motherhood

A Kitchen Story

Having survived a four-month long master bathroom renovation at the beginning of 2019, I was dragging my feet when it came time to dismantle our kitchen.  While it looked nice enough, it struggled to keep up with our family.  The appliances appeared to enjoy malfunctioning, the cabinets and drawers were worn and uneven and the overall look did not reflect our style.  Yet, it was hard to give the green-light because I knew ‘4 weeks’ in contractor-speak really meant ‘4-ever’.  I attempted at first, to add to my renovation denial thinking we could reface the cabinets we already had.

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Mad Dog had other ideas.

He wanted a full tear-out.  I agreed that a tear-out was certain but it would only consist of all my hair.

He kept pushing.

He researched and found a highly-lauded cabinet designer.  Within a few short weeks the date of doom was set.  Goodbye old kitchen and hello weeks of construction chaos.

Within that first week our ‘4-week’ project quickly went off the rails.  Underneath our sink, pipes had been leaking causing rotted wood.  The pony wall connecting to this area was rotted out as well and the surrounding flooring needed to be tore-up, reinforced and replaced.

It was an ugly time for all.

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As the weeks dragged on and the hiccups continued, I started to see this process as a life metaphor.  If we hadn’t taken the time to deconstruct the entirety of the kitchen, we never would have known the rotted wood existed.  Sometimes in life we have to go deep beyond the surface to clear away what no longer serves us.  This is harder than a simple resurface, but it opens us up to living more aligned with our truth and our values.

As the finish line drew near, I had another paradigm-shifting insight thanks to our kitchen counters. My design choice is unique to say the least. In a world of white subway tile and trending white countertops, my bold, sea-glass themed recycled glass-tops are unexpected to put it mildly.  It took courage and a ton of encouragement from Mad Dog, but I went with what my heart wanted.

At the end of the day I know it will not be loved by all, but it most likely will inspire a reaction.  Isn’t that kind of the point of innovative design?  To make you feel something? And isn’t it kind of the point to follow your heart even if what you love defies the norms of larger society.

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But for me, the ultimate kicker is that Mad Dog championed my choice a thousand percent from start to finish.  He could care less what anyone else thinks because all that matters to him is what I think.

Every time I sit at my turquoise-speckled counter enjoying a cup of my favorite tea, I not only immerse myself in ocean-minded daydreams, I am reminded how loved I am.

These are the most beautiful countertops in the whole world.

humor, kids, motherhood

Memories in the Making

I’m pretty sure July 3rd is ‘Take Your Kids To Work’ Day.  I asked Mad Dog about it, but he wasn’t buying it.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy my time with my boys, in fact it’s kind of awesome.  Being able to hang out with them with no agenda has been incredibly fun.  However, after they spend loads of unstructured time together, this leads to frustration and maybe occasional acting out.  Therefore, please, “Take Your Kids to Work” Mad Dog.

I insist.

In all seriousness, I am grateful how much I enjoy their company.  This is the reward of parenting.  All the blood, sweat and tears has paid off.  Not to say their won’t be challenges ahead, but at least for this moment, being a mom is a lot of fun.

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Moving forward I understand that they will not want to hang out with me forever.  Even though I am entertaining, am an excellent Jazzerciser (this is cutting edge cool, right?) and know a lot of really famous people:

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Ah, but we will always have the memories of this summer … I intend to make the most of them.

 

motherhood

My Heart Belongs to Africa

Magic is real.

I lived it up close.

Close enough I could feel the air shimmer over my skin as a lion sauntered past me.  Less than a foot away I dug deep for courage as I sat exposed in an open-air Land Rover.  His paws silent as marshmallow pillows, his movements sleek as a crocodile slicing through a murky riverbed.

Even in the stillness this king exuded power.

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Magic.

All of it magic.

This is how I know fear does not always tell the truth.  If I had listened to fear I would have stayed home in my Cubs pajamas.

I would have missed an enraged elephant tossing sand at me as we interrupted his hunt for female companionship.

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I would have missed seeing so many leopards that I lost count. Mothers and babies, lone leopard warriors stalking the land for dinner, a female leopard mating with a father and son to ensure protection of her future progeny, leopards in trees and on termite mounds.

An abundance of spots and I loved every, single one of them.

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I would have missed meeting my idol and mentor, Martha Beck.

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Martha is a Light Writer and life coach.  Meeting her meant everything to me.  Her writing and wisdom carried me through a time in my life when I needed it most.  Getting to tell her that in person was, you guessed it, magic.

