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Comfort in Milk & Pepsi

6 Feb

I wanted just a moment to myself. Most of the time I have to wake up at the crack of dawn or wait until the middle of the night to have these little escapes. I’ve learned that they’re necessary every couple of months. I just need to tag out.

Luckily I had some relatives in from out of town who were willing to babysit, and I was able to recharge my sense of self. Sometimes I have to go back to the time of bell-bottoms and schlamiel and schlamazel my way to Zen.

It was a great renewal moment … and it took me back to a time where I hung out on the fluffy chocolate brown living room couch,  and got lost in a cool friendship with laughter along  way.

It was the first time I had ever thought to try Milk & Pepsi. The combination had never occurred to me before. But I mean if it was Laverne’s favorite drink, I haaaaaaaaad to have it. However, I was disappointed to learn that it wasn’t as awesome as I had hoped because Laverne DeFazio was one of my favorite people growing up but apparently Milk & Pepsi is an acquired taste..

There I was in the living room watching Laverne & Shirley and thinking if I was in Milwaukee I’d probably share a slice of pizza and go bowling with them. They make me laugh. And so when I heard that they would be having a Laverne & Shirley marathon at a theater in town in order to celebrate the anniversary of their first show, I jumped at the chance to be a part of something like that.

It’s not a big deal to some people, just a TV show, but back in the day this show was a fun show about the lives of two strong, young women and the strength of their friendship throughout all their adventures. Penny Marshall was something awesome and when she passed away last year I was really heartbroken to hear the news. I’d remember her awesome directing with Big and A League of Their Own, but watching her as Laverne DeFazio was a great memory growing up. I felt a piece of my childhood drift off when she passed.

But I got a chance to relive some of the good-feel vibes when I heard about the Laverne & Shirley marathon. My aunt was visiting and she offered to watch the kids so that I could escape to the theater and catch a couple of episodes. Naturally I couldn’t do the entire 12-hour marathon, but I did catch some classics.

The theater was full of like-minded Laverne & Shirley enthusiasts I had never met before, and I was glad to have made it. There was an unspoken camaraderie among us, as we watched the episodes and laughed. I rekindled moments of funny from my childhood that felt good, moments of laughter during their friendship, moments of myself as a kid, sitting on the chocolate brown couch and thinking I had a friend just like that in my life. I found the moment-of-the-day and tried to hold onto to as much as I could, sitting among a community of people who felt the same connection. And I felt comfort. I felt comfort sitting there within this community. It brought me joy and laughter. Again.

It was a good break … good Zen. Milk & Pepsi recharged my batteries. And I’m sure there are shows out there that people remember and think back on with smiles. Shows that they’d sit through a marathon for … Shows that give you comfort.

Here’s hoping you find them.

 

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

 

 

 

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He Was That Starfish Kid …

30 Jan

I felt a little twinge in my chest as I walked away and got in the car — that sharp pain in the chest that never seems to go away. It gets less debilitating with time, but never really goes away. And there it was … as I looked at the sunset there it was … the pain of losing your Dad. It just sits there.

I know it’s not supposed to be painful anymore, but I have my moments — the kind where you get real quiet because if you start talking about it, you’ll probably break down and lose it on the spot. I still have those. No one told me that I’d still have those. But it happens and then all I can do is be grateful that I had all those moments with him, that he was my Dad, and that I can still remember little bits and pieces of him.

Like how he shaved with old school blue Gillette disposable razors on a daily basis and how the living room smelled of musk aftershave long after he’d gone. Like how he tuned into the local jazz station because he found it relaxing on the drive home. Like how he’d probably be wearing a Los Angeles Rams football hat all week because the SuperBowl is coming up and he remembered when Jim Everett used to be the Rams starting quarterback. Like how he’d grind his own coffee beans at home and brew a fresh pot for himself right after dinner and then have no problem sleeping at night.

Today was a big day of memories. He would have been 71 and I was missing him so much that I fought the tears during the pockets of time throughout the day. Just sitting there and emotions just hit me.

But there was something that made me smile.

Something new I could share with my kids, something to keep coloring in the fading picture of their grandpa.

As I was reading a book to my daughter the other day, I came across this passage about starfish …

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I was like … that’s him. That’s what he was like. That’s what I hope I’m like. That’s what I hope you’re like.

You see, I know I’m my father’s daughter, and I’m hoping to pass some of that awesomeness along to my own kids.

So when they read the story, I waited. And then there it was … I knew what they both thought when their smiles came out. They smiled with their eyes. And I knew they got it.

