14
Sep

Fall

The leaves are starting to yellow in New York. The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, the mornings feel cold. No matter what the calendar says, it's fall in New York.

It dawned on me tonight that for the first time since I became a mama, I did not make a summer wish list. I just kind of let it happen. If I really sit down to think about why, I think that someone that lives and dies by lists, can't make a list and not check it off. And with 2020, everything is too up in the air to make a list and stick to it, so I didn't want to bother at all. So, I didn't. And like I have learned in the crazy year, the earth didn't explode, nothing stopped working, I just didn't make a list and that was ok. Do I love my summer and fall lists, god I do. Do I miss them, oh hell yes. Will I go back to them, I will I will, but NOT having a list did not mean our summer was awful.

In fact, we squeezed every bit out of this summer. We watch the sun go down, we stayed up talking, we laughed, we walked, we rode bikes, we watched so many movies, we swam in the ocean, we looked at the stars, we ate ice cream, we walked some more, we did so so many house projects, we hung around our puppy, we danced, we cried, we cleaned, we made so many messes, we did a ton of trips, we were tourists in our own town, we ate and ate and ate, we had so many s'mores, we fought, we slept, we napped, we worked, we worked out, we walked and walked lots more, we vacationed, we surprised each other, we celebrated birthdays, we talked a lot, we made fires and roasted marshmallows. We squeezed the hell out of this summer.

Last week, we talked about some of our favorite parts. I forgot that summer was when we came out of quarantine and started to see friends again. I talked about our little weekend getaway to the Brightfuls. We talked about the 4th of July, the Cape, mom and dad talked about our track day with the Berrys. We talked about our upcoming Lake weekend and how much we all really needed it.

We talked about how much fun the 4th was, even though it was certainly not our usual and how it was still full of magic. We talked about the Cape and how even in 2020, being so careful and with the masks, it was exactly what it has always been...8 fools madly in love and basking in the warmth. We talked about the water and the beach and our house there. At the peak of summer, it is hot and perfect. It was the time that I needed. The vacation and time away that was necessary. The normal in the crazy of 2020.

As we drove to the Lake, you could clearly see the start of fall. New York has a way of really setting fire to the trees and it's starting to happen. The yellow is happening at the tip of the leaf, some are showing signs of red, but there is still enough green to help you remember summer was only two weeks ago.

As we looked out our huge window onto the Lake, all I could feel was calm. We were surrounded by older kids who were able to be and do. We didn't have to keep such a cautious eye. But, still little and having fun playing in the water and acting like fools. We got to watch our boys snuggle in bed and say goodnight to each other, somehow like brothers. Our girls stay up talking too late like teenagers, all of us too tired to tell them to knock it off, maybe because it was too cute to stop.

It was the end that I needed. The goodbye that was necessary. The normal in the crazy of 2020.

Tomorrow, for the first time, my babies head to separate schools. My daughter, fully immersed in the in-between, is headed to middle school. Middle school. My baby girl is in middle school. I cried so so hard the day she started kindergarten. I could not believe that little face was climbing a bus and I lost it for weeks. By the time it was Cole's turn, I was a disaster at the reality that I would be working home alone for the first time since I was a mom. And tomorrow, this milestone hits. She is ready because she did not like being out of school for six months. She is ready because she likes teachers and misses friends. She is ready because she wants to have her routine and structure and separate life. She is ready because, she is. She is always more ready than me, why would this be any different.

My son will start grade 3. Ferdinand in all his glory. "Will you be kind"..."yeah". "Will you remember to listen and show respect..."yeah". "I love you..."I love you too". As we talked about all of the reasons we love each other...reasons like "you're smart mom, you have a big heart Cole, you're always up for playing with me buddy...I always have my playmate..." we said good-bye to our second grader. One more year, one more leap.

Like most in this country, this week marks us leaving each other for the first time in 6 months. I have no idea how we all did this. I have no idea what tomorrow will feel like. I have needed quiet for a very long time. I have needed time alone. But, I'm also me and walking away from them after six months is going to hit me. I'm going to feel weirdly alone and like it will be too quiet for a while. Six months is a fascinating amount of time. Day in and day out of each other and we all just kept going.

The leaves are starting to yellow in New York. The nights are cooler, the sun sets earlier, the mornings feel cold. No matter what the calendar says, it's fall in New York.

7
Sep

A deceptive peace

I cannot begin to explain to the world how much I needed March 2020. I did not need a pandemic and I did not need people getting sick or Americans losing their jobs/lives/livelihood. I did need the world to stop spinning for a while and I needed the time March gave me.

Being huddled up in my home during the cold month of March was like a miracle. Having everyone here with me, all of us safe and sound, it was heaven. I desperately missed our framily connections and I was so sad the grandparents couldn't connect with their babies, but we found really good and nurturing ways to stay connected and feeling loved.

March was long, really really long. But I needed it to go as slowly as it did. I was scared for my new business, I was scared for my family, our community, our country, I was. I was also tired. I was worn out and worn thin. I spent three years hurting myself and I needed it all to slow the hell down. I needed to see my family, I needed to work side by side with my husband, I needed to see him really shine with our kids as he taught them. I really really needed March.

