Nov 12

What is Said and What is Heard

She means business when she decides to snow.He said:  Your face looks full with that haircut.

She heard:  Your face looks fat; I hate your haircut.


She said:  That looks pretty good, but you should have done it this way.

He heard:  That looks pretty good, BUT …


They said:  Are you sure it’s a good idea to homeschool the kids?

She heard:  You’re going to ruin them for life.


He said:  I can’t live like this anymore.

She heard:  Do things my way or I’m out of here.


He said:  I don’t care what we do, you decide.

She heard:  I don’t enjoy spending time with you enough to make the effort to decide.


She said:  I don’t care what we do, you decide.

He heard:  It’s okay if you spend the evening with friends; I won’t be mad if you don’t come home.


He said:  That’s okay, bud, I’ll have the shop wax my skis.

He heard:  You aren’t capable of waxing my skis.


He said:  Maybe you shouldn’t be so sensitive.

She heard:  If you didn’t get your feelings hurt so easily, I wouldn’t have to be careful about what I say.


They said:  You should write blog posts that are this long, on this many days with these kinds of headings.

She heard:  You are doing it all wrong.


He said:  I like it better when you do it this way.

She heard:  I don’t like you the way you are.


She said:  I heard you, but we are doing it my way.

He heard:  Don’t bother telling me what you want because I’m not listening anyway.



She said:  Pack your bags, we’re going to stay at grandma’s.

They heard:  We are going to live with people who let us be who we are.


They said:  Love you.

She heard:  Love you.

Oct 12

The Tyranny of Narcissism


Guest Post by Zaira

Tyranny is unjust, harsh, oppressive, and abusive, but most importantly, it lacks legitimacy.  This describes my marriage and continues to be my experience with the Narcissist.  If you have been involved with a narcissist, I am sure you can relate to counting the days until you are completely free to cut all communications.

I am hoping to survive the next 8 years and 4 months without going completely broke or found guilty in contempt of court.   He has promised both of these gifts to me.

There was a time, shortly after I left him, that he tried to convince me that we could work it out.  Every poem, flower delivery, and byline of “I love you” made my stomach cringe.  I recognized that person from a distant memory – the one who wooed and impressed me so long ago.  The harder he tried, the worse the nausea got.  There was something punching me from the inside screaming to be strong and end it.  It knew he was lying then.  I knew he was lying then… playing a part to save face.  Now I am reminded often that I was right.

Here is a snippet of what I receive now in my Inbox:

“An interesting email, however you sound like a bad campaign speech.  You have not answered a single question and spout unfounded accusations.” Continue reading →

Oct 12

When Narcissists Carve Pumpkins

It’s highly unlikely that you’d get your favorite narcissist to spend an afternoon carving pumpkins with you.  They have much more important things to do.

But… if you find yourself on a day when the stars have aligned, the weather isn’t nice enough to do anything else, and you’ve sourced/doted on/adored your narcissist enough, he may acquiesce.


If he agrees, be prepared to hear some of the following:


“Hey, let’s keep the mess on the table.  Try to keep all the goo on the paper so it doesn’t get all over the house.”

“We don’t need those pattern thingys. Can’t you borrow some pumpkin carving tools from your mom?  I don’t want to have to spend any more than I have to on this project.  Besides, I can draw better than the folks that make those patterns.”

“Did you really just get pumpkin slime on your t-shirt?”

“Don’t draw the eyes so close together, that’s not what pumpkins look like.”

“We’ll keep these pumpkins at my house.  You guys get your own.”

“Make the mouth bigger.  You won’t be able to see it from the street.”

“No, that’s not how to do the eyes.  Here, let me show you.”

“Hey, watch it!  You got some on the floor.”

“Push up your sleeves.  You’re getting it all over everything.”

“You guys aren’t listening to me.”


At this point, the narcissist sighs deeply, asks you to hand him your tools and says, “Hey, I have an idea.  Why don’t you two go watch a show and I’ll finish the pumpkins.  That way they’ll be done right.”


On second thought, don’t ask your favorite narcissist if he wants to carve pumpkins with you.


