The Sweetest Thing

Although it seems like eons ago, I remember being pregnant with my daughter. I remember those months of waiting, anticipating, worrying, and wondering. What would she look like? What would she be like? Would she have my laugh and her father’s head for math and directions? No, seriously … It seems like a silly thing, but a good sense of direction is important in life. I have been known to get completely turned around in the city in which I lived for a number of years. My father always told me I could get lost in a wet paper bag.

We all want the best of everything for our children. We probably wouldn’t ever admit this out loud, but we want them to be more beautiful than we ever were. We want then to be smarter. We want them to feel they can dangle the world at the end of their own, personal bit of string, like a giant yo-yo. I wanted these things, too. I dreamed and planned and worried and wondered my way through every moment of every day of every month of my pregnancy. Life is so much scarier when you let go of the illusion that you have any form of control over anything that happens to you. I think this goes double — or maybe quadruple — when it comes to your child. Or even the thought of having children. Let’s face it: just the thought of having a child, of bringing an innocent life into this crap-fest of a world that seems to surround us these days, is downright panic-inducing.

In the end, I was lucky and blessed. My child is smart. And beautiful. And funny. And seems to make friends easily — a feat I never managed to accomplish. Whenever I get lost, she can usually tell me how to get back home, so I feel we scored one from the universe on that count, too. What more could a parent want?

my parents and daughter, as a toddlerToday, my kiddo and I went for a walk after school. This is a fun activity, which usually involves lots of sweating and huffing-puffing on my part and lots of excited chatter on hers as she tells me about her day at school. I love it. But today, my daughter was quieter than usual. Several times, she fell behind as I continued to forge ahead, intent on getting in my exercise time.

“Wait for me, Mama!” I heard her call after the second or third time.

Impatiently, I rolled my eyes and turned around to see her kneeling in the middle of the sun-baked sidewalk, her attention focused on something in front of her. I whispered under my breath for her to hurry the heck up as I paced back and forth in an attempt to stave off the hordes of gnats that had swarmed me as soon as I stopped moving. Didn’t she realize I was exercising here? Didn’t she know I couldn’t stop? That my time was valuable?

As I watched, she picked up a teeny twig and prodded at something on the sidewalk. I guess she sensed me looking at her, because she glanced up with an apologetic little smile on her face. “I’m sorry it’s taking so long,” she said. “I just feel sorry for them when they get stuck out in the hot or get stepped on.”

And that’s when I realized: She had been stopping for the earthworms. They had been forced out of the grass by a recent rain and then gotten stuck in the middle of the sidewalk when the sun came back out. Much like the grinch, I felt my heart grow about three sizes bigger in that instant. Did it really matter if I got my entire walk in today? Did it really matter if I finished quickly or took a bit more time? Did I really need to be so impatient?

“It’s all right, sweetie,” I told her. “Use this piece of bark. It’ll be easier for him to crawl onto it.”

I watched as she angled the piece of bark “just right”. She held it steady, holding her breath, as she waited for the worm to find his way onto it. And then, once she had her precious cargo in place, she gently moved him over to a shady spot on the nearest patch of grass.

It was such a little thing. It was just a worm. But, sometimes, the smallest acts of compassion seem to be beautiful and larger than life. Physical beauty will fade in time. Maybe intelligence will, too. Friends will come and go along the way. But compassion … If that stays with my girl, I think she will be all right. And, perhaps, the world will be a better place, too. I know my corner of it is. That’s the sweetest gift of all.


Walking on the Sun

Dear Universe,

It’s hot today in my corner of the world. I’m not talking about the sort of annoying “mildly unpleasant so wave your fan faster and sip extra lemonade on the porch” type of heat we should be having at this time of the year. Oh, no. This is that “hide the children and go crying to your mama ‘cuz life is unfair and all your grass has just burst into flames on the front lawn” kind of hot you usually save for the last weeks of August. And, oddly enough, the first few weeks of school. Because, of course, wrestling kids back into their school schedules isn’t challenging enough on its own.

