I Know What You Did Last Summer

Well, it wasn’t quite summer, more like late spring, May 15th to be exact. It was an early Saturday morning, the morning of my daughter’s 12th birthday, we set out to the eastern end of Long Island, a healthy hour and half drive. The birthday girl and I headed on our venture because I had some loose ends to square away for work and didn’t want to leave her alone on her special day. Our plan was to get work done quick and then off to explore the quaint coastal towns with lunch and ice cream.

If you have ever been to the very end of Long Island, then you already know it is as if you traveled into another state. Farmlands with the lone house littered here and there, so very different from the suburbs of clustered population just a few towns over. It was while driving on a dirt road, we first saw him. A brown furry creature navigating his crossing. My initial reaction was to brake as we locked eyes through the glass windshield of my little sedan. When I hesitated, so did he, when I accelerated, he scurried forward. A few long seconds of negotiation took place until we both ultimately decided to just go for it. That dreadful moment I felt and heard a thump. My daughter and I screamed in horror, looking at each other in disbelief. Immediately I pulled over to assess the damage I have done to this creature. Panic took over as I realized that I in fact hit an animal.

When I got out to the car and crept closer to see if anything can be done, it was apparent that he was dead. I thought it could be a cat, fearing I have hurt someone’s pet, visualizing a family waiting by their front door for their fur baby that would never return with no explanation, but this wasn’t a cat. It was larger than a squirrel, a rabbit and a chipmunk. What is it?

My daughter and I went from the lone drivers on a dirt road, to a group on spectators pulling over and questioning me on what happened. What did I do? They all wanted to know. I rambled, “It was an accident. I swear. I have never hit anything in my life!” The looks from the car window, the front lawn screamed at me in disapproval. As if to say How dare you trespass on our land and hurt our creatures! Murderer! One woman hopped out of her pick-up truck and began examining the animal with her bare hands! Reaching in its groin area for a pulse. I would have thought the squished body and ejected eyeball was a dead giveaway (err no pun in intended). She identified the animal as a groundhog and declared him dead. A groundhog. I have never seen a groundhog before. I mean sure, every February on television and all, but not in real life. He was sort of bigger than I would expect a groundhog to be. I had no clue we even had groundhogs on Long Island. Well, we do, and now one less thanks to me.

The examiner lady soon brought me a box from her truck with a towel on the bottom of it. Yup, she works for an animal sanctuary and just has these things on hand in the back of her truck. She told me I need to take it with me to a wildlife sanctuary with specific instructions. “What? No, don’t we just call the town to pick it up?” I don’t mean to be insensitive here, but why I am going to drive a dead animal to a sanctuary? What is going on? The woman, ignoring me, placed the groundhog in the box and proceeded to go to my car. I suggest if she works there or volunteers, then she can bring it. I am not driving around with a dead groundhog in my car!!!

“It is the least you can do” she snaps at me placing the box in the back of my car.

I am explaining the story to my husband over the phone, my daughter is keeping a close watch on the box, just in case he springs out and attacks us and I am driving. I am driving with me, my birthday girl and Chester. We felt it would be appropriate to name him at this point, if he was going to get in the car with us.

We took him to his final resting place. We were terrified, saddened, guilty but also a touch of humor. Like, how did we get here? The day really got away from us at some point. My daughter thought it would be nice to say a few words, so we joined hands. I apologized for hitting him, I sent love and condolences to his groundhog family and wished him well in the afterlife.

So there, now you know. You know what I did last Spring. You know about my pal Chester, the groundhog.

Dedicated to Chester ?/?/??-05/21/2021

Burning My Money

I enjoy burning my money. I more than enjoy it, I love it. I love everything about it from beginning to end.

The moment I get a notification on my phone or a reminder in the mail the excitement begins. I carve out time in my schedule to be alone, grab my keys and just short of run to my car. The anticipation builds as I pause at each stop sign and stop at every red light. Although it would appear I am driving, I am actually transforming into a forensic accountant, reviewing a mental ledger of expenditures and expenses. I can make pasta an extra night this week and save some money there. The cable bill isn’t really due until the 27th, so I can pull from the budget there. All until I pull into a parking spot. The time has come. The heavy door swings open, providing a warm greeting paired with a stiff punch to the face of fragrance. I know I am in the right place.

My curiosities are peaking as I take in the new inventory. Each item neatly stacked, and color coordinated, appeasing my OCD tendencies. So many vibrantly colored jars adorned with beautiful metalic lids enticing me to open and take whiff. Will it be sweet? Savory? Light and airy? The bigger mystery, which ones will come home with me? What will I be in the mood for?

Why does the ritual to burn money bring me so much joy? Well, not actually burning money, but spending money on glass jars of wax and burning that. Well, not just wax, infused waxed. But not just infused wax, special infused wax. Wax with creative combinations of essential oils and spices. Wax so powerful it can evoke moods and feelings from within and burning that. Why? Why do I love this so much?

