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Archive for June, 2011

No Fear

posted by Sheva 12:25 AM
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below. And either way, make sure to SCROLL DOWN & listen to my sad cowgirl song I wrote just for you! (sort of)

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – No Fear – the BLOG

Ever had some rageaholic a-hole scream and go red and basically scare the shit out of you? (Even if they are screaming at someone else in front of me, my heart still speeds up to a mile a minute.) As a kid, did a parent terrify you? Or, later on, what about a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse? Teacher? The IRS?

(Or were/are you the screaming rager type?)

As a kid, I would do all things necessary, including shrinking into a tiny mouse and/or people please to the Nth degree, just to avoid the feeling of being scared by someone’s disapproval, criticism or rage. As an adult… sad to say, not that much has changed. I still hate getting criticized, hate having someone mad at me, loathe being in the presence of shouting and rage. My stomach goes into a knot, I obsess about the person and situation, my shoulders hunch and my ability to get a good night’s sleep evaporates.

On the other hand… I secretly admire rageaholic friends of mine. Why? Exactly for that same attribute that scares the shit out of me: they have almost hunger for a confrontation – they seek it out, then act, speak, and instigate as they please. Usually, in the moment of anger, my brain partly shuts down and I don’t even consider making waves or really standing up for myself. Then later, I think about what I’d like to say, but I still DON’T GO BACK & say it. Why? Fear of how they will react. Fear that person will stop “liking” me. Fear…..

Yuck. So disgusting just to read my own words on the screen!

What is the answer? I KNOW I need to act differently. I’m afraid to.

One of the great spiritual kabbalists, the Baal Shem Tov, was given this advice by his father:

Never fear any person or any situation. The ONLY thing you should EVER be afraid of is disconnection with the Creator.

The Baal Shem Tov lived by this credo. Just remembering this story gives me strength and helps erase my own fears. Now, if only I could internalize this completely…

But until then, the only thing I’ve found that helps me dissolve my fear, besides literally talking myself out of it, is writing. Songs, blogs, stories, scripts… you name it, I’ve probably written it. To that effect, below is a song I wrote years ago… enjoy!

And by the way, thanks again for providing an ‘audience’ for my thoughts & observations. Stay tuned, and…who knows! Maybe someday you’ll be reading about how I felt nary a drop of dread or fear as someone lobbed a harsh criticism or rage-a-tantrum at me.

I believe in miracles! You sexy thing…

c/xo,

Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Hard Love – SONG


I put on a good face, but inside? Terrified.

Ballet for Boys

posted by Sheva 11:02 PM
Sunday, June 26, 2011

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Ballet for Boys – the BLOG

I have an ex who, as a young boy, was a champion Ti Kwon Do competitor. What gave him his edge? Was it his long legs? His competitive spirit? His can-do attitude?

Or was it… ballet. My ex told me that someone advised him to take ballet in order to up his ‘Ti Kwon Do’ game, and that all it took was one look at all the hot girls in the classes (and lack of straight male competition) to seal the deal. One or two years later, he was tour jeté-ing with the best of them. Core muscles strengthened, balance and total-body synergy tuned, and ability to jump to an astounding height fined-tuned thanks to ballet, my ex went on to kick major Ti Kwon Do Ass on the mats.

Go, ballet boy!

One year ago, as we watched his younger sister dance around in her first ever 3-year old ballet class, I tried to convince my then 5 yr old son that ballet was cool for boys, too. I found a trove of videos on YouTube featuring Baryshnikov. I showed my son scene after scene of Mikhail plié-ing and relevé-ing better than any of the girls, still coming off like a hotter and more manly stud than Clint Eastwood in a western.

My son wasn’t buying it. One glance through the lobby glass at all the tutu-clad petite princesses told him all he needed to know about what gender ballet was intended for.

Later, I made sure to bring him along when his just-turned 4 year old sister was given discount tickets to see a professional ballet company at the Ahmanson Theatre. He saw firsthand the beauty, grace and strength of the male ballet dancers. He thoroughly enjoyed the show, and stopped watching only once or twice, just long enough to kick the person in the seat in front of him. Hmmm, perhaps Ti Kwon Do would also be a good fit?

