Thursday, May 26, 2011


There is a vibe in my house that is electric and magical, a vibe that I can remember as if it was yesterday.  It's the vibe of adulthood, and while I am sometimes considered an adult, it's not me. It's my son.

On Friday, May 27th, I will become the proud owner of an adult.  At least on paper.

For this momentous occasion I feel the need to share words, so I wrote Travis a letter.

Dear Travis,

Eighteen years ago I was 28, swollen, afraid and lying in a hospital bed trying to keep you inside me.  Ahead of me was nursing school, a full time job and a new marriage. None of those things mattered, however, because the only thing that mattered was you.

I am sad you are a boy only for one reason - because you will never know the visceral, soulful magic of being a mom.

I would have stayed in that bed, miserable and frightened for a year if it meant keeping you safe.  Someone was entrusting me with something huge, way bigger than myself and your Dad, yet something only the two of us could create. So in that bed I stayed until they decided that you were better off out in the world than in the safe harbor of me. It's odd, because that is a metaphor of how I feel today, as we prepare for you to graduate and head out into your life as an adult.

I will never forget your Dad's voice cracking as he saw the tip of your head, and the awe I felt as I pushed one last time, and you tumbled into the doctor's hands.  At that moment, nothing in my life would ever be the same.

You were the baby that people would stop me on the street to say how perfect, how beautiful, how angelic you were.  Your voice was one I could pick out among a thousand, your tears brought my tears, your laughter segued mine.  I held you and rocked you and read to you and fought for you and then one day, I went to kiss you but I had to look up instead of down to do so.  It happened that fast.

We grew up together, you and I.

So Travis, as you head into a world that doesn't always give you everything you want, I want you to remember these things.  Carry them in your heart, live them in your actions, house them in your soul, because these are things that are going to make you the man I know you are capable of being.

Be kind.  Be kind knowing that you may not get kindness in return.  Be kind when you want to turn away, when it is inconvenient or time consuming.  The light you shine into someone else's darkness may be a beacon for them, and your life will better because kindness always returns to you tenfold.

Be smart.  You are, I know.  My honor student, the math whiz I could never be, the studious Senior that I never was.  Academic smart is important, but gut smart is what you will need to get you through life.  If something feels wrong, it likely is.  If your gut tells you "this is the right thing to do", if people who know you and love you tell you to run with an idea, you should.  You know I believe in a higher power, and that power resides in you.  That little voice telling you to do the right thing is actually a really big voice that is trying it's best to guide you.

Say it.  The words that are in your heart have the capacity to grow when they leave your mouth.  If someone means the world to you, tell them.  If someone hurts you, let them know.  Dad has accused me of wearing my heart on my sleeve, but the other thing he tells me he loves is my passion for what I do and what I believe.  That passion can only be released when you put it out there for the world to see. Say I love you.  Hug people.  Look them in the eye when you speak.  This is trust.  This is what you need to be whole.

Be able to say you are sorry. Humility is the single most important trait a man can have.  You will be wrong sometimes, whether it is in your job, your marriage or your parenting.  The ability to say, "I could have done that differently, and I wish I had" will allow you to grow from your mistakes and make those you respect understand that you will never stop trying. To look someone in the eye and say "I am so sorry" puts another thread into the seam of a relationship, and makes it stronger.  The most meaningful moments of your life will often follow the most frustrating ones.

Be strong. In times that you think you cannot take another hit, remember something that you are grateful for.  I often thought of you, your sister or your Dad when I was bone tired at work or at my wit's end with my family. Gratitude will help you dig deep and remember the reason you are pushing on, whether it be in school, work or personal growth. Never give up. I learned this on a deeper level over the past year, and I don't want you to wait until you are 46 before you learn it too.

Take care of yourself.  Please.  Learn from my mistakes and make yourself a priority.  Eat well, move your body, read great books, laugh hard laughs, and surround yourself with good people who inspire you.  The best times I have ever had are also the simplest ones.  Find joy in sitting in the yard with the person you love, listening to music and looking at the stars. Find peace spending time with your dog, floating in a pool, or making something beautiful that once wasn't. Make music on your guitar and let others continue to enjoy it like we do.  Make people laugh. Inspire. Love. Grow. Be.

You will never know how much I love you.  I am here for you, wherever the road takes you.

Happy 18th Birthday,


Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The word surly is defined as: Bad-tempered and unfriendly.  I love this word, and sometimes, I love being surly.  You love it too, I know it. You just aren't going to put it out there in blog land.

So today, I call surly.  I announce bad-temperament and embrace unfriendliness.  And I have to do it all before 7pm when I punch in to work because while my employer encourages surly through their pay scale and staffing matrix, they do not encourage it in patient care.

I believe surly is viral.  I have caught it from exposure to the following:

Facebook.  My love hate relationship.  It appeals to the immature voyeur in me, the person who loves to know what's going on, who is happy to sign on at 3am and know that there are others in the world working, not sleeping, bored or drunk.  However, I have posted and rapid fire deleted more comments than I care to admit because I think from the hip.  So here, in my somewhat safe blog haven are the things I have deleted.

No one cares how far you ran today, how many minutes on the elliptical you logged or what Zumba class you went to.  All you want is for the world to know that you did something they may not have done, which is move your ass from the computer.  I don't care about your exercise schedule. And until you do the Ironman, I remain unimpressed. You tire me. I have hidden your posts.