April was lovely but eery. There was a deceptive peace as the magnitude of the virus really hit. We all started to really connect the dots on how long this was going to take us and there was no end in sight. More and more and more things shut down. Phases started to be introduced. The streets were empty. Stores, big and small, were closed. Restaurants really suffered. The deceptive peace really caved our walls in all around us.

As the weather got warmer, we became more hopeful, but longed for people and connection and coming out of hibernation. The deceptive peace had taken hold.

Grandparents drove to talk through the windows. People connected as much as they could in video meetings with friends/family/loved ones. As quickly as we were excited about connecting through video screens, we were also over it. Easter was canceled. Everything was eery, so quiet. Eery and quiet became the norm, a deceptive peace became our norm.

The deceptive peace made me at times feel so grateful for this time, so tired all of the time...I could not get enough sleep. There were moments when the peace filled me with so much joy but the deception of the peace had me so worried and filled with dread. What next? What happens now? How is this ever going to be fixed? Who do we know that's sick, who is lost forever? The deceptive peace had my dreams still filled with anxiety but my eyes continued to be heavy. I would do the littlest thing and the exhaustion was overwhelming. The deceptive peace had taken over my whole body.

Deceptive because...

It should not take a pandemic for me to settle down. It should not take a pandemic and a virus that knocks down the world for me to finally realize enough is enough. But, it did. And, this is who I am and that is a very hard pill to swallow and a lot for me to just accept.

The anxiousness still talked to me in my dreams. It still found me and told me that things were okay but not okay.It still asked me questions I had no idea the answers to. It still "what if"ed me all of the time.

We were expected to do everything, all at once, and everyone knew no one was doing anything well. Not one thing was being done well and with clarity. Instead, we all tried to "make the best of things".

Everyone was guessing, all of the time guessing. Everyone still is.

Deceptive because it snowed in May, riots started soon thereafter. A civil unsettling and reckoning were awakened and we were all called to task. We were all called to do more, listen more, say more, shut up more.

June, July and August all ran into each other. School "ended" and we all tried to make summer work and be summer. In so many ways, it was, in so many ways, it was not. Riots continued, more and more stories hit of the racial injustices of our world, our lives, our nation. We learned more, we were faced with the ugly truth of who we have always been.

June, July, and August all ran into each other. Kids tried to be kids. Vacations were had. Framily came back together. Grandparents got to spend time with their grand-kids again. And before we knew it, our little family had been together for six months. Six months.

In September, my daughter and I were taking of of our many walks and she said, so dad goes back to work in about 2 days...wow, it'll be weird without him home. After all this time, the deceptive peace became our normal, and the real normal now feels strange.

So yes, this week, we will have our ice cream for dinner tradition. We will say goodbye to summer. We will tuck dad in for his early mornings. We will continue to guess the right/wrong way to handle this all and we will figure it out.

For the past six months, you guys have been resilient. Calm. Crazy. Gotten along so well. Hated each other. Laughed together. Screamed at one another. Been on millions of walks. Saw framily. Reconnected with who you are. Gotten ready for a brand new school. Cried. Talked. Drew. Built. Ran. Rode bikes. Swam. Loved on Pearl. Watched a million movies. Read so many books. Spent hours of tablets. Shopped. Watched me work. Watched dad create a home. Hugged. Loved. Found peace.

9
Aug

Changes

Recently, I am back to my very old ways of being so down on myself, so down on my body, focused only on the imperfections, the things I want to go away. I am no longer focused on my strength or health, no longer on how I feel or how a certain workout makes me feel. I am solely focused on a look. I have no idea what that look is because I have never gotten there, but I am struggling.

I am struggling because all the things look and feel different now. My hair, my nose (I mean, seriously, my nose??!) my culi, my face, my legs, my chest, my ability to not have to sweat through everything. Things are changing, quickly. And I am taking a lot of careful notice and the struggle is deep rooted right now.

Yes, I have always struggled, yes. Yes, I have always cared too much, yes. Yes, I have always spoken low of myself and how I look, yes. But then I had a daughter. A daughter that really listening and carefully watches, and quietly takes notes. A daughter that started watching me, listening to me, and taking quiet notes on how I act. Even though I did not stop thinking about how my body could/should/would be different, I stopped saying it in front of her at all. And I did find, the less I talked about it, the less I thought about it. Recently, that has started to fade because all I am doing is putting myself down and I know I will slip and say something in front of her.

My body is of course changing. In some ways, it's normal aging. In some ways, it's a new workout that is changing how I look, in all ways, it does not matter. I am in my 40s, living with MS for almost half my life and I am healthy. I am still walking, still able to work out hard, still not only able to work, but able to really build careers. I can see, I don't need instruments or accommodations, there are times I have to slow down and times that the stress really screams at me but I am able. All of this comes with a "yet" or a "for now I can". I don't need any of this yet, and for right now, I am still able, but my body has done so so much for me. It's time that the only change is my own thought process. It's time I realize my body is enough.

