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FOUR MONTHS TODAY (AGAIN)

FOUR MONTHS TODAY (AGAIN)

I realized this morning when I went to the gym and my friends and trainers, Kathy and Kyle reminded me that it was the three month anniversary of my gym, Elevate. In some ways, we said, it went by in a nanosecond, but in other ways it seemed like Kathy has been there forever. Time is like that. This is the simple irony of time, though, fast or slow, it is a manipulation of our perception in some ways even when it seems to accelerate.

These days, time never seems slow, it is always flying by at the speed of light and every measurement these days seems to be the gauge of BM (before mastectomy) and after. So it struck me today when I had the conversation with Kath and Kyle that to the three month day of Kathy’s opening, it is today the four month day of my final surgery. The proud awakening moment for me is that I was at the Day one of Kathy’s opening and Day 2 and maybe even Day 3 and 4. And I realized today that would have only been one month from a surgery that took out the hard baesballs and put in the soft pliable tatas that presently reside in my upper body. My upper body that I now refer to as ‘buxom’ as it relates to my former self and one I am slowly getting used to.

I still have no feeling in my upper half, not my back area where Dr. M. removed back muscles and moved them to my front to support the silicone. I still have no feeling in my entire breast area or my nipple area or under my arm where the lymph nodes were removed to be sure the we caught it early was in fact the truth. I am not sure if I will ever have feeling there again. A small price to pay, I know. I look at myself in the mirror and I have these fake upright and for the most part realistic boobs that reflect back to me. With the birds eye view of retrospect if I known what I know now I would not elect to have liposuction again if I had been given a choice. In hindsight I am not even sure that I could have chosen not to. Within of the moving parts of mastectomies, it becomes confusing of what to say yes to (lumpectomy, preventative ovary removal, CHECK. Radiation, liposuction. QUESTIONABLE.) I think of all of the disruption I have done to my body, liposuction of everything I did was the worst disruptor. My body shape does not feel like my own and I don’t see an improvement. Christ, I didn’t want an improvement, I liked my well rounded hips and my strong thighs. Other women who have had the surgery or women who have not, but have heard about the “free, bonus” lipo discredit how much it fucks with your body. I don’t even know what an improvement would have been because frankly, whatever size my hips and thighs were BM they were mine and mine alone. Scooping out fat from my body to move it into another part of my body now with the wisdom of retrospect is creepy. Like radiation, I wish I had asked more questions or been given more information about it. I can hear Dr. M saying to me with his beautiful French accent, “It has only been four months, Alayne, no judgments on anything until a full year goes by, you are still swollen. You’ll see.”

This is what I mean when I contemplate the notion of time. Four months! It seems like at least a full year has gone by since my last surgery. I am coming up on ten months since the original surgery, April 7th. Then more of the countdown starts as I try to get to an uninterrupted five-year milestone. I will make my second attempt at this and just for my own personal reminder lest I ever forget, I was at my second six month mammogram check up after my first we caught it early diagnosis when I learned the dreaded it was likely back again. My birthday seems to be the special marking for the revisit. 50 and 52. For some reason five years seems to be the momentous occasion for cancer survivors. There will always be a count I suppose. Just like the first year count of every week your child grows to the next level when you first bring the little bundle home.

I balance the yin and yang of breast cancer surviving. The one part of it is the reality of it, my grandparents’ essence of pragmatism nestled tightly in the crevices of my bones. The science and the preventative doctors’ visits, the check ups and the regular conversations with my breast surgeon. Then there is the caution within the scope of all of this that is careful to not allow this to affirm another diagnosis by all of my thinking and concern about it if that makes sense. Writing it actually makes it feel a little confusing. There is that blow all cares to the wind part of me and stop the incessant reminders as I worry this could lead to an inevitable third diagnosis. Fuck IRA contributions and saving for a rainy day because today is raining and now is the present. This is married to the need to come back down to earth and realize in my typical, as Morgan rephrased for me the other day, all or nothing alayne brain. I am only two months shy of 53, I have a rich delightful life ahead of me that is the result of my two hands building a company that not only supports and has supported a wondrous group of women’s economics and spirits but also my own life, my son’s life and a four year college education as my ultimate gift to my son. This last year was intensely emotional and physical. I tested my body’s capability, my core vulnerability, my inner strengths and deep lessons I didn’t know I needed. I played with ideas and contemplated just being happy with where I was in my business. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue on the path I was one as health really is the gift that makes or breaks you. Not to mention I was tired. WAS. As in before, prior to, then. I feel different now, completely different. There is no more WAS. Now it IS. I have a new zest, a new joie de vivre. I always had this prior to all of this breast cancer. I love the definition of this- a French phrase often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; an exultation of spirit, a delight in being alive.

I suppose that with all of this delight came a self imposed personal responsibility to spread it. Before the mastectomy, I would spread and spread the joy and the light, but often not keep any of it within. For some reason the before part was about giving away my power and not realizing the importance of keeping some of it for myself. Perhaps there was a part who thought I was undeserving, I don’t know. What I do know is that there was a lot of unrealized self-sabotage to this. Creative power is a force. I feel lucky get to say it is a main component of who I am. Creative power can be scary and rogue though if it is allowed a free ride and we have lost many to drugs and alcohol along the way. I can see how this can happen as I am my own personal science experiment constantly ebbing and flowing with my on again off again of sugar and alcohol consumption and fun at the time spendthrift habits that only cause negative feelings the next day. Surely not a healthy approach to spiritual and healthy growth.

Though I don’t think I actually caused breast cancer, for me anyway, I don’t think it was accidental that it came my way. What breast cancer has done for me (and I refuse to use the word gift– it is right up there with the word, ‘journey,’ I will not claim unless I am talking about blue diamond earrings and a trip back to Menorca), it has given me this weird permission to remove the protective cape I always kept on disguising it as personal power. I have learned I don’t need adornments and accoutrements as power. My power is within. Deep. Whole. Honest. Sincere. This is a rocking way to head to my fifty third year and now I am really ready to get to work.






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FOR THE LOVE OF TEAM

FOR THE LOVE OF TEAM

Being in business for over 16 years, like being a parent, has a lot of memories. Ups and downs, ebbs and flows, successes and failures. Opening a business in my thirties as a relatively new mother of a two year old, trying to understand the skill set necessary to operate a successful operation has lots of moving parts. Besides the obvious of providing great client care, there is the important development of a great team and the actual economics of understanding the financial and important implications of managing cash flow so you actually have a business to run. I have learned much. I have learned from mistakes along the way and this is the best part of owning a company- the daily schooling of a living breathing operation.

For sixteen years, team development has been one of the highlights of owning my own place. I have learned what I don’t love about owning over the years, minutia, maintenance, such as having to buy light bulbs, scheduling maintenance services, the seeming trivial but important in the background one of many elements I never really thought about when I fantasized about owning my own company. Developing and coaching and mentoring women though has been the best part of my female entrepreneurship.

