Archive | January, 2018

I Found My Peace Among the Kitchen-Aid Mixer and Melted Chocolate … Happy 70th Birthday Dad

31 Jan

70 is a big birthday. It’s a time to reflect on your life, think about vacation plans, hobbies, or things you have yet to try, dreams you have yet make real. At least that’s what I imagine it to be … a big cake, surrounded by family and friends, some chaos of course, but making an awesome wish and blowing out the candles anyway.

This, of course, did not happen.

I spent the early morning running at the park as the sun peaked out for its daily appearance. I took some time to pause for a moment and wonder what he would have been up to or what conversations we would have had that day if he was still here. I imagine I would have woken him up to take a morning walk and then possibly taken him out to breakfast.

Nothing flashy, but just time well spent hearing stories I had yet to hear.

My Dad would have turned 70 years old yesterday and as it happens every year his presence is missed even more on this particular day. Father’s Day and Thanksgiving are big ones of course, but his birthday celebrates the day he was brought into this world and the day his journey, and ultimately mine, began.

Birthdays are times for celebration and remembering the best parts of the life cut short, but I couldn’t help feel that nagging twinge of pain, the kind that never goes away when you lose a parent, or loved one. The thing is you’re not supposed to be in mourning, you’re just not. But there is a moment of sadness that grips my heart because he’s not sharing the same sunshine.

And I tried not to let it hold onto me too long, because the sadness can linger all day or all week. You miss them. You just do and you’re always going to miss them because their presence was more powerful than the butterfly effect. It directly impacted your future and your kids’ future.

It wasn’t until I was alone in the kitchen mixing up Julia Child’s chocolate almond cake with hot cocoa almond frosting that a calmness settled in. I knew he wasn’t going to be there to enjoy a hearty slice or two with his cup of coffee. I knew there would be no stories and laughter at the table.

Then why do you celebrate someone who’s not there?

I celebrate because I remember when they were here and it mattered. His imprint and voice still effects how I live my life, and how I dream my dreams. I celebrate even though I’m sad. And even though I couldn’t hear his laughter that day and see him blow out his candles I knew my kids would.  I knew they would have a couple of slices and that there would be new stories at family dinner.

My Dad on his adventure

Not many people in my inner circle know how this pulls at me in different directions. I don’t speak much about my dad’s birthday with others when they ask, hey what are you doing today?

I don’t mention the cake, or balloons, or dinner of his favorite treats. I tell the kids, of course, but I keep it pretty hush-hush which is weird because I write about him and his birthday a lot. Don’t know if that happens to other people, but writing about it feels better than talking about it. At least to adults anyway. The kids just … they just seem to get it. They get that birthdays are important. It’s simple for them. Frosting is required when things are important.

And so …

I found my peace among the Kitchen-Aid Mixer, melted chocolate, butter, flour, the egg whites, and sugar. I remembered some of the stories of him playing soccer when he was 10, or of his dream of taking his mother back to Spain, I remember his affinity for corn-beef sandwiches on rye bread with a pickle for lunch, or his cup of coffee before bedtime, or his random call just to say hello. I remembered some of the stories yesterday and thought about him as the breeze blew and I felt the wind on my face as the sun shined.

I thought maybe that was his way of blowing out the candle, while we sang Happy Birthday.

But it could have been just the wind, like my kids said. And I needed to hurry up because the candle wax was dripping and it couldn’t melt on the cake … you know … because frosting is important.


Buen Camino my friends.



Princess Leia and Wonder Woman Unite

23 Jan

It was a different kind of powerful that day … a surge of hope and promise among so many attacks and so much destruction felt good.

It was different this time, though.

My kids were with me and the connections to the movement much stronger.

Recently watching some of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches and marches, encouraged them to come with me, which was a pleasant surprise. To march along with thousands of others at the Women’s March for the second year in a row this weekend and have them by my side pulled at my heart. I don’t know why I got so emotional marching with them and having them chant alongside me, marching for women’s rights, the environment, Dreamers, healthcare, people of color, education, and the First Amendment.

Everyone marched for different reasons, as every woman, and man, had different priorities. But everyone was there in solidarity because they all wanted one thing: change. Everyone united and willing to share their voices for a better future, and the fact that my kids were sharing their voices made me proud. Proud to the point where my heart felt it, the pit of my stomach felt it, the mom in me felt it. To know that they’ll look back upon it when they’re older and say, as a kid I did something to make my future better. I was part of something bigger than myself, I was part of something that helped register voters and make a difference for the better, I was part of history. That made me proud.

The fact that my daughter was among so many signs encouraging women strength and diversity was promising. Her biggest connection was the Wonder Woman force appearing throughout the march. Beginning to sow the seed of empowerment, self-esteem, and strength at an early age was important. And the wave of Wonder Women provided an eye-opening experience.



