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SNAKES DON’T LIE

SNAKES DON’T LIE

“You are fearless,” a long term client said to me as we met this past week. She had asked me for my thoughts in reflecting back on my early years of starting my own business and this was her kind and very welcomed comment.

“Yes.” Pause. “I am.” I said this aloud and I was surprised at the confidence in my voice as I bathed in the accolade. The BC me, the before cancer me, would have likely minimized the compliment shrugging off its meaning as something to describe someone else. Fearless? I mean I own a facial business, how much fearlessness does one need to sell potions and creams?

Of course, this is not what she meant. For the first time, I acknowledged this without contemplation. I accepted the kind word with deep consideration for its tone as the exchange was passed.

Progress. Again.

My fearlessness comes from resilience. I enjoy resilient people, especially resilient women. Resilience is relative though- life comes at all of us and we all process how and what we do with the trauma in our own ways. I had a friend who’s mother was a deep alcoholic when we were growing up. Like the type of drinking that made her not do the laundry or grocery shop or pick up her daughter from school alcoholism. The bad kind. My mother drank too, but she was a ‘functioning’ drinker, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. I was always provided for, at least on the outside looking in. With my friend’s mother, her drinking was apparent from the outside looking in and the inside looking out. Over the years of learning about my own family’s trials and tribulations, I found myself comparing these levels of drinking, minimizing my own struggles in living with alcoholism to my friend’s. Comparatively speaking, who was I to complain or think I had problems? My friend didn’t even get to have a refrigerator full of food or get to go shopping for school clothes. These are the material outward coats of armor we kids of “functioning” alcoholics protect ourselves with. I have learned though that our problems and life challenges are only relative to our problems and life challenges. We prevail or curl up and hide and everything in between to figure our shit out. Sometimes other people’s issues help move us along at a quicker pace, but we all still have to march forth. I march forth. The experiences make me march forth because what is on the other side is always the reward for the work. Never disappointed. Always eager for the lesson. And there is no shortage of lessons.

Walking on a beach from one end to another, but the two are not connected. Sachusest Point in Middletown turns into Potters Cove in Jamestown. Climbing over rocks on a beautiful day, making my way easily. I come upon a golden colored snake about ten feet easily. Thick body about the size of my calf. I notice it as I walk by and am relieved to notice that it is likely not alive as there is no movement. Like more than resting, but not dead either. Almost REM like. I am not afraid, but I am not unaware. The snake is really long and thick, golden like mustard with a whisper of muted green, but barely. Not dull and not bright either. Rusty brown, more brown than red, spots along its body.

I walk by on my way. Leaving lots of slithery eel like black snakes where I came from and there is a bucket somewhere. Am I carrying one? Did I leave one behind? Did the bucket have snakes in it? I can’t remember. I walk back past again. The snake is still. Resting or dead- not sure. Turn around and walk back again. This time though, She pokes her head up with no body movement, just her large solid head and takes a good look at me like she is trying to tell me something important. I am not afraid, I don’t feel confronted, I feel noticed by her, not in a way that is vacant, but deliberate. I realize that I didn’t wake her; she was not sleeping nor was she waiting for me. She was commanding. She put her head back down and I consider that now I know she is definitely not dead, I am going to have to walk by her again to get back to where I was and I had a bit of worry about that.

I wake up.

Dreaming about snakes can be unsettling, but this was not my first snake dream. The last snake dream that graced my night was before I was diagnosed with cancer the first time, before I turned fifty, when I first bought my magic kingdom I call my home. Thankfully I happened to have a therapist who is Jungian dream analysis trained among other talents, she helped guide me through the process of discovering some meaning. I drew that dream on paper and it was a piece I really loved. It represented discovery and as dreams unveil layers of truths so often there is a transformative quality to some of the more powerful ones. Transformative? I ‘d say. This dream had the same snakes in them as last time. A lot of black slithery ones and one main chieftress visiting me again. I am trying hard to not read, more cancer on the way, into the dream, but the dream did not alarm. I felt protected and safe, but alerted.

It is no accident that I am wide awake at three am writing this. I have not written for a few days and like not getting to the gym for a few days (that too), the pull of the writing overpowered my need to return to sleep. So, Here. I. Am. This dream was not last night, though; it was this past week, Sunday? Tuesday? I can’t remember now, but this dream felt significant.

Now today we come upon Passover’s first night and there is a blue moon, though not as rare as given credit for, but indeed symbolic and tidy as it lands on the last day of March. I love neat month endings. Snakes visiting me in a dream as the moon’s belly grows in the sky, the peony shoots are awakening through the cold dirt of winter. The bright shrill of the cardinal is singing “Pay Attention! Pay Attention!” And now that the famous woodchuck has no longer taken residence in my garden, wild turkeys have decided that my back yard is their new favorite place to hang out with their own tribe.

Last Passover, I didn’t have a Seder because the first night of Passover was also the day I came home from the hospital. Even my own overachieving love of gathering the tribe would not be possible. I had not missed a Passover since the year before I got married, but for some reason, I was ok with it. What choice did I have? Let’s see, double mastectomy recovery with double drain bags hanging off my body or Passover celebration. I am guessing God would forgive. Passover is a transformative holiday. It symbolizes freedom, movement, birth, death, self discovery, trust, new beginnings and shedding old thinking, starting anew.

It is the story of Moses (and please let’s not forget Miriam, she was really the one who took the first step, but we know how these stories of our history go), escaping enslavement in Egypt and leading the tribe across the Red Sea as it parted for their escape. Miraculously it closed back up so the army of Egyptian soldiers couldn’t follow. They tried and drowned. This miracle was God’s doing and as The Israelites looked back at the drowning Egyptians who had tried to chase them into the sea, the newly freed Israelites danced and sang, mocking the Egyptians. God said, “How can you sing when my children are drowning?” Of all of the metaphors in the Passover Seder, this is one of my favorites because it reminds us to stay humble, a lesson that never gets old. The Germans have a word for rejoicing in another’s bad turn, called Schadenfreudethe experience of pleasure, joy, or self-satisfaction that comes from learning of or witnessing the troubles, failures, or humiliation of another. The word is really one of those perfect words that can’t be defined in any other language. Comparing our own traumas to another’s to give your personal pain less potency is in some ways a little schadenfreude.

The Israelites learned their first of many lessons in humility as they began their dark and stormy journey into the unknown looking for the Promised Land.

Aren’t we all looking for The Promised Land in our quests for fulfillment? I wonder at the significance of this recent dream in the timeliness of its arrival. I have shed layers of myself in the deep intense process of recovering from early stage breast cancer twice. I have minimized the trauma every time I define it as “caught it early,” “early stage,” like somehow it is “not that bad.” Kind of like “functioning alcoholic.” It is almost like a personal schadenfreude.

