A Diamond in the Ruff

I am no fun.  Risk averse. Chaos averse. I’m in recovery for non-spontaneous behavior syndrome.  I lack impulsivity.  Looking for a wild evening that could lead to anything? Don’t go with me.  Looking for a vacation where I have researched, planned, and booked things with 5 contingency plans and 2 extra of everything in your suitcase? I’m your woman.  If I wrote a memoir, potential titles would include “Addicted to moderation: One woman’s adherence to balance.”  I’ve been avoiding obvious blunders like the plague for as long as I can remember.  I figure enough crap happens that I have no control over…I have plenty to fill up my ’embarrassing story’ bank.

I need for no more. But-

I’ve gone ahead and done something wild.  Truly flies in the face of all logic.  It’s unlike me.  Maybe 43 is the year I really start to lose my grip on reason. I told my kids yesterday that this is probably the 2nd craziest decision I’ve made on purpose.  This was a huge decision.  They asked me what the craziest one was and I said, “Get married to a human.”  They rolled their eyes. I reminded them I loved Daddy but it was by far the single largest and most important decision I’ve ever made.  And now this.

So…(drumroll please) This happened.  Grover. He happened.

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We adopted him today.  I have a purse dog and I don’t have any clue what I’m doing. I ordered a book from Amazon on Yorkies.  It arrived the same day as Grover. Praise God for 2 day shipping.

I bought something called “Beef Fritatta” for him to eat.  I’m not kidding.

I went to Home Goods and bought a pet bed.  I literally had to whisper out loud to myself “The dog bed doesn’t need to be a fashion accessory.  You don’t need a chevron dog bed. Just pick something. Anything.”  Also, they sold Isaac Mizrahi designer printed bags for poop.  I don’t feel like I should pay extra for gift wrapped poop.  I resisted.

My son has already asked if we can buy him a sweater for Halloween and dress him up. Sure. What dog who has been rescued doesn’t love some fool dressing them up?  It’s not like he already has suffered enough humiliation growing up in a puppy mill.

Now, I’m not a huge dog person.   I’ve loved just two dogs in my life.  Snoopy was my childhood dog.  A hyperactive Brittany Spaniel.  My parents got Snoopy as a puppy to soften the blow of me getting a brother.  My mother readily admits it was not ideal to have a 4 year old, a newborn, and a puppy all being needy and helpless at the same time.  They let me name her (since they wouldn’t let me name my brother) and Snoopy was the only dog name I knew (Hey-I was 4!).  My poor dad would take her duck hunting and when others called out for Thor and Duke and Bandit and Maximus-he had to yell, “Snoopy, Bird down!”  That is me and Snoopy below. 8th grade. I can tell the year because of the unfortunate “I should totally get bangs!” idea.  See. Spontaneity-never pays.

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The only other dog I’ve ever loved was named Clyde.  Clyde, the massive black lab who belonged to some dear friends, was trained to play until you simply said “Game Over” and then he would sit and gaze at you with wisdom in his eyes.  He has his own theme song, “Clyde, clyde, the best dog in the world.”

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So, I’m not super keen on the dog thing.  I mean I’ve just recently trained 3 people to not eat things off the carpeting or pee on the floor and yet I find myself taking in something that will surely do both of the above and I can’t take away screen time as punishment.  I surely must be losing it.

The kids have been working on me for some time.  When I got pregnant with #3…my son said, “I want a boy. It has to be a brother.  If it isn’t a brother, I’d rather just have a dog.” That was 7 years ago and while he did get his brother, he hasn’t forgotten about the dog.

Then 3 years ago my two oldest children participated in something school called “The Principals Challenge.” It’s a summer challenge aimed at having kids keep up on reading/writing/math and if they complete The Trifecta (and they did because I cracked the proverbial whip ALL summer) they have lunch with the principal and get a gift card for the book fair.  The challenge requires each kid to write 6 stories.  At the end of the summer we had 12 original stories.  When I went to compile them for submission I realized there was a theme. 8 of them were about getting a dog, finding a dog, wanting a dog, dogs talking to other dogs, dreaming about a damn dog.

So why now?  Good question.  It’s the fault of the baby.  The baby is no longer a baby.  He said just two days ago, “Is it a thing now that people keep forgetting that I am six AND A HALF!?” Then a chain of events…One friend kept posting pictures of rescue dogs. Another friend knew of this specific rescue organization she knew and trusted (underdogrescuemn) This rescue organization was having a foster dog event 5 miles from my house. We went.  My two oldest sat in a pen filled with dogs that were in foster care.  I knew it the minute they set foot in there it was going to happen. Their eyes glassed over with happiness.  We talked to Grovers foster parent.  She said all the right things. AT the event was another friend from college I haven’t seen in 20 years. She works for the organization and is the one in charge of this breed of dog for adopting. She said all the right things. Except for the fact her own dog just had a $2700 surgery. I’m ignoring that.  Everything else she said was reassuring. Dog kismet.

It was meant to be.  I can’t even believe it.

I am not a dog person. Yet.  I’m very much a people person.  And my people?  These people. They neeeeeeeed a dog.  Badly.  So Grover it is.  Honestly, I couldn’t even live with myself if they don’t have this experience.

They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend but dog is mans best friend.

If this doesn’t go well, next time I’m getting a diamond the same carat weight as Grover.

Ooooooooooh he is pretty darling though.

Help.Me.

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It’s a sign: Except when it isn’t

We all need some reminders in life from time to time. Signs. Instructions.  A visual prompt in an otherwise chaotic world.

I’ve been collecting things for this for a bit…I could have entitled this post, “Things that I have spent entirely too much time pondering”  but that just sounds sad.  So-signs.  The following signs/printed materials have been bothering for some time. So please, join me in my bewildered irritation.

This is on my street. I think of my dad every single time I pull onto our street because the very first time he came to see the house he said, “Oh, Jen…do you really want to live here?  You’ll end up having slow children. Look how slowly they run!”

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This one is just around the bend.

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I was recently describing what neighborhood I lived in to a new friend and I said, “We are right past the turtle sign.”   She said, ” I think that sign is a joke.  Right? It has to be a joke.”

I don’t think the city would use taxpayer dollars for a joke, at least not so overtly. A month ago they added the orange flag. Higher alert.  Not a joke.

Hey-I love turtles.  But they don’t exactly ‘dart’ out onto the road. Deer?  Deer jump out at you.  People total their cars and get injured when they hit a deer with their car.  Snapping turtles?  No.  So this sign WITH the huge orange flag is basically saying “Please drive with your eyes open in case a giant, boulder sized turtle is in the middle of the road and you may have to slow down or swerve around it.”

