Thursday, November 3, 2016

Why They Should Sell Booze at The Magic Kingdom - Throwback Thursday

If you live in Florida, there exists a sort of Golden Ticket, if you will, known as The Disney Annual Pass. We get little perks and privileges for living so close and The Powers That Be over at Disney know that if they promise a little discount here and a little payment plan there, we will be suckers enough to think it's such a bargain that we must repeatedly count our lucky stars, load up the car, and drive a few hours over to this magical place as often as humanly possible. Really, we get ourselves to the point where it almost feels like we are "just running over to Disney for a few incredibly discounted hours of fun!"

And over at our house, I fully admit, we are suckers. Big time.

And it's not just for the kids, either. My husband and I love it just as much. It's quite amusing, in fact, to hear my testosterone-laden, scruffy and tattooed-up, long-haired man talk about how excited he is when counting down the days to the next long weekend.

So after a few years off, we are finally, once again, the proud Golden Ticket Holders of an Annual Pass. Which means we will be going to Disney. A lot. Which reminded me of...

Why They Should Sell Booze at the Magic Kingdom
originally posted here on October 29, 2013 

I was startled (we all were, really) by a woman's shrill reprimand: "You put your mouth on it! Don't tell me you didn't put your mouth on it! You did!" I turned (as did everyone else, really) to see a mother disdainfully holding a red frozen fruit bar and looking accusingly at a pre-teen-ish age girl. I didn't really understand why she was so mad, so I kept watching in hopes I'd figure it out: was the kid sick and therefore banned from sharing any of the rest of the family's popsicle snacks? Was this mother one of those germaphobes who did not like sharing food with her own children? I must not have been the only bystander trying to figure out what had caused the woman's reaction, because she looked up suddenly and noticed that everyone (and I do mean everyone) around her was staring, and she apologized (almost as loudly) a half-ass apology: "Sorry. Sorry, everyone. Sorry." As she and her apparently sneaky, popsicle-licking daughter resumed walking passed us, another woman who I assumed was the aunt came over and put her arm around the kid. The mother (now no longer shrilly shrieking, at least) silently lifted the arm off her daughter's shoulders, and spat out: "Why don't you go up there and walk with your Uncle Timmy?" To this, a man one could only assume was Uncle Timmy, turned around and came over to his niece, throwing an arm around the kid's neck and loudly proclaiming: "C'mon, kid, this is the happiest place on earth! Let's go be happy!" and he skipped away with her, chuckling.

The next morning, I was ripping sugar packets open and dumping way too many into my coffee, when I noticed (how could I not?) a toddler wearing "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" pajamas having a complete and total meltdown while his mother was trying to pull him up to standing. The kid was doing that thing toddlers do: letting his bones go all Jell-O, his face scrunched up, his eyes shut tight, wailing (even louder than the mom in paragraph one, above) incoherently. I stirred my coffee and watched as the mom attempted to shut him up and pull him up to standing. When neither of these two were accomplished, she let him go (I suspect if she could have bounced him painfully onto the ground like a basketball, she would have), tossed her arms up in the air, and stepped back over to the register a couple feet away where she had been trying to pay for her $10 Mickey-shaped waffle. The kid remained writhing and wriggling and wailing on the food court's shiny tile floor, while other guests walked around him with their coffee cups and breakfast trays. I didn't stick around long enough to see how the mother managed to drag him and her breakfast tray back over to wherever, but I did silently hope that she was washing that cute little pajama in hot water before putting it back on the kid for bed.

Then there was the dad who, in the middle of a crowded area, grabbed his son's face as if his fingers were tweezers and the kid's face was a nasty embedded splinter. He nearly put his forehead right up to his kid's, and shouted in one of those gruff, manly, camo-wearing type voices: "Get. Outta. My. Face. I've. Had. E. Nuff."

Those are some of the scenes I witnessed this weekend at Walt Disney World.

And, as a parent, I totally get it. 

I'm not saying that I approve of any of these parental reactions.
I'm not saying that I would have done or said the same things with the same level of ferocity and impatience.
All I'm saying is that I might have.

