New Year’s Quiz, 2013

I went to look back at my New Year’s Quiz from last year only to find that I didn’t write one. That right there pretty much summed up how 2013 started. It was chock full of sadness, unhealthy choices, anger, and a downward spiral that continued on through May. Outside factors, inside factors, inside my head factors, many forces contributed to what I would now consider my own self-imposed unhappiness, and lowest point that I had experienced in some time. It was then that I found peace in a heated room, on a mat, learning to breathe through my life and finding strength I never thought I had. And some that I came to realize I didn’t.

The latter half of 2013 was a world of change, not just for my physical health, but more so for my mental stability. I had heard the term mental strength before, I just didn’t realize how weak mine was. I was weak in so many ways. I held absolutely no presence in my life. I spent more time in my own head than among the people around me, and inside my head was not a fun place to be. That is still a work in progress, but “Here and Now” has become my mantra, and perhaps the foundation of that tattoo I have always wanted. So here goes, my farewell and unexpected thank you to 2013:

1. What did you do in 2013 that you had never done before?

I summoned all my courage and tossed aside my fear of stepping solo into a new and unknown environment, and walked into a yoga studio with absolutely no idea what I was doing. What I found there is a consistently growing supply of inner peace I never knew existed, and an immense wealth of gratitude for this life.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions and will you make more for next year? 

I don’t even remember the fog that was the end of 2012, but I am pretty sure I did not make a New Year’s resolution last year. It is with great intention this year that I am not making a New Year’s resolution, but am creating a theme for my life in 2014. My focus is to be present in my life and to choose happiness and self-care. It was such a foreign concept to me at first, the idea of choosing happiness. Choosing to be in a good mood? Choosing to let go of that which I cannot control? Choosing to control that which I can? That’s even harder sometimes. I can control how I feel, even though this morning I woke up feeling miserable for some reasons I could identify and for some that I couldn’t. Sometimes it’s really difficult, but I find that if I stretch my arms to the heavens and let my heart shine, it can break through many clouds.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?          

One friend had a beautiful baby girl. Such a blessing to see a great family filled with even more love.

4. Did anyone close to you die?     

Thankfully, no.

5. What countries did you visit?   

This question always makes me laugh. I’m pretty sure my passport is expired at this point. Regardless, I did travel to Maine and New Jersey to visit with some of my best friends. What more could a girl need?

6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you didn’t have in 2013?    

A golden ticket to TVD Con NJ and a hug from Ian Somerhalder, one of the most selfless, kind, and compassionate human beings on the planet. Just keeping it real.

7. What dates from 2013 will remain etched in your memory and why?  

The only date that really stands out for me is Mother’s Day. That was the day I decided to try to help myself.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?   

I was really stuck on this one. There have been a number of work achievements that I could mention, but really that’s such a side part of who I am. If I am being truthful, what comes to my mind is the first time I walked into a level 2/3 yoga class. There were at least 20 people in there and they all knew each other; ALL OF THEM. They were all standing around talking and hugging and greeting each other with follow-up ‘how has your week been’ conversations, and I fell into a serious panic. I felt so out of place and there were no spaces left to hide in back in case I got lost in some of the harder poses. It took every ounce of my courage to not turn tail and run out of there, but I stayed. And I loved it. It quickly became my favorite class. So there was that, and getting over my inexplicable fear of going into the back common room of the yoga studio. It was as if some part of me felt I didn’t belong there. The necessity of putting away my winter coat got me over that one.

9. What was your biggest failure?       

Every self-deprecating thought that I ever believed for the past 40 years.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?         

No.

11. What was the best thing you bought? 

My 3 for $20 new student class pass to the Open Doors Yoga Studios.

12. Where did most of your money go?        

Household bills, our trip to Maine, and a small chunk to my beloved yoga classes.

13. What did you get really excited about?         

Our trip to Maine, our trip to New Jersey, and every single time I saw the word “Registered!” when I signed up online to attend yoga class (are you seeing a trend yet?). Oh, and dressing up as Dark Willow and meeting this awesome guy:

IMG_0362

14. What song will always remind you of 2013?          

The Cave by Mumford & Sons

“It’s empty in the valley of your heart

The sun, it rises slowly as you walk

Away from all the fears

and all the faults you’ve left behind”

 15. Compared to this time last year,  are you:    

- Happier or sadder? Happier

- Thinner or fatter? Thinner

- Richer or poorer? Financially about the same

16. What do you wish you had done more of?             

Relax about the little things. The saying “Don’t cry over spilled milk” was created for people like me.

