Dear Self, Sometimes I pray to a God I don’t consistently believe in, but where the notion makes me feel less crazy about speaking into air. Today, we’re simply going to talk it out between… More
During the last three years I’ve reverted to Facebook when I feel the need to write. I know the people on this social media outlet (the only one I use) and it’s my comfort zone. When I returned home from work this afternoon I thought, “Why go there?” I mean I have to get this Blog off the ground eventually, right? Besides, when I feel it’s ready to launch and announce to my friends I can simply share a link to these musings directly. So here’s me, venturing out
I have worked in the food service industry for an array of reasons since I turned fourteen and became old enough to work. In an effort to offer strangers an idea of how many years this encompasses, I celebrated my forty-second birthday in January. Yes, twenty-eight years folks
Unfortunately, many individuals view wait staff as uneducated. They see us as lazy or as “settling”. While this may be true for some, it isn’t for me. There is no diploma from college hanging upon my wall, yet I’m intelligent. I work all the time, sunrise to sunset, because I am a single mother. Perhaps I settled, but given my circumstances, it meant more to me to feed my children than it did to search for titled status.
Seventeen of my twenty-eight years in this business have been at my current job. Highs and lows and changes and plateaus. I open the door and actually breathe a sigh of relief; this is rent, this is meals to eat. It’s car insurance and it’s family entertainment. I’m thankful to be employed. Alas, decades in this type of work can wear down even the most steadfast. Everyone has someplace to go and their poor time management becomes your fault. There are less manners and more demands. Less gratitude and more complaints. Here is where I touch on my issue today…
When I first began at my job we gave individual children placemats and crayons. me’re a family-friendly establishment. We strive to learn the names of sons and of granddaughters. We attempt to connect with uncles and aunts and caregivers and nannies. We recognize disabilities and try to protect these little humans from judgement. We want all of them to feel special.
A couple years ago our company decided to forge a new idea; the family activity mat. The paper is huge! There are all sorts of activities; word searches and tic-tac-toe and hidden words and wrong item drawings. In my biased opinion, they’re terrific. The notion is a family of four receives one mat for everyone to be involved with. A family of six would have two mats. Throughout the last six months I hear this statement almost daily: “We need one mat and crayons per kid. Oh you know, our kids don’t like to/can’t seem to share.”
Since when can’t kids share? Sure, no kid likes to, but does that mean we aren’t supposed to teach them how? Won’t they, at some point in their lives, have to share responsibility for a class project? What about sharing a dorm room at college? Will they not share meals with a partner eventually? Is it appropriate to believe they’ll know how to share hours with their own kids someday? Why does it seem parents are no longer teaching this skill?
If your child has a total meltdown over a piece of paper, let it happen. Explain why they need to learn to take turns and how to lose a game with dignity. Illustrate how this simple lesson will assist them in years to come, and use every moment we’re given as parents to teach life lessons.
And don’t be embarrassed. Children are not born with the ability to regulate emotions. This is a learned behavior. They must experience frustration and anger and sadness and everything else within our bodies we deal with as adults. It’s crucial to do so while they are still young enough for outbursts to be socially acceptable. Otherwise, they will look silly stomping their feet when they aren’t crowned Homecoming King or they don’t find accolades for their latest Snap Chat story.
I own the mistakes I’ve made in rearing my kids. When my three year old screamed for a lollipop at seven o’clock at night for thirty minutes I gave in. I was exhausted. We parents live exhaustion. However, when my four year old threw a drink in public because his sibling appeared to have more French fries, we sat outside until common sense returned. If they weren’t in the mood to share television time, there was none. If they couldn’t share a toy, it became mine until they could. My kids are far from perfect, even with a touch of “tough love”, yet they are kind to one another and patient with others.
Families with young kids often speak of how they fear for the world when their kids grow. Has anyone explained to them that paper comes from trees? Do they not comprehend that their trash becomes waste and colored pictures sit in landfills for years to decompose?. Yet everyone wants to carry fancy reusable water bottles and drive hybrid cars and plant trees on Earth Day. Amusing as the miniscule aspects account for a lot of what may go awry ten years from now.
My favorite are the sports teams who dine with us. All twelve kids need their own mat, which is torn into shreds and used as confetti, while they play Subway Surfers on tablets their parents carry. Or the birthday parties of six members with food-covered mats and no conversations had because everyone is too busy posting sundae photos to Instagram and checking-in on Hangouts. If digital dining is predetermined, maybe forego the mats so someone else might enjoy them.
My point is, let kids be kids. Let them yell when they’re young. Let them scroll when they’re older. If they yell, remove them from the table so they learn manners. If they prefer to watch YouTube, pick something as a family. Spend time together, quality over quantity. The meltdowns pass and our red cheeks fade. Children also learn by example. I can’t speak for everybody, but I know I work hard at being a positive role model.
So if you ask me for five mats and I give you a look, don’t assume I mean harm. I don’t. I’m not passing judgement because I don’t know you. Instead I do it because I care. I do it because I want you to care, too.
I recently read a Blog post about writing. It discussed how as writers we aren’t supposed to make excuses for “not having time” to dedicate to our passion. Furthermore, we should push through those moments of excuses and instead propel forward to produce even a small something.
I decided to inventory myself. Am I a writer? Am I “in it to win it” or satisfied with settling? And why do I write? What draws me to use words rather than voice, when frankly the latter is generally less time-consuming. How was the writer in me born?
I was the youngest member added to a family possessing a great deal of drama. It prevailed decades before I breathed air. As a result, I was spared personal accountability, yet was still involved. Intermittently it was major and I had no choice but to suffer the effects. Periodically it was minimal so I was happy to pretend it didn’t exist. I matured quickly in these surroundings. I was basically an only child and fought hard for recognition by both my parents and my older siblings. I played a few sports and enjoyed small parts in drama club productions. I was active in chorus and talent shows and show choir. I got a job. I attended college. However, my successes weighed me down to an extent. There was always something else going on at the same time. I never felt I had a spotlight. To ease my dilemma I scrawled fictional stories.