There really, truly is something magical about Disney. I've said it before. As someone who has grown up four hours away, I'm one of those people who has been so many times, she's lost count. I realize that to some, this is cause for great envy, while for others, this is cause for great, wrinkly-nosed disdain. But I love Disney. I love everything about it (except the summertime and the long lines). I love the way they pay attention to every detail, how even the soaps in the hotel and the signs in the public restrooms have Mickey shapes. I love how they are constantly trying to outdo themselves. I love how everyone who works there is required to smile and be cheerful and somehow, they never seem to be faking it. I love the looks on my kids' faces when the fireworks display begins and Tinkerbell "flies" along the night sky out of Cinderella's castle window and off into wherever that nearly invisible zipline ends. I love the Caribbean pirates chanting their "Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me." I love the giggles a photo op with Winnie the Pooh and Goofy elicit from my little boys. And I love, love, love the fully-grown adults who happily and casually walk around wearing Mouse ears and coordinated t-shirts. Disney, you see, is full of whimsy.

And I love me some whimsy.

But those of us who have been there with small (and even not-so-small) children know that just like Disney World can bring out the best in parents, it can inevitably bring out the worst.

We were lucky on this trip: the boys behaved--for the most part--beautifully. But there was no way we were going to walk around passing any kind of judgment on the parents described above. Cause God knows (or, in this case, should I say 'Walt knows'?) that we are always just one tantrum away from being the crazy parents screaming shrilly about a popsicle while crushing our kid's face for dramatic emphasis.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Remembering another "First Day of School"

Today my oldest started his last year of elementary school, and my littlest is not so little anymore.
I am the mom of a fifth grader and a third grader.
We have gone from light up superhero sneakers to high-top Vans.
In honor of today, I go back to another First Day...a pivotal one (probably more for me than them), when my oldest started kindergarten and my littlest was still quite little.

The First Day
*Originally published here on August 23, 2011

I was not prepared.

I bought all of the supplies.

Attended the meet-and-greet.

Packed their backpacks.

Reviewed shoe-tying.

Charged the camera battery.

Woke up extra early.

But I was not prepared.

On that first day

when I had done it all

checked it all off the lists

made sure we were all ready

I was not prepared.

I was not prepared for the pain

of the realization

that I was leaving my littlest one


for the first time


in a school

without his brother.

I was not prepared for the onslaught

of memories brought upon

by a moment captured on film:

a big brother helping a little brother

find his cubby

tuck his lunchbox

begin his day

exactly as he, himself, had done once

on his first day at the same little school.

With it came the sudden awareness

of the passing of time

the acknowledgement, for the first time,

that it is true

what they say:

they grow up too fast.

I was not prepared for the look of panic

fleeting and barely noticeable

but definitely there

in that second

just as we left.

I was not prepared for the sobs that choked me

shocked me

the whole way from one school to the next

where it started all over:

more shock, more tears

all my own.

I was not prepared for the swell of pride

unexplainable, almost.

After all, I had never been one of Those Mothers

and really, it was "just kindergarten"

and certainly, yes, a day of note, but of pride?





I was not prepared for this feeling

that I was a mother

more than ever before

in that insignificant moment:

a nametag found and pinned

a bookbag draped over a chair

a boy

my boy


finding his seat

in kindergarten.

"Look. This is where you put your lunchbox."
This was the exact cubby Ben had used when he attended his preschool.
Coincidentally, his little brother was assigned the same exact one years later.
The fact that I captured this moment on film still makes me tear up.

The precise moment when the nametag was "found and pinned."


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Look who's on Mamapedia (again)!

This is the second time I hesitate on posting a piece, fearing it's not "good enough," and then I'm contacted about having it featured on

Surely, there is a lesson to be learned here...

Honored, once again, to be the featured voice today

Saturday, August 6, 2016

How buying my son his first phone broke my heart a little bit

Three garbage bags of toys are sitting on my front doorstep waiting to be picked up for donations. I did not even look in them. (Hubby handled this round of clearing out toy bins and outgrown school uniforms. I know. I'm lucky.) I have been a bit sentimental lately about the boys growing up. I didn't need to know if the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Van he had wanted "soooo bad" was in there. Or any of the Hot Wheels cars. Or mini action figures. No need.