I do. I love everything about the process. I love reading the creative names and silly puns. I love the beautiful packaging, with solid, soothing colors or vibrant florals. I love the acknowledgement of holidays with scary black cats and pumpkins or striped candy canes and snowmen dancing about. I love testing out each scent, allowing my nose to take the lead with a deep inhale.

I love the placing them on their special shelf in my home, aligning them just right. I love dropping them in their holder for the first burn, the most important, allowing the wax to pool evenly. I love trimming the wicks and igniting them again and again. Setting them off to fill each room with a unique aroma, Mahogony Teak, White Pumpkin, Frosted Pine or Clean Linen. I love the twinkle of the amber flame and the shadows cast on the walls, the ambiance, the setting, the aesthetic.

And when my husband gets a glimpse of the bank statements, I love that I only need a one-word rebuttal.

FIREWORKS!

I love burning my money.

I Am Back

I am back! Am I? Well . . . I would like to be back. It’s been so long since I have drained my brain on paper (or keyboard), and it definitely feels necessary to me as a person to write. However, I feel rusty like the Tin Man, my knuckles squeaking and whining with each letter I press. Where is Dorothy with that oil can?

I poured some coffee and pulled up a chair to spend some time with my old self this morning. Reading through old posts of a mother isolated with her babies, in a financial hardship and desperately seeking for more. Each post had helped me become more accepting, patient and grateful as I wrote them. I miss her. I miss the woman who had an awareness and hopefulness. Her problems seem so simple now. Funny how that is. I suppose it shows growth and maturity for me as I stand today, and still at times, I miss that part of the journey.

Since I left, many of my problems were solved or improved. However, as I got everything I was wanting, I lost so much that I had. Life has been happening to me. I am just in for the ride with its unpredictable twists and turns and the frightening darkness and drops. I lost my armor of gratitude and mindfulness I once had. I now often get caught up in the conversation of my thoughts. Hearing the worrying and complaining all day. The insults and the reminders of what went wrong. So here I am, back to writing, back to vomiting it all up, the ugly that has been poisoning me. I am back to reminding myself who I am with all that I have. Back to getting into the driver’s seat of my life. Back to seeking the answers. Back to the uncertainty I have felt before, with new confidence that I have lived through difficult times. Reminding myself the woman from my past lives within. Reminding myself that I am strong. I am resilient. Reminding myself that I am a writer. So here I am. Back to writing.

I am Back!

Writing in the Rain

It is a summer evening in July. I snuck out from the children to sit on the front porch. One of my favorite places to be. Sporadic droplets of cool water prickle my skin. A light drizzle isn’t enough to shoo me away from listening to the birds chirp, watch the kittens pounce across the way and observe the clouds pass me by at a turtles pace.

Although its no Facebook, opening a window to the very exciting world of others. A view that can seem taunting. “Na-na-na-boo-boo. I’m having more fun than you.” The only action interrupting me are the cars that cruise by. Reminding me of when I was a child, sitting on my aunts lap counting the cars that passed or guessing which color might whiz by next.

An orange balloon rises above the trees. Must have broken free from a party or set free from a child’s grip. Either way, free and floating, being carried by the winds. I keep my eye one it until it is swallowed up by the clouds. Up, up and away.

Buzzing sounds of cicadas echo and break the silence. They are loud and persistent, as men can be.

Summer is in full bloom on Long Island, as we are as far in as we are out. My evening may not be exciting, yet its my definition of being happy. This is peace.

Who Decides?

The Where, When and What of being an adult and in charge of other living beings.

For my controlling personality, it seems a lifetime of being bossy, controlling, a ‘strong personality’ and a true Virgo has led me to this point in my life. My days are filled with minute by minute questions in which my decision making ability and authority is called upon.

What to buy? What to eat? What to wear?

Where to go? Can I have? Can I do?

After all of these years of fighting for control and now I don’t want any of it. I don’t want to be in charge. I don’t want to decide. I just want to sit down and have food appear in front of me. I want to be told what I will be doing. I want specific direction on how each day will be spent.

I surrender. . .

I am willing to accept things will not always be the way I wanted them to be. I am loosening my white knuckled grip on the reins of my life, allowing fate and chance to enter and decide.

I feel all, “Jesus Take The Wheel” gaining a new understanding of Carrie Underwood.

I am setting down the heavy baggage of self inflicted stress, worry and anxiety I have created by trying to remain in control. There it is, on the side of the road and off of my shoulders. For so many years I have been fooling myself in believing that I can have control. Wanting things to be right, to be to my liking, only to realize the secret. . . life is uncontrollable. My resistance is fading and I am learning to let life carry me like the waves of the ocean. Sometimes high, sometimes low, sometimes choppy and sometimes calm. Allowing myself to appreciate the times when its good and understand that it is a phase and will pass when its bad.

