Thursday, October 29, 2015

Autumn-The Years Last, Loveliest Smile

I woke up this morning freezing.

Fumbling toward my night stand, I grabbed my phone and saw that the temperature was 34 degrees.

Wandering down to the kitchen, I lit a candle and dutifully clicked the coffee pot while I grabbed a fleece sweater and curled up in a chair waiting for the liquid gold to brew.

Because it's pitch black outside at 7am, no one wants to get out of bed, including me.  But the reality is that fall is slowly saying goodbye and with only a few days left of October, the craze of the holiday season and winter will soon be upon us.

I have such a love hate relationship with this time of year.  I always beg for an Indian that will last with 65-70 degree days far into November and snow that will only come lightly with big puffy flakes just in time for Christmas, while only leaving a dusting on the drive.

I want weather that warrants cups of tea, cider, chai and coffee, but not the kind that has me chilled to the bone, finding my way to the tub on a daily basis.

I yearn for red, orange and yellow leaves that stay well past Halloween and crunch as I walk my kids bundled to and from school...but not the wet ones that sink into the cracks of my drive and make it impossible and gross to gather into yard waste bags.

I beg for pause.  An opportunity to be slower, to reflect, to be more mindful...but not so much so that I find myself lazy, apathetic and filled with consternation about all of the projects I should have gotten done but now have no energy or interest in accomplishing.

I pray for renewal.  As the end of the year winds down, I seek the time to be grateful for all that was and hopeful for all that is to come.

I guess, I want for a lot in a rather complicated, particular way.

Staring down Daylight Savings Time on Sunday morning...I say, thank you for sunshine earlier in the day but boo to 5:30pm dark drives home.

And as Autumn stands in the corner singing his song of farewell, I say, I'll miss you.  I think I can bear the winter months as long as you promise to return again in the not so distant future.

"Autumn...the year's last, loveliest smile."  William Bryant

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Business of Being a Parent

I met this lovely woman the other day.

She came to tune our piano.

We struck up a conversation about how long she's been engaged in her work; what I do for a living and the state of raising good kids in a time when the world is spinning faster than we can sometimes manage to hold on.

After she finished making our ivories shine and downed the remainder of her cup of tea, she remarked, "I get it.  I understand why you were a mediator.  I could sit here and talk all day and tell you my life's woes and probably feel better on the way out the door."

"Well, that's very kind of you to say," I smiled, "but I hardly think my three children would concur.  They're certain that I invented marathon yelling and Olympic nagging."

She laughed and said, "I never had kids of my own, just lots and lots of music students.  I could tell the ones who had parents really in their lives and those that were just shuffled from one place to the next. Keep up with it.  Pretty soon, they'll be gone.  Good luck with the lessons."

She left and I went to the kettle, poured hot water into a mug and watched as the tears stained my cheeks.

Parenting is bliss and shit all in the same breath.  It's the feeling that you just want to run away to a place where no one needs you while simultaneously, putting them on a shelf so that you can treasure the moments when all the stars align and pick them back up after you're rejuvenated and ready to get back into the game.

It's the moment when your four-year old proudly holds up her Hello Kitty jack-o-lantern beaming with joy and seconds later screams at you because you can't find her fairy wand.  And you "ALWAYS lose her stuff."  Yep, fuck me.

It's the time when your eight-year old completes her first dialogue journal entry all on her own and after reciting the sweet words blasts, "You're making lasagne?  Why?  What am I going to eat for dinner?"  Yep, fuck me twice.

And then, your 10-year old comes back from a Boyscouts outing to the City Council and shares how his question was selected and how cool it was to meet an elected official and then blurts out, "Why does Kate get to have a friend over?"  And fuck me thrice.

But, but, she so aptly said, one day, they will leave...all three of help me God, no 30-year old grown child will be living in the basement. 

And so, as Claire held her fairy wand shoveling homemade lasagne into her mouth while Kate scooped grapenuts into a vegetarian pie hole and Sam proudly called his friend to secure a play date, I thought...somehow, someway, all is well...and it's okay to cry when they leave and to cry when they stay wishing they would leave or that I could leave.