I had the pleasure of working for Aveda when it first got off the ground, way before Estee Lauder bought it and dumbed it down. When the founder of Aveda actually privately owned the company, the one and only late Horst Rechelbacher, I was exposed to guest speakers like Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Candace Pert, Pamela Peeke. I was able to learn about Demming management, organic farming, and environmental issues well before the environment became the hot topic it is today. The list is endless and this exposure formed my entire view on how to think about what my intention would be when I finally opened my own. What I did know hands down was that without a strong and dedicated team, there is no business and lots of businesses give this a lot of lip service, but their action does not match the reality. After surviving a divorce, a flood and a two time we caught it early breast cancer diagnosis, I feel unstoppable as I reflect back and march forth.

I love planning my annual team meetings. I try not to over meeting the team, but a well planned organized and energizing team gathering is one of my top three favorite parts of business owning. I plan for weeks, writing the handouts, figuring out the swag bags, inviting guest speakers and of course no meeting would be complete without a full day of homemade food. Fuck the healthy, though I do weave that into the day, mostly it is comfort food, macaroni and cheese, Dolly Parton potato casserole, (seriously this will change your life) and challah bread white chocolate bread pudding. Israeli clementines, salad with homemade dressing and roasted vegetables to top it off. Grazing all day, learning, laughing and connecting with each other in a way that is impossible in a day to day environment as we share and learn together.

Yesterday was our first meeting and if I do say so myself as much as it was jam packed and over scheduled, it was my favorite meeting. I let them know that I took personal responsibility as their fearless leader to “make them smarter.” The theme this year was FITNESS. Not just physical fitness, but the importance of financial, home, food, relationship, life and work too. These were the topics throughout the day and the guest speakers to support this did a stellar job. I invited Chris Anasoulis from Lisa and Sousa speak about wills, trusts, health care proxies, power of attorney and the awkward subject of death because let’s face it, no one gets out alive. Besides me, only one of my fifteen team members had a will. No one really knew the importance of having the conversation with either their partners or their parents and they were enlightened. I gave them each a fifty dollar credit towards the fee too. A great swag gift if you ask me.

Our next guest was Cortney Serbst Lancaster, a female SUPER chick from the Bristol Fire Department who came and spoke about fire safety, how to use a fire extinguisher, where to put them in your house, how to talk to your kids about fire safety, what about your pets and a fire and so much more. I gave each of my team member, as one of their swag gifts, a fire extinguisher. In the middle of all of these speakers, I taught them the importance of positive self talk, affirmations, breathing exercises to help ground and center them. They shared their ideas and their challenges, offering up vulnerabilities because they felt safe to do so.

We ended with Adriana Ferns, a local and wonderful personal trainer who spoke about healthy eating, nutrition and daily planning for health. She said something that really stuck with me and I hope with the team as so many say that eating healthy is expensive or takes too much time. She used the analogy of buying your first expensive car and washing it, keeping it maintained with considerable care and putting in high test gas and the irony of caring more about a piece of machinery then the actual one you are born with. This stuck with me. I have watched my young team parade in with 16 oz iced coffees, expensive and sugar laden lattes and fruit filled low fat yogurt over the years not only affecting their mental and physical health but their financial health as well. I taught them how to pack snacks ahead of time for their week in their workplace. I challenged them to test their fitness prowess by attempting to hold a plank for a full minute, or do as many full body pushups to see how much opportunity there is for improvement.

All of this yesterday added up to a chock full day of smarter chicks and most important to me, independent ones. So often my team of wonder women rely on their partners who in our case are all men to fulfill the traditional (and outdated) nod to men to make these grown up decisions likes wills and fire safety and IRA contributions. My hope yesterday was to increase their self confidence that they are the caretakers ultimately of their destinies. They have a choice, they have the knowledge and the brilliance to decide and take action when these basic life skills perhaps have been put off into the we’ll get to this later as so often we hear.

My mission yesterday was to spark their minds to take action and learn new knowledge that propels them as women and mothers and colleagues so they ebb and flow in my workplace as the superchicks they are and will become. They may feel lucky to work for my company, but I am the lucky one because I get to wake up every single day and call my workplace my own with a team of women who I am so proud to call my employees. I know I make a difference and this is the most satisfying part of my personal existence. To serve. To inspire and to be charitable. #luckiestsuperchickever

smarter and more brilliant for sure.
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YOU ARE SO AWESOME

YOU ARE SO AWESOME

Headed into Barnes and Noble yesterday afternoon to stock up on some books for an employee’s baby shower today and wow, how books have changed. First off I walked by about a thousand toys and games and puzzles, lots of Star Wars action figures and Lego sets mostly with a defined gender lean as usual. Lego doesn’t seem to get the shift necessary these days and that the “girl” lego sets don’t need to be a superhero or a Barbie camper copy. I thought they were past that by now, but I digress because I wasn’t at a toy store, but a book store and was quickly becoming disappointed that I didn’t go to my favorite local independent store instead.

As I made my way past the toy aisle there were pink and purple and almost sparkly books screaming positivity at me. I AM AWESOME, FEMINIST BABY, (yes I swear) there were books everywhere with the YOU ARE PERFECT JUST AS YOU ARE message and I wasn’t sure if I should jump for joy or weep at the contrived and now popular marketing message.

I didn’t see any “boy” books that said any of these messages. Those books were defined by the trucks and cars and things that go. Boys apparently don’t need to be reminded at their place in the sun at the top of the food chain, but apparently female authors have decided it is now time to explore (or exploit) the I AM FABULOUS enough message. The bright side to this long strange trip down the little superchick aisle was the amount of female representation books about real life women like Jane Goodall and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Rosa Parks and many more excellent, though predictable but nonetheless, community activists, science and political leaders. This in my opinion is a positive change in young readers literature. We didn’t have much of this when I was growing up so every positive reminder that there are strong female leaders besides Amelia Earhart and Florence Nightingale out there for our young minds to look up to is good news.

As I made my way through the stuffed animals and things that kind of resembled books, but I wasn’t sure, I looked for the books I loved reading to my son. Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig of Shrek fame before Shrek fame, Animals Should Definitely not Wear Clothing, Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Webb, by the one and only E. B. White, Blueberries for Sal and Lentil by Robert McCloskey, Little Women, any Sandra Boynton book, especially Dinasour’s Binket and Barnyard Dance and Are You My Mother? Hundreds of books I read to Michael over the years, but I barely saw them. The books I saw had a sad commercial quality to them like almost trying to match the latest movie.

