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He’s My Driving Force, Even When I Run Out of Gas

17 Apr

Every year I feel like I can’t do it, but then I remember my purpose, and it gives me strength to keep going. I find that as I get older, purpose becomes the driving force that sustains me through challenges. The stronger the purpose pulls at my heart the greater the force that drives me.

Success, wins, or goals feel empty if the purpose lacks substance.

I find that obstacle races and running breathe fresh air into my life and help return me back to center. Peace is my driving force, but this one race, every year, this one is for something bigger than myself.

The 63 stories, 1,393 steps I climbed at the American Lung Association’s Fight for Air Climb was for my Dad, for what he represents to me, to my life, and to my kids. He was my purpose.

The thoughts of him holding my hand and walking with me out in the patio in our bell-bottoms when I was little, gave me strength to keep taking those steps. The thought of him giving me rides to school at 7 a.m. after he had finished his night shift, kept me going. The thought of seeing him clap for me as the basketball swooshed through the net at one of my games pushed me further. The thought of him being there for me even though he had his own dreams, and troubles, gave me strength to move forward when my body felt like breaking down. The thought of us being friends when I was older helped me reach the top when all my muscles just wanted me to stop. The thought of holding his hand in the hospital room and being the last one to talk to him, to see him alive, that made me teary-eyed as I caught my breath, kissed my fingertips and pointed to the sky. He was there when I reached the finish line.

He’s my driving force, even when I run out of gas.

It was tough this year. I say that a lot, but my aching knees definitely think that this year, the seventh year, was testing the limits. I mean before I even start, I always imagine the previous year and how difficult it was for me to reach the top, and I think it can’t be more difficult than that, but then I start the race and it is … it is more difficult, because I feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeel every single year of my life in those bones and muscles of mine when I climb. It hit me when I saw the 20th floor sign, and I tried my best not to look at the signs as I ran up the claustrophobic stairwells, but sometimes there was no where else to look, but up.

My calves were burning, my legs felt weak and my chest heavy as I tried to breathe.

And then I grew even more exhausted because it was only 20. I had 43 more floors to go. And so I went, passing people sitting on steps, clinging onto the walls, and holding onto to handrails just trying to regulate their breath, trying just to make it. Getting to the halfway mark made me feel better I thought I was almost there, but my legs disagreed with me in the most volatile voice.

But I dug deep because it was for the one man that’d seen all my flaws and shine and loved me through it all the best way he could. I dug deep because so many friends, old and new, read his story and donated to the cause to help someone else’s Dad, someone else’s mom, brother, sister, son, or daughter. They made a difference in the lives of someone searching for a cure, someone trying to raise awareness, someone trying to breathe a better breath.

I made it to the stop and took a moment to hold onto that feeling, a moment to remember my purpose as I looked out at the city.

He was worth it. Every step. Every ice pack. Every rock of lavender Epsom salt that my muscles needed. Every bit of that Ben-Gay. It was Gatorade-Worthy.

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 …

 

 

 

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!

 

10 … It’s A Moment

22 Jul

I saw him, still asleep in his Star Wars pant pajamas and green Pokemon shirt. His bedhead hair looking like the best Flock-of-Seagulls-Billy-Idol masterpiece in desperate need of a haircut. But as he puts it … I’m on vacation mom.

It had been a decade and I couldn’t believe it. I knew it was gonna happen, I mean with science and time and all that, I knew 10 would be coming. It comes for everyone if you’re lucky. Every birthday matters, but this one sat with me a little longer.

I was in the moment. I stopped and looked at him for a bit before his sister came in ready to hug and squeeze and squish the birthday boy until smiles and laughter filled the room.

I was trying to stop time with my Jedi mom mind powers. Just for a moment …

He woke up to hugs, smiles, and our annual birthday song, courtesy of the Beatles. The day had officially begun and years 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, were gone. He was in double digit territory now, but that didn’t mean the years were lost. They were still there sitting beneath the surface, nestled in his heart … 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 with all the memories they created.

The chocolate cakes with the chocolate frosting, the love for jumping in the pool and the power of the cannonball and it’s amazing splash potential, the fun in water slide adventures, the love for Word World, Wonder Pets, Sesame Street, and Mighty Machines, and how that turned into a love for America Ninja Warrior, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, Forged in Fire, Shark Week and anything involving STAR WARS, Superheros DC or Avengers. The enjoyment of those plastic golf clubs and baseball bats and how that developed into hockey, tennis, and anything where you get to hit a something.

