Uncategorized

RIDING A BIKE

RIDING A BIKE

“It’s probably a lot like riding a bike,” my partner said to me when he heard the news. One of my employees was out sick during this school vacation week and we were booked solid at my business with appointments. Appointments that would be near impossible to reschedule as many were teachers and students who had the time off and on their precious vacation week, they chose to use some of that time getting a treatment from my business. I decided to jump back in and do the treatments myself and was both excited and tentative; after all, I couldn’t remember the last time I was in the treatment room elbow deep in oil, skin creams and facial potions. Besides the actual treatment portion of the day, would I be able to perform at the level I expect each of my team members to rise to every single day? I liked the feeling; the paradigm shift, the slight discomfort and I was looking forward to the day ahead kicking me out of my regular role of line leader into the front lines of where the warriors showed up every day.

This of course is tongue and cheek, after all we are not talking about life changing surgeries or battles, I am not talking about teachers going into their classrooms that are now battlefields. I am speaking about a room filled with meditation music and aromas of lavender and citrus speckled with the sounds of light rain from the sound machine. I am talking about a warm and cozy heated bed, feet propped with a feather pillow and the softest made in America (Fall River, Mass to be exact) blanket covers. I am referring to the deepest of breathing and calmness literally manufactured from what I have created that is my business of beauty and skin and deep care of the human spirit in one of the last great businesses on the planet I get to call my own, the business of touch.

At our daily morning employee gathering as we discussed the plan for the day my team looked as humbled as I felt at the notion of their usually fearless leader jumping into the room. I decided to share a word for the day for us to contemplate.

Humility. One of my employees didn’t know what the word meant, the others jumped in with examples, “the opposite of pride,” one said. “Letting go of ego, being vulnerable,” were some other examples. As I listened and spoke about the unassuming nature of being humble, I was reminded again about how lucky how I am that I get to be an entrepreneur. Yes I am a tough boss, yes I have super high expectations, but I am also fair, I speak the truth so there are always learning opportunities and I will do the work right alongside of my team. As much as I like to teach, I equally cherish the learning curve too and yesterday was that for me. A chance to get back in the room and get my hands coated with essential oils and creams. More importantly it was a chance to see if all I have created as an expectation of my team of superchicks was reasonable and realistic. Besides this piece, it was also a chance to get into the room and be with some of our wonderful clients and have the conversations one on one, with the unique mix of both business and intimacy. All good. The only thing that could go wrong was if I sucked, if I couldn’t actually remember how to ride the bike. Unlikely, but nonetheless, a thought that crossed my mind and I am sure may have crossed the minds of my kind of uncertain team. Vulnerability at its best- Brene Brown would have been proud.

Here was what I was worried about- not being able to find products easily and bumping into things making the peace of the treatment lose its juju. Forgetting to do a step, not living up to an expectation that the client may have had of me doing their service (ego 101- sorry Brene,) breathing too loud, stomach growling (yes this happened) Running late, (I did, but not bad for first run out of gate) not doing all of the steps I ask of my team at the end of all of the services, (nope, did this with bells on). As a matter of fact, I had a great day. It did all come back as I made my way through the day and I was grateful for the opportunity to serve. Really this is what I love most about owning my own business, serving. My business is way beyond facials and beauty- it is the ability to serve and nurture and not a day goes by when I am not a grateful human.

I got lost in the shuffle of my parents tumultuous and traumatic divorce as did my brother and as a result of this, college bound became a bit of an afterthought. I was not prepared emotionally; I weaved in and out of classes following in my parents footsteps of not completing a four year college plan. I was clear on one decision though, I needed to get a skill set while I figured out if college was ultimately to be my path. My grandfather was a definite influence in this thinking so it was a natural step for me to head to esthetics school. I had a love of skin and makeup and beauty since my first days getting my haircut as a little girl. The problem was that I did not grow up in a family where the expectation was for their first born granddaughter to go to “beauty” school so it was a hard sell and not one that was considered credible.

I don’t think my family really understood how traumatized my brother and I were so in actuality the notion that I wanted to even go to any type of school should have been appreciated rather than looked down upon. I made my way though and I can’t say enough how happy I am to have landed on my feet in the business of beauty. The return on investment for a six month vocational program was worth it all as this license gave me a set of skills that made me immediately marketable. I never regret my choice, I will finish college at some point just for the intellectual satisfaction though, but I am always struck by the automatic assumption for all of our kids to go from high school to college with seldom all of the alternatives in between. This is really all ego if you ask me; the vocational businesses are viable options for kids who aren’t sure or want choices rather than mandates. One business that tends to not often be effected by slower economies is the service business, hair, makeup, plumbing, electricians, computer techs the list goes on and I love meeting young people who had the guts to go forward with their dreams of shorter schooling because it is what they always wanted to do.

As I made my way through my day yesterday one client at a time with my own two hands that built a company employing and influencing women for over 16 years, I reveled in my early life decision. I was reminded of the choice I made way back in 1986 to follow an instinct rather than what every adult was telling me I was supposed to do with my life. Here I am and there I was; no wonder I had such a great day.


hanging out with my dear friend Sten who we sadly lost to ALS who helped me get my bike from Denmark TO Rhode Island teaching me that you can always get on a bike wherever you are and wherever you land.
Uncategorized

CLAPS AND RECOGNITION

CLAPS AND RECOGNITION

The irony does not go unnoticed that just yesterday I wrote about the life changing effects of Alanon in the course of my life and the release of so many things ego. Then fast forward to the morning routine of my full year habit of almost daily writing and the perpetual need to keep that swarmy ego in check as I am pulled on occasion to the number of claps and or comments I have received on the said writing. The double edged sword of putting my words to paper because the alternative would create madness in me if I didn’t have a place to release it all mixed with the flags and bells that all of this social media commands and distracts of me. This in itself is maddening. There is no question about it; it feels good to see that people are reading what I write. It is even more magical when something I write connects with someone and hits that chord that all writers I am guessing relish.

What I have kept in check since my first few writings though, is the cause and effect of the writing. I love to write. What I write is simply because I enjoy the creative expression. Writing is like art is to the painter. It has been a love of mine that makes my heart sing since I was in third grade after reading Harriet The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Personal therapy to say the least and I can’t imagine my life without it. I become a better writer every time I write and the rhythm of the words and how they mix and match as I type them and reread them is so personally satisfying. The first time I actually put my writing “out there” in the abyss that we call the world of social media, I really didn’t know what the outcome would be and it was actually a relief to not be writing for any outcome. But then as the pull of social media’s false sense of popularity started to enter into the equation, I found myself having to keep myself in check.