The shower gift note included with the invitation asked we each bring a book to start the baby’s library. I get this because I have attended many many showers and seldom are books the main attraction. My go to gifts ever since I received them at my own shower are a nice big stack of books to start the library. This purchase today was more careful knowing that every attendee would be bringing a book. I had to stay away from I LOVE YOU FOREVER, PAT THE BUNNY, GREEN EGGS and almost any Dr. Seuss book for that matter, MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS, IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE and all that followed, and so many more of the classics. I had to go deep and make decisions that would be under the radar. When did children’s books become political? This particular employee tends to lean to the right or at least this is what I am told so the Ruth B. Ginsberg book was auto out. I actually had to read through some of the books so as not to offend. I had to cave though and buy the silliest one aforementioned, FEMINIST BABY, just for the pure absurdity of it. I would have liked to see a book called CHICKS AND CARS, maybe showing a little girl asking about how to change a tire. Or maybe a character headed to day care as her mom heads off to NASA to help develop a rocket. Maybe a book showing Dad getting home first and catching up on the laundry and getting dinner ready because Mom is traveling for business or maybe there is no Mom, maybe there is another Dad or maybe Mom is at her own house because the parents are divorced. How about a book about a child making friends at an afterschool program because both parents work two jobs to make ends meet? How about a book about learning about a great female economist and about the importance of saving your own damn money. How about a book called, “NO YOU DON’T HAVE TO ASK YOUR HUSBAND HOW MUCH TO PUT ASIDE FROM YOUR CHECK FOR THE COMPANY SPONSORED IRA?” Another book that would be great would be a book on a young girl going for her first job and dealing with the salary question by commanding fair pay. I would love to see a book about a mom bringing her daughter to the bank and showing her that money needs to get deposited into it in order for the debit card to actually withdraw it. Perhaps if we started getting into our young little chicks minds from the first book we read to them, we would have a serious group of developed and smart demanding women in the workforce. I am even open to this representation by other characters besides humans to make the point. Wise owls, strong lioness, graceful but commanding swans and lovely bad ass eagles. Let’s celebrate the praying mantiss in some of our books, we all know about her personality trait.

I don’t know, how about some reality instead of shoving down our brand new and ripe and ready new baby minds the white picket fence bullshit of YOU ARE FABULOUS AND GREAT AND PERFECT, because the fact is that life on its way to your little being is messy. Shit happens when you don’t feel so great and perfect, but this, my little one, is WHAT LIFE IS. No need for labeling yourself a failure because you feel like one occasionally, the failure is the juice that propels you into the light. Failure is normal. How about those realistic messages if we are going to start creating positivity books? How about the new moms putting their fricking phones down and actually reading a real book to their babies with no television and no ipad for five minutes. How about that?

yes i bought this, it is not pretty, but i had to buy it just to symbolize the crazy changes that are on their way at last i suppose.
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WHY AM I SURPRISED

WHY AM I SURPRISED

For anyone who knows me, I am on a constant partnership with myself. I am like my own science experiment when it comes to indulging in sugar, bread and alcohol. My composition and personal affirmation of yesteryear has been to label myself as an addictive personality. Drinking or not drinking, eating sugar or not, eating clean or not, the question from my friends when planning a dinner party is humorously, “are you eating sugar?” I roll my eyes at the tedious and boring person I had become. Notice the word had. Besides, labeling myself as any one thing just affirms that and I don’t know about you, but why the hell would I want to affirm addictive as a trait. I prefer charitable, kind, generous as my personal affirmations.

I made a conscious decision this 2018 to stop the madness and try to live in a more grey area. This is a big change for me, but as I had several epiphanies as of late regarding the concept of DAY 1, this notion of living in between appeals to me. So as many of us plod into January with our back pocket list of resolutions, I chose not to. I decided to just be more gentle with myself and seeing what that felt like. So as I gave up the sugar and the bread and the alcohol (like the three basic food groups of women I know) like I most often do, I made the decision that I would allow the occasional without the usual label of failure (again). What a load of crap. So the first eighteen days or so, nothing really came up that would cause the detour. Then this past week was to be the last week my son was home before headed back to college and as usual I had a menu plan that would make Julia Child proud or in this case, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, the authors of my favorite cookbook as of late, Jerusalem.

I perused the page after page delectable choices, food porn, mouth watering at every turn when I came across a full two page recipe. No pictures either, just words and directions of a recipe called Chocolate Krantz cakes as the first recipe in a section categorized as Yeasted Cakes. I love a good cooking challenge and yeast is one of those ingredients ‘who’ has been my personal nemesis. I use the word ‘who’ because I seriously think of yeast as my personal antagonist over the years as I have attempted numerous times and ended up with a pile of flour mixture that resembles Playdough that had been left out for a few days. Not pretty and surely not worthy of serving warm to my twenty year old son on his last week of his holiday break of his sophomore year. Yeast to this yeast virgin is a risky proposition and mastering yeast has become my New Year resolution. So I jumped into this recipe that I would say is like a combination of streudel and chocolate babka. Two pages of directions followed by two pages of photos on assembly. Intimidating to say the least. But my new cookbook paramour, Yotam, promised me the end result would satisfy. This was followed by these opening lines: Making a krantz isn’t easy or quick (see pictures on pages 283 and 286–287). You need to let the dough rise overnight and then fill and shape it which is an elaborate process…. You know when a recipe has three pages of pictures, well say no more.

Because I am on a constant quest for mother of the year status, I decided to dive in. I mean chocolate, butter, sugar and flour, what could go wrong? So I started the night before prepping, which thank you pink Kitchen Aid and dough hook, took only about twenty minutes and went to bed. Next morning at my usual 4:30 am wake up, I got up and felt the connection with the women in the old world who didn’t have the luxury of a grocery store or Seven Stars bakery to get their bread and even if they did, wouldn’t cross their thresholds as their own cooking would always be superior. I saw Yotam’s mother or grandmother in Israel waking up before sunrise, adorning her apron and having her morning meditation along with her coffee before the kids and the bustle of the day started. I was part of this tribe as I dove in full-hearted with the hopes and dreams of a successful babka.

This was my second attempt at a Yotam yeast recipe so I had some confidence going in, but surely not a cocky one. This recipe though loaded with flour of course, didn’t have as much sugar in it as one would think looking at the dripping chocolate oozing out of the six layers of gooiness. As I made my way through the rolling and the layering and rolling and twisting, I had made the decision I was definitely chowing on this. The recipe made three loaves! I made a chocolate almond, a plain chocolate and a cinnamon sugar. Yotam, my friend and pretend lover, you did not disappoint again. I wish I could describe the taste, the smell and the joy I had in my success yesterday. I shared pieces all day with my clients, my friends and my neighbors, of course my son.. and me. Super Yum. It was that good. My friend, Morgan and I promptly named the potential store in my barn the Babka Barn.

Here’s the “why am I surprised’ part of this story. Because I barely eat sugar or bread anymore, when I do, I get the blaring reminder by my body. The tell tale signs of what I did to it that I have no regrets and would do it all over again, but this is what happens to me as I know my body so well now it is like a fine tuned machine of awareness. First off wake up two or three times in the night, 2:11, 3;11, 4:15, yes. Achy all over, yes. Swollen eyes, joints, yes. Inflamed thyroid nodule in my throat area, yes. This is not bullshit. I have tested this for the past five years and I am never wrong with the link between flour, sugar and body aching and mind spinning. The scattered thoughts, the lessening of assuredness, the questioning of decisions I never questioned just a few days ago, and the weird desire to shop come into my being like an uninvited guest who shows up at your door and you know you don’t want to spend time with them, but you let them in anyway.