Since I was diagnosed, I changed my mind and made health my priority. But, deep down, I always thought about how I was less than. When I had her, I stopped and really showed her the ways women are miracles, but I still struggled to say out loud that I am proud of all this body has done.

Dear legs, I want to thank you for hurting after long days but still have enough strength to carry me to my bed where I need to be, where I belong. Thank you for the long runs and the heavy workouts. Thank you for reminding me to stretch you out and pay attention to your muscles. Thank you for being able to withstand the injections I had to receive and for being enough.

Dear arms, I want to thank you for helping me carry two babies, some days for long long long periods of time. Thank you for then allowing me to carry toddlers that wanted to be thrown and held. Thank you for allowing me to play with my son and throw him in water. I want to thank you for allowing me to carry weights and increase my ability to lift more and more. Thank you for your strength as you hold me up in poses and balance all of my on you. Thank you for being enough.

Dear feet, I want to thank you for the hours and years of hard work you have put in. The training sessions, the miles and miles we have run. I want to thank you for your sound, the quiet you bring on a run. I want to thank you for your hardness because that means you are working hard. I want to thank you for carrying all of me, all of the time. I want to thank you for being tired and how you need warmth and love at night. Thank you for being enough.

Dear hands, I want to thank you for your gentle touch. The touch that strokes tears away. The one that would massage an ear to keep a baby awake during a late night feeding. The touch that caressed and showed so much love. The touch that would move aside a piece of hair. I want to thank you for holding big and little hands. I want to thank you for how you show love in that touch of yours, how others feel that love. Thank you for being enough.

Dear back, I want to thank you for the piggyback rides. I want to thank you for holding me up all of this time. I want to thank you for hurting when I'm stressed so I know to tap into that stress and find a way to relief. I want to thank you for your strength, your fragile strength. I want to thank you for carrying babies and kiddos on your shoulders. I want to thank you for being enough.

Dear stomach, I want to thank you for growing and creating babies with me. I want to thank you for making all of that room and making sure that they had enough space. I want to thank you for stretching and getting as big as they needed you to. I want to thank you for the scar that reminds me they are here. I have a permanent mark of their life. I want to thank you for telling me I need to eat now. I want to thank you for the aches you bring when I am not supplying my body with the right fuel. I want to thank you for bloating and allowing my daughter to feel that bloat. I want to thank you for allowing me to tell her that regardless if a woman wants to be a mom or not, this bloat comes because her body prepares for life. It is our incredible superpower and we should be so proud of that bloat. So proud of that little bump that is permanently there. I want to thank you for being enough.

Dear eyes, I want to thank you for allowing me to see my babies, watch them grow into people. I want to thank you for working so hard on so many projects and I want to thank you for becoming blurry when things are too much and you need a rest. You always tell me when my body needs to rest, you're the first indicator. Dear eyes, you will continue to grow weary and together, we will worry. They tell me you will suffer the most and the quickest from this disease and so far, you have just soldiered on. And for that, I want to thank you for being enough.

Dear muscles, thank you for growing and growing tired.

Dear hair, thank you for changing and being as crazy as you are. I am ready for the gray you are beginning to shine.

Dear mouth, thank you for my words and all the smooches.

Dear culi, thank you for the cushion you have provided, sitting is my favorite.

Okay body, it's time I put all this nonsense to bed. It is time I get back on track to protecting my health, my strength and my emotions. Enough of this garbage I am spewing and enough of all this BS I am putting in my mind. I am changing. My body is changing. This is not the first time, it will only come more rapidly now. Changes will happen so much more frequently and all I can do is be.

5
Jul

It's my honor

As milestones pile on and time starts really speeding up, this introverted mother has really gotten sad. So sad that you will find me folded into myself. So sad that I feel very heavy, unable to breathe, and like someone might be standing on my chest. So sad that I call framily huddled by garbage cans hysterical and unable to be understood. So sad, that I message framily and can't get through my thoughts because the tears won't stop coming. So sad that I need to make sure my littles don't see me so I hide.

And then, my wise loving friend reminded me...we get to watch our babies grow up. That is a privilege, it's actually an honor. And I never ever thought of it this way. We get to watch them grow and figure it out. We get to be a part of every single milestone so far. We get to experience this, we get to watch them figure it out, we get to do all of this.

When a mother has to do the unthinkable and put their babies to rest, I have heard them cry out for what I get to do. I won't ever see them...I won't ever watch them...I won't be able to be there when...that was all I needed to hear.

My sweet girl, my Anna James, the one I named after a strong woman that doesn't realize her strength, the one that started my path. From the moment I met you, I knew you would be teaching me. I knew that I would be following your lead and I knew that you would be in charge of our dance. There are times when I cannot believe I am the mom you are turning to because you have taught me way more than you will ever realize. I will continue to learn from you, I will continue to be the one you will lean on and I thank you for your gift of motherhood. Your smile, your personality, your sense of humor, your love of reading, your consumption of books as if they are food, your love of Nutella, your love of silly, your love of friends, your need for framily, your desire to stay little because you too love childhood. I promise I will listen more than I talk. I promise I will never make your feelings less than. I promise that I will remind you that a good night's sleep will cure most things. I promise I will laugh with you when things are funny. I promise to be silly. I promise to also be your mom, the one that sets your limits and boundaries, I promise to be your structure. Most importantly, I promise to be your foundation and the one you can always come home to. I promise to remind you how strong we are, how much we can do, how much we can overcome and I promise to fill you with the hope of a better tomorrow.