I imagine that when a singer creates a song that has wild popularity, the pressure to come up with another and another must be overwhelming. I am not comparing myself to the top charts of a vocalist, but it amazed me how fast I had to remind myself who and why I was writing for. ME. The therapy and the discipline of almost daily writing is why, not for the accolades. So I had to immediately think of the responses as gravy not directive, (and by the way I am not talking about Taylor Swift level followers here, maybe five or ten claps and one or two comments every once in awhile- maybe fifty to one hundred “reads” as Medium reminds me when it tempts me with my weekly ‘stats’ and my stats compared to the previous week, month and year). It is maddening, but also magnetic as I willingly admit to checking and then find myself having to work on feeling one way or the other when I see the number. I am laughing aloud at the silliness of it all.

I am not trying to write a book as my hundred or so readers like to tell me, sorry folks I need way more readership than that. I don’t know about you, but the last time I was in a bookstore, I wondered who in our population was not writing a book these days. Sifting through the crap to get to the gem was a good reminder of the aisles of JOBLOT filled with books at $2.98 from aspiring authors who thought they had something unique to say when they sat down pen to paper. I am a happy daily writer and frankly if I can edit what I have written and categorize and three hole punch the collections into some binder, this is good enough for me.

Owning a business is hard work and people who don’t have one only see the glossy outsides; they don’t see the sleepless nights, the worry about meeting payroll and the exorbitant amount of expenses that running and making a profitable business takes. Writing a book is the same; it is not about writing it- that is almost secondary. I have friends who have written books and the self-marketing and background promoting is where the true work comes in. Like owning a business 80% of success is the planning and the details, the 20% is opening the doors. There is some justice though lately in hearing about all of the fake followers to up individuals’ popularity and I am happy that I have built whatever silly following I have one real person at a time. I think of my grandfather and my neighbor Dottie who still only use telephones that are attached to the walls referred to now as landlines. They used to just be called phones. My grandfather doesn’t care if he has followers or anything except for his family visiting for that matter. He wakes up everyday likely surprised that he wakes up every day after one hundred years and three months on this planet.

I watched one of the many frightening episodes of the series Black Mirror recently. It was about the population walking around with their levels of popularity emblazoned in their aura and their work in getting their levels higher for maximum social acceptance. This show makes reruns of The Twilight Zone look like Leave it to Beaver episodes and I seriously can’t watch it alone. In this world of cyber bullying and mass shootings, watching television almost seems like a healthy alternative compared to what our youth is seeing on the wild west of social media. I try to go on less, not more and even though I have regular posts because it is an easy way for me to communicate my writing, I try to temper the viewing time with actually reading books and other people’s writings. I am not sure what is to become of society as we fall deeper down the rabbit hole wasting more time on nonsense then trying to actually get to the juice of great book reading and cultural exposure by walking through actual real museums and attending live music venues. As I continue to write and have the exercise of it all reminding me to keep my ego at the door, I recall one of my favorite quotes that I learned from a mentor of mine, Susan Fox. I can’t remember who the author is of this, I think she attributed it to an ancient Indian proverb.

“Show up.

Be Present.

Speak your truth.

Don’t be attached to the outcome.”

That last one is the work for sure and it is a daily lesson for me in so much of my life. The first two are the easy parts, the third one is too, but that last line is the work so many of us struggle with. Good old ego release, but man oh man, when you realize how easy it is once you do it, it gets easier and easier.

To the light.

Uncategorized

NOT ALWAYS ME

NOT ALWAYS ME

I learned many life-changing concepts from attending Alanon meetings over my last thirty years as an in and out participant. One of the first ones is that I am not the center of the universe. Drats. My mother was right, though her perpetual phrase to me was, “You think the world revolves around you.” Her tone was that of a woman who couldn’t believe that she could have a daughter who would be so bold as to consider this as a possibility.

I always wanted to say, “You mean, I am not?” But I knew better than to back talk to the powerful Oz known as Ann, my mother. That reply would have likely been matched with a fiery slap across the face and a look of rage I can still stir up in my vision forty years later. The reminder as I consider the memory is the walk on eggshells I grew used to as a daughter of a somewhat functioning mostly unpredictable alcoholic parent. It has taken me years to realize that I am not in the forefront of most people’s minds and most people are not thinking about me when I am not around. In fact I am not that important at all. People have their own lives to contemplate and mull over and I am not likely in those contemplations. This is adult child of alcoholic parent 101, not being the center of the universe.

For some reason, the crackily eggshell sounds in our ears, hearts and souls is because of the moodiness that often comes with the parent who drinks to numb out whatever demons need the mute button. There are lots of common denominators in the people who show up to Alanon meetings and the life lessons I learned there for free have been life saving as well as life changing. Forgiveness, kindness, patience, reasonable behavior, reasonable expectations, consistency and truth, and the release of self-aggrandizement. Apologizing, not having to be right or perfect, vulnerability, and the list goes on.

Over the years I have ebbed and flowed between north and south of attending meetings and staying clear because sometimes I get meeting’d out. Other times in the past when my mother was both talking to me and visiting me, I would attend a meeting before and after to keep me sane and calm because the triggers would start usually from the first phone call with the date of her arrival. This would make me feel bad. I mean who wants to visit someone who needs to attend Alanon meetings before and after their visit? And truth be told, who wants to be visited by someone who creates that need in the first place. Alcoholism is a tumultuous ride either as the driver or the passenger.

I can usually spot the daughters of them by their common theme of perfectionism and Type A need for success, and the need to be the life of the party and center of attention. We have this innate belief system of never being good enough and as a result no one around is either. It is miraculous I was able to raise a functioning child who is my favorite human being, kind hearted and on the path to a successful life and who I love immensely. It is impossible for me to consider not loving him, not wanting him in my life like my mother has done with me. She has such a skewed vision of how I have shown up in her life and I think that at this point, there really is nothing that can be done to change the view. I accept it actually because though I have made many mistakes, ultimately I have been a daughter looking for a mother who was not parented with the love she needed.

What I do know is that it is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who is not willing to at least take some of the responsibility of the part they played in its dysfunction. Alcoholism, in whatever shape or form it takes, is a vaporous fluid energy that winds its way into the path of relationships and makes both the alcoholic and the non alcoholic respond to each other in behaviors that are less than helpful. Anyone who is in a relationship with someone who drinks enough to make them Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde knows what I mean and would likely benefit from Alanon. What I learned in those meetings was that the only person I can change is me. This in itself was a game changer for someone who used to use language like “If only s/he would stop drinking….” The first time I heard the idea that I was the main component of the party who needed to make some changes and stop the madness, I couldn’t believe my ears. As I leaned into the guiding light of the twelve steps, I found myself applying these steps not just to my relationships with the alcoholics, but to everything in my path.