This is at my grocery store.

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What is the relationship between these people? Are they the 3 kids? If so, why does the one on the left have such a mom haircut?  Are they a female couple with a child in the middle?  If they are, why does the one on the left have the weird pouch on her dress?  Wait, is she expecting?  Is that an indication of a pregnancy? That’s just mean.  Stupid maternity clothes. And if she is expecting, why does her partner have to wear the same ugly type tunic?  Is that a mother with two children?  If so, why is the mom wearing the super short dress and the daughter is wearing the modest one?

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This is the sign at the restroom at a resort I went to on vacation.  Pipe and fan.  What on earth?  I went with fan.  I guess I’m more likely to use a fan than smoke a pipe?  But just barely. This is more vague than if they had written men and women in a language I don’t speak. I had to tell my six-year-old to go to the one with the picture of the tuba.

These are near a bridge that will be shut down for 2 years.  This made me laugh. It reminds me of Alice In Wonderland.  This is a series of signs if Alice hadn’t found the rabbit hole but had gotten lost in the suburbs instead.

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So while driving by, not only reduce your speed to 15mph, there is a bump coming up and it’s a one lane road and in case you are an idiot (TAKE TURNS!) Oh, plus there is a human directing traffic with a flag and if all else fails you also may have to stop.  In other words, just DO NOT drive down here.  Go away.

This was at Target. I posted it on Facebook.  I needed others to share in my horror. Immediately.

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In the Acid Relief and Planning and Protection aisle is where they featured a “Check this out” 50 Shades of Grey display.  Gross.  Actually seeing this made me need Tums.

These were at the grocery store.

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They called these “Big Yummy Muffins” which look neither big nor yummy to me.  Also, these were on the shelves in January.  Why the green muffin?  Not St. Patricks, not Christmas. Assorted Variety?  I would say so. Who would buy those?

I found this while shopping for an anniversary card. Wow.  I’m guessing a difficult year can’t be smoothed over with someone else’s words…even if there are TWO designs to choose from.

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and finally this…which has really bugged me for years.  My kids are sick of me talking about it.  They eat a lot of hot pretzels.

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This is the salt pack that comes with the pretzels in the clear cellophane bag.  Note: It reminds you to not use all the salt if you aren’t eating all the pretzels. Oh my word.  We have lost our way as a society. We need an instruction manual for pretzels. In case we don’t realize that if you use all the salt-it’s gone.

Signs. They are everywhere.

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I hope the ice cream truck has Red Bull

I recently read an article about the trend of “Slow Parenting”.  The article was not only discouraging; I found it a bit naïve. Maybe I’m just jealous. I can’t do it. I can’t get into the slow parenting.

I’m fast parenting.  Like, wear your seatbelt.

My first two children are 27 months apart…then there is a five-year gap and then the last one. The first year that I had all 3 of them with those age differences I thought this was a huge disadvantage. Actually the first year I cried a lot. Oh hell…I don’t remember much of the first year.  I do remember being exhausted and eating MANY chocolate croissants to make myself feel better and inconveniently dragging my big blue eyed boy around EVERY SINGLE MINUTE like a court ordered home monitoring bracelet…but way heavier. It felt like the movie Groundhog’s Day but without any of the fun parts.

But now I love the age difference. I mean, nobody has expressed any interest in me teaching a family planning class…but it’s working out nicely now because I get to enjoy them all in their own unique phases and stages. It’s a lot to absorb but they are fun and funny.

When I don’t want to beat them, they are my favorite people. But it’s not slow. Ever.

The Slow Parenting movement favors less structured activities and letting children explore.  Explore like let them live like I did in the 70’s. Maybe you did too. I read a lot upside down in chairs, in the car, in a hammock, in a fishing boat. I stared at seed pods floating by through the air. In the 80’s in the summer I watched MTV videos until my eyes hurt, taking a 4 minute break to go outside and cut a bouquet of zinnias from the side garden. Sometimes I saw my friends but sometimes I didn’t. I had lemonade stands. I talked on the phone quite a bit. Every summer I nourished the fantasy that I would ‘transform’ over the summer and dazzle everyone in school in the fall after an incredible summer of physical and personal metamorphosis. Never happened.

My most out of the ordinary summer was in between sophomore and junior year of high school. I lived in Ohio and did a summer program at the School of Cleveland Ballet. Leaving for the summer was fairly common among my dance friends but unheard of among my school friends. But now…it seems like the ‘opportunities for summer extraordinaire’ for my kids are endless. Camps, classes, theme parks, public beaches, pools, water parks, travel, video games, service projects, volunteering, ways to earn money, a community triathlon , art shows, fun runs, PLUS the lemonade stand thing.

I once had a professor whose wise words come to mind over and over and OVER again. He said (paraphrasing here) the grand challenge of parenting isn’t to parent your kids in an effort to repair your own childhood. Don’t try to give them the perfect childhood that you didn’t get. (i.e.: I never got to take piano lessons and therefore I’m going to force you to take piano even if it makes you physically ill because then I can live vicariously through you and you better appreciate it, etc.) He said, the challenge is to raise them the very best way possible given their own reality.

I can’t get enough of those words.

My kids are growing up very differently than I did. The basics are similar. But there is a lot that is very different. We are a bigger family than my family of origin, my husband and I are not the people our parents were, the world of school and technology and activities and expectations are different. And while I don’t want to schedule the summer away…I need to have a plan.  Big plans.

I love those old Country Time Lemonade ads with the tree swing and the haze of summer heat and kids outside running down the dock with inner tubes and the soothing voice over of nostalgia…The reality though…summer is so short. Phineas and Ferb claim we have 104 days of summer vacation. Our school district only has 91 days. 91 days of summer??? Plus we have to jam in a few teeth cleanings and haircuts and I suppose people are going to need to eat?