I was once told to enjoy the constant mess of strewn toys everywhere. Soon enough...sooner than I could living room floor and coffee table would be clear again, I was warned, and they would only be interested in their phones, their tablets, their headphones, their laptops. I would miss stepping barefoot on those Legos, I was promised.

And now here I am...getting my soon-to-be-11-year-old his first phone.


He deserves it.

He's a straight A student. He's going into 5th grade. He's honest. He's responsible. He is, as many people (from strangers to family) have told us, a little old soul.

And we are hard on him.

I like to think that's why he's as awesome and reliable as he is...but... who am I kidding? I question myself as a parent constantly. Don't we all want to credit ourselves when they are turning out good and throw our hands up in the air when they are...well...not so much?

We are hoping, I think, that this will send him a very loud message: we trust you.

I realize most kids these days have phones (and a million other devices and game consoles and whatever else exists out there that my husband and I continue to fight against). In fact, one of his classmates got the iPhone #493 when he was in second grade. But to us, in our home, this is a big deal. We spend hundreds on bikes, skateboards, trips, books, surfboards...but anything that has a screen? I believe we are a complete and total embarrassment to our children. And if we are not yet, we will be in a couple more years...

So, our Ben...I think he gets it.
I hope he gets it.

I remember when he was 2, it was all about the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Good Lord, how many times did we have to get our exhausted, sleep-deprived asses off the couch because he insisted we had to dance (and often, sing) the Hot Dog dance? He desperately wanted "a Mickey that dances Hot Dog" (and here, he would usually demonstrate the kicking motion he wanted his Mickey to do). We thought: Sure, how hard could it be to find a dancing Mickey? (Did I mention we were first time parents?). Only several hours and $84 dollars later, we found our first son's precious dancing must-have Mickey. He used it, like, 4 times.

Then there was the Go, Diego, Go! stage. Everything had to be Diego for this 3rd birthday: the outfit, the cake, the card, every single present. There were little animal figures and Diego's cousin Dora and Backpack and plastic little trees evvvvverrrrywhere. ("Swiper, no swiping!")

When we lived in our old "big house," we had a cavernous room devoid of furniture but lined with bins literally overflowing with toys. There was a Little Einstein's table ("Pat...! Pat...! Pat...! Blast offffff!") that was chronically covered with poorly closed containers of Play-Dough and dried out markers and scribbled, wrinkled drawings that we absolutely could not throw away, apparently, under any circumstances. The giant mess in that giant room drove me crazy.

Surely, the Universe is laughing at me now: the girl who started a blog because she was so overwhelmed and sometimes miserable raising these babies. Now, that girl is writing about getting that same little boy his first phone as if he were going away to college. WTF? You mean all those people were right?!? When she would complain about surely never being able to go to the bathroom alone again? When she would complain about feeling like the rest of her life would surely be spent sprawled on the floor pretending to be interested in the Mickey Mouse train that was laying down railroad track and singing "Chug-a-chug-a-chug-a-choooo-chooooooo!""? It really is all over before you know it? She really should have enjoyed it more? She really should have stressed less? Damn. Good one, Universe.

Today surely marks a big day for Ben. But probably even more so for me. As a mom, this is definitely one of those days when you can hear the flipping of the pages as one cliched chapter is closed and another is opened. I will have to remind myself to enjoy every question he asks about Instagram and ringtones and apps. I will have to remind myself that this time period, too, will pass and I will miss it and look back and think "Aw, he was so little...only 11 years old..."  I will probably chuckle and laugh at myself: "Ha! And I thought that was a big deal back then...?!?"

In the meantime, I think I'm going to dig around his little brother's toy bins and see if I can find some cool action figures and Hot Wheels cars to tempt Ben with...even if he just wants to take some pictures of them with his new phone.
One of the smaller messes- circa 2009

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bringing the Aloha home

I lived on the North Shore of Oahu for a month.

It was a little old house with peeling paint and musty-smelling cabinets, but it was clean and kinda charming and right on the sand. Every night, I fell asleep to the sounds of the ocean through the open windows.  Occasionally, if I got up in the middle of the night for a glass of water, I'd see it right outside the living room. Even in the dark, I could see the reflection of the waves slowly rolling over the shallow reef that sheltered the house's shore line.

