The Balloon

For my daughter’s fifth birthday, she wanted to have some of her friends over to our house, instead of an alternate location for her party.  We were going to have the usual pizza, cake and chaos.   Of course, there had to be balloons…lots and lots of them.   They couldn’t however, be just the regular blue or green rubber type balloons either.  They had to be the shiny character mylar ones.

I can still remember standing in the dollar store with her the night before looking at all of the different designs and trying to choose which ones she liked best.  It was insanely windy outside and I wondered how in the heck I was going to get ten balloons to my car, never mind INTO my car in the middle of a storm.  The only people who can empathize with that situation, are the people who have actually had to shove multiple helium balloons into their own cars.  It’s a fine balance of pulling and pushing and shoving without popping, and praying to God that one doesn’t suddenly get sucked out of your car taking all the other ones with it.  Throw a kid in the backseat, add a windstorm, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

She had finally chosen her favorite – the Winnie the Pooh and Friends balloon where they were all wearing birthday hats.  She wanted to  make sure we bought ten of them so each of her friends would be able to take one home after the party.   But when we got the attendant to come over so we could place the order, he told us that they were all out of the Winnie the Pooh ones.  Devastated and crying, Arianna settled on green frogs.  They weren’t the prized Winnie the Pooh balloons, but they would do.

After surviving the gusts of wind in the parking lot, and getting the balloons safely into our house, I put Arianna to bed and got to work on the party favors. The house was finally quiet and my mind began to wander.  I thought about the significance of this birthday.  My fifth birthday was the last birthday I celebrated with my own mother before she passed away.  I wondered what she would look like if she were alive today.  I wondered, if she could see me sitting on the floor of my living room surrounded by mylar green frogs.  And I wondered, if she were alive, what she would’ve gotten her little angel Arianna for her own fifth birthday.   In mid thought, the lights flickered over my head, and I felt something different.  Peace.  Quiet.  Joy.  Contentment.  I can’t explain it, but I just knew she was there sitting with me, listening to my thoughts amongst the green frogs.

After tying the last balloon to the goody bags, I went to bed only to be woken up 3 hours later by a crying and feverish little girl.  We set up a makeshift bed on the couch at two o’clock in the morning, and waited for the sun to come up.  Instead of pizza, cake and chaos, it was going to be a day of saltines, popsicles, and reruns of Oswald.

Around eight o’clock that morning, on her actual birthday,  I looked outside in my yard to see sticks, branches, and other debris strewn everywhere from the storm the night before.  But there was something else.  Something shiny and round that stood out like a sore thumb……..a mylar balloon.  I slipped on my shoes to go get it.   I remember walking towards it thinking that if that balloon said happy birthday, I was going to fall over.  Well I fell over.  And I cried.  There in front of me hovering maybe in inch above the ground, was a balloon filled with just enough helium to keep it from touching down.  It was the EXACT Winnie the Pooh and Friends balloon where they were all wearing birthday hats that she had so desperately wanted at the dollar store the night before.

To anyone else, that balloon would’ve been just another piece of debris……..another piece of garbage that blew into their yard from the storm.  But to me, that balloon was a hand picked, wind strewn surprise, sent from heaven for a special little someone who was turning five and sick on the couch.  My mother, I believe,  came through loud and clear.  She wanted to make sure, as all grandmas do, that her little angel got exactly what she wanted for her birthday, party, or not.  And even though we were able to celebrate Arianna’s birthday the following weekend with all of her friends, her actual birthday itself turned out to be one of the most special and memorable ones yet.


Karma Dances…..This Much I Know

Bryan and I began dating back in 1998 and I can’t remember how “our dancing thing” started, but I do remember the first time I did it to him which was over 10 years ago.

We were on a date at The Outback Steakhouse on the Berlin Turnpike and had just finished dinner.  While walking back to my car and laughing about something in the parking lot- it hit me, and simultaneously hit him too.  MUST.  LOCK. HIM. OUT!  I don’t know who started running first but Bryan knew he had to stay close behind if not beat me to my car to save grace.  I however got  there before he did!  If I was successful in getting into the car and locking him out, then he would have to dance to get back in.

I fumbled quickly with my keys to unlock the door and had made it into the drivers seat. I grabbed the handle and tried to pull the door shut,  but not before he dove head first across my lap with his feet kicking out behind him.  Tears were streaming down both of our faces as I was trying to shove him out, but his death grip on the gear shift just wouldn’t allow it.  After minutes of this, and our stomachs hurting from laughing so hard, we both gave in.  No one had to dance that time. As we buckled up and rolled the windows down, we heard snickering coming from the parked car next to us.  Apparently, we had an audience for the whole thing.

This carried on into our marriage.  It was what we did for fun.  But it was also what we did when the other one was really pissed off about something too.  How could you stay mad when you had to do the cabbage patch or running man in front of total strangers?  Bryan would get me at a gas station.   I would get him at Target.   He would get me on our doorstep at home.  I would get him at the pizza place on the way out.  It was a way of life.  It was a way of our life.