10 brings up hundreds of books and night time reading favorites. 10 brings memories of his laughter that starts as a giggle and then turns into a full blown crack up. 10 brings memories of his early-riser pleasant nature, nothing grouchy about this kid in the morning, and his love of morning cartoons. 10 brings memories of meeting his baby sister in the hospital and being excited to see her. 10 brings memories of all the feel-good songs he used to get his day started and pump himself up, of the awesome dance moves that came with those songs. From One Direction, One Republic, Maroon 5, Cold Play, Michael Jackson and U2, to Aerosmith, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Earth, Wind and Fire, and The Beatles. 10 reminds me of all the Famous Amos and Oreo cookies gobbled up after pizza, pasta, tacos, or burritos, of the chocolate chip pancakes in the morning, and grilled cheese sandwiches or In-and-Out burgers at lunch. 10 reminds me that something special just happened and I better hold on to the rest of this ride … it’s gonna be an epic.

And we created a new memory, a Sandbucket List Adventure to celebrate double digits.

After morning celebrations and birthday present unwrapping, we headed off to the Go Kart race track where my speed machine revved his very first engine.

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Even though I was a little nervous seeing him up against teenagers and preteens and the speed in which they zigged and zagged, I didn’t have that crazy mom moment. I just smiled and said good luck, and remember the red lever is the brake. He only crashed four times on the hairpin turn in his first race but still managed to come in third place. His competitive nature propelled him forward in his other races. He inched his way to first place in his last two races. Four races in all and he felt awesome after each one.

And I was glad to have witnessed it.

Year 10 was filled with Go Kart Driving adventures, XBox challenges on NHL 17, and dinner at our favorite Italian place. Chocolate gelato included.

The birthday wish was saved for the chocolate cupcake at home. The birthday song was just like every year, loud and happy, but this chocolate frosting felt a little more chocolatey.

10 …. it’s a moment.

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

 

Celebrating With Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dances on Cloudy Days

15 Jul

So I stood there with my chocolate cupcake and chocolate frosting stopping time. Thinking about a day filed with tropical fish, jelly fish, penguins and sharks thinking about the seven years this amazing person has been in my life, mixed in with the eight-year anniversary of an awesome person leaving.

My daughter’s 7th birthday and my Dad’s passing.

It’s not a fun thing to feel a twinge of sadness on a day marked for happiness. It helped to remember that he liked to celebrate life on birthdays. My Dad enjoyed the sweetness of chocolate cake and frosting. He battled depression, but enjoyed laughing and feeling good. He didn’t like sadness and wanted to feel good, so he did what he could to make that happen. And that hard. He had his ups and downs, but he tried and succeeded on most days. Any chance at smiling he took it.

And so … on my daughter’s 7th birthday I did just that.

Any chance for smile and I took it.

Turning seven … that was something to smile about. The adventures of this little Ninja Warrior take me beyond smiles and go deep into laughter. She’s been the Rainbow Brite of my life during cloudy days.

On the last day of being six she mastered the blue and green water slides at the pool and cannon-balled her way to the 4 1/2 feet section of the pool.

“You don’t need to catch me,” she says.

On the last day of being six I didn’t catch her. But on the first day of being seven, I gave her the squishiest hug and the funkiest dance as we listened to the Beatles sing Today is Your Birthday.

I celebrated her contagious laughter and her impromptu Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dances after something good happens to her. I celebrated the awesome softball player she grew into. I celebrated the love she has for art, painting, drawing, coloring, and anything in the Bob Ross world. I celebrated her love for Multi-Grain Cheerios as her favorite breakfast meal, Mortadella and Salami sandwiches as her favorite snack, and black beans any time of day. I celebrate her enjoyment of baking cakes, cookies, and cupcakes, and laugh when she doesn’t want to eat them and just taste the frosting. I celebrated her adventurous spirit and willingness to give any kind of rollercoaster a try, as long as she meets the height requirement. I celebrated her love for hugs, that part I think was passed down to her from my Dad. I celebrated her love for the If You Give A Mouse a Cookie series of books and TV show. I celebrated her for being a caring sister who loves her brother so much that sometimes she bursts his personal space bubble. I celebrate her for being smart, strong, and sensitive at the same time. I celebrated her love for penguins at the aquarium and her first time touching baby sharks.

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We celebrated turning seven with a Napoleon-Dynamite-Soul-Train-Solid-Gold Dancer caliber happy dance and that made any twinge of sadness disappear. I laughed and felt joy and I knew if my Dad was watching that day he would be cracking up too and feeling joy. His spirit still lives in me and in his granddaughter.