I try to take a very easy-going approach to your activities, Universe. Pretty much, you’re going to do whatever you want with or without my say-so. I get it. This is just who you are and how you express yourself. Trying to control you would be akin to spitting in the ocean, and the world is going to whirl away on its axis with or without me, right? Generally, I’m okay with all of this. Going with the flow works for me. It helps me maintain at least the appearance of “zen” in my life.

beach and waves: rehoboth, delawareI have to say, though … With regard to the heat, I’m not a fan, Universe. I don’t do well in hot weather. It’s not that I dislike sweating. It’s not that I fear sunburn or skin cancer or spider bites. (Actually, I’m terrified of all those things, but that’s not my point.) The point is this: I can not function when temperatures climb above 85 degrees. Every stray thought in my head tunnels down into one loud wail of “HOLY CRAP, WHY IS IT SO HOOOOOOOT?!?” and my brain curls up in a corner of my psyche, wisely assuming the fetal position until cooler weather arrives.

I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this to you before, Universe, but HOT is not fun. I do not like getting into my car and being unable to touch the steering wheel because it’s sizzling. I do not like getting into my car and feeling all the breath suck out of my lungs because it’s so freaking hot in there. I do not like when my dogs romp outside and come back in smelling like sun and hot. This has to be the only smell that’s worse than “wet dog”. I do not like when my husband suddenly thinks it’ll be fun to do outdoor activities like go to the zoo. Where was he with this plan when it was a balmy 20 degrees outside? Because, believe me, that’s the time when the zoo is most fun. No … really.

red flowers in the sun, rehoboth delawareWasn’t I just complaining about several feet of snow on the ground about a minute and a half ago? Where the heck did all this hot come from, anyhow? Yeah, I know, global warming … blah, blah, blah. Spring basically hung around long enough to drop a crap-load of pollen before skittering away to somewhere cooler. And now, it feels like we’re into Summer already. I want answers, Universe. And you, too, Spring. Yeah, that’s right. I’m looking at you.

Today, the temperature gauge in my car told me it was 95 degrees. This is ridiculous, Universe. If I wanted to walk on the sun, I would have moved there. Or stayed in S. Texas.

No love,


Oh, the Humanity!

It’s cherry blossom time here in my neck of the woods. Last weekend was the peak weekend for our annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Having lived in this area for a number of years, I think my family and I have become a little bit jaded toward the whole blossom explosion. Truly, it is gorgeous, but there are flowering trees everywhere around here. When you see them constantly on your daily drives — and even have one in your front yard — it all starts to be a bit “ho-hum”. Cherry Blossom Festival time stops being something exciting and new and becomes nothing more than a pain in the hoo-hah because of all the tourists flooding the area.

cherry blossoms in the early morning light

This year, for the first time in about eight or nine years, my family and I decided to go into town to see the trees in full bloom. We planned our outing carefully, deciding to get up early so that we could avoid the crowds and get some nice photos with the just-past-sunrise light.

This was a fantastic plan, and I went to bed the night before eagerly anticipating all the amazing photos I would manage to capture. I had visions of deserted sidewalks and softly pinkish-orange light on calm water, which would, of course, give all my photographs a fairy-tale quality that would shock and amaze anyone looking at them. What can I say? I have a vivid imagination. Too bad I can’t manage to use my powers for good.

Our plan wasn’t easy to implement. I think I have mentioned this before, but I am not a morning person. Let me emphasize: Not A Morning Person. At all. So rolling out of bed before 6:30 in the AM took what can only be described as a Herculean effort on my part. But, I told myself, it would be oh-so-worth it when I was at home later in the afternoon, smugly gloating over my incredibly beautiful photographs.

cherry trees and people -- lots of people

So, you can imagine my dismay when we got into town only to discover that EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE FREAKING UNIVERSE (!!!), apparently, had the exact same early morning cherry blossom attack plan. There were people everywhere — at 7:00 in the blessed AM, even! I couldn’t believe it, and I felt my dreams of gorgeous pictures fizzle right before my eyes. I think I heard them make a sad, little popping sound as they imploded with my first view of the crowds thronging toward our destination.

I mean, really! Didn’t they all know I’m not a morning person? Didn’t they all realize I had gotten up super early and made a special trip into town just to see the cherry trees and get beautiful pictures of deserted sidewalks and pink-orange light on the calm waters? Yeah … apparently, none of them got the memo. Thanks a lot, Universe.

cherry blossoms reflected in the water

It ended up being a nice walk and a lovely morning. And I got to see much more than I had bargained for when we originally planned this excursion. Sure, deserted sidewalks strewn with fallen cherry petals and the soft light of sunrise on a calm river are beautiful. But they can’t hold a candle to the actual sights and sounds we encountered on our cherry blossom outing.

