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It could be any change.

Today is the day. The change I’ve been dreading and excited for. It’s my job, right? My job to make sure that they got through school, as unscathed as possible, and off to college.

We spend years just getting through each year. We celebrate the start of the year with photos and signs and we end the year with photos, signs and a sense of relief that summer is here. We rarely think about a time when they won’t be at home every day. We’re just trying to get through the day!

I need change. We need change.

When we don’t have change — when we keep going every day, doing the same thing, we lose track of time. It’s like the movie Groundhog’s Day, right? The same thing over and over … and very forgettable.

I use these life markers to take a moment (and a box of Kleenex!) and experience my life, my family and my friends. Change causes me to stop and live in the moment.

Everything good in life happens as a result of change – even when that change is the result of something painful.

If nothing changed, we would never develop a personality, memories, awareness of others, the world and ourselves. We’d never experience heartbreak, love, fear, joy, happiness, all of those emotions and experiences that are a result of change and experiencing change.

My son and I are always talking about how fast time goes. I told him that time slows down for me is when I’m experiencing change. When I have to struggle to sort through what is happening and focus on every minute and every decision. That’s when I’m the most present. When nothing is happening, when there’s no change, time flies by without my noticing it.

Let’s be honest: we ignore or forget most of what happens to us. Instead, we focus on a few particular moments: the peaks, the pits, and the transitions. This is my point – we need the peaks, the pits and the transitions to stop and enjoy the moment of time.

Some moments will always be vastly more meaningful and memorable than others. Like today for me. As recipients of change, we understand this – but as creators of experiences, we ignore it.

Think about it – we spend weekend after weekend with our kids, but in our memory all those times blend together. It’s the little moments, the moments of change, doing something different – those are the ones that matter. They are the  ones we remember. Today’s moment will matter for me.

So, E and S – I love you. I’m so excited for the next part of our lives together as a family and to watch your individual lives change. Try to experience every change you can. It will create new memories and cool new relationships.

So, with some already used Kleenex, I say congratulations boys! You done good and I’m a super proud mom! XOXO

You’re 21 (and here’s what I think about that)

April 5, 2018
Dear Lovie,

I remember the day I learned I was pregnant with you. It was on the heels of the doctor telling me I wasn’t going to get pregnant “this time.” I told him that I didn’t care and was going to keep trying. Then when we got the news, I knew you were meant to be.

The day you were born it was a beautiful spring day which had turned a bit cold with (a few) added light snow flakes. It reminded me of the challenge of each season – one trying not to leave and the other trying to push its way in. Obviously, the challenge of life – loving the past and looking toward the future. The trick – however, is to stay in the present.

There is no question that I’ve made my share of “mistakes,” in life and with you three. But I have not one regret. And I don’t really see them as mistakes – but just part of the process … whatever that process is. Think about life that way.

On this rite-of-passage day, I do have a bit of advice – tidbits for life – to share with you; these are the things I try to lean on in my life. Don’t feel like you need to follow any of it … but you never know what might resonate!