17. What do you wish you had done less of?  

Freak out about the little things.

18. How did you spend Christmas?    

My in law’s for Christmas Eve, home with family on Christmas, with an additional day of Christmas at home with my mother in law three days later. It was a wonderful whirlwind where I did my best to take many appreciative pauses.

19. What was your favorite TV Program?       

While I’m not sure what the heck is going on in Season 5 of The Vampire Diaries (I’m looking at YOU, Caroline Dries and Julie Plec!!), I stand by my TVD and I am loving The Originals. But Breaking Bad was the best series ending I have ever seen, Dexter still pisses me off, and I’m still not over the amazingly brutal season finale of Sons of Anarchy.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?         

I really fell out of reading novels this year in favor of some fan-fiction that I will never fully admit to. But I’m getting back into it.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?    

Let’s just call this new-to-me music, OK? In addition to my undying love for Tori Amos I am obsessed with Mumford & Sons, adore Florence and the Machine, Death Cab for Cutie and Lana Del Rey, and rekindled some love for Fiona Apple. Pandora is my friend and it’s scary how well she knows me.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?    

Was the new Star Trek from 2013? If so, that one. Plus Catching Fire was very good. And The Great Gatsby was wonderful, although I know I am in the minority among my friends on that one (shocker).

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?          

I turned 40, and spent the day in the company of some of the people I love most. They dressed me up all sparkly and fed me vodka. It was glorious.

40bday

 

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?  

A hug from Ian Somerhalder (come on now, we all have our things).

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?       

Slipper socks are still my favorite thing in the world, except now I pair them with yoga pants.

26. What kept you sane?  

Yoga, yoga, and the knowledge that for the rest of my life I get to do more and more yoga.

27. Share a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.      

This is going to sound preachy but it is my truth. I am responsible for my own welfare and that includes self-care. Self-care is not being selfish, and everyone needs it. I alone can create my own happiness. I cannot control everything, but I can control my own thoughts. The greatest gift that I can give myself is to stop the suffering over what was, stop worrying about what will be, and to focus on what is here and now before me. Here, and now. Here, and now.

That’s all she wrote. Happy New Year to you, my friends. As you can see I’m not posting much lately and it’s colder and darker out there, but I am here. When I allow myself to bask in it, I am happier than I have been in 30+ years. It’s not always easy and sometimes I hear the echos of that inner cave calling, but I continue to have copious amounts hope for the year to come. Reminding myself:

Lots of water, lots of yoga. No mistakes, just lessons. Only love and peace for all living things (Except spiders and other things with more than four legs. I didn’t say I was a guru when it comes to this shite.), and most of all only love and peace for myself. Namaste.

Cloudy, with a Chance

I think it was right before Mother’s Day when I emotionally bottomed out.  There wasn’t any one event that precipitated the fun for all break-down that took place in my kitchen that day. It was the pile up of life; work, cleaning, laundry, cooking, car-pooling, mail, paper work, bills, and 1st grade homework that sadly at times I had to reread to understand. You know, just the average stuff that by the age of 39 you are supposed to have figured out how to accomplish effectively. It’s puzzling; I am meticulous about my paying job, but an organizational nightmare with my home-life. This has probably, who I am kidding, most definitely always been the case. Yet beyond Mommy’s general state of flightiness and less than subpar housekeeping skills, the previous nine months had seen a progressive decline in my ability to function.

Into my life crept a constant state of exhaustion. I would push myself from one task to the next by the sheer necessity to move my body, which generally ached. I would have a hard time lifting the milk jug one handed into the fridge. As I carted laundry baskets up and down stairs, my neck, shoulders, back, arms, and legs were all pleading with me to cease and desist. I could feel strength and will bleeding out of my body. With so much to be thankful for in my life there was a storm cloud stationed directly over my head, and I felt powerless to avoid it.