The house sat on a quiet little street--Crozier Street--a one lane road with 15 mph speed limit signs and homes that ranged from 1940's shacks originally owned by the sugar mill workers to mini-mansions that had obviously been built in the last decade.  Plumeria trees were everywhere---their blossoms mostly white, but some perfect shades of  yellows, oranges, and pinks, like mini replicas of the sunsets behind the house. Every morning, right before dawn, a million birds would chirp and sing and make quite a fuss in the giant tree outside the bedroom.

I had a stand up paddle board--a big, ugly, blue one that sat in "my" backyard and weighed a ton and I took out almost every morning.  The house's name, Hale Honu, means Turtle House, and everyday dozens of sea turtles would swim along our shoreline. Sometimes the curious, less timid ones would turn towards my board, peeking their heads out for a breath, the noise reminding me of the sudden gaspy breaths my boys would make as babies when coming up for air during their dreaded swimming lessons. 

My boys...they played on the grassy lawn, on the sand: They built forts out of beach chairs, towels, clothespins and driftwood sticks. They dug deep holes in the sand "because it's just fun, Mommy." They chased crabs and green geckos and snorkeled with turtles and fish. They ran down the beach and found the sandiest shore entry and flipped over and over in neon blue and green inner tubes. I never worried about them.

When we went into town (Haleiwa), we ate surfer breakfast burritos with the locals. We spent 10 hours in a tattoo parlor with a pothead surfer with PTSD  who never failed to smile and had more character than most people we've met. 

We decided that poke is our new favorite food and who the hell would have thought that a SPAM sushi roll would be so good?!?

We never once saw local kids side by side, heads down, fiddling with their phones. Instead, they were always playing--surfing, jumping off cliffs and bridges into the ocean, using fast food trays for body surfing (yes, for real), skating, eating, laughing, shouting, "talking story." 

On the North Shore, the beautiful women are strong and athletic with messy hair and chapstick. Everyone is a bit weathered--by the sun, the salt water, the pounding waves. 

You could see it and feel it--the local Hawaiians--they are proud and possessive of their culture and their island. Their priorities are simple: ohana (family) and nature.

It is a simpler way of living. 
And we loved it.

I was shocked--and incredibly relieved--to realize about two-thirds of the way through the trip that I actually wanted to come back home.

After three previous visits to Hawaii, and dreaming about and planning this trip for almost a decade, I had been pretty sure I was going to be bitter about returning to Florida. I was sure I'd come home begrudgingly, fantasizing about when and how we'd be able to finally move to Hawaii.

But I'm not.

In fact, I feel that although I'm sure I'm not "done" with Hawaii, it is not where I want to live.
For now, anyways.

'Cause here's the thing, I think, that I have figured out:

During this trip, I realized that blaming or crediting where I live for my children's interests or our family's values is a cop out.
It falls on me.
It's up to me to bring home from this trip what I believe in.
It's up to me to raise my kids to value Ohana and Mother Nature and a slower, simpler existence. 
I already have the ocean, and the palm trees, and the flip-flop lifestyle.
I have to make the effort every day.

I can bring home what I love the most about Hawaii.

Our family...we can make our own culture (and hopefully, that poke dish, too). 

I spent a month living on the North Shore of Oahu, and I will never be the same.


Pictures can never do this beautiful place justice, but here are a few highlights of the magical month we spent in Hawaii:

"Our" little house on the beach

The view from the backyard when you looked west

My daily morning coffee....I have never been so good about getting up in the morning

The boys snorkeling in "our backyard" with the Honu

Calling this house "Turtle House" is not an exaggeration!

Poke: our new favorite food in the whole world

We were lucky enough to meet 3 Pearl Harbor survivors and one witness when we visited.

This vet showed us how he could still make his hula girl tattoo dance on his forearm.

One of my favorite hikes: 5 miles along the coast to Kaena Point.
And right along the midway point?
"Hidden Beach"...all to ourselves! Those three teeny figures? That's us!

This is a happy man right here...

Hawaiian beer...locally grown papaya and pineapple...and a fresh plumeria lei.
This is a happy girl...

The size of this waterfall could not be captured on film...totally worth the hike it took to get there!