That’s how papa was, and you know what, I think that’s how you’re gonna be.

Bigger smile.

I was grateful for that moment today. Glad that I found that one to sustain me all day, the one that would help pull out the rest of the memories, because that story right there, that one helped me picture it and picture him. And it helped my heart hurt less. It helped when I mixed up the batter for his chocolate cake. It helped when I whipped up the buttercream frosting. It helped when I sang happy birthday to him and blew out the candle. It helped because he was in my life and he did make difference.

Happy Birthday Pops. I miss you with everything I got.

Buen Camino …

 

 

 

It’s Never Too Late for Paper Airplanes

16 Jan

I had no idea I didn’t know.

For the past ten years I’d somehow managed to get away with not knowing. It’s important as a parent to know these things. You should know these things. I didn’t. I mean I knew other things, like how important it is to have Ritz crackers with you at all times, or how Legos rock the world, or how Neosporin and Star Wars Band/Doc McStuffins band-aids fix almost every injury.

I knew those things. But for some reason this parenting skill was missing, and I was completely unaware of it until the teenage kid from the robotics team at the local high school taught me.

Paper airplanes.

These aerodynamic origami wonders failed to make the list.

I never thought I’d need to learn how to make a paper airplane … but I did  … at age 43 … I did.

You see when my son was a baby I folded something that looked like a plane that glided for a second and then took a nose dive immediately. That seemed to entertain a toddler no problem. As he got older his dad usually did up the paper airplanes and made awesome ones that circled and landed with Wright Brothers dynamics. When my daughter was a baby same thing. As they got older, my son knew how to do that and just constructed planes for his sister and that’s how things were handled.

It wasn’t until I was sitting at the local library in this STEAM workshop that I realized I had never made one, a proper one for my kids. I was having a moment of wonder as this kid leading the workshop was so excited about the physics of building, that he inspired the kids and the rest of the parents to feel the same way.

There we were in a rainy day seminar, competing on the imaginary runways. It lasted longer than the robotics team thought. This simple bit of fun. I sat there smiling at the fact that I had just learned how to fold a paper airplane. I mean I could have easily just looked it up on YouTube. Everything is on there. I could’ve learned a long time ago. I mean I had to have known when I was a kid, all kids do right? But I couldn’t remember. Maybe my uncle and dad made them for me, or a friend from school built one and gave it to me. I don’t know. I was just tripping out on this very simple skill I happened to overlook before and now … I was a paper airplane genius. I looked over at my daughter and smiled.

“… to infinity … and your mom!”

Whoosh!

Plane would take off. She’d rush to get it, and start over again.

My son stood there, comparing his original design to the one he had just learned. He tried figuring out which one flew higher and longer. I was glad that this one new lesson brought some enjoyment with it and that it wasn’t some Pinterest or Parent epic fail. I have too many of those.

I was glad I finally learned something I hadn’t known before, and that if my kids every ask me … “hey can you make me a paper airplane?”

I can say … yes and make one for myself too. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced something like that before on a big, or small scale. But it ends up making you smile and enjoy the mini accomplishment you just checked off the list, because you realize it’s never too late for paper airplanes, even at 43, it’s never too late.

 

Buen Camino, my friends!

Nature’s Perspective

9 Jan

It just felt like the right place to start something, to catapult the new year. Not a huge dynamic turn of events, but a small shift that helped steer things in a new direction for positive change.

The Great Outdoors brings on a surge of rejuvenation and hope and so I thought climbing the tippiest of the top would be an inspiring goal for our little family. We are usually beach people and head to the warm sand and big waves with our boogie boards. We love how the ocean makes us new again.

But we tried something a little different this time.

We explored a different part of nature. It’s nothing we haven’t done before, we’ve been hiking. It’s just a new mountain and a new path.

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I thought it would be best to tackle something with a beautiful view and we could still see the ocean if the air was clear enough. It wasn’t the most excruciating uphill battle but it wasn’t easy either. Still a challenge for my little ones, but they were up for it. I was proud that they made it to the top. Not many kids enjoy climbing long windy roads, but they felt like reaching their goal was an important way to start 2019. They pushed themselves and raced the last 20 yards.

The view put things in perspective … there’s always something out there bigger than yourself, and it’s calming when you’re that far away. You see the beautiful that you can’t focus on when you’re up close.

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I’m not an avid hiker, but I enjoyed this adventure. Being out there and knowing we were starting the new year together felt good. Something to think about and smile when they got older … remember the time we hiked to the sign with mom? I’d like to think they’d call each other when they’re older and talk about it. It was easy hanging out with them. No pressure. No rushing. No arguing. Just hanging out, admiring the view, and appreciating the company.  The calm in-between conversations was a reassuring silence.

