Just Get Away

I remember being hesitant when I read the email from my auntie asking me if I wanted to go in on a little beach house for a “girls only” weekend getaway.  My mind flooded with every reason why I couldn’t and shouldn’t go.  Who would take care of the day to day stuff around the house?  How was my husband going to handle being the only parent for 48 entire hours?  Who was going to do the dishes and wash the clothes?  Would he remember to give the animals their medicine?  I suddenly envisioned my daughter jumping up and down on the couches at 10 o’clock at night and eating ice cream all weekend…..and then it hit me.   I should be the one jumping on couches somewhere into the night and eating ice cream all weekend.   I needed to not be responsible.  I needed to not have to cook a meal, or wash a dish, or do the laundry.  I needed to be me, and not a mother, or a wife for two whole days.

We made it happen and three weeks later I was heading down to a cottage in Old Lyme, CT.  There was a short lived twinge of guilt as I backed out of my driveway leaving my not so enthused husband and daughter behind.  I had to chant to myself over and over, “You deserve this.  You deserve this.  You deserve this,” and after about thirty seconds, I embraced the mantra and really believed it.  The guilt was gone and I was determined to savor the next 48 hours of some uninterrupted me time.

As I pulled up to the cottage, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw one of my aunties come out.  It is such an incredible feeling to see someone you love so much so excited to see you too…someone that truly gets you and what you are going through on a day to day basis.  We are all moms, so the first words out of her mouth were, “forget your husband, forget your job and the kids…….this is our weekend.  It is about us and not doing anything for anyone.”

Done” I said.

And so it began.   We played games, drank wine, and shared stories about each other…….we laughed so hard that we cried, and we cried so hard that we laughed and decided we were not going to wait seven years to do this again.

There will always be laundry to do, and dishes to clean, but life is too short to live it and not love it.  You just need to get away.

The Best Advice I Never Got

At 38 years old, I find myself wishing that I still had my mother to make everything better and to give me her best advice.

I want her to kiss my forehead and tell me everything is going to be okay when I feel like it won’t.

When I have a bad day, I want to pick up the phone and call her and have her tell me it’s just a bad day, and not a bad life. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/IMPERFECTLY-PERFECT/236483019712520)

I want her to tell me to not over-think things because I’ll end up creating problems that weren’t even there in the first place.  (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Honesty-Open-Mindedness-And-Willingness/226695274007482)

I want her to validate my feelings and hug me when I need it, because even though I’m strong, I need my hand to be held every once in awhile too.

She won’t ever be able to do any of those things though because thirty- three years ago, she took her own life.   And the part of me that can’t fathom, as a mom myself, what she did, feels like she took a huge part of my own life with her when she left that December day in 1978.

But I can’t reach for anything new if my hands are still full of yesterday’s junk.  (https://www.facebook.com/possibilityoftoday)

All I can do is my best.  And when I find that piece of advice that my mother might have given me if she were still alive,  I share it.  And that is what Loving Karma is all about.  https://www.facebook.com/LovingKarma

Keep Smiling

One of my favorite quotes is by Gandhi; “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

In other words,  if I want to see more smiling faces, then I need to smile more.

But what about the people who don’t smile back?  Do I take it personally and wonder what the hell their problem is, or do I remind myself that it isn’t about me, it’s about them and their issues?  While it’s tempting to go with my initial thought, I don’t.

How do I know what is going through someone elses mind at any given moment?  Who am I to judge?  Why do we all tend to make assumptions about each other?  Is the other person automatically a jerk for not reciprocating a smile or could they possibly just have something else going on in their lives that is distracting them from the moment?

Maybe it is as simple as they just didn’t see me smile, or maybe they are struggling with something.  Maybe they are in deep thought about a recent diagnosis of a loved one, or replaying an argument in their mind that they just had with their spouse.  Or, they could be wondering how they are going to get by this week with just $4 left in their pocket and a family to feed.  There are millions of reasons why, and not one of them has to do with me.

So the next time you smile and someone doesn’t smile back, try not to take it personally and just keep smiling ; )

Appreciating The Inconveniences………..