A funny thing happens when you toss bunches of people together into a small space: Humanity, in all its whacked-out, weirdly beautiful glory. We saw a slice of all of it during our stroll along the river and under the beautifully blooming trees. From the Honor Guard at the memorials … to a little dog wearing a coat and sauntering down the sidewalk like a Boss … to happy couples so in love and taking their engagement photos … to people in traditional Japanese dress, who looked right at home amongst the petals as they drifted to the ground on the gentle breeze … to brides in their veils and white dresses … and, yes, even the pregnant lady sitting on the side of the river taking “pregnant belly” photos, which, I have to admit, made me feel awkward and uncomfortable — mainly because the lighting was all wrong, and I just know those photos are going to be terrible … there was a little bit of everything on display. People were letting it all hang out, as people are wont to do, enjoying the unseasonably warm weather and, probably, celebrating the demise of a winter that seemed to drag on for way too long this year.

I felt my spirits lift, just being among them. The carnival atmosphere was contagious and made me happy to be alive and outside enjoying the sunrise and beautiful morning. And I thought to myself: “Yep … It was worth it.”

No deserted sidewalks. No artfully strewn cherry blossom petals. No hushed quiet of the breeze through the trees. No sunrise on calm waters. Just a cacophony of sounds, sights, colors, and crazy, crazy people at every twist and turn. And I wouldn’t have changed a single thing.

dog on a motorcycle ... with goggles


Today is my birthday. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’ve spent most of the last couple of days thinking on it, processing, trying to figure out what it means for me and to me. I’ve spent today with family and friends, but, still, it was in the back of my mind.

I’ve never been one to make a big fuss about my own birthday. I’ve always thought it was just another day and found it a little strange (nice but strange) that people go out of their way to do nice things for me on this one day of the year. I try to do nice things for the people around me all year long, and I guess I always just expected the same. Plus, I’m shy, so I feel a little — okay, a LOT — uncomfortable when people make a fuss over me. For a lot of reasons, I guess I’ve never given my birthday much thought.

stuff from my office shelves

This year, though …

I dunno. This year feels different to me. This year, I am 45. 45 … 45 … 45 … The number keeps echoing around in my head until I think I will go crazy from having it on a continuous loop in my brain. It sounds so strange. And final.

“Age is just a number.” That’s what people say, right? I know it can sound simpering and insincere, but I’ve always believed this to be the truth. I guess that’s why I never felt overly fussed about the passing of my own timeline. Until now.

Realizing I am closer to 50 than I am to 30 — and that I am light years away from my 20s — has hit me particularly hard. There are things I had expected to have done by this point in my life. There are dreams I had. There are things I still want to do. But life, being the fickle mistress she is, doesn’t always work out the way we expect or hope or dream.

dog statues in my office

Age is just a number. I do think this is true. I really do. But I don’t know how to let go of those dreams I have held closely for so long that, now, I know will not come true. I don’t know how to figure out who I am, even now. There are things I still want to do, but I don’t know how to look at 45 as a beginning for new adventures, instead of an ending to lost dreams.

Perhaps, by the time I am 46, I will have all the answers I need.

Or not.

Riding Drag

That’s how I feel today: like I’m the lone cowpoke tasked with riding drag on the cattle drive, which means I’m choking on the world’s dust. Or maybe I just watched too many Rawhide episodes as a kid.

Today hasn’t been a particularly long day. But it’s one of those days that FEELS like a long day. I find myself now, at the end of everything, with the child unit tucked into bed and the washer and dryer humming their music in the background, sitting here in front of my computer and feeling exhausted. Is it this winter that just can’t seem to figure out when it’s time to pack up its toys and go home? Is it the one-two-punch of kidney infection and sinus infection I’ve had over the past three weeks or so? Is it the thought that my husband will be away from home for several days, starting tomorrow, which means all adult responsibility falls onto my shoulders? Is it the realization that my mother arrives in less than a week and I still have a lot to do to get the house ready for her extended visit?

toy cars in a window: cape cod

Maybe it’s a combination of all these things. Or maybe I’m just lazy and whiny. Or maybe it’s a combination of these things AND I’m lazy and whiny. I honestly don’t know. But I do know I wish I could check out of life for a bit — just hunker down in bed with the covers pulled up over my head and let the world slide by for a day or two. Or, perhaps, three.

