Friday, August 31, 2012

Tweet Tweet

During the past two weeks, my husband and I have experienced a growing confusion over a certain state of affairs in our flower garden. It started with the rustling of branches and ended with our pug going completely ape shit on a certain bush every time we were outside.

Upon further examination one morning, I scared the little critter out of the garden and it went screaming into my neighbor’s yard. It looked like a little skinny chicken.

I approached my husband that night and said “Have you noticed a weird animal around here?” and he immediately replied “That little chicken looking thing?”

Okay. Step two. Google images. We ruled out chickens, quails and peacocks.

Yesterday I got a better look at its feathers and we did some more poking around on Google. We made a species diagnosis: The thing was officially a pheasant.

The next phase of our Google research included search criteria like this...

“How did a pheasant come to live in our garden?”

“Random pheasants roosting in random gardens”

“Why would a pheasant move to my house?”

…and turned up very little by way of explanation.

Over a bottle of wine, we tried to solve the mystery. Yes, our little city yard has always been a menagerie. Our neighbor’s chickens, cats, dogs, bats, skunks, foxes and whatever else lurks. But this was perplexing, made even moreso by a healthy buzz.

Finally, after a sleepless night that turned up no answers and a 3 a.m. chat during which it was suggested that maybe one of the neighbor’s chicken eggs experienced a haunting fertilization resulting a in a phantom bird – and a spiritual suggestion that it was God’s way of directing us to the Pheasant Lane Mall – we decided to ask the neighbors if they had any leads.

Mr. Neighbor burst out laughing.

Just so happens that some folks across the street raise pheasants and their college-aged daughter was to “pheasant-sit” while they were away one weekend.

Our little garden dweller, as it turns out, is an escapee. Mystery solved, and no shopping trip for me.

But the moral of this story is not to be overlooked.

In the age of Facebook and Google and Twitter and all these avenues that bring the information superhighway barreling through your world and allow for you to socially connect every second of the day, perhaps it’s time to simply chat with your neighbors. Like, 80s style. 1780s, that is.

Not only can they answer your pressing questions about unexplainable critters, but they can also bake you muffins and invite you over for beers. It inspired me to call my friends, have them over for coffee. To know that if I extend my hand; someone will grab ahold.

I might be a little biased right now, coming from a summer of being mostly unplugged. I am sure I missed out on parties and gossip and what is going on with everyone. I also missed out on all the {{{{hugs}}}} and comments and "likes" when I was sick with a virus for 3+ weeks, I had to heal solely on the love of real-life friends who called to check on me and were genuinely disappointed along with me each day to learn that I hadn't recovered.
I saved my stories to tell when I saw people face to face, instead of relying on what has become a too-common conversation starter…”You saw my post, right?” or “Check my wall!” I now get to run into old friends at the supermarket and exclaim, earnestly, I can’t believe how much you have grown! to their children. I have missed all of their pictures, their funny kid-isms, their achievements. They now get to tell me in person and it is slightly thrilling, I think, for both of us.
But I caught the big stuff. I spent more quality time this summer with friends and family than I ever have before, I drank my kids in like water and showed them the world. When I was lonely – and I did get lonely with all that quiet – I reached out. I tried to mend fences and grow distant relationships, and sometimes this worked, more often it did not. I had time to think about this without distraction and input and I became okay with it because I had to.
I sat on shorelines, perched poolside and bathed in sunlight with some really, really incredible women and I drank them in too. I hiked up mountains with busloads of kids, registering their giggles from the backseat and letting it sustain me. I let life wash over me and I never once gave it to the internet; selfish but satiated, I kept it all for myself.
Some part of me feels compelled to share it with you now, so clearly that mindset was as temporary as my state of unpluggedness. But I would never have known that joy if I hadn’t stepped away, and I definitely would not have even noticed the demented-looking little chicken thing that someone across the street was looking for.
Technology served its purpose in helping me identify the bird, so it could help me with the “what” portion of my confusion. But it couldn’t tell me “why” – and the only antidote to that was a friendly chat across a fence, a shared laugh and a resolution to do a little more neighborly sharing of information.
Maybe unplugging is the best way to become fully charged, and like the pheasant, sometimes you have to lose your way a bit to truly find your way home.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Remember the Days

Unlike many people I know, I did not hate high school.  Sure, I had moments that were precisely not my finest, and did I not enjoy some of these times of my youth.  However, I have mostly fond memories of high school.  I made friends for life.  I received a decent education that allowed me to persevere in college.  I made mistakes that taught me lessons to carry through my future, including how to be a better parent.  (And I made terrible fashion faux pas of the late 80s-early 90s! YIKES.)


