Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cranky Yankee

I have been miserable.  I am that crusty 'ol New Englander come late March.  Meh.  I am happy to commiserate with the countless others who are sick of looking at the multiple feet high snow drifts.  Mounds of snow that is now colored in various shades of road dirt, and pitted with the spots that have attempted to melt in the slightly warmer days, but refreeze with the still cold nights.

I am trying my hardest to focus on the bright things to come - you know, the spring daffodils, the bunnies, the longer and lighter days, and soon, thereafter, comes the food of the land.

Instead of panicking over what bathing suit (translation:  stuffed sausage wrapping) I will encase this shockingly neon white skin in, with its lizard like texture and less frequently shaved hairs - I am focusing on the nutrients to come.

Not only will we start to replenish our stores of Vitamin D by spending time outside at countless soccer games and by doing spring yard work, but the fruits of the season will start to begin their cycle of life.  Many of the local greenhouses are starting to share their tidbits; sweet words like "celery seeds planted today!"

We have barely survived this winter by making the twenty minute ride down Route 2 to Idylewilde Farms in Acton.  Inasmuch as some of the prices were much higher than my local box stores, the ambiance in walking up and down the small aisles that are filled to the brim with the colors of the rainbow is worth a small fraction of my paycheck.  Vibrant red peppers.  Glorious orange satsuma mandarins.  Blindingly yellow bananas.  Fifty shades of green in the leafy section.  Wonderous blue potatoes.  Exotic purple splattered eggplants.  Shall I go on?

I will not mention the cheese aisle again.  You all know it takes every ounce of willpower to refrain from rolling around amongst the goudas, the blues, the goaty and the asiagos.  I take my little micro sample that they offer and I move on down the road.

In any event, one bright spot in the Ides of March is that our local farms are busy little bees.  The farmers are pollinating, germinating and preparing for what they hope will be an abundant growing season.

I love farmers.  Think about it for a second:  they are almost of a dying breed.  In a day where technology rules the roost in nearly every capacity, including our food resources - it's nice to see a true modern day farmer.  Farmers like to get dirty.  (No snickers here........yes, they play in the mud!)  Let's face it, farmers know how to live off the land.  They plow, they rototiller, and they plant seeds.  All in the name of using Mother Earth to provide us with the nutrients we need.

I read something so profoundly simple a few years back, that it still resonates with my inner core to this day.  We should eat with the seasons.  It is what our ancestors did to survive and prosper long before the food mills came on the scene.

June brings you lots of leafy greens - the lettuces, the kales, the asparagus, the start of the squashes and strawberries.  Delicious strawberries!  July brings you more into the squashes, the eggplants are coming around, as is the start of so much more - like the beloved blueberry.  If you are lucky, late July starts to bring you the infamous butter and sugar corn.  By August, everything is in full swing and anyone can tell you, the taste of a warm summer tomato right off the vine - there's nothing quite like it.  By September and October, you have turned back into the harvest mode with winter squashes and aromatic apples peeking their comforting faces into your life.  The root vegetables have taken up their residence to hold hardy for the long and cold winter months where a plethora of nothing grows.  During this plethora of nothing, we rely upon fruit and vegetables that have made the hundreds of miles, wait, maybe thousands of miles trek to make its way into our stores for our consumption.  Yuk.

As I come full circle, the point of today's journey is to remind you to take up some of your time whilst waiting for spring to finally show up and sign up for a CSA.  CSA is Community Supported Agriculture.  In layman's terms, you buy a "share" (either full or half) of a farmer's crop for the upcoming year.  By doling out the money in advance, you help the guy in dirty overalls to fund the planting process and in return, you get a weekly box full of the farm's goodies.  For most local CSAs, this runs from mid-June to mid-October, an average of 16 weeks.  The math is simple and will save you money - a $500 full share will cost you roughly $32/week for a family of 5.  Many of these local farmers offer you more incentives by giving you a coupon for additional goods each week, or perhaps a discount on additional purchases made on pick-up day.