At one point in my early teens I was lost. Very lost. In an English class we received a lesson on poetry. My teacher was incredible and her instruction piqued my interest. There was so much going on inside me, never mind around me, and this genre helped restore my temperament. I wrote poems for every occurrence; at school or work, when I was happy or sad. I administered few, but the ability to recall helped remind me where I had been to how I’d grown.
In a high school creative writing class my eyes were further opened. I learned about the “person” perspective. In this room I penned my inaugural “first person” tale; one describing my perception about living in my family. My teacher was moved to tears and my fellow peers awestruck by what I’d confided. Although I wrote additional pieces in second and in third person, the aforementioned was where my heart fluttered.
After years of pen to paper, I found the chapter by which to build my climax. I discovered my drive and the purpose for my passion. Opening up was a platform granting me permission for my sentiments. For so long I’d kept inside what I didn’t think was alright to bear. Suddenly, I wasn’t scared and worried little about judgement. I was free to be myself. I felt brave and strong. I still feel that way today.
The inviting portion for me is constructing sentences to match circumstances. To mirror vision and offer insight. I feel sheer exhilaration as soon as an idea strikes, compelling me to expand. I answer the call whenever I hear it, even if I’m unable to publicize immediately. My inspirations are drawn from situations I’ve witnessed or questions I seek to resolve. I compose with my soul, utilizing every ounce of my being. I broach tough subjects and periods during my life where I’ve endured extreme doubt and struggle. From time to time I’m met with backlash. As a younger me, I took this personally. As time has elapsed I’ve learned not to. No one will understand or appreciate every element I attempt. That’s part of being a writer, though. Like everyone, we have good moments and not so good moments.
In college I walked onto campus as a Journalism major. I was prepared to take on the world. By the culmination of my first semester, I realized this was not my career path. I had no yearning to cover popular features or be sent on an excursion I lacked connection to. Instead I coveted the flow of my own personal juices. There was a lot which made me tick. I simply hadn’t yet figured out how to bring it to fruition. Thus, I set aside my love for writing for a long time. Until I became a mother, gathered several life lessons, and accumulated a bit of wisdom.
I currently write to experiment, to broaden my horizons and to illustrate conditions. My enthusiasm surrounds doing what I love and, eventually, supplementing my income by such means. For anyone who grapples over choosing employment over empowerment, here’s my suggestion: Money is a necessity. It feeds us and shelters us and clothes us. A job is essential to support our livelihood. But remember balance also plays a role. We can work every single day, yet if we never truly live, did our efforts matter? Find your affection and run with it. Or write with it.
March 16th, 2008 was a typical Sunday. I awoke and dressed as the opening Server at my job. I stopped at a nearby Dunkin Donuts for an iced mocha coffee. I set up the restaurant and greeted my many regular customers. My shift consisted of breakfast and lunch; a total of ten hours. Yes, it was typical in every way…until it wasn’t.
Growing up I felt like the luckiest kid in the world! My family dynamic was quite different from most households in the 1980’s. My father had a heart attack when I was still tender. My dad was forced to welcome early retirement. Thus my mother became our family financer. She went to school and became a Home Health Aide. This left my dad as my caregiver.
He was forty-five years older than I. Despite our age difference his zest for life surpassed many of my peer’s parents. He was up at dawn, working in the yard and feeding birds. He constantly had some type of chore to accomplish. He was energetic considering his maturity. I was never bored. We dug quahogs at the beach or drove around singing or walked the local mall. He took me to playgrounds where I always exclaimed, “Push me higher, Daddy!”
As I grew and began school his commitment to being executive in my days continued. He attended academic functions and assisted me with homework. He not once missed a drama club production or a poetry reading or a sporting event. When I sang at a high school chorus concert his proud face smiled at me, mouthing the words of the song I’d chosen. Throughout moments of anxiety his magnitude was magnificent. As a result, I was never too scared to do anything I set out on.
His faith in me at no time faltered. When I wanted to be a model he drove me to Newton against the wishes of my mother. It was from his urging I took my first job. He was my sponsor when I attained my driver’s license. As I walked to accept my diploma he cheered loudest. Viewing my college dorm room his feet were right behind mine. Communication with him was consistently open; my sounding-board, my ear to listen, my inspiration.
As my adult years loomed, he was already sick. Initially it was Diabetes. I spent the majority of my adolescence thinking he simply enjoyed multiple glasses of cold water. As a teenager, how was I to know it was a symptom? Regrettably, his condition affected his vision. By my Sophomore year at university he was legally blind. He handed me the keys to his beloved 1989 Mercury Grand Marquis and told me to enjoy the ride.
On my twenty-fifth birthday my dad was three weeks and three days from his sixty-fifth birthday. I was a new mother and he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. Although flexibility was becoming difficult he accompanied my mother to my home, assisting with the new duties I was grasping. He was unable to read to my to newborn son so I read to them. He desperately wanted to create memories with each of my children. As a result they speak of him often.
In 2006 my dad became resident at a nursing home. My mother’s years of practice with others paid off. She became not only my father’s Wife but also his keeper. She dwelled near him everyday, spending countless hours in this building instead of the constant comfort of her residence. They made friends and he joked with nurses. My siblings and I celebrated birthdays and holidays in the family room. Yet it didn’t feel enough. My dad dedicated the onset of his “golden years” specifically to raising me.
I possess a plethora of fond reflections surrounding food. My dad loved eating, using it as a means to gather and laugh. My older brother and I would stick olives on our fingers. My older sister would stake claim on end pieces of ham. My oldest sister would stop by with my nephews in tow. Dialogue was had about my oldest brother’s temperamental cat. Admittedly, my mother wasn’t much of a cook yet she could bake a cake like no other. And there were cakes for every occasion.