As my oldest is entering high school this year, I am having quite the range of emotions.  I am so happy. For my oldest daughter, I know she will have some of the best times of her life; filled with memories to last her throughout her lifetime.  I am anxious.  Yes, anxious:  the boys will start coming out of the woodwork and older boys nonetheless.  I have to extend her freedoms.  There will be driving.   I am sad.  Her entrance into high school means I am aging and her time with me, under my roof, is escaping me faster than I care for.
Recalling some of my happiest times in high school – I had many a moment with my friends.  I had a wide berth of friends:  those from cross-country and indoor/outdoor track, those from my classes and similar academic background, those who I worked with and more!  I am lucky that several of these friends, I can still call my friends today.  There are those people who will remember moments, such as:

·         Asking me if I would be electrocuted if I ran track in the rain (i.e. will my hearing aid shock me).  My response being equally humorous, in questioning where my plug-in to electricity was – reminding them that I am battery operated!

·         Starting every xc race with a full out dance party and sing along to Barry and “Copacabana”; despite the insane stares and eye-ball rolls.

·         After getting caught passing countless notes, switching to sign language to communicate during class - okay, worse – using the alphabet to spell out our messages during class because we did not use full-on sign language.

·         Talking on the phone for hours every night; and yes, farting our brains out into the phone receivers to induce belly-hurting laughter.  (No, I will not name names……..but she knows who she is!)

·         Burping contests in the locker room at Doyle, which I sadly came in 2nd place – again, I won’t name names, but she knows who she is!

·         The trip to Florida junior year with two of the funniest people and the endless memories that remains so vivid.

·         The countless hours working behind the concession stand at the movies, sneaking popcorn and peeks at the cute ushers while gossiping.

·         The countless hours ringing up groceries at both the old DeMoulas and the new Market Basket -  and planning adventures when we all got out at 10 pm.

·         Doing my best Vanilla Ice impersonation at Traxx.  Oh, yeah, we could bust a move to MC Hammer as well.

My mother did not talk to me about many of the trials, tribulations, and emotions that come with high school territory in the life of a girl.  Life lesson #1:  I talk to my oldest about EVERYTHING.  Yes.  EVERYTHING.  I do hope that with open communication, we can conquer our world together.  Many topics are incredibly uncomfortable – for both mother and daughter alike.  However, I trust that by having these sometimes awkward discussions, she will feel more educated as situations arise and she will be able to cope in her way.  I also hope she will be more apt to come and share with me, or (ack!) ask me for advice.  Okay, maybe that latter piece is wishful thinking on my behalf.  I remember not using my best judgment in a multitude of scenarios – simply because I was not talked to, or guided along the path of teenage angst.  I made some bad choices and learned to live with them.  I can only hope I can use these for example for all of my children. 

Because my oldest is very much a clone of me, both in looks and personality – I hope to use my short-comings to help her become a better person than I could have ever been.  My eldest is very mature for her age and I see her liking boys that will be older than she is.  Having met and started dating my husband at the ripe age of 17 (he was 25), I now understand the discomfort and grief I put my parents through.  I have joked (but MEAN IT) when I say, “Do as your mother says, not as your mother does!” to my most mature offspring.  However, I trust that she will make better decisions than I did because she will be more prepared and educated.

I am blessed.  Despite my sad feelings about how quickly this beautiful child of mine is growing – I know that she is firmly rooted in her family.  Many times when her friends are out gallivanting – she opts to stay home and hang with us.   

I could go on and on, but my point is that I am happy for my oldest to embark on her own memory book in the making; and for her to solidify relationships that she will one day look back upon with glee.  I also hope she will bank life lessons to use for her own life, her own children and more.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I opened the window the other night after turning off the a/c. I was met with a sound that makes me feel both excited and melancholy. 
August is waning. 
September approaches.