This snake appearing in my dream has messages for me that will come soon for sure. This is the unveiling and unraveling of the core parts of me as I allow full transparency in my vulnerabilities. Nothing to hide and everything to gain. Full head on literal and figurative exposure. Just like Miriam put her toes in the sea first and only recently got the credit for it at our seders, just like walking by the snake and allowing the two of us to meet with only a small but healthy amount of trepidation. In all of the other life coming at me moments, I have learned humility in the process. The humbling lessons of awakening and transformation from these lessons stop me in my tracks and I am a better human, a better woman and most importantly, a grateful and humble one.

This is Fearlessness.


This was a photo I had taken before my 50th birthday, the last photo of me with real boobs. I love the significance of this. Fearlessness. Yep.
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TRYING OUT POETRY


TRYING OUT POETRY

Never reading a lot of poetry, I am surely no expert in writing it. Like writing though, reading great authors and their books helps me write more fluidly and I read books now like an actress or a director probably watches a movie, like a hungry student eager for the next lesson.

Mary Oliver, ee Cummings, Nayyriah Waheed, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Dr. Seuss even, are poets I have enjoyed who immediately come to mind. As I struggled to come up with naming at least ten poets I am familiar with in more than their names, I quickly realized that I have a lot to learn. This is what excites me the most, having a lot to learn. I am sure I have read more of the well known poets in school, but well that was then, This is now. I have a much deeper longing for nurturing my brain with my heart instead of thinking the two are separate.

I listened this past week to an interview with Mary Oliver by Krista Tippett that my dear friend and glorious Doctor W. sent to me and this book was mentioned, A Poetry Handbook, A Prose Guide To Understanding and Writing Poetry. I broke my self imposed rule of no shopping and bought it promptly and began my newest brain challenge. One of my favorite paragraphs is this:

But to write well it is entirely necessary to read widely and deeply. Good poems are the best teachers. Perhaps they are the only teachers. I would go so far as to say that, if one must make a choice between reading or taking part in a workshop, one should read.

So I entered into my pact with this new book, feeling incompetent but in a good way, knowing that I have a lot to learn and am open and willing to march forth. Like trying to learn grammar before speaking a new language, poetry has all of the mechanical parts that a novice like myself understands is out there in every poem, but to deliberately apply the rules and regs is a fresh discipline to this amateur. So where to start? Of course Mary Oliver leads me to believe, Yes I Can, and just when I start to feel completely lost, I thumb through her small book and land on this poem by Ezra Pound. It grabs my attention as I humbly read not only what, but how and why. The placement of the words, the punctuation, the rhythm that makes the content shine. So much to learn. My thinking is provoked in a way I hadn’t considered just five minutes before.

the word I accidentally cut off is ‘sun’, “picnicking in the sun”

Of all the morning rituals I have stuck with for well over a year, it has been the morning ritual of writing that completes my day. It doesn’t just call gently for me, it screams out for me. Pungently. Forcefully. If I miss the call, I am more than slightly off. I heard an interview with a writer once who said she was often asked how to get started writing. Her answer was, “Write.” I understand this now more than ever because I have the wisdom of retrospect when I used to think more about writing than actually writing. Physical exercise is like this. How many times have I thought about going for a run the night before, visualizing myself getting out of bed in the early hours and putting on my running shoes only to find myself waking up and coming up with an alternative like paperwork, or getting sucked into the abyss of terrible morning news. Proving that no matter how much I think about running unless I actually run, I am not running. So simple.

So simple in fact that Mary Oliver puts it this way:

Say you promise to be at your desk in the evenings, from seven to nine. It waits, it watches. If you are reliably there, it begins to show itself — soon it begins to arrive when you do. But if you are only there sometimes and are frequently late or inattentive, it will appear fleetingly, or it will not appear at all.

Why should it? It can wait. It can stay silent a lifetime. Who knows anyway what it is, that wild, silky part of ourselves without which no poem can live?

I feel this way. I must write now. I can’t imagine my life or my mornings without its presence. Not just poetry as this is a new idea, but all writing.

Medium has been a gift to a former closet writer like myself because it has created location to land my words. This has given me the prompt to flow and I have not really reworked my writings as I have tried to use the vehicle of Medium to just write without the rules and regs. There has been a lot of freedom in consciously allowing myself permission to write and flow leaving Miss Foley (my negative muse from second grade) back in the classroom. As I have gained more confidence in my writing abilities, Miss Foley doesn’t seem as much of a hindrance to me anymore. I can’t believe I am writing this, but I am beginning to appreciate her old crotchety influence on my grammar and spelling and her insistence on discipline. I find myself calling her back into the next phase of my writing, which will need the exercise of discipline as I delve into fiction and poetry.

This is the glory of reading and writing. It never is finished. Always something to look forward to. Never bored. Never tired of its call. Just as I write this Van Morrison comes on singing Brand New Day. Divinely appropriate.

As I approach the one year anniversary of my double mastectomy, April 7th, I am struck by all the changes in me this past year. Physical obviously, but the unveiling, the stripping of the literal cape I, in the past, called the symbolism of my breasts, was so much deeper for me in my overall growth. It took the appointment with the surgeon to get me to write. This has been the convergence that set the storm on its perfect course. Irony almost feels cliché. I have set sail and there is no destination other than the breeze at my back and the pen in my hand. Can’t wait to see where the wind takes me this year.

be easy.

take your time.

you are coming

home.

to yourself.

– the becoming | wing

Nayyriah Waheed

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THE MORNING CONDUCTOR

THE MORNING CONDUCTOR

Good Morning.

said the silent statement from a sun speaking its early light from the east

as we lay in bed.

This morning.

After I read More Mary Oliver to Michael.

Magnificently timed in its courageous attempt

to rise and interrupt the strongest of a dark grey cloud cover.

Competitive between them.

Who would win the struggle?

When the sun speaks, you can feel its force;

This energy can force a person to shed their clothes

From the heat.

This is power.

This is strength.

The windiest day has strength too, but it can’t make you take your clothes off.

So there.

Then the birds.

First it was the chirp chirp of a bird I am embarrassed not to recognize.

After all this is a bird that is my daily morning companion

And I was unsure of its name.

Oh well, I shall just bathe in its sound,

in the repetition and ability to show up in my morning wake up.

Then it was the crow squawking,

standing on its feet like Stalin would

in the winter stripped maple tree in the front yard.

WAKE UP, sleepiest of heads.

LAZY ONES.

GET UP.

GET OUT.

He was demanding in his commands.

But we did not obey.

We rested.