The thing about food as thy medicine is that when you are hyper aware of what makes you tick, when you dive in, you know this is going to be how you feel. You also know that like a bad hangover, this too shall pass and in this case, it was worth every buttery bite (or bites in my case). Food is powerful, it represents a surplus of emotion. Food can be our worst enemy and our best friend in times of sadness, grief and celebrations. Women have a much twisted relationship with food as it comes at us at every turn tempting our weak spots like a pharmaceutical commercial. Like sex, it is all around us, but we seldom have the conversations about it. In my family, food like shopping was a loaded gun. It represented lots of love but layered with shame and lack of willpower and control as the same time. I have been my own science project and have loved the experiment in self awareness. Every buttery sugary bite brings me closer to a positive connection as I move into my 53rd year, I have made peace with my body and this is worth the occasional detour for sure.


i have this wonder woman doll since my first diagnosis and my son pointed out that her face is actually mine, for real. how did this happen and who gave me this? i can’t remember! Isn’t that hilarious? And how about these cakes! #crushonyotamottolenghi
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MY MARVELOUS MORNINGS

MY MARVELOUS MORNINGS

I have always been an early riser. People in my “inner circle” know this about me. My team knows this too since I am known to send emails as early as 5:00am. I try to resist texting when ideas and notes pop like kernels in my fresh and open brain at the wee hours of the day since I am not sure most keep their phones off close to their heads and beds. There is an energy in the early part of the day that is unlike any other part of the day, at least for me and I cherish its intensity. The morning sets me up and sets me straight for the rest of the day.

Finally I have been sleeping thought the night so when I wake up early now I am alert and filled with a momentum that propels me. Lately I awake around 4:15am and try to hang out in bed until at least 4:30 or 4:45 and then get up and do my am ritual. Put my morning pjs back on, (hot flashes force zero clothing these days), brush my teeth, wash my face, apply my skin potions, crank the heat up to some crazy sauna like temperature, and then grind some fresh coffee beans. I make my way to the front porch to get my NYT which I usually don’t take a look at until much later because I like to get my writing in along with Morning Joe and Mika on the couch. Morning rituals are like a yoga class with my friend Tracy on a Sunday morning at Bristol Yoga. There is a meditative quality to it and I am amazed at what I can accomplish before the sun comes up. Ben Franklin would be proud as I seem to remember reading something about his disdain when he realized how many people were still asleep at the early dawn ultimately becoming an advocate for daylight savings time to get people up and out. As I did a quick Google search to confirm this, (because everything on Google is true, right?) I discovered that the idea actually started with a London builder, William Willett (http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/c.html), as he realized that many people were sleeping in and wasting the day.

When I am up in the winter months especially in the early part of the year, I have continued my quest for order and organization in my closets, cabinets, files, basement. I have cooked delicious new recipes for my son, I have caught up on old fashioned correspondence, you know like an actual letter or thank you note hand written and sealed with an actual postage stamp, just like my Grandmothers taught me. I have cleaned my kitchen, emptied the dishwasher, put clothes away. “You have a lot of energy, “ is something I hear often from my partner and those who know me. Yes. Morning energy. After 3 forget it, but before noon, I am at peak performance. When I was in high school, I am sure this early morning energy was a power that confused me as I hadn’t learn how to rally it for a good cause (like studying). So instead, I did what many creative souls not understanding their power yet, not having parents to guide and coach it down the correct path, smoked a lot of pot. Clearly this wasn’t a prudent choice for increasing my productivity. I lost a lot of time trying to squelch the intensity of my creative spirit, all unbeknownst to a young teenage girl who otherwise would have gone on to bigger and more constructive things, like finishing college for one. I will someday for sure goodness knows I have the morning energy to do so.

I live next door to my friend Dottie who is from the same early rising school I am and if I wanted to have a full blown conversation at 5am on the front porch, I can be sure Dottie is ready and able to banter. I can count on her sweeping the sidewalk, sweeping the leaves from the front of my house, or on her way to get the newspaper at Pic and Pay. We talk about seeing cardinals in the neighborhood, the temperature, doctor’s visits and family visits like it is the middle of the day and everyone is (or should be) awake. I love that part of my morning too.

This morning I finished my filing for the 2017 year and cleaned out the remaining files that are no longer useful. I have one closet and my basement to clean and then I can say I am finished and ready for the opening of my store in the barn in the spring, this in itself gives me great excitement and as soon as the weather breaks I will not only have gardening to look forward to, but a barn to paint and prepare for my upcoming newest venture.

I often sit and read cookbooks, scanning for a recipe I may have missed or when my mood has changed and I see a recipe that I previously passed by. When my son is home, I love to try new morning recipes and have been challenging myself with yeast recipes lately with actual success! What I am amazed about is how much I accomplish in about two hours, 5:00am-7:00am, it is like the time slows down for me and allows me to complete tasks that would otherwise take much more time simply because of the distractions that naturally occur mid day. I don’t usually go to the gym until after my am routine, I like the morning sit and ordering of things before a workout; it is like mind and intellect fitness and just as important. I am usually shutting it down by about 3:30 though and I am happy to do so. The morning light that begins its slow entry into my view causes me to get up and open the flowered happy curtains adorning my windows to let the light in and reminding me that another morning has come and gone.

Rituals of any sort are a lovely part of life. They are the comfort to my day and a stabling force in my routine. Daily rituals keep me grounded and centered. We all have rituals of some sort, often we may not even realize that some of these routines are a sacred part of our days. When I used to make lunches and breakfasts for my son when he was in elementary school, I don’t think I had the same feeling about these morning tasks. I am sure I looked at them more like chores and less like rituals, but this is part of the growth that happens as a parent with the wisdom of retrospect. Part of the process and the joy of aging in my opinion. There is a much deeper sense of appreciation when those rites of passage become scarce because of a child grown into a man and off to college with less frequent opportunities. There is also a much deeper sense of gratitude in participating in rituals since my mother stopped speaking to me and it seems relatively hopeless that our relationship will ever be anything other than one of occasional emails. The rituals are also much more embraced and relished when there are health scares and deaths causing a deeper appreciation of the simplicity of them. My morning time has ended and it is only 7:15am. I have accomplished much this early day. I watch the snow fall in mid January knowing that tomorrow is hopefully another one I get to look forward to.





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BEHIND THE TIMES

BEHIND THE TIMES

Ahhh. Glorious Sunday mornings. Wake up, nestle up close and personal with the warmth of my partner’s comforting skin on my skin, his hands firmly placed on the non sensation but kind of still feeling breasts, deep breaths and generous love as we contemplate who will get up and start the morning coffee grinding and making ritual. He volunteers and I greedily accept sneaking in a few extra minutes of a king size bed to myself before moving. I hear him and watch him as he exits. “Watch your eyes,” he usually says to prepare me for the entrance of light into my realm, previously dark as the morning sun is still hiding. I watch him get dressed, his sleek trim runners body from years of discipline at the gym. At seventy he takes my fifty two year old breath away. I stare like I am looking at a piece of artwork as I do every chance I get which makes him feel uncomfortable. Like I am “blowing smoke up his ass,” he frequently says likely in disbelief that at seventy he can still be admired like he is a thirty something. I am not bullshitting him. I never bullshit actually, I am truth like it or leave it.

I make my way to the comfortable couch where the Sunday Times awaits, the smell of coffee wafts. I can hear the heat cranking as it begins its slow climb from nighttime comfortable 61 to my new rule of fuck this, I work too hard to be cold, 70. Yeah baby. No ten layers for me in my own house. I am not living with my father anymore who kept our old poorly insulated Jamestown converted summer houses at something like 59. I remember last year when I finally freed myself from the ban on heat escalation because of my younger year training I never questioned. Talk about liberation, when the first gas bill came in and it wasn’t crazy, I was thinking why the hell did we freeze so much back in the seventies? Probably his parents did the same thing and he likely never questioned. Fuck that. I am going to be warm and that’s that.