Win-win.  Right?  Support your local farmers and their respective families.  Support your family by offering them healthy goodness right from your back yard.  I cannot wait until my very first pick up.  Part of the fun is unpacking the box and finding what great mysteries are contained inside!

Are you in?


 It’s quiet when I walk into the pool room, the humidity of the indoor space immediately loosening my muscles. Aside from the quiet slap slap slap of the water against the tiles as other lap swimmers keep their pace, it’s a silence I don’t often experience. I relax almost on contact.

The water is warmer than usual today, and I climb into the pool, immersing myself without hesitation. The prep to get to this moment is great – not only do I have to find and don my bathing suit, I have to remember to pack towels, shampoo, a change of clothes, a plastic baggie for my wet things afterwards. This brand of organization and forethought is not my forte – and yet I have done it. I made it. I sink into the water and enjoy the small accomplishment.

I’m not here to move mountains or break records. Despite my love for water I am not a naturally strong swimmer, but in this one environment, submerged in this pool, I am weightless. The freedom is enough to bring tears to my eyes. This week alone I have berated myself a million times for weighing too much, I have criticized, scolded and admonished myself. But here in the pool I can let those thoughts float away.

There is comfort, for me, not just in the water itself but in the monotony. Unquestionably, this is a boring workout. Swim a lap, swim another lap. Swim another lap, swim another lap. Repeat, repeat. And again.

The scenery doesn’t change, and the strokes only vary slightly since my body refuses to deviate from its two favorite styles of swim. There is nothing to watch on TV, nothing to listen to, nothing to see.

But it’s predictable. I know I will reach the other side, I know that I will hit my stride seconds before doing so, launching me back to square one every single time to try to find that rhythm once again before bumping into the tiles.

I know that nobody will bother me, my kids will not interrupt me, there is no phone, no email, no housework. 

I will not hear the familiar ping of a text reaching me from someone needing an answer, demanding a response, anticipating a reply. I am free, also, from expectation.

I know that I will succeed in swimming as long as I want, until I have run all of my problems over in my head from A to Z and maybe even processed some new ideas for how to handle them. I know that my body will outlast my mind.

The pool is a private place, a respite – there is no chatting, no comparing heart rates, no one watching. It’s easy to lose yourself in the monotony, and I cherish this small fact.

 When I am done my laps, inevitably I become a child again for a lap or two. Swimming like a mermaid, somersaulting underwater. Floating on my back with my eyes closed, surfing on a kickboard until it angles rapidly out of the water. Having a tea party and rising to the surface, snorting in secret laughter.

The water makes it easy to become lost, and easier to find your way back. For 30 minutes on a random Thursday afternoon, I can be completely at peace.

The underwater world awaits, and beckons me with its lullaby. I will always answer the call.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crowded Dressing Room -Kate writes

And so. We meet again. Under the the harsh, directly overhead, dressing room light. 

Hello, Shock. Thanks for the screaming changes of an idle Winter. You are the best. You and your accompanying Bile.

Hello, New Found Resolve. I have been looking for you. 'Bout time. 

Hello, Kick in the Pants. What is that you say? It isn't all about the number on the scale? So true (you little bitch).

Hello, Mother Time. Really? Is it time for that much elasticity to be gone? You sure? Maybe rethink that while I put my cords back on. You can show me your change of heart in June. Please.

Hello, Irish Skin. I can't say anything to you because the emotion will make you even more blotchy so.....hope all is well.....

Hello, Cute Pair of Shorts. I will just place you back on the floor for the younger and athletic. My upper thighs are accosting my knees right now. This is a battle that should be waged privately. 

Shut the hell up, Bathing Suit. I can hear you cackling from the rack by the dressing room door. Taunt me all you want. I won't even put my nose (or thighs) in that fight. I am alllll set. I have ordered my pantaloons from 1823. And if those don't work out, I am going to hit the store Forever 61 and get that hawaiian print number with matching bathing cap. So there.

Of course, having written all that, I know I am still a good person. I am not defined by the dressing room mirror (the most truest mirror in all the LANDS!!!!) I will still instill a healthy body image to my children. I have only 3 months of thigh suffering ahead. But for all the talk of how the media this, and the world skewed that- it doesn't matter when you are in the dressing room. My accomplishments remain. My good choices remain. My positive outlook on life remains. My blessings remain. My intelligence remains! 



