that for which I am truly thankful

As I sit on a quiet thanksgiving morning and think about all of the things for which I am thankful, I smile and think “how in the world have I been so lucky?”

  • My son…every day I am so proud to be your mom.  I love you more than I ever thought I could love.
  • Quiet mornings writing in bed with two sweet dogs curled at my feet.
  • My entire family…through all my ups and downs, you have been by my side.  I can’t imagine life without each of you.
  • An incredible young woman who happens to be my niece and is also a best friend…a beautiful spirit who laughs with me, hangs with me, and inspires me all the time.
  • My ya-ya’s…for over twenty years, you ladies have been a part of my heart.
  • The Elite 4…rocking women who prove that family isn’t always blood.
  • The T&V Show…it is an honor and privilege to co-star.
  • A kickass, crazy group of friends who see the real me and still are here.  My life is blessed by each of you.
  • Every day I get to go into an office and a job that I adore.  I cannot believe I work with such smart, amazing people.
  • Finding my “zen-zone” and not being afraid to unleash my inner “artist” though my words on paper, paint on a canvas, and my father’s passion for cooking.
  • And even the not so great moments in my life and how those too have turned into blessings.  They have taught me lessons.  They have made me a stronger person.  They have made me be more tolerant.  They have brought an incredible group of people into my life.  They have taught me to breathe and exhale and live with a passion again.

Each day is a blessing.  I for one am thankful for them all.

 

 

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a letter to my baby

To my son

Today you will be starting a new journey in your life, high school.  I know it may not seem like it but today is the first of many steps to becoming the man you will be.  It’s a very exciting day and, yet a bit of a sad day for me.  You are growing up way too fast!

You have been the most precious and wonderful gift I ever received.  As your mom, yes, I will always love you unconditionally.  I also will tell you that you make me catch my breath sometimes because you have grown up to be such an amazing, young man.  I am so proud of the choices you have made, the advice that you have asked for, and the ability to talk about your feelings.  These traits, I hope, will be very valuable for you in high school and beyond.

You will encounter all kinds of experiences and people in high school.  Some people will remain lifelong friends, some just acquaintances that you will reminisce with at future class reunions.  I have one wish for you, enjoy them all.  Don’t judge the book by the cover.  Don’t let the pressures of your peers make your decisions on who a person is or isn’t.  Get to know them and make that decision for yourself.  People just may surprise you.

Don’t be afraid.  High school is a place where you can find out what you love, what you are good at, and a place to be yourself.  Be you.  Explore the opportunities that will enable your light to shine.  High school is also a place that you may find out what you don’t want to be.  Continue to try to make good choices.  If you however make a poor choice, I will still love you just as much as I have your whole life.  I will always be here.  I will always listen and help you when you want my help.

Ask for help when you need it.  Call me if you are in a situation you don’t want to be in.  I promise you I will pick you up from wherever you are with no questions asked.  At least for that night.  Know that I will be there for you every day with no judgment; however, you also know that as the mom that I am, there will be discussion.  Lots and lots of discussion.  Like I have told you so many times before, you are my most precious gift and you and your safety is the single most important thing to me.  High school is a lot different from when I graduated but at the same time, so much the same.  There will be moments that will define you.  Define your character. Continue to make the good, smart choices that you have always made.

See what it boils down to is you will always be my baby.  No matter how grown up you get, how you start shaving, or how you surpass me in height and shoe size…You will always be my baby.

I will always watch you sleeping and see your beautiful innocent face.

I will always get a tear in my eye when you struggle with a problem.

I will always, no matter what, be here for you.

I am so ridiculously proud of you, my baby, and ready to watch you make your way on your journey.

Go take on the world and have an amazing year

a mother’s day

One day a year we set aside to celebrate mothers.  My son began the weekend by presenting me with chocolate covered strawberries when I walked in the door on Friday.  Yes, he’s a smart kid.  And while I enjoy my weekend of celebration in being his mom, I never stop remembering my own.

