This life.

There was another life that I might have had, but I am having this one. - –KAZUO ISHIGURO

I think of the different directions I could have gone in.
What if I stayed with Nonna and Nonno?
What if I didn't start at BBBS?
What if I had stayed with that boyfriend or the other?
What if I hadn't walked into that Blockbuster?
What if I didn't say yes to babies?
What if I didn't start this business?

But I am having this one.
The one in which an agency raised me.
The one in which I did go off on my own and I actually did it.
The one in which I found someone that wanted to do this life with me, not for me.
The one in which we moved to Saratoga Springs.
The one in which we made two amazing people.
The one in which we held our first puppy while she left us.
The one in which I did take a chance on me, again, and I did start something.

What if I didn't meet the girls I met at Geneseo?
What if I didn't surround myself with people that believed in me?
What if I never believed them that I need to start believing in myself just a little bit?
What if I didn't use writing to heal?
What if I didn't go to that therapist?
What if I didn't start to prove I could do hard things?

But I am having this one.
The one in which I met framily.
The one in which I forever and always tried to fill a space.
The one in which I was always searching.
The one in which I am finally done proving I do hard.
The one in which I can put down my fighting gloves, I don't need them anymore.
The one in which I found family.

What if I had held strong at saying no to you?
What if dad didn't say yes to Pearl?
What if I didn't get to find out about mothering?
What if we had smaller lives...quieter even?
What if we had stayed put in Rochester?

But I am having this one.
The one where I get to mother.
The one where I see how small our window of time is.
The one where I see it getting smaller and smaller and smaller.
The one where I get to walk and run and snuggle and play with a puppy that fills me so.
The one where our lives are big, and loud, and chaos.

I am having this one.


Five Minute Friday - owe

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on owe.


I owe you my happiness because you gave me mine.
I owe you my smile because yours is sunshine.
I owe you my heart because you make it beat.
I owe you my commitment to us because you are committed to us.
I owe you my joy because you gave me yours.

I owe you my motherhood because you convinced me to mother.
I owe you my kids' eyes because they are yours.
I owe you my home because you built all of it.

I owe you my soul because you brought it to life.
I owe you toes because they are happiest touching yours.
I owe you my hands because they are the happiest holding yours.
I owe you my health because you took care of me, you take care of me.

I owe you my hugs because you give the best ones.
I owe you my smooches because you are one amazing smoocher.
I owe you my time because 23 years is a long flipping time.
I owe you forgiveness because we all make mistakes.
I owe you apologies because we all make mistakes.

I owe you this life, the one we created, built, fought for, fight for.
I owe you.



A long time ago

One day, now will be a long time ago.

One day, you were here.
You were small and made small noises.
You were sound asleep most of the time and your eyes were too big for your face.
You were learning and taking it all in. You were magic, that first year was absolute magic.

One day, you were walking and talking and into everything.
You had opinions, strong ones. You were strong-willed and determined and still had a deep deep desire to please. You wanted us to be so proud of you, and were beamed in adoration.

One day, you became a big sister and he took over with the small and small noises.
But damn, he was NOT going to be like you.
See, you wanted to stand out, be your very own Houser, be your own bag of tricks.

One day, you fell madly in love with her and you never ever turned back.
One day, you too were talking and singing and trying new things.
One day, you were so angry you couldn't walk and do as much as she could and then the next, you could.

One day, the days started to run into each other.
Years became blurry.
Your dad and I fought through a heavy fog and then came out the other side.
One day, I breathed all of you in, your smell, your little, your voices, your laughs, and then, one day it all went away.

One day, kids took the place of babies. Little baby equipment was replaced with sports equipment.
Little kid books were replaced with chapter books and then novels.
One day, you left elementary and you slowly and very gently entered middle school.
One day, you stopped letting me hold your hand in public and give little guy smooches and swoop you up.

Now, you, our first, are entering high school. A teenager, talking about saving for a car.
Now, you, our last, are leaving elementary and headed to middle school and we are forever saying goodbye to the elementary building that held you both for so long.
Now, friends are your whole world, and you found good people.
Now, sports are all you can think about, and connecting with your buddies.
One day, now will be a long time ago.