I would love to say this is the first time that anything like this has ever happened to me. I wish I could say it came out of nowhere. But in truth this is a bit of an ongoing pattern. I have fought that cloud all of my life. Sometimes I do a pretty damn good job of ignoring it, armed with a multitude of brightly colored umbrellas to keep myself shielded. Other times, my arms are just too tired and I allow the rain to crash down upon me. With nothing to protect me, I would find ways to deflect the pain by lashing out with various and sundry self-sabotaging actions. I have years upon years, stories upon stories, of ways that I have proverbially shot myself in the foot.

This time around however, I couldn’t even function enough to find something painful to do.

So it finally all came out that day. I was shattered and overwhelmed with my life, and beyond frustrated with myself that I was failing at it. You see, I don’t fail. I just don’t. That is until I eventually do, and ergo; devastation follows.

That day through tears I said out loud for the very first time, “I am not happy and I am drowning.”

My rather alarmed husband tried to help me around the house more than he already did, but really this wasn’t anything that he could fix. As the New England sun began to rise a little higher in the sky I started to pick myself up again, as I often do when the true weather gets nicer. I took stock of my life, my very good and fortunate life. I thought to myself, if I could just feel better and gain some perspective, then I could find a way to get rid of this cloud. Not just shield myself from it, make it actually dissipate.

It was then that I decided to try something that I had been too afraid to attempt for a very long time. I went to a hot power yoga class. And then I went to another, and another. I don’t want to keep going much longer on this post because I have already shared enough secrets for one day, but if you’re still with me there is a change that is happening in me. I feel so strong, and healthy, and good that I am cautiously optimistic that even now as the leaves have started to fall again, I think for the first time ever I might truly be ok.

I haven’t written here in so long because I don’t want to write about my kids anymore. They are older now, and they will have their own stories to tell when they are ready. It is not my place to tell it for them. So what’s left for me to write about? When things get cloudy the last thing I usually do is own up to it. When that happens I have no voice or will to share; I am too focused on pretending that the cloud does not exist. As it continues to get darker and colder outside, I guess we’ll see how the next few months progress. Right now, I’ve got a lot of hope.

Lego My Sanity

We called it the Christmas of the Lego’s. It’s the Thing my kids are into this year. They. Love. Lego’s. They are very good at them too; sitting at the kitchen table with their instruction manuals and all the pieces sorted in little Tupperware bins. They blast right through them. They received so many though, and while we thought we had a great process in place, converting their old train table into a Lego table, we quickly became overwhelmed. They play with them and of course inevitably drop them, shattering not so tiny ambulances and helicopters into mixed up, challenging to rebuild pieces. So while I am in search of a more organized method for our self inflicted madness, I’ve got little bits of Lego City falling apart all around us.

Just before New Years I came down with the flu. It was a good two weeks before I had enough strength in me to get by on more than just the bare minimum when it came to keeping up with work and household duties. My house is still recovering, and over the past few weekends when there has been any time open to me at all, I have spent it trying to unbury myself from laundry and Christmas decorations. We’re getting there, but I still look around and see that my life is far from organized. Mail. Must go through the mail. Playroom. Must take on role of Supreme Dictator and engage children in forced labor.

The kids had taken a few of their broken Lego sets and brought them back to the kitchen table where they took out the instruction manuals, apparently made a good go at putting them back together, and then promptly abandoned the projects when they proved too difficult. I do recall this going on when I was trying to find my kitchen counter. I do recall one of them whining about it being too hard, can’t do it, whine, whine, whine. And I’m pretty sure that while I was elbow deep in suds of dishes or piles of laundry that I was waiting to hear some semblance of a proper request for assistance. A please, even a politely stated “Mommy can you help me”, would have sufficed. All I heard was *insert whining, bordering on bitchy tone here* I NEED HEEEEEEELP. A proper request for help? I didn’t hear it, and therefore didn’t give it. I may even have barked, “I’m in the middle of something; you need to wait.” Not the best use of a teaching moment, I realize, but seriously people, you should have seen my house.

Later that night when I went to ready the table for dinner I came face to face with the carnage that was once two beautifully constructed Lego’s and I became very frustrated at the abandoned ruins. “Why are these still here? You need to finish what you have started. ” Rant, rant, repeat. Sofia promptly responded. “I couldn’t do it. I need help.”