As I settled in with my coffee and the Sunday Times, the Sunday Review section was my first stop and as usual, it would not disappoint my hungry morning brain. Without Her, by Amy Chozick, followed by The Heartbeat of Racism is Denial by Ibram X. Kendi supercharged my mind filling it with thoughts I hadn’t considered. Guess Who’s Coming to Peanuts, by David Kamp introduced me to Franklin, the first and only black cartoon character in Charlie Brown comic strips introduced “cautiously” on July 31, 1968. I discovered how Franklin came to even exist as Franklin’s birth was no accident relative to the timing of Martin Luther King’s death three months earlier. I continued on with two other heart palpitating producing opinion pieces that satisfied my liberal and social consciousness, completely energized by my new found brilliance.

As I moved on to the Sunday Styles section, I started to feel a bit like my 100 year old grandfather trying to navigate an Iphone. Meet Your Masters, by Nellie Bowles with the tagline, “The revolution will be ushered in by young cryptocurrency millionaires,” (yes it appears this is a real word), Revolution? Bitcoin? Cryptocurrency? Who am I and what planet do I live on? I had a flashback to some old Star Trek episodes I used to watch gathered around a small black and white tv at my friend’s grandparent’s gas station on a lazy afternoon smoking pot watching these at the time futuristic reruns thinking I was living in Back to the Future.

Then there was all of this language I was unfamiliar with as I made my way through a piece about a new app called WeCroak reminding you five times a day to stay humble because basically no one gets out alive. I think a few bouts with breast cancer does this just fine and I don’t need to spend one penny on an app reminding me to appreciate life. Apparently Death, a once taboo subject is now “trending.” Yes the word “trending” was used in the article to describe the awareness of Death movement apparently popular with 20 and 30 something’s. Have I been sleeping? When did words like trending to describe death or even worse, five times daily reminders of death? When did the word bitcoin ever become a real word and how on earth did it even become a real thing that could actually be associated with the possibility of becoming a millionaire? When did the word genderqueer become a word as I learned about this in the article above the Death app one to describe someone as a genderqueer farmer?

My head was kind of spinning yet I was excited as I usually am to learn. Period. I love to enhance my mind, my thought process. I am a happy and receptive student and reading the Times helps me travel down a path that brings me great pleasure. I try to see other sides of the conversations, but I haven’t really found other conversations that don’t have a tinge of disdain for these topics in other news arenas so I stay comfortably reading page after page on a Sunday morning lazily into the afternoon. I am literally and figuratively “behind the times,” pun totally intended. That being said, I am a hungry enthusiast about all of these topics that I am often unfamiliar with and open to learning about them. At the same time, though relieved and happy to be ‘behind the times’ knowing I don’t have to get caught up in the energy that is all of this twenty and thirty something. This is the joy of getting older, the glorious passing of the torch to the next generation. I’ll leave that to my son. He can take the baton and get jazzed about bitcoins and Death apps.



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I HAVE FAKE BOOBS

I HAVE FAKE BOOBS

The four words to this title strike me with somewhat of a disbelief as I get further away from my final surgery three months ago and lean into my very much alive life. I joke a lot about these new additions to my body and I am struck by how easy in many ways I have become use to a perpetually different sensation in my upper half. Mostly I have physically returned to everyday alayne life. Range of motion and getting up speedily is still a little wonky, but that will come with time I imagine since muscles from my back were moved to my front. It is striking how much I rely unknowingly to my upper back muscles. The liposuction areas are still numb and there is definitely a different sensation in those areas. This is the physical. Physical in this case is nothing to yammer about. I realize this one hundred percent and I am a daily grateful human, period.

This entire experience has been a positive one. There has been life changing nuggets that I get to say without cancer cliché that have been an ironic boon to my quality of life and this has been the greatest awakening for me. My friendships have grown deeper. I have learned to release old baggage and not take it with me when I show up for relationships that have a past that maybe didn’t feel as good then, but don’t have to feel that way now. Maybe this would have all coincided with the natural process of turning fifty anyway, but I will never know. I feel different. I feel like I left the woman that I knew at fifty on the surgical table back in 2015 at my first surgery and almost three years later getting ready to turn 53, I am a different woman. A woman who I am actually really enjoying. I think that the road to fifty is a winding and hilly one. It is about discovery and an up hill climb towards the answers. It is about yearning and learning about what makes you happy and sad and pissed and deciding which ones of these you want to most identify with.

I remember like yesterday the potent nesting feeling a few weeks before I delivered my son. It was like I couldn’t clean and organize enough. This was not something planned. It was highly intuitive and the surge was a force that took over my thinking and propelled a sense of order. Every woman I know relates to this. I am sure there is an evolutionary energy to this. It is a deep rooted feeling not manufactured but cellular. We caught it early twice cancer diagnosis and concurrent surgeries to match are like having a new baby. It is the only feeling I can compare it to, but it is also the opposite. Getting ready for a grand entrance of a new life that I was not only getting ready to birth, but to be responsible for that new life was a major life overhaul. There is a sense of order and urgency in preparing for the arrival of a new baby and it is life 101. The beginning.

Moving into my fifties with the new addition of health issues has the same sense of urgency, but with a different charge. There is a blatant awareness now that life is much shorter than I thought and the wide open space that was bringing up baby feels more instead like a narrowing of time. This may read weird. I write it though with a sense of deep appreciation for its arrival. There is a visceral movement towards clean up that feels very much like nesting did back in those preparatory days of pre Michael. I clean closets, my basement, my drawers and cabinets with a vengeance. I clean my businesses and all of their closets and basements and cabinets. I reorder, I remove, I reduce. Reduce, this is one of my trifecta of words for 2018. The amount of things I have accumulated are lovingly put in a new sense of order as they await for my store I will be opening in my barn this spring. I realize that I have accumulated enough stuff to open a store and stock it with a complete inventory. This is humbling and slightly embarrassing. In addition to my word of the year REDUCE, I also have a new mantra that is slightly borrowed from Alanon. This is that today is Day 1. The past is simply the past and as I show up to the table I don’t have to bring the luggage carrying the crap that doesn’t exist anymore except in the luggage. I can bring an empty suitcase and start fresh every single day. So in addition to the magnificent word REDUCE, I will add RELEASE to the cluster of favorite themed 2018 words. Releasing the literal and the figurative allows the reduction. This is an outstanding concept for me and I feel totally on point, on purpose and with a clear as a bell direction.

It is January 11th today and 1/11/ 2018 is a great combination of numbers because 2018 adds up to 11. I like the neatness of these numbers today. They feel like a story and a clean start. I have been reordering and reorganizing my life for it seems this very moment. There is no chance of going backwards, I march forth with a strength and determination that feels volcanic, yet peaceful in the same breath. My body is the host for my fake boobs that demand notice outward if I choose to go for the form fitting shirts I used to love wearing (back when I thought I had boobs, but my friend Morgan assured me I didn’t). It is also the host for the never ending awareness that they provide as reminders to not forget my sense of power and strength that is now my daily vibe.

