work I’d been doing for the last 2 weeks was work I’d been teaching or delegating for the last 8 years and being forced to do this stuff left me wanting to bang my head against the wall the whole time I was doing it. I believe my exact words were “between you and me, I was totally hating every fucking minute of it.”  and then I laughed, because hearing yourself blurt out stuff like that is funny.

 

IMG_4066

(Random pic of me doing my version of banging my head against the wall.)

So anyway, she asked for my prison-swipe-card back and I said goodbye to my glittery designed cubicle, thanked her and asked her for a hug (and I really meant it!) and went down to say goodbye to my lunch buddies who were the only thing that kept me semi-sane in my few short months at this job. They all cried huge, bitter tears to learn I wouldn’t be gracing the halls with my Muchness and I told them to keep the faith. The Muchness lives inside them and would one-day see the light of day again.

Once again, I’ve embellished for the sake of tangent story telling. There were no tears. But other than that, the rest is all (approximately 75%) true.

 

IMG_4150

(I like embellishment. Ya think? :)

Ya know what’s pathetic? This post is already too long and I haven’t even started to get to the point, but I am SO ENJOYING writing it!

So, I’m debating if I just leave this post as is, my embellished yet entertaining “Hey Folks- I was fired!” blog post or, if I go on to get to the initial point. The message. The WHY DID I STAY AT THAT HELLISH JOB insight. That’s supposed to be the part where maybe you can glean some amount of inspiration that will help you in your journey to find your Muchness.

Peh- screw it.

I’m gonna write the other part but not post it till tomorrow. Give you something to look forward to on your first monday of the summer.

For now, I am just going to say Goodbye to the greyest place on Earth. You have taught me the lessons I needed to find you to learn.

building

 

Let’s talk about panic attacks.

Panic attacks.

I’ve been having them.

WTF?

Not a lot, but enough that I’ve started to recognize them before they hit. The inkling that something inside me is not quite handling itself the way it should.

The first time I ever had a panic attack was in college. I didn’t know what it was but I somehow found myself under a patternmaking table draped in burgundy stretch velvet and gray wool flannel – the materials I was using to make the final garment of my 3rd semester pattern making class. (It was the late 90’s…) Trying to catch my breath while tears ran down my cheeks, I remember my friend Vadim asking if I was OK and being pretty sure I wasn’t. Somehow I managed to laugh it away and was left with nothing but the memory of that freaky weird day when I found myself under the table.

To the best of my knowledge, that was the one and only panic attack I had in my whole life, until last year. Even in the midst of pregnancies and babyloss, the panics I experienced were logical and concrete, not the random freak-outs over minimal stimuli that they eventually turned to.

But then, they’re not really random. They happen when I am off course. So off course my brain and body are completely out of alignment with my heart and soul. 

Last year, before I left my job I had a panic attack. Part of my responsibility was to be an incessant critic. At my job, I would design a product and all the packaging in minute detail. I’d then send the information to China where they would proceed to sample the product. Incorrectly. It was then my job to look at what they’d made and comment “This is wrong and this is wrong and this is wrong and this is wrong…. oh- and I’ll bet you thought I’d miss that tiny little thing that’s wrong and barely noticeable but I didn’t because I have eyes like a hawk and can see shit that’s wrong from a mile away.”

That was my job.

And for a long time I took so much pride in my ability to do that job and do it well. For real. I could see mistakes before they even fucking happened.

And then, the loss.

And everything changed.

I took on so much pain and sadness that I just didn’t have the space left for all that extra negativity. So I let it go. People that dragged me down, feelings I’d harbored for years… poof. Gone from my life.

Except that was my job. Looking for what’s wrong. Finding fault. Demanding better results from a factory that was probably not at the top of the list for factories that treated their employees like they’re worth a shit.

And it started spreading into my life… Looking at things my husband was creating and only seeing what I perceived to be wrong. Seeing typo’s on Facebook posts and getting disproportionately annoyed by them. Defaulting to negativity.

