Monday, December 12, 2011

Prepare Ye the Way...

Prepare Ye the Way
It’s December 12, 4:40 pm, and my hands are stinging from my act of wifely niceness…I just put the lights on the Douglas Fir With The Unexpectedly Awkward Branch (and the prickliest prickles) that stands in the corner of our living room. Things have entered a new realm of crazy here, and our preparations are late and somewhat haphazard. That’s not really different than other years, honestly…

This year’s season of Advent is a season of preparation in every sense of the word; from baking and mailing cards to lighting our special candles and opening our Advent calendar, we attempt to get ourselves ready for what is a high holy day in our faith.

That said, we’ve only lit our candles one time this season and we had to catch up for a week’s worth of calendar days after church yesterday. And the cards are still in a box on my dining room table, and not one thing has been baked here. Yikes.

For us, this season of preparation has taken on a dual role this year. Our anticipation is not just for the birth of Jesus on Christmas, for the lovely celebration of gifts and food and family. This year Advent has become a season of preparing for my 13 year old daughter to restart chemotherapy after a 5 year break.

5 years sounds like a long time. I assure you, it’s not. It just isn’t long enough.

So while I feel a little overwhelmed about the gifts I haven’t purchased and the unbaked cookies, the ghost of Christmas future is standing at the door once again. Honestly, that’s more overwhelming. He’s awfully creepy looking, you know? Even in the Muppet version…he’s creepy.

This preparation is different than our first bout with chemotherapy, which involved the horror of an initial diagnosis, two surgeries, and unspeakable grief and a deep feeling of abandonment by God. This time I have some time, ironically only BECAUSE my G needed unexpected surgery…my grief is deep, but not unfamiliar, and I have made peace with God in this situation. I still holler at him an awful lot, but at least I know He’s hearing me. ; )

This time I can get things organized in my house (well, as much as I NEVER do, alas), I can get some meals in the freezer, make sure I have a game plan for dealing with unexpected days where I have to miss work, and plan strategies to get my daughter through this. Like our Advent preparations, we know a little bit what’s coming at the end of our 3 weeks of preparation. The visions dancing in our heads are NOT of sugar plums, sadly.

And while the immediate end of this season is scary and uncertain, it does bring with it some hope. The drug my daughter is starting was simply not invented the last time she had to fight. And if this one doesn’t work, there are 2 other new drugs that she can try. There is hope amidst the shadows.

At the heart of our hope is my daughter. Just as the heart of Christmas is a Person, the heart of our hope here is my G. She is funny and mighty and full of attitude. Her Jersey girl attitude and her Irish/Italian/German heritage give her chutzpah, and her beautiful soul gives her the strength of heart to get through.
She is scared. She is sad. But she is so mighty. She will get through.

So we will celebrate this season, albeit in a bittersweet kind of way. We will celebrate our time together as a family, a time once again threatened by the Elephant, and we will celebrate our faith, which we know will give us the fortitude we need to step through the door to the new year and the new fight. We celebrate our friends and family who have already carried us through so much.

And in between buying a gift for my mom and the fixings for our Christmas feast, I will buy extra pretzels and crackers for lunches, Costco sized packages of meat and such to make some casseroles, and maybe even a few documentaries for my history classes for those days when we get stuck at a hospital far from home. We will prepare. I will try to find ways to get MY head in the game, to renew my flagging emotional energy for the fight ahead. We will prepare.

Hopefully amidst our chemo preparation we can have a moment to prepare our hearts for this most beautiful day that is on the horizon, this reminder that we are so loved that a child was sent to us…and in that moment, I will thank God for my children, and for my love for them.

This hurts. A lot. I can’t lie about that. There are moments in the day where I feel like the air is sucked from my lungs and I’m teetering on the edge of some kind of void. But I will get my game face on. We will prepare, and we will roll with the punches, and we will get through. I have to think that even Mary, as she prepared to have Jesus, was a bit taken aback by having to schlep all the way to Bethlehem. Just the thought of donkey smell while pregnant…ugh. Her preparations were challenging too. Hm.

From the kitchen just came the call, “oh my gosh, Christmas is so SOON!” from my 13 year old. If she can focus on Christmas, I should too, right?

That said, maybe I should try to get some baking done…then I will have cookies to munch on while I prepare for whatever is to come. : )

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Zen and the Art of Roasty Potatoes

Roasty potatoes save the day.

Some days, between Dr. Phil and WebMD, I’m pretty confident that I have some version of PTSD. I know, newsflash, right? Granted, working with those 2 experts I’ve also had lung cancer, hydrocephalus, a torn Achilles tendon, and weird hair. Only the last one actually afflicts me, and honestly I diagnosed that all on my very own.

Today was a hard day. Most folks who read here likely know why, and some might be wondering why I’m not tripping the light fantastic. We had GOOD news yesterday.

But as a history teacher, for me everything is about text, context, and subtext (to borrow from a really great book I just read about teaching historical thinking). The text of good news! is in a context of EXTREME yikes, with a subtext of “you KNOW you’re gonna be in this spot again”. So today I was more amoeba than Supermom.

My body hurt, every inch hurt. My stomach reminded me that coffee really isn’t the ONLY food group if you want to avoid ulcers. Yesterday’s stress and sleep deprivation, coupled with an inability to fall asleep last night AND a bed invasion by a small weeping child who was stressed out because we were in another state all day equaled a giant pile of exhausted me. I literally could not think straight. Thinking curvy was not going well, either. Throw in pouring rain and the start of school tomorrow, and I’m not sure even Dr. Phil would have an answer for me.

And this is after GOOD news!

Anyway, sending the waaaambulance on its way…I realized that the horde here doesn’t necessarily respond to stress the way I do. They like to eat actual food still, not just handfuls of Cub Scout choco-caramel popcorn and the last few Cadbury Mini-Eggs I hoarded for just such an occasion. That's likely better, I really don't want to share. So in between trying not to burst into random tears (I am a WAY ugly crier) or curse at anyone inadvertently (that was LAST night’s routine, oops) I dug out some potatoes and mindlessly started chopping away.

Cue the quiet Eureka moment.

Potatoes are therapy.

Something about chopping my little red potatoes (Costco!) into quarters, tossing them with olive oil and salt and pepper and that Tastefully Simple Garlic Garlic stuff, something about that whole business made me feel like a human being. The rhythm of it, the smells, the impending yum…it just made me feel human again.

