9
May

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

2
May

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.
Baths.
Warm coffee.
Naps.
Puppy snuggles.
Walks.
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.

27
Mar

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.

2
Jan

Comfort and joy

It's going to look like candles lit.
Baths on cold winter and fall nights.
Outdoor showers during the summer.
Using my dipping pool with a cool glass of wine.
And using our outdoor fire pits.

It's going to look like friends in my home.
It's going to look like so many family movie nights
and comedy standups that make me laugh so hard it hurts.
It's going to be a more intentional and organized home - cleaner, more balanced.

It's going to look like walks and yoga and finding a way to come back to my breath at night.
Sunday mornings in my robe and slippers.
Cozy clothes all of the time (because that's my new normal).

It's going to look like warm coffee and tea, all year round.
It's going to be less worrying, or a healthy amount of worry because who am I kidding.
It's going to be about opening myself back up, finding love in the world again.
It's going to be being there for those that I love.

It's going to be Sunday night dinners and grateful hearts.
It's going to be vacations with those that make me smile too hard.
It's going to be dancing more with my kids.

It's going to look like a lot of reading and reading dates and snuggles on the couch together.
It's going to be a lot of sports and running around to get them to their games.
It's going to be watching them be incredible teammates and friends.

It's going to be naps and second sleeps.
It's going to be smiling and feeling the joy in my bones.

It's going to look the same and different.
It's going to look sweet and sour.
It's going to look cozy and uncomfortable.
It's going to have joy and some heartache.
It's going to be another year that we take it day by day.
Another year that we walk slow.
Another year that we talk instead of scream.
Another year that we listen instead of talk.
Another year that we shut out the noise instead of welcoming it into our home.
Another year of quiet and loud.
Another year.

Lovies, all I ask is for some comfort and joy.


12
Dec

Where our story begins

There is something so beautiful about the beginning of a love story. Something so sweet, so pure. You can't stop smiling, your heart rushes, something happens in your toes. You can't get enough and you can't picture anything different. And no matter what happens to your story, holding on to that feeling is just so important. In fact, I once read that you can tell if couples in therapy have a fighting chance by the way they talk about the start of them. If they fumble through the story and giggle and remember the joy or if it's all about how it all went wrong and feel as though it started with contempt.

I am so lucky to have so many gorgeous love stories and more for me than you, I want to share them. I wanted to honor them and I wanted to remind you that happy endings look so different. There is no need to mention names, those who know already know. Some are people, or pets, or places/cities. But the who is something I will keep just for me.

When I first met you, I was 14 years old and still desperately trying to figure out how to get through this part of my life. I had my goals and my life planned out, but I was too young to be this angry. You kind of got it, you understood, and you validated how awful this was. You made me a teen with crushes and late-night talks. With an obsession with the phone, notes being passed, talks about boys, first kisses. You made me young and happy.

When I first met you, I was dating someone else and you came on strong. You wrote me letters, poems, you wrote about me. You read my writing and you were amazed that we shared this secret language that we shared with no one. You made me feel so special, so seen. You were my first young love. You made me feel like me and okay with that.

When I first met you, it was way later than I should have. Everyone else had done visits and tours of their choices and made an informed decision. I saw you through brochures because I wasn't allowed to see you in person. But when I did, when I did, it was everything I wanted. From the moment I laid eyes on you, you felt like a warm blanket, ready to take care of me. You were gorgeous, absolutely stunning.

When I first met you all, we were crazy young, a little nervous, but so so happy. We were all trying to figure out what this important part of our lives was going to look like but one thing was for sure, we were going to take care of each other, be there for each other, we created a home, a framily. Years and years and years later, we have been through heartache, heart breaks, first adult loves, weddings, babies, raising kids, taking care of aging parents. We have held on to what we created.

When I first met you, I met my heart, my forever person. Your background was so similar to mine and you understood me in a way most couldn't. Your family was so loving, so caring, so there and supportive and that's exactly what you became. What you have given me is my forever and ever family. Watching our kids become who we were, what we still are, is the highlight of life. Loving your husband in the way that I love you, knowing you love mine as deeply and meaningfully. You fill me full, you are my one week a year and you so beautifully know and accept me. You so lovingly appreciate how crazy the four of us are, and you teach me...you fill me full.