But, there are meetings to attend and lunches to make and laundry to do and dogs to bathe and errands to run and appointments to make and calendars to schedule and dinners to cook and groceries to buy and on and on and on. A never-ending litany of adult life. When I was a kid, I thought it would be so grand to be an adult. I used to daydream about how I would be able to do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, and how there would be no one to hold me back or remind me of life’s rules. Now, I know better. No one tells you, when you’re a kid, that being an adult often sucks. Or that there are more rules than ever. Or that you will spend a ridiculous amount of time cleaning up dog barf. (Well, I guess this wouldn’t apply if you don’t have a dog. But I have two, and I end up cleaning up a LOT of barf. Why don’t dogs figure out that whole “don’t put things in your mouth” thing? But that’s a post for another time, I suppose.)

I guess it’s a good thing no one tells kids what adult life is really like. If they did, no one would ever want to grow up. I know I wouldn’t have.

Writing the Right Words

fireworks at epcot centerI wrote today! On my book, even. Huzzah!! I would like to say this means my super long-standing block is broken, but I know better. That old saying about counting one’s chickens before they hatch springs to mind …

There are a lot of things in my life that make working on the book difficult. Many of the physical set-backs (like all the stuff I am expected to get done within the span of a day) are easily overcome. Or ignored. Sometimes, if the writing is good, they get ignored. This is actually a fantastically exhilarating feeling: to write and write with giddy abandon, not even wanting to stop for food or sleep. This hasn’t happened for me in a long time, and I miss it.

Other things are not so easily overcome. These are the mental hurdles I’ve struggled with now for several years: depression and anxiety and fear and this feeling of malaise that manifests itself as a complete lack of faith in myself and my writing ability. I know I need to power through these things, but it is difficult. Yesterday, I had a good “powering through” day. I managed to get through all the new edits and bits I had written previously — time consuming work, but necessary in order to pick the story up after a long absence. Today, my “power through” didn’t work quite as well. I didn’t get as much written as I would have liked, but I made some progress. I’m putting that in the “win” column.

Right now, I’m writing a fight scene. This is probably the worst spot for me to try and reenter my story, because I hate writing fight scenes. There is so much mental choreography involved. I feel like I have to be aware of where every hand is and the placement of every foot and how each weapon moves through the air. It can be mentally exhausting. And I never feel like these types of scenes turn out properly. Ah well.

Maybe I should short-cut all of this by making my character a pacifist … OK. Not really. But it’s a fun thought.

Goin’ to the Chapel

Tonight, I am waxing a bit nostalgic about my wedding day. I pulled out our wedding album a few days ago to do a little photo shoot with my new rings set and ended up spending a couple of hours looking through the whole thing with my daughter. We no longer live in the same state as our extended families, so it seems the only way my daughter is going to “know” her aunts, uncles, and cousins is through pictures. And then, there are the very sentimental pictures of my husband’s grandfather, who passed away a few years ago.

It’s funny the things one remembers from such a long-ago day. I don’t remember the way the air smelled or what the weather was like (other than knowing it was nice, overall, because we had an outdoor reception). I don’t remember all the words that were said during the ceremony. I don’t remember every word of our vows, although I always thought I would remember that particular detail. I don’t even remember everyone who was there to share our big day with us.

wedding photo with ringsI remember feeling nervous, in spite of the fact that my husband and I had already been together for eight years at this point. I remember almost tripping over the hem of my dress as my dad and I started down the aisle. I remember my dad’s hand, placed so gently over mine in the crook of his arm, as if I were the greatest treasure he had ever possessed and he had to take the utmost care. I remember how, when we reached the front of the church, my dad held on for just a few moments longer than expected. Maybe he was reluctant to let go. I wonder if it was hard for him to turn away and sit down, knowing another man would now be so prominent in my life. I remember how uncomfortable my shoes were. I hated those shoes. My mother picked them out; I wanted to wear tennis shoes. No one would see them under my dress, anyhow, I reasoned. But she insisted I had to have “nice, ladylike” shoes. I remember thinking my hair was too tall. I still think that, looking back at these pictures, but, again, I didn’t pick out the “wedding day hairstyle”, either. I remember bubbles floating through the air, chased by laughter and funny stories during the reception. I remember beautiful sunshine and warm, golden-tinged thoughts of those I loved the most. I remember my husband’s hand shaking a little bit as he slipped the wedding band onto my finger.