Talk about comfort food!

Today was a hard day. For whatever reason, today was epically hard in my head. But potatoes are in the oven, along with some healthy chicken tenders, I chopped the remaining strawberries from the fridge so we can eat them over leftover brownies…the act of food just saved the day.

Yes, I still grabbed some of that choco caramel popcorn before I came down to my computer. But at least now my headache has abated. I feel calmer. Let’s not be crazy, I KNOW our context & subtext haven’t changed while my potatoes are roasting. I know tomorrow has new challenges for all of us, even as I keep carrying our elephant around. But tonight my warrior is smiling because she LOVES potatoes, and we will eat together and just have this moment, a moment far different than what we thought we’d be having tonight.

And I promise, I will NOT turn on Dr. Phil or surf WebMD to see what the curative powers of roasty potatoes are for stressed out moms. ; )

Now I have to go talk my warrior off a “my summer math isn’t done yet!” ledge, and get those potatoes out of the oven. Life does go on. And no matter what comes, at least there are always potatoes to come back to.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

More than we can Handle

You know you’ve heard it: “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”.

My general response to this can be taken from the following list:



Say what, Willis?

You shouldn’t smoke crack before talking, it makes you stupid.


The unspoken Look of Doom

Don’t step in that crap, it will stink!


“if only in my dreams” (yes, sung).

Thankfully, because there is at least a general unease amongst well meaning folks about my until now unpublished list, really nobody says that kind of thing to me anymore.

I was thinking about this idea today while running – in between thoughts of “I really hope I don’t get run over by a landscaping truck”-- this idea that God won’t give us more than we can handle. Honestly, I think the exact opposite is true. I think God ALWAYS gives us more than we can handle. If we could handle everything perfectly, we’d be God. Or Martha Stewart. Or just bored to tears.

Don’t get me wrong, in certain areas of life bored is GOOD. I like our oncology staff friends to be dozing with tedium when they see us. I like being able to manage that stuff…

But I digress. I think God piles life on for a couple of reasons.

One, I think He wants us to help each other handle the un-handle-able. I know I have dropped the ball on this too many times in my life, but I am trying to get better about reaching out to people when they are like Wile E. Coyote, flattened beneath the anvil that fell at an unplanned angle. I think God means for us to do this. I know it is a great strength to our family just to know that other people are thinking of us. Just to know that we have different circles of friends that overlap in their concern for the anvil in our life means a lot. I know my heart is often full for folks who have anvils that look like ours. I have to think this communal concern for each other is a way in which we do help each other handle that which seems too much to bear.

Together we can at least shift the weight of that anvil just a speck, in a way an individual cannot.

Second, and for me at least, harder, I think God wants us to be okay with NOT handling things well, with accepting support from others. This can be harder. Wile E. Coyote always works alone…granted, look at how THAT ends up! Still, I think a lot of people (ok, me) would prefer to err on the side of Martha Stewart, to be able to juggle disaster while making Venetian Cookies decorated with edible gold leaf. That would be MY preference, certainly.

And yet that is NEVER my reality. I can’t imagine edible gold leaf even tastes that good, really.

So we can help each other handle the unbearable, and we can receive that support. The anvil may weigh the same (and it does. It really is bone crushingly heavy), but we’ll keep on keeping on.

God does give us more than we can handle. I just have to hope that someday it’s less of a Wile E. Coyote moment and more of a Price is Right Showcase moment…”a trip to Paris…AND a set of snowmobiles…AND a lovely dinette set…AND an 87” flat screen tv!”. Hope springs eternal… ; )

Monday, May 30, 2011

We Remember...

Every year, my dad visits his father on Memorial Day.

He and my mom get up at an ungodly early hour and drive to the tippy top of New Jersey, just shy of the New York border. Usually a few of my siblings go along. Today we were all awakened at 6 a.m. by nature’s alarm clock, a thunderstorm, and I almost decided to tag along with the Memorial Day expedition. Dad likes to get there and back before the Jersey Shore Memorial Day exodus begins from all points north of the Driscoll bridge.

My parents drive to Mahwah, named for a Lenni Lenape word meaning “Place Where Paths Meet”, and go the mile or so off of the interstate to where Grandpa is.

Today they drove through the gates, but one year, when they were particularly early, they actually had to climb over the wall to get in. I wish I had been there to see that. My parents are really not wall-climber-overers, generally.

They drive through the meandering road, past the sloping lawns, to where Grandpa’s marker is...a small plaque set into the earth. Grandma is there, too. And Uncle John and Aunt Pat, but it is Grandpa my dad goes to see on this day.

After a moment of prayer, my dad takes out his cornet and plays Taps...the sound ringing out over the quiet cemetery in the early morning light. A solitary solute to a veteran, one of the greatest generation –a generation in which it was honorable for 4 brothers from New Jersey to ALL join the military. My great grandmother had four blue stars in her window. This boggles my mind.

I wish I could play the cornet. To me, this is the perfect memorial: a son with his bugle, playing for his dad a song of honor.

My grandfather never spoke of the war to me. Not once. Only when I joined a writing group in which one member was a World War II veteran working on a memoir did I get a sense of what my grandfather may have experienced. My writing colleague, Maurice, wrote in stunning detail about his time as a young soldier in France. He was infantry, my grandfather was Air Force, Maurice was 19, my grandfather was a mature 25 or so. Both served and then came home and lived and worked and did what needed to be done.

Just a few weeks ago, my friend Maurice was laid to rest. His memoir was published in the winter, and I am so very, very glad he lived to see it completed. I have a copy...and I so wish I had such a record of my grandfather’s history.

We must never forget. Even as we have fewer and fewer World War II vets to honor, we must never forget their sacrifices, or the heroism of our military in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Whatever our feelings about these conflicts, the young men and women who serve our country deserve our gratitude.

Our local paper today had a special section of photographs, all marking the final resting places of nearly all the Jersey boys killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. My heart is so full for these families, these young soldiers (some only 3 years older than my oldest child)...for them, we MUST never forget.

Thank you, veterans, for your service to our country.

Happy Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I am not Aretha Franklin. Sigh.

I am not Aretha Franklin.

Yeah, it’s a newsflash to me, too.

You see, I always, always have said that I was going to BE Aretha Franklin when I grew up.