Sometimes, to keep going, we have to allow ourselves to stop. - Gretchen Rubin
For most of my life, I wore busy like a badge of honor.
It's not that I loved busy, I just had no idea how to stop.
And my life got more and more complicated as things got harder and harder.
The whole time I knew I was the one to blame, but I did not know how to stop.
Actually, I did not know that stopping was even an option.

Go go go was my jam.
Work hard, be hard, be hard on yourself, push yourself hard, be tougher than that.
Go faster, work even harder, get that goal, push push push.

By the time I reached my breaking point I also reached a place of no return because not only did I not stop, I doubled-down on too much.
And for three years, I was unwell.
And although I see that as the toughest I have ever had to be, I to this day, do not see a different way to have done what I felt needed to get done.
I needed to leave a career that defined me and build a company from scratch.
I needed to leave all that I knew about myself and create something I didn't think I deserved.
But I also knew that I could not continue and keep on the same course.
I was finally ready to learn how to stop.

Just as the world stopped spinning so did I.

Sometimes, to keep going, we have to allow ourselves to stop.
I knew I wanted to build a business that allowed me to be more than my career.
And who would have thought building a business would be less than what I was putting myself through, but it was.
I still cannot believe and will never understand that it took a pandemic for me to learn how to live differently.
I honestly have no idea what I would have done if it did not exist...would I have found my same groove?
Would I have realized how much I need rest and peace and stillness?
Or would I have turned this new start into the same old?

Regardless, I stopped and what I found out is how important that is to keep going.
I stopped begging for work.
I stopped begging for it to work.
I stopped waking before 4 to get to work.
I stopped working until my body fell apart.
I stopped hurting my brain and my body.
I stopped putting so much pressure on me that pressure was the only feeling left.
I stopped feeling like I could feel all the nerves in my body.
I stopped sleeping in fists, I stopped dreaming in nightmares.
I stopped crying all of the time.
I stopped worrying most of the time.

And I started something very new.
I started breathing normally again.
I started having thoughts that included joy and excitement again.
I started sleeping through the night and dreaming.
I started seeing my children and hearing their stories.
I started to smile again.
I started to recognize joy.

I found myself.
A little of the old me, a lot of new.
A little bit more calm, a lot more aware.
A little more intentional, a lot more loving.
I found myself when I just stopped.


Five Minute Friday - have

Every Friday we unite for five minutes. Only five minutes, that's all we get, that's all we have. And then, right where we are, no edits or second-thoughts, we publish those words. This week, we write on have.

To have and to hold.
To hold your hand.
To have your back.

To hold you and your courage up.
To have your love wrapped up in all of me.

To hold on to who we were.
To have a plan for where we are going.

To hold on to our past and our simple.
To have excitement for all of our tomorrows.

To hold on to your smile, your warmth.
To have that smile live on in our beautiful children.

To hold up my end of us.
To have you carry me.

To hold on to why we started, what makes us...us.
To have our memories keep us warm during the darkest times.

To hold you, snuggle into my place in your nook.
To have you hold me too, and remember where I am most safe.

To hold in a deep breath, remember to exhale, and let go of the pain we have created, caused, lived through.
To have us each take a step back, take a look at the beautiful life we actually created, and remember how lucky we are.

To have and to hold sweet love.


