Tag Archives: family

30 years ago today I

30 years ago today I
30 years ago today I

30 years ago today I gave birth to my first child…

a healthy, beautiful baby boy, I named Teddy.  

A perfect gift from God.

 

When this precious child was placed into my arms it may have been the first time our eyes met, but I already knew my child’s soul.

Our indelible bond had been formed nine months earlier when my child’s heart began to beat,

In sync with mine.

 

As I the years passed, I felt my child’s pain, their joy… I helped them carry their burdens and failures and also shared in the celebrations of their success.

Most of all, I tried to shepherd them carefully away from doubt, negativity and harm… gently guiding them toward faith, hope and Love.

 

As I raised Teddy, my sweet happy little boy slowly grew withdrawn, preoccupied and sullen before my eyes. I watched his eyes, once sparkling and full of joy, become clouded and detached.

Teddy went from a joyful toddler with a bubbly giggle, to an adolescent weighed down with an internal conflict buried deeply in the dark.

 

Teddy seemed to spend his time sleeping or working on music. There was little in between.

My heart sank as I saw my child slowly slipping away.

 

As a young adult it appeared, Teddy may be choosing to numb this conflict (and accompanying emotional pain) with weed. The only time I saw a flicker of my child, was in the genius expressed in his gift of music. Hearing the deep emotion in his melodies and the naked truth in his lyrics gave me comfort the bright flame still burned somewhere deep within.  

 

But as Teddy’s 29th birthday approached, I feared the flicker that remained was finally being smothered by growing anxiety, depression and the ever expanding dark cloud of cannabis.

 

I knew Teddy was struggling deeply with something extremely overwhelming. And I felt helpless… as if stumbling in the depths of complete darkness trying to help my child confront something I couldn’t see, touch or understand.

 

I am forever grateful for divine intervention and the help of good people surrounding Teddy who trusted a mama’s instinct.

 

It was time.

It was time for Teddy to step forward into the sunlight… to finally be brave enough to emerge from the nubing cloud and peel away the layers and layers… exposing a truth many of us may struggle to understand.

 

There was a deep conflict within Teddy’s soul between the truth of gender and the outward physical expression of gender.

 

This was a difficult concept for me to understand, for I believed on that day thirty years ago, they had placed a child of pure perfection into my awaiting embrace.

When they announced: “It’s a Boy!” … I had no idea the gender of my child ran much deeper than our superficial visual assessment or even chromosomal expression of being labeled a “Boy” or “Girl”.

 

This discrepancy between the gender one is assigned at birth and their true authentic gender was a foreign concept to me— one I had not personally experienced and knew very little about.

I had raised Teddy as a boy, completely unaware of the internal conflict growing within my child.

 

It has been a year since Teddy has embarked on the journey of aligning her soul’s internal identity with her external expression of gender.

It has been a challenging journey for both of us, a journey I never would have predicted, a journey I never would have chosen, and yet a journey I am grateful to share with my child.

 

Sometimes we don’t get to choose our journeys. I believe Teddy would have prefered to have been born with her internal soul and external gender aligned… however, there was a different path chosen for her from the beginning.

 

Thirty years ago they placed a perfect gift from God into my arms and thirty years later

I’ve become enlightened by the truth:

           Perfection needs no “Labels”.

 

The pure authentic perfection of our souls exists freely and is felt deeply within us… unconfined… unencumbered… by the superficial limitations of labels assigned by what we see on the outside.

 

The sparkle has return to my child’s eye…

Teddy is once again filled with joy, ease and comfort.  Teddy’s glorious eyes are once again a true expression to her magnificent soul.

 

As I write this in the early morning of her thirtieth birthday… I am overwhelmed with emotion for it is not for me (or any of us) to judge another, to decide what is right and just, or to question the subtle nuances of the creation of life.

I believe we owe our creator the honor of respecting the truth:

We were all perfectly designed as unique creations,

all perfect in our own individual ways.

 

And we owe each other the respect of honoring our individual need to live our authentic life,

openly and honestly as our authentic self.

We owe each other acceptance and tolerance for the freedom to express our authentic truth.

In other words is doesn’t matter what we see on the outside, because we know what truly matters is on the inside.

 

Is the Pain of a Black-eye Easier to Understand??

Is the Pain of a Black-eye Easier to Understand??

As I was making my morning coffee my friend Sue called.  I could hear it in her voice, she was teetering on the verge of sobs… so I sat down with my cup of coffee and listened.  She said:

 

“My heart is absolutely breaking, and there are days when I just can’t bear it!  

How could a decision I made over 32 years ago, still affect me so intensely today??  

I never would have thought the man I chose to marry and have children with, could cause so much pain.  

But it is that one decision, made by an optimistic, naive young girl, which keeps me connected to a man who turned out to be so dangerous.  

There is such irony in a union giving life to three most precious souls… being the same conduit used to hurt those very same lives so deeply.

How can I so deeply regret a decision which gave me the very things in life for which I am the most grateful.

I am so torn with raw emotion, for it was this man who helped create the most important parts of my life… my children… and yet, I will forever feel guilty that I have exposed them to his destruction.  

When they were little, everything was great.  He was usually out-of-town and the physical distance from us, provided a convenient and beneficial separation.  Our exposure to him was limited and the kids and I thrived best under those circumstances.

And when he was physically present, he was never truly “available”.  He’d be obsessed with his latest project….

It was nice when this project was something to enhance our home, like building a nice bookshelf or refinishing the basement.  

It was odd when it was pushing himself in some personally physical way, like hitting golf balls at the driving range well into the night, until his hands bled from deep penetrating blisters. Or never missing a weightlifting session at the gym, no matter who or what might get in the way.