Today I hit an age where there is no question, I am Grown Up. There is also no question that I am NOT Aretha Franklin.

Realistically, I knew that I would not magically turn into the Queen of Soul. I think I just hoped I’d get that finger wagging, slippers wearing power of Aretha in the Blues Brothers, so I could say unto the world, “You Better THINK About What You’re Trying to Do to Me”. I think I really wanted confidence and attitude and yes, a set of pipes that makes the rafters shake.

I am not Aretha Franklin.

I still can’t sing, I stood up for myself last week and had someone get all up in my timid, non-confrontational face and try to jump down my throat, and I am literally about half the woman Aretha is. So I am left, unfortunately, trying rather unsuccessfully to NOT be Eeyore this year. I have long not been a fan of birthdays…pretty much since I turned 15. That was the first birthday where I received the wonderful gift of self-loathing. The crazy thing is, NOTHING BAD happened at that birthday. My mom made a lovely dinner, I had friends over, I have NO CLUE why THAT year was the year everything first hit the fan.

It took me until I hit 35 to finally, FINALLY not be overwhelmed with ugh on my birthday. I was ready to be cheerful and eat cake. Ironically that was the first birthday that I spent the night in a hospital waiting for ambulance transport for my child to the Biggest & Best Children’s Hospital a few hours away. I remember how surreal it was to be listening to jazz on an ambulance radio at 4 a.m. while we drove down the Jersey Turnpike, windows wide open to help my daughter’s temperature go down. That was a memorable birthday. My spouse eventually brought the cake down to the hospital, we were stuck there a week…

My youngest child cannot comprehend WHY Mommy doesn’t love her birthday. Why does Mom NOT want to do anything or mark the day? I wish I had a good answer other than it feels fake to me. I don’t even feel like eating cake. Yeah. It’s like THAT. Eek!

I still wish I was Aretha Franklin. I think on these days that mark the passage of time I just get a bit whomped with the way things are the OTHER 364 days of the year. The last several months have not been a fest of hooray—and as mom/wife, a lot of the reason for that comes back on me.

There’s a song I have been listening to a lot recently, a song that says, “you are more than the choices that you make/you are more than the sum of your past mistakes/ you are more than the problems you create” …I am trying to believe this. But some days, “it don’t take too much IQ to see” what I’ve done to me. Aretha trumps all.

So tomorrow will be the first day of a new decade for me. Tomorrow will be another regular day with work and baseball and rain (and maybe then no baseball) and laundry and vacuuming I don’t get done. Life goes on.

My almost 9 year old is standing next to me, balancing a Hershey Kiss on her face and trying to roll it into her mouth. My spouse stepped in to help the 12 year old with her English homework after I totally lost my temper. Even the teen is trying to not be hideous. My 12th grade class gave me a Boston Crème donut with a candle in it. The third grade girls sang an alarming rendition of Happy Birthday to me that was quite endearing if somewhat painful to the ears. I am grateful for the many blessings I have. …I’m just not a birthday kind of gal. And that’s ok.

And you know, even in the Blues Brothers, Aretha eventually gets left behind. She has to figure it out on her own, I guess, comforted by fried chicken and a Coke. Hm. I could live with THAT.
; )

So here’s to being a grown up. Maybe I can focus on becoming Judi Dench now…

NOTE THE OFFICIAL DISCLAIMER OF TRUTH: This is a No Fishing Zone: I am NOT FISHING. I am not fishing for reassurance and comfort or anything like that. I am just saying it like it is. My bs-ometer was blown off in 2004, and now I just Say Things, which is awful but true. Imagine family holidays: Yikes! Please don’t rush to say nice things, I Know you all, you are nice people, and you will want to. I’m telling you, my brain can’t hear it on May 17. It’s just one of Those Things. So don’t worry. Tomorrow is another day. I have no problem with Leftover Cake. ; )

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

There is no charge for Awesomeness...

photo evidence of a Random Act of Chocolate. A pb cup the size of my hand.

In the annals of my personal whatever, this has been A Week.

Yes, it’s only Wednesday. Yes, we’ve had weeks with brain surgery and epic yikes. We haven’t been THERE this week, but... this week just hasn’t been Super Dee Duper (sorry, Barney).

So I decided to blatantly borrow from a recent Gretchen Rubin post on her Happiness Project facebook page, in which she talks about little bits of awesome. You know, those little things that just make you inordinately happy. Here is some of my list:

• A flower growing and blooming in a sidewalk crack.
• Being barely awake in the a.m. and hearing the chug chug chug of ye olde Farberware, indicating my spouse Made the Coffee!
• Forgetting to eat breakfast and finding it is Someone’s Festal Day at school, so there’s crumb cake in the teachers’ room!
• The first night I see fireflies in June.
• Veterans riding in open cars at parades.
• Finding a favorite out of print childhood book at a rummage sale (remember Seven Alone, anyone?)
• Anything with a wild 60s pattern on it.
• Sticking my hand into the pocket of a jacket and finding $2 I forgot about.
• Having this moment happen just as I realize I am approaching a Dunkin Donuts with a drive-through.
• Any time a stranger or person at a store just randomly smiles at me.
• Going to the library for ME books.
• Having the perfect comeback when someone is being a cheerful pain in the neck.
• Perennials.
• Seeing my son get a hit in baseball as I’m praying “God, I know it’s not a big deal in the larger picture of life, but if A could get a hit right now that would be awesome.”
• Seeing the aforementioned son be a nice big brother and join his 8 year old sister in a rousing version of Just Dance’s Spice Girls number.
• Little random countdowns from my 8 year old written on any surface she can find. Today’s countdowns include Mom’s Birthday, My Birthday, and Daddy’s Baptism Day.
• Hearing my middle child laugh in her explosive giggle.
• Laughing with my sisters.
• Laughing about wildly inappropriate things with my sisters.
• Ok, any time with my sisters.
• Having my godson run to me and give me a hug.
• A Random Act of Chocolate.
• Potatoes.
• French fries (aka happy potatoes).
• Watching clouds float by.
• Seeing a ridiculously large bird like a heron or turkey up super close in my yard.
• Puzzles.
• Sticks furniture at my favorite gallery in Lambertville. Or anywhere, Sticks is happiness for me.
• Anything drawn by Tomie DePaola.
• Finding a book by Tomie DePaola at a rummage sale.
• The moment when a student says,bubbling with excitement, “So we were at this nursing home in DC, and I realized the lady I was talking to was old enough to remember the Civil Rights movement, so I asked her if she had been to the march, had she met Dr. King, and she said YES!” right after our unit on the Civil Rights movement.
• The moment the overture begins at a musical theater show. I always get ferklempt at the beauty and anticipation contained in those first notes.