My son’s connection came through the Star Wars theme of course. He was unaware of all the Princess Leia signs he would encounter. He made a point to let me know that she was a general in the Resistance and a good one at that. Seeing Princess Leia’s signs everywhere stating that a woman’s place was in the resistance helped him relate to the strength and importance of a woman’s voice, of his mom’s and his sister’s, as well as his own. He mentioned that Luke Skywalker was also there and played a huge role in taking down Darth Vader.

So in a unification of super heroes and intergalactic leaders from galaxies far, far, away  we cemented our hope for the future through this ever growing grass movement. And I’m happy to say that I saw hundreds of voter registration forms being filled out all morning long.

Everyone there was ready for change, in every avenue of our lives. The time has come to make things better. United we stand for a better future, marching toward equality and justice. Hope is there in 2018.

Buen Camino my friends!

Make Your Own Momentum

15 Jan



This was the day about inspiration and dreams that are bigger than yourself. Learning to push forward when everything is pulling you back. It’s a time to remember that when obstacles seem insurmountable and destinations seem so far ahead, it’s important to remember … make your own momentum. You’ll get there. Slow or fast …  but you’ll get there.

I was inspired by this message. I felt like it would be my mantra for the 2018 year. And then today of all days it rang true. People like Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Rigoberta Menchu, and Cesar Chavez … they all dreamed big dreams and had plenty of hardships along the way, but they found the ingenuity to make their own momentum and see things that others thought were impossible to be very possible. While creating their own momentum they inspired others to do the same, to unite for a cause, for dream, for a future.

And it is because of all of these leaders that I’m able to sit here and dream my own dreams. They faced the ugliness of this world and the worst in people and still came out with strength to do what was right. They made it easier for others to dream of impossibilities, to make people believe that something better was within reach.

When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t thinking of inspirational figures and what they did to make my life easier today. But I’m going to bed knowing that I taught my kids about them, heard their speeches and seen their faces and know that we’re resting on soft pillows and thinking about big futures because they paved the yellow brick road ahead. I’m thinking of the power of his words to create magic. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired millions to believe, even in the face of danger they believed.

So in thinking about all that today means the most important lesson would be not to waste it.

Can’t be waiting for things to happen … definitely have to make my own momentum.

Buen Camino my friends!





The Mountain Brought Us Cartwheels, Granola Bars, Hugs, and Stopping Time

8 Jan

We explored the hidden nature of our big city and found that there were still pockets of beautiful wilderness we had yet to climb.

It was a great adventure for the kids and a good way to start the New Year, or just start the weekend for that matter. I love it when I can find the nooks and crannies of a city that give peace and breath to people trying to find that kind of space.

I was in search of it and trying to get my kids to enjoy it. And to be honest, once we hit the steeper part of the climb my daughter was just about done with the entire thing. She was ready to turn back and start walking down the path. But with the help of a Nature Valley granola bar bribe, we encouraged her to reach the top … to push herself and try something new, something she hadn’t done before.

And so she did.





We didn’t walk up the last 20 yards, we sprinted our way to the top. And it felt good. I was hoping it felt good for them too. I really enjoyed this adventure and wanted them to have the same feel-good vibes I did. My son had his Indiana Jones mentality on and was ready to rock, even when the hike grew longer and steeper. I turned to my daughter. I thought she’d be burned out as it was longer than anticipated, but once we reached the top of the mountain, she did three cartwheels and it was a moment for the Jar of Awesome. It was good to see the cartwheel victory and that smile.

We sat on the grass and had our little picnic along with all the other hikers who wanted to try the Great Outdoors that morning. It felt good to stop time for a bit. My son asked how he could do that. He used to always mention how bad he felt about how fast time was going. He felt his days go by so fast and it made him sad that he couldn’t stop it from speeding up.

I told him the only way he could stop time was by looking at his surroundings and taking three deep breaths, and then closing his eyes and taking three more. It helped to take it all in and appreciate the moment, that always helped.

And so we breathed at the top of the mountain, talked about our little adventure, and people watched. Some guy filmed himself flipping and somersaulting and doing his best parkour moves. Others just walked out to the edge and took pictures of the skyline and epic view. Some other dude knelt down, and pulled out a ring … his girl gasped in surprise and covered her mouth. She cried, nodded yes, and then hugged him. Everyone near them clapped and cheered. I smiled at the young couple and sent them good vibes for the new adventure awaiting them.

Everyone was there for some kind of adventure.

Ours was filled with cartwheels, granola bars, hugs, and stopping time.


Buen Camino my friends!




Friday Feel Goods

5 Jan

Now I would have been the first to doubt this mini-accomplishment. You know … because of my below basic book club member skills. I had two books on my GoodReads page all year and I didn’t finish them.

Sad. I know.

For being a writer I’m pretty lame at reading. But in my defense I am a kick-ass member of the Parenthood Book Club. I make an awesome chocolate cake and rock during discussions. The kids and I finished so many interesting books filled with funny characters and great stories. But our highlights were reading the series Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin, Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park,  Timmy Failure by Stephan Pastis, All The Wrong Questions: Shouldn’t You Be in School?, by Lemony Snickets,  Grandpa’s Great Escape by David Walliams, and Wonder by RJ Palacio.