It’s no wonder as my dad suffered consumption issues we couldn’t imagine him receiving sustenance via tube. He was no longer mobile and his words few, but given the option, we believed he would desire a somewhat normal quality of life. The elected surgery was “routine” and we understood the risks. Unfortunately, when a body lacks the capacity to move freely liquid collects in places it shouldn’t. One good moment can be overshadowed by the next bad one.
I saw my dad Friday after the procedure. He was tired but his pale eyes twinkled. Saturday he chuckled at jokes, with a developing cough. A chest x-ray confirmed fluid in his lungs. The bed was raised and pillows propped his frail body. I kissed him and promised I’d return after my shift the next day. I did. Beside him I told him of my day and he heard me. My kids were seven and five, in the custody of their own paternal parent over the weekend. There was school and daycare and work upcoming. I embraced my once strong father, assuring him I’d bring his grandchildren tomorrow.
Tomorrow never came…
En route to retrieve my youngsters I obtained a call from my frantic mother. I was to collect my sister and rejoin at the hospital immediately. A turn for the worse had transpired. The next twenty minutes passed in a blur. I’m not sure I was inside my body. Looking at my dad, peacefully sleepy looking, he was gone. My mother, brother, sister-in-law, nieces, and sister wept. I didn’t. I closed my father’s eyes, held his hand. Uttered admiration and peace to him. I kissed his cool cheek one final time. And the rest of my life changed eternally.
Death has a way of altering us, regardless of how strong we think we are. During this period of trial I allowed no tears to slip from my eyes. I met with my family to make arrangements and choose a coffin. I sat in a room discussing Wake and Funeral plans. I penned his obituary. I felt it vital to be strong for the people whom I shared blood. My mindset was “business”. I clung to the notion this newfound courage was sent directly from my father. A little over a week later, with an attractive wooden box draped in flowers and as voices in unison recited the Lord’s Prayer, I finally sobbed. Publicly.
Tomorrow marks ten years since this emptiness in my soul became part of my existence. Some days it feels fewer, others many more. I witness my dad all around me; when I see a sparrow fly or spring flowers creep the surface. I feel him in the ocean breeze and when I taste the flavor of cotton candy. I sense him in the laughter of my children. He is no longer a physical essence, nonetheless his sensation withstands.
Losing a parent is an aspect to living which subjects our conscious to mortality. The significance in the statement nothing lasts forever. The first year was tough. Finding the fortitude to move on and not become crippled. The lesson it teaches us as we activate our own offspring. The day my dad died is one I will never get over. Honestly, I don’t want to.
My dad is the only man in the world I will love until I take my last breath. He taught me plenty in the thirty-two years I had him. He illustrated kindness and compassion. The importance of forgiveness. His instruction made me who I am. Made me who I will always be. Why would I ever want to forget?
In moments of weakness I call upon him for guidance. When I’m confused I recall his direction. During triumph I pray he remains impressed. He continues to be as important to me now as when he was alive. These mere components are the ways I determined to live without him.
I will never cease missing my dad. No day passes without him on my mind. The ache in my heart will never stop. But his disappearance helped me locate my true self. For each day I am lucky enough to wake, I stay blessed to be present for my teenagers. I am able to give of myself to others and love unconditionally. I speak with friends and relish our joy. I lengthen decades with those I’m connected. My dad endured each epoch to its extreme. I honor him in this fashion by choosing to survive, through his gratitude and perspective.
Until we meet again, I love you my little daddy…
Whenever I experience a situation which affects me deeply, I sense my way through. I cling to various emotions and seek the most substantial to lead me out. Yesterday was no different, really. Dealing with the cards dealt until a text message buzzed me from my trite.
Not too uncommon. I beg my kids to utilize their hours in school for academics, still occasional affairs arise. Whatever. Parenting is a non-stop job. One I take very seriously. I opened the text.
And my worst fears became reality…
I live on Cape Cod. I reside in the Town of Barnstable, a small city composed of seven villages. A destination travelers from all over the world visit. I was born and raised here. I attained my elementary education and my diploma here. My kids were born and are also being bred here. I work in the community. I’m surrounded by friends and family. Its beauty is breathtaking and its atmosphere amazing. Although I’ve held addresses in other locations on this peninsula, Barnstable has been where I call home the majority. For as much as I may sometimes dislike it, I also love my homeland.
A few weeks ago a school shooting in Parkland, Florida swept visions everywhere. Gut-wrenching and tear-jerking, I watched images and listened to audio. Those poor children. How is this happening? What is going on in our world?
The text I opened was from my oldest child, a Junior at our district’s high school. He told me of increased police presence due to “an anonymous call” regarding a student, possible ammunition, and a firearm. The school wasn’t currently on lockdown. He just wanted me to know.
Are you fucking kidding me?!?
Immediately I tapped my Facebook icon, surely more information would be there! Scrolling and scrolling, and nothing. No posts to breathe truth to my child’s text. No blatant causes for concern. I cautiously exhaled. Perhaps it was a Snap Chat story gone awry? I hadn’t received a call from the school nor an email. It couldn’t be fact.
Until it was…
My ex-husband phoned, then my mother, relaying a Robo Call detailing specifics and assuring parents all students were safe. Next an email forwarded stating no threat deemed and school would continue normally for the remainder of the day. Suddenly Facebook posts appeared with people asking what was going on at Barnstable High School? Inquiries about the surplus of police cruisers on campus. Last, my youngest sent a text saying they were alright but scared and wanted to be picked up. And me sitting at home thinking, “God, please no.”
How am I supposed to behave in a situation of such nature? If you’re a parent, you know what I mean; the protection instinct kicks in, and yet you don’t wish to overreact. I sat perched on the edge of my sofa in shock. What am I supposed to do? Speed to the school and release my kids? “No imminent threat”…instead do I explain today’s world and how mastering the indicated scenario is fundamental? And where the hell is the phone app for this endeavor?