I am 100% female, after a long Winter, standing in a dressing room with a cute skirt on and thick wool socks (should have taken them off) and terrible lighting and a woman asking of I need a different size...and I am debating if I can pull off this next season with any bit of confidence. 

And then I get dressed. 
I shake it off. 
And I buy some shoes because DAMN I look hot in a small, ankle height floor mirror. 

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Labels. They are so prevalent in our society; from the jocks, to the popular girls, to the druggies, to the 'hos, to the nerds.  Yes, lets talk about the labels applied to our children. Lets not argue bullying here as we know that comes hand in hand with this name-sticking convention.

My son has been "endearingly" called a nerd since he was very young. At the age of three, instead of swinging a golf club like his more "athletic" cousin; my son turned it upside down so the thick driver part of the club was mere centimeters from his lips.  My son was using his device to speak to aliens. Yes, I am sure those extraterrestrials could hear him. 

My son also used sand buckets, not in their intended manner, but on his head - again to communicate with space beings. 

If countless hours of engineering kit after kit and creation after creation qualifies you as a nerd; well, my son has earned that moniker. 

If reading 1,000+ page adult novels puts you up there in Stephen Hawking land (or rather Stephen King land in this instance, well, my son fits that bill.

My son has a unique way of thinking. His perspective is unlike most of us. I remember clearly his kindergarten teacher explaining to us that when a child draws a bird, they draw a side profile version. My son drew his bird from an aerial perspective. His bird was as if you were in the atmosphere looking down upon the winged animal. 

I have never been bothered by the necessity of some to deem my son in the category of "nerdiness".  Nope. Not for one second have I been offended or hurt. I do not understand the need for a label, but I know that there are some very successful "nerds" out there. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. The Google Guys. Cripes, even Mark Zuckerman. 

With that, I leave you with this letter to a son. I could have written it myself:

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pinterest :: FAILS

 I guess I feel a little defensive. I know that when I start wanting to drop the F-bomb, as my 6 year old calls it (stop judging me), I am dealing with some raw emotion. So let me attempt to keep it clean.

I hate Pinterest. 

My sister texted me about 6 months ago. "You HAVE to get on Pinterest," she cooed. "You are going to LOVE it."

Why? I texted back, deadpan.

"You will feel so inspired!" she chirped.

But here's the thing she was forgetting -- even though I am a shitty artist, I'm an artist. I have that kind of mind -- I am inspired by everything .I dream up the kinds of ideas, naturally * most people need to visit Pinterest  to think up. I have THAT brain. My sister seemed to forget that.

* p.s. I am not bragging -- this type of mindset has downfalls -- I can't balance a checkbook or predict other peoples' emotions when stupid shit comes flying out of my mouth

But I wanted to give you just 3 examples of how Pinterest has screwed me over, letting me think things will turn out just fine and that I, too, can achieve Martha Stewart level awesomeness.

CASE STUDY #1 -- mug cupcakes, which are supposed to look like this:

And in my house, look more like this: 

CASE STUDY #2: Cute little Seuss Hat treats, which on Pinterest look like this:

and in my house, look much more like this:

CASE STUDY #3: Jello Orange Wedges, which Pinterest promotes as being as easy as this...

But looks more like this around here:

What can I tell you? I am good at so many things, but I suck at Pinterest. I'm logging off forever.

As soon as I make those cute  little hair-bows out of old socks. Then I'm logging off. I'm really not Pinterested in continuing that relationship.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


What is the deal with Karma? Is it for real? Is it coincidence with a fancy name? Consequence put in a higher power's hands?
I have been thinking about it a lot lately. It is an old belief that spans different religions. Some believe it is run by a higher power and others believe it is more of a natural cause and effect. It isn't Fate. It is a reaction not necessarily "due" a person, but caused by a persons' actions. We talk about it a lot as a payback, though. It originated more as what keeps balance in the world. It was interesting researching it a bit. Essentially there is no good and bad Karma then, right? Just Karma.