This realization has been such a gift to me. I use to feel like a worn out crayon found on the bottom of my children’s Crayola box. No more wrapper or pointed tip, just a nub. Until I learned to surrender. If I can get it all done. Great! If not, I get another chance at it tomorrow. There is always another chance to get the chores done, eat healthier, spend more time and accomplish my goals. Always another chance to work on being the person I want to be. Isn’t that just amazing – we all get another chance each day.

“Jesus Take the Wheel.”

The Pursuit of Happiness

 

A few years ago,  I was at a low point in my life. Every day felt like a fight and a struggle to get through. While raising my young children, I became so focused on being a mother and worrying about all of the things I could not change, I lost myself. In the midst of the chaos and stress, I became disconnected to the person I was and the person I wanted to be.

It was around this time I met a woman that would have a significant imprint on my life. Thinking back, I can see how we had just missed meeting each other earlier. However, it was inevitable our paths would cross. That’s really all that needed to happen for us to become instantaneous friends, as if we had known each other our whole lives. The first time we spoke on the telephone we talked for three hours! I was compelled to let my guard down and be honest and vulnerable, to share my worries and fears and my hopes and dreams. She too was in a place of discontent, desperate for change and growth. Through our hardship, we clung onto each other, setting sail to cross an ocean with hopes to make it to the other side.

Throughout our many conversations, it became clear on what I wanted from life and for the first time I wasn’t afraid to ask for it.

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Slowly, I recognized opportunity and change happening all around me. The dream that I yearned for would slowly become a reality. I was able to step into the person I wanted to be. The person I am.

We only get a handful of people in our lives that know you for who you really are and can still be loving and excepting.

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My best friend is without a doubt my soul mate. She was the mirror I needed to see what was holding me back and has continued to root me on and push me to propel forward. She is forever encouraging me to grow and follow my heart. My life will never be the same having met her.

The thing is, she too was lost and she too had a dream of a better life. Now, the universe has shown up to grant her the opportunity to step into the change she has been seeking for so very long. It is now her turn to pull her boat ashore, having crossed the ocean. 

I know in my heart, that it was no accident we met. It was no accident we both set out on a journey for change and after three long years we were both able to achieve it within months of each other. A soulmate encourages transformation. Neither accomplishment would be as rewarding if we did not both succeed. I raise my glass and tip my hat to you my friend, from the bottom of my heart, wishing you every single ounce of happiness you fought so hard for. ❤

Perhaps a little dramatic. . but i will miss the days when you lived close by!

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Running In a New Direction

Today I will begin running, as in one foot in front of the other, down the street, at a fast pace. I am always envious when I see a fit person on the run in my neighborhood, device strapped in securely by their armband, tangled up in earbuds, ponytail flapping side to side, their clothing blotched with sweat. There is a notion of freedom and empowerment these runners seem to possess. It becomes obvious to me they are in a zone, sorting out their thoughts, stomping on their worries and moving towards clarity.

Today I will strive towards this image, although I am quite sure I will be keeled over midway down the block, desperately sucking in air, feeling like the oxygen has suddenly vanished from planet Earth. My muscle will ache and my legs will wobble. I will have to remind myself that the image I seek begins by placing one foot in front of the other, on repeat.  Today is the day to start something new, to work on a small goal and be the person you want to be. Today I will begin running.

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We will pretend this is me. 🙂

Bittersweet Birthday Cake

From the second they place your newly born baby into your arms your life has changed. Not only because of the sleepless nights and endless diapers, but also because there is a person that you instinctively love more than yourself. I have received so much joy experiencing life through their perspective. Getting another chance to feel excited over the first snow fall or the last the day of school. Raising my children has allowed me to reminisce on my own childhood, to feel the magic I once believed in.

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Today my youngest child turned five. As I write it, I still cannot believe it to be true. It feels like the closing of a chapter that is bittersweet. No more toddlers running through the house with bad pronunciations and a desire to stay in the nude. No more little fingers pinching away at scattered cheerios, or toothless grins. No more wobbly feet desperate to walk and no more teeny, tiny hands grasping onto my pinky finger.

There are many things I will not miss from that era of babyhood through toddler-hood, but somehow those details fade to the background, slightly out of focus.

My youngest child is now five.

Now, here I am, navigating through parenting with their childhood fully bloomed, inflated with feelings of their self esteem, curiosity, stress, fear, ego, anger, just to name a few. As a mother, I feel as though somebody turned the parenthood dial up a few notches. There is more to it than just maintaining their life and teaching them not to bite people. I feel an innate urge to ensure they are each emotionally okay, despite the world of influences they face everyday when they step out over the threshold of our home.

