I have been thinking through my purpose.
This last year had me really reflecting on my life, what I was intended to do, and if there was a reason for me.
I have been thinking about how people should live up to or try to complete their purpose in order to feel real peace.
True comfort.
Actual completion of a job well done.

My purpose.
For ever and always, I defined myself by my work.
And it wasn't until I lost my hum that I realized that I'm not allowed to do that anymore.
I can love what I do, love working, and still turn it off.
I can shut it down.
So, I found two amzing careers, one I was not able to shut down, the other, I learned from my lessons.
I found love in my work again, a hum, laughing, a team.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
Soon, I was consumed with proving I can do hard things.
I still am tuned into it.
Not letting myself slide.
But I also realized I don't have anything to prove anymore.
I can do hard things, I have been doing hard things my whole life and ease and comfort are okay too.
So I run to light up my lungs.
I lift to keep my body strong.
I walk to be outside and be with my puppy.
I do yoga to stretch and really work out the tightness. I do it to breathe.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
I met the love of my life.
I met a really nice guy.
I met a man that was so easy to love.
It was a time in my life when I was begging for easy and in he strolled.
All smiles and young.
An adorable rose smile, grinning ear to ear.
And we were family.
I was home.
I found my forever home when I saw him.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
The family I never knew I always wanted.
It's not a surprise that the man I love wanted babies and introduced me to parenthood.
And then it's no surprise that you were both a gentle start to mothering.
And so it's no surprise how easily we found our groove.
It's no surprise that our dance was so natural.
It's also no surprise that when it took a turn, it knocked the wind out of me and I struggled to find our ease again.
Because a significant part of my purpose is childhood.
Protecting childhood and little.
So, I fight for your childhood kiddos.
I need for you to have warm memories.
I lean into our traditions, big and small, so that we have comfort to rely on.
I rely on our family and the warmth it brings us.
The family I never knew I always wanted.
I found my purpose.

My purpose.
Good friends and framily ties.
Lots of laughter.
A home filled with warmth and comfort.
A career I love and can put down.
A snuggled puppy sleeping next to me.
A partner I love and trust.
Kids that squeel with joy.
A body that keeps showing up for me and I promise to show up for her.
A home I adore, one I know will soon be way too quiet and empty, but right now, I adore it.
Little, childhood, memories, traditions, puppy snuggles and kisses, kiddos piled on top of us, holding hands all of the time, talking, being together, love on top of love.
Yeah, I found my purpose.


My dad.

My dad was a hard man.
Hard around the edges, hard to relate to, hard to understand.
He was also oddly soft.
Soft in the middle, soft in handling his grandbabies, and soft to their discipline.

My dad was a worker – more than that, he was a hard worker.
He was determined.
He had goals but mostly, he loved his work and he loved to work.
He sacrificed his body for his work and he sacrificed his time.
He put work first for so many reasons but ultimately, it was because if he gave his word, he always kept it.

My dad was also someone that loved a good party.
Loved to unwind.
Loved to be together, make a toast, loved a glass of wine, and throw a bar-b-q.
He lived for a summer boat ride on Lake George or a night out at a good restaurant.

My dad had a difficult life at times.
And then there were times he made it more difficult than it needed to be.
More complicated.
He also had a very big life and he lived a lot of life in his 77 years, actually, more than most. 

My dad could be scary.
And there were times he confused fear for respect.
And there were times he confused fear for protection.
But there was never a time he would not protect.
He saw that as his role, the protector of the family.

My dad was a fighter.
He did not know how or when to put his fighting gloves down.
But it was that fight that defined him and in the end, he fought so hard for life.
He fought to stay with us because fighting is all he knew and there are times fight and drive carry you far.

My dad had a way.
One way.
His way.
From how to set a table to how to live your life, there was only one way.
Frank’s way or don’t even bother.

He was described as a man with a booming personality.
He was described as larger than life.
He was described as a force and tough and loud.

My dad was never afraid to speak his mind but was effortlessly charismatic.
He did not always say I love you but was loved and knew love.
He was often wrong but always thought he was right.
My husband can attest to how well he passed this trait on to me and my sister.