And then-

And then my father was diagnosed and everything in my life was chaos.
And it was complicated.
And I held his hand and walked him to his end.
And I held her hand too and took care of all I could.
And I worked in hospital rooms and hallways.
And I worked in cars driving to and from.
And I set meetings up wondering, am I going to make it to this one?
And I answered calls at 3am.
And I ran to emergency rooms.
And they called all of the time because they were so scared.
And I learned so much about things I never wanted to know about.
And I tried.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, doctors started asking me if I had a medical degree.
And then I had to explain that I have no idea what is going on, but I have learned too much and am trying to keep up, for them.
And then, I had to turn around and explain it.
And then, we had to keep him whole and hopeful.
And we had to keep him fighting but also realizing that, this blessed sip of life, it is not forever.
And we had to talk to her much more honestly, but she still didn't want to believe.
And we had to make decisions and calls that we couldn't get through without catching our breath.
And then the doctor called me and asked me if we were ready.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, it was over.
And I realized that 13 months is a lifetime and too short of a time all at the same time.
And I realized how much they cared for each other - at the very end, their love and obligation, and care and heartache - that was all that was left on the table.
And I remembered family, and how much we all show up for one another.
How family came in groups and really really surrounded us with love.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, she started calling her hard days, dark days.
Because at every turn, we saw him -
in his house, every brick, every tile, every cabinet, every single inch of that house we saw him.
in his cars, in how clean and organized and pristine they were, we saw him.
in pictures, in ones he kept of his littles tucked into corners of visers and frames all over his office, and in ones of him, in ones that pop up on all of our googles, we saw him.
in stories, memories, laughter, tears, anger, and complicated feelings, we saw him.
in his grandkids, in their grit, in their curls, in their love of soccer, in their effortless charisma, in their stubbornness, we saw him.
We saw him everywhere and every day and in every way.
She called those days, the days he was at every turn, her dark days.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.

And then, we kept waking up and going forward.
And we kept on.
And we all kept trying.
And slowly, she started to smile.
And even more slowly, she stopped crying all day every day.
But when she's with him, when she visits him at his grave, it's like she's a new bride in mourning.
But she made it through so many first holidays without him.
And we joked about all he would have complained about at my Thanksgiving dinner.
And that night, for the first time, he visited her in her dreams.
And she hosted Christmas Eve, while tears fell down our faces.
And she lost her breath while opening presents that meant a lot to her.
And she hugged her grandkids and kept saying how much she missed Nonno.
And then, I cried and cried and cried.


Here and now

Do not look back. And do not dream about the future, either...Your duty, your reward—your destiny—are here and now. –DAG HAMMARSKJOLD

I spend a lot of time deep in my past.
I also spend quite a bit of time wondering about my future.
That leaves very little time for the here and now.

Several years ago, I made a shift.
It wasn't overnight, and it wasn't a huge change, but it was significant for me.
I was never 100 percent where I was supposed to be, I was never 100 percent "present" but I leaned a little harder into the here and now.

It started with my runs.
I stopped racing and I started just running.
I no longer had to hit miles, I no longer racked them up, and I no longer had to prove I could do hard things.
Instead, I ran. I just ran to go for runs.
I stopped sometimes.
I watched the seasons change.
I watched my puppy.
I looked at the trees around me, I paid attention to the sky.
I looked at my surroundings, a lot.
I noticed things...like my breath and the sound of my feet.
I listened to her tag rattle against her collar and I heard the pitter-patter of her little feet too.

I then moved on to baths.
I took them much more often.
I sank into them, I really really sank into the warmth.
It felt like a hug and I just sat.
I lit candles, sometimes.
I made it a bubble bath, sometimes.
I brought wine with me, sometimes.
Sometimes I read or listened to music.
Other times I just sat there, alone, in the quiet.

Then, I started reading more, or again, or more again.
Either way, I started to end my night with a book instead of a screen.
I started to get lost in other stories instead of everyday reality, we all get enough of that.
I read slowly but that's okay, it's amazing how once you start reading more, you want to read more and more.
And I forgot how much I get lost in books and stories and how attached I get to characters.
How much I learn about myself or find myself attracted to a personality.
So, I started to read a lot more.

I started walking as a hobby.
My puppy and I walk and walk and walk.
I can feel my body open up.
I can feel myself calm the hell down.
How can you not with that little face so excited to take in the smells and sights?
She is so so happy on her walks and her joy is kind of everything.