Holding hands.

Listening together.

Then the Geese.

Those screaming winged birds,

with the tribal barking sounds of flying dogs

whizzing by like a carnival coming to a small town with all of their noise.

Then.

Quiet.

I wait patiently, expectantly, for the next sounds.

Cardinal?

No. Like trying to find a heart rock, Cardinals never sound on demand.

Only when you are not looking and listening.

That is their surprise.

Their specialty in my heart.

Nancy told Melissa when she was a child

that the birds sang to help the rise the sun.

Today it felt like the other way around.

The Sun was The Conductor.

Rising and organizing the tweets, the coos, the squawks, the whistles.

One after another.

For the waiting ears of two lovers in bed

on a lazy Saturday morning

unconsciously considering

whether to move or to continue just being.

Listening to the symphony

outside their window

with the delicate background noise

of their shared breath

under the sheets.

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A BEAUTIFUL BIRTHDAY

One happy chic at Union at Second Story Theatre last night.

A BEAUTIFUL BIRTHDAY

I have a unique inner circle of friends who have become my alter family. Besides my Aunt who lives about an hour away, I really don’t have any family in close proximity. My son has an enormous family on my former husband’s side, but in my house, it is up to me to create the noise and bustle of family and I have figured it out.

Family is a loaded cocktail; you get who you get. I am slightly envious of my friends who have these loud and in your face family members who move and slither around each other sometimes happily and sometimes in a way that makes my head spin. As I compare to my own family, their conversations are always forgiving; my family on my mother’s side anyway always had someone not speaking to someone. Forever. Done. On my father’s side, it is quite different. I am much closer to them and the leader of its pack, my Grandfather. They all live south of me though, between DC and Florida, so this makes for a lot less family dinners and get togethers.

Gatherings and get togethers have become a necessary and intuitive need for me. And unlike family, you get a chance to choose who to surround yourself with. As I enter the seventh year of my relationship with my partner, we have not only blended our families, successfully I might add, but also our close friendships. The mingling and marrying, so to speak, of couples between us has created an extended family who has bonded in a way essentially because we have chosen each other. The energy exchange between friends is uplifting and joyous when the connection has the sparks of great conversation, comfort in silence over eating and just simply being present in each other’s company. We have found a rhythm of friends who are the go to group for many dinners at each other’s homes and I count on them immensely for support and love as any chosen extended family provides. Grateful for their contribution in my life. Missing three of the usual group called the Octet, now the Septup as one couple has become divorced, we haven’t missed a beat. After all, we are not living in the fifties and sixties when couples had to mingle with couples and single woman were auto ejected. There are some other couples who are in my direct inner circle and have cross pollinated within this original octet now septet too and they all easily connect. They have similar travel experiences, life outlooks and approaches to generosity and altruism. What comes of this is a connection of healthy dialogue about our children, the natural events of our lives and current events.

One of these friends had for his birthday a few years back an idea to give each of us a birthday gift for his own birthday. He had thoughtfully given us each a piece of artwork from his collection of photographs and we were all really touched. This idea though not an expectation at birthdays has taken on some momentum. We have all realized as we are gaining years, what do we need, but love and connection. Connection is the core driver of these gatherings and my birthday was a cause for yet another get together last night. Missing were three of the original group, and they were totally missed, but added were four of the cross pollinators who have previously met at other times at my home.

My plan was to celebrate by taking us to Second Story Theatre in Warren, RI, but first dinner at their new restaurant, UNION, a totally apropos name for our tribe last evening. It is risky trying a new restaurant before a play as it could have gone south if the dining hadn’t been anything more than stellar. It was more than stellar as we plowed though dish after dish each enjoying tasting from each other’s plates. The service was impeccable, the meal was creative and I had been inspired to give them each a gift in honor of my birthday. What better way to feed my energy and core then to watch seven other grownups open up presents like it was Christmas (or Hanukkah in my case). Besides my famous Homemade Hot Fudge Sauce (yes ML, I have some for you and CL, fear not), I decided to share a ritual that has become part of the fabric of my relationship with Michael C. It may seem corny to some, but it has proven to be grounding and connecting over the years between us. Reading to each other. Sometimes it is an article in the newpaper, but more often it is a deliberate passage in a book about nutrition, relationship, or love and connection. Often this reading between us has been a catalyst for discussion about something that may need talking about or some intimate thought that pops up from the read. I would say of the many parts of our relationship, this of all is one of my favorites because it offers a way to communicate other than the traditional ‘let’s sit down and talk’ kind. Reading to each other has been a way to navigate potential issues before they turn into resentments, a way to communicate without it turning into direct confrontation and also a way to share interests through reading choices, taking our relationship to a much deeper understanding. Reading to each other is communal. It is a way to be present without the phone and the distractions of the daily grind. I can’t imagine doing this with my former husband, he wouldn’t have likely thought much about the possibilities of the result, but I am sure happy I am with someone who came up with the idea let alone is open to continuing the spontaneity of the ritual.

Last night I gave each of my friends a book of poems by one of most favorite poets, Mary Oliver, who has a vast collection of books to choose from. The first time I ever heard a Mary Oliver poem was at a meditation class that my Rabbi did. Her prose and the layers of nature wrapped in words brought me to my knees. Like a prayer that has the ability to move my heart, her poetry got my attention and I have read her poems frequently to center myself if I feel like I need some enlightenment. I chose a book for each person based on a poem I saw in the book that uniquely reminded me of them. I gave one to each hopeful that they would have the same joy alone and with each other as the book as their own connector and reminder to stay tuned.

From the food, the play, (once again, Ed Shea gets my attention, Talley’s Folly, by Lanford Wilson) and the camaraderie and comfort shared between friends made my 53rd birthday a gift that keeps on giving way beyond the evening.Happy to have made it, may each year be the gift it has become in so many ways.

Why I Wake Early 
 

 “Hello, sun in my face.
 
 Hello, you who made the morning
 
 and spread it over the fields
 
 and into the faces of the tulips
 
 and the nodding morning glories,
 
 and into the windows of, even, the
 
 miserable and the crotchety — 
 
 
 best preacher that ever was,
 
 dear star, that just happens
 
 to be where you are in the universe
 
 to keep us from ever-darkness,
 
 to ease us with warm touching,
 
 to hold us in the great hands of light –
 
 good morning, good morning, good morning.
 
 
 Watch, now, how I start the day
 
 in happiness, in kindness.”

Mary Oliver

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CURLY FRIES AND PROSECO

CURLY FRIES AND PROSECO

“We don’t take cash,” the odd very greyish skin toned woman with the unlikely poor color choice of foundation said at the Enterprise desk as I went to check out. I have been on a no spending plan going on three months and for the first time was going to pay cash for my rental car. I have been doing a quasi kind of David Ramsey envelope system just to prove that I could handle the discipline and was excited to actually use real cash for a large expense.

