Sunday, May 14, 2017

A letter to my Mother on Mother's Day

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Today is Mother's Day. Over the last few weeks, as I strolled through boutiques during my trip to Virginia, I stumbled upon Mothers day gifts and cards. I let my hand touch them, feel them, stopping  for only a few  seconds to think of you. I didn't dwell long as I knew the tears would come, like they are now. 

During this trip, I looked out my brothers kitchen window each morning and saw the many cardinals that flew in to feast on the bird seed my sister-in-law put out for them. And I thought of you.

Emily Dickenson note cards spoke to me in a gift shop that sent me a message about writing, that I must write and keep writing and I knew you were there telling me to start writing again.

I sat next to your first Grand Daughter on the plane to Virginia, on walks through beautiful gardens and historical sites and I thought of you.

I watched this same young woman try on wedding dresses a few weeks ago and I was there when she picked the "one." And I thought of you.

This past week our family lost our fourth Grandmother in two years, since you have died. And I watched my nieces cry more tears, tears that would never seem to stop. Their sad, beautiful faces feeling another loss , of another matriarch  they grew up with. The memories of losing you too, being far to close in our hearts that the grief is not gone and the healing not fully complete.

As I sat in funeral home next to your Grandson hold his son and trying to keep him from fidgeting, I couldn't help but think of how proud you would be of your family. They have all grown up to be such amazing people.

No, we are not movie stars or famous surgeons, But loving, ordinary people , that help one another.

Your Son got up and said the opening words at his Mother-in-Law's wake. He stumbled and cried through a lot of it, but he got through it. Brave, strong and with a big heart - as he has so many things in his life.

Your Grand Daughter Shelby, got up and also said some moving words, she did a great job and she has supported her Mother through this whole week. You would be proud of her , I am too.

As I sat at your sons house watching his wife struggle through all the needed arrangements , holding back the tears and at times, not knowing what to do - I thought of you.

I looked at Shelby as she was putting together the picture boards for the funeral home and I said - "What would Punky say right now?" 

I know what she would say - she would tell us that everything will be ok and we will get through this together. And so, I got up and hugged by sister-in-law.

My heart has not fully healed since December 10, 2015. I know this. But the days are getting better.

I recently saw a movie on Hallmark where two families lost their spouses. And one of them says " a part of me died with them."  A TV show articulates something I have been feeling but couldn't quite put into words.

And that would be true. I have felt that way for a very long time. 

But as we celebrate this day, I know I must begin to start living and celebrating you. As hard as that is. 

The you who grew this beautiful family with all its quirks , the you who wrote eloquent essays on nature and family, the you who could cook those delicious comforting meals, the you who lent a helping hand to those that needed it and the you who was and still remains my best friend.

Love you Mom


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Authentic Happiness

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I reunited with a favorite book of mine this morning, Simple Abundance by Sara Ban Breathnach - a find from a friend long ago. It is a book of daily musings and inspirations . This book has been my companion for so many years giving me comfort and thoughts to ponder on my life's journey. In fact, this book has meant so much to me that I have given it as gifts to friends on so many special occasions.

I flipped to a random page that happened to be in July. The subject was living a life of dreaming or expectations, so timely for me as I ponder the next few years of my life. On those pages, I once again found solace. You see, I am a driven person, always reaching for my goals - or "another mountain" as my Mother used to say. However, at this point in my life, yes, I want to always be creating and exploring things in this wonderful world we live in - but I don't want to "strive" so much anymore. And by that I mean beating myself up for not reaching a goal right away or not achieving some of things I thought I would at this point in my life.

I am way too hard on myself with some very high expectations. I have always been this way. But I feel at this chapter of my life, it's time to change. It's time to dream yes, and put effort into those dreams, but perhaps the end goal isn't so much the expectation I have when I get there..but the happiness that comes from just "doing " those things that make me happy.

Being authentically happy with myself and my life is really is what is of utmost importance to me right now.

Oprah Winfrey talks about one of her favorite books by Gary Zukav,"The Seat of the Soul"... and how she learned to start leading her life with intention. I know understand what that means and I intend to live an authentically happy life, whatever that means to me.. whether its taking a cooking class, learning to use the camera my Mom bought me so many years ago, baking, publishing, writing, teaching.. I intend to live a life that isn't full of continuous striving - but full of authentic happiness - for me.