For some who have lost their mother, today can be a difficult day.  My first mother’s day without my mom was not the most joyous except for the fact I have been blessed myself with an amazing child.  Today is the second mother’s day without Ma.  I imagine I will continue to count the number of holidays and birthdays since she passed, but at the same time, I am reminded in a happy way, all the memories these days bring to mind.

You always knew when it was a special occasion growing up by how much Ma dressed up.  She had impeccable taste with clothing.  The powder blue dress that fit like a glove, came from the Claypool shop, with the buttons up one side was always a “special occasion” necessity.  To me, that dress made her look like a movie star.  It was classic.  She would spray on a little Chanel No.5.  I still cannot walk past a perfume counter with Chanel without spraying a bit in the air, walking through it, and smelling like her the rest of the day.

But the “piece de resistance” was what was coming next.   I always knew the day was even more special when my mom pulled out the wig.  Yes, it was the 60’s and 70’s and wigs were especially cool.  I would stand in awe as my mom would brush down her bangs, flip on the wig, and continue to arrange each hair in the front so one could never tell what she had on her head. ma2 I knew when the “Doris Day” wig came out, it was a big day. I knew when the wig came out an Enchanted Cottage dress, my puffy white go-go boots, and white gloves would be my attire for the day. Lord, I loved those white go-go boots and frankly I adored the dresses and gloves.  Says a lot about me since I truly to this day am more comfortable in a dress and fancy shoes.

Today would have been one of those days.   Today will be one of those days.  If I thought I could swing it, I would wear a wig in her honor.

Not only did she give me life, she taught me how to live.  What a better way to continue to honor her on mother’s day and every day by living out to be the best I can be.  Living to my potential.  Being the person she was proud of.  Happy Mother’s day, Ma and to all the mothers who have taught us how to live.

Inspiration

inspire1what inspires us to write?  Is it a moment, a memory, an idea or is it a person?  Writing for me has always been a release.  A release of the words rolling around in my head.  Setting free visions and ideas that are trapped in my mind.  Putting them on paper is liberating; gravitating to a love of words on paper.

Our lives in general ignite inspiring moments of triumph, success, failure, despair. They happen whether you want them to or not. Inspiration cannot be controlled. You can tell yourself “I will feed myself with inspiration every chance I can.”   To misquote an old adage, seek but ye may never find.   Seeking out inspiration seems like an awfully tall task.

However, can’t we change our mindset to be open to inspiration? Can we give each a situation the opportunity to inspire? Think how your life may be different if you were more mindful of what each day may bring. Can we make the conscious effort to say to ourselves, every day, my eyes will be open to possibility. I know that I want to be curious again like a child exploring an infinite number of possibilities in this world. I try to be purposely in my moments.

In deciding how something or someone inspires me I can’t help but look back on my past. I think about the people who have inspired me. My mom and dad weren’t perfect but they were definite inspirations. While I may not have recognized all the ways they motivated me growing up, I can now appreciate how much they did inspire me and continue to encourage new ideas even after they have both passed away.

The interesting thing about inspiration is it never follows a calendar. You cannot schedule your time to be inspired.

There have been other family members, teachers, co-workers, friends, or even strangers who have been a source of motivation at some point for me. Think of all the many moments in your life that have played a part on your road of inspiration. You may have a moment and have no idea that later in the day, the week, the month, the year, you will look back on that moment and know that somehow it changed your way of thinking. It inspired you try to do something that was unlike the actions you were accustomed to. You were inspired. So many times people will tell you about an older mentor or  inspirer.  They can tell the story verbatim of their encounter with previous generation. The older, wiser…they know better right?

However, don’t be so sure…as I have found inspiration in an amazing woman half my age. Two decades behind me. What could she possibly teach me?

One simple thing…to open my eyes to the world and live again.