This is the business of being a parent.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Moth to a Flame

I have this really amazing friend.

She's much more like a sister who knows my soul like the back of her hand.

We live in different states and so the only real way that we catch up is over the phone.  And often when we do, we find ourselves in these "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey" type dialogues.  The other day, she was lamenting about a homily her priest delivered when she happened on the rare occasion to be worshiping in the house of God sans her kiddos.  His words gave the both of us pause.

The gist of the message went something like this...the human condition is such that we run toward that which is futile knowing that we'll never quite get what we want, but all the while, not being able to help ourselves from chasing that which we cannot fully have.

i.e. a moth to a flame.

In it's simplest version, I equate this concept with my constant internal dialogues regarding food and diets and losing weight.  They go something like this...tomorrow, I will begin consuming meal replacements for the rest of my life and I will be happy.  Which lasts for approximately two hours until someone comes home with a doughnut or I remember that I have a bag of chocolate chips in the freezer and then like a dog in heat, I shovel the sugar into my pie hole.  And then, tomorrow in the shower, I vow it all over again.

In the more complex version of the priest's message, we recognize that as human beings, fallible, broken and constantly tempted, we are drawn toward sin.

And we all know which ones are our favorites.  Maybe, you closet shop and keep the goods in the trunk of your car until after your better half has vacated the premises.  I am of course, not speaking from personal experience.  Maybe, you binge watch episodes of fill in the blank when you should be doing something else for the good of the household.  Maybe your temptations are more dicey.

Either way, the challenge as human beings is to decide to not chase that thing that will only send us spiraling into greater guilt, frustration or regret.

But how do we do it?  How do we get off the rat wheel?  How do we decide that all of life is not futile and that indeed habits can be broken, patterns can be changed and that even if the flame is bright and glittery, we will stay away?

The poet Rumi says (I'm paraphrasing)...

All of life is divine

All of life is a temptation

All of life lures you

While at the same time, keeping you stuck in your attachments

The key is to never long

For anything

Then, you'll be free

The problem, of course,

is that you are human.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Choices From My Eyes and Yours

I pride myself on taking the high road.

Particularly, when it comes to my kids.

I bite my tongue and pick my battles more often than not.

But this morning was a whirlwind of converging shit storm factors that led my 4-year old and I into a raging battle of the wills.

To be fair, I will preface my commentary by admitting that I had no business getting up at 4:30am to take a boot camp class.  It's a fucking miracle that I didn't kill myself or the girl standing next to me.  Every time I looked at myself in the mirror, my mouth was as wide as the room yawning.

So when she came bounding out of her bedroom wrapped up in a kitty blanket demanding chocolate milk, I will admit that my patience was at an all-time low.

Kindly stirring the syrup into the milk, I asked her to get dressed for school.  Returning in a summer get-up (which is probably again my fault for not cleaning out her closet), I told her to look outside at the rain and reminded that she needed something warmer to which she shrieked, "I'll wear what I want.  It's my school."

Fine, 'freeze' was my first thought.

And somewhere between her bitchy response and my internal one, we found ourselves screaming at the top of our lungs about striped tights, yogurt or bananas for breakfast, brushing teeth with the paste that she says tastes horrible and getting out the door without 50 billion stuffed animal friends.

I drop kicked her ass out of the car and cheered the whole way home.

Until pick up, when she shouted to her friends, "Goodbye Suckers!  My mom's here."  Standing mortified, she barreled out of the joint and ran directly into the parking lot, nearly getting hit by a mini-van, while all of the mothers dutifully holding their children's hands nearly had a heart attack.

Screaming again in the car, I howled, "Do you want to be squished like a squirrel?  You can't run away from're turning 5 in a few short weeks.  You know better."

To which she replied, "Can we swing through Starbucks and grab a vanilla bean frapuccino before ballet?"

With a primal squeal, I glared, "Are you kidding me?  Absolutely not.  I'm not rewarding poor behavior." 

Two minutes later, she started to cry and said, "Why do you always get everything YOU want?"