There needs to be time for camp and lemonade stands and going to the beach with friends and playing basketball in the driveway and planting/tending/harvesting cherry tomatoes.  We have to get in some chores and some tennis and a lot of freaking out when the giant dragonflies land on our faces. There needs to be time for bike rides and stargazing and sparklers and playing at a new, never been to before park and many minutes of listening to the frogs. There needs to be a family trip with time in the car and reading Calvin and Hobbes and sidewalk chalk and outdoor movie night and badminton tournaments in the yard that end participants knees (that actually happened two years ago-the husband and the brother got competitive and let’s just say a knee replacement for my husband is now on the bucket list). There needs to be time with friends over and time without and long lectures from me about the great blue heron in the backyard. (I’m a little excitable over the great blue heron.  I want to hug him.)  There needs to be long walks and giant ice cream cones and the State Fair and being out on the water.  We have to have bonfires, and friends over to grill out and cheer at soccer games and farmers market trips where I embarrass the children by buying far more blueberries than I can carry.  And there has to be day where I teach them to roast a chicken.  Yep. That’s in my plans tooMG_1143 IMG_9008 IMG_0025 IMG_9801 IMG_9014 IMG_0578IMG_1141

We can‘t possibly do it all in only 91 days, can we?

You’re darn right we can.

I want to do it all. With them. THIS is part of the why of why I had the children. To show them the best of the world and try to prepare them for it and then sit back and watch them take it in. I can’t let everyone just free range it because at 6, 11, and 13…everyone will be free ranging in disparate directions.  They are young for such a short shot and with the age gap…they only overlap in this house for 11 years. So I’m fast parenting.

So get ready kids-it’s my summer too. We are having a Red Bull Lemonade Summer. We are going to squeeze the life out of it. We are going to drink up summer while driving to and from soccer or sitting still at the campfire. We are going to bookend a beach trip with a pancake flipping contest and so many S’mores you are going to stick to your pillow. We are going to work our way through our summer list (which this year includes a family stay on the island in the BWCA) and fill up our bags with library books to devour like the world is ending. And we are going to do it fast.  Before summer gets away from us. And before your collective childhood gets away from me.* IMG_1373

*There WILL be a couple of times in this 91 day period that I will want to run away from home. Get in my car and leave this crew in the dust.  It happens every summer.  Then the irritation melts away like a bomb pop on the 4th of July. Ooh-BOMB POPS!

So this is 20…

I had no intention of writing anything today.  But sometimes things just mysteriously come together.

I’ve been married for 20 years today. 20 years.  2 decades.  My husband said, “Wow. 240 months. 20 Christmases. 20 Thanksgivings.”  Sometimes it feels like 5 years and other times it feels like 30.  Such is the nature of marriage and of time.

I once told my parents (after much self-examination) that I was just not “marriage material”.  I was 21.  I didn’t want to get married. Ever.  I was not the marrying type.  I just did not feel like ‘that‘ type of girl.  The permanency scared me.  The necessary compromising offended me.  The lack of control over who the other person becomes and who you yourself may become sickened me. It just seemed like a real stupid risk.  Unfortunately, I announced this to my parents on a morning that they were rushing out to a breakfast and they wouldn’t even let me come with them.  I felt abandoned.  Unbeknownst to me, they were having breakfast with my boyfriend who was on a mission to ‘ask for my hand’ and ‘get their blessing’.

They said, “No.”

HAHAHAHA!  Have you ever heard of that happening in real life?  Me neither.  They said, “No” to my earnest, optimistic, 22 year old boyfriend.  They thought we were too young.  (we were) They thought we were not ready.  (we weren’t) They thought their daughter was at home in a pool of her own tears and wallowing in some self made melodrama about how she was not a marrying type of girl. (I was) Some months passed.  There was a lot of crying.  blah. blah. blah.

My husband persevered.  He is very tenacious. We got engaged. We got married.

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pictured above (clueless people with immature pre-frontal cortexes)

I can boil it down to 2 simple reasons why I married him.

The man never gives up on becoming better.  He is relentless.  I knew that he would never give up on me, on us, on himself. I thought that would prove to be a useful and necessary trait if you were going to put up with the likes of me.  I think it is still a valuable quality to have.  It has served our family well.

The other reason is a two-word comment he made in the car to me when we were dating.  We were talking about something (nothing of note) and he locked eyes with me and smiled and said, “Cute brain.”

I had never had anyone say anything so amazing to me before those two words or ever since. Cute brain.  It struck a chord in me and has stayed with me.  That guy knows how to close the deal.

He just gets me.

For the sake of transparency, I would like to say-It hasn’t been a perfect 20 years.  Far from it.  We have had our challenges.  We have made some colossal mistakes. We have had our disagreements.  If we had followed the asinine “don’t go to bed angry” advice, we would both have died from insomnia in 2004. Goodness, that was a bad year. The beauty of staying together is that we made it past 2004.  It’s far in the rear view mirror now and that is a blessing.

The traditional 20 year gift is China and the modern 20 year gift is Platinum.  Please no.  First, if one more dish makes its way into this house my husband will go insane in the 21st year of marriage.

A platinum something? Nope.  No platinum knick knacks shall enter into this house.  No more objet of any kind.  Nothing on a shelf. Clutter kills.

We have had some memorable and disastrous gift exchanges over the years. One of the first years we were married he gave me a gift that he wrapped up inside a box for an Oster blender.

The problem is, it was an actual blender.

It was Christmas and I kept repeating, “Oh. It is a blender. An actual blender.  You gave me a blender. Blender. You thought of me and you thought ‘b l e n d e r”.  It was an awkward moment for the rest of the family. He said (bewildered) “But you SAID you wanted a blender someday.”   I did say that.  Aaaand that is the last appliance I ever received as a gift.

One year we just blindly gave the other what we like.  He prefers experiences.  I prefer something to mark the occasion that I can hold on to, pass down, potentially store in the basement for all eternity.  I gave him a book.  He doesn’t care for books. He gave me tickets to a concert.  I can’t remember what concert.   We both opened our gifts and felt, “meh”-we should have swapped them.

We had talked about going to see the jeweler that made our wedding rings.  He is a darling semi-retired man with a tiny office in the Medical Arts Building in downtown Minneapolis.  We talked about picking out an anniversary band to mark 20 years.  I like this idea.  It marks the occasion.  I can pass it on to my children.  It has symbolic meaning.

Today I got a voicemail from my husband.  This is what prompted me to write this all down. The voicemail was in the middle of the day while he drove four hours roundtrip for a meeting.  He said, “….Also, I think we should go meet with the jeweler.  I’m kind of waiting on you to tell me when you are free to go…Also, I was thinking..not sure…maybe it’s dorky or dumb but…What about a new front door?  It might be kind of dumb. I just know it’s something you talked about and it would kind of be fun down the road to you know…say we put that in for our 20 year anniversary.   I know it’s just one step away from something to plug into the wall but…let me know.”