We took a dip in many (freezing) waterfall pools...
With views and dips like this, it was easy to stay motivated on hikes...

For some reason, we ended up jumping a lot on this trip...
That's little Kai doing his cannonball in a waterfall pool along a hike on the Hana Highway.

We did the back road of the famous Hana is hard to capture the adventure in a picture.
As if we needed a sign to "caution" us to "drive slow."
Those are clouds. Along the road. The road that turns. The road that is lined with small rocks that supposedly prevent you from falling straight down the mountain. And the road...well, it's barely a road at all. It's more like dirt. With some asphalt thrown in in patches. I was sure if we didn't fall off the cliff, the rental car would fall apart from the vibrations. 
The vastness and solitude of the views were worth the white-knuckling drive.

Ziplining...the last line was over 1200 feet long and got speeds of up to 40+ mph!
(I was the only one who screamed on that one.)

More jumping: one of Hubby's notorious back flips off the famous Waimea Bay big rock...
waaaaay higher from up top then it looked from down there.

Ben's dive (that was perfect until right at the end...landed on his back, poor thing)

One of the many sunset-like plumerias that inspired my new ink.
My tattoo only took about 2 of the 10 hours spent here.
Hubby's Polynesian quarter sleeve took the other 8 (split into two different days).

SUPing by Rainbow Bridge (built in 1921) in Haleiwa

SUPing behind the house...I called it the Mommy Snorkeling Tour:
 one kid hanging on to the leash in the back while the other looked for turtles and
manta rays from the top.

We took a quick trip mid-month to Maui for a few days.
The one typical touristy thing we could not pass up: a luau.
Black Sand Beach on Maui

Sunsets in the backyard were almost always perfection.

One of my favorite things: watching the boys playing, digging,
building "forts" in the sand at sunset.

Hiking bamboo forests

Told ya...we jumped. A lot. of the historic Haleiwa bridge...
...and "the groin" in Waikiki with the local kids.

Haleakala in Maui...the highest (and ridiculously coldest) point. We watched the sunset OVER the clouds up there. Pictures can not do it justice.

My whole world...on top of the world

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's "just" a trip.

Old Lahaina Luau 2004

I fell in love with Hawaii instantly. The first time I went was in 1996, and I felt like I was home, even though I knew that didn't make any sort of logical sense. I attributed this feeling with being young and not having had much travel experience. I figured it was normal that I fell in love with such a beautiful place if I hadn't been to too many other places. I wasn't sure when or how, but I knew I'd be back. Fast forward 8 years. I had been divorced, remarried, and had a few other really beautiful places under my travel belt. I surprised my husband for his 30th birthday with two tickets to Maui. I worried he would not love it as much as I had, and I worried even more that I would not love it as much as I thought I had. Like so many other things we fret about in life, both of those concerns were pointless: I loved it even more than I had the first time, and he had the same exact reaction to the sights, culture, and feel of the island.
Watching sunrise at 10,000 feet at Haleakala Crater 2004

At this point in our relationship, we had been struggling to start a family for a while, and while on our trip we both agreed that we would give it one more year. If after one more year of trying, we could not get pregnant, we would take it as a sign that it was not meant to be and we would pack up and move to Hawaii.  We returned from the trip feeling homesick for a place we weren't even really from, and started investigating cost of living and swapping our Florida teaching certificates for ones from the State of Hawaii. We discovered we were pregnant 8 months later. Raising a child away from our families and the grandparents ( babysitting!) was not an option. We shelved the "We Are Gonna Move To Hawaii Life Plan" for a bit. When Ben was 18 months old, we left him in the very capable hands of his grandparents and returned to Hawaii--this time to the island of Oahu--for a glorious getaway for our 5 year anniversary. Little did I know that my husband had been planning a surprise renewal of vows ceremony, complete with a minister and professional photographer.

Renewal of vows ceremony at Halona Cove Beach 2007

That night was the beginning of yet another magical few days spent in Hawaii. At the conclusion of that trip, sitting on the most amazing white sands of Lanikai Beach in Kailua, we decided two things: we wanted to have another baby (even though we had sworn we would only have one child) and once they were both old enough to appreciate it, we would return for a summer in Hawaii with our kids.

That was almost 10 years ago.

