26
Jul

Easier

2020, for me, started gently. I had set my intention...all is calm, all is bright. After years and years of hurting myself and breaking my brain, 2020 was when I was going to be gentle...on me. I went into 2020 with ways to make my life easier. I started my relationship with the year by wanting a better relationship with myself.

The things I wanted accomplished all had to do with slowing down, making life a little easier.

  • At least one year off of all races. That means no triathlon, no half marathon, no pushing myself to the point of pain to prove I can do hard things. I have already proved that to myself. I can do hard things. Now, I would run for the love of running. I would ride my bike because I like to ride. I would work out, I would still work my body, and I would be tired after, but I would feel good about that.
  • More intentional time with my family. Dinner, together. No more me sitting at dinner worrying about all I have to get back to. I just wanted to sit and enjoy dinner with my family. Breakfast together. I wanted to sit and take you in during the morning and I wanted our mornings to be lighter, full of love and kindness.
  • A slower start to my day. Me able to put them on a bus. Big hugs and a mom there, with you.
  • Walks with Pearl, multiple times a day. Me and my girl able to take breaks and take in the cold, watch the seasons change together.
  • More yoga. I wanted to stretch and do the one thing that makes me quiet and still.
  • Save more money because I was in a position to start making more money.

We are halfway through now. 2020 threw us all for a loop. And although there are many things on my list that are weird now, most of my intentions have been met.

When the pandemic first started, it was so obvious what instantly became easier in our lives.

  • A husband whose busy season was canceled. Just canceled. Me having to be a full-time parent all by myself ended. It was the first spring we have ever had him home with us.
  • All of the kiddos springtime activities were canceled. Because on top of him being gone, their activities are nonstop in the spring and all of those came to a halt.
  • Even if I wanted to do a race, there was no way to get tempted, they all ended. Canceled for the year.
  • Me working hard for one job works for me. It works really really well for me. Now, I no longer start at 4am and go until I collapse at 10 at night. Now, I get up later, (most times I am no longer setting an alarm,) and I work out, I have some coffee and I start. I still have early morning meetings, I still have things to work around, I still am falling into old patterns of making myself too busy, but I am immediately recognizing it and making changes to get back on the right track. Working one job and focusing on that one job, that works for me.
  • Pearl is living her best life with slow car rides, trips, so many walks, time with us, she is one happy little puppy.
  • Time with my kids is plentiful...almost too much and we need to find some time apart but all in all, we are making it work well.
  • So many naps, and is there anything more gentle on your body than a big old nap?

As time continued to slowly crawl by, it also became glaringly obvious what was now harder.

  • Kids have been out of school since mid-March. They may (YIKES) go back to school this September. They may (YIKES) not go back to school this September. They may (YIKES) go back to school part-time this September. By the time September hits, children will be home 6 solid months. Six solid months. If they don't go back, if they do go back, all of it will be hard.
  • Alone time. I miss being in my home for a full workday alone. I miss my Mondays (only conference call meetings) and Fridays (no meetings so only accomplish work) and I miss my time.
  • Seeing people we love. My kids miss friends, a lot. Like all kids, they just want to be around other kids. They really really really want to be around other kids.
  • We spent almost four months not seeing a soul and that was really tough. I definitely need my people. We are slowly opening up to others, but nothing is the same.
  • Worry, we all have no idea what any of this will look like. What the long term effects of this will be. How this will all end or when it will end. We are all guessing about the right things to do for our family. For our kids. For our jobs. For our futures. For our health. Everything is a total guess.

We have all really gone through all of the emotions of this. We have all gotten on this roller coaster and are up and down and up and down. We are all surviving and we are all doing the best we can. We are all making the best out of it. We are all enjoying it and not. We are all out of our minds and the calmest we have ever been. We all taken stock in what is important but I don't think we have all learned our lesson yet. I see us going back to our "old ways" as soon as we possibly can and that makes me so sad.