When we had our daughter in 2004, we bought a video camera because I wanted her to have great memories of her childhood.  I would video tape everything; the cat, the dog, Christmas morning, birthdays, holidays, and yes… locking her father out of the house and car and making him dance to get back in.  I had actually gotten Bryan on video dancing 4 separate times in over a year.  While it truly all was for her, I couldn’t resist submitting the tapes to America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Our love for embarrassing each other had paid off.  Our clip was named, “The Dancing Machine,” and we took first place three consecutive times on AFV.   We won over one hundred thousand dollars and 48 years of vacations through the Disney Vacation Club.

The better it gets, the better it gets.  Two years later, we were contacted by the Oprah show, as they were doing a special on America’s Funniest Home Videos, and wanted us to fly out for the taping.  Bryan actually danced for Oprah on her stage because Tom Burgeron asked me to make him do it again.

Dancing, apparently, is good for our Karma.  And with 48 years of vacations……..let’s just say we’ll be dancing all the way into our eighties.

My Ladybug Surprise

A few months ago, I read a book by Signe Pike titled “A Faery Tale, One Woman’s Search for Enchantment In a Modern World.”   I had learned of the book from Marianne Williamson who had posted it as a recommended read on her facebook page awhile back.   The book itself is about a woman who travels the world in search of proof of the existence of fairies while making little discoveries along the way.   Somewhere in between Mexico and Scotland, Signe is hiking with a native of the land who teaches her about respecting the earth.  If there is a beautiful rock, or feather, or a pretty pinecone, you should ask permission before pocketing whatever treasure you find.  But more importantly, you should be thankful for the treasure, and appreciate it’s beauty and where it came from.  The belief is, by acknowledging and appreciating what you are taking away from the earth,  you are respecting it.  To take something without thought for your own purpose or pleasure, without acknowledgment or appreciation was disrespectful.   Basically, it’s like karma.  Respect = Good .  Disrespect = Bad.

After reading A Faery Tale, I made a mental note to start being more respectful to the things I found and before I would take whatever little treasure the earth had to offer, I would say thank you.  If thanking the earth meant better Karma, then thankful I would be. To me, it’s simple.  Karma is like luck.  I believe we create our own luck, and the better we can make our own karma, the luckier we become.  Who wouldn’t want a little extra of the good stuff in life?

I thought of this two days ago, when I was on vacation with my family.  We decided to take the kids over to Rose Island off the coast of Newport, RI, where there was a lighthouse you could tour and walk to the top.  We had to take a  ferry to get there, but it wasn’t a direct ride over.  The ferry ran all day hopping from one location to the next.   When we finally got off the boat and onto the wobbly dock, we were told when we were ready to leave the island, to put up the yellow flag 15 minutes before we wanted to go.  That way, if people were enjoying themselves, and wanted to, they could stay longer than the usual hour or so.

Touring the lighthouse only took us about 15 minutes.  It could’ve taken longer, but when you have a four year old and two six year olds, attention spans cut short real fast.  Of course, I then had to take advantage of the photo opportunity and get the kids together for a quick picture.  Except, taking pictures has never been a quick thing.  I am obsessed with getting that one good shot.  Even if I have to take fifty of them for it.  The kids?  Let’s just say they’re not so obsessed.    It went something like, “Say cheeeeeeeeez!  Nope, Arianna’s hand was in front of her face.  Try again.  SMILE GUYS!  Ugh, Connor wasn’t looking at the camera that time.  One more – this time say CHICKEN BUTT!  Hmph!  I have to take another one- Autumn’s eyes were closed.    Come on guys….let’s try this again! Will all of you just LOOK AT THE CAMERA AND SMILE!!  PLEASE!”  The kids were done with the pictures before the camera ever came out of the bag.  I did however, finally get a good one, so we decided to head back for the ferry.

But before throwing the yellow flag up to leave, we wanted to let the kids climb some really cool massive rocks on the beach.  It was on our way over there, when I looked down to find millions and millions of beautiful seashells beneath my feet.  Before I knew it, my fingers were plucking away and I had over fifty shells in my sweatshirt pocket.  I was starting to fill up my other pocket when it suddenly hit me.  The little voice in my head said, “You forgot to ask.”  So I did.  In my head of course.  I didn’t want anyone thinking I was some crazy lady talking to the beach.

I thought to myself, “Rose Island, these are some of the most beautiful seashells I have ever seen.  May I take a few?”  No sooner did I finish the thought when I looked into the palm of my hand, searching through more broken shells when I saw it.  A ladybug!  A ladybug had flown into my hand onto the pile of seashells I was holding.  The funny thing is, there were no other bugs flying around anywhere, and it was so windy that I don’t know how it could have landed in my hand.  I can’t recall the last time a ladybug landed on me, but I’ve always believed they were good luck!  And since I don’t believe in coincidences and I do believe in karma, I’m pretty sure my respectfulness and appreciation brought her to me.