Nowadays, school systems have the unfortunate duty to prepare students and staff for the unknown. Teachers fasten doors and classmates cluster and Principals plan and emergency response departments deploy. They “lockdown”. Even when carried out in practice, it does little to reduce uneasiness. However, the individuals within the buildings develop a system. It’s executed several times a year. In rooms and on busses. This is not something I considered during my own scholastic years. I am not proficient.
My reaction was fear and stress and confusion and frustration and helplessness. I quickly read social media replies and gained insight. The setting was in fact controlled. Friends in different districts shared similar recent occurrences and reflections. Some parents retrieved their kids, others declined. Once I recognized my kids weren’t in danger, I prayed for guidance. I didn’t hanker a negative move. I distressed over getting in the way, over making it more difficult for the patrolling uniforms. I worried whatever I concluded, I may fail at this crucial teachable moment.
I based my final choices on the tender sentiments of my flesh and blood. My oldest is strong, both in mind and in heart. He’s a thinker and a protector. Despite these traits, he confided hiding in a bathroom and my heart broke. My youngest has severe emotional impairments which make attending school a challenge to begin with. Amidst words of sheer anxiety and desperation, I acknowledged my littlest may not reach dismissal.
Thirty minutes we went back and forth. I calmed them as best I could through script. They began to function, albeit shaken. I believed they had undeniably cultivated a lesson in being a pupil in the year 2018. Initially, my verdict was to preserve their typical day. Until my oldest asked what to do during dismissal: Should they depart in the herd toward the busses or wait briefly?
I picked them up early. Half hating myself and half liking myself.
You see, I have never experienced anything of this magnitude. At first I was prepared to jump in the car and rescue my kids. My immediate desire was to bring them home to security and coddle them, not a usual piece in my parenting. I longed to see them, have them near, where at least I had a fighting chance to myself protect them. Most of all, I desperately wished this wasn’t something any parent or child had to face. Ever.
Alas my kids were, in fact, slightly upset with me when we arrived home. Due to the stress of their days, I lamented they weren’t capable of logical thought. My retort wasn’t well-received. I understood. A meeting of the minds was had. Because kids want to know their parents care about them more than anything else. They crave the awareness of our love. Schools have a tough job. Ours is more tough, though.
My kids could only live in the confronted moment. At that juncture, scared, they needed me. Trust me, I also needed them. Nonetheless, I had a further obligation to entertain every possible outcome in order to reach the best resolution. Schools fail to teach this aspect because their plates overflow. Therefore, as guardians we must.
I permitted my kids to collect an absence today. I’m not running for Mother of the Year. Neither of them possessed the competence to recover from yesterday as promptly as their school expected. I’m sure I’ll be in trouble for this action. Notwithstanding, I’ve grown accustomed. As an adult I’m capable to stand my ground.
It wasn’t a contrived election. It contained purpose. They completed assignments from home. And we further discussed yesterday. I perceived a need to expand the [big] picture for their young minds. When I mentioned their initial disdain, it was the result of their inaptitude. I sought to shed light so they wouldn’t conclude I didn’t care.
As parents we play many roles to the lives we are raising. But those lives linger egocentrically for quite some time, at least until amassed wisdom contributes to the notion that every action does bear a reaction. Perhaps if the threat was imminent I would have proceeded hastily. Maybe my division would have lacked quality. Likely, I would have been in total shambles. Thankfully, I don’t know.
I sat between my adolescents and shared my own life experiences, stages I had maneuvered adequately. I gave definition to my receptivity. Upon notice of my son’s first text, keeping my wits was critical. I’m useless with a scattered mind. Next I had to garner information. The troubling piece for my kids to grasp was me “not jumping”. I told them running into a dangerous situation was counterproductive to preserving the safety of all involved. If I couldn’t get there, I better figure out an alternative for instruction. In the event I’m not physically present, I will be accounted in spirit. They asked why I considered leaving them at conclusion. And the authenticity of life was uttered.
Simply, this is existence at school in our society. It is absolutely impossible for me to hold their hands through every struggle they’ll face. In this case, crisis was averted with no risk in the end. I may not fancy a tenacious approach but it is necessary. The urgency for my kids to manage the good along with the bad subsists. They must be versed in emergency procedures. To obtain the courage to think through trials, even when the potential may be extreme. It is imperative their logic protect them when they are alone. I need assurance that what I have spent every second since their births instructing might bring them home to me. Safely.
Together we spoke of circumstances and strategies. Concerns were addressed. In conclusion, I added although their school isn’t equipped with metal detectors or the latest devices seen on websites, they are protected. An armed officer is present. The doors are locked from start to finish. Loopholes do loom, however, I firmly believe the staff genuinely care about the student body.
My kids shall return Monday, to start the very week for Wednesday walk-outs planned throughout states. My Junior and my Freshman are free to partake. Or not. As long as they are true to themselves. Concerning people ridiculing participants, please rethink your position. This is not only about gun laws and amendments. It doesn’t solely revolve around mass shootings and public security. If for one minute we step outside ourselves I believe we might witness history in the making. If you disagree with youngsters, hear the teachers also calling for action. The generation some look down upon are the very humans who will one day care for us. They are as important now as they will be then.
I am unsure what the upcoming week holds. I have no clue what will occur months down the line. What I do know is my naïve outlook kept me in a bubble. I never imagined anything like this could happen here. Nor did parents at other schools where it did. I resigned my area safe from this type of activity. As did those dancing inside a nightclub or attending a concert. And so I face each day with knowledge gained a day ago. I will arm myself against a world with violent tendencies through patience and positivity.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
“To the world you may be one person but to one person you may be the world.”
I birthed you many years ago,
Pleasantly surprised I’d need pink bows.
Because your nine months were like the others,
The ones in which I grew your brother.