Books are an amazing source of inspiration to me - they teach me, they inspire me, they comfort me and they help me grow into being a better person than I was yesterday.

Thank you Sara, thank you Oprah, thank you Gary - for being the teachers you are and giving us your gifts.

Love and Light,

Friday, March 10, 2017

A Friends Visit at 3am

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I have been so touched by this since the day it happened that I truly needed to share it. You probably think that this would be a story of a friend who knocked on my door unexpectedly out of the clear blue.

But no , that isn't what happened.

A long lost lover ?


Instead this is a story about true friendship, love , caring.

Last weekend I came down with THE WORST stomach flu that I can remember. It came out of nowhere after having a wonderful evening with a dear friend of mine downtown.

I literally threw up almost every hour starting at 9 or 10pm. I had the chills and I was sweating all at the same time. My cats had no idea what was going on!

I tried talking activated charcoal with some applesauce as I swore this was food poisoning!

Well, that didn't work so well!

I drank some water to keep hydrated and that was the wrong thing to do!

By the wee hours of the night, my body was truly exhausted and I started to feel faint.

Yet, my stomach just kept on with it's violent attacks.

For the first time in my adult life, I was afraid to be alone , fearing that in fact, I would pass out , I felt that sick. What would happen if I did pass out? Would I hit my head? Who would find me? What about my cats? All these fears kept racing through my mind.

I called for help. And my girlfriend Angie - answered right away.

I could only stay on the line for a brief moment as my stomach once again raged on.

I crawled from the bathroom to the kitchen and made it to the door to unlock it for my friend to get into the house.

She arrived somewhere between three and four in the morning.. I can't recall.

And she sat with me . We watched HGTV and commented on which house the person should buy.

She brought me some water as I threw up yet again while she was there.

Finally, through sheer exhaustion. My eyes drew heavy and sleep was calling.

And my girlfriend continued to sit with me.

She sat with me until she knew I was going to fall asleep and that it was safe to go.

I did sleep, not for long, but I did.

The stomach flu continued its ugliness through the next few days, but my heart was so full of gratitude and love for my friend.

I will never forget this act of kindness in the middle of the night, when fear gripped my mind.

I am crying as I write this for the love my friend showed to me. Truly I will never forget what she did for me.

Sometimes all we need is a friend.


Friday, January 27, 2017

" You think you Have Seen Her Naked?"

Such a great title isn't it? It definitely captured my attention!

My sister found this and posted it on Facebook about a week ago.

As many of you single women out there in the sea of the dating world know- yes, I am with you out there as well, we yearn for a man to see us for who we truly are , not just for our physical appearance.

We yearn for them to look into our soul and fall in love with that woman , the girl that still lives inside despite the number on her drivers' license, the woman who is busy taking care of her kids and family and at the end of the day fall's asleep on the laundry room floor from exhaustion, the woman who is struggling to get her degree and work a job at the same time, the woman who sometimes doesn't have time to put makeup on, the woman who takes an hour and half to get ready for that special dinner you are taking her to, the woman who really wants to fit into those size 6 jeans but is still hovering at size 14 and enjoying the delicious plate of pasta!

I have been out in the sea of dating for quite some time now. Each date I go on, I learn something about myself and something about the person I am with. My perspective on people and dating has evolved and grown over the years. I look at relationships on a more spiritual plane now - not a religious plane - a place of connectivity and love of the soul, not solely based on looks. Don't get me wrong, I love handsome men! They are truly yummy! And my girlfriends laugh at me every time a hot guy walks by us in a restaurant and I can't help but stare and wonder!!!!!  Hahaha!

But life is so much more than that. And what we send out into the world, comes back to us for sure- so ladies don't judge men based on looks alone, they are people too, with quirks and life lessons learned of their own.

And so, no matter how many dates that I go on, and how many different men I have met over time - I think this poem sums it up for me.

Do you really see me for who I truly am?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Dawn of a New Day

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I have been waking up extraordinarily early over the last few months. Way too early if you ask me, around 5:30 am and sometimes 4:00am. It makes for a very long day for sure.  But one of the parts I love about this quiet time in the morning is the chance to see a new day arrive.