I welled up.  Real heartfelt tears.  See…I hate my front door.  I would love a new front door.  YES.   I’m in love with this idea. It is symbolic.  It will last.  We are here to stay.  We are only just 20 years into building something to last.

He just gets me.  That is the best gift of all.

May is the cruelest month. May.

It’s May Day. Happy Stupid May Day!  May Day is for celebrating the hope and renewal of spring.  Don’t leave me a May basket because my only hope is that this month passes as quickly as possible.  I don’t like this May person I have become.

Let me tell you, I have become something I never thought I would become.

I’m a cheerleader.

I know.  Few things are sadder than the image of a 43-year-old woman who checks off “three live births” on an intake form at the doctor’s office being a cheerleader.  But I am one.  An old, weathered, discouraged cheerleader who (I have been told) does not drink anywhere near enough for this job.

I’m in charge of keeping morale high high high and shorts long long long.

I’m in charge of rallying the players when they lose focus or turn on each other.

I’m in charge of getting the whole team and sideline spectators to retain their enthusiasm.

I need to smile and have good hair. All the time. Nobody wants a haggard, negative, nochancewearegoingtomakeit cheerleader.

Normally this cheerleading gig, it doesn’t bother me too much.  I’m actually pretty energetic about it. But I hate May.  Seriously.

May needs to take a long walk off a short pier. All the months are my favorite next to May.

rah. rah. rah. 

Some of my cheerleading is coaxing, encouraging, suggesting, begging them to do ALL OF THE NORMAL THINGS that I am supposed to get them to do. And I am supposed to do it in a nice way. rah.

(cue sing song voice that I don’t wear well) “Let’s pick up all of our nice things.  We treat our toys with respect.”  In other words, if I step on this Spider Man Super Hero Smasher one more time I am going burn it in the fire pit when you are at school.

“Let’s eat our vegetables so you will grow up healthy and be able to learn all the wonderful things at school.”  In other words, I can’t even believe you grow at all since most of your calories involve drinking things out of pouches and a rotation of 3 other foods.  I made it. Just eat it. If you don’t eat it now, you’ll have to bring it in the car.  I don’t want to bring a fajita in the car.

“Let’s get that homework done.  We have come this far. Don’t give up now.”  In other words, I have literally spent DAYS cheering you on this far.  If you give up, I will end you.  We are NOT throwing in the towel now-we are closing in on the final seconds of this season. Stare at the polynomials.

“Let’s just somehow get through the week so we can just sit down this weekend for a minute.” This one is for my husband.  It’s literal.

It’s a tough business…cheerleading in May.  My pom pom muscles are weary now, my voice hoarse and May could use a good high kick to the face. In addition to all the standard things,  are things unique to this month.

(continuing with my ironic sports reference)

My team this year has got their issues.  I’m not going to comment directly on specific player personality issues since I’m just the cheerleader (I was just given this team to root for-I didn’t hand pick them in a draft) but here are a few of my key players and you can draw your own conclusions.  I have a 13 year old girl finishing off the 8th grade.  I have an 11 year old boy finishing off the 5th grade. I have a 6 year old boy finishing off Kindergarten. Yeah. It’s an eclectic mix. We aren’t really unified right now as a team. They all think they are free agents.

Apparently because of my diverse team, it means a deluge of testing (requiring eggs for breakfast?), fieldtrips, celebrations, graduations, year end gifts/cards, spring sport practices/games, activity pictures (which is so stupid as I have documented nearly every waking day of their lives-do I need a picture holding a soccer ball in front of a fake ominous cloud backdrop?),  school choir/orchestra concerts, extra before and after school ‘opportunities’ and mandatory meetings for high school transition, middle school transition, activities in the fall that I have not yet signed up or paid for yet.  These all have to take place in 30 days? Why? Why?

I take that back.  I want the soccer magnet.  The tiny cleats.  The mini shin guards. I need it.  But why for the love of everything do we take the pictures in May?

Oh and my anniversary is in May.  Oh and Mother’s Day.  Mother’s Day which coincides with the fishing opener 21 out of 25 years here in MN.  I’d like to speak to the man who made that decision. I’m betting he is single.

This team is getting tired.  They are ready for the off-season.  And they are so sick of my loud, incessantly determined occasionally cheerful  ‘YOU’VE GOT THIS” voice. I’m sick of it.

I say, “Go!”  They say, “NO!”  Or  “Why?” Or “Now?” (with eye roll)

Go. NO. Go. NO. Go. NO. (you get the picture)

They like summer me.  I like summer me.  Let’s just sleep in and drink lemonade and go to the beach and listen to the birds and have ice cream and play badminton in the backyard and see how the day unfolds.  That is the best me. I miss her. She can be fun. She never is screaming, “YOU HAVE FOUR MINUTES TO GET YOUR BUTT IN THE CAR!”

I just found out on May 21st our family is supposed to be in five different places at the same time.  I want to vomit.

rah rah rah.

It’s the end of the school year and I know it’s spring and May flowers (oh yeah…I should put in some flowers)  and all that crap but I feel like I’m doing an army crawl, in the mud under the barbed wire, with all 3 of them on my back and we are draaaaaging ourselves to June 8th.

Wait, that was a military metaphor.  Mayday. Mayday.  See.  A distress signal.

Ok-back to sports.  I feel like we are doing one of those amazing teetering cheerleading pyramids.  Except it’s upside down, and I’m the single cheerleader on the bottom and I’m holding all of them up and their ripped end-of-the-year-getting-too-small-tennis-shoes are precariously balanced on my head.  And I’m supposed to be smiling.  With good hair. Full of hope.

June. Sweet June.  I’m going to do a double back flip in my shortest skirt and french kiss you when I get to you.

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Grief: If only it could be solved with 5 easy steps

I am grieving a recent loss. It is so fresh, I don’t want to write about the actual loss. It has been less than two weeks. The particulars are still too painful, too sharp and in this case I am feeling the ripple effect of watching others I care about hurting too. In some ways it feels like it happened today, and in other ways it feels like it was 18 months ago. I can’t yet talk about it with any true wisdom or articulation. It will take some time until that happens.

But I can write about the grief. The grief feels familiar.

People often say “It’s a fog” when they grieve. I have said these exact words. But it’s not exactly accurate in my opinion.  And I realize it is different for everyone and everyone has different circumstances and processes…but here is what I think it is…

Grief is not DABDA.  The whole 5 steps of grieving…I don’t buy it.  It’s not a straight line.  It’s a scribble.