“Really?” I said with a slightly surprised and confrontational tone. In case you didn’t realize this by now, I am sometimes a lot like the Alayne version of Elaine on Seinfeld in these precarious situations. The woman didn’t even crack a smile and this added to my annoyance, but I surely wasn’t going to end my lovely trip on a sour note so I put Elaine back in my pocket instead of going south. Progress.

I used my debit card. Same as cash as long as I don’t start spending the cash I put aside for the rental car at the Spanx store I just walked by at the airport. Why would I do that anyway, buy a contraption that sucks you in like your grandmother’s girdle. I recently heard a great podcast about Spanx owner, Sara Blakely and it planted the meme in my head that maybe I should own a pair. Then I remembered that all I ever wear is yoga pants and turtlenecks and I think those are clingy (and comfortable) enough.

Back to woman at the Enterprise counter. When I called to reserve it they told me they don’t take debit cards either to reserve the car unless you want to put a $450 hold on your card. It is the principle of the thing and for some reason it annoyed me when they told me this. Maybe it is a control thing or a service thing, but probably more like both combined. I didn’t want to put this on my charge card as part of my discipline for the past three years has been no charging. Period. Yes, I know, but all those points I am missing out on. I get plenty of points through my business charges and I am no longer part of the vortex of thinking that charge cards are going to give me bonus items. More times than not, the points are a pain in the ass to redeem and most consumers don’t likely know that all of those points come off the backs of small businesses, not the generosity of the credit card companies. Fuck them. I see how much they charge me as a business owner when someone uses an awards card, never mind the corporate rewards or American Express. This is a different topic for another piece at a later time though, back to the no cash thing.

I settled up with Enterprise who I ultimately really enjoy doing business with because they have their language of service down to a science and make you feel like they are taking great care of you as you charge $500 for a two week car rental. Off to the Southwest counter where I tried for at least the tenth time to scan the barcode on my phone so that it would register. It didn’t. Again. But then again, my thumb print never works with my I Phone so maybe it is just my techno energy resisting it all. The Southwest woman came over to assist and tried to patiently demonstrate how it works. I told her I was a helpless cause and was happy she was standing by. On that note, I took my paper boarding pass (I have a fear that the bar code will not come up on my phone at the precise time the person at the gate will try to scan it, call me old fashioned) and the two foot luggage id streaming out of the machine that had explicit instructions on how NOT to wrap around the luggage handle promptly to the baggage drop off counter for the other very kind Southwest lady to wrap it. The last time I made the attempt I must have missed the super bold size letters telling me what NOT to do and was scolded accordingly, but not in a mean way in a nice Southwest way. Has everything become semi self serve?

Onward to the bathroom, one of at least two times I use it before boarding the plane. This I can confidently say is not a menopause thing but just an Alayne thing as this has been part of my female family tribe since I was about seventeen. As I waited in line I watched a young woman move from sink faucet to sink faucet to make the automatic water come out to wash her soap laden hands with no luck. Finally the water activated and I thought about how confusing it is to go to the bathroom these days. Does the toilet auto flush? (if it does it usually does before you are finished because I am assuming here that male engineers who likely designed the auto toilet likely did not account for the no butt touching the seat squat position women do over a toilet seat so as to not butt to seat touch). The slightest movement and lets face it, squatting, peeing, then wiping while squatting does require some occasional movement hence the auto toilet flush begins when the whole situation has not been completed. This makes for some serious wet toilet water splashing, but this is just too much to explain here. If you are a woman who has done any traveling anywhere at all, enough said. You know what I mean. Of course to add to this, the bathroom stall planners add insult to injury by giving us a Lucite bag holder, humorously called “The Pouch,” with a kangaroo logo. Really? Attached high up on the wall to the left of the toilet seat to supposedly give us a place to put our purses. Once again missing the mark because I am guessing they are basing their measurements on some evening bag Doris Day carried when she went on a date with Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk. The bags we carry especially on a plane are not evening bag size and we are forced to put them on the floor between our squatting legs because take note here, they are too heavy for the hooks on the back of the door too. Remember we squat which just like the boys pee standing, a wet floor in the exact spot your bag must be placed is highly likely. Ahhh to be a man in a bathroom, just once.

I am always confused by what is now auto and what is not. Toilets. Mostly. Sinks occasionally, but then sometimes the soap dispensers are or not and I have found myself standing like a fool with my hands under a dispenser that is not auto waiting until I wake up from my slumber and actually pump the soap. Then there are the auto paper towels, but sometimes not and the alternative is the hand blower. As of late it is these snazzy yellow Dyson numbers that blow your hands so dry that your skin looks like it is going to blow off with the force reminding you that yes, you are getting old and the creppy skin blowing looked a lot better before you decided on a wind tunnel to dry your hands.

After I managed to get out of the bathroom in one dry piece off I went to the gate with two hours to spare and decided to head to the bar, plop myself down and write this piece. I am fifty three now and made a decision today to order a nice glass of Proseco and a bowl of curly fries. Why not? I had a great vacation, I am alive and ordering a glass of Proseco as I wait patiently for my gate to be called sounded so decadent, so female, sipping it out of a champagne glass on a Sunday afternoon. I seldom drink before flying or during flying for that matter and blew all cares to the wind on this last day of a ten day solo vacation of reading, writing and hanging with my grandfather. The hell with the self imposed rules and regs, I am tan and rested and this is the sign of not only a great vacation, but of a great life well lived and thoroughly enjoyed.



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IT DOESN’T MATTER

IT DOESN’T MATTER

“Wait until you’re 60,” my beautiful white-haired Carole King looking friend, Julie, said to me a few years back. “You become invisible.” I couldn’t imagine her being invisible with her clear bright green blue eyes vibrant in the purples and turquoises she throws together with scarves and shirts and sweaters she wears. I laughed thinking she was kidding as she went on to further explain that she had started noticing the decreasing looks that were once very common not coming at her with the frequency she was used to. Once she crossed over to the other side of menopause, there was definitely a shift.

She must be exaggerating I thought. I am mostly and have always been mostly blind to being looked at by the opposite and sometimes same sex. Though my seventy year young partner is convinced that I continue to “turn heads,” I often think it is just simply his head I turn as I plow through my days unaware, happily not noticing whether I do or not. I am a grown woman and as long as I am turning his head, this is all that matters to me. This sounds so non feminist here, I was almost not going to write this, but truth be told, I like the energy that is the sensual side and I like the idea of turning heads especially my partner’s. I just know that it is not the head turning that validates my worth, I just enjoy it if it happens and I happen to notice.