And that is where my story officially begins, the moment that I lost it.

I'll paraphrase because I'm fairly certain that I blacked out and was replaced by my inner wounded child or a demonic presence....

"Everything I want?!!!  I absolutely do NOT get everything I want.  Not even remotely.  Do you know what it means to be an adult?  To have to make choices that have real consequences and to sacrifice for the greater good of the have to decide how to be a good steward of your time and money and energy all the while second guessing whether you could have done it differently or better while being mindful that you're not getting any younger and that the clock is ticking."

Approaching a stop light, I looked in the rear view mirror at a little girl with tears in her eyes.

Epic motherhood fail.

Pulling into the driveway, I turned around and said, "I know you think it's easy to be a mommy and that I tell you things to do all of the time and get to have dessert when I want and tell you that you can't.  But the truth is that sometimes, well a lot of times, it's just as hard to be your mommy as you feel like it is to be the kid.  Maybe we should say that we're sorry to each other and try again?"

She smiled, gave me a hug, hopped inside, changed into her ballet leotard and from her room screamed, "Can we still go to Starbucks?"

Ah, the joys.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

State of the Union on Sex

It's no surprise that I like to talk about sex.

I've written about how I bring up the topic in conversations at parties particularly with unsuspecting types who invariably spit out their adult beverage when I poll them on the following:

How much sex are you having?  What's the standard for couples in long-term monogamous relationships?  How do you gear yourself up when you're tired?  How do you keep it interesting when you've been married year over year?  How do you manage your partner's libido in conjunction with yours?  What happens when you have kids and they suck the life force right out of you?

At this stage in the game, most of my friends are married and have been for a while.  The majority of them have children and all of them have jobs that frequently require travel away from their spouses.

A few of my friends are single, some with and without kids.

And depending upon who I'm talking to dictates what the state of the union on sex looks like at their abode. 

As I reflect back on my 20's, it makes me laugh to think about all of that sex.

All of that sex coupled with disposable energy, income and freedom.

Now that I have children and am entrenched in the day-to-day grind of keeping it all afloat, sleep often seems infinitely more appealing than peeling off my clothes to do the nasty.  And when I probe my married sisters, they say the same.  No disrespect to our partners, but a hot bath, a good book and a cozy bed is a terribly attractive mistress.

But if you talk to their husbands, they're convinced that all of the neighbors are getting laid and they're in a season of drought.  I think this is because when men gather, they don't talk to each other about the state of sex at the other person's house.

My single friends envy that I can have sex whenever I want with someone that I don't have to worry about getting an STD test before I share the sheets.

My mother who works in a retirement community says that you can't believe the amount of vibrators and after dinner activity that permeates the place.

So, as I look to the future, potentially when I'm in my 80's and my children are grown and gone; peanut butter sandwiches and macaroni and cheese are a thing of the past;, my bedtime doesn't look like 10pm and my bank account isn't reflective of catholic school tuition; I think I'll become a pole dancer, in my own home, of course.

I hear all of the 80-year old Mrs. Robinson's are hot and up for anything.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom

This is my mom and today is her birthday.

She turned a very young 63.

I've written about her before.  How for example if you've never met her, you would know that she is my mother simply by the sound of her voice.   She is soft and kind and way more sugary sweet than me.  Her smile will melt you and even if you're not the "huggy" type, you'll embrace her because she instantly makes you feel wanted and loved.

She has five children and 10 grandchildren and all of them love her to pieces.  When she comes to babysit, she sets the littles off on scavenger hunts and listens while they play the trumpet or the piano or watches them "Whip" and "Nene" or paint or play American Girl dolls all while expressing how big they've gotten and how beautiful they are.

If you need anything, no matter how small or large, it is yours...with absolutely no expectation of reciprocity.  There is literally nothing that she has to have because I've literally watched her give away most of her possessions at any one given time...with the mindset that you can't take it with you.

