The REAL Santa Letter

Dear Santa,

My loved ones keep asking me for my Santa letter, my wishlist if you will, and I struggle because the stuff I really want isn’t really the stuff you put on Santa letters. But I figured I might as well just write it up anyways an drop it online.

This year, I have been really good. I’ve managed to hold myself together and keep people smiling and fed and clothed and educated. Considering there are five of us plus a cat, a gecko, and two fish, I think that’s pretty good. Ok so I did kill some of the fish but that was an accident, I swear. Other than that, I think I have done all that is expected of me and then some. So, if you’re in a rewarding mood, this is what I really want for Christmas:

A freshly painted house on the inside. I never painted when I moved in six years ago. The walls are a flat beige and they are dirty and gross and they make me sad.

A year’s supply of yummy beer.

A year’s supply of Nespresso pods.

A professional organizer to come and help me get things organized once and for all.

A cleaning person to help me keep things nice and tidy after the organizer is done.

A beautiful backyard that I can enjoy with lots of shade and fragrant flowers and neat things for the kids to explore.

A little library in my home.

A remodeled bedroom. This year, I did the kids’ rooms. Mine is still the odd little smorgasboard it’s been forever. The nightstands are too big and bulky, none of the furniture really goes together, and it’s always messy.

A family trip somewhere. We go every year, this year with all of the financial crud and the legal fees, there is no trip. My kids are bummed and I am too a little bit.

A romantic trip somewhere. My partner and I have never had a trip alone just the two of us. He has hardly traveled at all. I would love for him to see San Francisco or New York.

A subscription to every event at the Adrienne Arsht Center with great seats. The ballet, the opera, the musicals, the plays, I want to see it all.

$10,000.00 to buy presents for needy folks.

Peace at last, and true positive thinking. I want to embrace myself for the good that I do and shrug off the bad that happens. I want to be confident and sunny and warm. I want to be joyful and affectionate. I want to be kind and strong.

Ok Santa, that pretty much sums it up. Thank you for listening. These days I am appreciating just how nice a gift that is for someone to give.

Happy Christmas!

-Mutant Supermodel

Mutant’s Search For Meaning

It’s that month again. And since it’s December, Christmas is inescapable. I participate in Christmas every year but this year, I am trying to give it a purpose, a reason for the season to borrow from my religious friends.

And there’s the whole thing, right? I’m not religious. I was raised Catholic and so Christmas is in my coding, but I gave up on Catholicism when I was in high school and just haven’t really been able to go back. I actually haven’t found any religion to identify with and I remain the same I was in high school, agnostic– I really just don’t know if there is a god or there isn’t a god so I remain in the middle, undecided.

And usually, that’s totally fine. But this year, Christmas is causing me some problems. My kids are in Catholic school. Long story short, my mom teaches there and having the kids with her makes life a trillion times easier. So, they’re in that whole environment, but even with that influence, our actual celebration of Christmas is never religious. Ok, maybe sometimes my mom gets the kids to sing a chorus of, “Happy Birthday Jesus” and there was that one year they were in the nativity show at the Church but yeah, that’s it really. And I mean I am not really concerned with why the kids celebrate Christmas, I’m concerned with why I am celebrating it and how I can make it meaningful for me in some way.

I mean, it’s all about the kids right now. Santa Claus is my favorite thing in the whole wide world because it’s the best reason to grant my kids some wishes. But, I mean, that’s all I’ve got. Oh yay I can buy people stuff. I mean I can buy people stuff whenever. And I have an issue with giving people stuff as the primary reason for enjoying a holiday.

I can see the role of tradition but I don’t like doing things for the sake of “because we always do it.” And I do love to be with my family, but we’re always together. And we also show each other we love each other without a holiday.

I honestly think back to my childhood and I swear to you the things I remember most about Christmas were:

Pondering the question of Santa at different ages (wondering if I could catch him, wondering if he’d skip me, wondering if he was actually real).

Eating dinner with my whole giant family.

Playing a Disney Christmas record on the record player and singing along a lot.