But today and this week as a matter of fact I have started to notice the invisibility Julie had spoken of a few years back. When I am at the beach in a bathing suit, no one (except maybe an occassional 70+ man) are looking because I have crossed over with menopause as my bridge to the other side. The side where it doesn’t matter what bathing suit I wear to the beach, there is no one looking anymore. Not a woman, not a man, it just doesn’t matter anymore not that it ever should have mattered, but more on that later. And this is fricking liberating. As I make my way down to the waters edge from my super private spot with my strong amazon Serena Williams like thighs, curvey hips and hour glass figure I was told was the desired shape, I climb between the bikini clad masses. It is like I am Wonder Woman in the Invisible Jet leaving any vestiges of concern that my bathing suit is not fitting properly on the Paradise Islands of Themyscira along with the other Amazonian priestesses. What a difference a week makes.

I get to be the post menopausal now 53 year old woman looking affectionately at the tribe of twenty year olds and smile thinking, this too shall pass. I want to say to their glorious bodies not a one of them seem to be self conscious about in their bikinis that are way beyond what Cheryl Tiegs ever dreamed about, I am so proud of you for owning it. If that in fact is what is really happening as I make my way past one after the other of the firmest tannest asses barely covered by the new semi wide thong bikini bottoms. I wish I had that type of body confidence when my body was like that and I never allowed myself permission to believe it was. (until I look at pictures where I actually thought I was fat and holy shit realize how wrong I was- what a waste). I can hear my grandmother Isabelle’s voice saying, “Don’t they realize they leave nothing to the imagination?” Followed by a tsk tsk tsk sound and a disapproving head shake. Grandma, come on, if you had that ass at twenty in this day and age, you would have wanted it to be a shining beacon of glorious ass light too.

My generation of girls grew up with such negative body shaming and talk so to see young girls owning their bodies, I greatly appreciate it. My generation grew up thinking we were fat when we weren’t, thinking we were supposed to be dieting when we should have been eating. These girls at least at the beach today walked with an air of body confidence and body joy as they jumped around easily in their skin playing Frisbee and volleyball, uncovered exposed in their bathing suits with no shorts or coverups that would minimize their glorious figures. All shapes and sizes, they appeared strong and confident. I hope their inside thinking matches their outside stories because this would be a generation of pure body owning power. Maybe the cycle of body shaming chain we have inadvertently been taught in our generation has finally been broken. I admire them and I smile at them and they smile back probably thinking she looks good for her age.

I used to really struggle with negative body image thinking my body was never good enough. What does this even mean? Not good enough compared to who? Besides the beginning of the week when I was trying to get used to my new upper half in a bathing suit top that was clearly too small now, I actually released this feeling mostly. If this is because of my age and my superpowers are now under the radar because of my aging self then I welcome this new directive, clearly another bonus in the aging process. There are all shapes and sizes of beautiful figures at the beach; the young women stand out much more than the young men. With the invention of the 24/7 camera in the phone, though, I watch the girls take photos of each other like they are modeling for a magazine and I pray it is not for an amateur porn site. I still worry that these girls are grappling with the same issues. Rewind. Repeat. Seeing how we actually look at the beach, I can see the appeal of this. I have been curious if the suit I have chosen is the way I thought it looked when I first tried it on, after all we are in our almost barest of selves, talk about vulnerable. For the most part I am satisfied these days. This is a long way from my old self of feeling “fat” or “not good enough.”

These young girls think nothing of posing out in front of the world at the beach taking photo after photo of each other, tousling their hair like they are auditioning for a Victoria Secret Catalogue. I, along with two other women I have become acquainted with this week at the beach in passing, sit there watching, mouths open thankful they are not our daughters we have to deal with. But they are. They are all our symbolic daughters as they have watched their mothers and us take our own selfies as we get dressed and look at our own selves in our mirrors. We are between smiling at their incredible adorableness and worried like moms that this is indicative of a new generation of women consumed with their outward appearance as proof of their worth in the world. I wonder what they will be doing with the pictures. Do they think they look as incredible as we think they look as we watch them sass in front of the camera posing for a frontal and a behind the scenes photo shot? Or do they look at the photos they immediately review and think “fat, not good enough, could be better here or there?” We doublespeak our body talk. I do it here in my writing as I reread. Happy to be invisible? That is kind of fucked up, that I need invisible to be liberated? Eeek. We tell our girls (and our boys who are watching by the way) one thing from our mouths, “you are beautiful, you are good enough, you are strong and smart!” We think that our words speak volumes, but it is more often our actions that are the teachers as we fidget our clothes in the mirrors, look at our backsides with disdain and outwardly mock our appearance by thinking we don’t look right in something as we once again judge. And they watch. And they learn. And no matter what we say, the cycle continues because what the media expects, no matter how many Dove commercials showing “real women” come out, Weight Watchers is coming out at the same time with Teen programs to get them “healthier and fitter” (aka thinner) whether they need it or not. Rebecca Scritchfield wrote a great piece in The Washington Post that I have copied here about the problems with Weight Watcher’s intention and messaging.

If you are reading this and have a child especially a daughter who is constantly looking at herself in the mirror or doing these poses for selfies and with friends at the beach, we need to make sure it is not turning into those early patterns that were or still are likely part of our own world. We need to pay attention to our own under the radar messaging in the way we look at ourselves in our own mirror. This is at least part of the way they are learning and literally mirroring. It has taken me three surgeries and the literal removal and replacement of my breasts along with fifty three years to get to the place of body acceptance and I still struggle. Images are powerful and Weight Watchers Teen program is not the only problem our children are facing. How I have struggled with my own constant battle of negative body self talk and then ultimately being “happy” to be in the under the radar invisible realm is itself a negative. The previous self induced pressure I no longer have is off of me to have my body be at some unattainable bar that I will never reach. The irony now is it doesn’t matter and I care so much less. Not in a give it up and eat till my heart’s content kind of way, but just letting it go and allowing the next generation of young women to figure it out.

One of the glorious elements of writing is that as I get to provoke thoughts about a variety of topics and in doing so I get to unveil my own personal challenges, hopefully solving some of them along the way. Maybe by sharing my own vulnerability and personal issues, I am in some ways helping others identify and work through theirs. Or maybe not. Maybe all of this superficial talk is causing eye rolls among my sister friends out there in the world. Who knows, all I can do is keep writing and sharing and this is my freedom every day.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/weight-watchers-is-targeting-teens-with-a-new-free-program-thats-a-problem/2018/02/09/ae277826-0d21-11e8-95a5-c396801049ef_story.html?utm_term=.601bbde45927

being here with my 100 year old grandfather is my self love. There is nothing that gets much better than this.
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THE PERFECT SPOT

THE PERFECT SPOT

There is a science in preparing for a day at the beach- in many ways going to the beach has a precise professionalism to it for the seasoned beach goer like myself. From the evening before to the packing up at the end of the day and everything in between I can say with complete confidence that I am a master. I am proud of my self-anointed status. This was all learned from the original master, my grandmother, my mother’s mother who taught me the routine that starts with an early rising and an early departure so you “beat the traffic.”