However, It was the worst when his obsession or project appeared to be for the benefit for another, and yet was truly a vehicle to entice another’s involvement to purely “benefit” HIM.  These situations were the most difficult to detect, and by far caused the greatest harm.   

And sadly, each one of my children has experienced this harm in their own individual way.  

Through the years, especially after the divorce, It became almost impossible for me to shield them from this harm.  I am only grateful… that the older they get, it appears overtime the clearer this whole phenomenon becomes to each of them.  With clarity come truth… but this is a truth no mother wishes their child to face.

Yes, divorce can be painful… yet it doesn’t have to cause irreparable harm.  

But, unknowingly, I chose to marry a man who (some 23 years later) would make sure our divorce pretty much decimated everything and everyone in its path.  

A man who got the divorce he wanted and then became obsessed with turning it into a project cause unending suffering and pain… all the while balancing the fine-line of trying to justify reasons for his “actions”.

And after years of living through all of this, and realizing he. will. never. stop… I am forced to face my greatest horror… my greatest guilt:

 

I.  was. not . strong. enough. to endure the destruction… rise above it all… shake myself off and protect my own kids from the painful, dangerous fall-out!!!

My survival instincts were weak.  

I took financial and emotional hit after hit.  I was dragged into one legal court battle after another… and with what little energy or hope I had left… I was barely able to keep our (mine & my kids) most basic needs met.

I didn’t say or do the right things to make my kids feel safe, like the smart psychologists who write articles on dealing with divorce always suggest. Unfortunately, I was in survival-mode and was functioning out of desperation.

I failed.  I failed at the only thing I ever cared about….

I failed to be the best mom I could be.

 

And for that, my heart is broken.  And there are days when I just can’t bear it!  

And I hope one day, maybe my kids can forgive me.

And maybe one day, I can forgive myself.”

 

 

 

Musket, Scalping & Trump Safe Zone

Musket, Scalping & Trump Safe Zone

Welcome Back!

Back ? Home = happy place (physically & mentally)

Bridges = help us get there

?

 

I awoke, Monday, November 21, on a cold, grey, snow-covered Northeast morning with my usual childlike faith:

That a new day… is a new chance… for a better day… than yesterday….

All I wanted to do was open up Facebook and Feel Good!  

Maybe chuckle at some clever Thanksgiving memes or watch a corny, irresistible YouTube video about a bunny and giraffe.  I was determined to rise above the gloomy dark clouds that seemed to be surrounding me.  Not just the ones outside, but those looming over our country and lurking around my upcoming holiday plans.

It was a loooong stretch to happy hour, so I decided to slowly scroll down my FB page for a little pick-me-up.  I hoped to God I’d luckily stumble upon that video of those adorable twin babies laughing uncontrollably at rubber bands or maybe find an easy 3-step recipe for a yummy Thanksgiving dessert shared from Delish.  And I was seriously dreading those polarizing political post that have been going viral lately… like the ones praising the cast of Hamilton… or Tomi Lahren’s Final Thoughts. 

Facebook used to be my Happy Place… my place to connect with friends and family regardless of beliefs and backgrounds.  It brought out the best in all of us and focused on our similarities (like finding it entertaining to learn what your name would be back in the 1800’s), rather than our differences that tear us apart.

And, that’s what the Holidays are supposed to do too….    Bring Us Together….     Right?!?!

But lately everything’s all screwed up… even more than normal.  The 2016 Presidential election tore families and friends apart and probably caused an unprecedented spike in nationwide alcohol sales and Xanax prescriptions.  

Three weeks ago, things were supposed to finally settle down, but they’ve gotten worse.  Social media has become a bloodstained battlefield for our country’s raging conflict and division.  My loving niece actually DEFRIENDED me because I wasn’t with HER, even though I wasn’t with HIM.

And forget fighting over the Electoral College being a stupid idea… who was the genius to put the election so close to Thanksgiving.  Aren’t these wonderful Holidays, when family and friends gather together to give thanks and spread kindness, challenging enough without pouring gasoline on potential sparks.

People are white hot mad at each other.  But for goodness sake people… We. Are. All. Diverse. Complicated. Individuals… AND we all have to find a way to live Together… accepting one another’s right to believe and think differently.  We’re y’all sleeping during History class or what?!?!?!  Intolerance only ends in pain and suffering.

Even on the bloodiest battlefields of World War II…  on Christmas Day, opposing soldiers came together for the sake of Holiday Peace and Joy.  So I am begging US… people of the United States of America to cool down your feverish fight against your opposition (whoever it may be) and come together this holiday season.  

Remember, those you oppose are equally as passionate and determined that their beliefs are right.  Don’t forget what two opposing groups came together for the FIRST Thanksgiving Dinner… if those guys resisted the urge to scalp and musket shoot each other… than I think we can resist the urge to talk smack about politics.

Let’s try to make Facebook and the Thanksgiving dinner table a Safe Place.  

No polarizing political posts.  Put down your swords and pick-up your Pumpkin Pie forks.  I for one need some happy in my Holidays.  I  just bought 3 outrageously expensive airline tickets with my dwindling meager retirement money to spend Thanksgiving with my 80-something parents and other relatives, including my “defriending” niece.  

And the whip cream on my pumpkin pie is my two travel buddies are my bratty, entitled, Teenager of divorce, and my (almost-approaching-normal-&-nice-adult-level-behavior) 22 yr old.

So, come on people now, just like the Youngbloods wisely said:

Smile on your brother

Everybody get together

Try to love one another

Right now………………………. 

I Pledge to break into song… singing the above chorus… any time someone tries to go “Political” at the dinner table or whines about how the divorce ruined their life and they want… want…. want……………….