Once you get going, it’s hard to stop. My list of awesome doesn’t fix all the ugh of this week in progress, but it does help. What would you add? What are your moments of awesome?

I have to run the dancing son to physical therapy and feed the hungry girls...real life beckons. But I’d love to hear YOUR awesomes.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Perspectives in Sparkly Blue

“these wounds won’t seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There’s just some things that time cannot erase”
My Immortal, Evanescence


The last year or so have been pretty challenging here, and not necessarily in the obvious ways we very publically share. Without turning this into a moment of Oprah (unless someone wants to give me my own Zeppelin? No? darn. ) , recent days and weeks and months have not been the most woohoo at the Casa Camiolo. That is what it is. But in this week, which is the holiest of our church year, the pain that I can’t seem to shake has been particularly intense. And for whatever reason, the Yeatsian season of our life is wearing at me … things fall apart/the centre cannot hold …

So it’s been a bad week. Cue the old American Idol Go Home song and I’d have myself an afterschool special . Yes, I am THAT old. ; )

I have been trying to deep clean the layers of stuff that mark, like an archaeological strata, the seasons of my life. We have sorted out the last bit of extra hats from when one of my children needed hats to cover her scarred and patchy head—some will go to other hospital kids, some that were more worn will go to charity. I got rid of Lyrics of the Middle Ages. Love the Middle Ages, hated that class, really hated that poetry. Heck, I even threw out the old instant oatmeal that I could not remember buying…the date on the one box was Jersey Board of Health worthy, Yikes! (I swear, the kids USED to like oatmeal!). We’ve purged some of the Kid On Chemo! Stuffed animal collection, sand-decorated candle holders from a long ago Good Mom craft project, and bags of clothing that just needed to go.

In a particularly difficult moment yesterday I tackled the drawer on my little nightstand. Loose change, several safety pins, a thimble (?? No clue where THAT came from), 42 holy cards (I have religious object guilt, I can NEVER throw away a holy card or a funeral card), a random inspirational book, and a pair of nail scissors managed to all live peacefully together in there. I also found a paper on which I had printed out one of my favorite depressing poems.

Yes, I have favorite depressing poems. Sometimes poems just say things more effectively and less offensively (oops), and when I am having a moment of despair and isolation, Gerard Manley Hopkins is my main man. His poetry of faith and despair and hope and hey nature is cool have gotten me through many a tough time (particularly during the Kid on Chemo season).

So there was this paper, printed out

I WAKE and feel the fell of dark, not day.
What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent
This night! what sights you, heart, saw; ways you went!
And more must, in yet longer light’s delay.
With witness I speak this. But where I say 5
Hours I mean years, mean life. And my lament
Is cries countless, cries like dead letters sent
To dearest him that lives alas! away.

I am gall, I am heartburn. God’s most deep decree
Bitter would have me taste: my taste was me; 10
Bones built in me, flesh filled, blood brimmed the curse.
Selfyeast of spirit a dull dough sours. I see
The lost are like this, and their scourge to be
As I am mine, their sweating selves; but worse.

Yes, it’s a perky piece. I can relate to insomnia and the “Is anybody OUT THERE?” vibe.

But there, at the top, just touching the top line of the poem, one of my children had stuck a sparkly blue smiley face sticker.

I know the poem well (it’s been living in that drawer for 6 years!)…but the smiley face sticker was a new moment. I found that festive little smile, left by my loving child, to be such a contrast of hope to the words of that poem, the words of my heart.

I refolded the paper, and put it back in the now marginally more organized drawer.

The day was still pretty rotten with patches of yikes, I won’t lie. But in the back of my mind, I can still see that little smiley, and I can imagine my little bud putting it there and tucking it back into my drawer…and really, at the end of the day, isn’t that the perspective of Holy Week? Piles of uber-yikes, of feeling utterly alone and lost and lamenting…and there, over the horizon, there is joy, just the smallest hint of joy, stuck there by somebody who loves us.

Have a blessed Easter, all

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Note to the Sayers of Nay

A word I must speak to all those who say “NAY!”
Or “No, you can’t do that” or “don’t try today!”
Your nay, no, and can’t are three words I won’t say!
For I can! And I will! And I must try today!

You look at my size (I am not all that tall)
And you tell me “just sit there, be quiet and small,
If You play with those kids you will tumble and fall
And we know you too well, you will certainly bawl.”

Ok, so I’m not the best kid on the court.
I miss hitting the ball and I know I am short.
But with maybe a yes, and a hand of support
I can play, I can win, I can conquer this sport!

No mountain’s too high and no valley’s too low,
No road is too long though my pace may be slow.
I learn and I love and each day I will grow,
I smile because of the secret I know…

For every no, nay or can’t -- I say YES!
I laugh at your worries, these yikes you address.
For I can, and I will, I will NOT second guess—
All the wonderful ways that I will find Success!

Sometimes as mom, some battles are harder to fight than others. I cannot let the naysayers drown out the I can! for my kids...Which of course segues to Dr. Seussism, but what can you do? ; )

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sing a Song

Sing! Sing a Song! Sing out Loud! Sing out strong!
Sing, of good things, not bad! Sing of happy not sad!

 Sesame Street

In my world, most things are best said musically.

That is NOT to imply that I can play any instrument with skill, nor can I sing alone unless I am trying to be funny. But my brain thinks in music.

I grew up in a house permeated with all things music, my dad was a professional musician for a while, and his brass quintet would practice in our little living room. I have come to realize that in church and when singing along with the radio I sort of always sing the French horn part, even if the song doesn’t HAVE a French horn part. I know what it should sound like.

We all knew that my grandmother had played Rachmaninoff on the piano when she was 15. I know I was a disappointment to my grandfather in my horrible stage fright and lack of skill on the piano, although I found out much later that my grandmother also did not like to play in front of people.

So I guess my brain just processes life musically. I know this can be annoying for anyone talking to me, as almost ANY comment makes me think of a song lyric. It’s like I have a weird synapse that fires in conversation. But words trigger lyrics, which often trigger Random Outbursts of Song.

