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I Laced Up My Shoes and I Kept Walking … I Hung in There

14 Feb

Having someone point out your flaws and make you feel pretty crappy on a day where love is supposed to be everywhere kind of sucked.

Mornings like that should be reserved for times when you have strength overflowing and your feel good-song constantly replays in your mind.

All this love was going around, everyone exchanging flowers, and balloons and chocolate and someone was pointing out that I yelled at my kids four times to listen and follow directions … It was pointed out to me that it wasn’t a good thing to be that kind of parent, or person.

You know, I know that sometimes my patience runs out and if my life would have turned out the way I imagined maybe there’d be less frustration when things went haywire. But it’s something I’m fully aware of … I’m mindful not to yell at my kids for no reason. I grew up with unecessary yelling and scolding, so I make it a point to not do that. I’m very aware of what that does to a kid. So I know I’m not angry all the time and I didn’t appreciate someone painting me that way.

People see you in a moment of frustration and they know you’re having a bad moment and they use it against you. They lay things out there and judge you when you’re drowning. And the thing is … They know you. They knoooooow you and yet they say something like that, something that just feels like a punch in the stomach.

It was pretty sucky, having that feeling all day.

But then I went to get my kids Valentine’s Day cards and I found something that made me smile.  A valentine I could have gotten for myself, or just an everyday card. Something that my dad might have gotten for me, and I found the grace I needed to move on.

 

 

I laced up my shoes and I kept walking. One foot in front of the other.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Pretty Awesome To Be 99

7 Feb

He can’t wake up at the crack of dawn with you to lift weights, he can’t run the hundreds of drills with you at the stadium, and he can’t be there for the physical therapy when you’re down and out. But you best know that he is definitely in your corner and roots for you with everything he’s got, because he’s got your heart.

Being a player and pouring everything you got out there on the field is one thing … but being the person who roots for you, who’s in your corner, and wants you to have it … that’s something powerful, that’s the X factor. Being in a House of Sports my whole life, I can say I know a little bit about this.

While everyone in Philly was basking in the SuperBowl after glow of taking the crown away from the Big Bad Wolf, I happened to get lost in the story of the 99-year-old fan who witnessed the awesomeness of his team mark an important first time.

This Philly fan that went by the name of Phil Basser and it just made me smile to know that he got to experience the exuberance of such a moment live and in person. When you watch someone witness a bucket list adventure the emotion gets to you. Some people never get to see it happen and you feel bad that they’ve missed out some how. I mean they lived their life and did the best with what they had, but as we all know we can’t control the future of others. We can only control ourselves. So it’s hard when one of your dream of all dreams is in the hands of someone else.

I could imagine Phil as a five-year old with his Eagles t-shirt clapping for that touchdown, or probably watching all the close calls. But this past Sunday was probably the best way to imagine the little sports fan. I didn’t even know Phil, but I was happy to see the camera pan over to him and witness his reaction to one of the best underdog wins I’ve seen this year. To know that he got to live one of his dreams of all dreams made me heart feel good, because as an athlete and fan myself, I’ve felt those feelings. So I know … I know.

This year’s SuperBowl filled with Brady-haters, Fly-Eagle-Fly supporters, and awesome Eli Manning, Vikings, Doritos, and Sprite Commercials will definitely be remembered for one more thing … Phil witnessing the triumph of his team.

For underdogs everywhere … Buen Camino!

 

 

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

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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!

 

 

 

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.

Yup.

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 …

Hamilton

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!

 

 

 

 

The Last Day … Don’t Forget About The Day

30 Dec

I got one day left in 2017.

One!

How am I gonna spend it? How are you going to spend it?

Lately I’ve placed an important chunk of feeling and expectation and emotion into what happens on the first day of the year. I think about day one, the start of a new adventure, of a new (or old) something that will catapult change into my life. But other than the party- or midnight countdown I don’t really place a huge emphasis on the last day of the year. And you know what? I should. It’s the last day. You’ve got to squeeze the juice out of every lemon.

So what’s the plan?