  • Know you are loved. There is nothing more important in life as love. You know that my motto is “I love love.” And it’s true. You can be broke, feel sick, be sad, but if you have love – it can fill you up like nothing else. When you feel lonely or maybe in the dark – know that we love you. Know that there is love in your life. It will carry you through.
  • Love yourself. I struggled with this for many years. We all do at some level. But you were created for a reason with your unique characteristics. Appreciate them – even the ones you don’t like. Someone else will love those parts of you and you should too.
  • Be grateful. Every day I remind myself how lucky I am to be here. To have you and your brothers. To have food and water. Appreciate the little things and the big things as well. We are so lucky no matter what we have (or don’t “have”).
  • Be in the moment. There is a cute commercial with a dad walking like a monster with his kids wrapped around his ankles – laughing and squealing. He’s in the moment with his children. I remember those days like they were yesterday. Moments come and go but the only way to “slow down time” – as your brother would like to do – is to be present in each moment.
  • Don’t gossip about others. Try hard not to criticize other people. They are struggling too. I don’t like to be around people who gossip about others and I really try to remind myself of the importance of this notion. When I do find myself gossiping I stop myself in my tracks and quietly apologize to that person in my mind. They don’t deserve it and I want to be better than to talk about someone’s life without them being there.
  • It’s your life. It has been for a while. I’ve just been here as a backstop (and still am!). Enjoy the space to make your own decisions. It’s one of the cool things about life.
  • No decision is a bad decision. You will be faced with a series of choices in life. These can be agonizing. Get advice. Seek out those you respect. But know that no decision is a “bad” one. Each one will take you to just the place you are supposed to be.
  • Work hard. Be focused. You will appreciate it when you look back. Use your work ethic to make a difference while you’re here. (But don’t spend too much time working … there are no extra GF brownie points in the end for overtime!)
  • Choose health. Sometimes you will have this as a choice. You’ll never go wrong by choosing your health (whether mental or physical) over something else.
  • Don’t let things sit. Don’t allow tough problems or tasks to sit because they seem overwhelming. Jump in. Procrastination will steal your precious time – even when you think it doesn’t.
  • Put your family on the top of the list. We are here for you with no strings attached. Even when we are incredibly frustrating – and I know we are!
  • Smile. Smile on the outside. Smile on the inside. It will make you feel happy and will do the same for others.

So, my baby girl – it’s with tears in my eyes and love in my heart that I say – Happy 21st Birthday. There is no one like you. I’m so glad you chose me for this life time!

XOXO Mommy

P.S. Don’t forget to call me once in a while!

Her son died in her arms.

At my favorite place, the grocery store, I met a woman whose son died in her arms. The story is tragic but beautiful. In his late 20’s her son began feeling tired but thought it was just “life.” He was only 20 after all. How could he be sick? Turns out it wasn’t just “life” and nine months later on a quiet evening in her home, her son died in her arms. She said it was a peaceful experience and at that precise moment of death, a sense of spirituality pervaded the room. She felt a heightened sense of awareness and a flood of memories ran through her brain. She also felt a deep indescribable feeling of love. I’ve never heard anyone talking about the experience being anything more than moving and always peaceful.

It’s been 4 years and she said it still felt like yesterday. Her son loved oatmeal and whenever she got to that part of the grocery store, she stopped and remembered him. That’s where we met – over GF oatmeal.

She asked me about my kids and I told her of my upcoming life change. She smiled and reminded me that life is a series of grief experiences which bring us to a new place of joy, love and peacefulness. She said that some people like to talk about grief in stages but that her “stages” looked like the scribbling by a child on a piece of paper — all over the place and with no rhyme or reason! I appreciated her being candid. I shared with her my own up and downs as I move closer to the boys leaving.

Before our good-byes she said a few things – which I hope my memory can do justice to:

  1. There is no magical way of dealing with change. You’ll have a range of emotions – appreciate each one. Some people bounce back quickly – some do not. There is no right or wrong.
  2. There is no “getting back to normal.” It will never happen. You’ll always feel pain from saying good-bye – whatever the reason for the good-bye. If you didn’t feel bad, that would mean you didn’t have love for that person. And love is the best reason to experience pain.
  3. You’re not expected to be perfect. This process builds character and each life experience makes us unique.
  4. When you decide it’s time to heal, then you will be ready to find peace from the change. Don’t let others rush you.

I never did get the GF oatmeal I was looking for. But I did get a hug (and got to hug) a stranger in a grocery store. And, I met yet another wise person whose life experience is reminder that we’re all going through the same life stages – just at different times and in different ways.

We’re all here to help one another through these life stages – whether by a stranger or a friend. And, it really doesn’t get better than that.

Have an amazing week!

XOXO

 

What to do next …?

It’s 2018. This is a big year for my family. My daughter will be a senior in college. My boys will choose their college, graduate from HS and then start college … somewhere (please let’s pray they’re not on opposite ends of the country!). I will be happy, be sad, be crying, be traveling, be working (more!) and start my next new life chapter. We have a family trip in the planning stages and I’m contemplating a move. So, there should be no question in my world about what to do next — brace for the change. But what’s not on this list, and what we all should have on our 2018 list, is the oh-so-selfish item “Self-Care.”