To my loving son, the one we named after a dad who you resemble in all of the best ways. The one that taught me, love, at first sight, was possible. The one that made me fall in love with joy again. The one that reminds me of how incredible it is to love love. The one that reminds me of why and how hard I fell for dad because you embody all the good that he also carries. The one that is just happy because life is good. The one that believes, always, that every day is the best day...just because it's a new one. The one that taught me to fall in love with Lego messes and building and who reminds me...connection brings peace. All you want is time with us and you will demand it no matter what. Your energy, your heart, your imagination, your creativity, your love of love, your little guys. I promise to play with you, I promise to really connect with you. I promise to always let you build. I promise to trust you. I promise to build you into a man that will be accountable for his actions and realize that every action has a consequence, you pick if it's good or bad. I promise to always love your love for your dad and remind him how special that is. I promise to always try and keep up with you. I promise to try and see things the way you do, and I promise to teach you to do the same.

My littles, there are so many things this mama does that needs a redo. So much I feel like I am messing up and so much I keep trying. But, there are also things that are being done right.

Like I will forever protect your childhood, it's how we approach everyday.

Like I never ever take advantage of the time we have, I know that it is fleeting and I know how small our window is so I see it every day...I see our family every day and I take us in and hold us close.

Like although I mess up, I have very little that I regret.

Like I didn't just introduce you to the concept of framily, I helped create and structure your first framily ties and connections. And, I picked right. I always have. From the framily that reminded me that this is my privilege, this is my honor, I get to watch you become...to the framily that got to work and filled my Amazon cart with things to put some love and connection and control in the uncontrollable...the ones I call crying when nothing makes sense and they listen and guide me...the ones that teach me that "what makes adults adults and kids kids is that even if we haven't been through THIS, we've been through STUFF. And, we can (even unconsciously) know that things can work out and things can get better and feelings and situations aren't forever. Kids haven't been through STUFF so they don't actually know any of that". The ones I call hiding near garbage cans. The ones I call locked in my room and freaking out and they bring their mama knowledge like the bosses they are. The ones that make me laugh by saying, "none of this is happening, so let's stop talking about it" because they too are scared. A hubby that reads about what and how to do this all. This is our circle of love. The trust we have built. The courage and needing of each other and the leaning and knowing we are always there. I didn't just introduce you to the concept of framily, no, I helped create and structure your first framily ties and connections.

Like how I apologize when I am wrong and ask for your forgiveness.

Like how I dance with you.

Like how I sing on the top of my lungs in the car and make you feel music and how it can move you and help work out your feelings.

Like how I taught you to love reading.

Like how I gave us the best puppies and taught us how important furry babies are.

Like how I love you spills from us in words, in touch, in actions.

Like how I taught you how important traditions are for building family and love and knowing what is coming and knowing how to make it special, even in the ordinary.

Like how I taught us to do happy hearts each Sunday.

So now, this is the next thing I will do for us. I cannot even pretend to say that I will not continue to fall apart at each and every single milestone. Of course I will. Watching you grow up does bring about a loss for me and I will forever lean on my framily for the support I will need. But, I swear to you, I will remember that it is my job to teach you that this is "stuff" and we all go through "stuff" and we all get through it. I will remember that although you are walking through your next chapter, you're always and forever the kids I love. I swear that I will remember that this is my honor that I get to watch you grow.

28
Jun

Hindsight

2020 is the year that we are living.

2020 is also what people call hindsight.

2020 has been one hell of a year and there is no way to remember it all so this is my very small attempt at gathering any sort of information and trying my hardest to remember it all.

The year started with me being full-time in my business. After 20 years, I said good-bye to my agency and I started on my own. For three years, I worked both, and I broke things. My feelings, my brain, my joy, my heart. I broke really really important things.

So I started with a few words, guides, phrases, and priorities that I needed. The year started with things like:

  • Calm and bright
  • Balance
  • Time
  • Connection
  • I wanted us to have breakfast together
  • I wanted to take family walks, walks alone, walks with just one of you at a time
  • More time spent on my body and care
  • Family games, puzzles, happy hearts
  • A little girl that was now in-between

January started with me still working as an interim CEO and needing to figure that out. It started with some enlightening things that my business needed, some structure. January was the start of my body starting to let go and release. Better sleep, deeper, more baths, calmer heart. A weekly schedule the way I wanted it to look. BUT, it was also when I wasn't able to be protective of my time and I was being pulled into doing "too much".

January was also a month that in our county, our President was under impeachment. When someone reminded me of that, I thought they were lying because that felt so long ago but they were right. It was all we could talk about and learn about. It was huge news.