To my mother that spent 52 years with him, bless you.
Bless your strength.
Thank you for taking such good care of him.
His last words to my husband were “she’s a good woman, my wife”.
His last act of love and protection was to make sure you didn’t see him pass.

To his grandchildren, he learned true love when he met you.
He learned how to say I love you out loud.

Adrian, you were his first and the one that made him a Nonno. Watching you grow into who you are was his dream come true. Laughing with you was what brought him to life. Saying whatever you have on your mind, that’s your Nonno.

Luca, you were the one that kept him on his toes. Always jumping from place to place as a kid. You were the one that made him realize what it must have been like to raise him. Your love of soccer, that’s your Nonno.

Anna, you were his one and only. He called you his princess and queen. He spent almost every day of your first few weeks holding you…his little granddaughter. Your stubborn grit, that’s your Nonno.

Cole, you made his heart squishy. You were his little sidekick. The one that would run into his arms, knock him over with a hug. The one that made him realize how beautiful a heart that full can be. Your way of flirting without even realizing it, that’s your Nonno.

There was a brief moment of clarity when my dad accepted his fate.
No tears, no rage, no fear, but acceptance. He looked at me with peaceful eyes and said “well Bella, this is where our story ends”.
And it wouldn’t be us if I didn’t point out to you how wrong you are Babbo.
Your story began again and again with us and then again with your grandchildren and will continue to evolve.
You live in all of us and we will continue to live your story.  

Babbo, you gave us your grit, your stubborn nature, your curls, your work ethic, your love of work, your idea that family has to come first, and your infuriating way of having to always be right.
And yes, Cory wants it really known that you did in fact pass this on to both of your daughters... or as he calls it, “the Ruzza way”.

If there is anyone on this earth that deserves rest and peace, it’s you Franguch.
We hope you find both but we also hope you continue to give them hell.

There are so many things we want to say to you but it all comes down to the two words you’ve always wanted to hear from us, thank you.

Goodbye Babbo and thank you.


Storming through memories

Memorial Day.
For some, it's the unofficial start of summer.
And our little town is bursting at the seams with excitement and people everywhere.
It's warm, it's inviting, it's lovely to see.

Memorial Day also bears weight in its lightness because it is a day to remember those that have fallen.

Memorial Day also reminds me of the incredible milestones that seem to always fall around this time of year for me.
So, because I am me, this weekend carries a lot of memories for your mamma.

She says nothing of what she thinks
She just goes stumbling through her memories

Memorial Day weekend, 2000.
When I was just out of college, my first memorial day was spent with friends in NJ.
I was starting work that week and although excited about the start of my career, I also felt this unbelievable realization that these 4 incredible college years were really over.
No more all of us living on top of each other.
No more incredible walks in Geneseo.
No more parties that were too fun to explain.
No more of our bar scene.
No more Geneseo.
I was walking away from a relationship and that carried some heartache.
I was walking away from a family that I built around me and that carried some heartache.
I remember driving away from that very little town, thanking it for my time there, thanking it for the comfort and love it created and leaving a piece and part of me right there.

She says nothing of what she thinks
She just goes stumbling through her memories
And it breaks her heart

Memorial Day weekend 2005.
We left Rochester and we started our life in Saratoga.
It was me going back to the career I started with and although I did not know it at the time, the start of an agency building me up and raising me.
I again was driving away from an area that meant so much to me, but in some way was holding me down.
I met my husband in this town.
I adopted Mia in this town.
I had framily right there, reconnected in a glorious and loving way.
I once again thanked a city for all that it gave me, all that it afforded me, all that it meant to me.
And down the road I drove.