If I were to summarize the lessons into one word, it would be CHOICES. Every thought, every action is all a choice. How I behave, how I communicate, my choice to be pissed off or happy as a clam, to be kind or snarky, to release people in my life with bad behavior or to keep them hanging around hoping they will change, to smile or to frown, to say I am sorry or to withhold love with resentment and negative thoughts are all choices. The end result is not about the other person; it is about the effect it has on me and my own heart and spirit. This is the gem of Alanon and likely all twelve step programs. The shining light of joy that comes from knowing forgiveness is not about giving up the need to prove I am right or wrong, forgiveness is not to put an arrow through the ego, it is to release the ego and to feel whole. I have forgiven Ann and I have as a result forgiven myself. This is not to say or know whether she has forgiven me — this is not the point of forgiveness. We are unlikely going to have a kum-ba-ya moment where we run into each other’s arms sobbing with emotion realizing our errors.

And this is ok. This is oddly ok. Once I reached back our to her, I had made a decision that whatever communication we ended up having, I would show up with an empty piece of luggage approaching the conversation like it was the first day of a meeting between two long lost acquaintances getting reacquainted. As I have traversed this rocky road of one of the most important relationships of our lives, mother and child, and been both the daughter of a parent who does not enjoy her child as well as a parent who immensely enjoys her own child, I have learned so much. I have broken the chains for my son to be a better parent if he so chooses to take the frightening and exhilarating road we call parenting.

I am enough and I know this not for my ego, but because I have done the work and have learned from my mistakes. I am a stronger more complete woman because of them. Hallelujah! Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and each time expecting different results. This is what I learned in Alanon. One of my favorite all time Alanon phrases is, “It is like trying to buy a loaf of bread at a hardware store.” Children of Alcoholics tend to keep going back for more- even if it is not a healthy more- hoping, praying, looking for just that crumb of love we hoped would come if we just acted better, sent the better gift, the more sparkly and timely birthday card. The loaf of bread is never going to be at the hardware store. When we finally realize the only person we need to show up for is ourselves and that is enough.


hanging out with the love of my life, my son. #luckymama
Uncategorized

EVERYTHING IS CHANGING

EVERYTHING IS CHANGING

“Would you like some hot tea?” I asked a client yesterday. “No thanks, I am already too hot,” she replied and not in a way meaning her cuteness. I knew immediately she was speaking about hot flashes. The heated body blasts had just started for her she told me and her recent blood work proved that she was in fact going through the start of menopause. Not sure what the blood work says to prove or disprove, likely some hormonal measurement. I didn’t get to that because I had zero to sixty surgical menopause so hormone measurement wasn’t an option. For most of us chicks we don’t need the blood work to let us know what the deep sweats followed by intense chills multiple times happening every single night mean for our changing lives and bodies. The hot flashes have never been a negative to me, though. In my twenties, I read somewhere that some positive patty woman, Louise Hay or Christine Northrup likely, referred to them as power surges and that stuck with me.

When I had my first hot flash about three years ago, that is what it felt like and I stuck with its meme in my head. This being said, hot flashes were just the beginning of what menopause companionship has been in my life as I approach the steady incline towards fifty three. Or is it a decline? Decline sounds so dreadful, but decline is also downhill and last I checked, downhill is usually the fun part of the hill. The incline is where the work is; it is the beginning of the ride and the life leading up to my fifties. When you hear the phrase, “It’s all downhill from here,” it is with a negative undertone, but downhill is supposed to be the exciting thrill part, right? Unless you take a digger because you are going too fast, or you whip around a corner and forget to brake properly, or you twist your ankle because you missed the indentation in the road (because you can’t see anymore). But for the most part the downhill can take your breath away as the wind whips through your hair and the splash of breeze on your skin seeps into your pores and gets into the deepest part of your lungs that feels like nothing a kale juice cleanse claims to do for your health.

When I had my son, so many women said things like, “Wait till those terrible twos!” “Wait till he gets to be a teenager!” and so on with all kinds of parental warnings trying to prepare me for what was to come like it was not going to be good. I never really had that outlook as a parent, sure there were trying times, but this is life. I never bought into the notion that a certain age was going to be more or less of something and as a result I really enjoyed every age of my son and I still do. This is a great analogy for my own age. Every decade has had its bells and whistles and its melancholy foghorns. Menopause- a literal pause- an excuse to reconsider, to self analyze and self actualize- a body heat up and shake down to wake us up, to command attention lest we forget to notice in our over scheduled lives. Like the wild west in our bodies, the unknown soon to be very known as every nugget of ourselves gets magnified in the wake of its wild ride, unsaddled, unbridled, rough and tumbling. The hot flashes have become less, but what is left behind is all of the rest, the sprouting hairs, the white ones and the dark ones, the sagging skin, the inability to drop even one pound despite the usually otherwise previous easiness of the loss with just a simple diet change for a few weeks. The bloat, the figure shift that is starting to look just different no matter how many classes I take with Kathy Martin.

The other changes are my skin, the crepy-ness on the surface of my legs and my hands, the strange tweaks and aches that happen when I get out of bed in the morning no matter how much stretching, rolling, meditating or yoga. There is a regular puffiness I find in my face and the width of my upper body, but then when I catch myself noticing it I have to remind myself that I only had my final surgery four and half months ago. Swelling for a year, swelling for a year, How many times do I have to hear those words from Dr. M. or the words, or longer, from Dr. W? It is not that I feel bad, it is just I am noticing the differences and I am aware of them because they simply are. When I look at all of the youth surrounding me, I love to watch them because I know that youth passes and we all go through these stages of our lives if we are fortunate enough to make it through each one of them. I cherish them. I enjoy the lines and the changes because it means I am alive and well and I get the privilege of noticing.