Am I going to wake up and magically take a trip to an awesome destination, making it the best day of my life? Probably not. Australia is too expensive on my starving-writer budget at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s not in my future again. So the last day of the year will be an in-house adventure. Something NOT involving laundry … doing it, folding it, putting it away. Laundry in any shape or form. I don’t want to be running errands or scrubbing toilets either. Things like this should be banned on the last day and first day of the year. I’m not saying I’ll be out on a second honeymoon getting waited on and tended to every minute of every hour. But let’s just have a day to do something you want to do and not something you need to do.

But if I’m being honest though, it feels like a let’s-go-down-with-the-ship kind of night. Not a Woo-Hoo-Times-Square-noise-maker extravaganza. But a day of sunshine and something and a night with a good story, something to be grateful for and Cup O’ Noodles. People can hate on Cup O’ Noodles all they want, but sometimes on days like this, or rainy days it’s comforting. It’s terribly bad for you and has like 500,000 grams of sodium but it’s on my agenda for tomorrow night.

And tomorrow day still holds an adventure for me. An outdoor adventure that will make me feel the feel-good-vibes that get me through the day.

I’ll start the day with a run in the natural oasis that sits in the middle of my city, surrounded by the sounds of birds, wind, moving branches and my breath. The sun will warm my face as I steady my breath, and I’ll gain a sense of peace looking at how its golden rays peak through the trees and wake up the leaves. A moment of Zen. I just need one good one, and I’m hoping that’s it tomorrow.

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And while I’m stretching and breathing in the fresh earthy smell of a freshly watered woodsy area, Tim Ferriss along with one of his Tribe of Mentors will be talking to me through my headphones filling the space between my breaths with positivity and the idea that IT is possible.

That’s how the last morning of 2017 will go … the rest of the day is set up for an ocean or water adventure, but that’s always up for grabs because with weather and kids, you always have to be prepared for a change of plans. The unpredictable happens often and go with the flow mentality is always helpful.

So … Buen Camino my friends!!!  I will see you again in 2018. Don’t forget about the last day, the night will be there to party, or sleep in, but don’t forget about the last day!

 

 

 

The Warm and Fuzzies Comeback Blessed Moments

20 Dec

The Underdog Gene.

I’ve got it.

Being able to get back up again … to turn the corner.

I think that’s the blessing I was given from birth … that and being able to find the funny in situations requiring a little light.

This year’s Blessed Project combines both of these. Susie Lindau over at Susie’s Wild Ride had this awesome idea last year to list the blessings and positives of your life that year. Things that gave you the Warm and Fuzzies and help vanquish the bummers of the year and focus on the good time noodle salad moments.

So she brought it back again and I’m up for a look back at these moments in time.

All these memories came during a comeback … comeback from rejection, comeback from failure, comeback from arguments, comeback from family  frustrations, comeback from life kicking my ass.

These blessed moments turned things around to the point where I didn’t feel the bitterness of the downward spiral, but an uplifting nature of turning the corner. I keep them close to help remember how blessed I am and to be grateful for the life I’ve got, because with scrapes and all I always get back up. Gratitude and laughter have been a big part of my Blessed Project this year.

 

Empowerment at the beginning of the year …

 

 

Adventures with my kids that made my heart much bigger …

 

 

Quiet moments of inspiration …

 

 

Finding the funny …

 

 

Bucket List Adventures …

 

Remembering I can always get up and knowing that my Dad is always with me gives me the warm and fuzzies comeback strength to keep going …

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Buen Camino my friends!

 

Not A Lot of Luck, But Don’t Forget About The Heart

10 Dec

I thought I used to be somebody.

You’re nothing. Never gonna be nothing. Never gonna go anywhere.

When you’re at the bottom … that’s when big changes start.

For someone that didn’t have much luck he had a lot of heart, and that’s what made me root for him. He reminded me of me.

Heart can be the difference.

Recently I had forgotten how important that lesson was until I saw Invincible again. I forgot how important heart is,  not that I didn’t think it was an important value to have, I’ve always thought it was, I’ve always had it. But others hadn’t seen it in the same way.

There were people around me who felt that “resume” values had more weight in life than “eulogy” values. The corner office, the nice ride, the nice house, the big account … don’t get me wrong it would be nice to have that, and everyone strives for financial security and a stable life. Everyone is out there hustling for it, including me, but heart came in third or fourth for some of those people. Maybe because they valued it less.