"Take what you can from your dreams
Make them as real as anything
Oh, it'll take the work out of the courage"

Memorial Day weekend 2012.
Our last weekend before Coley was born.
It was my last weekend being pregnant.
It was a weekend to really cherish.
We bought 3-year-old Anna a little pool to wade in and she was in heaven.
We bought our first fancy camera because we wanted to capture amazing pictures of our new baby and we tried it out.
Each picture we took is stamped into my mind...
pictures of her smile
pictures of Mia loving the warm and attention
pictures of time with our extended family
pictures of me and my little guy, our last pictures of just us two

Memorial Day weekend 2016.
I was sitting at a party and turned to dad with the realization that I needed to build a new business.
I had this ah-ha moment of how to do it and do it a little faster than my original thought.
I stopped overthinking and I started making calls to put the wheels in motion.
Capital CFO was born and left my head and was down on paper.
I knew it meant the end of my time with the agency, I knew where I was headed, and for the first time, I wasn't sad but just ready.

For me, I do not often think of the start of something new as an actual start. I lean more heavily into the loss and what I am leaving behind to get to this place of new.
But for some reason, this weekend has forced about big changes in my life, big losses, big decisions.
And that means I am living a big life.
No longer wishing it different.


Words words words!

Years ago, we sat around our dining room table with some friends and each of us took three minutes to take the Love Language quiz. It's so cliche now, everywhere, I know. But the reason these things explode is because when something is so correct and hits just the spot, it makes you really stop to think.

Is it hard to guess mine? Words. I love words. I love love love words.
It's so obvious, but I guess that's the point of these quizzes, our personalities are screaming out, but we can't explain why and these little insights into ourselves help us to feel validated, seen and understood. They help us to understand and accept.

So, tell me.
Tell me.
Tell me it's better when I'm here.
Tell me you missed me.
Tell me I'm a good mom.
Tell me you love me and tell me why.
Tell me how lucky we are.
Tell me you're happy.
Tell me I make you happy.
Tell me "thank you".
Tell me you appreciated a gesture, a loving moment.
Tell me this life matters.
Tell me I make you think and laugh and be.
Tell me we're partners.
Tell me you understand me.
Tell me you hear me.
Tell me I'm a hard worker.
Tell me you appreciate that.
Tell me we need each other and it only works when we're in it together.
Tell me you love our snuggles.
Tell me you feel safe around me.
Tell me you love our walks.
Tell me you love talking things out with me.
Tell me you love our time together.
Tell me you're happy with this life, our life.
Tell me you're happy with me.
Tell me you are excited about how much I work on...my health, my work, my healing, and our family.
Hell, tell me how amazed you are by it all!
Tell me how you can see I'm trying and working on softening the hard edges.
Tell me you can't believe how hard I love and how lucky we all are that I do.
Tell me you love to make me laugh because I love it when you do.
Tell me you love the silly side of me, because you made me silly.
Tell me how much you are enjoying your childhood, because it became my second chance at one.
Tell me how happy you are I brought us Pearl because our family desperately needed her.
Tell me.


Why else are we here?

"If not to invest in people?"

Sometimes, when you connect with an old friend and get over all of the major details, you really get into the grime of life. You finally get to the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and you really get to the grit of how you are doing, what has actually been happening, and how you really are dealing with it.

You talk about the moments that took your breath away.
You talk about the moments that crushed your soul.
You make jokes that make you laugh.
You remember who you were, who they are.
You remember why you fell in love in the first place.

It's no secret that we have been months of deep loss.
And again, for the woman that feels too deeply for her own good, it hits differently.
I feel their losses too.
I feel lost.

And how I am feeling seems irrational most of the time.
The bursts of tears and fits.
The moments of anger and deep deep sadness.
The times of thinking back, the memories that flood.

"So what's wrong with that? Why wouldn't you want to feel that way?
Why else are we here if not to invest in people?"

It was beautiful. The words I didn't even realize I was waiting to hear. Once again I needed a reminder that it is okay to be me. That the best and worst parts of me make me fully me.
That the best thing about me and my biggest flaw is that I am someone who is all in when it comes to love.
And so, I do not let go easily.
I replay all of our memories over and over.
I hold on.

And even if it is time to let go, time to move on. Even if I cannot do anything about the losses we are all facing, why wouldn't I want to feel them? Love has a big impact and you should feel it. If not, it never mattered but love does matter.

"Why else are we here if not to invest in people?"