And my caterwauling will surely put an end to any poor behavior, because everyone will be cleaning up the shattered wine goblets!!

I dare you to take the Pledge…….????

 

 

 

 

I recently wrote a piece on why today’s Teens (Generation Z) have a reputation for being:

Lazy

Self-Entitled

Apathetic

Spoiled Rotten.

 

I will admit there are some teens that defy this pathetic reputation.  Thank goodness we still have teens being inducted into the ranks of Eagle Scout, The National Honor Society, etc…

Someone’s gonna have to sign our SS checks in 10+ years.  

These hard working, volunteering, high achieving, scholarship winning, stellar athlete, good-grade getting teens are out there.  I see their parents proudly posting their achievements on FB everyday!!  

And how does this happen… ???… was the kid just born that way...???… was it Healthy Neglect on the part of the parents…???… Fate…???… Luck…???… All the above?!?!

 

But what about today’s Spoiled-Brat-Teens??

Well…I blame their Parents:  

The Parents who were born on The Baby Boomer & Generation X Cusp.  

Known for great success in educational, financial and social arenas.  

Portrayed as a powerful generation of optimism, and high, over–achievement.

(of which I am a guilty member)

 

We were given all the resources to be perfect parents and successfully raise the perfect kid.

We just can’t bear to see our children fail.  

We’ll do anything to save our children from experiencing the pain, discomfort or direct consequences of their bad choices.  Because that may indicate we were bad parents!!! (Gasp!!!)  So, we Over-Parent!!!!!

 

Are we helping… or hurting??

Them    = hurting

Us         = hurting

Society = hurting

 

Gen. Z is going to be running this country one day.  A scary thought??  Damn right!!

And if they have a fighting chance of changing their flawed character and bad reputation…

the change is going to have to start with us, The Parents.

 

 LET’S EXAMINE TWO EXAMPLES WHERE CHANGE CAN START :

                                                                                         1.  Parental Portal

                                                                                        2.  Home Chores (next Blog)

 

Parent Portal  

The Parent Portal is defined as a tool for parents to stay informed and engaged in their child’s education.

Teachers post EVERYTHING on the Parent Portal: from grades to their daily lecture notes.

So, at any minute, The Parent can have access to a virtual seat right in their child’s classroom.

Is this a good or a bad thing???

Elementary School = good

Middle School = possibly good

High School = BAD!!!

 

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand the importance of parental involvement in their child’s academic development.

BUT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, LET”S HOPE BY HIGH SCHOOL WE CAN STOP HOLDING THEIR HAND!

(Yet how many parents are going to feel responsible for filling out those College Applications……????)

 

This September I attended an Open House for my youngest child…

who is a junior in high school  and every single teacher gave the same speech.

They encouraged us to check the Parent Portal “regularly” (daily), so we could help our kids remember their daily homework assignments, exam dates, project deadlines, etc…

They reminded us their lecture notes were also posted, so we could help our teens understand the subject matter if necessary.  

I jotted down their recommendations “word-for-word” like all of the other high achieving dutiful parents at Open House and finally I just wanted to scream: “EXCUSE ME…… ARE YOU KIDDING?!?!?”

I AM THE PARENT… NOT THE STUDENT!!!

Been there…did that.  Got the T-shirt AND the Diploma… On my own, Thank You Very Much!!!

My day is pretty busy as it is, and I certainly DO NOT have time to micro-manage my teen’s school day.

 

So, why do High School teachers feel it is the Parent’s responsibility for their student to succeed????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Why is the  “Student”  disappearing from this picture??????????????????????????

Teacher <——>  Student  <—–> Parent

 

We have no one to blame but ourselves!!! 

Beginning in Elementary school,  we conditioned our kids and the school system, to count on us to Save The Day!  

 

For example:

Remember the Sugar Cube Igloo our kid had weeks to complete that was built the Sunday night before its due date, with an architectural structure worthy of our mechanical engineering degree.

Same goes for the authentic Iroquois Longhouse complete with working fire-pit… the essay on Amelia Earhart and the book report & diorama on Moby Dick…

God-forbid the kid suffer the consequences of having zero interest or followthrough in completing their school projects… mom &/or dad will swoop in at the last minute and make sure the kid arrives to school Monday morning with a finished product worthy of an A+.

Problem:  By high school these coddled kids, (who have never suffered the consequences of their bad decisions) are… Lazy and Apathetic.

Cause: The Parent believes it is their responsibility to guarantee their kid is a successful student, ultimately proving they’re successful at parenting.  

Solution:  STOP!!!  Let them Fail.

 

We may ALL have to experience the discomfort of growing pains during the process of change…

but in the end it will be well worth it!!  

Honestly, our future depends on it!!

 

LET’S STOP TRYING TO SAVE OUR KIDS FROM THE PAIN OF THEIR OWN BAD DECISIONS….

When we back down, teacher’s can then start to hold the students solely responsible for their own choices!!!

Facing Mother’s Day with a Broken Heart

Facing Mother’s Day with a Broken Heart

Welcome Back!

Back ? Home = happy place (physically & mentally)

Bridges = help us get there

 

There I was, minding my own business in the Pasta aisle at Walmart, deciding between Vermicelli and Capellini, when I experienced the creepiest encounter ever… like a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past.

 

I heard her behind me. And before I even saw her, I was transported 17 years back in time.

She was desperately trying to soothe her fussy infant in the grocery cart as her 10 and 4 year old were peppering her with non-stop questions, requests, demands and poking each-other.

 

She looked exhausted… Physically, Mentally and Emotionally.

There was a spit-up stain on her shoulder and yesterday’s mascara was faintly noticeable… adding a deeper shade to her already dark circles.