“Then why didn’t you ask for help?” I retorted, not really thinking that one through.

“I tried. There was no help available at the time.”

Every now and then, her words, they stop me in my tracks and I stand dumbstruck by her level of insight. Maybe it’s not even insight so much as the ability to effectively communicate with me when she wants to. And she hits home. It’s as if I see more clearly that on the average day I am mystified that a seven year old could have such valid and prolific argument. There was no help available at the time.

Granted, from what I recall as I was in my MUST CLEAN HOUSE zone, she didn’t ask nicely. Her manners are a continual work of progress; Newsflash, Mommy is not your slave. Yet, she was not wrong. Her words, they spoke volumes to the difficulty I have had recently in balancing my life, our lives, since taking ill. Those two little weeks being out of commission left my universe wrecked, and we are all suffering as a result of it.

But isn’t that always the way? If not an illness, isn’t there always something that can creep up where we as parents must choose over a plethora of daunting tasks to simply be available? I love that saying when it comes to spending time with your kids, “the house can wait.” If I’m not worried about entertaining I will often subscribe to that notion. Yes, I have a lot to do, but let’s go visit with friends, or take that window of opportunity to go sledding. Hey it’s not raining, snowing, or freezing out, so forget that you can barely walk through the playroom and get outside and enjoy it while there’s still time.

So often we let things slide until you just can’t let things slide a moment longer. And then you have to choose to not be available. I need to accept the repercussions, and they need to learn to wait.

Unless perhaps, if they ask nicely.

Oh, so my Lego Set hell. Are there any suggestions for organization that doesn’t require a complete remodel of my home akin to an awesome but somewhat unrealistic Pinterest board? Help a frazzled girl out and save me from myself.

Lasts

I have been thinking a lot about lasts the past few days. The last thing I said to my son and daughter as they left for preschool and first grade in the morning. The last time I yelled at them, which was probably a half hour before they left for school. The last joke I heard them tell, and whether or not I can remember it. The last dinner we ate together and what we talked about. The last really long cuddle, and how much I truly took in. The last time I smelled their hair after bath, which may or may not have reminded me of melons and berries. The last time I combed through my daughter’s thick curly mane, so much like mine. The last time my son did his monkey dance, which always makes me laugh, hoping I displayed and felt enough enthusiasm at seeing it again.

All these lasts, they happen all the time. We go through them every day without thought or question that we will do them again. That is what has been an anvil on my heart since I heard the news last Friday. All these motions through our lives, as days and weeks and months pass, did I pay enough attention? Did I give thanks, and enjoy it? Even the most frustrating and jaw clenching worst of it? Would I, should I find myself in the same position as these shattered families, find these memories hard to recall? And if recollection failed would I be able to rise again from the crippling despair of the knowledge that they will never happen again? The thought that these poor families could be struggling in reality with the same emotions that I am merely contemplating as what if? My heart hurts so badly for them.

I was folding clothes yesterday after cycling another never ending basket of my children’s laundry in the washer/dryer. Without thinking I held one of my son’s sweatshirts up to my face and breathed in his scent that lingers there, a delicious combination of Dominic and April freshness. That was all it took for a trigger. I looked around at my once daunting task with the horrid realization that these poor parents who have lost their little loves must have so much laundry to do. Their children’s laundry. Whether it be fresh and clean or worn with remnants of meals and art projects smeared all down the front. I sat down and wept again, my head bowed before my little-person stacked piles of his and hers outfits, thankful I still have my babies to create those aggravating grass and spaghetti stains that I so often curse.

When we sent them off to school on Monday I held on to them for much tighter and much longer than usual, as I know everyone who could, must have. Then the rest of the week happened and we were as usual running late with quick hugs and kisses, and I love you called out as we rushed them into school. All focus was aimed at moving on to the next task of the day. It wasn’t until a few hours later when the thought of potential loss hit me once more, and I was filled with regret that I did it again. We went through the motions with displays of appreciation for each other, but without active appreciation for the moment, just as we have always done. With that realization I felt like a horrible mother, an inconsiderate wife, a poor example of one who honors the memory of the lives taken and their families who have had the cataclysmic misfortune to now live life with such unfathomable loss.