I am deeply attracted to and am in need of being around my balance. Someone that does it all very differently.
However, talking to someone that feels as much as I do, is exactly what I needed. Someone that understands how painful loss is. How you need to pine over your loss. How you need to revisit every memory and see if there could have been a different ending. And throughout the conversation, I got to hear words that mattered...

...no matter the outcome and the healing, he didn't do right by you.
...none of the differences matter as long as you were loving to each other.
...none of that matters either as long as it wasn't threatening and it sounds like it was.
...I wish he knew how lucky he was to have you all and I hope he realizes it soon.
...of course this is going to be hard, you were invested and you should have been because you were in love.

As I tried to rush through my stories to get to the important questions I had to ask an old friend, he instead, brought me back to parts of the beginning and hit on important points. Instead, he wanted to hear the full story and even then, I didn't want to bore him I tried to wrap it all up quickly.
But he wasn't bored. He wanted to know because real friends want the full story. The ones that know your core, know what you are made of, aren't afraid to point out mistakes but also aren't ever going to turn their back.

As I faced a month of being blue, not myself, feeling heavy and hard to find joy...sweet dear friend, thank you for reminding me of what matters most in this world.

"Why else are we here if not to invest in people?"


Mothering 2022

Dear Coach...
Dear Bella...
Dear Monkey...
Dear Pearl Girl...
Thank you.

Thank you for realizing I did want to mother.
Thank you for realizing I needed to mother you.
Thank you for talking me into this.
Thank you for my gentle start to mothering.

Thank you for being such great eaters.
Thank you for being such great sleepers.
Thank you for being the best kids I know.
Thank you for loving our puppies.
Thank you for understanding the family dynamics and how complicated they can get.

Thank you for filling in the quiet.
Thank you for filling in the missing pieces.
Thank you for being the perfect little puppy who fixed our broken.
Thank you for how excited you are to see us, each and every time, like it's the first time.

Thank you for your smiles.
Thank you for your warm hugs.
Thank you for late-night snuggles.
Thank you for feeling so hard.
Thank you for loving with all you have.

Thank you all for being lovers of love.
Thank you all for loving me.
Thank you for my second chance at childhood.

Thank you for still believing in good.
Thank you for still believing in little.
Thank you for still believing in love and our little family.

Thank you for this amazing front-row seat at your life.
Thank you for allowing me to mother.

With all I have and all I am, thank you for this life.

Love, your mom


Heavy days

It's been a tough few weeks in our home.
Lots of emotions arising, lots of tantrums...in all directions.
Lots of me wanting to climb into bed and sleep it all away.
Lots of yelling and short tempers.
Lots of taking things too seriously.
Lots of everyone not understanding dynamics and lots of not feeling the energy in the room and acting appropriately.
Lots of us just taking things too personally.
Lots of breakdowns.
Lots of examples of being unkind.

It's our crazy season.
You guys are all over.
Dad is in full swing of coaching.
I have a lot on my plate, and my nerves are very thin.
And, as much as there is to do, I'm just so damn tired all of the time.

Of course, it will all be okay.
Of course, we will all be okay.
Because somehow, through even all of this, we try and find moments of being okay.
And we try to laugh through some of the pain.
And we try to find moments of being us.

Because when heavy weeks set in, it is most important to turn to your go-tos.
Dinner out.
Runs alone.
Warm coffee.
Puppy snuggles.
A little sunshine.

And then there are other joys.
Like when Cole smiles.
Or when Anna laughs a real belly laugh.
Or when Pearl gets zoomies and runs around all crazy and sneezing.
Or when dad is little boy excited at winning his first varsity game.
Or when mom remembers life isn't that serious, and things are never ever that bad, and she too remembers to hug and smile.

This year is going to have some pretty serious and heavy parts to it.
This year is going to have some amazing adventures too.
It's going to be filled with what life is always filled with...moments of warmth, moments of fear, moments of heartache, moments of love.

We're going to celebrate a wedding this year. We're going to watch two wonderful people become family in the most amazing way.
We're going to see our framily at the Cape and hug and squeeze them because it has been too long.
We're going to make time for each other outside...play ball, sit by the fire, read more.
We're also going to go through some tough times, because life brings with it tough, heavy times.