Did you ever hear the story about the man who was late to work one morning because he had a blister on his heel that was so bad, that he had to stop at a store to get a band-aid?  That blister not only made him late to work, but it saved his life.  His office was in the World Trade Center and he should’ve been in the towers that morning of September 11, but because of his blister, he was instead at a local pharmacy purchasing band-aids.

I tried explaining this to my 6-year-old last week when we were on our way to my sister’s house, which is by the way, a haven for all of us.  Arianna had waited a full week to see her cousins and was soooooo excited that we were finally in route that Sunday morning, until, I realized, that I forgot the cheese and crackers that I was supposed to bring.  We were already half way there before it hit me and I had to turn around to go back for it.

Frustrated and crying in the back seat that our normal 20 minute ride would now become a 40 minute ride, she lashed out on me for forgetting what I should’ve remembered to pack in the first place.  My response, and I have to stress that I am not a religious person, was that it was God’s way of saving us from an accident.  If I didn’t think that way, then I too would’ve been frustrated and crying right along with her.   I then shared the September 11th band-aid story with her.

That’s kind of always how I’ve thought though.  But why do we tend to assume the worst?  Why can’t we just believe that everything happens for a reason?  Why can’t the slow person you are stuck behind on a highway during rush hour  be your guardian angel saving you from a tragedy?   Instead of getting angry, why not acknowledge that if they weren’t in front of you, that you would be going faster than you should be and end up somewhere that you shouldn’t?

I believe that my sweater which snags on the screen door on my way out and holds me up an extra 5 seconds is what saves my life from the accident that JUST happened as I pass it on the highway on my way to work that day.

If only people could smile and thank the 80-year-old in front of them who’s driving too slow instead of honking and passing them with their middle finger up in the air while spewing out profanities.

If only they could have patience and empathy for the 16-year-old behind the cash register who is doing things wrong because it’s their first day instead of scoffing and scowling because they need to be somewhere else……..

Life is too short to be wasted on frustration and feeling inconvenienced.  So the next time you’re in route somewhere, and  realize you forgot that special something at home…….turn around and be thankful for the inconvenience.  You just never know when it may save your life.

Placing Your Order

Lisa Nichols, a motivational speaker who was featured in one of my favorite movies, The Secret, said something on Oprah that profoundly changed me.  And for those of you who don’t know, The Secret is a movie about the Law of Attraction.  It is not just about understanding how the law works, but the movie explains how we bring about what we think about all the time.

There was an audience member who had asked the panel of cast members to explain better how it worked, and this was Lisa’s response;

If you were at a restaurant, and you placed an order, you would fully expect it to come to you that way.  That’s how the universe works.  You are putting out orders, consciously and unconsciously, and you expect it to come back.  So if you say “I’ll never have a great relationship,” then you just placed an order.  If you said, “Oh, I have the craziest family full of DRAMA,” then you just placed an order.  So look at it as you just placed an order at a restaurant and what do you want to come?

I think about that comment every single day, especially when I post something on Facebook.   I’m consciously asking myself if what I am writing is what I want to be ordering up.   And while I want to bitch about the person who’s yelling at the 17-year-old behind the register at McDonald’s for screwing up her order I don’t.  No buts about it.  I do not want more people bitching at other people showing up in my life. Instead, I want to share how grateful I am for the crossing guard named George who gave me flower roots to plant in my garden, and my friend Kate who showed up on my birthday this year to give me a bottle of my favorite red wine.  I want more sticky face smiles and kisses from my daughter, and a husband who will dance to shake off a bad mood.

So the next time your about to complain, think of Lisa Nichols, and order yourself something that you will WANT to come back to you, because like a boomerang, it ALWAYS does.

A Little More Me Time

Why is that we find it so hard to say no to other people and yes to ourselves? It took me 38 years of trying to please others, not always so successfully, before something finally clicked.