How often we hear the saying, appreciate every moment, live each day like it’s your last. I have decided that I cannot live that way. For me there is too much despair in this thought that my family and I could be separated. I can’t be in that moment all the time, or often for that matter. To truly live this gift that we are still blessed to have, I need the motion of life itself.

So I am going to keep going, raising my kids, living a good life, exploring and experiencing what the world has to offer outside of our four walls, and being thankful that we are all healthy and want for little. I will take pause now and then when the moment strikes, in that instant when I notice that she has outgrown her pants, when I hear him belt out a fabulous vocabulary word that I never saw coming, when I watch them put dollars in the bucket to feed the hungry at Christmastime, a mix of sadness of its necessity and pride in watching their desire to help our fellow people grow. It is with this motion of life that in my heart I will honor them.

Rest easy, little ones and your fallen heroes.

Whelmed

Fall brought great changes to our family. To say that my work has been challenging is the understatement of a century. This is the first time that my work life balance has been thrown into complete upheaval. Throughout the month of October I was working 65+ hour weeks, traveling constantly, catching what few hours of sleep I could in hotel rooms, or sometimes just not even leaving the office. I have been running on auto pilot and my tank is empty.

You learn things about yourself when faced with these situations. I learned that my brain doesn’t function after 28 waking hours. I spent a good 20 minutes looking frantically for a pair of jeans that I was already wearing. When that happened I threw up the proverbial white flag and…poured myself another cup of coffee.

I can recall pulling all-nighters in college with little effort. That was because when my task was done I could easily crawl into my bunk the next afternoon and sleep it all away. When you have little ones counting on you, you just have to push through it.

So that’s what I did, but not without consequence. Things have finally started to settle down but my little guy still asks me when I am going to leave him again. I can’t tell you how many tears were shed, how many times they gripped at my legs begging me not to leave as I was hauling my suitcase, a.k.a. my Go Bag out the door. I have never minded being a full time working mother. I love to work, I need to work, and we generally manage it well. Until now my children have never felt my attention was lacking. But oh, after a few weeks of my absence their voices rang loud and clear. There’s a saying in my family that we have the ability to lay on a guilt trip in spades. My children in all of their honesty have got that trait down to a science. It was crushing.

Truly, I don’t know how parents who travel manage to get by without feeling a deep hole from the knowledge that they are missing something (or someone) important. During those weeks I felt like my children grew a foot in height and two shoe sizes between them, and I utterly missed it.

Eventually work calmed down, we moved on, my house which had been falling apart was rescued from its Hoarders Level 1 crisis mode, and life resumed some sort of normalcy. Then the end of October hit and my children’s homework started kicking in. All I can say about that is wow. Wow.

My first grader is in finals week right now and every night after I finish work I pick them up and bring them home, fashion some semblance of a healthy dinner, and spend the rest of the few evening hours we have together crammed around the kitchen table reviewing social studies, Spanish, and music theory. We still have science, math, and English to go, and while she seems to be doing fine my eyes have started to glaze over. This is just first grade! How on earth are we going to get them through the next 14 years? The task is beyond daunting.

Years after my days of studying were long completed I used have these dreams that I would show up at school and I would be handed a test that I was in no way prepared to take. Everyone around me would be furiously scribbling away their answers and I would be sitting there shaking and fumbling over a broken number 2 pencil. By the way, do they still require those? If I had read the huge stack of class newsletters that have been piling up on my table closely enough I would probably have that answer.

Paperwork. *hides* That in itself is a whole other bear.

I am so disorganized and drowning in career work, house work, laundry, parenting, mail, Friday Folders from school the size of chapter books, and all the parent participated home education required that comes with them. I have absolutely no disillusions here. I always knew that along with all the rewards parenting would bring, that there would be seemingly unconquerable mountains of hard work ahead of us. I do seriously get that. Not to be all misery loves company, but I guess I’m hoping that if you are with me this far, you are reading this and nodding your head with a “Hell yes! Amen, Sister”.

Suffice it to say, while I have also found wonderful pockets of relief recently (if you’re my friend on Facebook you’ve seen the pictures from my rocking NYC Girl weekend and fun filled day at the RI Comic Con), I am regardless feet shuffling, body slumping, eyes twitching, mind shatteringly exhausted. I struggle with the possibility that for a long time coming this may simply be our status quo.