The Christmas tree– looking for the tree and the whole drama with my parents, then the anticipation of putting the tree up and decorating it, and finally the basking in the glow of the tree.

Waking up for PRESENTS, and yet I can hardly remember any single particular gift from a Christmas. I know there are photos and I have fond memories of certain toys, but I can’t for the life of me recall a particular Christmas where I got a particular gift and freaked out (sorry, Mom & Dad).

Christmas cartoons!

So, I mean all I’ve got is childhood. Christmas is the celebration of childhood– its magic and its vibrancy. It’s the celebration of joy and pleasure and indulgence the way that children do. I just wonder– is that enough?

So what about you? What is your reason for the season? What is it that makes Christmas special to you and to your family?

Holiday Hangover

Well, back to work! Anyone else have a mild holiday hangover? Not one related to substance abuse, but one just related to holiday abuse? All of the eating and the drinking and the sugaring and the caffeinating and the conversating and shuffling? We were all over the place this weekend with something to do every single day and it was wonderful. We had Thanksgiving dinner with my mom and this year the kids were with me. Friday we had a wine tasting party at my brother’s house. Saturday, we had the employee appreciation football game and I got to tailgate with the President of the university. And Sunday we saw a parade!

Of course in between all of the fun stuff, I also took some time to organize here and there. I did a little section of the hall closet for instance. And I also got rid of the large desk in the play room and switched it for a smaller family heirloom desk. Of course, now I have to figure out how to organize everything but I like that the desk is smaller because the larger one just became a giant clutter magnet. At least if this one becomes a clutter magnet, it’ll be a smaller clutter magnet.

This week, I will be working on tutus. I have two shows I am making tutus for and I have two weeks! One is on Sunday the 14th and is just one tutu but with lots and lots of tulle. The other is on the the 18th and has 3 dresses and I believe 6 skirts. I’m excited about these. The one for the Sunday show is an experimental technique I am making up so that I can get the effect of pancake tutu without having to do tons and tons of crazy sewing that I do not have the skill set for. The ones for the Thursday show are for my daughter’s class. They are the goblins in the Bah Humbug musical, so I am making spooky tutus.

Other than that, everything continues. I’m still doing my reading on the train and during my breaks. I am trying really hard to remain fiscally responsible. I am trying to stay positive and optimistic. I am spending a lot of time really thinking about my next move. I am pretty sure I do know what I want to do next but I need to talk to someone who does it. And I need to understand how financially feasible it will be. I understand I might have to take a pay cut but I just can’t take a huge one. Time will tell!

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow. As I get older, this holiday is becoming my favorite. It’s not as flashy as its neighboring Halloween and Christmas, and retailers are trying to eradicate it from the calendar completely, but it keeps growing in my heart. A whole day of Thanks Giving. How lovely is that? I mean what a great idea! A whole day to show and/or say your thanks to the people and things who make your life a little bit sunnier and brighter.

I’m a sap and what I am noticing is that there are some really interesting side effects to pain if you open yourself to them. Suffering and loss and pain can really help a person appreciate what there is in their life as other things fall away. I think that you just have to get yourself out of the way, become less self-involved in a way.

I used to think that one of my better traits is that I would really analyze myself– why am I feeling this way, behaving this way, etc.? Now I’m wondering if that just makes things worse. All I do is focus on the me and the my with that mentality. I’m always on the alert to what could potentially impact me. It’s very paranoid-making.

These days I have been practicing a lot of gratitude and a lot of love and a lot of appreciation. Even though there is technically a struggle going on, it has reaped me many benefits. I am learning to compartmentalize better for one thing. In other words, just because there is this difficult thing happening with this one person, it doesn’t mean that everything else is falling apart and it doesn’t mean that it will impact every facet of my life. Apparently I have a bit of a flair for the dramatic when bad things happen. But this is something that I am working on with some good old refuting techniques and by shifting focus to the good things that are present and continue to be present.