I know you all were like me these last few weeks – juggling the varied demands of holiday, house guests, parties, home and work. Now its January and it’s time to take a step back, not to make resolutions (I don’t like resolutions) but just to take time for you. The magazines make it sound simple: Drink more water, exercise an hour a day, reduce your carbs, put down the computer. And, while, it’s a bit overwhelming to change everything at once – it’s also, frankly, a struggle. It actually feels unnatural … selfish.

It’s not!

Self-care should be the foundation that allows you to be healthy, grounded and present for all that life throws at you. It can be small changes, made over time, which add up to big results. The biggest hurdle is understanding the importance of taking care of yourself – and then implementing it.

I find myself thinking: “Once I take care of everyone and everything else, then I’ll take care of myself.” Sound familiar?

Authentic self-care is not selfish. It’s not a guarantee that we won’t gain weight, have an accident or get sick — although taking care of ourselves would probably make those things less likely. True self-care is about honoring ourselves and our bodies, nurturing and loving ourselves — both for us and for the benefit of everyone around us.

I once heard Dr. Andrew Weil talking about the importance of self-care. He said that the human body has a great “self-care” model — the heart. He said, “Each time the heart beats, it first pumps blood to itself, then to the rest of the body. It has to work this way in order for us to stay alive. … The same is true for us as human beings. We have to take care of ourselves first, so we can take care of others.” It’s the old – put your oxygen mask on first idea!

Given the nature of our lives, it’s not easy, logistically or emotionally, to implement self-care commitments. But, remember, self-care is not about creating a “plan” or doing it “right.”  It’s simply about remembering that we deserve to take care of ourselves, and when we do, it not only nourishes us but also allows us to be available for important things and people in our lives.

Have a great start to 2018!

XOXO

Why is our number one parental duty so difficult?

No matter the age of your child, letting go creates guilt and internal conflict.  We worry about the violence in the world, we want them to avoid our “mistakes” and we just generally want to make life easier for them. Let’s be completely honest here, there is no other love that compares to the love a mother or father has for a child and the responsibility that comes with caring for and protecting that child. With that, it’s no wonder that operating out of that pure love, creates an intense, unexpected love bond that is hard to break. And, it’s also not shocking that parents have a tough time letting go and allowing their child to be more independent. I am in the throes of it. And, let me tell you (if you’ve not experienced it), there is no event that feels more significant or makes you feel more protective then when your teenager is getting ready to enter college.

While I have to admit to screwing up regularly in the “letting go” category, I did create a note for myself about a month ago, (it’s shoved in my wallet) to read to myself when I’m feeling sad about this “letting go” thing.  Truthfully, there’s nothing I’ve done thus far, not being in front of the toughest judge, or having the most challenging case … or even the death of my mother, that has prepared me for this event (or maybe all of it has …).

Here’s my internal but hand-written speech to me:

  • Set boundaries for yourself; practice giving the boys space (and being ok doing so)
  • Teach them how to take care of themselves and let them learn from their mistakes
  • Trust that the values you’ve instilled will carry them (they tell me all the time – “Mom, you raised us right. Trust us!” Out of the mouths of babes)
  • Acknowledge you. Know that you’ve done your best at every stage – regardless of how imperfect
  • Treat this “letting go” process as a transitional loss. It’s ok to grieve. It’s ok to cry in the grocery store (so Italian!) Be comfortable with it all
  • Build your new relationship with the boys. It’s now one of mutual respect, admiration of all they’ve done and a celebration of their new lives in front of them (and in front of you )

There are a million articles to read and I’ve given myself a million speeches. The truth is, what seems like a lifetime of taking care of kids simultaneously seems to be over in a blink of an eye. This end seems like a beginning and this beginning seems like an end. All I can know for sure is we (collective we) will get through this. Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, these are big life changes. But, it was our job from the beginning and we can (and should) take heart – that we’ve done good and there’s some cool things to come!

Have a great weekend my friends!

XOXO

“I wish I could stop time.”