I think you are very blessed to have a baby.  However, I have reached the point where I see your child more than I see my own.  Your baby never changes because I see it fourteen times a day through the magic of pixels on FB.  Unless your baby/toddler/child is doing something funny, dangerous or remotely impressive, please limit our exposure to once a week.  I have clicked the hide button, yet again.

You have a spouse.  You live together.  Why must you continually communicate on FB?  I get the once in a while stuff, but all the time? Are you too lazy to walk up the stairs? Do you secretly live in different homes? Do you want to prove that you have this fabulous relationship chock full of love and adoration? Because a lot of us see through that facade.  Click. Hidden.

Vaguebooking.  You can't give it up?  Then shut it up. Or take up fishing, since you like throwing a worm on a hook out to the world. Attention seeking is so unattractive. Delete that post.

Whining.  Four little letters: STFU.  Solve it, shelve it, do anything but complain about your miserable existence on a public forum.

I could go all day about Facebook irks, but I won't since there are more surly triggers to cover.  Let's move on.

Pajama pants.  People! Quit! Now!  If you are over 30, wearing a camisole with no bra and have the word "Pink" anywhere on your clothing I reserve the right to publicly humiliate you. No doubt there are ugly faded butterfly/heart/flower tats under there somewhere too. I only wish there was a hide button for you.

Smoking around your kids.  This is me, rolling my eyes as I help your child out of their stinky jacket while you swear that you "only smoke outside".  You wonder why your baby's asthma has been so bad lately while I have flashbacks to 80's bars and hair that reeked of smoke and hairspray.  You ask for free medication, yet you can buy $50 cartons of cigs.  You suck.

My dear sweet beloved children.  You are not exempt from surly.  Your ability to trash a room ten minutes after I clean it, your inability to wear something more than once before tossing it on the mountain of laundry and your general cluelessness for the effort involved in raising you properly makes me bad tempered and unfriendly. Sometimes. But I still love you. I will not click the hide button for you.  Ever.

People, this post is not my finest moment.  But I had to get it off my chest.  If you're reading it, you can rest assured that you are not the target of my surly.  I love you.  You keep me balanced. You keep me sane.  We should drink wine.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Elements and Us

Thanks to my friend Moe, who calls herself Melissa now that we are grown up (sort of) I now attend yoga.  This is a new love affair for me, and I could kick myself for waiting this long to incorporate it into my life.

I won't go crazy singing the praises of yoga, I will just suggest you find a good teacher and give it a try.  You will be amazed at how it challenges you to stay in the moment and how it works muscles you never knew you had. You may, as I do, walk out of the class with a feeling of peace and harmony with yourself that lasts longer than the "I just went to the gym and knocked off another hour of my life" feeling.
Trust me, just give it a try and let it take you to a new place.

The instructor at yoga is Jeanne, aka my Fairy Godmother.  A retired nurse, she is a tiny little sprite of a woman with really short salt and pepper hair and a presence as big as Texas.  She scrapped nursing as we all fantasize about, and now does what makes her feel fulfilled and happy.  In a way, she never left the profession because she helps me feel better about myself, which in my opinion is what nursing is all about.  There is a place in heaven for Jeanne, and it's filled with incense and yoga mats.

Jeanne teaches different levels of yoga classes.  I have been to basic Hatha yoga, which teaches you some poses and breathing, Chakra yoga; where I balanced my Mudlahara Chakra by putting my hands over my  "mysteries" and breathing deep.  Been there, used batteries. Never the less, I had great fun and relaxation in my Friday Yoga class.

When I got home, Bill built a fire for us, and even though it was 40 degrees, we sat out there until almost 3am chatting and drinking wine.  

I love to chat with Bill.  I love when he opens up and tells me things he is thinking, because 90% of the time Bill is listening to me and solving my problems.  But sometimes he just talks, and that is when I sit back, wrap my blanket a little tighter and just listen.

As Bill talked, and although at this time I cannot remember what it was he was telling me, I had an epiphany.  I realized that we are opposite elements.  Bill is fire - warm, sunshine, early morning day person, up and at 'em, meditating at dawn.  I am water - cool, moonlight, night owl, darkness, starlight - liking my fire in the form of a candle flickering in the night, preferring a lake or a pool with the stars shimmering overhead.

Bill could no sooner work night shift than I could work day shift.  I talk his ear off, he listens, throwing Yoda-like euphemisms at me to keep me always pondering, pushing, chipping away at my goals.  He meditates with all the serenity of Buddah, I sneak peeks out of the corner of my eye to see what's happening, lest I miss something important.

Yet it works somehow.  

Twenty five years of being opposite elements have taught me that it's OK not to be joined at the hip.  It's fine to sometimes sit without words, and that some people really are "not thinking about anything" when you ask them what they are thinking about. (That one took a lot of work to grasp, thanks to my ADHD).  It isn't always perfect, but it is always real, without the posing I suffered through watching as a child. We carry on, Bill and I, through rough spots and financial messes and lack of family support and not nearly enough time to do the things we dream about.  And while I thought at 20 that marriage was supposed to be presents and roses and spontaneity and surprises, I am grateful that I learned to embrace the presents of presence, the dandelion bouquets from the little girl we made, the spontaneity of a Friday night fire, and the surprise of the fact that dependability can be a really sexy thing.