This is the juice, oh yeah I forgot to mention the juice or lack there of too. Another change. Sight, hearing, sense of smell, taste, all of these sensory elements of my body composition also revving up for change and shifts and all of it is completely out of my control. Menopause gives me the excuse again to stand up or lie down and take notice. There is no free ride. Our bodies are our succinct messengers and mine is on a constant communication overload telling me every day that times they are a changing. My friends who are approaching seventy are listening to me with humor in their eyes the same way I look at my friends who are in their late thirties. The past and the future are my steady binoculars staring at the sky and the earth at the past and the future around the corner. Time seems to be accelerating as it seems I was just headed to Italy with my childhood friend, Kathy for our fortieth birthdays and now here we are thirteen years later. My grandfather would say with a chuckle, “how do you think I feel?” No shit, grandpa, I can’t even imagine because if I live to your age, it is almost like an entire second life for me. Life coming at me, this is life and all of a sudden I am seven years away from sixty. That sounds so crazy to write this, but as I think about my high school friend, Keri leaving us way to soon, I consider my good fortune and the changes are a welcome opportunity to live my life simply because I have one to live.

living life with two of my favorite superchicks,


making my friend Janey walk miles to enjoy some fried chicken at her new favorite place, Winner Winner in Newport, #maketimeforfriends
Uncategorized

NO PHOTOS PLEASE

NO PHOTOS PLEASE

The day started off as a rainy damp Wednesday. After spending a good portion of it inside the house not feeling myself, a walk in some fresh air was calling my name. My old high school friend dying as quickly as she did has awakened my pragmatic outlook on mortality and I am not even her family, her closest of friends, her husband. The need to honor my heart this week was a certainty and I went with it yesterday as my lovely team rallied to take care of my business and my schedule to allow me some time. I parked myself on the couch after completing a few errands to get a nice dinner ready for Valentines Day prepared to eat popcorn and watch sappy movies all day. As the sun peaked its pretty face taunting my decision to partake in a sorrow fest in the curtain drawn living room, my brother’s face actually appeared before me as he lay in his hospital bed not being able to go outside. I remember like it was yesterday him saying to me that he just wished for one more ride around the block on his bicycle, one more breath of fresh air. These words have become both a simultaneous lift and a burden as I struggle with the permission to give myself a day of lying around on a couch on a day that started rainy and became sunny.

More often this is the privilege of health and these decisions are not a struggle for the masses. For me though, unexpected sunny beautiful February days becoming a cross to bear is as annoying to me as it is likely annoying for anyone reading this, but nonetheless here I am. Full exposure of my brain. I made my way off the couch after a few hours of watching a depressing movie called Revolutionary Road. I thought this diversion was going to be a love story between Kate Winslet and Leonardo Di Caprio. Instead it was more like the movie War of the Roses drudging up relationship disappointments of yesteryear, not a great theme on a day of love and an already sad sack of heart.

A walk would do me a good turn so I took a warm shower to get the grayness of the day off me to brighten my spirit, layered on the clothes and stepped off the porch into the light. As I began the walk towards the pond that overlooks Newport’s First Beach, I had to control my decision to leave my phone behind. The conflict of shutting the texting and the phone down and the desire to capture the light with the built in camera was nagging at me once I walked into the literal light of the scenery.

As I marched forth, the light took my breath away. The peninsula-esque Tuckerman Ave neighborhood filled with converted summer homes built before anyone considered the ramifications of zero zoning rules, captured the light of the soon to be five pm setting sun. The homes looked like they were simmering on a low fire with the warm pink glow that could have been Menorca, Spain in the middle of a hot August summer. And I didn’t have my phone that contained my camera.

And I liked it.

I liked it because there was no distraction of having to reach for it, having to put my thumb on the button to have my phone magically read my print that seldom works for me. Of course, I often try again like when I am vacuuming and a piece of something doesn’t get sucked up so instead of picking it up, I go over it five more times thinking the hose will get it at some point. I liked it because there was no need for me to end up having to type my no longer four digit but six digit ID that Apple made me change at my last forced upgrade that I didn’t ask for. There was no distraction of trying to take a photo to capture what I observed with my two eyes on the clearest of Valentines days, taking the picture then looking at it to prove or disprove its worthiness of what I was seeing shaving precious minutes from a setting sun. I walked and breathed and prayed. I smelled and felt. I witnessed the moment I had taken for myself. I walked towards the beach surrounded by water and geese and pinkness of sky feeling my heart beat. I felt the brisk salty air on my skin with my thoughts stirring with ideas and peace that only an outdoor walk alone gives me.

The only moment captured was the actual moment by my eyes not my phone. I reflected on just a short time ago when the world was not captured second by second, minute by minute by every single person because we all did not have a phone with a built in camera. Are we better off or worse for it all? I don’t know, but what I do know is that without the camera and the distraction of its presence in my pocket, the choice to be with my own thoughts rather than with the direction of the phone was a good choice for that moment. We all have choices on our movement through our days. Looking down, looking out or looking up. Phones and their bells and whistles have become a force in our lives like nothing we have seen in previous generations. I know for me and my need to ground myself, the phone is not helpful for my need to center and I have to consciously choose or not choose it as my companion. The beauty of the walk reminded me why these decisions have become more important in my own life as I navigate nature with technology. I am guilty of over photoing as my partner will attest, as my son will attest. Food, moments on mountains, beach, life. I have actually been taking less photos but what is less? Photos and videos have become a routine in our lives posting for my business and intermixing it all with my life. Digital footprints as they are called. I am not sure where all of this leads, but what I am sure about is that as I move closer towards the midpoint of my fifties, I am happy that I am not of the generation born now as a parent who has to try to control its invasion in my young child’s life. Years from now, what will the studies be? Will our children have any privacy? Even if we consciously choose to stop the madness, it does not control the need for others to take photos and videos of us when we are not looking. The social implications are for the researchers, for me now in my world, I am happy I get to make the choice.

Uncategorized

PEACE AT THE GYM

PEACE AT THE GYM

When I first started seriously working out almost ten years ago, I couldn’t stand it, but I also was smart enough to know that the alternative was not an option. I remember telling Orlando who owns Complete Athlete in Bristol that I “hated” cardio, “hated” running and really didn’t want to be there. He was a patient trainer who had likely heard it all before and like my business of great skin trying to get clients to understand the importance of good skin care, he tried to do the same for me with physical fitness. I shudder at my language of yesteryear with the insight of hindsight. That I even used the word “hate” for the privilege of exercise is embarrassing. Exercise is indeed a privilege. Get started with it and then get it taken away and you will know what I mean. Some would and I would include myself in this in my past life loved the excuse of not being able to exercise because of a cold or the flu or something, but this is definitely not me now.

Definitely not me now.

The first time I decided to try out the gym that my partner went to, it was a barre class, lots of squats and Jane Fonda like squeezes; a safe bet for someone who thought she abhorred cardio. I couldn’t walk for about four days. This class, however gave me a bit of confidence and I decided that if I could handle a barre class, I could handle a cardio class and promptly signed up for a Sunday morning at Pulse gym with Jackie Lane. When I got to the class, there was only one spot left in the center of the room and that should have been a giveaway that I was in way over my head. Surrounded my waif-like Newport blondes in gorgeous athletic attire should have been a second giveaway, but I trudged in thinking, how bad could it be? It was that bad and about ten minutes into the warm up of old school grapevines, I decided that at that very moment it would be a good time to use the bathroom for a bladder empty whether I needed to or not. Perhaps that would shave about five minutes off of the next fifty minutes of torture I was actually paying for. I admit it; I caved after about twenty minutes. I did the walk of shame, having to blatantly leave the class as I made my way through the sea of super fit chicks who I thought were likely nodding at each other knowing that I wouldn’t make it. Of course this was not true, but it is indicative of my lack of confidence in the world of fitness at the time. Some would think that would have ended my dive headfirst into the world of psycho fitness. I mean we all know there are different degrees of fitness. Some people walk gently or quickly, some people ride bikes leisurely or sit on a spin bike on a sunny day pedaling like a lunatic. There is gently yoga and hot yoga and at the time there was Curves and there was Pulse and everything in between.