So I trudge on, but trust me when I say that all I really want to do tonight instead of barraging a 7 year old with science questions, is sit my ass on the couch with something chocolaty and watch a Vampire Diaries marathon.

Hey man, don’t judge me. We all deserve our guilty pleasures; even if it’s just one late night episode of Ian Somerhalder at a time. BTW, seriously adding this guy to my laminated Top Five List.

The Unauthorized Haircut

A few evenings ago I had fallen asleep on the couch for about 20 minutes. This fleeting power nap had left me a tad disoriented, but I still managed to go through our pre-bed routine of getting the kids settled in for the night. After I came downstairs and returned to the living room, I noticed something peculiar on the floor by the couch where I had been laying. My heart began to hammer and I physically felt my stomach churn as I ran to inspect what I feared was the worst.

This is what I found spread all over the rug.

The best way I can describe my reaction is to give you what I recall to be my inner monologue as I knelt to the floor for a closer inspection:

What the fuck is that? Is that…hair? Is that MY hair??? *clutches at head as if the mere tactile experience of finger tips on the still attached strands would indicate anything amiss* Did one of them actually cut my hair while I was sleeping? It looks like my hair; it can’t be anyone else’s. What the fuck! I fell asleep for 20 minutes and this is what I get for it? Tony was right there! Did he not notice someone giving me a goddam hair cut? This is bullshit.

I snatched up the hair and took it into the kitchen, and stood there actually holding it up to the light, comparing it to my own curls. With a sigh of relief I found that though the locks were nearly identical to my own hair in color, there was definitely a synthetic feel to it.

And then in an instant light dawned over Marblehead, and I knew whose hair it was.

Poor Belle. Someone has been watching way too much Tangled.

My Conversation with Tom Brady

I would like to start off by thanking myself for the dream I had last night. It was kind of awesome, but I do have to say, Subconscious? You can do better:

I’m sitting in the driver’s seat of a car at a gas station, when none other than Tom Brady opens the passenger side door and climbs in. I am surprisingly nonplussed by the fact that, hello, that just happened. He is well groomed; we’re talking pre-Giselle but post GQ front-cover quality.

He shuts the door, glances over at me and says, “Would you hold these for me, please?” He hands me a pair of swim trunks. While I should be sitting there all Anastasia-like, a dumbstruck deer in headlights with eyes bulging and no idea what to say or do with the presence of Adonis before me, instead I get all sarcastic.

I furrow my eyebrows at him, turn up the right side of my lips in my usual I’m about to be an ass to you smirk and say, “Another swim trunk?”

Because of course he’s already wearing swim trunks. And a shirt. What the hell, subconscious? This is exactly what I’m talking about. Do better.

Unaffected, he proceeds to give me an explanation of why he has brought an additional pair of swim trunks:

“Well, I always bring a second pair to wear on the beach (We’re going to the beach? NOW WE’RE TALKING). There’s always too much paparazzi hanging around trying to get a nut shot. It happened to Vince once and really, it’s just not worth it. So I always wear two just in case.”

So in my few minutes with Tom Brady, this is the best I could dream up. Instead of grabbing me by the hair at the back of my neck and crushing me to him over the shift stick because he MUST HAVE ME NOW, we have a conversation about Vince Wilfork’s testicles.

To which I reply to him, “Oh. That makes sense.”

I start to drive away, and the alarm goes off. SON OF A…

“I’m Almost Five” Year Old Contemplations

The cookout was in full swing; adults chatting on the deck, kids running around at play. I found him sitting by himself on the deck stairs, staring off in the distance.

“Watcha doing little man?”

He ignored my question and took me along with his thoughts.

“Mommy, how did we get our house?”

“Well, Daddy and I bought it.”

“Will I have my own house when I get big?”

“Yes, when you are an adult like Mommy and Daddy you can buy your own.”

We sat in silence for a few moments. As we watched some birds fly by, I took note of the warm summer breeze shifting across my face and marveled at how quickly the season is passing.

“But what if someone else is already there?” he interrupted my musings.

“Well, they will sell it to you, and then they will leave and it will be your home.”