I am working on replacement thoughts these days too as I reduce and release. So my third and final word for 2018 is REPLACE. I replaced my old body with a new one; this is the fun part of this experience, having these reminders sassing their way into my daily routines. The replacement of language in my head though is my focus this year. I am allowing every time a negative or judgmental thought pops into my headspace, to use its trigger to be a reminder to replace the words with I AM HEALTHY AND STRONG. Replacement words to affirm goodness. It amazes me after all of the work I have done on myself in my life how many negative thoughts still find their way into my mind. Negative thoughts are indeed like a life cancer and I don’t want any more of that shit.

Through this spiral of writing today like always I have worked through and come out brighter and more open and loving. All because of my constant fake boob reminders that wake up and go to work with me every day, that have dinner and end my every evening. Usually when I am on the right path, I see a red cardinal to remind and confirm. Cardinals show up when I am teetering on the edge of something and when I see one, it always affirms my path. As I left the gym on the last frigid cold day feeling strong and bad ass, there the lovely couple was. Waiting in the tree outside the gym for a private showing. So bring on 53. I am ready.


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A GOOD MOM

A GOOD MOM

“You’re a good mom,” Michael said to me with such a voice of sincerity a few weeks back. Hearing the words from my life partner, my paramour, my best bud, is one thing, but knowing he also is a family therapist and deals with moms (and lets not forget dads in this labeling mix) of all sorts as his profession is another. The glory of hearing the three words that make a woman’s heart sing is that I know I am a “good mom.” As nice as it is to hear the compliment, it is equally as nice to know that I don’t need it to validate my worth as a mom.

What constitutes the good mom label anyway? Being labeled as a ‘good mom’ is different than the label of being a ‘good dad.’ When I reflect back to my early mom days, when paternity leave wasn’t even on the changing table and even if it had been, my union husband wouldn’t have even considered it. Frankly I think he would have felt it embarrassing to ask for it. I roll my eyes even saying that, but it was true, probably still is for him and lots of dads out there still even in 2018.

I delivered Michael on a Saturday morning, timed perfectly for a new father who never took vacation time. We came home as a family on the following Monday afternoon. Let’s not forget that the Patriots were in a playoff game on Sunday, December 28th, the father son dream timing as I am pretty sure we had some Patriots paraphanelia along with the game on in the hospital. This was well before the Patriots Dynasty, back well before Perfect Tom. As Dave sat there with his new and highly impressionable day old son in his arms watching with great promise, the notion of perfect parenting started to make its entrance. Dave only missed part of a workday that Monday. I think he went in on the morning of my checkout actually and picked us up. The next day, he lit a fire for me in our new fireplace, got me settled in on the couch and off he went to work. I remember thinking holy shit, how did this happen? When did the memo arrive that said I knew what I was doing simply because I was born with a vagina and by proxy was the one who gave this little dreamboat I now called my son life and birth and a safe delivery?

As we both settled into our new roles, Dave getting to leave for work every day and me having a complete life change as I tried to wrap my ahead around how I was ever going to be able to leave the house again, I did find my way eventually. So did Dave and so did we both as a couple, kind of.

I quickly realized that Dave was a superior diaper changer so I unknowingly, but as it turns out cleverly, anointed him the title. This first lesson in parenting was a golden nugget. Compliment the dad in what the mom is expected to know intuitively and Dad becomes the proud father of the year with the added bonus of easily getting him to change a diaper. The constant reminders from my mother and my grandmothers about how lucky I was to have a husband who changed diapers did not go unnoticed in the world of parental equality. “You are so fortunate,” my grandmother would coo as she used my motherhood to reflect back on her own as we women do so often (usually reminding us of how happy we are that though this part is missed, it has permanently set sail into the horizon). “Your grandfather would never change a diaper,” she would say with such an envious glee in her eyes, allowing my former husband to puff his chest out ever so slightly. These comments continued as my mother and grandparents would comment on all of the things Dave did so well, cooking, cleaning up the kitchen, laundry (as I write this, I am almost forgetting why we split up, ahh the glory of sensationalizing the past in reflection.)

For me and my role, these things were expected. Mothers don’t usually receive any additional accolades for their performance around the washing machine, the sink, the changing station. Never mind that so many of us go back to work after twelve weeks and still have to address the child care issues of pick up and delivery, of doctors appointments and calling out sick when your baby gets the sniffles for the first time. No these are mama expectations 101. I am sure there are many men who are part of the party these days, but when we were new parents, this was not something that was part of our network; in fact it wasn’t even consideration, but automatic assumption of roles. I can see in the wisdom of retrospect how easy it was to build a wall of resentment surely not helpful to a marriage of only seven years. We figured it out though and for the most part enjoyed the experience as we navigated these roles.

I have a clear memory of our first home purchase together. The realtor, who my husband had known from high school, was doing a walk through in the house to show us where things were. He decided that I needed to be the one to be shown the laundry area and Dave would be shown the furnace and all things basement. As we stood in front of the washing machine and dryer area, I said, “Paul, why are you assuming that I am the one who does the laundry?” I really meant this. He looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. I mean he didn’t ever conceive that this scenario would be anything other. This was 1997. I wish I could at least blame it on 1950.

I was out to dinner at Los Andes in Providence for my son’s birthday a few weeks ago and there was a large family having dinner like we were. Parents, children, grandparents, it seemed and a little one, like maybe seven or eight months. Dad was holding her for most of the dinner, walking around with her, rocking her, enjoying her energy in his arms with so much love and joy. I recognized the feeling he was having as many of us parents can identify with. The wife was sitting and eating her meal and looking like she was enjoying some baby free time. Dad held the baby the hold time we were there. Mom didn’t get up once. I didn’t notice any of this until my dear friend who also happens to be a social worker in the NICU at Women and Infants and also my go to Mom mentor for most of my mom life said, “Mom hasn’t moved an inch. Dad has had that baby the whole time.” I felt a little defensive of mom actually and said back to her, “Would you have said that if it was Mom holding the baby and Dad never moving an inch?” She paused and replied, “Probably not.”

Isn’t this interesting, our assumptions about parental roles and what constitutes heroic mommyness versus stellar daddyness? Kind of like our assumptions about gender, but that topic deserves its own separate writing.

Being “A GOOD MOM” is such a loaded topic. I for one never set out to be a “GOOD MOM” but a better one. My mom and I really never jived. From the get go, I think there was this weird competition between us for whatever reason. Her relationship with her mother was not a good one and there was resentment until the day my grandmother died. Ann, my mother, was only twenty when I was born as she and my father haphazardly eloped at nineteen and sent a telegram to let their surprised parents know. I am guessing that me coming along eleven months later gave them no time to catch their breaths from a hasty decision. Keep in mind that birth control only became legal for married couples in 1965 and even then twenty six states did not allow its use. There wasn’t the luxury of planned pregnancies so when you had sex, you probably got pregnant whether you wanted to or not.

