Thursday, January 18, 2018

love notes

If you were to ever visit our tiny home, you wouldn’t be able to step a few feet inside before seeing a piece of paper with the words “I love you” written on it. There are little love notes all over our house with words like “You are my favorite person” or “You are so strong and brave” or “You are such a great helper” or “Thank you for being kind” written on them in colorful ink. And believe it or not - Allison’s the one who instituted this! She’s made little envelopes for us and taped them to the fridge so we can easily drop off little notes to each other. Every day she’ll ask me, “Have you checked your envelope?” She gets so excited when she sees a note in her envelope and she gets even more excited watching me check mine. Now they're often strewn all over the house like a metaphor of our unkempt love.


I’ve learned over the years that I have difficulty expressing my emotions. As a child, if I were to ever show anger, I’d be punished instead of taught how to manage my emotions. In my marriage, if I ever showed that I was even just mildly upset, I would be manipulated in the cruelest ways as a way of controlling me. So whenever I feel anger or frustration now and don’t have a way to express it, I tend to have anxiety attacks. 

But this goes the same way with positive emotions. My family has never been big on expressing emotion or affection towards each other. We rarely touch and I have a hard time even expressing to my sister (who’s my best friend, by the way) that I love her. Even just typing that out made me uncomfortable.

But I'm a mother now. And as a mother, I’ve tried SO HARD to teach Allie healthy ways of expressing emotion. She's such a sensitive little girl and she can get easily frustrated and worked up, letting little things feel like big things. Having two parents with anxiety issues must be tough and we're trying to teach her different ways of looking at a problem and responses we can have that might help the situation. And just as she can feel very strongly in a negative way, she'll turn around and have just as powerful positive emotions. She's constantly swinging her arms around me in these gigantic hugs and telling me how much she loves me. She very openly expresses her emotions and it makes me happy to see that she's so comfortable doing so. And yet it’s still very hard for me to verbally tell her how proud I am of her and how much I love her. I try and push through the awkwardness and the self-loathing because of how important it is for her to hear. But this is why I love our little notes. Anytime I’m having a hard time expressing something to her, I’ll just write it down. Our little love notes are my absolute favorite thing. 



Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#metoo

One of my New Years resolutions is to write more. So get ready for a month of sporadic writing followed by the inevitable decline of effort on my part!

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Eight years ago, I gave birth to a little girl who I have been raising to be strong and courageous. She's unbelievably smart and funny and sensitive and passionate and brave. She loves art and music and gets frustrated when she can't get something quite right. She speaks her mind and argues like the dickens. She's my heart. I would do anything for her.

Now, because of the world we live in, I've had to talk to her about instances where she might have to utilize her strength and smarts. Instances like when strangers (or any adult really) may try to harm her. We all know the statistics and the chances of my daughter being sexually assaulted sometime in her life. My job is to try and never let them happen and make her strong and clever enough so she knows what to do if the problem were to ever arise. I even plan on having the two of us take a self defense class. To be completely honest though, I HATE that I have to teach her how to fight off grown men. It disgusts me. I shouldn't have to do that. But that's the world we live in, isn't it?

Our own President has been known to treat women with very little respect (if any at all) and he's set a precedent for men in this country to treat women in same way. Boys my daughter's age are watching him. They're watching the power he has and the things that he can, and has, gotten away with. They're learning from him. They're learning that they can treat the girls around them as if they were objects. My daughter may one day become the victim of sexual assault because of the motion he's putting into place in the hearts of young men in this country.

However, something took place this past year that really changed the game. The #Metoo movement and the countless women who spoke up about sexual abuse sparked a fire in this entire country. Men now fear the consequences of their actions - something that hadn't been the case before. Women now feel empowered to speak up and not let things slide by like they did before in fear of repercussions. This is a change I never thought I'd see in my lifetime. My daughter can now grow up in a world where the women around her will have her back and she won't need to fear calling out perverted and disgusting men.

I'm happy to see the women in this country unite. I was apprehensive of the Women's March last January because I felt the majority of those involved were women you would never see at a Black Lives Matter March but if you say you're for women, I'd hope you were also for the lives of Black women. But the #Metoo movement brought together women (and men) of every race, color, and creed. It crossed political lines and reached everyone and I'm happy I was alive to see it. May we keep moving forward and teach the next generation - my daughter's generation - to continue the fight until the fight has been won.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Big Fat Quiz of 2k17

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before?
Drove my daughter to and from California by myself, drove 1200+ miles in one day by myself, spent every day in the pool for an entire month, did the sky rider at Wild Waves, saw Fred Armisen live, spent more than an hour in San Francisco (road an infamous trolley, went to the CA Academy of Sciences, etc.), watched an eclipse, started volunteering at OSL, ate at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland, took a DNA test, road in an ambulance with my daughter, started dating since my divorce, & learned how to make balloon swords. It’s been a productive year.