February was even more quiet, more calm. It was cold and slow. I was still walking and my words became:

  • Slow down
  • Keep walking
  • Love
  • Valentine's Day
  • My littles, my little faces, their little big hearts
  • Snow days
  • Childhood
  • Giggles
  • The Coronavirus was starting to become a buzz word

By March, COVID-19 was a thing everywhere and to everyone. I was still walking, I was doing yoga three times a week, I was in a routine and still really really struggling with letting go. I was fighting with demons and my past. The words and phrases were now:

  • COVID-19
  • Dreams and heavy nightmares
  • Anxiety and struggles
  • Remembering who I am, what I accomplished, remembering my good
  • Yoga
  • Walks
  • Calming puppy time
  • Happy kiddos loving their new lifestyle
  • Easier days and nights
  • Gearing up for a busy spring and getting ready for a coaching season

In March is when schools closed for 5 weeks and we were floored. In March was the first time we did "panic shopping" and quickly realized we were not made for end of the world purchases. In March is when we felt our coziest...everyone was home, everyone was together. Hibernating in March feels so natural and wonderful. Things were hopeful, I thought by May we would all be normal again, we just needed to get through March, rebuild in April, and welcome May with open arms.

  • School closure
  • Distance learning
  • Flatten the curve
  • The world stopped spinning
  • Everything is closed
  • Sports stopped, all sports, everywhere, stopped.
  • Restaurants are take out only and we did Friday night take out every week
  • Everyone needs support
  • Lay-offs and unemployment at an all-time high
  • Tax deadline was extended
  • Concern over my business
  • Concern over our communities
  • The environment started to heal...immediately
  • Stay home, stay safe
  • NY Strong
  • Empty highways
  • Empty roads
  • Empty downtown
  • Closed up restaurants
  • Posted signs everywhere about safety
  • Work from home
  • House projects galore!
  • Sold out toilet paper
  • Sold out paper towels
  • Sold out hand sanitizer
  • Free resources
  • Gyms closed and online workouts
  • Time actually stood still...how is it still March was trending

Come April, we started to realize we were in this for a very long time. This was a long long haul and we had a lot of learning to do and things started to change daily.

  • Cancelation of Anna's birthday part
  • New normal
  • We're in this together
  • Front line workers
  • Overburdened hospitals
  • Finding out who we know is ill
  • Praying for strangers
  • Supporting family from afar
  • Friday night takeout continued
  • Zoom calls
  • Zoom meetings
  • Reconnecting differently
  • Really really missing people
  • Visits through windows
  • More and more house projects!
  • Murder hornets started to become a thing.
  • Running with kiddos by my side
  • More at-home workouts
  • Introverts and extroverts both struggled

May, May was the beginning of exhaustion. May started to feel warmer and people wanted to stop hibernating. In May, people wanted to see people and be around people again and started to really struggle with isolation.

  • It snowed in May
  • Then we had a tornado
  • Distance learning was implemented for the rest of the academic year
  • My daughter really struggled with not being able to say good-bye to her elementary years.
  • House projects were still coming and coming
  • Friday night takeout continued
  • More and more and more and more walks
  • Really big and important talks
  • Figuring out what to do during the weekends was really a struggle.
  • Figuring out what day it is was a struggle
  • All the cozy clothes all of the time for months and months and months
  • My business started to introduce webinar training
  • Social distancing and wearing masks started to become law.
  • Six-feet apart
  • Running with kiddos by my side
  • More at-home workouts
  • Can we, should we, how do we see people?
  • Hibernation was over and we were tired.
  • George Floyd
  • Say his name
  • Black lives matter
  • BLM
  • Protests
  • Systematic racism
  • Anti-racist
  • Passive racist

The end of May and beginning of June, June was the start of another civil rights movement. Another black man was murdered and America responded.

Talks became even more important. It was time our family of four also learned how we were contributing to the problem and in no way being part of the solution. We all dug deeper and did more. June was important.

  • Phases
  • Phase 1-3 were implemented
  • Phase four was discussed but no gyms
  • Running with kiddos by my side
  • More at-home workouts
  • Friday night takeout
  • Elementary graduation was tough and mama cried
  • Summer vacation?
  • Say Her name - Breonna Taylor
  • Social media Blackout
  • Black Lives Matter streets
  • Marches/protests/kneeling
  • Elijah McClain
  • #518 Mamas for BLM
  • Opening up slowly and carefully to friends and family.
  • Stores and restaurants slowly starting to reopen.
  • One way signs in stores
  • Social distancing
  • 6-feet apart
  • Masks mandatory
  • 2 weeks quarantine if you leave the state
  • How to spend our days?
  • Track will race, no spectators

It's only been three months. When we look back what will we remember? What will stand out, what will be an "oh yeah" moment? What will be good about this, what will be hard? What will heal because we stopped moving and what will change because we refused to compromise? Hindsight is 2020.

22
Jun

To our rising girl

For six years, more than half your life, you have walked through those doors, walked down each hallway, learned your way, and loved your days. You have stayed in touch with the teachers you have met, you have opened your heart to new friends, you have loved being a part of this school.

