More laughter, Warmth, and Brie!

So, last night was my annual girly party….for those of you that follow my blog, I first wrote about it in Laughter is the best medicine some time ago.  This night truly NEVER disappoints, and, true to form, NO ONE has ever left early!

Having already cleaned up, washed and hand dried all of the seasonal goblets and sangria pitchers, stored them away, rounded up and taken out the garbage and recycling, laundered the hand towels and pot holders, run the dishwasher twice, washed all of the platters and china and put them away as well, and returned my furniture to its usual place, I am now sitting here, eating shrimp cocktail and gf donuts (no judgement)  and am, simultaneously, heating rumaki and stuffed potato stacks for dinner later.  But, the absolute BEST  part is that I can’t help but have SUCH a ridiculously full heart. I mean, not only do these women come, provide laughter, and find themselves so comfortable in my kitchen, that many of them even clean up, they also manage to coordinate the appetizer fare, without having spoken to each other, ahead of time.   Yes, I prep for days, make a ton of finger food, and make a whole lot of appetizers and dips and such, and yes, a lot of it has become tradition, like my rumaki, my veggie platter, my cheese platter, and a several random hot and cold assorted dips, etc. but these chicks almost never “just pick something up”; They prep and primp and platter, and present.  They freakin’ take over my kitchen, my oven, my sink, my knives, my fridge, and my buffet table!   And, BOY, do I ABSOLUTLY LOVE that!  This year,  because my shindig fell on Chanukah, I also made a platter of latkes, because, ya know, who doesn’t like latkes? And, guess what…yup….they were demolished.  There’s always a ton of food… I mean, believe me, we could feed a whole other group of women on what I make alone, but it’s so funny to me that we are ALL like this.  Again, a group of women, who always take care of everyone else! And, even funnier, this year seems to have been “the year of the Brie”…. There were probably four different Brie’s…from crescent rolls to spreads and dips, and yes, even people! …..I LOVE  that I finally got my friend, Sabrina, aka Bri, here for this…She is one of the warmest, most giving,  people I know, and I really wanted her to experience a night like this.  I’m pretty sure she enjoyed herself, and I hope that she’ll make it “a thing”.  I know she loved her gift.   I’ve set the date for next year, this, having been the second time now, where I am currently living, and I am hopeful that HERE is where it also remains. Time will tell. I really love it here, and I look around now, and know that it’s a warm place, touched by the things that many of these ladies have brought to it, physically, as well as figuratively! And yes, Barb, I found the gift you left, and the hand towels are adorable…thank you! And, whomever else will finally ‘fess up” to having left a little goodie bag of philosophy creams for me…thank you as well!  Thank you for always giving of yourselves, and continuing to provide the, much needed, laughter!

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114 Things I’ve Learned

As we kick off December, begin celebrating the joys of the season, and toast to our future, I will also be newly celebrating a rite of passage and the life lessons that  I have learned in the last 12 months or so.

Soooo, here are…114.