To this day if I leave for the beach anytime after 9:30 in the morning, I feel like I have gotten off to a late start and I actually have pangs of anxiety in my body as I make my way in my car towards my second home, the beloved beach. Some people can’t sit for any time at all at a beach; I am the opposite. I write, I walk, I sit, I stare, I read, I nap. Most times, I don’t bring my cell phone because I find that I too easily get time sucked and sidetracked and I like the break I get without one.

Seasoned beach goers according to Kathryn Black, my grandmother, (yes her last name is Black and mine is White in case you didn’t notice this and it shouldn’t go unnoticed that my mother’s is Black too, irony. Yes.) head to the beach and are on the road by 9:00am, latest. If friends want me to drive them because of course I always buy the outrageous one hundred and forty dollar beach pass, they know that the train leaves at nine or else they have to meet me there. I have softened a little over the years on this, but only if it is a weekday. Weekends, forget it. Everything must happen succinctly in order for this to happen and this is where the expertise comes into play.

My aim is not to be first at the beach, I don’t strive for this, that is like trying to get the A1 spot on Southwest Airlines, a near impossible feat no matter what time you get ready to hit the check in online button. No. The point is to get a parking spot and to get on the beach to claim my real estate for the day, the perfect spot. It is this spot grabbing that makes for a perfect beach beginning and there are a few choice spots I head towards depending on the day of the week, the way the wind is blowing and a few other factors that are part of this declaration today. The perfect spot is the spot away from the masses, so the quiet surroundings of the waves lapping and the seagulls chirping is the sound I hear. I don’t need to be right at the shoreline anymore. I used to, but now privacy and quiet is my go to spot and this is not by the water. The sounds I don’t want to hear are the booming music (music should be relegated to earphones if you ask me), annoying conversations between people that never stop for the entire day, (isn’t the beach for some quiet time?) and as far away as possible from the dreaded rookies, the ones who think it is cute to feed the seagulls. Even though, thankfully and finally, smoking is no longer allowed on the beach, some still smoke knowing that there are surely no beach police coming to give them a smoking ticket and surely the teenage lifeguards are not going to cause a stir. This is another reason for the early arrival to get to the perfect spot aka ‘my spot’ and sitting away from the masses. The final reason to be as far away as possible is the dreaded one way cell phone conversations. This really puts me over the edge.

There is a lot to being an expert beach goer. First off there should always be a beach bag ready to go in the back of the car. As much as I have certain rules and regs about the getting to the beach, there is also a certain release that must happen to make sure that the bag stays put. I am not a stickler about two important aspects of excellent beach preparedness. I do not care the slightest bit about sand in my car. Anywhere. I don’t clean my feet, or force people to shower and rinse off before stepping in. I barely shake the towels out. This is freedom and beach efficiency at its finest. Too much work, frankly for the frequency that I go to the beach. Sand can accumulate, pile up. I don’t care. I will attend to it at season’s end. This all makes it easier for the second element of importance in beach perfection- leaving the towel in the car. Now I don’t leave the same towels in the car for the entire season, I take them out when the weather is not predicted to be beach worthy or when I know I am not going to make it to the beach for a few days, but for the most part, I keep towels in the car. I don’t just keep one, I bring at least three now along with this awesome cotton blanket I got in Menorca a few years back. Last year I added a few hand towels to the bag because I can take them easily from my business, they have become quite handy, no pun intended, really.

The permanent beach bag always contains the following: hair ties, lipstick, beach earrings, (if you are a regular, you totally get this) writing instruments usually in a Ziploc baggie- sharpies, pens and very sharpened pencils, good sunscreen for the face and 2–3 bottles of coppertone spray 30 for the body purchased in bulk from BJ’S at the beginning of the season, said beach towels, my beach hat, a scarf, a sweatshirt, a long sleeve cotton shirt and a pair of beach linen pants in case it is chillier than I thought. It is always chillier than I thought. This bag is always in the car alongside of the beach chair so when I need to leave, I only have to bring along the overpacked cooler and the bag of reading and writing. Lunch for a full beach day needs to be substantial. Like the way I layer my clothes, I must prepare accordingly with food as well. Tuna or egg salad usually with some type of greens, plenty of fruit and something to crunch, I love cashews, and of course water. This is usually more than enough to graze all day on and I will often wait to eat breakfast so my first meal is more like brunch when I finally sit and get settled.

I don’t often bring a sandwich anymore because I really don’t eat bread that much, but this past week, I found myself on the beach on my actual birthday. It was a divine gift and I made the most delicious lunch of fresh tomatoes on sliced brioche with mayonnaise and it was heaven. For the less seasoned soul reading this (or for my dear friends, you know who you are but who shall remain nameless that belong to Bailey’s Beach where beach going is a completely different and zero effort (aka glorious) experience, this likely sounds exhausting. It is not. It is heaven for me, it is a tradition handed down to me from my grandmother and it happens automatically.

I hang on to traditions and as much as my son never really enjoyed the beach to the level I have, I hold out for the magnificent moment that some day in the distant future, I may get to have the joy of a grandchild too. Then my beach going experience will be a whole new level and for this I smile as I know my grandmother taught me well.


it looks like I am super far from the water, but not really for the glory of privacy.
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WATCHING HERBIE HOROWITZ

WATCHING HERBIE HOROWITZ

Being in the presence of a 100 year old WWII Veteran is a force to be reckoned with. He is old. He is shrinking both literally and figuratively, as his stance does not command the height it once did, nor does his appetite. His sleep patterns have reverted to an infant as he is on a three hour schedule of fitful and inconsistent patterns that are a recipe for exhaustion. I have threatened him, jokingly of course, that to keep him awake during the day, I would wipe cold wash cloths on his forehead to get him back on a schedule of night time rather than day time routine. But he is not an infant and I am not his mother, but a granddaughter who is deeply in love with her grandfather and can’t imagine my fifty three year old life without him. This is an emotional response, not the pragmatic one he has taught me over all of these years of banter and instruction from my role model and mentor, Herbert H. Horowitz.