wedding photo with ringsI remember standing there, in the dark entry of the church … feeling nervous and unsure … clinging to my daddy’s arm and looking at what seemed like the longest aisle in history laid out before me. I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no way I can do this. There’s no way I can make this walk in front of all these people.”

And then, my husband turned around. He saw me for the first time in my wedding dress, standing there. It was like time stood still for those few moments that we looked into each other’s eyes. As if he and I were the only two people in the universe. And he smiled — a smile that told me everything would be all right, as long as we were together … a smile that melted my heart and gave me butterflies all at the same time … a smile that didn’t promise perfection but spoke of years of laughter and love and good memories to come.

And that is my favorite memory of all.

rings with wedding album cover



Insert Title Here

I have absolutely nothing to write about. Nothing. Nada. Zip.

Because of this, I decided I would sit down and write about the first random thought that popped into my head once I was faced with the dreaded blank screen and blinking cursor ‘o’ doom. But nothing popped into my head. I am so fixated on how I have nothing to write about that I can’t even manage to have a random thought. And so, I am sitting here … in the semi-darkness of my office … waiting (not so) patiently for my child to get her act together and get into bed … thinking about how I screwed the pooch with regard to hitting “bedtime” in a timely manner tonight …  reminding myself that getting the extra piano lesson done and feeding the child and dogs still counts as a victory in life … feeling the pounding of a monster sinus headache (thank you very much Sinus Infection From Hell; no, really!) … listening to the clickety-clack of dog nails on my hardwood floors … thinking  I really need to trim those bad boys … not wanting to trim them because it always leads to embarrassingly histrionic displays of melodrama (mostly on my part) … wondering if my child is actually EVER going to go to bed … debating over just how it can be possible for one small person to make noise during their every waking hour … thinking that, really, she is like a perpetual motion machine, but for noise, instead …

And writing about how I have nothing to write about.

reflections at nightIt’s a weird feeling, having nothing about which to write. At first, I thought my brain was completely devoid of ideas or thoughts or … well, anything of meaning. You know, like an empty, coconut-shaped thing that sits on top of my body and takes up space for no good reason. Now, though, I realize it’s more that there are too many things rattling around in my head. They are all jumbled up together into a confusing mess of irritation and annoyance, leaving me with that deer-in-the-headlights feeling.

Today has been long. I don’t feel well. I have a terrible headache. And it seems that pretty much everyone in my family (dogs included) has decided, at one point or another, to stand on my very last, quickly-fraying nerve. My dad used to tell me that. When he got really pissed at me, he would tell me, “Little Girl, I’ve got one nerve left. And you’re standin’ on it.” I wondered about it as a kid. Now, as an adult, I know exactly how it feels.

Anyhow … today is drawing to a close at last. My Springer Spaniel is trying to climb into my lap as I type this. And tomorrow is another day. Perhaps I’ll have something to write about then. One can only hope.

Or not.


The Art of Living Beautifully

There is a magazine I simultaneously love and hate. It’s called Artful Blogging, and I’ll bet at least some of you guys have seen it in your local store, even if you haven’t picked one up or thumbed through an issue. It’s a lovely magazine. The photography and layout are soothing and peaceful. In short, it has often provided me with a much-needed escape from the hectic mess that is my day-to-day life. (Often when I’ve locked myself in the bathroom for just a few minutes peace … but that’s a story for another day. Maybe.)