 

Our eyes met and communicated the words we didn’t need to speak.

I so badly wanted to validate her pain, so I smiled gently and softly said:

“It’s hard”.

And that’s when this poor young mother lost it.

 

Tears rolled down her cheeks as she choked out the words…

“It’s SO HARD.  

I wish my husband realized just how hard it is.  

But he’s never home!  

He works late hours, so I can stay home with the kids… and I never get a break!  

I’m totally drained……..

It’s just SO HARD!”

 

And then she looked at her kids who were obviously her pride and joy and as she wiped away her tears she smiled and said…

“But, it’s worth it… It won’t ALWAYS be this hard… when they grow up it’ll be much easier”.

 

And that’s when I lost it, and as tears streamed down my cheeks, I choked back the words I wanted to say and turned away so she couldn’t see my reaction.  As I stared at boxes of pasta through blurry tears, I felt an empty pain deep in my heart .

 

I wanted to tell her… “Oh my dear, you have no idea just how much harder it can get. Years after you’ve given Everything there is to give, your husband just may happen to come home after “that business trip” or “working late” one night and ask you for a divorce.  

 

He will walk away with his high paying job, executive level earning power and retirement fund, while you walk away with the job description of ‘Housewife and Mom’ added to your resume.

 

And then he just may drag you through the family court system for years, constantly trying to negotiate paying less and less in child support until he manipulates the legal system to eventually pay you nothing at all… and along the way he’ll cause you to pay thousands and thousands in lawyer fees.

 

Then just when you thought your heart couldn’t break anymore… Your kids will see you as the Crabby Complainer and their dad (who, by the way, was busy “working late” their whole childhood) as the go-to parent. He’ll hold all the cards, and bribe them with promises of buying them a car when they turn 16….and…

 

And when your teenage daughter strikes the final blow, by telling you she’d rather live with her dad because you’re barely scraping by and he can easily afford to buy her whatever she wants… including a generous makeup and clothing allowance, you’ll wonder if it was really all worth it.

 

And then after living under his negative influence for a while, she’ll be blinded by the illusion of his spin on reality and there will only be a glimmer of your sweet little girl left behind. She will gladly align with him and forget who you are.

 

But, instead I chose to wipe away my tears and simply wished her a Happy Mother’s Day and she wished me the same.

 

Little did she know, this Sunday, my Mother’s Day will be far from anything I’d dreamed of or hoped for.

 

There are many moms who may not receive that Hallmark moment of recognition and gratitude from their children they long for.

 

There are many different reasons why this Mother’s Day may be filled with disappointment, heartache and sadness for many moms.

 

Remember, sometimes simply knowing you’re not alone makes it all much easier… along with a dish of delicious pasta and a nice bottle of red.

 

The Top 3 Things Wrong With Generation Z ( a.k.a Today’s Teens)

The Top 3 Things Wrong With Generation Z ( a.k.a Today’s Teens)

Welcome Back!

Back  Home = happy place (physically & mentally)

Bridges = help us get there

 

 

Today’s teens who were born between 1994 and 2004, belong to Generation Z.

 

And Gen. Z doesn’t get the best press.

  • A Huffington Post described Gen. Z as “lazy, unaware, and apathetic”.
  • “Gen. Z is entitled, lazy, selfish, tech savvy, and yet incompetent,” -S. Greenfield
  • “Many describe Gen. Z as lazy, self-entitled, tech-dependent, and narcissistic.” -D. Sylvia

 

So, What’s wrong with today’s teenagers???

  1. Their PARENTS!
  2. Their PARENTS!
  3. Their PARENTS!

These Parents were born on The Baby Boomer & Generation X Cusp.  

Known for great success in educational, financial and social arenas.  

Portrayed as a powerful generation of optimism, and achievement.

 

Elite Daily had an article that compared today’s teens with their parents:

Generation Z is used to being spoon fed everything, while their parents worked hard for everything that they currently have.

The Baby Boomer generation understood that the world didn’t owe them anything. They were a more independent generation, as they didn’t really have much of a crutch to lean on in comparison to Gen. Z.

Gen.Z’s an entitled generation, babied by their parents and society and it has really damaged their work ethic and the way they go about life.

They expect things to be done for them and if something requires a little extra work or concentration, they’re easily deterred from doing it.

 

Do I get a: AMEN!!!!!

 

Spring is in the air and it’s a perfect time to witness this phenomenon.

As the temperatures rise, so does the blood pressure of most The Parents.

 

Here are some examples:

  • Billy is failing Biology and the final exam is only weeks away.

Who’s in a panic, Billy or The Parents?

Ummmm, The Parents?  

Yep!

WHAT CAN THEY DO???  They scramble to find a tutor….$50/hour…$100…

No problem, they’ll do anything to prevent Billy from experiencing the direct consequences of the poor choices he made all year long.  

 

  • Katie’s Prom is next month

She finds her favorite dress on the internet.  It’s perfect and she has to have it, but it costs more than most wedding dresses and Katie doesn’t have a job.  

Does she get the dress?

Of course she does!

The Parents buy it for her and, they’ll also throw in a stretch Limo and host a lavish pre-prom photo-op party for all of Katie’s friends and their Parents.

Everyone will look stunning in all the pics posted on FB, especially Katie in her lovely dress..

 

  • Nikki’s a Junior and college is 2 years away

Does she have to worry about it now?

Nope.  She probably hasn’t even given it a minutes thought,

BUT THE PARENTS HAVE.

Infact, The Parents have probably spent most of their Spring

  • Researching ACT/SAT testing dates and review classes to sign her up for
  • Mapping out college visits
  • Getting all the ducks in a row for the college application process

And Nikki will accompany The Parents on these college visits, looking apathetic and mostly texting on her phone and taking selfies along the campus tour.