Tomorrow we leave on that trip.

We've been talking about it for years, and actively planning it for three.

It's only a trip, I keep telling myself. It's only a trip.

But really, who am I kidding?

This is not just a trip.
This is a dream.

And we made it happen.

We rented a little house on the sand on the North Shore of Oahu. We will be there for half the summer--a whole month. We are flying for 3 days in the middle of the month to Maui. We will take our boys back to all those places we loved and hope they love it as much as we have. There have been many sacrifices made for this trip...big decisions and little ones. And for a long time I wondered if this would ever happen. It's hard for me to explain how important this trip is. Making this a reality is proof to myself that I can choose the kind of life I want to live: that I can prioritize what is really, truly important and make it happen. Although I understand that this is not really an accomplishment, I still feel a sense of pride that we did it: we made it happen. We're really doing this.

I have wondered what my reaction to the islands will be this time around. Can they possibly meet my expectations yet again? Will I get that same I'm home? Will I again feel homesick when it's time to return to my real home? Or will I realize that, after all the traveling and cool places I've been to in the last decade, Hawaii is just one more wonderful, amazing place? Will I feel like: okay, I'm good now. No more longing for a Hawaiian relocation...?

I wonder. I don't know. But I do know one thing for sure: after this month, I will be able to say I spent a summer with my kids in a little house on the North Shore of Hawaii.

No big deal. It's "just"a trip.

Mai Tai-ing It in Waikiki 2007

 P.S. Like I did last summer, I'll turn this blog temporarily into a travel blog. I'll post updates and pics throughout the trip, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Look who's on Mamapedia today!

My simple and happy post about my simple and happy life is being featured on Mamapedia today!

Needless to say, I'm quite happy about it.

It's funny: when I wrote that post, my only intention was to get my feelings down on paper. I was sitting in my backyard, listening to music, watching my boys playing in the pool, and wanted to capture the simple bliss I was feeling at that moment...the feeling of gratitude and contentment. It was one of those experiences I have sometimes where I just put pen to paper and go. The words sorta come out of me without any effort or self censorship. I was happy when I finished it, and here's the thing: I almost didn't post it on the blog. I was worried it would seem boastful or pointless. And then I had to remind myself that my blog is, first and foremost, for myself. A couple of days later, I was contacted my Mamapedia. It was another reminder that I shouldn't second guess myself and my words so much.

So yeah, no big deal...just go on over to Mamapedia...'cause I'm right there...ya know....where it says "Mamapedia National Voices" and "Mamapedia Miami Voices"

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I get frantic. It's what I do. I think, unfortunately, it's just how I am.

I get all jittery inside: like a pinball machine. Or, better: one of those bouncy balls my kids get out of coin machines. You know the kind...a tiny, rainbow-patterned swirl of rubber boing!-ing around all over the place. Your kid bounces it "just once," and then it's gone...each time it hits a surface--the wall, a kitchen counter, the TV table--it seems to gain more speed...and pretty soon it's going in so many different directions, you can't keep up with it. Until, someone finally wrangles it into containment. That is usually one of my little boys, pouncing on it, throwing his whole body onto that little extra-bouncy bouncing ball, as he giggles so loudly and uncontrollably that it makes the "It's-going-to-break-something!"-situation worthwhile.

Yep, that's me. The bouncy ball.

I'm working on the containment part.

Good. Bad. It doesn't matter. I get like this as much (possibly more) with Good Stuff, as I do with Bad. But the Good can be minor, silly, stupid stuff that really...really...does not need all this frantic, frenetic, bouncing energy.

My kids' pre-k graduations.
A Mother's Day show.
My favorite band's concert.
A vacation.

C'mon. I mean, these are all really awesome things. But I suspect that maybe, just maybe, I would enjoy them even more if I calmed down a bit.

And it's not like a logical thing. It's not like "Oh, I'm frantic inside because I forgot and did not get the tickets for the show." or "Oh, I'm only this frantic because there is a traffic jam and I may not make it to see my 4-year-old looking incredibly cute as he wears a teeny tiny cap and gown and walks down the aisle to the graduation march."

No, no.
I wish.