Grief is a pair of binoculars.  It is a set of high magnification binoculars that are super glued to your face and brain. I would like to take them off but I can’t. Other people would like to take them off for me, but they can’t. 50% of it is a hyper clarity for the things directly in front of me. 20/10 vision. I am laser focused on few things and I can’t stop staring at them and ruminating on them and the other half, the peripheral vision is just gone for now. Completely missing-that’s the fog half.

Grief is an emotional brainwashing. I have developed a temporary emotional superiority complex as a result of grieving. (It feels familiar from my last loss) From some people I feel very separate. The concerns and laments of others seem trivial and petty and ridiculous. I know they are trivial for a fact because I was just that trivial, petty and ridiculous person a few days ago. Shallower and lighter and happier.  To other people I feel an intense closeness. People who are missing what I am missing. People who are fixated on my fixations. People who know. These are my people right now. There is a weird, sad, inevitable kinship because they don’t expect much from me and I don’t expect much from them. The comfort of low expectations.

Grief is a sniper. Just when you think you are fine, it sneaks up on you. It has been following you, watching you all along, waiting for an inopportune moment to hit. I remember ten years ago I crumpled onto the ground at the mailbox after receiving the LL Bean catalog. I had been doing fine that day and the sight of a chamois shirt sale had catapulted me into uncontrolled hysteria because the chamois shirt lover in my life was gone. I would not ever order another chamois shirt. I shook my fist in the air that day. Damn you LL Bean and your mean spirited catalog mailing. I’m sure I looked absolutely crazy. I felt absolutely crazy.

Grief is a teacher. While I was just dumb a few days ago busying myself with the absolute MOST inane details of life, I’m slightly less dumb right now. Temporarily. I couldn’t give a crap about the school fundraiser. I won’t have lunch with anyone I don’t like. I will read the extra book at bedtime. The laundry can pile up. The errand can wait. I will forgive the minor irritations and mistakes. It’s not worth it. It never really was. I will leave nothing unsaid. I will fast track some plans.   Do you want to know the only common thread that I have seen with people who pass away? They talk about their relationships. I have heard no mention of the time they got a promotion, the dream car they bought, the work, the stuff, the accolades, the disappointments.  It’s always about the people and the time they spent with those people. The people matter.  The people they loved. The people who love them.

Grief is 8th grade.  It is long and ugly and the only way through it is through it and eventually it will get better.  Like 8th grade, everyone is filled with useless platitudes about how to endure it because they simply don’t know what else to say.  So, soon I will be dumb again. The sadness will be replaced by the gratitude, by the memories, by the gift of a wisp of enlightenment that it gives me. I will fill up on telling old stories from old experiences and work on making plans and making new memories for new stories. It won’t always feel like an open wound. Other people around me will not be limping around with their own pain. Eventually it will be more like an old sports injury. It will flare up from time to time but won’t be a bother on a constant basis. It will slowly become part of my story, part of who I am, part of the new normal.

Go easy on the people out there in the world. Go easy on your family and friends. Go easy on yourself. Enjoy the tiny micro moments of happiness when they occur in the simplest form for they will sustain you through grief.

You either know exactly what I am talking about… or

someday you will.

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails and violent themed art projects: That is what boys are made of

Preface:  Before anyone freaks out and gets defensive or sensitive on her behalf or on behalf of girls-I have a daughter. I love my daughter and it’s an incredible privilege to have her and she is goodness and light but in my own limited experience it has been different raising a girl than raising boys. Different. I want to talk about boys because I’ve been thinking a lot about the raising of my boys. Look away if you don’t want to read it because it offends you.

Boys. I just love boys. Living with boys is like living with an overflowing bucket of puppies. Loud, fun, unpredictable. Like puppies, they require so very little to be happy. I can boil it down to one on one attention, food, decent tennis shoes and fresh air for my sons. A lot of the classic boy stereotypes that people talk about, complain about, warn about have proven true in my experience…

Like- DSC00367

There is high energy. There is bathroom humor. There is unabashed nudity. There is filth. There is the mysterious stench of the shoes/mittens/bedrooms/soccer bags/feet.

Pictured below: My son washing his feet to gain couch access. IMG_9033

They break my things.  Things that previously survived three generations in my family-undone in five seconds by one of my sons.  Below: Christmas ornament from 1970’s. Now garbage. IMG_4057

One uses a general clumsiness method to destroy family heirlooms, the other uses brute force and a penchant for flinging things through the air to destroy things. Equally effective. There is the requisite arguing with me about how they should be able to wear the  “nice warm up pants” to a wedding or to church or to a nice dinner. They leave wet towels on the bathroom floor and step over messes never considering the damage to the floor or the bacteria that might be multiplying. They bring me art projects that I do not understand.  My daughter brought me drawings of rainbows and butterflies.

Yesterday I got this: IMG_4062

I did the ‘good mom’ thing and said, “Tell me what is happening in this picture?”  (instead of what the hell is this?)  My son says, “Oh…See there are these guys in a garden with flowers and the guy on the ground got shot with a tranquilizer gun.”    Nice. Falling off of their chairs when someone else uses the word “balls” in a sentence happens a lot lately. Any sentence. Any context.  It is beyond the giggles…it’s downright mirth. Also on the “cannot be uttered list”: Nuts.   I’m serious. We can’t say balls or nuts anywhere close to bedtime right now. It can derail this entire household for over an hour. But I think a lot of the best in them; the very best things about raising boys have been things that nobody told me. It is their sweetness, their charm, and their easy humor. Their levity and how it brings out levity in others. My boys have very different personalities (what children don’t?) but they share those things I mentioned and it makes me better for having them. They are a pure and simple fun and they draw it out in me-they loosen the reins of control.  Oh…they probably stole the reins, tied them into an Albright Knot, lit it on fire and buried in the backyard. They get me to do things that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. Below: Ran a 5k in sub-zero temps.

Why? Why would anyone want to do this? IMG_2232

There is the old (and albeit archaic) saying, “A son is a son until he takes himself a wife but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life”. Okay, horribly outdated but the sentiment here seems to be that if you have girls they’ll visit you in the nursing home but if you have a son…he’ll be with the in-laws at that nursing home. So I guess if that holds true to any degree I’ll put in the time with the boys right now. I play the video games (and I really suck at it and they let me know). I play basketball in the driveway. I wrestle with them.

There is a LOT of wrestling.  Some of it is super hero wrestling. IMG_3061 IMG_9875 IMG_8045IMG_4060

I fish. I read to them. I play tic tac toe. I light things on fire with them. I listen to them recount their day at school.