I reached an amazing milestone in my marriage when one of my kids said something about going up to their room or something and my spouse said “up up up up, to the Heavyside Layer”. I think even he was appalled that Cats popped into his head. My work in this arena is apparently done.

While my daughter was on treatment we made up Transfusin’s Hard to Do and the Low Low ANC Blues. We also sang her chemo to the tune of YMCA. I once made up a cheerful song called “God Really Hates Me”, which strangely did NOT catch on in my house. But generally, music can take care of ANYTHING.

So when I walked into school this morning and realized that the dress rehearsal for the choir tour was running long (I had been warned that it might run into my class time), I figured I’d sit and listen to the kids sing, instead of going to the office to copy papers and such. There are some songs in the repertoire that WE sang when I was in this choir years ago, so I figured it might be nice to listen. And I was tired and feeling kind of down (understatement!)…

Music helps me. Yesterday was an Evanescence on the treadmill playlist kind of day—ie a bad day. Last week I listened to a lot of Simon & Garfunkel and old recordings of Freedom Songs while I worked through a class unit on the Civil Rights Movement. Owl City makes me happy when the sun is shining. I listen to Eminem, or Satie, or Ladysmith Black Mambazo, or Mozart Horn Concertos, or Godspell, or the Indigo Girls, or the B-52s. Music connects to some deep part of me in a way I find difficult to explain. I think that’s why I like so many different kinds of music. It all speaks to me, to my heart.

I like choral music. There is a power in an awful lot of voices singing together. I do, however, have an incredibly low Velveeta Threshold. That is to say, there’s an awful lot of cheesy choir music out there. I’ve helped search for stuff for our school’s choir before, the extra cheese floating around is enough to clog an audience’s collective arteries.

There’s a fine line between profound and Velveeta. Native American singing “Colors of the Wind”? Profound. 16 year old on American Idol singing “Colors of the Wind”? Velveeta. Sometimes things just don’t work out of context. Some things REALLY don’t work out of context and sung by 100 teenagers.

I have learned, too, that not EVERYONE wants to share my cheese views. I have ruined at least one religious song for friends because it sounds like a show tune to me, and I can’t help but sing it like that, with dramatic gestures and all. It’s awful, I can’t help myself. ; )

Anyway, I was a little curious when the next student introduced the next song, a song from a cartoon movie. Uh-oh. Velveeta warning!

And then they started to sing. 100 teen voices…

Many nights we've prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song
We barely understood
(At this point, I could feel myself starting to crumble. Yeah, I have this t-shirt in an awful lot of colors).

Now we are not afraid
Although we know there's much to fear
We were moving mountains long
Before we knew we could.

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

(desperate futile search for tissue in purse and pockets began).

In this time of fear
When prayers so often prove(s) in vain
Hope seems like the summer birds
Too swiftly flown away

(wondering if choir – 100 kids facing me and 3 other teachers– will notice if I wipe my nose on my sleeve. Also wonder if my mascara is anywhere near my eyeballs anymore.)

Yet now I'm standing here
My heart's so full I can't explain
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought I'd say

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

(just thinking of so many friends, and kids, and my own recent despair of things ever turning out well for anyone in my family).

They don't (always happen) when you ask
And it's easy to give in to your fears
But when you're blinded by your pain
Can't see your way straight throught the rain
(A small but )still resilient voice
Says (hope is very near)

There can be miracles
When you believe
Though hope is frail
It's hard to kill
Who knows what miracles,you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

I actually had to leave the auditorium by the end of the song. Thank God 2nd period was nearly over!

My brain has kind of been hurting recently, and I have NOT been listening to random music except when running (Lent!), so this beautiful song, sung with such beauty and harmony, spoke to my soul in a way I have struggled to express recently.

I need to make sure my students know, when I see them tomorrow, that their audiences may hear this song in a way the kids don't quite understand. We all hope for miracles sometimes, right?

I have trouble believing. I’m not going to lie, I do find miracles slippery and elusive and hard to believe in, even as I try to keep hoping. I do believe we can always hope. And that is a song worth singing.


The original is the best version I could find ...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Need for Speed

This the text of what I said (um, read) at our Coffeehouse for a Cure to benefit the NF Endurance Team last night...sans weird ad libbing and the random "ding...dong" sound that came out of nowhere halfway through...

I am fast at a lot of things.
My students (and most of humanity) can attest to the fact that I talk really, really fast.

I can polish off a bag of Cadbury Mini-Eggs lightning fast.

Give me a word or situation and I will burst into an obscure show tune or commercial of the 80s or odd protest music from the 60s Super Fast!

I can spend $100 at Target alarmingly fast.

Make a mess in any part of my house? Fast.

Misplace my shoes? Crazy fast.

Lose my temper? Yeah, too fast.

I type uber-fast, and read crazy fast, and get through Costco on a milk/cheese/eggs
run scary fast.

So there’s a lot of things I do insanely fast. I like fast. Fast is how I roll.

But ironically, in light of what our Coffeehouse is about, there’s one thing I am embarrassingly slow at.


I am a pathetically slow runner.

Global warming happens faster than I complete a 5k. People on jazzy scooters pass me when I run. I go out for a mile jog and I have to make sure nobody sends out a search party for me when night falls and I have not returned.
I am really, really slow.

And honestly, I kind of hate running. I hate the way I look in running clothes –to quote a friend, “spandex is a privilege, not a right”, I hate the funky smell that follows any kind of running, I hate the feeling of having run 87 miles and then seeing a measly ½ mile marker. I am fluent in Whinese when it comes to running. I am REALLY fast at making up annoying little songs about running…running running is annoying/running is the thing I loathe…moving quickly getting stinky wearing stupid spandex clothes!


So why the heck do I keep running? I mean, there are a lot of things in life I’ve made peace with stinking at. I simply don’t DO those things anymore, and the world is a better place. I will never be a great Ukrainian Dancer…or Scottish Dancer…or Hebrew Dancer…or Irish step Dancer—and that is truly ok. I will never be a champion in any sport that involves being outside in the cold (I like having feeling in my extremities, once I lose that things literally go downhill). I get full fast (add that to the fast list) so I will never be a competitive eater. One hotdog is fine for me. I am perfectly ok with NOT doing these things.