As I sipped on my hot coffee and looked out my office window, I can see the street light still aglow  as the darkness begins to turn to light. It happens between 7 and 7:30 in the morning , the time I normally get up, after the dawn of the day has already arrived.

There were days when I was so frustrated that I would be awake at the wee hours of the morning,  knowing I had a full day ahead, but then something came to me, "It's the Dawn of a New Day." I smiled and was comforted by this thought.

You see, my Mother's name was Dawn and now as each morning arrives and I wake up with my eyes barely open , I smile between 7 and 7:30 in the morning. I miss her every day. Not a day goes by that she isn't on my mind.

So now I celebrate each new day with her as the sun comes up, knowing that she is with me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Call of Creativity, a Loud Whisper from My Mother

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It's been a really long time since I have written a blog or written my Morning Pages. In fact, it feels like it has been a really long time since my heart and my zest for life has shown its courage to once again, come out of hiding. The day my Mother died , December 10, 2015 was a day of exhilaration in the morning hours and a day of utter despair in the afternoon.

You see, I was given an incredible opportunity to speak in front of an audience of about 60 people for a major corporation in town regarding wardrobe styling for the workplace. I was thrilled beyond measure and scared to death at the same time. My Mother helped me in any way she could by giving me encouraging words each day leading up to the engagement and in fact, she helped me out financially as well when I was to come up with some cash for the outfit I was to wear .

My friends were going to be with me as models for various work attire, so I knew that my "sisterhood team" was there to support should I utterly fail miserably!

The day before the presentation I was in a meeting at a job I had just started and my Mom called to say, everything was all set - she had paid for my outfit and I didn't need to worry.

I thanked her , wanting to cry , knowing my Mom was always there to support and encourage me whenever I decided to climb another mountain in my life.  I couldn't cry because I had to go back into a meeting, but my heart was content knowing my Mom, once again was by my side and my friends would be surrounding me.

As it turns out the presentation went really well and I felt at home on that stage in front of so many people. I was surprised and shocked at that fact , but somewhere deep in my heart, I knew I was destined to inspire others no matter what the topic.

I went to lunch with the executives from the company that hired me and was eager to call my Mom afterwards to let her know how it went.

The phone went to voicemail.

I thought, well, I will congratulate myself and go get a cup of coffee and a pastry heart from this little coffee shop that everyone raves about.

And so I sat there , waiting for my Mom to call me back.  I knew she would have been proud of me and I so had wished she was in the audience to see what I had accomplished.

I drove home, returning the clothes from the models and got comfy on the couch to watch a Hallmark movie and relax a bit.

I still didn't hear back from my Mom , but I didn't worry too much as the last time I hounded her with phone calls to see if she was ok, she yelled at me and told me to stop worrying about her.

Well.. as it turns out.. I did get a phone call about an hour later. It wasn't my Mother. It was her husband , he too couldn't get in touch with her. He sent the neighbor to go check on her.

The second call from my Mother's husband came in not too long after the first one.

My Mother had died.

And in that very instant, I thought my heart would never be the same. The shock of that phone call sent me into action to gather my family.

I did what every family does, figure out the logistics of a wake etc.. But I was only going through the motions, knowing that inside my heart was broken in a thousand pieces and my life as I knew it had stopped.

We went through the weekend saying our goodbyes and on Tuesday, my house was empty . Not a sound could be heard except for the purring of my cats on my lap.

The months ahead found me cuddled on the couch in front of the television watching HallMark movies, day after day. Thank god I had a job to get to or I would have never left the house.

My writing stopped, my dreams stopped, my motivation and zest to climb mountains suddenly came to an abrupt halt. My best friend, the one who grounded me, the one who loved me unconditionally , the one who forced me not to work too much and smell the roses..had died.

I could barely muster the courage to decorate my Christmas tree that year. It ended up with only four ornaments on it. And the Thanksgiving decorations were still up.

The days went on and I forced myself to move on, despite my frozen heart. Again, I was so thankful for the job I had and the people there who were so sensitive to what I was feeling.

My writing called through whispers, my dreams called through pictures I saw on the internet, my Mother's voice called to me " honey, would you publish my work for me?" - those words spoken to me only a month or two before she died.