Spring is usually thought of the starting fresh season, and January holds the clean slate mentality. But it is Fall in my world. I think it is for most people- I am not sure.  Fall is where my true resolutions are made. With children in school and a solid routine in place, I can add a routine of my own for getting out there and walking. For making more organized and healthy meals. For establishing a no BS bedtime.

Having gone to school for 20 years and then taught it for another 7, my life is a school calendar. My method to organize our life is to label and buy new and set up and find places for and create habits....that all fades sometime in October. (The important stuff sticks).

I am always struck with the memory of an orange and brown plaid dress with an apple on it. (pretty sure the apple was corduroy!!) I am guessing it was a dress from Kindergarten. A back to school clothing memory. (TOTESIE made from this packet of patterns I am sure)

That dress always floats back to me this time of year. I can remember clothes from other years as well, but it is that dress at that age that I think of first.

Then when the mornings remain a little cooler at the end of August I smell my first morning on my college campus. It is accompanied by distant but real butterflies in my stomach just remembering the navigation of my life at that point. Never having gone to camp or anything, that was my leaving home for the first time ever. I was heartsick for my mom and confused as to how I was going to make it there when I felt as intelligent as a bowl of grapefruits. It was also soon after my body and looks completely changed- I had no idea who I was. And having been at the same school since 3rd grade, had no idea how one makes a new friend nor how I would be seen, having been seen as the same by the same people all my life.

As with every change of season comes the approach to the Fall/Winter wardrobe. The finding it under the bed or upstairs closet, or where ever it may be. The re-trying on of stuff with internal dialogue: 
WHAT did I do to myself this Summer? 
WHY do I have this?
WHO stained my favorite "crisp weekend out with friends" shirt??
WHERE did the style of this go?
HOW did I think I could get away with having this pair of pants for 16 years?, pant)....OK, I will put them away for next year's "goal" pants.

Knowing I have to undo the damage of Ben-n-Jerry-palooza that claimed many of my Summer weekends, I still turn my thoughts to the first pot of beef stew I will make and the many baked ways to handle a bushel or 3 of apples. Oh and the pumpkins I think that are growing next to my driveway- that will involve some flour, sugar, and butter....
Well, that is OK because I will have that great walking routine going and the usually always healthy menu lined up by then. (Or is that the thing that always fades by October????)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Guest Blogger: Karri LeGault

For My Health and for My Girls


            Ready, set, go, and we were off!  It was a beautiful day made even better by the awesome band that was giving us our proper send off into the streets of downtown Providence.  As I started making the trek with the thousands of other crazy runners that Sunday morning at 7 am, I wondered about their reasons for doing this race.  My reason was on my mind for the twelve weeks leading up to the big day and now it would be put to the test.

            Let’s rewind to where this journey began.  For my birthday, I gave myself a gift, a race registration and a 12-week training program for the Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon in Providence Rhode Island.  It proved to be one of the best things I have ever done for myself.  During these twelve weeks my life has changed so dramatically.  I began the journey, not really understanding the true meaning of health, fitness, and happiness.  Keeping in mind fitness has always been part of my life.  I swam competitively for many years, was nationally ranked in several events, and even earned a full scholarship to college, but still, I never really got it.  I was too busy being preoccupied with longing for the look of an elite athlete.  Thanks to genetics and extremely hard work as a kid, I have a good foundation to work with, but it was never good enough; my 5’ 3” frame was just not cutting it.  I found myself still wanting more, but I didn’t know how to get there.  After college, I was still surrounded by thousands of resources and dozens of fit friends, and I still felt alone.  It has always been strange to me that people view me as lucky.  They say it is “easy” for me to be fit and that I am blessed as a forever-athlete.  However, I was scared out of my mind that this time would be different... I would fail.