Yet you came out to shock us all,
And I couldn’t wait to buy your first doll.
A smile as vast as the open sea,
Such happiness you brought to me.
A shine so bright in your hazel eyes,
You were perfect and divine.
Your persona was loud and had to be heard,
But now you say so few words.
What happened all that time ago,
To alter so much of your ego?
A child so liked and nice and fun,
What could this world have possibly done?
To change your boisterous amusing ways,
And in their place leave you sad for days.
It must have been tough to face your facts,
To feel death a more plausible act.
To view the world without you in it,
Still tears me apart every minute.
Because you are my child always and forever,
Not support you I would never.
I love to glimpse a smile upon your face,
And feel so sad as I watch it erase.
So guarded you have become,
But my child you don’t see all you’ve done.
You’re learning to listen and learning to speak,
Not only for yourself but for also the meek.
You’re standing your ground and sharing your ride,
Regardless of many difficult divides.
You know your heart and mind and soul,
To follow a path toward your future goals.
I don’t care what others do,
I care less if you wear pink or if you wear blue.
Opinions don’t matter at all to me,
You’re free to be my she or he.
Through the years you’ve taught me much,
My soul indeed feels your touch.
You are a creation from above,
No matter what you I love.
Ups and downs and in between,
You in my life is all I need.
I’m always proud to call you mine,
You shall never be left behind.
From the time I wake to when I sleep,
In my heart you I keep.
No matter where your life will lead,
Forever you’ll hold all the pieces of me.
Much of my life has been spent doing what this title suggests: reaching. Reaching for the next paycheck, the next bill to pay. Reaching at the next unexpected trouble or at the possibility of a brief plateau. Reaching the next goal and the next step. Reaching in an effort to just keep reaching.
I’m at the point where I consider myself “mid-life”. Longevity doesn’t run in my family and I have no idea what the future holds for me. That very notion used to keep me up at night, slightly aggravated, since no one is given a crystal ball to peek upon. Throughout my years, I not only learned to accept this fact but to also appreciate it. In times of trial, my struggles have supplied lessons and shaped my views. In times of triumph, my accomplishments have illustrated strength possessed, even when I didn’t feel it. Not knowing prevents me from becoming complacent. It propels me onward to be better than I was the day before.
Almost two months ago my sister signed me up for a class about Blogging. I’m certainly not new to this type of thing but it’s been years. I had no idea what would be covered but I figured something was better than nothing. I entered the classroom like an awkward high school Freshman. To my relief, there were only two students and a teacher. We were told we’d be taught how to build a Blog through WordPress, explore different layouts, then launch our own sites. I was excited and nervous. Excited about a new outlet and nervous because I am not tech savvy. The patience and knowledge of my instructor brought me where I am today. My love for words will carry me forward.
When most folks hear I want to “be a writer” their instinct is to ask questions about the type of book I’ll slave over? More often than not I’m met with, “Well what are you going to do that for? You won’t make money your way.”
And they’re probably right. Yet it doesn’t mean I can’t try.
There is nothing thus far, fact or fiction, fueling my desires. Yes, I wrote some decent stories as a student and penned many poems as an adult. I’ve toyed with ideas for manuscripts and screenplays. Nothing clicks. My passion is absent. Money is wonderful but it doesn’t offer the fulfillment I seek. I find immense satisfaction when I put my own thoughts together for others. When I experience elation or frustration…I want to publish my journey. In the moments after posting, the response which completes me is when someone says, “Thanks. I was going through something similar and it helped to know I wasn’t alone.”
Let’s face it, life is a lot more meaningful with others present. When we aren’t lonely we feel supported. I frequently wish my life was a bit less crazy and a bit more calm, but it isn’t. And that’s alright. Because for as much as I face, someone else faces something more challenging. For the hurdles I leap, someone has lost their ability to jump. Words have an ability to do what voice sometimes fails to do; bring people together. They elicit melody when coupled with music. They bridge gaps. They bring solace and peace. They honor and cherish relationships. Speaking has never been easy for me. Typing on a keyboard…that is like my harmony from Heaven…and I was blessed with the capacity to express myself through it.
The years we gather form our legacy. The ways we influence those around us and the contributions we make to those we cherish. On rough days, I consider my position and if I might touch someone also troubled. We all hit walls and go backward. Likewise, we overcome and catapult forward. However, the drama can last much longer than we’d prefer. The issues can linger longer than we’re comfortable with. Reading can provide a safe escape, be it a best-seller or a self-help article. For me, when I’ve rock bottom fallen, hearing anyone has been there helps me believe I will get up again. It gives me hope for tomorrow.
I’m not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist. I hold no degrees to advise. I’m not a medical professional…I’m just a waitress. The pieces to my puzzle are circumstances I made it through. Situations I found my way out of. Moments of weakness and periods of empowerment. I’m a single mother. I’m a content failure and an endless survivor. I have opinions and morals and values and they shine fearlessly. I’m stubborn and soft. I’m loving and vicious when necessary. I’m loyal and naïve. I’ve battled weight issues and issues weigh on my mind constantly. I have traveled so many paths…and I like telling my chapters.
My life is my book. Open at leisure. It won’t be found in a store or the isle of a market. It exists in first person, thereafter spelled out on page. It is public and it is honest in form. All the good and the bad; the naked and hard truths. Some items I wish I could run from. Other items I beg to hold tightly. I write candidly, from my heart. I feel every sentence. I ponder each paragraph. I may discuss topics of dislike. I may cover tribulations I have not liked, either. I will always write from my soul. Life doesn’t stop. The fashions maneuvered are how we move along toward the tunnel’s light.