Everyone was out there that day, from big group of tourists, to a few friends, to couples, and dog lovers. We all had the same idea for this new 2019 beginning. Perspective from the tippy top to help our own state of mind. Nature is powerful in that way.

Mantras and Momentum on the Yellow Brick Road Journey

2 Jan

And so I saw it there in between the flowers and had a flashback to last year … the mantra written in seeds with a bright sunshine colored petal backdrop. It found me.

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My 2018 mantra

I feel like I started this marathon year with a sprinter mentality. I got tired around mile 19, but then picked it up in the home stretch. I feel like picking it up in the home stretch was important. That’s the kind of athlete I am.

Overall, I feel like my family lived with momentum, created it the best we could.

We took road trips, we explored The Canyon, tried new races, read more books, experimented with culinary adventures, listened to new podcasts, tried to be kinder, and emptied our tanks with whatever fuel we had left.  We had plenty of failures and journeys that went off course. I’ve mentioned this before, but as a parent I fail continually, on a weekly basis, but I still get out of bed. As I writer, I’m constantly failing, although that one takes me a little longer to shake off, but I do. Eventually, I get up.

We inspired ourselves. We didn’t wait for invitations, we made our own momentum and that helped make the year better than last. Ultimately, that’s always the goal, making things a little bit better than before.

So as I was browsing through the artistic displays of flowers on wheels I saw it. Another sign from the universe pushing me in the right direction.

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2019 Mantra

 

I don’t think we ever stopped living … I just think that sometimes we get busy and forget to take a minute. A minute for something joyful. To live life. Whether it’s on a quest for the best piece of pie or banana split, or traveling to explore unknown parts of nature, or reading a good book. Whatever the definition may be … for me trying something new once a month feels good for 2019. It’s something to look forward to, something that will inspire, something that will challenge, something that will bring me peace, something that will make me laugh, something that will teach me, or something that will help me grow, or something when I’m lost … something that will help me recover the person I was intended to be. Big moment, or small quiet one. Just something that feels like I’m spending my life, living it, recovering it, thriving on it.

Now just for a reality check, I’m not gonna go off and explore places I absolutely know I’m not gonna like, just to try something new. Like car shows. They’re great. I’m sure, but I’m not going to wake up at the crack of dawn to check out hot rods at a flea market. It’s just not for me. Eating olives. That’s just not for me. Hanging out at places like Chuck E. Cheese, because some other moms will be there, that’s just not for me. I’m at the point in my life where I pretty much don’t want to waste time on outings that I don’t find interesting in order to please other people, or have people try to like me. I came to that conclusion a long time ago. It was awesome.

So I’ll be looking for adventures to enrich my existence. Big or small.

That’s the mission for this year. That in combination with last year’s theme. You see, this yellow-brick road is hard. Dorothy forgot to mention that. But I’m on it. So anything that helps me thrive will keep being part of the journey.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

Recovery Mode

17 Dec

I knew exactly what he meant … it clicked without having to wait that moment that thoughts need to take in order to register.

It was instant.

I had it.

“We recover the person we were intended to be … ” Russel Brand.

Nuggets of enlightenment just headed my way through the airwaves of a random podcast and knowledge being dropped by an unexpected dude. I’m not a huge fan but I thought Forgetting Sarah Marshall was pretty funny. Other than that I didn’t really  know much. I don’t pay much attention to celebrity gossip. That kind of useless stuff irritates me. So when I heard this life quote I stopped and had to listen to the rest. This was going to be about substance, not fluff.

The topic was addiction but the information was about life.

I was glad to have found it.

I needed that little push.

You see, these multiple sabbaticals during the last couple of months bring about different perspectives on creativity. I mean after a crazy number of rejections in such a short amount of time a moment of unintended pause takes place. Weariness begins to sit heavy on my mind when thinking about pushing forward on this yellow-brick road and wondering about the journey.

But when I wake up in the morning I think … I have another day, another chance. I just have to find strength to push passed the tiredness. Everyone stumbles, Just have to hit that reset button and remember that I woke up with purpose, and not on accident as Mr. Thomas once said. And then I wake up knowing I’ll recover. I’ll recover.

And so remembering that conversation with Brand and his story about the seed stuck with me the entire day. You see, the seed has an intention and destiny to grow into a tree but it may be impeded by constraints or bad circumstances, whatever they may be, preventing it from becoming what it was intended to be … but that doesn’t have to happen to you.