And if you want to know the the power of elbow grease combined with the unconditional love of the heart, watch what she does for a living.  Serving as a resident liason for amazing elderly people in their final days, she teaches yoga; dances the Jitterbug; prays when they are scared; calms their family when they are weak and gives them hope as their faculties are failing.  If you've not seen her in action, I can attest that it is holy work and not for the faint of heart.

All of this combined with her physical beauty.  She makes no bones about coloring her hair, taking care of her toes, maintaining an active exercise regimen and drinking a glass of wine or two or three...whatever it takes.

And as I look at her, I know that I am blessed to be her daughter.  At the age of 40, I pray that I get many, many more birthdays to honor and celebrate with her.  Many more times to say thank you for teaching me the power of sacrifice, the meaning of hard work, the declaration of love.

If I thanked you daily, it would not be enough.

Happy Birthday, Mama...we love you...xoxo

Monday, October 19, 2015

Appreciation Appreciates

We've been meeting now for 10 months.

This amazing group of women and me.

I'll never know how I got an invitation to this cool club; but I am blessed none the less.

And in the time that we've gathered, long enough to physically birth a baby; we've been birthing and transforming and shaping ourselves in the world right before our eyes.

Tonight, we took a step toward manifesting our intentions by participating in a sacred ritual.  Surrounded by candlelight and stones, we assembled a council of opportunity to honor "the other" and to share in a very personal way what their presence has meant in our lives.

It was vulnerable, emotional, powerful and so God damned rare that I wish I could harness the energy and pull it out of my back pocket when I'm in need of courage, back bone, will, determination and memory that indeed, others see me in a light that I don't often view in myself.

And this is how it goes right?

We're so willing to see the light in others....the gifts they bring, the ways that they make the world and our lives so much better.  But when it comes time to appreciate who we are...we cringe, second guess, over analyze, dismiss, self deprecate, fill in the blanks with the things we lack instead of all that abounds.

At least that's what I do.

But at the gut level, we viscerally know that what we appreciate appreciates.  That which we cultivate grows.  Whatever we tend to flourishes...both the positive and the negative.

So, if we decide that we're not enough based on fear, lack of experience or past performance...well than, it's self-fulfilling and we probably won't.

But if for one moment, we believe in what others see and choose to appreciate who we are; we gradually build the strength to honor that maybe, just maybe, we are enough.

Most likely, we are more than enough.

The exercise of looking another in the eye and saying, "This is why and what I appreciate about you," is tremendous in and of itself...but the act of looking yourself in the mirror and honoring who you are and what you bring is where it starts.

Day over day, month over month, year over year...those beliefs become truth and that truth is what changes the word at a time.

Paying Attention to Mary Oliver

Do you know Mary Oliver?

The American, Pulitzer prize winning poet from Provincetown who has written some of the most beloved poems our planet has seen.  She's recently come out with a new book of poetry called "Felicity," but one of my all-time favorites, which seems odd to share in the dead of Autumn is "The Summer Day."

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Maybe it's because I went on a long run yesterday that felt more like summer than fall infused.  Or maybe it's that I've spent my morning buried in laundry and dishes listening to Mary Oliver being interviewed by Krista Tippett, the host of "On Being."  Or maybe, it's because as of late, I've been acutely aware of what it means to be attentive to the little, particular things that abound in my life.

Like the grasshopper.

The trail was flooded with them yesterday and I kept feeling compelled to look down for fear that I'd be the culprit who smooshed one of them as they seemed to be bounding out of every crevice.  But they didn't seem afraid, they kept jumping and hopping on each other and eventually, onto my leg which had me squealing as I motored by. 

After a weekend of single parenting while my better half and oldest kiddo were on a camping trip, it hit me.  Paying attention to the particular is the key to moving through general malaise.  It's being intentional with the world instead of taking it all for granted.

Which led me to another of Mary Oliver's brilliant pieces.  It's the third part to "The Fourth Sign of the Zodiac" installation written after she was diagnosed with cancer.