And at work, I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t look at every little thing and find it’s fault. It was killing me from the inside out. And so, on a random Tuesday, I found myself alone in a really large boardroom. I was armed with a scissor, a tape measurer and two pairs of red heart print flannel pajamas. My job? Disassemble the pajamas and determine why one pair- the one I approved, looked beautiful, and the other one, the one the factory ultimately produced, looked like an almost identical but shitty version of the nice one. Where had the factory cheated? Where had they cut corners to save a few cents? Where were the mistakes?

As I stretched my tape measurer down the front of the garment I felt it rise up in me. The idea of spending the next 30-40 minutes determining what’s wrong, what’s bad, what sucked about that stupid-assed pair of pajamas threw me over the edge.

And that’s when I found myself, under the table- a giant fancy, zebra wood boardroom table this time- trying to calm my  breathing, stop shaking and manage the tears that were falling down my cheeks. From under the table I called my husband. He told me to quit. God bless him.

But I didn’t quit.

I calmed down, and asked my assistant to study the pajamas. I’d just double check her work.

And that’s what I continued to try and do, delegate, until a few weeks later when another sample came in wrong and I had another panic attack. This time, I marched right into my bosses office and told him if I had to keep doing what I was doing, pointing out “this is wrong and this is wrong and this is wrong” I’d heave myself out a window.

I told him he needed to hire someone to do that part of my job. I even went online and found applicants, and brought him their resumes.

But he didn’t believe me.

And so I quit.

Because life is too short to spend it like that.

So here I sit, 8 months later, at a job with much of the same job description.

The main differences? I’m making a lot less money because I have a boss who does what I used to do, so she’s the final word and responsibility isn’t ultimately mine.

I thought that would make the difference.

But apparently not.

I’ve had at least two- and a half- panic attacks in the last few weeks. Only one found me under a desk. This time it was in a disgusting corner of my tiny cubicle and the desk is covered in beige laminate…. a major step down from the panic attack tables of my past, if I do say so myself.

It’s not just about the negativity of seeing “the wrongs” – it’s the general feeling of anxiety that fills my chest cavity and makes the voices in my head start talking really, really loudly, but kind of in slo-mo, if that makes sense?  I can no longer seem to (want to) handle the general stress of a job in the way I used to. The “let’s care about this shit and get it done” energy that used to fuel me, now leaves me feeling depleted and sullen. Because I don’t care about this shit. I care about

people. I care about joy. I care about my family and this community and making a difference in the world.  When I talked about all this with the hubs, I brought a lot of it back to the twins. Because that’s the pivot point where everything changed… but at the same time I don’t want to define myself by that, even though in so many way it defines me.

There’s a lot in this world I don’t know, but one thing I’m quite sure I DO know is I DON’T want to go back to caring passionately if a shade of blue is exactly 100% perfectly perfect according to some unknown barometer for measuring the perfect shade of blue. I CAN’T go back to that, and I’m pretty sure my panic attacks are basically me reminding myself of that fact.

 

stay-awake

I was given a wake-up call of the highest order, and I fully intend to stay awake.

…and on that note, It’s just about midnight. I’m heading to bed.

Thank you for reading…

Why my elevator pitch irritates me

When people ask what I do I say “I have a community website that helps women refind their light, joy and identity after grief or trauma.” 

It took me a long time to come up with that. I used launch into a 12 minute description of Muchness and the history of the word and what I do and blah blah blah blah. I needed to make it quicker. easier to understand and share over cocktails at a Bar Mitzvah. I’m pretty happy with that description but I have one issue. It’s that word “After.”

Because it’s not really “after”, is it?

I know when I started my Original Muchness Challenge, I wasn’t anywhere near “after”- I was smack dab in the middle of my grief and trauma. And frankly, as far as I can tell, grief and trauma don’t exactly have an “after.”