2. Did you keep your New Years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I failed at every resolution I set last year. I gained weight, hardly read any books that weren’t for school, & lowered my credit score. I was a real winner. My resolution for 2018 will be to redeem myself.

3. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017?
Financial security, gym motivation, less chocolate cravings, etc.

4. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 2-4 is when we moved into our new place
Sept 16-24 was our California road trip

5. Compared to this time last year, are you:
happier or sadder?
Sadder? I was a bit more stressed out and anxious this year. Working on that. Positive vibes for 2018 only.

richer or poorer?
Poorer :(

6. What was your favorite TV program?
Frontier, Blackish, Stranger Things, The Mick, This is Us, Handmaid’s Tale, Schitt’s Creek, Big Mouth, Younger, Portlandia, The People vs OJ, Shameless

7. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I’ve really built up my vinyl collection this year. Got some classics like Elton John, Earth Wind & Fire, Dean Martin, The Temptations, John Denver, The Supremes, The Bay City Rollers, etc. I’ve also loved Sam Smith’s new album, Andra Day is amazing, Kesha’s has some awesome music this year, and The Hamilton Mixtape is life. Also, the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman is AWESOME.

8. What was your favorite film(s) of this year?
The Little Hours, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Kingsmen, Miss You Already, The Last Jedi, The Greatest Showman

9. What books did you read in 2017 that you'd never read before?
The Princess Diarist, Getting Stoned with Savages, plus a ton of school textbooks

10. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?
Neo grunge - ripped jeans, army green bomber jackets, plaid scarves, striped tops, denim jackets, checkered vans or high tops

11. Who was the best new person you befriended?
Not too many new people, just getting rid of the toxic and investing in the good. 

Happy 2018!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

full control

Allison and I have had a great summer. Going to Wild Waves, checking out art exhibits, blueberry picking, I saw Fred Armisen live at the Neptune as well as The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the Paramount (an INCREDIBLE play from the perspective of an autistic kid - cannot rave about it enough), we spent a lot of time in the city as well as endless days in the pool right outside our back door. And while this was an amazing summer (and one of the driest in years), I couldn't help but count down to the Fall. Not because it's the best season of the year, but because in just a little over a week, Allie and I will be taking our first ever mother/daughter road trip down to California and we could NOT be more excited. 

Allison's been down to California a handful of times but this will be the first time we're driving down just the two of us. Since moving up to WA state at the age of 2, I've gone back down more times than I can count (or even my parents - they lost count around 35 I believe). I'm a pro when it comes to road trips so I have every detail planned out from which truck stops to stop at for the best snacks to which lipstick I'll be sporting on day #5.

My little sister, deeply wounded by the fact that she will not be accompanying us on the drive, decided to write out a list of things she is sad to miss out on when Allie and I head south. So I have decided to contrive my own list. 

Things I'm Looking Forward to the Most:

1. Picking the music
2. Picking the volume of said music
3. Not having a particular younger sibling complain about said volume of said music
4. Being able to belt out my favorite songs without passive aggressive remarks from said younger sibling.
5. Not having to listen to said younger sibling try tirelessly to prove that she can belt out the songs better than I.
6. Not having to deal with her inevitable emotional breakdown as she quickly learns who the real alpha is in the family and watching her slowly succumb to the darkness that takes over her soul.
7. Having full control over the a/c

I'm sure I'll think of more as the day approaches.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

a hideous shirt and a new perspective

Growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an artist. And as I've gotten older, my eyes have opened to the endless amount of avenues in which I can explore that. My grandma had a friend who was a professional artist and she would give me lessons in elementary school on how to draw and I fell in love with illustrating. In the third grade, I fell in love with writing and my teacher would let me read books I had written to the class (my favorite one was about a girl who discovered a tiny alien and carried it around in her pocket - still have the copy of that one). I was homeschooled for 6th and 7th grade and my mom and sisters and I would go out on adventures and I fell in love with photography. I was given an easel in high school and fell in love with painting with oil and acrylics. In the past few years I've fallen in love with fashion and interior design. 

After I dropped out of art school, I worked at a few different photography studios and eventually started my own photography business. Quickly, I learned that that was not the avenue I wanted to go down. I don't like making art as a means of income. I absolutely love photography, but when your ability to pay rent lies in your ability to sell your art, it really adds on the pressure and for me, takes out the fun.