I know, you never intended to be in this world.
But you're in it all the same.
so why not get started immediately.
I mean, belonging to it.
There is so much to admire, to weep over.
And to write music or poems about.
Bless the feet that take you to and fro.
Bless the eyes and the listening ears.
Bless the tongue, the marvel of taste.
Bless touching.
You could live a hundred years, it's happened.
Or not.
I am speaking from the fortunate platform
of many years,
none of which, I think, I ever wasted.
Do you need a prod?
Do you need a little darkness to get you going?
Let me be urgent as a knife, then,
and remind you of Keats,
so single of purpose and thinking, for a while,
he had a lifetime.

According to Mary Oliver, intentional living begins when we choose to give our full attention to the moment which spins and molds and morphs and flows into our devotion which ultimately, creates a life.

So often, we keep waiting for the big, revolutionary experience...the vacation, the trip of a lifetime, the promotion, the renovation of a kitchen, a bathroom, the new lease on the shinier car, the countdown to a 30-day extreme body challenge, the pinnacle, the summit, the peak. 

Meanwhile, a million grasshoppers have jumped, leaves have changed, children have grown by inches, the temperature has shifted, the sun has come up and gone down day over day.

All for you and all for me.

But have we noticed?  Did we pay it attention?  Honor it?  Express gratitude?  Linger in it for a little longer?

For me, I can say no.  It's just so much easier to be consumed in the distractions and the minutia of the living part, until I stop and give myself permission to put those tasks on hold and take in the utter mystery of everything from a grasshopper to a red leaf to the color of my children's eyes.  And when I do, I am astounded.  Truly.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Wise Words

Two nights ago, I had a dream that my grandmother and I were doing the dishes.

It was post a big holiday meal with all of my siblings and their children, aunts, uncles and parents milling about.

But because it was present day, I was the only one who could see her.  She's been gone now for seven years.

Somewhere between the mounds of mashed potatoes, turkey drippings, gravy boats and pie, I asked her...does it get any easier?

What do you mean, she replied with kind eyes and wrinkly hands.

Just...well...all of these questions, worry, longing, seeking, wonderment in the world.

I'm not sure that you really want it to go away...sometimes, the exploration reminds you of what it means to be alive.

Throwing cutlery into the dishwasher, I replied...but I look at them, these other women, wives, mothers, friends, random acquaintances at the grocery store and they are fine...they don't seem to be wondering, craving, desiring like me.  Why can't I just be like them?

Well, they've either not asked themselves the bigger questions or they have and it's too painful or exhausting to fetter out the truth or they've asked and have come to peace with the answers.  Everyone's on a different journey.

Fuck the journey.  I'm tired of asking and worrying all the time.  I just want to know.

Want to know what?  said my Kate, all eight-years of herself in the dream.

And when I turned around, my grandmother was gone.

I woke up feeling disheartened like the time as a child when I thought I had a Strawberry Shortcake doll under my bed, excited, I jumped down, peered my head under only to realize that it was just a dream.

My whole life I've asked questions and rarely am I satisfied with the answers.  Often, one source of information is not enough.  As my dear friend says, "Are you crowd sourcing again, Kelly?"  I don't think it's a mistake that I was a philosophy undergrad major or that my graduate degree is in Conflict Resolution or that I write about the places that feel broken or wounded or gray or where the longing happens.

It's just that sometimes, I don't want to keep searching.  I just want to rest and let what is be enough.  The problem is that it doesn't last very long before I'm scratchy, itchy, throwing out the questions to the universe, looking at the colors, feeling the music, listening to the stories and secretly hoping that I fade into the peace my grandmother referred to in the dream.

I guess it's true that everyone is on a different journey...mine just happens to be filled with lots of question marks and dialogue.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I feel like I've been walking around in a haze of to-do's.

With the mindset that I'll breathe or relax or settle in once this, that or the other thing is done.  A kid to this birthday party.  A carpool ride to that swim meet or football game.  Groceries in the cart.  Bills paid on the computer.  Thank you note in the mail.  Clothes folded and put away.

And post my last race, I've been doing what I traditionally do which is to hang up my running shoes instead of lacing them up and letting myself enjoy this gorgeous fall weather.