'Cause, really, then maybe it would make more sense. Like, I could actually explain why I'm all jittery inside. Then my friends and my husband may not think I was totally crazy. (Truth is, I don't care too much about that, but I do know that I am, in fact, a bit crazy, and it does, actually, drive me totally crazy.)

No, it's not logical. Sometimes, I don't even realize I'm all bouncy inside. And then, when I do--because I notice my face feels hot, or because my heart is racing, or I'm talking waaaaay too fast--I pause and ask myself "Why?" I check in to see what it is, exactly, that I have missed or forgotten to do or is still pending that has put me into this State Of Emergency Feeling.

And, the answer?

'Cause here's the thing about me, too: I'm not just frantic. I'm Type A. ("Diligent" my therapist once called it, thank you very much.) And diligent people tend to get shit done in a timely and organized manner. So diligent people don't usually forget to buy the tickets. Diligent people take into account possible traffic jams when calculating the time it takes to arrive to a destination. Diligent people don't usually have a valid reason to be frantic for a big (good) event.


At least I'm checking in on the bouncy ball frantic feeling, right? At least I'm asking myself what's going on? At least I'm catching myself and becoming aware and noticing the ball boing!-ing all over the place on my mental surfaces?

And so.

The containment part...

I'm working on it.

I had not been too successful in the past. I would either dismiss any accusations of unnecessary crazy, or defensively claim "That's just how I am!" (and secretly wonder, "Why aren't you like that too?").

"I can't help it." I would say, in fact.

"I can't help it"?!?

Really?  I really said/thought/believed that? Really?


(Disclaimer: And sometimes, I still do.) But mostly, I have realized that more important than actually being able to "help it," is wanting to.

I want to help it.
I want to calm myself down.
I don't want to be in a nearly perpetual state of emergency and claim that it's my intensity or my passion or my writer's head.
I have realized that, for me, at least, there is no glamour or glory in this.

I used to like drama and all that. It made me feel, I suspect, important. Like: I must be pretty important and my life must be pretty important if I make this fill-in-the-blank THIS big a deal.

But who the hell wants to live like that?

Not me.
Not anymore.

I'm so much more into mellow, now.

(Another disclaimer: I'm not saying I am mellow--at least not most of the time--but I do like mellow.)

I have come to realize that I can enjoy Good Stuff just as much and get through Bad Stuff even better if I am mellow. Calm. Present.

So I attempt to contain the bouncy balls these days.

I breathe. A lot.
I talk to myself (in the good way). A lot.

I am not always successful. I have realized, too, that this really is "just how I am," but there is no judgment or beating myself up for being frantic. And although there are more times now than ever before that I can, in fact, pounce on it, throw my whole body onto that little extra-bouncy bouncing ball and stop it, there are also those times when the ball keeps going...gaining speed as it hits that damn kitchen counter or that living room wall.

But it's okay. because like my little boys, I will keep chasing after it as it keeps boing!-ing around, and I'll make sure to remind myself to giggle loudly and uncontrollably along the way, so that it's all worthwhile.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A simple, happy life

This may be the happiest I've ever been.

I feel like I've finally settled into myself...into the Life I Was Meant To Have.

I can stop--probably for the first time ever--truly stop and collect myself. Stop the noise in my head, when I need to.  Stop the frantic-ness that can be Me.

I have created this day-to-day life where I am outside a lot. In a bathing suit. Barefoot.

My yard is filled with palm trees constantly threatening to drop concussion-inducing coconuts. I fall asleep on especially windy nights to palm fronds hitting, swishing, lulling.

My boys are almost always sun-kissed--their long manes lightening with the sun. Vitamin D, this family is certainly not lacking.

I listen to country music now--a lot. I find it soothing and it makes me smile.

My back patio double doors are often open.

I do yoga and I meditate on pavers warmed by Saturday morning sun, overlooking the turquoise water of a pool that is quite worn--everything but fancy.

We know our RV is always sitting in the yard--an escape, freedom--available any time.

I have good, good people in my life.  A full house on New Year's Eve (after thinking "no one is coming...we are living too far East now") with family and friends and kids, dancing The Wobble in hysterics, singing every Florida Georgia Line chorus, dancing merengue to the songs of my childhood.

I am happy in my own skin--in spite of its weathered, far-from-young-and-smooth surface.