 

I have a confession:  I was born in 1963 and I have three kids… do the math.

 

Our kids are CODDLED… SPOILED.

And we only have ourselves to blame.

 

Why can’t we let our kids experience their own failures… the disappointments of not getting everything they want?  

 

Are we protecting them or ourselves??

Are we so addicted to success, that we can’t even imagine our own children may fail?  

Do we feel our children’s achievements or failures are a reflection of us… our strength, weakness or flaws??

 

Even if we won’t admit it… It’s common knowledge we’ll do anything to help our kids succeed.

 

Our kids know it and so does everyone else.

 

In fact, high school teachers and administrators will bet on it.  

They know teens will do NOTHING all year long and therefore rely on The Parents to swoop in, save the day and make sure there will be students to pass and graduate.  

So, they created this thing called The Parent Portal and it enables The Parents to enable their teens.  

Most High School Websites now have a “Parent Portal” where The Parents can (at any moment) access their teens class schedule, assignment/project/quiz/ test deadlines and grades.

It’s like The Parents can now have a VIRTUAL SEAT right in their Teens Classroom!!!!

 

Ironically, The Parents  graduated from high school and college with very little help or involvement from their own parents and yet feel DIRECTLY responsible for the academic success or failure of their own kids.  

Heck, my parents didn’t even know where my high school was!!

 

So, while our teens are absorbed in their social-media life…perfecting their duckie-face selfie or building their biceps at the gym… we’re chewing their food and spitting it into their mouths like momma Robins.   

 

And their still FAILING…  

Which just makes us work harder at saving them, because God-forbid they fail a class…

How will they get accepted into a GOOD COLLEGE?????  

And once they get into college, this dynamic will just continue.

They’ll perform mediocre at best as we struggle to write every tuition check.  If their failing a course, we’ll encourage them to “DROP IT!!”.  We’d rather pay for courses they didn’t take, than have them suffer the consequences of an F.  And we’ll all stay on this Hamster Wheel, until we STOP!

These kids don’t stand a chance at any resemblance of personal or professional success, UNLESS we remove their CRUTCH… (by realizing we’re the Crutch)!!!

So, in the upcoming weeks… among the onslaught of FB posted Prom, Senior and Graduation pics… steady yourself for the declaration of “What college acceptance Billy’s chosen!!!”   

And who do you think will be posting all of these accomplishments….                                                                                                The Teen or The Parent that earned them?

[Disclaimer: Yes, maybe there’s always that one teen & parent that’s an exception…  😉  ]

 

My Husband Loves Toys

My Husband Loves Toys

Welcome Back!

Back  Home = happy place (physically & mentally)

Bridges = help us get there

 

My husband LOVES toys & gadgets.

Adult Toys & Gadgets  (no, NOT “those”  kind…).

He just can’t watch an Infomercial without wanting to buy whatever they’re selling.

 

I realize it might eventually be beneficial to install V-chip Technology to block these broadcasts from our home TVs. But, in the meantime, he proudly informed me UPS would soon be delivering a Pressure Cooker.

“Wait…. What?!?!  I don’t want a Pressure Cooker!!”, I quickly replied.

 

I remember those from back in the 60s.  My mom had one, and rarely used it.

It was constructed out of heavy steel and had this black plastic knobie valve that would spin and rattle as explosive steam built-up within the pot.

If you entered the kitchen during one of the very rare occasions my mother was PRESSURE cooking something in it… she would shrill: Do NOT. Get. Near. The. Stove!!! 

When it was done… we basically had to wear hard hats, and crouch under the kitchen table while my mom gingerly tried to remove the lid.

 

Fast forward, I told my husband my feelings about introducing this Highly Dangerous Hazard into our home kitchen and he confidently informed me that…

THIS, was not my Mother’s Pressure Cooker!!!

 

“This was a technological advancement in home cooking like no other.

This Pressure Cooker was fully automated, digital, and SAFE.

It sat safely on the kitchen countertop.  

You simply plugged it in, added the ingredients,

locked on the lid, pushed a few buttons & Voila.

Within minutes you had a delectable meal worthy of a Three-star Michelin Rating.”

 

Then my husband started to describe the great dinners we could easily make in our new Pressure Cooker.  And he had me, right there & then, with: “WE”.  

 

I have never, ever enjoyed “cooking”.  I’ll bake cookies all day long, but I stress-out just at the thought of having to make dinner every night.

I wouldn’t mind it so much if I could cook the same thing for dinner over & over every night… but I dread having to come up with new, different menu ideas!!  I find it torturous!!  

So, I anxiously awaited the arrival of this newfangled Pressure Cooker.  

 

Our first attempt was to make a recipe called Savory Pork Chops with Creamy Mustard and Sage Gravy over Potatoes. We bought all the ingredients, put them in the pot, followed all the instructions and within only a matter of minutes, our dinner was done. Voila!!

So… did the food taste better or any different than if we’d cooked the same meal in the conventional way?  

The verdict: Heck, YEAH it was Better…  it was Unfreaking Believable… melt in your mouth Delicious!!!  

AND I have to admit there were No hard hats required.  

It’s easy to use, totally digital and EVERY meal comes out tasting simply AMAZING!! The steam traps in all the wonderful flavors, nutrients and everything is cooked to the perfect tenderness.

The only (HUGE) disadvantage has been glaringly displayed on the digital display of our bathroom scale. Unfortunately, along with every newly discovered delicious meal… there also seems to be newly discovered inches to my arse.

To be completely honest, this wonderful advancement in home cooking technology is a curse!!

I LOVE food.    I LOVE to eat.  