Sep 12

Control Your Destiny

I believe that you control your destiny,
that you can be what you want to be.
You can also stop and say,
“No, I won’t do it, I won’t behave his way anymore.
I’m lonely and I need people around me,
maybe I have to change my methods of behaving.”
And then you do it.
– Leo Buscaglia

Sep 12

What Control Looks Like

Control looks like two exhausted kids, asleep in their car seats, while dad detours to wash the car after a long day of hiking.  “Never mind how exhausted and hungry you guys are, this car has to look good.”

Control looks like the business owner who still insists on handling every detail of running a business because no one else is competent enough to handle even the most mundane tasks.

Control looks like the hair style that hasn’t been in style in twelve years.  You know the one – it’s untouchable, unnatural and hard as a helmet from several coats of hair spray.  “Mess with my hair and I’ll mess with you.”

Control looks like the family walking through Disneyland dressed in matching shorts, t-shirts and ball caps.  If you see them from the front, they all have the same grimace on their faces.  They’ve been coached to pretend to look like they’re having fun.

Control looks like the house that is never in need of dusting.  Every art object is displayed in the right light.  Every piece of furniture is placed at the best angle.  This house isn’t lived it – living is messy.  This house is for show. Continue reading →

Sep 12

The Anxiety of Narcissism


Guest Post by Zaira

A narcissist goes to the bar early on Saturday to watch a football game with his son, who is 9, and his friends.  He proceeds to drink all day, so much so, that he is passed out by 7pm and doesn’t wake up until well after his child has put himself to bed.

His son has called his mother and pleaded to come home at that instant, but she is restricted by the court and cannot pick him up from this situation unless his father agrees.  The son tried to wake his father up on numerous occasions with no response and is crying because he just wants permission to use the internet to entertain himself.  He is lonely and afraid to even turn on the television because it is against his father’s rules.

If his mother was to act in the best interest of her child, she would be faced with another contempt of court action by the father and even though he has driven home drunk with his child in the car and left him unattended in his drunken stupor, the law would uphold his complaint and hold the mother in contempt.

The mother talks to her son as long as she can, promises not to tell that he turned on the television, has him check all the doors to make sure they are locked, and says bedtime prayers with him after he tucks himself in.

At 2-something am, apparently after he has finally slept off the alcohol, the narcissist berates his ex-wife in an email accusing her of being irresponsible. Continue reading →

Aug 12

On Being The Windshield

Sometimes your the windshield,
Sometimes your the bug.
-The Bug Lyrics
Mary Chapin Carpenter

A month ago, we told Mark that his scheduled visits weren’t working for us.

He had been the one to print the calendars and assign the visit days and hours per visit.  He delivered the calendars sometimes two months in advance and, in most cases, refused to be flexible saying, “The calendar was printed two months ago.  The kids know the schedule.  There will be no changes or cancellations.”

Life doesn’t work that way – especially with curious, creative, active young people.

Cousins come to town and want to spend every waking – heck, even the sleeping – moment with cousins they see only once a year.

Friends call with invites to fish or solve mysteries or paint or golf or just hang out all day without plans. Continue reading →

Jul 12

Refresher Course in Backbone Building

“Don’t give me that condescending load of crap.”

That was his response when I asked if he would please feed Will dinner instead of a milkshake on their outdoor adventure days.

He said, “He told me he wasn’t hungry when I asked if he’d rather have dinner or a milkshake.”

What kid wouldn’t choose a milkshake over dinner?

I couldn’t leave it alone. Continue reading →

Jun 12

Say It With Me

Half of the troubles of this life
can be traced to saying yes too quickly
and not saying no soon enough.
 – Josh Billings
What is a rebel?  A *woman* who says no.
 – Albert Camus




Jun 12

The Secret Ingredient in My Low-Tech Cappuccino


The froth is the perfect warmth as it clings to my lips.   The nutmeg tastes earthy.   The espresso is strong enough without stealing the show from the froth.  And the sugar….  oh…

Starting the day with cappuccino is a fine way to practice a little self-care.  This is indulgence with a kick.


Low-Tech Cappuccino

  • 1/3 C  2% milk
  • 3 T finely ground espresso or dark roast
  • 1 t sugar – rounded and spilling over
  • pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon or both
  • Continue reading →

May 12

My Conversation With Audrey Hepburn

I steeled myself enough to peek over the edge of the covers.  Audrey was staring back at me.

“This is kind of late for you, isn’t it Dear?  Shouldn’t you be well into the morning’s chapter of reading by now?”