 

a clean slate

IMG_2577Each new year, the slate is wiped clean.  We all look at January 1st as somewhat of a new beginning.  Erase all the mistakes you made, forget all the crazy crap you did, reflect on the happy times, and make way for a better life in the coming year.  People make resolutions to stop doing some things, start doing new things, and maybe resolve just to be who they are.

What about when someone’s “resolution” is something so out there that it literally makes you scratch your head.  I recently had this over the course of the new year.  A close friend did something a little out of the blue that it had my head spinning.  Then I got thinking about it.  Why was it making my brain go into overdrive?  Did it affect me?  No.  Was it something I would have done?  No.  Was I in disbelief because I didn’t know about it?  Maybe a little.  But the bottom line was…did it matter?   In the big scheme of things, not really.

We all get a little wrapped up in what we believe to be the “right” way of doing things.  I’ll be the first to admit that I, for one, am guilty.  If my son doesn’t load the dishwasher the “right” way, I have to redo it.  (Phew, now I got that resolution done of admitting my OCD)  My point is, we all get so worked up over things that we have no control.  People are crazy!  Everyone!  That includes you and me.  We all do crazy shit now and then.  But what about when someone does something so crazy that you worry?  When you wonder what the repercussions will be for the future?  Do you speak up?  Or, do you take the Switzerland approach and remain a good, supportive friend.  Yet, the bigger question might be, why can’t you be both?

Most of us were raised with a belief system.  I would bet that most of those beliefs stemmed from a religious background.  We are taught to believe things: what we stand for, our morals, our values, and our ethics.  Hopefully as we age, we are constantly learning more and adding to that framework.  I know while my catholic upbringing serves as a backbone to my approach to life, I do not follow those doctrines to a tee.  I have veered from the beliefs I was raised on and I have tried to embrace as much as I can in a spiritual sense.   Am I still a good person?  Lord, I hope so.  Opinions are quite simply, an outward reflection of our beliefs.  Modified slightly of course to fit any given situation.

We are all social creatures…we are human.  We have this innate urge to be social, to care about those we love, to help people we don’t even know.  And…as humans we like to communicate, talk, and most importantly, we like to give advice.  Advice is great when it asked of you.  Advice is great when is “right” for you.  Oh wait, how do I know if it’s right for me?   I, for one, am still trying to figure out my own life.  Yes, I will give my two cents on a topic, of course.  But by no means do I feel that I am the expert on any topic. (except perhaps the proper way to load a dishwasher)    

If one’s man’s junk is another man’s treasure, then can one man’s opinion be the answer to another man’s problem? 

Still trying to figure it out…

lesson learned: don’t forget to celebrate

maobxThink Kit Day 14: Did you get any good advice or learn a valuable lesson this year? Was it expected or unexpected, easy or tough?

This is something I wrote back in early October but I found it to be a perfect fit for the #thinkkit prompt.  Your parents really never stop teaching you lessons even after they have passed.

Today I woke my son to the usual birthday hoopla.  Today is your birthday…it’s almost mine too yeah.  I sing it every year from the crazy song that is embedded in everyone’s brain.  We had just had a weekend of celebration somewhat rolling both our birthdays into one.  He got away with not picking his clothes up off the floor, leaving candy wrappers on the counter, and staying up way too late.  A dream weekend for any 14 year old boy.  I learned it from my mother.  “Your day” is special and whatever you want to do is how it will be.

It was one year ago, my mom asked me if this was going to be the last birthday we would celebrate my birthday together.  Of course, in my best optimistic voice, I told her of course not.  There will be many more to come. For those of you that know me and my mom, yes, I believe the spiritual something in the universe was participating in our conversation.  She knew it.  I knew it.  But neither one of us would admit it.

I arranged to have dinner with my mom in the hospital.  My sister picked up prime rib for us both.  The nurses had set up a little table in her room so we could feel as though we were in a restaurant and not bedside in her hospital room.  We laughed until we were in tears as we ate prime rib with our fingers after we learned that plastic silverware just wouldn’t work on prime rib.