  1.  A difficult conversation is…difficult
  2. Setting boundaries is also tough but may be just what you need
  3. Less commotion makes for better acclimation 
  4. Investing in yourself is important
  5. Change, though unsettling, can settle you
  6. Grief, absolutely takes no less than 18-24 months
  7. It’s good that this is true, because  I’ve been telling my patients this for years
  8. Your story is your own
  9. No matter what,  people will draw their own conclusions 
  10. Others will make their own choices, whether you believe them to be sound, or not
  11. It’s MUCH easier to cast blame, than take responsibility
  12. Sometimes unimaginable things take place FOR you
  13. It’s difficult for others to switch roles if you’ve always been the caretaker
  14. Appliances aren’t built like they used to be
  15. Dryer scent beads are amazing
  16. Antigravity chairs, a glass of wine, and the outdoors can be soothing
  17. A family is any group that supports you
  18. Salary isn’t always better than a celebration
  19. Trains, planes, and automobiles can bring love closer to where you are
  20. Actions speak louder than words; in fact, they scream
  21. A handmade card can make someone’s day
  22. Putting a teabag inside the card sparks conversation
  23. Calling your mother is important
  24. Mom will always appreciate the call, no matter when or why
  25. Family recipes are worth making
  26. Changing your pillowcase constantly, Lessens a cold’s duration
  27. My lemon potion works wonders
  28. Texting can be wonderful
  29. Texting can be awful
  30. Catching up by phone is really great
  31. Catching up, in person, is even better
  32. Spatchcocking a turkey is hard work
  33. Cutting up a butternut squash is even harder to do
  34. Purchase butternut squash, but precut in cubeS
  35. Gluten free food can be delicious 
  36. Trusting your gut is essential
  37. Your patients can teach YOU things
  38. Sometimes, you just have to surrender and embrace what is
  39. Alleviating stress can do wonders for your eyelashes
  40. Good under eye cream is a necessity
  41. Contouring changes everything
  42. Invest in the right tools for the job
  43. The right makeup tools count as well
  44. Closing a formal dress by oneself, even with a hanger, is nearly impossible, and doesn’t guarantee it’ll stay closed
  45. Vitoria’s secrets’ underwear is not made with the same quality as it used to be
  46. Good Underwear is like a strong foundation for a house to be built on
  47. The designated driver is always me for me
  48. Less stress also allows for mental clarity
  49. Just because someone else receives the thank you, doesn’t mean that they didn’t learn from you to show that gratitude 
  50. I can’t look at quesedillas anymore
  51. Breathe…and do it often
  52. Talk less; smile more
  53. Werk
  54. Do things you love
  55. See a good movie in a recliner
  56. Oysters are great
  57. Going out on a “school night” feels like cheating the system
  58. Get together with old friends…often
  59. Make the drive…it’ll be worth it
  60. Bath bombs and baths are da bomb
  61. The tango CANNOT be executed alone
  62. A partnership takes two invested participants to be successful
  63. I’m definitely a tequila girl
  64. The pedicure is always worth it
  65. People think I’m strong or a “tough cookie”
  66. Sometimes strong people need support and even cookies crumble
  67. Family heirlooms should be cherished, worn, and used
  68. You never know when the last time will be the last time
  69. A lack of appreciation is a message worth listening to
  70. A television isn’t a necessity 
  71. Doctors really don’t know everything
  72. Medical expenses are brutal
  73. Our country is lacking in so many ways
  74. Exercising ones right to vote is essential
  75. Women “get shit done”
  76. Singing, everyday, IS a necessity 
  77. Books are fabulous
  78. Candles are even better
  79. The sound of rain soothes me
  80. Rain, candlelight, and a good book is a trifecta
  81. Cooking for yourself is as important as cooking for others—maybe even more so
  82. I should always go to bed earlier than I ever do…always
  83. Life Shows you glimmers of things to come
  84. It’s truly bizarre when you end up living somewhere that you briefly visited many years ago just to take a picture in a pretty location
  85. You never know where your path might lead you
  86. Signs are everywhere
  87. Generalizing is not indicative of something
  88. Hurt can and will eventually lead to anger…allow it, but don’t live there
  89. Disappointment is….disappointing 
  90. You can’t force someone to grow up
  91. Adulting is tough
  92. Play is important
  93. Everything you see isn’t always accurate
  94. Dance…like somebody is really watching
  95. Revisit whom you used to be to re-find yourself
  96. Sing out Louise
  97. Smile baby
  98. Nobody puts baby in the corner
  99. Partying, like anything else, needs practicing to be good at it
  100. Sushi is still awesome, whether with a group, as a pair, or solo
  101. Making latkes, solo, is NOT As much fun 
  102. Homemade Pumpkin pancakes at 11 pm is divine 
  103. A Pumpkin cheesecake milkshake is worth the calories
  104. Gaining the friendship of the friend who, later, introduced you to the milkshake goes beyond words
  105. Find your passion, and never put it on hold for anyone or anything
  106. Education is important
  107. Your life experiences will shape you beyond your expectations
  108. I expect kindness, fairness, and courtesy,  and offer the same, up front
  109. Life is longer than it used to be, but the years go by quickly
  110. There may be things that I want, but it doesn’t mean that I need them
  111. I am braver than I believe, stronger than I seem, and smarter than I know
  112. Glitter always finds me
  113. Glitter is a reminder that although sometimes things are really difficult, a little sparkle is still somewhere
  114. Laughter IS the best medicine

FAMILY

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There’s nothing that I look forward to more than Thanksgiving. 

It’s my BIG holiday that I’ve done for years…taken over from my parents before I was even an adult…and I’ve always loved it.

No gifts, no religion, and nothing else, but food, family, and laughter. 

It’s  the one big gathering when we all sit around the table, together, and share our thoughts and gratitude. 

The number of people present has sporadically changed, but the feelings and the general festivities remain the same, year after year. 

Hors de oeuvres upon arrival, dips, veggies, and other assorted delicacies….the smell of the turkey in the oven, the heating and moving around of the sides that accompany it, the ceremonial “sound of the canned cranberry sauce” leaving it’s can, (this year, it was videotaped for posterity).  (Yes, I make a REAL one as well!)

There are discussions and updates of everyone’s status, be it school or otherwise, what flavor wines I have decided to put on the table, (this year we had raspberry as well as spiced apple), and the travel discussion, and how everyone got here, via planes, trains, and automobiles. 

There’s the actual meal…an always, larger than necessary, turkey, which I “spatchcocked” this year…if you don’t know what that means— google it.             There are all of the traditional sides, traditions, and homemade goodies galore. 

We actually go around the table, Person by person, expressing why we are actually grateful, besides the obvious, food, family, and good health. And, everyone tries a taste of everything.

Even my dance students know that they are required (by me) to try something new that’s on their own holiday table…not only because others are not always as fortunate and blessed as we/they are, but because life is about trying new things; Because we, along with our taste buds, mature, and because, hey, ya never know~you just might like it.  And, even if you don’t, you’ll learn what doesn’t work for you as much as what does…there are just so many life lessons in that! 

We pass the food around to each other, load each other’s plates, marvel at our good fortune, and then talk some more, and even some more. 

The first round of clean up begins, and, shortly thereafter, its family game time. 

Most often, we play “Balderdash”, which my MIL bought for us many years ago after playing it at another family gathering…it evokes soooo much laughter, that it sends numerous people running for the bathroom, time and time again. We do change it up every so often, and this year, I ordered a new game, but it was delayed in transit, so I picked up another that I came upon…there always HAS to be a game…and, of course, laughter.