(And, ahhh, the joys of being yelled at by a stuffy queen who can’t take a few ‘back taps’ during a lively pas-de-deux.)

So I asked him point blank after the show, “Wasn’t that amazing? Don’t you want to take a dance class now?”

Hi unhesitating answer: “No way! Ballet is for girls!”

Cut to, three months ago when my son asked to come with me to see his sister’s new dance studio. The class she takes could not be more “girlie” – I think it’s called “Princess Ballet” and they take a princess tale each class, read it, then ‘dance it out’ with scarves, stuffed animals, wands and other sparkly accessories.

So imagine my shock when I turned around and my son was asking the receptionist if there were any dance classes for boys! And… my shock turned to nervous excitement when she answered, there was one class with four boys and a couple girls that was ballet/jazz.

He wanted to try it!

We now go every Wednesday. I bring the girls sometimes along to watch him, along with the other boys, dancing their little boy hearts out… awkward, clunky, loping, and sooooo soooooo cute.

Hooray for ballet!

c/xo,

Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

This is SO my son in 10 years.

Seasons of Love

posted by Sheva 12:27 AM
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Seasons of LOVE – the BLOG

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes… How do you measure, Measure a year? – RENT (the musical)

You know the other night, I got to thinking… just exactly how many minutes of my life have I thus far spent in my children’s room, trying to get them to go to sleep? (I’m sure I don’t even need to say that this thought struck me as I was passing the ½ hour mark doing just that.)

To answer my question, I left my little one crying (the two bigger ones having mercifully fallen asleep already), and went to my desk. Took out the calculator, a pen, a stickie note (neon pink, if you must know – I KNOW they are overpriced, but who can put a price on things that make you that happy?), and got to work.

I reasoned that with 3 kids, the oldest turning seven this summer, I have probably spent ON AVERAGE about a half hour every night putting them to sleep. Yes, I know we have babysitters some nights, but then again, there are some nights they take hours to put to bed. So it evens out.

Here’s what I came up with:

30 (minutes) x 365 (days) x 7 (years – my oldest son & how long I’ve been doing this) = 76,650 minutes.

For those non-human calculators among you, that equals Fifty three days plus some change.

FIFTY THREE DAYS. OF SITTING IN A DARK ROOM, READING STORIES, PATTING BUTTS, SHUSHING BABIES, QUASHING THE MINI-REBELLIONS…

53 whole days!!!

Lord have mercy. I’m the kind of person who likes to maximize the use of my waking hours. I like to DO things, and to be of use. It could be argued that I’m happiest when I’m busiest (though I’ll hotly deny this if any of you leak this information to my husband – you know he’ll turn around & use it on me when it’s his turn to do dishes/put kids to bed).

Yes, it’s true, my husband does help – very often – to put our kids to bed. On average, I would guess he does it 2-3 times a week. Let’s be generous and say it’s 3 times a week. That still means I’ve spent the equivalent of ONE FULL MONTH putting kids to sleep.

Wait–! I didn’t even factor in the time it takes EACH DAY to get a baby down for his/her nap!

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes…

Cx/o,

Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

I know they look peaceful, but guaranteed it took her like 2 hrs to get that little sucker to sleep!

It’s a Blog, Dog!

posted by Sheva 1:40 AM
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – It’s a BLOG, DOG! – the BLOG

For my thousands of readers (ok, 20 or so… Hey – one day Google Analytics told me I had 87 readers! Who knew so many people cared about high heels?!), I know that these past few weeks without a new Grownupgirl blog must have been simply devastating for you. Dry, dry, dry. Like the desert, in the hottest month of August. Like America, during prohibition. Like your mouth, when you smoke pot (or so I hear).

I’m BACK!!!!