Anna James, you loved your elementary school and the years you grew and developed there. You loved the activities, the before and after school "things", you loved their events, you loved the bus, you loved walking into the school, you loved the people you met, you loved loved loved your elementary years.

Yes, your last year was so hard on your heart. Yes, many months were taken from you and yes, you do not feel that there was closure and a real good-bye. But, you did do it. You worked, you learned, you connected, you found ways to make people feel connected to you, you were resilient, even if you were sad and lonely and a little heartbroken and unstable. All of those feelings are ok Bella. This is why I didn't allow us to ignore them or make them feel "small" because to you, this is the biggest thing that has happened to you. In a lot of ways, I too feel as though we didn't get to close the door on this incredible milestone. You are becoming a middle schooler, you are a rising sixth grader.

When the pandemic first hit in March, and we thought this was life for the next five weeks, it felt so cozy and family-centered. We really regrouped and found a great rhythm. We missed our framily and connections but damn, we found so many ways to still feel connected and close. We also found this gorgeous dance in our house. As mom started to slow down and find her new balance, you guys did your work, and we all snuggled into the office or in front of the fireplace. We would huddle around the island and even found times for walks, we were so warm and snuggled.

As the reality of the pandemic settled in, we all quickly realized, this is it... this is the new way we do school, life is all different, our days are way different and we went through the roller-coaster of emotions. You, sweet girl, you took it the hardest.

You missed the most. You missed friends and teachers and classrooms and activities and connection and important field trips and little special moments and all of it was ripped from you. You had to say good-bye from afar and you were hurting. I was hurting. We would talk about it on our walks, we would talk about it at nighttime, we would talk about it so you didn't feel like it was nothing or you needed to keep it from us. We would also talk about the good things that came out of this. We would talk about some of the really important positives and no matter what, you made it, we made it.

I know that these last few months were important to you. I know that being in that building, saying goodbye to important people in your life was important to you. I know that it was going to make you feel more ready for your next chapter, not less sad, but more ready. I know none of that happened. I know.

So to you sweet girl I say this. This is the year that will make history. It will be written and talked about and your experience will always matter. You will forever remember this. Whatever comes our way this fall, we will deal and do. We will figure it out together and we will make sure you are ready and feel like you will also appreciate and love this next experience.

There is one thing that is always true about you, you always try. You also make friends, you always connect, and you always do your best. It's all you can do and you definitely do so you've got this. Now, go be you.

14
Jun

Better

To my gorgeous blond hair, blue eyes, porcelain skin beauties...it is time you learn how we all need to do better. It is time that we have long and difficult conversations about the fact that you were born white, to a middle-class family, you are afforded more. More opportunities, more open doors, more safety. Not for any reason, not because you worked for it, not because deserve it and others don't. But, because of how you were born vs how someone else was born. We will do better.

You have heard us talk about this a lot recently. You have heard voices get raised and conversations get heated and you have heard us all ask ourselves what we carry, how we can do better, what part we have played in this. You have heard mom admit all of the ways she has messed up, you have heard dad call people out, himself out, you have heard us call each other out. We will do better, we will not just try, we will.

You have seen the news, you have seen the protests and you have seen what this country is, how this country was built and how we will decide how it moves forward and we will decide what side of history we will be on. We will be on the right side of history because we will do better.

You have been asked to research MLK, you have been asked to research Frederick Douglas, and you will continue to do more research on our actual history. We took this land away from people and then took people from their land to build it for us. You will be asked to research what protests were like and will continue to be like, until we all do better.

You will learn how this country was built on the backs of people of color, of slaves that we took and dragged here. We took people away from their homes and we turned them into animals, we as a country need to reconcile that unbelievable black mark on our souls. You will learn how people of color are still treated less than, are still seen as beneath us and how we, as a country, continue to make sure that is where they stay. But we will do better.

We will do better in small and big ways. We will look deeper, we will ask ourselves why we did or did not do this or that. We will look first at ourselves, what have I done/not done...why? What have I let go and why? What does racism look like for me and how do I change that within me? We will call each other out on things, we will not take any of this lightly and we will not let this go, a few days, weeks, months from now. We will not look at it like a mountain we cannot figure out how to climb. We will climb it step by step and we will do better.

We will not judge how others decide to protest. We will not tell them how or when or what it can/can't look like. Mamma would burn a city down too if you were taken from me by a system that took away my family. We will not tell them to be quiet, no, instead, we will be quiet and we will just listen and do better.

We will not receive a gold star for doing better. You will not be told, "good job" for being a decent human. Because that is not a thing. We will do better anyway.

We will shop with intent. We have researched black businesses that we will support. In all areas...from home to jewelry to art to cooking. We will support them.

We will eat with intent. We will no longer go to a city and "see where to eat" we will look at black owned restaurants and we will support them.

We will read with intent. We will continue to read books like "The Front Desk" and we will look into black authors and read books on their view of our America. We will read them, we will learn, we will discuss them, we will do better.