“It’s better to create something that others criticize than to create nothing and criticize others.” – Ricky Gervais
It was always so difficult for me to connect with peers because I never honestly felt I had the grounds to do so. My parents were much older than my friends’ parents. I was the youngest of five, by at least twelve years. I had siblings but we didn’t have commonalities because I was a kid and they were teenagers and beyond. My mother worked and due to health reasons, my father stayed home. I rarely received new clothing, never mind constant name brands. We had a nice house, but nothing excessive like a pool or a fancy neighborhood. I was a chubby kid and was nicely picked on. I grew up feeling I was nothing. I would never be anything special.
When I entered my teenage years I developed a very unhealthy coping mechanism: lying. It wasn’t done to be malicious. Frankly, I was jealous of basically everyone I was surrounded by. I thought I could become more than I felt I was. I sought to recreate myself and be anyone except who I saw in the mirror. I had a burning desire to be cool and popular and liked. I thought this would finally make me important. However, it cost me my two best friends. And all our mutual friends. Lesson learned. I discovered being cool didn’t matter if it wasn’t true. And it mattered less when the person you saw in the mirror was suddenly all alone. The teen years suck. Having no one to confide in compounds the situation.
During this epoch, and at the suggestion of my therapist, I began keeping a journal. It was the best decision I ever made! I went from suicidal tendency status to a young girl prepared to grow into whomever she was supposed to be. I made new friends. I made lists and plans. I set goals and gave breath to wishes. I collected experiences, positive and negative. My collection brought me happiness and courage. When the time arrived for me to set out on life as an adult, I didn’t have all the answers, but I trusted myself. I wasn’t quite so afraid of not being liked, and I vowed to make up for my mistakes and use them as stepping-stones throughout the rest of my days.
So here I am. I write as a means to share the scary instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. I share the doubts and the hopelessness and the pain rather than running away. I leave myself vulnerable to ridicule and judgement because I genuinely care about people. It is never easy to admit we’re wrong, especially if we’ve wronged another for selfish reasons. I am no longer a selfish teenager. I don’t have the freedom for the slip-ups I had in my twenties. I can’t allow myself the blockades I picked up during my thirties. I am now in my forties. I wish to leave the past where it lays and move forward with the knowledge I acquired on my foot trails.
I exist amongst countless reasons for gratitude. As a result, I welcome all who visit my Blog to join me for my life story. The book of me, by me. It will not likely win awards, and yet it will be rewarding to me. Please, comment if inclined to do so. Ask questions. Reach out. I am here. My wish is for no one to ever believe they don’t matter. We all have a purpose. Sometimes it can take longer to find it. As for me, this is my purpose…
Written one week ago via Facebook as a Living Tribute to my best guy friend. Shared to shed light on an understudied disorder. Passing along to solidify the fact that nothing is ever promised and love should be shown throughout life, not only upon death.
Dedicated to Raymond Wilson, who shall forever be my “Ray of Hope”.
Backstory: Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (A1AD) is an inherited, genetic condition which revolves around a deficiency of alpha-1 antitrypsin (AAT) in the blood. This enzyme is produced in the liver to protect body tissues during infection. Low blood AAT builds up and can cause liver disease. Alpha-1 Proteinase Inhibitor is also made in the liver and its job is to protect delicate lung tissue against substances released by white blood cells. Chest infections are typically controlled by the liver and it releases more AAT to neutralize the enzyme before it causes too much lung damage. But with a decrease of AAT in the blood this often leads to lung disease. [¹WNDU]
In my life I have delivered eulogies, added words within life celebrations. Thought long and hard about how best to encompass an existence. Today is different. Today I learned my best male friend is coming upon the end of his road. And it is so fucking unfair! He doesn’t drink or smoke. He doesn’t do drugs or lead an unhealthy lifestyle. Instead he has a genetic disorder which has overtaken his body, past the point of medical interventions, at this point.
It is said that “only the good die young” and in this case, it couldn’t be more true. It is also said to “tell those you love they matter before they’re gone”. I have decided to do just that. To give my friend the opportunity to read my words while present, so when the time comes where his spirit lives only in my soul, he will rest knowing how special he is…how loved he will always be.
About ten years ago when my job was still Corporate they decided to file bankruptcy and close several stores. West Yarmouth was one of them. The offer to transfer was put out and we received a few new employees at our store in Hyannis. Ray was part of the group. In walks this quirky, hilarious guy who knew none of us, yet fit in as though he’d been with us from the start. His sense of humor was unmatched and he was precisely what we needed when we needed it. He was like a human book of adult jokes and a glossary of terms you’d never heard before. He was quick-witted and sarcastic. He was the type of guy you sought after a bad date or the ear you spoke to when you couldn’t imagine facing another day. He was never too busy to help, in any way, and he also became a father-figure to many of our staff kids.
When I met Ray I was newly divorced. I had very little. Furthermore, I had very little faith in men as anything. Ray taught me it was possible to be “just friends” with a guy, and the payout I received in taking a leap of faith is quite possibly the most profound reason I am who I am today. When my kids needed a ride and I was stuck at work, he dropped everything to help me. If I had to take my kids to work due to unforeseen circumstances, he played with them, and kept them entertained by teaching them everything I didn’t want them to know. He was, himself, like a big kid trapped in the body of an adult. This is probably why all our kids grew to admire him so much. My kids weren’t the only Ray befriended. He played roles for many others, too. They will all miss him. My two are devastated by this news.
Ray and I both lost parents fairly close together, yet he lost both before I lost my father in March of 2008. He was there every step of the way, a soundboard when I wasn’t sure if how I felt was normal or when I wondered if I would ever smile again. He attended the Wake and checked on me daily throughout that first week. Moreover, when my father-in-law succumbed to a battle with brain cancer, Ray was there again. To cover my shifts and listen to my thoughts. It was a trying time. After losing my father I lost a close friend and then my father-in-law and finally my mother-in-law. After all these losses in a short span, I was concerned about my kids. Ray set out to assist, watching YouTube videos about loom bands with my youngest and helping my oldest set up a new IPod.