Each round began with “the category is….food and drink”, which is only funny because food and drink was the actual name of the game, but, like my dad always says…you had to be there! 

I’ve blogged about this joyous holiday before, and have even guest blogged during this same time of year, but I am forever intrigued by it. 

Why does this holiday bring me such bliss? 

It’s a lot to prepare for from start to finish~begun days ahead, and with many food shopping trips, platters, casserole dishes, pots, pans, dishwasher fills and emptying, dish towels, laundries, recipes, as well as the China, silverware, napkins.  Aaaand, don’t forget the preparation for an inflatable bed, extra pillowcases, sheets, comforters, hand towels, toilet paper, and other assorted shopping items besides the food to accommodate and nourish anyone staying and visiting. 

I also coordinate train pickups, airport runs, time schedules, defrosting the turkey, baking desserts, as well as additional cooking for the meals prior, and around it, even while working until after 9 pm every night prior.

It seems crazy that anyone would enjoy this….and yet, enjoy it, I do. 

 Maybe I get better at it every year,  because everyone always comments how wonderful it is, and how “this year was even better”, but I don’t really think that’s it at all.  

Family, has always been very important to me…

Yes, it was how I was raised to be, but, it’s more than that…

I’m not only a hostess, but a caretaker, (shocking, I know) but I really do WANT those around me to feel cared for and cozy, because that’s what I love…and I love when it’s documented in photos and now, on social media. I love being surrounded by those I love, spending time with them, and being grateful that I can have this time with them, and those memories are truly held tightly in my heart. 

I know…it’s really corny, but, it’s true.

Yes, with maturity and loss, that feeling has certainly increased, but it’s always been a part of whom I am.  I cannot deny how much I love long catchups, for hours on end, and just relaxing Into it.  When people “kick off their shoes”, snuggle up, and just relate. Some of my best times are just like this.  I guess it’s why I have less crowds of people and more close friends from growing up. 

Yes, this weekend kicks off the holiday season for me, like it does for everyone else, though it’s somewhat different for me personally, than for others….we even snuck In Chanukah a week early while my kids were around, as we haven’t been able to, logistically, do that in a few years. 

I’m looking forward to my evening as well, with some close friends in just two weeks.  However, December has a different meaning for me more recently, because it’s provided a multitude of change and loss. But, I AM starting to see that there is some truth to the lyrics of “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”.  

So, get out there, get together, make plans, travel toward those you love, make the effort, make memories, eat up, and document it for years to come.  

You never know when the last time, will be the last time. 

And, there’s a reason that family is spelled, ending in ILY! 

To all of you…Happy Thanksgiving, one and all!

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Return To Me

There are certain times of your life that shape you, challenge you, and maybe even torment you to become the person that you will eventually be. The life lessons, the failures, the small triumphs, even more so than the larger ones. These moments prepare you, and often, in ways that you’d have no idea.

I wanted to be a doctor…a heart surgeon, to be exact, but chemistry made other decisions for me.  I thrived in musical theatre, loved it beyond imagination, and was a “triple threat” but stature made it difficult to be cast, and, no matter how great I was told my dancing was, I just wasn’t cast, again and again.  I held on…for a long time….rejection after rejection, and statements like “it’s too bad you’re not taller; you’re really good!” Which killed me. I could change lots of things, but, my height was not one of them. My parents, not so gently,  suggested I back myself up, so I duel degreed…musical theatre and sociology/criminal justice. I continued to perform, and supported myself by teaching dance.   I was very comfortable in front of people, and was told that I would be a great courtroom lawyer,  so, again, I changed paths.  I was wait listed for law school, so I began working in private practice and the court system.  When I was finally accepted to graduate school, I was interested in making changes and advising, and not just prosecuting, so I added an MSW to the path. I left the court system 10 years later, but missed performing more than I realized.  It didn’t seem responsible by that time to audition on an ongoing basis….I was now married, had children, and was paying a mortgage, so I “dabbled”….  An audition, here and there, a local show here and there,  I sang with a wedding band, did a choreography job, now and again, all while watching my peers on national tours, auditioning, being cast, doing commercials, bit parts, getting their big breaks and  gigs, and sending my students on auditions for intensives, jobs, and my nemesis, the rockette line.  I’ve supported friends through all of their successes, envious and yet super proud, and all the while I didn’t realize how far I had come from being myself.  The desire was still there.  I thrive on a stage, as a character that can be strong or emotional, but will break out in song when there are no words left to say.  For me,  It’s not the applause; It’s the freedom. It’s a chance to let go…to let it go…to rejoice…or question…or be. It’s a chance to say what you need to…and be listened to.  And yes, it is also an escape…from the ordinary, the mundane, and the responsible…. From whom I have become, and back to whom I once was.