So, I love this magazine. I find it inspirational. This is the magazine that, ultimately, caused me to pull the trigger and set up my own blog. Because I looked at the beautiful pictures and read the lovely words and thought, “Hey! I want to do that!” And, of course, there were choirs of angels singing in the background to accompany this epiphany. Or, maybe that was one of the dogs, climbing up onto the dining table chairs to get at my daughter’s left-over breakfast. But, whatever … the epiphany happened. And so did the blog.

apple blossomsBut I also hate this magazine. Because, in truth, no matter how beautiful or inspiring I find its pages or the blogs it showcases, I know I can never, ever live up to them. My life is full of drudgery and stuff I hate doing. I rarely admit this to myself — and almost never admit it out loud — but probably 99% of the stuff I do every day falls into that category. Not only that, but all of these things are tasks that are on a never-ending cycle. It’s not like laundry is going to stay clean or dinner only has to be cooked once or your floors are never going to get dirty again. No. You have to continually launder and cook and put things away and clean. Well, actually, you can scratch the floor thing. I pretty much fail at that. My floors are almost always a mess. In all seriousness, I am probably the worst housewife on the face of the planet, simply because I do not like doing any of the chores.

I always think to myself that my blog would be wonderful or beautiful if I had a more interesting life. Or if I was more fun. Or if I had something better to write about than my own daily life. Or if I had my life more together. Or … *insert reason here*. Just, any number of things.

garden jarsThis past Sunday, I was out in my yard performing my yearly duty of ick — otherwise known as The Springtime Pooper Patrol. As you can imagine, this is a particularly disgusting task. I am the only person in my household who ever performs this chore. Actually, I’m the only person in my household who ever picks up after the dogs at all: daily in every season but winter, because snow on the ground makes it a pretty difficult task. I have sworn, after the two hours spent in cold, windy air pushed my little cold over the line into a full-fledged, raging, bacterial sinus infection, to do a daily pick-up next winter. Even if there’s three feet of snow on the ground. But, I digress …

So, I’m outside, doing this thing I hate, and I know I can’t even complain to anyone about how much I hate it. Because all I will hear in return is, “Well, you’re the one who wanted the dogs.” Or “Well, they’re your dogs, after all.” Oh. Or the worst one ever “Well, that is your job.” I even hear this from my mother, which makes me want to reach through the phone and strangle her with the cord — something I probably shouldn’t have admitted out loud, come to think of it. And, as I’m scooping the poop and hating my life in general, I started thinking about Artful Blogging. And how the bloggers within those pages were so creative and fantastic and artistic and had beautiful lives. Somehow, they even manage to make their most mundane tasks seem wonderful and worthwhile. Heck, one of those bloggers even made me want to go out and herd sheep! And I’ve actually herded sheep in real life, so I know it’s not a simple or fun task. But this is the power of Artful Blogging.

purple flowersAnd it hit me: Somehow, those bloggers have mastered the art of living beautifully. Their lives are just ordinary, every day lives. They aren’t super models or rock stars or dragon slayers or Pokemon trainers or … whatever. But they have passion for their lives. And a fascination with the world around them. It makes people want to come closer. It makes even the most mundane and ridiculous task seem beautiful and worthwhile. There’s a sort of spirituality to it.

I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to live beautifully. I’m not sure I ever have. I’ve always been reaching for goals that I could never attain. I was always the weird person on the outside or the one who was going to fall short of others’ expectations. (Mainly because those expectations were out of whack, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.) In many ways, I know I have a beautiful life. The rational part of my brain knows this. But in my heart, I don’t think I’ve ever LIVED in that beautiful life. How does one do this? How is it possible to let go and figure out what you want in life and who you are and just use all that wonderful, awesome power to LIVE in every delicious, beautiful, amazing moment?

I don’t know. I would like to say I’m going to try. And, really, I would like to try. But I don’t even know where to start. I wonder, though: Would those talented and artistic bloggers whose work I so admire manage to take my life and find the beauty in it? Would they, somehow, take in every mind-numbing moment of my day and magically twist it and gel it until it came out looking completely unlike itself? So that it would look like the kind of life I might actually want to have? Maybe, which would be kind of neat.

But not Springtime Pooper Patrol. ‘Cuz nothing can make that lovely.





birds on a wire ... in snowThere’s snow on the ground
And over my toes.
When I fell down,
It went up my nose.

There’s snow on the roof
And the tops of the trees.
It could be a goof,
But I’m done with this freeze.

There’s snow on the robin
Pecking the ground.
He’s angry and sobbin’,
For Spring can’t be found.

I know it’s out there
With flowers and bees.
And warm, breezy air,
Come on, Springtime … Please!!