Though in my life there are plenty of times I could think of Karma, I think about it the most living off of rt 117. It is a hairy road to turn on to. Ever since moving here, I flash my lights and wave my hands to a lot of cars that are trying to cross the road or turn on or off of the road. I give many people the opportunity to get to where they are going without having to wait, some times of day easily 4 minutes, just to turn on to it. SO many drivers look right through me. Nope nope. I am going. I am going to keep driving. Well, I don't. I figure the more people I wave on to that road- flooding them with relief from the waiting and intense concentration on the math problem: Timing + Velocity + Dick Factor- the more people who will allow me to join the stream when I need to. Is that selfish?

Simplified: (T+V+DF=K)

I also think about it when I smile at a complete stranger or chat with an elderly person. You, complete stranger, need a smile. You need to chat. You are probably lonely. I will probably be lonely one day, too. I will need someone to smile at me when I am searching my 10 gallon purse for my wallet and holding up the line of tskers and heavy sighers. 

Or you know what? Maybe my mom will need someone to chat with her while in line at the pharmacy. Maybe my dad will need a smile after he stumbles a bit and looks around for a steady place to put his hand. Perhaps someone will help my child figure out a situation when I am not around. Maybe my good actions can go into the world and return to someone I love? That sounds pretty lovely.

Now, go forth and let me on the road.

Thursday, March 14, 2013


A few things have happened over the past few weeks that have given me pause for reflection.  When we are born, many say we are on a pre-determined path in our lives.  We have our fate, our destiny, our course all mapped out and ready to go.  Perhaps, we do live on a certain tangent within the Universe.  Maybe that is simply not true.

In any event, I was recently questioning my role in the Universe.  More particularly, I was also wondering if deep down I am a good enough person and even though I make mistakes, I wondered if perhaps I am not always the "good" person I seek to be.  

I try to be the best possible version of me.  Not just for my own "selfish" reasons, but so that I can pave the way for my children to follow their own paths.  Not only do I wish for them to grow up to "function in the real world", but I want them to be good people.  I desire my children to be the kind of giving people in the world, the ONE that may just make a difference in someone's life.  I want to demonstrate a multitude of times over the ripple effect of a good deed carried out, the impact of a pay it forward, or how wonderful a "kill 'em with kindness" act brings out the best in them.

Recently, an adult had me question whether I was a good person or not.  Rationally, I should never have doubted myself in this particular instance.  However, because I was sort of already under the weight of my own emotional elephant, okay - I was a little down in the dumps - I allowed my irrational thoughts to entertain my core person within.  

I was torn.  I was sad.  I have done so many good deeds for this person and his/her family, that I wondered why they would challenge me so.  Now, do not get me wrong - I do not expect any amount of good deeds done to erase any accountability for a wrong action; however, I know in this instance that there is much more to the story and I stand firm in my position.  Yet, I allowed this incident to get the better of me for a few days.

I have come to realize the POWER OF ONE.  Yes, I put that in caps for a reason.  Emphasis added.  POWER OF ONE.  I allowed one person to completely derail my well-being for a few days.  No matter how many times I reaffirmed my side of the story to myself and reassured myself that I had not wronged anyone; I still felt sad and questioned my virtues.

Reality then set in.  Yes!  POWER OF ONE.  You have heard it from me before, and now you will hear it from me again.  Instead of dwelling on this negative situation in my life, I have given myself a nice swift kick in the rear.  I will turn my frown upside down.  

POWER OF ONE.  I will focus on the positive.  I know in my heart that I am a good person.  I know that I feel good about paying it forward.  I try to find many creative and many straight-forward ways to pull off good deeds.  

POWER OF ONE.  What's that famous quote about casting a stone and watching all the ripples you create?  Yes.  