“But how will I know what to do?”

“You will be big by then and know what to do, but I will help you if you need it.”

“You will still be my mommy?”

“Of course! I will always be your mommy.”

“Even after you die?”

I chucked at this and said, “I certainly hope I am still alive by then, but yes, even after I die. I will still be your mommy.”

“Good.”

Oh, so many big worries for such a little dude. And yet look how the time is slipping through my fingers.

Tiny Fingers, Brave Soul

She started playing the piano in September and had been practicing for her June recital for months. She could play the music in her sleep. As I stood behind her curling her hair on the big day, I watched as her tiny fingers tapped in time on the table. She hummed the tunes to herself quietly as she played the imaginary keys, just like I used to do.

She is only six and I was so nervous for her. What if she was scared when she got up there? What if she froze with all those eyes on her? How could I help her from my place in a sea people? I remember well that butterfly feeling, that anxious anticipation whenever I performed on stage. Was she feeling it? I sure was.

“Are you nervous?” I asked her.

“No.” she answered matter of fact without skipping a beat.

When it was time to leave she was jumping up and down, a ball of excitement. She was ready.

Before the show started I found myself whispering words of encouragement, desperate to show my support. “You’re going to be great, just do your best, keep going if you make a mistake, and enjoy yourself up there.”

I’m not even sure if she heard me; she exuded confidence and strolled right past me, head high as if to say, “I so got this, Mom.”

And she did. She was wonderful. I’m not sure if I breathed the entire endless minute that she was on stage. She was so happy, so proud of herself. I sat back and wondered in awe of my little girl, so self assured, so knowing, so comfortable in her own skin. I’ve seen glimpses of it before, but in that moment I sat blinking at the undeniable proof that she is so much braver than I ever was, and my fears are not hers; never have been.

The force is strong with this one, and in that knowledge I take great comfort.

Quiet Please

You would think in the Big Apple that you might have yourself a celebrity sighting. Well, I guess I did but first it happened right in Providence. My coworker and I were standing outside the Providence train station, waiting to head off for a week of training, when Martin Sheen stepped out of a car. My friend and I looked at each other slightly bug-eyed; small whispers passed between us as we marveled at our moment in the presence of greatness. I would love to say that I said something profound to the man. I would love say that while my friend blurted out “Mr. Sheen, love your work”, that I said something mildly close to equally so, or made some sort of joke about Big Block of Cheese Day, or even was totally obnoxious and said something like, Yo POTUS! How you doin, Man? But I pretty much just smiled at him widely like a mute school girl. Of course, when I texted some friends moments later, I totally toted that off as me say hello.

Oh, but there are such things as second chances! For after we got off the train at Penn Station and headed up the escalator, I turned to say something to my friend about the insanely dressed and ridiculously jubilant Knicks fans that had just emerged from Madison Square Garden, when lo and behold, Mr. Sheen was standing right behind me. This time I only giggled like a school girl before stammering out, “Oh, hello again!” He smiled and said hello, and what followed as I continued to stare at him was complete and utter awkward silence. I suck.

So that is what I will probably use as my takeaway when I blather on about my trip to New York, but truly what I will remember most are the two most beautiful words that I have heard in a very long time: Quiet Car.

“Would you like to sit in the Quiet Car?” the ticket checking dude asked me as I boarded the train. Uh, sure. I had no idea at the time that what I should have said was HELL TO THE YEAH, TICKET MAN!!!

What followed was three hours of glorious silence. Perhaps a few clicking of laptop keys, a few muted coughs from a scratchy throat, a whisper here or there of someone announcing their departure to the beverage cart; that was all that could be heard. No talking. No crying. No I want to play angry birds. No I’m hungry. No I have to potty. No are we there yet. Just silence.

Oh, except for the time when some idiot behind us was prattling on about his life and the ticket checking dude promptly bitched him out even louder: THIS IS A QUIET CAR! THERE IS NO TALKING!!!

Bitch on, ticket checking dude. Bitch on.

We sat and read, we watched the east coast scenery passing by at 150 miles per hour, and we closed our eyes and drifted into a waking sleep. It was the kind of sleep where you are somewhere else, but still quite aware of all that is around you. And all that was around me was the sweet sound of silence.