            After my first daughter, my body bounced back like it was on a mission, despite being limited to just walking during the pregnancy.  I didn’t start working out until she was nearly 6 months old and was pretty easily at my pre-pregnancy weight just weeks after birth.  The story was not quite the same with the second.  Once again, I was limited to just walking and my diet was really good, but the baby belly didn’t just disappear this time.  During the first few months, it was just my lil’ one and I up during all hours of the night.  Having two non-sleepers results in a lot of alone time watching late night television.  I believe I watched the Insanity, P90X, and Brazilian Butt Lift infomercials at least a dozen times.  I knew I wanted to start a program, but it would have to wait a few more months.  I didn’t start working out until she was also 6 months old because I knew that me working out meant an end to nursing.  No matter how much oatmeal, almonds, carrots, greens, and any other lactogenic food I consumed, I knew my milk supply was going to lean and eventually disappear.  The good news, both girls were ready to move on to food and bottles, bad news, no more extra calorie burn for mommy. 

            So, in early June, I began this challenge of losing the weight and getting in shape.  I had exactly twelve weeks; it was crunch time.  To avoid making this race a disgrace, I had to reach a certain level of fitness fast.  I was determined to be successful.  I made a post on Facebook, “P90X vs. Insanity, which one do you suggest, and why?” and my wall blew up with responses.  One friend even suggested that I contact her friend that is a Beachbody coach for help.  So, I did.  I love being able to discuss purchases with an “expert” and hear what they have to say.  The new friend suggested I join her 10-day Shakeology Challenge as a boost into my training and a way to start off on the right foot.  It was exactly what I needed and perfect timing.  All the training began at once: Insanity, cleaner eating (with Shakeology), and running three days per week.  My body responded amazingly and I lost 7.5 lbs in just the first 10 days!

            During the challenge I was also given the secret weapon of long-term healthy living and the secret is, drum roll, determining your “WHY”... now I am not one that likes the fluffy/feel good stuff, but this is for real!!!  What my coach had me do was get over and go beyond all the superficial things that I thought were my reasons to be fit.  For example, looking nice at the wedding in the cute dress, being able to wear shorts with confidence, walk around in my swimming suit and not worry about what was hanging out.  She wanted this time to be different for me; this time I would create a life-long change by attaching it to an emotional WHY.  As I said before, I basically grew up in a swimming suit and constantly compared myself to the ideal bodies around me.  It was not easy at times; believe me!  My WHY was much deeper than any of the previous stated reasons or the ones you might even be considering.  My WHY is for my health and for my girls.  My health includes trying my best to beat the odds that are stacked against me: cancer on my father’s side of the family and heart disease and diabetes on my mother’s.  The for my girls piece is because I want them to have a true female role model in their lives that they can look up to and want to be like.  I often tell my students to be leaders by example, and that is the epitome of what I am trying to do for my daughters.  I want them to see/know/feel that their mother is confident in any situation wearing any piece of clothing, makes good choices about diet and exercise, and is a positive/honest person.

            My WHY allowed me to stick to the Insanity for the entire 60 plus days, even though it would have been so easy to quit and no one would have faulted me for it.  I was sleeping at most 3 hours at a stretch and holding the little one at least 16 hours per day.  The training runs were even more challenging than the program.  I was doing nearly every run with the girls in their double BOB stroller.  Looking back, this did not help me with form on the hills during the race, but oh well, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

            I used this WHY during the race and it kept bringing me back to a positive state of mind and forced me to keep going.  I didn’t walk one single step, the run became slower and slower, but I didn’t walk! During the final climb to the finish line I saw my WHY standing on the sideling line cheering me on: my husband, my girls, and my mom.  I felt their love and how proud they were of me.  I was truly so proud too.  Tears filled my eyes with happiness.  I crossed the finish line at 1:55.53 knowing that I had achieved success and this was just the beginning of a very new healthy beautiful life for my family and I!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Breath After Death