I’m probably NOT going to grow up to be Aretha Franklin either…that I’m less peaceful about. But I digress…

… why the heck do I keep running when I am slow, and awkward, and really have not earned the privilege of wearing spandex?

It’s pretty simple, really. In fact, it would make a great t-shirt…

I run for a reason.

I run for a lot of reasons, really. My reasons include, but are not limited to, Dave, Genna, Rosie, MJ, Emma & Amie, Gabbie & Ori & David, Maddie, Ann, Siobhan, Jennifer & Patrick, Jaxon, Meadow, Ryan, Jenna with a J, Preston, Jerry, Katsie and Carly and Genna’s new friend Tommy and Drew and Joey and Nora and our beloved Sandra.

Frankly, I think my reasons to run are better than my reasons NOT to.

Still, I am only able to run because of the NF Endurance Team…and not just because they gave me a snazzy neon singlet to wear with my ill advised spandex. Being with the team has shown me that the ability to do this is IN ME. I can do it, because the first rule of the NF Endurance Team is that we never run alone. There is a community of runners and supporters all over the country, all running for the same goal.

There’s crazy power in that.

It’s an odd thing, the NF Endurance Team. A few minutes with the families and friends and organizers of the team and you just WANT to get out and run. I can’t explain it. Even I felt that, and really, I am the Poster Gal for Sedentary is Super!

This team is just that amazing; the runners are just that inspiring; this cause is just that important; this reason to run, a cure for Neurofibromatosis, is just too compelling to ignore.

Standing on the sidelines at the Philly Rock n’ Roll ½ marathon in September, seeing over 100 runners with “NF” on their singlets running collectively for all our our loved ones…there is CRAZY power in that.

I will never be an ultramarathoner like my brother, who is once again running the Leadville 100 mile trail run in August for the Team. I may never actually get through a ½ marathon like my sister, Emily, is going to do in Seattle this spring. I may not even actually join Dave except as a cheering squad leader in Philly at the ½ in September. But my 4.5 miles at the Jersey Shore Relay are the way I can oh so slowly do something proactive for my family in the face of NF.

I may be slower than beach erosion in Point Pleasant where I’ll be running—in the broadest sense of the word-- on April 16, but I run for a reason.

You can too. Even if you are slow. Even if you hate moving fast. Even if spandex is not an inalienable right for you either. Come be slow with me. You won’t regret it.

There’s a famous quote by the runner Dean Karnazes that keeps me going when I’m training or when I’m discouraged in our long trek with NF. Run when you can; walk when you have to; crawl if you must, just never give up.

My girls face a marathon every day. Their battle with NF is involuntary and unending, and the fact is, we really don’t know what kind of roadblocks we are going to face in the future. This past year was a tough one. We faced the real prospect of restarting chemotherapy with Genna. Rosie started having hearing issues related to her tumor. To try to encapsulate the fear and despair and helplessness of the second half of 2010 in those 3 sentences is almost ludicrous. 2010 was a tough year. And in the last week alone, two of our dear friends in the NF community got really bad news…two children at a crossroads, again…
What more reason do I need to run?

So with NF Endurance I run against NF. I run for my children and my spouse and my friends and their kids. I run for a reason… and for that reason, I will Run when I can, walk when I have to, crawl if I must: but I will never give up. And I thank you for joining us in this race. Thank you.

Now the remnant of our old Smile Crew is going to sing…a song about being there for each other, a song, as always, dedicated to Sandra Blumberg, who showed us with endurance with a smile was all about….

Monday, February 28, 2011

I Heart Sherlock Holmes

I heart Sherlock Holmes.

Ok, maybe that’s not TOTALLY accurate. Yes, in high school I had 2 different versions of the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes mysteries (one with the original illustrations, leather bound), and yes, I read them and read them and read them. I used to fiddle with our tv antenna so I could watch Jeremy Brett on the PBS Mystery version of Sherlock Holmes when I was in 8th grade, huddling close to the fuzzy tv and trying to drink in EVERY detail of my beloved stories. I aspired to BE a Baker Street Irregular. When Young Sherlock Holmes came out during my high school years, you could have knocked me over with a feather, I was like a screaming teenager at an Elvis concert, without the screaming, or the music, or the white leather jumpsuit…just the smitten joy of the whole thing.

But still, to be TRULY accurate…it’s not Sherlock I love.

I heart Dr. Watson.

I do. I have had a major crush on a fictitious 19th century sidekick for 25 years.

Dr. Watson is just so…solid. He humanizes the fiercely analytical Holmes. He’s friendly, normal, reliable, occasionally even jolly. Holmes needs him, depends on him, seems constantly a step ahead and yet when Dr. Watson gets shot, it’s a distraught Holmes who saves him. Watson may not be on the cutting edge of mystery solving, but without him around, Holmes would be lost. Watson brings out the best in Holmes.

For a teenager who pretty much always felt lost in her own bleh, Dr. Watson seemed like a wonderful guy to have on your side.

In the Young Sherlock Holmes movie, Watson loves pastries, and his terrifying hallucination after the evil society shoots him with poison is about Pastries Gone Wild (ok, that seemed much more plausible when I was 15). Watson shares my passion for éclairs! What else do I have to say?

A few months ago, a modernized version of Sherlock Holmes appeared on PBS. In this version, Holmes is a “high functioning sociopath” and Dr. Watson a vet recently home from Afghanistan. The writers worked on Dr. Who, so the whole show has a sharp, witty, BBC-esque edge to it that frankly is almost better than chocolate for my brain. My spouse and I watched the series together, a rare moment when we actually enjoy the SAME tv program.
And in watching this remake, in the surprise of feeling that long lost excitement at

seeing a Really Good Mystery with characters I love, I had a moment of enlightenment, an epiphany, if you will, one that blew my adolescent longings to smitereens.

Guess what I realized?

I married Dr. Watson.

Bear with me here…I really did. For those of you who KNOW my spouse, think about it. I actually DID marry an Italian version of Dr. Watson.

Reliable? Check.

Hard working? Check.

A good listener, even if he doesn’t quite get it the first time you say it really fast? Check.

Generally thinking the best of others? Check.

Just a genuinely NICE person? Check.

Patient as all get out with the odd cluttery foibles of the people around him? Um, check.

Really good at what he does, even if it’s not always flashy? Check.