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

 

 

What Matters Most

16 May

I’m not gonna lie … While everyone smiled and said things were good or great with enthusiasm and shared happy faces on social media, it was just all right for me.

Not a 24-hour marathon of spectacular. But I did have moments, and at the end of the day, when other people had tried to bring me down during the day, or made backhanded comments, or strangers were just rude, irritating, or projecting their negative attitude onto me, I still was able to remember those feel-good moments.

I settled in for the night and realized it wasn’t really a failure of a day, if I had moments like these.

You see most Mother’s Days are supposed to be stress free. They’re the one day you’re not supposed to do stuff. No dishes. No chores. No stress. All day something good, to know … Hey … I know what you do is hard and you’re appreciated. And at the end of the day when I found the cool side of my pillow, I realized the most important people in my life gave me moments like that, so it didn’t matter what other people said or did. My kids gave me something genuine and I stopped long enough to realize it, and that felt good.

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In the midst of things not falling into place this weekend and it not being a Facebook worthy adventure (even though I don’t post anything on there to begin with) I was grateful for the bowl of awesome Honey Nut Cheerios that was fixed up for me by my Nick Jr. Squad here. I was thankful for the cards created out of paper and crayon, written in their best fourth and first-grade writing. I was happy to see the ceramic purple and turquoise uneven masterpieces that melted my heart. I was glad it stopped sprinkling and the sun came out just as we got to the baseball field, just in time to enjoy Plan B and watch the players take the field.

These were the moments that I thought about at night. They might have seemed small to other people but turned out to be Big Time for me. I hope moms out there were able to find something in their day to hold onto, even if it was just one thing. It’s hard to find it sometimes, especially when you’re surrounded by everyone’s spectacular, amazing adventures caught online.

But don’t worry about what you see out there, sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes it’s just for show. It’s all flash and no substance. Thinking about what you’re grateful for and finding the moments that made you smile or pause throughout the day will be what fills you up. It will be what matters most, and what you remember.

So Buen Camino my friends! I hope all the moms out there had a good weekend.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

The Year of Eight … A Year of Firsts And Freeze Frames

19 Jul

Cupcakes after midnight …

A buddy of mine left this awesome flair for words for me last week. Sounds accurate … on so many levels.

I find myself again … baking after midnight and preparing for the first day of being nine and reminiscing on the last days of being eight. I think about him knowing my Dad the first two years of his life only, but having good thoughts about the time spent together.

Eight was a good year, some ups and downs, but overall a good year. A year of firsts.

 

The Year of Eight we took to the ice. First time playing hockey, first time scoring goals, first time for a hat trick, first time a sport gets his complete undivided attention. First time we have to wake up at 5 a.m. to be at a sporting event at 6 a.m.

First time for Boy Scout Adventures in the Great Outdoors and earning badges. First time for Pinewood Derbies and being proud of the green roadster we constructed. First time for Rocket Academies, archery and BB guns. Rockets being the favorite as we successfully launched them into the sky.

First time for reading Roald Dahl and loving Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, first time for reading all his books. First time for exploring so many books that I lost count but he continued with science adventure books about kids being his favorites.

First time for learning tough lessons about friends in third grade, and how sometimes they’re not so friendly. First time for brushing off the disappointment and then learning to chug along.

First time I hear that he wants to slow time down because things are going too fast, so I teach him about daily gratitude and being present in the moment. First time he tries it and it works. The sweet spot of Jar of Awesome moments last longer and time slows for a moment.

First time for jumping off the diving board at the swimming pool, took the swim test and passed the first time. Best cannonball ever. First time we won our cardboard boat race, it was the Dalmatian Monster Mutt that took us to victory. First time for Sandbox List Adventures to be crossed off, like being an America Ninja Warrior for the day, trying to climb that warped wall and tackle the obstacles. The first year for The Jar of Awesome …

The Year of Eight was a great year of firsts for my kid. I’m grateful I get the chance to write that letter for him and remember these things. I try to catch them in this time capsule because even though I slow things down, slow is too fast for these moments. Freeze frame seems more appropriate.