I was a yesser.  No matter what was already on my plate, I would  say yes to something else and someone else, out of fear of letting them down.    If there was a job to be done, and someone had to do it, why not me?    I was a stay at home mom.  I could do it.   I volunteered to be room mom for my daughter’s class, and said yes to running committees for the school PTO.  My  Mondays were spent helping out in the art room and Friday mornings in the classrooms.  I stepped up to co-lead my daughter’s girl scout troop.  And now that she was in school full-time, I decided to fit a part-time job in there too.  Add on the after school activities of swim lessons, brownies, and  taekwon do, and that left me just enough time to get the grocery shopping, laundry, and housecleaning done.  I was overdoing it for everyone else, and underdoing it for me.

After two years of stomach problems, requiring 4 prescription pills a day, I decided it was finally time to make a change.   And slowly it happened.  I started saying no.

I began scheduling things into MY life for ME that I wanted to do.  I went to a chiropractor and an acupuncturist on a regular basis.  I made a mandatory girls night EVERY week and promised myself a glass of wine at the end of each day.   Never before having the time to read, I splurged and bought myself a nook and got lost in the Outlander series.  Subsequently, my stomach problems went away.  I no longer needed those pills.  All I ever needed was a little more me time.

I met amazing people through all of those yesses, and have no regrets.  But now, if there is a job to be done, and someone has to do it, I can say with a smile and without hesitation, “why not someone else?”

The Four Agreements and Don Miguel Ruiz, Interviewed by Ellen Degeneres

I was going to write a story on this, but instead felt compelled to share this interview instead.  It was featured in the O Magazine from the October 2001 edition.  It is everything I wanted to say and more.  Remember to be true to yourself and enjoy!

http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Ellen-Degeneress-O-Magazine-Interview-with-Author-don-Miguel-Ruiz/3

Counting My Blessings

I never thought I would have just one child.  It had always been “my plan” to have at least two and they were going to be two years apart just like my sister and I.

My daughter had taken us nearly four years to conceive so I couldn’t believe it when I became pregnant right away the second time around.  And then it happened.  My first miscarriage.  Just as quickly as it came, my pregnancy went.  I had only been a few weeks along, and while I was sad, I still remained hopeful that it would happen again for us, and it did.

This time, I got to see my little peanut.  I can still remember laying on the table in my doctors office looking over at the black and white monitor and seeing the little heartbeat for the first time.   But two weeks later, I was back in that same office laying on the same table, looking at an empty monitor.  The heartbeat was gone and I had lost my baby again.

In life I’ve learned that some things are simply indescribable.  My miscarriage is one of them.  How can I put words to losing a life that I so desperately wanted?  The future I had always thought I would have was no longer.  We would be a family of three, instead of four.  There would be no brother or sister for our daughter.  I would have just one car seat, instead of two.

But that’s just it.  I HAVE one car seat.  I HAVE a family of three.  I HAVE a daughter.  And she is amazing, and she is healthy, and she is here.

For me, life is about choices.  I can choose to be sad and miserable over what isn’t, or I can choose just as equally to be happy over what is.

But that doesn’t mean I will ever forget.  This year my baby would’ve turned five and started kindergarten.  And while I will always, always count those birthdays, I will count my blessings too.

In Sync

What do you call it when two sisters, who aren’t twins, do everything as though they were?

For instance, today, I picked up the phone to call my sister and on my end, it didn’t even ring.  I simply heard nothing, and then a click, and then, someone was dialing out.  And then, silence.

Me to my sister; “Jenny???……. Hello?”

Her to me; “Andie????  That’s weird.  Your phone didn’t even ring…..I just called you.”

Me, “No, I just called you,” and we both started to giggle.

We do this to each other ALL the time.  We’ll set a time to meet up somewhere and both pull into a parking lot at the exact same moment.  Or, we show up at each others houses wearing exactly the same clothes.  We have even gone to a friends barbecue wearing  identical  sundresses that each of us had bought a few days prior but neither one of us knew about.  We can finish each others sentences and think the same thoughts.  Sometimes, I’ll be about to say something and she says it right as my mouth opens to form the words.  We laugh at the same things, yawn together, and sigh out loud in sync.  When we’re listening to a song, there will be a verse that we simultaneously belt out together and smile.

My brother-in-law calls it freaky.   I call it bliss.

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.