Death always provides us with the opportunity to reflect, and the grief that ensues provokes deeper thoughts from the realms of our inner most core.  We must visualize positive outcomes in our difficult situations, including death. Somehow, we must find the strength to move across our vast mind and multitude of thoughts – somehow, across an ocean of peace and to a harmonious outcome.  We find the lesson learned.
Death forces us to take a few moments from our hectic lives to pay our respects, to honor the memory of a loved one, and to reflect upon our own lives.  However, as time continues forward and broken hearts heal, our thoughts shift from our reflection pools back into the day to day grind.  Many of us have learned to embrace our moments with more urgency; yet, for the majority, we may slide back into the land of taking simple pleasures for granted.
Death may provoke us to ponder the meaning of life.  What is the meaning of life?  It can be simplified.  Life is whatever you want it to be. 
Let’s revisit the dragonfly.  Yes, bear with me as I rattle on again about the beautiful dragonfly.  In this breath after death, let the dragonfly be a reminder that when our deeper thoughts rise to the surface we must pay attention; for there are lessons to be learned.  Our thoughts are uniquely tied to what happens in our lives.   
Be Inspired.  Aspire to Inspire.  Inspire. 
YES!!  It really is as simple as that.
Be Inspired.  With the loss of our aforementioned local warrior in Fly Freeand Big Moments, Small Moments, the community in which we all live has demonstrated just how inspired we all are by this one woman……this one woman who was a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mommy, a friend……..she inspired complete STRANGERS with the way she simply lived her life. 
Many of us have struggled with the “lesson” behind her death; yet, one thing is abundantly clear – we were all inspired by her.  As we cope with her death, as our deeper thoughts come bubbling up to our surface and conscious; let us pay attention. 
Keep an open mind and watch for the small glories of every day life that can inspire us to be better people.
Aspire to Inspire.  Keep a small list of the ways in which you aspire to inspire others in your daily life.  Just do it.  Right now, jot down the first five things that come to mind in how you aspire to provoke change into your life and into the lives of others.  Do not over-analyze your list of aspirations! 

  • Start smiling – at everyone!  You will be surprised how many people you touch by using these two muscles!  Plus, it makes you feel good.  Sure, some people will think you are nuts and wonder what you are up to – but that’s part of the fun. 
  • Kill ‘em with kindness – it’s just as easy done, as it is said.  Taking the higher road in life situations is a message that everyone is inspired by.  When faced with adversity, when you handle it with kindness – the outcome is nearly always good.
  • Help a neighbor.  Once a month.  Or a friend.  Do not wait for them to ask for it.  Drop off a baked good.  Invite them for dinner.  Leave a vase of freshly picked flowers.  Mow their grass.  A sweet note reminding them how lucky YOU are for having them in your life.
  • Do something nice for a complete stranger.  Yes, you have heard the stories – buy the person behind you a cup of coffee.  Now do it.  Return a grocery cart for someone.  The possibilities are unlimited.
Inspire.  Ghandi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  We have the power within us – as evidenced by this one person before us.  In this breath after death, we realize how much ONE person inspired us all…namely by being who she was and by engaging in her kind ways.  Her legacy has been defined for her children, her husband and for all of us.  Let us follow in her footsteps and inspire on our own accord.  Consider this our lesson learned.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


No matter how cool I think I am and try to not solely define myself as a mom, I am a mom first and foremost. I can tell you I am a woman, a liberal, a sister, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a writer, a feeler, the baby of an Irish clan. All of that does define me. But what defines me most began on a gorgeous October day when my breasts began to ache and I knew that this baby I had been searching for was in me and in me to stay. I was just thrilled to make it through the pregnancy when I say that the baby was in me to stay- but even after she came out, and her sister and her brother, something remained in me. A new torch in my heart. A new medal deep in my chest. 

Since the days of making my family, I knew how lucky I was to be a mom. I knew others' struggles and battles and losses. I was happy to look at my little ducklings and know how great they are and how fortunate I was. On this day, however, I know how fortunate I am to have a mom. Having a mom is a gift. 

We all have a list of things our mom has done for us. Driving, cooking, earning, talking, scolding, soothing....but right now, when I think of being a motherless child, all I know is that seeing my mother's face is everything. Walking into a room and seeing her smile at me, my heart races a bit because of the chemical effect she has on me. It is like holding your childhood lovie and breathing it in, deep. It is the coming home for me I need, all in a glance up from her newspaper, and a smile. I am thrown back in time. It is the thrill of seeing her when I thought I was lost in a store. It is the warmth of her coming to check on me during a storm. It is the grounding (not a time out, but an actual holding me grounded), reminding me how to be as a kind human. It is the assuredness of her knowing how to help me when I was sick or hurt or confused. All in her smile. Her face secures me. Relieves me. Reminds me that I am a child who is loved at 39.