I grew up with a mom who tried at the external, the nice dinners, the pretty home, the nice clothing and shopping at Sacks, but lacked the intuitive for the role. There wasn’t a lot of warmth and fuzziness. She didn’t have that from her mom whose own mother died when my grandmother was only 11. My grandmother was sent to a boarding school in Duluth Minnesota, Villa Scholastica to be raised by a group of Benedictine nuns, hardly a mush fest. With barely an example, it is no wonder. Then I think of my mother in law who was raised by a woman who perhaps would have been referred to as ‘loose’ back in those days and she ended up being the quintessential mom at least from the outside. You know, the rice krispy treats and fridge filled with food and kids always at the house at the built in swimming pool and so on. I think this is one of the characteristics that drew me to my former husband, her nurturing momness and his respect and love for her.

I did my best. I showed up, I was room mom, and volunteer mom. I was one of the four or five moms who had the massive sleepovers and birthday parties and end of the school year parties. I tried not to yell, though coming from a yeller, this was not as easy as sometimes Satan would rush up unannounced as I found it hard to control the gut reaction I had been used to on the receiving end when I was little. My son would say, “Mom, chill out, you don’t have to yell,” with a voice of reason I could not understand where it came from.

What constitutes a good mom is such an intricate and detailed weave of discussion. I’d imagine it is different for every person as they start this role and in hindsight reflect back on it. A good mom is a loaded three words, but I think if I were asked to define what makes me think I am one it would be this.

-Being open to what you can learn from your child as much as you think you can teach them back is numero uno on my lesson ladder.

-Look up. Technology is in our literal hands as I watch like an old lady the new moms walking their babies in their $1200 strollers trying not to judge as they stroll with a Latte in the cup holders, the leash of their Labradoodle in one hand and their Iphone in the other, texting, talking browsing missing this scenery of life. We didn’t have texting and phone emails that could so easily distract in 1997. I am sure in my perpetual world of multi tasking, I would fall into this trap. I am glad I didn’t have to make that choice.

-Learn from other moms you admire. I would say that this helped define how to be a better mom more often as I didn’t always have the knowledge to bank on. Some of the best parenting I did was because I learned it from other moms watching their example.

-Let dad be a father. I worked every Saturday and he didn’t so he was the on duty parent those Saturdays. I cherished the Saturday I got to go to work because I didn’t have to do any prep child care, I could just wake up, get ready and go to work like he did the other five days. Unbeknownst to both of us, it was one of the greatest lessons in parenting because he learned how to parent in his way and I learned how to let him. I have had many new mom employees who can’t fathom the release of control this takes. I encourage them to try it, usually with only a small amount of success. This built so much confidence in my husband as a parent and as a Dad and taught me that most of the things we moms obsess over are nonsense. The dishes get done, the laundry gets folded and life goes on. Watching my husband grow as a father was one of the best life lessons I had the privilege of enjoying. I actually think this was one of the threads that kept us married for as long as it did, I just didn’t want to give up watching him be a dad to our son. It was really a special time in our lives and I have only the best memories of it.

-Listen. My son has taught me as much if not more about being a good parent than I have likely taught him. As frustrated and impatient as I have found parenting to be at times, his accurate responses to that frustration, like when I have not been present to his never ending stream of questions, he knowingly and calmly has volleyed back to command my attention. “Mom, didn’t you always teach me to ask questions?” Touché.

All the chocolate chip cookies, volunteering in the classroom, and trips to different countries do not make up for these delicious mom moments. As much as my morning daily baking this past week for his return from school has likely assured my place in the ‘good mom’ record books in his eyes, it is often my own eyes that define it for me. As I have learned about myself and continued my own self inquisition, I have become a better mother proving it is never too late. This is gratifying in itself.









some of my favorite go to moms all these years.
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OH SHIT IT HAPPENED

OH SHIT IT HAPPENED

As clear as a bell I remember the nanosecond moment when I delivered my son and the energy in the room shifted from a couple to a family. It was a momentous experience, one of those nuggets that almost felt like the description people give when they almost leave us, but come back. The image of the three of us taking a gigantic step across the line and turning to wave goodbye to what was. This is life, those spectacular moments drizzled into the mundane to keep you alert and awake. There isn’t an abundance of these which is what makes them all so special.

So I am at the gym last week, biking as fast as I can to Kathy belting out some crazy Kathy order that she must think of when she is drinking the night before to torture us. The music is loud and pulsing and so was my heart. I am sweating and I just can’t believe that the rest of the lineup is going faster than I am, but they are and they do and I don’t give a shit. No matter how much I work out and how clean I eat and how much alcohol I no longer drink, I realize loud and clear that I will never be them. This is fucking liberating and if I were drinking I’d drink to that. At the end of the spin, as we all tried to catch our breath and wipe the water dripping from our faces called sweat, I said one of my favorite quotes taken from my friend, “Like hampsters on a wheel.” The two lovely slightly overachiever type blonde ladies to my left turned their heads in agreement and laughed. I continued with, “It never seems to get easier.” Then they took the conversation baton and began talking about the weight topic that I am happy to be free from frankly. I asked them how old they were so I could commiserate with our similarities in not being able to eat whatever whenever anymore. “32!” they chirped. OMG 32. I quickly calculated and realized that I was just getting ready to deliver Michael when I was 32. I could be their mother! “I’m 52.” I said trying to stay a part of the conversation but knowing that it was a lost cause. We likely didn’t have much in common as we got off of our spin bikes. “52?” they exclaimed! “You don’t look 52, you look great!” (Must be the tits, I wanted to say, but didn’t, so proud of me).

What does that even mean? What does a 52 year old look like? I know they meant it as a compliment because I know I look good. I fucking better. I spend exorbitant amounts of money on a boutique gym rather than a monthly membership at the Y where all the classes you could ever want (but don’t) are included. I mostly take care of my insides, therapy, stretching, roller classes, meditation and organic eating as often as possible. I am bored reading what I just wrote because frankly I don’t do any of it for how I appear outwardly. It is all for my mental state. Like about 90% of it is for my mind to settle down from its non stop yapping. This notion was a revelation for me when I unknowingly made the jump from working out to look good to working out to feel good. As we inspected each other, warning here, I tend to look at women’s skin because no matter how much they work out, if they don’t take care of their skin all the tight asses in the world will not do much to lessen the damage, I realized that I crossed another one of those invisible lines to say goodbye to.

This did not leave me feeling a loss or any sadness, but gratitude that I don’t have to deal with my 32 year old head trying to live up to the fantasy of “perfect mom, wife, employee, human.” ever ever again. Hallelujah! Don’t get me wrong, I loved that part of my life, but I am one of those moms who loved every single age of my son and still do. I don’t miss any of the ages, I don’t wish for their return and I love watching my son go through his self discovery stages. I welcome the present and the future and am grateful for the past. Though I do miss the four year old little hand in my hand age and the early morning smell of my baby, nothing ever like that again for sure.

Then I realized another line crossed. I am the 52 year old who I used to look at and semi admire when I began doing low impact aerobics in the eighties at the Newport Athletic Club, after Jane Fonda lost her zazzle in my living room. I started to tell them about how I remember being their age and being able to eat whatever I wanted and then give it up for a few days and bounce right back to the five pounds lighter. I lost them as they likely began to roll their eyes at the mom trigger and they continued on with their conversations about the latest Pottery Barn catalogue or something. Just kidding, they weren’t talking about that, but they could have been.

