Time traveling was never in my wheelhouse. Like it or not, we can never go can go back in time. Our life playbook has only one gear – forward. So since I’m already pretty far forward in mine/our life, kiddo. I thought 18 is a pretty good age to catch you up on a few things. I had to cross a lot of time zones to see the number you are now, but I thought it was time for a chat. Taking the long view (and it’s gets longer every day) there will never be a better time to let you know that no matter what – it’s all gonna be okay.
It won’t always be easy and you’re going to make a hell of a lot of mistakes. You’ll be pushed sometimes beyond your breaking point but you won’t break, I promise you. You won’t always be strong; but you’ll rock it when you need to. In moments you feel the most insecure, the most vulnerable, the most scared, those moments will also most shape you. When you think you’ve reached a dead end, a new path will open. When you feel most like a failure, you’re the closest to finding your center. Sometimes you’ll wonder if you’ll ever recover. You will.
Spoiler alert. The jury is still out on happily ever after but judging all that’s happened, the chances are iffy. Your heart is going to be broken more than a few times. Trust me that you’ll feel a wee bit resentful that you skipped art school to put a husband through college. That choice will never feel dumber than after said husband exited stage left and you become a typing, filing single mom of three instead of the artist you thought you’d be. But kids grew up, jobs came and went and doors opened to new possibilities. You’ll discover gifts you didn’t know you had. Okay, your art will be less Michelangelo and more commercial illustration and graphic design, but, hey, you’ll be doing it. Your creative self will evolve as you do. And every time you get sucked into the stigma of missed college, a shelf full of creative awards will remind you that, while you did it backwards, you did it. Continue reading
My obsession is pretty harmless as compulsions go. I’ve been under its spell for as long as I can remember and I make no apologies. My adolescent self could rip through an entire pile of Nancy Drew mysteries within a few days and I frequently employed by under-the-covers flashlight after curfew. I kickstarted my kids’ obsessions for books with their own library card before they could even walk. And what DO people do on a beach without a book (or three)?
I confess. I’m a book junkie.
Through the years, my tastes may have changed but my addiction to the written word is still in full swing. When my super smart youngest daughter was still living at home, we craved our Barnes and Nobles Friday night soirees. Indulging our reading addiction was about as wild and crazy as we got. We’re just such badasses.
Every time the library called to tell me the book(s) I reserved were in and needed to be picked up, I’d do my happy dance. My kids rolled their eyes. It might have had something to do with the Jenga pile of books in my bedroom still begging to be read. What might be (slightly) worse is that my book case holds many back-up, wanna-be-reads and possibilities, patiently bi their time in the sun that never seems to come.
You can find magic everywhere you look. Just sit down and read a book. Dr. Seuss
In all these years, I never joined a book club because, well, I’m just that much of a renegade. Plus I need my freedom to choose. Don’t even get me started about going to a movie and comparing it to the book because the book usually wins. And how about when a really great story you haven’t been able to put down finally ends? What kind of author DOES that to people?
I like big books and I cannot lie.
Books wait for me to join them at the end of the day. They sit patiently, ready to both entertain — and put me to sleep. Some nights only few pages get read before sleep takes over; others, until I glance at the clock, I’d never know a hour and 8 chapters have passed Apparently, my eyes compete with my need to find out what happens next. I can’t count how many times my husband removed my glasses and said book from my sleeping form.
Can you admit to sighing with annoyance when someone asks a question at a critical part in the story? Does the word ‘bookaholic’ ring a happy bell? People who warn about the dangers of walking while you’re on the phone never saw someone book in their face. Now THAT’s scary. Continue reading
Once upon a time, the phrase ‘single Awareness Day’ seemed a pretty cool gotcha. When Valentines Day becomes a neon sign to solos that screams “Nope, not you”, re-framing the holiday doesn’t feel like that bad an idea. Depending on your frame of mind, this celebration of love can seem sensational, saccharine, or just plain sad. This holiday of hearts can be a real kicker when you’re single. Valentine’s Day could use a slight makeover.
People exchange nearly 150 million Valentine’s Day cards a year, making heart day second only to Christmas in card-sending popularity. Legend has it that Valentine was a martyred saint, which might have something to do with why the holiday seems especially sucky for a widow. It’s said the tradition of love greetings came began when the day’s namesake signed a note to a young girl he pined for ‘from your Valentine’. Ever since, kings, friends and lovers have exchanged tokens of affection. I’m quite sure, though, all those loving notes cost significantly less than $5.00 a pop ready-made.
Like everything else, Valentine’s Day was once a simpler — and cheaper time. I can still remember those tacky school mailboxes we glued together with bits of felt and wrapping paper to stuff cheery class cards in. Those were the days. We painstakingly wrote, what seemed like a million little cards to every classmate; then waited nervously for our own return windfall.
The love drama starts early. Continue reading
No hot chicken wings. No nachos. No hair-on-fire chili graced my house this past weekend. Super Bowl Sunday was a non-starter. I do admit to some cheese, but then there’s ALWAYS cheese. I don’t have one piece of licensed sports apparel and am completely guilt-free. The only yelling at the TV heard in my house were knee-jerk reactions to political reporting (which pretty much happens every day.) As both the most un-athletic fan in the room and a self-described renegade, the whole concept of the Super Bowl excites me as much as a Zombie Apocalypse. The hallowed sports day happened – it just didn’t happen here.