My mom is 77 (sorry mom, revealed.) We have turned that corner a wee bit that I know I am as a comfort to her as she has always been to me. She is relieved upon my arrival. She needs to vent and bounce thoughts off of me. She needs a hug, and a laugh, and another hug. I feel lucky to be able to be present for her. That she is still in my life. That I am still in her life. I wish everyone could feel about their mom what I feel, but I know that not everyone does. I know that I got the sweet end of the lollipop in this department, and it made me determined to be that for my children, so they will be that for their children. 

To have had her there when I went to Kindergarten, when I was in the school play, when I hated my life. To see her when I got my diplomas, when my heart broke, when my heart soared. To be held when I was teased, when I gave birth, when I came through. 

I am stuck in the thoughts of children who will not have that. Of the loss of a mom that you know was the great kind. A mom who made her childrens' lives complete. Her being gone, does it make them incomplete now? Does her energy know to stay and linger and hold that family together as they grieve? I don't know. But I say yes because a mom would do that.

It makes me think selfishly of my being alive. Of my being here with my children. Lucky me. Lucky me me me. I am here. My mom is here. I wrap myself in the warmth of it and the fortune of it. At my age people lose their moms which is something I can't even think about. But in grade school? As a small child? There is so much of life ahead. Mom should be there.
Mom should.

Rebecca talked of dragonflies. I will talk of hummingbirds. As I wrote this on Saturday morning upon hearing the news of a mom's passing, I was on my porch and a humming bird came to my screen briefly. And then came again. And then again. I hadn't seen one so close before and not here at my house. I don't know if I believe it means anything, but I have a history with birds and motherhood. The fact this bird came round and round and my connection with them, I looked it up. You can take from it what you will.

Hummingbirds are considered  to be symbols of peace, love 

and happiness.
In Native American culture, a hummingbird symbolizes 
timeless joy and the Nectar of Life. It's a symbol for 
accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you
how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life

It stands for immortality. Or sometimes the Sun. 
Hummingbirds are seen by some as a messenger of love and joy.
It symbolizes energy, wonder and swift action. It is associated 
with the Ghost Spirit Native American religion which teaches 
a dance that is intended to return the natural balance of the 


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Big Moments. Small Moments.

Big moments.  Small Moments.  And Everything In Between.

Since my post Fly Free last week, I have been really focusing on moments - you know, the moments in our lives that we tend to lose focus of.......the certain things we take for granted as part of our daily routine.

My heart remains tightly squeezed in a vice-like grip, with sadness and pain, as hospice continues to provide the comfort they are experienced to deliver, to the woman fighting like the ultimate warrior she is known to be. 

After a couple of days of suffocating sadness, I chastised myself to emerge from the depths of tears in which I had struggled to stay afloat in.  Again, I questioned myself for feeling the intense amount of pain that tore at my innards, because of my history with this family.  Our relationship - well, it's limited:  to our high school days from many moons ago;  to a few handcrafted meals delivered to the house on chemo days, to a lovely conversation with a mother about her daughter and the trials of cancer; and to simple conversations at the dance studio as our daughters ran in or out of their respective classes.  I felt guilty for feeling so much sadness for this brave woman and her undeniably strong family.

And then it hit me.  I am a momma.  A wife.  A sister.  A daughter.  A friend.  Of course, I am going to feel intense feelings, as many of us would feel about our multiple roles in this world.  How can anyone of us women fathom leaving all of these roles to someone else?  We have so much work to do!!  Who will pick up all the pieces that we effortlessly sew together on a daily basis?  When I said I put myself into her shoes last week, I literally did - as momma, as wife, as a sister, as a daughter, as a wonder I was suffocating.

However, I had a moment.....when I ran across a quote last week, of a very powerful message that was perfect for me at that precise time:

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”  Haruki Murakami

As I move on from wondering I move on from trying to figure out how to process the inevitable......I realize that there is simply a great deal of pain in this situation.  However, suffering is by choice.  For a few days last week, I suffered.  While it certainly did not seem like a choice at the time, I felt pain but I also allowed myself extended suffering. 