In over a decade and a half at the same job I have watched people come and people go. I have witnessed changes and alterations, some good and some not. I think the most pivotal came about five years ago when our GM was fired suddenly. Many of us were shocked and saddened. Some didn’t know what to do. Once word spread Ray messaged me asking if I planned to stay? When I told him I did, he said he also would. And so we moved on. Through the array of bodies shipped to our store, then replaced, and replaced again. We celebrated when we finally saw the only woman fit for a replacement land in our “home”. Our life as servers would make a great television drama…and Ray would certainly have a starring role.
I share a special work bond with this man. Companies such as ours enjoy high profits at little price. And so the “Ray and Hope Show” was born. It consisted of afternoons with two lone servers doing quadruple duty as dishwashers, secretaries, carry-out salesmen, and ice cream creators. It was a roughly three hour sight for sore eyes, but we always made it work. And we made it work damn good! The place stayed clean and organized. Customers were happy, albeit via sheer entertainment. Side-work was completed and the night shift set near perfectly. We were like two left feet who made great dance partners against all odds. It was my therapeutic time where I could speak my mind and know someone was there for me. Those hours, though short, served as my sanity. Alas, our final curtain call arrived many weeks ago when Ray began working less and decreased the length of his shifts. It leaves my heart heavy and my mind uneasy. How am I supposed to put on a show with people I haven’t yet clicked with? Who will scoop Fribbles while I ring, or vice versa? They don’t know how to cook so when will they know the stupid Fishamajigs are done frying? And who will make me laugh…and throw trays with me…and who will clean up the nasty bleu cheese dressing when I forget to put the bottom on the bottle?
In over two hundred months at my job I have made many friends, and watched many friends walk out the door for the last time. Their lives led them to new journeys of opportunity. They relocated or chased their dreams. They set forth on paths which kept us connected in mind but without daily vision. Our friendships remain, our lives continue. We stay abreast of what’s up by social media. If we bump into one another out in the community, it’s as if no time has elapsed. Even if brief, our conversations are never forced. They flow and cease like the tide rolling upon the shore. I leave happy, anticipating what lies ahead for them.
This current situation leaves me upset. Because a man who deserves to find opportunities and to chase his dreams must let them go. He must face the hard facts by no longer planning life but instead pondering death. He is doing so with courage and strength. He illustrates integrity, sharing his decision publicly without need for recognition. Simply so those he cares about learn his fate directly. I am writing this as a result of his choice to vocalize his situation. Not beforehand because this is his story, not mine. I’m just so darn grateful I got to be a part of it.
There are so many things I had left to share with you. For you to watch my oldest graduate high school and see my youngest overcome hurdles. I wanted to eat at Olive Garden and then maybe bake our own lava cakes afterward. I wanted to but you a non-alcoholic Pina Colada and laugh at Tiki Port for hours again. I wanted to hear more crazy New York City alley stories and see pictures of you under women’s bathroom stalls. I wanted to hear about your next cruise and the ports you’d visit and the hundreds of photographs you’d take. I wanted to eat rice crispy treats with you this Christmas. And bitch about annoying customers. And take pictures of the dish room. And crank call the store phone. And make up new languages. And watch you grow old…
I understand we can’t always get what we want. I know I can’t control everything. Sadly, I realize no matter how much I wish I could, I can’t cure you. I can’t swap places with you nor give you any of my organs. But I would. Because the world needs more people like you. People who give selflessly and care genuinely. People who do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. People who love unconditionally, like in the truest definition, and in turn make us better people in leading by example. People who help others not for recognition but because the act alone is enough to make them feel satisfied. People who don’t complain, when they have too many reasons to make it alright to. People who appreciate life, the good and the bad and everything in between.
I cannot fathom how you must feel right now. I can’t imagine the thoughts in your mind or the tensions in your soul. I can’t comprehend the tasks in front of you. I can’t pretend it all away for you, either. But I would. Because you would want to for anyone else. Because you are never jealous or spiteful. Because you celebrate triumphs with people, instead of merely beside them. Because you value relationships more than material. Because you know what really matters.
You were the exact type of friend I needed when you came into my life. Your encouragement kept me going and your praise kept me motivated. Even when I didn’t like what you said, I’m so glad you said it. It was always what I needed to hear but no one else could say. I appreciate all the moments you gave to listen to my latest issue. I appreciate more that you heard me. You have an ability to voice what others can’t and make it sound sensible. It has to do with the way you portray your messages, to people individually and uniquely. It’s one of your greatest attributes.
In this precious time we have remaining, I want you to open your eyes each day and know how much I value our friendship and how deeply I love you. You have been a gift from Heaven to me. When the time comes where your eyes open no more, when you go to rest eternally, please fly high and remember how immensely you touched my life, and how I will strive to keep your spirit alive.
Much Love Always,
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Sometimes she goes to bed exhausted and not always happy. Yet she plans to awake the next day with fresh eyes and invigorated spirits.
Sometimes she hears her alarm but dozes through it. Amongst rushed routines and constant cues her heart races. Quick and fast to mirror her steps.
Sometimes she warms up her car before driving into her day. A car she loves but won’t stop falling apart. This car is merely materialistic metal, and yet so much more to her. It represents tough times and difficult days and hard work to attain something owned.
Sometimes she toys with the idea of buying a new vehicle. But the urge quickly subsides. Because guilt weighs heavy on her shoulders.
Sometimes she keeps such a tidy residence visitors could eat from the floor. Other times it’s disorganized and clouds the clarity she clings to.
Sometimes she feels depressed. Beneath blankets is where her body bundles. Like a cave to escape, but where eventually she is found.
Sometimes she embraces trial and tumbles toward that iridescently lit tunnel. Where peace and tranquility must harbor. She wouldn’t know though…there hasn’t been a surplus of such throughout her years.
Sometimes she prays, steadfast and deep, to an entity unknown, which offers solace all the same. She prays for strength. Guidance. Answers.
