Monday, August 29, 2016

driving to the bus stop

Mother is a verb, not a noun. ~Proverb

at this point in my life, almost everything is a "last".  i envy all the young moms posting pictures of kindergarten with cute signs, because i know how many awesome, busy and even stressful times they have in their future.  and while you are living it, it's can be very hard.  but once you are through it, you just MISS it.

She never quite leaves her children at home, even when she doesn’t take them along. ~Margaret Culkin Banning

its been a running joke in my house for years that i drive my kid(s) to the bus stop.  mostly josh for the last 6 or so.  but starting way back in nursery school, when i drove them to school, i have ALWAYS taken my kids somewhere in the morning (you know, unless i overslept :)  and today, 16 years later, was very likely my last drop off.  or at least last "regular" drop off, as i'm sure we will oversleep once or twice over the next year or so.  but this morning, on josh's first day of his sophomore year, he had to take the bus.  just so that we know what his bus number is (in case of emergency or his ride falling thru, whichever comes first).

why do i still drive my teenager to the bus stop you might ask? its a question that plagues everyone in my house - except the teenager who doesnt have to actually walk to the bus stop.  he enjoys it - i think.  but this is my reality - or rationale, depending on who you ask.  what  i have come to believe over the last 21 years is this - my kids are going to be ok.  they are going to figure things out for themselves.  josh is perfectly capable of getting his almost 16 year old self  to the bus.  BUT.  what these 10 minute intervals have come to mean to me, and them, is that they are still my priority.  it gives us 10 minutes to do a check in.  what do you have going on?  do you have all of your stuff?  how are you feeling?  its basically a gut-check for both of us.  as silly as that may seem.

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed. ~Linda Wooten

life is busy.  my jobs change.  our schedules change, especially in the evening.  but what never changes, at least for a few more years, is our morning.  since pre-k at ANS, we have had to get ourselves out of the door by 7am.   luckily for me, the older the boys got, the later i had to get up.  most days i literally roll out of bed, stumble downstairs, grab my coffee, shove my feet in my uggs and walk out to my car...4 minutes TOPS from my feet hitting the floor to the car.  i drive 45 seconds around the corner to the bus. and sit with josh for anywhere from 30 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on what time i actually walked out of the house.  and no matter whether it is 30 seconds or 10 minutes, it starts the day right.  i have learned more about my kids sitting at the bus stop than i can possibly tell you.  its like our magic cone of silence.  its like the boys know they dont have much time, so it cant be one of those long drawn out conversations i suck them into.  its a max 10 minute window.  so we problem solve quickly.  or just shoot the shit.  sometimes we dont really talk at all.  but that also gives me a little glimpse into where they are.  sad, tired, grumpy.  it all means something.  and it helps me figure out how to be a better mom.  and today, might be the last time i got to do this.  and im completely flustered by the prospect of it.

It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can't tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself. ~Joyce Maynard

i dont think all of the sudden josh and i will stop talking.  but i dont want to lose that time with him.  i'm sure jake and luke would say, well you didnt drive US to the bus stop in high school and we are just fine.  logically i know this argument.  and i didnt.  jake rode with a friend, luke rode with jake.  but i still was up.  josh was in middle school.  i took HIM to the bus, so we all had that morning check in.  maybe i'm over estimating what it all means.  which wouldnt be the first time.  but it has occurred to me lately that the next kindergarten picture i take will be of my GRANDCHILD.  who hopefully will not be making an appearance for SEVERAL more years.  but this is the stage of life that i am in. and its just fucking NUTS.  i literally feel like i blinked my eyeballs and had 3 grown men in my house.  which is not to say i didnt enjoy the journey.  i did.  i cant say i loved every second of it.  it was very stressful at times.  it still is.  but it has just been so incredible to get to be the mom to these amazing boys.  and i miss them being little and needing me.  not that i dont think they still need me.  i know they do.  but its different.  and just a little bit sad.

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so while all the moms of elementary school kids are throwing themselves a party today, a lot of the moms of high schoolers are sad.  we are on the downhill side of the craziness that is "school".  and while i will never be sorry to say goodbye to the science fair.  or filling out back to school forms.  i will be so sorry when i no longer have to get up at 6:45.  or 6:55. maybe 7:15.  i think.  i guess its just another evolution that i will learn to live with.  life is funny that way.  it just keeps throwing curveballs.  today im still lucky.  i am still back to school shopping, lunch packing, and joshs main form of transportation.  not for too much longer, but right now i will take it.  and im sure, even tho today was "supposed to be" our last bus stop trip, i'm pretty sure we will make that trip once or twice more. and i cant wait.