I stopped writing because I was slammed with life. Parents were in town, one at a time since they are divorced, although every year they visit with unplanned eerie synchronicity – usually within the same month; this year, within the same week. I had a 2 day retreat in San Diego for work. Got back, kids were sick, I was sick, there was a crazy Jewish/Kabbalah holiday (Shavuot – you have to stay up all night and not sleep a wink but it guarantees you immortality for at least 4 months. Yup, I drank the Kool Aid…)

But even with all that, AND my full time job, AND my kids/husband/house/gym/Kabbalah classes/Shabbat… why did I slack off so completely?

Turns out I love something just as much, if not more, than this blog…

Sleep.

Sexy, isn’t it? Wait – TV, too. I did find (some, scarce) time for both over the past few weeks. So what gives – I can sleep, I can crack up over John Stewart, but I can’t bang out a simple one page blog?

I’m so ashamed!

(Did I mention I’ve also started a 6am boot camp, 3 days a week, run by a military trainer?)

ANyhoo – believe it or not, writing does actually rank up there in my life with all those other “important” priorities. In that I’m happier when I’m writing, less happy when I’m not.

So thanks for giving me an outlet. Keep visiting, dear readers: I was on hiatus but I’m back.

Don’t give up on me!

c/xo,

Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Blog? What blog?

No Pain No Gain

posted by Sheva 1:28 AM
Thursday, June 2, 2011

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – No Pain No Gain – the BLOG

I should have bought stock in Excedrin – I was onto Excedrin from around age 10 (years before the rest of the world – including Excedrin itself if you go by when they started running their migraine headache ads – discovered that Excedrin is THE only decent medical solution for a pounding migraine). Later, though, in my 20’s and early 30’s, Advil was my painkiller of choice. I loved those yummy little auburn pills, and they generally kicked the headache away, though occasionally I admit I had to take up to four at a time sometimes to really get the job done.

I’m not sure what caused me to stop taking painkillers for headaches recently. Perhaps I was tired of being jealous of my girlfriend who never takes any drugs for any pain, and decided to let her inspire me instead. Perhaps it was the comprehension of what it means to give birth to three babies without a drop of pain medicine – could a headache really be as painful as the giant head of a human forcing its way out of your vagina? No. It could not. (Sorry for that visual, guys, & sorry girls who aren’t moms yet.) (And – yo, High five, other moms!)

And yet…

My excuse for giving birth without painkillers had more to do with the baby’s health than my own – I liked the idea of keeping my baby drug-free for at least the first few days or weeks of its life. When it comes to my own body, it is not exactly a temple – I do have the occasional drink and over-indulge in desserts here and there, but I do eat pretty healthy, I don’t drink soda, and don’t do any drugs or heavy drinking like I may or may not have done in my teens and twenties. (Thank GOD we didn’t have YouTube and cameras everywhere back then. People may “remember,” but no one can prove I was anything less than a saint!)

But if not a temple, I do treat my body like something I’d like to keep around as long as possible, and in decent shape while I’m at it. So I eat healthfully, I drink tons of water, I exercise, and I don’t smoke or do drugs or drink more than a glass or so of wine a week.

So where does the Advil fit in? It doesn’t. I think years of listening to my homeopathic doctor has worn me down – I now believe him when he tells me Advil is hurting my body more in the long run than it is helping it in the short run. (For anyone who read my last blog you know I didn’t bother to read up about it, so his word really is all I have to go on…)

One week ago, I found myself in the throes of a pretty obnoxious headache. Pounding head, rigid neck muscles… after a few hours, it grew worse and worse… until I was finally nauseous and ready to vomit. I lay on our couch, useless to my husband and my kids, and I tried to remember how much worse it must have been, giving birth. (Couldn’t remember, BTW – it’s true what they say about forgetting how it feels. Obvi – how else could women get suckered into having more than one child?)

Then – the most amazing thing happened. It went away.

First it was a ‘start and stop’ kind of a thing, where I’d think it was leaving me, only for it to return with a vengeance a few moments later. But finally, it was complete gone. And then I DID remember something about giving birth without drugs: that surreal moment after it’s done, and the baby is out. You feel more lucid and alive than ever before in your life. You survived! You made it! The endorphins kick in and you feel like ten million bucks. (Until the breastfeeding starts, and the lack of sleep overtakes you and makes you feel like a zombie, but we won’t burst that bubble just yet.)

