What Distracts Me from Writing
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I’ve kinda been a bit overwhelmed recently. There I said it. It’s true. Forgetting meetings and where I put my phone, but thankfully not forgetting any of my children…yet. The next step is forgetting my kids I swear.

Among all the things that seem to slip my mind, there sits my writing. But with that it’s not just forgetting. It’s worse than that. It’s what distracts me when I do sit down to write. What gets me distracted and stops me from clicking away on that keyboard?

So, I did what I always do to work through stuff. I made a list of 21 things that distract me when I sit down to write and a few things I do instead.

1. Go through my pairs of jeans to decide what to donate.
2. Try to straighten my hair at home.
3. Open Excel in the hopes of mastering it.
4. Watch old episodes of American Idol and The Voice.
5. Sing along with American Idol and The Voice videos.
6. Look up recipes that hide broccoli in pasta to get my kids to eat it.
7. Message my sister: How much coffee is too much coffee?
8. Figure out the quickest way to wash my Converse without throwing them in the machine.
9. Coloring my roots with my way-too-dark mascara and ending up with a very obvious contrast between my hair color and what I’m trying to sell as newly colored roots.
10. Go through baby photos and wondering how the time went so fast.
11. Go through baby photos of me and wondering which kid looks the most like my baby photos?
12. Calculate how much time I’ve just wasted.
13. Wikipedia something I want to write about which somehow always leads me to Instagram.
14. Vow to unfollow people who don’t make me feel better about myself in some way.
15. Promise myself to stay off social media for a day. Okay at least a few minutes.
16. Look up tickets to Tanzania for a safari.
17. Look for my outdated vaccination card.
18. Research anxiety.
19. Who I would thank at my book signing.
20. What I would wear to my book signing.
21. Wonder why I still have pending deadlines.

It’s alright. I’m alright. Just another stage along this…umm…journey of mine? Let’s call it what it is. A roadblock. Yes, that’s what it is. A roadblock that has in turn, given me writer’s block.

Pass the double espresso. Except my sister replied, Your daily consumption is the definition of too much.

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When a Mama Drops the Ball…
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Sorry for not posting last week or the week before or the week before that. I’m probably only speaking to my junior high English teacher, Mr. Zunigha and my mom here, but you deserve explanations. My fellow Dubai-based mommy bloggers might be reading but are also probably secretly high giving each other that I dropped the ball thinking I had given up posting … and writing … and all that jazz. The truth is that I haven’t. I didn’t so much drop the ball as the ball fell on top of me. And I still love writing and posting. But the ball that dropped on me was like a bucket of vomit so that took priority.

So, what is this ball I speak of? Sick. Kids. All. Three. With three different viruses. On and off for a while. Okay, so maybe not a month, but hey…I had to recover too, right? It was the perfect storm of contagion. It’s been … fun. Eventful. And I’ve learned so much about this state of being inside the whirling, sleepless, limbo of sickkiditis so here’s a list for you to a) read and smile and nod, b) skim then message me that it was great, or c) send me a heart after reading the title and send me an encouraging, “tomorrow will be better message.”

1. Thank you all you instafamous people for making feel totally envious of your posts while I was scooping up vomit. Your snapshots with #happyvibes made me smile… before sobbing and looking for the thermometer at 3 am.

2. I learned that Post-Its can cause Mama meltdowns. Like when I wrote ‘I will not lose it’ on a Post-It and then lost it… then referred myself to the next Post-It: ‘fake it ‘til your next catnap.’ It was like a trail of breadcrumbs with a stupid pigeon ready to gobble up my path out of the labyrinth of the maze of ear infection, gastro, wheezing cough, and the flu.

3. I imagined my kids aged 30 and closed my eyes tighter and imagined them calling me up to babysit their kids. I will be busy. I will be in the Bahamas. Or Cuba. Somewhere remote with “bad” reception and non-existent Wi-fi. Does a place like that even exist anymore?

4. I researched every single body part that was hurting or not functioning properly and what vitamin or medicine to take. I lost the Post-It that was written on 5 minutes later.

5. I looked up a 7-minute workout to do and promised myself I’ll do it and get back my pre-baby ass.

6. I YouTubed moms being funny and gazed at viral blog posts—not managing to watch or read anything, but just to know that they existed to keep me sane at 4:03 a.m. when the third one woke up right after the first one finally fell back to sleep and before having to re-ventilate the second one.