“I know, Audrey.  I know.  This is late.  I’m hiding.  I’m playing the role of the ostrich today.”

“I see.  So because you received a call with some unsettling news on Saturday, and slumped around in a funk all day Sunday, you think what you really need to do today is sleep in and avoid the rest of the world?”

“Well… yes.  I am going to fold my tent.  I will fold it neatly and tuck it away.  I’ll spend the day in bed with the covers pulled over my head and wait for everything to blow away in the wind.” Continue reading →

Apr 12

So You Say…

So you say… that you wish you could find extra hours in the day to maybe carve out a compost pile in the backyard, learn to play the fiddle or compile all those photos into scrapbooks; yet you never miss an episode of your favorite TV show.

So you say… you’d like to do a better job of keeping in touch with friends, but there’s never enough time after work, homework, laundry and dinner, especially with the time you spend on Facebook every night.

So you say… you could cut back on hours at work, if only you could get your budget under control, while spending every Saturday at the mall looking for something to fill the void.

So you say… you’ll be able to slow the family pace a bit, right after the next session of swim lessons.  Oh, but there’s another season of soccer coming up and junior has to take soccer with all his buddies.

So you say… you’re going to take this minimalist lifestyle thing seriously, once you buy the shelving to organize all the stuff in storage. Continue reading →

Mar 12

Things That Can Be Fixed

Jenny fixes a too gaudy Barbie dress by altering it.  She cuts off the flouncy sleeves and shortens the train.  She might use tape or thread or buttons, but she knows she can fix it.  She’ll even fix Barbie’s hair with snips here and there.

When the wheels don’t spin fast enough on his skateboard, Will can fix that problem by cleaning the bearings.

I can fix a too-thin sauce in a batch of  Chicken and Broccoli Fettuccine by letting the sauce soak into the pasta a bit before serving.

I fix the toilet when it makes that whistling sound.  Will fixes the squeaky hinge on the art supply cupboard.  Jen fixes a meal of flowers and herbs for her imaginary pony.

Fixing is what we do.  Fixing is in our blood. Continue reading →

Mar 12

Listening To My Body*

I walked out of the doctor’s office and ran across the street to the drug store where everyone knew me by name.  I was out of Pepcid.  I had a box in the bathroom, two in the kitchen cupboard, one in the office desk, and one under the car seat, but the box in my purse was empty.

I had made an appointment hoping to discover a name for this thing that caused me to go through antacids the way a nervous first-year college student goes through cigarettes.

The doctor ruled out pregnancy, gall bladder, and Crohn’s.

Last month, I’d asked my OB-Gyn if it was typical to require a prescription in order to stay married.  She said, “Jesse, I think you know the answer.”

Today, in the doctor’s sterile office with the posters advertising the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, I asked, “What now?  Do I live on Pepcid for the rest of my life? Is this normal?” Continue reading →

Feb 12

Why You Shouldn’t Make Your Bed Every Day

Finding order in making the bed.There are the frazzled days when, for no apparent reason, you feel out of sorts.

Maybe you blame it on the full moon.

Perhaps you need to eat more protein and less carbs – or less protein and more carbs – I can never remember.  You may be dehydrated, or you slept poorly.

You sit quietly, coffee in hand, sifting through the thoughts mulling around in your head, trying to filter out the cause of the frazzle-ness.  You find several potentials –  emails that need answers, an over-baked tray of cookies, the need to run out to get milk, or a dwindling supply of firewood.  None of them amount to enough to cause the Frazzle.

The exercise of sorting through and examining the thoughts helps you see that what you are craving, though, is control.

This moment – right here, right now – demands a bit of control.

Not the heavy-handed I’ll tell you what we are having for dinner and you will eat it kind of control, but the kind of control that attempts to gently pull in fractured energies and encourage focus.

In an uncharacteristically desperate attempt at gaining control I make the bed – the same one that will go for days without being made.

The making of the bed starts a snowball effect. (If I made the bed every day, I wouldn’t have an obvious place to start the snowball effect. Isn’t rationalization handy?)  The snowball builds as I clean the cat box, take out the trash, sweep the front stoop, straighten the cushions on the couch and refold the blanket on the rocking chair.

The completion of each chore, starting with making the bed, allows me to pull in all those scattered energies, get some semblance of control and focus on what’s really important – figuring out what to make for dinner.