I’ve had a few opportunities this year to “go back” — literally.  I’ve performed back on the stage where I spent four years as a musical theatre major, on a traditional or, so much more often, a raked stage, on the main stage –God, did it feel great.  Coming home can be absolutely amazing.  And, just this past weekend, I got to do it again, but in a different performance space on the campus, along with the honor of performing, not only amongst some fabulous alumni, and current students, but, with a more recent graduate whom I barely knew.  We took a risk because of our similar range, and hoped it’d work out.  Not only did it work out, but we ran our number with accompaniment just once to rehearse, and were truly amazed at how well we sounded together. Yes, we were trained by the same department, years and years apart, but HOW does that even happen?! It’s pretty amazing, and felt pretty amazing.  (Thank you Jenny!) image.png  The energy brought me back, each time, to EVERY time.  And I realize now, how much I truly miss it.  I’m grateful the opportunities have resurfaced, and am hopeful to do more…and I don’t mean in my car with an original cast recording! (Though carpool karaoke is my jam!)

i know that the opportunities and the new connections have resurfaced for a reason, and their timing couldn’t be more spot on, because every day, I am returning to me.

Look out world…here’s me!!!   (Cue the Broadway lights and marquis!)

A Year In The Making

I’ve finally arrived home! … from camp, about two weeks ago, and from DC, about three days ago, but I wasn’t really “HERE” until now~ Not physically or spiritually, that is, until RIGHT now.

It’s pretty obvious, at this point, especially if you follow my blog, that I’ve made a series of major life changes in the last, oh, I don’t know, maybe 12 to 18 months. Or, at least, I THOUGHT it was pretty obvious, but Facebook still baffles and intrigues me by what some people state on there…(However, I  think that’s a whole other blogpost.)

Some of these changes have gone down with quite a battle, and yes, there has also been some shrapnel in the process, and, of course, some wounds. I’ve lost people along the way…those that have removed ME from their lives, without even consulting me, and, I’ve gotta say, that hurts…a lot.  It really REALLY caught me off guard too.  But, I guess, no matter how many decades I was a part of their lives, maybe I was never all that important to them, and the joke was really on me.  I pride myself in relationships, and keeping in touch, showing interest, showing support, sending cards, checking in, and being there, but, I realize now, that I just can’t do that alone…in ANY kind of relationship.  It takes investing. And, maybe it’s just easier for them to toss me aside than to do the work that it takes to keep a relationship active and stay in touch.  Did they NOT realize all along, that i was the one doing the work? …cheering for family, making time and sacrifices for it and its importance? Did they REALLY  think that my, then, spouse was the one doing it?  Maybe it’s easier for them to cast blame, than to  take responsibility for anything on their end.  And, believe me, age plays no part in that wisdom, whether that happens or not, and, apparently, neither does the number of years invested, or even being family.  It’s heartbreaking.                                   No, it’s not heartbreaking…it’s  soul crushing.

I’ve decided to “let go”.  Not of everything, but of the pain it has caused. I found a magnet today that said ” let go, or be dragged”.  I also don’t think it was a coincidence that IT found ME in the market while on line, purchasing flowers and dessert prior to going to someone’s home to celebrate Rosh Hashanah…the Jewish new year.

But,  I’m not going to stop being whom I’ve always been. I’m going to continue being the thoughtful me, but because it makes me happy to do those things, because it’s who i am. It’s whom I’ve ALWAYS been. That won’t change.     I’ve, more recently, embraced change, more than I ever have before.  First,  quite honestly, out of not having a choice, but then, BY choice.  I keep a gratitude journal; I have, for years now…before anyone thought it was vogue…you know, therapeutic milieu  and all that because of me being a therapist,  and I try to be positive (afterall, that’s  a part of my bloodtype) and some changes  really just had to happen. But, then I did an assessment…a baseline, if you will, just to have something to compare it to, and, I realized, I could really USE some change. so, when it began to happen organically in some situations, I just let it.  Job change…location change… heck, even the dining room at camp that  I ate in for years…what an AMAZING change THAT was…thanks Jenn! My home, my commute, my clothing, my personal preparation before going out.  Even my skin has changed (for the better).

I’ve learned a lot…about other people, and about myself. I’ve learned who it is that is really there for me, and if you want to reciprocate, that’d be great. But I’m not going to badger myself as to what I did that made the relationship fizzle…that takes another party’s participation as well.  And, I know that life is busy, but, if you feel that I’m worth it, reach out, or, at least, reach back.  I’ve learned to embrace change when necessary, and I’ve learned that where I NOW live, is finally home…but I had to leave, to find that out. A year ago, I was in a very different place….it’s truly amazing what can change in a year.  Here’s to the new year, and to the new and improved me.  If you’re not with me, you’re missing out!