My partner, Michael is eighteen years my senior; this means that when we met the first time I was 22 and he was 40. Ironically, we met at the Newport Athletic Club working out together. This is where I also met my former husband so I have a history of workout attempts. When we reconnected the second time, he was 64 and I was 46 and as I exited the Pulse workout, something came over me that hadn’t before- a personal challenge to succeed at the workout I had just walked out on. I thought, Michael is super fit and if I want to really engage in this partnership, I must get myself to as close to his fitness level as possible to really participate in it. I needed to be able to physically keep up with him on those long and fast walks on Cliff Walk and not feel out of breath. So for some reason, I made it a personal mission to complete a Pulse class. I went back and tried again and again and again. Each time I went I pretty much couldn’t stand it, but I kept going until a shift happened. The shift happened when I decided to try a Beach Boot Camp with Kathy Martin. There I was at Second Beach in the morning sunlight before most people had even had their first cup of coffee with about forty other “campers” as they were anointed. The parking lot was filled with Volvos, Audis, Mercedes and everything that represents a high end car show. On top of this, each of us paid almost three hundred dollars for an eight week sign up meeting twice a week at the wee hours of the Newport morning.

As I began the first run in the sand past Kathy thinking “I am going to die, I can’t do this,” I ran by her smiley face and said, “I hate this,” with a tone like I was doing her a favor by participating in this self induced torture. Kathy could have replied with a yell, “Come on, you can do this!” Or she could have screamed, “Get running, fatty!” She could have barked like a drill sergeant, “What are you doing here then, go home if you hate it!” But she didn’t say any of those things. Instead she said, “I know.” I have no idea why those two words challenged me and created a complete mind swap. It was like she was one of us. Like she totally understood that what I was doing sucked, but that it was a necessary evil and that she was with me. So I came back the next time and the time after. I kept signing up for classes trying to get there early to get the coveted spot in the back corner in case I needed to do another walk of shame. I never needed it again. I kept going and seeing improvements in my health, my time, my speed, the size of the weights I grabbed. I changed my language from ‘I hate this’ to ‘I am so happy to have my health and grateful for my legs and my heart ‘as I made my way up and down the hill called Tuckerman Avenue. I began to love the feeling of speed in my running and began feeling like I was part of the tribe of people who regularly worked out instead of an imposter.

Little did I know that this foray into a love of fitness would ultimately be my salvation. People use my business of beauty as a respite from their busy-ness. I love that I get to have a business that provides a mind rest. What my business does for people, mostly women, is what Kathy’s business and Jackie’s business before Kathy has done for me. It has become my sanctuary. I smile when I walk in and I smile and laugh a loud when Kathy shouts out yet another crazy exercise move that I can’t believe I am doing. I absolutely love to be there. I am seldom down so yesterday when I walked in after learning of my friend’s death, Kathy knew I was off. I kept my head down because tears started to stream unexpectedly as I began pedaling. I couldn’t look up at her because I knew if I made eye contact I would lose it. I needed to go within to grieve in silence while the beat of the music pumped and pulsed. At the end of the workout, she made sure to connect because this is where she excels; she knows that her business is not just about the workout, it is about the human and often female connection. She checked in with me and we hugged and I let the tears briefly flow in our sweaty hug. I left knowing that this place I come to is my own place of beauty.

Later she sent me a text checking in with me. This is what makes her business shine in my life; it is not just the workout, this you can get anywhere. It is the attention to detail that makes me want to keep coming back. It is why I am as fit as I am now. It is why only a month after a double mastectomy I was able to safely walk into her class and take my time with total support of the entire class. I look for the spot in the front now, right smack next to Kath, knowing that I call myself the modifier as I have to adjust so many of the moves to fit my level of fitness for my upper half. And it is ok. I am safe and cared for here. Fitness has become a part of my life and without it, I am not who I am now. I cherish the privilege and I happily and joyfully do another burpee for the friends who can’t. Grateful for my legs, for my heart, my life indeed.



this was picture in my workout clothes a month after a double mastectomy. this is why i love fitness and am so grateful for my health.

Uncategorized

NO FREE PASS

NO FREE PASS

At my fifth year or maybe it was the ten year high school reunion, (it all blends together almost forty five years later, eeeh gads), I spotted her from her literal behind. Her beautiful figure would in an earlier era be referred to as svelte. Smooth, curvy, but not bodacious at all, highly feminine, ballet-esque. She was kind of like the waif version of the Jessica Rabbit character who played in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Her pale sunless skin with her vibrant red locks cascading down her back gave her appearance away immediately but so did the shimmery fabric adorning her skin. The handmade fabric she had invented just for the occasion of the reunion stood out like the bright light she was in high school- creative, inventive, confident. She had designed a dress (of course) that she had screen printed on the stretchiest of fabric all of our senior photos from our North Kingstown High School class of 83 yearbook. We, well mostly the men, spent the evening trying to find where their early eighties hairstyles and faces, but still looked like late seventies, had landed. It was the hit of the evening and she sauntered around with the air of understated, hippy elegance, egoless, calm and kind. This was how I knew her when we graced the halls of the A, B, C, D and E buildings for the four years at North Kingstown High together. She went on to RISD and I connected her to my father in Fall River, Mass as he was very familiar with the textile industry and I think he helped her with some connections there. Eventually she began designing dresses for women who chose to strip for their profession and on and on with her magical creative life I could never wrap my head around, but admired greatly.

Keri Haas, who transformed herself into her alter name, Sarah Good and I were friends in high school. We had a nice connection and though never really stayed in touch, there was a familiar thread between us so when we would see each other at reunions, it was comfortable and comforting. She grew up in the woods of Exeter, and I grew up in Jamestown, worlds apart back then and we somehow found each other in the world of high school that mixed lots of different towns together for the first time in a hot bed of hormones. Back then a ride from Exeter to Jamestown without a drivers license may as well have been a rocket to the moon and the likelihood of getting a parent to deliver to and fro was next to impossible. There was also no public transportation so it was hard to become friends with anyone outside of our own hometowns. But we did somehow.