“A mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child.”

An accurate statement loaded with stress and heartache, which cannot be avoided. I know that in a few years, when they cross over to the next plateau of their life, I’ll probably look back and think how easy I had it. Tears and frustrations will fade and I will be in amazement of how fast time is passing and how bittersweet it is that they are minimally in my presence.

However, today I am working hard to make sure they have a childhood they can recall upon one day to fill them up with joy and reminisce the magic they were able to experience when they could rely on their mommy to fix their mishaps and make them feel loved unconditionally.

Happy 5th birthday to my last born child.

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The Art of Gratitude

Do you know that feeling you get when you desperately need a new toothbrush? The bristles are worn and rough. Every morning you pick it up and think, I must buy a new toothbrush today! And every night you want to kick yourself for forgetting to buy one, even though you were in the store. Then, that special day comes when you are both in the store and remember that you need a toothbrush. Hallelujah! You walk over to the dental aisle and view your options, careful to select the right strength, bristle style and color. That night, you crack open the plastic, place the perfect amount of toothpaste on it, and brush your teeth. The new bristles massage your gums that have been so badly mistreated by your old, crotchety toothbrush. When you are done, you run your tongue over your teeth with the wonderful sensation of cleanliness. You can finally take the perpetrator out of your spot on the holder and sentence it to death by trash. There is a sense of joy that fills you when your new brush is hanging there proudly.

Gratitude can be more than just taking a few minutes to ramble out thoughts of the obvious things that contribute to your life in some way.

For me, I began to practice gratitude when I was at a low point in my life. I treated myself to a beautiful leather bound journal and began writing down things I was grateful for each night. Just as most people, my first couple of months entries were repetitive for the obvious things, health, family, food, a placed to live, employment and a vehicle. Looking back and reading through, I began to notice an evolution of my entries. Gratitude slowly began oozing into the crevices of my life, showing up in minor details. I can tell you the dates I bought a new toothbrush, opened a brand new bar of soap or watched the mail man deliver my mail in the pouring rain. I can tell you when I noticed a bird bathing in a puddle and how it made me feel. Reading through my journal I can tell you when I felt good in an outfit and when my egg omelet was cooked to perfection. I know all the times I was grateful for a good laugh with a friend and each time I hugged my children extra tight, looked into their eyes and told them how much I loved them.

Practicing gratitude has allowed me to observe my life in the moment I am living it. I find myself stopping throughout the day to feel grateful and happy for little details that I might have overlooked in the past, and for that I will always be forever grateful.

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It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log

The kids had a snow day on Friday and another one yesterday, making today a false Monday and putting an end to their four day weekend. Winter has officially hit Long Island.

The day began like any other weekday, some breakfast, packed lunches and snacks, strange outfits and running down the block while the bus patiently sits at the corner with its doors open, ready to swallow up reluctant children. The day is in full swing with lots to get done.

By the time the evening comes, I sit on the couch with a cup of coffee ready to relax, a reward to myself. Sometimes I make a mental list of all the little tasks that I was able to do and I feel accomplished. I sit there all “Carpe Diem” and “Zen-like” feeling proud of myself. You did a good job. There will always be more to do, but you chipped away at the ol’ block today! You owned it today.   It’s usually around this time it starts . . .

“Go to bed,” I say slightly above my typical speaking voice. I can hear pattering feet above me. I decide to make my trip to the bathroom a surprise inspection, popping my head into their rooms while they scramble like cockroaches to their beds and fumble under the covers.

It’s only a few minutes later, their little voices are carried throughout the house, usually giggling or arguing and lots of shushing one another.

“Get in bed,” I shout out, with hope that they will instantaneously feel tired and fall asleep.

Skipping over the dreadful details, the evening typically concludes with me explaining to myself, out loud, that I am not being unreasonable by asking them to go to bed. We did everything that had to get done, it was a packed day and now its time for sleep. Simple.

If the phone rings and I decide to have a conversation, not work related, not bill related, just a casual, shoot-the-shit phone call, I find myself every few minutes pulling the phone away to scream like I have a disease. I am forced against my will to frequently get off the couch to sort them all back into their correct rooms and beds.

Just a few of the things that fly out of my mouth almost every night.

  • I’m done!
  • I’ve punched out!
  • So much happened today. How are you not tired?
  • That’s it! You’re all going to bed a half hour earlier tomorrow.
  • Please just go to bed. Please.
  • Now you’re thirsty? Really?
  • GO PEE THEN!
  • It’s a school night and because I said so, that’s why.
  • The kitchen is closed!
  • NO! I have already tucked you in twice, now you’re on your own!
  • SLEEP!

Not sure what I am doing wrong here, but by the time they all settle down, I can’t even think straight. Any creativity to write or desire to read has been drained and I just sit there in shock.

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Right.