Then, I took a look at my work.
How crazed I get about the mistakes of my past and worried about the future.
The traps I fall into like all of the "what ifs". I play the "what if" game a hell of a lot!
But, I didn't want to wake up again and have killed my joy of this path too so I got a handle on it.
I didn't want to realize that I was living a life of constant nightmares and crying so I needed to fix it.
So, I went to work on fixing my work and what it means to me.
I tried to remember that I am not my mistakes.
That I need thicker skin, most times.
I then realized that I can take some breaks.
I can clear my head.
I have the right people around me that have my back.
People smarter than me that work hard and keep me informed.
I found a way to start problem-solving again and being much more solution focused - I had forgotten I can do that.
I deal with things one at a time.
I try to not get too wrapped up in my self-made traps and I am learning a different style and approach.

I am not always and forever in the "here and now".
It's not who I am or how I tick, but I am trying and I am getting a little bit better.
And the most incredible thing I have noticed is, I do like noticing things.
I love watching the lake I run by change with the seasons.
I love taking in the colors of summer and the bitter gray of the winters in NY.
I love how many trips we now get to fit in and I love that the kids realize I am around and I love love love that I no longer feel like someone is standing on my chest.

Your duty, your reward—your destiny—are here and now.


Living a little slower

"But rushing around seems what's wrong with the world..." DMB

I live a life of doing...striving...full of grit...full of determination...full of goals...and next steps...I always rush.
From one meeting to the next, from one thing to the other, I wore busy like a freaking badge of honor.

Grit, determination, goals, and even stress...those can all be good things.
Until they are not.
Like everything in the world, too much of a good thing is never good and I always crossed a line.
And my biggest complaint was exhaustion but I was unable to sleep. No longer dreaming but living in nightmares.

I was burnt out and I felt like my life had no meaning.
If I wasn't running, what was the point?
I had a goal in mind and I was going to get there, even if it made me a disaster.

And then I gave up a career that defined me and I started something I never imagined I could.
I gave up on what I thought I was always and forever meant for, but what I clearly was loving to death.
Because it was going to be the end of the real me if I stayed much longer.

And then the world stopped spinning and COVID forced us all to stop.
So stop I did.
I stopped rushing and planning and meeting.
I stopped races and racing.
I put a stop to proving I could do hard things. I already know I can so who do I need to prove it to anymore?

And then I figured out how sick I was - how sick I was making myself.
Because it's not normal to cry that much.
It's not normal to have dreams that are war zones.
It's not normal to feel like someone is standing on your chest.
And it's not normal to work that damn hard.
It's also not normal to get the shakes, to forget the most important and the least important things.

And then my father was diagnosed and everything in my life was chaos.
And it was complicated.
And I tried.
And I cried and cried and cried.
And through all of the pain, chaos, dysfunction, complications, and family dynamics, I felt prepared.
I felt as though my heartbeat had finally slowed.
It was no longer racing in my chest, but instead it slowed down even more.

Because I had changed.
I was no longer the woman that was looking to prove herself.
I was showing up for very different reasons.
I was also losing huge parts of me and I was learning who I now was without.

I said goodbye to a career and a definition of who I was.
I said goodbye to people I thought would be my always and forever.
I said goodbye to a man I thought would outlive us all.
I said goodbye to parts of me I was ready to shed.

I put down my fighting gloves.
I lost my venom.
I lost my voice at times.
I lost my desire to stand up for myself a lot.

And I slowed down a lot.
I started to really take notice of the change of seasons.
I listened to my breath on a run.
I took in the colors around me.
I pet and snuggled my dog.
I slept and napped and slept and fell deeper and deeper into sleep.
I ran to hear my feet and feel my lungs push a little bit.
I went all in on a workout and backed off when I realized it was too much - I realized something was too much!
I read before bed now.
I travel a lot.
I walk and walk and walk and walk the dog.
I soak in tubs.
I take crazy hot showers.
I'm with my kids.
My daughter and I talk.
My son and I snuggle.
We have actual time together to just be together.

"Breathing just to breathe
We might find some reason...
" - DMB


Time away

On holiday it is the reversing of normal habits that does one so much good. - R. C. SHERRIFF

Every vacation dad and I switch personalities.
I become very calm, I don't want to see a schedule, I get up late, I went to spend the entire time sleeping.
I still work, but here and there and just enough to keep up and even that, there is a different feeling about the work.