I’ve tried changing it to “I have a community website that helps women refind their light, joy and identity despite grief or trauma.”  but that didn’t exactly work either. That just sounds dismissive of the grief or trauma and like I try to candy coat sadness with sparkles and and bullshit. But that’s not what I do either…. at least not most of the time. (For the record, sparkles and bullshit do do a brilliant job of temporarily distracting a person from some amount of sadness, but that’s not really what I want to put on my calling card, ya know?)

If you’ve been reading a while, you know I do this because I want to help women begin to feel like themselves again. To remember what it is that shines inside them, and to celebrate that- their joys, blessings, quirkiness and creativity. I do it because I love bringing smiles to women who want to smile but may have temporarily forgotten how. I do it because grief and trauma can knock you down so hard that sometimes you feel like you may never be able to get up. I’ve been there. I know. But you can get back up, and you will. When you are ready. When the pain of staying in pain becomes more painful than the fear and discomfort of refinding joy.

Listen, there is no “after.” You don’t wake up one morning and say “Well, now that I put that behind me, let’s move on.” 

No.

You wake up every morning and say “Today is a new day and today I’ll find joy.” and then that’s what you do. And some days it works and some days it doesn’t.

Maybe I’ll change it to “I have a community website that helps women who’ve experienced grief or trauma refind their light, joy and identity… when they’re ready.”

Are you ready? 

Something I’ve Never Said Before….

At work today, one of the women randomly said while work-chatting “I want twins.” …she said it like, 3 or 4 times. Said it was like, her dream. What she wants more than anything.

She was talking to a few of us, all isolated in our little cubicles. But i was sitting at a table, out of isolation, working on something. So I could see her. And every time she said it, my stomach lurched.

So I said something I’ve never said before.

I said: I HAVE TWINS. 

Not, I had twins.

Just simply, I Have Twins.

Of course, these women know I have two daughters that are different ages, so after a second of absorbing what I said she looked at me quizzically. “Oh?”

And then, I offered the (small) detail that they were stillborn. But I also heard myself finish the sentence “but they’re still mine.”

And we all agreed that stillborn twins suck.

And then they asked me what happened.

And here’s the thing. I felt myself light up when I spoke about it. I explained the nuances of identical vs. fraternal twins, and intricacies about how identicals form, how, if the fertilized egg splits within 4 days you end up with two placentas, and it’s impossible to know in utero if same-gender twins are identical or fraternal before birth, yes so many under-schooled OBs claim to anyway- and it pisses me off. I drew little diagrams with my highlighter of two babies and their sacks and cords and how TTTS looks, with one little baby up against the wall and the other floating in a giant pool of fluid.

I told them about my beautiful friend Maripili and how she lost her boys to TTTS because there was not one laser machine to perform surgery on her boys’ placenta in the entire Central America. I shared with them how a bunch of TTTS Loss parents helped her help another TTTS mom in her country a year later. With a rented Laser Mackine that is routinely used for prostate issues (I believe)  Her doctor was able to perform the  life-saving surgery and save two little girls and now they are opening up a prenatal fetal Care Center in Costa Rica named after Maripili’s sons, Noah and Gael. That story made one of my coworkers cry. And rightfully so.

I’m sharing this because it was my Muchness Moment in my day. Educating people about TTTS and still birth. Sharing my twins and claiming my place as a twin mom.

We recently had a “getting to know you” night at the school my kids will be at next year. The school pairs new parents with veterans who’ve had kids in the school for years. Of Course, the family we were paired with has twin girls. Of Course. 

The mother was lovely but I noticed every time she mentioned her daughters, she reiterated that they were twins. “What grade are they in?”
“Oh, they’re both in second grade. They’re twins.” 

“Are they in the same class?”
“Even though they’re twins, we wanted to separate their classes. We didn’t want them doing EVERYTHING together.”

And EVERY time she said the word “Twins”, I swear to god, her eyes sparkled and her smile grew wider.