My son said this to me in the car the other day. It resulted in my sobbing to the point where I wasn’t sure I could drive. He was talking about the “last” of something that occurred at school. He said that the hardest part about life is that he can’t stop time. It’s going so fast and he just wants it to stop for a moment … ahhh, out of the mouths of babes.

Last night was another “last” – their last HS soccer game. Soccer is a sport they’ve played since they were 5. That’s a lot of soccer socks, shin pads (and missing shin pads), shoes, and lost water bottles. But more than that, it’s the end of this sport that my boys played together. This morning as I was putting away soccer stuff that was strewn all around, I was reminded of my son’s comments in the car and my thoughts back to him:

  1. Be present: The only way you can really stop time is to be present. To feel the experience instead of moving to the next one. This kid is present. He rarely misses a feeling or experience. We joke that he will have his own reality TV show about hording – he hangs on to so much s***! But the reason he hangs on to things is that he enjoys the memories. He likes to re-experience a joyful moment in time. What a wonderful quality.
  2. Focus on family: I reminded him (cue – tears from me) that he will never have this time again with his brother. As much as they might wish to had their own space (and they will soon), they have spent a lifetime together – in the car, on teams, with friends. There is no one who has your back more than your family (however you define that). Appreciate it. Don’t push it away. That love is never going away.
  3. Nurture your friendships. I reminded him that as we grow older, it’s important to have friends to lean on, to cheer us up, and keep us keep going. While he will meet new people in college, I anticipate that he will remain friends with one or more of his high school buddies. Life is cool that way.
  4. Let go of grudges. I don’t think he has any but one of the things I mentioned, that causes us to lose track of time, is hanging on to grudges. You don’t have to forget what someone did to you but if you forgive, you have more time to appreciate life.

So, the dilemma of life is that we move too fast, miss a million things in a day and can’t stop time. I can’t solve that one. But, I can (and am going to) go for a run with friends to experience the beautiful fall weather — and maybe, just maybe, time will stop for a moment as I take it all in.

I hope you all experience today. XOXO

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

This quote is from Mark Twain. I’ve always loved it. It speaks to me about forgiveness.  But more than that it speaks about the integrity of forgiveness.  There’s no question that we have values in which we base our moral guidelines or honor codes. These values are different for all of us. No judgement – just different. Ideally, as we move through life, we become more conscious of our own values, we discover the truths for our lives and then we live (almost) every day thinking about the effect we have on others, even those who don’t know us.

To me integrity means following my values – at work, in my personal life, and in my travels on this earth. But I am imperfect. I regularly fail. And when I fail, I have to forgive myself and ask for forgiveness – but from whom? Myself? Others? G-d? The truth is the same for all three … I can only have forgiveness if I have the desire for it in my heart. That’s the integrity of forgiveness.

If you’re a parent, you know forgiveness like the back of your hand. Your kid spills something on your new dress? Forgiveness. Bangs up the car? Forgiveness.  Says something hurtful? Forgiveness. But with  others, we like assign total responsibility to someone else and frankly, I’m really good at ignoring my own part.

Someone with true integrity asks for forgiveness when they don’t do their best. But they don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. And they don’t make excuses. They are quick to apologize first – even when it might not be their “fault.” People with true integrity believe you when you say you are sorry but they do not appreciate you lying to them. If you say you’re sorry and do the offending action again, they are not likely to ever believe you. But, when you ask for forgiveness from someone with true integrity – they forgave you even before you asked.

When I look to the people in my life – those who I emulate – they have four characteristics:

  1. Integrity: They are not self-focused and self-absorbed. They are focused on who they are serving – and their service group is large.
  2. Responsibility: They take responsibility for their actions and they take that role seriously.
  3. Forgiveness: Of course, they forgive. They let others make mistakes and then they forgive them in their heart.
  4. Compassion: They are there for you even when they are not in front of you. They give in the most quiet, but selfless way.

We are living in a freaking crazy world right now.  People are hurting other people every day. And, some seem to be out for just themselves. Yet we must keep moving forward.

In the end, the only thing you can take with you is the spirit of how you walked this earth. Our future is as we live.

Powerful. Yet simple.

XOXO