Allison has always loved art as well. I have a bin in my closet that's filled with art projects and drawings she's done over the years. But one way she's been expressing herself lately is through fashion. She's now at the age where she has a lot to say about the clothes she wears and my opinion is being pushed out. I'll be honest, this is really hard for me. We were shopping the other day when she spotted a shirt she really wanted. Like, REALLY wanted. To me, it was hideous. And  almost immediately, I said no. I'm not really sure why I said no - I've just been used to having full reign over her closet and I'm sorry, but that shirt was NOT the look I was going for. But what threw me off was when Allison started crying. And it wasn't the cry of a spoiled brat who wasn't getting her way, it was the silent cry of a little girl who wasn't being able to express herself. So I had to check myself. And we got the shirt.

The amazing thing about being an artist is that there's no right way to do it. Being an artist means you see the world differently than others do and you want to visually show your individual perspective. I will never stop being an artist but I can guarantee you it will look different every day of my life.

Friday, May 5, 2017

what could have been

Whenever someone asks me if I have any older siblings, I always say "Yes, but my older sister has Down syndrome." And there's a lot that's held in that "Yes, but" that people don't necessarily realize. "Yes, but I didn't grow up with an older sister who showed me the ropes or gave me advice about boys. Yes, but I didn't have an older sister who taught me about make up and hair or helped me learn from her mistakes. Yes, but I didn't get all the things that come with an older sibling. Yes, but...it wasn't what it could have been." I love my sister but I have always longed for that older sister I never got. The older sister I had to become in place of the one I often needed. Who knows where my life would be right now if I had someone ahead of me, guiding me and showing me what NOT to do - what roads to take and which to avoid. 

The dedication to normalizing special needs kids is awesome and the mantra of "their lives are just like yours" is great and all but my life growing up (and still often now) is quite unique and challenging and that was always obvious to me even at a young age. As a kid who was bullied in elementary school for being the sister of a "retarded kid," it was MADE obvious. Thankfully we've come along way but growing up 30 years ago with a sibling with Downs was not a walk in the park. It was a life filled with bullies, loneliness and isolation. 

I didn't grow up with a big sister. I grew up past my older sister. I did all of the huge milestones that come with adolescents like getting my license and moving out of the house, all the while having this constant guilt-filled sorrow knowing I wasn't the one supposed to be doing these things first and the one who was, was just as heartbroken. When I announced my pregnancy 8 years ago, she didn't talk to me for 4 months and we both knew why. It wasn't supposed to be me. 

So when you ask if I have any older siblings and I reply, "Yes, but..." I really mean, "You have absolutely no idea."





Friday, April 7, 2017

adventures

I knew this was going to happen. Deciding to start blogging again at the busiest time of my life was probably one of my better decisions. A single mom working full time and going to school as well as working small jobs on the side...great job, Sharaya. You'll all just have to forgive the random spurts of posts this blog will ever see. But I'll try my best.

So parenting is fun! Oh sorry, you can't read my sarcasm. But trust me, it's there. See, I grew up with a little sister who was the most dramatic thing that has ever been produced on this green earth. And as the most easy-going kid in the world, it bothered me. Like, a lot. We didn't really become friends until we were older and especially after I moved out of the house. And then a few years later I had a kid and lo and behold, it's a little hell-raiser just like my sister. It's been quite a challenge becoming the mother this girl needs. She's extremely intelligent and gifted but her emotions are through the roof. It's hard to keep up sometimes. I can't imagine what the teenage years will be like but I know for sure my bar will be fully stocked.

And although our personalities clash and she can really test me sometimes, being her mama is really the best. My favorite parts of our life are when we do things just the two of us. After I became a single mother, I planned so many adventures for us. I guess I was trying to replace all the horrible memories with good ones. She's a shy girl and new things make her really nervous but she's always down for an adventure with me. Our favorite thing to do is to be tourists in our own city. But our biggest adventure so far has been our trip back east this past winter. My sister moved to PA a year ago and so we went and spent Christmas in NYC with her, a dream I've always had. We did it Home Alone style where we stayed in a fancy hotel and ate New York pizza while watching Christmas movies. It was the best Christmas I've ever had. We have more adventures planned for this summer and I can't wait.

Allison being a goof at Time Square

I'll work on writing more on this blog with super cool and interesting things to say. Or I won't. Your guess is as good as mine. But I promise I'll at least think about this blog and all the writing I'm not doing. Can't that be enough??