Super Bowl Sunday has become one of America’s biggest unofficial holidays. For weeks before the big game, commercials remind us to stock up for the event. Some even throw in a few ads that urge us to buy a spanking new flat-screen to watch that revered game on – just for good measure. You can’t be too over-the-top on this momentous day. Super Bowl parties, however, to us non-football fans, are just lame. They’ve become as American as Easter Egg hunts but with play by play narration. Did you know Super Bowl Sunday, overflowing with beer and obscene amounts of snacks, is second in consumption only after Thanksgiving? Uh huh.
With my lack of Super Bowl enthusiasm, it’s a wonder I’ve ever gotten a single invite to those galas yet I still receive them. And I feel more than a little guilty about that. I’m a decided football party-pooper, knowing from the minute I get a call-to-party, my mind races to conjure up a suitable excuse to skip the fete. Would a date with my trusty Waterpik sound reasonable? Continue reading
What am I saying? Of COURSE, you can see me! An ol’ newsman who never met a story he didn’t want to write or tell? I’m quite sure I’ve been in your sights since the night you died. The question is, what do you think? You’ve been gone more than two years so I’m sure, as usual, you have plenty to say as you watch me traipsing through life each day. You knew me really well, as I knew you, but since that night you left, we’ve had way different journeys and I’m at a little disadvantage. Hanging out in the ethernet, I’m guessing you know more about what my trip looks like than I do yours.
Anyway, you may have noticed that I’ve developed a kind of (even more) offbeat way of being, of maneuvering the world on my own. In those first awful months, it was just about staying afloat, treading very dark waters until I found my rhythm. And though rhythm always jazzed us both, this tune was hardly something dance to. I could hardly envision how I would ever get through without-you life but somehow, I’m still here. When you’re dropped in water over your head, you sink or swim — and I’m swimming. (or something like it. I’m no Michael Phelps).
You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you
Here I am, hanging out in this world and ‘adulting’, as our granddaughter would say. Like all people on the planet, I’m just doing the best I can, with what I have, if you include a personal weird spin. Have you been critiquing this reluctant reinvention? A sweet widow friend you may not have met, echoed that same thought last week, as we joke-texted one night about our packing up Christmas decorations antics. As she wistfully considered her late husband’s appreciative laughter at her fight with her own fake fir, I decided our imagining must be ‘a thing’. That said, if you, my other half, if your new career is ‘wife watch’, here are a few highlights to consider: Continue reading
It’s been said that the only thing certain – is uncertainty. That’s as good a reason as any to hoover the rest of that cheesecake before dinner. Or maybe even make it dinner. But it doesn’t solve every problem, like say, those last five pounds you’ve been trying to lose. We’ve all learned, that even if we treat ourselves now, it won’t fill that cavern in pit of our stomach called ‘uncertainty’. That echoing vacuum has nothing to do with a yummy dessert or new pair of really great earrings (although they would be tempting). We try to fill the spaces, albeit temporarily, while we wait for the other shoe to drop.
And, somehow, drop it usually does.
Talking about that ‘other shoe’ was something I did a lot, because it usually fell – a lot. I’ve realized, after all these years and a lot of shoes, that some of that falling footgear was not always a crisis or a negative but a necessary. When Ernestine Ulmer quipped that “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first” I wonder where she was in her life. I’m pretty sure, wherever she was, the realization that everything in life is uncertain was pretty clear. Or maybe she just really loved dessert.
There are some things in our control and a whole lot that’s not. Control is an illusion. We can’t control the weather, the traffic, or someone else’s behavior. We can’t control cancer outcomes or pretty much anything really important. We buy insurance, we carry umbrellas and chug vitamins but nothing really cements a feeling of certainty. It’s a constant pervasive source of anxiety, and frustration. We start a new job, a new business. We become pregnant. We get married. Uncertainty is just one decision away. Continue reading
Each one of us have been dealt an iffy hand in this life. Often more than one. Sometimes we get a straight flush; others force us to cash in the chips. (I don’t play cards so I’m winging it here) In the game of life, it sucks to lose but when you stack up all your cards, you might be relieved to take back your own.
There will be times that being thankful is a stretch. When you’re in that lowest of low places, gratitude is a foreign word. It’s easy to be thankful for stuff that makes us happy, makes us feel good. Being grateful for more complicated things is a bit more challenging.
The struggle ends, when gratitude begins. Neale Donald Walsh
Before you think I have this gratitude thing nailed down, I don’t. There are days I rant with the best of them. There are nights when pity parties reign. My writing is often just as much a reminder and inspiration to me — as to anyone else. That being said, in a nanosecond I can still write a list of 10 things I’m grateful. They would probably have a lot in common with your own list – family, friends, health, a home come easily to mind. These days, there’s a world in turmoil beyond our small periphery.
There are reminders everywhere that so much of this world cannot take safety or stability for granted. In many places outside our safe bubbles, there are no nearby megastores packed with an overwhelming variety of food, clothing and things we don’t even really need. There’s no Uber; no HBO. It’s hard to be immersed in gratitude in the face of poverty, terrorism, war and loss of life, either of our loved one or of other people’s loved ones around the world. Yet, an attitude of gratitude is pretty global and somehow exists in the midst of the worst of human experiences. Continue reading