So next time you’re walking the beach, around the block, or hiking a trail, and you find a treasure, don’t forget to show your respect.  You just never know what good may come from it.

A Karmic Surprise

Vacationing itself is bliss.  Vacationing with your sister and her family who you love as much as your own is even better.  Unexpectedly running into your best friend from middle school and her family in the same resort who you haven’t seen in years is insanity.  How does that happen?  What stars align themselves to make that all possible?  Is it because I appreciate the people in my life so much, that the universe says, “well, since you’re having so much fun with your current friends, lets re-arrange some things to give you an unexpected friendship karmic surprise!”  Yes…..that is what I believe.  I believe that all dots are connected.  I believe everything happens for a reason.  I believe that in the hustle and bustle of life, we get caught up in the “things” we “need & have” to do, instead of finding time for the things we would “love & want” to do. But my karma somehow found a way to give me the love and the want without the hustle or bustle.

I was having some mommy time in my room with my nook, while the rest of the family went downstairs for a swim.   It wasn’t too long after that when my sister came up from the pool and said, “You’ll NEVER guess who I just ran into!” and then proceeded to tell me it was my best friend from middle school.  That turned into an amazing, unscheduled and unplanned trip to Goosebury Beach in Newport, RI with all of our families the very next day.

We set up our blankets, and umbrellas, slathered sunscreen on ourselves, kids and husbands too and parked our chairs next to each other talking the afternoon away.  We laughed about old times, and cherished the new. We couldn’t have planned it any better.

Some people say karma is a bitch, but for me, it has always been a blessing.  I believe that the better it gets,  the better it gets.   And the more you appreciate the good in your life, the more life will give you things to appreciate.  Karma is a wonderful thing when you least expect it.  Maybe it will surprise you too ; )

20 Things to Stop Doing to Others (via My Strong Medicine)

Another amazing article I had to share!

20 Things to Stop Doing to Others There is one key factor that can either damage your relationships or deepen them.  That factor is your attitude.  If you’re hoping to grow and maintain positive relationships in your life, read on.  Below you will find a 20 step attitude adjustment guaranteed to help you do just that. Stop holding grudges. – Grudges are a waste of perfect happiness. Stop complaining. – Instead, use your time and energy to do something about it. Sto … Read More

via My Strong Medicine

Things to Give Up Today (via Imagine the Spirit)

A little inspiration for today…….each and every quote resonated with me……maybe just one will touch you too ; )

Things to Give Up Today When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you. So starting today… Give up trying to be perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.  Read Getting Things Done. Give up comparing yourself to others. – The only person you are competing against is yourself. Give up dwelling on the past or worrying too much about the future. – Right now is the only moment guar … Read More

via Imagine the Spirit

happiness is…….

being on a beach with your most amazing friends, sitting in the short little half chairs that you fall off of when you go to sit into them .  It’s eating half covered in sand laughing cow cheese and ritz crackers, sharing organic coconut macaroons that you pay $7 a bag for but think, “what the hell, I’d pay this much in ingredients just to make these from scratch anyway” macaroons, cheetos that stain your fingers orange but you don’t care because sand doesn’t care if you get orange in it the way your couch would care at home.  It’s dusty toe rings and sandy legs with wind whipping hair from the breeze coming off the ocean.  It’s random strangers who tell you that your umbrella blew away while you were taking pictures by the water with your girlfriends, so they chased it down the beach knowing that if it were their umbrella, that they would want you to do the same, and you would.

Videos That Move Me

If you want to know what a true hero is…….

I received this email years ago and it’s one of those stories that you will never forget.  I hope it moves you as much as it moved me.  Please read and then watch the video link at the end.

An inspirational story with the actual footage to follow……worth the time Dick and Rick Hoyt.

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.
But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he’s pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he’s not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars–all in the same day.

Dick’s also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much–except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

“He’ll be a vegetable the rest of his life;” Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. “Put him in an Institution.”

But the Hoyts weren’t buying it. They noticed the way Rick’s eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. “No way,” Dick says he was told. “There’s nothing going on in his brain.”

“Tell him a joke,” Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? “Go Bruins!” And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, “Dad, I want To do that.”

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described “porker” who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. “Then it was me who was handicapped,” Dick says. “I was sore For two weeks.”

That day changed Rick’s life. “Dad,” he typed, “when we were running, It felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!”

And that sentence changed Dick’s life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

“No way,” Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren’t quite a Single runner, and they weren’t quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, “Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?”

How’s a guy who never learned to swim and hadn’t ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they’ve done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don’t you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you’d do on your own? “No way,” he says. Dick does it purely for “the awesome feeling” he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992–only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don’t keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

“No question about it,” Rick types. “My dad is the Father of the Century.”

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. “If you hadn’t been in such great shape,” One doctor told him, “you probably would’ve died 15 years ago.” So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other’s life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father’s Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

“The thing I’d most like,” Rick types, “is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.”

now here is the video……