Sometimes she would like to skip the excuses and hear a simple, “Okay”. Rather than a relentless story of who and what and when and where and why. And how.
Sometimes she would love to hear a glorious “Thank You” for all she’s done and for all she’ll ever do. But sometimes all she hears is the dropping of her tears.
Sometimes she wants to be held. For a long time. Within supportive arms, without words. Because sometimes touch is enough and words don’t sound like much.
Sometimes she gets mad. Downright angry, damn it! She feels underappreciated, unaccounted. When she would prefer to feel anything else.
Sometimes she gets sad. Sobbingly sad. Since it’s hard to pretend with lack of acknowledgement.
Sometimes she remembers monumental moments, those which shape who she is. There was laughter and promise and exuberance. And love. She has to reminisce because the past no longer exists.
Sometimes she’s happy. Wearing a smile and pleased by the blessings she often fails to count. She smiles harder, an effort to make those minutes matter.
Sometimes she feels attractive, pretty reflections of her inner soul outwardly shining. They disintegrate almost immediately. She is frequently overlooked. For greener grass.
Sometimes she wants to escape. To pack a bag and drive away. She won’t. Can’t. She loves her kids. Her family and friends. In retrospect, they comprise her backbone and without them she could not stand at all.
Sometimes she wishes to stop hearing what everyone else thinks she needs to do. Walk a mile in her footsteps. Then decide if her stress is unwarranted.
Sometimes she wants to quit. She can’t. Won’t. Because she’s never been a quitter.
Sometimes she…is me…
Shared from my 2012 BlogSpot page to showcase past writings.
In my real world I come from confusion, lies, tremendous love. I come from blends and gaps and completion. I come from a father and a mother who did the best they knew how. Yet not necessarily the best they could have.
In my real world I come from ridicule and rudeness. From trial to triumph. From doubt to discovery. From deviance to defiance. From exasperation to excellence. From points where I wondered how I’d reach the next. Then getting there. And sometimes willfully opting to leave.
In my real world I come from music; harmonizing voices and melodious instruments. Where eyes couldn’t do the job as well as ears. To shows and audiences, yet rarely in the spotlight. However I cling to what’s unfinished on my “Bucket List”.
In my real world I come from mistakes and knowledge. Where the pain of staying outweighs the fear of leaving. Thus learning becomes a key point toward fulfillment.
In my real world I come from realizing the difference between a want and a need. In comprehending value at a young age. No one cares as we can for ourselves. I’m grateful for such colossal insight…especially in an era where children are often catered and coddled.
In my real world I come from addictions, beat and buried. I come from skeletons and demons I no longer slave to. I come from prospective and clarity. And so much faith.
In my real world I come from hard work with little appreciation. I come from tricks and trades…coupled with dreams and motivations…
Shared from the “Notes” section of my Facebook page to showcase previous writing
It has been many years since I had my own Blog. As much as I enjoy writing as an outlet, sometimes life gets in the way. Since I disappeared from the world of the web, I’ve utilized Facebook. However, I’m ready to write publicly again.
I was born on Thursday January 15th, 1976. It certainly wasn’t the Blizzard of 1978, but it did snow the day my parents brought me home. To this day neighborhood acquaintances continue to avenue stories of how everyone nearby shoveled the driveway to get me home.
My parents were 45 and 35 when I was born (my mother the younger of the duo). My father had a daughter and two sons during his first marriage. He had my sister and myself after. More specifically, I came twelve years later! Perhaps due to their ages, and where medicine was 42 years ago, they thought they were past their primes to conceive? Either way, along I came as a [pleasant] surprise.
Born and bred on Cape Cod, I was the only one of my siblings to be a Native to the area. I grew up in the town of Centerville but attended Osterville Elementary Schools due to district placement. After fifth grade I was educated in the city of Hyannis from sixth to twelfth grade, graduating from Barnstable High School in June of 1994.
My life then led me to Western Massachusetts where I attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I went into college as a Journalism major, but quickly realized it wasn’t my proper avenue. it always loved to write, but for myself, not to report on news or stories of popular media. Unfortunately my school of choice didn’t offer a “Liberal Arts” major, and I began to explore my options. In addition to journalism I tried pre-law, education, and psychology. Nothing seemed to click for me until the spring semester of my Sophomore year. I took a Public Health class at the urging of a friend. And I fell in love!
Alas, this was also not a major offered as a degree program. Due to its range of possibilities it wasn’t suggested to undergraduates. However, since I appreciate a challenge, I decided to apply to the Bachelor’s Degree with Individual Concentration Program (BDIC). I was accepted and thus spent the next four semesters designing my own path: A double-major in Public Health and Education with a triple-minor in Psychology, Sociology, and Spanish.
In November of 1997, out of money and after some poor choices, I withdrew from UMASS. I moved back home. My intention was always to go back to school, to complete the degree I was seventy-two credits shy of. After all, I planned to go to Graduate School at UNC Chapel Hill and continue my quest to become a university professor and teach the subject I was so fond of.
Instead, I enrolled at Cape Cod Community College in a Certificate Program as a Certified Nurse Aid. I graduated six months later with a 4.0 GPA. I found a job in a nursing home immediately, working with Alzheimer’s patients. It was a paycheck and nothing more. It takes a strong person to do that type of work every day. I simply wasn’t the person. Instead I found a job working for the local Visiting Nurse Association (VNA). I traveled daily to people’s homes doing homemaker tasks. I enjoyed it. I saw places around the Cape I may never have found, and both the clients as well as the company made it worthwhile.
Shortly thereafter my adult life began with no turning back. I married and birthed a son, and two and a half years later my youngest came into the world. I was with the father of my kids for almost ten years, married for six. Yet, life throws curve balls and I divorced in June of 2007. Throughout these years of experiences, I learned many lessons. In this Blog, I will share my circumstances and insights.
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