7. I sent loving texts to my husband who was away all week traveling for work, such as, “You’re an amazing dad!” and “I’m gonna spoil you so rotten when you make it back here!” and “We’re all rooting for you having a great week at work! Can’t get you outta my mind, babe!”

Yes, so, I’m still here. I’ve shrugged off the ball and showered myself free of the vomit—I think…. I still catch a phantom whiff of puke and want to puke myself. It’s been … real. But I’m back so don’t think we’ve broken up. We were just “on a break”. You know, I had to write that next.

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What I Want to See on Instastories
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My last post discussed the dark side of Instastories. Let’s say no to TMTF—too much, too fake. Let’s swipe away from those poses and manufactured posts of brands and bags and clothes and food and pastel stationery. All that does for me is make me look at my closet and stress about what I am supposed to wear now. I’m not in my twenties anymore. Here’s to being real and not giving a shit. Well, at least a little bit.
So what DO I want to see on Instastories?
Lean in, mamas, I kind of need to whisper this.
1. Real skin—not as in bare torsos of guys with ripped abs. But, like freckles and wrinkles and eye bags.
2. Real worries and stresses. It is not a perfect life and so why are we trying to sell ourselves as calorie-free chocolate?
3. Things that remind me of how I was before kids, and how I am during. It’s for that reason that I am obsessed with @instachaz and @catandnat because they are so so so different.
4. People doing something different and not giving a shit. Shout out to @instachaz, @catandnat and Bryony Gordon as mentors for this.
5. The occasional tantrum. Not to shame the mama or the kid but to show what the mamas are dealing with on a daily basis. Kid can wear a Spiderman mask to protect privacy for his future job applications, you know?
6. Birthday cakes that fall into the “failed” category. Messy finger food (as in, messy before anyone’s dug in). Cake pops that sag. Unicorn cakes that look somehow more like dad’s private bits than a YouTube-worthy creation.
7. I’d like to see an Instastory of an Instagrammer climbing onto a chair to get that “aerial” perfect shot of food then falling into the plate of food (not in a way that requires an ambulance). It’s not that I want to see Jackass-ery or pain, but people who climb on top of chairs for the perfect post seem unhinged to me.
8. A couple kissing like they really do, not like the Instagrammer of the couple dictates they do so as to look like they have yoga arms, no double chin, and no tongues. Yes, I have probably been a victim to all of that too so this post is a wake-up call to myself as much as a call-to-reals to you all.

And now a major shout out to Ditch the Label.

They are real and totally cool in being real.

Of course, my biggest fear is if I am real. I know that sounds dumb, but my mission in this life is to lift up mamas by finding the magic in the midst of the mess. I speak at events and confess that I, too, lose it with my kids and myself. Like on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel like the audience deflates to hear that. But it’s my reality. I am fuelled by coffee and a willingness to put myself out there to show the commonalities for all mamas from Topeko to Tokyo, from Dubai to Detroit.

So, I’m sticking to looking for my damn wand with my mascara-colored roots and wrongly tinted cover up. After my digital detox, I’m more conscious of how many minutes per day I spend mindlessly scrolling. I want to give my fingers a break. And my mind. To look out the window at the horizon. Or bond with a blank page and do something little on it—just for me. Just for me and maybe my kids someday. Not for the world.
I’m writing this to remind myself I’m a writer and a mama of three, who is writing for the joy of it, but also for whoever still reads. My Instastories are actually those few moments in any given day when I’m feeling the magic.

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Oh, and happy mother’s day…again?
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Happy U.S.A. amurrrrrkaaaa mother’s day everyone! Yes, “againnnnnnnnn” as my 3 year old told me this morning. Was it really so painful for her to say happy mother’s day again? (lip quiver).

Here’s what I learned this past year of being a mom:

1. Self doubt is my bestie.
2. Nothing is a big deal…until it’s a big deal.
3. Take things easy and they will be easy. (not sure about this one)

So many changes from last year. It’s really amazing what a year will teach you. Here’s my list from last year:

1. Self doubt is my bestie.
2. Nothing is a big deal…until it’s a big deal.
3. Take things easy and they will be easy. (not sure about this one)

Okay, never mind. I’m just gonna bring it back to basics. As basic as it gets. Food and cuddles. Cuddles and food. That’s all. No one judges mama lionesses for it, right?

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What I Don’t Want to See on Instastories
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Recently I took a step back from social media and tried a digital detox. Wait, what do you mean, you didn’t notice? (Of course you didn’t. Because you’re busy with your lives. Except for that one kind e-mail asking if my account had been hacked.)