When I first met you, it was my very first night of college and we stayed up all night talking. We sat on a wall and talked the night away about where we came from, what brought us here, our families. Our stories were so different. Within months, you became my first college boyfriend. You made me laugh, you made me have fun, you made me dance, you loved music as much as I did. You let me be with my girls, and you made me happy.

When I first met you, I was taking a class that I needed to check off my list. What I found was an amazing love of the subject, a deep sense that I needed to learn more and more and that I could not get enough of you. What I found was the beginning of my love of education, no longer my have to, but my actual love and desire.

When I first met you, you were seven and you changed everything about me. You and your family had me believe in a loving home filled with laughter and healthy fights and warmth. You gave me a future to believe in and a career that would change my entire life.

When I first met you, you were the funny guy downstairs. We bonded over our love of Pearl Jam and our friendship drove us both mad and crazy. It still does to this day. You make me laugh and think differently. You opened my eyes to the world, you were protective, you were inspiring, you were a real and amazing friend.

When I first met you, we were playing a game at one of your house parties. You leaned over and kissed me and took me by such surprise, but that kiss sparked something, years of something. You had a way of taking care of me, even though I was trying to scream that I didn't need to be taken care of. You had a way of making me feel special, even though I felt like I didn't deserve it. Ultimately, you were what helped me realize what I did deserve and what I needed to be looking for.

When I first met you, you were in a little ball in a cage waiting for your family to find you. As soon as we laid eyes on each other, we were locked in. The day I brought you home, you sat next to me like my little co-captain in this life. And you held that role, most times taking the lead but just a nudge, but always always being there. You became my reason, my heart, my family. You brought dad to us, you made him fall in love with us. You were soft and gentle and cute and smelled so good. We took such good care of each other. And for all of the years of love and moves and changes and life events, I have no regrets. I know I loved you as hard as I possibly could and I know you knew how much that was. You were my reason.

When I first met you, I was renting a movie, your smile immediately drew me in. I met my family, and I was home. All that we have created together is remarkable. Our decades together have meant something. Our future is still so unknown, but solid. Even through our darkest and hardest of times, you keep us...you keep us. I want to thank you for never ever giving up, for listening, for moving in the directions we needed to move. I want to thank you for your undying support, a real true partner. I want to thank you for picking up what I have needed to drop. I want to thank you for knowing how important my work is to me, but also bringing life back to us and them. I want to thank you for falling in love with puppy kisses and being patient with my mothering. I want to thank you for insisitng I become a mother, something I love so much. I want to thank you for loving me and growing with me.

When I first met you, it was different. Two little lines told me you were coming and in that instant, our connection began. I can't explain it, but when I placed my hand on my belly, you whispered that you were a girl. Months later you told me your birthday and months and months later, you were here. A person. Half me, half dad. You made us walk into parenthood so gently and lovingly. You were so easy, so easy to care for, so easy to love, nothing was ever hard those first three years. You slept, you ate, you got sick, you got better. You cried, you were serious, you laughed, you danced, you fell in love with puppy kisses. You were the daughter I was always afraid of, but exactly what I never knew I always needed.

When I first met you, well, it was love at first sight. They put your little head up to me and we gave each other our first "little guy" kiss, something we do to this very day. You looked at me differently, like I was your world...your moon...your stars. I just could not believe the way my heart felt. But today I realize that my heart was feeling what your heart feels. Because your heart is something that dreams are made of. You have such a loving and caring and affectionate soul. Your heart is always on he outside of your body...always. You feel very deeply, you love so naturally. You are a good friend, sibling, son, student. All there is to know is that you will be loved in this world and the world needs to change to accept your love. You do not need to change to meet the world, your love will be the change this world needs.

When I first met you, I was a mom in the thick of it and so lonely. I was in the middle of my marriage fog and desperate for family. I asked for you, and you showed up. My heart was insatntly connected to yours and your family. My soul was full. You were exatly what I needed at exactly the time I needed you. We raised our babies together. We struggled together. You walked me through years of heartache and change. You helped me to see my husband's side of the story. We watched our boys go from parellel play to actual best buds. We saw how complete opposites they were, we laughed at all of the ways they need each other, but drive each other nutty. I fell for you, you taught me so much. You made me a better mom and person and you helped me see balance so differently.