The recollection of their school day is straightforward with little nuance. Bliss. We snuggle. IMG_3763

And I feel the urge to hug them and bite their faces out of pure love and awe for what God has made and let me borrow for a short while. And even in the happy I feel a tiny bit melancholy sometimes-they are just 6 and 11 and they have already been told to “walk it off”, “quit their crying”, “toughen up” “act like a man”.   Girls of this age are not told this. Society saves their “Get over yourself” messages for girls for adolescence…but with boys…it starts so early. Way too early and from too many different sources. When little girls do things that fall outside of traditional girlness (like prefer baseball to ballet) they just have girl power or are modern, independent, full of personality. When little boys do things that fall outside of traditional boyness (like prefer ballet to baseball) the world can be cruel. I have one son that just doesn’t get the intensity of sports. He can’t understand the competitive fire playing sports or the hype of watching them. It’s not his thing. He was on a 40-degree football field at practice one time (his rookie and retirement year all at once) and the coach told the boys to “dig deep.” I was watching from the warmth of my car and I had to laugh. Dig deep. He was 8 years old. Where was he going to dig? The worst things that had happened to him up until that point were either circumcision or eczema and I’m fairly sure he doesn’t remember the circumcision. It wasn’t much to draw on. I guess now that he is older I can tell him to ‘dig deep’ and he can recall the adversity he felt on the chilly football field.

In general, adults aren’t yelling at 8-year-old girls to tough it out and build some character. IMG_4058

I hope that I can cultivate their unabashed zest for life before the world beats it out of them. Before they walk it off. I can’t lie, I would love it if they were polite and used table manners and I toil toward that end (it is NOT going well-we just had to review the merits of wearing shirts to the dinner table) but I would love most if they just held fast onto their love of life. The way they are drawn to joy and relish fun with no concern with what happened before or what will happen after. Their days are full now with the richness of being present minded. It’s hard but wonderful and important to remember that our fathers, uncles, husbands, stepfathers, grandfathers, brothers, step brothers, half-brothers, neighbors, co-workers and male friends were boys. Boys.  They are all still boys with the spirit of a boy in varying degrees in each of them. So mothers of boys are a little nuts (see what I did there) because they see the spirit in their boy, no matter the age and they don’t want that spark to ever go out. And now I’m one of them. The crazies. Keep your sparks protected my beautiful sons. And forgive me world when I forgive them everything…because I will always be able to see the wild spirit of the boy because I was there when it all began. IMG_0945

Please send Botox~I have 12 more years of high school

Oh, Molly Ringwald…you still know how to break my heart.  You were on the Today show talking about the 30 year anniversary of The Breakfast Club. 30 years.  That’s how long it has been since I started high school.  Poignant timing Molly. Nicely done.

My first-born registered for high school this week. It was a new experience to sit back and watch her do it on her own…no parent login wanted or required. I took a picture of her while she registered. She said, “What are you doing???”  She is rounding the bend to 14 and I feel and hear the click of my seatbelt as I get into the roller-coaster that is high school.  I’m documenting dear girl- because I am in shock.

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When I was in 8th grade, I was shopping with my mother one day at Calhoun Square in Minneapolis and we were looking at Benetton sweaters. I remember because I was very fixated on Benetton sweaters in 1985.   Obsession.  I’m wearing a grey and cream mohair number in my 8th grade photo. I can’t locate the photo this minute so I spared you my unfortunate hair and the heavy aqua-green Clinique eyeliner on the inside rim of my eyes.  Good Lord.

Anyway, just outside the store, we ran into a friend of mine from school.  She was with her mother and grandmother. The mothers made the usual small talk, with my friend and I rolling our eyes at each other and when we walked away her grandmother said, “Oh, you girls are going to have so much fun. High school: It’s the best years of your life.”

We walked 20 paces just out of earshot, when my mother grabbed my elbow, faced me squarely and said, “High School is going to be great. It will be fun, but it is not the best years of your life. That is ridiculous. I know what she said, but it’s not true.”

It wasn’t her usual uplifting pep talk but she was right about high school and nearly (at last count) a million other things. There were some good times and some not so good times and it was four good years for me…but not the best four by any stretch of the imagination. Does anyone really think those were the very best years? Let me know if you did-I must have been doing something wrong.

As a teenager, I told my parents everything. I mean everything. No sugar-coating. If I knew you growing up, and you did or said something that fell anywhere outside of the lines, I told my parents what you did and they didn’t judge you nearly as harshly as I likely did. My parents had a very ‘open door’ policy which I have tried (am trying) hard to replicate but I am missing one critical element.

I need to work on my poker face.

My parents, particularly my mother, never flinched. Sometimes, (evil teenager tactic) I would tell her things in a dramatic way. Sometimes I would casually toss out little grenades while waiting in line for an ice cream cone or at the bank just to see if I could get a reaction. No. Complete doe-eyed and calm. Unflappable.  I remember one time I talked about cutting off all of my hair.  My mother said, “Well, it’s only hair.”  I didn’t inherit this skill from her and when my daughter tells me things I try to exude calm but I can already tell…I’ve said too much.

With my face.

Because I’m not just worrying about my daughter. I’m worrying about the kids she grew up with. I’m worrying about her friends. And the friends of those friends. And the friends of the friends of the friends.  And all of the kids that belong to my friends.  It’s a lot of people.  I really so desperately want them all to make it through adolescence in one piece physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. High expectations.  Unrealistic expectations.  I’ve already seen a decent amount of the texting activity and adolescent posts and comments on Instagram the last couple of years. Yikes.

Spend 6 minutes on ask.fm. It will make your stomach turn. It’s the updated version of a slam book but anonymous. Kids are bolder when they are anonymous.

I have some apprehension about the next four years. There is a saying “Little kids. Little Problems. Big Kids. Big Problems.” Maybe it’s because you think you have more control when they are little. They have less access to the world and vice versa. I’ve considered that it’s easier when they are little because I figure I might still have time to fix things I’ve screwed up when they are 3 rather than when they are 17 with one foot out the door.

The 80’s were a ‘simpler’ time as they say. Unlike as pictured above, a cell phone, containing a live feed of everything everyone else is doing/saying/posting/photographing did not always accompany me. If I didn’t get invited to something, it was 6 days until I found out, if ever. I logged some serious time on the phone after school but only with friends, people I knew well. I had no contact with kids from other schools or other grades that I barely knew like modern children do. I had no ‘virtual’ friends, only real ones.