So, I really hope you take advantage of tomorrow. I don’t know, maybe take an hour of your day to write some Thank You cards to some good people. Or plan some surprise acts of kindness for your loved ones. Or hey maybe make sure you take a moment to really appreciate yourself. Better yet, maybe do a little bit of all of it. And then enjoy your delicious food with your beautiful families. Forget the malls and the stores and the sales– that stuff really and truly doesn’t matter. Stay home Friday and bask in the glory of gratitude instead of running out to the stores and reminding yourself of your many shortcomings (it’s what stores are designed to do after all). And then on Saturday, make sure you show your gratitude to the local and small businesses that give your life a little bit of extra flavor or sunniness by supporting Small Business Saturday.

Enjoy this holiday, and I’ll see you on the flip side!

Positive Psychology

Lately, I have been reading some really interesting stuff. I have been introduced to Industrial/Organizational Psychology which in turn has introduced me to Positive Psychology and I’ve been reading some great books and watching some great talks.

Like many people, I too bought into the idea that if you are happy and positive, you are somehow inauthentic. I never described myself as a pessimist, but staunchly clung to being a realist. And I always felt that people who were too positive and happy and bubbly were fake and somewhat irritiating.

But the more reading and listening I keep doing, the more I find what a mistake that has been and I am interested very much in correcting it.

The past few years have been really trying for me. I am sure you all have some sort of idea from reading here but I also know that I have been quieter and quieter as things have heated up so you might not really understand it or even know what is going on actually and that’s ok. Point is, lots of trials, lots of tests, lots of beatings.

This year, I really got to another deep low. I felt that I was just breaking into a million pieces and I lamented that I would never be myself again. I felt that whatever happy person I did have was being ripped into shreds and thrown into the wind. I felt that every time I dared to enjoy peace and happiness, storms hurtled through and I was worn out and exhausted and just beyond done.

But, one of my signature strengths is love of learning so I started to seek out, once again, thoughts on happiness. And this time, I wanted the hard stuff not the fluffy anecdotes of someone with lots of money to spend on fulfilling many of their desires. No, I wanted to see what the science really said– the good science, the one that had LOTS of research with BIG sample sizes, with results that had been duplicated. I didn’t want to hear about that one study of like 30 people this one year.

That’s how I fell into The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. I was looking at some psychology journal online and read this neat little study they did on self-help books on Amazon and Shawn’s was credited as being one of the very few that was rigorously scientific. So, I snagged it from the library and it really was a great read. And the best part about it, I think, was the huge section in the back with the references. From The Happiness Advantage, I have dived into Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, Ph.D. and I have many more of his queued up as well.

I think these books are important because they give me a scientifc explanation for things and they also scientifically discredit popular opinion. For instance, one of the big big big ones for me from Seligman’s book so far has been the fact that scientific research simply does not back up the popular opinion that we are who we are today because of our childhood experiences. It’s just not there even though everyone swears up and down by it. As a matter of fact, the science shows there’s just not much that can happen to you that will leave a significant impact on you for much time other than the death of a spouse or child which often leaves people suffering as long as 5 to 7 years after.

So, in other words, your past has little to no bearing on your present and certainly little to no bearing on your future.

This was a big one for me. In other words, every day IS a new day if you accept that. If you really embrace the idea that the past is in your past and that your future is in your hands and that your present is what you make of it, well you are quite a powerful creature aren/t you? And lighter too as you release SO much resentment and anger and bitterness.

I have been reading about things like Learned Helplessness and it’s all just really amazing and powerful stuff. And I need it. I am reading through all this as once again another storm is gathering and growing and blowing through my family– my precious and beautiful family that I am eternally grateful for. This storm is likely to last for months and I am trying to build myself up to deal with it– not fight it, because fighting the weather is futile you know. But I am trying to build up my reserves, my buffers, and my army to help me cope with any potential pain or damage and to help me rebuild if things get really really bad.

I want to hide away from everything more than ever. I want to spend days in bed in the covers in the dark in the quiet, but everything scientific says NO that’s NOT what you NEED so screw your wants. So I am. I am reaching out and am focusing on gratitude and building up my self worth and letting go of what did or didn’t happen so long ago and am ready for now and am trying to be hopeful for MY future along with everyone else’s. I am trusting in myself and in my family and in my friends. I know that we are all so strong that we should be able to reduce the potential damage of this storm to the equivalent of a mere thunderstorm.