You see?

Kick ass member.

But when it came to being an adult and opening up my GoodReads shelf, I was super lame. So when I finished a book in three days, I totally got the feel good vibes! I felt all warm and fuzzy. It was one  in the morning and I was still turning pages, that’s how hooked I was on the book.




I had heard of this book for some reason. I think a friend had mentioned it a while back when it first came out. Then I heard it had turned into a series with Nicole Kidman. I hadn’t watched it, but I thought if I need to open up the New Year with a good story this one might be it. I wasn’t into the hype or popularity of it. I just got drawn to it somehow. Strong female characters, someone said. And I was like … yeah. I need some strong, female characters.

Little Big Lies.


I don’t want to give away any spoilers in case it’s still on your to-do list, but if this book can be finished in three days by someone like myself you need to read it! Now granted it took me some time to figure out the beginning and latch on, but after a couple of chapters I was in. By the middle of it,  I couldn’t put it down. I was up passed my bedtime reading via flashlight, cozy under the covers, cracking up at times, exhaling in frustration during others, and gasping in surprise towards the end. It’s a story about three women and the “big little lies,” they have to tell themselves and each other in order to get through the days with ex-husbands, teenage daughters, encounters with the Gossipy-Mommy-And-Me-PTA-Mafia, unfounded accusations, and the school drama and scandal that brings everything crashing down at the end. The lies ALL COME OUT. Big and little.

It. Was. Awesome.

I got the feel goods after the big reveal and those warm and fuzzies continued even when I got to the last page. Finishing a book! Being engaged in this story in the lives of these women. It was a good way to end the week. You know, it was on my self-project list for the year. Read 12 books in 12 months. Could it be done by someone like myself?

Hmph. I wasn’t sure.

But as of today … things are looking good.

Finishing a great story just sort of feels like drinking the last drop of hot chocolate in your warm and toasty mug.

That’s how it made me feel. Not because it was a warm and fuzzy novel, far from it. There’s a murder in it. But it cracked me up and made me smile at times, because I could totally recognize some of these people. But it also frustrated me at times because I thought c’mon … you ladies are stronger than that. I was invested in the story until the end, until the last word.

I thought maaaaaaaaaaaaan! Friday Feel Goods feel great.

If you have any page-turners you’d like to suggest for my year long reading quest, feel free.

Buen Camino my friends!







On My 1000th Post I’m Keeping All of It … Because I’m Looking for The Power of Failure

1 Jan

What is it that finds you this year?

Last year inspiration struck after watching a Seinfeld episode. Kramer came crashing into Jerry’s apartment as always and he had his everyday balloons, not his New Year’s Eve balloons but his everyday balloons and I wanted that for myself.

And so in 2017 I went out to find them. And I did. My resolutions, my quest, my mission, my goals, my bucket list items, my journeys … Whatever I called it, I found it. And being the mother of two Nickelodeon-aged kids who go on adventures and try my patience on a weekly basis … It was hard. But I did it. I found the sparkle in the everyday shenanigans and they were there to help me. A lot of things managed to push the scales in my favor.

Podcasts became the X factor for me last year.  I found all these good nooks and crannies on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday Conversations, The Tim Ferriss Show, The Robcast, This American Life, TED Talks Daily, and StoryCorps. These story whispers traveled through time and space to get to me and give me something I needed, just like reading books, articles, or WordPress blog posts or watching movies or shows on Netflix or Amazon reminded me of a lesson learned when I needed reminding.

Running  in The Great Outdoors was also a piece of the puzzle that helped me get it together. The magic of the path hidden among the trees and hills was the daily therapy to help me find my center.

And the thing is … I’m still going to need the same things this year.

I may find something new, but I’ve learned that this system works for me. It helps find the everyday balloons, pockets of happiness, silver linings playbook mentality necessary to thrive.

So I’m keeping all of it.


I need it in 2018 as well because I realized what works for me when I’m trying to find the funny. And this is my formula, so I’m keeping it. All of it. Probably adding a few things as the months go by though, because this year I’m looking to find  the Power of Failure. It seems like a downer, but it’s a glass-half-full mentality. I know that with writing and parenthood, failure is going to happen. It’s part of the process, I’ve got to take my underdog mentality and find what the power of it is this year. In the midst of the heartache, tears, frustration, and gallons, upon gallons of Rocky Road ice cream, I’m gonna try to find the power of failure this year. Because most of the time I just think it just sucks. I get back up again and I’m ready for Round II, III, and IV but I still think failure sucks.

I’m gonna try to spin it around and see if it adds to the good-time-noodle-salad moments of life. That’s the the quest this year. It’s not going to involve comparing my failures with others, or seeing how further ahead others are on their life journey, but to see if the power of failure can help me in mine. I’m gonna wait and see …


I’m gonna wait for it.

So on my 1000th post of WordPress on this mini milestone of a moment, I’m gonna mark it with my quest to finding the Power of Failure this year.

Buen Camino my friends!