The oh shit it happened list is endless. I don’t know if it is because the surgical menopause is catching up with me almost three years later, but hair is sprouting at a rate that I can’t describe and not on my head. That hair, that luscious mane has now decided that it wants to look like it is perpetually flat ironed. Lynn, my current hair dresser let me know that the zero humidity in the air could be playing a role, but also, yep she said it, age too. Then there are those weird lines forming around my upper lip that when I catch myself not smiling it feels as if my cheeks are sinking into my mouth causing my lips to disappear. My hair is so white now that when I look at a picture of myself even from three years ago, I look so much younger because of the color. To even contemplate coloring my hair, which I never would, is hilarious since the growth of it would cause me to have to color my hair about every three days. There is the perpetual wake ups throughout the night. There is the forgetting where I put my keys, my phone, my 18 lipsticks. Then there is the deep need to feel comfortable all of the time. Shoes, pants, underwear, socks, I have moved to the place of feeling tortured if I am not in comfortable clothes. I envy my friends who wake up and get dressed in actual real clothes and look like they enjoy it. I don’t except if I go out to dinner or something, but even then I still go to comfort first these days. Then there is the pee factor. I sneezed the other day and I swear, I can’t even say it aloud. I wish I had done more kegels like Cosmo told me. Is it too late to start kegels now? Then there is the puffiness, the bloating, the change of body shape. Holy shit, I realize could I be turning into my mother’s body? No way, she never worked out, she smoked and she was and likely still is a daily drinker. This is not me. I am not her. Whew. Well at least in all of this natural change that happens when we have the privilege of being alive is just that.

The next phase. It may be happening at the speed of light, but I seriously am not complaining at all about it. I think it is kind of amusing and I love the perch that I sit on as I knowingly watch the 32 year olds try to keep it together in their young mama phases. I march forth as I move into my mid fifties at the blink of a smaller eye (yes this happens too, where did my nice big brown eyes go off to?) I watch my dearest friend get ready to turn 75 and wonder if she feels the same way about me like I do about the 32 year olds. Just like you can’t tell any first time expecting mom about how her life is going to be changing in her fantasy world she gets to live in for nine months, a 52 year old woman with brand new 36ds can’t tell a 32 year old about what is to come. This they have to find out for themselves and this is what makes aging fun. The knowing that this too will pass on to something different and as long as I am alive, I will rock whatever time I have.

yes.
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LET IT SNOW

LET IT SNOW

The snowstorm called bomb something or other was beautiful, wasn’t it? The last days of December leading to the first few days of January are chock filled with the hopes and desires of a fresh new year coming at me like this first storm of the year. There is a shift that happens this time of year as I prepare for the first month of the year and a good storm in the mix just adds to the chaos. I absolutely love a New England winter storm. Like swimming in the Atlantic in the early month of May when I take my first ceremonial plunge, the New England winter storms keep me tough and ready for anything. It is what makes us New Englanders hardy in the grayness of a winter nor’easter. Of course I get to say this from the luxury of my own super warm house that fortunately kept its power on as I wait for Mike Cordeiro’s guys to come shovel me out.

I realized midway through the storm last night that I left my shovel in my barn that has about two feet of now in front of the doors. I did go out with my kitchen broom though and dig my car out as recommended by our trusty weathermen on TV (thank you Mark Searles). I sit on my couch on my second floor while I watch the darkness turn to magnificent morning after light on the shimmery water I get to call my view and review my first five days of January. Snowstorms give that gift, the gift of pause and reflection.

And Lists.

The list I made for myself yesterday was mighty. Lists of things to accomplish with or without power and I made it through about one third of the list. As I continue to purge and reorganize I am struck by how time consuming it all is. Office supplies, art supplies, clothes, files, housewares, even food and spices require my attention. As I get older I want less, I want less things in my closets and drawers and less to surround me. My grandmother always said you spend your first half of your life collecting stuff and the second half giving it all away. As I made my way through my closets and cabinets determined to continue my purge, I am finding it easier to get rid of things that are less than interesting to my sense of order. Moving shit around for some reason is my zen space. Maybe like gardening and cooking, it brings me humbly and delightfully to the glorious moment free from all outside distractions. There is no shortage of ideas flying into my never-ending brain, and if I execute just a fraction of them, I am happy. This is the entrepreneurial brain I have been blessed with though sometimes it is a mixed blessing.

New ideas though are a process that I have learned to embrace and be patient with. First it is the grand entrance of the idea and it blasts in with a force like the first few months of romantic interlude. It then exits at the speed of light or settles in like a new sweater does as it becomes a part of my go to comfort. This is what ideas are like and I cherish every one of them knowing that only a few will survive. I have been contemplating opening a satellite home and vintage store within my existing business to have an additional outlet for retail. My team looked a little horrified when I considered bringing this into my actual space so as I made my way through the remaining piles I had the revelation that I would open my store in the spring in my barn and garden in the back of my house. Now that the original idea has a literal home, I have a new direction and this feels like a wonderful way to start my new year. A place to rest my beautiful things I no longer need and no longer need me, but are too valuable and interesting to bring to a dumpster.

As I made my way through the piles, I reached the final pile of office work and this is what my focus is this first week of January, to organize my files. There is an utter satisfaction of brand new files and folders with shiny new labels standing at attention in my three drawer white Ikea filing cabinet. “I am not going to procrastinate filing this year,” I say confidently at the start of each year. Then I do and the piles grow and I scold myself for letting the piles get to that nuisance of a place. This is how I feel about organizing technical stuff. Technical organization is a full time fucking job and I don’t like the H word but I Hate technological organization. It sucks me dry and I fantasize about the day I can delete it all. I do have one fun rule and that is when my emails build up to over two hundred I select all and DELETE. It is so fun. I have been contemplating lately doing this with everything, just DELETING. Sounds so wreckless and I can hear my comrades screaming, “You can’t do that, you own a business!!!” With the sound of pure terror in their voices. I have two cell phones, three computers, and that is just my house and office, never mind my two businesses. I have five computers there and four phone lines, two business email accounts that require checking. It is mayhem, but I am fully aware it is a necessary evil, but between texting, emails, phone calls and social media checkins and checkups this in itself requires a part of me I don’t want to give up. Not to mention the full time reminders to update every one of them. Doesn’t it seem that everything needs updating like every other day? Good thing I own a company that provides relaxing services — I need them for all of this tech chaos I call my life. This is why the old fashioned store in my barn speaks to me, no phone, no computer, just great music and great items while people meander in my garden drinking lavender lemonade and enjoying the present moment I get to enjoy. After all I my own boss, I am the conductor, the director, the line leader and if I don’t want to do something, ultimately I am the one who gets the luxury of making the decision. I wouldn’t change this for anything. Sometimes though, I want to shut it off and down and not make any decisions.

Oddly and very ironically, this is what I most relished during my last few surgeries, the forced excuse to be brought to my knees and make no decisions except to heal. Why is it that I have to wait to be brought to my knees to do this? I guess it is ultimately because I don’t want to. I like busy-ness, chaos, ordering chaos and reinventing myself on an almost seasonal basis. I enjoy change and fixing things. The best result of all of this writing has been as I write I work it out and in the process, find myself accepting the quirkiness I get to call me. This has been the best gift of all, self acceptance in the process and for this I will take all of the mayhem, good and bad, calm and chaos and let it be.