Herbie, my grandfather whom I have written about so often and has inspired me in business, parenting and life is winding down. It isn’t sad to watch, he has led an incredible life filled with all of the ups and downs that not many people can say happen in a one hundred year span of time. I just reminded him to remember to call his sister, who is also still alive and who also still lives on her own. She is his older sister, Helen Hurwitz, two years his senior and I just suggested between naps that perhaps they were in competition to see who could outlive each other.

Some of the dialogue we have about end of life likely shocks Herb’s more conservative caregivers. They seem to shy away from mentioning the word death like it may wish away his life. I don’t share this thinking and neither does Herb or the rest of my family for that matter. We are after all a pragmatic lot who has lost both my brother and my father too young. In some ways one might say I am desensitized, but in truth I am a realist. I don’t wallow. I do cry. I am sad, but as Judaism says, we keep the memories and this is really a celebration of a good life lived. We are all going to die, some younger than others, it is what we do with the life while we are living it that really matters. Herbie has done this with his own life and as a result done it for ours. We are the lucky ones here because we get to be in his tremendous life watching him wrap it up slow and steady and patient, just like the way he is.

This is fitting and I like the neatness of this. How his exit matches who he is ultimately and it makes me wonder if this is part of the overall plan from birth to death, how we lived is how we die? That can’t be true actually as I consider all of the young people we have lost, they didn’t have time to live so forget that silly esoteric thought. I will just keep this one for Herbie’s life. It is an apropos way to see it and I cherish the view. Just like I cherish my grandfather, every single day this week of my visit when he graces me with his unique presence and outlook.

Watching someone wind down is an honor that so many of us don’t get to see up close and personal. As I watch him take his fourth nap at 12:30pm today after he binge watched Pinky Blinders on Netflix until 4:30am, (yes my grandmother is rolling over in her grave no doubt), I am so happy I added extra days on to my time here. Not only did I get to spend my 53rd birthday on Siesta Key beach but I also got to spend it with one of the men I adore most. I am so used to leaving with the assumption that another trip is around the corner, next month, next fall and so on, but when someone is 100, you just never know. When I say every moment is a gift, just hang out with a 100 year old and this will be closer to the truth than any five minutes of mindful meditation. Every time.




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THE FIVE A’S

THE FIVE A’S

One of the best books I have ever read for some serious self-awareness was How To Be An Adult in a Relationship, by David Richo. www.davericho.com After being married for twenty years getting married when I was a mere twenty-four, and then divorcing at forty four required a lot of this self reflection. After all when a young woman gets married at the tender age of twenty-four, a lot happens in twenty years. The illusion of being a grown up is part of this metamorphosis that happens in time spent in marriage whether you are happy or not. What is on our outsides doesn’t always match with our insides and when my exhusband and I split up, I had a lot of time to reflect on what went right, what went wrong and what part I played in the disruption of it all. And yes I did have to admit the part I played because as we all know it takes two to tango.

None of this is more apparent than when I found myself dating and all of the triggers that had been dormant since I was twenty-four came out swinging. I had not a clue when I started back on the dating scene what had been taking a serious hibernation for twenty years and despite the fluttery heart of a teenager, the crazy head of “Does he like me? How come he is not texting me at the speed of light?” and all of the other mind fucks that frankly as fun as it was seriously had me rethink getting divorced at forty four. I came up with the idea that whatever age you get married at is where you leave off mentally and it comes back out like the bogeyman on a dark stormy night as soon as the first date happens. Not pretty. But Fun. Fluttery. Juicy. But ultimately this all wears off and it is what you have done to prepare for this inevitable that gives you the tools to take this new relationship deeper and more meaningful… if that is what you want. And you may not. You may be the type of chick who wants the juice and the flutter, and you may come and go (no pun intended, really) from one vibe of newness to the next one. This was never my intention; I wanted a deeply committed and every growing relationship and the man I restarted this with was someone I really wanted to do the work on myself to get there. And he did too.

There is a lot written on the self-awareness lessons from the work you do on yourself and then what happens when you meet someone and all of that work you have done gets applied. Because the fact is that the work on oneself is easy when it is just you. You don’t have anyone to test the waters on to see if all of that hard work you have been doing means anything at all. Applying it to a relationship is when you see how successful you are. And more often than not it surprises you and comes out of nowhere when you least expect it. I can almost hear myself aloud, “But I have done the work!” Yeah right.

The reason this is all coming out now is because my grandfather has a lovely nurse who has recently (three month recently) separated from her thirteen-year unhappy marriage and has met a guy. She is head over heels and I recognized the energy. It is so fun to feel that spark again. It is so easy to get sucked into the vortex thinking that this is the perfect guy. I gave her a knowing warning. “Be careful. He is probably a lot more like your soon to be ex-husband than you think.” She replied and I could have said it for her, “ Actually he is the exact opposite,” with that starry eyed sappy vibe we chicks recognize. “I know this is what you think, but he is probably a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He is your bridge guy. He is the one that is going to take you from and to. Have fun, but he is not the one. Believe me. And please immediately go buy this book.” And I promptly gave her the title and author and a nice meal for the road.

This book’s main theme that spoke to me so clearly was plenty, but the one that struck me to my core was Richo’s approach to what constitutes a healthy relationship, the five A’s as he called them.

Acceptance. Allowing. Appreciation. Affection. Attention.

What spoke to me so clearly was his descriptions of each one when it is in balance and when it is not and what I realized as the words poured off the page was how much I had been out of balance. This also taught me how to get into balance with the corrections necessary to be in a healthy relationship. The thing is that these five words go both ways. It is not just the chick needing them, but the partner needing them too. This was the hardest element for me to learn, that my concept of these five A’s does not mean that my partner thinks the same way about them. Like just because I like a lot of physical affection and a lot of attention, doesn’t mean that my partner likes it the same way. This has been eye opening to me. I have feelings, but guess what, so does my partner? What? I thought it was the woman who was always wanting.

Relationships when we are young can so often be more about control and manipulation, the silent treatments and passive aggression to make your point.

This book taught me that to really participate wholly the five A’s have to be activated and worked on. Lots of this is about releasing ego and allowing love. Accepting partner’s differences and realizing that just because his opinion is not yours doesn’t mean that it is wrong or right, but just different. Appreciating the other’s goods, bads, uglies and beautifuls and knowing that we all have good and bad days and part of the connection is learning about each other to know what and when and how. Some of us need more or less attention or affection in our own ways. Some of us like more physical and some like more verbal. Then others like affection and appreciation with none at all. Distance and closeness (and this is really an interesting part of the lessons in all of the five A’s)is learning that a partner may need distance but that it doesn’t mean he or she is not into you. Lessons abounded in this book and I really think that it should be required reading for all newly engaged couples as well as struggling couples too. Healthy relationships are so satisfying when everything is in sync. Conversation and communication only work if both are on the same plane or want to be on one. Post the romance phase when everything that happens is perfect and fabulous and based purely on sexual connection is all fine and good, but without that mutual camaraderie afterwards when the commitment phase becomes a permanent fixture, a relationship can fizzle and it is often because the two didn’t understand that there is more work to be done post the sexual charge that seemed to make the whole partnership seem like nothing could ever go wrong.