When I first met you, all I saw was a picture and turned to dad and said, this is her, this is our girl. We have to go and get her. There was a lot of back and forth but the day came that we finally got to take you home. You were a bundle of floopy skin and so shaken. Strangers opened up a car door and I turned to our littles and said, she's here, this is our new girl. You instantly warmed to us and we started on our lover of love adventures. A puppy that wants love, and smooches, and caring for more than food or potty breaks. A puppy that is my running and walking buddy, but also my snuggles and fireplace lover. A puppy that loves a nap and a tasty snack but hates the rain or being wet and dirty. A puppy that loves to run looks so natural doing so, a puppy that lives for us, shakes her cooley at us with excitment for just being home. The ray of light we all needed at exactly the right time we needed it. Our perfect, precious ray of light and love. A reminder that time heals and love moves on.

The beginning of a love story is so precious, so wonderful, so caring. It feels so right, exactly what you needed when you needed it. No matter how the story ends, what new chapter you write, just hold on to the feeling of love that you were a part of. Thank the universe for bringing it to you, making you feel that way, that special, that needed right back. Thank them for their part in it. Because love stories come and go. But knowing all of our hearts, we never let the love die.

15
Nov

Why moms cry

Because we're tired.
Because we want to sleep.
Because we know we have to get up and start the day.

Because you're so small.
Because you're getting so big.

Because your heart is so big.
Because you are the best people I know.

Because I tell myself stories.
Because you tell me actual stories.

Because we're lost.
Because it's you who brings me back.
Because we're over and underwhelmed.
Because we have too much going on or not enough so all we do is think.

Because we are thinking about the day we met you, the day we brought you home, and all the days in between.
Because when you were an infant, I could not believe how magical you were.
Because when my daughter was three weeks old, she became a person so connected to me that my heart beat with hers.
Because when my son was born I understood love at first sight. This little man looked up at me like I was his world and he quickly became our heart.
Because I felt you move inside of me and hiccup and kick and fall asleep.
Because we're thinking about your firsts, your lasts.
Because I look at our puppy with such love and cannot believe how lucky we are to have been saved by two doggies.

Because fights hurt our feelings too.
Because we get bad news.
Because we learn of how different our lives will be.
Because we have to always be making really hard decisions.

Because life is simple and hard.
Because there is so much to be happy for, but also some really hard spots in life.
Because the TV show was really heartbreaking...I know, it's weird but true.
Because we can't believe or get over how beautiful you are.
Because we can trace your face to exactly who you always were.

We cry when we're alone.
But also in front of you.
Or as we go to sleep, or watching TV.
We cry in the shower or the car.
We cry on runs, especially those in the rain.
We cry as we say goodnight to you, or when we kiss you in your sleep.
When we least expect it, when we shouldn't be.

So yeah, moms cry...at least this one does. And I don't see that ending anytime soon.

4
Jul

Tomorrow

As we round the corner, we are staring down a pretty important milestone. This anniversary isn't just a typical one. This one marks something pretty special.

July 8th 2021 means we have been together for 21 years. Twenty-one years of us. And there has been so much sharing in those 21 years.

From the couple that so easily fell in love. You were the easiest decision of my life. You were so joyful, so full of pure heart and I fell so hard.

To the couple that heard the news that would change their lives forever. And just when I thought it would only change mine, you reminded me there is no just you and me anymore. We're in this. You stood by me, you held me together.

To the couple that moved and moved and moved and moved. Until they found home, but a forever home. We fell in love with our surroundings, our town. We fell so in love with our home and we grew it to exactly what we wanted. We fell in love with the lives we were creating.

To the couple that got engaged. The night you got down on one knee was a story written just for us. Proposing in front of our Mia, making sure she was right there, a scared boy asked me to walk by his side forever.

To the couple that got married. And had a WEDDING. A wedding that was full of people and things and glitter and gold. I know this day is all you wanted and I'm so happy it was the magic it was.