I am married to a man who, even after nearly 15 years, I can't believe I was actually lucky enough to find and coerce into attempting to put up with me.

I live in a cozy little house--with walls the color of that pool water and shelves made from driftwood we found on beaches and collected through the years.

Yes, I've been lucky. But I've made choices. I've taken chances. I've trusted. I've dared.
And this--this is the happiest I've ever been.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why your soulmate has got to be yourself - Throwback Thursday

When I got divorced at the ripe old age of 25 and moved into my first-ever apartment of my own, I put up a poem on the back of my bedroom door. That door eventually morphed into a sort of inspiration board. I taped torn out quotes and pictures and images that were meant to inspire me. What they did at the time, actually, was help me get through a really rough, disorienting stage of my life. Sixteen years and 3 different homes later, my messy back-of-a-door pseudo board is now a real bulletin board with completely different clippings and quotes and even purpose. Luckily, my board now just makes me happy and reminds me of moments and thoughts and a little bit of who I am. The only thing that remains is still that poem.

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

~Derek Walcott

Now, it's more of a reminder of the stranger I was to myself, and the "elation" and gratitude I feel still today at being able to "feast on" on my own life. But back then, here's the story behind the poem:

Why Your Soulmate Has Got To Be Yourself
*Originally posted here on April 12, 2013

I tore that poem out of the back of an Oprah magazine so many years ago, that I can barely remember. I laminated it and taped it up to my bedroom door, right next to my full length mirror. I didn't particularly reread it often; it just kinda stuck there. Every once in a while, I would read the lines: "The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door...". 

When I moved out of that little apartment, the only place I ever lived in by myself, during the most difficult time in my life, I carefully peeled back the tape's edges, packed it up along with some race numbers and quotes that had joined it on what had become my Inspiration Door (if you will), and took it with me.

The poem, once again, was carefully taped back up in my new home: the starter home I was now sharing with The Love of My Life. I was happy. I was fulfilled. Yet, the poem went back up. I didn't read those lines so often anymore, but I couldn't part with them. They needed to be there.

After a few years, one child, more joy, I untaped the laminated page once again, and packed it up to my Corner Lot Home in Suburbia (how the hell did that happen?!?) with my  Still Love of My Life, and up the poem went.

Those words, with me, for so long.

I barely remember the girl who needed the reminder...the girl who I used to be.

So very long ago, I would not have greeted myself at the door. I certainly would not have invited myself to sit and eat and drink.  I'm not really sure why. I just know that I couldn't own up to who I was. I couldn't really be proud of myself because I was too busy worrying about who other people thought I should be.

At some point, when the shit started hitting the fan inside my head, when I could stand the self-imposed repression no longer, I started to break out, little by little. Eventually, my little acts of rebellion turned into full-fledged metaphorical kicking and screaming and clawing. I needed out of that cage. I needed to fly.

I'd love to say that when that moment came, I simply went. But I didn't. I was hesitant and unsure and unsteady. In general, I was a fucking mess. The few people who I was blessed enough to have at my side suffered right along with me. They stood by me. They listened. They advised. They nodded their heads. And, when necessary, they'd shove me out of the cage I would occasionally fly back into to cower.

As rough and tenuous and unstable as that time was, I remember I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Those were the days when I'd read those lines: "The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door" and I actually believed it. I  knew the time would come. I just wasn't there yet. So I'd hang onto that when I felt frustrated or low or dark or worthless.

What happens in our lives that we start to feel that way about ourselves? What combination of events have to happen that some of us get to the point where we do not smile at our reflection in the mirror...that we would rather sit and have wine and bread with anyone else but ourselves...that we look to someone else--a spouse, a boyfriend, a child--to fulfill us, to make us feel whole and worthwhile? We depend on someone else's acceptance because we can't find it for ourselves.

The poem is still there, but I almost never even notice it anymore. It's just one more slip of paper on my closet wall. And certainly, there are days that I don't like myself so much. That I question whether I did the right thing or said the right thing or looked the right way. I second-guess myself. For a moment, I wish I could be more like (fill-in-the-blank-here) or a little less like myself. But on most days, I am able to invite myself in, open a bottle of wine, and feast on my own life.