I started looking outwardly from me, with reflections.  In this past week alone, I have seen examples of local friends paying it forward and it so warms my heart.  One friend was the recipient of a cake from another.  One friend has a group effort going to continually remind and offer new opportunities for others to pay it forward.  One friend's father was severely injured and the offers to provide help keep pouring in day after day.  Another friend received a coupon for a coffee from another.  One friend started a new fundraiser to keep her deceased brother's legacy alive by providing sports scholarships for young kids.  Another friend kicked off a scholarship to keep her son's memory alive with the support of the community.  Our own Curvy Girl, Mandy, started a group to engage each others' children this summer in all sorts of memory making to be had.

So, after my rainy day party on myself, I came home yesterday to collect the mail.  I received an envelope with a very beautiful, but youthful/juvenile cursive writing addressed to me with no return address.  I opened the envelope to find a very endearing card with a 8.5 x 11 typed letter thanking me.  Yes, a letter of thanks for being me.  The card was signed:  <3 A Friend.  My heart melted, a smile took over my face and my cloud lifted.  Someone did an act of kindness and paid it forward to me!


All I can say is please do not ever question your ability to make a difference in the life of someone.  What you view as a small act, may in reality be the one thing that changes someone else's day or their outlook, or quite possibly even their life.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Queen Bee

Kate blogged about it yesterday and I have blogged about it before. It's one of the side effects of this age of technology we live in and I am certainly not done reflecting about it, although I have matured a little where this is concerned and tried to figure out how I can make technology and social media work for me.

It's about how far gone we are from where we need to be, as sisters, as wives, as mothers and friends. How we lost our ever-loving minds? When we can let a text message derail a friendship or a perceived slight on Facebook affect our opinion of someone, we have indeed.

When Facebook started taking over the free world, I was bitter. Like, really bitter. Like, annoyingly bitter. I am woman enough to admit this now -- I acted like a toddler. I kicked, I screamed, I took my toys and went stomping home.

I felt myself losing my grip on relationships, I felt that very "realness" on which I base myself entering a forum where I would be misunderstood. I felt, mostly, abandoned -- like everyone had run off to a new arcade to play Dance Dance Revolution while I was just getting the hang of Burger Time.

I think I get it now. If you can mange your involvement in such things -- social media, specifically -- they can be an enhancement to your relationships. Right?


Okay, at the start of this problem, we have screens. Big ones, little ones, tablet sized ones. Computer monitors, televisions, iPods, an iPad, my freaking phone, as I have come to refer to it. Screens at the gas station, at the subway station, dancing around our heads at restaurants. We buy almost all of our retail goods via screen as the clerk sells them to us via another screen.

We need these screens, it's okay. I have also come to terms with this -- this is our society and I can't run from it, change it or minimize it. It just is.

So I started thinking, how can I use social media to help me to connect not only to others, and to my children, but also to myself? A little movie called Mother Nature's Child fell into my lap and the thoughts started running through my head.

I started reasoning that people feel more connected to themselves and others when they are connected with the Earth. To connect with the Earth, you have to spend time in nature*.

* This might be a good time to mention that I live on a parcel of land so small that I toss my neighbors a stick of butter when they need to borrow some, and they walk a few steps out their door and share cookies through my kitchen window.

For my family, in order to connect with nature we have to pack it up and go find some.

I told my kids we were hitting the trails this summer -- we are going to visit as many Massachusetts State Parks as humanly possible. We will make a giant map and put little flags on pins and mark our travels.

I was infinitely more excited about this than they were...until I mentioned that they could bring their friends. So now we had a real plan.

But then of course, there is the issue of communication. How do we let our friends know where we are going? And how do I communicate to people that I am a more-the-merrier kind of gal so they can invite their friends too? Would that mean I would have to give everyone directions? What if I change my mind because of the weather? And what exactly IS the weather report?

The template is obvious. The internet. Social Media.  Facebook. It brings the whole experience full circle, right back to the screen.

So I invented a little project I am calling The Hive :: A Place to Bee. It exists in the form of a Facebook page and I am hoping people in my community will use it as a place to see where this Queen Bee** is headed in nature. I am hoping that in between those two screen -- the ones I am trying to detach from and the ones I am using to connect with, we can have amazing shared experiences and create memories for a generation of kids who is far more likely to experience such things via YouTube than they are in real life. That is one thing I simply won't accept.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carniolan queen bee with attendants on a honeycomb.
The term queen bee is typically used to refer to an adult, mated female that lives in a honey bee colony or hive; she is usually the mother of most, if not all, the bees in the hive.