To the couple that saw little blue lines that made them whole. I know how much you see and want from them. I can feel your pull for their future, just remember to hold on to the today that they are there and when you can, remember the joy. Remember how Cole is you, your pure heart. Remember that Anna wants us. Remember that both want us. Remember that time with you is all that little man asks for. Remember that our window with her is closing. Remember that we are going to blink and empty nest will be here.

To the couple that lost their first puppy. The loss of Mia was a moment I will never forget. You and me, in a room with her. You begging me to take her home, me trying to hold it together long enough to make the decision that she needed to go. She was our reason and we felt so lost without her for so long.

To the couple that opened their homes, lives and love to their second puppy. Pearl Rose is exactly who we needed, exactly what we all needed. She is not our dog, she is the family dog. She loves her entire pack. She loves her kiddos, she loves her mom and dad, she is shared. She is the lover of love we all needed.

Job and big career changes and address changes and adding kids and puppies and illness and really living hard to really living. We are a couple of 21 years.

But it's July 9th that means something. July 9th is 21 years plus one day. The day that marks us being together longer than we've been apart. The day that marks knowing you, having you, loving you, building with you, longer than I've done it on my own. I will officially close my eyes knowing that you have been with me longer than you haven't. I knew this day would come Coach. I knew that there would come a time when it would happen and July 9th is that day.

So, for this anniversary, we will be in Hawaii. We will be sharing our every other year trip with our kiddos. We will be in paradise, but lovey, you have already given me paradise.

You gave me babies I didn't know I even wanted. You gave me motherhood and I cannot believe how much I adore it. You gave me your smile your heart and then, you gave it to your little man.

You gave me years of taking care of me, giving me shots that made me so sick. You fought through my tears and my pain, you held me altogether.

You were always fine with my training, my races, my goals. You tackled a lot with me and you let me do some alone.

You stuck by me during the move and my career. You have taken on so much to make sure my career pushes forward. You truly get how important work is to me and you allow it to happen. You pick it all up.

You have taught me about true partners. Partners that just show up. No matter what...I drop, you pick up. You drop, I pick up. You do it better, you've always done it better.

You gave me all of the trips we take. You set up every vacation and each one is better than the last. I am so happy we are doing this for our babies and I'm so happy we found a way to make it happen.

You said yes to Pearl. You could see and feel how much I needed her and you showed up...again. You said yes to a puppy we never met and you never looked back. You realize how important she is to us and you love her as much as we all do.

You are all over our house. Every inch is you. Your design, your hard work, you built me a home after we just bought a house.

You bring me wine anytime I ask. You get up of the couch and get me anything I need. You ask me if I want/need anything just as we settle in.

You take walks with me at 11pm. Even if you're sore from working out. You know that I'm scared of the dark and you come with.

We have both changed so much. I've gotten softer, you've gotten harder. You've become a harder worker, I've wanted to take a step back. We both have grayed. We both look different. We both act differently. But, I remembered the secret that I figured out...grow together. Just keep growing together. It's going to be tough, the dark years filled with fog will really really make you question it all. And, they are years, not days, not weeks, but years of fog. But, keep growing together. Get through the hard, it gets hard, and keep growing.

So tomorrow I will remember that 21 years plus one day is really important, really special. We will wake up with our babies, the ones you always knew would be here. We will wake up in paradise and have a day that you planned for us. Tomorrow, I will know you longer than I haven't and that means something.

I love you Coach, alottle.

Olive juice always.

6
Jun

Isn't it strange?

Is this not enough
This blessed sip of life, is it not enough?

It's certainly not just you, but it's so obvious in you. You seem to shout it from the rooftops, how you feel like it's all not enough and not worth it. How you keep begging, bargaining for more. And because of this, I feel like you take advantage of the time we have here, worrying about things that don't matter. I feel like your priorities aren't straight. I feel like you make things, life, this life, our life, harder.

You can't get out of your own way. But like with all things with you, I try and accept and move on. I try. And I also learn. I learn from you when you are not even realizing it. And you are teaching me, even if you are not trying.

Because the truth is, this blessed sip of life, it is enough. There are so many reasons I have been thinking about this very thought these days. This life we are given, there is a lot of heartache and things to worry about in this life. But there is also so much to be thankful and grateful for.

Isn't it strange...how we move our lives for another day?