That reminder came at a most needed time.

And so I held onto it and thought I’d spread the information just in case there was someone else out there stuck in a moment they couldn’t get out of … just stuck.

There’s a way to recover.

There’s a way to return to the person we intended to be … one step at a time.

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🙂

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

Thankful for Pies and Non-Turkey Trot Early Morning Runs

23 Nov

So there I was feeling all the feels as I made my pumpkin pies in the morning. Remembering the early morning run and being grateful for the fresh air after a good night’s rain.

I was one of the few in the city probably not participating in a Turkey Trot that was up that early. And the quietness of the Thanksgiving morning was a peaceful blanket I was happy to wrap around myself.

I felt the feels and tried to keep that moment with me the entire day … when my mother came over and started her normal mothering observations that immediately make your eyes roll and take deep breaths … when the kids  just lost it because the ever so important golden string was pulled out from the ever so important LEGO Palm tree outdoor set and they couldn’t put it back the “right” way and the arguing felt like forever … when I couldn’t find parking on my own street and had to park three blocks away … when there were too many people in the kitchen and opinions were everywhere … when it felt like we were having a Costanza Festivus Thanksgiving Holiday Extravaganza instead of the Hallmark moments I imagined everyone posted on Facebook, which is why I don’t check it often anymore.

I closed my eyes and felt the feels of the early morning and remembered the crisp air filling up my lungs. I remembered feeling good just breathing. I remembered my Dad.

I remembered it being my Dad’s favorite holiday and the day I definitely think about him the most. The Diestel turkey was bought in part because we sold hundreds of them every year at the shop and remembered it being my Dad’s preference. Remembered all those long days at the shop when he was alive and the ginormous refrigerator where I was the inventory champ, but still complaining about why I’d always be the one in the freezing temperatures. He’s just smile and say I was younger and should be able to handle it. I remembered the hard days. The long days. The endless paperwork. The stress. And then the relief of sleeping in on Thanksgiving morning.

I remembered driving in his gray Nissan truck, picking up pies, and listening to jazz on the radio as he tapped the steering wheel.

I remembered the pies, and so when I pulled them out of the oven, I knew.  He would have smiled and asked to taste-test it before everyone … you know … just to be sure. I’d probably argue and reason with him, but eventually taste-testing would be an important reason.

And so on the chaotic day where the good, the bad, and the ugly show up at varying levels and different times during the day, I was grateful for moments remembered, moments with pies, moments of loudness with family, and moments of morning quietness in my Non-Turkey Trot run.

I held onto those moments as I remembered my Dad, and I took a deep breath because I missed him. I missed him with everything I got. Then I closed my eyes and sent him some light and love.

And pie.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving.

Buen Camino, my friends!

Motivation Mondays: Don’t Steal the Sunshine

12 Nov

 

A good friend of mine recently shared this feel-good video and it was something that made me smile …

 

 

 

You see I desperately try not to steal my kids’ sunshine, their spirit, their juice, their rainbow of colors that brings them to life. I try to keep my neurotic parenting to a minimum as I’d like my kids to have some sense of awesomeness still radiate like the sun on ocean waves. As a parent I’ve seen this happen and in truth I did it myself a when they were younger, and I caught myself feeling crappy and ugly for it as I saw the immediate brightness dim itself a bit.

It was just water.

Jumping in puddles. What kid doesn’t want to do that? I was so worried about the car seats and rugs getting soaked that I forgot it’s just water. Mr. Clean Erasers work like magic and the moldy smell would eventually go away if I just aired it out.  I totally let the air out of the balloon.

That was me.

I deflated the little spirits when they were 6 and 3. The crazy mom just trying to get through the day, the “getting through” part was what I was missing. I was all about keeping on schedule so breakdowns wouldn’t happen later on. I was just trying to get through it, when I should have been present. Parent fail. Big time.

But I learned.

The person that helped me turn the corner was someone I hadn’t even met. Randy. I remembered Randy Pausch and his Last Lecture … and I remembered splashing in puddles was definitely worth it. Remembering Randy Pausch and his message helped me shift gears. Galoshes and raincoats were in full effect, and I was happy to see the energy and light come back.

I promised myself I wouldn’t steal their sunshine after that and to the best of my recollection I haven’t. I’ve done other crazy mom things, for sure, but that … that is promise I kept.

This touching short film, Alike, was another reminder of that, a reminder of what I could lose if I’m not paying attention, what I could lose if I try to mute their vibe, what I could lose if I forget they need encouragement even if I don’t have it. It also reminded me of what someone else can lose because of me.