What led me to such a (perhaps) “overdramatic” step?

Instastories.

There, I said it. At first I delighted in them. I loved their easy impermanence. And that, unlike Snapchat, I could make it look like I had captured a magical moment—because you can recapture over and over until you’re happen with your “instant” capture. But with a little perspective I feel they turn us into 5 month olds. AT BEST.

Let me explain … I believe social media is like a baby seeing a tsunami of flashcards. There are a bunch of different pictures of animals and each one is so, SO colorful and we gurgle and squeal when we see some (the duck wearing Chanel who can juggle, in particular) but we frown at the elephant because the elephant is so … normal and unrehearsed. I feel like Instastories—much like Pinterest—puts us into a state of denial/fantasy where we believe a Chanel-wearing, juggling duck is normal. But she’s not.

And it’s a time thing. A time suck. We could have all learned a few new skills by now instead of brainwashing ourselves with social media. Like Mandarin. I could have been fluent in Mandarin by now. Okay, maybe not fluent, but able to order a Starbucks and tell the barista about my day if I had only laid off the ‘swiping and double tap addiction’ as it’s clinically referred to.

So, it’s not like I want Instastories eradicated from planet Earth, here’s what I realized I find Too Much-Too Fake on my feed. Instead of FOMO I have TMTF.

1. Other people’s meals/kids all day. Does that sound bad? I mean I do, but not all day long. It’s meant to be a mini-story and often it’s just raw footage. That’s not gripping enough to suck up my time or distract me from reading something real, like a book (I just started 40 Languages of Love, FYI). Sure it depends on who you’re following but still I had to make that point because you also don’t want to be out of the loop. I mean, what else would we complain about if we weren’t following these insta famous peeps.

2. I don’t need the weather forecast. “Windy” is useless and adds absolutely nothing to my day. Please don’t post it. I can see from your hair blowing in the wind. But in reality, it’s totally useless information for me to know. The same can be said of the “Brrrrr” posts with your boots in snow.

3. I don’t need to see your feet walking with the comment, “Gymming today.” Why do you—and I—feel the need to share this? I’ll tell you and please say it with me. Valiiiiii valiiii validation!!! High five. I am totally guilty of this one, but to be honest, it’s my way to say that working out is the only thing keeping me sane these days.

4. Stop taking pictures of your feet and toes at the pool. Just stop. Do you want people in Sweden who are still freezing their ass off to hate you? Because they do. I checked with Sweden and it snowed on May 9th. It’s no longer funny.

5. If one more person on turns the camera around and says, “Hi guys…. (insert whatever they’re working on:) today I opened a Bic pen all by myself! Stay tuned big things coming… it’s exciting.” Is it truly exciting???

6. Stop filming yourself in the mirror getting your hair done. All it does is remind me to color my roots and stop coloring them in with my mascara.

7. I’m impressed with those who claim they are going against the grain and try to come across as real. I really am with you on this. But please stop doing that open wide-eyed look. It’s forced. It’s funny… but also forced! I doubt you managed to capture your sleeping baby in the back of the car AND your entire face with that expression in ONE take. Keep it real by being real?

8. Anyone who travels always shows the silver lining of it all. With extended love letters to, “Newwwww YorrrrrrKKKKK.” Yes, we get it. And I love how you never mention the latest tropical cyclone to destroy whole islands. “Magicaaaallllll” and “happpyyy vibes” is instead what I’m forced to read.

9. Who started this whole, “vibes” trend? Happy vibes, weekend vibes. Where do I find some? I’m kinda in the middle of “sleeplessness vibes,” “vomit vibes,” and “who pooped? vibes.” Same same, but different.

10. Can we see a whole lot less of the jargon? “Those cheeks” “This” “But first, coffee”—when did our vocabulary dumb down to a handful of clichés? I’m not sure but I want to try and stop.

So I challenge you. Let’s launch #tuesdaystantrums. A revolution, if you will. I want see Instatories that manage to capture one real raw moment. Not stories and posts that make me suspect someone’s husband had to kiss someone’s cheek 19 times before the lighting was deemed good enough. Not the ones that make me feel like anyone over 20 isn’t good enough to be seen in public.

Let’s gurgle and squeal over a few real, normal, unrehearsed elephants instead of the juggling ducks.

Ni hao ma, mamas—peace out.

Stay tuned for next week’s post on what I WANT to see (and try and post more of) on Instastories. And send me what you really really really want to see from my side.

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