So, I certainly don’t need food to taste any better or another reason to love food any more than I already do.  (Especially now, at the age when my metabolism has come to a screeching halt!) But, I must say, it’s great to see my husband so enthusiastic about this latest toy and I totally appreciate the help in meal planning and preparation… therefore, I find myself in quite a quandary.   

I was hoping this Pressure Cooker would just find its way into the Gadgetry Graveyard along with the “not so easy to clean” Jack Lalane Juicer…, but Nooooo, this sweet innocent looking thing is still sitting front and center on our kitchen countertop.

I have finally resorted myself to the fact this clever little devil invention is here to stay, so I better learn to live with it and adjust my lifestyle accordingly.

Maybe it would help if every Pressure Cooker came with a free 200 page easy-to-follow recipe book… AND, a free introductory membership to Weight Watchers.

I can only hope the next Infomercial my husband watches will be for a Total Home Gym.

 

For a Friend

For a Friend

Welcome Back!

Back  Home = happy place (physically & mentally)

Bridges = help us get there

 

It all started a few days ago.  

I was writing on my laptop, enjoying my first cup of coffee, when I heard something in the other room.  It sounded like something was hitting the window.  

 

I walked into the family room to check it out, and sure enough, a robin was repeatedly flying into the window.  The minute it saw my reflection it flew away.  

 

I was relieved it hadn’t hurt itself and went back to my writing.

 

No sooner had I returned to my laptop, when I heard the same persistent sound again.

 

Bang……..………..…(wait for it)………………..Bang…………..(and again)……………… Bang!  

 

I walked back into the room and the robin flew away again.  

I thought:   “Geez, poor bird.  It’s gonna hurt itself.”

 

I figured by now this bird must’ve realized it keeps hitting something hard and obviously impermeable and finally flew away somewhere else.   

 

I went back to my writing.  And, I kid you not, within minutes, it started again.

 

Seriously?!?!  

I was shocked.  How could a bird be that stupid…or that stubborn???  Then I recalled hearing stories about how an animal’s instincts can cause it to repeat behavior over and over, even if it results in physical injury or worse.

 

And we’ve all heard the quote:

“Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results is the definition of Insanity!!”

 

WTHeck!?!? I didn’t have the time, energy or desire to deal with an insane robin!

Every time I walked into the room, it would fly away… but, it would come right back and keep doing the same stupid Banging!!

 

I couldn’t keep walking in and out of the family room all day.  

 

So, I observed its behavior from a vantage point where it couldn’t see me.  

There’s a tree next to the window, and this robin sits on its branch and then takes a header into the window… knocks itself silly and then does it again!!!

 

I wasn’t sure how to help this poor bird, so I tried a few ideas:

 

  • I taped some foil to the window— this didn’t help, it just moved to a different section of the window!

  • Then I designed a replica of myself (like a scarecrow) using chairs, pillows, blankets, etc— this didn’t help.  I added a fan to give the materials some movement— no help!!

  • Then I cut-off the branch it was sitting on— it just moved to another branch! (I thought about cutting down the whole tree, but deep down I knew that wouldn’t help either.)

  • I screamed at it: “What is WRONG with you… are you TRYING to kill yourself!?!?”— no help.

  • Then I opened the window (which has a screen)— Voila, this seemed to help, but we’ve been having a lovely winter this spring and the house was getting a bit chilly (considering the 19* temps outside) so I ultimately closed the window.

By this time it was dusk and Thank Goodness the silly bird retired for the evening!!

 

The next morning I’d forgotten all about the bird until… it started AGAIN!!!

Bang………………………………..Bang………………………………….Bang!

 

WoW!!! It certainly was a consistent little bugger.

 

This time I tied up the window-blind strings and positioned the fan to blow them around. And the Good News is, it seemed to solve the problem.

 

There is just one issue.  This contraption has to be turned on constantly until dusk.  If I forget to turn it on… I am reminded by a persistent:

 

Bang……………… ……………..Bang………………………………….Bang!

And I know there may come a day when this latest fan/string contraption won’t help anymore and I fear finding that bird lying dead under the tree.

 

This whole ordeal has really ruffled my feathers.

No, I am serious!  

 

It is unnerving to try and help another when their behavior is going to hurt them (or worse), and most of your intervention does absolutely nothing .

 

The moments when I waited to see if a new preventative method worked, were absolutely grueling.  My heart would sink (& I’d inevitably feel like a failure) every time I’d hear the Banging start-up again.

 

The very worst letdown was when I thought I’d finally helped, because things quieted down… but then inevitably it would start again.

 

I’m always looking for the silver lining, or lesson learned from facing challenges in life.

And this situation unfortunately mirrored the greatest challenge we all face as human beings:

   The pain and frustration we feel

by watching those we Love

repeat behaviors

that hurt them or can eventually kill them.

 

The hardest thing to endure it to stand-by helplessly.  

And yet that is all you can do.  

Because if they want to Bang into that window… They will… And there’s nothing you can do to stop them.

 

Lesson 101 in loving someone, who is actively engaging in harmful behaviors… is to know there is very little you can do.  It is up to them if they want to change or stop.

We. All. Have. Free. Will.

 

These past few days I learned some important reminders.  

 

Here are some things you can do:

  • You do what you can to help.

  • You realize there is no magic wand to make it all better (no matter how much you beg, scream, cry, plead, wish, hope or pray).

  • You learn to live with your feeling of helplessness.

  • You accept you have no control over another’s Free Will.  You surrender trying to impose yours.

  • You eventually Let Go (and let God).

  • You remember to take care of yourself.

… a little birdie told me so!  