Suffering does no one any good - not me, not my family, not my friends and certainly not the ones truly in the imminent face of pain.  So I began to re-shift my thoughts.  I began to focus on moments - because moments are around us.......365 days a year, 24 hours a day, and every single moment of our lives.  I have no choice but to start embracing ALL of them!  Not every moment may be a "good" moment, but it is a moment nonetheless.  Some of them may include:

  • Every time my four-year old pleads, "Uppy, uppy, uppy, uppy, uppy" right as I am in the midst of dinner preparation and she wants to be picked up RIGHT a moment.
  • The summer cold I have, courtesy of my hubby, well, is likely the result of a tender kiss before work and the chaos of the day - or maybe it was that gentle smooch before bed over the squished in aforementioned four year a moment.
  • Driving my oldest to her umpteenth soccer practice this a moment.
  • Watching my son grow before my a moment.
  • Knowing I will see my friends this weekend, and having spent last weekend in the company of a moment.
As I ran through the aisles of the grocery store last night, I realized that inasmuch as we all dislike grocery shopping, that too, is a moment.  While navigating the food-stocked walls is nowhere as pleasurable a moment as say, surging through the waves of Mayflower Beach; perhaps I am not the one to judge whether one moment is necessarily "better" than the other.  After all, they are MY moments.  (Okay, I pick the Mayflower Beach moment.  Yes, I pick the warm snuggly moments over the more trying times.  Yes, I pick a night of quiet breathing from my husband over his wall-shaking snoring.  Yes, I pick the stretchy pants over the fitted and suck-in-my-gut in pants.  Yes, I pick friends who make me snort when I laugh over the ones simply want small talk.)

At the end of the day, my heart will hurt with inevitable pain when I lose someone who has touched me, as it has reliably in the past.  I will focus on the moments that person had in his/her life.  I will promise myself, yet again, to refresh my soul in the Big Moments, the Small Moments and clearly Everything Else In Between.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Capture it

I had a lot of my photographs of our family packed away during the showing and selling of our house. You are told to do this so anyone seeing your home can picture themselves in the house rather than you living there. I didn't realize how much sealing these photos away took the home out of our house. I didn't realize how much I missed these photographs until I was unpacking them. 

The children missed them too. They all grabbed their own baby albums and started looking at themselves and their siblings. Ooh and ahhing and remembering things. Or pretending to remember things. It was like looking at my babies I had lost long ago when they decided to grow up. (Frankly, I am pleased they are growing up. But what cute babies they were.)

As I wander my house, made more of a home by my husband's random hanging of framed photos wherever the last owner left a hook, I am also looking into other generations and tree limbs of family. Having this time away from the pictures, I see them with fresh eyes. I can see my mom in a Pre-K picture of Colleen. Normally we just see the Italian relatives in her. Nope. There is my mom.

And a baby shot of Brendan is clearly related to the newest of family members, my brother in law's son. 

Feelings come at me with memories of when I took these pictures. That fire place! Warm snuggly blanket. The amazing apple orchard. The excitement of who was in my belly. 


Those goddamn pants- the only ones that fit after having her; worn every damn day because my scale would not move. My hiding behind little toddler bodies so I wasn't huge in the shot...

Thank goodness I was in that shot. 
Thankfully I knew to pose for that picture so I could exist in these memories, even if I hated myself. Because now I love myself in the memories. 
In that frame. I was there.

This picture hangs on Evie's wall. 
"There I am with you, Evie. Yes, I am holding you snug."
And Evie says "Num." She actually sighs at the picture that I was about to bail from. (And she wears high heels on her hands. Classic.)

I am taking fewer photos now it seems sometimes. I want the camera out more as my parents age, and yet hesitate...will I love those pictures? Do I want to remember them at their oldest? Their weariest? 

I do. 

I know I do because that picture of me and Evie whispers I do. It is all a part of life which is truly a beautiful thing. 

Yes, fat pants, and bad skin, and 80s hair, and a crying child recovering for a picture.    

Aging parents, and a shot from behind while in a bathing suit- yes. Capture it. 

Capture red faced and braces and stolen hugs and falling asleep in cushion forts. 

Capture a far off look and a laugh with the double chin. 

The technology that enables us to delete the digital snapshots is almost a sin when it comes to capturing real moments. 

Capture the classic spaghetti photo, the terrified look while on a carnival ride, the before morning coffee- kid has your camera- took a picture of you- and you grumbled- shot.

Many of us are thinking about some children in our community who will be growing up without their mom. After a long fight, a time has come for whatever lies next for her.