I had celebrated every birthday with my mother, even when I didn’t live in town with her.  She always had a way of making “your day” special.  Maybe that’s where I learned it from and why it is so important to celebrate my son’s.  She never made a big deal about her own birthday but she was adamant that “your day” was celebrated.

Even as an adult, I knew the first phone call of my day would be Ma.  She would jubilantly say “happy birthday” into the phone and then would attempt to sing even though she was tone deaf and couldn’t carry a tune.  It was how I started my morning.  It was the way it was.  It was wonderful.  I would shake my head and laugh.  She was a nut.

Once I turned 21, I started a new tradition with her.  I would go out and buy her flowers.  One stem for every year of my age.  When the number got too high, a big bouquet of bursting colors would suffice.  We would laugh and count the stems, the petals, the leaves…whatever we had to count to get to my age.  It was my gift to her for bringing me into this world.

This upcoming birthday will be different for me.  It will be the first year without my mom’s phone call.  I know that I will wake up and have ‘my day’ and appreciate all the well wishes, but the one thing I will miss, will be that phone call.  I’m not sure why this day conjures up so much sadness.  I have been through a Christmas, her birthday, and Mother’s Day, without her.  But deep in my heart, I know …this day is personal.

While I fight back the tears thinking she will not be here in body, I know that she is with me in spirit.  Her phone call may not ring on my cell, but her sentiment will still be heard.  Her flowers will still be delivered, just to a different location.

Each day we have the opportunity to create special memories whether they are for family, friends, or even let’s face it, even strangers.  Don’t miss out on that chance.  Make each day count.  I will cherish all the memories of how she made my day special.  Thank you, Ma, for teaching me the meaning of celebrating one’s birthday.

confessions of a bad pictures junkie

Think Kit Day 11: Visualize Your Year: Draw a pie chart, graph, or Venn diagram of your year. What you measure, count, collect, or combine is up to you!

Pick up your phone or turn on your computer.  When is the last time you took the time to sit and review the pictures you have?  These past few years I have been a freak about taking pictures.  And yes, I admit, I am horrible about remembering to share them.  I take the pictures and hoard them.  If you ever hear me say, “Sure, I’ll text it you”, you had better make me send the text that second. 

Pictures say a lot about you:  your hobbies, your loves, maybe accomplishments, special milestones in your life like birthdays.  Those moments that were captured can all come back to life when you look at a picture.  Each one is special.  Each one creates emotion.  Each one has a meaning.  So what have I been busy taking pictures of?

of course, my son being my son, take a pictureIMG_4353

drive to work and see a beautiful sunrise, take a picture.  IMG_4430

my dog, Coco, who while extremely photogenic, now runs when the camera or iPhone comes near her, take a  picture anywayIMG_4705

waiter sets down a beautiful dish for me to eat, take a picturefood

see a stupid memes on fb, SAVE it as a picture

(God knows I’m going to want to use this one day)IMG_2811

vacation at the beach, quite obvious, take LOTS of picturescropped drink

go to a colts game apparently looking like I’ve never been before and amazed, take a pictureIMG_5025

8th grade band concert?   No picture..take a VIDEO ( I won’t bore you with this)

After reading today’s #ThinkKit prompt, I decided to investigate the types of pictures I take and add them all up to see what in the world I take pictures of the most.  Out of the 724 pictures…geez, are you kidding me….here is what I’m obsessed with in photos:

chart

Thankfully, my son took first place with a good showing for second from my dog.  For a moment, I was a little nervous that I had actually taken more picture of my dog, Coco, than my son.   Third place was a dead tie between my other family members and the number of times I am seen with a drink in my hand.  I feel I can totally justify those as it was vacation and a very hot summer on the beach.

Do yourself a favor, take some time before the year is over and sift through those pics.  Some will make you smile.  Some may even get you to laugh.  Some can bring a tear to your eye.  And if you’re lucky, you’ll find the ones that should be permanently deleted!