Sharing is Caring

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.”

Really people!!!

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.

 

 

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Ray of Hope

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.

Dearest Raymond,

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,

Hope


Consider donating to the Alpha-1 Foundation.  For more information, click here.

Sometimes

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

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

Backstory

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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