But yesterday afternoon, somewhere between cutting the carrots and celery for the chicken noodle soup pot and mixing up the cornbread batter, I finished, "Lit," a memoir by Mary Karr, my new girl crush.

And embedded in the final pages of brilliance, was this line that won't seem to let me go.

"Maybe all any of us wants is to feel singled out for some long, sweet, quenching draft of love, some open-throated guzzling of it."

Holy Fuck.

I think this is why falling in love is so catatonically powerful.  It's the endorphin, adrenaline, all consuming rush that physically transforms how we look at the world.  And it's not just romantic love. 

One of my dearest friends just had a beautiful baby over the weekend and holding her in my arms brought back a flood of emotion remembering the first feeling of embracing my three children.  The smell, the warmth, the dream come true.

In a strange way, it can happen with possessions.  For a singular moment or passage of time, a new home, car, sweater, pair of shoes, collection of vinyl or even food can send us reeling in awe and thrill over this shiny, comforting piece of us.

The hardest part is that it's fleeting.  The nuance fades.  The novelty wears away.  And the yearning returns.  And what is it exactly that we're yearning for...

I think Mary Karr would say that we're yearning to be singled out; to be desired; to feel alive; to be made new; to no longer go through the motions. 

And as we get older and recognize that our opportunities for newness changes, we have to cultivate them at every turn...otherwise, we find ourselves roaming from point A to point B lost in a stupor.  Today, in the parking lot at preschool, I discovered that one of the mothers has a sister who lives in Paris.  She told me that if I could get away with my pen and paper, I'd have a place to stay.

Hmmm....maybe this is the sort of "sweet, quenching draft of love," that I'm in need of.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Relentless Pursuit of Blessings

There's this funny dance that I do in my life.

I suppose it's a balancing or more aptly, juggling act rather than a choreographed number.

On one hand, I fully believe everything good in my life comes from God.

On the other, I equally subscribe to the notion that it's my responsibility to cultivate my blessings.

For example, for the last nine years, I have been given the gift of staying home full-time with our three children.  While it's not a perfect set-up, I do my best at any given time, to savor our experiences and not to take for granted that if there's anything we are rich's time and hugs and "I love you's."

Likewise, my legs work.  I can move them regularly.  They take me from point A to point B with little to no residual damage.  And so, I feel compelled to use them while I can.  I run and run and run.  And in the moment, try to appreciate the burn in my glutes and quads and to keep going, largely because I can and mostly because there will probably come a day when I can't.

So, essentially, to whom much has been given, much is expected.

But what do you do when you've received blessings that you don't want to cultivate?  Does God just keep giving them to you...sort of chance after chance...until you accept or surrender?  Or is that the power of free will?  You get to reject the seemingly "good" that comes your way, even if others would think you're an asshole for doing so.

Not long ago, I had an opportunity to interview for a full-time corporate opportunity.  Monetarily, it would have been a huge economic blessing for our family.  It would have made the prospect of Catholic private high school for three children, an absolute no-brainer.  But every part of it felt foreign and wrong to me.  I kept making myself want it for the place it would render our bank account, but I just couldn't.  I know...I feel like an ingrate even typing the words.

Slap in the face; piss in the wind; hole in the ass...who knows what I am?

I guess what I'm trying to be is more authentic, more connected to the parts of me that scream connection and passion and positive change in the just sometimes feels at the expense of maybe doing the obvious right thing.  I mean come on, our parents had jobs at AT&T for 30+ years complete with pensions, retirement and medical benefits.  They did what they had to do.  It was simply a means to an end.  No bitching.  Just a cold beer or glass of whiskey at the end of the day.

And to that end, I am a firm believer in Elizabeth Gilbert's mantra


I just wonder if it's okay to decide which blessings feel best given the season, space and time.  And when one does, if we are then spiritually, practically and pragmatically bound to give it all we've got.  If so, my greatest sacrifice has come in the form of my dedication to motherhood...we'll see what else God has in store. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Do Over Morning

I was tired.

When the 4:30am alarm went off, I did not want to get out of bed and before I re-entered the house post my spinning class, I already knew that I was going to be a bitch.