The world should not have had to stop spinning for me to slow down. But it did so I am going to really listen. I am going to take a look at what is actually important and although there may be times I will be "more busy" than I want to be, I will no longer make "busy" my badge of honor. This year has certainly been hard and I am very privileged in that I know only one person who got very ill and he has turned the corner, both of us have had an income, everyone in our four walls have been healthy. We have been so lucky. So the least I can do is say that I am going to take all the lessons I learned in 2020 and continue to make my life easier.

12
Jul

At 80

She will sit in silence. Her hair will be long, and silver, and if not curly, there will be a wave. It will be rougher, harder, the softness will be a thing of the past. Her hands will be old looking. The years of water on them will have taken their toll. They too will be rougher, she will be using hand cream all the time to try and recapture her youth. Her skin will have wrinkles, her face will look unrecognizable, especially to her. Her eyes will be grandmotherly, even if she isn't one.

Her home will be large, too big, full of memories in every corner, every spot. She will place her hands on a wall and remember that room being so full...of stuff and toys and kids and noise and love. Her home will have been filled with love and that love will carry her through, it is what keeps her warm.

She will walk out of the front of her house, look out into her front yard and remember the family games played, the kids running around. She will remember her son just walking back and forth, playing alone but still full of sunshine, even when it rained.

She will walk out of the back of her home, sit on her deck, warm coffee in her hand, and she will remember the screams of joy, laughter, the look on her husband's face when his backyard became what he always dreamed. She will look at the lights and remember the warmth of summer days, and not just because the temperature was warmer.

She will be in her kitchen, making dinner and realize that more than dinner was made in this room. Traditions were created and protected there. The island was a gathering of more than dishes and food. She protected their childhood around that island. She protected her family there.

She will take a walk and remember the long talks with her daughter. First, talks about nothing but everything. Then, talks about everything and everything. She will remember holding hands with her, laughing with her. Hearing her describe books and stories in such detail, she will remember how hard that daughter of hers held on to little, how that was so important to her. She will remember how it was important to both of them.

She will think of the puppies she loved and still loves, even though they have fulfilled their purpose and moved on. She will remember how soft and loving they were. How patient and playful. She will remember their tails wagging and the love they provided. She will remember how they made her home feel lived in and how they completed family. She will look down at the puppy she has now and thank her for continuing that love and support and comfort and company.

She will go and wake up her husband. They will take a walk together, hand in hand, puppy by their side, just like they started, all those years ago. He will talk about his day, she will talk about her memories, they both will remember the past too lovingly, painted with too many colors because the gray of the years no longer matter. The years of fog have been lifted, they did get to the other side, and they are happy, content. They have made mistakes, but they do not have regrets. They raised and they built and they loved and they continue to love and they created and they continue to create. They did not survive, they really enjoyed.

They will make plans that seem to take up the whole day. They will wonder where they found all that energy, where they found all that strength. They will worry their children are going at a speed that is much too fast, but they don't speak of this to them, they only offer support.

She will nap, she still loves a good nap, now more than ever. He will golf, he found the time and the passion. They will go out to dinner that night, they do that a lot now. As she dresses, she looks hard at her body. The one she fought hard for so long. She no longer does that. Time does that to you, it makes you realize all you have to be thankful for. Especially the body that carried you through so much. The body that carried two babies. The body that fought MS and her demons. The body that hurt. The body she hurt. She has healed all the pain and as she feels the wrinkles and skin and remembers the muscles she built, she knows how hard this body worked for her.

Later that night, they will enjoy a glass of wine outside and listen to the quiet. She enjoys it more than he does, she always has. But, she still gets misty at the thought of what was once there, just as she always has. Milestones still hurt her heart, but she knows this is what they were always going to get to. He deals with it so much better, he always has. He always realized the end goal and moved through phases with such ease, she always admired that about him.