Martha Beck’s Safari – Finding Your Purpose

Martha is the reason I cast my fear aside  brought my fear with me, let it have its say and still went to South Africa anyway.

I did it for her and for Mad Dog.  His lifelong dream consisted of coming face to face with a lion while on safari.  I flew nearly 50 hours, endured 17 hours of layovers in Qatar, willingly rose daily at dawn and perched myself without complaint in a vehicle minus any enclosures to face the fiercest animals in all the land.

I would do it all again if only to see Mad Dog’s face each and every time we encountered lions.

Priceless.

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I hold gratitude for everyone who made it possible for Mad Dog to realize this dream.  From our extraordinary ranger and tracker, to my in-laws who took care of the boys and dogs while we traipsed across the savanna.

Thank you.

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Wine tastes better with zebras nearby and an African sunset to feast our eyes upon.
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Our awesome ranger/driver, Bruce, (next to Mad Dog) and our gifted tracker, Rob (next to me).

Every day dazzled us with mystery and wonder.

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My favorite African bird, the Lilac-Breasted Roller, made sure to pose for this most treasured photo.

As we watched animals roaming free and living immersed in the present moment, our hearts cracked open a bit wider and we grew in wisdom and love.

I never knew a place could change me forever.

But, then again, I had never been to Africa.

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dogs, motherhood

This Guy

My voice rang clear as we zipped along the street towards home.  Seconds earlier I had declared, “This song is my jam.”

There is nothing more cringe-worthy than a parent stating that any song is their jam.

It’s kind of why I had to say it.  It’s kind of true that saying songs are my jam is kind of my jam because my boys think it’s weird.

But, on this day, I didn’t let that stop me.  On this day, I really did wanna dance with somebody.

Maybe even somebody who loves me.

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You know who loves me?  This guy.

 

grief, motherhood

Decade (Without You)

Dear Mom,

This Mother’s Day 2019 is my tenth one without you.

I miss you.

Since you died I have to be honest, Mother’s Day has not felt right to me.  Without you, I don’t know how to be on this day.  For thirty-four years I knew, and then for the last ten, I don’t.

It isn’t for lack of having awesome kids of my own.  How I wish you could know them as they are now.  I imagine the scope of sports stats you would discuss with Full Speed would know no bounds.  T.Puzzle would crack you up.  A lot.

I didn’t exactly follow your parenting paradigm, but my boys were paradigm busters. They were/are firecrackers.  I made it up as we went along.  I had to.  I didn’t have you to ask for advice.

I made mistakes.  A lot of mistakes.  So many mistakes.  What I didn’t account for was the natural resilience of both my boys.

There really isn’t much I can do to mess that up.  My best course of action is no action at all.  

I’d like to think that some of your best qualities are reflected in both of them.  Full Speed has your practical logic locked down.  He has an uncanny ability to throw reason at me when I am hooked into an emotional arc of uncertainty.  T.Puzzle’s quick wit often reminds me of you.

You always made me laugh.

I miss laughing with you.

If I could talk to you I’d like you to know that Mad Dog loves me for exactly who I am.  You and I suspected he did, but time and living a life together has proven this as fact.

I’d want you to know that the Cubs finally won the World Series.  My heart still aches that I couldn’t share that experience with you.

I was at game three and game five at Wrigley.

For real.

Not too shabby for a girl growing up in the cornfields of Illinois.

Sometimes I wonder who your current favorite player would be.  My guess changes from season to season.  I know you would love Javy but he’s a bit of a loose cannon.  Maybe Schwarber for his gritty comeback?  Maybe Zo with his MVP World Series run and his cool demeanor on the field and at the plate?

I wish I could talk baseball with you.

I wish I could tell you that I am a writer now.  I have always been but now I sometimes get published.  And sometimes the letters I configure on a page help others remember they are loved and moves them towards healing.

To me, that is grace.

To me, that is everything.

I would tell you that I love you.  That you shaped me into the woman that I am.  That because of you I love birds, baseball and the color blue.

I know that you sometimes couldn’t understand why I wore my heart on my sleeve but it’s okay, you are not alone in this.  Now that I am older I realize my emotionality isn’t a choice, it is a way of being.  It hurts me more to hide it, so I hide it less and less.

Either way, you’d love me.  Either way, you loved me.

I still carry your voice in my heart and your love in my soul.

In many ways, you never left me.

I wish I could take you to the mountains.  I wish I could sit next to you on a porch and listen to the birds calling each other home.  I wish I could take your hand in mine, look you in your clear blue eyes and tell you what is true.

I love you, Mom.

Always have, always will.

Happy Mother’s Day.