Dad, on vacation, loves a schedule.
Loves an agenda.
Loves a place to be and things to see.
Loves to get up and out the door early.
We have crowned him AIS...he will leave without us.
Waiting around makes him cringe.
Doing nothing all day, don't even try.

Even when it comes to planning for the trip.
It has been so long since I have planned a single trip or even helped, that I'm not sure I would even know how.
I don't know if I would know how to book a flight or how to navigate traveling.
I am literally along for the ride.
I normally have no idea where we are headed, how we are going to get there, or what we're going to eat, Dad just does it all for us.

And sometimes, I feel so bad. He works so so hard for us to get these trips just right.
But then I also realize how much he really really loves all the planning and going down rabbit holes for years to get it just right.
I do not have that kind of patience.

And as soon as we get there, it's on.
It makes me laugh, every single time, how we become the other person the second vacation starts.
I never understood it.

How does the type A mom that has everything in her life scheduled let go that much?
How does the calm and laid-back dad with no cares in the world suddenly snap to?

And then I saw this little sentence.
This little expression that made me pause.

This February we are away.
We went to a Cuse basketball game.
We're headed to Baltimore and then Philly.
Dad has it all planned out.
The routes to take, the way the car needs to be set up, the places he wants to see, the reservations he has, even the music he wants for his road trip.

At the end of every vacation he always asks, did I do a good job?
Like a little sweetheart asking for praise.
Of course you did sweetie.
You always get it just right.

Thank you Coach. You have given us so many memories.
Although I complain about some of the go-go-go of it all, I also know that if it weren't for you, we wouldn't have been able to do any of this.
Thank you for all of your hours of research.
Thank you for bookkeeping everything as soon as we need to.
Thank you for having us see all of the places and do all of the things.
Thank you for all of your attention and for making sure we book some downtime for me.

Me, I'll just pack my bag, follow you like a little lost puppy, and grab a nap where ever and whenever I can!



I am out with lanterns, looking for myself. - Emily Dickinson

Hi sweet loves.
There are times in all of our lives in which we go searching.
We find ourselves a little lost.

Sometimes, it's because we don't know if we should stay in a relationship.
Sometimes, it's because we don't know what to do with a career.
Sometimes, it's because of our location and thoughts of moving.
Sometimes, it's because we just feel lost.
So we go searching.

Sometimes, it's because we have to make serious changes.
Sometimes, it's because we have to make decisions that are life-changing.
Sometimes, it's because we don't feel like ourselves and sometimes, it's because we've forgotten who we are.
So we go searching.

In 2023, your mom went searching.
After so much loss in her life, after feeling so off, after feeling so tired, she went searching.

I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.

I'm trying to figure myself out...again.
I'm trying to find myself...again.
I'm searching for my heart, but afraid to find it because I know there is still pain there.
I'm searching for myself, but afraid to find her because I know she is hurt.

And I have to ask myself if I'm really ready to find her.
Am I ready to pick her up? Am I ready to hold her up?
But I'm tired of feeling so heavy and I'm tired of feeling so off.
I'm tired of feeling and I'm tired of pretending.
So I do have a lot to figure out.

So, throughout your life, you too will go searching, I'm sure of it.
Especially for you Anna, you will find yourself time and time again a little lost.
It sneaks up on you when you don't think it should.
When you're young, when you're old, when you're unsettled, and when you're settled.
And it will happen more times than you can imagine.

For me it happened when I graduated college.
Then multiple times in my career.
Once to leave the city dad and I fell in love in.
Once after the fog fell onto our home and again and again and again.

So, I am out there again, with lanterns, looking for myself.
Trying to shine a light on the darkness all around me.
Trying to see if I can find her, most likely huddled on the ground.
Holding her knees close to her chest.
Most likely crying.
Most likely cold and wishing for a little comfort and warmth.

I'm coming, just look for my lantern and give me a shout, I'll find you soon enough.

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