She looks over at him, his gentle eyes. His smile. His hand in hers. She remembers the two young kids who smiled through so much. The ease of their love in the beginning. The work they put into it during the years of fog and exhaustion. But, this man, this person, well, he's special. Even at 80, you can still see the boy in him. The excitement in his voice when they call. The excitement he can't hind on his way to see them. He always loved them, even before he met them. Now that they are these people, he respects them, he admires them, he adores who they are, it's so much more than love.

She fell in love with this boy, she cannot explain her love of this man. He has stood by her through so much and she knows how lucky she got, he is her person.

They built a life. Things are slower, they are slower. Days are longer, time is moving too quickly. She takes such incredible comfort knowing that they did the best they could until they knew better and then they did better. She takes such incredible comfort in the long days and the memories of that home, that life. Of course, she is sad, but she is also content. She lived one incredible life, and she still is. She is still living, she is still here, she is still surrounded by love and comfort. It is what she dreams of every time she closes her eyes.

She is 80 and at peace.

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.

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?

29
May

Five Minute Friday - born

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 born.

Go.

The night before you were born, I knew you were coming. It was scheduled and I sat on the edge of my bed, looking at my packed suitcase and wondering and wondering about you.

I knew I would love you, I already did. I knew we would make room for you, we already did. I knew she would fall in love with not only you, but her brand new role, she already did. I knew it would be tough, it already was. I knew it would be easy, it already was. I knew it would be good, it already was.

There were a few moments when you had some people thinking you would come a little sooner, but I knew you were going to be born on May 30th, I knew we would hang on. I knew I was not sharing you with the world until that day arrived, I knew I would keep to keep you close, a little while longer.

The night before you were born, I held you on the inside of my body, I talked to you, I felt you push into my hand and I told you a little about the family you were about to be a very big part of. The night before you were born, I held you tightly, knowing this would be my last night with two heartbeats, and your mamma cried.

On the night before you were born, I knew it was time. It was time to put a huge and incredible chapter in my life behind me. A chapter I had no idea I wanted to write and a chapter I loved every word of. I would never be the "expecting mom" again. I would never again wonder, I would never again sit on the edge of my bed and hold anyone this way.

Here we are, eight years later, on the day before your 8th birthday. Monkey, can you promise me you won't get older tomorrow...I'll try mom.

Some things will never ever change.

Stop.

25
May

Five chapters

Autobiography in Five Chapters
1) I walk down the street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
2) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
3) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there
I still fall in it… it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
4) I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
5) I walk down another street.
-- Portia Nelson

Chapter one. I lived in chapter one for at least two decades. It felt comfortable, familiar, it felt a little homey. It was awful, the rage and anger and tears were plentiful. The hole was enormous and nothing was my fault ever. It felt really good to be the victim and I needed to be the victim. I could not have healed if I didn't feel like it was happening to me. Because when you are a child, it is happening to you. You are a victim of your surroundings. You are a product of what has happened. I didn't move on to chapter two because I grew strong or smart, I just grew tired.

I then lived in chapter two for several years. Pretending it wasn't there, everything was fine, being triggered by everything, all the time, never ever my fault. I lived there not because of comfort, but out of fear. I again needed to feel as though this wasn't my fault, I landed here but only when I was pushed. I didn't leave chapter two because I was brave, I turned the page because I finally saw what was in front of me.

I lived in chapter three for a few more years. I saw things, clearly. I saw that part of it was my fault, there were things I needed to take responsibility for. There were things I did wrong, it doesn't matter the situation. There were things I did wrong. And, there were things I needed to do. I needed to push towards. I am a product of my past, but I am also the choices I make today and the choices I want to make for tomorrow. I still fell down the hole, it just took me so much less time to get out. Not for any other reason than I was ready.

I stayed in chapter four for an even longer time, I am probably still there. I am a product of the good and bad of my past. I am loving, I am all in on love because of my past. I am a hard worker, my work ethic is undeniable, because of my past. I am loyal, I am fiercely loyal, all of my heart loyal, because of my past. I love and laugh often, because of my past. I love food, because of my past. I also see the bad and have decided to NOT allow the cycle to continue. I see it, I accept its pull, its presence, its undeniable presence. But, I continue to walk around it, I continue to not fall for it. I continue on my path. My life, my decisions. I get to write the pages from here on out.

