22
Jun

To our rising girl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20
Jun

Five Minute Friday - worth

Every Friday we unite for five minutesOnly 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 worth.

Go.

I have defined my worth by my busyness.

I have defined my worth by my career.

I have defined my worth by how many meetings I have.

I have defined my worth by how many races I run, how many times I push myself too hard.

I have defined my worth by how many tris I can get in, how hard I can work my body, how much I can burn and do.

I have defined my worth by how high I can raise a middle finger to my MS.

I have defined my worth by how determined I am

to accomplish

to meet goals

to set new goals

to grow

to learn

to work on myself.

I have defined my worth by my grit.

I have defined my worth by my exhaustion.

I have defined my worth by how many hard things I can do.

I have defined it by an agency that changed my life, and the impact I wanted to make, how much I wanted to give back.

I have defined my worth by working hard, the harder the better.

And then, I stopped.

I can do hard things, I don't need to prove it anymore.

I can run just one company and be more successful when focused, and not breaking my brain.

I can run just because I love the sound, the quiet, the way I feel.

I can do yoga to remember how to breathe and work out because my body feels good in motion, I feel good in motion.

I can work hard on me, for me.

I can share my laughter, my joy.

My worth is wrapped up in a lot of things

like how my daughter wants to spend time with me

like how my son wants to play with me

like how my husband wants to enjoy our time together

like how my dog loves our walks and our snuggles and smooches

like how my home runs and operates and the breathing room I am providing

like fun

and joy

and friendship

and my squad

and my framily

and my laughter

and my heart

and my compassion.

I spent a lifetime proving my worth, to no one but myself, and I'm tired.

So, I stopped.

Stop.

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.

12
Jun

Five Minute Friday - how

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 how.

Go.

How did this historical school year come to a close? How did we make it through all of these months at home plugging away? How did we make it all feel so normal when it was anything but?

How did 2020 manage to level us and allow us to rise, all at the same time? How did it quiet us and slow us down and make us worry and make us panic and allow us to appreciate what really matters and allow us to give up what doesn't and change how we all interact and continue to fight for what is right, all while fighting a pandemic? How did we survie?

How is it only June? How is it not 2037 because these days are short and long and never ending and passing too quickly and stubborn and easy and hard. How is it only June?

How is this summer going to go? Things are starting to open up but camps are closing and children are bored of being home and parents are working and we are all surviving and how are we surviving?

How will this end? How will it be when we all come out of the other side? How will we treat each other, how will we move forward for change and equality. How will we speak up and how will be find the right balance and how will we move forward?

Stop.

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.

10
May

Mother's Day 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3
May

Today was hard.

It's Friday, May 1st. Normally, this time of year, we would be crazy busy. The kids would be in activities...baseball, tennis, piano, chess, drama stuff. Coach would be coaching and I would be trying to keep it all together. The kids would be bursting with excitement about the spring season and how warm it is and desperate to just be outside and play. The end of the school year would be looming, we'd all be over it in some way but instead...

Today was hard. Because today, it was announced that NY schools are closed for the rest of the year. My 5th-grade little girl folded into herself and cried, a cry so hard her body heaved, and whenever she found a quiet moment, she cried all over again. Right before bed, she held me in a way she hasn't in years and she sobbed. Today was really really hard.

What are you going to miss the most?

I'll never see my teachers again, this was my last year there and it's just over now.

This little one loves a tradition and loves looking forward to things and loves loves loves her friends...remind you of anyone?

The little one struggles with things ending, it feel differently to her, and she needs to mourn it a little bit...remind you of anyone?

This little one is scared, and sometimes, she thinks she can't do anything because she's too scared to try, but she always tries...remind you of anyone?

This little one feels things with her whole body, she cries with her body, just like she laughs with her body. She loves to find things to laugh about, she desperately looks for them because she just wants to laugh...remind you of anyone?

This little one started living in the in-between and can't go back now.

Today was really hard.

I messaged her teacher to tell her about her sadness, I told her about what she said about missing her and the response back was, well, it was the reason Anna will miss them most.

I have so many words and none of them seem to be right to convey the admiration and love I have for the tiny human that is Anna. The adoration is a two way street and being one of her teachers has been a great joy.
Our ride together is not over. I will continue to support Anna through her years at Saratoga and when she takes that walk across the lawn at SPAC I will be there with tears in my eyes and pride in my heart lining her path.
I have no doubt that Anna is going to do great things. I trust that with her sweet disposition, perfect comedic timing, beautiful smile, and driving determination she is going to continue to make us proud for years to come.
I have done my fair share of crying today as I mourned to the loss of many things. But as I worked through consoling myself I thought of the amazing impact these kids are going to have for what they have lived and thrives through.
Thank you for sharing her with us. Thank you for all that she is and all that she will be.
I will see that sweet girl again
...

Today was hard. Tomorrow might be better, it might not. That part doesn't matter, what matters is that she's 100% allowed to feel sad. I told her that a good night's sleep will help, but she will feel sad for a long time and that's okay too. You're allowed to be upset because for a 10 turned 11 during quarantine little girl, well, you're allowed to feel like your whole world just shut down. You're allowed to miss your friends and your teachers and your routine and your school building and your activities. You're allowed to because you shouldn't at all be thinking about how much worse things can be, this is bad enough.

Through her sobs, she did say things like, I'm happy we're all healthy, and I'm really happy your uncle feels better...I know sweetie, but I know this is hard too and that's ok.

I do promise you will see your amazing teachers again. I promise that we will make these last two months as good as they can get. I promise you aren't the only one that misses her friends. I promise I will continue to make sure you're all in touch as much as possible. I promise it will get better, but I also promise that today was hard and that really is ok.

Tomorrow might be better, or there might be more hard around the corner, either way, we're in this together kiddo.

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