A child enters your home and for the next twenty years makes so much noise you can hardly stand it. The child departs, leaving the house so silent you think you are going mad. ~John Andrew Holmes

if you are a mom of a elementary school kid who feels like tearing her hair out, all i can say is, one day you will miss it.  i know it doesnt make any sense. because in that moment you literally can not wait for your kids to be out of "that" stage - whatever it is.  but when you look back, you are going to wish it didnt go by so fast.  enjoy your day of freedom today.  and then take a deep breath.  the next time you blink, you will be me, missing your messy, crazy, chaotic lives.

Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them - a mother's approval, a father's nod - are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.     Mitch Albom

Saturday, July 2, 2016

why 21 is better than 20

The art of love... is largely the art of persistence. ~Albert Ellis

i can remember the year my parents celebrated their 25th anniversary.  we had a nice party and my sisters and i put together a crazy video/picture project that included home movies (reel to reel, no less), some audio recordings and a ton of really old photos that we gathered from just about everywhere.  it was a super cool VHS when we were finished, and i think we were all pretty proud of it.  what i KNOW we were impressed with, was what i took to stay together that long.  my parents are incredibly different. and i never really got what it was that kept them hanging in there all those years.  aside from the fact that they were committed to each other.  and stubborn, i guess.

Love must be as much a light, as it is a flame. ~Henry David Thoreau

as i celebrate 21 years tomorrow, i realize that i'm just now starting to get it.  20 years seemed like the big milestone in my mind.  but really, 21 years is where i really am figuring it out.  which is totally crazy.  my marriage is not perfect, by any means.  it has been pretty typical i would guess for a couple that met in college and had kids really young.  lots of ups and downs.  luckily a lot more ups than downs.  but it has not been a bed of sunshine and roses.  i have made mistakes.  some pretty big ones.  and i imagine kris feels the same way.  we both have been selfish at times and put what we wanted over what was best for us.  we have had a million ridiculous fights over things that did not matter one single bit in the long run.  but we are still here. together.

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand. ~Emily Kimbrough

i think i used to believe, like with everything in life, there was a magic place or number that i just needed to reach.  once i got "there",  it would all be easier, or make more sense.  i just needed to keep it together long enough to reach it.  what i learned this year, was that i'm already there.  i probably have been for awhile.  i just didnt know it.

Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow. ~Swedish Proverb

nothing has changed this year.  not one thing.  every single thing we used to fight over is still here. tuition payments, lacrosse, the boys, the gym, softball, housework - you name it.  all the petty crap that filters into our day to day will always be here.  what happened to me in this last year was that i FINALLY stopped expecting it to.  maybe its because i can see so clearly in the boys as they get older that "wishing" thing in action.  if only i get......, then i will be ok.  that path is the one that leads to discontent.  maybe there is something to the older and wiser thing after all.

its interesting to me that this is the first year i wasnt trying to reach any kind of milestone.  i wasnt anticipating my 20th anniversary.  or waiting to get a new job.  or wishing for kris to be less involved in cclc.  aside from jake turning 21 (which was super fun btw), this is just another year for us.  and in not anticipating these big giant things to happen, what DID happen was that i found this really cool place. i'm calling it "there".

No road is long with good company. ~Turkish Proverb

what "there" means to me is that i have a great life.  and i'm finally present for it.  yes, bad things happen.  i fight with my husband and my kids.  im still bitchy when i feel like it.  i still work 2 jobs.  all the stuff that used to drive me crazy.  and now it just doesn't.  which is so amazingly freeing.  because at the end of the day i have kids i've done my best to raise.  they arent perfect.  but i love them just the way they are - flaws and all.  and i'm lucky enough to still have their dad as my best friend.  we dont like to do the same things.  we dont like to watch the same shows (except GoT).  we have completely different senses of humor.  he is a neat freak and i'm a slob.  he is lax and im baseball.  and its totally FINE that we are different.  its this COMPLEMENT of personality that makes it work.