It was a good reminder … and I was grateful.

Buen Camino my friends!

Hill Street Blues, Peachy Pancakes, and a Blue Camero Remembered …

3 Nov

Most people tell stories on birthdays, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. Sometimes a story springs up when there’s a flashback moment on a random Tuesday and that sends you back in time to relive the laughter or joy you had with family. These are all good ways to connect with family or friends that have passed away.

In our family we have one more additional day that’s set aside every year in order to remember the life stories and unfinished journeys of those who passed away. My Dad, my Uncle Erick, and my Grandma Julia … I celebrate their lives on Dia de los Muertos. For most people, it’s a two-day celebration with music, art, altars, prayers, and stories used to remember family and friends. We had our private moments at home and at the cemetery on Day 1, and then celebrated at the festival on Day 2.

 

Stories about My Dad’s hardworking-dreamer mentality, love of Guatemalan coffee, and all things of a Hill Street Blues-The Shield-and-The-Wire nature were told. Memories of My Uncle Erick focusing on the importance of education, his blue Camero in the 1980’s that used to take me to the beach, his big-brother persona toward my sister and I, and his enjoyment of family gatherings on three-day weekends flooded back into my present day. My Grandma Julia’s resilience and strength, her sense of humor in her 90’s, her relationship with my Dad, and her love of my Saturday morning peach pancakes with Log Cabin syrup was remembered.

 

 

 

I shared my thoughts and tried to keep them alive through conversations with my kids. Each them had something to do with how I grew up. They impacted my journey on the yellow-brick road, and I wanted them to still matter to someone other than me.

So, on Dia de los Muertos it’s especially important to share these memories and celebrate their lives. So we took to the cemetery with decorations, flowers and prayers. I took time to think about the positives given to me by my Dad and Uncle Erick, and how grateful I was and am to them. Thought about how they’d probably be enjoying a cup of coffee together and chatting away with my Grandma. I thought about them and sent them light, love, and hugs.

The sad part was that before passing away, all three of them had conversations with me about death and not wanting to die. It’s gut-punching-deep-in-my-heart hurt when I think about it. So it’s hard on anniversaries of their death or on birthdays to feel like celebrating, but Dia de los Muertos spins perspective around and folklore helps change the narrative from death to life.

And so … I celebrated my Dad’s love of laughter and dream-chasing-you-can-do-it encouragement, my Uncle Erick’s perseverance and love of family conversations and of the dance floor even though he wasn’t a Solid Gold kind of dancer, and of my Grandma Julia’s faith, love for her family and ability to still joke around in her late 90’s.

The festival brought about a collective love for family and the importance of celebrations strengthening my faith. With everyone sending out positive vibes for their own loved ones it made me feel better to be part of a community who not only mourned their loved ones passing, but encouraged life and celebrating their spirit at the same time.

Hoping for celebrations of life to you all.

Buen Camino, my friends!

 

Chocolate Treats, Pumpkin Seeds, and Charlie Brown

31 Oct

Halloween parades, superhero costumes, toasting pumpkin seeds, trick-o-treating, and It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown filled the day. I was suffering from the Blues after the World Series, so I took a couple of days off and decided to come back to life on Halloween.

This holiday always reminds me of my Uncle Erick and his pumpkin carving escapades with his kid. He liked to start his own family traditions and give his kid the things he never had growing up. So when it came to Halloween I remember him going all out, pumpkin patches, hayrides, Halloween decorations and toasted pumpkin seeds. He had the spirit and his kid, who is all grown up now, remembers those days and thinks about those pumpkin carving sessions at our house. She recently asked me for a picture of her seven-year-old self atop a ginormous Jack-O-Lantern she created with her dad, and it made me think of how much joy he liked to bring to holidays and celebrations.

I often wonder what kinds of celebrations and family hangout sessions we would have had if he had survived his battle with cancer years ago, but thoughts like that make me angry and sad, so it takes me a minute to turn things around. I try to remember what we had and not so much what we’re missing, and Halloween is one of the things I’m able to hold and keep.

I talk about my Uncle Erick with the kids and remind them of his toasted pumpkin seed recipes and how I never would have known to do that if it weren’t for Uncle Erick. I try to remember to do the fun things even if they’re messy, even if they make me tired, because hopefully in the end the kids will look back on those days and smile, just like his daughter … smile at the buckets filled chocolate treats, making Jack-O-Lanterns, and Charlie Brown.

Buen Camino my friends!