I tried talking myself out of it, anticipating all of the ways that my children would be slow to rise; my husband would hit his snooze button religiously; I would have to remind them over and over again to grab some article for their back pack and to hurry it up.

Knowing that I had a full day on the horizon, I just didn't have the strength to take the high road.  And for that, I'm apologizing now.  Because rarely am I an explosive bitch.  No, I prefer the fingers on a chalk board, continual nagging until everyone is miserable and begging to get the fuck out of the house.

All of this is coupled by the fact that the neighbors are replacing their driveway and walks and so the concrete trucks constant banging, grinding and thudding add fuel to the fire in the background.

But after I got everyone on their way, I thought, why didn't I suck it up and just go through the paces and do my duty?  Everyone is doing it in one form or another in households all across the world, trying not to go ballistic maintaining the morning rituals.

Instead, while putting the dishes away, I dreamed of a day when my children own complete responsibility for putting ice packs in their lunches, ice in their water bottles, a reading book in their back packs, clean, brushed teeth in their mouths, braids in their hair, gym shoes on their feet, deodorant in their pits all in the 45-50 minutes that they have post putting their sleepy, waking-up feet to the floor.

I'm certain that I'm asking too much.  The truth is that hardly anyone wants to get out of their warm beds, especially while it's still dark outside, to prepare to go to the office or the classroom.  We'd all rather sleep until we naturally wake, eat cold pizza for breakfast, stay in our jammies, not worry about client projects or Social Studies tests and play in the sunshine.

Here's to finding a better way to help each other make the inevitable more manageable and definitely more loving.

Here's to the do-over morning tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

An Afternoon Reflective Siesta

The past few afternoons, I've given myself permission to close my eyes and take a nap.

I curl up in what our family fondly refers to as the "reading chair" with a cream colored afghan, a breeze blowing through the window, a bright orange cup of tea and I...fall asleep. And, it's bliss.

When I was studying abroad in undergrad, I remember thinking how crazy it was that every afternoon, banks, businesses, cafes and open air markets all shut down in honor of the roughly 1-3pm siesta.  But they did.  And so, we too were forced to follow suit.

We let our bodies just slow down.

And this is what's happening to's what does happen to me.  As fall makes its face known with changing leaves and cooler temperatures, shorter days and plants that slowly die, it's a good reminder to gradually choose a different that welcomes the seasons and honors the cycles of life.

While I was slumbering the afternoon away yesterday, I had this vision of my children grown calling each other to secure details about returning home for the holidays.  I remember feeling happy that they were close as adults and that they were excited to return back to where it all started. 

And then, I started counting.  Sam will be 11 in a few months which means only 7 years left before he heads off to college.  Kate is 8...a decade more for her.  And Claire is turning 13 more years and they will all be gone.  Is that possible?  Do you ever play this game with yourself?

At that point, I will be 53.  I can't even imagine what that will feel like or what I'll be doing or if I'll have an opportunity to take a blissful afternoon siesta.  Will I still be writing, running, reading, teaching?  Maybe I'll be in Tuscany taking a real siesta in a foreign land.  Either way, at that point, I will not be the only children will be as well.  Maybe they too will be writers, runners, teachers.

Regardless of who any of us are at that point in time, I hope I will always remember these serene moments of one blanket, one cup of Chamomile and three hearts beating outside of my own that feel very much just like mine all wrapped up in the changing of the seasons.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Core Fears

Usually by this point, post my Market-to-Market 76-mile relay race, I would have written a fun and semi-raunchy blog post documenting the experience.  And, I'm sure I will complete with pictures and descriptions of my crazy, amazing teammates.

But not until, I process what happened last week.

It rocked me and my family to the core.

Our neighbor discovered someone peering into our window.  Which launched police being called, motion detector lights being installed, talks with the kids about strangers and anxiety the likes that I haven't felt in a very long time emerging.