Then I asked if they were identical and, thank god, the answer was no. And her energy diminished juuuust a teeny tiny bit. Because if twins are special, everyone knows identicals are just an itty bitty bit specialer. So sue me. It’s true.

When the time comes, I am going to tell her I am also blessed to have twins. And while the sleepless nights mine brought me are of a whole different variety, I’m gonna make sure my eyes sparkle when I claim MY place as a twin mom too.

Do you sometimes feel invisible?

Let’s talk about being invisible.

I think, sometimes, we all feel invisible.

We are passed over for a promotion or ignored in a meeting, or worse, in a social situation where you already feel awkward and shy.

As I squeezed my bottle of hot pink hair dye into my gloved hands last night at 11:30 I looked at myself in the mirror and thought “Holy Crap- they are all going to see me.”

You’d think this thought would have occurred to me months ago, before I dyed my hair pink, that yes, with pink hair, people are going to see me. But it’s one thing to be seen by people who already know you, or people you interact with in everyday life.
It’s an entirely different thing when you force yourself outside your comfort zone into the company of people that impress you enough to intimidate you, and you do that with shocking pink hair.

Ya know what that takes? That takes a serious dose of Muchness.
(Booyah! So clever. I’ll bet you couldn’t guess I was gonna say that. Truth? I actually was gonna say it takes Balls, but then I thought- hmmm…. I should change that…. ya know, for branding purposes…. But anyway.)

This morning I had the opportunity to go to the press event for this incredible conference S.H.E. Summit. The week-long event is all about empowering women to own their power, and step into the power of their lives. A room full of incredible women, and me, with my pink hair (and sequin blazer), daring to be missed.

See, I was lucky enough to be invited to share The Muchness at the event and all of the participants will be receiving mini decks of Muchness Moments Cards in their gifts bags. A total honor.

I’ve been bitching and moaning so much these past few weeks but the fact is I alone am  responsible for putting myself where I say i want to be. And where I want to be, is Sharing The Muchness! Finding MY Muchness means stepping out from behind the computer and sharing my story and the things I’ve learned because there isn’t a single person who wouldn’t benefit from inviting more MUCHNESS into their lives. It is practically selfish to keep the power of Muchness to myself! I whole-heartedly believe that. And to share that message, I have to just put myself out there and not be invisible.

And that is hard.

So, How did I make myself as un-invisible as possible?

Well, I was gonna take the easy way out: skip the press event and send the mini-decks for the gift bags as they come when you purchase a complete deck. With a hangtag that has my itty bitty little face on it: photo-500x400

See that? Barely? Exactly.

I realized that if I am going to hide behind my shyness and wait for people to discover what I want to share, I’ll be waiting a long, long time.

So, I decided to jump off the invisibility train and be seen. Each deck in these gift bags comes complete with a cover shot:

photo-5-450x337

What? You can’t tell what that is?

Here let me zoom in for you:

photo-3-450x600

Oh, why my shiny mug front and center? Because it is my job to share The Muchness:

photo-1-500x375

Hi. I’m Tova. Nice to meet you. I want to share with you – and everyone else – The Muchness

…Can I tell you how it feels to look at a pile, 500 deep, of your own face, and know you are sending them out, not just into the world, but into the hands of the people that intimidate you with their awesomeness? 

It feels Awesome. Surreal. Weird. And Totally effing scary. And amazing. And Right. Tingly, excitingly right.

Whatever YOUR Muchness is, stepping into it, owning it and letting it guide you, feels right. That doesn’t mean dying your hair pink or wearing shoes that will result in broken ankles. It can mean using your time to help (or create!) a not-for-profit, or maybe it means simply taking time to yourself to enjoy your creativity and hobbies, If it means doing yoga, reading more books or experimenting with new ingredients in the kitchen, pay attention to the things that ignite those little fires in your belly, and then, do more of them! 

Let yourself shine. 

What unique thing do you like about you that makes you shine? I wanna know!!