Deeply loyal? Check.

See what I mean? I MARRIED DR. WATSON!!!

The real mystery is why the heck he married ME…probably because I look like Heidi Klum, but I could be wrong. Hm.

So see, watching tv isn’t always a waste of time. Who knew PBS Masterpiece Theater/Mystery would be a celebration of marriage?

Of course the first 2 times I meant to post this I got randomly irritated with the resident Watson, and said forget posting this nice post. Ahem. I am so mature. And early winter was a rough season here on many levels. But really, at the end of the day, I am grateful for my spouse, and kind of tickled to discover this weird parallel to my teenage world, a world before I really knew my spouse at all. Now there’s a narrative arc for you…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Food, Glorious Food!

(my delicious crumb cake)

“Food, glorious food! Hot sausage with mustard!
While we’re in the mood—cold jelly and custard!”

My love of most things edible is not a newsflash to anyone. Eating is one of my most favorite pastimes. I only really have two criteria for food:

1. No tentacles
2. Not a garden pest

If these two criteria are met, I will eat almost anything.

As a child and young adult I admit, I was picky. Once I had kids, and endured hyper-emesis for 9 months straight 3 times, I could eat nearly ANYTHING. I have to be careful of certain rich foods and sadly cannot eat Mahi Mahi or Chilean Sea Bass (alas! I was a slow learner on both of those), but generally if it can be eaten, I will eat it.

Granted, my family picked up where my pickiness ended, almost as if I birthed my pickiness right out of me with the delivery of my kids! My eldest will try nearly anything, but Kids 2 and 3…eek. We have pictures from Easter several years ago of all of us around the table of feasting…and Kid 2 has a bowl of Cheerios in front of her.

It took the squashing of certain key portions of her brain for her to become a good eater. Now we have trouble making her stop. But still, vegetables are taboo.

Anyway, we have never wanted for food. There are about a half dozen grocery stores within 10 minutes of my house. We have a couple of big box stores only a bit further than that. I generally hit one grocery store and one mega store at least once a week.

When life looked a bit bleak at the end of last summer, I created a food hoard. I still have pasta from that time…my pantry was PACKED with canned foods, sauces, pastas, peanut butter. I was afraid, and I met my fear of the unknown with cases of Orville Redenbacher.

But this isn’t the situation for everyone.

This isn’t even the situation for most people, I’d say.

Our family volunteers at an urban soup kitchen about 25 minutes from our house. Just over a week ago we arrived at St. Ann’s to discover that it was not a meal day but a food pantry day. Lined up on the floor in neat rows were brown shopping bags full of groceries. Most had one bottle of juice, a bag of rice or pasta, some random canned goods, and a bag with some meat and cheese.

Each client had to present ID to get a bag, and multiple IDs (for kids, etc) to get 2 bags. The system is strictly adhered to and runs pretty smoothly for the most part.

As we worked to distribute the bags, alongside clients who help out before they take their bags (I love working with them), I was struck by how flipping lucky we are.

The idea that THIS could be our food for the week: a bag of random what not, all healthy and generously given, but beyond my control as mom, was staggering. Folks asking if there was any toothpaste to be had, folks wishing they could change what they had in their bags for something different (not allowed, chaos would ensue)…it was staggering.

The idea that I would have to get a number, wait on a line, present ID, and then get a bag of something that would become my family’s meals: I just felt flattened by the psychological enormity of that.

When my kids need food, I run to the store. When I was first married, and our budget was really tight, we ate more simply. We made do. My kids have NO CLUE about those days. Not that we are eating filet every night, or only drink Perrier (we don’t), but still: I buy food in packages (! The Tightwad Gazette lady would have my head!) , we always have cheese and meat in the house, we have plenty of milk and I no longer only get half and half on holidays.

We are so lucky.

I love being able to go work at St. Ann’s, and I wish we could go more often. I need that reminder to be grateful. It’s not like we did anything to be lucky. We are just super blessed that life, while smiting us in an awful lot of areas, hasn’t messed with lunch.

With new energy I am getting a bag for our county food pantry for collection next week at church. If we all gave one can of corn or one can of tuna, just imagine how many more people we could feed? Even if we don’t have a ton, just one can could really help someone who has less than we do.

Food brings people together. Sharing food with those who are hungry brings the world together, I think.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Add That to the List

My lists have lists.

It’s true. My lists sprout other lists, and those grow little piles of paper, and from there a jungle of lists spreads throughout my house.

I can’t help it. I don’t know if it’s just that I’m a little unfocused (understatement!), or stress has finally gotten to me, or my brain just works in circles, but if I don’t make lists, I’m lost.

The problem lies in the where of it all. I list things on envelopes, on the backs of notepads, on post-its and index cards. I list things on calendars and official letters from school. I list things on a whiteboard and on library receipts. These lists get all mixed up, and then start wandering my house in a hungry pack.

I am not particularly more organized because of my burgeoning List Herd, but I do derive extreme satisfaction from checking things OFF whatever lists I can find.
One helpful list I’m trying to keep this year, in my so far completely unsuccessful attempts at a year of zen, is a calendar list. I took an extra calendar and I am trying to list the things I do that are steps towards my goal of positivity. I write down when I exercise & what I do (Gilad! Or “run 3.04 in 36 minutes, knee at 2.6  “ ). This way I can see that I am not as much of a lump as I usually think I am—and I can keep track of my preparation for the Jersey Shore Relay in April.

I am also writing down a little “V” for when I remember to take my new vitamin, Stress Plus Zinc. Really. That’s what it’s called. How could I NOT buy that? I’m not sure taking stress in pill form is a good idea for me, but the bottle made me laugh. Normally when I buy vitamins I take them for a week and then forget until the bottle reaches its expiration date. Hopefully the calendar will help me remember to try and be healthy.

This blog and my daughter’s Caringbridge page also get a notation. I need to keep on top of writing. Filling in “blog” or “CB” on the calendar keeps me up to date on getting the blender-y ideas out of my head and into a computer.

I also decided to write down what books I read. In childhood I was a voracious reader, I devoured any book I could get my hands on. After college my reading dropped off, and once I had kids, reading got relegated to vacation time. Once I went back to work I HAD to read a lot, and now I am trying to read more for my own mental health, fun things not about modern history. So far this year I’ve read “La’s Orchestra Saves the World”, “A Thousand Sisters” (a must read, but NOT fun at all), and a book on cd for the car about “An Organized Mind “(yeah. Still working on that). I am midway through “Founding Foodies”. . .