Since always, since before always, I have lived for another day. I finally stopped to look at myself. There is something really special about finally doing that. Stopping, taking stock of what you have, what you love. REALLY looking around, there is something moving and special when you can.

I will always have goals and dreams. I will always be planning ahead. Always. But for the last year and a half, I have also slowed down and planted my feet. And that's why I do feel I've had a really good and loving life. I'm not waiting for the best to come, I'm living the best years, each year.

Wash out this tired notion
Oh, that the best is yet to come

And I stopped burning the day.

...this love will open our world
From the dark side we can see the glow of something bright

Isn't it strange...

how it takes a pandemic

or the world to stop spinning

or your life to be ripped away from you

or your real priorities screaming at you

or when you have space,

to finally realize who you are, what you have, what you want?

Isn't is strange?

I'm able to inhale and exhale a little more each and every day. I'm having some really difficult conversations, but I'm also able to realize, love lived here. And I want to thank whoever or whatever gave me this blessed sip of life.

The person I get to spend my life with makes me happy. It's hard but he makes me happy.

My children are loving and kind and able. Parenting is really really hard, but it makes me happy.

My first puppy raised me. She loved me until she said goodnight and she lived her purpose. Losing her was a heartache I didn't realize I could feel, but if losing a puppy is my worse heartache, that's a really good and happy life.

The puppy I currently get to love is full of love and light. She wiggles her bum when she sees me. She hugs me, she smiles. She walks and runs with me. She snuggles into naps with me. She loves my babies. Her dad is her favorite but she makes me so so happy.

I left an agency that taught me so much more than leadership and running a business. They taught me about the importance of childhood and little. They taught me to believe in me and how capable I was. It was hard and exhausting and at times, painful and the stress was debilitating, but I am so happy I found them.

I have a disease. One that is unknown when and what it will take from me. But, for 19 years, I have kept on. Not out of luck, but out of a fight in me. I didn't ask for you, but I'm not going to let you quiet who I am. So yes, I don't know what it will look like in another 19 years, but I am happy with how I dealt with it. I'm proud of the marathon I ran, and the half marathons I ran and ran and ran. I'm proud of the solo races I did and the ones surrounded by hundreds of people. I'm proud of the tris I did and the hard work I put into learning how to swim. I'm proud and happy that it happened to me.

My home is filled with love and memories and every corner has a special moment. It is too big and too messy, and too much, but it makes me so happy to come home.

'Cause we need the light of love in here
Don't beat your head, dry your eyes
Let the love in there
There's bad times but that's OK
Just look for love in it
And don't burn the day away

And I stopped burning the day.

21
Mar

Hello again

New York is starting to wake up again. The days are much longer, there is still light at 7pm, the sun is a little brighter. Even on the really cold cold days, we know that spring is trying to make her way back.

Today, I watched you both play outside like little little kids. I heard the laughter and shouts. God, monkey, you could spend forever outside no matter the weather but when you get to be outside with your big sister, you are in heaven.

Today, you asked and begged for play time with both of us outside. You and dad played hockey and basketball and you could not get enough.

Today, I took the puppy for our first really long run. We ran by the track, and I saw our little town wake up. I saw people walking, hand in hand. I saw dogs smiling and pulling owners. I saw cars with their windows down and people grinning from ear to ear, we all woke up again.

Today, I cleaned out my car and threw away all of gunk that comes with winter. All the salt, rocks, the garbage that is too cold to throw away when it's winter, isn't that weird, that winter makes it all feel a little too hard. But, not today. Today, it felt invigorating to throw things away and gather up all the old and start again.

Today, I drank really cold water, and it felt refreshing. I didn't turn my fireplace on and that felt like a good start. It hit 61 degrees in our little part of NY and that's warm enough for kids in short sleeves playing by a pile of old ice and snow.

Today, my daughter wore flip flops, my son a tank top. My dog was panting during our run, got tired even. During my run, I started to sweat a little.

Hello and good morning to us all as we wake up from the long winter slumber. This winter was a little colder, a little harder. The snow hit us hard, we lost some trees, but nature is really trying to heal now...sound familiar?