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Home Free

The last 48 hours, (plus 2 years, and 4 months) has been a whirlwind!
I’ve probably slept a total of 4 hours, and,  though I’m honestly trying to nap, i somehow began writing…maybe my eyes will just droop shut?!
It’s so hard to believe all of the time (and testing) (an advocating) it took to get here, not to mention, the crazy timing.
I’m home (from having been at camp) sitting next to my daughter, watching her sleep off anesthesia and listening to her softly sigh in her sleep from the pain…pain, in which I pray is the start of healing, and the beginning of much less than she’s had to endure until now.
I marvel at all that she’s accomplished while in this pain, like her final year of college, her honors thesis, her research, her sitting for the law boards, her graduation from college,  her first year of law school, all of the acquired awards, and the list goes on and on and on.
I can’t help myself as I capture a photo of her– sleeping…with a briefcase,  just to the left of her, and “benny”, the bunny, to her right. Life,  afterall, is about a balance…
I’m still recovering from my own procedure merely 5 days earlier, but I’m mom, and that’s just the way things go.
I watch the clock, at the ready, to medicate her, hydrate her, check the incisions, provide the tiniest snack, or anything at all that I can do, since I’ve not been able to do ANYTHING before.
I thank this new found surgeon, and second gastrointeroligist, again and again, under my breath, having heard us, when no one else has before.
I revisit, again and again, what he told me as she was leaving the OR…how we have now been confirmed that medical testing is far from perfect, how an opinion is just that…an opinion, how sometimes additional information just complicates things, and how managed care creates it’s own scenarios, much like jurassic park.
The money alone that I’ve spent going from specialist to specialist, the testing and retesting, the hospital ERs, the pain meds, the side effects, the homeopathic regimens, the different diets and supplements, and all that she reluctantly did,  like a trooper, again and again, in the hope of some, or any, at all, relief, while being bounced around,  and back and forth between 2 states like a basketball goes to and from each side of the court.
My fingers and toes are crossed that this exploratory procedure, ending in the removal of a torsed gall bladder, badly stretched out and covered in scar tissue, and the removal of part of her liver, causing a hematoma that almost sent us right back to the hospital, will end this horrific pain and be the answer we’ve been hoping for through all of the many tests, scans, and mris, having been done numerous times,  over and over again….the costs, more than financial.
I wonder what she could’ve accomplished pain free in that same time. How different her demeanor would’ve been. Her experience.
I watch her, amazed at the woman that she is…so young…so focused…and so full of promise.
It’s been such a long journey and I hope that we have reached our destination and are truly home free.

But, for now, we rest, and wait, and hope.

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Rebel

The word has a certain ring to it…
A noun…a person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler. A person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
A verb…the rise in opposition or armed resistance to an established government or ruler.

I’ve always been one to try to fit in…to blend in…not one to stand out.
I got my education in very specific programs.
I loved singing in the chorus, and the cohesiveness of different vocal sections blending together to form one great sound.
I was my strongest, dancing in a group, or duo, rather than as a soloist.
I stood strong in theatre ensembles, and marveled in moments that each audience member and individual theatre goer felt from the empowerment of the group and their story behind their voices.
I have belonged to a fabulous sorority, many professional organizations, and staff groups with a common ground, or purpose, always for the greater good.
I conduct groups as part of my therapeutic practice, and
even my yoga practice is based upon a specific group of yogis.
True to the theory that there is power in numbers, I  am empowered by those around me and take comfort in belonging. And, true to form, I am an absolute  sucker for tradition, especially those traditions that are carried through for decades, no matter how corny they might be.

I’ve never thought of myself as rebellious in any way, and tend to follow the rules, even lacking flexibility at times. I have always hesitated to stray from the masses for fear of being rejected or scorned. Yes, I was often a leader, but, a leader is only as good as their followers who hold them up, and vice versa.
I’ve often been put into leadership positions because of my ability to multitask, or speak well, and often because I felt strongly about a cause.
And sometimes, just because no one stepped forward, and I felt obligated to the group to represent them.
…Not quite your “Evita”, but more likely,  one of the people of Argentina who picketed on the front lines for their cause and for a new Argentina.

However, as of late, I have taken on a different role of sorts. A risk, so to speak, to stand alone, and stand strong. It is no easy feat, believe me, not by any means. It is not something familiar to me, nor had I had the opportunity to rehearse for it, or not that I had realized at least  beforehand, but it was time. Maybe even more than time. So used to belonging, following what was expected and even what I had hoped would all work out in the end, as it was foreign to me to take a different path. I belonged to a unit, a partnership, a group, and in a role that I did well, and perfected.  But, some roles must be played alongside a strong scene partner to make their impact. A monologue moves the audience to think, and even the actor….to seek purpose and explore their role, their choices, and their next steps. I had lost my scene partner, earlier than I had realized, and no matter how hard I worked at it, the scene had become ineffective; the show, a flop, with bad reviews. Did the audience realize what was happening?  I really don’t think so. And, honestly, it doesn’t matter. Even now, there is still much surprise…to myself as well.
I have realized now,  that I WAS standing strong, standing solo, and for much longer than I had realized.
I am now building an empire, finding myself, healing myself, loving myself, being passionate, getting fit, growing friendships, meeting new people, making memories, and even performing more often, and yes,  finding my happiness. I’m open to new experiences and new roles, and new relationships,  and,  if that makes me a rebel…so be it.  Welcome to a new Argentina.

 

 

 