I also spent a majority of my time outside of school at Minnesota Dance Theater in downtown Minneapolis. This allowed a distance from the school drama because I could retreat to my dance friends and talk about school/girls/boys with no repercussions since they didn’t know any of the players. Sometimes it made me feel like a bit of an outsider at school but that had pros and cons and now I believe mostly pros. I was in my twenties before I knew that there were drugs at my high school. Newsflash: Drugs were available in the late 80’s in suburban MN.  However, you couldn’t have gotten any from me, I wouldn’t have even known who to ask.

And- I think I was just so fortunate to have the relationships that I did.

I had some really good friends and many lifelong friendships that originated in high school. I was in hysterics at lunch every single week. I got kicked out of Psychology class for “excessive laughter”.   I cried many times-in French class.  Maybe everything seemed more hysterical because all I ate for lunch were french fries, cookies and pop for four years.  Sure there was some friend drama and minor disagreements but nothing that followed me into adulthood. I felt like I knew a lot of my classmates and their families really well. (Please don’t quiz me now…now I have to consult the yearbook and five other mutual classmates) My graduating class was about 380 people. She is going to a high school of 3,000.

I dated good, decent men.  Well, they were just boys back then.  Apologies if they are reading this and wanted to be characterized as dangerous or edgy.  Who knows…maybe they were but they were only thoughtful and considerate to me. They never hurt me in a long-term psychologically damaging after school special kind of way and I hope I never hurt them in that way. I know many people who had a relationship in high school that set them on a course that they could never seem to correct. They had been devastated at age 15 or 16 from a 90 day relationship and struggled to fully recover. I hope nobody hurts my daughter in that way. I hope she doesn’t hurt anybody in that way. She and I have discussed this quite a bit. I’ve tried to encourage her to tread very gently because these are fragile times even when people don’t appear very fragile.

I was/am not/never will be a big risk taker. I’m still waiting for my rebellion.  But there was still danger back in the day.  I was in more car accidents in those four years than in the subsequent 30 years and I didn’t even drive. I was at a football game in the fall of 1988 at Cooper High School wandering around in a big group of friends and some other kid (a spectator)  lifted up his shirt showing he had a gun.   Threatening a friend. Oh, and all the drugs…apparently. HA! Things seemed innocent then.  What are they like now?

School was just plain easier. My 8th grader has already faced more academic rigor and certainly more math than I ever did K-12. She probably had won that race by 6th grade. I was thinking about how I took Typing as a class in high school. Typing. By the time my brother got there 4 years later, it was called Keyboarding. My oldest son is in 5th grade. He finished up the keyboarding program before the first of this year. He’s done. They are coding.  We are living at warp speed.

The pressure on students today seems astonishing compared to what I endured. I had very little homework and even less competition with my classmates academically.  I’m less concerned about her academic performance going forward than I am about her mental state. Can she stay afloat? Can she manage the classes, the friends, the extra-curricular things, the testing, the competitive culture, the social media?

Can I?    Again, working on holding my expression perfectly still.

So I will enjoy now.  The sweet comfort of the known. Middle school.  Who knew that middle school would seem like a panacea?  In the fall, it feels like we are embarking on an amusement park ride starting at orientation and ending (ideally) with Pomp and Circumstance. So we are on this ride together. I’m just hoping it’s more like the Merry Go Round at the State Fair and less like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney.   And I hope she holds my hand the whole time.

And I hope I can conceal the fear on my face.

Go Ahead Hit Reply All-I Will Hurt You

On the long list (and growing) of modern inventions designed to make life easier/better/faster that in turn ruins our lives, at the top of my list has to be email.

I asked my husband what his emails look like on the worst days at work. He replied, “Hmm…maybe upwards of 300. That would be a pretty crazy day.”

300.  That sounds terrible. And none of those are from West Elm or Schoolhouse Electric. He doesn’t even know about West Elm or Schoolhouse Electric. And West Elm and Schoolhouse Electric, you better not tell him about what we have going on. You need me.

Aside from West Elm and Schoolhouse Electric and every place I have ever ordered from, tried to get a coupon from, given my email on a tiny slip of paper to and daughter companies of the above etc…the bulk of my emails originate from things relating to my children. I have 3 children that range from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Annually, they participate in school, dance, scouts, soccer, choir, orchestra, camps, church, birthday parties, etc. Emails come in every day from one of the above. Here are a few tips for organizations about sending out mass emails to me if you don’t want me to make fun of you:

  1. Don’t put ALERT, URGENT , PRIORITY, or IMPORTANT in the Re: line. You just got yourself an automatic delete. If it were truly any of those things…you wouldn’t send it to me in an email. Hey…send a carrier pigeon. That I would notice.
  2. Check your group email lists. If I have a kid in rec sports and you send me a bunch of crap about traveling. I hate you now.
  3. Don’t send me an email about something happening 8 months from now. I delete those too. You’ll tell me again at least twice or change the date.
  4. Quit asking me for money via email. I currently get emails asking for money from 1,2,3,4,5,6 institutions of higher learning…1 that has yet to yield a graduate from this house.  I love to support the organizations that are near and dear to this family.  Call me. I’d love to talk to a real human about it.
  5. Don’t send me a bunch of drivel that is already on your website or at least don’t contradict your OWN website. (That happens a lot)
  6. Don’t keep my name in some sort of email purgatory 4 years after we are part of your organization. I’ve unsubscribed. You keep sending stuff. I’ve broken up with you. Go away.

School is the biggest offender of email glut…out of necessity (3 kids, 3 grades, blah blah).  HOWEVER…Three types of email originate from school. I get weekly updates from (4-5) of the teachers and the principal. Our district often pats itself on the back for their wonderful communication. True, you could never claim they didn’t send you information. The are winning the volume war.  However, if there is a non-school day it means 5 phone calls, emails, announcement on the website, coverage on local media, coverage on social media.  I wouldn’t get that kind of coverage if I had a family member win a Grammy.  School is a bit trigger happy over there because there are many emails that require follow-up emails because of an error in the original email.  But again…good job school…if it crossed your mind you sent it to me and you could never say that you didn’t tell me.  I can’t find many of them because you sent me 20 emails when I was away for one week ( I counted) .  You win.

Second, special events emails from various district sources such as choir concerts, fundraisers, after school clubs, invitations to be part of this or that, volunteering opportunities, updates, summer classes,etc.  Great.  I write it down in my paper calendar because I am part Amish and because when my husband’s phone crashes I can laugh at him. Done.