Somehow she read something I wrote and found out about my cancer experience and mentioned to me that she too had been part of the tribe of cancer chicks and we got together this past June. We met for lunch and shared our war stories, bummed out that this was our link, but nonetheless grateful for the excuse to be together. She told me about the latest discovery of cancer in a different part of her body, a dreaded spot on her lung and we talked about the things we wanted to still do in our young lives. She shared her typical Keri creative world, deciding to make her own wig after her last bout with chemo, actually going to New York to meet with a famous wig designer to learn the art of wig making and actually used her own hair that she cut before chemo to create a wig. Keri was like this. Thrifty is an insult. She was unabashedly one of the most artistic people I have known. Jewelry, clothing, living off the radar in Maine in a house I meant to visit, nothing surprised me about her ability. I sat in awe as she filled in the holes of the time that had passed between us with her endless love of creation. We left each other that day, sad that cancer was the excuse, but happy knowing each other and the shared camaraderie we always have had.

Life gets busy. I went on healing from my surgery, she went on trying to grapple with her diagnosis and our lives again separated as we both went on. I saw she got married typical shotgun style and sent her a comment that I didn’t hear back from her on and time marched on. So this morning for some reason, I went on Facebook which I seldom do and started to see mentions of her in the past. I quickly realized that she had passed away and reached out to her oldest friend, Kim who called me apologetically and promptly for not letting me know. Not knowing about someone dying and then missing an opportunity to celebrate their life among friends is one thing, feeling bad about is another. I don’t feel bad because I know that Keri knew I cared for her. I know that the people who know me who went to the memorial would know that too. This is the glory of ego release. I had a generous conversation with Kim about the service and Keri’s remaining weeks on this planet. This was enough. What I have been grappling with today is deep sadness for her loss and a fresh wound opening that just because I am ok now does not mean I get a free pass. I am not being negative or pessimistic. It just really has freaked me out that Keri died in less than the seven months that I saw her and she really didn’t know that the “little spot” on her lung would be her final coast into today without her.

When I was getting radiation, the thought process was that surgery takes out what is there, but even though they caught it early, there is always a chance that something could be missed and radiation is one more line of defense. When the cancer came back the second time, it disproved the radiation theory to me and I actually wondered if the radiation caused its return. Who knows, really. I was starting to buy into the idea that this is over for me. I am healthy, strong, fearless. When I found out today that Keri died last week, it reminded me that I haven’t even gotten to the one year mark each of the last two we caught it early times yet. So today as I allow myself to wallow, to write, to sit on the couch with tea and a robust fire, I feel vulnerable and heavy hearted. I allow this. I accept it and know that all of “it” is completely out of my control so I march forth again into the rest of the day and the weeks and the months.

I remember Keri and I think of all of the people who knew her and were inspired by her grit. She went too soon. She had a lot left to do and as she said when I last saw her and Kim said she said the same, “this sucks.” Yes Keri Haas, Sarah Good, it very much does.

god speed Sarah Good. A rockstar has left the building.
Uncategorized

QUEST FOR COMPLETE ORDER

QUEST FOR COMPLETE ORDER

Going on week eight of no alcohol and week seven of no shopping has created this room in my life for new ideas and a profound energy unrealized prior to these self imposed personal quests. I have written about the need to reorganize, de-clutter and de-nest in this past year of the removal of my body parts, a stripping of the cape so to speak. As a result there has been an intense desire to bare all as it relates to peripheral accumulation that no longer serves. I didn’t know how much stuff I had that no longer served until I literally removed a piece of my body and for some reason, this opened the floodgates. I still refuse to admit or acknowledge the cliché of cancer being a gift. Fuck that. Cancer is not a blessing or a gift; that is like telling a bride that it is good luck when it rains on her wedding day. We all know this is bullshit, but as the words leak from our mouths, our intent is that it will help her or him feel better. For that kindness, I appreciate the gesture.

We caught it early breast cancer is an awakening. This I will accept. It is a release of all that is no longer necessary and for a moment in time, there is a permission to do something about it. Why I needed permission to take this charge BC (before cancer in case this is a first time read) is a curious question. I am guessing that when anyone has LIFE COMING AT THEM the motivation to get shit done just takes over and I have been riding the wave ever since.

I have always said that owning my own company for the past 16 years has been like getting a PHD at Harvard Business School. The good fortune of getting an early diagnosis of breast cancer is the PHD in Life and it happened at breakneck speed. I have cleaned out closets, basements, drawers, cupboards, office space. I have gone through all of my collections of kitchen ware, clothing, jewelry, scarves, makeup, skin care, bathroom toiletries removing every single item that weighs me down. So now I am in the midst of de-cluttering technology. Not a digital detox in the sense that I am getting rid of my phone, though that is coming sooner than later, but opening up every computer between my home, personal and office and my business and dumping files after files into the swish sound of the trash bucket that sits on my desktop.

I cannot believe how much virtual paperwork sits in my computers with no apparent need for use. Why I feel the need to purge even this is beyond me except for the fact that when I do, the immediate lightness that avails itself is such a positive feeling, it makes me march forth. This is why I continue. Consolidating files and creating new ones to house the files in some type of order in my computers takes not only time, but an energy that is different. There is no physical aspect to this like a good closet clean where I am moving boxes up and down stairs using muscles I didn’t know existed despite my regular visits to Kathy Martin. It is a total mind game. I sit on the couch or I stand in front of my business computer and mindlessly hit the delete or move button over and over and over again. There is a rhythm to this. I dare say almost meditative, but it is still staring at a blue screen instead of getting glorious fresh air and trying to find a cardinal against a snowy backdrop. The time doing this takes me from otherwise going outside and feeling a blast of New England frost clean my lungs like nothing else. As I plunge into the documents quickly scanning each one and looking at their dates to determine if they should stay or go, I know that when this major task is complete, I will feel better and have more space for all of the ideas and energy coming at me and through me in the most unexpected ways.

In my business, I hear all day long how no one has any time. Time is so interesting now that more of it has become available to me. This in itself has opened my eyes to the importance of de cluttering. Not only material possessions, but mental baggage. We literally are weighing ourselves down with outer impediments that frankly are in our control as to whether we choose to release or keep. As much as everyone talks about the no time element, in the honest reality it is all choice. Go to the soccer game or don’t, spend four hours on Facebook or go for a walk, clean a closet or watch reality TV. Like money, we all spend time the way we choose to and no one can tell me otherwise. It is that hole that we have filled with distractions to keep us from our glorious selves and I really don’t know why.