Honestly, I only really started reading for fun again when my daughter started needing to get books for school from the library. The new releases are right next to the Children’s Section. But writing these down lets me see progress. I am not always floundering.

I also note roadblocks like “hospital day” or “felt like road kill”, just so I can avoid beating myself up over days where I AM a lump. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to call a doctor and actually get some annoying things checked out. I listed local doctors to call. Ahem. That’s a step, right? My calendar will hopefully help me narrow down some of those roadblocks to health that I need to ask a professional about, and guide my understanding of what issues are perhaps stress related . When Road Kill Day is the day after Hospital Day, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out there might be a connection.

I guess my calendar is really a list AFTER the fact, almost like writing an outline after the essay or story is done. But this list in reverse helps clear the cloud of incompetence I normally feel like I live under.

The other day I found a list my 8 year old made to cover What We Need To Do at the fundraiser we run in March. She included pictures and numbers, and left her list in the pile o’ lists I have in my kitchen.

Huh. Who knew list making was genetic? I should make a note of that somewhere. . .

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cookies for Breakfast

As usual, there is a song stuck in my head.

It’s more of a jingle, really, but it is stuck. Maybe because I am eating Cinnamon Life in an attempt to not eat leftover Christmas cookies.

“Well, you can’t have cookies for breakfast, but you can have Cookie Crisp!”

I have several thoughts on that.

When I was a kid, we never had cookies for breakfast. We had cereal. Generally store brand, always healthy. Toasted Oats, Krispy Rice, Corn Flakes, and the occasional
Grape Nuts. Never did a cookie masquerade as part of a complete breakfast in our house.

Granted, my mother did pass on her childhood lesson of “put sugar on your cereal”. So even though I wax on about how we never had sugar cereal as kids, except for the uber-treat of the occasional vacation box of AlphaBits (which is hardly a sugar cereal), we sort of ALWAYS had sugar cereal.

Only when I had children did I realize you don’t have a natural instinct to sugarify cereal. To paraphrase South Pacific, “you’ve got to be taught”. Somehow, in one of my rare moments of early maternal competence, I realized this…and thus my children have never put sugar on cereal. I am still agog about this. They don’t know that people do this.

Granted, I face a tricky situation on those rare occasions I eat cereal for breakfast. Old habits die hard, and I have had to become a pro at stealth-sugaring. Ahem.

For years my husband only ate dry cereal because he thought he hated milk in cereal. Eventually he realized he hated sweetened milk, sugarified by the cereal. Yes, he is weird that way. Thankfully, this was not a deal breaker for our marriage.

I do find it kind of obnoxious these days that in the push for Healthy Eating, the really good for you cereals are exponentially more expensive than the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs and anything with freakishly tinted mini-marshmallows. Cereal with marshmallows is a Rubicon I have never managed to cross. Ew. But to be budget conscious AND healthy is a very challenging prospect.

I do make my own granola now, which is both healthy and naturally sweetened with honey and applesauce. Yay me!

But more days, I just have cookies for breakfast. Yay me?

Because in the final analysis, I am a grown up. Who says I can’t have cookies for breakfast? Cookies have grains and eggs in them. Some cookies even have fruit. So I can have eggs and toast with a fruit cup or one Linzer tart cookie. Really, a cookie is so portable, and such an efficient way to get all of those healthy foods in a few delectable bites.

I exercise regularly, and try to make healthy meals…so I find the world is a better place if I have a well timed choco chunk cookie before work.

As a mom, I did finally actually buy a box of Cookie Crisp. My kids were enthralled—you CAN have cookies for breakfast!—even as I was underwhelmed. I make really insanely good cookies. Cookie Crisp just doesn't compare. Alas! The disappointment after all these years of pining after those tiny cookies that stay crispy even in milk!

I can't complain. I’ll just stick with the leftover Christmas cookies, because really, those are the breakfast of champions.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Movin' Right Along...again

I would like to say I have blogged reams in the last months and that some mysterious blogosaurus simply consumed the posts, leaving nothing for anyone to read.

I would like to say that I have filled screen after screen with witty commentary and reflections on my fascinating existence.

To quote Groucho Marx, I would like a trip to Europe.

If I had ruby slippers I could tip tap tap them together and voila! these wishes would become reality. I do have a pair of exceptionally cute red shoes (ok, maybe more than one pair. Maybe more than 2…ahem), but none of them seem to possess the key wish-fulfilling properties of ruby slippers.

Alas. But I am resolved, as much as I ever make New Year’s Resolutions—which is never—to actually try to put some words in this blog on a regular basis, even if a roaming blogosaurus threatens to devour them, and even if I have nothing witty or fascinating to say. Red shoes optional.

My one true resolution for this year is to work on being happy so I can be a real support to my children, the ones who have something to truly put happiness in peril. My spouse asked me the other day, in response to me stating a need to avoid an annoying conversation (oh, the holidays!) by going to my “happy place”, “Do you even have a happy place?”

He was kidding, but I, of course, was utterly crushed. (I haven’t made any resolutions about melodrama, so I figure that was an appropriate response.) He’s right. I have to re-locate my missing happy place. As part of that, I need to keep writing. Writing keeps me from hiding under a rock, or the bed, or anything I can manage to fit under. Writing gives me the path to FIND the happy place, because if the words get all glommed up inside me, I can’t navigate a path out of myself. Does that make sense? Silence becomes the rock for me to hide under.

I’m not sure if that’s deep or cheesy, but hey, that’s the vaguely self indulgent perk of a blog, walking the deep/cheese line.

Seriously, I may be brief, or silly, or just meh in this blog, but I am determined to not let 2011 roll over me until at least February. “Movin’ Right Along” was NOT supposed to represent the Steam Roller of Life working its inexorable progress over my formerly 3 dimensional neurotically creative self. I need to reclaim progress, live my life (instead of letting life live me), and WORK at happy.

As inspiration, I am using Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project as a handy reference…I highly recommend this book, it’s a really entertaining and insightful read, and at least for me, I felt like GR was talking out of my head sometimes, which was both unnerving and endearing at the same time. Check out her facebook page for a great community of people who are thinking Happy is a good thing. : )

Carpe 2011!