I love my children. And my children love me. I love my partner and my partner loves me. I love my family and my family loves me. I love my friends and my friends love me. And those are the things that matter. Those are the things that count. There are people out there who have a lot of anger towards me, who view me as a monster I am sure. But I am secure in my confidence of myself and my love for myself. I am not a monster. I am fair and I am patient and I am kind. Because I do not bend to the demands of another again and again and again does not make me a monster, it makes me a human with a backbone. And I am that as well.

I never in my life dreamed that five years after separating my ex husband would have so much anger towards me. I never in my life dreamed he would go behind my back to try and accomplish things. I never in my life dreamed that he would involve the children and cause them confusion. I never in my life dreamed that he would not be generous in his support of them. I never in my life dreamed that he would not be able to meet with me to discuss things. I never in my life dreamed that he would refuse to hear me out on everything, that things would get so ugly they would end up like all of those other dramatic divorces I heard about.

It just goes to show you that the only thing that you can be sure of is you and your response and your reactions. And you HAVE to believe that you have that at least under your control because if you don’t, you find yourself in the depths of despair and hopelessness and that is brutal to recover from.

So here is what I know, what I am certain about. I overflow with love and kindness. It is who I am. I know that I am resilient and that my children are as well. I know that these messes that keep coming up are annoying and pesky but in the long-term, they will fade into black.

This is Halloween

This is the second year in a row I set up a Photo Booth at my Halloween party with my son’s laptop. It is always the funnest thing in the world and my friends really enjoy it. I thought I’d share some with you guys.

Photo Booth 7

The Hero and the Goddess

Photo Booth 6

The Goddess and Star Lord

Photo Booth 5

The Goddess and the Kitty

Photo Booth 4

The Goddess and the Kids

Photo Booth 3

The Goddess and Her Boys

Photo Booth 2

The Goddess and Her Hero together again

Photo Booth 1

The Witch, The TARDIS, and the Goddess

An Open Letter to Chaos

Dear Chaos,

I think that perhaps you and I got off on the wrong foot and I am writing to you today in an effort to rectify that situation. You see, in my world I was taught early on that you were not one of the good guys. You were something we were encouraged to avoid as much as possible. We were taught that nothing good came from you and so we were taught many ways to defend ourselves against you.

I think that maybe you like me because I keep running into you and I must confess, this idea was almost offensive to me at first. I mean, you are supposed to be the bad guy. So when you first moved into my home, I was really pissed off. I didn’t invite you. I felt that was very rude of you and you were definitely not welcome in my home. But you stayed. From what I can see, you seem to have a preference for the living/dining room and the play/craft/laundry room mostly although it appears you also camp out in the kids’ rooms, the kitchen, and my bedroom every now and then. Oh and that hall closet, too. I think you really like it in there.

Anyways, I have been forced to become very familiar with you which is quite hard to do considering that your very nature makes you unpredictable and one needs some sort of predictability in order to develop a familiarity, right? Well, regardless, I feel like I have a better idea of you now and I feel like maybe I know you much better than I used to and much better, I think, than some other people do. After all, if you spent equal time with everyone, you wouldn’t be very unpredictable would you? That would be balanced and you don’t do balanced.

So here is what I think of you. I think that you are quite mysterious despite the fact you seem to hang around a lot. I think that you can come off quite rudely and abrasively at first. I think that it takes a lot of time around you to get used to you and I’m just not sure you really hang out with everyone enough for that to happen. I am sure you hang out with other people way more than you hang out with me and they probably have a much better feel for you but I’m also pretty sure you hang out with me a lot.

I am definitely not used to you, yet. Every time I run into you, I think I run a 50/50 chance of handling our encounter well or poorly. This doesn’t have anything to do with you really, it’s more the way I’m wired and whether or not I’m running hot or cold, you see.

However, it seems to me that I have spent enough time with you to understand something very important– you’re not a bad guy. You’re not a good guy either. You just are. But I guess in this case, the important realization for me personally was that you can result in bad things just as much as you can result in good things. I am trying to shift my focus primarily to good things.