Delayed, But Right On Time

Yesterday, at 3 pm, I left for the airport.
Armed with my glittery Rollie suitcase, my Vera weekender, and a gallon sized Ziploc bag filled with almonds, dried apricots, corn nuts, frozen grapes, two turkey roll ups, and an empty water bottles awaiting filling.
I parked my car at a friend’s house, transferred my belongings into her trunk, gave her my lettuce and some fruit, (it would just go bad in my fridge) hopped in and was at the airport in no time, though it was lightly raining and very, very breezy.
Having checked with the airline earlier by phone, I knew my flight was already delayed by two hours, but, I was advised not to come any later than originally scheduled because it was likely to take off on time, should the weather change. By the time I made it to security, the sun was shining bright, as I took note of my gorgeous view and snapped a photo of the plane just to my side as I awaited my turn and I marveled at how beautiful it was outside.
The line for security was manageable. I removed my sneakers and zip front hoodie, and placed it in a bin. I placed my two bags on the belt next to it, and then took an additional bin for my iPad, phone, and passport. I was advised to grab another bin for my small quart size bag of liquids, and snack bag. I joked with the TSA agent that I was willing to share, she smiled, and the scanning continued, uneventfully. I walked through, collected my belongings, put on my shoes, and headed on my way to gate 16A.
When I arrived to my area, there was a very long line for the ladies room, which I got on immediately….”always try”, I thought to myself….having heard this, and said this parentally, in turn, for years.
I then made my way to my gate, where two other flights were posted as delayed but expected to arrive and depart prior to mine. I asked the attendant at the desk, and was informed that my flight was still two hours delayed, coming from Orlando, and they would post this and an update, after the other flights departed. I looked around…very few seats available, but I found one, and luckily, right next to an outlet for my phone charger.
I settled in, grabbed my phone and charger, and a snack, got comfy, and waited.
The more I looked around, the more I realized the abundance of others awaiting their flights. I glanced at my watch, and knew that I already had two additional hours ahead of me. I listened as numerous cancellations were announced over the PA system. The guy next to me asked which of the two flights listed I was ticketed for, and when my response was neither, he told me he was on standby for either, and was hopeful for the first one. We spent the next couple of hours chatting, sharing our plans for each of our trips…him, meeting a friend and cousin for a few fun days in Miami, and me, checking on my parents and cousin…mom recovering from several crazy months and a recent procedure, and my cousin, in a cast, recovering from surgery.
There were numerous announcements further delaying each of his possible flights, and nothing regarding mine. After a couple of hours more, he checked in, and was bumped, as clearly noted by his thumbs down gesture to me from the desk. By now, I was really rooting for him. The first flight, now 6 hours delayed, came and went. He settled back in next to me, and advised me to check regarding my own flight; Nothing had changed, but I was becoming Leary.
There were children running around, tiring themselves, and I was pretty impressed with how cool most of these people were who had already been waiting for hours. People shared outlets and even chargers, and moved belongings and seats for other travelers, with the exception of one older, barefoot woman, who had to stretch out across three seats. (There’s always one in the crowd, and you KNOW She’ll be on my flight because you just know…)
Nonetheless, “Will” and I formally introduce ourselves, knowing we will now be spending even more time together. We marvel at this “seat needy” woman, share snacks, and pass the time. Finally, an announcement is made that my flight is further delayed, and they’re awaiting news as to what gate we will probably be moved to because of the high winds and limitations of airspace to depart and land. I’m just hopeful that I’m still flying and won’t have to go through security yet again. I have my doubts; I’ve seen this happen before, and then, in the end, the flight gets cancelled. Fingers crossed, that this is not the case, and I will fly and land safely way before my 82 year old father has to pick me up at some ridiculous hour. I know he’s keeping in touch with the airline, having forewarned him about the high winds. At this point, i won’t arrive before midnight, and I’ve already lost the entire day.
Overhead, they announce the other flight is also further delayed, having been rerouted to AC to refuel, which is really silly, but, given the scenario, that “fuel and go” adds another hour delay to Will’s hopeful flight. They also mention that they’ve put out water bottles and snacks for us, and apologize yet again. Everyone grabs snacks; Will brings back choices for both of us, and I swear that Phil Donahue is sitting across from us, but Will has no idea whom that is, and there’s so many people using the wifi, that I can’t show him a pic, or even verify if Phil is still alive. I worry about how Marlo Thomas is doing without him, and then chuckle out loud. After an hour of glancing his way, I just ask him if anyone’s ever told him that he looks like Phil Donahue, and he grins, but tells me no, and then smiles again. (I’ve GOT to get on that wifi!) it HAS to be him!
And then, after hours and hours, we get the news…my flight is taxiing to the gate, and will leave in the next 45 minutes once they clean, refuel, restock, and board us. There are applause, and I bee line for the ladies room to avoid the rush once on the plane. I return, collect the rest of my things and stand by. My flight is JUST now being put up on the board at the original gate. It takes longer than expected, and boarding is slow, but we do finally begin boarding.
Will requests a hug goodbye, as we’ve now spent 7 hours together, and we do so, wish each other safe flights and good trips, and I head for the line for boarding.

 