"We are shaped and fashioned by those we love." — Geothe
i have finally, 21 years later, stopped expecting kris to change.  and vice versa.  i will always be totally ocd and going in a million directions.  my house will always be a mess.  i will take on too many projects and spread myself too thin.  and he will always work for afma.  he will always coach lacrosse and totally ignore me during the season.  and he will always hide in the bathroom (boys!). BUT.  and heres the big thing.....he will always have my back and i his.  he will always stand with me in support of my boys.  and he will always support me, even when he doesnt really want to - and i him.  and he will always always be happy to sit on the beach with me.  in that we are totally, 100% copacetic.

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

and THAT is what has made 21 so much better than 20.  this seems like the best place i could be.  the small stuff is easier to get over.  the big stuff seems more manageable.  because the rest of my life only gets shorter at this point.  the years we have left together very well could be shorter than the ones behind us.  i honestly dont regret anything about our lives together because it got us to this exact point.  and this point, HERE, is truly the very best place i could be.

If there is a day to act on the Love in your soul it is today, it is this moment. ~Mike Dolan

i love you kb.  thanks for putting up with all the crazy for the last 21.  and here's to hoping the next 21 are just as crazy :).

Monday, March 21, 2016

21 lessons

“A man does what he must -- in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures -- and that is the basis of all human morality.” 
John Kennedy

another milestone.  21.  its a biggie.  at 18 you send your kids out into the world hoping that you have done a good job of teaching them how to take care of themselves.  whether that is in school or at work, you just hope they know how to get wherever they need to go on time - and that they have their keys and wallet when they get there.  21 is a bit different.  by this time, they have navigated some of those waters (hopefully with success) and the next step on their journey is a bit more meaningful - and harder.  they just dont know it yet.  so on the eve of Jake's 21st birthday, i am going back to the are 21 lessons to kick off this next step of the journey.

1. dont drink & drive.  it seems the most obvious on this day.  but its a serious thing.  you will think you are ok after a couple of beers.  you aren't.  this isnt college.  not only should you be concerned about hurting yourself, but you should be terrified of hurting someone else.  if you plan to drink when you are out - take a cab.  call uber (thank god for that lovely new company).  call your mom.  just dont get behind the wheel.  NOTHING good comes from that.
See Dick drink. See Dick drive. See Dick die. Don't be a Dick. 

2. use your head.  you are a smart cookie.  think stuff out.  walk down the path in your mind.  cause and effect.  dont jump blindly into things that you are not sure of.  if you cant make sense of something - LEARN more about it.  thats what all those brains are for.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” Dr Seuss

3. follow your heart.  these are often contradictory.  but sometimes you have to take a leap of faith.  you are compassionate and sensitive.  let those qualities guide you.  you may occasionally get taken advantage of. but you will also make a lasting impact on those around you.  if it feels right, do it.
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius

4. do good.  i love this one.  i want you to do good in life.  succeed at your job and with your family.  but i also want you to reach outside of yourself and DO GOOD.  for the world.  or the earth. or both.  its going to take smart men who take these things seriously to make big changes.  be one of those guys.

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” John Wesley

5. seek opinions.  you dont know everything. yet.  ask for people with more experience than you.  or just DIFFERENT experience.  your perspective comes from your life experiences.  and there are a lot of different ways to go out there.  it never hurts to get more than one point of view.  be open-minded.  thats never ever a bad thing.
Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you'd have preferred to talk. ~Doug Larson

6. value what others bring to the table.  you are not going to be great at everything. you can always bring your best, but sometimes your best wont be as good as someone elses.  and thats fine.  if you learn to work with others, and are not threatened by their gifts, you have already won the battle.  true leaders bring people together.  they create teams whose talents compliment each other.  do THAT.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent. ~John Donne

7. take care of your body.  you only get one of those.  sometimes you wont want to eat right or work out.  and thats ok.  as long as its temporary.  if you look at fitness as a lifelong endeavor, it will be one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.  dont take your good health for granted.  make yourself a priority NOW - not later, when the damage is done.
To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear. - Buddha

8. find humor whenever you can.  if you can learn to laugh at the situation, rather than get angry, you will lead a much happier life.  shit happens.  take the time to laugh about it. never lose your love of ridiculous comedy.  never stop sharing it with your brothers.  dont be offended when people laugh when you fall. it looks funny.  be okay with that.  MAD only ever makes things worse.
"A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done" - Dwight D. Eisenhower

9. dont take yourself too seriously.  you are a serious guy.  with serious plans. and that is a good thing. but remember that not everything will go your way. and you cant make it go the way you want it by sheer force of will.  you are human.  just like the rest of us. and that is ok too.
“The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.” Fyodor Dostoevsky