I'm going to make it as comforting as I can and then, I'm going to go and find my comfort and joy.


It's so quiet

Have you ever stepped into a moment that is so quiet, so wonderfully quiet, it is precious?

March threw us one last storm, a pretty big one.
My girls and I decided to take a walk right in the middle of it.
No cars, no plow trucks yet, no people, just our feet again the crunching of the snow.
Just a puppy trying to stay warm and dry.
And out of nowhere, my biggest little said, it's so quiet mom.
I know sweetie, and it's wonderful. I'm so happy you're here with me.

Last week, later at night, I took the puppy out by myself.
The wind that had been rushing through the air had died down, the rain stopped, and it was pleasant.
I had intended to just to a loop in the neighborhood but I just couldn't stop moving my feet, it was so quiet.
Just me and her.
No lights, no neighbors, no other dogs to get her to pull in one direction or another.
Just us and the quiet night.

After all the questions were asked, after the results were in, after the doctor left, it was just us.
And my tears, in the quiet.
Just a quiet moment between two people that have never shared a quiet moment.
Just a quiet moment between two of the most unlikely pair.
A moment so beautiful it was almost poetic and you don't do poetry.
It was in the quiet that I found love.

In the morning, rushing them out the door, getting in all we have to do before busses come, it's a bit loud.
And then, once our final smooches are smooched, and everything is ready, I close all the doors and take one moment of quiet.
I start a yoga class.
And take a shower.
I light a candle, I sit in my clean kitchen with a fresh cup of coffee and I get to work, in the absolute quiet that I have the privilege to appreciate.

Lying down next to you at night, you start with all the questions and all the talking and all the things to keep the night going.
Eventually, you settle into the quiet. You snuggle in and rub your eyes a little. You move around and find the right spot and then the quiet of the night settles in and your breathing gets a little heavier, a little deeper.
We continue to whisper I love you here and there, but the quiet has finally won and you are ready for sleep.

Have you ever stepped into a moment that is so quiet, so wonderfully quiet, it is precious?
Like listening and watching the rain.
Like sitting outside during a snowstorm.
Like taking a warm bath and just sinking in.
Like sitting in a dark room to write to your babies.
Like reading a book.
Like snuggling with a puppy.
Like a run with no music, no talking, just the sound of your feet on the pavement.
Like late-night walks.
Like a cup of coffee with yourself.
This introverted mother works hard for her quiet. Sometimes she has to work to find it.
Sometimes it just creeps up on her and she allows it to wash right over her body.



Just because I'm carrying it well doesn't mean it's not heavy.
And just because it's heavy does not mean I'm not carrying it well.

In 2021, my little family was thrown into change and loss and we carried it.
I do not know if we carried it well, but we did carry it.
I carried it for my little family, I carried it for my extended family, I carried it for friends, and I carried it for me, so I wouldn't have to face it.
But there were moments I had to put it down to become a puddle.
Because loss and grief are hard to carry.
Just because I carry it well, doesn't mean it's not heavy.
And just because it's heavy does not mean I'm not carrying it well.

We carried it by talking.
We carried it by continuing to talk and talk.
We talked about what ifs.
We talked about how different things are now.
We talked about traditions changing.
We carried it by talking and talking. I tried to make sure to let you know you could keep talking to me, keep telling me how you feel, keep trying to work it out in your head, in all of our heads.

We carried it by crying.
We would cry at night all snuggled in.
I would cry alone.
I would cry with you.
We cried while we walked or had family dinner.
We cried because I tried to be honest but hopeful.

We carried it by knowing our parts, our role, or continued roles.
I tried to make sure you knew what we are responsible for and what we have to let go of.
I tried to make sure you knew what lines we had to draw and how we will continue to let love in.
We worked on what love looks like, how people are to make you feel.
And I was reminded by those that I love that this is the thing I do well, I love with all that I have, so we did that too.

