Category Archives: Family

What’s So Great About The New Year?

Only everything!

If you don’t like New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, you are doing it all wrong. I concede that you don’t have to do it my way – but mark the event in SOME WAY! If you like it quiet, I guess that’s ok, but I’ll be here singing Karaoke.

In the days preceeding the epic event (I still haven’t convinced you?), I enjoy reviewing last year – who says Facebook is a waste of time? I like dreaming about the next year, making lists, goals, and yes, a dreaded ‘resolution’ or five. For the past three years, I have been using the lovely Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year workbook. It is totally cool to spend the last days of the year or the first few days of the next working on it. I think you will thank me – or at least thank Susannah. I would not have known about this book without this smart chick. I think she can help you too – check out her blog.

Sure, you can pick a random time in March or some other time during the year to look back on the year, think about some things you’d like to add to your life or accomplish, write a mission statement – reset, reboot and restart, but are you going to? I’ve made it a habit to do it this time of year. It just seems to make the most sense and I feel like I have the wind at my back.

Get a new notebook.
List.
Clarify.
Quantify.
Dream about what your life would look like if you were in charge! Ha! Wait. You are.
Make a few goals about learning to play a song on the guitar or ‘Kondo-ing‘ your whole house, or lowering your blood pressure or completing a writing class or reading a few books on astrology. Whatever. You pick.

Clearly, this is just my humble opinion – but try it – you might like it. My other advice is to PARTY. If you’re idea of party is way more subdued than mine and my friends, that’s ok too. I’ll heart your Instagram photos of you under your electric blanket with your cats!

Just remeber – I’ll be here singing karaoke. ~ See you in 2018.

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Winter Solstice

It seems that I have complained about my relationship with the ‘Hallmark-type-Christmas-Holiday’ here and here, so there is no need to beat a dead horse.

Instead, let’s talk about something that I love.

I don’t recall ever hearing the words ‘Winter Solstice’ when I was growing up. Maybe it was because I come from an uber-conservative sect of christianity that might have considered marking this day as contradictory to the belief system. But not so! As far as I can tell, it fits into everyone’s system – we’re all here on the planet with these astronomical events happening all of the time – and I don’t want to miss any more of them.

Such a gigantic, celestial occurence seems to be overlooked by so many. If you went outside and paid attention, you would have known that the sun spent the day in a super-low arc in the sky. My favorite golden orb was framed by windows in my house that seldom see it since it spends most of the year much higher in the sky. It cast nice, long shadows – the longest of the year, in fact. Sadly, so many folks left that unwitnessed.

Dennis and the boys indulged my devotion to the day that the sun comes back. I need longer days! We lit luminaries on the front steps, candles in the house and a fire in the hearth – and we haven’t done that in a long time. I thought I was pushing my luck presenting them with an evening of building graham cracker houses. Turns out, they enjoyed it way more than I thought they would.

I often find it hard to feel joy during this frantic time of year, but I made it through the darkest night with the ones I love, and that makes me feel happy and hopeful.  I will continue to build solstice celebrations into my household traditions in the coming years. You must know how much I love the opposing solstice, right?

Driving & Life Lessons

I hand Gavin the keys to the car every chance I get. Yesterday was a long and winding, hour-long drive including highways, tricky corners and traffic circles. I’ve taken him out to drive in the dark and in the rain.

I thought I would be a super-cool mom that LOVED driving with my teen. It turns out that’s not the case. It makes me nervous, but his ability to be an experienced, competant and skillful driver trumps my need to not feel nervous. So I put on my seat belt, tune to a radio station I love and I crochet. It helps me to look more chill than I am.

At this point in life, he takes the wheel and decides on the speed and when to stop. With me as a guiding presence, a consultant if you will, he navigates the turns, calculates distances and chooses a different side road than I suggest to get to the same place. Of course.

I am accutely aware that without this junction, I leave him attempting to go from ‘non-driver’ to ‘driver’ status without the baby steps and trial and error that ensure he won’t take off the mirrors of all the cars on the right side of road. Oh, I’m so certain that is going to happen when he hugs that side of the road!

But it doesn’t. And we both learn.

I have so little time left for him to practice safely next to me – although I would prefer he take his seat in the back in a five-point restraint car seat and eat a granola bar. I have a little time to contribute my opinions to his decision-making and information bank. I feel looming pressure to make sure he knows everything he needs to know before he pulls out the driveway, alone, that first time. For now, he is a captive audience 🙂

He has begun, on occassion, to tell me to be quiet and let him drive. He assures me he’s ‘got it’ and that he is an excellent driver.

Thank God we’re just talking about driving and not his whole life, right?

Happy, Shiny Day

There is always a summer day that stands out to me – The Happy, Shiny Day. There is a quality to the day that makes it quintessentially summer, special and a little sacred.

This very blog chronicles some of those days. I am not always sure it is happening, when it  is happening, but when that day begins to inhabit my thoughts in mid-September and take up residence in the spot labeled ‘Best Summer Memories’, it takes it’s place at the head of the line and earns itself that title. When it turns into a day whose heat and sunlight fuel my hope in February, it is forever sealed into the mental album where the others of their ilk are stored.

I knew this day was going to be in the running for a summertime award, when all three invitees amicably accpeted my invitiation and readied themselves in record time. When my request for time on the bayside, rather than the oceanside was met with resounding positivity, my happiness quotient expanded.

I sank down into my beach chair on the bay of Sandy Hook and I sank deeply into a space of sheer gratitude as I watched my boys play together. Play – with kind words and happy voices. I bought them ice cream and wished for a few more weeks of summer. Someone may have uttered the words, ‘Thank you for the beach day, mommy’. That someone may have been a teenager.

Sea creatures, and tidal pools and endless strand lines to comb for teasures are always ingredients that mix up into a delightful concoction for me. I wish that I had magical chemistry equipment that could distill these days down into a ‘Felix Felicis-type’ serums and save them in medicinal blue bottle for another time.

The school year has barreled into September like a NJ Transit Train with blaring horns and loud announcements. It’s dumped paperwork, early morning alarms, tight schedules, homework and a bit of unwelcome chaos and calamity on the platform as it sped off with my two of my boys.

I count the days to the Autumnal Equinox – I know it’s coming. So, I will line up my happy, shiny days like glossy, beautiful magazine photos for reading and purusing during the cooler, grayer and darker months that are coming. I will try to stay positive, but don’t blame me if I need to resort to what is in the cobalt blue bottle. 

Day Trippin’

If you don’t know what ‘Earthing‘ or ‘Grounding’ are and you don’t have a friend who reminds you that the best way to traipse through the New Jersey Botanical Gardens is barefoot, I suggest you remedy both deficits.

I love day trips with the fervor usually reserved for say … your firstborn. I dream of places to scoot off to at a moments notice and always have a list running in my head. I love packing my sage green, insulated picnic basket and trekking somewhere new and exciting or old and wonderful. I know from experience that the things I think are so important on the list for the day…can wait. Day trips pluck me from the thick mire of tasks and to-dos that hold my feet firmly in the muddy constraints of life. I can hear the metaphorical sucking sound as I break free.

If it’s one of my best days ever, you will find me floating in a river-fed, natural pool hewn out of rock in the middle of the woods. If you don’t believe in the healing power of nature, good vibes, the transformative power of stones, maybe you will get lucky and I will take you on a pilgrimage to a place that will change your mind.

I am the dot in the middle of the EMPTY pool! Photo by Sean Costello

Days like this lightening my load, feed my soul and clear my mind – and all for $13.