Day One

For the past 17 years fall has been all about our boys. Soccer, cross-country, refereeing, and marching band have taken up Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and some other days.  We used to joke, some evenings, when we were trying to tell each other about our prospective days, that we would talk in 10 years… today was DAY ONE.

We are officially empty nesters. I almost didn’t know what to do with myself today… but I (we) ended up cleaning the kitchen, throwing out and setting aside a give-away pile of the multitudes of crap we have held onto forEVER, and went on a 26 mile bike ride.  I know that people suffer this syndrome when their last child leaves home, this empty feeling… for us, we breathed a sigh of relief.  WE DID IT!  They both survived their upbringing.  Of course they both have their battle scars that will some day send them into therapy, but if we are being honest, we did a pretty okay job.  We are not yet grandparents, no one has gone to jail, they are relatively drug-free, they both can make breakfast, lunch and dinner,  they both subscribe to the beliefs we raised them with, and they say thank you.  We should be opening a bottle of champagne!

This has been the goal of the past 21 plus years, the culmination of sleepless nights, making beds on the bathroom floor, screaming fights, trips to urgent care or the ER, watching soccer in the pouring rain, kvelling at parent conferences, and anguishing over the injustices of coaches and friendships… To be honest there have been some very difficult times, times where we thought the world had gone mad (we still actually think that). But through it all we knew we were heading in the right direction, that someday we would be sitting here, just the two of us, thinking… ‘Well, that went pretty well….what’s next?’

We are here, this is what is next, just us, DAY ONE… starting a new adventure together…  🙂


Sometimes Dishes Break

Sometimes dishes break… even the ones you love… the ones that you have cherished for years,  saved for special occasions, or something brand new… sometimes they just slip out of your hands, get bumped by someone who was a bit clumsy, or tip because they were teetering on the edge, and before you know it, you are sweeping up the broken bits of something that can not be fixed…

When I was first married I broke a lot of things… my husband would get upset and tell me that I just didn’t care enough about this, that or the other thing… He would get upset with me and I would be hurt or angry and try to defend myself… what a waste of energy… that attitude, that we made mistakes or had accidents because we didn’t care almost cost us each other… we went through a rough patch, developed a new vocabulary to deal with small hurts without letting them get big and and soon it just became our little joke… when something would crash to the floor one of us would say something about not really liking it or not caring about it…  we would pick up the pieces together and move on…

The truth is, some things can get bumped and just in the nick of time they can be caught before they crash to the floor… life is like that… a constant catching as things topple over… a bit of super glue to mend what was not caught soon enough …. and when you really cherish something that has shattered, you can still pick up each piece carefully and create something completely new and even more beautiful… a mosaic

If you don’t use the things that you love, they can never be broken… but they can’t really be enjoyed either… Some of the most beautiful mosaics can be created from things that have been broken… remember that…. And always look for the joy

Never Give Up!

Never give up… the show must go on.  A lesson confirmed by my 17 year old son last night at his final performance of his senior year.  Just as he was about to go on stage for his last ‘big number’ his mic went out.  Panicked, he was trying to change the batteries and finally just pulled off the battery pack, tucked in his shirt and stepped on stage.  The band is really amazing, but without a mic on, the singers are almost impossible to hear.  He knew that… and he knew that this was his final performance.  He told me that all he thought about was that no matter what, he would be heard.  And he was.  He sang much of his part up an octave so he could really belt it out.  The adrenalin rush pushed him beyond what he had done during every rehearsal… and he made it work

So, this is the lesson… at our time of crisis… when things are not going our way… don’t give up… that is the time to sing up an octave and really belt it out!  Do not let the band drown you out!  This current political craziness is threatening to silence us at one of our most important moments… sing loud, sing strong, and put it all out there… Never give up and always be heard!


Christmas Eve

This is my joy… tonight a few friends will stop by for a long hard hug… we will celebrate the season but also notice the changes that a year brings… Yes, most of us keep up on facebook but that does not replace that greeting you get from people who know and care about you… People come to our house because it is a tradition, but also people come because they are far away from their own families or because our house is on the way to somewhere else… It is a gift to us that people come, but it is also a gift to all of our friends… a gift of belonging, of laughter, of food and drink.

For my parents who live far away, it was one of the first ways they began to really know our lives… My mother helps me all day cut veggies, empty the bathroom garbage, and set up the food… my dad runs out for the ice and visits with the boys…. they look forward to seeing these people once every year, and for them and many who come, it is a completely different crowd than the one they see all year round… because it is our crowd… eclectic, funny, spread across generations, ideas, and gathered from the all around the world… Irish, English, Australian, New Zealand, Brazilian, Mexican, Canadian, and some from just around the corner… We even hope to have a few skype in from Italy and Japan just for fun!

I make traditional foods with a vegan twist… Paul says it is not quite the same, its not a complaint… is isn’t… but he is probably the only one who will really notice so that’s okay… It is never perfect and I almost always forget to put something out…The cast has changed over the years because of travels, obligations, moves and losses, but I have learned one thing after hosting many many parties, people don’t come because you cleaned the kitchen floor, they come because they are your friends…

I am sure the conversation will be lively and full of interesting opinions… our holiday drink is ready and waiting… to friends and family, I hope you stop by for that long hard hug… what a way to celebrate!