During the spring of this past year, I mustered the courage to start putting my Mom's books together. I had a lot of motivation to do it, then it suddenly stopped due to my fear of technology and wondering where I would get the cash to publish her work.

And so, I continued on , pouring my heart and soul into my job and my Airbnb business. My creativity once again, whispering to come back.

Thanksgiving came this year , the first one without my Mother. It was a wonderful week, I was in the kitchen for the majority of the time, cooking up bread from scratch and several new recipes I wanted to try.I put a picture of my Mother in the window above my sink and looked at it often. My buddy, my friend, my confidant. I missed her so much and I wished my heart would thaw just a little bit .Her picture gave me comfort and a sense that she was with me in the kitchen, cheering me on, telling me "you can do this honey-I'm with you."

My niece and I managed to make the traditional family stuffing that is a recipe that has been handed down for generations and has never been written. Nervous that we wouldn't make it just like my Mom, we started putting in the spices gingerly at first and then we put it through the smell test just like she would do.

My brother and his wife surprised me and came home this year. I was so truly grateful that the house was full of family and that I wasn't alone. My Mom would have loved to be with all of us, as family was truly the heart of who she was.

We all knew what our thoughts were thinking and what our hearts were crying about. No one really talked about it too much, but our hearts knew.

The stuffing turned out to be a big success and the house was full of family and friends, delicious smells , way too many pies and so much love - my Mom would have been so happy. Her family was still together.

As I look back at this past year, I realize just how frozen I had become. Purposefully hiding myself in my house with my cats and my Airbnb guests, so that the familiarity of home would comfort me.

I had experienced the loss of romantic love many times in my life, I was strangely familiar with these emotions and feelings and knew how to pull myself through it.  But this one, this loss, this heartache - it was almost as if I was going through the grief but was denying it at the same time. All I can think of , is "frozen."

But now, as the one year mark of my Mother's death was approaching and the world was beginning to celebrate the Christmas season, my Mom's favorite and mine too - my creativity called yet again, only the whisper has become louder. "It's time".

Time, to move on, to live , despite the fact that would mean , I would move on without her in my physical reality. Time, to live my dreams, to create, to once again, climb mountains as I normally do (says my Mother).

And so,  I created a plan for decorating my house, as my Mother would have as well. I focused my creativity there and I begin to write my morning pages once again. My Mom and I would call each other and confer on our Christmas decor themes and talk about cookies, shopping, gift ideas.

I foolishly thought this would stop the pain my heart has felt over the loss of my Mother. It has somewhat, but the week soon approached that would mark one year of her death.

It was hard, no question. And I have cried over things I never would have before - I even cried twice in front of my boss this week. I tell myself - "it's ok."

The dreaded morning came. December 10th. And I cried and the tears wouldn't stop coming. But through the tears , I heard my Mom say - get up , stop crying and go to spin class- you will feel better. I cried a bit more and the inner voice of my Mother, said "GO TO SPIN CLASS!" even louder. And so, I wiped my tears and went to spin class. I felt a lot better afterwards . My Mom always knew how to make me feel better. She knew that I love the gym .

My brother , his wife and I spent the afternoon together, doing simple things - going to one of my favorite local chocolate stores and our local grocery store. We talked about my Mom, a little bit, not too much. We knew where our hearts were. It was enough just to be together.

And the night of December 10th came with a Christmas shopping trip to the mall with a favorite girlfriend and going home to two of my favorite Airbnb guests. A father and his adopted daughter. They were asleep when I got home, but the excitement of seeing them in the morning, lifted my spirits.

I made it through that day, December 10th and woke up to a little 5 years  old voice saying "good morning " to me with the biggest smile. Life was good, all was going to be ok and my Mom was here, with me - saying, "see honey, everything is ok, you love your Airbnb - look at that little one that I sent you knowing exactly what you needed."

I know in my heart , "it's time." It's time to move forward, to live the dreams I have so yearned for and that my Mom would have wanted for me.The dream of publishing novels, my Mother's works, my blog posts and others more personal, that I don't care to share here.

I listen to the whispers of my Mother, who tells me she loves me and who tells me that it's time to move on, no matter how much it hurts and start living my dreams, because that is who I am, "I climb mountains of dreams."