Be present.
Kiss with morning breath.
Hug the asshole cat.
Let them spin on the office chair.
Take apart 2 double stuff oreos and build a quadruple stuff.
Take pictures.
Frame them.
Hang them.
Look at them.
Be in them.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fly Free

I will never forget the day, approximately three years ago when I was sitting at a local watering hole (a pond, not a drinking place, people) and a beautiful dragonfly landed right on me.  The beach was filled with people, but yet, this beautiful, metallic blue creature landed on me and stayed with me for an uncommonly long time.  My friend commented on this unique moment, as did others – while I simply embraced the peace and beauty this magnificent creature brought.  Why did it choose me?

Shortly thereafter, dragonflies were very common around me – and in my presence.  Of course, I took particular note of them after the pond incident, but big, beautiful, bird sized dragonflies and small, fragile damselflies hovered around me with an odd frequency.  My family even noticed their presence around my being and I could only wonder what it meant.
Of course, google now being my best friend – I researched the various meanings of dragonflies and what their significance could mean in my life.  Here, I’ve summarized them for you:

·         Change – change in the perspective of self-realization and understanding into the deeper meaning of life (looking beyond the surface).

·         Power and Poise – ability to accomplish objectives with simplicity, effectiveness, elegance and grace.

·         Clear Vision – discovery of one’s own self; by removal of self-created illusions.  Iridescence being the property to show oneself in different colors or lights.

·         Living IN the moment and living life to the fullest – by living in the moment you are aware of who you are, where you are, what you are doing, what you want, what you don’t and living moment-to-moment.  Living without regrets.  Dragonflies are known to live a very short time; hence, the correlation to living in the moment and living life to the fullest. Do dragonflies make the most of their short time and simply fly free? It’s certainly a good reminder.

·         Uninhibited Vision – open mind and ability to see beyond the limitations of human self.

Another source indicated that dragonflies may often symbolize the appearance of a deceased one in your life.  Am I being visited?
Despite the flight of the dragonflies, I struggle and I have yet to learn how to cope with the shortness of life; particularly in people.  Some of us die way before our time – before our flight is over; this I understand. I also comprehend (albeit with much frustration), that we will never know the “why”.  However, I cannot seem to come to grips with those who die at a young age, because of cancer.

People have various explanations:  Scientifically, it’s survival of the fittest – we cannot all live to be 100.  Religiously, it is part of God’s Master Plan.  Medically, his/her body cannot outlast, outwit or outplay cancer and it’s deviance to all modern medicine.

With news of another local warrior entering hospice earlier this week, I have been consumed with heavy thoughts.  Every little moment of my day, I am in her shoes.  Every moment is a BIG moment. 
For example, my daily shower is shrouded by thoughts of how this woman will soon be unable to take a shower and bathe herself in the latest smell of Bath & Body Works shower gel.  My morning cup of coffee is savored knowing that the simple pleasure of enjoying a favored drink will soon be no longer an option for her.  The latest pop song on the radio may be one of the last enjoyed by her ears.  My tears flow heavily for her.
I hug my children so much tighter; knowing that soon, the warm embrace of this beautiful woman will only be a fond memory that her children will have to cling to.  I tell my friends I love them, because I know that in due course, the wonderful friends that have supported this kind soul will cherish all the times they were honored to have with her. 

I cry.  I cry.  I cry. 

I only went to high school with her and with her husband.  I have taken the small measures that I could during her battle, to try and offset the burden that comes along with a cancer diagnosis; as many in our tight community have done for her family.  I am not close enough to this amazing soul that I should be feeling the amount of pain that I do feel. 

I cry.  I cry.  I cry.
Perhaps, my heart is breaking because of my own experience with cancer and my own threat of the possibility of death.  I am in her shoes for the time being.  I cannot fathom the pain that she and her family are going through as she prepares to finalize her journey.  I only know that every time I see a dragonfly going forward, I will think of her.  I will know she touched the lives of so many people in her brief stay.  The strength she showed and I'm sure, continues to show during her darkest days; her relentless courage; the brilliant and iridescent smile she afforded everyone in her presence, even when she did not feel like smiling; the vision throughout -  that life should be lived in moments and memories made………she will fly free..... like the dragonflies.