And, IF you want to talk politics, I am ready… 😉

If You Can’t Stand the Heat…

It was suggested to me recently that my blogs are dominated by divisive talk, hateful rhetoric and judgemental fingerpointing. That I am obsessed with the election results and with Trump becoming our president.   It was also suggested that I stop sharing my blogs on Facebook because I am opening myself up to people who disagree with my strong opinions and their reactions may upset me.  It was also suggested that I blog more about the happenings in my classroom because those stories, I presume, are more fun and entertaining to read.

Yes, I am far more engaged in what is happening in politics than I have ever been… I watch more news and read more about world issues… I also have more discussions.  After looking back at my blogs I can see that many of my posts during and after the election were challenging to people who hold a different opinion.  They were meant to be.  If you read them to the end, for the most part, they are a call to make the world a better place, become active and to pay attention to what is going on around you.  If you don’t agree with them, they were meant to make you uncomfortable.  Because, if you know and like me, you might wonder why I hold such strong opinions that are different from yours.  My hope is that my blog makes you think more deeply or just from a different perspective (not to suggest that you are not a deep thinker).  The title of my blog is ‘Look for the Joy’… and even when my blog is a frustrated rant, there is that spark in there of hope and joy… you can choose to see it… Yes, I was and still am, frustrated with the America who voted for Trump… did I write about that… of course, why would I not. Did you have to read it – no, you did not.

This is my platform, my blog and my thoughts.  You are free to read or not to read.  If you just want to be entertained by funny quips and silly stories then this is not where you will find them. If you choose to distance yourself from me, my ideas and my family then that, too, is your choice.  This is me speaking my heart… about life, politics, loss, love, hope and joy… I am willing to take the heat for my ideas… But if you know me,  just because I disagree with someone does not mean that every encounter or any encounter needs to be an argument… that is a choice as well

Be The Hope

I love this time of year.  I spent most of my day baking (something I only do the days preceding a family birthday or Christmas).  I made mince pies, and cake for our trifle.  I enjoy the mild panic that happens in the week leading up to Christmas Eve.  I wrote at least three lists only one of which I can find.  I went to the same store three consecutive days, each time thinking I had it all… and I repainted our living room floor.  We still have yet to get a tree… that is tomorrow’s job.  I love the lights, the candles, the food, the drinks and the gatherings that this time of year brings… it also brings the hope of what is to come.

This year was difficult… one of the worst things that could have happened, did… but it is time to be reborn in the new year, to look towards the future… to hope, to dream, to live… Finding ways to make the world, your world, a better place…

Be that hope, be that person who stands up while others stand by, be the voice of reason, the voice of compassion, and the voice of justice… this time of year should remind us all what life should really be about… love, acceptance, caring, giving, and kindness… We open our home to friends and family during this season because  we are all connected to one another and only through nurturing those connections can we make the world a better place… We are all connected, all part of one world family…

I carry with me those I still hold dear.  I choose my jewelry, table cloths, perfume, and clothes to keep those who are not with me close by… I think of my friend, my mother-in-law, and my grandmother… all strong women who continue to give me hope, who spur me on to stand up, speak out, and throw that can of tuna with all my might at any injustice that crosses my path… they also urge me to embrace life with everything I have… that long hard hug that never lets go…  I honor those women by striving to be the hope…

Being Shocked

With each passing day we continue to be shocked by Trump, his appointments, his plans, his tweets…  If each of his moves upsets you, stirs a flurry of facebook posts and makes you think that, ‘Ah-ha…now he’s really done it and all people will rise up against him’, you are sadly mistaken.  Those people who you want to wake up had ample time and more than ample cause to do so these past 18 months.  Those people have shown that they feared the status quo far more than they feared the crazy, terrible, haunted house of a ride that Trump will surely take us on.  Those people will dismiss all of those things that continue to bring you to the brink of sanity, that boil your blood, and that make you fear for our country, as false, alarmist, or just poor sportsmanship.  Sorry folks, but they just don’t get it.  They were wooed with the idea that lumber mills would open up, that Walmart would close down it’s self-check outs and hired actual people to work those checkstands, that Old Navy will cease to make their $5 shirts abroad and that strong healthy American citizens will be out picking blueberries in the 105º heat of the day… and that we would all be paying the same prices American families have grown accustomed to.

Being outraged by Trumps shenanigans (a light-hearted word for his treacherous path) really only hurts you, gets you worked up and will fester these next four years.  Please, my friends, do not let his deeds and decisions go unanswered, but do not let them torture you.  Do not let them suck the joy out of life by letting them take over.  I have been guilty of this ~I continue to be joyful but his everyday interest in his craziness has moved toward obsession.  Being outraged is not going to make anyone who does not already see, SEE.  We must treat Trump as we would that unsavory Thanksgiving guest so that we can continue to enjoy our feast… with a peaceful ‘Ahhhhh, there he goes again’, rather than an ‘Ah-Ha now he’s done it!’… yes, speak to correct him, move him to the far end of the table, play the music more loudly to drown out his rants, but the dinner goes on, people still tell jokes, they drink the wine, they enjoy what they have… and maybe next year that nutball at the end of the table won’t get invited… but don’t let it ruin today