Third, parent to parent emails to coordinate school events like classroom parties, book fairs, talent shows and the like. This last category is a problem. It’s a problem because despite the fact that anyone with functioning corneas can see 47 people in the group email list AND can see the specific instruction to “reply directly to me” they hit Reply All.    25% of the population hits reply all. I made up that statistic. It feels like 25%. On a light day.

Here is an example:

To: Jen, (and 15 other moms)

From: Poor sap who signed up to run this circus

Re: party donations

We need cups, napkins, water bottles and m&m’s.

Please reply to me and let me know what you can contribute.

Thanks!

(cute emoji)

————————————————————————-

Then all hell breaks loose. The rest of the inbox looks like this.

————————————————————————-

To: everyone

Re: party donations

I’ll bring cups. Do you want plastic or paper?

-b 🙂

————————————————————————-

To: everyone

Re:party donations

I think paper. Don’t you think? Also, do you guys have the hockey tournament this weekend? I could swing by and get them if you don’t have time. No problem!

-K

————————————————————————

To: everyone:

Re: party donations

No b..don’t bring cups. I already have some. I wish WE could be at the tournament but Susie has a dance competition.

(sad cat face emoji)    -Z

———————————————————————

To: everyone

Re:party donations

Oh thanks Z!  Ok…Should I bring plates then?  Let me know.

🙂  ~b

——————————————————————–

To: Jen (+15 other moms)

From: Poor sap who signed up to run this circus

Re: party donations

Thanks so much for jumping in ladies! Actually, the Andersons who own JUICE BARN have donated custom juice boxes with everybody’s name on them so we don’t even need cups!

Let me know who can bring plates.  We still need plates!

Thank you! (hearts, rainbows, unicorn graphics)

—————————————————————

NOOOOOOOOO!   I want that hour of my life back. Now I regret offering to bring something and have developed some frosty feelings toward a few people I haven’t met yet.

School moms…I do love you. I would not trade you for any other group of school moms on earth.  I know this because I have friends that are in other areas of the state and country that don’t have this team of people who could run a state or country if need be.   Many of you would drop everything and pick up my kid if I needed it and so I’ll bring the plates into perpetuity but I don’t want to discuss it in emails.

I could be wasting my time in dozens of other ways…like reading a blog about too many emails.

cc: Everyone

~Sometimes I need to stand on my head to see things clearly~

I went on a trip. (see blog post #5)   Update: The children are alive. I am alive. My husband is alive. A few things got broken while I was gone but none of them were bones.

It has taken me a couple of weeks to think of what to say about it and what I don’t want to say about it.

If I had to sum up my experience with one word it would be…Amazeballs.  That is not a Sanskrit word but we say amazeballs in our house often and it conveys the mood I’m after.

I meditated. I did yoga. As in, I took 11 yoga classes in 7 days. I ate delicious, healthy meals, that were delivered to me while I stared at the ocean. I got massages. I actually got a “I am a skeptical person but I’ll just push past it because this is a new-age type massage and oh sure I’ll just hang onto these crystals while you clang a gong in my ear massage”.  (highly recommend it)    I had acupuncture. I did Zumba. (this was more difficult for me than the crystals or the needles in my head. I have 0 dance ability when I have to follow someone else at a rapid pace)  I spent A LOT of time on this platform.

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I attended a full moon ceremony.

I attended a cacao ceremony.

I found a live sand dollar.

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I met some really lovely new people.  Some were in their 20’s and some were in their 60’s and it was  so much more enjoyable and interesting because of the age range. It felt like a multi-generational women’s slumber party and it was fun. We were so all so much more alike than we were different.

I had a chance to enjoy and appreciate some people who I already know. We had some good laughs.  I rode a horse on the beach at sunset.  I watched a horse ahead of me (carrying my friend) collapse onto the sand, crumpling from exhaustion at the end of a long day and I nearly peed in my pants laughing.  (The horse and the friend are both fine)

One day, my eyes were closed (while I was still awake) for six hours.   And apparently, I become a much calmer person when I do this.

I drank Mescal out of this and then I took the cup. Don’t tell.

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I danced. Wildly. If a video surfaces of this, I am denying everything.

I saw baby turtles hatch and walk into the ocean.

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I cried. I laughed. I wrote. I read part of a book. I didn’t miss reliable wifi. I didn’t miss text messages. I stopped importing emails. I loved leaving everything in my open air hut with no lock.  I relaxed into rotating my same 5 items of clothing.  (Turns out I didn’t even need my fleece socks that I brought in 88 degree weather) Everything fell away and the things that don’t matter really didn’t matter. I missed my people at home but nothing else.

I let my guard down. This was tougher than the Zumba.

I was thinking about what it is about travel that is so appealing. It is more than the sun, the lull of the ocean, the escape of daily responsibilities, the novelty of a foreign place.  Okay, the scenery was pretty incredible.

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But I think even more than that, it’s the perspective gained.  It is being able to take 5 minutes to resolve something that you have been trying to resolve in your head/heart for weeks at home.  Or to decide you are done with it altogether.  It is doing one thing at a time.  It is the indulgent 30 minutes spent on thinking about a dream, a plan, a possibility, a change you want to make.  It is the simple pleasure of having a conversation in its entirety.  It is the decadent hour spent on nothing but being.

I have been thinking about how once you are a ‘certain age’, you are surrounded by people and reminders of things you no longer do. I hear things along this vein daily.  Things that people used to do that they can’t do any longer.  The losses.  They used to ski but now their knees are bad.  They used to drive but now their night vision is poor.  They used to go out and hear new bands play but now they don’t.  Used to. Used to.  Then there are the losses of things that never happened. Things that they wanted to do but they can’t. Or think they can’t.  They wanted to go to Venice but now they won’t make it.  They wanted to live in a rural area but are stuck in a big city.  They dreamt of being a painter/doctor/singer but never thought they were good enough.  Maybe logistics or family or money or health or circumstances  or previous choices are standing in their way.  Maybe we all stand in our own way sometimes.

But for a week I was encouraged to do everything.  I can’t tell you how restful it is to be given a blanket permission slip to do everything or nothing with equal value placed on both.  Restful.  I was exposed to things I had never tried and surprised myself with this:

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Yeah.  That’s me.  I had no idea I could stand on my head.  I’ve never done it before and when the instructor asked if anyone wanted help trying it…the elderly woman behind me said, “Go on. Just try. You should.”  And it worked.

So that is what I am going to try desperately to hang onto at home…Life isn’t full of things I used to be able to do.

The world is abundant with experiences I haven’t even yet entertained.