**I like the idea of being a Queen Bee because I love being with millions of kids, I mother them all like my own and I am incredibly bossy. Plus, I have always loved and respected bees and so it's a title I wear with pride and reverence. Plus, I call every kid Honey.
I am genuinely hoping that people will meet us at beaches and mountains, trails and streams, to throw open our car doors and let the kids fly out. I want them to tumble down hillsides and step in mud, to scale steep inclines and jump into lakes with their clothes on.

I want my kids to be kids -- while being around other kids -- and if it means I have to micromanage the experience through social media, then I guess that's just the reality of our lives.

If you are interested in staying up on my colony's Summer 2013 whereabouts or if you are looking for an inexpensive nature-based road-tripping alternative to summer camp for your kid(s), find The Hive :: A Place to Bee on Facebook and follow along while we explore the Bay State from Stockbridge to Boston :-)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Losing Touch

I think we are losing touch. With how easy it is to reach someone, I think we are missing key points in truly being in touch with someone.

Remember the phone? All you could do on a phone was call a person and talk to them. 
Voice to voice. 
Tone to tone. 
You could explain things more easily and had nary a finger cramp. You could catch where they were lead astray more quickly and fix or back peddle at the sound of a "hurrumph". There was a dance you could do on the phone, keeping everything in check. Hanging up you knew where you stood. Maybe it wasn't always a good standing- but you knew the placement of your feet.

There was also letter writing. That was a thought out process. If you were getting out the stationary and putting a stamp on an envelope, you were going to compose something. No 3 seconds to "send" button. You would re-read and fold and maybe not seal the envelope for a day. A lot of rethinking and rewriting could happen. Sure- it went in the mailbox and sometimes a wave of panic could wash over you (and also a bit of a thrill. It was out there!) But again, time. Time to work with your words and savor your thoughts. And if it was just too long to write or too hard to explain- again, the phone...

"Hi! It is me. Fine, how are you?" 

I rarely have an email that starts like that. I never have a text that starts that way. I mean- you saw on FB that I had a funny morning, right? You thought that post was interesting from the Huffington Post. You can see my kids are growing like weeds. But do you know how I am doing as an individual? Anyone can paint a picture.

I am fine, by the way. New job. Some stress. 
Oh, and a smidge of broken heart because friendships end when people don't talk. Verbally.

I will often drop a fb post or a text to check on people. I could say I am guilty of it, but really- social media makes us capable of being in touch with so many different people. I think it is a plus in so many ways. You see that they went away! You help suggest things when asked. You can do a drive by- "I was thinking of you!"- post and they can drive past and respond. I do love it. A lot. <3 Especially because I am not much of a phone person. Also, my close friends and I have waves of long emails back and forth which I love. Reminds me of letter writing days. They come and go depending on how busy life is for one of us.

I am guilty of forgetting those not on FB, though. Of not sending pix to my mom or my mother in law. Or not filling a non FB person in on my life. 

What? We moved 6 months ago!!! I didn't tell you? I thought everyone knew... Oops.

All I am saying about our new technology is this...
When a text gets weird and you are re-explaining something? Check in.

If you write something more than "Saw your car!" or "Did you get that Groupon?" and it doesn't get a response in a textly manner? Check in.

If something has upset you, don't hit "send", hit "call". 

I have called a friend long distance to straighten something out from our emails that I couldn't for the life of me figure out. Why was she was so upset? When I called her I was astonished to hear her answer. I never fathomed it. I would have never known, and at that moment it was everything to her and I was oblivious until she could say it. And her voice could wobble in my ear. And I could remember who we were. And yes, of course, I would fix it because I knew I needed to step up for a friend whose voice sounded like that.