Next week, I get my second shot of the vaccine. I never in my life thought that I would be living through a movie like scenario in which a country has to figure out how to roll out a vaccine after we have lost half a million people. But, we are healing. Last week, hate struck again as 8 people were gunned down by a white hateful 21 year-old. Their families are living a nightmare, our country is trying to figure this out, and no one has any answer that will make the pain ever end. But somehow, faith carries us through to the other side and we heal.

Faith in each other. Faith in good over evil. Faith in love over hate. Faith in tomorrow being another day as we open our eyes and stretch. Faith in starting over. Faith in science. Faith in healing.

Hello again spring.

21
Feb

Chapters

Maybe she looks at chapter one too harshly, maybe she looks at chapter three with rose-colored glasses. Maybe her memory plays tricks on her as she builds her chapters and remembers them the way she wants to. Maybe there is a different version of the story out there. Regardless, this is her story, the one she remembers, the one that shaped her, made her. This story is her why...why are you like this? It's because of this story.

Chapter 1: she is too young to be this old.

She spent this time really worried, scared, and surrounded by a lot of anger, yelling, and slamming. There was a lot of crying and although she was and still can be so immature with her feelings and reactions, she always knew she was too young to be so old.

She likes to really focus on all of the hard during this time. She lingers in it sometimes and is brought back to it too quickly. To this day, they still act similarly, and therefore, it's easy for her to remember the hard. So, she pushes herself to remember that there were also moments of gentle and sweet moments of family too.

Moments like walking with her mother and sister, because the family had only one car, so they walked everywhere. Her mother in the middle, each child by her side. She would hold their hands and to keep her little girls warm, she would place them in her pockets.

Moments like Christmas Eve when it was so loud and they were surrounded by so much of her father's family. They had cousins and family, and midnight mass, and opening presents at 1am and too much food.

Moments like really late nights with her mother's side of the family. The men all playing cards. The cousins scheming for ways to have a sleepover. The woman drinking espresso and talking the whole night away. Falling asleep in the car bc it was always too late when we left.

But, there was a lot of hard too. And she knew, she had to find a way to move on. She was too young to be this old.

Chapter two: where she wanted to be.

Having spent high school really creating strong and loving friendships, the kind she knew saved her and would carry her, she left. Some call it running away, they are not wrong. Some call it moving away, they are not wrong. Some call it leaving, they are not wrong. Some call it selfish, they are not wrong. Some call it strong, they are not wrong. Some call it scary, they are not wrong. Some call it liberating, they are not wrong. Some call it necessary, they are not wrong. Most call it going to college, they, are not wrong.

College was as warm as a heavy blanket. Surrounded by trees and fall leaves and snow and wind and cold. College was an incredible four years. The start of framily. Forever relationships that would never leave her heart. College was everything she worked so so hard for. College was the end of the road. College was all her goals and her final destination. College was fun and loving. It was hard and a ton of work. It was late nights, early mornings, little sleep, lots of sleep. College was figuring a lot out for her. It was also knowing a lot about herself. College was everything she wanted, exactly where she wanted to be. But still, there was this little dark, heavy, and angry cloud that did not allow her to fully let go.

Chapter three: it's so easy.

From the moment she met him and saw that smile, it was just so easy. Being in his tight hug, seeing him across a room, hearing his laugh, it was all so easy. It was just the two of them and their little reason of a puppy, the one that made sure they were together. Even when things were harder or stressful, chapter three was just so incredibly easy.

She got sick in chapter three, really sick, forever sick. But since life was easier, she also knew what she needed to do to get better. And, there was nothing that was complicating that. She was terrified, she thought she needed to walk away from him, but he just pulled her in tighter.

He was family, she didn't realize how much she needed him until she found him. She needed his easy. She needed one thing to feel this easy. She didn't realize he was missing.

Taking walks together, staying up all night talking, going to grab a coffee, city living, holding hands, watching TV, it was all so easy. He blended right in to her family, the one she had now created for herself. He was the last and incredibly important piece to the puzzle. They were so different, but in a good way, they were each other's balance. They had so much in common, but in important ways. They had a really solid foundation. They liked to be together, they liked to be with other people, they really liked each other and it was all so easy.

Chapter four: the family grows.