 

 

Alcoholism & The Family (With Honesty and Knowledge Comes the Power of Healing and Forgiveness)

Alcoholism & The Family (With Honesty and Knowledge Comes the Power of Healing and Forgiveness)

Welcome Back!

Back  Home = happy place (physically & mentally)

Bridges = help us get there

 

I grew up in the late 60s and early 70s.  

It was a magical time.  

It was The Wonder Years.

 

In our typical suburban neighborhood, the newly built split-level houses and perfectly manicured (un-fenced) lawns lined up like dominoes.

Everything looked pretty darn pristine and idyllic.

 

And summers were the best.

 

The teenage girls sunbathed in the backyards (baby oil & all), while the boys played hoops against nets bolted above garage doors.

The rest of us kids, just ran from sprinkler to sprinkler and played endless yard games like, What Time Is It Mr. Fox and Capture the Flag.

Moms were busy making meatloaf dinners, JELL-O mold desserts & ironing in front of the TV while watching their favorite daytime shows.  

Then right around dinnertime, most of the dads rolled up in their Granada Gold or Grecian Green Chevy Impalas.

 

If a neighbor hosted a barbecue, the lighter fluid flowed over the charcoal briquettes as freely as the beer, wine, and mixed drinks flowed in every adult’s glass.  

It was the era of Canadian Club and Whiskey Sours.  Most parents were never without a cold cocktail in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other.

 

Life was predictable.

 

Kids played.

 

Parents smoked and drank.   

 

And if there were problems in your family, in your home… no one seemed to care about addressing them.  Especially during the summers.  Everyone was overjoyed to simply bask in the carefree warmth of the sunshine.  

 

I adored the distraction of summer and absolutely dreaded the isolating cold, darkness of winter.  Because, that was when the pain of my family’s problems weren’t so easy to ignore.

I figured everyone’s parents drank a lot… But it wasn’t clear if their drinking caused the same intensity of problems.  

 

In fact, it wasn’t until the late-80s, when I first realized my dad was an Alcoholic.  

 

It was 1987 and I was teaching high school.  Educational programs on Addiction Awareness were just starting to be included in the curriculum.  We began teaching students about Alcoholism and the ripple effects in the family.  

All the teachers had to attend a mandatory In-Service on the disease.  

As I sat there, in a dark room watching a movie about Alcoholism and the Dynamics within the Family… it was the first time I’d ever heard of the term ACoA (Adult Child Of An Alcoholic). The acronym that would prove to describe me so well.

 

That moment was pivotal.  Suddenly everything came into focus.  

 

The extreme behavior my dad had exhibited my whole life… from his flash temper to his unpredictable rage.  The excessive, inappropriate physical affection to extremely cruel psychological mind games.  The betrayal and infidelity.  His extreme success and equally extreme failure at work.  

 

Everything seemed to be explained  by his drinking.

 

His addiction to alcohol produced a ripple effect of disfunction in our family.

For example, my mom’s emotional frailty revealed itself  in ongoing depression and anxiety.  And because everything around me was so out-of-control, I felt like I had to be as good and perfect as possible.  

It was like being on an airplane and both the pilot and co-pilot were incapacitated and completely unable to fly the plane.  So, I believed I had to be really well-behaved or else we’d all crash and burn.

 

So, why was my dad’s alcoholism so hard to diagnose?

 

Partly, because Family Dysfunction was never talked about or discussed during The Wonder Years…  But there were many other reasons too.

 

For example, he had a job with a very flexible schedule that helped mask his addiction. His workday started around noon and ended very late…usually at one of his favorite bars.

There were many nights (well after midnight) my mom would get me out of bed and sitting at the kitchen table, with an open phonebook… she’d dial the bar’s number and I would ask the bartender if my dad was there.

When we’d finally track him down, it was my job to ask him to come home.

Then I would lie awake until I heard the garage door open and the fighting begin, because then I knew he was home safely and I could finally fall back asleep.

The next morning he’d sleep in late to recover from the heavy drinking the night before.  He’d clean-up, get neatly dressed in his crisp white shirt, tie and “Don Draper-esque” suit… and begin his work day, once again, looking quite handsome and well put together.  

 

Another reason was because back then, we believed Alcoholics were unemployed, creepy old men lying drunk in a gutter of some back alleyway.  And he didn’t fit the picture of a drunk mess.

In fact, he was just the opposite.  

My dad was blessed with an amazing, funny, outgoing, entertaining, charming and charismatic personality.  And when he drank,  it produced a remarkable synergistic effect…

He. Was. The. Life. Of. The. Party!  

The downside was, he could also be a very angry, sinister, and cruel sober…but few people saw this side of my father.

 

This is not about bashing my dad.  

 

I Love My Dad.  

 

He has a disease.  

When I was a kid, his disease was pretty bad & he was a pretty shitty dad. Back then things were out of control, but now things are better.  

 

And that’s what this story is really about:  How Things Can Get Better And Not Worse.

 

He and my mom have really evolved into the loving, caring, great people I always knew they had the potential to be.  They just had to fight a lot of demons to get here.  And I couldn’t be more proud of them.  

It seemed the older my parents got, the weaker their demons got.  

I know it doesn’t work that way for a lot of people.  The truth is, they were lucky.  And even though they occasionally have to still fight those demons… they just keep on fighting to make things better.  

And this year they’ll celebrate their 61rst Wedding Anniversary.

 

I wanted to clearly identify the reality that even though everything looked pretty darn pristine and idyllic during The Wonder Years, some of us were being raised in a spectrum of dysfunction on many levels.  

And, sometimes it took decades to gain the knowledge to figure out what was wrong.  