Do you have a nightmare or a worst case scenario...something that if God forbid it ever happened, you're certain that you'd never recover from?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it is the inability to protect my children.  I have dreams about how I would rescue all three of them if there was a fire or my exit strategy if we had an in-home invasion.  As a child of the John Joubert generation and later as an adult learning about the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard and the three young girls that Ariel Castro held captive for years...there is a visceral part of me that wants to vomit and die thinking about the prospect of that kind of Hell being a reality for my children and my family.  I know that every parent feels the same.

And so when we experienced this violation, my first inclination was to pull the kids out of school, board up the windows, take on home schooling and never let them leave my sight.  Until my husband proclaimed, we absolutely will not live in fear.  We can take security precautions, but we will live our lives...that means that we'll mow our lawn, water our plants, play in our backyard, ride our bikes, talk to our neighbors, engage our mail carrier, laugh and live and so help me God if that rat bastard has any inclination to return, I'll strangle him with my bare hands...that sort of made me feel better.

And now, I have to wake up and remember that scary, hard things happen but we don't have to be paralyzed by them.  The mark of living is the choice to be resilient, to decide that there is too much good to be mired in the taste of the bad.

I will seek to be courageous, even though I feel afraid.  And will also remember, that at the end of the day, when it comes to my kids, I am a lioness.  Heaven help you if you try to put them in harms way. Because there is no question that I will fuck you up and make you wish that you'd never lied eyes on us.

See, I already feel better.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What's Happened to Us?

Maybe it happens every election cycle.

I'm not sure because the truth is, I really don't pay much attention.

Despite my choice to not view the debates or to engage in the commentary regarding our presidential candidates, I find myself slamming into it in the worst school pick-up, reading posts of my friends on Facebook or Instagram, at family gatherings and now with my son who shared a song that he and his buddies made up on the playground about Trump.  Which, I have to give them credit, for fifth graders, it's quite good.

The song lyrics much like the off-handed comments from others are steeped in sarcasm at best and vitriol at worst.  And given the doozies that he has been sharing with the world, well, I'm hard pressed to defend him.

On the heels of this on-going circus act is the testimony of Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood regarding its' use of federal funds.  The alleged abuse of funds and ethics of the organization has launched a tirade of public scrutiny at best and sheer hatred ugliness at worst.

Not long ago, we were entrenched in the Ashley Madison scandal and decided who was really bad based on what the database shared, before that it was whether or not Gay marriage should be legal and before that it was racial profiling and retribution by police within communities and before that it was whether states should have the right to legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational purposes and before that, it was whether parents could leave their kids in the car when they went into a store to run a quick errand and before that, it was whether you had the right to take your own life through assisted euthanasia and before that it was whether women should be able to assume positions of leadership in the church and before that, it was...

It always seems to be something and the only thing that we all seem to be getting really good at is judgement and condemnation.  We know how to draw lines and how to decide who is standing on the right side.  We've decided who's going to Heaven and who's going to Hell.  Who should be ashamed of themselves and who is living a morally upright life.  Who is worthy and who doesn't deserve our time and dollars.  Who has a right and who doesn't.

And somewhere in the mix, we've forgotten that the only moral mandate is to recognize that we belong to each other...plain and simple.  What does your neighbor need?  An egg, a cup of sugar, an ear to share the pain of what's going on in her life, a babysitter for her child as she's had to take an extra job on to make ends meet, a hug reassuring her that it will all work out, her lawn mowed, her walks shoveled, a wave as you're pulling into the driveway, an invitation to come share a meal, a few flowers from your garden.

What does the world need?  We need each other to take as much time practicing compassion as we do self righteousness.  We need to admit that individually, we don't have all of the answers...but that collectively, we may figure it out one day.  We need to vehemently believe with all of our hearts that every person matters.  We need to find common ground and build instead of making it our life's work to tear each other bit by bit apart.

We need to leave a legacy.  Our children deserve more.  Our planet deserves better.  There's too much good on this ball we all inhabit to waste our days running in circles for the good of our egos. 

It starts with each of us...doing what we can, where we are, consistently tending and growing our plot.  I can't even imagine what the dialogue or songs we sing might look like if we did.