I have applied these five A’s to people I work with, friendships and my relationship with my mother, my family and my former husband. They have worked in ways that have rewarded over and over again and when I remember to apply them I am never disappointed. These five A’s are where the juice is, where the nuggets lie in a deep connection with a partner and I have loved applying them in my life. Especially when I remember.

“Self-actualization is not a sudden happening or even the permanent result of long effort. The eleventh-century Tibetan Buddhist poet-saint Milarupa suggested: “Do not expect full realization; simply practice every day of your life.” A healthy person is not perfect but perfectible, not a done deal but a work in progress. Staying healthy takes discipline, work, and patience, which is why our life is a journey and perforce a heroic one.” 
 ― David Richo, How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving

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FLOCK OF SEAGULLS

FLOCK OF SEAGULLS

Avery! Avery! AVERY! The impatient mom stood there, primary color buckets and shovels in hand, bathing suit tucked under army green shorts and a tank top. Her voice sounded breathless, loaded, followed by a pause with a capital P. Avery with her super emphasis on the A, was being called out by a voice gaining crescendo as Avery’s mom tried to somewhat patiently lure her no more than three year old daughter away from the area where less than a minute ago had encouraged her to go.

Avery, Bradley! Go see the seagulls! The lone mom voiced happily to her little ones as they made their way to the beach this early morning. The two little ones tip toed at first towards the semi resting flock of seagulls until the birds caught wind of the little cherubs acting like lioness and immediately went into flight. This caused Avery and Bradley to storm into them running like all children at the beach do. The seagulls of course flew away likely annoyed as their morning peace was disrupted promptly, but they were used to this cat and mouse game. Chasing seagulls is one of the oldest childhood beach pastimes. Children are fascinated with trying to catch them thinking they may be lucky to actually touch one.

Avery! Avery! Avery! Bradley! Three times for the girl, one time for the older brother who was likely about six, Come this way! The mom likely didn’t realize that less then three minutes ago she just instructed her children to head the opposite way and they are not on grown up time. Trying to distract them back towards her so she could finally sit down on the beach on this not really a beach day after all. Trying again, she squealed in a voice that didn’t sound normal to me, “Look at the white seashell I found!” Avery was not taking the bait. She was in the midst of a flock of flying and agitated seagulls- a white seashell was too tame for little Miss Avery who at almost three clearly had a will of her own. Mom, starting to sound a little impatient with a tone that was easily recognizable to all who were in close proximity was thinking that she was in charge by her incessant shout outs. She wasn’t and anyone listening could clearly hear that Avery was never going to be the obedient and rule following daughter like her older brother.

The observation took me about three minutes. I am a self proclaimed untrained expert in mother and daughter interactions especially at the beach because this is where the family dynamic unfolds. This was where my family dynamic with my own mother started in 1968, right out in the open for the world to see when you think no one is watching. The beach experience has so much expectation in families especially here on the white sands of the “most beautiful beach in America” Siesta Key. This former lovely old school styled beach has turned into Disney World with its contrived picnic spots and signage directing beachgoers everywhere, but it is still magnificent once you make your way. Florida has become one giant Disney experience from the moment you step into their airport and take the tram to the main area. It is like we need to be told everything and can’t possibly figure out how to get from here to there without some happy sign pointing us there. The only semi advantage of the beach metamorphosis is the gargantuan parking area that has plenty of spots now. But I love this beach and I love Florida especially in March when New England is expecting eighteen inches of snow this week.

This mom today calling Avery about twenty times and watching Avery tune her out was like a study in a childhood behavior class. Avery has already learned that it is not her name she will choose or not choose to respond to but the tone of which her name is projected. This is so obvious to this quiet female observer getting to spy on this early budding relationship from the vantage point of the ghost of Christmas Future.

Mother Daughter relationships are a precarious balance of emotion. Love, we hope, is always the underlying energy, but that is for the mature and calm mothers who perhaps learned this from their own mom examples. Often the emotion of love is laced with a rickety balance of power, control and sometimes jealousy and this is when those relationships go awry. What constitutes a healthy mother and daughter relationship from my viewpoint is the release of those three dynamics of power, control and jealousy that frequently come out on autopilot. The healthy relationship is instead when love prevails, unconditional love where children feel safe and able to make mistakes as well as rebel knowing they will still be loved. If moms can offer this up on a sliver platter, it makes for a stronger mama and ultimately a way better mother daughter connection. This is all easy for me to say. My personal experience is based on my own challenging one with my mother where love was used as control and was a meager piece of the quadrant. The other three- control, jealousy and power had a much larger piece of the pie. Love in my world was demonstrated by material things as well as food, so it is no wonder I have struggled with money and food issues for the first part of my life. Seldom were the feelings of affection and trust used as the base of support that builds the foundation of a healthy connection. This base of support creates the foundation that ultimately allows for the literal stories to be built above.

Does this mom even know that a complete stranger already feels sympathy for her tiny daughter? She would likely be horrified to know that this is my observation. Maybe none of it is accurate; after all I am making a sweeping judgment in less than five minutes and maybe they actually have a really loving connection that will blossom. My experience with my own mother and our tumultuous and mostly irreparable relationship is my guide on the beach always. I will never know what will become of the dynamics of Avery and her mom and their future that lies ahead. There is something that I identify with though every time I see a mom have a less than patient tone at the beach. It definitely is a trigger that reminds me of my own past with Ann and as much as I have a positive beach memory with my mother from my childhood, I also know that our relationship was never to be the one that most daughters hope for. The only satisfaction I have though is my deep awareness of what went wrong so I could be sure that my mothering of my son would be what went right. This I am sure of.

As Avery finally made her way to the lame seashell, I could see her looking back at the lure of the wild seagulls flying, the wind in her hair and the sparkle in her eye and I knew at that moment as I watched her that just like me, Avery would be more than just fine.

a family photo i came upon from September 1964, my mother in the green dress would have been three months pregnant with me. My father is to her right and my grandparents are in the center. Uncle and aunt to the left. My grandfather was 47 (and he is 100 now) and my grandmother was 44. My parents were 20! the same age as my son is now. Married and pregnant, it is no wonder my parents struggled being grownups.