This year, the weight is a little more as I continue to wrap my head around life now.
Life without. Life without.
And at times I have such a heavy weight of loss.
And at times I have such a release of peace.
And at times I'm just in awe.
How life and love and friendships and togetherness, how they can all be so fragile.
Just because I carry it well, doesn't mean it's not heavy.
And just because it's heavy does not mean I'm not carrying it well.

My girlfriend once spoke of loss and mentioned how the grief comes out sideways.
Like when I'm walking Pearl alone in the morning and I think of it.
Like when I rest my eyes and wind up crying into my pillow.
Like when I'm driving and out of nowhere, I'm so sad.
I do not know if I carry it well, because it's so damn heavy.

I'm going to keep crying, and being okay, and crying.
I too may get to a point where I am over it and can just be again.
I'm going to keep being concerned and wondering and hurting and then coming back to the way it is and finding peace in that.
I'm going to keep you talking, I'm going to keep being honest. I'm going to keep asking. I'm going to keep saying I'm sorry for the pain the last year has brought and the pain we still have to face.
But, just because it's heavy, does not mean we are not carrying it well.
And just because we are carrying it well does not mean it is not so damn heavy.
Either way, we can lift the load together, find a way to make it lighter...together.


Could I have been...

Your dad thinks I'm crazy, or maybe it drives him crazy, or maybe both...
But TV shows, movies, I cry at all of them.
I feel them...a little too deeply.
Sometimes I can't sleep because of them, sometimes I'm affected for days...seriously days.
He cannot understand it, they are fictional people.
But there is something about their stories and if the acting is good, aren't you supposed to get lost in it?
Are you not supposed to feel as if it is real?

"Don't you ever wonder
Maybe if things had been slightly different
You could be somebody else?"

Don't you ever wonder what it would have been like living a whole different life?
Would you have met someone?
Would you have laughed with friends over coffee?
Would you have laughed, would we have heard you laugh?

"Don't you ever wonder
Could I have been
Don't you ever wonder?
Anyone, anyone

Would you have adopted a pet, something small, something to snuggle?
Would you have lived with family or gotten a small place of your own?
What would you have done with this other life?

"Don't you ever wonder?
Don't you ever wonder?
Anyone, anyone, anyone"

I've wondered for you, a lot. I used to wonder for you and talk to you about it.
More than that, I was desperately trying to talk you into it.
I would explain what it would be like, what it would have been like.
Until I realized, no matter what I did or said, it was my fantasy, not yours.

"Could I have been anyone other than me?
Could I have been anyone other than me?
Could I have been anyone other than me?
Could I have been anyone?"

Because I created my home. I created my fantasy. I created family and framily.
And I wanted that for you too.
I saw the promise and the hope.
I saw the stress and the despair and I saw a way out.

"I am who I am, who I am well, who am I?
Requesting some enlightenment
Could I have been anyone other than me?"

And I do not know what it would have looked like for you, in all honestly.
The fantasy I have in my mind, is that what it would have been?
Would it have been lonely instead?
Would it have been scary?
Would you have spent more time worrying, more time crying?
Because it was my fantasy for you, not yours for yourself.

"Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes
But I'll work it out then I..."

And maybe you were living your actual fantasy. Maybe this is the exact life you wanted.
No life is perfect, and yours certainly wasn't either. But it is possible that you lived out your exact dream.
It is possible that you too fulfilled your purpose.
You too saw it to the end, exactly how you wanted.

"What's the use in worrying, what's the use in hurrying
Turn, turn we almost become dizzy"

I have to accept it I guess. Our fantasies and meaning of happiness, are very different.
Even our meaning of family might be.
At the very end, you will be surrounded by those you loved, and love you back.
You will have people holding your hand.
You will have a room filled with love, and that is all you ever wanted.
And that is exactly what you have.
No matter what, you lived the life you felt you needed to.

"Dark clouds may hang on me sometimes
But I'll work it out then I"

And that is what I have to accept most of all. Your entire life was a "have to" and mine is a "want to" and both are just fine.
We walked this earth differently but found love.
We walked this earth differently but found purpose.
We walked this earth differently but found family.

Our fantasies for this life were different.
And maybe we both got to live ours.

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