10. realize you will change.  be ok with it.  in political terms we like to call it flip-flopping.  ladies just like to call it changing our mind.  but in reality, you will see things differently as you grow up. as your life circumstances change.  your priorities shift. and sometimes things that made perfect sense at 21, dont really look so great at 45. you are allowed to change your mind.  and your priorities.  you are allowed to change anything.
If you don't like how things are, change it! You're not a tree. Jim Rohn

 11.  make mistakes & learn from them.  dont be afraid to take action.  you will make bad choices.  you will have regrets.  thats just a part of life.  but if you can look back and learn from those choices, then they werent really mistakes at all.  every thing that happens to you affects the things that come after it.  they all lead you somewhere.  embrace that.
A man's mistakes are his portals of discovery. - James Joyce

12.  be kind. everyone you know is doing the best that they can.  it took me a really long time to get this one.  just because someone is doing something you disagree with, it doesnt make them bad or wrong.  it just makes them different. if you can be kind to a stranger, then you can be kind to anyone.  give your loved ones and friends the benefit of the doubt.  you can be mean in your mind if you have to.  just keep it to yourself.  nothing good ever comes from mean, either.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama

13. be open to new experiences.  step out of your box.  we like our boxes because they are comfortable.  and cozy.  dont stay there all the time. every now and then you need to do something that challenges you. whether physically or emotionally.  test your boundaries.  expand your box. the bigger your box, the more stuff that fits in it.  dont be satisfied with the status quo.
‘The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.’Arthur C. Clarke

14. eat good food.  gone are the years of ramen noodles and mac & cheese.  those are still ok. but when you have the opportunity to try new food, DO IT.  treat dining like an adventure. it will be fun AND you will learn alot in the process.  its also a super fun way to socialize, once the newness of the drinking thing wears off.
“The secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
 -Mark Twain

15.  take trips. if there are places you want to go see - GO SEE THEM.  the world is a cool place.  if you go one new place every year, imagine all the interesting things you will see in your lifetime. you wont love all of them.  but you will experience amazing things.  dont look back at your life and wish you would have gone somewhere.  GO.
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
 — John A. Shedd

16. dont wait for "one day".  one day i will.....  the biggest mistake of youth is thinking that you will always have time one day.  guess what?  this is one day. and so it tomorrow. if you dont do those things you are waiting for now, you probably never will.  life gets more complicated.  schedules get worse. jobs get harder to take time away from.  set aside some time for your bucket list.  LIVE it.  dont wait until you are too old to enjoy it.
 “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” -W. M. Lewis

17. give of your time.  you wont always be in a position to give money.  but you can always give time.  if a cause speaks to you, try to do something about it.  you can be charitable in deed, if not financially.  one day i hope you can be charitable with your money. but that is the easy answer.  get in the trenches.  WORK for those causes that matter to you.  be present. that is how the real difference is made.
I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. ~William Penn

18. its ok to be sad. life can be tough. and disappointing. and frustrating.  and just annoying.  you will have days when you just are not happy.  and that is OK!  you have a lot of emotions and you are supposed to feel them all.  dont bottle up feelings because you are trying to be strong.  real strength is acknowledging that sometimes we are weak.  just keep picking yourself up when you can.  and asking for help when you need it.
You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair. - chinese proverb

19. keep your eyes on the prize.  this one you know.  life is full of distractions.  sometimes good. and sometimes not so good.  if you know the general direction you are headed, its ok to veer off course a bit. just so long as you know how to get back.  never lose sight of the big picture.
“It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?” Henry David Thoreau

20. learn to bounce.  life will not go the way you want it to. or expect it to.  sometimes it will be better.  but often it will feel like its worse.  but if you can learn to look around, find the lesson or opportunity and then pick yourself up, you will never be at the mercy of fate.  if you can figure out how to just say to yourself "ok this happened, what's next", you will always bounce back.

“If the wind will not serve, take to the oars." - Walt Whitman

21. sing anyway. life is hard.  which is a tough lesson at any age.  you have experienced personal frustrations and disappointments.  you have suffered loss.  those things never stop happening.  you can not let the bad things outweigh the good.  reach for those things that motivate you to move beyond the hurt and the sad and the mad.  because at the end of every day, when it is quiet in your mind, ultimately only YOU can decide what's next.  do i let it beat me.  or do i fight thru it.  you know i will always always tell you to fight the good fight.
Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.”– Emory Austin
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i love you jake.  you are totally your own man and i couldnt be prouder of you.  and if nothing else comes from this, never forget lesson NUMBER ONE! happy 21 day!