Who you gonna call?
(don't say it)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Guest Blogger: Heather Mazzaferro - Bullying; A Personal Journey

I had trouble trying to decide from what perspective to write this blog; as someone being bullied, someone who has bullied or as a mom of a child that has been bullied. I am saddened and ashamed to say that I have been a part of all three of these groups.

Who among us hasn’t bullied? The definition of bullying is; to use superior strength or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants. I’m confident that I have, at some point, bullied my son into trying a new food at dinner time or even in a conversation with a friend, been adamant that my point of view was clearly the correct one.  I’m not proud of it. I’m also not proud of the fact that I bullied someone when I was in 7th grade. I remember the incident very clearly. My poor friend started her period in school. I taunted her, making fun of her on the way home. She was crying by the time we got to her driveway. It makes me cringe to this day thinking about it. I have no excuse for it except that I was being bullied myself by some 8th grade girls and it made me feel better to do it to her or even that I was walking home to an environment of being bullied by my father. I can’t even tell you which one it was.  As an adult I apologized to that friend, who ironically didn’t remember the incident, though I carried it in my heart all these years.

The second I hear the word bully, it takes me back to the cafeteria at Gallagher Junior High. My home life was a mess, and a flicker of promise came to me when I was chosen to be on the Pop Warner Dolphin’s Cheerleading Squad. I was elated. It seemed like a normal teenage activity in my not so normal world. It was validation that I could do something right. Unfortunately for me, a group of older cheerleaders on the squad were rooting for someone else to be chosen, someone more popular, with perfectly feathered hair, who fit in better than I did. I was sitting at lunch one day and 4 or 5 of these older girls came over to my seat and surrounded me. They said, “Come here, we want to talk to you.” I followed them over to the staircase, and one of the girls said to me, “We don’t understand why you were chosen over her. We want to see what’s so special about you. Do your cheer. Right now.”  I was mortified. In front of the entire cafeteria, in a meek voice, trembling with embarrassment and fear, I did the cheer. They stood there with their arms crossed sneering at me. When I finished they told me to do another one and when I was done, they all shook their heads and collectively agreed that I sucked and they didn’t understand why I was picked. And they walked away.  I was humiliated and deflated and I will never forget how they made me feel. I have run into one of these girls over the years, as her nephews were friends with Dante. She was pleasant to me, vaguely remembering me from school. She had kids of her own, and I often wonder if deep down she recalled who I was  and maybe, hopefully felt embarrassed by her behavior. I could only hope that she had the same feelings that I did about being mean and that it wasn’t just something that was so normal to her and I was just another one of her ego boosting victims.

Fast forward 29 years and here I am consoling my 8 year old. I have to answer the question through tears, “Why mom? Why were they mean to me? I was just having fun.”  I have to find a balance between staying calm and rational and wanting to lash out to protect my child. As someone who has bullied, I know the feelings of remorse that manifest and because I was bullied, I know the damage that happens and it never goes away. So what do I do? I do the only thing I can.  I teach my son tolerance. The definition of tolerance is; being patient, understanding and accepting of anything different. This generation is growing up with reality shows that glamorize people who are overweight, teenage and pregnant, Italian, Amish, hoarders, superstars, addicts, The Next Top Model, gold miners, fisherman, or just Kardasian. It’s a direct juxtaposition to our job as parents, to teach our children that everyone is different and unique. Each person in an individual and if someone offers something opposite to what our normal is, it’s okay. Yet they are inundated daily with the categorization of people, what makes them different and the criticisms that follow.

We all know that our home is our first school. It’s where we learn the basics and where we should be learning this important coping tool. Our parents are our first teachers. Coming from a broken, beyond fixing home, I completely understand that not every house is equipped with one let alone two parents who are capable of teaching tolerance.   As someone who has had experiences from both sides of the bullying fence, I am grateful that I can have a conversation with Dante so he knows he’s not alone in how he feels and if he’s ever in a situation with friends that are bullying and prod him to join in, that he will remember not only how he felt on the receiving end of the misdirected hate, but that his mom has been as well. Although I would never wish both perspectives on Dante (if anyone EVER sees or hears of my son bullying, I expect a prompt phone call, text, email, Facebook post, ASAP!) it has helped me to exercise my tolerance, in many different instances in my life. Even adults get bullied and it feels no different at 41 years old than it does at 8 years. My Grandmother used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” No truer words have ever been spoken.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dreaming (Again)

With the forecast predicting a possible 4-8 inches of heavy, wet snow; or wait, perhaps the other weatherman just said 8-12 inches, I am dreaming of my warm, balmy days of summer.  Like many other hardened New Englanders, by the time I reach March, I am done with winter.  Old Man Winter, we have put up with you since November, so it is time to pack your bags and move on along to the other hemisphere.  Capiche?