In my culture, there is a lot of talk of paths– the wrong path, career path, etc. There is talk of ladders and of destinations, of goals and benchmarks. In my culture, we are incredibly linear and I am starting to appreciate how futile that sort of thinking is because we can’t vaccinate ourselves against you. You are bound to enter everyone’s lives several times. You are all around us all of the time. We breathe you in, we drink you, we eat you, we hear you, we brush against you, and sometimes we watch you.

This letter is long and this letter is rambly but I think that you appreciate that. I hope at the very least that you appreciate this:

I know you like me. I know you like to hang around me a lot. I’m ok with that. I’m not saying that we should totally be best friends and spend every waking minute together and go on adventures and take over the world or start a cult. I am just saying that I am done trying to push you out and I am done trying to keep you out. You’re here again, and that’s ok. Do what you gotta do and hang out until you’re bored and on your way out again. I’m not even mad because I know that you’re just as likely to bring me some good as you are to bring me some bad and that’s ok. There are some extra blankets in the hall closet– the other one. Help yourself, I need to tidy up in there anyway.

Sincerely,

Mutant Supermodel

Five Years of Mutant Supermodel

Lucky Number 5ive

 

Five years ago, Mutant Supermodel came into official bloggy existence with my lamenting the female characters little girls had to choose from. Five years later, I feel pretty good with the way things are changing and morphing. So much so, videos like this one now exist:

I mean, whoa. But that’s seriously beside the point.

I have been this persona for five years. So many things have happened in five years. Five years ago, I was recently separated. Five years ago, I was working as an office manager at an elevator company. Five years ago, I had two pre-schoolers and one elementary kid. Five years ago, I was under 30. Five years ago, I wore mostly size 2 clothing. Five years ago, I was getting deliveries from Diapers.com. Five years ago, I hadn’t missed a major holiday with my kids. Five years ago, I was pretty much sorting through major rubble not really understanding there was actually way more destruction and chaos down the road. I sincerely thought that I had done the hardest thing there was to do and that the rest would be so very easy.

If you ever happen to click on that drop-down box that’s on the right side of my blog that says Time Traveling, you will see that it lets you go back as far as February 2006 which is when I first signed up with LiveJournal. Before that, I had been writing on Diaryland since October 2002. So yeah, I have been writing about my life online for TWELVE years. Maybe if I had actually stuck to one place and kept it consistent I would be a super mega blogger person. But I didn’t and so I am not. I’m just the Mutant Supermodel with a name that everyone adores but no one really understands which I feel is exactly the right way I would like people to think of me.

So it fits, you see.

Anyhow, thank you for reading my words. Thank you for chiming in with your posts. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your advice. Thank you for your endless patience. Five years.

Another five doesn’t sound so crazy.

Goodbye Coffee

I think that it’s time to say goodbye to coffee. I’ve always battled with coffee, but lately things have gotten really bad. If I drink a regular cup of coffee with a spoon of sugar and some creamer, and I don’t eat anything substantial with it, I get really sick. Sometimes, it’s immediate– less than two hours. Today was one of those days. My stomach is still reeling from a cup of coffee I had five hours ago. It’s not just my stomach either, I sneeze too and need to use my nasal allergy spray so that my sinuses don’t get completely blocked up.

I’ve known this on some level for years now. There are ways for me to drink coffee without having a major reaction and I guess I could do those now and then. The best way for me to drink coffee is one of the Nespresso’s with a LOT of almond milk and something to eat. And then I drink lots of water through the day.

But what I really need is a good replacement. So far, I am leaning towards trying out Teeccino. I like tea but I love my coffee even though it’s very cruel to me. Has anyone tried Teeccino? Amazon has it at $30 for three packs. I wonder if Whole Foods carries it and if so for how much? I’d like to try it without committing to three packs of it, you know? And yet I’m willing to bet if I go to Whole Foods, I’ll find one pack is going to cost me at least half what Amazon has it for the three. Because that’s how Whole Foods works.

Anyhow, if you have some input on some effective coffee replacements I’d love to hear them. My stomach thanks you.