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It seems as if everyone has a reason for priority boarding, as does the “seat needy woman” who manages to quickly cruise her way forward when those who are disabled or need extra time are asked to slowly, make their way forward….#nojudgement.
The attendants thank me for my patience, and I, in turn, thank them for theirs, and they are stunned and grateful. Hey, they don’t make the decisions, they just deliver the news.
I make my way onto the plane…people take their time stowing their belongings, but are actually helping each other. Having just recently seen “Come from away” on Broadway, I wonder how many of them have as well. It’s all about the kindness of strangers, and the planes that were welcomed to Newfoundland, to Gander, specifically, when the air zone was cleared during 9/11 and all flights were grounded.  Oddly enough, later on, I spy a commercial for just that Broadway show on another passenger’s inflight screen.
I’m proud of my fellow travelers, and feel a strange camaraderie and kinship with them for some odd reason that I can’t put my finger on, but I’m MORE than ready to go. I buckle myself into the middle seat (of course, and it’s a completely packed flight) and the older woman to my right, whispering on her phone begins sobbing. I’m not really sure why, or what to do, but I find my packet of tissues (always the therapist/support supervisor) and hand it to her. She takes it, continues to talk quietly, dabs her eyes, and hangs up. She thanks me profusely, and gives me the remainder of the packet. I hand her one more, just in case, and she smiles. She says nothing throughout the remainder of the flight.
The older gentleman to my left settles in next to me and next to his wife across the aisle, and then we hear the PA crackle.
We are welcomed aboard by Zach, a very young flight attendant, maybe 21?….maybe…. 18?….who introduces the flight crew, who all appear to be old enough to have parented him. He’s excited to have us aboard this plane, which he refers to as “the big blueberry”.
He apologizes again and again for the multiple delays, cancellations, and says that he feels solely responsible and will do what he can to allow us to rest, regroup, and safely arrive at our destination. I realize then, that our captain, Brooke, is a female, and with the exception of one flight attendant, the rest of them are all males, and I’m thinking how cool this flight is. Again, I’m proud, but now, proud of the flight crew too.
I can’t help but think that this is a great combination of people and marvel at where I now am, and where I was not.
But, it gets even better. They truly have fun through the safety presentation, immediately offer free movies on 3 or 4 channels, and pass out water bottles and snacks as soon as we are sky-bound. Naturally, only our 3 screens don’t work, but I am content watching Eat, Pray, Love on my iPod classic, which was my initial plan anyway, but they offer the three of us some kind of voucher by email, and complimentary wine. (Perfect!)
More apologies, limited turbulence, wine, water, cranberry juice, pop corners (my new favorite snack) and Julia Roberts on a 3 inch screen, living my adventure.
The plane full of people settles down in the night sky, and then Zach comes by to check on each and EVERY one of us, reintroducing himself, shaking our hands, and apologizing again, and asking if there’s anything at all that could make us more comfortable. I’m really fine…no….good, and I’m grateful. This young (very young) man, who clearly is challenged by, and working VERY hard on his social skills, is a pure delight, and really feels badly. He tells me how upset he is that things like this ruin people’s plans and this airline really strives to create just the opposite. I thank him for his attention to detail and intention, and he thanks me for chatting with him, before he moves on to the next row of people. He’s authentic with every person he chats with. This clearly isn’t protocol, but rather, personality. I’m so glad the airline chose him, and clearly, because of his heart, and my faith is restored in big business.
After three hours, we begin our dissent, and he apologizes for waking us, but needs to be sure we are safe and he knows we’ve all had a long day, want our bags, connections, and easy access to exits. Our landing is effortless, and Zach leaves us with a proverb. He says it’s “his thing” that he likes to do at the end of every flight, and then reads something right out of the end of one of my yoga classes. The other flight attendants seem to be listening as well for his words of wisdom, and nod along in affirmation when he is done. The woman on my right is astonished and says she will never fly any of the other major carriers again, who could care less when she’s been inconvenienced, and her faith in humanity has been restored on numerous levels after this flight, how it was handled, and, specifically, this in-flight crew.
No one rushes for the exit. Again, everyone is helping others retrieve their belongings from the overhead compartments, women are discussing chivalry and heart, and I realize, that it’s not just me that feels this camaraderie. We all exchange niceties, allow each other to pass, and head down the aisle to leave the plane. The last person I see as I leave, of course, is Zach. Proud, content, beaming, as he’s accomplished his mission to make us comfortable, and get us to our destination, as if he, single handedly, guided the plane. He looks like he’s barely old enough to ride a bike, but he’s clearly meant for this job, and I make a mental note to email the airline and let them know. He wishes me a nice night, and now, after almost 11 hours, it’s around 1:30 am, and I roll through the deserted airport, having safely made it to my destination. I make my way through the airport, down two levels, and toward the exit, and there’s my mom, super excited that I’ve arrived, and acting like I’m “right on time”, and we embrace, and head to the curb where my dad awaits, and is beaming with contentment. He asks how my flight was, and I tell him it was really wonderful, and he mentions how amazed he was that I even got off the ground. I agree, and then mention a bit about my flight. They are both as amazed as I am. I am here, safe and sound, with both of my parents, and have not just flown the friendly skies, but have been lifted higher than I thought possible after such a long haul. It’s odd, but I feel like I’ve truly arrived…and right on time.