I have been part of this hole filling extravaganza. Shopping, eating, drinking, not exercising, stifling my own creativity- all of these outside busy distractions have kept me from facing head on my own personal power. This makes no sense as I write this but what else could it have been all these years. What have I been afraid of? Success, growth? I am speaking of inner not outer, outer is ego, outer is the awards and the acknowledgement of being told what a terrific job you have done. It is the inner that is important. Do I believe the outer and if the two don’t jive, voila- a hole. That is it; that is how the hole starts and how the hole widens. And the wider the hole the more dirt it needs to fill. How interesting. What I have filled my hole with has been what I have given up cold turkey, the trifecta I have so often written about, alcohol, shopping and sugar. Without these distractions, I am an open source hungry for knowledge and ideas and the clarity I am experiencing is indeed an awakening I am ready for. Shedding material belongings by choice not by force like a fire or a flood is a privilege and one that I deeply appreciate. Shedding relationships that don’t feel good, habits that are not healthy and create fogginess are all personal choices and we are all in different places in our lives for these choices.

With the wisdom of hindsight this all started when my brother died. This is when the seed was planted but I didn’t realize this at the tender age of thirty with the world ahead of me. Thirty to forty was about babies and houses, careers and balance. These are important distractions and they helped feed my soul to get me to here and now. I would never change one thing. Self discovery is part of my personal fabric, I cherish the lessons and there have been and continue to be many. I had no idea that the outer layers of unreal protection I had unknowingly built were all a part of the fill of a hole I had put so much in, I actually forgot there was one to begin with. Digging it all out has revealed a richness inside of me ready for the seeds of a new season. And it all started with new boobs, who knew?

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 
Marianne Williamson




speaking of time- these are all photos taken by the one and only Lou Sousa who makes time for his love of photography and I am a happy recipient. these are from my yard. hobbies are choices and I am grateful for this hobby of a generous friend and neighbor.
Uncategorized

THE BEAUTY PARLOR

THE BEAUTY PARLOR

This is what my mother always called the place that we would go to get our hair cut. The connection I feel when I grace the entrance of a hair salon still excites and surprises me. I have been exposed to the world of beauty salons since I was five years old getting my hair cut on Newbury St. in Boston, Mass where my mother used to take me for hip pixie cuts in 1970. 1970 was when the movement of the shampoo blow dry invention took root (pun intended) in mainstream America and women’s relationships to their hair and hairdresser changed forever.

Vidal Sassoon changed hair with the creation of the shampoo blowdry; before this it was the weekly shampoo sets or wigs. Women got their hair ‘coiffed’ and it was expected to last for a week until their next appointment, usually on a Friday after the weekly household chores were complete and they could finally take a rest. All of this was unbeknownst to a little girl of five who grew up thinking that everyone drove an hour to Boston to get their hair cut and then go to dinner at Duberrys where she would sneak and eat the pats of butter put out on the otherwise elegant table. This was all going on as the Vietnam war was still in full swing and the irony of this two worlds apart does not now go unnoticed.

Fast forward to 1976 and local towns were at last catching up to the trend. Pockets of hair salons started to sprout in the neighborhoods making it easier to get a good haircut without the drive to Boston. My mother continued the tradition of taking me to the best places for haircuts and also adding manicures and facials to my list of mandated beauty services. I can say many things about our relationship, but I can never say I wasn’t provided for materially. She exposed me to great restaurants, great food, love of kitchen toys, clothing shopping and hair salons and for this I am grateful. We may not share a close relationship, but we do share these feminine connectors and when I walk into a hair salon like I did this past week, I immediately feel happy. It is no accident that this would end up being my own business in retrospect and I love every single element of the beauty business I am sure because of this young exposure.

As I got older, I still went to Newbury St. because this is where ‘real’ hair salons still were- the best and most current unless you wanted to drive to New York. Great hair dressers morphed into great hair stylists as they started to be called who knew the latest trends and had the best salons around. Hair salons have a pulse. As more women began getting their hair cut, their visits changed from weekly to monthly and additional services began being added like manicures, facials and waxing services. This helped get these women back in the salon more frequently or gave opportunities for them to get additional services while they were getting their hair colored or permed. I don’t think we realize how significant the history of beauty salons are in women’s lives. Hair dressing and beauty have been fast tracks for any woman to become entrepreneurs and many great careers and empires were started by women who saw opportunity. Estee Lauder, Mary Kay, Helena Rubenstein, Elizabeth Arden, Bobbi Brown all started with their two hands and an idea. Let’s face it, most every woman has an interest in some element in beauty.

I was watching an interview this past week with Dr. Laurie Glimcher, who is the CEO of the Dana Farber Institute. As I listened to her brilliance, I also noticed her lovely hair color and style, her makeup and how everyone across all levels is part of the tribe of women who get hair services, buy makeup and skin care. The industry is massive and not a day goes by when I am not grateful for the opportunity to be a part of it. We are a feel good industry and these types of businesses become more iconic as less and less people are physically connecting.

When my cousin decided to move on to do her own thing, I realized that for the first time in sixteen years, I would have to figure out an alternate plan for my regular pedicures. I knew that it would be difficult to get an appointment with her as it surely was when she worked for me so I had to find back up. I found that right around the corner at a colleague’s salon and sold my pedicure beds to her, pronto. This is where I have been landing for my pedicures and it has been fun being a client for a change for a beauty service. I have had the luxury of getting beauty services whenever I want because of my business, but now I could be a client. So when I went in to get my monthly pedicure, I asked if there was time for a manicure, too. Check. Yes. So I sat myself down at the manicure station old school across from the manicurist and as she filed and buffed and polished, I was twelve again sitting at Rams Head Salon in Brick Market in Newport, RI. I forgot how much I love being in a hair salon. While I waited for my nails to dry, I thought, what else could I get done? “How about a blowout?” Nicole asked. “YES!” I exclaimed with a jubilance that even surprised me. I felt old fashioned. I felt like I was in the 1939 movie THE WOMEN with Joan Crawford and Rosalind Russell. I made the trek back upstairs to wait for my nails to dry because as I said to Nicole, “it is too quiet in the nail area, I want to watch the hair salon action.” From my female perspective, the buzz of a hair salon is like nothing else and it has been a part of me for almost fifty years.

I have worked in beauty since my first foray at a beauty supply store in Framingham, Mass then as the only white employee as a receptionist at a primarily black hair salon in the same town when I was 21. Working in beauty seemed like my destiny after all of my exposure as a young client and it is no wonder I ended up going to esthetics school. I have worked at Cherry and Webb at the Estee Lauder counter when I was twenty three after school, apprenticed a very hip woman in Newport for about six months out of school where I really learned about the skin business. I worked at the very hair salon I started at, Rams Head as my first skin care job and then went on to Judy’s where I landed for almost eight years and learned the business of skin and hair from a woman who built one from the ground up. I worked for Aveda Corporation learning from a man who built a business and learned more about running a company as I found my way in my twenties and early thirties being exposed to an element of business I could have never learned at business school.