We will listen. We will shut up and listen and we will believe people of color when they tell us of their experiences. We will not say things like "if that is true then" or "did that really happen?" No, we will listen, we will believe, and we will apologize because this is not our America if we decide it won't be. We will do better.

We will vote. We will tell our "leader" you are not a leader. A title does not make you one. You have failed us, you have failed all of us and you do not represent who we want to be. You represent what we once were and no longer want to be. Do you hear me, this is not the America we want. We will vote locally and tell our current representatives, do better. We will tell the man in the big white house that was built by slaves, get out. You don't belong there, you refuse to do better but we will.

We will lose people, not to murder, like too many black people have had to do, but to their unwillingness to go deeper and look at what they have. We will ask them to dig and we may have to walk away if they cannot see it because we will no longer say "I understand where they are coming from" not on this issue. Not on this. We will demand better.

We will volunteer our time, our services, our talents, our everything. We will do better.

I admit, I have rarely ever had "my America feeling". I struggle with how we all got here. What we took, who we destroyed to live how we do. I struggle with what we continue to do to those that are also Americans. I struggle with what we have stood for, what we continue to stand for. But, these past few weeks, I cannot imagine a more beautiful America. Everywhere, on every corner, people have risen to say, we are with you. We believe you and we are with you. That is the America we want and there are more of us that want change and we cannot lose sight of that. Look at the women's march in 2017, look at the #MeToo movement, look the highschoolers that changed gun laws, look at the #BlackLivesMatter movement, we can be a force to be reckoned with. We can be bigger than life, we can be powerful and THAT is how I get my "America feeling."

We can make this happen, we can affect how this continues to look. There was a line in The Front Desk that made me cry and for the fourth time in my life get "an America feeling." An immigrant telling his daughter "America is not perfect, but this is why we moved here, because she's always changing for the better." That makes her beautiful.

7
Jun

The elements

I started a class. A course to change my thoughts, my patterns. To change the constant motion I am in and slow the hell down. Last week, we talked through the elements and it became so clear to me how each one lives in our home.

Fire provides heat and light, warmth. We are warmth. We are passionate and our natural intensity compels others to take notice that makes us natural-born leaders. We follow our gut instinct and become fully committed to what we believe. Our passion turns to anger quickly and blinds us when hurting those close. When not contained, Fire spreads to anything nearby we need other elements to survive. Anna and I are part Fire. We are passionate and focused and decisive. We are warm and bright. We are prone to anger and rage, we are easily irritated and fight hard to not be vindictive.

The Earth is stable and reliable, yet constantly working and moving. We are practical and logical and stand firm in our convictions. We learn through experience and believe in setting achievable goals that are attained through hard work. Our home is welcoming and warm and always open to friends and family, which is fitting considering we are a bit of a homebody. While we are always friendly, we do not let people into the inner circle easily. However, once we do, we are loyal to a fault. On the opposite side of this, we can be overprotective. As it is impossible to stop the world from turning, it is also impossible to change our mind once it has been made up. We. Are. Stubborn. and bull-headed and will often stick to our position for no other reason than it is your position. In relationships, we are empathetic and nurturing and don’t mind waiting out a few rough patches. I am part Earth. I am stable and consistent, I am hard-working and loyal and nurturing and empathetic. I am stubborn and rigid as hell!

Water is constantly flowing, it is flexible and goes with the flow. It is the balance to fire, it is my balance. Cory, you have always been and will always be my balance. On the outside, you may seem calm and collected but inside, your feelings are boiling. You are compassionate and caring and can relate easily to others. You connect with people whole-heartedly, which can sometimes make you overly trusting. When spread too thin you are ineffectual, but when collected and focused you are a force to be reckoned with. You see life as a journey and every movement you make is part of a definite path (though sometimes an unexpected one).

However, your ability to connect so deeply also makes you prone to carrying other people’s burdens, my burdens lovey. This compassion for others leaves your own needs neglected. Your emotions ebb and flow, making you sometimes volatile and irrational. You must find balance in learning to help others and learning to help yourself in order to find harmony. You sweet love, you are water. You are understanding, and trusting and devoted, and forgiving. You are flexible and gullible and want harmony and everyone to go with the flow. You help me put out my fire and you water my earth.

Air is constantly in motion, even when you can’t see it. This is the same for sweet incredible Cole. You find clever solutions to difficult problems, you see the big picture and the details. You are outgoing, rational, and clever, you are scattered, eccentric, and everywhere. You are easily distracted and strongest when focused on one problem at a time. Cole, you are thoughtful and witty, charming, and carefree. You flow and are everywhere in constant motion. You are air.

Anna, you are my fuel, you keep me warm. Cole, you are the air we breathe, you keep us in motion and inhaling. Cor, you keep our flames tamed, you water my earth, you keep me alive.

31
May

The magic of play

And I would sit in my home and do laundry and cleanup and live in my reality and get to watch my six-year-old play and create worlds and friends and whole conversations. It was as real to them as the laundry was to me...

Have you ever peaked in on a little one playing alone? Have you ever listened in on the full on conversations they have...all by themselves? Have you ever been cautious, knowing the second they spy you, it stops because they start laughing to themselves?