I see chapter five, I see it around the corner, I just need to turn the page. I need to have the courage to turn the page and finish the book.

And I will, I will walk down another street, all in due time.

18
May

When it snows in May

When we take a little walk downtown, there is plenty of parking. The stores are so quiet, there are chairs up on tables and signs up all over the place about how "we're closed" due to COVID and keeping customers and employees safe.

There is no more traffic, the roads are wide open and no one is in a hurry, there is no where to go. I've gotten really used to doing just the speed limit because, what's the rush now?

Restaurants that were once filled with long wait times, are empty, closed, some are closing forever. Our little town that is always full of so much life is the quietest I have ever seen, it's too quiet.

Going out for a coffee, alone in the car for 10 minutes is like heaven. Honest to goodness heaven. It's the only alone time there is. I shower with questions constantly being thrown at me, I go to my room just to have a door bust open. I do yoga with someone chattering at me. I run with kids biking next to me. I take walks with my daughter. I'm woken up to be asked if they are allowed to be awake. No one is tired, just mamma. I hear mom 13,000 times a minute. The only quiet is during homework time when we're all working together.

And then, the schools closed for the remainder of the year, the day was really hard. The following weekend, it snowed, in May, and I thought...there isn't much more I can take. It's all starting to feel like too much, there is no such thing as normal anymore. Everything just feels off.

May 15th right before dinner, a tornado hit our town. A tornado, two weeks after it snowed, three weeks after the schools closed down, one month into murder hornets, two months into a pandemic. The fear from my children was physical, the screams were desperate, the tears were making their shirts wet. We're all fine, the house is fine, everything is fine, even though nothing is fine.

The next day, we all put our lawns back together as best we could. Trees were taken down, fires were started, assessments of damage were made. Some homes were badly injured, ours looked like a bad storm flew through. I struggled because I didn't sleep at all, the anxiety was a bit much and I hit my limit. I brought friends coffee because they didn't have power and I felt better. I took a really long run with my little man riding his bike next to me and I felt even better. I went for a long walk with a part of my squad, yes , we were socially distant, yes, we wore masks, and I felt even better. I had a zoom call with my college crew and I felt even better.

I drove home from my walk and noticed that even though no one had anywhere to go, our little town still exploded. The weather drove people out to walk, to hike the park, to walk the streets. You can tell they are desperate, they want people, they want movement, they want connection, they want something to do and somewhere to go.

I came home to my coach all cleaned up, ready to grill pizza. Any other night, we would have had framily over. We would have picked a house, started a fire, had too much to drink together, and it all would have made sense. But still, it was good to smooch my person, hug my kids, feel a little sunburned from all my time outside. See how tired my puppy was from the long walk and hop on another lit screen and see my girls and laugh really hard together.

We go up and down. This was the break I needed, maybe the break we all needed. We all needed our weekends back from all the things we are committed to and now it feels like most days are a weekend. I wanted peace and quiet. I wanted a year of calm and bright and I did get a lot of what I needed, wanted. The rest, the naps, the sleep, the food and eating that I needed to do. The letting go of early mornings, the letting go. The family time I needed. Then, there are days that I can't believe my kids will be home for 6 solid months. That there are no sports, that all concerts are canceled. Careers are frozen. Cities are silent, but bursting. Musicians are hosting concerts on TV to keep spirits up. Graduations are canceled, people that have worked so hard for so long, have no end to their years of dedication. That going to the doctor's office is a really big deal. Going grocery shopping is scary and treasured time. What life is this? There are days that I am so happy, days that I feel really ok. Days that I can't sleep and I'm so worried. This year is just all over the place. It's all over the place and an actual show. You can't make this stuff up anymore, it snowed in May.

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