This past weekend I lived through a mild flu/severe cold (who the hell can tell the difference?) without taking anything except for homeopathic remedies. (It actually may be time to buy stock in Oscillococcinum, that stuff is GOLD.) I’m still a little stuffy, but I made it through the worst of the storm and I was drug-free as the clouds lifted and the aches finally cleared. Modern medicine is fantastic. But as grateful as I am for all its bounty, I find myself even more thankful for my ever-stronger willpower that has afforded me a rare taste of that “light at the end of a tunnel” health I now relish.

Here’s to hoping it lasts…

c/xo,

Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

Hang in there, little guy! It'll be over soon, I promise!

IMPORTANT! READ THIS FIRST!

posted by Sheva 2:06 AM
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If you hate to read, just click on the audio link, below.

BatSheva (BatSheva Vaknin) – Read This First! – the BLOG

I love to read. Memoirs, novels, chic lit, The Week magazine (for any of you not in the know, The Week is literary CRACK – go out and get yourself some right now, you’ll see), The New Yorker… I was the kid who bought Seventeen, Young Miss, and Jane, then poured through the articles, barely glancing at the pictures. (And you know what? While I’m at it, I’ll take a moment here to give a retrospective THANK THE FRICKIN LORD that I didn’t take much notice of the photos at the time– because I was also about the only girl I know who didn’t ever have an eating disorder as a kid. Connection? You be the judge!)

That said… why – oh why!? – do I have a terrible blockage when it comes to the simple task of reading directions?

Could it be inherited from my mother, who never touched a DVD until my brother set it up for her years ago? But she does read directions to some things, like the new Nikon she received last Christmas. So what is it? I start to read directions, and a form of severe dyslexia sets in – my vision gets blurry, I start to yawn, and the next thing I know, I’m either curled up asleep or distracting myself with whatever else is available – TV, phone, computer, a (non instructions-containing) book…

Recently I weaned my two year old. Boobs sore and bursting with milk, baby crying like I was withholding the very Oxygen she breathes, it occurred to me: should I have tried to read up on the process of weaning before attempting it? My other two kids weaned without blinking an eye, but I already knew the third was more attached than the others… so why didn’t I better prepare myself?

Worse than that was the preparation I didn’t do before having my first child – I spent the first two months of his life going out of my mind with exhaustion, frustration, and semi-depression. The kid wouldn’t go to f@$*(&#-ing sleep!!! Finally at the two month marker, I somehow was desperate enough to skim through The Baby Whisperer, a book instructing mothers on the Do’s and Don’ts of a newborn.

My eye landed on the part where she recommends giving the baby a pacifier and swaddling him tightly to help him sleep. I hadn’t wanted to give my baby a pacifier (see past blog for that and other ridiculous pieces of advice our Nazi Bradley Birth teacher taught us) but… would it work? First time I tried it, he was on the changing table for easy swaddling access. His ear-shattering screams stopped the instant the pacifier hit his tongue. I nearly fainted as I watched my previously inconsolable little boy conk out in two seconds flat.

Genius!

Or… is that just what happens when people read & follow directions?

Years ago, I was on anti-depressants, and they stopped working after a couple of good years. But instead of checking with my psychiatrist, or – God forbid, reading the instructions – I just stopped taking them, cold turkey.

Ever gone completely insane? No, I mean, like, really, totally out of your mind?

Yeah, me too. When I stopped taking those pills. Come to find out – what happened to me, is textbook what happens to anyone who stops cold turkey. You’re supposed to go off them slowly. I would have known that… had I asked. Or… read.

Now this is an important lesson for all of us, so I’d really appreciate it if you Tweeted this blog out to all your friends, okay? In fact, I’ll explain exactly how we can use social media to get the word out, just as soon as I read online how it’s done…..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz……..

c/xo,

Sheva (BatSheva Vaknin)

This kid is going to be SET when she has her first baby

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