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

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It’s April 1st, a holiday weekend, celebrating Easter and Passover, we’ve just had a beautiful blue moon, and apparently spring is in full swing, according to my allergies.
I’ve packed up all of the snow decorations in my home, boxed them and put them away until next year.
I’ve cleaned, deodorized, changed sheets, duvets, done laundry, changed up decor, candle scents, repotted plants, and decorated for spring, including having personally crafted a new sign for the front door, in vibrant colors, complete with mini butterflies.
Costumes are coming in, left and right, at the studio, and I’ve already steamed, puffed, and tweaked lots of them for performances. Glitter is on the floor and in the air, (and in my hair). Friends are posting their kids’ graduation photos and college commitments for the fall. Grad students are posting accepted internship placements, numerous religious rights of passage pics are all over Facebook, and stores are all a buzz with formal ware for dances and proms, as well as beach themed decor everywhere.
I’m unsure when this really happened, as we, of course, are expecting more “unseasonal snow” in the next couple of days, and, as tradition has been, we’re usually on our way down south, in a car for too many hours to connect with extended family. However, things have changed….so many things…from the ages of our children to whom is around, to whom is no longer on this earth. It just wouldn’t be the same.
But, this time of year is also a time of cleansing, rebirth, and new traditions, and one that I had to adjust to and embrace, wholeheartedly.
I’m amazed at the growth in such a short time…
Change certainly brings growth, but, it does take time. I tell my campers and their parents that this is called “adjustment”. No one is exempt from adjustment, it’s just that each person does it in their own time. Some people move on quickly, whether or not it is healthy for them…they just move on to the next scenario and brush the rest under the rug. Some agree to deal with the task at hand, and some of us need to explore, taste, and process, sort of like dipping a toe in the water to test whether or not the water is fine.
I’ve realized that I go beyond that….I process and reprocess to see if things will actually stand the test of time, but I’m an original. I guess that makes me sort of like….”Velveeta”!
You know, that over processed cheese that comes in a box, but it’s always there, within reach. It’s resilient and great for melting; It can even create some really quick and tasty meals and snacks.
Is this a bad thing? I really don’t think so. Though I’m not huge on over processed foods, and tend to go the more natural and often, organic route, I’m forever reminded that life is a balance. Life is a song. Life is a journey. Life is for growing.
And, often, you need to grow where you are planted.
Sometimes, we end up exactly where we are meant to be, even if it is not where we have chosen to be.
How many stories do we hear about programs and schools not accepted to, trains missed, flights cancelled, roads closed, events that cause us to run late, only to hear of something more negative occurring that we were then NOT a part of because of an earlier mishap?
I judge traffic differently these days…and wonder if I will be blessed enough to find out later, why I am not where I had hoped to be. And lately, life is no different…the two hoped for homes, lost to other people, previously to finding this one that is perfectly suited to me, with a different feel; more spacious, more light, closer to the town I was looking to move to, and creating a whole different perspective, geography, and new start.
The cleaning out of things, to make room for less things or even a few new things to reinvent who I am and whom I used to be.
The resurfacing of old friends, brought into closer proximity whether it be physical or spiritual. The reconnecting through shared experiences, the lifting (and schlepping) and the support. The finding of new places, new foods, new laughs shared, and also finding out that things will be even better and more than okay.
The seasons change, and change can be very, very scary, but we also need to remember that after the cold of winter, flowers bud, and bloom, and often, these blooms are much bigger than the season before. So maybe, just maybe,  we need to learn to bloom where we are planted.

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Can You Move It Like This?

A close friend of mine just sold her house wayyyyy faster than she could’ve ever expected. The house sold in less than a week, and, of course, the buyers wanted to be in ASAP.
Moving is a seriously daunting experience even in the best of circumstances. Believe me, I know it well, having experienced it several times, and more so, just recently, for which I am still recovering. Throw in some major repairs needing to be done in the basement, prior to closing, and the necessity of removing in excess of 25 years of stuff to do said work, and you pretty much have a disaster…or do you?
It’s a ridiculous task to take on, more so, single handedly, and the thought of it just wore her down. But, it was a favor in disguise, much like life throws our way, to get the ball rolling and the stuff moving.
…enter…the village…
The boss who connects her with the repair company and the dumpster, the moving boxes from the last friend who moved, the friend with the big SUV, the friend that drives in from out of town to help schlep, and the other friend who knows how to organize it all. Oddly, every one of them has a derivative of the same name, with a variation on the spelling. Coincidence?!
Now, I’ve blogged before about the power of women, the caring for others, how when there’s a woman, there’s a way, but I was intrigued by this team of women, thrown together on behalf of a mutual friend, in a group text, having come into her life in completely different ways and at very different times. And how is it that our names are so similar? Do people collect those with duplicate names that will eventually come together with a purpose to fulfill a role in that person’s life when they need it most? I’ve had a similar experience with a completely different name. Is it like a sign of what path you ought to choose in your journey? People certainly come into our lives for different reasons, at different times, and fulfill different roles, but put them together, and it’s mind blowing. None of us stepped on anyone else’s toes, (not that I am aware of anyway) nor conflicted in style, and the humorous jokes and positivity was just a part of the package deal, as was our low maintenance lunch break. No one had to motivate us, and no time was wasted for the tasks at hand. We worked together like we had done it before, and independently when necessary taking our lead from our host or each other. A couple of days later, we are still joking by text, interacting about things joked about while together….the life supply of gallon sized ziploc bags and boxes upon boxes of instant hot chocolate, needing its own shelf in the, now organized, pantry.
We left our friend tired, yet fulfilled, and in tears of gratitude, not once, but at least three times that I can recall. She expected to be left with a huge transfer of boxes and belongings, but, instead, she was left with a home that could function from the get go, and even handle having a legitimate meal made in her kitchen with the tools needed to make it happen. There’s something truly heart warming and fulfilling seeing a friend, who is so gracious that she has friends out there to share the load, when the load is too heavy to bare alone.
It made me realize that I, myself, should just be on the lookout for new friends to add to my life who have this skill. So, if you’re looking for me, because I fit your name category, you can find me! I’m out somewhere, drinking hot chocolate and looking to add to my Barbara collection.