Have you ever stopped what you were doing and really listened to the whole world and people they create around them? How real it is to them? How boredom is not boring when you are this young and you have so much magic living right inside of you? How real this world is to them? How engrossed they become, how large this world is? Have you ever watched a child play?

Do you remember doing this too? Do you remember playing this way? I definitely do. I remember that little big world that I created, I remember the discussions, I remember feeling not alone. I remember doing it with my parents "around" but when I noticed them, I would feel differently. The world would shatter because their reality would set in. I remember playing school with real students sitting there, I remember assigning homework and doing math problems. I remember the wall I used in my pantry as a chalk board and I remember my basement when we moved being my whole world. I remember posts in my house being people, I remember dancing with them. I remember playing.

Have you ever watched this world be built from the ground up? Have you ever seen how intricate it becomes, how legos become whole worlds, amusement parks, stadiums, war zones, homes, communities? I have a little one building communities like crazy in here. Have you ever watched a child play?

Have you listened to the families they create? Have you listened to how they set up different rooms in their homes and cradle their babies and talk about having to go to work and the pets they have? I have a little one creating her dream family, from the ground up, all the things she wants, baby in hand, career ready to go, dinner with those she loves. I have a little one creating a family. Have you ever watched a child play?

I remember how young it started, how my 2 year old would spend his days creating and building and constructing and conversing. I remember working close by and whenever I was able to take just one little breath, I would hear this tiny voice in the room next to my office, I would hear his imagination and all he was up to. I would smile so hard tears would spring to my eyes. Here he is at 8, doing the exact same.

I remember a little girl, my one and only, for three incredible years. I would watch her take care of her toys, I would watch her dress up and make and become so involved in the world she was creating. Here she is at 11, and that little girl is still there. The little girl that still wants to play with a doll and have a make-believe moment because it's not make-believe, it's her reality. Even living in the in-between has not robbed her of this joy.

Have you seen magic unfold in front of you? Have you seen the magic of play take over? Have you ever watched a child play?

10
May

Mother's Day 2020

This year, I asked for all to be calm and bright.

I asked for time with you, time to regroup, time to calm my nerves, time to do one job only, and take on a new career, time to find the strength to walk away from a 20-year project. Time to linger and sleep, god, I really really needed so much sleep. I asked for time.

I asked for quiet, I asked for sleep. I asked for darkness and rain and sunny days and walks with Pearl. I asked for days off. I asked for time off during the day. I asked for more and for less. I asked for quiet moments to read, and look at you, and listen. I asked for it to be quiet.

I asked for you, I asked for you to talk to me. I asked for you to want and need this time as much as I did. I asked for your heart, I asked for your stories, I asked for your ramblings, I asked you to lean on me. I asked you to trust me, I asked the universe to give me the courage to not react, but to really listen and build on our already strong foundation. I asked for you lovies.

I asked for perspective, to get a grip on reality. I asked for fewer distractions, I asked for me to find out what I now am. I asked for my heart to grow and let go, I asked for a change to not make me feel like everything was ending but I also asked for grace to be sad. I asked for perspective on moving on, forward, and remember that love is what I do best. I needed perspective to get a firmer grip but a losen the hold I always need.

I asked for grace. Grace for me from me. I asked myself to remember how hard I worked, how much I care, how much I always do the best I can, how I am the first to admit that I could have done it better, but the grace that I did all I could, gave it all I had and did so only with love. I will always give it all I have. This all in girl needed grace.

So, here we are. I got all I wanted, all I needed. I have so much time. I have all of you, all of the time. I sleep and nap and then sleep more. I have given myself permission to sleep all I want when I want. That's grace for you. I read here and there. I work out. I eat so much and it feels so good. I binge-watch everything and I love it. I drink and that too feels so right. I have a new perspective and so many less distractions. I have all of you. I have everything I asked for.

It looks different than when I asked...it always does. It comes with the rest of life and the world tied to it...it always does. It comes with worry and concern and stir crazy emotions and tears...it always does. But, we are here. All of us, under one roof. We are safe, we have all we need, most of what we want, we have each other.

This mother's day, I am forever grateful that you talk my ear off Anna. I am forever grateful that our walks mean so much to you. I am so sorry how much we all miss our friends, so much that it is painful. I am so sorry that there are days we all just need a good cry...that unfortunately will never change.

I am grateful that you come with me on my runs monkey. Even on the days I so badly need just an hour alone, you're all in with me and you're ready to tackle that challenge. I am grateful that you love to work out with us. I am grateful that you love our reading dates and time with us, it is all you want...all of the time.

I am grateful that Pearl hugs us all and gets really upset if we're not all together. I am grateful for her sloppy kisses and playful heart. I am grateful for ball games in the backyard and a deck we are all enjoying.

I am grateful that during a normal spring we wouldn't even see dad but he is home, working with you on all of the school work, working on house projects. I am grateful he is so good at this, and even if he grumbles, he really loves it because he's so proud of himself and he should be, everything he does he does with only love for us in his heart.

I am grateful for the time, perspective, grace, quiet, you.

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