With a move and marriage and the puppy, they added and added again. He always knew children needed to be a part of his story, she needed to be talked into it more. But, once they were here, she fell in love with being a mama and protecting their little. She looks at them, all of the time. While they are eating, or sleeping, or playing, she cannot take her eyes off of them. They look so much like him and it makes her fall for him even harder, they are the two of them combined becoming their own little person. They are so different, one a book nerd, the other a Lego master. One a sitter, the other anything but.

Although the first three years of parenting were incredible, really incredible. So incredible it felt like this was what they were made to do. They fell in love with falling in love with their girl. There was an incredible dance during those first few years.

But, right around year three, the fog finally set in and settled all around them. It was no longer easy to find each other. It was so hard to see one another and the foundation didn't seem as strong. She was filled with so much worry during this time but he knew it was all just a blip and kept pulling her close. She made a lot of threats during these years, and he kept trying to remind her that the fog would lift. There were so many emotions but they rounded one important corner after another until it was clear again.

Their first puppy had her final days, and they said one very difficult goodbye. Without her, it felt really lifeless and dark. So, a new puppy brought life and love, and light back into their home. She was the lover of love that every single member of the family needed and clung to.

Chapter four was hard and wonderful. It was the definition of life, couplehood and parenthood.

Chapter five: the job that was always too much.

She spent 20 years being raised by an agency. She fell so hard for the mission and the hope they created. She loved the way they too protected childhood and understood how important that was to communities. It was never ever a job for her, it was always a way of life, something she needed to breathe. Until the day came when she truly loved it to death, not only was it no longer her breath, it was choking her and it all became too much. Only because she made it too much, because that is who she is and what she does, she is an all in girl and loves things too much.

For the longest time, she relished in the hours and hard hard work. For the longest time, she felt like she was home an in a groove. Until she realized that she was no longer riding a wave, she was getting soaked and the water was starting to take her under. She was drowning. And even more heartbreaking, she lost her hum.

There was a constant headache brewing, a tightness around her chest, an anger that was rising. She was the only one that could stop it but she didn't know how. It was then that she realized her time there was up, they all needed something different. And it wasn't just her or her family that needed her to walk away, it was the agency. They too needed something different and she had to go now.

So she spent three years planning and building and figuring out...what next? This had been such a deep and rooted part of her for so so long, where to next? When the answer came she knew it would be a hard three years, but she also didn't see any other way to make it work. So, she got to work and poured hours on top of hours and worked harder and longer. And it broke her. It broke her brain, her heart, her spirit, her...it broke her.

It was always too much but only because she made it so.

Chapter six: all is calm, all is bright.

She struggled in the beginning. It took time for her to sleep well. It took time for her to stop crying, shaking. It took time before the nightmares stopped and it took time before she didn't feel like someone was standing on her chest. It took time to figure out her days. It took time for her mind to come back and her memory, it took time for her memory to improve.

But slowly, it started to happen. She found and caught her breath. She no longer felt like every decision was the wrong one. She started to really enjoy her days again. Slowly, she started finding herself.

Chapter seven: peace and joy.

She had forgotten pure joy. Not just a glimpse of funny here or there, but moments of actual pure joy. She found them in the smallest of places. Walks with her dog, watching TV at night, reading with her girl, all of the naps. She found joy.

And she loves her job and loves to work. She no longer sits down heavy, but really has the ability to find solutions and think through the best way to handle something new. She still panics here and there, has to be pulled back down, and talk through some trouble spots, but she once again loves her work.

She also realizes she, and only she, can keep finding the balance, or she can keep up her old ways and love it to death, again. She has a chance here to love what she does but not only do work. She has a chance to keep herself open to new possibilities, but only if she is open. She has the chance to problem-solve, but only if she is not overwhelmed. It's up to her what direction this all goes in.

She has found time with her kiddos, games and reading dates, and so many walks and walks. Walks with her new puppy. Walks with her kiddos. So many talks with the kiddos. Making sure she is the mama she needs them to be, a mama that is there for them. She loves being their mama and she needs them to see how much.

She found her laugh again, she can't give that up again. She found her way but it is up to her to make sure this is how she keeps going. She can't go back to her old ways, she needs this peace.

Chapter eight: the one that isn't written yet.

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