Owning a beauty business and being a client at one is a dive into female psyche. It is a place of comfort and camaraderie. It is a place to take a deep female breath. When I worked for Judy, Fridays were my favorite. Fridays were the day of standing appointments for women who back then were likely in their late sixties and seventies who hadn’t given up their weekly shampoo set for the easier shampoo blowdry. I often thought it was because they enjoyed the connection they had with the other women who they had built unlikely relationships with on those Friday jaunts in rain, sleet or snowstorms as they shared their lives over a cup of coffee waiting for their appointments. Nowadays as these generations of women lessen, our connectors as the younger generation have become yoga and exercise classes. We always find ways to connect and if my business gives that excuse for real human interaction I am in the right business. From the time I got my first pixie cut in 1970 to what I have built with my own two hands. From my first facial in a tiny treatment room in a tiny salon in 1987 to a full blown company employing twenty women; there is nothing like a beauty parlor.






some pixie cuts from yesteryear along with some great pictures of my mother from 1970 and finally a hilarious picture from the eighties of me.
Uncategorized

SUNDAY MORNING GLORY

SUNDAY MORNING GLORY

Sundays. Homemade freshly ground black coffee, a warming soulful fire and two newspapers waiting for me. Rising early, a little music in the background, my partner sitting next to me on the couch opening the local paper first to catch up on what is going on in our little state of Rhode Island. I sit here this morning writing with so many choices in my morning and feel fortunate and at peace. There is something so snug about this calmness; it is a life nugget that is not always present- or maybe it is, but I don’t always isolate it as a special moment.

Today I notice. I only have forty five minutes before I have to get up from this couch to go to my 8:00am workout. I love my Sunday am workout with my crazy trainer and friend, Kathy; she has some nutty workout concocted. The goal of the group is to together burn 10,000 calories in this hour and fifteen minute class in our Patriots gear with head banging music screaming out of the speakers. I frankly can’t believe that this is part of who I am now, but as much as I love sitting on the couch, it will be waiting for me after the class with a much better feel under my body. I love sitting on the couch on a cold wintry Sunday of the morning of the Superbowl after a workout with nothing planned except writing, reading my new book from the library and getting ready to open the New York Times. I also have my ingredients ready to go to cook my contribution for an impromptu Superbowl gathering at my friend’s house tonight.

The Patriots playing in the Superbowl brings up some great memories for me from my former life. Well before we had our son, Dave and I actually went to the Superbowl in Atlanta, well before Atlanta was referred to as “Hotlanta.” The game was from the 1993 season, Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys and we were going with my friend and his wife who had gotten us tickets. Back then they were six hundred dollars a piece, no chump change for sure. This was when the Superbowl was still in January before the marketers got a hold of it realizing that one extra week would mean extra dineros. We were still newly married just celebrating our three year anniversary.

This was BEFORE. Marriage and Life are like this- so many BEFORES, time stamping our lives. Before we had our son, before we even were thinking of having children, before my brother was diagnosed or even had any indications that there would be a diagnosis. We had just bought our first home in the summer of 1992 so taking a trip like this was a splurge, but it fulfilled a dream for my former husband. I was that new young wife filled with the hopes and desires to live a rich wedded bliss so this was an exciting trip for us.

I remember thinking of the opportunity in Atlanta back then. There wasn’t even a bagel shop anywhere to be found. Atlanta was just getting ready for the summer Olympics in 1996 and there was an ‘up and coming’ not yet realized buzz in the hot Georgia air. Dave and I loved it so much, we were actually considering moving there. We had a realtor and everything picked out and were ready to dive in with our first big wedded risk until I remembered upon my return that there was no water to speak of, no ocean. Funny how I forgot about the missing ocean while I was traipsing around the streets of Atlanta. This Pisces chick couldn’t imagine my life without a fifteen minute ride to any beach so I caved in my decision. Dave would have taken the risk; there were a few moments like this I kyboshed in our young lives. I often wonder if I had some premonition of the isolation that would have come from a drastic move with someone I loved yet really didn’t have a lot in common with ultimately.

Come to think of it I wasn’t much of a risk taker back in my late twenties. I just wanted the safety, security and calmness of the home life I had ripped from me in my teens. I wanted the picket fence and the satisfaction of a good partnership, this was all part of the BEFORE. I worshipped the dream and the many lessons soon to follow that I surely didn’t know about yet as we made our way exploring the streets of Atlanta. We were starry eyed back then and we were happy to live in that starry eyed world of BEFORE. It was satisfying and exciting in some ways and I have watched with delight my young team beginning their lives with the same naivete.

Going to a Superbowl was a once in a lifetime for me and like the deep appreciation I had watching Dave be an amazing father to Michael, I watched him at this game more than I watched the game. Ironically, I don’t even like football. When we were down there I actually contemplated selling my ticket and sitting at the bar instead. Football games are wasted on me, I have never understood the game, still don’t, but I do appreciate the pomp and circumstance of the Superbowl so I went and was really glad I did. Just watching Dave’s face made me so happy. This was one of the many BEFORES. When life simply was, before I realized that the small rumblings of dissatisfaction would eventually unwind my notion of marriage to the person I thought I would be with forever. When our son was born, he was like a good luck charm as his birth on December 27, 1997 was the weekend of the first big time the Patriots at last began showing promise. December 28th they would be playing a playoff game against the Miami Dolphins. I don’t think my former husband could have been more ecstatic.

I watch my son’s love of all things sports and television. I watch his connection with Dave and the camaraderie they share because it just so happens that Dave ended up with a child who loves sports as much as he does. I don’t know what he would have done if Michael was into art and music or something other than sports instead. I have some friends who have children who could care less about sports. Not Michael. He is all sports and has been since his first T ball game. Not surprising since his birth was when it all started.

So much has happened since that Superbowl, but this is life coming at us. We have those juicy markers reminding us of all of the diamonds in the rough, the pleasantries, the traumas, the dramas, and the rediscovery of ourselves in the process if we are open to the lessons. I never realized that the Superbowl I attended in January of 1994 would be the last January of the life as I knew it. The next major life marker put me in a new frame of mind just six months later when my dear brother was diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer and our lives would never be the same. Young death changed me, but so does LIFE and having our son two years later was the gift that keeps on giving. So as I get ready to actually watch the Superbowl this year without putting the TV on mute as I read the paper, (sacrilege, I know), I wholeheartedly celebrate the BEFORES because in all of them, the AFTERS are so sweet.


the day after Michael was born and a happy face the year they won their first Superbowl, 2002, only five years later and the rest is history including that other New England team we call THE RED SOX.