Who's with me?  Let's start a lynch mob on kicking the snow, the ice, the artic temperatures and everything else that goes along with winter right on out of here.

I am dreaming of summer days: 

  • Long days of supremely warm rays of sunshine, the rays that naturally bleach my hair to various shades of blonde without paying my beloved hairdresser every six weeks.

  • Long days followed by steamy heat radiating off my driveway and warming my hot pink pedicured toe-nails (no worries, I am too cheap and do it myself).

  • Long days not buried beneath layers of long sleeves and fleece coupled with more layers of fleece and sheepskin boots.  Oh and winter jackets and stretchy mini-gloves.  Who could forget the scarves?

  • Long days with multi-layers of reapplied sunscreen with the smell of baked sunscreen coupled with fried skin (those who know me make fun of me for my 30 and 50+ sunscreen selection).

  • Long days ended with friendship and smokey fire pits.

  • Long weekend days lounging at the soccer fields with friends who have become next to family.

  • Long weekends spent grilling, sharing a beer and swatting off mosquitos.

  • Lazy days counting the dragonflies and saying hello to those I miss.

Inasmuch as I am not ready to bare this ghastly white skin, nor am I "bathing suit ready" (when the reality are we ever?!?), I am ready for longer days to come. 

Somehow eating a tomato and basil salad for dinner comes easier when it's 70 degrees outside.  Sure, the produce comes from a local farm and not shipped in from Colombia and gone are the hibernation needs to store comfort food on your thighs.

I am dreaming.....again, of another winter season coming to a close.  Winter boots being stored in the far corner of my basement, mismatched gloves thrown in a box in the oft-chance they will find a mate miraculously over the summer months. 

Days of flip-flops, shorts and bug spray have to be abound.  Right? 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Buddy Up :: A Love Letter

I have been wanting to write for quite some time now about how important my exercise buddies are to me. If you don't have one of your own, go get one, like, right now. Hands off though -- I have about 4 or 5 of them and I need each and every one desperately so I can't share.

Having a friend to call when you need a partner in crime -- well, it's my one and only fitness tip. I can't tell you what exercise to do or for how many minutes because I sinceerely believe that enjoying your movement is the key to everything, and having a friend to share it with is the key to that enjoyment. Puzzle solved.

Frankly, my buddies are my lifeline when it comes to all things fitness and without them I can see how it would go....I would forever be lying on a yoga mat in front of a Richard Simmons VHS tape, eating leftover cold pizza and drinking a beer. At least with my buddies, we save the beer as a reward for our 6 miles power walks.

These buddies are only a quick text away and their answers to the following questions is always a resounding yes:

Hey -- wanna take a looooong walk?
Wanna go to kickboxing?
Wanna walk the dogs? (ok, the walk-the-dog buddy always says no but maybe if she reads this blog today, she will start saying yes)
Wanna swim across the lake?
Wanna go to hot yoga?
Wanna jog on side-by-side treadmills and gab?
Let's meet at the track in an hour.
Get your ass over here and we'll do some hills.

I am lucky knowing that if I throw this bait in the water, I have a sure thing waiting on the other shore. Ha. A shore thing.

I learned a little bit last week about my love language, and prior to that I never gave much thought to how important words of affirmation are to other people, so I wanted to publicly affirm my love and admiration for the people who not only share my committment to fitness, but who also take time out of their busy lives to spend some time with me while doing it.

Thank you exercise buddies, for being so spritely and fun. You make sweating my ass off much more enjoyable.