Friday, January 8, 2016

pink & yellow

i HATE pink & yellow.  passionately.  i understand why millions of people feel differently.  to them pink & yellow represent sunshine and hope.  they rally behind those colors for veterans and cancer survivors.  those colors represent WARRIORS of all kinds.  and still, i hate those 2 colors.  probably more than i should. but to me, those colors represent loss. and they just make me sad.  and i hate that too.  i'm tired of being sad and heartbroken and frustrated because CANCER keeps stealing people from my life.  im sick of the word.  im tired of all of the #teams that you see day in and day out that represent yet ANOTHER victim of this horrible disease.  where does it stop??

The human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. ~C.C. Scott

tomorrow i will attend the funeral of one of the bravest women i know.  we were not super close, more casual friends.  we have a great deal of people in common and i have been a witness to her entire fight with lung cancer.  LUNG CANCER.  a 43 year old non-smoker.  who leaves behind 3 children, a husband, and an array of devastated family members.  i wish i could say i dont know what that's like. i wish i didnt know the battle they have in front of them to "carry on".  how hard this next year will be.  every "first" that is the first one without her.  but i do.  and it sucks.  i know that all we can do is be there for them. and i believe tina is truly in a better place.  no one wants to live a life in constant agony.  its not fair to bear it or to watch it happen to someone you love.  but it doesnt make it any easier to live without them.

Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated. ~Lamartine

the journey has already begun for Tina's family.  the hole that she leaves will never be filled.  their lives will go on. they will eventually find happiness again and return to what they consider normal.  but it will never ever be the same.  she will always be missing. her friends will still want to reach out to her. her children will think of her every time they go to do something she used to do with them. there is just no getting past the fact that she's not here.  and she should be.

Grief falls upon human beings as the rain, not selecting good or evil, visiting the innocent, condemning those who have done no wrong.  Richard Jefferies
 i know there is no right or wrong way to handle grief. just as i realize it never truly goes away.  we have ALL lost people that were dear to us, and we all learn to deal with that in our own way.  sometimes there is just no dealing with it at all.  it just exists.  grief is the new plane we exist on.  im just not sure how to process it when it keeps happening. and the outward representations of it are inescapable.  butterflies & superheroes.  ribbons of every color of the rainbow.  plastic bracelets & window stickers.  we wear our signs of grief outwardly every single day.  and once you know what you are looking at, you cant help but see them everywhere.  in one way its inspiring.  there is an army of people out there fighting the good fight.  hordes of people raising money and volunteering and walking and running for the cause.  ALL of the causes.  because thats what we do to take back some power when we feel powerless.  we try to help.

Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope” ― Elizabeth GilbertEat, Pray, Love 

let me say this.  most days i am incredibly optimistic and hopeful.  i have the bracelets and butterflies and ribbons.  i even have the tattoo.  i have walked for 36 miles and run many more, in tribute and to raise money. i even started a blog :).  and ALL of these things have helped ME.  they have made me feel like i am helping in my own small way.  they helped me deal with MY grief and frustration over the loss.  and the loss.  and yet another loss.  but what they dont do and CANT do is bring anyone back.  and that is where the internal fight exists for me.  i just dont know what to do with all of this ANGER.  i dont want to buy any more pink.  or wear any more yellow.  i dont want to walk or run in memory of anyone else.  i just want this whole crazy nightmare of cancer cancer cancer to be GONE.

and i know that feeling that way wont change a damn thing.  i just feel like it needs to be said.  i know we are supposed to be positive. and encouraging. and supportive.  and we are.  but we are also just MAD.  and TIRED.  and FRUSTRATED.  and maybe every now and then we just need to share that too. so maybe we dont feel alone with all of these feelings.

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my heart goes out to all of you tonight.  all of the victims of the disease.  everyone who has suffered a loss.  every family member struggling to make sense of it all.  to everyone that is still here trying to make sense of what comes next. if there is one thing i do know its this:  we are all in this together.  no one on the planet is untouched by loss.  maybe in our times of greatest weakness we can finally find some compassion for one another. and fight the fights that are important.  together.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7 Tweet this quote