I saw the movie at the right time and at the right moment. Just to set me straight. Just because others see nothing, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something there. Everyone has a comeback inside of them, behind the disappointment, bad luck, and heartache. Everyone has one.

One of my favorite moments of the movie was when Vince turned one of the most painful moments of his life into motivation. He turned it into something … into this force inside of him. He dug deep and found his heart.

His wife left him and in the empty apartment left a note … You’re nothing. Never gonna be nothing. Never gonna go anywhere.

He turns that into something.

He doesn’t throw the note out, or burn it. He brings it with him, and it stays with him when he tries out for the Philidelphia Eagles. He puts it in his locker. He looks at it everyday.  It drives him. When he’s at the very bottom he still has his heart.

Never really much luck, but a lot of heart.

I like that moment. I like that he turned something painful  into something good. He embraced that eulogy value when he had nothing, no resume values.

But in the end you remember what people were like, how they made you feel,  and how they treated you, not what kind of job they had, or how much money they made. You remember if they were gracious during good times, or spiteful and hurtful during bad ones.

Heart. And the power of the underdog. Those are some eulogy values I hope to pass onto my kids, the same values I hope not to forget again, the ones I hope will continue to drive me.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

Pockets and Swimming In it

2 Dec

Sometimes it’s hard to even breathe with all the disastrous efforts attacking the  substance of our very own existence. You get so angry and enraged that you can’t even form sentences without profanity.

But sometimes there are moments of zen that give you an opening for happiness during the dark times in our country. Small moments that happen in your family, community, or city that make you breathe easier. I cling to these pockets of happiness. They give me hope that even though on a national scale my country is plummeting into the depths of disgrace and lining the pockets of big business and the rich, there are moments that can still bring positivism and light.

I’m a big fan of The Arts, most writers by nature are, but sometimes it becomes difficult to expose your kids to the world of art and all its dynamics. With budget constraints schools become a limited resource for artistic mediums. Most of the time you have to do it on your own, go to museums, or sign up for classes, or become a poor imitation of the amazing Bob Ross.

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🙂

He was awesome.

I make it a point to instill the exploration of science and the creativity of the Arts on weekends with my kids. I feel I’ve got to take a proactive approach in their learning development. And they seem to get a kick out of all the side projects. They’re confident, outgoing and bold with their ideas and opinions. So it surprised me when my youngest was a little hesitant to enter her work in the National Reflections Campaign organized by the PTA at school. I had my own reservations … you know how I feel about the PTA Mommy-and-Me Mafia. But art is art and I introduced her to this opportunity. My daughter wasn’t fond of the idea of people judging her work. I can totally relate to that.

What if I come last? She asked.

That was her biggest fear.

I said I didn’t care whether she came in last, what mattered was whether she enjoyed the process, whether she tried her best and enjoyed creating. I explained to her that a little courage goes a long way. She just needed to take a small step. That’s it. Not everyone is strong enough to take a chance on themselves, to believe in themselves, to submit something. Not everyone has the opportunity, so if you’re given one … take it!

Just a little bit courage goes a long way.

My son needed an extra push too, but nothing major. He seemed on board after I told him he could create a Lego Movie under the Film Production category. Lego and Movie. That’s all it took for him to find his bravery.  My daughter chose the Visual Arts category, and submitted her painting. She said she had a good time and that the use of glitter was a “awesome”.

They both used this year’s theme, “Within Reach”, differently as my son explained through his piece that Justice is Always Within Reach … whenever Batman is around. While my daughter explored Kindness is Within Reach through a dinosaur painting that sparkled with just the right amount of glitter.

Fast forward like four weeks and I get an email, two emails, informing me that both of my kids won first place in their respective categories for the entire school. Now they’re both off to the District Level judging.

Pocket of happiness. Right there. Swimming in it.

I was happy for them, really happy. But even happier because my daughter found her strength. She was brave enough to take a chance on herself, and believe. She learned that trusting herself and being courageous is a good thing.

That’s a happy mom moment right there. A huge pocket of happiness … The kind that gets me through rough days in this world. I was so grateful for courage that day.

Buen Camino my friends!