 

I believe true healing can finally occur

when the source of the dysfunction is recognized:

With Honesty and Knowledge Comes the Power of Healing and Forgiveness

 

Unmasking my dad’s struggle with alcoholism was the beginning of me finding my way back home.  To the place I had always longed to be:  Safe

 

I discovered the following Bridges to help me get there;

  • I went to my first Al-Anon meeting when I was 25   

  • My family and I attended a wonderful intensive counseling program called “Concerned Persons”

  • I read tons of books on the subject.  My favorite author is Melody Beattie

  • I try to be patient with myself and my parents

 

This may no longer be The Wonder Years, but we’ve come full circle.  

We now know every home, every family, probably has some dysfunction… unfortunately that is a fact of life.  

The good news is, we can still make Our Years Wonderful by learning how to identify the problems and take action to make things better and not worse.

 

Have you found your Bridges  Back home after a living through a challenging dysfunction in your childhood??

Please share your story in the comments to help others…

 

 

Time Alone (When The Mouse Is Away, The Cat Has A Time-Out-Day)

Time Alone (When The Mouse Is Away, The Cat Has A Time-Out-Day)

Welcome Back!

Back  Home = happy place (physically & mentally)

Bridges = help us get there

 

 

My wonderful Hubster (whom I frankly Adore), recently took his son on a Snowmobiling Trip.

Not only was I grateful he has sons who can join him on those COLD Weather Adventures (somewhere up in Yukonesque Territory with below-zero-double-digit temperatures)…

I was also excited to have just a couple of days All Alone.

Okay, somewhat alone…with all the dogs.  And cat.  And goats.  And cattle…

 

Bottom line:  The minute they pulled out of the driveway (at the crack of dawn)… I felt like Kevin in  Home Alone !!!

 

But, instead of running from room to room waving my arms overhead…

when I finished cleaning up their breakfast dishes and feeding, watering, and letting animals out & in… and then out & in once again:

I went back to bed and took a Nap!

 

What. A. Luxury!!!

 

I am a Stay-At-Home-Wife (gladly)… but, contrary to what some might think,

I. DO.NOT. SIT. around with my feet up watching soap operas and eating Bon-Bons.

 

Quite the contrary!!!

 

We SAHW’s are a busy group.

As with any profession, you have hard chargers and loafers.  And I’m gonna guess most of us SAHW’s would crush your styreotype.

From the moment my alarm goes off at Noon (LoL, JK) 6:15AM… I am off and running!!

To be honest, I don’t have time to even turn on the TV during the day and have never eaten a Bon-Bon (unless it was a high-proof liqueur infused variety).

 

However, I will confess to eating handful’s of M&M’s sporadically during my day as I;

Run errands, cook, clean, grocery shop, organize, vacuum, tend to laundry ‘n animals, drive kid(s) to & from school, and try to keep up with my Blog, all the while orchestrating a smoothly running family calendar and household…

 

Oh, and did I mention, Cleaning!?!?

 

I’m not bragging or being a martyr or keeping score, because I love my job and I also happen to have a very hard-charging husband.

He also does more than his share around the house (mostly all the outdoor stuff!!!) plus has a Full-FULL-time job.

 

I’m simply setting the stage for why a Nap was a Luxury!!!  And why being alone, provided me with a weekend full of my kind of Luxuries…

 

Day 1

(single-digit-below-zero temps & weather advisory snowstorm)

 

It was a very cold and blizzardy day.  I forced myself to get up from my cozy nap and made myself Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup for breakfast and finally turned on the TV.

I planned to watch all those Grey’s Anatomy episodes I’ve had TiVoed forever, but after watching just two I was pretty bored.  Maybe Grey’s just isn’t the same without Derek???

I scanned HBO, but nothing looked all that interesting, so I made lunch.

I made a box of Jell-O “sugar-free” Chocolate Pudding and the whole thing fit into my bowl.  It was really good.  I didn’t even wait for it to cool, it was soooo good hot!!

 

By now you might realize I never bothered to make the bed… or get out of my pajamas; a pair of Gap plaid flannel pants and an old Grey’s Anatomy T-shirt that says: “Seriously.”

 

Seriously!

 

I must say… as I took care of the animals throughout the day, I kinda felt like they were judging my attire just a little bit…

 

                    Really?????

 

The rest of the day was unremarkable and passed slowly.

There was plenty of time to O.D. on social media: reading Blogs about life, decorating, girlie-girl things, etc…

I was able to catch-up with all my kids; via texting of course, because nobody seems to answer their phones nowadays.

And then I ended my evening, eating dinner (a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, without the milk) in bed and watching a sappy Hallmark movie until I fell asleep.

 

Day 2

 

Pretty much a repeat of Day 1!

Until about 3:00 PM, when I simply couldn’t take it anymore… I  bathed… dressed… and ventured out to Walmart in a virtual white-out-blizzard to get milk for “dinner”.

And to buy a “couple bags” of Hersey Foil Easter Eggs to replace the ones I’d been snacking on…

 

Day 3

 

For three whole days I took care of the animals, watched sappy girlie stuff on TV & pretty much did and ate whatever I felt like.  I didn’t have to think about anybody else or their needs.

I didn’t need to plan, prepare or clean-up any big meals…

I had resorted to recycling the use of just one bowl for all my meals.

 

And by the third day of being All Alone… I was really missing the Hubster!!!

 

Wise people say: Even the Sun burns when you get too much.  And the goal to a happy life is a Balanced Life.

 

So, after my three days of “Luxury”… I got up at 6:30AM… okay 9… and very HAPPILY (with Renewed Enthusiasm) tackled my regular SAHW routine and had everything Spic-n-Span, and a full course dinner waiting… when the Hubster returned Back Home!!!

 

Everybody needs a little time away… or so they say…

What would you do on your Time-Out-Day???