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But it just wasn’t a year of firsts there were many seconds, thirds, fourths, fifths … I remember all the times he got lost in the world of Legos, creating cities, battles, movies, and Star Wars scenes. I remember all the mini-figures he mixed and matched to create new characters in stories. I remember him wanting to play chess and always ready to setup the Star Wars chess set. He always wanted to be the good guys. I remember his love of chocolate, all kinds of chocolate, Kit Kats, Snickers and M&Ms being some of his favorites, although he also likes Doritos and discovered the wonders of Extra Spearmint Gum. I remember him discovering Minecraft, Minion Rush, Star Wars Commnader and Fruit Ninja on the iPad. I remember him waking up before 7 a.m. on Saturday mornings just to watch cartoons, The Jungle Bunch, Lego Star Wars Freemaker Adventures, Pokemon, Wild Kratts, Star War Rebels, SpongeBob, and The Lion Guard just to name a few. I remember how he always looked forward to Shark Week every year, marking the calendar and having a countdown of his own. Great White Shark is his favorite. I remember how he still wants to be a firefighter when he grows up.

I remember dancing to his feel-good songs and him cutting loose, every time. He feeeeeeels the music and he is the best Solid-Gold-Soul-Train-dancer in the house. Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal and Bruno Mars are some of his favorites. Although 80s always rule in the house. 80s and The Beatles. He smiles as I watch him dance and it’s priceless. I loved the Year of Eight dance moves.

I remembered all that tonight and more …

So tonight I hugged my eight-year old one last time before going to bed, one last time before he turned nine tomorrow morning. I hugged him extra tight, and took an extra breath as he was squished between my arms. He smelled like Dove soap. I held him tighter. I was trying to freeze-frame it. I asked him how his last day as an eight-year old turned out to be and he said it was awesome …

 

I rode my bike in the morning. Played some Legos. And then went to the Ninja Gym and did some America Ninja Warrior stuff, I got to the fourth wobbly cube, the green one. And then we had ice cream for dinner. It was awesome. Tomorrow I’ll be nine. I think it’s gonna be great …

 

The Year of Eight was good and now The Year of Nine begins. It begins with me baking, not cupcakes this time, but cake … cake after midnight. Chocolate, of course.

 

 

 

 

Gratitude With Diane Lane on Valentine’s Day

15 Feb

You know, I was never one for elaborate celebrations or grand gestures of love on Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked being the highlight of someone’s thoughts and getting some chocolate, or a nice card with hearts on it. I still liked knowing that I was on someone’s mind.

And I never made a huge deal of it so as not to put added pressure on whoever I was with at the time. But a card, a nice meal, some chocolate, some laughs, and a genuine hug that expressed heartfelt connection and intimacy was all I needed.

I look back now and remember times when I was younger and felt lonely, when grandiose productions of others professing their love made the loneliness bigger. I remember the Aquatnet days wanting that candy gram and plastic flower to be presented in class, you know, from that special someone. Now they have it on Facebook or Instagram for the whole world to witness this romanticism. Some people share just to be genuine and open up their book of life, letting us read a small page of it, others do it for showboating-look-at-me reasons, cheapening the heart and romance.

When you’re younger these things seem important.

But I realized how gratitude on Valentine’s Day is just as important as love.

I may not have gotten the red-carpet treatment, but I was able to share moments of life with people I loved. Babysitting for a friend over the weekend so that they could have some kid-less alone time and feel like normal people again made me smile. Getting a card with the best kindergarten spelling and Crayola Crayons masterpiece from my daughter filled my heart. Playing Valentine’s Bingo, cupid’s arrow, making kids at school smile and being helpful in my kids’ classroom hit the spot. Eating a steak dinner, I didn’t have to cook for myself brought a smile to my face. Finishing the night with a small band, playing some good tunes, while sipping a margarita felt nice. Ending the night with Haagen-Daasz chocolate ice cream and watching Netflix a definite plus.

A day and night filled with non-Facebook worthy moments, but special nevertheless.

During all this, I was reminded of Diane Lane in that movie Under The Tuscan Sun. I love Diane Lane. In the movie she talks about how she wanted a house, a home, dinner parties with family, being with people she loved, kids running around, laughter … that would have made her happy. Fast forward to the end of the movie when someone asks her if she remembered what she wanted when she first moved to Italy. Does she remember? She smiles as it hits her. She had a house, a home, dinner parties with people who had become her family, people she loved and that loved her, kids running around, not her kids but kids that brought her joy anyway, and laughter. She realized she had it. Happiness. They both smiled.

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🙂

Valentine’s became a day of gratitude, grateful for all the small acts of kindness and love that gave the sun more shine. It could have been a regular Tuesday for anybody, but it was my Valentine’s Day adventure, and I felt love from those that mattered most.